How to Assess a Fashion Look
Image Planning Part 1
If you feel you need to update yourself be comforted that you
are probably not as old fashioned as you think. The very fact that you are
thinking about updating, implies a certain awareness of style.
Be comforted that only twenty percent of the population is
actually wearing fashion. Most choices we make are utilitarian and related to
the lives we lead. Many women are simply safely in the middle, neither being bang
up to date, nor dreadfully out of fashion. Most of those clothes are available
nationwide and affordable by most people. Ten years ago I could write that
the clothes on offer in most high streets could not possibly be at the cutting edge
of high fashion. Yet today with the internet and the ease of online
fashion shopping, designer goods are available to anyone who can afford them.
Whilst shops like Zara keep the high street retailers on their toes.
When you worry about your appearance, remember also that the star's thighs you see on a magazine
cover have often been airbrushed to perfection, so that no cellulite is visible. It certainly makes many of us feel less than perfect. However take a glance at
the next twenty people in the street and come back to reality. Learn to accept a
few flaws and work with what you have, it might be beautiful hands, lovely eyes,
glossy hair, good ankles or a graceful neck. Draw attention to that.
If you really are larger than the average person buy some of
the clothes especially designed for larger ladies and listed on my page
called Plus Sizes at
Read also about petite fit.
When you are younger you automatically tend to know what is in
fashion and what is not. This is always enhanced if you are in a workplace where there
is a buzz. Those days of intuitive knowledge soon fly past when combined with
the reality of living with figure faults, running a home and budgeting.
You may like me, at some time or other have had to wear some garments in fabrics you hated, simply for
comfort during weeks of medical treatment such as radiotherapy. Welcome to
the real world, where for many of us life is not quite like the catwalks would like it to be on
a daily basis.
You may even have found the ideal shapes that suit and flatter
your body. But are those shapes in fashion at this moment and if they are
not, how can you still look as if you are aware of new styles.
Fashion pundits have always said that if you want to get the
look, first get the hair and the feet right, and the rest will follow.
Or you can invest in wacky up to the minute accessories for a funkier look by choosing
the latest handbags, belts, hair ornaments and contemporary jewellery. Modern
jewellery can give you an instant up date. In the shops right now you can
find footwear that is very much of the noughties not the nineties. If you
are still packing those comfy old sandals you bought in 1999 for that honeymoon,
I'm sure something more current in a Gladiator style can be found if you look
hard. If you want to see how fashions relate to the timetable of
style read the page on Laver's Law.
So go out and buy four or five women's magazines that have
fashion spreads. It will be £15 to £20 well spent if it saves you making great
gaffes and eliminates hours of trudging around a city sorting out what racks
panache. August/September is always a great time to check the looks in magazines.
Likewise the February/March issues will always have articles that sum up the
season. Then after you have followed this guide, go window shopping,
but remember your first view is simply a recce about town. The fashion
recce gives you time to absorb new ideas and think about your image planning
strategy for your new wardrobe.
On this first shopping occasion leave your credit and debit cards at home. Take only a limited amount of cash with you. Spending real
cash will make you think long and hard. It's much easier to get entwined in a
credit card transaction and often that will be for an impulse purchase. If
when you get home there was one item you really feel you made a mistake about
not buying, then simply ring the store as you arrive home. Next ask them to hold
the garment and even pay for it over the phone, or get it posted to you.
They can always do a refund for you if you feel it an error.
Impulse buys are often our
finest buys. We fall in love with some items that just scream 'me, me'. Yet sometimes when you are trying to develop a new look, or
update your appearance, you need just to see what is in the shops and get an
overall picture of current fashion styles.
All you intend to do on the first visit is look to
assess styles, colours and beauty ranges. You can also look at what's available
online. I feature Wallis, TopShop, Next, Monsoon, New Look,
Selfridge and many more stores all of which cover a wide age range. You should find some
information in my 2011/12 trends section or later trends sections that will help you.
If you do take and use that credit card always ask the
assistant 'Can I bring it back if my husband, boyfriend, partner, children, cat,
dog etc., - hate it on me....'. Find out if their returns deadline is within 1 or 2 weeks, or
28 days, or a fairly open policy of returns. For example Laura Ashley UK
will refund a credit card, or return cash within a 28 day return. After
that, they will not refuse to take an item back if its in the same season, but they will only give you a
credit voucher to be spent in their shops. Sometimes, some sales goods such as
at Debenhams are not returnable unless you repurchase a replacement different
item at the time of refund. Now Marks and Spencer have reduced their
refund policy to 35 days and issue bar code refunds that only last 12 months.
Be aware though that if you remove the hanging tag labels most
shops will likely refuse you a refund after making the assumption you removed
the labels to enable you to wear an item, even if it is within the time limit for
a refund. Personally this irritates me because frankly I can never really
decide if a skirt or trouser waistband really fits me correctly with bands of
card labels and envelopes of spare buttons all sticking into my fleshy
Remember leave the credit card at home if you have the time to
shop again soon. Treat this as an opportunity to find out what's in style
available near you.
On another page I discuss my
TICKS rule I invented to
help myself go through the reasons why I should or should not buy an item. You
may find Pauline's Fashion TICKS
Rule helps you too.
Before you go out looking at styles, check
your existing wardrobe. If it's not already lined up in colour order get
it sorted out now, so you can see easily what clothes you have.
Lining your closet up in colour order won't
happen by chance, it needs quickly redoing about every 7 days and is well worth
15 quiet minutes to get it back in apple pie order. Try to get into a
routine of lining the colours up say every Saturday morning. It will save
lots of dithering mid week.
At the same time replace half hung garments
that you quickly put back on the wrong hangers late at night. Re-button
the items too, this will help keep their shape and prolong their life, as will
using padded and suit hangers. Match up shoes, put boot trees
in boots and cover up pale garments.
Following this simple routine really does make
using your wardrobe efficiently so much easier.
And YES I have always done this all my life.
I think it stems from wearing school uniform until 17 and the possibility of
being told off if the pleats in the gymslip and shirt were not perfectly creased
and spot free, with all hems intact and buttons still attached.
If there are outfits or shoes that you put on
to go out and always remove them thinking they are not quite right that day, put
them into a charity bag on one side and if a few months later you have not
missed them, then take the lot to your local collection shop.
Now look carefully at what you already own. What minor items,
footwear, accessories or major items do you need to update your image. What
colour, what accessories, shoes, jewellery, make up or
nail polish or even modern perfume would give everything a vibrating now feel, whilst keeping you happy
and comfortable within the styles you already know suit you.
You do not need to buy every new fashion item designed. Just
select a few key points that will work for you. Be assured you really will look
great in some trends and ridiculous in others. This may well be a case where
'less is more'. It simply is not essential to buy everything on offer, but you
must make an investment in a few major outfits every six months.
Classic items like a pencil skirt come in and out of fashion
with regularity, but a handkerchief asymmetric hem skirt does not. When
the latter does, it makes a real statement and says 'now', but just as quickly
it can say dated. For example the pencil skirt has been marked as a high fashion
item in both 2004 and 2011, but in the main it says 'I AM A BASIC NEUTRAL ITEM FOR YOU TO ADD TO
AND ENHANCE WITH THE LATEST TOPS OR FOOTWEAR.' So buy into the fashion
the start if it really is for you. Choose wisely and carefully to obtain
What these major outfits will be, will depend entirely on your
lifestyle, but you've probably owned some before and will recognise them when
you think back to past outfits your hand always reached for when you didn't know
quite what to wear. Invariably such outfits are made of good quality well
cut fabrics that fit and flatter your figure - often they are in neutral safe
plain colours that will suit many occasions and also have a touch of 'now' about
To assess a fashion look by magazines and window shopping,
do it logically.
Look at the hairstyles in both the fashion magazine shoots and
the advertisements. Is hair cropped, short, medium, asymmetric, long, fringed,
scraped off the face, a chignon up do, curled, waved, ringlets or coiled, flat, straightened, glossed, waxed,
plaited or scrunched?
Is there evidence of colouring, high or low lights, wedges of
perms or tong techniques, hairpieces, plaits,
extensions or wigs?
