From My Shelves: The Fashion Book

The Fashion Book…more like the Fashion Bible! Phaidon has managed to include over 200 years of fashion in a beautiful little book that fits in any woman’s handbag. From designers, models, and icons to photographers and even prestigious fashion colleges, The Fashion Book covers the key names in the fashion world in a mere 571 pages. Each entry includes an accompanying photograph of the individual or and illustration that pertains to the work or aesthetic of the individual. First published in 1998, The Fashion Book has seen many runways and photo-shoots since its original creation. Therefore, Phaidon created a new edition; just published in 2014. Although trends and styles have come and gone in the last seventeen year, Phaidon kept timeless icons and designers in addition to the new, fresh faces of the fashion world.

©  Mary Kate Donahue, 2015

© Mary Kate Donahue, 2015

 I could spend hours in my pajamas, simply flipping through the pages of The Fashion Book. With the turn of each page comes increased knowledge of the men and women who have shaped the well-dressed world we live in today. Some of the most notable names include; Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Jacqueline Kennedy, Alexander McQueen, Kate Moss, Twiggy, Valentino, and so many more! Not to mention, the beautiful cover of the little work of art. The bold pink, black and white design is absolutely stunning and makes the book seem so chic.

©  Mary Kate Donahue, 2015

© Mary Kate Donahue, 2015

If you are anything like me, you absolutely love learning about the history of fashion in order to mold your sense of style. These pages have been the utmost inspiration for me since opening the book on Christmas (thank you David!). I would highly recommend adding The Fashion Book to your literature collection!

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Dressing Well…For Me, Myself & I

Scrolling through Facebook, I noticed an enticing story shared by a friend. Elite Daily, a popular news source for “millennials,”recently posted an article entitled How Dressing Well Actually Affects All Areas Of Your Life Positively by Sheena Amin. Paragraph after paragraph, I was feeling increasingly connected to Amin and her cause. Amin reaffirms that people, women in particular, do not dress up to impress others. Instead, people put on their favorite pair of skinny jeans and a beautiful blouse for themselves. Amin values portraying the best version of oneself, as she states, “I’m definitely not saying that dressing well makes a person, but it certainly affects how someone feels about him or herself. No one is more conscious of your physical appearance than you.”

Speaking from personal experience, I most certainly feel better about myself on the days I decide to take off the old pair of sweatpants I slept in and slip on a more attractive ensemble. Amin’s article reminded me of my college essay. The essay that helped my acceptance into four universities that offer a major in Fashion Merchandising. The essay was my one opportunity to share my voice with a group on intimidating college representatives sitting around a large, round table…and, clearly, it helped my admission! The following 600-word essay is a glimpse into my intellect, spirit, and what I value most…including this blog. Enjoy!

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Her charm was just that she always stood out against her attire, that her dress could never be noticeable on her; it was only a frame, and all that was seen was she.—Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

With a giant bowl of freshly popped popcorn on the table, my three sisters, my mother and I could barely contain our excitement on Friday nights. Once the clock struck nine, we turned our undivided attention to the television. As the youngest of four girls, I especially looked forward to Friday nights because my mom allowed me to stay up past my bedtime in order to watch my favorite show—What Not to Wear. Even at the age of six, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Stacy London and Clinton Kelly help women ditch their tired wardrobes for clothes that empower them to feel more confident and highlight their unique and individual attributes.

Now at age seventeen, I refuse to settle for simply watching the experts inspire women; I have the urge to influence others, myself. Despite the fact that the only people I might be influencing are my parents, my sisters, and a few loyal followers, I share my inspirations and opinions from the fashion world on my blog—Confessions of a Preppy Fashionista (www.talktrendytomeplz.wordpress.com). Between research, formatting, and self-imposed deadlines, keeping a blog takes effort.  Passionate about fashion and how it affects society, I don’t find such effort tedious; on the contrary, I find it extremely rewarding. In a way, a post on my blog is essentially a journey into my character. Behind that computer screen is a living, breathing girl who simply made a commitment to communicate her outlooks. Through such communication I’ve had the opportunity to connect with other bloggers and readers who share their style and inspirations with me. Not only has blogging provided me with a creative outlet, but it has bolstered my social media skills. Having amassed 120 followers on the Instagram account linked with my blog (@fashionista_mkd) in under six weeks, social media provides the ideal way to connect and collaborate with others’ who share my interests. Not only do I address trivial aspects of the fashion world such as this season’s hot color, but I also make a point to promote natural beauty.

Similarly, as described in the epigraph, behind Anna Karenina’s luxurious gown, lies an authentic woman. Her beauty in that elegant dress is only skin deep; below rests an independent, spirited, woman, notorious in seventeenth century Russian society. Although fashion then was quite different than it is today (in terms of the garments themselves), one aspect of style has not changed: how women desire to present themselves. Women want to be seen for their beauty—inside and out—not simply have their garments regarded as beautiful. True and palpable beauty is not material—found in clothing—but it comes from within. The clothing and adornments women use to enhance their natural beauty simply emphasize the best version of themselves.

