Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Ten-Item Wardrobe

I'm having a break from Feng Shui Fashion and I'm currently reading "Lessons from Madame Chic" by Jennifer L. Scott. One of the lessons in this book is that it is possible to look stylish with only ten items in your wardrobe. That's not a typo, it really does state only ten items (but see the comment below).

Jennifer's book was recommended by a member of the Project 333 facebook group. I sometimes struggle with a wardrobe of just 33 items to last me for 3 months when I'm taking part in Project 333, so how would I be able to cope with just ten items in my wardrobe? You might want to look at Jennifer's blog to find out about her ten-item wardrobe for Spring.  In the meantime, here's one that I made earlier!

The idea is that all of these tops will go with all of the bottoms so you can create lots of outfits with just these ten items. Long-time readers of my blog will know that I love using accessories to create several different looks. I would probably use a red necklace, floral scarf, burgundy bag or maybe a pair of pink trainers/sneakers to ring the changes. The items shown would be ideal for a two week holiday, however do you remember what I said above? Yes - this is supposed to be a ten-item wardrobe for Spring!

If you've checked out Jennifer's blog (The Daily Connoisseur) you will know that she allows you to be flexible with your "ten" items (it could be up to twenty) and she actually has eleven items in her own Spring wardrobe. She doesn't include accessories, outer garments, occasion-wear and what she calls" under shirts", used for layering. Jennifer added in the following extras: seven t-shirts, two sweaters, a light-weight coat and two blazers. That makes a total of 23 items of clothing, which isn't as daunting a challenge as only 10 items.

The advice for the ten-item wardrobe is similar to the advice given for Project 333. Only select items that fit you, look good on you, suit your lifestyle and that you LOVE. Either donate the rest to charity or if they meet this criteria, store them for another season. Obviously, with a more limited wardrobe, you need to ensure that all your items go well with each other as in the example above. Choose a couple of neutrals and add a touch of colour that suits you, especially when worn near to your face.

Why don't you try limiting yourself to a ten-item wardrobe for your next holiday, or even for a period of a month staying at home? I'd love to hear how you get on!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Fashion Feng Shui: the verdict

What did you think about my series on the five Fashion Feng Shui types? Did you identify your Feng Shui element and type?

Briefly, the five different elemental types are: Water, the Philosopher, whose style is creative; Wood, the Pioneer, whose style is sporty, Fire, the Pleasure Seeker, whose style is dramatic; Earth, the Peacemaker, whose style is traditional and last (but definitely not least!) Metal, the Perfectionist, whose style is elegant.

It's possible to be one type in your appearance but feel that essentially it isn't really you.  Perhaps you have the golden colouring, soft, full features and apple shape of a Peacemaker, but deep down you have a creative personality. Or you may look and feel like a sporty Pioneer but work in a field where you are expected to wear the styles of a Peacemaker. This is where I like the idea of Feng Shui fashion, as it allows you to add touches of other elements to your wardrobe to express yourself more fully. Maybe you are forced to wear conservative styles in the office where you work, but that doesn't mean you can't wear bright red underwear to express your inner Pleasure Seeker!

If you want to explore the ideas of Fashion Feng Shui more fully, you might want to download a copy of the book shown above.  I won't receive any commission if you decide to buy it, by the way!

Alternatively, if you enjoy playing on Pinterest as I do, why not search for pictures of the different types there? This board in particular has lots of inspiring pins: Jane Rekas. I have also created my own Fashion Feng Shui board: click here.

The picture above immediately appealed to me as I do love a touch of red and purple in my wardrobe. Finally, I believe that fashion should be about wearing what you enjoy and whether you follow the guidelines of Dressing Your Truth, Seasonal Colour Analysis or Fashion Feng Shui, remember that they are only guidelines. Our aim should be to express ourselves and love what we're wearing.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Fashion Feng Shui: the Perfectionist

The fifth and final Feng Shui element is Metal, which represents the Perfectionist. Many of us aspire to be elegant and spend a lot of time and money trying to achieve it, however it comes naturally to the Perfectionists, who have been born with inherent good taste. Perfectionists find success in careers where good organisational and management skills are essential, such as analysts, editors, curators, organisers and statesmen. They enjoy upmarket refined places so you will find them in museums, concert halls, mansions and country clubs. Perfectionists, as you might guess, prefer quality over quantity.

Perfectionists have very light hair, eyes and skin, delicate features and hourglass bodies. They like wearing pale colours, polished textures and luxurious fabrics: you can expect to find cashmere, silk and designer accessories in their wardrobes.

If any Perfectionists are reading this post, I'm sure they will pick me up for the outfits shown above and declare that they are far from perfect! Apologies, as a Pioneer with Philosopher leanings, I know that I'm far from being a Perfectionist. I do have a lovely cashmere cardigan (though in the Wood's shade of green), so perhaps I need to wear it more often?

If you value quality and excellence, enjoy organising and have a cultivated spirit, then you're a Perfectionist in essence, even if you don't look like one. Similarly if you want more order or refinement in your life, or you have cultural goals, or you just want to look elegant, then add some Metal elements to your wardrobe.

Perfectionists wear perfectly fitted clothes, monochromatic outfits, either little or no pattern (polka dots, brocades or lace are best) and status or designer accessories. Other Metal element fashions include cashmere twin sets, polished or shimmering textures (such as the gold lamé dress above), pale colours such as white, powder pink and silver, a status gold watch, round-toed pumps and gemstone or metal jewellery.

As I've already admitted, I'm not a Perfectionist - and I don't have the necessary funds in my bank account to be one. If I need to add some Metal elements (apart from my cashmere cardigan), it will probably be with a pair of round-toed pumps, my (non-status!) gold watch or maybe some metallic jewellery.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Fashion Feng Shui: the Peacemaker

The fourth Feng Shui element is Earth, which is representative of the Peacemaker. I suspect that a lot of women will identify with this Feng Shui fashion type, but is this because essentially they are Peacemakers or because they are playing the role that society expects of them? Peacemakers are caring, helpful and sympathetic. They are good at details and completing tasks, but not so keen on change. Practical, traditional and at their happiest when helping other people, many Peacemakers are nurses, therapists, politicians and (not surprisingly) mothers. They enjoy gardening, knitting, cooking and volunteering.

If you've read the above and it sounds just like you, it means that essentially you are a Peacemaker, but do you look like one? In general, Earth elemental types have golden or brown colouring with topaz, hazel or brown eyes, also soft, full features. They can be described as sturdy, having a short, full body-shape otherwise known as an "apple" and their style is classic. If you don't look like a Peacemaker however you are searching for stability and security in your life, or perhaps you want to appear more traditional, or your goals are family or community focussed, then consider adding some Earth elements to your outfits.

I don't think there is anything in this picture to upset anyone - after all, we are talking about the Peacemakers here! If you want to add some Earth elements to your wardrobe but aren't a Peacemaker, then you may want to consider the following options: a tweed blazer, a plaid shirt or khaki chinos are possibilities or, depending on your colouring, think about yellow, brown or earth tones for your clothing. You could also consider cropped jackets or square-toed shoes,or something as small as a square-faced watch or ceramic beads. Today I am wearing a square-faced watch to add an Earth element to my outfit, which means I am quite happy to do the cooking tonight!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Fashion Feng Shui: the Pleasure Seeker

If you've read my previous posts, you will have realised by now that Feng Shui Fashion isn't just about your physical appearance, though obviously that is very important, but also includes your essence and your intention.  If you have been told that you are charismatic, you enjoy being with friends and value personal connections, then even if you have the colouring of a Philosopher you may essentially be a Pleasure Seeker.

What does the Pleasure Seeker look like? Being a Fire elemental type, not surprisingly they tend to have red hair, red tones to their skin, pointed features and sparkling red-brown or violet-blue eyes. They are an inverted triangle in shape, with a larger size top than bottom, and enjoy wearing dramatic style clothing.

The Pleasure Seekers, as their name suggests, like to have a good time and will describe activities that they enjoy as "fun". They love dancing, socialising, entertaining, performing and truly are the life and soul of any good party. Many Pleasure Seekers are actors, DJs, agents, entertainers and MCs.  If you want to be noticed, or have more excitement in your life, then add some Fire elements to your outfits.

Fire elements, as you can see from the picture above, include bright colours especially reds, animal prints, body conscious silhouettes, v-necks and short, slim skirts.  Pleasure Seekers like to wear silk blouses, satin gowns, stiletto heels, leather jackets, skin tight jeans and animal print scarves. You may also spot them in feathers, fur and sequins - though not necessarily at the same time!

When I want to add a touch of Fire to my outfits, I will add a red belt, animal print scarf  red bracelet or whatever will blend with the outfit that I am wearing.

If you haven't identified with any of the Fashion Feng Shui types shown so far, there are two more to come: the Peacemaker (Earth) and Perfectionist (Metal).

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Fashion Feng Shui: The Pioneer

In Feng Shui Fashion we aren't just concerned with our physical appearance, although obviously it has a major role to play, but we are also thinking about our essence and our intention.  The Pioneer or Wood elemental type usually has cool colouring, with ash-toned hair, blue or green eyes and olive skin. They have strong brows and jawline, a rectangular-shaped body and wear sporty or casual clothing.

Pioneers are usually competitive, energetic people and don't like to sit still doing nothing.  They enjoy going to gyms, spas and parks and their hobbies include coaching, exercise, travel and hiking. Pioneers enjoy arguing and debating issues and are good ideas people and initiators, often leaving the detailed work for other people to follow up. You may be a Pioneer if you enjoy getting things done and need your daily exercise fix. Many Pioneers become lawyers, athletes, coaches. trainers or sales people.

What clothes should you wear if you are a Wood type? Your best colours are cool neutrals, sapphire, jade plus other blues and greens. Your style is sporty and casual, with athletic details like zips and hoods plus sporty accessories such as back-packs. You look your best in slim trousers and jeans, vertical lines and very little waist definition. Plant-based patterns such as florals are good and natural fabrics like linen and cotton suit you.

Even if you are not a Wood type, you may want to incorporate some Wood elements into your clothing when you need to take action to achieve your goals, especially if they are health and growth-oriented, or you would like to be more competitive.

If you don't look like a Pioneer physically but you are competitive, enjoy being busy and you value freedom of movement, then use Wood elements in your dress to express who you are. My appearance is more like a Pioneer than the other four Feng Shui Fashion types, which may explain why I am wearing a green t-shirt with stone coloured linen trousers today!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Fashion Feng Shui: the Philosopher

I will start with some guidelines to discover whether you are a Philosopher in appearance, but remember that there are two other aspects to consider in Feng Shui Fashion: your essence and your intention. Even if you don't look like a Philosopher, deep down you may feel like one and if so you may want to reflect some of that in the way you dress. Or perhaps you want to express your individuality, to feel tranquillity, or to reflect on how you can realise your goals.  Look to the Philosopher to help you with these intentions.

What are the physical features of the Philosopher or Water type? Water element bodies are usually tear-drop shaped or pear shaped, with large bones and dark skin tones. Their shoulders are narrower than their hips and thighs. They have high foreheads, very dark hair and dark eyes that are often shadowed and dreamy, giving them an exotic or mysterious appearance. Does this sound like you? If so, you may be a Philosopher.

Philosophers are sensitive, independent and they have to do their own thing. They enjoy solitude, value their freedom and like to travel. Many Philosophers are academics, writers, scientists, healers or artists.

What do Water type clothes look like? Not surprisingly they are fluid, sometimes asymmetric, and mainly dark colours.
Fabrics may be sheer or velvety and abstract patterns like paisley look good on Philosophers. They should wear lighter coloured semi-fitted tops with darker flowing skirts and trousers. Accessories will be artistic and unique, which fits in with their creative style personality.

