Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Personal Style Systems: Dressing Your Truth Part One

Even though I am well settled into a very simple personal style and colour palette and I don't consider my personal style blog-worthy nor are my photos ever successful enough to be of use in demonstrating what I am talking about, I find myself revisiting the topic of personal style.  Once obsessed, always obsessed perhaps.  I simply love systems and this must not be mistaken for a need to be told how to think and behave.  I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel but in taking a look at the wheels others have invented and deciding what I think is good and what isn't, what is usable and what isn't.  There are bloggers who offer style assessment or support and they are interested in developing their own systems, building on others that came before, but I have no interest in going in that direction. It is a hobby like watching sports on television and having theories about the teams and players.  I examine systems with curiosity, mainly about how they would work for me or people I know, and I am interested in colour and line which makes sense as it is a feature of art. I have formulated my own beliefs about what works best in personal style through my own experiments, reading the ideas of style consultants and watching others who enjoy exploring their own personal style and experimenting.  What I believe is most effective is a combination of wearing the colours and lines that harmonise with your face and body and then tweaking that to create a style which expresses your personality in whatever way or quantity you wish to.  This must include the caveat that what you think you are saying to others may not be what they actually hear.

Most of us have witnessed conflicting style advice for various body types.  As a woman with a figure that is rather straighter than it is hour-glass I have seen advice for this body type that includes putting a belt around the middle to suggest a waist and not indicating the waist at all.  I have witnessed many woman who claim they have hourglass figures and happily cinch their waists when in fact they don't have hour glass figures.  Do they look good or do they not?  You could poll a hundred people and get a mixture of yesses and nos so in the end it is probably only important that the individual is happy with her style.

But many people are lost and confused and I can relate to that.  I found myself in a time and place where I needed to make changes, certain limits were no longer imposed on me and I was free to play.  I realised there was much I had never tried so how could I be sure it wouldn't work.  I wasn't even sure about what I liked because I had never had very many options.  

Some people figure out on their own what colours and lines suit them best, and others pick something they like and stick to it, feeling it is their natural home even if other people might dress them differently.  I have seen an awful lot of What Not To Wear makeovers where someone who hates pencil skirts and jackets is stuffed into them and told that this is the only way to look polished and grown up.  There is no right or wrong, though there might be something on a scale of good, better, best.  Some of us see ourselves better than others do, some of us only care about comfort.  Some of us want to make a statement by being just a little off, not pretty, not standard, not in harmony.  Some of us want to stand out and others want to blend in.  There are so many different personal style goals.

We have to make ourselves comfortable and happy because we have no control over how others perceive us.  They may not see things the same way we do so one woman's polished and exciting is another woman's garish and flashy.  One woman's "I must" is another's "why would you?" I do remain convinced that we are best served if we aim for a sweet spot that incorporates our personality and what suits our lines and colouring.  For some of us that may be easier to figure out than for others.  What do you do if you have a demure and reserved personality but a face and body made for drama?  I believe the answer to that lies in compromise and also in semantics.  What one person defines as drama another might not. I have struggled with the Kibbe style system because to him height means drama and I am not comfortable with drama.  I will likely write more about that soon.

 Maybe you are a reserved person amidst flamboyants who think anyone favouring a subtle outfit is just dull and repressed.  Maybe you are a parrot among sparrows who risks being considered inappropriate every time you wear your favourite outfits.  I like to think we are past that sort of thing but we may not be.  I make judgements about people all of the time though I also check them.  For instance, I will judge the flamboyantly dressed person as a bit of a show off.  That will be my first impression, but I will then almost immediately realise that it is an unfair judgement.  Where is the difference between liking to be noticed and showing off?  There may be none.  Perhaps the question is why does it matter if someone wishes to show off?  It doesn't but I was raised to think it does so I battle that reaction in my desire to be fair and less judgemental.  At the same time I know perfectly well that my own choices are perceived by some as at least a little boring.  Peacocks and sparrows are what they are and don't need to be judged negatively.  I do want to live in a world with both of them.

