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Vexing Vests

Fashionist State
by Cheryl-Lynn Murray

It’s time to remove the word vest from your “in style” vocabulary, and to be honest, its way overdue. If I see one more person wearing a men’s-style vest over a grey printed t-shirt that says something like “Rock and Roll,” I just might go out and buy one that says “Gag Me.”

Sure, in its time it was a hot trend to follow. You couldn’t go wrong with the polished, casual look. But this is where the problem begins. If you choose to be a trend follower, do us all a favour and follow the trends. I can’t stress enough how often trends can change and if you’re not up to speed on what’s hot and what’s not, you’ll look more like a bargain basement shopper on a budget.

Move on from last year’s wardrobe “do,” because this year, it’s a serious “don’t.” Especially vests of the halter variety. They cause much more harm than good to your feminine figure. The fabric covering the bottom half of your back just highlights your upper back creating the masculine appearance of broad shoulders. Most people I’ve seen wearing them don’t even wear them fitted, as they were meant to be worn. It’s especially not tasteful for those of you with bigger busts, for obvious reasons. For some reason, no matter how much they try to modernize and feminize the masculine article, it still looks dated.

And sweater vests? Do we really need to be reminded of our seventh grade school pictures? Cropped vests look great under a button down shirt at work. At work only.

Trends usually go through three cycles: the first phase is styles pulled right off the catwalks and usually only worn by the fashion industry elite and celebrities. Phase two is when you see them more in mainstream media. Television, magazines and the Internet get the trend out there for emulators to follow. This is when everyone wants a piece of the trend. Finally, phase three. The trend is available to the mass market. But affordable, trendy clothing, or “fast fashion,” is a double-edged sword. Sure, it makes everyday people like you and I appear more fashionable on a real-life budget. However, when the market is totally saturated with a particular trend, it loses appeal. It helps to kill the trend quicker and, believe me, the vest trend is dead.

If your goal is to be truly fashionable, flip through a new issue of In Style (or your fashion magazine of choice), find out what designers are putting on their catwalks and look for similar items in a place you regularly shop. You won’t find exact matches, since some of the designs are very elaborate and extravagant. The best way to go about it is to focus your attention on accessories. And, if you use your imagination you could come pretty close to phase one of the trend cycle, placing you two or three months ahead of the local style curve.

If you’re one of those people who likes the layered effect, try this season’s must-have article: the baby doll. You can wear it either in dress form or a longer shirt with straps. Wear it over a tee (not one of those grey screen printed ones) or a button down blouse and you’re instantly updated.

And, if you really can’t part with your beloved (yet, three seasons ago) vest, wear it over an over-sized men’s shirt, a pair of leggings and ballet flats.

Denim Diary

Fashionist State
Cheryl-Lynn Murray

A good pair of jeans is hard to find. Too short, too long, too tight, too big. Not to mention the dreaded muffin top. You know what I mean—it’s when your love handles flow over the waistband of your jeans. Don’t be embarrassed, it happens to the best of us.

Recently, I saw a girl in her 20s who presented me with another common problem: back pockets that went from the middle of her butt to the top of her thighs. I shuddered. It flattened out her butt and made her look like she was trying to squeeze something between her butt cheeks. I think they might have been her boyfriend’s painting jeans.

Anyhow, the most important thing to remember when looking for a good pair of jeans is don’t follow the trend. Jeans are supposed to hug in all the right places on your body, not the mannequin in the window. For example, over the past year we saw the re-emergence of skinny jeans. If you’re lower torso and legs aren’t relatively straight to begin with, these jeans will just make you look like mom in those straight leg jeans you have been begging her to throw out.

The perfect pair of jeans should be an essential in every woman’s wardrobe, but can prove to be the most difficult to find.

To help you, let me address the first issue. Muffin top. Believe it or not, this issue is easily solved. Never buy a pair of jeans with a zipper only two inches long! Low riders or hip huggers are usually the culprit in this case. But, this doesn’t mean you have to go around like grandma with the button on your jeans reaching the button on your belly. Look for something with a mid-rise. By having the jeans sit low on your waist rather than around your hips, it keeps your love handles in check and inside your jeans.

