Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The somewhat creepy Gilliamesque animation is, well, odd.
I suspect that most of us have heard of the following book: Color Me Beautiful by Carole Jackson: www.amazon.com/Color-Me-Beaut
There are certainly parts of it that seem dated now, or strange (e. g. she seems to think that all people of African decent are Winters, which can't possibly be true, due to skin tone variations), but the essential truth of it is still there: some colors look better on you than others. And they're tied up with your own coloration.
Jackson divides the world by the seasons. Winters are (usually) pale, with dark hair, light eyes and kind of bluish skin undertones. Springs (me!) are usually pale but blonde or red-haired, sometimes with some freckling, and with golden skin undertones. Summers are also light but the hair is more like ash or snow bunny blonde, and with barely noticeable skin undertones. Autumns are darker, redder, frecklier, with peaches and cream or reddish skin undertones. People may age (and so colors can grey or fade) but the season never changes.
From these seasons, Jackson pulls out a palette of colors to suit a person. Welllll, not so fast. First off, color, for real, isn't divided into four parts. It's tripartite, because of the three primary colors: blue, red and yellow. Hence there's a bit of fudging. Orange does not just belong to Autumns. Black is not the sole province of Winters.
Several years ago I had my colors done by a professional image consultant who was trained in the Jackson method. What she did for me was not to just hand me a Spring palette and say, "Here, you're done." Instead, she checked every swatch she had, and put together what looks like a little wallet. It's mainly Spring colors, to be sure, but there are also Summer and Autumn colors in there. Hence, don't box yourself in. I think the seasons are helpful but not dispositive. It certainly cannot hurt to have an idea of what to grab or order. It has the added bonus of being, mainly, colors that coordinate with one another. This makes outfit creation far simpler.
Here's how you do it at home. Grab a mirror and note the following about yourself: your childhood hair color, your eye color (including -- very important -- the flecking in your irises) and your skin undertones. For me, the childhood color was kind of a platinum blonde (which is Summer) but it quickly switched over to dirty blonde, which is more Spring or Autumn. The eyes are greyish blue but have yellow flecks. The yellow flecking (as opposed to white flecking) means a warm palette, so Summer was out and it was a question of Spring versus Autumn. I'm not terribly freckly, my skin is a bit yellowy and I don't tan too terribly well so Spring was the verdict. Spring. Actress Charlize Theron is a Spring.
My mother is a Winter. Dark brown hair when she was a kid. Blue eyes with white flecks. Light, slightly bluish complexion. No freckles whatsoever. Actress Elizabeth Taylor is a Winter.
My husband is an Autumn. Auburn hair. Hazel eyes with yellow flecks. Reddish complexion. Actress Nicole Kidman is an Autumn, although she's a rather pale one.
Actress Elizabeth Hurley is supposed to be a Summer, but I don't see that, although I do see Sharon Stone as one. To me, a Summer always seems like an Ice Princess or snow bunny look.
But what about the colors? There are guidelines, either in books or online. Another thing you can do is, get fabric swatches. Lots and lots and lots of them. And check them versus your face. Forget the color, forget whether you like it. Instead, concentrate on your face when it's juxtaposed with the color. Do you look younger or older? Lined or smooth? Does your face pop or does the color overwhelm you? Of course you are looking for colors that bring out you in a favorable manner. Fortunately, the chances of these being colors that you already like is very high, as we naturally gravitate to what looks good on us. It should go without saying that you need to do this checking with as neutral a light source as possible. Fluorescents will accentuate blues and incandescents will accentuate yellows, so you will want to go for natural light if you can get it while doing this.
If you don't have a lot of swatches, try your clothes, even pants and bras, by putting them near your face and checking in a mirror. I think that swatches are best because I like the idea of having a little wallet of color to carry with me or consult if I'm checking in a catalog. I highly recommend this method as it can help you if store lighting is bad.
What I've found is, it's miraculous. You just check. If the garment is the wrong color, you simply don't buy it, unless it's something that will be far from your face. Pants of course don't need to follow these guidelines, although I'd suggest that they be in colors or patterns to complement what you put near your face. Hence for me, the purchase of burgundy-colored pants is silly. Burgundy is not my color and the colors that work for me that are all similar, such as blue-violets, don't go with it. So I pass the burgundy pants by and don't give them a second thought.
Some designers fit in with my color scheme better than others. I've found, for example, that Liz Claiborne never seems to match my color palette. Things seem more geared towards the Summer palette so they don't work for me.
Another thing I have found is that I can go a little outside of the palette, but not much. If I take a turn into Autumn's rusts and golds, I'm more or less fine although the look isn't optimal. If I wear some of the Summer pales, I can be okay, too, but pale plain pink, without any blue or yellow in it, tends to not flatter me at all, and fuchsia is downright nasty. Winter colors, unless they truly coincide with what I have in the palette (e. g. Navy), are out unless they're going to be really far from my face. I stay far away from any color marked something like Plum or Berry although I wear a lot of purples. I just wear different purples.
Makeup should be similarly selected. With warm tones, your mascara really should be brown. For cool tones, go with black. For warm tones, lipstick and blush are usually peachier for lights like me or more like coral for Autumns. For cool tones, go opposite.
The bottom line is that colors come and go in fashion, but you as a person, your coloration stays similar throughout your life although inevitably it will eventually fade a bit. As we fight for our food rights and don't accept just anything plopped on our plates, I think it's high time we fought for our fashion rights as well, and stopped just accepted one color over another. Why take rusts and golds and olives in Autumn if you're a Summer? Why can't pastels and clear colors be available then? Who decided that Wintertime was just for dark colors, anyway?
Once again, the message is: accept who you are, and enhance yourself. Because you're a pretty cool person, you know that?
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
I've been dumping a lot of my old clothes, either giving them away to friends or Goodwill, and that's gotten me to think, more than I have in a long time, about what clothes really mean. Sure, they are a means of covering our nakedness. But then why wouldn't we all just wear strategically placed fig leaves? Clothes also exist to keep us warm and dry, but then again we don't all walk around wearing polar fleece stuffed into plastic garbage bags.
We exude style, even if we don't mean to. Our choices reflect who we are, or who we'd like to be. The image we project is very much our own self-imagery. We are not simply wrapped up in our clothes. Our clothes are wrapped up in us.
For the next few blog entries, I'm going to write about clothes, and about choices. I've been wearing clothes for 46 years! :) While I don't purport to be an expert on what looks good I can research with the best of 'em and tell you what at least works for me. And, in the meantime, I hope to make you think a little bit about the choices you make in clothing, at least as much as you think about the choices you make in food.
The first area is basic sizing/fit, cut and fabric.
Manufacturers vary sizes all the time. In fact, women's sizes have been getting larger in terms of surface area but smaller in terms of size number. Yesterday's six is now a zero. And so on and so forth, it goes up through the chain. Unless you are buying something perfectly tailored to a measured size, you can never be sure if you're getting a good fit. Menswear, on the other hand, is mainly sold in measured sizes (the size 16 collar or the pants fitted at 32 inseam). Except for bras, women's sizes are all in amorphous figures -- Small, Medium, Large, 2X, 18, whatever. It can be tough to figure out what's what.
What of fit? Does it really matter that we're a size 20 but squeeze into an 18? Does it mean anything different if we swim in a size 22 or bigger? I think that that can also speak towards wealth, particularly as we lose weight. It looms incredibly large if we're losing a substantial amount of weight.
Of course it's crazy to buy a whole new wardrobe every time we lose a size. But at the same time, walking around in ill-fitting clothes is sending another kind of message. Is it a message that we don't care about ourselves, or that we're just not interested in dropping a few grand on a size that we won't be in for more than a month or two? Is it a sign of low self-esteem, or is it a sign that we're so confident that we're going to lose weight and keep it off that we're just going to leapfrog over a few transitional sizes?
One idea that works is to measure everywhere. And I mean everywhere! For weight loss, I currently measure 8 areas (plus neck, but only for SP, so I actually measure 9 areas). But My Shape ( www.myshape.com ) measures many more, like rise. I don't always agree with My Shape's stylistic recommendations, but their retention and review of a full complement of measurements is right on target.
What do you do with this newfound information? For one thing, there are sizing charts online. Particularly if you do a lot of catalog shopping (I do), it's not too tough to find this information. Even if you don't shop using a catalog, there are some things you can do. You can look for consumer reviews of the manufacturer's products online, for example. What do the reviews say? If you're seeing things like "runs small" or "tight across the bust" or "pants had to be cuffed", you'll know that the "standard" sizes are probably not closely followed by that particular manufacturer.
Another thing you can do is simply go to a store that sells that manufacturer's products and try a few of them on. Clothing is generally sized as against a specific model -- a man or woman who is a perfect size 20 or whatever and who is paid to, essentially, never let their measurements change. But that doesn't account for errors in assembly or other manufacturing quirks. A blouse might be hemmed slightly closer to the line than all of the others on a rack. Or the factory could have run out of material and put together one last pair of pants in order to fulfill an order. A garment might be irregular, and might or might not be so labeled.
You cannot try on every item in a store but you can get a ballpark idea of what's going on with fit.
Then it gets interesting.
What does it mean to select the proper fit -- or not? That may seem silly -- why would anyone choose items that didn't fit? Yet people do it all the time.
20 years ago I worked with a woman who was gaining weight. Not a lot, but it was enough for her to need to go to a higher size. Yet she refused, no matter how uncomfortable she got, no matter how bad she looked. Why? Because she could not bring herself to become someone who wore double digit sizes. She kept in size 8s, even as they dug meanly into her sides, even as she split seams. She was probably not even a 10 -- I suspect she was more like a size 12 -- yet she persevered. She stayed in that size yet did not diet or exercise in order to return to comfort and fit. Vanity is a crazy thing, and there are also women who do it with shoes, who see larger sizes (particularly very large shoe sizes, like 10s) as being unfeminine and will insist on getting size 8s or 7s or smaller and somehow walking in them. That's a surefire way to cripple yourself, yet people do it.
One thing I have found in my travels is that, no matter what size you are, you look best in that size. Too small and you only look like you're kidding yourself. Too big and you seem like you're sloppy. And in the case of a person who's lost considerable weight, such as myself, it could be a sign of being too lazy -- or stuck in the past, or afraid of change, or financially challenged -- to move on and finally toss the bigger item. Or you could just be waiting for the next size down item to arrive.
What does it mean to select a particular fabric?
Let's look at fabrics for a moment. Aside from the obvious cost and cachet, what does it mean if we choose a tee shirt made out of silk, or a sweater made of cashmere, versus a cotton tee or a sweater made of wool or even an acrylic? I believe that it says more than we may want to admit. It can say that we want to spend money on ourselves. Or it can say that we're living beyond our means. It can also say that we are attempting to fit in with a crowd or better ourselves, perhaps to stand apart from that very same crowd. The silk and cashmere not only speak of opulence on their own, but they also speak of sustained wealth and/or leisure. After all, it's a far different proposition to launder them than it is to just toss cotton or acrylic into the washer/dryer. Such things have to be hand washed, or hauled to a dry cleaner. Both take time. Dry cleaning takes money. There is a definite difference between the silk tee and the cotton one, even if they appear identical to the untrained eye.
Fabrics also speak to what's important to us. Do we value comfort? Looks? Cachet? Economy? When Sharon Stone wore a Gap tee shirt to the MTV music awards, what did that mean? Was she bucking convention (the tee shirt went over well and Gap sales soared), or just too lazy to go shopping for something normally worn at awards shows?
And, what does it mean when the cashmere or silk item isn't even tailored nicely, and looks like nothing special? Is a slovenly piece somehow better because it's made with a luxe fabric?
We are all shaped differently. Even two people with identical measurements can look different, given things like jiggle and sag factors. So what does it say about us as we make certain choices?
Take a yardstick or other long straight pole (a broomstick will work just fine for this purpose). Go in front of a full-length mirror and hold the pole so that it's perpendicular to your body, right at your waist. You're making a big plus (+) sign. Now, look above and below your natural waistline. What part of you is longer? Is it your legs or your torso? Or are they about the same?
Me, my torso is a little longer. I'm technically not a petite because I'm over 5'4", but I can sometimes wear petite pants because my legs are short.
Another idea about cut -- go to your closet and chest of drawers and take out everything of a certain type of clothing, e. g. all tee shirts, all pairs of jeans, all skirts or whatever. Try them on, one by one, and go back to that full-length mirror. Forget color, fabric and style. Forget fit, even. You're just looking at cut. What looks better? Let's say it's skirts. What works for you? A-line? Straight? Bubble? What about slits, or kick pleats? Or any pleating at all? Mini? Above knee? Calf length?
Look at your clothing in its basic elements. For skirts, that's things like length, drape, waistline and fullness, plus pockets if there are any. For pants, it's length, waistline type, leg fullness, pockets, pleating, belt loops (or the lack thereof), etc. Dresses are essentially a combination of a shirt and a skirt, sewn together.
Take notes about what works. You may find that you've got skirts that work pretty well but would be better if they had a few different features. Or you may find that a combination of two skirts would work best for you, e. g. this one's pleats and that one's length. Start to put together a portrait of what works on you.
Now, I'm not talking about size here. You may weigh enough that you feel that nothing you wear will ever look good. But that's probably not true. But for sake of argument, let's say it is. Yet there are things that look better than others, yes? Some things make you feel pretty, or confident, or sexy. Others make you feel dowdy. There are differences there if you're willing to look for them.
