Posts Tagged: style

Selective Drama

Selective Drama 1

I don’t think of myself as a Drama Queen. I’m usually pretty even-keeled and cool-headed; I figure life hands us enough drama already so why manufacture it?

But I’ll admit to loving clothes that add just a little bit of drama to an outfit, and this long cardigan does just that. I’ve tried to balance the boldness of the sweater and striped tee with softer grey pieces, and have added some gold with the bracelets for a little warmth.

Selective Drama 2

Earrings: Alexis Bittar // Scarf: Eileen Fisher from last year, similar // Long Cardigan: Eileen Fisher, (similar style from Asos) // Top: R13, similar from Gap (long sleeves) // Bracelets: Stella & Dot, few years old, similar and Aurelie Bidermann // Jeans: NYDJ // Shoes: several years old, surprisingly similar from ECCO.

I purchased these shoes in Paris in 2008. They’re a brand called One Step which I’ve never seen anywhere since. At the time, I’d been on the hunt for a pair of “shooties” in this shape but with lower heels that anything I’d found up to that point. I spotted these in the window of a small shoe shop in the Marais, and it was the start of a beautiful and lasting romance.  OK, so maybe I got a little dramatic there. ;-)

Selective Drama 3

Do you have a favorite “dramatic” piece in your wardrobe?

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Already Pretty contributor Une Femme is fifty-seven, married to the same wonderful monsieur since 1995, the mother of a special-needs teenager and two hooligan dogs, a full-time administrative professional, a coffee-holic, Paris-obsessed, native Californian, and a petite and curvy femme d’un certain age. She believes that personal style is an essential form of self-expression, and started her blog, une femme d’un certain âge, in 2007 hoping to start a conversation about style for women over 50.

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Reader Request: Long Over Lean for Tall Women

tunics and leggings for tall women

Georg Sand Left this comment over on Facebook:

Would you be willing to augment this post [on long over lean for petites] for tall girls (where all our height is in our legs) that’s me and I love this silhouette too! I also, however, seem to constantly have proportion issues. Do the same rules apply?

And my response? But of course I’m willing! And I’ve called in another expert, everyone’s favorite tall tunic-wearer, Gracey of Fashion for Giants. I’m going to get the ball rolling with my own tips, and then hand the mic to Gracey to round us out. Here we go:

Length affects proportions

A tunic should cover your entire butt as well as your crotchpoint, and many women look best in a tunic that hits at mid-thigh level. However, if you are tall and your height is in your legs rather than your torso, a slightly longer tunic may balance you out a bit more. By covering more of your leg above the kneecap – which the observing eye believes is the midpoint of your leg – you visually shorten and balance your frame. It’s your call, of course, but if balancing your proportions is a figure-flattery priority try keeping your tunic length at least one hand’s width above your kneecap and/or at least two hands’ widths below your crotchpoint.

Boots complicate matters

This is true for all people wearing long-over-lean outfits, but for tall gals minding where your boots hit is especially tricky. Boots that end far below your kneecap give the impression of very long legs. Pair those short-ish boots with a tunic that hits high on the thigh and you’ll look leggy indeed. Nothing wrong with that, of course! But if you’re seeking to balance your leg length, a boot that hits just a couple of inches below the kneecap and a tunic that hits mid-thigh will help. Want to avoid the boot issue altogether? Choose a pair that matches the color of your leggings or skinnies. Yes, this is a technique that is often employed to create a long, unbroken leg line, but it also eliminates hard breaks to create a more unified silhouette.

Cropped bottoms are a great option

As you can see from the first two outfits pictured above, ankle length and cropped slim bottoms are wonderful in long-over-lean mixes on tall women. Even though this combination creates a nearly half-and-half figure division on Gracey, it just works. Her leg line is unbroken from tunic hem to pant hem which means fewer chunks. The cropped pant length visually shortens the overall leg line a bit, but that serves as a balancing factor here. Harder to do in winter, of course, but a fun option for warm weather.

In terms of comparison to the post on long-over-lean for petites, there is some overlap: Visually elongating your legs may not be a priority, but wearing like-colored leggings and footwear will prevent lots of distracting breaks in your figure. Being strategic about focus is always wise, and you can choose a statement necklace to draw the eye to your face or add a like-colored belt to your tunic to accentuate your waist without breaking up your lines. Low contrast layers are great to prevent loads of breaks in your figure line, but not as essential here as they are for someone who wants to look taller. “Don’t worry about it”? Always applicable to advice-y posts. If you prefer to just wear combos you love, you should do exactly that.

Now, let’s hear from Gracey:

Try prints and colors

Gracey from Fashion for Giants wears tunics over lean pants

Why try prints and colors? Mostly just because you can. As a tall person, you have a little more leeway when it comes to long over lean because you can ignore those guidelines that exist to help the less-tall avoid the often-stumpifying effects of long over lean. As Sally mentioned, low-contrast layers are exceedingly helpful to those who want to look taller, but if you’re already tall, you can wear contrasting prints and colors without much worry. Especially if you pay attention to the rest of the tips Sally laid out.

