Friday, 23 March 2012
Little Wicked's 10 Commandments of Fashion & Beauty
I thought I'd start off by sharing my rules of fashion & beauty, before I start getting into the 'alternative' specific fashion and beauty sections. These rules apply just as much to mainstream fashion as they do to alternative fashion. WARNING: I have used some celebrity photos to illustrate my points, along with some more generic photos. All photos are freely available in the public domain. These are the 10 commandments of fashion & beauty that I live by. I have come by these commandments through many years of getting it very, very wrong, and learning as I go. As with all my posts, these are my own personal opinions and thoughts. You may or may not agree with these, but here they are.
1) Legs or Cleavage. Never both. To illustrate this:
2) Leggings are layering pieces, not stand alone garments. Specifically, I am talking about the generic black stretch jersey leggings here, not necessarily (but also not necessarily excluding) the patterned, thicker lycra versions. Although I also despise those, but for other reasons. Ladies, I'll let you in on a little secret. 99 out of 100 pairs of black stretch jersey leggings go see-through as soon as they are stretched over your bum. You may not see it inside when you're looking in your mirror, but the minute you step outside into direct sunlight, the entire world can see your knickers. Or your bum if you're wearing a thong or not wearing any knickers at all. You may as well go out without any trousers on for all the coverage you're getting from the leggings. Wear them as a layer, wear shorts, a skirt, a dress, or even a long top. Just cover your bum.
3) Leggings are not magic figure fixers. While we're on the subject of leggings, and again, those generic black leggings, they are not a magic garment that forgives any fashion sin. Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you put on a pair of black leggings (or black tights, this rule applies to black tights as well) under a skirt or pair of shorts that doesn't quite cover your bum, that a hideously unflattering and inappropriately small garment will suddenly become flattering and demure. It won't. You're still wearing a hideously unflattering and inappropriately small garment that doesn't cover your bum. You've just got a bit of see through black fabric stretched over your bum now.
4) Ugg boots and velour tracksuits are loungewear. They should not be worn out in public. There's a reason why ugg boots and velour tracksuits look like slippers and pyjamas respectively. That's because this is essentially what they are. Invariably, when I see someone out in public dressed like this, that person has gone to the effort of putting on a full face of makeup and having their hair done. If you can be bothered to put on makeup and do your hair, then there's no excuse for going out in an outfit that essentially amounts to your pyjamas.
5) It's ok to go out without makeup on, but it's never ok to go out without sunscreen. Whether you are committing to a full on alternative look or just mainstream fashion, you don't have to commit to wearing a full face of makeup every day. There is no shame in going out to the shops without any makeup on. No one is going to madly chase after you to snap a picture of you looking less than perfect, and Facebook is not going to suddenly erupt with statuses saying 'OMG! Mindi just went to the shops without makeup on! *CRINGE*'. Unless you happen to be a celebrity. Then these things probably will happen, so it's probably best for you to wear makeup all the time. It is never ok to go out without sunscreen on. UVA & UVB rays are seriously damaging to your skin, not to mention prematurely ageing. I always wear SPF50 on my face, every day. Even in winter. In summer, I up the ante and wear SPF50 on every inch of exposed skin. Every day.
6) Dress for your body shape. Ladies, get to know your body shape, and work with it, not against it. You will need to accept that there are some fashions and styles that just will not work on your body shape. Women come in all shapes and sizes, and can look fabulous no matter what size they wear, but you have to get the body shape right and dress to flatter it, whether you're choosing tailored clothes for the office or an outlandish gothic outfit for clubbing. Get to know the shapes that suit you and stick to them. All women should be comfortable in their own shape and size, whatever that may be. Some women are comfortable embracing their curves and being larger than average, while others are more comfortable maintaining a slim and svelte frame. If you want to diet and exercise to maintain a body shape that makes you happy, then go for it, but be aware of your basic body shape and be realistic about what you can achieve. Someone who is 5 foot tall with an hourglass figure is never going to look like a runway model, no matter how much weight you lose. Be realistic in your body aspiration goals, and learn to work with what you've got. If that 60's style tunic dress looks fabulous on the flat-chested model in the TV ad, but makes your busty frame look like a tank when you try it on, don't buy it just because you love how it looks on someone else. It's a waste of money. Only buy clothes if you love how they look on YOU!
7) Always wear clothes that are the right size for you. Ladies, there is nothing wrong with having clothes in your wardrobe that are too small for you or too big for you at the moment, but don't be tempted to squeeze yourself into those size too small jeans just because they were your favourites before you put on a bit of weight (that you fully intend to lose again, of course!). No one else will see the label in the back of your dress that says what size it is. Especially if you cut out the labels in your clothes anyway. The cashier in the clothes shop will not stare accusingly at you and demand to know why you're buying a size 16. Nobody else will ever know that you had to buy that gorgeous shirt in a 14 instead of your usual 12. But they will notice that the buttons on that gorgeous shirt are gaping because you couldn't face buying the 14 and went for the 12 instead. And they will see the muffin top created by those oh so gorgeous favourite jeans that are now a size too small. There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping these items of clothing in your wardrobe until you have lost that half stone you put on, in preparation for wearing them again. But don't be tempted to wear them now. Wait until they fit properly.
8) If you're buying staple pieces, buy the best quality you can afford. If, for example, you're buying a pair of plain black stilettos which will be worn for years to come, save up and buy the £100 real leather pair. Don't just buy the cheap and cheerful £10 Primark specials. The real leather pair will be much better quality and will last you for so much longer. If you buy the cheap pair, you'll only end up buying more pairs when those ones inevitably fall apart in a few months time. Having said that, if you're after a pair of shoes to wear for a night out that probably won't ever be worn again and are a way to update your favourite dress to the latest trend, then go for the cheap and cheerful pair. My rule is, if it's going to be worn for a long time, buy quality. If it's just to try out a trend or see if a new style suits you, buy cheap to experiment. The same applies to makeup. For staple items like foundation and mascara, find a formula that works well for you and stick to it, even if it's more expensive than the usual makeup you'd buy. For things like a bright eye shadow to try out a new colour, buy a cheap one until you know if it suits you. Of course, it goes without saying that you should only spend what you can afford. Don't get yourself into debt just to buy expensive foundation or an expensive pair of shoes. So spend as much as you can afford, within your means.
9) If you're going out wearing heels, always carry a pair of flats in your handbag. This rule applies if you're going out anywhere that will require more than about 5 minutes of walking. If, like me, you love the look of heels, but don't find them comfortable for extended wear if long period of walking are involved, always carry a handbag big enough to put your heels in, and take a pair of flats with you. Your feet will thank you. This is slightly more difficult if the heels in question happen to be boots of the gothic variety (ie: with big platform soles, lots of buckles, etc), but for me, those kind of boots tend to be much more comfortable than your standard stiletto shoes anyway. If I'm going out in stiletto shoes, you will always find a pair of flats in my handbag, ready for the end of the night when my feet are crying out at the injustice of being crammed into pointy, high heels for hours. It makes the journey home so much more bearable.
10) You wear the style, the style doesn't wear you. Whatever you choose to wear, however you choose to wear it, make sure it feels like 'you'. If you feel like you're dressed up in costume or playing at wearing something that doesn't suit you, then you'll look like you're dressed up in costume, and people around you will sense how uncomfortable you are in your clothes. 99% of fashion, especially alternative styles, is about attitude. If you believe that you are totally rockin' that style, then the rest of the world will believe it as well. Above all, fashion is about fun. Have fun with your look, try new things, and experiment. You won't find your true style until you've tried a few anyway, so try things out and discover what suits you.
Coming next: my timeline of style.