Seven style vices which you should never feel guilty about

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FASHION - By LISA ARM­STRONG

Have you no­ticed how sci­ence and men’s health ex­perts have be­come prac­ticed dis­pensers of vice val­i­da­tion? You know the kind of thing: eat­ing your weight in choco­late will pro­vide enough an­tiox­i­dants to power you through the in­evitable on­set of di­a­betes type 11; gym avoid­ance chal­lenges the body’s sta­tus quo and may be a pos­i­tive boost to fit­ness, etc …

Well, two can play that game and it seems only fair that fash­ion, with all its cer­tain­ties and grid­lock of do’s and don’ts should be sub­jected to a sim­i­lar process of close ex­am­i­na­tion.

1 Go­ing “mad” in the sales can be good for your wardrobe:

Ok, we prob­a­bly need to de­fine crazy. In this con­text it means fall­ing head over heels (not lit­er­ally, that isn’t chic) for an item that doesn’t ob­vi­ously fit into your metic­u­lously con­structed spread­sheet of re­quire­ments. Wardrobes, and for that mat­ter, per­sonal style, thrive on mi­cro doses of spon­tane­ity and un­ex­pect­ed­ness. If your ob­ject of de­sire is some­thing you have al­ways found beau­ti­ful and life en­hanc­ing — a heav­enly ball of tulle, the world’s most flut­tery floor length dress, an exquisitely em­broi­dered vin­tage ki­mono — chances are you will con­tinue to love it for the rest of your life, and find a way to wear it. Even if you don’t? Amy Smilovic, the smart, in ev­ery sense, founder and de­signer of Tibi, re­cently told me that she has yet to wear a Loewe dress she bought ear­lier this year, but that the sight of it in her wardrobe brings her daily plea­sure. We could prob­a­bly all use a lit­tle cre­ative an­ar­chy in our style ma­trix.

2 Still think­ing you’re 27 is the key to Joie de Me:

Not 22 (still wear­ing hot­pants and skanky bar­gain bin grunge). Not 25 (haven’t sussed out the work thing yet) … 27 is a key marker on the style jour­ney. You are be­gin­ning to un­der­stand what suits you, ac­quir­ing tastes that may still be above your means and ready to ditch the ironic nail art but you haven’t lost your sense of ad­ven­ture. This isn’t about be­ing delu­sional, but op­ti­mistic. Women who

— give or take — aren’t afraid to chal­lenge the norms of what a 40 or 50 or 60 are the ones who most of­ten look most com­fort­able in their skin. For all their risk tak­ing, you rarely if ever see Naomi Watts, Em­manuel Alt, Su­san Saran­don, Lau­ren Hut­ton, Char­lotte Gains­bourg or even Gwyneth Pal­trow get­ting their style wrong, age wise, not least be­cause through years of ex­pe­ri­ence they have re­fined the de­tails. Re­mem­ber too, that oc­ca­sional slip-ups are bet­ter than that sink­ing qui­etly into that so called ‘safe haven’ of greige.

3 Bag fetishes can reap their own re­wards:

You can­not move for bags, yet find your­self lust­ing af­ter the lat­est Fendi. This is only a prob­lem if you can’t bear to part with the ones that no longer bring you joy, the ones stuffed in the fur­thest re­cesses, the ones that are fall­ing apart. In this case, make an im­me­di­ate ap­point­ment with ves­, re­ or arch­la­bela­ all of whom will come to your house and col­lect your dis­card. If nec­es­sary the first two can dis­patch a pro­fes­sional to sort through your pile for you. Be ruth­less. You can al­ways re­call them if you’re swamped with seller’s re­morse. But you prob­a­bly won’t, once the money starts com­ing in. With the pro­ceeds you can then buy your­self the bag of your (cur­rent) dreams. Make it a clas-

sic that holds its value rea­son­ably well, such as Gucci’s Bam­boo, or brush up on the flour­ish­ing mar­ket of nicely made, imag­i­na­tively de­signed bags in the £300-450 range.

4 5 Stick­ing to the clas­sics can still be ex­cit­ing:

Even some­thing as seem­ingly straight­for­ward as pearls can present all kinds of in­ter­est­ing de­tours. “Peo­ple take it for granted that pearls will cast a glow on their skins,” says Chrissie Coleman Dou­glas, “and if you get them right, it’s true. They’re an in­stant facelift. But most peo­ple end up with the wrong shade of pearls.” That doesn’t mean you can’t have the colour you want, but that you need to look at its un­der­tones. No two grey pearls are iden­ti­cal. Skins that tan eas­ily look best with warm shades. That means white pearls that sit at the creamier end of the spec­trum, dusty pinks, dark foamy greens. Red­heads look sen­sa­tional with deep olives and frosty whites, while a dark haired, dark eyed and pale skin con­fig­u­ra­tion calls out for green or pink over­tones”. It’s only when you try on sub­tly dif­fer­ent tones of the same colour that you see what she means. Once you have, there’s no turn­ing back.

Re­peat buy­ing? What’s the prob­lem?

Prac­tice makes per-

fect. Pro­vided you’re con­stantly hon­ing your knowl­edge and rais­ing your game, it doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mat­ter that you have a wardrobe full of trousers, pro­vided you wear them all and there’s a va­ri­ety of cur­rent shapes, from curve flat­ter­ing pa­perbag waist­bands to skin­nies. What­ever your pec­ca­dillo, work it un­til you are the de­fin­i­tive guru on the sub­ject. Then set up a web-blog, an in­sta­gram ac­count and a What­sapp sup­port group and make a for­tune sell­ing your own brand of the world’s most flat­ter­ing trouser shapes.

6 7 A daily uni­form of grey, navy, black and white is NOT bor­ing:

At least it all goes to­gether, and when you even­tu­ally branch out into red or yel­low, as the laws of colour grav­ity dic­tate you will, boy will they pop. Con­sider drip­ping olive, ma­roon and baby blue into the mix. Or break things up with stripes, trims and tex­tures. For a les­son in how to work a tight pal­ette to max­i­mum ad­van­tage, look at lalig­ Set up by two for­mer Amer­i­can fash­ion edi­tors and Rag & Bone’s ex-busi­ness de­vel­oper, its clothes and im­agery are a mas­ter­c­class in the edited rain­bow.

It’s not the same as facile: Whichever way you slice it, this has been

Triv­i­al­ity is good for the soul.

one of those weeks when giv­ing a nano sec­ond’s thought to whether or not the match­es­fash­ sale will ever start on its UK site, or stress­ing about not be­ing able to find time to get one’s dis­as­trous roots sit­u­a­tion fixed seems like a be­trayal of ev­ery­thing we know to be ac­tu­ally, prop­erly im­por­tant.

The essence of this dilemma has been ev­i­dent across all so­cial me­dia over the past few days. How soon af­ter a ter­ror­ist at­tack is it rea­son­able to post a thigh-gap pic­ture of your­self in St Barts (may I sug­gest never?). Are the end­less Love trumps Fear and school-of-kum­baya proverbs any more help­ful? (De­pends on your tol­er­ance lev­els for prayer hands emoti­cons). Is Snapchat the best fo­rum for a se­ri­ous de­bate on the de­mer­its of each po­lit­i­cal party?

Even sea­soned per­form­ers such as James Cor­den, in Lon­don last month to present that most Amer­i­can of im­ports, The Late Late Show, some­times strug­gle to get the tone right.

On the other hand, the su­per­fi­cial and the pro­found are both hu­man traits and some­times they hap­pen to over­lap. Fo­cus on the breath — and try vi­su­al­is­ing cre­at­ing more space in your wardrobe while you’re at it. Be­fore you know it, you’ve added a Marie Kondo di­men­sion to your usual prac­tice. Now all you have to do is en­act it.

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