Sunday, November 22, 2009


I am so tired of being told that I can fix everything. It makes me feel like I am able to control - like I should control - every element of my existence. As a card-carrying control-freak, this is fuel to the flame. I'm sick of the media, of my community, of my own thought-patterns holding me hostage to unrealistic expectation.

No doubt, there are some things that, depite effort, some (though not all) people cannot control some (if not all) of the time. Among these: weight, appetite, fertility, socioeconomic status, body shape, job satisfaction, health, luck, sexual preference (I mean what you like, not whom)- and the list goes on.

I know it's not a popular modern concept to suggest that you may never be able to afford that yacht (or modest house in the neighbourhood of your choice). That you may never have a child, despite it being your greatest goal. That you may face frightening illness someday. That you might be the person with the metabolism that just will not let go of that final 20 pounds.

It's heavy, I realize. But I going somewhere with this.

In the face of all the things you can't necessarily control, there is one thing you can nab everytime. It's as simple as addition and as elegant as complex geometry.

You can dress like a movie star, trust me - in 99% of circumstances (I know there's always an exception) - even if you are low on funds, 20 pounds above your desired weight, saddened by life's challenges, hateful of your workplace, confused because (no matter how hard you try) your abs are still not rock hard etc.

Here's what you do:

Wear the right size.
  • Take your measurements. I know, it's like heresy, but embrace the fear and do it anyway. What you will learn is that each of your various body parts has a certain circumference, measured in inches or centimetres. It's not rocket science. And it's not that scary when you consider that the numbers are simply a means of determining the right size of clothing to purchase or to make or have made.
  • Take a tape measure shopping with you. You don't have to look like a freak in the showroom. Bring some stuff that should fit into the change room and measure while you test for stretch (which will impact the measurement somewhat unknowably). Then try it on. If everything you grabbed was too small (or big), because you're basing your choices on some imaginary mental image of your shape, no problem. Go a size up or down and try again.
  • Make sure anything you buy is returnable. Show your new wares to a really well-dressed friend and ask him or her to give you an honest opinion of fit (not style). If you get a polite but negative response, take the goods in question back to the store and try yet another size - or forgo the item altogether if it's just not cut right for you.
Wear Good Fabric.
  • This is where having tons of cash helps, though isn't a prerequisite. Understand that if you don't have money you need either a really good eye or a lot of time and probably a combo of both. Looking good takes time. You know that already. I mean, to point 1 above, you'll probably spend 2 hours in one store searching on fit - on numerous occasions. So what's a few days hunting down the right fit at a price you can afford. Note: As many will advise, thrifting and vintage will be your ticket to good fabric at the right price. If you don't like pre-owned, you'll have to get lucky or save your bucks. Or you could learn to sew. But that's a long-term strategy. Seriously.
  • Good fabric has nice drape predicated on gauge and its suitability for the garment it's been used to make. In general, medium-weight, slightly stretchy fabrics skim many bodies attractively. They can be synthetic, natural or a mix of both. I suggest you hang out at a fabric store one afternoon and walk around feeling the bolts. Or you can touch everything, everywhere. That's what I do. No piece at Club Monaco/Holt Renfrew/Ca Va de Soi escapes my touch. If you think the fabric looks dicey, it probably does.
Suit your shape.
  • If you don't really "get" your proportions, it's a mere accident when you find something that looks right. Of course, paying attention to that first, accidental item is key to locating other - and similar - shapes that fit on purpose. You can read a lot of style books that will tell you if you have a short waist or relatively long arms. Or you could try on a zillion styles and learn what works as you go along. Once your eye acclimates, you'll know exactly what to pick up (and what to leave) every time.
  • You are a fingerprint. No other person, save maybe your mother or sister, will have anywhere near the same shape and proportions as you. The way weight settles on you is bound to be different than the way it settles on me. We can share the same body measurements and still not suit the same items. The combination of shape and drape with your frame is utterly unique. That's why you have to keep trying stuff on in order to know what works.
Be comfortable in your body.
  • This is the substance of whole decades of psychotherapy for some, but this basic rule applies: To change your attitude about your body you need to change your brain chemistry. You can do that with drugs or exercise or sex other mood altering behaviours. Find one that works.
  • Not to harp, but yoga is particularly useful in achieving this goal. Many studies show that people who do yoga experience greater body awareness which leads to the adoption of habits that make them healthier in the long run. Yoga's main influence is on the endocrine system - neurotransmitters and hormones. When those are in balance, one is grounded emotionally and body shape and skin tone are optimal. The action of asana (poses) is to stabilize the skeleton and lengthen muscles. This reinforces symmetry - a healthful quality that greatly assists in the elegant wearing of clothing.
  • If you don't feel it, neither will we. The basis of attractiveness is recognizing what you bring to the table. Which is, in itself, based on gratitude. You may not possess Elle MacPherson's body - but the one you have enjoys the pleasures of this life. It mobilizes you and it heals you when you're sick - not to mention it's the image you project. Regular and organized movement will make you aware of your body's awesome achievements. Be confident and you will look confident. Which is always attractive.


  1. Oh this is so true! And another big part of finding what suits your body type - don't just wear something because it's suddenly fashionable, wear it IF it suits you. If not, please, put it back on the rack and step away! Simple :)

    xx Kit

  2. Funny you should say that .. the movie star bit but might I recommend the classical Hollywood period, a wealth of glamour. And to imitate doesn't require breaking the bank.

  3. I think this is why I've always been fond of fashion.

    You should talk to some of my friends who have had cancer and been told that if they thought more positively they wouldn't have it...gross.

  4. I don't usually comment (I'm shy), but I love reading your blog and we share a mutual love of Club Monaco...Just wanted to leave a little note for ya...Additional 50% off all sale merch. I scored some great Christmas gifts ;)

  5. Oh K... that is sound, very sound advice, I have a question though... I hurt me knee and still trying to shed the last 20lbs.... to be at my GOAL, of all goals, but I've never tried Yoga.

    Is there a beginner DVD you recommend?

  6. you are so right. i am flawed through and through, and can't control much in my life, but i always feel better when i put extra effort into my appearance. i will never be a model or thin, but i think i do pretty damn well with what i've got.

    and thank you for your comment. i am trying not to freak, and hope things will be ok one way or another. i will update when i get news.

  7. Agreed. I go through long periods of not buying anything b/c of the poor, fit, cut, fabric, etc., but when I find something I like, I snap it up, often in several colors.

  8. I think about all this when I'm about to spend big money. Luckily, I don't do that often, so things are pretty uncomplicated for me most of the time.

    But when I buy an important dress, I think of this long list of concerns.

  9. Kit: It is so true. Not everything need work for everyone!

    Kate: Well you are the expert on looking great. I do think that money makes it quicker, but not necessarily easier...

    Wendy: I know. It's very tough when things happen and you are indoctrinated to believe that somehow you brought it upon yourself...

    Miss J: Thanks for your comment. I mean, you like my blog and CM - your're a girl after my own heart :-)

    April: Not sure about good beginner videos at this point. I haven't seen any in a while. I do think that is a great resource with podcasts and online DVDs of all styles and levels. Check it out. Very good service I used to subscribe to.

    ~h: Thank you!

    J: It is about using image to make you feel good. We all have the option to look good - sometimes we don't have the knowledge or the impetus to make it happen. It's going to be alright, I'm sure. It really is tough to go through hols with that kind of glitch in the background. Eat some pumkin pie to take the edge off :-)

    Miss C: Such a smart course of action...

    E: The best way to be gorgeous, but not high maintenance, is to learn it once and apply it forever, don't you agree?

  10. Great continuation on a theme.

    Some part of me believes that if I make the effort to dress well (not necessarily expensively, but to present myself well) I feel better, and that is often enough armament to take on the world, which is cruelly unfair.

  11. Thanks M. I don't think it's unfair. What's unfair is that so few people understand it! :-)