Friday, January 09, 2015

Monday, January 05, 2015

From the archives

I can't believe its already over 2 years since I wrote the article below wow!
Please re read from the archives while I try to shake a nasty cold.


Find your own Personal Style!

I attended a funeral service last week, with a high antecedence of black folk and just a spattering of whites and others. First of all, let me repeat the point I made in the past, about how black folks love black to the detriment of stylish presentation. As you can imagine, the black crowd appeared to be in their element with this all out licence to wear black!

I noticed a few folk who chose other sombre colors. I have mentioned that I myself am trying to move away from black but as old legacies die hard (that sturdy coat you bought in black or those pretty charcoal suede heels you adore), I still have black stuff I can freely access and so I was – without even especially planning it- in mostly black.

Anyway apart from a few black women who made the effort to look well turned out even in all black, I am afraid the long skirts and those Germanesque practical shoes and denier 100 black stockings, were in full display, of course teamed with all sorts of curious pentecostal hats and not to forget shapeless coats!
To be fair many of the women in these I-am-not-even-trying-to-look-good apparels where middle aged, but there is truly an issue in terms of how black women in Britain dress and their whole sense of style. I am not just pointing outward, I include myself in this critique. And yes there are a range of real reasons why black women might be experiencing lack of choice when it comes to style and dressing. Our particular comon shaping (bigger bust and hip area), can mean that we quite quickly develop a love affair with stretchy fabric so we are not wrestling with buttons and zips or a loose waisted skirt with a tight hip area. I personally know how frustrating it is to go into shops (even those that dress larger women), and try on dress after dress and still not find any to fit. I know that many of us with our body shapes are confined to shapeless clothes in dull colors by clothes companies who dont know what to do with our proportions or refuse to spend extra to tailor for larger women. I know the heartbreak of ordering clothes online only to have to return every single one of them for sizing issues.


These are some ideas of styling/dressing for black women

  • Don’t be too focussed on fashion trends, instead make it a life long journey to hunt for pieces that fit and compliment and attest to your unique style, then keep these staples around as long as possible. Be a collector so to say, of fine clothes – don't wear out good fitting clothes, and think of buying multiples of an item of clothing that works, even in other colors.If a pencil skirt of a particular style and make works for you for instance, why not go back and get a couple more. Think of buying two or three, even in different colors.
  • Every black woman should visit a stylist every couple of years and this is critical once you hit your thirties. There is even the option to go shopping with your stylists. Get your color wheel sorted out as well, so you know what colors and color tone work for your skin type even in terms of makeup.
  • Focus on building an individual style. Leave the crowd behind. Grow your own hair for instance (there are many methods available now to achieve this goal -watch this space), and put aside the weaves and wigs as a staple of your look. Look after your skin as it is the foundation of your look!
  • Every black woman needs a skin lightner (I kid you not and this isnt an invitation to self-hate so calm down!) Having melanin means on average, a greater tendency to have black spots and discolored patches. A little outbreak of pimples and you are left with black marks for the next couple of weeks! In effect if you have outbreaks once every month which could be termed mild, because of the black spots that result you are however never free from the signs of acne from month to month (acne then marks, then acne and marks and so on). I am noticing even more, black women with uneven tone, some have serious melasma where it looks like they have rubbed their faces in soot (and as dark black skin ages this soot-on-face look can become even more apparent). A good skin lightner/brightner or peel, to address discoloration and even skin tone can be of great service to black skin. The aim in this case is not to make you lighter but maintain what you have! 
  • Know what works and don’t forget it in this whole crazy rush to change clothes and update wardrobes every season! If you get a styling right, why not take a picture of your ensemble -preferably with you in the picture-and build a scrap book. This is so handy when you have to find an outfit for a party or an interview etc quickly. Why spend hours shopping for something, when you can flick through your scrap book and decide in minutes the best look for you and also discover that you already have pieces that work in your wardrobe! Scrap books also help you develop and discover a sense of your own style.
  • Support wear is a must. A good deal of my clothes budget goes on support wear. A smooth line and uplifted bust and butt, does wonders even under tent like clothes. That’s how effective shape wear is. For many of us, shape wear needs to be built into our everyday dressing, so you must have several girdles etc. I would suggest, go for a fitting. There are companies and tailors that can make individually fitting corsets and shape wear. I would pay the money to have this done. It is an investment that is well worth it (some of us end up with off the shelf shape wear that rides up or down etc as the day wears on and a tailor-made corset etc can be a good guard against this happening).
  • Loose weight and exercise for firmness. This goes without saying and enables you to have access to the best clothing on offer as opposed to being an after-thought of clothing companies. There is something about sizing of clothes that means that the bigger you get the more likely you are to experience acutely, a mismatch of sizes on your upper and lower parts. Rolls of fat accumulating in specific areas can also force you into sizes that end up being too big in fit in particular areas, because body disproportionality increases with size.
  • Spend good money where you need to, do not skimp (shape wear, bras, girdles, shoes, coats).
  • Try other colors than black (try navy, silver, grey, black green, forest, camel etc). See if you can go three days of the week without an item of black (even your bag!).
  • Remember people make a large part of assumptions about us by how we dress, use this to your advantage and take pride in creating an intriguing style and look. Speaking to the world through your sense of style and creating this style can be such fun. I am a creative person and nothing gives me more creative pleasure tha designing a look! 

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