Fashion Sense Requires All Your Senses

Rita Richardson

Posted on April 16 2019

I absolutely HATE those news flashes that come up on my phone!  I hear that little “ding” and I think, “What now?”  Yesterday was a series of “dings” telling the world that the beautiful and iconic cathedral Notre Dame was in flames. 


 As I watched the hours of video on the news showing that gorgeous structure---an engineering and aesthetic marvel---giving itself to those flames I started remembering the many trips I’ve taken to Paris to shop for girls fashion trends for the coming season.  The center spire of Notre Dame was a landmark and it always helped me find my way no matter how lost or turned around I’d be looking for some boutique that might just have the best cute girls clothes.


One of my favorite movies is A Devil Wears Prada.  Of course, Meryl Streep steals the show but there is one scene with Stanley Tucci and Anne Hathaway where Stanley Tucci’s character is sharing news about starting his own business.  He’s living for the day he’ll be able to step out of the insane, harried and impossible life working for a boss that demands 24/7 commitment without regard to the people around her.   He says with longing, “I’ll actually be able to come to Paris and SEE Paris”.   


 That’s the dream….to travel for work and be able to enjoy the place that work takes you.


Balance.  A wonderful concept but it can be very difficult to put into action but not impossible with a little effort and some planning.


 The fashion world is fast-paced and requires being able to have almost bionic vision to scan every item and somehow in a few days be able to filter that information and make decisions to invest thousands or even millions of dollars on styles that will be in the next line you design.  There’s a ton of pressure to absorb, filter then create, and it leaves little time or desire to do any sight-seeing.

The problem with that mentality whether you’re traveling for work or working at your office is all work and no play makes Jack (and Jill) dull. 


The other problem that I always found was I did most of my shopping trips alone because it was expensive so my company would only pay for one merchandiser to go each season.  My days were intense.  Quick breakfast and then into the map.  When I was first going to Paris there were no smartphones with GPS…we had to do it the old-fashioned way…. a sturdy hotel map and a red marker.  I came prepared with research on the newest boutiques, tried and true department stores and an occasional flea market that was getting the edge on what the young fashionistas were putting together to create a new style that would translate to the cool kids in the States.


 What seemed like an exciting trip for someone looking in from the outside was drudgery for me.  I felt like some sci-fi designing robot scanning every rack with my laser beam eye.  It was the proverbial not seeing the forest for the trees.  I was missing “IT”.  Fashion is everywhere and if we focus on only one aspect then our eye will never develop as a true fashion eye.


 That’s when it hit me.  How can I possibly find beauty in the details when I was ignoring all the beauty around me?  My brain and my soul needed to be replenished in order to find that gear that enables creativity and inspiration.


I changed my ways. 


I started building my day and my precious map around all parts of the city---letting the sights, sounds and smells inspire me too.  Stopping at a café for a half an hour would be amazing---just watching the women, kids and men walking by was another dimension of trend shopping that would give me so much insight.  I also started scheduling trips to overlap with other buyers, designers and artists so that

I could tap into what was inspiring them so it was like getting a double or triple dose of inspiration.


 It doesn’t always have to be iconic places like Notre Dame or The Louvre.  It can be through anything that touches any one or all our senses.  I’ve been inspired at the Taco Truck in Oklahoma City as well as the sitting on the beach in California.


Balance is key. 


 Fashion design is a journey that requires a healthy mind, body and soul.  Allowing any one of those to get out of whack will diminish our ability to do our best work so soak up the world around you and you’ll be amazed at how you can’t stop the flow of creativity once all tanks are full.



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