Dressing by the Book

In his book Dressed to Kill, Colin McDowell admonishes women never to dress too closely by the book because it looks as though you possess no real personality of your own. He says that breaking rules is an amazingly effective way of feeling better about yourself.

Fashion magazines love to publish lists of what’s in and what’s no long in—obviously suggesting there are rules. Occasionally, I watch a TV makeover show, and I’m usually flabbergasted to see beautiful items tossed aside because they are said to be passé. Breaking the rules ought to be done more, but not just randomly. You must first know the rules before you can break them successfully. Ask the jazz musicians who mastered Bach before breaking loose; and the French Impressionists, who painted bowls of fruit before they abandoned the rules about what they “saw.” Here’s how you can break the rules effectively and make a positive fashion statement every time.

The new rule says to never match your shoes and handbag like your mother did. However, that doesn’t mean you have to purposely choose different colors for each. Most often, you’ll want to choose a handbag in a different color from your shoes only if your handbag picks up something else in your wardrobe—even if it’s only a necklace. It’s trickier to bring in a shoe color out of the blue than it is with a handbag. That’s because your feet are literally isolated from the rest of your clothing and accessories, so shoes in an unrelated color will tend to take the attention from the most important thing:  your face. Handbags are the ideal choice for a “shock of color.”

Put unusual colors together. That’s what top designers do. If you’ve got a red garment, add accessories in orange or purple. Whenever you use two unusual colors together, however, tie them together by repeating one of the colors somewhere else. For example, if you have a red skirt and a purple jacket, wear a necklace of chunky beads in the two colors. Or, wear a red flower or brooch on the lapel of your purple jacket.

Instead of wearing the “color of season,” brand yourself for a season with an entirely different color. Make sure it’s a color that makes you look better, and wear different shades of the color as well as a sprinkling of items in your chosen color. For example, when coral is the designated color for spring, choose fuchsia instead. The colors are actually related; they both began as red, but coral had yellow added and fuchsia and more blue added. Obviously, you don’t want to wear fuchsia every day, but you can wear a fuchsia hat, gloves, scarf, computer case, or jewelry. And, there are so many fuchsia shades from which to choose:  think magenta, hot pink, plum, and raspberry.

Don’t slavishly wear what is decreed to be in this year. Mid-calf and ankle-length skirts are being touted by the fashion industry at the moment, but that’s not to say you must wear them. A good “rule” to adhere to is avoid anything that doesn’t make you look better. Most women look stiff or rigid in long straight skirts because of the severe line created. Long skirts that are full harken back to hippie days and make you look as if you cling to the past.  Most often, mid-calf lengths look matronly. The most balanced, harmonious, and flattering skirt length is knee-length; that is, in the middle of the knee or just a bit above or below it.

Colorless or brown-toned lips have been foisted on women for years. That’s because there is no instruction needed in their wearing. They won’t make your small lips get noticed, and you don’t have to worry about touching up your lipstick because there isn’t much difference with or without lipstick. Take a leap of courage and go against this trend. Wear a soft fuchsia or orchid lipstick and notice how many compliments you get. You’re certain to feel better about yourself! 

Sandy Dumont is a speaker and recognized pioneer in the field of color and color psychology. Get a free copy of her book, Tattletale Looks, at her website:  www.theimagearchitect.com.

Sandy Dumont

Sandy Dumont, The Image Architect, is a sought-after stylist and image consultant in the arena of corporate, political and celebrity image and has spoken to audiences throughout the USA, Europe and Asia. Sandy is a prolific writer and has published numerous books, eBooks and DVDs. Her books and speaking style employ psychological insights into how we perceive color, judge wardrobes and incorporate (or don't) social norms into our daily lives.

Sandy is a member of the National Speakers Association (NSA) and Past President of NSA Virginia, and Past President of the SE Virginia chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO. She consults with individuals and corporations and also conducts corporate and individual image makeover workshops on the subject of impression management and image skills. Sandy is also a keynote speaker at conferences both nationally and in Europe and Asia. She also does online image consulting and image makeovers for individuals and groups. 

Sandy Dumont has appeared on radio, TV and in print throughout the world. She was recently featured in a cover story with Money Magazine. In December 2009, she was the recipient of the Women in Business Achievement Award.

Sandy Dumont, The Image Architect, is MORE than an Image Consultant. For information, visit www.theimagearchitect.com or call 757-627-6669.

Website: www.TheImageArchitect.com
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