Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The Thoughtful Dresser Competition

No poll this week, instead a competition. How exciting!

Here is what you have to do. You simply need to dream up a Thought for the Day - a sentence or a two, an idea, an aphorism - about fashion, clothes, style. Do not be intimidated by the brainy observations that I have run so far. 'A good handbag makes the outfit', a perfect piece of sartorial wisdom, was dreamed up by my mother who left school at 14, and the family motto, 'There's only one thing worse than being skint and that's looking as if you're skint,' by my immigrant grandfather who never even learned to speak English.

You can place your entry in the comments box below or email it to me. The competition will stay open for one week and then I will choose a winner. That winner will receive a signed hardback pre-publication copy of The Clothes On Their Backs, which can be shipped to any country, free of of charge, and of course the winning entry will become the Thought for the Day. Feel free to add a picture, if you wish. You can enter under a pseudonym if you wish, but please don't opt for the popular Anonymous as there are too many of that name. The winner will need to email me with a mailing address.

65 comments:

Betty Sue said...

I'd like to opt for two of my grandmother's sayings (and should I win, I'll share the prize with her because I know she'd enjoy it):

"What is the difference between fashion and style? Fashion is cleavage, style is collarbones"

(she's not promoting anorexia by the way, she was pointing out that fashion is in-your-face and style is subtle)

and "If you're not rich, you can't afford cheap shoes"

sphamilton said...

I'd like to leave my own observation: "Never trust a woman who wears too much mauve."

The Vogueite said...

Dear Thoughtful Dresser,

I would just like to inform you that I've nominated you for a Thinking Blogger Award on my blog,

http://vogueite.blogspot.com/

You're one of the smartest bloggers around and lets face it, you just deserve it :)

and duh, i love reading TTD!

Linda Grant said...

Thank you, young Vogueite.

mq, cb said...

My colleague, Charlie, would like to submit his observation:

"make sure your trousers are not too short".

Fine words for a man to live his life by, I think you'll agree. I shall leave it to you to find a suitable picture of an unsightly ankle.

mq, cb said...

My colleague, Charlie, would like to submit his observation:

"make sure your trousers are not too short".

Fine words for a man to live his life by, I think you'll agree. I shall leave it to you to find a suitable picture of an unsightly ankle.

mq, cb said...

Oops, I clicked twice. Sorry Charlie; it wasn't that good.

George S said...

Well, my daughter once said to me: Never trust a man wearing a cravat.

I suspect she is right.

The nonbloggish blogger said...

Better to dress on the right side of wrong than the wrong side of right.

manic hispanic said...

oscar wilde: “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”

another favorite
Stendhal: “Only great minds can afford a simple style.”

Michael Taylor said...

"If you can't fight, wear a big hat," Michael Taylor, The Marple Leaf

Christie said...

Here's something my mom always used to say to us...

"Shut up kid, you'll grow into it"

bonnie-ann black said...

"You can't have your shoes laughing at your dress."

words of wisdom from my grandmother.

Peregrine said...

My best dressing truism--You can survive in cheap clothes, but not in cheap shoes.

Toby Wollin said...

Well, my father's fashion wisdom (and frankly, I think it works for women's fashion too) was, "Always make sure it (in his case, he was referring to the suit or sport coat,but it works for women's blouses, jackets and dresses in my opinion)fits in the shoulders. Everything hangs from the shoulders - if it's too big, it will never fit properly no matter what they do to it -- but if it fits in the shoulders, even if the tailor has to take it out a bit in the back, it will still hang correctly and look good."
And from my Mum: "If you find green leather shoes (and by "shoes" she always meant pumps or at least something with a heel of 1.5" or greater) that fit you well and don't cost the earth, buy them because if you don't and then you go back later, they will be gone and you won't see that style or that color or that price ever again."
I've used that bit of wisdom more than once when it comes to finding a singular item on the rack - if there is only one of it and it's in my size(a 14 petite that really fits me is unique enough)and looks good on me in the mirror - I know this will disappear within 10 minutes after I put it back. It's happened too many times to ignore. So, as long as it isn't something like a gold lame dress that I'd only wear once or something in a difficult color (puce, anyone?), then I take it as fate and a sign and I get it.

Hollene said...

My grandmother Mildred told me, "Darlin', you can love a rich man juuuuuuust as much as you can love a poor one."

--It was in response to my opining that I hoped to have as many pairs of shoes as she had when I got to be a grown-up.

MClareB said...

Adapted from (I believe) Tim Gunn:

"When choosing an outfit for the day, always assume that you might run into your ex at lunch."

roz said...

"Don't dress to please others. Dress to please yourself. If you feel good, you will look good."

jennine said...

hmm... lovely thoughts, i do enjoy reading your thoughts every day!
:)

so here are my entries:

Everyone has to wear clothes, if you don't you may get arrested.
~Mr. T.

and

If you're not having fun with your clothes then you're really missing the point.

~I could have said that, but then again, I could be plagiarizing.

oliviacw said...

From my mother... "If you're going somewhere with someone else, your clothing choices should look like the two of you have at least met each other before."

That is to say, you should be in general agreement about formality, planned activities, and the like. No jeans and sequined dress combos on a date, for instance.

Ingrid said...

My mother, a Hungarian immigrant, always struggled with a shortage of funds and an excess of pounds. But no one could match her style, flair and joie de vivre. Among the many words of wisdom from the unforgettable Madelayne was this sartorial gem:

"Wear it like you mean it!"

(Must be said with a Hungarian accent for the full effect: "Vayre eet like you meeen eet!")

BTW, back in the early '60's, Jim Henson's children attended a school where my father taught, and family legend has it that she was the model for Miss Piggy.

God, do I miss her.

Phyllis said...

"Sometimes we must suffer for fashion"

- My mother to me about age 13

(after I complained my first pair of high heels hurt my feet)

fins said...

If I care about the colours in a picture on the wall and about the height of that picture relative to other objects, then why shouldn't I care as much about what's on me?

(Something that came to me while watching WNTW.)

Meg from The Bargain Queens & All About Appearances said...

One of my favorite quotes is from Edith Head:

Your dresses should be tight enough to show you're a woman and loose
enough to show you're a lady.

But since I can't take credit for it, I'd like to say...

Fashion trends are like a restaurant menu. Items come and go over time, everyone has different favorites, but for goodness' sake, don't order everything at once.

Mommy said...

When I was younger, my Dad told me that "A woman should have the confidence to wear anything, but always leave something to the imagination."

I think thats a great rule. I also believe that "There is a fine line between a groove and a rut." and that applies to every aspect of my life!

AmStarr said...

My own personal credo is "If the shoe fits, buy it."

A favorite saying of mine stayed with me from my childhood which was spent in Trinidad. Whenever an outfit didn't quite come together or something just did not work, my mother or any wise but embarrassed adult would seek to calm our jittered nerves by simply and sagely uttering in full island lilt, "every fault is a fashion."

Tessa Pugh said...

When my grandmother died (in 2000) my female relatives and I took our time going through her letters. We found one letter my grandfather had written her while he was away (he was a marine corps flyer). She had asked him (in a previous letter) if it was ok for her to spend some money on a new outfit. His reply to her was to buy whatever it was she wanted on the condition it was good quality. He said, "There's nothing worse than a beautiful woman in a cheap suit." He was a man of few words but I just loved that it mattered so much to him that his wife was well-dressed.

Bernie said...

I use this a lot in my own life.

"If it matches nothing, it goes with everything."

thepinkeminence said...

From my mother: "ARE YOU WEARING A SLIP WITH THAT??" (Accompanied by grab for skirt hem.)

rebel-in-slacks said...

To my college peers: take risks and make mistakes while you're still young enough to pull it off.

Janette said...

My mom on telling me the importance of dressing for your shape:

"Just because it comes in your size, doesn't mean you should wear it."

Isabellisima said...

I'd like to share two of my personal favourites, one from my beloved grandmother, and the other from the rather higher-minded Thoreau.
Thoreau tells me that "being perfectly well-dressed gives a feeling of inner contentment that religion is powerless to bestow". Granny goes a step further, instructing: "When you are think you are ready to go out, take something off". (I have a feeling she might have been paraphrasing someone- Diana Vreeland maybe?)

Tom Freeman said...

If you dress to kill, don’t be surprised when you end up surrounded by zombies.

Anonymous said...

This is mine rather than my Grandma's (what fashion-wise relatives everyone but me seems to have by the way - I'm most envious):

Life is just a series of opportunities to play dressing up.

Lindsay

mudlarque said...

You can't slouch and be fabulous.

kagoo said...

I've got two.

The first time I heard this was many years ago when women were often seen in public wearing huge rollers in their hair: "Where you're going should never be more important than where you are."

And my own credo: Don't worry about whether this goes with that; if you buy what you love, everything will go with everything.

wannabe said...

I don't buy clothes. I have clothes.

Deja Pseu said...

My own philosophy, borrowed from my mother:

You'll tire more quickly of something with a lot of gewgaws or elaborate prints. When shopping, choose the simpler one; you'll wear it longer.

Also:

If you have to choose between clothing that's too loose or too tight, choose too loose. Too tight will make anything look cheap.

smark said...

From the wonderful and obscure How to Set up for a Mah Jong Game and Other Lost Arts: "A bargain isn't a bargain if it sits in your closet."

From me: Buy the best lingerie you can afford, make friends with your tailor, and don't wait for an excuse to dress up.

smark said...

How could I have forgotten Lord Peter Wimsey in Dorothy L. Sayers: "The quality guarantees the brand, not vice versa."

jennine said...

i like the zombies comment.
so true.

60goingon16 said...

