No one can clash patterns, juxtapose shapes, and mix eras quite like Sex and the City stylist Patricia Field. But for every Field, there are hundreds of us mere mortals who have no idea where to begin when it comes to choosing the most flattering outfits for our particular body shape, colouring, and personality.
That’s why ICU Image Consulting’s Katherine Lazaruk is a firm believer in the law of congruency. She encourages clients to follow her number one rule, which is to “match”—even when it comes to holiday dressing. And by “match”, she doesn’t mean making sure your shoes, belt, and lipstick are the same shade of cherry red. (For the record, that’s a bit of a fashion faux pas.) No, the Vancouver image consultant means choosing clothes that create harmony by mimicking your body type and colouring. So long girls wear long cuts, curvy girls wear curvy cuts, girls with jet-black hair and high-contrasting pale skin wear high-intensity colours, girls with pale skin, light hair, and light eyes wear low-intensity shades, and so on.
Basically, Lazaruk wants you to work with—not against—what God has already given you. Sound easy? Well, it’s supposed to.
“I’m a big fan of keeping it as simple and concrete as possible, because your image is not meant to be rocket science,” says Lazaruk, who recently sat down with the Straight at Blushing Boutique (579 Richards Street), where she recently gave a presentation on the “Top 3 Ways Professional Women Can Guarantee an Amazing Outfit for the Holidays”.
“The law of congruency,” she continues, “works more often for more people because it’s easier to remember and it’s easier to apply. Whereas with the school of contrast, you have to know your design elements really, really well.”¦But if you’re just a regular person trying to put an outfit together in a few hours, forget about it.
So once you’ve grasped the idea of staying true to yourself, you can apply two of the biggest elements of design: scale and colour. With scale, you want garments that are appropriate to your size.
For example, if you’re a tall, lanky lady, you might want to try Blushing Designs’ floor-length Garbo dress ($398), a stretchy, fitted jersey stunner with a beautiful low-draping back. It’s got old-school Hollywood red-carpet appeal. Plus, it’s low-maintenance.
“I love this jersey,” Lazaruk says. “You could sleep on the couch in this and still get up in the morning and have breakfast at Tiffany’s without ironing it.”
If you’re petite, you might want to go for Blushing’s Twiggy ($216), a navy-blue sequined mini dress with a high round velvet-trimmed collar. Not only is the hemline great for the vertically challenged, the sequins are tiny and won’t overwhelm smaller-framed girls.
But if you’ve got some T&A to spare, you could go for Blushing’s Tear Drop Halter Dress ($248), a flashy mini that boasts some big-ass, silver and black sequins and a substantial black-velvet tie that looks great knotted in a fabulous, festive bow on the side of your neck.
Lazaruk admits that when it comes to colour, there’s a little more involved than there is with scale simply because there are just so many colour combos in the world. (That’s where her personal consultations come in handy.) But she does have one basic guideline to keep in mind when you’re in the changing room trying on holiday dresses.
“You want to wear the colour; you don’t want the colour to wear you,” she says. “One way to test this is to try something on, close your eyes, and then quickly open them. If all you see is the colour, then it’s probably too strong for you.”
Of course, personal style is another important component to finding your dress. Ergo, if you’re a bit on the bohemian side, stay away from stiff collars and librarian hemlines. Conversely, if you’re a conservative person, don’t try to dress like the wildly contrasting Carrie Bradshaw. You’re not fooling anyone when you try to be someone you’re not. So best not bother, or, as the delightfully spunky image consultant puts it, “You might as well be yourself, because everyone else is already taken.”