Undressed

Flip that Wedge Upside Down

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hi Bella,


Welcome to the first day of Autumn and the beginning of Libra season. Libra is all about balance so it’s fitting (pun intended) that we explore another body shape and how best to create a more balanced look - or perhaps enhance it. 


This week we’re taking a look at the triangle silhouette. It’s the reverse of the wedge which was the broad shoulders and smaller waist. The triangle is a more common feminine shape - narrow shoulders and broader hips. If you’re not sure your body shape you can always refer back to the previous Undressed email on measurement. 


One of the beautiful things about the triangle shape is we begin to see more curves and voluptuous shapes. It’s categorically more feminine because we tend to think of motherhood with a wider base on which to give birth, carry babies on our hips and present a more grounded structure. I often think of Gaia as having a triangle shape when presented in the  form of a woman. 


I tended towards this body shape as a young woman and struggled with it a lot. My sister and friends were more rectangular in shape as well as models like Kate Moss were big at the time. It was challenging for me to embrace my shape and to see the beauty in curves. Thankfully now marketing and the industry is changing and we are seeing many more shapes on the runway and in advertising. I have also come to appreciate my own body and the way that it supports me at different stages of my life. No silhouette is better than another, it’s all in how we embrace it and express it. 


All that said, sometimes we want to create more of an hourglass shape and draw attention away from our hips and bring the eye upwards. Other times we may want to enhance our triangle shape and make the hips stand out. For both options we are going to do just about opposite of what was shared for the wedge shape. 


To create a balanced look for the triangle:


For the top half (you want to draw most of the attention here) -

  • Try horizontal stripes 
  • Wear big collars that expand latterly or a boat neck shape 
  • Try shoulder pads, angular shoulders, or big puffy sleeves
  • Use bright colors or bold patterns
  • Cropped jackets or shrugs to create a new line above the waist

For the lower half - 

  • Wear darker colors and minimal patterns
  • Try vertical lines if doing patterns or tux like stripes down the sides
  • Big back pockets 

If you want to enhance the triangle look, belt your pants and accentuate your waist. Look back on the previous email for the wedge and follow recommendations for the lower half. Think bright colors and bold patterns and fitted jeans. 


Keep playing and exploring your wardrobe as you embrace your shape and soak in the fall air. 


Until next time my friend...


Xoxo,


RM 



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Dressing for the Wedge Silhouette

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Lovely,


Here we are heading full steam into September. More fires in California with lots of wind have the air quality feeling very poor...Not unlike my state of mind at times. How are you feeling?


The thing that perks me up and energizes my day is thinking about what can be done differently in fashion and what I can do to help shift the narrative of not knowing what to wear or how to dress. For too long the industry has dictated what we should be wearing based on trends or advertising dollars, selling a dream that is rarely accessible for most women. And now, on top of being home most the day, it is hard to feel motivated or to even want to look through the closet. 


To assist with the ‘what to wear’ conundrum I have started this email series on body types and silhouettes so we can feel empowered wherever we choose to go shopping. This week’s focus is on the wedge or upside down triangle. I have listed the dates and topics below in case you want to dial in on your shape and skip the others. To determine your shape you can refer to the previous Undressed email on measurement. 



The wedge is defined by shoulders wider than the hips. This shape tends to be more top heavy with broader shoulders and tapering as you go down. To create a more balanced silhouette, i.e. more of a figure eight, it’s important to detract attention from the shoulders and chest and accentuate the waist and broaden the hips. 


To create a balanced look for the wedge:


For the top half -

  • No horizontal stripes 
  • Refrain from boat neck collars or any shape that expands latterly
  • No shoulder pads 
  • No bright colors or bold patterns
  • Wear neutrals or smaller patterned motifs
  • Long narrow lapels
  • Tops with some vertical lines or detailing that draws the attention downwards
  • Long accessories like scarves or necklaces or dangly earrings


For the lower half - 

  • Belt your waist, the wider the belt the better
  • Wear bright colors or bolder patterns
  • Try layering or wearing skirts that add volume
  • Ruffles below the waist
  • Small back pockets on jeans

It’s important to note that sometimes we want to create this look. It has a powerful energy to it and can sometimes be classified as masculine. Thus we tend to see a greater use of the shoulder pads in the 40s and 80s when women were going through a change with respect to their roles in society. 


So if wedge is your silhouette don’t be afraid to also play it up and accentuate the shoulders with colors and horizontal shapes to draw attention to the upper half of your body. See if you  notice a difference in how others relate to you. 


Have fun playing with this and seeing what you have in your closet that works best for you.


Till next time. 


Xoxo,


RM 



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How do you measure up?

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Bella!


How are you feeling? I’ve been oscillating between hopeful and angry and sometimes dumbfounded at the state of the world. The fires and hurricanes on top of it all feel like Mother Nature is screaming out too, perhaps clearing out for what’s to come. 