Or, you could just read this book: Flatter Your Figure by Jan Larkey, see: www.amazon.com/Flatter-Your-F
11_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1224629404&sr=11-1 . Amazon sells it (I get no commission from mentioning it or its sales; I just like the book and feel it works for me). The book is over 10 years old so ignore the fashions on the cover. The ideas are what you care about. The book essentially boils down cuts to their basic elements, and determines, based on what you've said about yourself, what will be best on you. If keyhole necklines are in style, but your figure type would look terrible in one, don't buy the top with the keyhole neckline!
Of course not everything is that easy. Sometimes you just need something, and size or budget or time constraints conspire against you. But they don't always.
Take some time and figure out the basic components of what looks good on you, and pair that with size and what you want to say about yourself when it comes to fabric. If you can combine these elements (and with the elements I'll talk about later in this little series of mine), then every bit of clothing really will make you pretty.
And that's what it's all about, isn't it?
Monday, October 20, 2008
Actually, it's got plenty. I'm not talking about time running out -- I'm talking about a standard hourglass figure getting smaller.
Because it is.
It's time for the month in review!
I have been exercising for, what, something like 290 days. And I have been taking alli for 9 months. My, my, my, what has happened in the last 9 months?
I have been giving birth to myself (oy, such labor! You should not know from such labor!). And on the way I have lost and gained far more than sand.
Weights and Measures
This morning, I weighed in at 249.2, also known as 96.8 lbs. off since the start of this grand adventure.
Bicep: 14", down 1/4" and a new personal best
Bust: 45.5", stayed the same, only 1/4" larger than the personal best
Band: 38.5", down 1/2" and a new personal best
Waist: 40.5", up 1/4", only 1/2" larger than the personal best
Belly: 44.5", down 1/2" and a new personal best
Hip: 45.5", down 1/4" and a new personal best
Butt: 51.5", down 1 1/2", 2.5" larger than the personal best
Thigh: 26", stayed the same, only 1/2" larger than the personal best
Compare these with my original measurements ~
Bicep: 19", now down 5"
Bust: 54.75", now down 9 3/4"
Band: 47.5", now down 9"
Waist: 49" now down 9.5"
Belly: 59.5", now down 15"
Hip: 51", now down 5.5"
Butt: 64", now down 12.5"
Thigh: 32 1/4", now down 6 1/4"
This is an average of 9.0625" off. If you take out the bicep and thigh, the average inch loss is 10.2083".
I seem to turn over the personal bests about once every 4 - 6 weeks or so.
Today I walked home from the last bus stop and felt fine. I did it two days last week and have every intention of doing it two days this week. Over the weekend, Mr. J and I walked to that same stop but we took the hilly route. I came out of it just fine. It's not that I don't get tired -- I do! -- but I find I want to press on.
Due to some food boredom and to stave off a plateau, I am switching to a third type of week (I had been going with just a bean soup week alternating with a pasta week). This will be chicken soup with matzoh balls and should be wonderful for cold weather. It's all queued up in the crock pot and will be started tomorrow morning. The rest of the diet is going well (fish, cheat-y fried skinless chicken night, homemade pizza night, one night out a week) and at this point in time need not be changed.
Eating at the Bar Mitzvah turned out to be not as difficult as I had feared. My next challenge is Thanksgiving. I have already asked for a menu or at least a ballpark idea of what will be served so that I can plan accordingly. Unfortunately I can neither bring anything (too much junk to carry as it is) nor cook anything while there (zero room in the kitchen or oven). I will persevere.
I am currently going through and past XLs and size 22s and I suspect I will soon be a Large and an 18 for most designers. I have jettisoned even more stuff, but I will soon come to the end of the old clothes and will need to figure out how to temporarily cover my body as it shrinks. I haven't been to a consignment store in years but may go that route.
Mood and Attitude
I spoke earlier of some food boredom, plus I can feel the beginning of what is probably Seasonal Affective Disorder. It has not stopped me from eating right, exercising or sleeping but I don't love hurtling headlong into a bad or at least less pleasant mood. Hence I am doing something about it by changing up my food, adding more exercise and taking St. John's Wort, which has worked for me in the past although I do try to not take it for too long a time. Plus, I'm blogging about the whole thing. Spreading the wealth, as it were. ;)
I am coming up on 100 lbs. off. I will bet the farm that in a month, for my next review post, that I get to talk about that. Woo hoo, go me!
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Note: a few of the images on this Youtube might not be 100% suitable for younger folks. Do use discretion. Thanks.