For women fighting the belly bulge, again, look for mid-rise jeans. Go for a boot-cut style to even out your bodyline, and something with square front pockets can give the appearance of a flatter tummy.

Women with bigger bums probably have the most trouble finding a good pair of jeans. Jeans aren’t made specifically for bigger behinds, so if they fit well in the butt, make sure they aren’t too big in the crotch. Shimmy yourself into a pair with smaller, angled back pockets and a wider waistband. Don’t go for jeans with embellishments or embroidery, it will only draw attention to your rear when what you want to do is camouflage it.

If you’re dealing with the opposite problem and have nothing to fill out the seat of your jeans, try flap pockets or a pair with pockets a little higher on the bum.

As for length, I’m perfectly well aware of how hard it is for tall women to find jeans that fit. Most regular jeans have an inseam around 31 or 32 inches, when it’s a 33 or 34 you want. The extra inch or so makes a world of difference. A length stopping at the base of your heel is all you need.

Quite the opposite are petite women. You can always have your jeans hemmed up, but stay away from flared jeans. They will make you look shorter and can ruin their shape if you have them hemmed. Cuffed hems are a bad idea as well, as it takes away from the length of your legs. With any pair of jeans, wear them four or five times before you wash them. They will take the shape of your body and fit much better after they’re washed. Also, if you want a pair with a little stretch, try to look for something with just one or two per cent Lycra. Too much stretch will get saggy in the bum and thigh and big around the waist. You want your jeans to fit, not float.

DON’T DO IT: Too-low jeans with too-high thongs. No one likes plumber’s butt.

What to Wear

Fashionist Statement
by Cheryl-Lynn Murray

After browsing the streets of downtown Charlottetown, I came to a conclusion. These women need some serious fashion fixes. Not only are women still sporting acid wash jeans (by the way ladies, the 90s called, they want their jeans back), but also I’ve seen some of the most ferocious accessories known to man.

I felt like a voyeur with homosexual tendencies, blatantly staring at women. More specifically, what they’re wearing. As a self-professed fashionist I feel it is my duty to inform the unenlightened public of their fashion woes, and how to fix them.

Are you prepared to feel the wrath of a fashion nazi? This is for the women who decide to wear a parka or a short down-filled coat with their dressy clothes, for reasons beyond my understanding. I’m sure these ladies are very stylish under the puffy, feather-filled shells. So I ask you this: what are you thinking when you get dressed in the morning? I know it’s cold and you need to bundle up, but have you looked in the mirror while you’re wearing that? You look like cotton candy on a stick.

I know what you’re thinking; you have to dress for the weather. But come on. Parkas have disappeared from style radars everywhere, and do you really want to look like you gained 50 pounds overnight? I don’t think so.

What I’m about to share with you may come as a shock, but don’t be scared. You can dress for colder weather and still look like a million bucks. I swear!

The best way to nix this fashion faux pas is to invest in a wool coat. It’s heavy, it’s warm and depending on the cut, it will show off your gorgeous figure.

For taller women, I suggest a length between the knee and the calf. Any shorter will make you look like you have tree trunks for thighs and any longer would hide your legs and make you look shorter. Not to mention the dirt that would accumulate from brushing on the ground.

Short women should stay with a shorter length to show your legs, lengthening your body. A coat cut just below the hip is your best bet.

As for the cut of the coat, go with seams that go with the shape of your body. My choice would be the universally flattering princess seams. If you have a higher waist, try to avoid belts, it will make your hips look huge. If you can find one with a seam at the waist, try that. Double-breasted styles are always a good choice. The vertical buttons draw invisible vertical lines, lengthening and slimming your figure.

The best thing is, at this time of year it should be easy to find a great coat on sale. Stores are clearing out their inventory to make room for spring. You would get some use out of it this year, but try to avoid coats that are too trendy. Find one in a classic colour and style so you can wear again in the years to come.

DON’T DO IT: The opposite—a dressy coat with sweats. You know you look ridiculous, right?

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