                  From my six-year-old self who never missed an episode of What Not to Wear, to my now seventeen-year-old self who sifts through Vogue every night before bed, fashion has always been my greatest passion. Although not much has changed in the last eleven years, one clear distinction distinguishes my contemporary self. As a mere child I was mesmerized with clothing itself. Presently, with a deeper appreciation of fashion and society, I value the brains behind the clothing more above all. How women envision themselves in beautiful clothing—the best version of themselves—is truly empowering. I would not trade my Friday night ritual for anything.

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Works Cited

Amin, Sheena. “How Dressing Well Actually Affects All Areas Of Your Life Positively.” Elite Daily. Elite Daily, 26 Dec. 2014. Web. 29 Dec. 2014. http://elitedaily.com

Classic & Timeless: Fashion

Having recently read the tediously long novel, Anna Karenina, for my English class, I noticed that Tolstoy repeatedly divulges some interesting tidbits about various characters clothing choices. Set in seventeenth century Russia, fashion was quite different than today- in terms of the garments themselves. But, one thing that has not changed (and hopefully never will) is how women want to look in their clothing. This poignant element of fashion has remained constant for centuries, as all women usually have the intentions of looking their very best.

In the following passage, the Russian aristocrats are off to enjoy themselves at a lavish ball full of pomp and circumstance: “Kitty had been seeing Anna every day; she adored her, and had pictured her invariably in lilac. But now seeing her in black, she felt that she had not fully seen her charm. She saw her now as some one quite new and surprising to her. Now she understood that Anna could not have been in lilac, and that her charm was just that she always stood out against her attire, that her dress could never be noticeable on her. And her black dress, with its sumptuous lace, was not noticeable on her; it was only the frame, and all that was seen was she- simple, natural, elegant, and at the same time gay and eager” (Tolstoy 75).

In describing the beauty of Anna and her garment, Tolstoy reveals timeless truths about women’s fashion. Like Anna, most women desire to wear their clothing and not allow their clothing to wear them. Women want to be seen for their beauty- inside and out- not simply have their garments viewed as beautiful. True and palpable beauty is not material- found in clothing and make-up- but it comes from within. Although, superficial items (such as Anna’s black lace gown) can enhance a woman’s natural beauty. An enduring topic in today’s culture, fashion provides the ability of self-expression. Tolstoy delivers a unique yet timeless view of women and how they choose to present themselves.

For a better visual of Anna’a sumptuous black lace gown, watch this clip from the motion picture Anna Karenina. 

 

Perfection?

To be honest with you, I usually loathe studying and analyzing poetry. Recently I remembered one of my very few fond memories of poetry, and decided to give it another try. At the end of my sophomore year, my fabulous English teacher challenged us present and analyze a poem for a poetry explication. Because we were able to choose a poem from an assinged collection, I fell in love with Delight in Disorder. Following the poem, I’ve shared some of my thoughts from the beautiful and poignant piece.

Delight in Disorder 

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness;
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction;
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthrals the crimson stomacher;
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbons to flow confusedly;
A winning wave, deserving note,
In the tempestuous petticoat;
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility—
Do more bewitch me, than when art
Is too precise in every part.

-Robert Herrick

In Delight in Disorder, Robert Herrick dramatizes the internal conflict of the speaker who ponders the true meaning and source of beauty. Acting as a “fly on the wall” in a young woman’s dressing room, the speaker expresses his reactions to her beauty. The speaker, most likely a man, finds more appeal in her effortless disarray than in the extreme precision of the societal conception of beauty. Through his use of flawed rhyme scheme and oxymorons, Herrick imparts a wisdom about the concept of beauty. Delight in Disorder proves that imperfections are more alluring and powerful than the illusion of perfection, as perfection itself does not exist. Emphasizing the importance of natural and genuine observations instead of conceited and insincere opinions, Herrick conveys that a woman’s effect on senses is what defines her, rather than her more concrete characteristics and flaws. Herrick’s piece upholds the adage that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Despite the cliche, this gorgeous poem reveals that perfection is unachievable, and therefore; imperfections are the only truly beautiful things in life.

Herrick, a seventeenth century writer and poet, delivers an timeless message that many girls in today’s society (including myself) should heed. Constantly surrounded by stick thin models and condemantions of more plump individuals, most people today- especially young woman- feel a pressure to look and dress a certain way; to be perfect. As Herrick presents, “perfect” does not exist, but society never fails to conjure up a conception of perfect beauty. From clothing to body image, and everything in between, remember to be yourself and develop your own personal style, including those beautiful imperfections!

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genus, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring!” -Marilyn Monroe