Category Archives: clothes

Ukraine to US, my wardrobe adjastments

It has been already seven months since I moved to US, and I think I’m starting to figure it out.

I’m still myself, so I tend to be little bit overdressed on a daily basis due to my taste for simple clothes made from very pricey materials. But I think that I can live with that. I better be whispered about than uncomfortable. Being really challenged in the area of thermoregulation and having dry and sensitive skin makes me really picky. I can’t withstand cheap poly, any sheep or lamb wool or alpaca, and linen. I don’t like viscose and acetate. And cotton (except see-through batiste) IMO is too heavyweight for hot summer days (if I wear jeans when it’s 85F I will be wishing not have been born). All that said no wander I wear silks on a daily basis in summer and I often wear skirts* and this hasn’t been changed because I moved.

So my normal office day wardrobe for super hot weather is something like this

My summer wardrobe choices

My summer wardrobe choices

As you can see it’s pretty conservative and there are couple of almost exact duplicates (I really have three Michael Kors crossbody bags and two pairs of exactly the same aviator sunglasses in silver and in gold). J. Crew dress replaces my actual dress which is custom made from silk and has very similar design. Pants are also custom made from 4ply silk crepe and have a drawstring in hems (they cut for heels, but can be adjusted to flats). I haven’t included heels here, because I never wear them to office. There are more tops in real life, but their character depicted by what I have in the picture. I’m going to add couple of midi skirts here, but I can’t say that I want much more diversity.

As for the days when it’s not that hot I think I found the solution how to make my wardrobe more diverse. First of all I invested** in some shorter knits which won’t be harmed that much by my beloved cross body bags. I also got full midi skirt for the days I’m really tired of wearing jeans. I bought more jeans, but not in blue: one are taupe and one are black. I’m going to wear two more crossbodies I added this summer: gray and hot pink. So I won’t have a feeling that I’m wearing a uniform in autumn. I’m going to wear classic shirts and blue jeans as well of cause as I was wearing them in spring, but not five days a week. Not anymore.

The only problem (and it’s а huge problem for me) is that I haven’t bought enough shoes for autumn. I was literally in every store nearby and I bought and sent back several pairs online. No luck so far (and for some of them price tag went as far as $400 on sale, yes, I’m that desperate!). And I need at least two pairs : high boots and something like fashion sneakers of loafers.

Here is a concept for this autumn and winter

Here is a concept for this autumn and winter***

Other than that life was and is really good. I love Silicone Valley. It always makes me fascinated and happy to see how mountains turn peach when I’m driving back home on sunset and blue when it’s raining (not too often) or fog comes. I really like people I’m working with. And I feel much safer.

* Yeah, if you don’t have chaffing problem you very likely feel more cool in a full or A-line skirt and full and A-line skirts don’t restrain your moves at all, very short skirts can make you conscious about where your hem is and it’s especially true for short full skirts, but I stopped wearing them when I was a teen

** Actually I spent too much money not invested, you can’t invest in clothes no matter what Vogue says. If it doesn’t bring you money it’s just an expense ))

*** There are more shirts than one (in fact it’s five), but they all are almost the same and the only difference is color, dark green sweater is actually black and skirt is a little bit longer, there are also more pashminas, but it would be too cluttered if I add them all.


Moving the house and adjusting the wardrobe

I must admit that moving to US brought more changes than I thought.

I changed lifestyle (from working from home remotely to office full time), climate (Ukraine has crazy dark humid cold winters, hot summers with thunderstorms and short spring and autumn and where I live in US it’s warm winter, hot summer, very long spring and autumn with almost no rains all over the year), and culture is different.

I knew that changes would be inevitable when I moved here, and some of them were very obvious (you don’t really need fur lined high boots and seriously warm gloves in California e. g.). But some of them were very unexpected: for example I’m not able to wear many of my jerseys which are perfectly work appropriate and in a good condition, because now I wear small cross-body all the time (it’s really practical in very large open space office for a person who hates pockets, but piling becomes horrible for longer cardigans and sweaters).

Not even 5% of my wardrobe, but you can get the feeling of it

Not even 5% of my wardrobe, but you can get the feeling of it

So my wardrobe and I are still in the process of transition. The main trick is to make some changes to the wardrobe without changing overall impression. For some people to change overall impression is a main goal of buying new wardrobe, but I was quite happy with what my clothes say about me (I like to think that it was ‘creative professional woman at her 30s who likes comfort and cares about aesthetic”). But right now my clothes would say completely different things if I were wearing them the way I was wearing them at home.

Today staples of my wardrobe are button down shirts, jeans (slim, but not really skinny), tough looking boots on medium thick heels and leather jackets (black mid-thigh long and dark plum short biker jacket). I often add scarf. Nice, but I really need some more ideas for business casual.

So, what is my problem? My problem is that I’m bored to death and I wear the same boots 90% of time.

At home I had very long winter and quite long summer (well they were equally long in days, but anybody who lived in a cold climate with almost no sun November to March can easily guess what felt longer), so I have a lot of nice summer sandals, and I have several pairs of fur lined boots (totally don’t need them in CA).  Other than that it’s sad: Diesel sneakers which almost died after a month of wearing them really often, old Nike sneakers which shouldn’t be worn to office, purple patent pumps and high heel booties (too dressed up obviously). Then I after many really desperate hours I bought Steve Madden boots and have at least something to wear. Actually I have a feeling that I’m living in a shoe desert. There are tons of shoes everywhere, but they are all wrong! Too narrow, not a good quality, there is no my size (8, sometimes 7.5, sometimes 8.5, nothing exotic!), cost like a Boeing wing, wrong color, colorway is not available in shops that ship to US etc etc. I almost feel like I’m going to accept ‘cost like a Boeing wing’ option. No budget friendly small Italian brands I loved so much, so I almost ready for Prada and Marni.

Problem is that here I have more casual environment and being creative about my looks wouldn’t be punished, but it wouldn’t be supported either. There is nobody who can appreciate such things as playing with textures in total black or nice combination of purple and cobalt of the same brightness  and lightness in accessories. And this is just discouraging. Don’t get me wrong: I love California with all my heart: it still amazes me how beautiful it is. I love how warm winter months are and how much sun we have. I really like people: they are all different and they created really great atmosphere here. So I’m happier person now, but I’m not really sure if I can be useful as a source of style and sartorial advice anymore.Well, at least I can do bra reviews time to time ))

Hourglass, pear, apple, rectangle, inverted triangle – what body type tells you and what not

This post is going to be more of sartorial philosophy than about detailed recommendations. If you need instructions how to determine your body type you can find it here.

I want to share my thought about what body type means for us and how knowing it or trying to determine it can be not only beneficial, but sometimes also harmful.

First of all it’s a way to identify yourself. When you are saying: I am hourglass (or pear, or whatever), it’s not just a label, there are some associations which almost everybody has, because they are translated by media, incorporated in the culture, you can have it even if you don’t know any body type classification! Several examples of myths which are attached body types: hourglass is considered to be perfect, but a little bit outdated, but when on extreme she must be a porn star, pear is the most feminine of them all, all models are slim rectangles, etc.

Then, second, when you know your body type you can easily found a ton of advise how to dress.  You have detailed descriptions what necklines are the best, what width should be your pants, where top hem should end etc etc… (inverted triangles shouldn’t wear tops which are embellished on shoulders, hourglass should avoid dropped waist, pear shouldn’t wear skinny jeans…)

But I think that there is a trap. When you happily (or not so happily) identified your body type there is always a danger to think about yourself as a body type instead of the real person. Being hourglass does not define who I am, it even does not define how I look. It just gives some idea about that. But it tells nothing about my facial features, my charisma, not even about my legs and arms, my neck, my posture, about the way I move. It doesn’t tell a thing about my personality and how I prefer to express it. It tells nothing about what I love about myself, what I would like to accentuate and what I would be happy to downplay. And all this is very important to choose clothes wisely.

Another trap is that body type stereotypes and associations are loaded. And some of them are loaded negatively. Apples could be seen as shapeless, inverted triangles as not feminine etc. So many women don’t want to be shapeless, or not feminine  and to archive that they deny reality, they find well defined waist with 3″ difference between  waist and hips, long legs with body to legs proportion 5 : 3 and so on. Then they start to dress the body they want instead of the body they have and hate mirrors.

Or it can be not just right for your personality. Hourglass should be all feminine and ladylike, they say? But what if you one of that girls who like hiking, baseball, beer and work in a fire department? I would bet that you would feel uncomfortable like hell in all that pencil skirts and heels suggested for your body type. Triangles are sporty and even masculine? What if it’s not what you are? And you are indeed delicate, kind, soft, hate everything that makes you sweat and strongly prefer cashmere to neoprene?

So, what’s the solution?

Identify goals: what you want to archive with your clothes (find a husband, get some extra points for your carrier, express your personality)

Identify what you have, what your physical characteristics are and what expression they create (broad shoulders translate strength, tan is about being active, tiny soft hands about being delicate an so on, so on, it might have nothing in common with how things really are and the same features mean different things to different people, but there are some constants here and associations are always almost unavoidable).

Identify how your proportions are different from the standard proportions artists have for ‘how to draw a proportional person’*. And ask yourself a question: “do I want to correct them?”.

Identify how you want to appear (I want to look put together and reliable|creative and energetic and intelligent for my carrier e. g.). And what you want to correct or emphasize for this look. But be realistic: you can’t appear delicate if you are 6 foot tall, naturally muscular and have broad shoulders. You can’t rock tomboy if you have very large difference between waist and hips and/or large breasts or large overall . If you try you just make a fool of yourself.  So self acceptance and common sense are important here.

How it works: let’s say you have inverted triangle body type and your shoulders are wider than your hips. Overall expression: strong, often athletic. if you want to look strong and intelligent – perfect! your shoulders say “physical strength”, so you don’t want to hide them, you want to highlight them! But if you want to look or feel feminine then you want to downplay and balance them.

Or. I feel that tomboy is the most close to my heart, but in reality I look like impersonation of Mother Earth. OK, let’s be realistic: what can be expressed? You can express funny and active in any body type, age and size. And downplay gender. So: no to very form hugging and accents on breasts, waist and hips, yes to bright colors, flat soles, funny prints on T-shirts, short hair, visually slimming clothes. But also no to very boyish clothes and accessories and too strait lines, acceptance of the fact that this is a body of a grown up woman. Note that this is mostly NOT about body type.

And now comes very important part: you need to understand optical illusions (I have some posts about Prints and optical illusions, but subject is much wider than that, I know some good sources in Russian explaining how lines created by clothes and textures are changing the perceived shape, but not in English, sorry, that I can’t provide good links here, may be I will write some posts later, but meanwhile you can google optical illusions and apply to clothes illusions which are about lines, angles and perceived size).

Most of advise about dressing body types is based on using optical illusions and trying  to create an illusion of more slim, tall and proportional body which is somewhere in between rectangle and hourglass more close to the last**. So if you know optical illusions you can create not that standard ideal body, but you can to a certain point control the impression your body creates and make it more close to what you want, and not to what is considered beautiful by mass media right now.

But overall shape of your body is only a part of the impression you create, colors have at least the same importance. And personal style is more important than lines and color combined.


* Those are considered to be universal harmony and AFAIK can be traced back to Leonardo da Vinci drawings

**If it’s what you want then you can save a lot of time using Google to get instructions how to get closer, but you will be missing a lot of fun.

Prints and optical illusions. Animal prints and camouflage

This is continuation of the series. You can find previous posts by tag Prints and optical illusions.

Background and foreground colors, level of contrast play the same role for animal prints as for any other print: darker colors are more slimming, contrast is widening.  But animal prints also have one very different and very distinct characteristic they inherited from animal coloring they were copied from. They are blurring and flattening. And more close to the classic design from mother nature more blurring and flattening the print is. The reason for that is that most animals have protective coloration. Pray tries to be not seen by predators, predators try to be invisible for their pray until it’s too late. Bottom line: hiding themselves helps animals survive. And even if zebra stripes or leopard spots look very distinct and contrasting when we are looking right at them, they still have the same quality: they distort, blur and hide, but this effect shows itself only from some distance.

Leopard is here

Leopard is here


Say hello to big guy )

Camouflage prints have the same quality because that’s why they were designed in the first place (zoologists and entomologists did a great work during WW2 and after to help the military to create classic camouflages).  So when we are wearing fashion versions we are prone to the camouflage effects – distorting, flattening and blurring. If a fashion version has a lot of grays in urban environment the effect could be quite noticeable especially when the light is poor.

Impressive, isn't it?

Impressive, isn’t it? (it’s one of new US camouflages)

So in my opinion animal prints are your worst enemies when you want to highlight shape, because they add a little blur, flatten. This can also can be used to erase some lamps and bumps, but it usually needs some “frame” to avoid shapelessness. Animal print tunic or dress plus dark jacket or coat could be very efficient in hiding pregnancy.

Leopard dress from Asos. Totally shapeless, you can't even tell where is body and where are sleeves

Leopard dress from Asos. Totally shapeless, you can’t even tell where is body and where are sleeves

Same dress from Asos in black, no you can see some shape

Same dress from Asos in black, no you can see some shape and tell where is what

One more thing about such prints worth mentioning: in semitransparent tights animal prints can look like some sort of skin disease.

Emm... not the best look

Emm… not the best look

But very bright and contrasting print can look good if styled right.

Photo from HK leggings blog, I think she looks seriously cool

Photo from HK leggings blog, I think she looks seriously cool

It’s usually safer to use animal prints  in small items (accessories and shoes).

Camouflage is always about fashion statement or some quirk, some sarcasm.* So I think this is the case when print illusions are less important than its sartorial message. But I would say that in tops, especially if jersey is involved it looks not so good.

My personal preference for animal and camouflage (I don’t take it serious): silk and very loose fit with dark belt and only top or skirt, not dress. And not classical coloring (except zebra), because I have neutral-to-cool coloring, so most classic colorways are too warm for me. I’m not the biggest fan of animal prints to tell the truth, because they are very demanding and it’s very easy to look bad or vulgar in them, but if you manage to master them, they could be gorgeous. I would say they usually look their best paired with bright casual or very neutral classical clothes and a lot of bare skin is great no-no. Another option: very classic and upscale item (like super-conservative coat).

Fabulous example how to wear leopard print from Sartorialist blog

This classical coat doesn't look boring because of the print, but print doesn't make it tacky, because it's so classic. Perfect!

This classical coat doesn’t look boring because of the print, but the print doesn’t make it tacky, because it’s so classic. Perfect!

Camouflage could be also worn seriously as a sign of non-conformism or like a social statement, but I’m too far from all such movements to give advise about how to wear it that way. **

*There are of cause cases when such items are bought from army or specialty stores because they  are relatively cheap, quite comfortable and durable, but I think vast majority of people (all that hunters, strike ball players, agricultural workers, campers and many others) who buy and use camouflage like this don’t really care how they look when they are wearing it.

** Although I’m pretty positive that shirt and pants from the same set and army boots in the city are totally uncool unless you are tall, super fit and serving your country 🙂

My style personality and what identifying it meant for my wardrobe

This post is my personal experience about implementation of style personalities theory described in …but style is forever post, so if you didn’t read it, some things may be a little bit cryptic.

When I figured out what my style personality was it meant that half of my wardrobe should go.

But that wasn’t really a loss, it was more like a revelation. I don’t miss a baggy shirt which was kind of cute, but made me feel sad about myself, a frilly sundress which made me frumpy and kind of rough (oh, great power of contrast, ultrafeminine and delicate clothes could make any strong line in your face or body look masculine and rough instead of making you look more feminine), tracking sandals which were comfortable and kind of good for rainy weather, but totally out of place for my wardrobe. I can go on and on, but I think you got the idea 🙂 .

And when clothes which wasn’t about me, clothes, which were bought because they were functionally closing some gap in my wardrobe or because one of my friends liked them began to go away, I was able to built something new, something more about me and something that was much more easy to mix and match. I’m still in the process right now and I haven’t get rid of all the clothes which are not not my style, there are several items I haven’t replaced yet, because great transitions are not that easy (not only financially, but also in terms of time spent and it’s just difficult to throw away that much). But now I’m in a much better place than when I started my journey.

When I first read about classification from …but style is forever post I was curious, but totally unable to identify myself. Dramatic was very obvious, but what was also very clear for me, that it’s not the only part of the equation, I’m bold and sometimes extravagant, I like when simple things are developed to the level when they can be called art, but in the same time my approach to life is much more practical, it’s also more calm and not that much of an attention seeker. I value comfort and effortlessness of everyday life. But I was unable to identify myself with Classic style personality until I stopped concentrating on stereotypes. Two styles are usually described as comfy: Natural and Town&Country. So I tried to apply myself to one of these styles (because I value comfort very much) and failed miserably (I was even unable to differentiate them sometimes in the beginning and options proposed for them never looked right for me to wear). That time I thought that it should be some problem with the system or with my analytic abilities, or most likely I just don’t have enough background. So I stopped my attempts to identify myself, but didn’t stop reading about the system, because it was fascinating how harmonious capsules created by stylists looked and after awhile my sartorial satori just hit me: every style personality could value comfort, we just understand it differently, so I shouldn’t be blinded by word ‘comfort’, I should think about how I understand it.

It is actually laughable: my understanding of comfort is cashmere and silk for clothes, regular dinnerware and table for a picnic (lets make it in the yard, instead of going out of the city), spinner bag instead of rucksack, every item on its place and outsourcing cleaning. Sounds snobbish and outdated, maybe? That’s ok, we, Classics, often accused of that. I don’t wear my only power suit, because I don’t have environment with business formal dress-code in my life, I don’t own a pearl necklace and a mink coat, either. I have an allergy for yellow gold (and I’m not sure if I want to experiment with white), so I wear stainless steel fashion jewelry in my ears, not half-carat diamonds and not pearls. But aforementioned facts don’t make me less Classic. Because it’s in my approach to life: effort-effective, practical, weighed, but with great accent on aesthetics. It’s in a habit to think twice and to do some research before trying something new (even if it’s something small like material for kitchen spatulas I never used before). I definitely prefer quality over quantity. And if this quality is timeless then I’m happy.

So my personal style could be described as Classic+Dramatic. Dramatic adds spice and Classic balances boldness and extremes of Drama.

How does it look in real life?

Most of this I own, some are very close analogs

Most of this I own, some are very close analogs

It’s quite large fashion jewelry and bold colors (mostly as accents, but I’m one of that people who can wear large blocks of bright or shiny and look good, but then I need such items to have simple cut and impeccable fit and I wear them with something very neutral). But most of the time I tend to wear bright colors in accessories (bags, gloves, scarves). I’m not afraid of patent leather shoes. I often wear headscarf with large sunglasses. It’s associated with Jackie Kennedy and Old Hollywood in my mind, it have some vibe of keeping distance and luxury of walking slowly. I wear a lot of blacks. Actually I always did, but now I stopped fighting it. I also wear a lot of light grey, navy and darker shades of purple. I think these colors are great alternatives to black as neutrals.

Being hourglass I prefer to accentuate my waist and this means that my clothes are usually quite close fitting in this area. They can be very fitted all over, but I never combine this with clingy and open. Actually they rarely are very open (and if I wear one item like this, it should be balanced with something providing a lot of coverage. I avoid thin clinging fabrics. I always combine softness with something structured. I’m a big fan of very fitted button down shirts, an item which is ideal for X-shaped Classic+Dramatic, because it accentuates the best features, but looks very put together. There is a problem, though, they are impossible to buy from high street for true hourglass, especially if larger bust comes to play (in this case proportions between front and back should be different). The most close to good fit ready-to-wear item I have is Campbell & Kate shirt reviewed here, so if you have similar needs, check them out (and they do custom alterations now!). The rest of my shirts are bespoke.  

