Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Why hire an Image and Wardrobe Coach?

Why hire an Image and Wardrobe Coach?

Because you are tired of spending money on clothes your closet wears!


Recent Posts

President’s Day Style

President’s Day Style

Happy Presidents’ Day, dear reader!

I thought today a good day to look at three presidents and see where their style may still (or again) be seen in American men’s style today.  We often think of men’s style as unchanging, when in reality it does, although often less rapidly and dramatically than women’s fashion. Suit cuts, jacket lengths, trouser types, tie widths and styles, shirt collar styles and lengths, facial hair and hairstyles all change. Sometimes these shifts are slow, but in our current social media age, changes in style for men spread just as quickly as women’s.

A note for my facial hair obsessed sons: Less than 25% of our presidents have sported facial hair. William Howard Taft was the last Oval Office occupant with a mustache, so it has been more than 100 years since a mustache or beard has graced the face of the Commander in Chief.

George Washington

Our images of George Washington are limited compared to those of more modern presidents as paintings are our source. How accurate, or realistic, these portraits are is always a matter of debate, but his dress is not in question. We have seen President Washington in portrait form, clean-shaven, wearing his wig, long white sideburns, and ponytail. He is either dressed in military uniform, or the white lace ruffled front shirt under his high collared black suitcoat and breeches. I don’t know many men today (except in the theatre) who wear wigs, breeches, or lace front shirts and jabot, but after a style vacation, the ponytail, and long sideburns are again all over the streets today!

Abraham Lincoln

Although the first sitting president to be photographed was probably William Harrison, and other presidents after him were extensively photographed, most of us associate early presidential photographs with Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln took office a mere 64 years after George Washington left the presidency. In less than three generations, men’s clothing styles had changed dramatically. Think “Abe” and you think beard, short hair (compared to GW’s wig), trouser suit with a long jacket, top hat, plain front shirt, and a bow tie. Nary a wig, ruffled shirt, or pair of breeches to be seen.  The only residual is the long suitcoat, but even that is completely different in style, much less shaped and fitted than his predecessor’s. As for his unkempt ‘do, it is said that one photographer neatened up his hair for a photographic portrait, and the President immediately ran his hands back through it to rough it back to its natural state. Today, natural roughed up hair styles are ubiquitous in advertising campaigns, and facial hair has been very popular with men for more than five years. (Interesting note: President Lincoln did have a beard, but no mustache. His lip was clean-shaven.)

Theodore Roosevelt

A mere 36 years after Lincoln’s assassination, President Theodore Roosevelt took office, and again there had been a dramatic change in men’s fashion. Teddy’s larger than life personality made him a style influencer of the first order. During Roosevelt’s presidency we see the shift from long suitcoats to short. This may be a reflection of his preference for sporting and military styles and from his time in the Rough Riders. His grooming was an interesting mix of slicked controlled hair, and a decidedly non-controlled mustache. His predecessor William McKinley wore bow ties like Lincoln, and also a cravat tied like a modern tie, but Theodore Roosevelt was normally seen in what looks to us like a modern tie (although his was more like a cravat.) Is he partially responsible for the popularity of the safari-look, and it’s younger cousin the camouflage craze? (Maybe the Duck Dynasty gents aren’t all to blame.)

That is a lot of style change in 100 years!

Hope your day is peace-filled and happy…

Stay stylish!

 

How to Pack: Travel Outfits

How to Pack: Travel Outfits

Good day, dearest reader!

My last post was all about how I choose how to pack for a trip, and included the example of a wardrobe shown above. Today, I’ll talk through these choices and we can see how they play out for my hypothetical adventure.

Check the Weather

For this trip, the weather is supposed to be dry with daytime temps in the 60’s and 70’s, nights dipping into the low 50’s. Ideal! No need for heavy outerwear; a jean jacket and cozy sweater will be just fine. I might add a pair of leather gloves to wear if I think I will be out for extended periods in the evenings or early mornings.

Activities/Location

This is an urban 5 day trip, but a decidedly college town feel, so it has a more casual vibe. There are no work meetings, or clients to meet! I’m not counting on laundry, since the trip is short. The itinerary includes a fancy dinner somewhere special, a house tour, a museum or two, a couple of casual meals out, lazy people watching over coffee, window shopping, beer tasting, relaxed evenings in. Church on Sunday, and a late lunch/early dinner are on the plan. If the weather is clear, there will be a trip to an observatory, but that is starting to look doubtful. (Sadness.)

Shoes

The loafers are good for miles of walking, and even the pumps are comfortable enough for a day of window shopping and people watching over coffee. (And it’s nice to have a pretty pair of shoes on in case something in the window catches the eye, and must be tried on with a nice shoe!) The pumps, although low, are still refined enough for dinner out. (Car/Restaurant/Car shoes are rarely practical to pack. Unless your itinerary includes a gala or an awards show!)

Travel Clothes

Grey chinos and a tee are comfy for a 4 hour car ride. Hubby likes the car colder than I do, so the scarf and jacket will be appreciated if the sun isn’t shining in to warm the van.

The Rest, Accessories, Bags

If the temps stay warm, and the sun comes out, the tank and jeans or chinos will be just right for sightseeing. The jean jacket and sweater top the tank or any of the shirts for a little extra warmth, and in a pinch, the purple tank can be an extra layer under the other tops if it stays on the dreary or chilly side. I would even layer the cardigan over the jean jacket if I was feeling particularly chilled. (Alas, those gorgeous sleeves make it impractical to go under the jean jacket.)

The relaxed dress works well for the fancy dinner amped up with a shawl and wallet as a clutch. The dress is on the plan for church, and will be just as happy museum wandering with the jean jacket and loafers as jeans or the chinos would be. The silk scarf lets me elevate the look of any of the separates or the dress, and if an extra pop of color is needed, looks fabulous tied around a belt loop, wrist, or hanging off the strap of the purse. The jewels, in varying shades from lilac to violet, add color even if the clothing for the day is all neutrals.

The crossbody will be my everyday bag, but if I want to go lighter, my wallet can double as a clutch, that allows me to lock the crossbody in the car, or leave it in our room. My Six-Pack and toiletries will easily fit into the wheelie bag and there is more than enough room for undies, and maybe even a box of chocolates… Yes, it is a Valentine’s Day trip!

I think I could travel quite happily for weeks with this combination, although I would want another pair of shoes!

What are your travel Must-Haves? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below! I do love to hear from you…

Stay Stylish!

How to Pack for a Trip

How to Pack for a Trip

Happy Valentine’s Day, sweet reader!

The other day, a Facebook friend shared a meme picturing a frog “talking” about going on a trip and needing 4 outfits, and packing 37. The tagline was “That ought to be enough!” I find lots of women AND men pack that way, my husband included! I never understood why he found it necessary to take half his closet when we would pack for vacation, until I realized that he was packing the way he always did when deploying for 4 to 6 months. I would ask “Why are you taking that?” The answer was always “Because I might need it.” (He’s better now.)

The love of my life is married to a woman who headed home (to help my mom after my father’s unexpected death) for an undetermined period (6 weeks to 3 months) with her clothes and shoes in a large duffel bag, along with our three sons’ clothes and shoes. I was flying standby with three boys, a car seat and a booster. Clothes were an afterthought. Do you know how much food you have to pack for an international flight with three sons, ages 4 to 10? (Ordering pizza to be delivered to the airport really is a lifesaver.)

Even with so little in my bag, I have yet to feel I have under-packed. I would rather spend my travel time exploring, and indulging my curiosity, rather than standing in front of the closet (or drawers) wondering what to wear today. Although… Last summer, I did wish that I had not forgotten my white dress! Even so, what I had packed was enough, even without the dress. How do I pack lightly but still manage to have enough and feel put together?

Check the Weather

First order of business is to check the weather at your destination. This used to be a royal pain, but technology has sorted that. I would be surprised if you don’t have an app on your phone that can do this for you in 30 seconds or less! If you are unused to the kind of weather you will experience, knowing that snow, icy rain, desert heat or rain forest style humidity are expected not only helps you pack the right gear, it helps you prepare mentally, too. I think about the difference in weather between my starting point and destination, as well, when choosing my travel outfit. On one of our trips to Arizona, it was freezing at home when we left, and in the upper 80’s upon arrival. I wore my boots, and layers, and tucked my sandals into the outside pocket of my suitcase. Get off plane. Remove outer layers. Change shoes. Move ahead smartly.

Activities/Location

I check my calendar and/or guide book to see what kind of activities we are planning. The suitcase for a long weekend in New York City will be different from the one packed for a camping trip in the mountains. Will we be museum hounds, or hikers? I always plan something to wear to church, and that does double duty if we splash out on a nice dinner. For this, I usually pack a dress, or at least a dressy blouse to go with trousers or a skirt. Are we staying with family, or in an apartment? If so, I pack three to four days of clothes (or so) and do laundry while there. In big cities laundry is generally easy to find. If you don’t want to pay the (often blackmail worthy) prices for laundry at your hotel, you can swish out your undies in the sink, and air your shirts and trousers for another wearing. When our family spent 10 hot and sticky days in Rome, we dropped our dirty clothes at a laundry near the convent where we were staying. Bless the owner who returned our clothes fresh and clean at the end of the day… With the hundred-aught Euros my husband had left in his pocket to pay for our lodging, neatly pressed and sealed in an envelope!

Shoes

Our activities determine not only our clothing choices, but more importantly our shoes! These need to be the most comfortable and versatile possible. Unless we are planning on PT, I do not pack running shoes, but I will bring hikers or tennies if the activities will be very sporty and  casual. I normally pack a pair of oxfords, or very comfortable ballet style flats for days walking and sightseeing. The ballet flats can double as slippers in the room. If the weather is cold and I want boots, I make sure to wear them on our travel days to minimize the weight I have to carry in my bag.

Travel Clothes

I never used to travel in jeans. With the advent of Spandex in almost every pair of jeans, I may wear jeans for a trip, but prefer to pair them with a blazer to keep my look polished. Travel blogs will tell you this is a good way to get an upgrade if there is a seating issue. That blessing has yet to happen, but I do think it has helped  when there have been flight cancellations and reschedules. It certainly helped me feel more adult and in control as I stood there with everyone else juggling logistics!  I do not understand flying in pajamas. There are plenty of other ways to dress comfortably, and not be dressed for bed. I dress in layers because I tend to the chilly side, and airports, planes, and other forms of transport are notoriously unpredictable in regards to temperatures. A tank at the bottom (one that can be worn on it’s own, not an underwear cami) topped with a tee, maybe a button front shirt or a cardigan, whatever jacket is needed for the trip, and always, always, always a large scarf or shawl. The scarf can be a blanket, a pillow, bedhead concealer, eyeshade, sunshade, napping/nursing baby cover, footie blanket if I want to take off my shoes and still keep my toes toasty, and so much more. It’s easy to tie onto a bag strap if the weather is too warm where I am at the moment.

The Rest

Once I have decided on shoes and the kind of travel clothes I want to wear, I choose a color palette for the trip. One neutral+ denim + one accent color is usually enough for a trip of up to two weeks. (If you don’t wear blue denim, than choose another neutral.) I always pack one more pair of underwear and one extra pair of socks than I have trip days, especially if the trip is adventure-y. For any trip up to about a week, I pack a second bottom (I am wearing one already), a dress, and three tops, which brings my total to five. The last piece depends on the destination climate. If cold, I’ll pack another topper, if warm, a second bottom. Everything will mix and match, and I can usually get at least 12 outfits out of my six. That should be enough variety for a week or two, and if we get stuck somewhere on the way home, I still have options. For a shorter trip I may only pack 4 or 5 pieces. Packing light also leaves me space in my suitcase to buy something special that might leap in my path. (Thanks to Janice Riggs at The Vivienne Files for her term “Six-Pack” for packing!)

I know people who plan an outfit for each day’s activities, and package them up in a Baggie, accessories and all. That works, if you have lots of space, and don’t mind the extra weight. I prefer the flexibility that keeping a tight palette gives me. Less stuff to carry = less stress.

Accessories

Some travelers don’t “waste” precious luggage space on accessories, but I get more outfits out of less clothes by packing them. In the same space that a tee shirt takes up, I can pack two scarves, some jewelry, and a belt. Unless hiking through the forest is the entire itinerary, these additions give my clothes far more options and variety than the one extra tee would. (And are a great way to sneak in another accent color if you feel you must!)

Bags

Carry-on seems to be the only way to fly (unless you fly Southwest!), and I pack accordingly, even when we drive. (Caveat: All bets are off when we take our grandsons to the beach. That adventure more resembles Hannibal crossing the Alps, but without the elephants.) We have a small wheelie suitcase that does most plane trips, and for the car I usually pack my trusty LL Bean duffel. It has been trekking the world with me since somewhere around 1998, and is still going strong.  For the little things, en route I prefer a tote or backpack to haul my need-at-hand items, but at our destination, I usually want a cross body bag. My go-to travel purse is this one from Baggallini. I have it in grey. Since it matches my hair, it goes with everything! The last flight I took with my mother, sherpa-ing both our suitcases and totes, pretty muchly convinced me that it is time to find an adult (and less utilitarian looking) backpack for my under-seat bag. This one is in the running… Although the teal is REALLY tempting!

(Note: I have received no compensation from the companies whose items are linked above. I am sharing the information just because they have been my trusty travel companions for years now, and they deserve the love!)

PS: If they wanted to, I would not be opposed to trying out a new color!

So those are my packing basics! How about you? How do you prefer to travel? Light? Or with all the comforts of home? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below!

Stay stylish!

 

Why I Chose My Grey Hair

Why I Chose My Grey Hair

Hello, fabulous readers!

I was preparing a talk for a group of women, and in it I ask each to think about her style signature. What is her constant? Some way she is visibly recognizable and different from others. Which made me think about mine… I have a couple of things that could be considered my signature, but the one that most people comment on is my grey hair, so it’s time to share how I came to own and love my grey.

I come from Irish roots, and we have two strains of grey-ers in our family tree. Those who never grey and keep their dark hair until they die, and the others who grey very early. I remember finding my first grey hair at 16 and thinking, “Cool! If they keep coming it will make it easier to get into the bars!” (Okay, so my priorities were different back then. Weren’t yours?) Clearly, I come from the early greying genes. In my teens and twenties, I did sometimes color my hair, but for a fun change of color, not to disguise the grey.  I wasn’t bothered by my grey hair. It wasn’t until my 40’s when we were living in England that the grey began to bug me. Our two youngest sons were born when I was 30 and 32, and our social set of enlisted military families was much younger than we were. (Late bloomers, us.) We were a good 10 or more years older than the rest of the couples with children our age, and all my grey had me feeling like the old lady in the room. I think that, combined with long grey winters, and little sunshine gave me the push to start hiding my grey.

So, foils it was, and lots of shades of color, and I loved it. I felt a little hip, even if the color (I know now) wasn’t the most flattering to my complexion. I kept it up when we returned home to the U.S., but was gobsmacked at the price, and would string out as long as I could between coloring sessions. The hit on our expenses was beginning to bother me, as was the time spent in the chair. I had started a new job teaching full-time, and was in graduate school. An hour and a half every six weeks was more time than I could spare; sleep and time with my family were already at a premium.

When I sat down to calculate the annual cost of coloring my hair, I cringed. We could go for a long weekend away on that money! So I opted for home hair color instead. The highlights I had and the grey created a tonal effect even with the box, so it wasn’t so bad… but then came a nudge from the Lord. I know, that sounds a little woo-woo to some, but I had been praying that easiest and hardest of prayers “Thy will be done.” when a poke in the ribs replied “So why are you coloring your hair? That’s not the hair I gave you.”

Okay. Crazy as it sounds, that was it. Too vain for the skunk stripe method of growing out grey, (and not interested in the nickname from students), I chose to use temporary color and keep that up until the permanent color could be cut off. The grey was camouflaged well enough for the transition by a quick temp color at home about once every four or five weeks. After about six months, the perfect storm of no-more-coloring came. My childhood best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was younger than me. I decided that when she started chemo, I would cut off my hair, and that was that. It was really short, the rest of the temp color washed out, and I was free!

When I say “free,” I really mean it. It felt fantastic, like I wasn’t hiding any more. No pretending to be someone I was not. Funnily, I didn’t even realize that I was… coloring had just become such a part of me I thought it was me, too. The irony is that I get far more compliments on my hair now that is it grey than I ever did when it was (very expensively) colored. Along with that freedom came a self-confidence that I certainly never expected. (I thought I was confident enough already!)

Confirmation of the rightness of my choice came one day when I was sitting on the floor with a class of Kindergarten students. We were practicing our colors when one young lady asked me why my hair was grey. Her teacher’s hair was blonde (and she was a good 10 years older than I). I explained that all of us, if we are fortunate to live long enough, eventually go grey. “Some people go grey younger and some go grey when they are very old, but mine came early.” She told me she hoped she never went grey because grey isn’t a pretty (girl) color. “Oh honey, I don’t think of my hair as grey, I prefer pewter with silver highlights.” We went on with our lesson, and I thought the topic was exhausted. After five minutes of uncharacteristic silence, the young man next to me tugged on my sleeve and piped up “But it shines like silver!” I was smitten.

How do you feel about grey hair? Is it different for women and men? Do you like your natural hair color? Why or why not? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below!

Stay stylish,

Choosing a Color Palette for Your Wardrobe

Choosing a Color Palette for Your Wardrobe

Hello there, fabulous readers!

Recently, I was working with a client who had a Personal Style Consultation some months ago. In the interim, she had been texting me when shopping to ask whether an outfit was “working” or not.  Although the styles were great, I would regularly ask her if they had the XYZ (my shorthand for random item!) she was looking at in a different color, one more flattering to her warm coloring. She clearly is a warm palette woman (although she’s not had a full color consult). Over time, I realized that there was no coherent color scheme to the pictures. She was choosing pieces in colors she loved, but with no plan for color in mind. At her Closet Inspiration session she asked for help to see how to best use what she owned, and how to work her new purchases into her (already very full) wardrobe. When I got a peek into her closet, I could see her problem. It was a beautiful rainbow (Organized by color! YAY!), but because the colors were warm and cool, bright and muted, light and dark, it was a challenge to take advantage of the bounty in there.

Choosing a Color Palette for a Wardrobe

Two by Two

When a client needs an entirely new wardrobe, we start by looking at her personal coloring. Is she warm or cool complexioned? What is her Value Contrast? And is her coloring overall lighter or darker? If she’s warm, I would help her choose two warm neutrals (like camel, olive, brown, warm navy, tan, or ivory) that suit her and her personality best.  If her coloring is cool, I would look at grey, dove, charcoal, flannel, navy, taupe, rose brown, and white, and we’d pick two that suit. After choosing her two neutrals (that reflect her overall coloring and Value well), we would choose two  accent colors from the color wheel. (Ideally, I look for colors that make my client’s skin and eyes glow!). You can go on and add more neutrals and accents, but two and two is a great place to start.

What If You’re Not Starting from Scratch?

Polyvore of Warm vs. Cool Neutral Women's ClothingTwo Neutrals

Even if we want a wardrobe overhaul, most of us are not starting from scratch. (Our wallets thank us for that!) As described above, with this client I started by looking at her coloring, and then at what she had in her closet. She is a medium to light warm complexioned woman. We took an analytical approach, and started looking for pieces in just four colors, two neutrals and two accent colors (more like color families). I began by pulling the warm colors I saw the most of, olive and tan/khaki. I left behind the blacks. Black (although easy to find at the stores) is not flattering on her, nor does black play well with the colors that make her glow.  Black is not a must! (Contrary to popular opinion, no one MUST wear black!)

Since this client struggles to find bottoms that fit well, on our first grab, we took two neutral trousers, one olive and one khaki. Then our goal was to find two tops and two toppers to create a column of color that she could spark up with her accent colors. Aha! Only one bottom had tops and toppers to coordinate. The best part of this neutral core approach is that she could see her wardrobe holes and start on a strategic list for future shopping trips. Once we pulled some tops and toppers in the same color families as the trousers, we began to play around. Now this woman is vibrant! She has warm blue-green eyes, and WOW! her personality just shines, so all neutral outfits would never feel “her”.

Two Colors

Then I started looking in her closet for colors (vice neutrals). As I said, she had a rainbow in there. She owns oodles of salmon/coral/russet, and since this color makes her look radiant, that was an easy pick. She can wear these lovely sunset shades with both her olive and tan neutrals, and with them in combination. We took some time to play in her accessories, and found scarves and jewelry that looked fabulous together. Once we were working with light and medium warm colors, it was easier to create outfits. Then we moved on to different combinations, including a salmon top with a russet cardigan over it. Although an atypical combination, it looked amazing with both neutrals, and she started to see how fewer color options, carefully selected, would give her great looks with less stress.

By the time we finished, we had about 20 pieces on her bed, and literally hundreds of outfits for her that spanned a variety of seasons.  She had felt like she needed more clothing, and all that was already in her closet! She also had a great start on a (very small!) shopping list that would make her pieces even more versatile. (It was necessary to put leopard print shoes on that list, BTW!)

She had a few turquoise tops, so we chose those as her second accent color, and found even more accessories to make these play well with her olives and tans. One of our favorites was the turquoise top under the olive cardigan with the olive trousers. She had the perfect necklace that created an effortless and intentional look at the same time. After that she added another accent of a purple that makes her happy, and plays well with her olives and tans. We separated a large number of tops in cool blues, greys, blacks, and whites, and moved those out of the way. She may donate those, consign them, or overdye them to create more flattering colors.

Not only does this two and two method provide a framework to get a grip on an overstuffed closet, it’s a fabulous way to pack for a trip! But more on that next week…

Let’s start a conversation below!  I love to hear your thoughts! What is your favorite wardrobe color combination?

Stay Stylish!

Thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Happy day, fabulous readers!

It’s that time again… Valentine’s Day is around the proverbial corner. Back in December, I had the privilege of pulling some style picks for Augusta Magazine to be featured in their February issue. That was a real trick in the weeks running up to Christmas, when all stores are focused on the holiday chaos, and finding items you can count on being available in two months qualifies as a minor miracle. I wanted to keep the picks local, and so loved some of the Valentine’s idea picks that didn’t make it past the magazine editors that I want to share them with you! Thank you, again, to all the stores who loaned me their beautiful pieces; these photos don’t do them justice. (These were down and dirty shots before returns to their stores.) Please feel free to send the URL to your S.O. if he or she needs a little nudge, there’s one week left!

Clutches

Not every Valentine gift has to be romantic! Finding something for our BFF’s may be even more important than one for the guy in your life. I love the personalization on these Katie Loxton multipurpose clutches! They are great for organizing your tote, or holding documents when traveling, and would make a lovely (and very reasonably priced!) Valentine for our sisters (by blood, law, or love) who stick with us through thick and thin. If you are planning ahead for a June wedding, there is even one for your bridesmaids! I couldn’t resist, and bought “Fabulous Friend” for my bestest for Christmas. You can find these (and so many other goodies) at Swank in Augusta and Evans.

Champagne Flutes

Thinking about popping the question? Flutes make a lovely Valentine’s Day gift… and foreshadow a wedding toast! These gorgeous rimmed pieces by Vetro have a familiar old elegance paired with a simple modern shape. Not part of a couple? Buy one for you and for your best friend so that you can share a drink together, no matter how far away he or she may be. Don’t save the best only for special occasions. Every day is special! You can buy them in either silver or gold, or maybe you prefer one of each. These lovelies come from Charleston Street at Surrey Center.

Statement Bracelet

Who doesn’t want a little bling for Valentine’s Day? This would add sparkle and drama to last year’s floral frock, or glam up your jeans and a silk tank on a warm spring evening. Choose that spring evening carefully though, you might distract someone on the course! The easy-on stretch makes it a wonderful choice for those who struggle with clasps, or for those with hard-to-fit wrists.  You can pick up this bold sparkler at Capsule at Walton’s Corner. If you haven’t heard of Capsule yet, they just opened on February 1st, so hop on it and check out one of our newest Augusta boutiques!

Bow Ties

Yes, I did include something for the man in your life, or the woman with an independent sartorial sense. These silk stunners combine just the right combination of soft spring color and jaunty flair. They transcend age boundaries and feel fresh with jeans and an oxford, or dressed up in your Sunday best for Easter services. Tied-it-myself says you are a man (however young) of accomplishment! These (and many others) are available at Low Country Clothiers on Fury’s Ferry Road.

Senn Designs Necklace

This design by local artist Susan Senn-Davis simply stole my heart. “Bee mine?” or maybe “You are my Queen Bee”? Mixed metal pieces are a great way to give intentionality to other disparate baubles you may want to combine. The rugged texture of the pendant and soft sheen of the beads are flattering to those of us with some experience, and the grey of the hematite is a beautiful way to highlight the sparkle of “wisdom highlights”! This little lovely (and others by the same artist) can be found at Soho (of Augusta, not NY!).

And just in case you are in need of a little self-Valentine-ing…

Suede Ankle Strap Sandals

Rose Gold Superga Sneakers

Rose gold is still having a moment, and why not? It’s flattering to a variety of skin tones, and a metallic sneaker oozes casual glam. Sneakers and a dress? Yes, please! Perfect for spring break at the beach. Or for kicking around and running errands in town? Of, course. And let’s not forget for that bachelorette weekend away with your besties? Ideal! Maybe you are more of a ruffles or heels woman? Not either/or, but Yes, AND! These beauties don’t make you choose, and they bridge the winter/spring divide with style. Ruffled suede heels with a delicate ankle strap are feminine and elegant. The heel says I can go anywhere I want. The suede nods to cooler weather, but the sandal gives it longer wear in our warmer climes. I can see this woman in a dinner dress, or faded jeans with an ivory silk blouse and thin gold necklace… If these are must-haves for you, take your happy feet to Shoes at Surrey and tell them Liz sent you!

What would you like to receive for Valentine’s Day? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below! I love to hear from you!

Stay Stylish!

Grooming… What’s the Bare Minimum?

Grooming… What’s the Bare Minimum?

Hi there, fabulous reader!

One of the trickiest parts of my job can be a discussion with a client who needs to take his or her grooming up a notch. There are many reasons people let their attention to grooming wander. One is when our life/schedule goes haywire, for example: after a baby is born, or when we are taking care of a sick family member. I get it. In an emergency, we have other priorities. Some things fall by the wayside. Another common reason is depression. When the emergency-state grooming status becomes the norm, we may have a problem.

What Is the Bare Minimum?

Hygiene is non-negotiable! Body washed. Most of us need antiperspirant/deodorant. Hair washed and brushed. Teeth brushed. Nails clean and clipped or rounded. Moisturize your skin to keep it healthy. Sunscreen, sunscreen, SUNSCREEN! Keep stray hairs clipped. (I know these can seem overwhelming with a new baby, or when you are in high intensity caring mode. But taking the 10 minutes needed for these will help YOU feel better prepared to handle what comes your way!)

What About Makeup?

Makeup is big business. In the US in 2016, consumers spent close to 985 million dollars on foundation alone! (Data) The top 5 biggest spending cosmetics categories were: foundation, mascara, lipstick, eye liner, and powder. On those top 5, we spent more than 3.5 billion dollars. Yes, that is billion with a B. Just in the U.S. Egads! Google “makeup tutorial” in YouTube and you get more than 21 million hits… That’s not even including all the product reviews videos you can find. If I am looking to learn a new technique (or for Halloween ideas), I will look through a few ‘tutes, but most of these YouTubers are spending more time and money on makeup than I am interested in investing. When a “look” takes 25 minutes to talk through and “do”… it’s not happening for me. I didn’t even spend that long on my hair and makeup on my wedding day. I’ve been told that I am low-maintenance. (Unfortunately, as I age, maintenance seems to be taking longer and longer…)

Makeup is not a necessity. When I was a girl and wanted to start wearing makeup, I remember my mother telling me that once you start wearing mascara, you never go back. She was right. I do have no mascara days, but they are rare. I wear makeup because it makes me happy, and not because I think there is something wrong with me. I have a “more defined me” approach to makeup, and a makeup bare minimum, too.

Just as clothing has “levels of refinement”, I have three makeup levels of refinement. Play, Work, and Evening/Social would be my makeup levels. I don’t understand the full face, sculpted brows, and illumination look for every day.

Level 3: Play  Even on a bare-faced play day, I still tame my brows with a brush, slap on some powder or tinted moisturizer (depending on the season), and slick on lip balm (with a tint). If I put on a smile, the rest is just icing. A positive attitude gives you a glow that no makeup can replicate.

Level 2: Work  My husband can tell if it’s a work day, just by my face. No, not that I have a long face on a work day! I love my job! It’s just that somewhere along the line he noticed that work days = eyeliner.

Level 1: Evening/Social More polished, more finished, more defined. I tend to leave the darker lip and nail colors for evening, and if it’s a daytime event, stick with the lighter shades. Although a red lip and subtle eye are a fun daytime event look, too!

How about you? What’s your bare minimum? Or your favorite product? What don’t you leave the house without? Let’s start a conversation, and comment below…

Stay Stylish!

Thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

 

 

 

Wear Red Day

Wear Red Day

I know… Wear Red Day for Women’s Heart Health Awareness may not be high on your list of priorities for today, but it is on mine. My father died of a massive and unexpected heart attack in 1999, when we were living overseas, and thus began one of the hardest years of my life. Then in May of 2014, my mother (who lives with us) had a heart attack, too. I’m just glad she was living with us by then, because if she’d been living alone, I doubt she’d be with us today. I may not have my parents’ high blood pressure, but having two parents with coronary disease has made an impact on me.

The American Heart Association sponsors Wear Red Day the first Friday of February to raise awareness of women’s heart health issues.  We associate heart attacks with men, but heart disease is the number one killer of women in America. The dramatic chest clutching popular on TV and in movies is not the sign you want, and often by that point, it’s too late. Women frequently exhibit very different symptoms of heart attack then do men, and unfortunately are easily brushed aside.

I have challenged the women in my networking group to join in on Wear Red Day, and will be donating to the AHA for each woman in red. (Love that song, too!)

If you want to donate, you can find out more about how, right here. Please consider making a donation… if not in your name, in honor of someone you love!

 

 

What’s Your Style Signature?

What’s Your Style Signature?

My apologies for the squinty shot…

The fifth definition of signature on Dictionary.com is any unique, distinguishing aspect, feature, or mark.

We identify ourselves on legal documents by our written signature, and others identify us by our style signature, or signatures. Even a “flaw” can be a signature. Think about Cindy Crawford and her beauty mark. Iris Apfel’s enormous round glasses are her signature. Elton John’s specs were his signature for years, they changed constantly, but their over-the-top designs were part of him. Julia Robert’s smile is certainly a signature. Jill Chivers always wears leopard. Dolly wouldn’t be Parton without the hair. People’s signatures become so closely associated with them, that it can be hard to recognize them without their signatures. Anna Wintour equals bob haircut and sheath dresses; to imagine her in a ball cap and old Levi’s is close ti impossible.  The Queen of England is recognized the world around by her hats (and classic handbags). What might happen if she stepped out for a pint of milk in stretch pants and a hoodie?

A style signature is not defined in the negative. I never wear a skirt or dress isn’t a signature. I only wear Levi’s or a tuxedo could be. There is an always factor to a signature, which is one reason glasses or physical features are great ones. My mother’s signature is her bright red glasses. She has one pair for reading, and another for driving. I know a woman whose only shoes are Converse low-tops, AKA: Chucks. She has a variety, and they are the only shoes she wears, even under a gown. Another friend wears pearls, every day, even to the beach. Me, I love scarves. Some might consider them my signature. I certainly wear them frequently, but a better way to name my signature might be accessorized. I could choose a scarf, a pile of bracelets, or a statement necklace. I even wear jewelry or a bandanna camping or hiking. Another possible signature could be my grey hair (Pewter and pearl, please!) I can’t imagine ever coloring it again, so that qualifies. “I feel naked without X” is a good indicator of a signature.

My written signature at 55 doesn’t look anything like it did at 22. Our style signatures can evolve, too. Do you have a signature? What is it? How do you sign your style? What makes an outfit you? Please share in the comments below… I love to hear from you!

And I must add a thank you to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link Up!

 

Shoe Wardrobe

Shoe Wardrobe

Shoes, shoes, SHOES! Some people love ’em, and cannot imagine life without a variety. Others see them as a necessity to cover their feet to get into stores and restaurants. The latter are usually the ones asking me what shoes do I really need? (Read: How few can I get away with owning?) As with any wardrobe choice, your personality, lifestyle, and values should be your main determinants, so let’s explore what that means when you go shoe shopping.

Before You Go Shoe Shopping…

Know your body. Most guides suggest shoe shopping in the afternoon when your feet are their widest, but mine are wider when I first get up, so that’s when I go shopping. Make sure to go when your foot is at its chubbiest! When you try on a shoe, check the material of which it is made. Leather shoes will stretch a bit. Fabric less so, and plastic/PU/vegan leather: not so much. You want your shoes to fit snugly enough that nothing slips, but not so tightly that they pinch. If the insole is very padded or cushy, there will be more room after the padding compacts. These should fit quite snugly. Make sure to wear the socks that you will wear with the shoes you are buying, or knee high hose for dress shoes. Most shoe stores or departments are carpeted. Toodle those feet in your potential purchase onto a non-carpeted part of the store (with permission, of course), to make sure they feel comfortable on a hard surface, and not only on the rug! If you always put insoles or liners of any kind in your shoes, take along a new pair to slip in the ones you are trying. You don’t want to get them home only to find the fit not generous enough for your favorite gel pads. If you need orthotics, you already know how that dramatically limits your shoe options. You may find going with a brand you know and trust, and customizing the color with shoe paint can be a great way to add variety to your choices.

Your Lifestyle and Personality

Please, think about your lifestyle before you buy. That darling bejeweled pair of satin stilettos could be a staple for the red-carpet walking starlet, but maybe not for the carpooling mom who spends hours standing at the side of the soccer pitch.  If you wouldn’t be found dead in the gym, the $150 for those cross-training shoes might be better spent elsewhere. (Unless the guilt motivates you…) Shoes are a fantasy escape for many women, and since they fit through many size changes, they can be one of the most uplifting purchases!

In a previous post, I mentioned that I could survive (in the Navy) with four pair of shoes: PT shoes, boonies/work boots, oxfords, and pumps. Those covered the basics of what I needed in uniform, and gave me what I needed for any particular day. I still find those four basics a great place to start a shoe wardrobe, and the equivalent of those 4 are often my basis for travel packing. If I have all 4 in my suitcase, I know I am ready for anything! (No, I do not take dress shoes camping!) If you live in a place with very distinct seasons, you may find that you need a seasonal variety in some categories. Our summers here are unbearably hot and sticky, so I have dress shoes and dress sandals in my shoe wardrobe, and casual shoes and casual sandals.

A Dress Shoe

I know, you never go anywhere that needs a dress shoe. Well, having a pair you can rely on for solemn or festive occasions is a lifesaver. And a pair of pumps can take your jeans and a tee or blouse to places your favorite flip-flops or tennies just can’t. (Especially if you swap out your everyday tote for a smaller bag or clutch!) For most women, I suggest a dress shoe or pump in your haircolor. A shoe in this shade goes with everything, and creates a pleasing top and tail effect that draws the eye of the beholder back to your face, where it belongs. Many women default to a black pump, the kind you find on every wardrobe-must-have list out there, but unless your hair is black, try another shade. If you change your hair color often, or a brown shoe doesn’t seem dressy enough, look for a pump in your skin tone. That elongates the leg when wearing a dress with bare legs, and looks great year round. So does a metallic shade that reflects your hair color, like pewter, silver, platinum, or gold. Try on dress shoes when you are out and about doing other shopping. You can find a pair that you like that is comfortable, rather than panicking when you need a pair and settling for the first thing that you can stand that “matches.”

A Casual Shoe

By Casual Shoe, I do not mean flip-flops or tennis shoes. I think of those as leisure or PT shoes. I am thinking of a low or flat leather or fabric shoe. Yours might be a ballet flat, loafer, or oxford. It depends on your personality, fit issues, and wardrobe. Maybe I should call this a Nice-Casual Shoe. This should be something you can wear with trousers, skirts or dresses, maybe even shorts if that’s your style. If you have a very relaxed personality, maybe yours is a boat shoe, or espadrille. Another woman’s casual shoe might be a pointy-toed flat. I have a pair of pewter oxfords that have become my fast favorite this past winter, for both casual, and work

A Work Shoe

Long, long, ago, the US Navy issued me a pair of boondockers. They had to be one of the ugliest pair of shoes/boots I had ever put on my feet. I learned to appreciate their steel toes, and how comfortable they were to march miles in. I still have mine, and wear them for yard work, and take them camping. Now you probably don’t need a pair of steel-toed boots for work, but what is your work shoe equivalent? Many teachers I know swear by Dansko clogs. Those are their work shoe. My shoe of choice is flat or low heeled pump most of the year, and a low heeled boot in the winter. The pewter oxfords I mentioned above are great for my work now, and fill the function of a casual shoe as well.

A PT Shoe

Please, please, please do not go running in your old Keds. If you are going to run, or do whatever physical training you do, please buy the right kind of shoes for the job. Have your feet professionally fitted. The people at our local Fleet Feet are great at helping fit your foot, and find the best shoe for your foot. It is worth it to pay an expert. It costs far less than the medical bills that shoes with poor support can create! You can always go find your next pair on-line at a discount.

To Think about When Choosing a Shoe

Toe and Heel Shapes: Unless your personality calls you elsewhere, a toe shape that reflects the shape of your nose or chin will be most harmonious, and flattering. I prefer pointy-toed shoes, and have a pointy chin. A gently curved almond toe flatters most women. If your feet are very long, you may prefer a snip toe or a more rounded toe, and if your feet are small, you may like a shoe that is more pointy. Heel shapes are important for the back view. (Something we would often prefer to ignore.) If you have a curvy shape, you should look for a curvy shaped heel, and a straighter body shape should look for a straighter heel.

If you cannot walk comfortably heel-to-toe in a pair of shoes, please leave them behind! There is nothing elegant or sexy about a woman doing the “Frankestein walk” because her heels are too high. I have seen women in heels so high that they are unable to straighten their legs, creating a pulsating flamingo effect as they walk… (My husband even noticed one in the Target parking lot, and stopped me to ask me why a woman would do that. I ventured that she thought the shoes were sexy… He replied that there was nothing sexy about moving that way.)

Scale: I touched on heel shape and substance above, but even more important than shape for a heel is scale. A chunky wedge looks great on a larger scale woman. In the same way, a dainty strapped stiletto looks better on the woman with smaller scale ankles and calves. The width of the straps plays into scale, too! Thicker straps are good for larger scale women, medium straps for most of us, and thin straps for the thinner or more petite. If you are heavier, look for a heel with substance. High is fine, but that stiletto draws attention to the contrast between your more generous frame and the skinny heel, and makes you look wider. (Or about to topple over.) A thin woman may look bony in a very chunky heel.  Look for shoes that reflect your own physical characteristics.

Vamp:  The vamp is the open part on the top of the shoe. We generally think of lower vamp shoes as dressier, and higher vamp shoes as more casual: pumps vs. oxfords. A more open vamp creates the illusion of a longer leg, which flatters many of us. The sandals here have a high vamp, but if worn by a woman with skin similar in color to the straps, will not appear as a high vamp shoe. In black, they would have a shortening effect on a fair skinned woman. Ankle straps and shoes that tie high up on the foot create a shortening effect that is flattering for women who want to shorten their legs. (I have yet to meet one!) If you need the leg length, but really want to rock those ankle straps, find straps in your skin tone, and of the proper scale. Some women avoid low vamp shoes because they find toe cleavage unappealing. That is a matter of personal taste; try each pair. Knee high boots create a low vamp effect because of the unbroken line from knee to toe. Ankle booties in your skin tone create less of a line, but if you always wear them with pants, then a pair the color of the trousers you wear most often with them is the best choice for length.

What are your must-have shoes? Please share in the comments below! I love to hear from you…

And I must add a thank you to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link Up!