Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The 1st Five Steps: Shifting a Wardrobe from Cool Colors to Warm Colors

It's a timeless question, frequently asked here on The Vivienne Files: "I recently had my colors done, and was told that I should wear warm colors. Most of my wardrobe is black - HELP!!!"

First and foremost, always remember that you don't HAVE to do what one color consultant tell you to do. Remember this post, in which I describe two color consultations that I had. Two RADICALLY DIFFERENT recommendations.... sigh...

But if you choose to shift from cool to warm, I have some ideas about how it might be managed.

Let's start with the wardrobe from last Friday:


grey cardigan – Vince; blue cardigan – L.L.Bean; draped top – 3.1 Phillip Lim; blue turtleneck – Ferragamo; black cardigan – J. Crew; ¾ sleeve tee – Majestic Filatures; grey dress – IDLF Uniqlo; sleeveless top – Rick Owens; tweed jacket –  Stella McCartney; hooded cardigan – L.L.Bean; grey sweater – H&M; blue sweater – Tsumori Chisato; dress – Issey Miyake; blue top – H&M; grey top – Steffen Schraut; striped tee – Frame Denim; black tee shirt – L.L.Bean; cropped pants – L.L.Bean; black pants - J. Crew; flared skirt – MICHAEL Michael Kors; grey pants – Tommy Hilfiger; jeans – L.L.Bean; cropped pants – L.L.Bean; pencil skirt – J. Crew; shorts – L.L.Bean

If I do say so myself, this is a pretty gorgeous wardrobe, and would see you through a lot of activities and events. But if you're trying to move away from cool colors, you're going to have to make some changes. For each step, I have chosen 3 garments that I consider to be the most obvious "problems" in the wardrobe, and then made suggestions about what replacements to find.

Step 1: Replace the Harshest Colored Tops


I would first recommend getting rid of simple, relatively inexpensive things like dark neutral tee shirts - they're worn close to your face, so the unflattering nature of the color is most pronounced. In their place, I would find 2 light neutral tops that can still be worn with your black (or navy) pieces, but which put a slightly warmer shade nearer your face.

I would also suggest foregoing a sweater in a neutral and looking for an accent color top that you could wear frequently. As much as anything, this is a real "test drive" of your new color scheme. If you don't find that you like the accent colors recommended for you, when you're wearing them, then you might want to reconsider the entire "recoloring."


Ivory tee – Uniqlo; green sweater – L.L.Bean; cream tee – L.L.Bean

Step 2: A New "Suit" and Top


The next step is to replace a 2-piece "suit" sort of paring with 2 pieces in a new dark neutral. I'm getting rid of this hooded sweater, and the black pants, because they are both real workhorses in a wardrobe, and you want to find NEW pieces that can be worn at least twice a week. 

For the 3rd piece to replace in this step, I think a top that will match up very closely with your new 2-piece grouping is a good choice. 



Cardigan – Lands’ End; pants – J. Crew; short sleeve sweater – Lands’ End

Step 3: Another New "Suit" and Top


This step is sort of the same thing, in terms of replacing a 2-piece jacket (or cardigan) and pants (or skirt) ensemble. But this time, instead of dress pants,  I really want new jeans for this person! Jeans are something that can be worn frequently without arousing any attention.

Again, replacing a relatively unflattering neutral top with something equally versatile, but in your new color scheme, will give you a nice outfit from your new 3 pieces. Of course, these new garments also integrate nicely with everything else you've purchased so far!



Tee – IDLF Uniqlo; blazer – L.L.Bean; jeans – Armani Jeans

Isn't that the silliest photograph of a pair of jeans you've ever seen?

At this point I guess I should explain that, although the blue in this wardrobe isn't a warm color, it's pretty close to a warmer color, and it's an accent that will look great with all of the brown and olive that you're adding. Eventually, the blues are all going to migrate more into the turquoise range, but for now, I felt like it wasn't a big problem to keep them here.

Step 4: Yet Another Cardigan, Pants and Top


Same 3 pieces being replaced, but this time I've gone for a 2nd neutral. With a decent core of brown consolidated in this wardrobe, this is a good time to branch out into the green. (except for the gorgeous sweater you've had since Step 1, of course)


Cardigan – L.L.Bean; tee – Oasis; pants - Etro


Step Five: Getting Rid of Lingering "Bad" Garments"


At this point, the grey dress, capris and shorts stick out like 3 sore thumbs - time for them to be replaced!

Dress – IDLF Uniqlo; capris – Patagonia; shorts – L.L.Bean

After these 5 steps, you have 15 new pieces of clothing - more than half of the 25 pieces with which this wardrobe started. You're still sitting with a black cardigan and a couple of skirts, but those pieces are still wearable (albeit a compromise) with your warmer tops.

Please note that there's no time-frame in which this MUST be done. Many of us might try to complete one step each month, which other might try for a step each week. I can only advise not to rush yourself, and to be acutely aware of how you feel during this process. 

If, at any time, you start to have doubts about these color changes, STOP SHOPPING. Gut check your responses. Ask the advice of true friends, with good taste. Go back to the color consultant and ask for a re-do. Do whatever it takes, but don't spend yourself into an unsatisfactory wardrobe when your heart is saying no...




Thursday, I'm going to finish the shift in this wardrobe, and in the days following, I'll make the same updates with the accessories!

love,
Janice

p.s. I am leaving town, rather unexpectedly, and for an undetermined period of time. I've got posts for you every OTHER day until the end of next week, though!


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38 comments:

  1. This is very interesting. I really want to do my colors, just to reduce my wardrobe further, but haven't found a consultant yet (I live outside a small town in the south of France--la brousse, quoi.
    A question for you: I don't shop very often (maybe twice a year), so I'm not constantly "on the hunt." Also, when I do hunt for something, I'm concerned with fit, being short and pear-shaped. Does it fit? Is it comfortable? Will the fabric hold up? Is it well-made? Does it go with the rest of my wardrobe? By sticking to black and white, I don't worry too much about color. But my family harps on me to wear color, and I do think it would be refreshing. I really doubt I will find just the right colored piece, let alone the right shade of the right color. How do you do it?

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    1. My advice is to wear what you want, regardless of what your family thinks. But if you do want to wear color, one of the advantages of a lot of black and white is that any single colored piece will go with a black and white outfit, especially if you add an accessory or two in the same color family. I'm also short and pear-shaped, so you have my sympathies on the shopping!
      - Kaci

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    2. Why don't start with colorful accessories? You can add quite a lot of color- or just a little pop of interest- to your outfits via accessorizing, and accessories are also an easy way to test colors that appeal to you. A bag, shoes, necklace, earrings and a scarf in a favorite color would go a long way, and if you one day happened to find a sweater or even a t-shirt in a color you already know and love, you'd have a good start for a color capsule. Another good thing about accessories is that though there are definitely fashionable colors, compared to clothing items it's much easier to find a necklace or a scarf -or even a bag- in certain shade.

      -Mia-

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    3. Yes, I tend to use scarves and jewelry for color. I have a sumptuous pashmina that I got in Paris years ago, and it was pricey. Baby blue. The color that was everywhere that year. I have a gorgeous mostly fuchsia silk Delvaux scarf (the Belgian Hermes) from my husband, also from years ago. I'd like to add colorful shoes (just sandals or tennis shoes), or a colorful bag, but I have a hard time choosing the color. And as for shoes, they are as hard to fit as pants are, so the color is dictated mostly by what's available in a model that fits.

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    4. I think this is where Janice's models come in wonderfully. If your core garments are in neutrals, you have a far better chance of find things that fit if you shop infrequently. I realized that my wardrobe had gotten out of whack a bit -- way too many clothes out in my small closet -- so I went back through a lot of these posts and realized that what I loved most was the original piece on "the common wardrobe." I looked at that and the "starting out" post with 18 (I think) steps and combined those, making sure that garments from the Common wardrobe (and I used exactly the ones she has, except that I have a navy turteneck, not a black one). There are four I don't have, otherwise I have clothes that work with all the things she identified, plus a few more that I didn't see any point in giving away or putting away (yet). Now I know that to complete this wardrobe, I need four BASIC pieces that will match anything. I had a lot of things in raspberry/burgundy/red, so I chose those for one accent color (the other is the light blue she had in the Common Wardrobe. That means everything I have is now black, white, gray, blue, or a shade of raspberry... plus one dark deal sweater I have that is gorgeous!!! Who says you can't have an extra piece in a different color!

      If you have all your basics in one or two neutrals, you can also do the other pieces in a range of colors. If you love jewel tones, for instance, you can have different jewel tone things. They don't all mix and match but so what? It gives you a guideline for shopping, and that's the main point. You can do the same with earth tones, or powdery pastels. What you want to avoid is buying a pastel blue sweater, and a pumpkin orange shirt, and a black and white pasley turtleneck, and a bunch of other things you like indiividually, but which dont match anything else and clutter up your house.

      I have a spring and summer work wardrobe that is all white, black, gray, and turqouise -- except a gorgeous polished cotton skirt in pink and orange. It works with all the neutral pieces and really stands out when I do wear it, so I keep it.

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  2. Thanks for these useful tips. I have a friend whose just had her colours done...

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    1. I haven't been able to figure out my colour season at all. I have cool undertones in my skin (which is pretty pale - especially this time of year!), and hazel eyes, but my hair is medium brown with gold highlights. I don't think I'm particularly unique looking, but none of the categories seem to fit!

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    2. I don't know what seasonal system you have been using, but I suggest that you check out the 12 or 16 palette systems. I have ashy brown hair, neutral skin and hazel eyes. I find that I look best in a subset of the soft summer palette. Alternatively, what color do you feel best in and just gravitate to? Use that as a starting place. I have been tinkering with a target color palette for a year or so now and feel settled on navy, teal, juniper-spruce, stone, pale golden-yellow and a pale warm pink.

      Good luck! Lesley

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    3. I have similar coloring to Anon 1 and was assessed a soft summer, too. I have enjoyed working with my new colors over the last year, but have learned a few things : 1) only some of the colors in the palette are best on me; 2) some good colors aren't in the palette; 3) I don't always care either way (still wear black); and 4) value and color contrast is as important as the color itself. See Inside Out Style (Imogen Lamport) for a wonderful set of posts on contrast levels. 5) I've needed Janice's ideas for building wardrobes around a limited palette to turn theory Into a practical wardrobe. The result has been worth it -- I am amazed at how often I now look pulled together!

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    4. I absolutely agree with all of your points.

      Lesley

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  3. I love this idea!! Great for transitioning into our inspiration colors.

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  4. I wear a lot of green and blue, so I think the halfway wardrobe is just gorgeous!
    - Kaci

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  5. Such thorough information, Janice! Great work!

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  6. I learn so much by reading your blog. I try to read with as much depth as I sense you write with; steeping in your exquisite attention to details of all kinds! I did this type of color transition, getting rid of all but the very most basic black (because it finally looked too harsh next to my older face). It took a while, but I am truly pleased.

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  7. Francetaste, black & white is a very classic combo! I'd start with a pastel black (grays)for the upcoming spring.
    What color jewelry do you wear? If you're a gold girl, pick up 1 or 2 warm toned tops. If you're a silver girl, pick up a couple of cool toned tops.
    What color of flowers do you prefer? Get something in a similar color.
    Buy one color at a time. If it doesn't work, you haven't wasted anything.

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  8. Do you have a friend of a similar size? Borrowing from her is a great way to tryout new colors.

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  9. As always Janice, you bring sweep away the chaos and replace it with calm, organized beauty. Thank you!

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  10. I wish you the best for your trip.

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  11. Janice,
    I love seeing your 3 pieces -at -a -time approach to end up with a coherent, coordinated wardrobe! As a "warmie", I sometimes have to wait for years until pieces in my colors are available at my price point, especially that lovely chestnut brown, although the olive has seemed more readily available the past two seasons. I hope your unexpected journey is of a positive nature, and I'm wishing you safe journeys and a speedy return!

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  12. Hi janice,

    I am guessing your unexpected trip is to support a family member or friend in need. Take of yourself when you can.
    Deb from Vancouver

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  13. Thanks so much, Janice, the final wardrobe here is very similar to my current wardrobe of navy and tan neutrals, I love it but my husband wants me to wear brighter colors. I found I look well in butter yellow and coral which are very warm colors. I hope you can use yellow or coral with this already lovely wardrobe. Thanks again. Your blog is the first thing I go to each morning when I open the computer. That's how inspiring you are! Janice Collins, Washington, DC

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  14. This was great. As a "warm", I often find myself purchasing off colors because that is what the stores are offering. This post gives some good ideas for 'weeding' them out. Follow you everyday. Find your advice very creative. Thanks

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  15. I wear a lot of darker, warm colors. The blues in this wardrobe are totally wearable for me. I really like the halfway point. To me the blacks are not a problem at all in combination with the warm colors.

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  16. I often wear olive with gray or black, because I have hazel eyes. I haven't really considered it a warm color, although it does look very well with beige and camel. I did as you suggested this winter and test drove a new color...camel...I bought a vest and long sleeve tee in two shades of camel. I never did feel good in them, although I deepened my blush as a salesperson suggested that would help. Lesson learned: not for me, but really not a lot of money lost.

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  17. I think it's important to recognize that a "warm" wardrobe doesn't mean NO navy or gray. It just means that the navy and gray are brighter and lighter. I was "labeled" a Spring many years ago and it does fit me very well. Navy is one of my neutrals, but not dark navy. I tend to avoid gray just because I don't like it, but there is a gray in my color palette. I never wear black or solid white, but then I never did even before I had my "colors done." I wear what I like whether it fits my color profile or not. I think we should wear what we like.

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  18. Hi Janice, I agree that colour consultants don't follow an exact science - I've also had two different results. In the end I thinks it's best just to pick a selection of colours that you like and feel happy wearing. For me, those are generally warm, and not too dark or pale. But it's the mix, more than the specific colours that count, e.g. I don't like grey on its own, or grey/blue, but grey with yellow or camel is lovely.

    I hope your trip goes ok - take care,
    Alice

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  19. Many of us have reasons for transition in our wardrobes: a new job, a move to a different climate, new hair colour, weight change, retirement, change in partnerdom ... our lives don't stand still. The principles illustrated here can be applied in all kinds of circumstances. A great thing about your posts Janice is your explanation of the theory behind what you propose. It makes your suggestions wonderfully versatile - we can enjoy the examples you show and take inspiration for our own action (or considered inaction).
    Good wishes for your trip, which I'm sure is to support a friend or family member. Big hug!
    Robyn in Tasmania

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  20. Many image consultants (not all) are putting you into predetermined pigeon holes. Some people don't completely fit them and depends on the system as to what pigeon holes are available. I certainly don't fit the Spring I was put into 3 years ago as I have softened with age (still warm and light though). I have come across a system that would probably put me in a better fit pigeon hole but a lot depends on the consultant's skills. As I have decided that I want to 'wear the clothes and not them wear me', I hold each garment up in front of me and a mirror before I buy it and see if I see the clothes first or me. OK I am purchasing duller clothes but I can still make sure there is an interesting pattern or something. Not too dark and not too light as well - medium value. I still have bucket loads of 'Spring brights' but I can smooth/soften them out with my neutrals. Thanks for post Janice hugs from Down Under - Carol S

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    1. 30 years ago not 3 years ago... Carol S

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  21. Great to see your thought process on this exercise. I have no idea what my "colors" are! I do wear a lot of black but I think I am in the warm range somewhere. I hope everything is ok concerning your trip.

    Linda in Arkansas

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  22. Personally, I would never throw out clothing and replace them with something new, because to me its just a waste of money.

    In my case, Im that kind of person who love with wear both cool and warm colors, sometimes even together. For my budget "morals", its fortunate, but may not be for someone who are more minimalistic or believe the world would go under if they dont get rid them ("half" joking here).

    Ive trying to listen to these so called "expert" color consulants, but in the end, it never worked for me. I dont care if I look a bit pale or a color stand out too much. I think its more important that YOU love the clothes, even if they might not be you 100% best. However, warmer usually works better on me so when Im wearing black and grey, I tends to wear them with more colored accents or at least gold jewelry with the black, and IF I was graviate towards a specific color scheme or need to clutter down my closet and I would continue wearng them until they start to get worn.

    Im not judging anybody or Janice, but I don't understand people who would get rid of items just for the sake of it (unless I missunderstood the post), those grey pieces a person who are more "suited" in warmer colors, still costed some money when they bought them, didnt they? UNLESS, the person is wealthy or hate the clothes so much they want to burn them down of course. It's more understanding if the clothes are several sizes different or someone living in a cold weather climate moving to a exotic place, but throwing out clothes because of the COLOR?

    ....Nope, never understood that part. =P I look like a ghastly ghost when wearing icy pastel colors and alot of grey, but I like them too much, I wouldnt replace them for that reason.
    You can always wear cool neutral clothes with warm colored accent colors and gold jewelry to warm them up or vice versa also, if you wearing makeup, that also make a difference.
    I love wearing darkbrown, warm grey, gold and warm toned makeup when wearing lilac and with grey, I love wearing it with warm pastel or bright colors

    Just my opinons, I dont judge anybody, only shaking my head to people get rid of clothes because of the color is "wrong". ;) (and excuse for the "essay" comment)

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    1. Well, a charitable interpretation of the post would be to assume that clothes are disposed as they wear out/get stained or one's size or life situation changes significantly. These things do happen to people, you know? ;) I don't think Janice is encouraging anyone to be wasteful- on the contrary. However, if a garment ends up in the trash pile for above mentioned or similar reasons, then it's wise to question, whether it is wise to find something similar or use the opportunity to introduce change in the wardrobe.

      On a more personal note: I'm another lover of The Common Wardrobe. The bare bones of my wardrobe are 3 common wardrobes: for winter, for spring and fall, and for summer, with many overlapping items. Add a couple of "color capsules" that consist of accessories and a few garments in accent colors, and you have a beautiful, compact and super versatile wardrobe. A huge improvement compared to the pile of cheap, miscellanous clothes with which I started out.

      -Mia-

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  23. I'd love to know how to construct a wardrobe around neutrals that, for lack of a better phrase, swing both ways i.e. can be worn with either warm or cool tones. I, too, have had two different "seasons" assigned to me - summer and autumn. What I've taken away from that is that I look best in muted, dusty tones without huge contrasts between dark and light. Janice - can you suggest two neutrals that would work across warm and cool?

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    1. Nancy, I understand the dilemma of being between 2 seasons. When I had my colors done, I was classified as a summer, but was never happy with that assignment because I wear many autumn colors very well. I have ash-brown hair, hazel eyes and neutral skin (meaning warmer than most cool skin tones, but cooler than most warm skin tones). When I discovered the 12-season color system, I fell into the soft summer category. Think blue-greens rather than blues and warm pinks rather than cool pinks. These colors are soft and muted with low contrast and are very similar to colors in the soft autumn palette. The deciding factor for me was the browns included in the autumn palette: I do not wear tan-khaki well at all and must watch the yellows and oranges.
      Finding neutrals to work with is another problem. I have played with neutrals suggested by the soft summer palette, the Pantone colors of the year, palettes extracted from pictures and so on, but what helped me to find my comfort zone was Janice’s 12 Months, 12 Outfits blogs and especially the one where she compared the wardrobes generated around six neutral colors. I initially worked with the navy, the gray and the olive palettes, but finally came to rest with the navy-into-petrol (a greenish navy as opposed to a purplish navy or a bright navy) and stone (a soft white) as my neutrals. I choose a blue-green as a major accent with the weight of the other neutrals and minor accents of a pale golden yellow and a soft warm pink. From these colors I have worked out a plan of attack for the year, including things from my current wardrobe, things to buy and things to make (very important for a sewer, knitter and jewelry maker.)

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    2. To my mind the there should have been 8 'seasons' to start with if you were going in the seasonal direction. Bright vs muted, light vs dark (although this doesn't account for contrasts), and warm vs cool. My maths says that makes 8 combinations. I am muted, light and warm with low to medium contrast so I don't fit any of the conventional seasons or directions. So far, I have come across two systems that acknowledge muted, light and warm - there might be more... So I am kind of in the Spring quarter but muted - run a dusting of light grey over the Spring colours. Carol S

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    3. Thank you for your replies. It seems that there are lots of us struggling with season confusion. A saleswoman at Nordstroms that I spoke with once (who did color analysis as well) decided I was a summer/autumn blend - her system labeled me as a "late summer/early autumn", which is probably what a "soft summer" is. Lesley - can you steer me to Janice's six neutral color posts? Or Janice, can you jump in and direct me? Thanks to you all!





      Lesl

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    4. The 12 Months, 12 Outfits series began Jan 29, 2016 posting and continues on Feb 1 and is expected to continue on the first of each month following to follow Janice's wardrobe development for these selected neutrals. She also gave us a preview of her ideas for that method of development based on colors from scarves in the Start with a Scarf: Hermes Panthera and Reflections II postings earlier this month.

      Please be patient with your search for your neutrals. It took me about a year to get comfortable with my navy scheme because it is so often seen with red or pink rather than green. Best wishes!

      Lesley

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  24. I found your blog and it was the best thing that I ever did. Every year, there's one thing that sets the tone for the year and for 2016 dressing better is definitely it for me. I feel i'm much more confident and face life more courageously when I know i'm dressed well and look good. You know I have to tell you a funny story, all my life when people were in shorts, and jeans and slouchy clothes when I was young, 12 to 18 I always gravitated towards well made clothes that could be worn in an office setting . I look at some of the pictures now and think, what a serious young person I was. Now I realize that was me, that has always been me. I was trying to be someone else by dressing down all the time. I'm so glad I found your blog.

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