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10 Rules For A Fabulous Wardrobe

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( Originally Published 1963 )


I hope some of these observations are of help to you-but remember, in the final analysis, you have to be happy and satisfied with how you look. No one else can do that for you.

8. Clothes that are rich and imaginative in their use o f color. At last color has come into its own in the so-called "civilized" countries. "Primitive" peoples, inspired by the hues of flowers and the plumage of birds have always used bright, beautiful colors in their dress. But, until recently, people in the more developed countries seemed to think the use of vivid colors in their clothing was vulgar or in some way not in good taste. Now we have emerged from the long years when black, brown, gray and good conservative combinations like navy and white presided over women's wear. Not that any of those solid staple colors have lost their immense usefulness. They are still the bulwarks of fashion and necessary in any wardrobe. But Paris and Florence, the two ruling cities of fashion have shown collections in the past few years that are ablaze with color, and now the racks of clothing in our department stores resemble the interior of a Turkish harem . . . sun yellow, bright blues, vivid orange, blazing pinks. And winter fashions are only a trifle less brilliant.

Ask yourself a question. Are you making use of this infinite palette of colors to make yourself more beautiful? Or are you sticking to a few "safe colors" in which you feel sure no one can possibly accuse you of being garish, or of seeking too much attention. If so, remember:

a ) All sorts of tests have proved that men, no less than bulls, are responsive to color. Green is reputedly soothing, violet is cooling, blue is thoughtful, pink is provocative.

b ) Colors can accent and mold your figure when used skillfully, by highlighting areas, lowlighting others.

c) Color creates illusion. A girl in an ice-blue-and white dress, provided the rest of her is well-kept, immediately creates an impression that is thirst-quenching to the eye, so to speak. A spring-green is uplifting, seems fresh and happy. White is traditionally, but also visually, pristine and pure. Though against a deep tan, if the dress includes a daring decollete, it becomes undeniably sexy. Black is sophisticated and chic-though it can also seem somber and depressing to some people. Pink is a young color-maybe a bit too sweet on older women. I only want to suggest that color is an important part of the image you create.

d ) Choosing the right colors for you. It is crucial that the colors you select complement and blend with your own skin tones. Fashion and color experts say that almost all skins fall into one of three skin-color groups: cool shins (which have blue undertones), warm shins (which have yellow undertones), neutral shins (which have pink to beige undertones). If your skin is cool, so to speak, the best colors for you will be those that have some hint of blue in them-violets, blue-reds, blue-greens, whites. Warm skins should draw near those reds and greens that have yellowish sunny shades to them. The neutral skins are free to wear either group. Only the trial and error method will show which colors are most right for you.

e) A color-balanced wardrobe. Here's one good way to get a quick clear picture of your color wardrobe. Open your closet door and look not at the clothes but at their colors. What is your first impression? Is the vista a dull one of grays, blacks, and browns? How many brighter colors meet your eye? You may be surprised at what you see. Many women have never realized how much they stick to the dark colors until they have tried this little experiment. Dark colors are wonderful, basic, chic, and practical but a wardrobe overstocked with them means you are not taking advantage of the wide range of brighter tones in the color scale. Besides, a color-balanced wardrobe is a young wardrobe, and the right wardrobe for a young woman or any woman who "thinks young."

f ) Your colors. Discovering your colors will help decide the future of your closet. Perhaps you have avoided more vivid color until now because you really are not sure which colors are best for you. The way to find out is to begin wearing colors you like. Then tally the reactions-your own and those of your friends. You may find you look especially good in one particular colorthat it expresses you, or your state of mind, or the state of mind you'd like to be in. Many women go through an entire season in one color. A woman might choose to wear green, for instance, for an entire spring because she is happy, perhaps in love. Or she might choose green because she is not so happy but feels the fresh spring color may change her gloomy sentiments. And she is not wrong to do so. For the truth is that we women are tremendously affected by what we wear. Seeing a brighter more colorful you in the mirror, knowing that this is the image you are presenting to the world, somehow gets inside and manufactures a little real inner brightness at the same time.

g) Learning to use colors in your dressing. It is possible to develop a sense of color and taste. You are capable of becoming far more sensitive to what you see than you are now. Observation of nature's combinations, for instance, is unparalleled. It's the source fine artists have always used. But since the top fashion designers, and the fashion magazine photographers and editors do too, you can heighten up your own color sensitivity secondhand, if you prefer, by studying fashion publications. Still it's only once you've taken your courage in your hand and begun to try colors together by yourself that you will get the feel of color coordination-a bit of the same kind of color sense designers and window decorators have. Seeing the change a scarf or an unusual pin can make on a dress or suit will do more to bolster your perhaps tentative tastes than will passive reading.

9. Clothes that are for you. There is no one else quite like you in all the world. The things you like, feel and think-the way you look. All this is you. It used to be popular to categorize women as "the young vivacious type," "the sultry vamp" and the "demure sweet thing." We've grown up in our thinking a bit since then and we know that you can't pigeon-hole a human being that easily. A woman has and should have many sides to her character, and she should show these different aspects in the way she dresses. Deep down a woman wants to do just that-but she often lets fear and conformity "sit" on her. Today with the huge variety of lines and colors to choose from she should feel bolder.

We tell people an enormous amount about ourselves in the way we dress. Our clothes declare us joyful, curious, sensitive, happy, feminine, creative, assured or, on the other hand, lacking in imagination, insecure, timid, humdrum.

Your clothes ought to be extensions of your personality. They must fit your form, compliment your lines, flatter you with their colors.