Think - do you need to get a new hairstyle, or do you just need
to style it with up to date hair products. If you love the style you have had
for some years because you have been clever enough to work out your face
shape and that you look wrong with certain styles, think about using new
products that add extra gloss or sculpt and texturise the hair. Sometimes
little touches like a fringe or lack of it, longer or shorter side pieces, a
side or centre parting, or a
new cut to the back hairline can update a style.
Whilst longer flatter hair might be the latest look at a
particular time if you know that flat hair makes you personally feel flat and
dowdy avoid it. Have the courage to seek out an up to date short full hairstyle
worn by a famous person who really understands what suits her and her face
shape. Sadly too many fashion experts forget that in the real world, hair that
you can manage yourself that also makes your face feel and look uplifted is the
If you do need a new hairstyle, when you next see a stranger
at a venue wearing a hairstyle you like, simply say excuse me and tell them you love their hair cut. Ask where you
can get yours done and make sure you ask for the name of the best stylist in their
named salon. Ask also for the second best name if they know it. You never know
when number 1 may be on holiday and the number 2 stylist probably cuts the hair
of number 1.
Nine times out of ten the person you ask will be so flattered
they will give you more than enough information. Don't be surprised though, to
learn how far individuals will travel to get their hair cut by that person who
understands them. Be prepared for the odd person that tells you she cuts it
Want to grow a new style? Have courage and be
prepared for off days. About 9 years ago when I wrote the first draft of
this frequently updated page, I
decided I needed to take my own advice and update my hairstyle. I was not
unhappy with the style I had, as I felt it suited me, but I did feel a radical
(for me) change to
take me into the millennium was
required. One day I saw a dynamic looking woman in her fifties who had a
very sharply cut bob which showed her silver grey hair to classy perfection.
Within a day or two I was convinced her hair style, was the hairstyle I wanted
to try myself. I was after 'classy'.
My plan then was to grow a bobbed,
sleeker hairstyle from a fairly short cropped style. It took 6 months to
grow the basic bob. The first 3 to 4 months of that were the worst as I
felt it mostly looked untidy. Ironically it coincided with illness and my
receiving cancer treatment so I was not exactly out and about. After 6 months the back of the hair had
developed the silhouette I sought and the worst of the growing pains were over. It took 12 months before I felt the bob was truly even
and about 18 months to grow out the fringe to the same length as the sides.
For me it was worth it as I now find it very easy to maintain.
styles do need daily or alternate day washing as shine on the hair and a fresh look is important
when there is no other distraction for the onlooker to see, but a sleek head of
hair. I no
longer fret if I get caught in the rain as it just needs a quick reshape combing
I was lucky in that my hairdresser knew exactly what effect I
was aiming for. How did she know? Well I showed her 2 different, but similar
pictures of what I was aiming for and I drew a sketch showing how I wanted the
back of the neck cut and how I hoped the fringe would eventually fall. I
also used to have highlights, but my hairdresser discussed alternatives with me
and we opted for softer blonde bright light colouring and it is very natural looking.
And does it look anything like that woman I saw. Errrr,
no actually. This is because no two of us are alike and however hard we
try sometimes our hair just won't go like the model or the film star we envy.
However I do like the change of style. I have had people 30 years younger come
up to me in the street and say they like the style and colour and ask who does
it. So who knows our own version may be just as nice, get admiring comments, but still
be slightly different.
As the years have moved on, I have had that basic bob style updated,
tweaked here and there and coloured differently. How did I do that
update - well I found 2 pictures again of hairstyles that I liked and
printed them off for my hairdresser to see. There was no need to confuse
her with a garbled idea, she had 2 clear photos she could study.
More recently in 2011, I started again to use volumising products
(John Frieda and Tresemme) to introduce greater fullness and some
height. I also bought a pair of Babyliss Root Boost Hair Crimper Tongs
which help give a bit of extra root lift to finer hair. I consider them
a worthwhile buy.
Babyliss have some excellent videos explaining how the root boost
tongs work. The effect on fine hair is subtle, but worth the effort of
root crimping as the lift will last a few days. Add a bit of backcombing
before a final smooth over and its another move forward into the fuller
hairstyle trends of 2012.
