Sunday, 9 December 2012

Next research project on it's way!

Hi myfrockrockers!

I've been locked away writing up the results of the research about your relationship with clothing and I must say, you have provided some delicious stuff to help me understand what it is that we really use clothing for! It's been great, so I want to say thank you, but also to ask a favour :-)

I have to design my second project! I know, call me crazy but in the professional doctorate one must do 2 research projects along with course work. So I was thinking, why not ask you all for suggestions to help me find out something you are interested in too.

I am thinking along the lines of photographs of your favourite outfit, or pictures of you wearing what you love, and I can analyse the principles and elements or stories submitted about your fashion alter-egos. It can be any idea you have, and I will try to make it a really interactive project for all who love fashion and dressing up.

I really hope you will put your ideas up...oh and by the way, I have to submit the proposal by Tuesday...Yikes!!

Choosing happiness,

Friday, 28 September 2012

Life after...

Renata Fuchsia

Nina Black and Red

Oh-oh, should be writing up my findings but totally distracted...check out this site, yummy shoes for Tango...which is what I am going to learn after I become Dr Deb of Maybe my next research project in the making!!!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Research questions at the ready!

Hi myfrockrockers- here's another set of questions that I hope you can help me with answers to. You don't have to answer them all, just those which you want to and which perhaps resonate with you.

These questions are about how you link your choice of clothes with the person who you are, or your projected identity.

1)      Can you describe your thoughts as put together an outfit to
a)       go to work
b)      go on a date
c)       go shopping
d)      go to the gym or exercise

2)      Is there a time when you think an outfit has contributed positively to a social experience?

3)      Has there ever been a time when you have changed your choices of clothing for certain social occasions?

4)      In what ways do you think social groups influence clothing choices?
a)       Have you experienced that yourself?

5)      Do you have an example where you have chosen an outfit to represent your social status?

6)      Do you choose clothes that demonstrate your income? In what ways?

7)      Have you had an experience where your clothing choices acted to unify or separate you from your social groups?

8)      Do you think it is important to dress to show your ethnic background?

9)      If you were to wear a traditional garment that wasn’t from your ethnic background, would you be uncomfortable?

10)   If traditionally clothing helped to identify various ethnic groups and tribes, what does it represent in today’s society?

11)   Is there someone you consider a style muse, someone whose style you try to emulate?
a)       If so what is it about the person’s style that appeals to you?
b)      Is this someone you aspire to be?

12)   Do you think television weight loss and makeover shows influence your opinions of your self-image?
a)       If so, in what ways?
b)      Can you give me an example of something positive?
c)       Do you have an experience where watching a show about image has been negative for you?
d)      If so, could you describe that experience?

13)   What extent are you prepared to change your physical image in order to match it to your view of yourself?

14)   Have you had an experience where you have felt strongly influenced by other people’s opinions of your image?

Thanks for all the great answers so far, everyone...they have been insightful and really very useful. PLease let me know if you want answer any of these directly through e-amil, that would be great. Also if you have any other questions.
On the home stretch now! Thank you...

Choose happiness

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Dressing Bravely!

Animal Farm!
A very happy Pat
 I'd like you to meet my friend Pat. Pat's style is truly unique, she mixes patterns and colours and ethnic details which always delight me. I think of Pat as brave too, she wears her mixed up wardrobe with such confidence and I always forget that in fact that her work life is as a librarian! I always thought of them as meek and quiet, neutral almost. I think what we wear should always be a reflection of ourselves, not ditated by what we do, or our position in life, or where we live.

Have you got any friends like Pat?

Monday, 13 August 2012

Design Challenge

I promise worldwide exposure and international success to the person out there who can design a more dignified hospital-stay robe than the butt showing, décolletage defying junk frock they give you in hospitals...

I've spent 10 days by my mother's bedside and have definitely decided that the design world can do better than that! Come on all my fabulous students of fashion design, let's put some dignity and grace back into being stuck in hospital!

Please! No more of this....

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

If the glove fits, wear it!

