How Not To Respond To Criticism


Butterick 6015

Has everyone heard about the Butterick 6015/St. Louis Fashion week kerfuffle by now? If not, I will give you a precis.

— St. Louis recently had a Fashion Week. (They sent me the release and a gazillion large jpgs. I don't really cover fashion shows, so I didn't post about it.)
— A blogger (who asked me not to use her name) did look at the photos, and noticed right away that one of the dresses was line-for-line a copy of Butterick 6015, aka the Walkaway Dress. See it here?

Butterick 6015 on the runway

— The blogger tries to find out who the designer was that submitted such an iconic dress to a fashion show.
— She finds the designer, Ashley Dayley, and talks with her. Ms. Dayley doesn't seem to think there's anything wrong with just making a dress from a vintage pattern and submitting it to a show.
— She posts all this on her blog. In her post, she gives Ms. Dayley the benefit of the doubt, calling her "young" and "enthusiastic".

Now here's where the story gets interesting — the last three comments on that blog, before the post was taken down, were from anonymous "friends" of the "designer", calling the blogger out for posting about this. They were so nasty that the blogger took down the post.

Dumb. Don't those "friends" know (or doesn't the "designer" know) that the best and ONLY thing to do when you've done something dumb is to take your lumps and own up? Why not say "I didn't know?" Why not say "I won't do it again?" Why not say (as hard as it is, through gritted teeth) "Thanks for letting me know?"

Instead they decided to wear their matching "I'm a Bully" t-shirts (which are probably pink, with sequins) and harass the person who had the temerity to call them on their misdeeds. The commenters, if they are the designer's friends, were just making her look MORE clueless. (If they're her enemies, they're doing a stand-up job.)

Now, I'm not saying that fashion doesn't tolerate knockoffs. (Victor Costa, anyone?) But a fashion show, especially one that was put on to feature "independent designers" is not the place for knockoffs; it's the place for original work.

The best part is the commenters saying that the original blogger didn't have the right to post the pictures of the show. So … let me get this straight: she can't post images that were widely distributed to bloggers just for that purpose, but "designers" can knock off old patterns and that's just fine?

The best way to fix this would be for Ms. Dayley to issue a formal letter of apology to the show's organizers and post it somewhere public online. Then at least the first hit for her might show her doing something thoughtful and grown-up instead of something clueless.

[On a happier note, Marge of Born Too Late Vintage is turning 49, and is offering 50% off shipping on all items in her store to US and international customers from April 18 up to and including April 24th. On everything: patterns, clothes, accessories … Use the code "49 and holding."]

0 thoughts on “How Not To Respond To Criticism

  1. Sarah, thank you for clearing that up, I agree that a bow and extra trim are not sufficient to make a design one’s own. I’ll do a search on the web for the Walkaway Dress (didn’t know it had a Name), but I will check back here to see if you post any links.Regards,Elle

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  2. To the original blogger:My heart goes out to you. I feel you did the right thing in both instances. Felicia, you sound like good people.bonnie-ann black asked a good question! I would answer mostly yes. To take pattern bashing (something I used to a lot when I was younger) to this level you really are creating an original garment. But I would not put my name to the result and call it my design (since all the pattern elements were really someone else’s work).

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  3. Elle, I made this dress, and mine looks exactly like this one when I’m wearing it (or it did before I altered the neckline). You can see my version here:Butterick 4790The fabric’s quite a bit different, of course. It’s hard to see how sewing a dress truly showcases “designer” skills. If this was allowed at this particular venue, there doesn’t seem to have been much point to the show. Merely sewing a dress doesn’t really prove much if you’re supposed to be a designer.

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  4. My name is Ashley Dayley and one of the Designers from AFV. Im writing in regards to these blogs that were created over a dress in our line. When the original blogger contacted me she asked if I used this pattern I said yes and was never in denial. As AFV we gave credit where credit was due with this pattern, when asked where the dress came from. We never claimed this dress as our own design. This whole blog situation got out of control and words were taken out of context. This fashion show was a junior show. Some of designers being their first time not even knowing where they were going to go after their first show casing. We were doing this line to beable to be creative and just do one of a kind pieces not manufacturing or mass producing. This all started from someone thinking and assuming that we claimed this as our own when from the begining I said yes I used this pattern. Sorry again, also make sure all the facts are straight and in in a row before accusing any individual. Thank you, Ashley Dayley

