Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fashion 'n' Fiction

Writing craft presents 1001 challenges for me--there are structural issues to consider, character development, emotions and subtext... But, you know, I chose the writing profession because I like that kind of thing. The public persona side of the industry is a whole 'nother Monopoly game. And every time I need to deal with stuff like clothing, accessories and hairstyles, I cringe because I know I'm making huge fashion mistakes that no copy editor can fix with her red pencil.

So, I was equal parts excited and fearful when my local RWA chapter had Nancy Plummer as our guest on Monday night. Nancy is the program chair for the fashion design department at the International Academy of Design & Technology in Chicago. She's a member of the Apparel Industry Board, the Chicago Fashion Foundation and the Association of Image Consultants International (AICI) where she serves as Chicago chapter president. She's also the author of Your Personal Style (2009, Fairchild Books/Conde Nast Publications). She owns her own business in the city, Fine Threads, Inc., specializes in wardrobe planning and, beyond all that, she's really nice!! (Huge kudos to Pamala , btw, for reeling Nancy in and organizing the event for us! :)

Nancy shared with us a number of terrific ideas for understanding how our differing body shapes need to be addressed with the right types of fabric and clothing lengths. She passed out a questionnaire with excellent things to ask ourselves about our sense of style (i.e. "What traits do my favorite clothes possess?"--in my case, the answer was Spandex). And she even showed us how to measure the proportions of our bodies based upon our head length. (Fascinating fact = our total body length, if in ideal proportion--which mine is definitely not--should be 8 head lengths from the top of our head to our stocking feet...) Most people, Nancy told us, don't have perfect proportions. Some of us are long-waisted, some of us are short-legged, etc., and that's all part of the reason why we need to learn little tricks for lengthening and trimming, and so on, where necessary.

And I have to tell you, this was one very helpful program for many of us. For those of you out in the Blogosphere who have no problem buying clothes that fit your body type, match your coloring and suit your personal style, you might not need the advice of an "image consultant." Me? I was the super-lucky member of the group whose name was drawn to win a copy of Nancy's book, and I more than suspect it was because the fashion gods--er, goddesses--were looking down on me, saying, "Do you see those ugly sweats she's wearing? And the hideous color contrast of her hair with those fabrics? This chick SO needs some help. Let's give her a reference guide--like, right now."

FYI, Nancy's got a Tip of the Month email thingy anyone can sign up for on the Contact page of her website. Oh!! AND she told me that some '80s fashions are coming back! (I was really relieved to hear this since I still have in my closet a number of applicable pieces...although, um, perhaps I shouldn't admit that... :-)

On another note altogether, a Cherry friend (Hi, Becke!) pointed me toward this post on "Confident or Delusional" authors by Chicago thriller writer J.A. Konrath. Some readers agree strongly. Others disagree just as much. Regardless, I found it to be a really thought-provoking piece.

And with that--since I was up until 2am with the copy edits--I'm going to take a nap!


Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Marilyn! that was a fabulous program!!

So- did you go home and measure your head? LOL- I did...kind of intimdating to know you're not perfect...er...of course you're perfect-just the way God made you-just not in dressmaker proportion...right?

So glad you won the book- it was kismit!!(Not because you needed the book, but because you gave out prizes and you got a prize!)

Okay- quitting while I'm ahead...LOL Cheers!

Marilyn Brant said...

LOL, Nancy! I totally went home and measured my head :).

And thank you for thinking winning the book was the fated result of my giving out prizes (so glad you liked your lotion, btw!!), but I hold to my original theory: I'm a fashion disaster, and every being--visible and invisible--in the Universe knows it!

Pamala Knight said...

Marilyn dearest,

I'm so glad that you enjoyed the program. Nancy was totally delighted with the chapter and hopefully we'll be able to lure her back to speak another time. Like Nancy Parra, I too, was ecstatic that you won the book since you were the prize fairy and it only seemed fair that you get something back for all your generosity.

Ugh, that was an awful sentence, lol! I hope you can tell that I'm in revision hell right now, teehee.


Robin said...

Oh, I would have loved to hear Nancy's talk! When I was younger, I was all about fashion (maybe we all were?), but now I live in sweats! It started with my firstborn when I decided comfort, and wearing something I didn't mind getting dirty, became my priority. I do love going out though, and dressing up. And I've loved attending conferences where I get to dress like a professional. But I imagine I'm not doing it "right" and would greatly benefit from Nancy's expertise.

You'll have to have some fashion posts now, Marilyn, to fill us in on what to wear!

Marilyn Brant said...

Oh, Pamala, thank you! I've got such an awesome writing chapter! You really chose someone wonderful for us--please convey our thanks to Nancy Plummer :). And GOOD LUCK with the revisions!!!

Robin~I met you! Sure, it was brief, but I thought you looked absolutely lovely--even with an injured foot!! But I do know what you mean about wearing comfy, easy-to-wash clothes when the little ones are young. I was a fan of sweatshirts before my son was born, but his arrival solidified it :).

Pam said...

The 80s are coming back! The 80s are coming back! *jumping up and down in my torn sweatshirt, leg warmers and big, asymmetrical hair*

And I didn't need to measure my head to know my proportions are off. Way off. But I am incredibly curious to check out Nancy's book--I can always use fashion tips.

Morgan Mandel said...

It was a great program and was over way too quickly. I feel better knowing I'm not the only un-perfect person out there.

Morgan Mandel

Marilyn Brant said...

Pam~Ha! I was jumping up and down at the prospect, too :). Actually, I have a concert story--related to the '80s--that I should post this week...

Morgan~Oh, you're definitely not alone! Glad you enjoyed Nancy's presentation, too.

Anonymous said...

OMG! I love this post. As a 50'ish woman who hates the emphasis on thin in our society - this post was wonderful! I wish we could learn to appreciate the mature body and not make everyone feel as if we need to look like plucked chickens.

I found you through Austen blog. I read your comment on the P&P musical. Are you a member of JASNA?

Well - I love your blog and will check out your website - all the best.

Dody WIlliams

Marilyn Brant said...

Dody~Welcome!! I'm so glad you stopped by and enjoyed the post :). And, yes, I've been a JASNA member for several years--you, too??