I think that leather pants are great item for windy and cold weather if you don’t need to sit in the office in them. And I’m definitely prefer leather jackets and coats for spring and autumn. I’m in love with cashmere and I mostly wear silk with matte finish in summer (I think that it feels more cool to the skin than cotton). Once I read that cashmere sweaters provide much better fit through the bust for those of us who are D+ and I tend to agree. It’s more relaxed and form-hugging in the same time. I like their luxurious touch, I like luxury in general. Guilty as charged. But I don’t like luxury which makes me ‘stand on tiptoes’, so I usually mix cashmere with leather and keep it very simple.

As you can see all accessory, fabric and cut choices are in the limits of that Classic+Dramatic combo.

Sometimes I wear denim and cotton T-s (mostly when I’m on vacation or have such plans for the day as to play with my aunt’s dog /hyperactive German shepherd/), But somehow I don’t feel like myself in them.

My wardrobe preferences are not very good for my budget, but in my defense I can say that I don’t have a lot of clothes. My wardrobe is actually pretty small. It’s one rack which is 1 1/2 yard long and I have each garment on a separate hanger (and they are not super-slim hangers which deform clothes) and a shelves unit which is about 1 yard in width. And I need clothes for 3 distinct seasons. So I have rather small amount of sometimes expensive clothes (and sometimes I find things like $60 Italian leather bag or $29 silk blouse) without spending money on clothes I don’t wear at all. So when you will be reading all the further reviews you will know that this is an opinion of a little bit  snobbish and boring girl in her mid thirties who’s trying to minimize quantity and maximize quality. Not everyone’s cup of tee )

Weight loss/weight gain or why I like demi-cup bras so much and some tips about oversized coats

I recently lost about 5 pounds* and then gained them back. This is not a lot, but when you are close to the low limit of your healthy weight even small fluctuations are noticeable. I lost about an inch in the hips and a little bit less than an inch in the chest, but I my body changed a bit: I had noticeably less thighs and my breast shape changed. Despite that my general body shape stayed the same: slim hourglass. And this is one of the main things about weight gain/weight loss: body shape rarely changes.

Hourglass body shape means that you are loosing or putting weight proportionally on top and on bottom of your body, but your waist is less affected by the weight gain/loss than chest and hips/thighs. Although some details about your body shape could be very different and this affects how clothes look and how your bras fit. And it’s better to be aware of such effects.

Skinny jeans and loose tops are usually on top of “X, what not to wear” lists, but for my height (~5’7”) and weight they are in fact quite flattering and create more relaxed look. I still look better in a pencil skirt and a top fitted in the waist, but sometimes I just want that relaxed vibe. And without 5 pounds it looked even better on me because thinner legs made viewer to guess that I should be slimmer allover, despite that there was still a lot of volume on top.

I could look really good in an oversized coat, too, but I’m not a fan. But if your shape is similar to mine and you want oversized coat, here is the know how: look for soft fabrics, not heavy, and not all that dark grey, dark blue solids which look heavy to an eye, it should be seriously and obviously oversized, but sleeves should be not longer than 7/8, because you want to show how slim and graceful your wrists are; the coat shouldn’t be long and it should be either very broad or very narrow near the hem, it should be worn with slim pants or jeans or leggings or short skirt (knee length is the maximum) and shoes because you need to show your legs.

What also changed was that my breasts had less upper fullness, until I ate my 5 pounds back. The decrease in my underbust was almost the same as decrease of chest circumference, so I technically should have been the same cup size, but (and this is a big but!) shape of my breasts changed, weight loss made me more bottom heavy (and I had been bottom heavy before I lost weight). That affected how my bras fit. Of cause they all were less tight in the band, but that’s not all: both my Tiffanies (which are plunges)  and Revelation 3D (molded demi with cups closed inwards a little bit) looked horrible on me,  I was unable to fill properly the upper part of the cup. I didn’t have the problem Freya Ashlee and Parfait by Affinitas Jeanie, because they were heavily padded, so they held their shape, but there was some space I didn’t fill (the problem was bigger with Jeanie, while it was minuscule with Ashlee). But all my Mimi Holliday Super Plunges (which are actually very open demi-cups with horizontal seams) and Masquerade Rhea (which is open demi-cup with vertical seams) fit me just fine. What makes it possible? Open and very open, not tall cups. Bras with vertical seams lift better, so they manage to improve the shape to more rounded look, but open demi-cups are forgiving, no matter what seams direction are . And this is why I think that such bras are genius for girls like me, who are not large, quite firm and loose and gain mostly upper fullness.

For girls who need more support the good solution could be stretch lace on top of the cups. Panache Andorra and Panache Jasmine bras are very popular because of good support and ability to accommodate to changes in shape and to certain extent size.

*If you want a recipe: catch a stomach flue and after 3-4 days of eating almost nothing you will be in the same place. But I strictly unadvise you to use it )

Winter clothes for slim and curvy. Ukrainian edition

Here in Ukraine we have winter. And it’s damn serious. Russians, who are like 50 miles to the north have it even more serious, but our winter is more than enough to get the idea.

Most of the time in winter we have temperature somewhere between +5C and -20C (41F and  -4F). It starts in the beginning or in the middle of November and ends in the end of March. Sometimes temperature can drop down to -35C (-31F)*, but it happens not every winter. the weather can change drastically during the day. Humidity is usually quite high and it’s also windy. From this description you can guess that right winter clothes are essentials. There are a lot of sayings like “Siberians are not irresistible to cold, they are just dressed right”. We are not Siberians, but it’s 146% true for us too.

So what does it mean to be dressed right for severe winter conditions?

  • You need good boots on a thick sole (5/8″ is a minimum) which was designed for winter temperatures. If we are talking about a city then it should be waterproof (reagents create liquid dirt even when it’s well below freezing point). There should be no way for snow to get inside. High boots are better than low.
  • You need a warm coat. Good materials for it are down, thick wool and cashmere, fur. There are some hi-tech synthetics designed for winter sports, but one freeze pretty quickly in many of them without active movement, so choose carefully.
  • You need good gloves (high enough, not supertight, lined with cashmere or fur, water resistant) and a winter hat (that means made from thick wool or cashmere or fur or leather lined with wool, for colder days it should cover ears completely).
  • You always should take wind and slush or snow into account. That means thick raincoat fabric or leather after special treatment or special windshield/waterproof fabrics. But you can care less about waterproof after it goes below -10C (14F). Of cause you can always just get an umbrella, but if it’s windy it’s not that much of help.
  • It’s virtually impossible to create a coat which will be good both for +5C and -35C, so in a fact you need not one winter coat, but at least two (but more is more in this case, it’s much better to have several for flexibility).
  • You most likely will need at least two layers under winter coat, so you don’t want your coat to be too form hugging, but too loose is also no good, because loose not only often looks bad on curvy ladies, it also allows frost to get under the hem.
  • Warm scarf is usually a good idea.
  • Bare legs or nylon tights are very bad idea. Jeans are great for temperatures around freezing point, but not well below: they become very stiff and insulation become really poor (there are pants which look like jeans, but have fleece inside, those are much better). From my experience tights with wool or polar fleece leggings + something windproof is the best combination. Something windproof could be a long skirt (but no maxi for me, too dirty roads and pavements**) if you aren’t going to run a winter marathon. Of cause it could be pants, but they shouldn’t be very slim. Some air between layers creates better insulation.

So here comes interesting part: how to look good in all aforementioned when you have body with curves. I have to be honest: it’s tricky, but it’s totally possible***.

First of all: bulky is your worst enemy. Not only because it looks super frumpy, but because it prevents you from moving comfortably. You need the most insulation effective (thin and warm) clothes you can get, but you don’t want anything to be tight, because it prevents normal blood circulation which is very important for staying warm and cozy.

Second: you want some waist definition if you have a waist.

Third: 1 : 1 proportion for top and bottom is no-no. So if you have contrasting color blocks avoid the equal length and amount of each color. If you want to elongate your body it’s always better to use hints of the same color or the same color head to toe.

Four: double breasted coats could be great or the could be your worst enemy. You will never know until you try them. But if they look good on you then you won a lottery because it’s always easier to find one that fits (when unbuttoned a little bit more, but it still could be warm because of the construction) than find a single breasted coat that could be buttoned.

So here are some Polyvore sets which in my opinion are good for winter.****

Set #1. For moderately cold weather, when it's around freezing point. Down coat is more convenient for slush

Set #1. For moderately cold weather, when it’s around freezing point. Down coat is more convenient for slush, but I really like coats much better

Leggings are leather and turtleneck could be quite lightweight if dress is warm or dress could be lightweight and turtleneck wool/cashmere. You can wear tights under leggings and warm turtleneck under warm dress to accommodate this set to lower temperatures. You can often see sets like this with opaque tights, but wind will make you miserable in them.

Set for a weather aound freezing point, office with dress code

Set #2. For a weather around freezing point, office with not super strict dress code

When you wearing a jacket and a coat it’s important that not both of these items have shoulder support. You can add warm tights under pants and wear cashmere turtleneck instead of more lightweight top and this will allow you to survive -10C. Scarf could be worn overhead. Wide leg pants are more tolerant to layering than slim fit, but they require clean pavements, because they should be not shorter than one inch above the ground to look good. If you want shortened pants look for slim fit, but then you will need higher boots (like 5 inches above the ankle without any embellishments on top).

Actually there are quite a lot of sets like these which are labeled as winter, but you can rarely see something more serious like this:

Set for cold weather

Set for cold weather

This could be quite comfortably worn when it’s like -15C, a key factor here is that boots are much taller than the skirt hem and the skirt is made from something windproof (like leather), and of cause that there are warm leggings underneath. With that you don’t need a long coat, so the aviator jacket totally makes sense, but it should be made from real fur which wasn’t perforated and stretched.

Set #4. It's freaking cold and I don't care

Set #4. It’s freaking cold and I don’t care

This is approximately how we dress for outdoor activities in winter when it’s cold. Some women, who use public transportation system opt to dress like this and change to more work appropriate bottom in the office when it’s really cold. Sometimes there could be mittens worn over gloves.

An alternative looks like this:

Set #5. Hell may froze, but it's not the reason not to look nice

Set #5. Hell may froze, but it’s not the reason not to look nice

This is the set for severe weather conditions. Long fur coat is quite heavy and uncomfortable in the car, so it’s not what you want to wear if you have other options. Combination of thin gloves and mittens allow you to drive, use your wallet etc while staying warm. And of cause the trick with warm leggings is done here too.

Women with a very strict dress code usually invest in a long mink coat if they can afford it (often it’s a true investment like buying a car). This is very warm and super expensive way to dress, because it’s also includes a lot of cashmere and fine wool, mostly not as jersey items, but as garments made from woven fabrics. But I can’t find all the right clothes to make such set.

What not to wear in winter

  • Clothes which are too cold for the season. Blueish lips, reddish nose, uneven skin coloring when you step inside always look pathetic. And hypothermia weakens your immune system.
  • Long down coats: they almost never look good unless they are super deluxe designer coats. And they look especially bad if you are larger than S.
  • Bulky coats. And bulky clothes in general when it’s more than one item or something large.
  • Anything that looks like a trash bag (I don’t know why but some coats do look like that).
  • Tight beanies. There are some very rare exceptions, but as a rule they look awful and kill any volume your hair had before you put them on.
  • Embellished beanies and barrettes. Barrettes could be used if you are going for a retro or military look, but it’s a thin ice.
  • Too much fur when it’s not that cold.
  • Too dark clothes for your coloring. I don’t know why, but many people tend to wear dark clothes in winter even if dark colors look terrible on them as if it’s not dull and gloomy enough.
  • White boots except the case you have super clean pavements and roads. And if you have then still think twice.
  • Heels when it’s rime (it’s not only uncomfortable, but it also kills insoles pretty quickly).
  • The same pair of boots every day. They need some rest believe it or not!
  • Cotton as a first layer if there is any chance of serious sweating. The reason is that cotton looses insulation qualities when it gets wet.
  • Very tight clothes, clothes which don’t breath (except the last layer when it’s near freezing point).

So that’s what I think about how to dress for winter and I will be happy to hear from your winter experience.

* Record is somewhere around -40C (-40F), but I was never stupid or unlucky enough to be outside when it’s that cold.

** In our climate we can choose between dirty and icy. I prefer ice, but actually it’s very egoistic of me, as icy could be a serious problem for senior citizens. Alas we don’t have crazy oil money or natural sources of warmth to make all our roads and pavements warm and sometimes it’s snowing pretty heavy.

*** Well, when it’s -35C (-31F) with strong wind and snow you usully don’t give a damn about how you look. So sometimes you more than willing to sacrifice appearance to comfort. When it’s really really cold I usually wear sky mask, because several years ago I was stupid enough to get a frost bite and since then my skin is very sensitive to cold.But if you can look good and feel cozy then why not?

**** I’m not a vegetarian, I eat meat like beef, lamb, pork, rabbit, so I would be a hypocrite if I was refusing to wear furs. I won’t buy lynx coat or coat made from any kind of fox e. g., because I like these animals, but I see that more as my personal choice. If your choices are different, please adjust.

Ode to boring clothes

This is the post in which I want to praise basics.

They are boring. Wiring and sewage system are also boring. But I don’t think that any of you would like to live in a house without them. And when they are not in a good shape, then house becomes uncomfortable no matter how much you paid for decoration. The same applies to wardrobes: without good basics they are driving their owners nuts. Basic clothes often look the same for people who don’t pay great attention to details (- stop sending identical cardigans to our what to buy and where chat! – but they are absolutely different!).

