Taylor'd With Style: April Fool’s Fashion
By JeanAnn Taylor
April Fool’s Day—what a fun day to dress foolishly or mis-matched. I once attended an “April Fools Tacky Dance” where everyone was encouraged to wear his or her tackiest outfit. I won first place with an ensemble of leopard print, hot pink lace, black fishnet hose, pink flamingo accessories, and way too much makeup. It was a night of laughter, dancing, and poking fun at our lack of fashion sense. While this night was a mockery of fashion, the truth is that taking a little care and dressing well can change your life.
There are many reasons to dress well every day. People will take you more seriously—it shows that you care and respect who you are. You’ll appear more capable and trustworthy. If you look like you don’t take care of yourself, why should you be trusted to care for someone or something else? You’ll be more motivated to stay healthy and fit—so you can wear those nice clothes. Your self-confidence will increase; you’ll stand taller and sit straighter. Your standards will rise; you’ll be more likely to keep your car and home clean. All this being said, what does “well dressed” mean? The dictionary definition is: Attired in clothing that is of good quality, is properly fitted, and is appropriate and becoming. Of course, this meaning is subjective. Being well dressed depends on society, culture, and occasion. There are, however, a few guidelines that can keep your well-dressed wishes from turning into foolish fashion faux pas.
Sleeves continue to be a popular fashion element. They add detail and interest, and they keep us warm. What I don’t understand is the long sleeve trend that hangs lower than the wrist—even past the fingers. Obviously, the sleeve would get in the way of everything you tried to do, and imagine the filth from them dragging around.
Showing too much cleavage is a risky expression. The eye will always go to the spot where fabric meets skin. If that is the point where you want attention, go for it. But if not, skip the skimpy top. Too-tight button-up shirts that pull at the buttons across the chest is another distracting—and uncomfortable—fashion blunder. If your shirt doesn’t lay flat when buttoned, consider wearing a tank top under the shirt and leave it unbuttoned.
Pants can look stylish and sophisticated or they can take your fashion sense down a notch or two. The worst offender: gauchos. This fashion flop is unflattering on everyone. If you are thin, they make you look frumpy. If you are large, they make you look larger. In addition, this shapeless garment falls at the widest part of your leg which emphasizes the width. Remember, the eye will always go to where fabric meets skin. On the flip side are body-hugging leggings. These “pants” have become a staple in our comfort-driven culture. One suggestion: don’t wear flesh colors or you risk looking like you forgot your pants.
Another current fad is distressed jeans. As someone who loves fabric, it’s hard to wrap my mind around taking a perfectly good piece of material and destroying it. Some of these garments are more “distressed” than “jean.” The ripped and torn statement is one to consider carefully. In the animal world, a shabby coat is a sign of easy prey. On an environmental note, making slashed and worn-out jeans requires sandblasting and tons of extra water. Sturdy denim, woven to last for years, will last only one season when abused and shredded. Distressed jeans, along with the scraps that are cut out, end up in landfills long before regular jeans. Adding insult to injury, distressed jeans have a price tag that can triple regular styles. This trend is bad for our pocketbook and our Earth.
Dressing well doesn’t have to be stressful. Don’t force yourself to wear something that doesn’t fit your body or your personality. Authenticity is attractive, artificial is awkward. Pay attention to fit. Ill-fitting clothes that are too-tight or too-baggy look sloppy. Wear clean clothes that have no pills, tears, or stains. Many fabrics are wash and wear, but if your shirt needs ironing, take a few minutes for this task. Well dressed in wrinkles is an oxymoron. Choose quality over quantity. Having an excess of ill-fitting, out-dated, or low-quality clothes will not increase your sense of style.
Remember, everything we wear sends a message. Every thing. Every day. Many women have lost the art of dressing well. The misconception is that what we wear doesn’t—or shouldn’t—affect how we are treated. The truth is that it does.
I believe in the power of a great outfit. There is no reason to be an April, May, June, or anytime fashion fool. It’s not indulgent or self-absorbed to dress well. It affects the way we think, feel, act, and how others react to us. Dressing well shows respect for others, the event, and the day. As Coco Chanel famously said, “Being well dressed is a beautiful form of politeness.”