Three Levels of Dress: Kimono Blouse Two Ways

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As I’ve mentioned here before, I have some issues with Level Two in my wardrobe: I don’t really have any. Basically, I have formal dresses, and then jeans and sweatshirts.

There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that at the moment, dressing up is not required for my job. I am rarely in a situation where Level Two is required. I don’t usually want to allocate my not-so-sizable resources to clothes I won’t wear as often.

I’ve realized that this problem can be solved by just adding certain pieces to my wardrobe than can be dressed up or down. At the moment, getting a cute little FG pantsuit isn’t the most practical option for me. But adding things like sweaters and blouses that can be worn with many kinds of bottoms is a different matter.

I actually didn’t really own any blouses. I picked up my first one today. It’s a little out of my comfort zone, but I fell in love with it because it looks like Dark Autumns’s candlelight white to me, and I’ve been into floral prints lately. While I often have trouble with unstructured pieces, I decided that the cropped and boxy fit made it okay for Flamboyant Gamine. I came up with two outfits based around this piece, one for Level One and one for Level Two. I’ll walk you through these two outfits and my thought process.

The star of this post is, of course, this Floral Print Kimono Top from Zara. For a crop top like this, high-waisted skinny jeans, which are flattering on me, probably because I’m long-waisted and it balances me out, are an obvious choice. I went with a waxed version in merlot, because the floral print has some dark red in it and it’s more interesting than basic black. I also picked up the merlot in a studded wrap bracelet for a Fitbit Flex. I think this is a really cool piece, even though I don’t have a Fitbit. Part of why I don’t have one is that I don’t like accessories that look more like tech than accessories, so this is a fun, casual piece of jewelry to disguise it, if you do have one. I did select black for the shoes because I wanted to include the Wild Diva shoes from Amazon. These are fake Valentino Rockstuds, and they come in a huge range of styles, colors, and finishes, and they’re insanely cheap. I have them in the leopard-print, sueded, ballet-slipper version, which I also considered for this outfit, and I might do that in real life, because I’m going to be more limited in terms of my shoe collection, but I felt there wasn’t a true connection to the rest. Instead, I went with shiny black, which calls back to the black outline of the print on the top. I just found some fun ear jackets for the earrings.

I think that for some people, this skirt wouldn’t really seem like Level Two. But since my legs are short, it would look as short on me, and I think the rocker edge it has brings it where I need my Level Two to go. While I don’t think the Fitbit cuff would be inappropriate for Level Two–I’m sure people wear their Fitbits to work; otherwise, what’s the point?–I wanted to glam it up and a little more, and added a cuff that I liked so much, I bought it for myself–the danger of doing these posts, I guess! The black stones, again, pick up the black in the shirt’s print. With the
shoes, I switched to a heel, which I think goes better with the skirt, but if you can’t wear high heels, maybe some kind of bootie would work. The sueded version is a little more subdued, especially on Dark Autumn, although this exact one is currently sold out. Wild Diva is sold by several Amazon sellers, so you may find it somewhere else if you look for it. They do have a burgundy sueded version right now, which would also be a good option, although I generally don’t like to match my bottoms to my shoes. The earrings have spikes, but they are even more sparkly than the ones in the first outfit.

What I like about these two outfits is, apart from the jeans, since in my personal definition of the Three Levels, Level One is the only one that gets jeans, these pieces all work for both levels; it’s just all in how you style it. The accessories are basically interchangeable, as are the shoes; I could wear the heels with the jeans instead to add a little more to my first outfit, or I could exchange the blouse for a cropped t-shirt to bring the second outfit down a level. If you have a limited budget like I do, making sure your pieces are versatile is key. I’m planning on releasing my Three Levels of Dress workbook early next year, but until then, I hope to do more posts like this to give you an idea of how to work with them.

What something you’ve been lately that could work for multiples levels and situations?

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Bonomo Original Hollywood Beauty and Charm: Summary

Joe Bonomo himself... How he came to lend his name to a self-improvement course for women has been lost to history.

Joe Bonomo himself… How he came to lend his name to a self-improvement course for women has been lost to history.


