For the longest time I believed adherence to the latest fashion dictum was just plain crazy. How could designer creations from the world’s big fashion houses, and modeled by size zero waif-like creatures, have anything to do with my real life in rural Alberta?
I objected to an industry with a vested interest in telling me that ruffles are back, chocolate is the new neutral, and chunky bangles are the ?it? accessory?at least for today. I objected to the condescension from the experts and trendsetters. I wondered at the sensitivity (or just plain sense) of manufacturers who were overlooking the untapped market of real women with real, imperfect bodies.
I believed that women slavishly buying fashion and celebrity magazines were wasting their money. I believed that women rushing out to shop with the latest fashion prescription clutched in their hands were simply vain. And gullible.
Whatever happened to the notion of dressing for body type, buying classics that last season after season, and marching to our own style drummer? Could we ditch the stilettos, say no to the Hermès bag and studded bustier?
The answer is no. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Yes, fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry with no shortage of fashionistas, prima donnas, and wackos. Yes, there are more size 14’s and up than zeros and twos. Yes, plus-size garment styles are a design travesty. But as always there are ways to cherry-pick which part of the hype and insanity you fall for.
Television programs like What Not to Wear, Style by Jury, and 10 Years Younger have helped alleviate blissful ignorance and expose fashion crimes. Project Runway has given us a behind-the-scenes look at the design process.
I’ve decided not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I’m getting with the program. Goodwill has gotten clothing that reflects buying mistakes and the old me. I’m investing in accessories like scarves, jewellery, and handbags. I will be looking for a new pair of heels this spring, though they won’t be stilettos. I’m also working on this body through daily walks.
When in doubt I always reach for a book. Nina Garcia’s The One Hundred is my how-to guide for assembling classics. Garcia, 43, spent 13 years at Elle magazine and is now fashion director at Marie Claire. She was also a judge on Project Runway.
In 278 pages she takes us from ?A? (A-line dress) to ?Z? (zippered hoodie). As I read the text and enjoyed the illustrations of Ruben Toledo, I was pleased to see that I already have many of these items. Will I ever get number 55, Minnetonka Moccasin? No. Would I consider number 17?Cape? Yes.
This book also includes fun facts, fashion 101 tidbits, quotations, and brand names. It’s fun and user-friendly. It doesn’t preach. I’ll be working on my 100 knowing that this fashion biz is a moving target and You’re never really done.
For now, putting on a 68, 42, and 11 accessorized with a 13, 6, and 3 is the best I can do, from where I sit.