Jay Calderin

Reflections on the ideas behind fashion that place it at the center of my life’s work.

Just right. Fashion that fits your personal brand.

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The fundamental function of fashion is to cover up our nakedness, protecting ourselves from the elements. That definition only applies to the fact of the garment, not the design or how an overall look is put together. This is where the hierarchy of who wears what and why becomes of importance. The designer, society and the wearer all enter into an agreement about what has value, and what doesn’t at any given point in time. Thanks to the democratization of fashion, today’s consumer can tap into the market on their terms and within their budget.


Discount retailers like Target, Marshalls, and Kohl’s provide designer labels for less. Some stores specialize in fast fashion – turning around the latest trends quickly and at affordable prices. H&M is known for being able to bring the runway to retail at record speeds. For both these business models, partnerships with high-end designers add even more caché to shopping on a budget. Designer outlets and “sample sale” style websites like Gilt Groupe (gilt.com) and Rue La La (ruelala.com) are yet another frontier for hunting down bargains. Thanks to technology, quality is now expected at any price point, so it is often the fit that betrays the origins of an ensemble. Finding a great tailor or seamstress is one way to transform economical off the rack purchases into fashion that suggests high-end if only because they fit like a glove.


Most style savvy fashion devotees understand that investment pieces are essential when putting together a strong fashion statement. For both men and women, quality shoes are the first step. Regardless of the category, you don’t want to get tripped up on trendy cuts and colors which are more often than not, fleeting. The best return on investment will usually involve variations on the tried and true classics that offer a solid foundation for any look.


Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel is credited with saying that we should always “take one thing off before you leave the house.” One of the most obvious missteps when it comes to dressing on a budget is gilding the lily. Accessorizing may seem like a smart way of disguising the caliber of your couture, but overcompensating will undermine your good intentions every time. Trying too hard can be a signal to people that you’re hiding something.


In your professional life, there is nothing wrong with looking your best and dressing for success, but it is important to consider the environment in which you and your clothes will be interacting with others. Does your wardrobe reflect the job you’re doing? Does it upstage upper management? Does it define you as an employee versus having the quality of the work you’re doing do that?


Do blondes really have more fun? Does a designer label actually make a difference? The grass always seems greener when we are reflecting on how the “other half” lives. Walking a mile in their shoes while carrying their bag, is easier with web-based rental services like rentmeahandbag.com, renttherunway.com, bagborroworsteal.com and montanaradar.com. They provide low overhead and high impact alternatives that allow you to keep up with the Joneses – or the Kardashians.


Your personal life is a great platform for experimenting with your wardrobe, as well as beauty and grooming regimes. Friends and family may be inclined to be supportive of your choices, but they will also be more apt to be honest with you if you’ve gone off the reservation. You’ll know who has your best interest at heart.


Goldilocks knew when it was just right, but it was only after having tested all of her options. After you’ve dipped your toe into many of the fashion pools, you’ll have a better insight into what is comfortable, empowering and relevant about your wardrobe. Not to mention gaining a better appreciation for how and why people express themselves a certain way through clothing. A little fashion empathy goes a long way once we move past our clothes speaking for us, and we start to really communicate on a deeper level.


Written by Jay Calderin for Color Magazine/April 2011


Written by jaycalderin

April 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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