10. Clothes that take advantage of modern design. There are drip-dry, unwrinkling, easy-packing, strong, permanent pleated, dye-fast, lightweight, beautiful fabrics-and wonderfully cut and inexpensive no matter where you live in the United States. Don't ignore them! They are among the better innovations of the twentieth century.

My Fashion Credo ;Here are all 10 rules on one page, just in case you want to ;clip them, slip them in your purse, and take them with you ;next time you go clothes shopping. 1.A small but good wardrobe-one that is carefully planned. 2 Basic clothes in a popular price range that give wide possibility for individuality. 3.A non-fussy, non-gadgety wardrobe. 4.Clothes that are not enslaved by the current fad or fashion. 5.Clothes that you wear-not clothes that wear you. 6.Clothes (in a price range you can afford) made of materials that drape well, wear well, clean well. 7.Clothes that are well-made. 8.Clothes that are rich and imaginative in their use of color. 9.Clothes that are for you. 10.Clothes that take advantage of modern design.


A basic wardrobe is made of the most necessary and most used items in your closet. They are your "dependables"-the clothes you count on to see you through the year. This is why they must be carefully planned for and chosen.

Basic clothing should be basic, but should certainly not look basic. While long on practicality, they should always be equally strong in beauty. Every piece of basic clothing you possess or buy, be they many or few, should be: 1 ) simple and classic of cut; 2 ) well-made and of good strong fabric; 3 ) practical (easy to clean and care for); 4 ) capable of vast accessorizing; 5 ) sonzething you like! (no matter how long it takes you to find it or make it). Because these basics are the bulwarks of your wardrobe, shopping for any one of them is a major undertaking. Start off with some definite idea in mind of what you want, and if you are convinced that it is what you want, do not let the saleslady talk you out of your ideas and into hers. (She might just be pushing something that hasn't sold well.)

Take your time. If you don't see what you want right off, wait. Don't take second-best. Don't compromise or you'll compromise years of wearing-pleasure. Even worse, if you really make a boner, you'll end up giving the clothes away and be out the money you spent.

If you succeed in buying basics that have all the requirements I mentioned-particularly the last one-the rest of your wardrobe will almost definitely be right too. You will want every other piece of clothing you buy, no matter how small, to be equally attractive. A good foundation, which is what the basics are, is the best incentive I know of for creating a beautiful wardrobe. No, I don't think one bad choice is tragic. It's all too human to err. There are times when a dress or suit looks wonderful on you in the store's dressing room (flattering mirrors?), but never rises to that peak of beauty again once you get it home. Time, experience, a wary and discriminating eye will eventually lead you to victories, I promise.

My list of basic clothes is geared a bit more for the life of the city woman or the suburban woman (with or without a job), than it is for the rural housewife. Women who know they lead a limited social life and that their needs run more towards housedresses and casual-wear (such as slacks, strong skirts, jackets and sweaters), should naturally select only those items they can really make use of. But since more and more rural areas in the United States are becoming suburban in character, the fashion needs of more and more American women seem to be getting closer together too.

The 7-8 Essentials o f a Basic Wardrobe (Consider 1 suit, I dress, or I skirt optional.) 1 good basic coat (wool) 2 suits: 1 warm winter-weight 1 lightweight wool or knit 2 dresses: 1 one-piece wool dress (unless for tropical climate) 1 suit-dress. 2 skirts: 1 lightweight solid color straight 1 heavier tweed or plaid (straight or flared) 1 cocktail dress.

Since you want your clothes to complement each other, because you are aiming for a harmonious and beautiful effect, be sure you coordinate your basic wardrobe according to color. Think in terms of the following color rules:

1. Simplicity Your basic clothes can only be accessorized interestingly if they are of simple basic colors. The over-all look of any outfit should be dominated by one color. This is true no matter how many touches of different colors you may add.

Some colors are more eye-catching than others. Touches of white on a dark outfit give the effect of a neon light on a dark street. Shiny black beading or any sort of light-reflecting fabrics capture attention way beyond the measure of their actual size or proportion. But all these special effects should be at your beck and call-and they can't be unless your basic clothes serve as background for them. So keep the colors simple. Prints, details, fancy fabrics, too-bright colors make so much visual noise that it is almost impossible to add anything to them. z. New, practical, colors Your age and the kind of life you lead ought to decide the color future of your basic clothing. I see no reason why a college girl, a young matron, or a career girl should stick to what we used to think of as the "practical" colors -black, navy, brown, or gray. Pale-pinks, beiges, blue-grays, topey browns, tones of olive or forest green, lilacs, may require a bit more care to keep clean but in any one of the fine new easywash, nonwrinkling, fast-dye fabrics they are I think just as "practical," every bit as "right" and a great deal more enjoyable to almost all women.

3. Buy clothes that catch up with today I think the new fabrics with their permanent pleats, easy travel-ability, nonironing, quick wash, quick-dry talents have changed many of the old rules about basic clothing, and have enormously enlarged the scope and possibility of what we can wear. What happens, however, is that there is, what anthropologists call a culture lag. It takes us a while to change our habits and to catch up with the realities of scientific inventions. This is why many women, especially in rural areas, continue to follow the old rules about dressing, even though those old rules which were soundly based on the difficulties of caring and cleaning for fabrics that had much less flexibility than the new ones do, are actually outmoded. Safety Measures Here are a few look-ahead precautions you can take to help insure the survival of your good clothes. Most of them must be taken at the time you buy them:

1. See that your dress (or coat or suit) has seams big enough to be let out (should you, horrors, add a pound or two).

2. Have a hem with enough leeway to go up or down.

3. Be sure you get one or more extra buttons (especially if the buttons add much to the beauty of the garment).

4. See that you get matching yarn if your garment is knit.

5. Secure washing and ironing instructions attached if the fabric requires some special care.