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  5. What an interesting situation. I’m glad to read that it has been resolved with dignity and grace. When it comes to our “communities”, it truly is smaller than you know. Recently, on my prop building site, there was an uproar with somebody stole images of one of our member’s work and called it his own. He was bomblasted, of course, but it shows how knowledgeable people are in any given field of interest. The net certainly spreads information faster than we know. Again, I’m glad this was resolved.-Kellie

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  6. Elle, I made the walkaway dress (didn’t know it had a name either) about 6 or 7 years ago when I was about 40 lbs. lighter. I popped it on last night, so I could run around in my very own couture dress. ; ) I love this pattern, it still fits!Walkaway dressIt’s the only dress I know of that has the ability to fit a 40 lb weight difference. On the plus side, it used to ride up due to the back weight, but it doesn’t anymore.

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  7. So will the follow up on this be called “How NOT to Make an Apology”? Is it really unreasonable to assume that you are taking credit for something when you include it in your “line” in a fashion show that is showcasing young designers? For the sake of your career, I think you may want to look into some of the legal aspects of having your own line so that you don’t end up in this kind of mess again.

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  8. Why do Felicia’s comments sound to me like an explanation, and Ashley’s comments sound like an excuse? I think it has something to do with a dropping of defenses, and a willingness to see others’ perspectives and take responsibility for one’s own actions. Certainly people (myself included) will make mistakes. But as a design program student, I would think the entrants would WANT to do more than demonstrate that they can sew up a pattern. For that there are blogs, flickr, Sew Retro, Pattern Review (!) etc., and – most importantly – the streets of St. Louis. In other words, the venues that the REST of us non-designers use to showcase our craftiness.I was in a forgiving mood after I read Felicia’s post, but Ashley’s soured me a little again. My partner is a TA at UCSC and catches a horrifying amount of plagiarism in student papers. What’s worse than the fact that students are apparently not taught the importance of doing their own work, is that they do not understand what they have done wrong. So, I’m sorry, but but my tolerance for this attitude (not the making of mistakes, but the relentless denial and excuse-making afterwards) has already been reached. Keep trying.

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  9. Just a bit of trivia: Maybe everyone else knew this except me, but the “Walkaway Dress” was named that because it was so simply constructed you could supposedly start sewing it in the morning and then walk away from the machine at lunch, wearing the dress.

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  10. In the very first comment, the_lazy milliner suggested, that “if that dress had been worn the other way around, it might look somewhat original.”- But that would also be a copy of a vintage pattern, see Erins post May 21, 2005, about “The Saturday Morning Dress”. Okay, okay I only add this comment because I want to show off and impress with my knowledge of the blog archives.

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  11. Ashley did apologize and I am satisfied that she has learned from this. I don’t expect the most hearfelt apology based on what has been written about her. Some of the comments have been ruthless. When someone is come at in such a way, of course their defenses will be up. I think she was not making excuses but trying to explain herself. Maybe it just wasn’t worded properly. I know if people had made one of my mistakes public and then spent time tearing my work and character apart, I would truly be wounded as Ashley probably is.

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  12. I just learned about this controversy, but it surprised me that it was over a dress pattern that I have sitting in my basket waiting to create. As an aside, for those who have made it, does it truly run about two sizes small?

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  13. I wonder if you made the dress in a light jersey or crepe, and maybe made the skirt a little less full, if the weight would still drag it backwards? It would be really interesting to see variations on the concept. There should be a contest. Since it’s fairly simple, maybe we should all make one, and see how the pattern can be altered. It seems like a dress people like having in their closets, or it could be a gift tailored for someone else.

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  14. Kimberly Ann, I haven’t made the dress myself yet, but there are a lot of review of the reprint at patternreview.com Just search for 4790 to find the reviews, and you will get some really good tips for making this.Cookie, it would be fun to have a sew-along with this dress. When I get around to making it, I am planning to use a grosgrain waist stay to support the weight of the skirt.

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  15. In response to the comment here about the ‘design modifications’, I have this pattern, I have made it (plan on doing many versions btw, I love it) and depending on your fabric and the size it is TOTALLY adjustable. Mine has more of a curve than straight line, and the skirt appears fuller due to the fact that this is a 50’s pattern, therefore the illustrator assumed undergarments (crinoline, girdle etc) when illustrating this. Illustrations are rarely a 100% accurate depiction of final product. I have seen many versions of this dress on different pattern review sites and each looks different due to fabric choice and body shape.I think this whole thing is ridiculous. The designer in question cannot just modify a commercial pattern and call it her own. Anymore than I can take a Picasso, make an eye blue and call it my own.That’s why there are copyright laws.The issue isn’t whether or not she is a talented designer, it is about being forthright, honest and just sucking it up when you do get called on it.I would hope that she does learn a big lesson from this, as many many young designers would kill for the opportunity to have their work in a show, and she is a lucky girl to have been there in the first place, she took it for granted and now has to deal with the shambles….Best of luck to all involved.p.s. get this pattern, it is really flattering…although adding the bias binding to the hem as the designer did is just plain craziness, there is enough on the rest of it!!! that part drove me nutty….lol