So much to rant on but I promised that this email will kick off the series on body shapes and how best to dress for you! 


The five main silhouettes I will focus on include: wedge, triangle, hourglass, round, and rectangle. 

Wedge: shoulder width is greater than hip width

Triangle: hip width is greater than shoulder width

Hourglass: hip and shoulder widths are equal, waist is 9-11 inches smaller

Round: waist width is greater than shoulder and hip width 

Rectangle: little or no waist indentation


In subsequent emails I will dive into these more in depth with recommendations on how to balance the look, but to begin we need to know which shape best fits our current height/weight distribution. 


Steps to determine your body shape:

  • Dress in something form fitting so you can see the shape of your body, preferably in dark colors.
  • Using a friend or a tripod take a full length picture of yourself against a contrasting background. Be sure to get feet and top of head and take the photo straight on. If taken from above or below the measurements can be skewed. 
  • Print image on 8.5x11 paper.
  • Measure shoulder, waist, and hip widths using a ruler.
  • Compare widths to silhouette descriptions above to determine your shape.

Bonus: take a side profile shot with your ‘normal’ posture. How clothing looks on us has a lot to do with how it hangs on our bodies so having a better understanding of your posture may also help to inform what works best on your shape. 


Remember that this information is meant to guide us and be a useful tool. We are not measuring to judge or criticize our bodies. We are all beautifully unique. By knowing our silhouette we can choose what we want to draw attention to and what we want to minimize. Like much of art, fashion is how we direct the eye. 


Next up...the wedge. 


Until then, give yourself a hug and embrace the body you’re in! 


XOXO,


RM



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What she said

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello my friend,


My socially distant friend. How are you holding up? I pray you are healthy and your family too. This pandemic is a game changer in so many ways. 


There’s so much to say about this time and what it means for everyone. Both now and in the foreseeable future. It’s overwhelming. And yet I am grateful too. Not just for my health but for the opportunity to start anew...globally. We have a chance to make the world a better place. 


Just take a look at the fashion industry. Bloated and wasteful they’re now having to look at their inventory and reassess sales. There are countries that were dependent on the fashion industry to survive. Some brands are refusing to pay for work done, leaving the countries even more devastated. The silver lining may be a chance to restructure the industry to being more resourceful and regenerative. Somehow. There are enough creative people out there to problem solve...we just can’t go back to business as usual. Somehow we have to fight back.


At least that’s what I believe. 


And more. I’ve started my third #the100dayproject series called Don’t Read My Lips. I’m posting a daily pic of me with a silk scarf around my mouth and sharing my thoughts and experience of this time. Would love for you to tune in and add to the conversation. That’s what it’s really meant to be...a conversation. 


All the scarves in the photos are from the shop. I’m donating $5 for each one purchased towards those in need from COVID. I’m looking for a good organization to help facilitate this so please lmk if you have any leads. Still a few details to work out but #the100dayproject started on the 7th so we’re off and running!


Glad to be connected through all this. Grateful to have community and others who care. We’re going to need each other, probably now more than ever. 


Xoxo,


RM

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A new virtual reality

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Beautiful,


Trusting you’re safe and well amongst this change. I was thinking about how I would’ve been preparing to go to LA this weekend for a pop-up market. How I’d probably be feeling a bit frantic attempting to juggle too many things but wanting to do it all. And now I’m embracing a quietness and a completely different routine.


It’s challenging sometimes to not get caught up in the fear loop of what will happen next. I’m meant to be doing a business plan for one of my classes and assessing current industry trends and all I can think of is, “who cares?” Why is the past relevant for what is coming next? Albeit, some of it is. History is determined to repeat itself so we must be aware of what was but we are definitely in uncharted territory right now. This thought is both frightening and wonderful. I’m choosing to stay in the wonderful camp. 


I’m choosing to stay focused on myself and my home. Creating a safe, loving, space for my family and myself to reside in for a while. Working on my thoughts and being aware of who I want to be in this moment and beyond. Trusting that as I get to know my shadows and I learn to embrace the inevitable of being human, that all is well. That from this place I can serve and be healthy and happy. That I can be in a place of strength and peace to help build a new world. Because we’ll need to. 


And yes, it’s been a daily practice of breath and forgiveness. Of finding comfort in the little things and gratitude for all things. Thankful for my connection with you and a world outside of just my home. It’s a balance. 


And I laugh because last email I was talking about the importance of comfortable and quality loungewear and here we are...spending most of our time in pjs or some version. So if you’re looking for some ‘new’ cozy clothes I’ve added an automatic 20% discount to all loungewear items till the end of April. I’ll be adding a few more over the next couple weeks too so come back and visit. 


Sending you well wishes and virtual hugs. 


XOXO,


RM 

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Who’s sleeping with who?

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Darling!


How are you? Surviving this transitional time with the time change and full moon energy? 


James has been away for a few weeks, mostly in India working on collaborations and potential health care changes. It’s exciting but not without its challenges at home, especially since it’s also midterm time. 


When either one of us is away Kaliana moves into our bed. Neither of us put up much of a fight. A king size bed is awfully big even with our maltipoo who likes to take up at least half the space. And this might be a bit TMI but I typically sleep naked, so Kaliana has taken to this too when she sleeps with me. 


This new ritual has me thinking a lot about the textiles used in nightclothes and sleepwear. When thrifting I hunt mostly for silks which can be found in the pajama section. What I notice is that the majority of sleepwear is polyester. It’s been made to look a lot like silk and even feel like silk but the properties of this textile are much different. 


As a natural fiber silk likes water and will absorb moisture. A great quality for sleeping. I tend to wear my birthday suit because I get too hot at night. Polyester also attracts oil and will hold bacterial odor. Not so great. Yes, it’s cheaper and it may look lovely, but you may want to rethink it if it’s your go to for lounge or sleepwear. 


If you have the time and inclination you can find silk fairly easily at thrift stores. Or for a curated selection you can check out the loungewear collection on my website. Even if you’re like me and prefer nudity at bedtime, silk is great to put on at the end of the day or when you first wake up and haven’t sorted out what to wear. It feels amazing and can be worn frequently without washing. And it’s great for sleepovers or for a little va va voom.


 XOXO,


RM



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Where freedom reigns

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Bella!


Happy Spring! At least it is here in Sacramento. We had such a mild winter and now the trees are all in bloom and I’m watching the blossoms float in the light breeze. It’s beautiful!


Speaking of beauty, I missed last week’s email because I was in Uvita, Costa Rica for the Envision Festival. Not sure if you’ve heard of it before but it’s a festival in the jungle by the sea. Absolutely magical! This was their 10th year and I can definitely see us coming back. The people, the location, the food, the ease...all made it a wonderful place to feel safe and free to express myself and have Kaliana running around with other kids.


This freedom of self-expression is one of the main reasons I love festivals. It’s about the only place where men and women can dress however they please, in as little or as many clothes as they’d like. Colors or neutrals, feathers and beads, shoes or bare feet - the jungle takes it all. I am so inspired by the way others express themselves and the combinations of patterns and textures. How different would life be if we felt this free all the time?


Besides the fashion the food was wonderful and all compostable outside of the reusable plates and cups that were brought to the Dishoteck for cleaning. The stages were made from driftwood and reclaimed items off the beach. Only biodegradable glitter was used and no one left a trail of trash behind them. The sustainability and creativity of the festival was inspiring and a real tribute to the values and goals of this next wave of influencers, ie all of us. 


In the spirit of the festival season I am working on African print kimonos, festive hats, and visors. I’ll have some for sale at the next pop up which will be in LA on March 28th. See pic below for details. Hope you can make it if you’re in the area.


On that note I am working on the website to showcase where I’ll be each month. So stay tuned for more!


Big love and find ways to express yourself fully this season!


Xo,


RM


https://www.eventbrite.com/e/venice-beach-dressing-rm-pop-up-tickets-97209180275

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They’re sizing you up

By Rachel Monique Maskell

Hello Bella!


How are things? School is back in session so my world is speeding up again with homework, projects and ideas. 


One recent project I’m working on for Dressing RM is a February campaign called, “How do you show your love?” For this I styled five friends with things from the shop, photographed them and asked them to answer the question above. These images will be released on Instagram and website starting next week. 


It was a wonderful experience and incredibly insightful when it came to dressing them. I asked everyone to send me measurements so I could sort through my inventory and put together 3-4 outfits for the shoot. And here’s what I found…

No two women were alike. Surprise! Not. 


I asked for measurements because I know the labels on clothes means little when it comes to fit. A size is simply a number based on a ‘standard’ model fit. And even this means nothing since now we have vanity sizing. But when it comes to dressing, It’s not about size, it’s about the shape of our bodies.


For years women have been conditioned to believe that their size dictates their worth, whether big or small. Women have attempted to fit their individual body shapes into mass produced sizes further adding to our distortion and our sense of self worth. But we don’t have to buy into that model, pun intended, anymore. We can use sizing as a general chart for what may fit us, but knowing your measurements and your body shape will help you find clothes that enhance your natural beauty and individuality. 


It’s my goal to share more information on this topic over time. I’d like to offer measuring tips and guidelines, garment recommendations based on face and body shape, and fabrics that compliment our personality and look. This will be an ongoing project so in the meantime if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Or if there are specific tips you’re interested in let me know here too. I’m sure others are wondering the same thing. 


So the next time you go shopping, whether online or in person, remember that clothes are mass produced, but you are an individual...celebrate it. 


Big love, 


RM

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