I will say that with printed and colored pieces, proportion matters more than with low-contrast pieces. In the first look, for example, the tunic is a bit long for the length of the pants.  And the ankle strap flats aren’t helping matters. But, in the second look, the longer pants help balance out the length of the top. And, of course, a nude or black flat would help even more but I am currently unable to resist the lure of a brightly colored shoe. Perhaps someday…

Make sure your lean is truly lean

Gracey of Fashion for Giants wears leggings, a white tunic, blue sweater and black flats

In this outfit, as with the leopard and yellow outfit above, I have a LOT of volume up top. Here I’m wearing an over-sized sweater layered over an over-sized shirt. It’s a lot, it really is. But, keeping the lean portion of the outfit truly lean helps balance that volume. That’s why when I wear my long-over-lean outfits I stick to skinny pants, skinny jeans, and leggings. Those bottoms tend to offset whatever nonsense layering I have going on up top. And that’s important because I tend to do a lot of nonsense layering.

Anyone else have tips or suggestions for wearing long-over-lean outfits as a tall person? Proportion preferences? Do you do boots with your outfits? What else would you tell Georg?

Images courtesy Fashion for Giants.

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Why I Don’t Offer Style Consults for Men

mens clothing

I’ve been doing closet consults and personal shopping for more than six years now, and it is one of the best parts of my extremely varied work life. It’s where my style-focused side and my body image-focused side meet: By illustrating style concepts and helping clients better understand their figures and wardrobes, I help them gain confidence. I have gotten a hug from every single client I’ve ever worked with. It is quite literally THE BEST.

As we’re approaching the holidays, I’m starting to get a few requests for gift consults, which I’m always happy to do. But I’ve had to turn away a few folks because they were hoping to hire me to work with the men in their lives, and I only do consults for women. Men struggle to feel stylish, men grapple with body image issues, and men can definitely gain confidence from working with stylists. I certainly don’t think that stylist services should be offered exclusively to women, and when people ask I happily refer them to colleagues who work with both men and women. (Carly loves working with male clients!) But I’ve chosen to focus on women for two reasons.

Depth of knowledge

It has taken me years and years to accumulate a body of knowledge that covers shopping resources, repair options, figure flattery, and fit issues that are specific to women. I am able to reel off helpful websites and tidbits of advice to just about any female audience that plies me with questions. I have never been interested in men’s fashion, so I haven’t studied it in the same way and know virtually nothing about it. I don’t know where stylish men shop, or which proportions work best on which male figures, or which fit issues are the most challenging. In order to become expert enough to tackle a consult with a guy, I’d want to spend a looooong time learning about men’s style. And at this point in my career, I’m focusing on cultivating other skills and reaching other goals.

Gender inequality

Men can grapple with style and body image issues similar to those that plague women, and many do. But here’s the key difference: In the vast majority of cases, men don’t let their worries about clothes and figure flattery and weight prevent them from doing … well, anything they want. Men don’t get hung up on style the way women sometimes do, and men don’t get scrutinized for their style choices the way women do. When powerful men are discussed in newspapers and magazines, reporters seldom spend entire introductory paragraphs describing their hair, makeup, shoes, and clothing. Men don’t worry that being overweight might impede their chances at landing leadership positions, and men are seldom censured for dressing “too young” or “too sexy.” Men know that being stylish is an asset, but in many cases being unstylish isn’t a substantial detriment.* The rules are different for men. In fact, there are far fewer rules for men to begin with.

And since my mission is to empower women, and since I know that appearance-related confidence empowers women, that’s where I focus my time and energy. I work with women on style in part because it’s fun and expressive, but also because I want them to stop worrying about how they look. I want them to redirect the energy they’ve put into obsessing about wrinkles and fretting about muffintop, and focus on their dreams and goals and happiness. I want them to understand their bodies and build versatile wardrobes so that they can dress well, forget all about how they look, and get on with the work of their lives. Of course, not all women feel held back by their style or bodies – plenty move into leadership or chase their dreams regardless. But I have friends and clients and relatives and colleagues and readers who have told me outright that they wish they could step into the spotlight, but don’t have the confidence and thick skin necessary to bear the image-based scrutiny they know they’d face.

I am married to a man. Two of my personal heros – my dad and Martin Luther King, Jr. – are both men. I love and respect many, many amazing men and want all men – in fact, all humans – to feel good about themselves. But the way I see it, men don’t need my help in the same ways and on the same levels as women. They’ve already got a leg up. So I intend to work on boosting woman after woman up into the next level of confidence until the playing field has leveled. And I certainly hope to see that day within my lifetime.

Image courtesy Stephanie Vacher

*This is not universally true. (In fact, in my experience very, very little is universally true.) I’m basing my assertions on my own observations and on various analyses of gender dressing differences that I’ve read over the years, with the understanding that there are exceptions.

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