Sewing for Style

      What we choose to wear says a lot about us. If you and I are walking down the street toward each other as strangers, before we are close enough to speak, we have already communicated. What you wear has already spoken to me about a number to things. Your gender (usually), your age, your social class, and perhaps even a good guess at your occupation. I can also make assumptions about your personality, your ethnic origins, your opinions and what kind of mood you are in. You can say the same things about me. The way we dress is a form of language. It is important to know what we want our clothing to say about us and how to have it say the most flattering things.

      People in the theater and movie business know all about wardrobe. They take the greatest care with all parts of their costumes. Clothes define their character before the actor says a word. Con-artists know this and they spend much of their money on their wardrobe to make a good 'front'. How your are dressed effects your mood and attitude. If your are hanging around the house in your robe and slippers you are relaxed and will not be getting much done. If you take a shower, fix your hair and get dressed, you will be energized and ready to accomplish something.

If you have any doubts that what you wear effects how people think of you read Dress for Success by John Malloy. He has done scientific research into how people react to different types of clothing. By the numbers, he can show that what you wear will effect how people think of you and the job you are likely to get. 

People want to belong. Look at the number of people wearing 'team' T-shirts. Showing 'support' for 'their team' makes them part of a group. When you are a player suiting up for a game makes you part of the team and puts you in a competitive mood. Dressing up for a square dance puts you in a party mood. It doesn't have to be an eighty yard crinoline. A simple prairie skirt and a peasant blouse can have the same effect. They are your special clothes for dancing. A friend once told me,"You look good in square dance clothes." I wondered about this for a while until I realized I am happy in square dance clothes. That happiness makes the clothes look good.  Square dance clothes make you feel like a dancer and when you feel like a dancer, you are.

The fact that we can sew means that our choices in clothing are virtually limitless. We do not have to look like the someone else's idea of style. The one disadvantage is that we can not just try it on. By the time we get to the trying on stage we have already invested time and money in a garment that may not speak our language. A basic knowledge of what makes a flattering garment for us as an individual is essential in making sure that our sewing time is spent wisely and the final product is something that we will be happy with for a long time.

Color - Depending on your skin tone and hair color certain colors look great on you while others make you look like 'creature feature'. There is nothing you can do to change this fact. Putting on more foundation make-up and dying your hair will only make it worse. You can dye your hair as long as it is a shade that goes with your skin tone. I 'went blonde' once and with my olive skin tone I looked sea sick.

We usually choose the colors that are right for us instinctively. They are the colors that make us feel happy. If people compliment you when you are wearing your green sweater you will gravitate toward another green item when shopping. The seasonal color system works well for most people. Once you have your colors and an understanding of what works and what doesn't, you will be able to save a lot of time energy and money.

There are volumes written about what to wear to look thinner. Those rules may be effective when applied to a tailored business suit but on a full skirted square dance dress with a 60 yard petticoat the rules get bent. Black is often touted as a fashion cure all. Black will not make you look slimmer, more fashionable or younger. Black is a color not a magic spell. It will just make you look black and everybody knows that you are wearing black to look thinner. If you have the right skin tone for black it can be very dramatic but it is not the right color for everybody

Every year the fashion dictators come out with a new decree. Brown is the new black. Purple is the new black. This is just a ploy to get to your purse. If you know what colors are best for you and what styles suit your body you will not be rushing out to buy the 'latest color' or 'newest style'. Be true to your self. Looking good does not mean looking like a movie star. It means being comfortable in what you are wearing and dressing appropriately for the occasion. Listen to your Mother, "Stand up straight, shoulders back, and head high. Walk with confidence and pride." 

The most important accessory for any dancer is a smile. Most people won't remember exactly what your were wearing, but they will remember the nice person. Talk to everybody in the hall. Find something nice to say about everything. Good manners and attitude are more important than clothes.