I love history & have 2 fave fashion periods: the flapper era, which is around late 1910s & 1920s. And I love, love, love the bob haircuts from that era & have, at times, worn exactly the same cut. With my black, dead straight, fine hair it was a perfect haircut. And the clothes! Those exquisite straight up & down dresses, often with beautiful lace, which I adore. I do not have curves, no matter what my weight, & I suit straight up & down clothes. And the shoes: mary janes, my fave ever shoe!
The other fashion period that I love is the world war 2 era. So glamorous, despite what was happening. I just love the way that Jerry Hall, model & actress, now almost 60, has emulated, most of her adult life, the "slightly slutty" , as she calls it, look of that era of american film stars, & with her Veronica Lake hairdo, eyeliner, & lipstick.
Why were women so concerned about their appearance in such hard times? It is a fact of life: when money is harder to come by for society: we tend to dress more expensively/elegantly/etc. Plus in those times, it was great for morale to dress up & go out when you weren't working in the factories. Winston Churchill encouraged it for morale reasons, as well as the motto: "keep calm & carry on". After world war 2, The Red Cross did mass food drops over war ravaged Europe. They found that the women there wanted lipstick! And it has also been found, that as we start to feel better, after hardship, we want to look better.
There are points to the above stories: find a "look" that you love, as Jerry did, & take elements of it that appeal to you, into how you look. With the world war 2 story: I wasn't talking about people who were being bombed, starved, persecuted here, I was really thinking of the everyday "Allied" countries of America & Great Britain, although Great Britain was definitely bombed repeatedly, & food was scarce. The other points I was making there were: when times are tough, we want to look, & thereby feel, better. When we start to come out of great difficulties, we start to make ourselves look better. And, if others in hardship, could adopt the motto of "keep calm & carry on"....then so can we. Even if it takes a while to get there.
How we want to look, this shows "who we are", & defines our personal style. It's not about money, & can be done without a lot of money. Have a look at magazines, the internet, to see what appeals. There will be a theme here. If you can't afford magazines & the internet, go to the public library. They are free there.
Now go & try those clothes, shoes, etc on. Some of these clothes might not be right for now, you might need to lose some weight, or tone up. They might not suit your body shape. I just love black lace full shirts, with velvety jackets in burgundy, purple or dark blue, ruffled blouses, & knee high, fitted, high heel, boots. And long curly hair. The Stevie Nicks look. That whole outfit, unfortunately, would look awful on me, I am the wrong shape for it. Sadly. But I could have a tailored velvety jacket, I could do some lace as a collar & cuffs. In other words....elements of things that I love. And anyone can do this: just take bits & add them, in a manner that suits you, to your clothes.
If you don't have much money, rummage around op-shops & recycle shops, try on similar clothes to the more expensive clothes that you like. Learn what suits you, by experience. Be fussy. Act as if every dollar has to count, as it's so easy to buy heaps of junk in these shops.
I have found that moving into how you really would like to look, & also finding out what makes us look our best....it all takes time. Once you start trying to find your own personal style, it will change over time, until you find your niche.
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