Category: Style

Costuming: Not Just for Halloween Anymore


Have you ever dressed up as a princess? A pirate? A detective? Have you left that behind, a distant memory of childhood play? Do you revive this imaginative activity, but only on Halloween?

Let me invite you to invoke the power of costume to infuse your creative dreams.

Now, are you sitting there saying, “Nuh-uh, Jamie! I am not dressing up as a fairy.”

Or are you wondering, “Do I get to wear wings?”

What if everything in your closet was imbued with magical properties? What if that skirt invoked your inner dancer? What if those sunglasses turned you into a starlet? What if that jaunty hat transformed you into a journalist?

They can.

With a background in theatre, I know the power of costume. A hoop skirt and sensible shoes brings out very different aspects of your personality than feathers and fishnets. What we put on daily has a similar effect, so why not get dressed with intention? This isn’t about putting on something to mask the inner you or to pretend to be something you’re not. It’s about how our clothes can bring out different aspects of who we truly are.

When I started teaching Nia, a barefoot practice grounded in the joy of movement, I thought about the qualities of my “inner Nia teacher.” Who did I want to be for my class? I remembered the power and poise of my dance teacher. I thought of the precision and humour of my Nia trainer. I thought of my own enthusiasm and commitment to helping people be the star they are. These thoughts led me to outfits ranging from sassy T’s to sequins. What fun!

If you imagine who you are becoming, who you are wanting to grow into, how can some key costume changes support you? It doesn’t have to be an entire wardrobe. Brilliant and influential theatre director Bertolt Brecht insisted that a costume could be simply one evocative piece, but it must be the perfect piece.

Which one item would bolster your inner “writer” or “entrepreneur” or “artist”?

Don’t rely on what’s already in your wardrobe. This part of you may not have shown up yet. Take yourself out costume shopping, even if it’s just to look and imagine. Explore magazines. Make an inspiration board. Take yourself to second-hand and vintage stores. Try on an outrageous amount of options. You never know what you’re going to slip into and think, “Yes! This is it!” (I once bought a pair of what I called “witch’s disco boots” Who knew?) Look beyond the stereotypes to find something that has deep, personal resonance for you. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else. It simply has to invite the expression of this fledgling part of you.

You are the designer of your own life – and that includes the costuming!


Lessons I’ve Learned from My First Capsule Wardrobe

At the beginning of June, I came across this idea of creating a capsule wardrobe, a small collection of clothing items designed to serve all your needs for the season. As someone who has always loved the self-expression of style, I was surprised that this concept caught and held my attention so fiercely. Wouldn’t this minimalist approach be limiting? Wouldn’t I get bored? Wouldn’t the BtS audience get bored! Still, I couldn’t quite shake the thought that there was something in it for me and so I decided to give it a go this summer. Here’s what I learned.

Creating a Capsule Wardrobe Raised My Standards

When you are only going to have x-amount of shirts/pants/sweaters in your wardrobe, you want every one to be something you love and enjoy wearing. All sorts of mediocre, well-worn clothes I’ve kept in my drawers for ages didn’t make the cut. I realized that if I didn’t choose them this season, how likely was I to choose them the next? Suddenly, it was easy to let go.

The Simplicity of the Capsule Wardrobe Put Me at Ease

No more decision fatigue! No more sifting through piles of clothes in overstuffed drawers. No more looking for a shirt that will match those pants and vice versa. If something was in my dresser or my closet, I knew it fit, was in a good state of repair and worked with something else that was close by.

I was also surprised by how much the spaciousness in my storage put my energy at ease. There was room for my clothes – and for me – to breathe!

It’s Not Forever! This Capsule Is Just for a Season

It was important to me that I was creating a capsule for a season, not forever! It wasn’t about getting down to the bare bones or making irrevocable decisions about the way I dress. I didn’t have to find the one perfect pair of pants that would last a lifetime or donate everything that wasn’t chosen right now. If I loved something but it didn’t go with my vision for the season, great! I put it away like a treasure to be discovered next time.  If I wanted to experiment, great! I could play with something for a season and if it wasn’t for me, I could let it go for the next.

A Capsule Wardrobe Travels Well

To end off our summer and celebrate Justin’s birthday, we went on a three-day trip to the Niagara region. It was amazingly easy to pack. Everything I had in my seasonal capsule worked well together and was ready to go in a snap!

My Capsule Wardrobe Gave Me Clarity

Living with my choices helped me refine them. Even within my limited selection, I could see what I went for again and again and what I never reached for. This experience has helped me get even clearer on what I love and what works for me.

I’m clear that a base of white, black and grey with the addition of seasonal colours works for me and I love it. I’m clear that I will only wear things I can move in and that accessories are a priority. I’m clear that though I love me a whole lot of classic, I enjoy at least a little something that’s “on trend.” I’m clear that for me, sparkle is an essential part of everyday living.

Clarity Is a Money-Saver

I discovered that a capsule wardrobe saves you money beyond the simple fact of having less clothing. The biggest impact has come from keeping me and my finances focused on the right clothing! No more buying a bunch of stuff I don’t wear and then not having a budget for what I actually need. When you pull together everything you can from what you have, it becomes very clear what it’s time to invest in. Instead of spending on a dozen random shirts, I was clear that finding a good summer pant that would take me from work to adventures about town was what I needed.

And Yes… I Cheated

In the first couple of weeks of my summer capsule, I felt like wearing a shirt I hadn’t chosen. I dove into my “archives” and put it on. Immediately I fussed with it, not quite liking how it was sitting on me or how it worked with my pants. Aha! That’s why I didn’t choose it! Instead of proving the limitations of the capsule wardrobe, my little cheat reinforced my capsule choices and gave me the confidence to go further; without hesitation I donated the shirt.

Will I Do It Again?

A resounding yes! In fact, I’m in the midst of switching over to my fall capsule now. I’m starting with noting the structure of my summer wardrobe (i.e. how many pants, shirts, etc.) since it worked so well and letting that be a guide. I’m letting go of summer items I didn’t wear and I’m pulling out fall possibilities from what I already own. I’m getting curious about what’s inspiring me right now – the colours, the shapes, the mood – and paying attention to what I’ll be doing this season. I’ll also see what shows up  on my dreamboard. All of that will help guide my way as I design The Jamie Collection – Fall 2015!