They all are so different, what should I chose?

They all are so different, what should I choose?

Details are very important when it’s a basic cardi (or jeans, or shirt or whatever), because when something is off with the basic item it’s like electric socket in the wrong place: it constantly gets on your nerves until you fix that.

I have some cool stuff in my wardrobe (bright colors, complex, asymmetric cuts, daring details), but that’s not what I wear most and it’s not what makes my wardrobe integral. All those wonderful things allow me to add drama or simply visual interest, but if my whole wardrobe was built on such clothes I would look like a total freak (not that it’s a bad thing, but I’m not a freak by nature). So clothes I love and I wear most are boring: dark blue skinny jeans, white shirts, black and silver grey sweaters and cardigans, black and dark blue jackets, black oxford shoes, flat sandals without embellishments. There are also not so boring clothes which serve as basics for me: leather leggings (I wear them a lot with tunics and sweater dresses in winter), black leather midi skirt (again ultimate winter item, which allows to hide thick ugly and super warm polar fleece leggings), high winter boots (like knee high, and they were intended to go a little bit above the knee if I understand correctly) with bright zipper in the back). I call such things “basics with a quirk”. When you add to otherwise very basic item some touch of your personal style it still can be basic: but only for you (or your style twin).

Pleated leather midi-skirt fro ASOS, mine is almost identical

Pleated leather midi-skirt fro ASOS, mine is almost identical

There are many lists of ‘must haves’ a.k.a. basic wardrobe lists floating around the internet and almost every book about style has such list.

Usually they look like this:

Your typical basic wardrobe

Your typical basic wardrobe

But problem with all those lists is that they are useless for most of women. Useful list should correspond to climate, lifestyle, body shape, coloring and personal preferences. Not the case if it’s not personified.

Black pencil skirt? For a mom sitting at home with her toddler? Really? )))

Trench coat? In Thailand? Funny.

LBD? For woman with very soft and warm coloring? It will make her look like an ER patient.

I could go on and on and on… Possibilities why any item from those lists could be irrelevant are endless.

I think that if you want a list of basics more effective approach is to identify where and how you spend your time, situations which regularly occur in your life, identify functional and social requirements to your clothes and then choose your basics in accordance with your coloring and body shape. Yes, they should be more classic cut, they should be neutral and have minimum amount of embellishments, but it’s still a lot of possibilities.

As you may know from other sources, there are three main pairs of characteristics that define coloring:

  • warm/cool
  • light/dark
  • soft(muted)/bright(clear).

There are several color analyses systems: 4-seasonal, BFAS, directional, 12-seasonal, 16-seasonal, but they all built on top of these three pairs. And if you have time and spare money you can go through draping with a consultant and get your color palette, but if you don’t then you can just follow your natural colors and buy clothes with approximately the same color temperature, saturation and level of contrast. The little trick I learnt over years is to look at my face without looking at the garment I’m trying: if I start to look tired, or there are odd shadows or lips look pale or jaw line looks less defined or anything else is off then it’s definitely a wrong shade for me.

For body shape recommendations I like ones from Trinny and Susanna (they are detailed and cover not only basic types like hourglass or apple, but a lot of specifics). Of cause they doesn’t cover every possibility, but they are a good start.

Basic wardrobe should be re-evaluated after any significant life change: e. g. when I changed my job (in the office, struggling to balance software development with managerial tasks) to my current job (remote worker, working from home and people I’m managing and my manager are in the different countries), there was a big change: I wear jumpers now! and I don’t need elements of power dressing.  While the second is obvious, first needs to be explained (I think that is a good example how local specific plays important role in what to wear). Actually it’s simple: in Ukraine offices in winter usually either too cold, or too warm (because as a rule in my country many buildings share the same heating system it’s almost impossible to fine tune the temperature and even when a building has it’s own heating system, owners always try to increase the temperature, so they can charge renters more for heating). So in my old office it was like 25-26C (77-79F) in winter and I was wearing lightweight blouses and tops (so for colder days I needed warm cardigans or jackets under winter coats). Now I don’t have this problem and I wear jumpers again, because smaller number of layers is more comfortable, I like when it’s two layers, but three or four are too much, I feel dressed in a cabbage costume.

Sometimes changes are much more dramatic (consider having a child and becoming full time mom after an office with a very strict dress code or moving from Anchorage to Miami).

So how it looks on practice.

I spent almost all my time at home sitting behind my desk. I don’t need to be active at home (I outsource cleaning).  So what I need from my clothes: they should be comfortable, but I don’t need active wear, they should be grey or greyish (my cat is grey and she is always happy to share some of her fur) and just a little bit dressier than PJs (I don’t know why, but it’s very hard for me to work, when I’m wearing PJs). I can wear both pants and skirts, but in winter I feel more comfortable wearing wide leg pants and in summer I prefer A-line skirts. I also need some tops: long sleeve for winter and short sleeve and more lightweight for summer. I can wear dresses in summer at home. Sometimes it could be colder than I like (the curse of central heating) and for this cases I need couple of really warm cardigans. My coloring dictates that of all shades of grey I should choose silver and charcoal, I should also avoid uneven grey which is very usual for jersey. If I don’t want to look (and feel!) frumpy I should add some waist definition, so my tops and dresses should be fitted in the waist.

I need to go shopping and run errands at least once a week. Requirements: urban casual and comfortable. I should cover temperatures as high as +40C (104F) and as low as -30C (-22F), but I don’t need to be outside for very long if it’s uncomfortable and maximum level of activity is walking + pushing a supermarket cart.

We have very heavy rains in summer sometimes, so I need jellies in addition to leather sandals. In highest summer temperatures I doesn’t feel comfortable in cotton, so it should be silk, but as simple cut as possible, matte and no embellishments. Skirts are more comfortable than pants for me (better ventilation, I guess, it’s almost like wearing nothing). I can wear any dark and cool/neutral or light and cool/neutral clear color I want, but my choice for summer basics is light grey and ivory (there are a lot of brights which look really good on me, but brights don’t make good basics, alas! darks are more flattering on me, but I don’t feel comfortable wearing them a lot in summer, alas (number two)!).

In colder months we often have dirty pavements and roads, cars also become dirty pretty quickly, so wide leg pants and long skirts are no good for such conditions. In winter it’s either around 0C (freezing point) often accompanied by slush or very cold and sometimes snow (which they usually try to tame with salt and some reagents creating unbelievably filthy dirt). For colder months I chose black, silver grey and dark purple. Plus dark blue jeans. I also have one navy jacket, but I wouldn’t buy it again. I also like white shirts, but they are the only item I like white.

I’m Vase (slim hourglass with longer waist) in Trinny and Susanna typology. My legs are slim enough, so I wear skinny jeans and leggings, but I feel more comfortable when I pair them with tunics which cover crotch,  but are not too loose to hide the fact that I have slim waist. Long cardigans with a belt are also a very good choice for me. So those are my basics for autumn and spring. It could be trench or lightweight parka, but I chose leather jacket for months when it’s cold, but not freezing (this is just a personal preference, I like leather). I could also wear skirt when I feel like it, A-line skirts are comfortable and when they kept simple they are casual enough, at least for Ukraine. I don’t like sneakers, they are too sporty for my taste, so I use black oxfords and riding boots as casual footwear. In winter it’s mostly midi skirts and sweaters, worn with something heavy duty (when it’s colder than -5C (23F) then it’s sheep skin coat). I could wear my leather leggings with a tunic, but only when it’s not polar fleece needed cold (polar fleece is a divine gift for a girl like me, seriously, I hate when my knees are freezing).

I go out something like twice a week, but nothing super fancy. So I need some more dressy stuff, but not over the top. This is the place when nude leather sandals with high heels (but not stilettos!) appear. So it’s not a lot of basics for summer, because summer is about dresses for me and basic dress? it’s so lame :-D. For colder months there is a place for jackets (they really flatter me), A-line and pencil skirts, which I wear with shirts and scoop neck sweaters and necklaces.

So my basics are:

  • silk light grey skirt or summer;
  • warm silver grey and black cardigans;
  • black jacket;
  • couple of jumpers;
  • dark blue skinny jeans;
  • black slim pants or leggings (now this position covered by leather leggings);
  • black A-line midi skirt (because it’s universal);
  • white shirt;
  • jellies;
  • nude flat leather sandals;
  • nude high-heel sandals;
  • black oxford shoes;
  • black riding boots (actually two pairs: winter edition and autumn/spring edition);
  • black leather jacket;
  • polar fleece leggings;
  • neutral color warm waterproof coat;
  • sheep skin coat.

I haven’t included home clothes in my list, because there are no true basics except of a silver grey cardigan there, it’s a whole wardrobe, just created from unified items. There are also no summer tops (I prefer to have fun with them, so no basics here).

As you can see it’s not a typical basic wardrobe list. These are my personal basics, items which worth my special attention and little investment.. I’m sure that if you do the same exercise you will come with your own personified basic wardrobe list different from mine. Sometimes it could be very useful to go into more details about positions of the list, to write down what is important for the item of clothes and why*, it helps not to get lost when you are buying stuff.

I think that personalized list is a good step toward the wardrobe with which you will never cry out “Oh, my god! My closet is full of clothes, but I have nothing to wear!”.

* E. g. my jellies should be suitable for driving and my sheep skin coat shouldn’t be too heavy, because it’s bad for my back, so it shouldn’t be long, that’s why I need warm leggings.

… but style is forever.

Not a lot of people could say that they have very distinct personal style when any person who can ‘feel’ clothes can look at an item and say “It’s [not] her/his style!”, most of people who carry the burden of first world problems just have a lot of clothes. And one of the most common complains from women when we speak about clothes is “I have nothing to wear (and I need more space in the closet, it’s more than full)”.

Another version of this, popular between women who are difficult to fit, is to buy clothes just because they are a little bit more fitted than a tent and don’t make them look like a zombie (and sometimes even despite that!).

I never really had the first problem, because when I was young I was on a tight budget, so I was thinking really hard about what I was buying (and as a rule if there wasn’t at least 5 items I already owned which could go with a new item I didn’t buy it). I have a good eye on colors and proportions, that also helped. So my wardrobe back then was a little bit boring and not always very flattering (see the part about fitting a little bit better that a tent). it had nothing to do with my personality, but very functional, I had clothes for any situation and it was color coordinated since I was 17, so I never had a reason for aforementioned rant. But as time passed by I began to want more from my clothes. There was a good portion of trial and error, when my choices were perfectly color coordinated, but stylistically all over the place and my wardrobe began to grow above my comfort level. So I returned to old habit: thinking and gathering information. One of my lucky findings was a very harmonious system of style personalities. This system is used by BFAS image consultants.

So it goes like this: there are 6 major types of style personalities: Natural, Town&Country, Classic, Romantic, Dramatic and Delicate. Most people are the mix of two. Some people are pure (one type), but harmonious composition of three is next to impossible. Being two types doesn’t mean that you should buy clothes from two types, you should rather look for items which have characteristics of both, which are most close to you, because you are not just a juxtaposition, but a unique mix.

Brief description of how clothes of pure stiles looks goes like this:

Natural style is usually described as sporty and energetic, comfy, but not afraid of form-hugging.  it’s fresh and sometimes could get too casual. It’s all about jersey and effortless hairstyles, jeans and sportswear as citywear. Simple lines, otten bold colors and comfort of movement, often layering. Jane Birkin and Jennifer Aniston
Image from Harpers Bazaar

Image from Harpers Bazaar

Town&Country style is described as conservative and traditional, cozy, relaxed, it’s about wool and cotton, suede, tweed jackets, Hunter boots. Clothes often have a loose fit and layered. Think of British gentry, Susan Boyle and Bruno Cucinelly

Kate-MiddletonClassic is well, about classics, not only business classic, but also sailor stripes and ballet flats, riding boots and little black dress. Thin wool in woven fabrics of highest quality, silk, cashmere, quality cotton (think white button down shirt). Clothes are usually fitted, but not clingy, accessories are small to medium sized and have clean simple shape, Bags are geometric, simple and expensive. Diamond studs and pearls. Grace Kelly and Kate Middleton
Romantic is full of frills, lace and semi-transparent fabrics, satin, soft drapes, silk and cashmere, mink coats, it’s all about being dolled up and lovely. It often uses vintage or their outfits inspired by it. Marilyn Monroe, Catherine Zeta-Jones (yep, Romantic could be dark colored, but look at her, she is so glamorous!)
the L.A.M.B. For Lesportsac Cocktail PartyDramatic is bold and extravagant, it could be sexy and aggressive, it’s chic and it’s edgy. Leather, especially patent leather, silk, furs. Colors are black. white and brights.  Gwen Stefani and Lady Gaga
211351-top-10-quirky-fashion-moments-of-helena-bonham-carter-cbeDelicate is youthful, sometimes freakish, nice and naive, funny, it uses whatever is available, but combinations always original and somewhat unfinished, gravitates to lot of accessories, ethnic stuff, boho, subcultural stuff. Helena Bonham Carter, Björk and Iris Apfel

But these descriptions concentrate on how it could be presented by pure types in extremes, which isn’t very helpful. because it’s very hard to translate these pure essences to a wardrobe for day to day life. But there is more important part of style analyses, inner part, which could help to find a way.

Process of finding who you are is rather intuitive and it more depends on traits of your character, on what do you want from life, you vibe, your “essence”, on your personality than on shape of your hips or length of your nose. It’s all about identifying your true self and being faithful to yourself.

So here is my brief descriptions of the vibes. I’m giving here not only positives, but also negatives, because people who are not compatible with the particular vibe are more prone to distinguish negatives. Also when other people are giving us their opinions they also tend to be more precise about negatives.

Natural – positives: youthful, fresh, full of life, energetic, funny, bright, sporty, outdoorsy; negatives: unreliable, careless, rude.

Town&Country – positives: traditional, conservative, warm and comfy, reliable, practical, simple, outdoorsy, solid and sound; negatives: outdated, stubborn, frumpy and narrow-minded.

Classic – positives: elegant, polished, practical, sophisticated, balanced, harmonious; negatives: bureaucratic, boring, unapproachable, snobbish.

Romantic – positives: emotional, sensitive and sensual, glamorous, soft and warm; negatives: emotional (no, this is not a mistake! emotional is both, because different people see it differently), passive, silly, illogical, vain.

Dramatic – positives: striking, outstanding, sophisticated, original, creative, edgy, extravagant. ironic; negatives: bitchy, slutty, strange, vulgar, vain.

Delicate – positives: creative, original, funny, youthful, playful, innocent, fresh; negatives: messy, unreliable, strange, laughable, infantile.

Of cause you can find your characteristics in more than two pure types and some types have something in common (Natural and Delicate have youthful, but when Natural has forever 17, most popular kid in the class vibe in it, Delicate is more about something childish and something about being creative and naive in a good way, something about to be open).

Delicate and Dramatic both seek for original, but in first case it is “more is more and less is bore” original, primitive art original, and in the second case it is very artful and sophisticated, one-of-a-kind and hiring the best professionals original.

Romantic and Town&Country are both warm, but Romantic woman is warm like a loving woman and in Town&Country woman it’s more of a mother warmth.

And type or their combination or I think it’s silly and I’m no type )), the key to the style which is truly forever is to know yourself and to express yourself through your clothes. Aforementioned style personalities are just some blocks which could be combined to give a starting point. What’s very useful is that if you identified your style personality you can google a lot of clothes choices connected with it and choose not from the whole continuum, but from  1/36, which is significantly easier task to do (for an example you can go here and here). And you can also go with associations: when you a looking on an item, think which memories, which feelings it calls, is it cold and sharp or warm and comfy? is it fashion forward or traditional? Is it boring? Is it exciting? Could you imaging your celebrity style twin wearing it? It’s totally ok that you don’t like any item you googled. it could be wrong color or wrong shape for your body type, associations and meaning of items are different not only from country to country, or social strata to social strata, but from person to person (i. g. certain type of kerchiefs is strongly associated with granny for me and for many Russians, but I bet that for most you, who has no Russian origin, these are just colorful and exotic without any granny vibe, oversized smoke-colored glasses are forever associated with my elementary school teacher for me, but I seriously doubt that many people share this association). And national specific or personal specific associations can make an item doesn’t feel right.

It’s also quite important to distinguish style and dress code. Casual is not a style even if it sometimes called so. It’s a dress code for a wide set of occasions. It’s no less dress code than business formal (if you doubt that try to imagine people reaction if you come to a barbecue in your best formal outfit). So each style personality can (and will) create a different outfits for the same dress-code. Sometimes it could be more challenging (business formal for Romantic or casual for Drama), sometimes it comes naturally (business formal for Classic or casual for Town&Country), but it’s still the same person in any occasion and it could be expressed with details and nuances to create harmony.

Prints and optical illusions. Polka dot

This is the third post of the series, here are the links to the first one (about Stripes) and the second one (about Plaid and Check).

As usual with most prints color of the background matters, you can use dark background for slimming effect and light background for widening effect.

But polka dot isn’t that simple. There are more factors in play: size and of cause color of the dots, how close together they are and if they placed on fabric regularly or randomly.

Bigger dots are more widening than smaller when scale of the print is the only factor that is different.

Scale effect. The right is the same print, but 4 times smaller

Scale effect. The right is the same print, but 4 times smaller

Darker dots create less widening effect when we are talking about dots of the same size and placement.

Effect of the distance between dots really depends on colorway. Light/warm dots on darker/cooler background are more widening when they are placed more close together, more dense, but cooler and darker dots on lighter/warmer background are less widening when there are more of them.


Rare dots on black will be slimming, more dense will give no effect on visual perception of size, dense black dots on white will be slightly widening, and rare black dots will be a little bit more widening, close to the perception of the pure white

But on the equally warm/cool background dots with the same warmth/coolness are more dense print is more widening.

Those two are warm and bright, so widening, but left one is even more widening, because it's more busy

Those two are warm and bright, so widening, but left one is even more widening, because it’s more busy

Contrast adds to the widening effect as usually with prints.

Grey is desaturated green/purple

Grey is desaturated green/purple, Green/purple version of print will be more widening, because there is a high level of color contrast

There are only two variants of polka dot which are slimming:

  • dark background small to medium dots that are far from each other;
  • dark background and vertically or especially diagonally organised dots.

Here is example of vertically and diagonally organized polka dots:

Here us direction effect,  Left fabric will behave like small scale check, and it will be slightly more widening, but actually they both are widening, because prints are busy, to avoid this effect there should be much less dots per square inch

Here is the direction effect, Left polka dot print behaves like small scale check, and it is slightly more widening, but actually they both are widening, because prints are busy, to avoid this effect there should be much less dots per square inch

Polka dot is “flattening”, making shape less sharp when it’s busy and it could be distorting shape if dots are oversize.

Super large polka dot print on sweater. It's distorting the shape and body of the model looks somewhat assymetric

Super large polka dot print on this sweater is distorting the shape and the body of the model looks somewhat asymmetric

Taking into account all aforementioned it may look like to banish this playful and youthful, yet feminine and classical print is the best wardrobe decision.  Please, don’t, if you like it – wear it! It’s so retro. It’s just made for full skirts with wide contrasting belts, lingerie, tops which should be worn under jackets or cardigans (to lighten up an outfit and give it a touch of joy). And light medium to small not dense dots on navy or black are perfectly slimming! And after all a little bit widening print isn’t the end of the world, maximum thinness isn’t what make you look great.

Picture from The Sartorialist blog. Click on image for more polka dot outfits

Awesome set from Mimi Holliday

Awesome set from Mimi Holliday

The only case when it’s a good idea to consider avoiding the print near your face IMO is when your face is all straight lines and angles. In that case the print could be very unflattering or just look odd.

Face line effect. Soft face lines + blouse from Aliexpress vs straight face lines + sweater from Gucci

Face line effect. Soft face lines + blouse from Aliexpress vs straight face lines + sweater from Gucci

That’s pretty much it about polka dot, but there are more prints to come. So thanks you for your attention and to be continued ).