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  16. In response to the comment here about the ‘design modifications’, I have this pattern, I have made it (plan on doing many versions btw, I love it) and depending on your fabric and the size it is TOTALLY adjustable. Mine has more of a curve than straight line, and the skirt appears fuller due to the fact that this is a 50’s pattern, therefore the illustrator assumed undergarments (crinoline, girdle etc) when illustrating this. Illustrations are rarely a 100% accurate depiction of final product. I have seen many versions of this dress on different pattern review sites and each looks different due to fabric choice and body shape.I think this whole thing is ridiculous. The designer in question cannot just modify a commercial pattern and call it her own. Anymore than I can take a Picasso, make an eye blue and call it my own.That’s why there are copyright laws.The issue isn’t whether or not she is a talented designer, it is about being forthright, honest and just sucking it up when you do get called on it.I would hope that she does learn a big lesson from this, as many many young designers would kill for the opportunity to have their work in a show, and she is a lucky girl to have been there in the first place, she took it for granted and now has to deal with the shambles….Best of luck to all involved.p.s. get this pattern, it is really flattering…although adding the bias binding to the hem as the designer did is just plain craziness, there is enough on the rest of it!!! that part drove me nutty….lol

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  17. Yes, the pattern is truly 2 sizes two big. Also, I had read that part about sewing and walking away — which is funny because you have to let it hang for 24 hours to set the bias.

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  18. >”Also, I had read that part about sewing and walking away — which is funny because you have to let it hang for 24 hours to set the bias.”Unless you want to wear it RIGHT NOW (like little ol’ instant gratification me), in which case “let it hang for 24 hours” involves a temporary hem via clear duct tape and letting it hang while on your body… ; )

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  19. It’s very gratifying to read all the comments from stitchers; that a “designer” shouldn’t be using home sewing patterns.You wouldn’t believe what some “designers” say when I tell them that. They think I say that because I have a vested interest (I’m a pattern maker). The designer in this example is only a tiny portion of the many “designers” (note how that word is repeatedly in quotes?) who do this. The thing is, this is the awful part. Let’s pretend that it’s legal to use home patterns for this purpose. And let’s pretend originality-design-wise, it’s also okay. You don’t want to use home patterns because most of them over the last 25-30 years are awful quality. The awful part of this and why I tell “designers” like this they have to stop using these, is that they’ll go broke sooner than most. Maybe a “designer” like this (remember, many don’t sew, this one doesn’t) won’t notice the difference btwn a garment sewn with a home pattern vs a commercial one, but that doesn’t mean professionals can’t tell. It’s easy. It’s not even hard.Still worse, if a “designer” doesn’t understand the nuance of details, and why this matters, this is only *one* problem they have. If they’re doing this, they have ALL KINDS of problems and things they’re also doing wrong and likewise, have no intention of changing. Home sewing patterns is just one symptom of a poorly run operation. In the end, most “designers” in this category go belly up. Most of them don’t listen. They’ve decided they’re really smart and somebody like me is an inferior being who should just shut up and do what they say (whilst basking in the glow of their brilliance). I don’t even waste my time anymore.

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  20. I watched the video posted above and I don’t think the neckline was altered as someone supposed in a post above. Watch as the model steps up onto the runway, you can see how badly the dress is riding up in the difference between the hem that originates in the front from the one that originates in the back.Noile made some really small mods to hers that fixed this problem, I now want to make it myself.I love the idea of a sew-a-long!

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  21. Cookie, based on the origins of the nickname “The Walkaway Dress,” I can only conclude that mine would be a “Sleep-on-it-&-Wear-Tomorrow” dress, given the fact that I rise rather late.I love all the sewing tips for it being shared!

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  22. Well, this was back in the 1950’s when many homemakers actually had all morning to sew, safe in their little nest, and then actually walked off to a lunch date. In a dress. (Mine might be called the Walkaway “When the Sewing gets Tough” Dress.)