Anyway -- I was thinking about some of the things that are happening, and it's all rushing, hurtling into a transition so that means we're talking about what I generally can't stand -- not seeing the end, not seeing the forest. And, let's face it. The weight loss journey is one big honkin' transition all by itself. And now I am transitioning into what will soon be the second half of it. Some of it is a bit scary, knowing that the second half will probably take longer than the first.
Another transition which dovetails rather neatly into the change in the weather is the fact that I've been conducting a farewell tour of my clothes. While it's still (relatively) warm, I've been wearing this and that short-sleeved sweater, and for almost all of them it will be for the very last time. I am retaining a few so that I have something to cover myself with if it becomes Indian Summer around here, but many of them have hit Goodwill already.
Most of the clothes I've jettisoned, I have not cared about them. Now I'm starting to get into some that I really like, so I'm looking for replacements for them that I can grab and wear the hell out of now. There's a pair of flat from khakis, a pair of relaxed straight leg jeans, and a black quilted fiberfill vest. I don't think there's anything else. The khakis are a 26. The jeans are a 22. The vest is a 3x. I'm going to look around online to see if I can replace them with something comparable. Not just anything, but with the real thing.
There's a leather bomber jacket, probably somewhere on the third floor. It's a size 8. I will wear it again.
I know it.
But in the meantime, I don't need a lot of this other stuff. Packed closets begone! I want my life simplified. I want to only own things that I love.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I suppose it has shown a bit in the last few blog posts -- I'm not as cheerful as I had been.
This is inevitable, I suppose. Up moods, like down moods, do not last forever.
And sometimes they change for reasons that seem inexplicable, or for no good reason or no reason.
This one is changing because of a few things. The weather is turning. It's getting darker. It's a full moon, which reminds me of my friend who passed on in August.
And, things are boring. Not just a little bit dull. BORING. As in, I want to shoot myself boring.
Boredom like this does not happen all at once. It creeps up on you until it's suddenly upon you and you realize -- gawd, everything is so depressingly dreary, how can anyone stand it?
It's a few things. It's the job, for starters. I load data. All the livelong day. By itself, that's bad enough, but it used to be enlivened by occasional disasters. Now that the disasters have mainly dissipated, it's just nonstop data loading. AKA nonstop boredom. Of course, I knew at least to some extent what I was signing up for. And, this is a project, so it'll eventually end and I'll have something or other else to do. In the meantime I am paid well, the place is comfortable and the hours and people are fantastic. But....
My site is also dull, taken over by politics as it is every year and, increasingly, every two years (I manage a forums site). While there are other topics of conversation -- and I do my best to support those -- there are a lot more political ones. Or it's just people talking about the site. And that is what I find to be truly deadly dull. Surely there are better things to do in life than gaze at one's navel all the time.
Food is also somewhat boring although I am thinking of what to do in order to mix it up. As the weather is getting cooler, there is one major benefit -- making more soups. The slow cooker is really perfect for that so I am thinking of reintroducing chicken soup into the repertoire, but I'll do it with far less salt than it used to have. Roasted chicken will also return.
Exercise is ... okay. I have been doing the same routine (albeit with heavier and heavier weights or longer and longer stretches of cardio) for over 9 months now. I'm a bit tired of it. Today a flyer came in the mail for a 5k. It's too soon -- in only a couple of weeks -- but it did get me thinking about that sort of thing as being something to strive for. And I am talking about walking a 5k, not running or even jogging one. I can still only jog for half of the block to the bus stop. It may be a long block but we're still not talking more than maybe 100 yards or so and I strongly suspect that's a serious overestimate.
Anyway, those are my thoughts and that's where my head is at. No wonder I am feeling myself spiral into a bit of a funk. The big thing I was looking forward to -- the Bar Mitzvah -- has come and gone. Nothing looms on the horizon. There is no there there, if that makes any sense. Surely I should make my own horizon, but right now I'm just a bit tired.
I know that this will pass, whether it does so by itself or with help from St. John's Wort kind of doesn't matter. I do get Seasonal Affective Disorder and the sky is greying and darkening and leaves are turning and falling so it is coming. I have never really felt the drop as intensely as I have this year, perhaps because I've been so cheerful for so long. It's funny, I tend to do better in some very cold months, e. g. February, because I know that things are getting better. Right now I just know that there will be another 6 or so weeks of darkening and cooling. It's not forever and it's not the end of the world. But, like I said, I am tired.
I will get over this hurdle. I will set it aside, though it may take a little while.
The Funk Stops Here.
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