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Utility versus Aesthetic

Last Friday took Find My Style to the Eames Exhibition at the Barbican for a dose of inspiration for personal styling and design aesthetics; I’m a great fan of the work of Ray and Charles Eames and am actually sitting on one of their chair designs while writing this.

Ray_Charles_Eames_Personal_Styling

Q: “Is Design an expression of art?”

A: “I would rather say it’s an expression of purpose. It may, if it is good enough, later be judged as art.”

Purpose

Walking around the exhibition I was struck by how the purpose of what they created was centric to the creative process, and I wondering if we address our wardrobes from this utilitarian perspective, what impact would it have? One example that jumped into my mind with all this wet weather we are having is footwear choices. At the moment I am living in my Versus hi-tops, they are black suede with thick rubber shoes, laced up with zips and lined with leather inside the shoes – super comfy and keep my feet totally dry in this weather. By contrast I’ve seen plenty of people heading around London streets in pale leather shoes and open flat pumps, with pretty wet looking feet. It’s not like the weather in London is a surprise at this time of year, but people are just not thinking about the utility of their wardrobe choices.

“What works is better than what looks good,” Ray said. “The looks good can change, but what works, works.”

Material & Fabric

Eames designs were shaped by the need for affordable, yet high quality furniture at the time. For years they perfected their designs using low-cost materials like plywood, to create an iconic design aesthetic. Their choice of materials informed their design process and output. Often when we consider our clothes, the first thought is to aesthetics rather than materials. Considering what a garment is made of can be crucial in some climates, for instance, any climber will tell you that cotton kills. It is a good insulator when dry, however when sweat makes cotton wet, it draws heat away from the skin which can be lethal in mountaineering. This characteristic of cotton becomes a plus in hot climates, as it is the perfect fabric for keeping cool in the heat. Using synthetic fibres or natural fabrics, like merino wool, to wick moisture away from the body will allow the body to retain heat. Some fabrics also have metal such as silver in the thread which can reflect heat back to the body.

Constraints

Q: “What are the boundaries of Design?”

A: “What are the boundaries of problems?”

The Eames philosophy is not about accepting compromises, only constraints. It’s about addressing the problems in life and finding a solution. Imagine looking at your wardrobe from a constraints point of view when you are deciding what to put into it, what job do you need it to do for you? What changes would you make? And what would you keep the same? Typically at this time of year in London, your environment constraints would be staying dry and warm. Your communication constraints might be standing out from the crowd or getting the job done. It might be sealing the deal, or making people feel comfortable.

As you implement changes in your wardrobe, its useful to have the words of Ray Eames in mind, ‘I never stopped painting, I just changed my palette’.  Having a wardrobe that works for you isn’t about throwing out your principles; it’s about being you and creating something that works for your life. A few questions that might be handy to think about when making your wardrobe choices could include:

What’s the purpose you are buying it for?

Will the fabric do the job?

What constraints does it meet in your life?
Until next time, enjoy your wardrobe…

NB The questions and answers quotes above were the conceptual basis of the exhibition Qu’est ce que le design? (What is Design?) at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais de Louvre in 1972 as answered by Charles Eames.

212 Concept

How to shop with purpose

With the seasons changing, our wardrobes must change too. Everywhere around us at the moment, we keep hearing about the latest ‘must-have’ items and trend buys to fill our wardrobes with. With around one third of us feeling that our wardrobes are ‘boring’, it’s easy to become seduced by ‘the new’ and end up spending more than we need(1). At the end of the season, some of our purchases can often end up barely worn and headed straight to the recycle bin. So what top tips do we have to help you avoid this?

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Create your own Autumn Edit 

One tactic to make you shop smarter is to tune in to your inner style voice and drown out the noise of the latest ‘must-have’ item by creating your own Autumn Edit. It’s simple – open the doors of your wardrobe and choose your five favourite items that you love. Use them to set your standard. It then becomes easy to measure the rest of your wardrobe and any further purchases against them.

Avoid Impulse Shopping 

Interestingly the average UK person spends £212 a year on impulse buys(2). The biggest culprit of this is clothes, with two thirds of people admitting they have bought something that they have never worn. It’s not just about our money though, our decisions have a global impact too. Lucy Siegle reports in her book, ‘Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?’ that in the UK we have:

  • 1.72 million – Amount in tonnes of brand new fashion consumed in the UK every year
  • 1.5 million – Amount  in tonnes of  clothing that we throw away in Britain every year

So what are the biggest fashion mistakes? Here are the top ten clothes that are bought and never worn:

1. Platform flip-flops – 31%
2. Crop tops – 27%
3. Creepers – 25%
4. Disco trousers – 23%
5. Leather trousers – 22%
6. Drop hem dress/skirt – 19%
7. Printed leggings – 15%
8. Dip-dye clothing – 14%
9. Dungarees – 12%
10. Tassel clothing – 8%(2)

Interestingly after fashion, food was the most common wasted purchase at 59%, followed by fitness equipment at 36%.

Use the 10 Minute Rule 

The oldest tricks in the book are the best. Next time you are on the verge of making a purchase, simply employ the ten minute rule. Take ten minutes to walk away and look at something else. Consider if  you get your cost per wear from it and if it is really worth it. Can you spend your money on something that is more worthwhile? Unless it is a one-off vintage item, the likelihood is that it will still be there waiting for your return if you decide to go for it.

Special Blog Reader’s Exclusive Offer 

At Find My Style we believe in making a difference. If you agree with what you have read, we are offering a special reader’s exclusive for the month of September – the new 212 concept session. Save yourself from making unnecessary impulse fashion purchases with our combined wardrobe and style session at a promotional rate of £212. This 3 hour session is a unique opportunity for you to refresh your wardrobe, come up with new outfit combinations and learn the top style tips for your body shape. To book, simply call Hannah on 07842 918901 0r email via hannah@findmystyle.com today!

 

(1) Source reference: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3233241/Half-women-t-throw-away-clothes-don-t-fit-hope-lose-weight-wear-items-again.html
(2) Source reference: http://money.aol.co.uk/2013/09/04/the-10-most-regretted-purchases/

 

Mindful Wardrobe

How to apply mindfulness to your summer wardrobe

As the weather warms up, our summer wardrobes step up a gear and we have to be increasingly inventive with what feels like a limited selection. Aside from vacantly scanning our rails at the last minute before work and fitting in lunch break power shop, we can learn a tick or two by applying the concept of mindfulness in our closets.

Mindfulness in essence involves thinking, focussing and being present in a situation – something that our busy lives rarely allow, especially in our wardrobe domain. Creating a summer wardrobe that works easily and simply, doesn’t have to be tricky, you just need to start with the basics in order to create a mindful wardrobe. A summer capsule wardrobe of 16 items can provide you with sixty outfits. Doing the maths, means you should have enough outfits for two months – which if we face it, is the total sum of the UK summer if we are lucky!

Mindful Wardrobe

The Essentials

When you are building your summer wardrobe, it’s always useful to start with the following:

Jacket/Wrap (1)
Skirt (2-3)
Trousers (2-3)
Shorts (1)

Next you add in the extras:
Dress/Jumpsuit (1-2)
Tops, including one blouse (4-6)
Cardigan (1-2)
Swimwear

And finally you finish with a flourish:
Accessories
Shoes/Bags
Evening/Going out options (2-3)

Outfit Building

If you choose colours and styles that complement you, and fit with your current lifestyle, you should find that your items coordinate easily to create numerous different outfits if you use the outline above. Take the time to stand in front of your wardrobe and select the items from this list that you already have and highlight the ones that you need to shop for. You should aim to have 16 key items in total, don’t worry about including the items with no brackets after them as they do not feature in the count!

Top Tips:
Opt for colours that work together and compliment you
Accessories are the secret to changing a look
Good fit and quality fabric is fundamental
Always keep items in good repair
Don’t impulse bargain buy – only invest in what you love!

Enjoy your summer wardrobe!

Turning Japanese: Fashion & Cocktails

On Tuesday 14th October, Find My Style was invited to host a fashion and cocktails night for bloggers at the newly opened Sakura Bournemouth. The Japanese inspiration behind the bar lent itself perfectly to the current fashion trends. Below we share the five key ways that Japanese style is influencing the current style trends for autumn/winter.

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Fashion commentators have been claiming that the impact of Japanese aesthetics this season is reminiscent of the 1981, when Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto burst onto the Paris fashion scene. At the time of relatively conservative dress, the new shapes that they brought with them threw the fashion world into array. Their ‘dark, voluminous, misshapen coats worn with huge brimmed hats that hid the models’ faces’ displayed the deconstructed lines of Japanese fashion that was the antisepsis of western bodycon and shoulder pads at the time.

Fast forward 23 years and the Japanese aesthetic has held a long and successful courtship with western fashion. Within the current trends, there are five key influences that trace their inspiration back to the influence of Japanese culture:

Oversized Coats

Reboot your outerwear. The ideal coat this season is bobbled finish, with a tonal wool-blend design cut into a cocoon silhouette and finished with notch lapels. This design actively defies the western philosophy of cutting and stitching the fabric to fit the body, and embraces the Japanese aesthetic of wrapping the fabric to envelop the body.

Earthy aesthetic & washed out florals

Creativity with texture. Folk influences flow from the craft couture movement; and nowhere is this more highly regarded than in Japan. Quality fabrics –think Japanese denim – have always been important culturally and often high-end Japanese fashion is still hand finished within people’s homes even today.

Simple structure & fabric fluidity

The fluidity of the cuts signify the link the nature and the importance of fabric flow. Alongside this, the clean design lines and emphasis on structure is ironic of Japanese design and brands like Cos on the UK high street encapsulate this beautifully. It’s all about doing something different as the opening to Issey Miyake’s show for AW 14 illustrated.

 Urban retro

Bold graphics & punchy sportswear is the look this season. Work it your way.  Influences from the streets of Harujuku can be clearly seen in this trend, and in how the looks are pieced together.

Seeing red

Red is the colour that turns heads by day and by night, as it is the first colour that the eye sees. In Japan it is associated with being life-giving and traditionally red and white are the two colours used to celebrate weddings. Red can be seen everywhere this season particularly for coats and dresses to make an impact.

To finish up the session we handed over to the bloggers to turn their hand to Japanese style with fashion origami. See below for the results & many thanks to Phil Maclean for capturing the moment on camera too! 

Bloggers at Sakura with Fashion Origami