The poll I recently ran on the blog implied that most people dress to flatter their body figure. I wonder though if the way clothes make us feel is not as important? I'd love to hear what you think in response to these questions which will help in my research. 

1. Is there an outfit or an item of clothing you “love” dearly?
a. If so, why do you love it?
b. Can you describe the outfit or items?

2. Did you have an outfit you used to love, and now don’t feel that way about it anymore?
a. Can you say more about that? Why?

3. Can you describe when it feels “right” to wear something?
a. What is the outfit, can you describe it? Or send a photo?

4. Have you experienced wearing something that feels “wrong” to wear?
a. What is the outfit, can you describe it? Or send a photo?

5. Do you recall a time when you felt you were dressed inappropriately?
a. What happened for you to feel that?
b. Did it affect your social experience?

6. Is there an item of clothing that you feel “matches” how you feel about yourself and how you look?

7. Could you expand on how you look and feel about your self-image/body image/identity?
a. Do you ever see an item of clothing or dress and think it could transform your emotional state?
b. Perhaps make you feel better about yourself?
c. Can you give me an example of the item and the emotion it could have transformed?

8. Can you recall any time when you may have used clothes to appear as a somewhat different person than who you “really” are?

Thanks again for your kind participation...

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Meet the ShoeSista's- A Sisterhood of the Shoe!

I'm not really throwing down the gauntlet here, but this week, in a casual conversation with a colleague, she mentioned owning 84 pairs of shoes (actual number altered by 1+ or - to avoid identification :-\). We were walking at the time, between meetings and she just dropped the "S Bomb", shoes. I don't think she saw me trip, or raise my hand to close my gaping mouth, but I must admit here and now, my regard for this lady grew tenfold in those few moments. I imagine there is something a bit "Da Vinci Code-ish" about we shoe lovers...some kind of code to which we all honour, and here I was with a Sista! You probably know a few ShoeSista's, we greet each other with a slight smile, while our eyes dart downward to see what shoes you are wearing, and then it is either delight, because they are gorgeous, or envy, because you don't own them. Either way, though, shoes are a very large part of my daily presentation. I choose my shoes first, then decide how to dress to match. My shoes are carefully lined up or boxed, while the rest of my closet is in ordered disarray. Shoes really punctuate my dressing style.

I'm going to share a few of my own favourites.
These are my "Come home soon, Johnboy" shoes, as if I were a glamourous 40's secretary waiting for my boy to return from war.

When I wear these shoes, I feel incredibly feminine and I walk differently, not just because  of the thin stiletto heel, but they make me want to look graceful and elegant. 

And these little lovelies are my "Latin Lover's",  I always want to Tango with a rose between my teeth and a swooshy big skirt that shudders when I stomp my feet.
And these be-jewelled beauties make me feel somewhat exotic, I think of Jeannie from "I Dream of Jeannie". Picture myself with magic powers that if I only think about changing something, it will happen. A bit like Samantha from "Bewitched"!

I love buying shoes too. My favourite place to buy shoes is in Nordstrom's in America, because they have men salesmen, who hold your foot, gently cupped under the heel as they lace or thread the makes you feel like Cinderella...just for a moment anyway. There is something so hopeful about buying new shoes...where will I wear them, what adventure will they share with me, what fun will we have together...

Oh dear, I am sounding a bit fetishist here, aren't I ? But, having said that, I do know many others who love "something" in their wardrobes, very could be suits, dresses, jewellery or lingerie. I'd love to know what it is and why you love it.

Keep choosing happiness!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Through the eyes of others!

The posting on first impressions has had a lovely response. Thank you!

These questions are about how people respond to your appearance or your perceived identity.

1) Do you think people misunderstand the messages clothing or body adornment may give? Can you give an example of when this may have happened to you?

2) Do you have any examples of when you thought you were sending message "A" such as “career focused” for example, and it was perceived by someone else as message "B", conservative and uptight?

3) How highly do you value the opinions of others in regard to the way you dress?

4) Can you describe any ways in which you might manipulate your image to please others?

5) What is your opinion of others who do this?

By responding through the comment box, you are confirming your responses may be used as part of a research project. Your name will not be used.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Can a tiger change his stripes?

This notion of judgement based on first impressions has triggered some lovely comments from my readers about self-esteem and the more confident we are in our "self", the easier it is to be free-er with how we dress. It was suggested people who may be less confident felt that clothes were worn somewhat as "armour" or protection. If so, clothes can mask who we really are, and deflect attention away from what is perhaps a vulnerability. 

But would it be possible for a really shy person to carry off a very dramatic and attention getting outfit for the sake of hiding their shyness? Would that not bring with it a very high risk? When I want to be left alone, or appear to blend in, I tend to reach for my most mainstream clothes.  I tend toward common, mainstream sports labels, with a hint of attitude, like I may have been to the gym, or may be on my way there, but not so much that you would look at me and say, "Now there's a lady who spends a lot of time each day at the gym." I choose these clothes because they are, to me, neutrality. They are also completely opposite to what I wear each day in my corporate or career world. There, the peculiarity of my professional appearance trying to match my creative, non-conservative spirit with a conservative and traditional  academic environment is highlighted.

Any views on this, readers? What do you wear when you want to avoid attention?And...even better, what about when you seek attention? Please tell....

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

First Impressions

So the thing is...this blog is part of my research into how we use clothes or jewellery or in my case, shoes to represent who we are to the world. Yesterday, something happened that got me thinking...I was working on a branding project from home, when a real estate guy stopped at my house, unexpectedly. He asked what I did for work and when I told him I taught design, he looked at my clothes and I could tell immediately what he was thinking! OMG...never!

I had my favourite baseball shirt on, one that Michael Roman, my friend and an awesome San Francisco artist had made for the local chapter of the "Raybats", a rebel women's baseball team from the Mission.  (Yes that's a possessed looking bat on it!) This was teamed with my black and white tie-dyed slouch pants, red silk Chinese slippers and my hair( the small part I have which is not shaved) tied up in two wee ponytails. Obviously, no make-up either...not a good first impression!

I could sense how this man felt I didn't match to his "perception" of a fashion design teacher, and I knew he was disappointed, and I felt like I'd let down an entire industry. As I apologized and said how I was working from home, and I don't usually look like this, my God voice, you know, your little internal voice was reminding me that I do...I always look like this, a bit mixed up, a bit mismatched or misplaced so why should I apologize? Well, I don't know why, can anyone tell me? Have you ever made a judgement about someone and got it all wrong?

What I wonder though, is how deeply do those impressions go, how long do they last, can they be changed?  If you have a story and you'd like to share it in my research, please e-mail me at (This is because I need you to give your permission for me to use it.)

Choosing happiness!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Dreaming of Karl!

My cherished sleep last night, was interrupted by a dream, a very unusual occurrence for me, and one of giant significance because Karl Lagerfeld visited my slumber! I was moving into an apartment in Paris when a bunch of past students walked down the hall of the apartment block to welcome me to Paris. In view of them all, my neighbours door opened and it was Karl (Circa 1990's). He wafts into my new digs, picks up my stuff and sprouts forth with flattery about my exquisite taste, and how it's been so long since he's seen me, and the time is right for me to be in Paris now because the Ecole De La Chambre Syndicale De la Couture is in shambles and needs a visionaries touch...(not suggesting I'm up to that job by any means, readers...but that is the Fashion school in Paris run by the organization which determines your "Couture-ability" and abilty to be involved in the French fashion weeks etc.) Of course, the sense of pride and the thrill of the excitement at being Karl's neighbour, woke me up, and the story ends there! Or does it?

You see, I've always thought my couture guardian was Yves St Laurent, and when he passed, it became Jean Paul Gaultier (I adore the l'enfant terrible image!) But now I wonder, could it have been Karl all along, and I've ignored him? Interesting also to consider that the role of couture has been a little low on my list lately, busy with "do good" projects and ignoring that giant machine which fuels the mainstream of the fashion industry. Sustainability and couture have seemed to be on collision course for sometime, but perhaps there is a strong link? Perhaps the handmade, slow style of couture making is really the solution to a sustained and respectful role for fashion in the twenty first century. Perhaps it places the woman who wears the clothes back in central focus?

I ask these questions as I read more about the fractured sense of self that contemporary women feel is portrayed in media and entertainment, this very notion of post modern pastiche where our clothes come from here and there, a different look each day- therefore could we be a different person each time we change clothes? Couture gives such a clear message doesn't it? You wear your designer with pride, you hang your hat on the Champes-Elysees and all can see where your loyalties lie, what you represent, not a mish mash of disposable fast fashion trends bought for under $50 and destined for land fills around the world by next year. Now I'm not suggesting that we can all afford couture, but I think some of it's its principles should be re-introduced to contemporary culture?  What do you think?

"The best thing you can do is dive in with your imagination, you can never drown yourself" Karl Lagerfeld
See Karl speak here!

Also included a link to the LA Times article about Karls cat, who has a maid and iPad...,0,4159766.story


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Visual Language Theory in Fashion Illustration

Deep in thought today about how clothes speak a language and how the artists who have illustrated them throughout history have found the "key" visual cues to capture the zeitgeist of that era.To generalize the idea Roland Barthes puts forward on clothing as a mode of communication, we could say that clothes give signals and let us know things about each other through various forms of communication.

I refer to this image by Barbier, wonderfully titled Grandmother & Little girl as a representation of fashions changing appearance at the turn of the twentieth century. From the obvious skirt length to the uncovered neck and arms, Barbier has shifted the scene into the early twentieth century and heralds the emergence of the Flapper girl.

92What do you think this is saying? Also from Barbier, who was known as one of the "Knights of the Bracelet"?

In 1971 Italian Vogue, Antonio shows African American women, elegantly portrayed but with little sense of celebration. In fact, after Antonio's bold use of ethnicity in his model choice, society saw a reflection of themselves, in real time, but was this spread published in Italy intended as a statement on United States racial tensions.
Italian Vogue 1971. Pentel, 18 x 24"

Marie Clare, France, 1983.  Pencil / watercolor, 13 x 17"In this next image, Antonio Lopez links the image of a Josephine Baker poster (in which she has been removed) drawing attention to the lack of coloured models in the fashion publishing world  in a spread for Marie Claire in 1983. 

Fashion Illustration has spoken clearly to the emerging and relevant topics and perhaps, as artists, are often leading societal change and only depicting what they themselves are living...

Critical Desires: Race and Sexuality in the Work of Antonio
Amelia Malagamba-Ansótegui and Ramón Rivera-Servera, from The University of Texas at Austin

Monday, 28 May 2012

Oh Dear, this reminds me of when we were younger, my mother would safety pin things to our clothes, like hankies with money in them. Once she pinned my brothers shirt-tails to his underpants and he could not go to the bathroom all day!

Perhaps these were designed by someone who suffers "no untidy clothes disorder", could that be you?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Fashion Terrorism-Remembering days of Doc Martens!

Don't ya love Doc Martens? They are just about the most classic design icons of my generation.  Just now I saw the white ones with Angel wings on a young mum at the local shopping centre who was screaming at her small child to hurry up, and I wanted to stop her and give the whole discussion on meat abattoir workers and anarchists in the England during the 70's and how punks took to wearing them because of the steel toes helped them in riots and Friday night bashing parties(think Romper Stomper!) and tell her that in fact by wearing the boots she was inciting rebellion in her child, but alas...I held my tongue. I didn't want to be removed from the shopping centre for fashion terrorism!
How did 10 months pass, too much reading and writing on things other than this wonderful blog, but it's back...and here we go, all approved for the research project to continue on this site. Bring on the stories about what you love  most about the things in your wardrobe!

Choose happiness, Deb

Here's Fridays Frockrockin' it!

Lebanese designer Georges Hobeika Spring/Summer 2018 presents a collection of richly embroidered gowns that epitomise  quality. The delicate...