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I started this series because I wanted to examine a system with something approaching the standard types we all know and love today, but that also predates McJimsey. These types are a part of a whole system that involves everything from diet and exercise to makeup and how to walk down stairs.

The purpose of having these types is similar to what Kibbe says about his Image Identities, more or less:

Try to determine the kind of person you really are. You may find that you are not projecting yourself as you should. Just thinking of yourself as a sophisticate, a gamine or a womanly woman, or any other definite type, will be amazingly helpful in giving you a distinctive personality…You ARE a personality, and we are going to try to help you to release that personality from hampering inhibitions, from the handicap of too much flesh or too little vitality, from self-consciousness, awkwardness and any other malicious gremlin who may dare to bar the way of expression of your loveliest self. The self that will attract the experiences which you feel belong to you… and which DO belong to you… Love, Happiness, Success.

And the first step to achieving all that is to read the descriptions of the types and decide which one most describes you. If you feel you fit into more than one, you can create your own composite from what applies to you personally. You may also try on another type for a night–i.e., an “Aristocratic Woman” may try on the “Womanly Woman,” but must retain her true type’s characteristic restraint, for she is a not a “hoyden.”

Presenting yourself in a way that aligns with who you are, and putting thought into how you live your life, will make all parts of your life better. I think this is something that all the systems we look at share. I hope to find more of these early versions of color and style systems and share them here.

How did you like this system? Are there any types that jump out at you as maybe being closer to who you are than the ones found in contemporary systems?

Pick up Bonomo Original Hollywood Beauty and Charm at Vintage Makeup Guides.

Previously: The Sophisticate

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Bonomo: The Sophisticate

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THE SOPHISTICATE

Prototype
Merle Oberon

Personality
-Often a woman who has learned to live by her wits
-Has read the latest books, seen the latest plays, and heard the latest gossip
-Definitely clever and likely to be a career woman
-Nervously vivacious and in many cases a brilliant conversationalist
-Shock-proof and modern
-If you can get beneath her brittle exterior, you will probably find her honestly sympathetic and generous
-…But she is a merciless antagonist!
-While she is one of the best dressed types in the world, clothes are not her major interest

Physical Characteristics
-More likely to be striking than beautiful
-Always slender, frequently exaggeratedly so and is invariably groomed to within an inch of her life
-There is never a hair out of place in her coiffure

Clothes
-Has made almost a religious study out of clothes and uses her knowledge with daring and drama
-Will be remarkable for the perfection of her dress… whether she has little or much to spend
-Her clothes will be simple by day and as elegant as her purse can buy at night
-Even if her budget is very limited, she will have more formal clothes than the average woman
-Has a preference for dressmaker suits and afternoon dresses
-Shuns the spectacular
-Her clothes flow over her with unaccented distinction
-Loves fine fabrics, rich, soft furs and genuine, even if needs be modest, jewels.
-Is partial to white evening frocks
-Her dresses and wraps will be of the moment but never outstanding

Pick up Bonomo Original Hollywood Beauty and Charm at Vintage Makeup Guides.

Previously: The Gamine
Next: Summary

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Bonomo: The Gamine

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THE GAMINE

Prototype
Betty Hutton

Personality
-May be a wiry little elf of a grandmother who keeps her family on tenterhooks with her mischief…
-…But she is apt to be young.
-A bit breathtaking but she has a grand time in life
-If she is true to type, so do the people around her
-Gay, impudent, and up to no good… in an innocent, or not so innocent, way
-Rules and regulations mean little to her and she manages to break most of them with impunity and much satisfaction
-She is fundamentally honest and loads of fun

Physical Characteristics
-Certain to be slim
-Boyish in appearance
-Leggy and gracefully gawky in gait
-Apt to have unruly hair, which she tosses about to emphasize her big moments
-Not unfrequently has an upturned, tilted nose
-Even a scattering of freckles do her no harm

Clothes
-Gives the effect of being carelessly casual in dress
-Affects sports clothes in and out of season
-The ideal sweater and skirt girl
-Will have neat little tailored suits or jaunty boleros, frequently with hats to match and varicolored blouses
-Can wear natty checks and daring plaids
-Berets, “beanies,” and boyish caps are made for her
-“Schoolgirl” clothes become her even when she well past schoolgirl age
-Like dirndls with big bright patterns on them, which she frequently supplements with a dainty little baby blouse frilled at the neck and at the edges of the little puffed sleeves
-In the country, you may come upon her racing her “bike” at breakneck speed, blue jeans rolled up to the knees, heavy socks crammed into well worn moccasins, shirt tail out, and log bob flying in the breeze
-But at night, like as not, she will float upon the scene a veritable fairy queen in a billowing frock of pastel tulle with a chaplet of flowers upon her head

Pick up Bonomo Original Hollywood Beauty and Charm at Vintage Makeup Guides.

