Tuesday, January 1, 2013

"Fashion. Fashion?"

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

I've been around for a while - get the joke?  ("a-round"?)   But seriously in recent times I'm not sure what the word "fashion" means any more.

According to the various dictionaries the word itself can cover a whole array of different meanings, from "habits", to a signature, to how something is done or happens.   As far as women's national and international magazines are concerned, then fashion more or less depicts the latest and most admired style in clothes and cosmetics.

Remember  (oh, what memories!) Bambi Shmith (nee Patricia Harewood), Diane Masters, Janice Wakely, June Dally-Watkins, Jeanette Elphick (who changed her name when she went to Hollywood to Victoria Shaw)?  Perhaps I haven't kept up with the times.  Because those models were VERY different to today's models - in many ways,  *  (and I'll talk more about this in a later post).   But in a nutshell fashion to me equals "style" - not only in the garments that are modelled, but the models themselves.

The mannequins of the 1950s and 1960s modelled garments which accentuated the female form; they gave a sensual motion of femininity in their walk and posture and created an ongoing illusion of fantasy/reality for the simple reason that copies of the garments they wore were soon to be seen in our corner "emporiums" and affordable to all - even if it meant layby-ing said garments for six months or more.   Many of us actually went to "deportment classes" - remember the Mannequin's Academy in Melbourne?, where we were taught to speak correctly; walk and sit correctly; and to be as lady-like as we could be.  Some of us weren't too sure whether "girls from the western suburbs" (read - the wrong side of the Yarra River!) could ever be called "ladies" but we sure had fun mixing with those girls from Toorak and South Yarra who went to the classes with us.  I guess we "hoped" that the lady-like characteristics would rub off on us.   I'd like to think so.  

But I'm digressing, as I am wont to do occasionally.    Maggie Alderson, a leading Fashion Stylist, who writes for a leading women's magazine and also has her own blog Style Notes, was asked during a recent interview "are you offended at what you see today as being fashion, compared with that of 20 years ago?"  With any hesitation she answered no.   In her opinion, fashion is really the style a woman feels comfortable with, and if she wishes to follow the seasonal trends then that is her prerogative.  If she remains constant in her choice of clothing, then that is her right as well.  Fashion in Maggie's view, as indeed mine, is that it is constantly growing and finding new ways of expressing itself, as indeed do you and I.

I've been of the opinion for a long time that when a woman finds her own style - whether it be conservative, sophisticated, goth, feminine, romantic, classic, vintage, serious or casual, then it's wise to stay with that style.  Although, with that said, and I do contradict myself at times, it's nice sometimes to "break out" and do something really startling which surprises everyone, including you!

And combined with style, when a woman discovers the colours that suit her, then a whole new world opens.   Take Sheila Scotter for instance - that lovely lady only ever wore black and white (and tones of the same).  She always looked stunning.

This is where sometimes "fashion" or the stores through which we buy our fashion, let us down.   Stores would be wise to occasionally take note of what their customers tell them.   Many women prefer certain colours, in fact if they wear the "wrong" colour to suit them, then everybody knows it.  Including the wearer.   How often have you bought yourself something that looked good in the store, looked good on the clothes hanger, looked good when you stood in front of the store mirror, only to find when you got it home that it made you look - bulky, ungainly, frumpy, showed up your imperfections including making your skin look sallow or too red?   Another frustration is when you simply want something like pants in black, and the colour of the season is brown or navy.   Infuriating!

But if you feel terrible in a garment that you thought looked nice in the store and it isn't, then it's not you at fault.  It's not the fault of the garment either, it's just that the garment in question doesn't suit YOU, whereas on someone else it will look terrific.  Too often though that store, and all those around, don't stock that style in a colour that suits you.

But learn to look at your body, at whatever age, size or shape, as a beautiful thing on which you should enhance its every asset.   Finding your "style" or choice of dressing and your colours will instil in you a feeling of specialness.  For whatever may have been said about you in the past, you must always remember, that you are unique.  And that you should never be compared with any other person.   That means that we must never compare ourselves to each other either, for each of us brings a different perspective to the essence of womanhood.

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