The Philosopher supports you artistically, spiritually and intellectually. If you're not a water sign you can still choose one or two elements such as an asymmetric top or a fringed bag to help you with your intention or to reveal your creative side. Just make sure that they don't jar with your overall appearance and that they create balance.

Although I don't have a Water type body or skin tone, my hair is naturally very dark and I enjoy writing and the healing arts therefore I would like to bring some Water elements into the way I dress. I can do this by choosing black and other dark tones for shoes, handbags or outerwear, or by wearing unusual accessories.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Fashion Feng Shui: 5 types

Following on from my post about yin and yang, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the Fashion Feng Shui types and see if you identify with any of them.

There are five types, relating to the five elements that are used within Feng Shui: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. You may have read about the power of Feng Shui within your home or office environment and how each feng shui area relates to a different element, colour and life area, but did you know that it can also affect the way you look and the way you are perceived?

If your personal style is creative, then your element is Water and your type is the Philosopher. If you like comfortable clothes and your personal style is sporty, you are a Pioneer and your element is Wood. Are you a dramatic? If so, your element is Fire and you are a Pleasure Seeker. If you tend to be a bit conservative in the way you dress, then your personal style is traditional, your element is Earth and you are a Peacemaker. Finally, we have the Perfectionists whose style is elegant and whose element is Metal.

Many of us will identify with more than one type, except perhaps the Perfectionists who are perfect just the way they are! In my case I am definitely happiest wearing sporty, comfortable clothes, but I do like a few creative touches and at times I aspire to be elegant.

The power of Fashion Feng Shui though doesn't just lie in the way you look physically but also embraces your essence or authentic self and your intention or ideal self. Let's assume that you work in an office where your colleagues are very conservative and you are expected to dress in a traditional way, however your personal style is creative and essentially you are a bit dramatic.  If you spend all your working day dressed in a conservative way you won't be dressing true to yourself and you will probably feel a bit stifled. However if you choose to wear an asymmetrical top under your classic suit with maybe an animal print belt or scarf, you will feel more balanced and true to yourself, as you are expressing the other elements of your personality.

The book that I highly recommend if you are interested in reading more about Fashion Feng Shui is the book by Evana Maggiore. Most of the information in this series of posts is based on what I have learnt from Evana's book. Obviously I'm no expert, however I plan to explore the five types in the following posts, to help you identify your personal style and give you hints on how you can express your authentic self or work towards achieving your ideal self.

Friday, 2 May 2014

I always enjoy a challenge

As regular readers will know, I always enjoy a challenge.  My latest one was to write a post every day during April - and guess what? I completed this challenge. You may have noticed that I was posting on a very regular basis last month and now you know the reason why.

Living in Spain, nearly every day is a challenge. We live in a traditional Spanish town called Jumilla, which is renowned for its wine. Not many people here speak English and those that do are often a bit shy about speaking to us in English, which means it's up to us to speak to them in their language! The only problem is that we both learnt French at school, so when we moved here our Spanish was minimal. We go to Spanish classes most weeks, but when you're in your sixties it's not as easy to learn something new as when you're at school or you're a much younger adult. Luckily, as I said earlier, I enjoy a challenge and so does my husband John.

People here are very patient with us, which helps. Only last week I was having a conversation with someone and totally forgot the Spanish word for clouds. I watch the weather forecast regularly so I know the word but I had a senior moment (other over 60s will know what I mean!), so I just pointed towards the sky. "Nubes?" suggested Pepe. "Si!" I said in relief.

My other regular challenge is taking part in Project 333, which means that in theory I only have 33 clothes in my wardrobe to last me for 3 months. I have succeeded in drastically reducing the number of clothes hanging up in my wardrobe - as well as in the wardrobe in the spare room and the boxes under the bed - but it's still a tough challenge for me as I love clothes. What I'm doing now is making sure that for every new item of clothing or pair of shoes that I buy, an item goes into the recycling bin. I'm also making sure that every new purchase will fit in with my existing wardrobe, which should give me more options and make it more versatile.

Do you enjoy a challenge?