If you need to know more about hair products ask that new
hairdresser what she is using when she styles your hair. If you have never used
hair wax or finishing cream before ask for advice on the way to use it properly. The usual method
is to put just a smear through your hands and rub the hands together until the
hands get quite hot, then finger the subliming wax or cream through the layers of hair to
get control and strand separation.
For final smoothing polish and dependant on what you have at hand you
can also use brush methods to get control. Try spraying fine
Elnett hair spray onto your hairbrush or comb, or try rubbing a dab of
John Frieda Frizz Ease onto your hands then working the finest film onto
the bristles of a roller hairbrush. Then use either method to brush
through and tame and control individual hairs. The roller brush method
works especially well on sleek roll under bobs.
Or check out the chemists and look over the ranges afresh.
John Frieda's range of special products are ideal if you are blonde. Ask me how
I know. Look at Nicky Clarke's colour styling products. He has coloured gels and
products that lift every main hair tone, from copper to silver. Products by
Charles Worthington are also great. For extra gloss and sheen try
Aveda's Purefume Brilliant spray. You can get great reductions on good brand
hair products like Aveda and Redken companies specialising in internet sales and offering great discounts.
Now check the rest of that look - are hats, berets, caps, hair
ornaments, slides, bandeaus, flowers, plait inserts, fake ponytails, faux buns, combs or ribbons part of
the look. Believe it or not in 2004 the use of headbands on adults was promised
as a new hair look. By 2010 women were using flowers in their hair as a regular
means of dressing it up for evening or other occasions.
THINK - Will that
tiara have limited wear!!!!
What make up is in vogue? Do you see any changes? Are eyebrows
natural or shaped? Is eyeliner in use, are pastel or vibrant eye shadows in or
out? Are lips glossy, frosted or matt, pale or strong or sheer? Is foundation
fresh and shiny or matt and smooth, light or thick or sheer? Is the look pale or
tanned, natural, healthy, glowing, luminous, shiny or sophisticated. Are tones pink, red, orange,
tan, beige or deep
If you are in doubt about current make up get yourself
along to a make up counter and ask about new products or try one of the web
sites like cosmeticconnection.com that give good advice.
You may come across an exciting new find. This is an
aspect of beauty fashion that still thrills me. Think about visiting a mid price
range such as Max Factor, Revlon or L'Oreal as many people buy from these ranges, so research is good.
L'Oreal for example owns Lancôme.
If you don't know where to start, two good face liquid foundations include
Max Factor's Colour Adapt and Estee Lauder's
Virtual Skin range. The
benefit of the Prescriptives range is that there are well over 100 shades so
there will most definitely be a colour to suit you and if not a customised mix
can be made especially for you.
The Max Factor product comes in at about £11-12 and the Prescriptives product at about £25. Both have excellent texture.
More expensive products include Vitalumiere Aqua by Chanel another light makeup
which is water based. I personally enjoy using this product and for some reason
find this foundation looks better on me in winter than in summer. This is not
surprising as daylight is different and so the foundation colour we select may
look different in other seasons. It is a good foundation, but be warned as its
water based the container needs a good shake before using so that the contents
I also like Diorskin Forever Fluid Foundation (about £30) which gives
good long lasting silky smooth cover. Dior Diorskin Forever Extreme Wear
Flawless Makeup like Estee Lauder's Doublewear is also non transferable
- a bonus if you wish to cover imperfections and broken veins.
Have a look too
at Revlon, Dior and Avon's new face highlighters that give a sheen and lustre and
luminosity to the skin. Consider also buying from internet companies as many well known brand products whether cosmetics or perfumes have hefty
reductions on such sites. Make sure though that they operate a returns policy if
dissatisfied as you don't want to waste money with an unscrupulous firm selling
out of date stale products. Any firm offering a money back satisfaction
guarantee will be more reliable.
In the noughties when I first discovered Max Factor's high performance
Lipfinity lip range I bought six of the lip colours within six weeks and have
not used a normal lipstick since. Each time I have bought a new so called long
lasting lipstick I've been very disappointed.
With Lipfinity you can mix the colours on the mouth as long as you do it
before they dry and before the second sealing lip gloss is put on. Talk about
superb all day lasting colour through eating and drinking and mwah mwah kisses. No more stains on cups or glasses and no more lipstick bleeds into fine mouth
lines. Just marvellous. Just remember to gloss regularly with the sealer provided
or the still coloured lips can look a little dry.
My special tip with Max Factor's Lipfinity is to allow a full 4
to 5 minutes
for it to dry, before sealing.
Since its launch the Max Factor Lipfinity
lip colour range has been improved and despite trying other brands such as
Lancôme and Boots long lasting lipsticks with separate gloss and others none
compare to the staying power and colour range of Lipfinity. Lipfinity also
have sheer range of colours called Lipfinity Everlites for those who like a lighter
Make up assistants such as those found on for example Lancôme,
Dior, YSL, Guerlain
and Clarins counters often give out samples of the latest products. It's always
worth asking what the latest product is, as so often a free sample is available as
part of the promotion. Recent purchases enabled me to try sample
sizes of the latest new mascaras by Dior, Estee Lauder, and Lancôme when I
purchased other products.
Good magazines like Vogue often have samples of skin care
products or make up foundations. I discovered Lancôme's
Genifique Youth Activating Concentrate
and Estee Lauder's Idealist this way. Years ago a magazine sample of Elizabeth
Difference that I made last 5 days actually made a real difference and got me
hooked on a skin care product that transformed my
skin care routine at that time. Mid priced Garnier Synergie Lift and Neutrogena Comfort Balm both impress me as does
Olay's Regenerist serum running at about £10 less than Estee Lauder's Idealist,
yet giving a similar feel to the skin. The Garnier Lift is loved by both young
and older users. Most of you will also have heard about the rave
reviews that Boots anti ageing serum gets.
I would suggest that you try any new product in
the day even if it is a night product. If you feel it irritating you, you can
remove it before it does hours of overnight damage. Don't forget that
products by Avon have a money back guarantee.
If you can get to store beauty evening events such as major
stores put on, they really are worth the the ticket money. The last local beauty
evening event I
visited cost me £5 and I won a £35 perfume gift when I made a
purchase and popped a prize balloon, plus I came home with 18 good perfume
samples and about 10 samples of top brand face creams.
When I bought 2 Dior
products I was given extra free items, plus a make up bag choc full of more same
brand small size luxury items as opposed to sample items. In addition the
entry ticket money was taken off when the first item was purchased. For the
hungry who had gone after work there was smoked salmon and other buffet finger
snacks, plus soft drinks or wine! A great girly night out my friend and I really
Another way to find out more about new products is to order
selection value packs from companies like QVC. I have been able to try all sorts
of quality skin care, make up and bath ranges this way as they sell from companies like Decleor, Gatineau, Liz Earle,
Elemis, L'Occitane and others. By ordering the special value mixed packs of half
a dozen or so often full size items you have a chance to try main range and special
My favourite special offer
pack from QVC is by Molton Brown, where you can often pay about £40 for £90
worth of products for the bath, body and face.
Forums offer great ways to discuss the products
these channels sell. You'll find lots of positive and negative comments in the
forums about many well known beauty products found both on and off TV.
Two highly rated natural skin care ranges available this way
include those of Liz Earle and Spirulina. Many of the beauty items in these sets
such as the Liz Earle naturally active skincare range are based on botanical
principles. They use herbal formulations and wholesome base products that
sooth skin making it less likely to become irritated. Liz Earle uses only
the very best organic ingredients. Liz never uses animal ingredients or
tests on animals. Visit Liz Earle's site on the web to check out her pharmaceutically
approved beauty products with a fresh herby invigorating character.
Spirulina products combine natural plant extracts with the
natural nutrient complex of the Spirulina microalgae, a living organism which
thrives in warmer alkaline waters. Ecologically sound, the Spirulina
complex has over 70 vitamins, minerals and trace elements and these help
rejuvenate the skin so that results on a very poor quality skin surface can be
seen within a few weeks.
To show off those lips make sure your teeth are cared for. If
they are chipped, get them crowned, veneered, white filled or bridged or have
implants. People look at your teeth. If they are dull get to a dentist as today
everyone can have the appearance of their teeth improved. Make sure you floss to
prevent gum decay and bad odours from stale foods. It will make you smile again.
Flossing daily can increase your expected lifespan by 7 years.
Teeth can be bleached as a full mouth set or individually. For
example a root filled tooth that has darkened over a decade can be bleached
internally over a few weeks. The dentist simply removes the existing filling,
cleans out the cavity and places a mild safe bleach into the cavity before applying a
temporary filling. The process is repeated weekly for two or three appointments
over days or weeks dependant on the bleach used and
voila - a pearly tooth again.
The price of treatment like this can vary
from dentist to dentist. Treated privately this
way by your regular dentist in the UK, expect to pay about £180 - £300 for a single
dead tooth bleach. Similarly expect to pay about £1500+ privately for the same
tooth to be made into a single tooth implant.
In the USA prices are even greater, so consider taking out a
You may suffer from dry mouth a long term after effect of
radiotherapy to the mouth, or when using certain prescription drugs. If
your words then become less distinct as you gradually dry up when
talking, so consider using Biotene gels.
I can thoroughly
recommend my dentist Peter Davis, Droitwich, Worcester, England.
Whilst you are glancing the magazines check nail styles. Is
the manicure French or American or is colour back. Is a French manicure
now dead and considered somewhat passé. The most fashion conscious
fingernail shape at the moment is the traditional almond oval shape.
Square style fingernails are dated. So use that emery board to get a great
Look out for nail trends that you see on TV
presenters. A good place to find out about latest nail care and other beauty
products is a TV shopping channel like QVC where demonstrations are combined with
sound advice on products.
Nail polishes that flow and stay on include those by Chanel,
Dior, Guerlain, Estee
Lauder and OPI enamels. Try using a speed dry nail top coat like
Avons as a high
gloss topcoat. If that is new to you you will be truly amazed at the different
drying speed and the hard finish that does not smudge.
The one style in nails that is never in fashion is the chipped
If it's chipped remove the polish instantly. Keep
nail polish remover in your drawer at work.
A good, but inexpensive nail polish remover is by Avon.
One of the fastest ways to update your look is to change your
eyewear to the latest style whether it be prescription lenses or fashion
Updating your spectacles or sunglasses even if you only pull
them out for reading the menu will do wonders for your morale. Before you choose
new spectacles look carefully at adverts in magazines and note what models and
celebrities are wearing. They will have the latest styles on parade. Don't be in
a rush to buy before studying subtle differences and choose carefully as you are
likely to keep them for 2 years.
Look around at the styles and the thickness of lenses in
Check if the
fashionable frame of
the era is metal, plastic,
coloured, dark toned or light toned, small, large, oversized or winged. When you
buy sunglasses consider getting prescription lenses as they really are much
safer for your eyes. Visit osmoz.com for
extra advice on sunglass frame shapes. You can also get face shape and
suitability of frame advice from the
website on this page as well as a great range of glasses.
If you need lenses to read combined with distance vision
consider Varifocals as they are much thinner and much less ageing than bifocals
which have a light line dividing each lense. Be prepared to take a few weeks to
get used to Varifocals as they can be a little disorientating at first. You are
unlikely to get much change from £250 - £300 in UK when you buy Varifocals
with a fairly average frame, but you might be given a spare pair for the same
price if the prescription is dispensed at the same time. The sales are a
good time to look out for special offers on the dispensing of prescription
Option two is to consider abandoning spectacles or increasing
your choice by trying to get along with contact lenses. A good optician will
discuss with you the suitability of your eye and age for adapting to contact
lenses. Most contact wearers always keep a pair of normal spectacles at the
ready in case of mishaps and unexpected irritation, so try to update carefully
as the double pay out is expensive.
So - get right the top of your body that you meet and greet
people with. You'll then confidently move onto the lower half which is
discussed on the next page.
Go straight to Part 2 of How to Assess
and Update a Fashion Look to read more about image planning.
On another page I discuss my
TICKS rule I invented to
help myself go through the reasons why I should or should not buy an item. You
may find Pauline's Fashion TICKS
Rule helps you too.
Updated 10 Jan 2008. Page Updated 27 Nov 2011.
TOP OF PAGE To Next Page
If you like this page then please share it with your friends
For more information on ladies and teens fashion trends go to:-