If you’ve read me elsewhere, you know that I continue to be intrigued by the wisdom imparted by Jennifer L Scott in “Lessons from Madame Chic.” And I swear I’m not getting paid to write about it – I even ordered this book myself in hard-copy form. You know that I mean business about decluttering my closet and creating a capsule wardrobe when that happens!
Anywhoodle, I came across a passage where Jennifer was in Paris and meeting her host who quite bluntly told her that what she was wearing was essentially the worst thing on the planet. This seemed to shock Jennifer because it was well-made and an expensive fabric. Her host pointed out that the color was like death on her (paraphrasing), and that we know what looks good on us, so why would she continue to wear something that was a disaster.
And at this point, I came to a screeching halt. Where normally I am nodding along in agreement and taking notes on my impending French make-over, this section got me underlining, circling and adding exclamation points in my notes. Because I just don’t agree. Not always.
Case in point: I fell in love with this one particular shirt. It’s well-made. It is a softer than soft fabric. It’s stripey – and who doesn’t love stripey? It isn’t binding in any way (in fact, it’s a swing shirt) which means I can eat in it, bend in it, work in it, etc. It’s made by BCBG, so I felt a little on-point style-wise. I loved this shirt. I felt kicky and fashionable wearing it.
And then I saw a picture of me wearing the shirt. Awful.
You see, while I’m not Christina Hendricks, I do have a rather generous chest-al region. One of the reasons I loved the shirt was it fit well over the girls. But I forgot the #1 rule of dressing for breasts – loose, flowing fabrics often make you look like you are wearing a tent. Those perky, long and lean models in the pictures don’t tend to have this problem.
Why didn’t I try it on? I did. I tried it on, and I thought it was delightful in every way. Because I was looking at it with “I want this, and I feel like a very fashionable princess” eyes. So, no, I didn’t know that it didn’t look good on me. I’m sorry, Madame Chic, you don’t always know.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I finally got a chance to leaf through some of the Oscar dresses (I know, I know, that was a very long time ago), and I feel like some of the women must have fallen into the same trap. They put on a gown and the “I’m a princess” blinders fell over their eyes. They know it is quality. They know it’s a designer that everybody loves. Sometimes it is impossible to look at something objectively. I know once they hit a certain level that they are supposed to have people to give them helpful feedback, but even that doesn’t always do the trick.
I suppose Madame Chic’s rebuttal would be that eventually you do figure it out, and then you should learn from your mistakes and never wear that pea green sweater set again (or in my case, that stripey swing sweater). Maybe. Or more likely, I’ll try to rationalize keeping it by saying that it will look amazing if I just lose a little weight. What can I say — the “I can wear horizontal stripes” fantasy is strong in me.
How about you? Have you ever found yourself in love with a particular piece of clothing only to find out later that it really isn’t your best look? What was your first step in creating a capsule wardrobe that fit your life?