A recipe for style: Student project brings fashion confidence to all - Worcester Telegram

' WORCESTER — Clark University senior Patricia F.W. DeCarvalho, 21, said she was always a wannabe fashionista. But when the former South High Community School student was diagnosed with lymphedema at age 16, which caused her right leg to swell to twice the size of her left, she said, "I kind of got in a rut. I wanted to disguise it."

She wore a lot of long dresses and pants.

Last year, a fellow student, Hannah L. Martin, 21, of Auburn, Maine, saw Ms. DeCarvalho in class and immediately noticed her sense of style. Ms. Martin asked to photograph Ms. DeCarvalho for her fashion blog, "The Fashion Cookbook"

"I was apprehensive. I'd show my imperfection to the entire world," Ms. DeCarvalho said in an interview.

Anxious as she was, she wanted to send a positive message. For her first photo shoot she modeled denim-shorts overalls, exposing her full-length compression stocking proudly.

Ms. DeCarvalho, a management major, and Ms. Martin, a communications and culture major, immediately teamed up on The Fashion Cookbook. They received a grant for their LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) academic project and have expanded from the blog to a business including a full-service fashion and lifestyle guide, offering an image-consulting service, too.

They want to make fashion accessible and empowering to all.

The two entered the The Fashion Cookbook last semester in Clark's U-Reka: Big Idea Contest and won third place, earning a $1,000 prize.

Ms. DeCarvalho also spoke about her experience with lymphedema and fashion in an oratorical contest at Clark, placing third and receiving $150.

According to Ms. Martin and Ms. DeCarvalho, everybody faces fashion fears. Their tip is to experiment and build confidence in one's own style.

"I think people base it on the magazines. They think, 'That will never be me,'" Ms. Martin said. "I think people are their biggest enemy, thinking they can't pull it off. If you put yourself out a little more and are OK with that, it will work for you."

Ms. Martin took that leap as a 15-year-old living in Maine, where she said a lot of people looked and dressed the same.

"I wanted to be part of being expressive. I didn't think I could do it until I left," she said.

She started to break out of the mold by wearing harem pants instead of the de rigeur Victoria's Secret sweatpants with "Pink" emblazoned on the bottom.

Ms. Martin created the Fashion Cookbook blog to capture the "comfy but chic" experience.

The Fashion Cookbook features photos, ingredients and tips to help people express their look.

And unlike the pages of high-fashion glossies, many of the pieces are obtained from thrift shops — particularly the Clark Community Thrift Store where Ms. Martin interned — or low-cost retailers such as Target and H&M.

The message is that anyone can be fashionable, regardless of age, shape, income, ethnicity or physical challenge.

Even geography and climate shouldn't be a fashion barrier, according to Ms. Martin and Ms. DeCarvalho.

In a recent blog post, Ms. Martin is featured wearing a navy blue puffer vest, heather blue sweater and hot pink rain boots.

"It was very New England but she had her own take on it," Ms. DeCarvalho said.

Is there such thing as a Worcester style?

Ms. DeCarvalho said, "I think it depends on where you are. Worcester is very diverse, and I think that affects it."

She said, for example, that neighborhoods around the College of the Holy Cross and Assumption College tend to have a preppy look, while Main South highlights urban chic, with more Hip Hop and sneakers.

Ms. Martin and Ms. DeCarvalho, who both plan to complete a master's degree program related to their interests at Clark next year, recently launched an image-consulting business to take people step-by-step through personal styling.

Their first client, and guinea pig, was their project mentor Shari Worthington, an adjunct marketing professor and entrepreneur in residence.

The students began with a visit to Ms. Worthington's home and a chance to rummage through her closet, pulling together pieces that worked and giving honest appraisals of outfits that should go to the recycling bin.

Ms. Worthington, 56, described her style to the students as conservative, like a librarian. But she said she wanted to be a sexy librarian.

Operation Sexy Librarian was born.

The student consultants and Ms. Worthington spent an afternoon shopping at one of her favorite stores, Lane Bryant at the Shoppes at Blackstone Valley, and with the help of discount coupons from the store's staff — who excitedly watched the transformation — Ms. Worthington walked out with an armful of clothes.

"I could really be less conservative than I thought I could be. That was eye-opening to me," Ms. Worthington said. "I developed confidence I hadn't had in a long time."

Ms. DeCarvalho and Ms. Martin also took clothes Ms. Worthington loved to wear, like sweaters, and encouraged her to try skinny belts with them to bring out her shape.

"They found ways for me to jazz them up a bit so they don't look so frumpy," she said.

The consulting wrapped up with a third visit and a "virtual fashion cookbook" collage and Pinterest social media board showing her personal fashion ingredients.

The two students plan to fine-tune their business for at least another year, diversifying their audience, adding video to the blog and possibly partnering with area thrift stores to take people virtual "thrifting."

Ms. DeCarvalho said she's more focused on the operations and image-consulting side, while Ms. Martin is the heart of the creative and blogging aspect.

Fashion is not just frivolous fluff, the women explained.

Research on "enclothed cognition," the subject of their Innovation and Entrepreneurship capstone project, found that research subjects dressed in lab coats paid more attention to a task than those not wearing the coat or who were told they were artists' coats.

"We're trying to convince everybody that what you wear is important," Ms. DeCarvalho said. "What you wear affects how you feel."

For a woman who used to hide her swollen leg under long clothes, that emerging confidence from expressing style was huge.

Contact Susan Spencer at susan.spencer@telegram.com. Follow her on Twitter @SusanSpencerTG.

via fashion - Google News http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&ct2=us&usg=AFQjCNFa9DOsbPFsSvUro_T1dajRTc_Fzw&clid=c3a7d30bb8a4878e06b80cf16b898331&ei=hC-iVOiVJeqtmAKWq4CADQ&url=http://www.telegram.com/article/20141229/NEWS/312299590/1116

0 意見: