Thursday, November 18, 2010


It's a little early to be thinking of New Year's resolutions, but I've already decided on mine. My inspiration was Hollywood costume designer and winner of eight Academy Awards, Edith Head.

Earlier this year, I read Edith's unintentionally hilarious 1967 book How to Dress for Success. This book includes chapters such as "How to Dress to Get a Man...and Keep Him," "How to Use Color Successfully," and "Nothing Succeeds like Success." It also includes some darling sketches. As out-dated as a lot of the material was, it made me think about my approach to dressing.

For me, I like dressing up and I like trying new things. In my teens and early twenties, I wore whatever I wanted and did not give a hoot what anyone else thought. As I've gotten older, I've learned some restraint, which I think is a good thing, but I've also taken the easy route too often. It's easy in the corporate business-casual workplace to just throw on a pair of pants and a sweater, especially when that is what so many of your co-workers are doing. But it's boring, and most of the time, it doesn't look good.

So, in 2011, I am going to ask myself "What Would Edith Head Wear?" as I get dressed each day.
For instance, let's say I am going to the market. In her book The Dress Doctor, Edith recommends, "Sport suit, day dress (not housedress) dress with jacket, or skirt with sweater or blouse and jacket + coat, if needed, + street shoes. Hat and gloves optional." Notice she did not say, "Yoga pants with tank top + hoodie + dingy old flats. Bra optional." Interesting.

If I am going to a cocktail party: "Cocktail suit, cocktail dress or dressmaker suit (black or dark for winter, pastels or prints for summer) + cocktail or dinner hat + gloves + dinner shoes. " Not, "Jeans + some sort of black top with cat hair on it + dingy old flats."

But Edith, what should I wear to a baseball game? "Sport dress, sport suit or skirt + sweater or sport blouse + comfortable shoes + hat or cap to shade face + gloves if you wish to protect hands from the sun." Hmmm, in this case I think I will stick to my "jeans + Twins T-shirt + baseball cap + foam finger." You have to show team spirit, and the foam finger can protect my hand from the sun.

Yes, Edith has some real lessons for us. And in 2011, I will try to make her proud.

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