Peplum. Dart. Ruche. Epaulette. Appliqué. To the fashionable among us, these terms are simply part of the vernacular. To me, they sound like Greek. (To be clear, I don’t speak Greek. If you do, congratulations; you’re way ahead of the game.) Peplum is, in fact, a derivative of the Greek term meaning tunic or shawl. The rest are of French origin. Well, except for dart, which to me sounds more like a bar game than a type of fold sewn into fabric to create a three-dimensional shape. (Full disclosure: I had to Google that.)
In a fashion forward world, I’m your average, instinct-driven dilettante. Which leads me to question: how do those in the know know what they know, you know? Is it nature? Nurture? Both? For those of us lacking in fashion DNA, Which leads me to question: how do those in the know know what they know, you know?stylistic inclinations must be rooted somehow in life experience. It seems that the issue of style, left unexamined, crystallizes of its own accord during formative periods of our lives. We start down a path and, unless knocked off our feet or guided elsewhere, we remain on that path indefinitely. Sure, we all look back and cringe at the crimped side-ponytail in the bright turquoise scrunchy. Details come and go. But if you decided junior year of high school that you look best in flared pants and high-heeled boots, chances are you’ve avoided tapered legs and ballet flats for your entire adult life. You know what works best for your body and your style. You will not pander to the capricious winds of trendy change! Or so it has been in my experience.
I hail from the northeast, where it is acceptable to wear a lot of black. Black is easy. Black matches. You’ll often catch me in black ankle boots, black pants, and a black sweater – an ensemble that allows me to think very little and, sometimes, to disappear. The summer version of this is a chocolate brown cotton maxi dress I found years ago at a Target in rural Louisiana. What? It’s cute. Pair it with flip-flops and a straw hat, and boom. Comfy, easy, and allows me to vanish beneath the billowing, ankle-length fabric. You see, to my untrained eye, the line where, say, neon yellow and zebra print turned from couture to trashy was, for a long time, blurry. Very blurry. So to be safe, I stayed away from it entirely and dwelt, instead, in the land of radical simplicity.
Then came Trayce. As an actress, I have the privilege of working with some extraordinarily talented costume designers. Not until I am in the clothes do I feel fully realized as the character I’m playing. This should’ve been my first clue that in life, as in art, fashion holds tremendous power – power I had overlooked because of my own blissful ignorance. In the particular instance I’m thinking of, I play a bold and unselfconscious socialite – a woman wildly unlike myself. This character adores colors and prints. in life, as in art, fashion holds tremendous powerShe wears zigzag jumpsuits and jewel-toned capes and has money to burn. When I play her, I wear things I, myself, would never dream of wearing. Trayce Field, the costume designer for 2 Broke Girls and the genius behind these ensembles, has put me in tight leggings and faux fur vests, princess-worthy coat-dresses and multicolored prints, vintage treasures and more bangle bracelets than I ever thought my wrists could handle. A paisley print here, a cinched waist there, and all of it expertly tailored to fit my body. I owe much to Trayce, but for our purposes here I’ll try to sum it up in three short lessons: