Is It Clothing or Art?

Is It Clothing or Art?

When you get dressed, what do you want others to see? 

Beautiful woman in high chroma or strong red dress applying matching lipstick

A bright color? 

Dior designer label storefront

A label? 

Model in black and white striped dress walking the runway with another model in a black and white dress following her

Maybe a cool or pretty pattern? 

Or maybe it isn't about your dress. Maybe you'd actually like the people around you to see you--in your best and most flattering context, of course. I’m going to say something that might be incredibly obvious but often needs repeating.
Just because something looks good on the mannequin or in the cute flat lay with the bag and the shoes and the third piece or on the model walking the runway does NOT mean it will look good on you. That says nothing about you–you’re beautiful.

The proper context, including the right clothing, will show that off. Very briefly, clothing should do three things for you:
      1. It should be functional. You need to be able to walk in your shoes and bend over in your skirt and stay warm in your coat.
      2. It needs to fit. The jeans in your closet that are a size X when you’re currently a size Y aren’t really clothing. To be clothing for you, it must fit you. Now. To meet this need, a flexible tape measure is your friend. For those items that don’t, banish them elsewhere to see what you’re actually working with.
      3. And it needs to flatter--YOU.
    And here’s the key to number three (it sounds easy, but it isn’t always), you need to separate your clothing from what is, to you, art.

    Pastry case filled with assorted types of lovely sweets in many colors

    It works a little like when you’re walking past a gorgeous pastry case and see all those desserts, but you’re off sugar. While all those beautiful creations are technically food in that they definitely have macro and even some micronutrients, they don’t allow you to function optimally; so you don’t really see them as food. The same thing applies here. 

    Art is meant to be appreciated but generally not worn. And when it is worn, the purpose is not to flatter the model but to draw attention to the art and the creator. If you need any evidence of that, just look at what runway shows do to a bunch of lovely models each season. That’s often pretty obviously art because the surroundings are so clearly not realistic; you can see huge heels, strange hair and makeup, and bright/extreme colors, and sometimes the models even wear bags on their heads or are otherwise obscured to look less attractive. (Is it just me, or does the hair in that last image look like a tree from The Lorax?)

    Three models walking the runway. The first is wearing a patterned black and white outfit with platform shoes and bright eye makeup. The second model is wearing a very brightly colored, structured mini dress with thick black glasses and black, webbed high heel shoes that reach to her knees. The third is wearing a silk romper in white and brown with stripes of black makeup across her face and hair that looks like a tree from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.

    That’s clearly art, but really anything that won’t flatter you would best be considered in that category and left behind. So, in the same way you’d walk past a pastry case when you’re off sugar, you appreciate the art and move on. That’s not food for you.

    And when you walk away, feel good about that choice. You’re saving room for something flattering in your budget and your closet; and, as one person’s art is another person’s clothing, you’re graciously leaving that item for someone else who will be flattered by it. 

    For example, let’s say you see this dress in the store and appreciate how cute it is.

    Simon Miller dress with a strong or high chroma yellow plaid print

    Still, you recognize that the yellow, which is quite dominant, won’t work for you because the chroma is too high (and you don’t want to go through the effort to find a bridging item, which we can discuss later). Best you appreciate it and move on.

    You do NOT, I repeat, do NOT double down by also buying the matching pants and duster (seriously, this duster looks like someone crossed Clueless with Quentin Tarantino). Please learn from my mistakes. 🙄 

    Simon Miller dress, duster jacket, and pants or slacks with a strong or high chroma yellow plaid print

    Takeaway: Remember that clothes can be absolutely lovely; but, if they don’t suit you, they are essentially art--appreciate but don’t buy. Also, just because you like something doesn’t mean you need to or would even want to own it. If you need an example, check out this history of the Hope Diamond: