Saturday, August 20, 2005

Style in Your Pocket

I am trying to pare my wardrobe down to a lean, mean stylin' machine. So I've been hitting the books for inspiration. The magazines sure aren't any help: I am truly fed up with Real Simple and In Style coming up with "The Best Look For Plus Sizes". That's crazy - with my, er, small tracts of land, Buddha belly and skinny, long limbs, I don't wear the same clothes as a classically voluptuous friend who has heavy upper arms and shortish legs. (What's odd is that In Style's own book acknowledges that and features a wide array of body shapes.)

Apart from the aforementioned In Style Guide, Lucky's Shopping Manual, and What Not to Wear's What You Wear Can Change Your Life, I've been finding great inspiration in Kendall Farr's The Pocket Stylist (Gotham Books). Here's an interview with Farr in Fashion Tribes that summarizes the book, and features her commentary on this year's fall collections.

Farr categorizes the female form into three shapes (and three "curvy" variations). No hourglass or egg or triangle comparisons here - the groupings are smaller on the top, smaller on the bottom, and in between. Her advice to the three larger body types is equally no-nonsense but useful, being completely realistic about the lack of options out there, but optimistic about the outcome.

The book's just loaded with delightful Anja Kroencke illustrations. Kroencke, the only reason I pick up InStyle these days has a way with a beautiful line, a colorful but not eye-shattering palette, and stylish details. My husband compares her to Shag, but for fashion.

kroencke illustration for Nippon Vogue this past December

There aren't any images of her plus-sized ladies in the handful of Stylist illustrations on her site. But trust me, they are wonderful - stylized Valkyries with the same perfectly flowing hair and swingy fabrics as her size zero subjects. Sure, it's an idealized worldview: The illustrations have no flabby arms, poochy bellies or saddlebags, but that doesn't bother me. It's nice to be included for once, even if it's a mere fashionable fantasy.


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