Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year, New You?

It's the drabbest time of the year. It's dark and cold. My body is still carrying a couple of pints of eggnog and a cake or two from last month. I look in the mirror and sigh. I need a makeover.

Maybe you feel the same way. Well, fix yourself a cup of detox tea and settle in to read a few Xtabay makeover tips. They're just a few suggestions for waking up your look and putting that spring back into your sartorial step.

Try prints. Many of you might suffer from Fear of Prints. I used to, too. I only wore solids, thinking it was more practical and somehow more "classy". Ridiculous! How can solids even start to express the full extent of your zany and complex personality? Imagine wearing a navy blue knit dress from the 1960s. It's fine. If it fits well, it might even be sexy. Now imagine a 1940s rayon dress patterned with Eiffel Towers or poodles or ladies in hoop skirts. Now people who see you smile. They admire your confidence and wit. Plaid counts as a print. So do polka dots.

The best prints will balance with your bone structure, features, and reach of personality. If you're a large person with pronounced features and an infectiously loud laugh, you can wear larger prints in colors that contrast more. If you're small or more mild mannered, you might want to stick to smaller prints, or prints that don't have much contrast, such as a yellow print on an ivory background rather than a large, op art print in black and white.

Mixing prints is an art, but one that is worth mastering. There's something wildly off-the-cuff elegant about a woman who mixes prints. Imagine a plaid Pendleton 49ers jacket with a leopard print scarf. Brilliant. Or a polka dot cotton dress with a 1960s floral cardigan. Eye catching. My current favorite combo is a plaid skirt with a pair of floral patterned stilettos. You'd have to see it to believe how well it works.

Play with proportion. Maybe you're used to wearing the same general proportions: loose top over jeans, say, or long top over short skirt. Try mixing it up, and you might find a fresh and flattering new look. One of my favorite proportions is loose over tight. You can do loose over tight by wearing a 1960s dress over leggings, or a sheath dress under a 1950s swing coat, or an early 1960s pencil skirt with a loose 1970s peasant blouse.

Short over long is good, too, especially if you're long waisted. You can get the short over long proportion by wearing a bolero or short sweater over a tee shirt and a below-the-knee skirt. Empire waist dresses work, too. Bingo! Your legs stretch for miles.

Show some skin. If you're already comfortable flashing thigh, and you're no stranger to cleavage, you can skip this part. For the rest of you, try pushing your comfort zone a little. Gals sporting A cups will get surprising cleavage with a push up bra. Go. Get one during your lunch break. Now wear a shirt with a deeply scooped neck. Just try it around the house if it feels extreme. Try a necklace that dips into the crevice. One of my friends even goes so far as to say women have a duty to (judiciously) share their bosoms. If you wear a daring neckline, go easy on the makeup and heels.

Get a pedicure. I bet you're still wearing toenail polish from October. Next time you're settling down to Mad Men reruns, grab a bottle of Butter nail polish and give the little piggies a coat of gold or scarlet or sky blue. It's a matter of self respect.

Seek inspiration. I love to cruise The Sartorialist and Garance Doré's blog for inspiration. Old movies fire up my wardrobe zest, too, as do Vogues and Harpers Bazaar magazines from the 1940s and 1950s.

Probably the best inspiration, though, comes from flipping through the racks at Xtabay and trying on dresses you never thought would suit you. I do it all the time. How else would I know that a strapless Hawaiian-style cotton dress from the 1950s would be so genius with my small rib cage but--let's just say--more generous posterior? How could I determine once and for all that black velvet is a complexion killer on me, or that 1940s suits flatter me so much better than the Jackie O style?

You'll have your own revelations, I'm sure. Come down to the Xtabay and let us be part of your New Year's makeover plan.

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