How Much Drama Can You Handle?

When I took Psychology of Line and Design at UCLA years ago, the final quarter culminated our study with using what we had learned to create a specific outfit each week, complete with accessories.  One that I particularly remember was creating the most dramatic outfit that you could wear.

Drama can be achieved through color contrast, extension of line, or surprise.   Color contrast has been a dominant theme for designers for the past few seasons – color blocking, vivid prints and now, black and white.  Knowing what works for you and how to achieve your best dramatic style is the challenge.

Black and white creates the most dramatic look.   When I was thinking about drama for my project, black and white was not even a consideration. Even if I had a strong personality, my blonde hair and fair skin would never be able to carry off black and white.  Maybe powder blue and creamy white?  Not much drama there.

Stella McCartney has some great looks but pushes the envelope in some of her designs.  The black and white plaid jacket, striped shirt and white trousers are definitely dramatic.  Notice the focus:  the striped blouse is most dominant, the jacket second and the trousers third.  I think the print shoes are a distraction and would have chosen a solid.  This model has strong coloring so she is not lost with the color contrast.  Also, her face has some straight lines to support the stripes and plaid.  Had her face been all soft, rounded lines, it would not have worked.

Oscar de la Renta usually achieves the latest styles without the extremes of many other designers.  Using this season’s emerald green has a good bit of drama in color combination.  The print is dramatic and this dress has cutouts at the neck and skirt bottom for added dramatic detail.  I love using this bolero to stabilize the print or it could have been really busy looking.  This look will need someone with presence to wear it.  Accenting with earrings only is great and I like that the model’s hair is pulled back so that it does not interfere with all of the design.

The leopard is also a Stella McCartney and definitely pushes the envelope.  The print is a force of its own.  No soft blended shades, this leopard.  Your attention is focused on the excessive drama of the print and the model is just an afterthought.   Using any one of these pieces, shoes included, and pairing it with a solid from the print for everything else would have achieved a better result.   For the gentle person who can’t pull off a lot of drama with color contrast, how about doing the whole look in a solid color or tone-on-tone of one color and popping it with the shoes.  Fun and something even you can pull off!

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