DO NOT judge a book by its cover a familiar statement warning against the perils of passing judgment based on mere outward appearance. The fact is, however, people do form opinions based on what they initially see. And whether or not the book ever gets read may well depend on how inviting the cover is.
And so it goes with people. First impressions may not be correct, or even fair, but they often are the factor determining success or failure, credibility or lack of it. As one researcher on the effect of clothing said: What people see not what they hear has a far greater impact.
Society places excessive importance upon appearance. In fact, success often seems to depend on looks. For example, the most attractive people seem to have more opportunities in the job market. Pilar Muriedas, one of the directors of the Latin-American and Caribbean Womens Health Network, says that for women, having a good image is one of the principal requirements for success. And according to Dr. Laura Martnez, women well know that ultimately image counts for a lot when it comes to being hired.
The fact that a particular look or style is the thing to wear does not mean that we need to accept it readily without further scrutiny. Why, then, do many of us find ourselves so gullibly donning whatever the fashionmongers and designers dictate?
Acceptability. It is natural to want to be liked and accepted by others. And the fashion industry, particularly in developed countries, has promoted this desire by creating a false and fickle standard of what is beautiful. Each season new fads are pushed on the public in an attempt to establish what will make you acceptable, in vogue whether you look good in it or not. But a woman should ask herself, Does this style really suit me? And even when a certain garment does look attractive on you, there is something else to consider.
Accountability. While the fashion world may promote the anything-goes philosophy, much of the business world does have a dress code. For instance, regarding Western countries, notice the hefty list of donts from magazines and books on proper dress for a job interview: Dont wear slacks or too much makeup. Dont be flamboyant (wild hairdo, long red nails). Dont wear a low-cut dress or blouse. Never reveal bare shoulders or bare back. Dont wear too short a skirt, below the knee is best. Dont wear hose with runs. Dont wear noisy, jangly jewelry. Dont wear party clothes. Dont wear anything faddish, extreme. If actions speak louder than words, then clothing has a powerful pair of lungs.
Adaptability. Just as excessively faddish clothing will detract from us and any message we present to others, so, too, will a very old-fashioned, outdated appearance. But adaptability taking attractive, modest styles and fitting them to our figure and life-style will create a radiant, confident woman who is happy with herself. But how do you do that?
Head for the Closet Before the Store
With all this information you should run straight out to the store, right? Wrong. March straight to your closet. We are going to empty it, sort through what you have and learn how to combine new outfits from existing clothes. Did you know that from 12 articles of clothing you can create 48 different outfits?
Fig leaves? They were first on the fashion scene and inappropriate from the start. Fig leaves were immodest. But many women want to enhance their appearance, and yet to do that so many have to deal with those nasty little things called figure flaws!
Balance is the key word. By using proportion, color and style, you can balance out the discrepancies, thus creating an illusion.
Proportion: You are trying to average out your overall figure through clothing. Do not concentrate on one particular flaw at the expense of putting everything else out of proportion. Decide what you need to make you appear larger or smaller, then fit your clothing so as to compensate.
Color: Proper use of color can also fool the eye. Some colors pick up your complexion, while others make it look washed out. The eye will be attracted to a complimentary skin/color combination rather than to figure flaws.
Style: To test a style for modesty, stand in front of a full-length mirror, viewing yourself from all angles. Bend forward. Sit down. Cross your legs. In each position, did the garment remain modest? Would you wear it to a job interview or before prominent officials? Next stand before the mirror (or a friend) with a bright light behind you. If the material is thin or slightly sheer, do your undergarments keep it modest when the light hits you (as would sunlight or other strong light)? Or are they just as thin or sheer, thereby rendering the garment immodest? Do you feel comfortable in it? When in doubt, do without.
For overall balance some general guidelines are:
● Dark colors slim and elongate
● Bright colors tend to enlarge, attract the eye
● All one color gives unbroken line that is long and lean
● Tight clothes accentuate both underweight and overweight bodies. Fabric should skim the body to flow gracefully. Skirts and the like should fit smoothly to middle of buttocks, then flow down, not hugging, touching or cupping. For best looks and comfort, no matter what size you are, clothing should be worn slightly loose.
● Skirt length appropriate to leg if just skims back of leg where calf begins to curve in. (About one to two inches below the knee.) However, many women are more comfortable with a lower hemline. Hemlines too high cut legs short and may be fig leaves if immodestly high. And consider, too, that in countries such as Burma or India a hemline revealing the ankles may qualify as a fig leaf.
Now add the
finishing touches with accessories. These should be uncluttered better
understated than overdone.
One magazine showed
a basic, classic suit from which five completely different, but stunning,
outfits were made by simply changing the accessories. And that is the key to
dressing on a shoestring budget. Start with basic, classic styles, even if you
own only one dress, streamlined to your shape and coloring, and then dress it
up or down with jewelry, scarves, shawls, belts, handbags, jackets, stockings,
shoes, and so forth. One does not need to own all these accessories; just one
simple ribbon can create a new outfit and a happy mood!
Like clothing, accessories should receive proper attention and fit the occasion. Scuffed, unpolished shoes would be fine for gardening but not for business appointments or dressy events. Check that there are no runs in your stockings. What about handbags? Are they tattered, torn and overstuffed, with straps taped together, or are they clean and comfortably filled? Broken, chipped fingernails with peeling nail polish will ruin the nicest outfit. And the loveliest of appearances can be lost if hair, hats or wigs are not clean, neat and appropriate. Otherwise, you may find that people remember the sore spot rather than you or anything you said.