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Wardrobe and stash overhauls: finding an advisor

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VintageTailor | Posted in General Discussion on

Both the new year and yesterday’s Oprah show about style makeovers have me thinking anew about my sewing and wardrobe goals. On the plus side, I have beautiful fabrics, buttons and patterns in my stash; good sewing skills; a great sewing teacher; and a wonderful local fabric store with classes. I’m complimented on my outfits a lot. I also have the world’s greatest hairdresser. But I see many gaps in my wardrobe and I’m sometimes unsure what styles flatter me. I have ideas for dozens of projects (don’t we all?) but time to execute only a well-chosen few. So I could use an advisor with a trained eye to help me define my style and my needs and use my resources wisely, on an ongoing basis, preferably. I’m thinking that it’s not going to be another pattern, piece of fabric, or even another Threads technique article that’s going to revolutionize my style and wardrobe. It’s going to be a person who knows about fashion and fit who’s interested in me. That last bit–“who’s interested in me”–is the catch. I want to find someone who will discover my look with me, rather than try to impose a look on me. This someone will not try to sell me clothes but will work with me as we design clothes I will sew from those beautiful stashes. And together, we’ll help me develop my own style. So, my quest begins–to find such a person, such a partner. And my questions to you all is, have you ever looked for a fashion advisor for your wardrobe-sewing, and were you successful?

Replies

  1. starzoe | | #1

    I have found that a CROQUIS (a detailed outline of the body, front, back and side views) is a real help in deciding flattering styles. THREADS had an article a number of years ago on the whole process, it includes photos against a blank wall and you work with just the enlarged outline. Draw a prospective style on tissue overlaying the outline. You will see in a moment if this length/width/sleeve length, etc. is going to work. Even works for pants. I use mine each time I need an addition to my wardrobe.

  2. helenj | | #2

    There's a book called colour
    There's a book called colour me beautiful- I once met someone in a thrift shop who was carrying swatches of colour and would only buy the appropriate colours for her. So, colour is a big part of the equasion. Trinny and Susannah have good advise too about what shapes/styles suit certain figures.Have fun, helen

    1. User avater
      VintageTailor | | #3

      I had a color analysis done in 2002 by a very perceptive color professional. She identified me as a "contrasting autumn." I had already discovered some colors that were flattering, but her analysis really pulled it together for me. I've made vastly better choices of clothing, fabric and makeup colors ever since.

      I've read dozens of style advice books and have found they have taken me only so far--even Trinny and Susannah, who are pretty terrific.

      I have done that body outline, following instructions in a Singer sewing book, I think. After a helper traces your outline onto a big sheet of paper, you fold the paper horizontally at key points to see whether you're long-legged, for instance, or short-waisted. You can also see whether you have broad shoulders relative to your hips. Yes, this is all very useful information.

      After doing that, I happened upon a booth of a figure and fashion consultant at a sewing expo. This was about 10 years ago. I filled out a questionnaire about my proportions and she took some measurements, and a few weeks later I received a binder of styles ranked from most to least flattering. Necklines, skirt lengths, jacket styles and lengths--it was comprehensive and useful, and again, it was money well-spent. I've had fewer goofs and more successes since that exercise.

      So, I have done quite a bit of homework already--I'm a librarian, and research is second nature.

      If any of you reading this have ever used an image consultant, especially to advise on a wardrobe to sew, did you have a good experience?

      1. sanderson | | #7

        I've participated in several
        I've participated in several of Marcy Tilton and Diane Ericson's Design Outside the Lines Workshops. They are WONDERFUL! Not only do you get advice from such gifted professionals in the explicit business of sewing and design but the group itself is an amazing group who can stay connected long after the closing session. I could go on and on ...contact me via email if you'd like more information or google on either of their names to find out about their upcoming workshops.

      2. cookymom | | #12

        A local image consultant helped me determine the best colors for my skin, suggested I highlight my hair in brown and blond, suggested shoes that would work with an orthotic, etc. I paid extra for a Signa Personal Image Portfolio; it gave me jacket, skirts, etc. that were most flattering for my figure. I purchase fewer clothes but I wear them all. I found knowing what NOT to buy a big help.

  3. Josefly | | #4

    What a great idea - a sewing fashion consultant who'll not only help you with styles, but cater them to your stash. I hope you'll get some good tips and sources - I'll be following this subject with interest.

    1. User avater
      VintageTailor | | #5

      I certainly think it could be a wonderful small-business niche for the right person!

  4. Josefly | | #6

    I do agree with you. I haven't heard of such a style or image consultant with the added skills of sewing/pattern/fabric expertise that you are seeking, and I think it would be a great job. So I'm hoping someone will give you some leads. I, for one, have a lot of trouble seeing myself objectively, and even the outline drawings I've done don't seem to be much help.

    There's a style advice blogger at the below address - have you seen this?

    http://www.insideoutstyleblog.com/

    I haven't looked at the site recently, and when I did it seemed that though much of the info related to color/face-type/body-type is something that could be found elsewhere, there's a broad range of topics here, with such details as the type of earrings that look best for particular face shapes. Kind of a fun place to check in on.

    1. Sancin | | #8

      I had my colours done as a gift by a friend who used the Color Me Beautiful technique - years ago. She was in image and make over business She draped scarves of fabric over me to see what my 'season' was (summer). She used the fashion information that the Color Me Beautiful Program uses plus her insights and knowlege. I don't know if she gave the gift as felt I needed it or if she wanted to practice/show off!? She also happened to be a sewer with a clothing design home economist degree but that didn't affect the colour or the fashion advice she suggested. I have always felt that I have used the right lines for myself, and actually felt that way about colours. This affects what I have in my stash. If I don't think I will ever make what I originally intended when I purchased the fabric I give it away. I always seem to have people telling me I should wear brighter colours, which my fashion conscious (oh my is she ever) friend told me would 'wash me out' - they do. I had only one colour in my wardrobe that was not right on me and I wasn't surprised as I was rarely comfortable wearing that brown sweater. I did like the tweed skirt I wore with it and was surprised that the base colour, which I had never worn before was right for me as I really like the skirt (which I made) and felt good when I wore it. I am and likely continue to be someone who wears feminine classic styles to the point I sometimes felt I didn't know what to wear when working with the poor public doing public health nursing. It seems uniforms have their place!

      I would like to make a croque as I find my figure is changing considerably as I age and my glasses are a little rose coloured these days. I find the diagrams that Vogue pattern uses to be true to figure type, like them or not. I doubt I would go to an advisor but I am sure they are around and I don't see why they would have to be a sewer. They would be advising on lines, colour and design in current fashion and how to individualize the information - hopefully to age. I would look for a style/image advisor at an upscale department store if I was going to look. If they are really good they should give you diagrams and colour swatches which you could line up with your stash.

      Good luck - if you are really brave you could apply to go on one of those critical make over programs on TV! ;-)

  5. Teaf5 | | #9

    I had good luck in a bookstore, particularly with Brenda Kinsel's books (NAIAW). Her Brenda's Wardrobe Companion and 40 over 40 books are easy to use and exceptionally useful. I re-read the Wardrobe Companion every January as I work on my closet in the new year, and many of her suggestions have helped immeasurably as I've edited, added to, and maintained my wardrobe.

    1. User avater
      VintageTailor | | #10

      Thank you! I'm requesting
      Thank you! I'm requesting copies of both books from my library. The fact that you reread the Wardrobe Companion and continue to rely on its guidance is a ringing endorsement.

      I just looked at Brenda Kinsel's website. She's offering "Brenda's Fashion Makeover Boot Camp", a teleseminar based on one of her books, starting Feb. 4. It sounds great. The group class participates in four once-a-week calls, and you have homework in between calls. There's a final reunion call in late March. I'm sorely tempted to sign up except that my work schedule conflicts with the call times, which are midday in my time zone (Central).

      The calls are recorded, so if you miss a call you can listen later. And she says there are lots of ways you can do the homework and participate even if you can't be in on the call. So...I'm thinking I just might sign up. I would really like to get going with a fresh outlook!

      Teaf5, do you have an opinion?

      And everyone else--have you taken this teleseminar or know someone who has? Would you do it?

  6. decoratrice | | #11

    I am an artist as well as a sewer, and am constantly aware of the colors around me. They evolve, and this evolution may not be noticeable unless you compare current reds with those from, say, 5 years ago. So--if you have your colors done, update that every few years. I once knew a "swatch shopper", her swatches were way out of date and she looked like she was stuck in a time warp. Even if the hue stays constant, the colors associated with it change. Ten years ago, who thought turquoise could go with brown?

  7. sewelegant | | #13

    Welllll.... after a lot of hassle and misdirection I finally found my way back to your post and have forgotten (almost) just what it was I wanted to comment about!

    The ideas posted on this subject made me think about my favorite aid to analyzing just what I look like and how to make the most of it. It is a paperback book by Jan

    Larkey called "Flatter Your Figure" and the copyright

    is 1991 but the information is timeless. I googled

    Amazon.com and typed in Jan Larkey and the search

    brought the book I refer to right up. I have also been through the color analysis sessions and found them quite helpful, but this book is a great self help work book. I have not heard of the Brenda Kinsel books but think I will try to find them, they seem to be another wealth of information. Good luck in your pursuit.

  8. Teaf5 | | #14

    I would wait until you work through the books before taking the seminar; wardrobe progress is really about spending time in your own closet and detailing your own needs and style, and the books are very good guides offering plenty of instructions and activities that you can do in small or large increments of time. If you commit yourself to a certain amount of time per week or month to this project,even without any guidance, you'll see significant progress; if a seminar motivates you to devote the time and spend it effectively, then it would be valuable. After the inital investment of time to overhaul your wardrobe, you don't need to spend much time to maintain it. Overall, this task was a very worthwhile one that didn't take nearly as much time as I thought it would!

  9. User avater
    VintageTailor | | #15

    Great idea to update the color palette I had done seven-plus years ago. I've long since stopped referring to the color swatches I was given, but have been guided by the general dramatic autumn palette. It would be interesting to have another color analysis done. And I'm not registering for the teleseminar this time around (thank you, teaf5).

    I may be following up on a couple of leads for stylists who work locally, since I'm still curious to work one-on-one. Stay tuned.

  10. Ckbklady | | #16

    Hi there,

    I came across this site about fashion and women's wardrobe planning and thought it might be useful to you when working with an advisor.

    http://www.fashionforrealwomen.com/articles/polished_appearance.html

    Have fun! Ckbklady

    1. User avater
      VintageTailor | | #17

      Since my last post I've been devouring Brenda Kinsel's books, and bought her latest: Brenda Kinsel's Fashion Makeover. Thank you, Teaf5!  Since reading her books and doing some of the exercises in Fashion Makeover I haven't given another thought to hiring an image consultant.  Brenda really gets you to define your proportions, tastes, best colors, and favorite styles and pull them all together beautifully.  I am editing my wardrobe and fabric stashes much more easily and painlessly. 

      Following her advice I'm working just on my spring and summer wardrobe-buying and -sewing plans and will wait till late summer to plan fall and winter clothes-buying and -sewing.  I'm reducing my fabric stash by a surprising degree.  I had been hanging onto some pieces that were not quite the right color or pattern.  Now I know they'll never be right for me, so I'm donating them to an annual fundraiser.  I worked out a simple spreadsheet of spring and summer colors--foundation colors like olive,  navy, golden brown, chocolate, black, and white in columns and accent colors like tomato red, moss green, and sky blue in rows.  Then I marked the color combinations I liked most.  I saw that all my accent colors worked great with chocolate.  The chart will help me decide which sewing projects will create the most versatility. I also played with color triads--two foundation colors with one accent, and two accent colors with one foundation.  I already feel like I'm getting a lot of mileage out of my current wardrobe and my future buying and sewing choices will give me more bang for the buck.

      From Brenda I also realized that I had been sewing small prints in styles that read too cute for my age and the image I want to project.  I'm keeping some of my small-print yardage but will combine them with foundation colors rather than accents, and choose more sophisticated styles. 

      I'm glad I haven't hired an image consultant yet--if ever I do.  I'm getting so many insights from Brenda's books that I think I can make a lot of progress on my own.  But if I come across a consultant who looks like a good fit for me, it would be interesting to work with her at a higher level, when I'm more experienced and confident. 

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