Previously: The Outdoor Woman
Next: The Sophisticate

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Bonomo: The Outdoor Woman

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Source
THE OUTDOOR WOMAN

Prototype
Katharine Hepburn

Personality
-May be anything from a wood nymph to a college champion
-Is in her element out of doors
-Slings a mean ball at tennis, but that is the only mean thing about her
-An expert at most games, but a swell loser
-A good companion as well as a good sport and has hosts of friends of both sexes
-Intelligent and well informed with a wide scope of interests
-…But too good-natured to be competitive
-Her disposition is 1A
-Invariably has an inseparable canine friend
-Views on life, marriage, and men are sane and satisfactory
-Respects her body and takes care of it
-Likes an effect of spaciousness in her home… windows with wide vistas and polished floors with warm rugs scattered over them… and flowers everywhere
-One of God’s best gifts to the 20th century

Physical Characteristics
-May be as slender as Katharine Hepburn or as lusciously developed as Betty Grable
-Her voice is pitched low, but is not “throaty”
-Has the build for slacks and sweaters
-Usually heavily tanned

Clothes
-At her best in sports clothes
-Looks wonderful in tweeds, which need not, however, be of the mannish type but may be in lovely pastel tones of blues, rose, or gold.
-Wears slacks and sweaters indoors and out
-Many of her most attractive clothes are white (looks good due to her tan)
-Can wear a white evening gown to perfection, and in a white tennis frock or a dead white bathing suit she is a knockout
-Will have a well-cut, professionally made riding habit even if she has to concoct every other garment in her wardrobe with her own fair hands
-Her riding clothes will be strictly conventional in type, and all eccentricity in this kind of apparel she rejects with scorn
-She will be the pink of perfection when she goes for a canter, boots polished to within an inch of their lives, every hair of her head under control
-Likes cottons because they are crisp and tubbable (note: I think this means washable), and looks wonderful in them
-On warm days, wears a tailored suit of striped seersucker or a cotton plaid with a fresh blouse and a trim little hat to town… cool, competent, and refreshing to behold amid the hordes of wilted femininity
-Her preference for cotton extends even to her underthings and evening clothes
-Will have simple lingerie of lovely pale-toned batiste with a smartly done initial in a contrasting color
-Pique and organdy evening frocks are the delight of her heart and infinitely becoming to her type
-As a rule, she prefers a little precious jewelry to a lot of imitation stuff
-Strange to say, pearls are often her most flattering stone

Pick up Bonomo Original Hollywood Beauty and Charm at Vintage Makeup Guides.

Previously: The Exotic Woman
Next: The Gamine

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Do We Sell Ourselves Short?

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As I’ve written about before, I have a lot of success finding the design elements I prefer in the athletic wear department: wilder patterns, more interesting details, etc.

I went to the Nike store the other day and picked up two things, One is a windbreaker that I won’t be able to wear for a few months, but that definitely fills the raincoat-sized hole in my wardrobe.

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Nike Sportswear Bonded Women’s Parka

The color is a great fit for DA, falling between the medium and dark olive green on the 7 strip on the classic fan, for people keeping score at home. And the asymmetry and angles make it a good fit for FG.

I went to the Nike store specifically to pick up that parka, but I couldn’t help also getting something else, a sweatshirt. I loved the pattern, and it is really soft. The length and boxiness make it a great piece for winter layering.

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Nike Sportswear Modern Women’s Crew

But of course, there is one glaring problem with it. It’s not a DA colorway at all. It definitely looks like some summer grays. I bought it cognizant of that fact. These colors don’t really do anything bad for my skin; they just don’t really do anything.

But we all know that color is really, really important, so I began to wonder, are we selling ourselves short by making exceptions for things that are okay in other ways, but just not our season? How bad is going outside of what you know is your best?

Part of the reason why this was on my mind is because lately, I’ve been watching a lot of the new Dressing Your Truth videos on Carol Tuttle’s Facebook page. DYT wasn’t a system I stuck with, but their new materials and palettes have intrigued me. They recently did a video series showing people in each type dressed in the wrong type, and the mention of how gray is strictly a Type 2 color in the Type 2 video got me thinking. DA would get a warm kind of gray, but gray is definitely a color that I tend to feel comfortable cheating with, even if it’s not DA gray exactly.

But this has made me wonder if I’m selling myself short. Black and gray aren’t terrible on me the way spring colors are, so I feel okay with cheating, or even dipping into the darker summer colors. But I know that they simply aren’t as good on me as a DA almost-black or one of my other neutrals. After spending several years in the color and style world, shouldn’t I be concentrating on having a wardrobe that only has Bests, no Just Okays? I should be in the mindset where every day, it is worth getting out of bed and putting on an outfit and doing my hair and makeup and accessorizing, and all of these things will be in harmony with me and present my best self. I haven’t gotten to that point yet. It’s not something I do even most days.

So while I will definitely wear this sweatshirt to death this fall and winter, because I still love it, I’m going to try to concentrate more on avoiding things that are the wrong color, and making an effort to find enough accessories so that my wardrobe is more complete. Going back to Dressing Your Truth, they suggest that people who are going through their course try doing full head-to-toe outfits in their type for 30 days, and I think I should probably try to do the same with my own amalgamation of style types and seasons. I identify with these types in theory, but I don’t always put forth the effort, in my closet or on my body, that I should–and that I deserve.

I did find on the Nike site that this particular sweatshirt also comes in that DA olive color, so I’ve ordered that too to put away for next year, when the one I have this season is worn out and I hopefully will have several months of dressing to my fullest under my belt.

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Nike Sportwear Women’s Crew

Do you always dress in full head-to-toe outfits appropriate for your lines and your season? Or are you more like me, where you want to do that, but you fall short?

Bonomo: The Exotic Woman

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THE EXOTIC WOMAN

Prototype
Ilona Massey

Personality
-Before assigning yourself to this role, consider what you are letting yourself in for
-Stars of stage and screen, to which the best examples belong, only have to sustain it for two hours
-A haunting air of mystery about her
-Seems to spend a great deal of time in the distant depths of her being
-Quite a gal, and when successful, simply mows ‘em down
-May do deadly work over a luncheon table but her big moments are at night
-A difficult role to maintain, but amusing to assume from time to time

Physical Characteristics
-Truly beautiful or aesthetically unusual looking
-Makes a wonderful fashion model and is a wow at a night club
-Tall, slender, and remote
-Eyes are an important part of the picture
-Moves slowly with languid grace

Clothes
-A very dramatic type that can go to great lengths with her clothes
-Her jewels may be as many as her purse can buy
-Has a strong sense of drama that expresses itself in her fashion
-Large drooping hats, diaphanous dresses of pale-toned chiffon and of lace as illusive as a cobweb create for her an aura of romance
-Classic drapery that falls in statuesque folds
-Illusive half-tones that make an artist reach for his palette
-One of the few types of women who can successfully wear old embroideries and brocades without looking “arty”
-May borrow many of her accessories from the past, such as antique beaded or jeweled bags, tiny spangled fans or hand-painted ones with which she stirs up clouds of fragrance from her draperies
-Perfume should be subtle and illusive, conjuring up images of strange tropical gardens or pungent Eastern bazaars
-May wear old jeweled lockets and rings and bracelets, elaborately set with real or imitation stones
-During the early hours of the day, wears flowing negligees heavy with patterned lace or embroidered housecoats in the tones on sees old paintings… Bronze, Titian red or deep, fragrant-looking violet

Pick up Bonomo Original Hollywood Beauty and Charm at Vintage Makeup Guides.

Previously: The Aristocrat
Next: The Outdoor Woman

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Workbook Update and Coming Soon

I just updated the workbook with some minor updates, and I’d like to also talk about what’s coming up next.