If there is anything I like about the Dressing Your Truth system it is that it encourages women to embrace who they are and to support each other in their differences.  It's all good, as Gwyneth Paltrow might say and did in fact say on the cover of her book.

There are many things I don't like about Dressing Your Truth and it is a system I admit I love to pick apart.  I don't think this is because I am just bitchy.  I think it is because I pick all things apart to find out what works and what doesn't and why I think so.  Dressing Your Truth does work for some people but a good system is going to work for most if not all people and Dressing Your Truth doesn't.  Unless we define work as convince a woman she is making good style choices and can now relax and be happy.

The philosophy of Dressing Your Truth does not include dressing for the lines and colours of your total person, which is why I believe it fails many women and just happens, by the good fortune of statistics, to be perfect for some.  If you put enough women into one of four types some of them will end up in a type that looks great on them and some will end up in something that looks okay.  

There is also the frumpy to fabulous factor, which is to say that many makeovers look good simply because the before situation was no makeup, no intentional hair style and no intentional outfit with accessories.  Sometimes some style is better than none even if it isn't the best style you could have.

The Dressing Your Truth guru also claims to be an energy healer, a parenting expert and dabbles in general counselling all of which she is not qualified in but claims to be.  It is my opinion that energy healing qualifications mean nothing anyhow as it is pseudo-scientific nonsense but people who have invested time and money in such qualifications feel otherwise.  Her advice for parenting and general counselling is sometimes sound but it's wrong to mislead people into thinking you have qualifications you do not have.  Having said that, adults are free to take advice from anyone they choose.  Sometimes our neighbour has good advice to offer despite a lack of qualifications.

There are Dressing Your Truth information packages offered for sale which I have not purchased.  Everything I know about Dressing Your Truth comes from what is free and available online, including the results various bloggers have shared of their own makeovers. I believe that some of what used to be for sale is now free and that the company makes money in other ways. It takes a bit of digging to find much criticism of Dressing Your Truth online, and most searches find bloggers reviewing it, announcing their type and how pleased they are with it.  Is the measure of success the customer's happiness regardless of how good a makeover it actually is?  Perhaps.  I am not sure.  How do we judge whether or not a makeover is good?  Much of this depends on what your beliefs are about the measurement tools and standards for a good looking personal colour palette, makeup colours and the lines and shapes for hairstyle and clothing. Does Dressing Your Truth work if you think it does? I maintain that people look best when the colours and features of their bodies and faces are repeated in their garments, accessories and hairstyle though there is probably room to play with just how much.  Dressing Your Truth applies this somewhat with lines and not at all with colour because it is focused on energy.  Because that is so incredibly ambiguous and vague, something a bit more concrete like facial lines is also part of the equation.  You are then required to believe that your facial lines indicate your energy type. You might be quite inclined to believe this if you also believe that the month you were born in dictates your personality and what will happen to you tomorrow.   If you believe your energy is what is important in determining how you can best present yourself and that there are only four energy types then you might feel comfortable with the guidelines of Dressing Your Truth. Just because a woman who is a good salesperson and several other really nice people say this is so doesn't mean that it is. You may also be among those for whom the category you think you belong to is a very successful look.  It does happen, just not often enough for this to be a very good system.

I am not against the idea that we can develop categories and types for organising people based on similar traits.  I am inclined to think four are not enough.  I am not convinced that ignoring the lines of the body entirely is a useful idea but I am increasingly leaning towards considering that the face is more important. It seems like a good idea to present an image that is consistent with your personality, so that people who encounter you will have a what you see is what you get experience and perhaps also so that you are not treated by others in a way that will be uncomfortable.  But there are so many conflicting messages in Dressing Your Truth and sometimes the cynical side of me thinks this is deliberate.  After all, the more confusing a system is the more the guru is needed, despite the guru's claims about wanting it all to be simple and self-administered.   

 Dressing Your Truth is offered as a hybrid of new-age self-help and guru guidance as well as a style system.  You are free to take from it only the style advice and since I am mainly focused on comparing style systems I don't want to say too much about the other aspects of Dressing Your Truth although I doubt I will make much effort to hide my eye rolls. In part two I will explain more about the four types and why they don't work very well for everyone.

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