Wednesday, August 29, 2012

READing Your Style: Don't Think. Just "Blink."

Remember in my August Letter From the Editor when I mentioned how one of my favorite books, "Blink." by Malcolm Gladwell helped me to understand the power of 'thinking without thinking'? As I have done more research on this topic, I found more and more how this inner power is very valuable when one raelly focuses on those unexpected feelings we have about certain things, As promised, I have outlined a few key points from the books 1st chapter which explains the meaning and significance of using our intuition. 

The Adaptive Unconscious: a part of our brain that leaps to conclusions like the above (not to be confused with the ‘unconscious’)
                This new notion is thought of as a kind of giant computer that quickly and quietly processes a lot 
                of data we need in order to keep functioning as human beings.
                               o Think: A car is barreling towards you as you cross a street. Do you have time to 
                                   think of all you options: NO! The adaptive unconscious is capable of making 
                         very quick judgments based on very little information.

                 Psychologist Timothy D. Wilson writes in his book “Strangers to Ourselves”: The mind operates 
                 most efficiently by relegating a good deal of high-level, sophisticated thinking to the unconscious, 
                 just as a modern jetliner is able to fly on automatic pilot with little or no input from the human, 
                 ‘conscious’ pilot. The adaptive unconscious does an excellent job of sizing up the world, warning 
                 people of danger, setting goals, and initiating action in a sophisticated and efficient manner.”
                                o Wilson says we toggle back and forth between the conscious and unconscious modes 
                                    of thinking

*We live in a world that assumes that the quality of a decision is directly related to
the time and effort that went into making it.*

                 We only trust conscious decision making, but “Blink” aims to prove that decisions made     
             quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.
                  o It also aims to explore when we should trust our instincts, and when we should be wary of
                  o Lastly, it aims to show that our snap judgments and first impressions can be controlled.
                  o We can cultivate this ability for ourselves!!!

*Whenever we meet a new person or confront a complex situations or have to make a decision under conditions of stress, Gladwell postulates that, “When it comes to the task of understanding ourselves and our world, I think we pay too much attention to those grand themes, and too little to the particulars of those fleeting moments.”

Take this example:

Beautiful Illustrations by Brian Cronin

This was excerpted from the August 2011 issue of O magazine-the focus for that month:Intuition and Instinct. It was funny to me because this very experiment above is brought to our attention in "Blink.". Oprah is always speaking of how trusting her instincts got her to the successes she has made and her August issue offered a more summarized justification to our adaptive unconscious and "The Science of Intuition" (the article even mentions "Blink" as a good source on the subject). 

The three piece feature starts by first explaining that our "gut feeling" is our friend and that we should try to pay attention to that feeling more often. Next it goes into detail about "intuitive counseling" and how to learn to listen to your intuition, and lastly the article highlights how intuitive power is available in everyone by listening to certain cues from our body such as through our eyes, stomach, and nose. Here are the most important bits of information I took away from the feature that might help you on your quest to harness the power of your intuition. 

Go to the following to learn more about Following Your Inner Wisdom

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wilde Quotes

Hence my August Letter from the Editor which featured quotes from the late 19th century Irish dandy, Oscar Wilde. I took sometime this month to review an essay he wrote which we all may be familiar with from our high school history, English, or psychology classes. I read over “The Soul of Man Under Socialism” an essay eloquently expressing Wilde’s Utopian viewpoint of society that heralds principals of “true, beautiful, healthy individualism” suggesting that strong creative personal expression should be the modi operandi of civilization as opposed to oppressive and “demoralizing” modes of authority (i.e. property/government) man place upon other men, which in effect, hinder the attainment of true happiness among man in life.

A late writer for Britain’s “The Observer”, George Orwell summarized The Soul of Man Under Socialism as Wilde’s vision of a society where machines/mechanization will free human effort from the burden of necessity where “in effect, the world will be populated by artists, each striving after perfection in the way that seems best to him,” [source].

“It will be a marvelous thing – the true personality of man – when we see it. It will grow naturally and simply, flowerlike, or as a tree grows. It will not be at discord. It will never argue or dispute. It will not prove things. It will know everything. And yet it will not busy itself about knowledge. It will have wisdom. Its value will not be measured by material things. It will have nothing. And yet it will have everything, and whatever one takes from it, it will still have, so rich will it be. It will not be always meddling with others, or asking them to be like itself. It will love them because they will be different. And yet while it will not meddle with others, it will help all, as a beautiful thing helps us, by being what it is. The personality of man will be very wonderful. It will be as wonderful as the personality of a child.” ~ Excerpted from The Soul of Man Under Socialism

The Soul of Man Under Socialism really speaks to the appreciation of art, fashion, and creative expression as an individual in our modern industrialized and economically collective society. It offers notions of thought that we can incorporate to our lifestyles that will bring a greater value of life to those who feel they can offer their own ray of light in this human experience. Orwell suggested that, “Wilde’s version of Socialism could only be realized in a world not only far richer but also technically far more advanced than the present one,” but more than 60 years after Orwell’s views were published in “The Observer”, it can be argued that civilization has made many leaps and bounds in technology which I am sure Orwell himself could not fathom in the 1940’s. Who’s to say that along with the realization of greater technologies that we cannot adjust our conventional wisdom to match the Utopian vision Wilde postulated in 1891, 60 years prior to Orwell’s review.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

à la mode: Five Days, Five Looks, One Girl: Simone Tetteh

Another example of how being "Smart is Beautiful" comes from Vogue and their "Five Days, Five Looks, One Girl" segment. The subject happens to be Simone Tettah, a Bookings Associate for the magazine. This self-proclaimed tom-girl at heart conjured some awesome looks for her work week that were so cleverly expressive of her personality that I had to offer this as another perfect example of how "Smart is Beautiful". On top of having great skin and hair, her clothes do exactly what they are supposed to do for someone with such illustrious hair, rich skin, and slim frame: they make them shine

I tell folks all the time that one of the best rules of thumb when dressing is to make sure your clothes make your skin look good (It's commandment number four in the 10 Dress Sexy Commandments) . If you can accomplish this, when someone looks at you it, won't matter what your wearing because people will see that your skin, your most important garment of all, is well taken care of. From my observations, one can't go wrong with the following in mind: darker skin does well with bright/bold colors OR pale soft colors as peach, camel, coral, and ivory; fair skin stands out with intense rich colors such as navy, red, black and hot pink; and skin colors in between tend to look nice with rich earthy colors (olive, range, gold, and brown) and soft pastels (plum, mauve, lavender, and pale blue). Simone's looks whether she is in the office looking prim and proper at work or dinner, or long boarding in the city after work in those awesome Nike Dunks, all her looks compliment how healthy her hair and skin look. Just as suggested by Bradley Bayou in his book, The Science of Sexy, she reveals and conceals in all the right places with the right combos of colors and clothing lengths, which makes her looks so effervescent, in my fashion. Please take a look at Tettah's explanations and reasoning for her sartorial decisions here for it certainly aids in understanding why her style choices aid her overall look. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

à la mode: Buffalo Girls

After reading Diana Vreeland’s biography by Eleanor Dwight, I realize what  an  influence  Ms.  “Dee-AHN-a” had on the fashion industry. She is a fantastic example of making (smart) decisions when it came to one’s dress, and the impact one’s dress has on others. Her son was quoted saying, “She makes you see and feel and smell what she is talking about,” which, in my fashion, is quite endearing of a person to express themselves in such a way.

For me, the joy of creating my own looks for myself comes from the fact that the best way for me to remember the things that happen in my life is through associations I form through what I was wearing at the time. When I dress a certain way for a certain event or day of my life, even though I may not be able to recall exactly what I had on, those feelings I had wearing those clothes are attached to that garment in some way. It’s like a way for me to chronicle my life for myself, so to speak. Displaying a certain flow to the story of my life keeps me inspired to live my day to the fullest, everyday, as to keep the story of my life soaring high. I am intent on making the most of myself in this life, and one must always look nice for destiny, correct?  Another quote that keeps ringing in my head that comes from Diana Vreeland’s biography is her philosophy that, “Fashion is theater,” and that she used this philosophy to live a fulfilling life day in and day out. Her credo: “Don’t just be your ordinary dull self. Why Don’t You be ingenious and make yourself into something else?”

The thrift is a great time-portal of insipration...

...a great place to take what you find and turn them into a work of your own, just as Diana Vreeland suggests above.
On that note, ‘tis the season to be (animated)! For instance, thinking about this coming fall and winter, I would say a good inspirational point of reference for our clothing decisions would be in choosing our favorite characters from our childhood Saturday morning cartoons and wear exactly what they wear!

As if jeans weren't already being exploited via ultra luminescent colors this past season, this month's August “denim” issue of Teen Vogue implies that  printed jean will be a good idea to consider when one thinks to participate in this ("new normal") trend that is in line with this (falls collections).

When I looked at the spread "Buffalo Girls" I immediately thought of how much fun it would be to go to the thrift store and find a way to make each one of these looks. This spread was actually inspired by the favored aesthetics of a late stylist by the name of, Ray Petri, who was on the pulse of 80’s British street fashion, “Buffalo Boys” being the Caribbean term for a rough street attitude. Editor-in-Chief, Amy Astly praises Petri for taking “the stuff of regular life,” and “turning it into fashion magic.”

The thing I love about thrift stores is the opportunity to really put your creative wits to good use, for instead of going to a store and choosing from the stores pre-selected styles that imply more ways to buy their clothes to look like the women they think you want to look like, thrifts stores really test your imagination to choose from a wide assortment of clothes and formulate your own idea of what looks great on you. In my fashion, it’s a test in filtering. Not only that, you can buy the clothes for so cheap, one can cut, safety pin, rip, add and twist the clothes you buy to be tailor made just for you, by you, and without the guilt of altering a pair of pants that cost $30 from a popular store.

As much as you would think thrift stores would have worn, and out of date clothes, if you should look deep inside yourself with a bit of open-mindedness, you might be less reluctant to consider the out-of-the-box ways of wearing the old and used items you find to fit into your style diaspora, ensuring a show of true originality and confident flare. In my fashion, "Buffalo Girls" is a good example of the similar items one can try to buy at the thrift store to match the playful looks dawned by these young girls. With the right amount of layering, and the correct combinations of interesting textures colors and prints, these examples open the imagination to what items to focus your sartorial search at the thrift.

Monday, August 6, 2012

READing Your Style: The Science of Sexy (Part 2 of 2)

Here are some rules of thumb continued from the first part of my "READing Your Style" post from Bradely Bayou’s book, The Science of Sexy that should help you further in choosing the right clothes for your body type. If followed, and executed correctly, I am sure your look will benefit and you will feel assured in the fact that whatever you are wearing, your look is one that is all your own and conjured solely for you, regardless of what anyone else thinks, for dressing to balance your body type is the best way to get some whistles from onlookers. Once you feel comfortable in what clothes you choose for yourself to look sexy in, that overwhelming feeling of internal confidence will surly find its way into your heart; it is that confidence that wants everyone to always have access to.

More in depth explanations to these commandments can be found by clicking through to read more…

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bit-O-Inspiro 10

Check out the documentary About Face: Supermodels Then and Now on HBO for it offers a wonderful retrospective of the fashion industry before, "the now". There is much to be learned from the experienced and wise on how "Smart is Beautiful".

Friday, August 3, 2012

à la mode: How to Rock the Retro Look

I had to pull out a spread I remember from the March 2012 issue of Glamour.  I have to say, what's more academic then the 50's retro look, honestly? You know those first few weeks of school when the weather is still relatively warm and you can still get away with wearing cute summer outfits? These dress ideas are great ways to standout in a seductively under toned 'come hither' manner yet appear appropriately and beautifully academic, (especially for curvy types). After all, you aren't just going to school to judge how your well you think your teacher is going to do this year, you're teachers are looking at you at as well. Your whole grade could depend on that first impression between the two of you; but aside from going down that slippery slope, Glamour does bring up a valid point about 50s dressing—that being, looking too 50's. I say keep it simple with a mix of a print, and a solid; or all print; or all solid with splashes of print. This is a tricky look only because one can start to look deftly like they are going 'back to the future', and that's what we want to avoid from onlookers. We are not in an episode of 'I Love Lucy', (as fabulous she was). Simplicity is often harder to create than extravagance. In my fashion, with this style, one wears it for a purpose, saying: "I am women! I know I am cute, and I do mean business!" You don't want to try to send that message with your clothes, and in all actuality you are looking like a ‘real-live’ cartoon to those you want to send the right message to, peers and teachers alike. If you can pull this look off right with the perfect balance of popping fabrics those first few weeks of school will set the tone for the rest of your semester, perfect for you to relax and start to choose more comforting, heavier looks for that pending chill of fall. That's when you can have fun choosing more layered and dramatic looks that are comfortable and show off your creative side parlaying into the New Normal trend that was so apparent during the Fall 2012 collections. OR, you could keep up with your 50’s vibe by simply adding statement stockings with your statement dresses that will bring that summer spirit right along with you through the cold season, warming up everyone around you during the dead of winter. The 'cherry-on-top' tip to really pulling off this look though, of course, is to actually get good grades! Even if you come into class looking like a cartoon, your actions will have to speak louder than your look soon enough! After all, we are at school aren’t we? Send the right message, and strive for excellence.  

Good Retro vs. Bad Retro:

Good Retro

  • High-waist anything with a wide belt is the perfect vehicle for an hourglass shape.
  • A tutu (really!) under a swingy skirt. Instant party!
  • Cap sleeves. Somehow they turn even a T-shirt into a blouse.
  • A high pony tail. Show off your face, just like your mama always told you to.
  • One retro piece at a time: You don't want a sweet cardigan and capris and that pony.
Bad Retro
  • Girdles! Oppressive. Let 'em stay buried with the Cold War.
  • Poodle skirts. For October 31 only, please.
  • Vintage clip-on earrings. They look so good but hurt so bad. You'll need Advil.
  • Trying to live today's life with yesturday's handbag. Nothing's wrong with a prim little box clutch; just bring a tote too! 

*Simple rule: If the shape is retro, choose a modern fabric, and vice versa. Works every time.*