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  23. As an academic librarian who spends a lot of time teaching how to do a proper citation in presentations (AP or MLA or Turabian format), and fighting on the front lines against plagiarism, I think we’ve shown that there is an need for someone to come up with the definitive format for citing pattern usage in print.Should it be:Designer name, last name, first name, MI, dress title, pattern number, year of issue, view number, fabric designer, city where fabric was purchase?In otherwords, what format could be used to avoid plagiarism when presenting fashion?

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  24. Haha! I totally made this dress in brown five years ago. I never claimed I designed it though, or entered in BC fashion week (as though we had one)–my poor seam finishings would have given the whole game up anyhow.

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  25. Based on what I have viewed of the St Louis Fashion Week, This knockoff of the “walkaway dress” is the best DRESS in the bunch. Most of the others are thigh high tee shirts cut to the navel and could not be worn on the street.

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  26. As an aspiring designer, all I want to say is how embarrasing that this ‘designer’ doesn’t know how to do her own pattern work.

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  27. What gets me is that this would’ve been a wonderful opportunity to develop and market one’s own line of home sewing patterns. One of a kind, but easy to make can be interpreted differently, and I think that the goal was achieved the wrong way.So Ashley, here’s a gift from me to you. You are free to take my idea.

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  28. We have our own fashion plagiarism scandal over here in the Netherlands. This TV presenter Wendy van Dijk has her own clothing line at a department store, actually it’s just designers copying the clothes she wears. One designer of a dress woke up and saw her own dress copied and hang in the store. She of course speaks to the press about it and this Wendy person declared it was the fault of the designers not changing anything when they copied!! The fact is that she wears something and then drops it off at the design dept to get copied. Luckily this designer saw it!!I am a designer myself and the times I’ve heard people say”Oh this style as is please!”when they hold up someone else’s original. As a decent designer you just do NOt want to go there. Otherwise you’re not a DESIGNER, and might as well work at kinko’s.

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  29. My guess on what happened: This “design” show comes up, offering new designers the chance to showcase their work – and for whatever reason the design show decides that using a pattern is ok. Granted, most of us call that a sewing show, but the fault there is with the “design” show defining design in that way. It’s not unprecedented – heck, pick up a Simplicity Project Runway pattern or McCall’s new DIY line and see the pattern COMPANY telling you that you can be a designer.So Ashley and Felicia enter some of their items. As their line is about both new designs and showing what can be done with old (commercial pattern) designs, they enter both. Not the best idea for a DESIGN show but, again, it was allowed under the (rather odd) rules. From the start neither claim it as theirs but point to the pattern. Is this (and what they do in their line) allowed under copyright laws? I would guess showcasing it (with proper credit given) falls on the ok side, while any mass production or selling of it is on the non-ok side. So at least as far as showing it, they were in the right. If my knowledge of copyright laws is correct.So they show this dress (assumedly with some self-designs) as allowed by the “design” competition. Should they have used every chance to show off mad design skillz? Maybe. But remember what Felicia said about the purpose of AFV – to offer new designs and show what could be done with old patterns. So they show both sides of the line.The press shows up. This is a design show so when people show stuff it’s THIER designs, right? And they run with that. Soon stuff’s in the newspaper giving full credit to Ashley rather than noting (as she did) that some were original, some not. So here the press is at fault for not citing sources or doing the research. By naming old and new as AVF designs, they tell the world that the designer is claiming them all as hers. Again, this is a fault on the side of the news and (perhaps) the “Design” show for not making its rules more clear.Home sew-ers see the pictures of the show which include the eminently recognizable walk away dress and a little blub that states Ashley as the designer. Oops. Ashley gets contacted. Blogger asks if this is a commercial pattern and Ashley (perhaps a little shortly) says yes, what’s the problem. The thing is, under the “design” contest rules, it’s NOT a problem. This is where Ashley could have helped by explaining the show’s rules, how surprised everyone was when the press showed up as they did, her dismay that they credited her incorrectly … but for whatever reason she left the blogger with the impression that this “design” show was more traditional and Ashley was the one breaking the rules. Here’s the designer’s first mistake and, while she could have handled it much better, it’s certainly not as bad as claiming a pattern as your own design (which she never did). Blogger posts her bit and gets snark attacked. Ashley probably should have cleared the record here but doesn’t. One more mistake (two, if she had anything to do with snark attack). This is a good lesson in managing PR, by the way.The story gets picked up here. FINALLY we get the story about the “design” show’s rules (where it all started to go wrong). Felicia says it in a self-effusive way, apologizing up and down for it all. Ashley explains with a “didn’t do nothin’ wrong” attitude. The thing is, except for her poor PR skills, she DIDN’T do anything wrong. So I’m willing to say “hon, take this experience and learn all you can about the public and creating an image and use those lessons to become a great designer.” And then start fussing about the “design” show. Seriously, who puts together a show to show off young DESIGNERS and INVITES THE PRESS and then allows said designers to use patterns? That’s just ASKING for trouble. You know someone’s going to look at a designer’s work and think (unless it’s posted in neon) that the designer, oh say, DESIGNED it. Seriously, not a good idea. But could we please stop with that “theiving young designers these days” bashing of AFV and Ashley? Yes, mistakes were made but that wasn’t one of them. Other designers, yes (and I’ve got some strong suspicious about some garments shown by one Project Runway “designer” but moving on) but not these.

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  30. And because I don’t believe in merely squashing people who claim other people’s work as their own, but Helping If I Can:I urge every professional designer, or would-be professional designer, to click on Kathleen’s name and go to her website: fashion-incubator.com. Kathleen Fasanella offers the most valuable, most important, most irreplaceable information available to any designer who wants to succeed professionally in the sewn-products industry. Children’s clothes? Check. Handbags? Check. Bicycle seat covers? Check. Lingerie? Check. Backpacks? Check. If it’s sewn, and you want to design and produce it successfully, read her site. Buy her book. The material she offers is really priceless. And she’s kind to the hobbyist sewers who go to her site to learn professional ways of sewing (it’s an entirely different world). In my opinion, Kathleen Fasanella is one of the undertapped treasures that the Internet offers. If anyone has ever found anything I suggested useful, believe me when I say she has so much more to offer!

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  31. And because we’re blessed with Kathleens who come and visit, I should specify that I meant the Kathleen who posted atApr 20, 2008 10:17:00. (Still fashion-incubator.com.)I’m sure everyone’s worth visiting, but I KNOW Kathleen Fasanella is worth visiting!*No, I’m not a paid supporter. Just a fan. An admirer. *sigh*

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  32. Heck even if you are just a home sewist who wants to get better, you should check out fashion incubator. There are excellent tutorials there, too.Ditto with the no personal or professional affiliation. Just someone who has learned a lot by reading stuff that has been posted there (like here, including the comments).

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  33. Having slept on this story a couple of nights, could this moral fable (for that’s what it is) have quite a bit to say about the problems raised by a results-driven rather than a process-driven education system – and wider culture? Put simply, if someone is overwhelmingly afraid of a “wrong” result, and/or lacks the appropriate skills, they will likely cheat to ensure that they get a “right” result, especially if the culture is also focusing on the end rather than the *means* to that end.Perhaps the fashion educators behind this fashion show could give this some thought? Have the students been furnished with the skills they need? Have they been asked to produce too soon? I don’t want to act as an apologist for inappropriate conduct, but it did make me wonder. I struggle with this issue as a parent, with one child very happy to experiment and risk getting it wrong (all the fun is in the journey) and another much less confident, fearful of error and likely to rig a correct result, in whatever way he can.

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  34. Alicia,Well said. I don’t know the full story, but yours seems like a reasonable guess at it. I agree that it seems like Ashley’s getting more of a bad rap than she deserves. It looks like there were a number of misunderstandings, and she probably could have cleared up some of them sooner. But she’s getting vilified in some of these comments, and that seems unfair.

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  35. I think it’s slightly different than the Butterick pattern (or maybe it just looks that way), though I don’t advocate ripping off things like that for a design show. It’s true that the other clothes have the same designs as lots of other clothes I’ve seen, too, though. But then, maybe they didn’t directly copy a pattern, as Ms. Dayley admitted to doing. (I think it’s a pretty pattern, unlike some people.)

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  36. Anonymous below erma, maybe butterick reissued *such an ugly pattern* because it was so popular when it first came out that they had to halt production on all other patterns just to keep up with the demand. but you are entitled to your opinion.

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  37. Its not wearing clothes that earn comments but rather your dressing sense. Many times you would have heard people saying Oh that dress was not suiting her or what a pretty dress. This is what called good or bad dressing sense and held importance. Comments are not being made for clothes but for not wearing them properly.Clothes are not just for hiding body but it also portrays your personality. Having a good dressing sense exemplifies a good personality. Silhouette of a dress tells a lot about your dressing sense as well as about the person. Thats why we should always dress up smartly and appropriate for our personality so as to increase grace and confidence.

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