Sophia Says: True Style & Shopping Smart

Welcome to the next installment of our Sophia Says Series, featuring musings, tips and tricks from Sophia Loren's book Women & Beauty. Today you shall be treated with Loren's lessons on how to look good and shop well.

On how she made do as a struggling starlet with little money for clothes:
In order to have something to wear in those early days in Rome, something that would cost practically nothing and could be worn all day long and into evening, and on every sort of occasion, I took my clothes, my navy skirt and white blouse, and dyed them black. Even my handkerchief became black. It was the only way I could think of to provide a versatile wardrobe at no cost. And it worked. I could go anywhere in my black clothes, and the simplicity of my appearance was very elegant. Even when I was surrounded by women in expensive, colorful dresses, I always felt comfortable in my black outfit.

On building a wardrobe:
If I could give you one piece of advice about fashion it would be to forget the fantasy of the limitless closet and adopt instead the idea of the small but perfect wardrobe.

Every woman has had that dark night of the fashion soul when she stands in front of her closet and cries to the heavens, "I haven't a thing to wear!" In my experience, it is women with closets bulging with clothes who most often face this dilemma. What makes the despair more powerful is that it is deepened by frustration and guilt. For it means that you have shopped much but not wisely.

On the concept of "the elegant uniform":
This for me is an outfit that looks good, is simple and comfortable, and can be worn at any time. Perhaps that dyed black ensemble I wore as a girl was the beginning of a lifelong habit!

My favorite elegant uniform begins with a pair of well-tailored black slacks...When I find slacks that I really like I buy two or three pairs.

And, finally, Sophia's 4 favorite things to consider when shopping for clothes:

1. Quality Quality does not mean a garment must be expensive. It means that the fabric, the cut, the construction, the color and the line should be as good as you can afford. Before you buy something, check the seams, make sure the patterns match and that the fabric has a "feel" you like. Clothing that is poorly made, of inferior material, no matter how expensive, will not flatter you and will not last.

2. Life-style Spend your fashion budget where you spend your time: if you are in the office most of the week, then office clothing should take the lion's share of your clothes budget. Many women fall into the trap of spending a great deal of money on an evening or "dress up" wardrobe that they wear only a few hours a month or even a year.

3. Color Once you find the colors that flatter you, stick with them. Of course, you will want to experiment with new ones and try different shades as accents.  But it is so convenient, once you know what palette suits you, to choose all your clothes in those colors. Not only will you save time on shopping and avoid making errors, but you will find there is more harmony in your wardrobe.

4. Self-expression Self-expression is very much connected with style. It is your own way of showing the world what is unique about you.


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