My mother always looked wonderful even though for most of her life, she lived - and dressed - on the tightest of tight budgets. After she died, a close friend said that her abiding memory of my mother was of her swirling into work in the early 1950s in a black wool lookalike Christian Dior coat, complete with full skirt, fabulous buttons and a wide belt that showed off her tiny waist.

And my mother's advice was: 'If you can't afford a really good coat, then dress it up with really good buttons."

Well, she had been on the stage when she was young so probably knew or thing or two about smoke and mirrors. And artifice.

Thomas said...

Amazing how a contest will bring everyone out of the woodwork.

"A man's t-shirt should never be funnier than he is."

"If I offend you with the way I dress - get out more."

fromneardc said...

Another Thoreau:
"I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes."

And another grandmother-ism:
"It doesn't have to match perfectly. Just make sure it doesn't clash."

shoeguru64 said...

One of the most imortant lessons I've learned is that clothes make your image. So dress the way you want to be perceived!

Joan Brakeley said...

If you learn to love bags, shoes, clothes and style
and you put your objects of love on, you tend
to end up loving yourself

my new bag

V said...

A girl I used to know but have sadly lost touch with had tremendous style, and she once said to me something along the lines of: the mistake a lot of people make is that they dress from a place of abject terror. I've never forgotten it and it's guided me out of many a misstep -- the ill-advised foray into the "mandatory" seasonal trend, the reflexive choice of the "but it goes with everything" vanishing accessory, the dress that follows the "rules" for my figure and doesn't scream flaws out but that just doesn't hold any joy. I don't always step up to it, but if I have a style mantra, that's it. Don't dress from a place of terror.

eowyn_2 said...

I believe it was Coco Chanel who said the one about taking something off before you leave the house, and I'm pretty sure it was regarding accessories.

I could be wrong, however.

And all my favorite aphorisms are already taken.

mq, cb said...

In a shameless use of a quote generator, courtesy of Karl Lagerfeld:

"There's no Chanel collection without black. (It) will never exist. Who can live without some black clothes?"

Not me.

I wish that I had some authentic fashion wisdom which had been handed down to me from some wise relative to offer to you, but in my family such an enquiry would be met with the robust invitation to consider something more sensible. People who have time to think about clothes could clearly be doing something more useful with their time.

maatnofret said...

Wear what fits you.

Kristen said...

I give you the immortal words of my father -

"You'll never be popular if you don't iron your clothes."

Dain said...

Style is fashion that enjoys itself.

Eve Garrard said...

Fashion enables us, for a brief period, to see the beauty buried in even the most hideous of colours or shapes. However crude the colour or unflattering the style, fashion can temporarily transform it into something rich and strange and desirable. The vision doesn't last, of course, as the back of our wardrobes attests.

Cal said...

From my mother:

Never wear black to a party, no matter how beautiful the dress you will fade into the background because the men will be wearing dark jackets.

(She was 5'3, very curvy, and once wore a bright red, full length, full skirted red satin dress with a red feather boa trim across the bodice, to one of my father's corporate do's - certainly not fading into the background. Everyone adored her)

guccigirl99 said...

My grandmother always said, "suffer for beauty," and she was right. So what if the shoes we love don't love us back? We look FABULOUS!!!

My husband (despite his sartorial eclecticism) says, "fashion is temporary, style is forever." God! I love that!He also tells me that fashion is actually paying for someone else's sense of style. Hmmm...

gabyd said...

In the face of my constant dieting as a teenager my mother used to say:
"You can't take the big bones out and replace them with small ones.'

and "Big engines need more fuel"

I am 68 inches tall and weighed 135 lbs at that stage. but I grew up hearing her say to the dressmaker as she measured for me my 'best dress', always green velvet with a lace collar, "She's a BIG girl. Better leave room for expansion"

allisonenchile said...

A recent exchange between friends at a banana republic outlet:

"It's only $5.99!"
"It looks like it."

Henceforth: It's not a bargain if the garment looks cheap or sloppy.

Anonymous said...

"There is no luxury without comfort.
Comfort only is no style. Style alone does not mean class."

Naomi said...

You can always tell Americans abroad. We're the ones who always look like we gave up on fashion...

Lauren said...

There is absolutely no outfit that cannot benefit from a great pair of shoes, fabulous handbag and a fantastic necklace.

Suzanne said...

I have changed sizes many times but
good taste never changes. The right accessories will always look right. A fine classic hand bag will never go out of style when it's made by the right designer, nor will a good pair of pumps if they are well taken care of.

Jo'elle said...

Fashion allows you to proclaim who you are to the world, but quietly, with elegance.

pum pornchan said...

" Your inner thought means a lot to the outer dress, as much the same as how a printed piece of paper turns to be money."

The following is also mine(first time post so made mistake clicking anonymous):

" There is no luxury without comfort.
Comfort only is no style. Style alone does not mean class."

Isabelle said...

Wear your inner beauty on your sleeve.

Linda said...

It's all in your attitude!