Dressing the undressable: fashion tips for the hopeless


 I don’t understand fashion very much. I basically have three suits I paid a lot of money for, a handful of shirts I paid moderate money for, three pairs of decent jeans and one pair of boots I’ve worn pretty much every day for five years. 

 Tiyana knows more. She works in the Globe’s style section, which is the part of the office you try to avoid those days you slink into work in jean shorts and a tank top. I call those days “Thursdays.” Anyway, to demystify fashion I asked her some hard-hitting questions. 

How did you get interested in all this clothing business? Were you better dressed than other five-year-olds?
I blame my folks. I was raised by a stylish mom with hoarding tendencies and a dad who never met a wingtip he didn’t like. 
There was the arty aspect, too. Growing up, my mom worked at  gallery, I had an uncle that was an artist and an aunt that was a fashion designer-turned-cobbler (who once worked for Lanvin).
 I was exposed  and pushed toward arty tendencies from an early age, so I became aware of fashion not just in terms of aesthetics, but it being an art form.  And that’s what interested me in the first place. I actually can’t remember a time when I wasn’t absorbed by fashion – I was the only kid in 6th grade who watched Fashion Television (besides the pervy boy who liked the occasional nudity).
Oh, and other five-year olds couldn’t touch my polka-dot jumpsuits.

Did you actually study fashion in university? Is that even a real thing, or do you just it up to get away with ridiculous outfits?
Yes, it is! And people even get degrees out of it and stuff, in all kinds of CRAZY getups.
Ok, seriously. Fashion school is like art school for business professionals.
I went to Ryerson for fashion communication, which basically deals with every aspect of the industry that isn’t related to just design.  Think marketing, business, art direction, graphic design, illustration, photography and so much more. At the end of the day – and perhaps despite the predilection of girls looking like Vogue tearsheets – it’s a multi-billion dollar business. The girls and guys in the program are smart, hardworking and creative.
We’d basically cover every aspect of fashion, of image and selling it, and people would be able to focus on areas that interest them in a very hands on way. We’d have design courses that broke you and build you up again, that disciplined you and courses in which we’d see the development of a product from inception to business plan and presentation. I had friends who went in such diverse directions with their careers – marketers, designers, stylists and even law.
I fell in love with print after an internship at now-defunct Toro magazine.  I loved words and pictures and clothes – working in their fashion department, I saw that jobs where those things combine actually exist.
But it was something school didn’t prepare me for. Most of the stuff I learned about publishing was hands-on, at Toro at Chatelaine and now at the Globe. School just pointed me toward that door.

Ok - some models are kind of attractive.

 Why are so many models unattractive, according to me?
It’s like that old adage: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Fashion works in cycles: Sometimes it likes the more standard idea of beauty (think the supermodels of the 90s such as Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington, arguably the hottest women on the planet) and sometimes it turns toward these scrawny pre-teens who look like aliens. It’s mainly dictated by the most notable designers and major magazines and the look they’re “feeling” at the moment.
Anyway, they’re not all unattractive. Beauty standards change constantly in society and fashion absolutely contributes to that. Sometime, though, they’re pretty far off.
Does that make sense at all, or does it sound like a cop out? 

A cop out. What’s the one thing the average woman could do to become more fashionable?
It’s not so much about being “fashionable.” Clothing is such a powerful thing – it’s a reflection of the person wearing it and it’s got the ability to instill so much confidence in the person wearing it. At the end of the day, women just want to feel good about themselves and to that end, wear what’s comfortable and what’s flattering. There’s so much I can write as to how to get there, but the main points are:
  • Look for good tailoring and invest in classics such as a great suit, great jacket and a black dress
  • Know what works for your body and what doesn’t. Know your proportions
  • Don’t follow too many trends: it gets both expensive and tacky
  • Flaunting labels does not make you “fashionable.” You don’t have to spend money to look good
  • Buy a good bra
  • Please stay away from harem pants

What’s the one thing the average man could do to become more fashionable?
The same as a woman, but perhaps without the bra. But if I was dressing the imaginary dude that this question is directed to (cough, Steve Ladurantaye, cough) I’d say a great pair of stiff jeans, skinny suit, some oxford shirts, a boat shoe and a wingtip and you’re fool proof.
Guys have it so much easier. 


One response to “Dressing the undressable: fashion tips for the hopeless

  1. Pingback: 2010 in review | The Human Facebook Project

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