‘Know yourself’ is the rallying call of coaches, preachers, style writers and image consultants.
These two words are great. It is what the experts add after those two words that can inspire or deflate you. Most often they are negative words.
‘Know your body faults and read on for how to minimise or hide them’ is a common theme of many fashion articles.
Not this one.
I believe we women need to know ourselves in a positive way. It is more pleasurable and satisfying to concentrate on our strengths. Then our so-called negatives fade into insignificance and we present as comfortable in our skin and confident in our attitude to dressing and life.
Here are the three essential fashion tools that I believe every Baby Boomer woman needs so that she knows herself positively.
A Pair of Scissors
Scissors are obviously useful for cutting off price tags. Then you need them for cutting off annoying or prickly tags; those coat hanger straps that can dangle out your armhole; any buttons, bows or added decoration that are not your style; untrimmed stitching on seams and that loose hem thread. We have all been in a hurry and pulled the loose thread. Suddenly the whole hem falls down. Your impatience and mine too leads to Plan B dressing.
If you have basic sewing skills, scissors are also great for cutting off the extra length on clothes or cutting extra pieces to add to too-short items.
A Tape Measure
I am not talking about measuring your bust, waist and hips. These may change over the years. Once you’ve grown to your full height (and that was probably a long time ago), it is your best lengths that are important. Get these right for you and you present a consistent and modern impression to everyone you meet.
These are the lengths I measure, record and refer to all the time. When I try on a new item, I know where these vital measurements are on my body so that I or my professional alteration person can adjust it to that length. I have found and measured my best short sleeve length, my best three-quarter sleeve length and my best long sleeve length. I also record my most flattering top and skirt lengths. Add to this my inside leg measurements for shorts, jeans and dress pants and it’s always easy to look smart.
These may need minor adjustments according to the fit of the item. I measure, pin and then cut and sew or take the item to my alteration person. Words of warning! Adjust skirt lengths for modesty when seated. I have had hard experience in that area.
When I find a skirt, dress, pants or jeans with a very flattering line, I also record width measurements at certain lengths. Then I taper other clothes so that they are close to that flattering line.
The Word ‘No’
This one is a mental fashion tool. Time management experts tell us that we are defined more by what we say ‘no’ to, rather than what we say ‘yes’ to. It is the lure of the ‘shiny objects’ and in fashion, we women sometimes find them hard to resist.
Say no to those ‘lust-have’ items and impulse buys that are totally impractical wardrobe-wise and care-wise. It’s much safer to take a picture and drool over the picture rather than spend the money and regret it later.
Say no to unwanted fashion advice – either from family, friends or sales assistants. Learn to understand your personality, colouring and style so others do not intentionally or unconsciously impose their view on you.
Say no to gifts of clothing from family and friends if you dislike the item and will never wear it. Politeness is not always a virtue. Be assertive about who you are and what you want to wear to represent the best of you.
Yes, people judge you on first impressions. When you meet the same people regularly, it is your consistency or lack of it that they remember. Discover and measure your most flattering lengths, use scissors to define your style and say no often. These are three essential fashion tools that I use to know and define myself positively.
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