For a while, upon the advice of Carole Jackson in her book Color Me Beautiful, I chose camel as my wardrobe's neutral tone. But camel (a kind of warm brown) never inspired me. I tend toward analogous color schemes, so when I wore camel, I would pair it with brown, pumpkin, or tan... which is a perfectly fine look if you're a scifi desert dweller, but not a happy look for me.
A few times, my loving family would say I needed something to make my face "pop"--which is to say that I was melting into a camel puddle. (Khaki gives me the same problem!) I can wear it, but I need to ditch the analogous color scheme and put something bright and contrasting next to my face. However, what's the point of wearing something that doesn't make you happy? Camel didn't make me happy.
At a fancy dress ball last year I had an interesting experience. It was an all-white affair, not because of racism but simply because the people involved all happened to be white. (The crowd was middle-aged to elderly, for the same reason.) Most of us wore historical costumes or modern formal wear. A few people wore fantasy clothes.
One couple wore Indian clothing... gorgeous stuff! The woman's dress (Lehenga choli? Luanchari? No midriff seen) was gold and red and heavily embroidered with gilt and beadwork, and her husband wore a white satin tunic and pants (achkan and churidar), also elaborately adorned. They looked great! So I complimented them, as you do, and they told me they'd recently been to India for a friend's wedding, and they'd been given the outfits to wear to the three-day celebrations.
Here's what made it interesting: when I first saw them, I had two reactions almost simultaneously: "pretty!" and * awkward *.
When I was a small child, my dad tried to explain "market value" to me. Imagine you're selling an old bentwood rocking chair at a flea market. Two prospective buyers come along. One says "Cool rocking chair. Maybe that'd fit on my porch. I'll give you $20." The other says "My grandfather used to have a rocking chair just like that! I've always wanted one but never found one! It's perfect!" Who would pay more for the chair?
If Buyer 2 knew Buyer 1 had already offered $20, he would surely offer more! The chair might be worth $50 or $100 to him! Naturally I asked who was right. What was the actual value of the chair? And my dad said it was worth what people were willing to pay. That was the difference between market value and intrinsic value.
I dream of the perfect fit... of clothes that are simply perfect when I put them on, the grain hanging right, the ease just enough, the curves and shapes flattering. But in order for my clothes to be perfect, my body image must be accurate! And (as making my sister's block shows) understanding a body is easier said than done.
Something about having a sister... or being one... dictates that one must adorn the other. So my favorite person to sew for is my sister. Maybe it's because when we were growing up, she was my doll to be decked out as I wanted in all our games. Maybe it's because I love to show her to the world as I see her: beautiful and unique. But nothing I sew her is a success unless she wears it, and she is firm in her tastes. When I make things for her, I get to know her better: her preferences, her insecurities, her boldness. I want to learn what she wants to say, then give her the styling "language" to say it herself.
Quilting, dressmaking, and history plied with the needle...
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