First, there is the Three Levels of Dress workbook. This will expand upon the Three Levels of Dress concept introduced in the first workbook, and will build upon the work you did in the first workbook. So the first workbook will be considered a prerequisite for this new one, and I will be making it available to people who purchased the first workbook before it’s available to the general public, and during that time it will also be available at a discounted price. So if you’re not in the Facebook group, please email me at hello at stylesyntax.com if you’re interested. While the first workbook focuses on wardrobe rebuilding, this one focuses on wardrobe planning, developing your personal style in a deeper way, and being prepared for any occasion that life might throw at you.

The second workbook I’m working on is a mini-workbook based on the “create your own archetype” exercise. I’ve found that people have the most difficult time with this, so I’m going to go into more detail about it and offer some extra advice and direction to help people get to the point where they have an archetype that is perfect for them.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments or email me at the address above.

Bonomo: The Aristocrat

joan_fontaine_1942
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THE ARISTOCRAT

Prototype
Joan Fontaine

Personality
-Of distinguished taste and mind
-May belong to any strata of society and live in any community
-Wealth, or the absence thereof, in no way affects her status
-Scrupulously careful about keeping her engagements and answering letters
-Often her handwriting is exaggeratedly large and angular
-Goes to great lengths to be courteous to those who serve her, both in shops and in her home
-Expects a great deal of others and herself
-Is a good citizen, and as a rule, a good, though severe, mother

Physical Characteristics
-May be slender or substantially stately
-Has good skin and beautifully cared for hair
-Coiffure shows the effects of professional fingers but is not severely sleek
-Is never spectacular, but is obviously and impressively “a lady”
-Speaks carefully in a modulated voice
-In extreme examples, there may be a slight affectation of speech

Clothes
-Clothes are almost a career
-Up on all the latest whims of fashion
-Outfits will often obtain their effectiveness from one arresting decorative motif
-Combines a trained taste in dress with daring originality
-Loves tailored clothes, often compensating for their simplicity in line with unusual color
-Hats are neat and super smart, with lines calculated to emphasize her interesting face
-Veils are close
-Abhors anything that does not stay put
-Never an undisciplined hair in her coiffure
-Prefers cocktail suits to dinner dresses
-When she does go all out for formality, that is likely to be exactly what happens
-Decollete will be as low as the law allows, and her jewels many and significant
-If they are real… wonderful! If not, no one will be the wiser

Pick up Bonomo Original Hollywood Beauty and Charm at Vintage Makeup Guides.

Previously: The Womanly Woman
Next: The Exotic Woman

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Bonomo: The Womanly Woman

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THE WOMANLY WOMAN

Prototype
Greer Garson

Personality
-100% feminine
-Takes the second role on the stage of life and stars in it
-Gentle, affectionate, and tender
-Home is the center of her interests, but not the circumfrence thereof
-First and foremost a wife and mother
-This is obvious from a casual glance, even when she is 16 years old
-Laughs readily and charmingly
-Fond of everything young: pigs, puppies, and babies–you will find a battered doll tucked away in her drawer until she can replace it with knitted booties
-No appeal to her sympathies, be it personal or civic, goes unheeded
-While she has her full quota of common sense, enjoys silly hats and sentimental novels
-Does not go in seriously for sports

Physical Characteristics
-Delightlyfully rounded facial features
-Lips with flower-like curves
-Voice is low with a lilting cadence

Clothes
-Femininity in clothes
-Soft materials: soft wools, silks and rayons that fall into caressing lines of their own accord
-Laces, flowered chiffons, and sprigged cottons are among her best textures
-Softly flattering tones; petal coloring and flower motifs are becoming
-Will prefer a brow-bouquet to a hat and will wear one whenever the occasion permits
-Loves fashion and wears new styles with grace and appreciation, but will likely look like the Womanly Woman next door
-Country clothes will be simple frocks of the spectator sports variety in lovely colors, worn with pearls (real or synthetic) and feminine white sandals.

Pick up Bonomo Original Hollywood Beauty and Charm at Vintage Makeup Guides.

Next: The Aristocrat

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