Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Month: August 2017

Center of Attention

Center of Attention

When you dress, what is the center of attention? You or your clothes? People often think that as an Image and Wardrobe Coach, I am all about the clothes, but that would be untrue. My focus is on my client, and keeping my client the center of attention, not the client’s clothes! Your clothes should reflect who you are, your best you, not someone else’s version of you.

Who’s Wearing Who?

Have you ever met someone, and you feel like you have known them forever, or they just seem familiar to you? Believe it or not, that is often a result of dressing with authenticity. Some call it style synchronicity. The outside reflects who they are on the inside, their personality, values, and lifestyle. When you find out more about them, there are no unpleasant surprises, and that kind of inner/outer integration creates trust. You leave feeling that you know that person better, and are likely remember the person, not what he or she was wearing.

Contrast that with attending an event where you met a woman, and later could not remember ther face, or name, but you did remember the purple dress she was wearing? Or the striped shirt he had on? Maybe you are watching a television interview, and you can’t keep focused on the person speaking because his tie is shouting “Look at ME!” In these cases, the clothes are wearing the person.

Sometimes we want our clothes to draw attention. Maybe you are going hunting… Yup, that particular shade of orange is a fabulous fashion choice! If you are speaking in front of a large group from a stage, again, something very eye-catching may be a great way to keep the audience’s focus; they aren’t seeing your face and expressions, so you need to appear larger than life. Most other times, though, the wearer should be the center of attention. We want to keep people focused on our face and expressions, what we refer to as our communication center.

The Flaw in the Plan

Fashion magazines, sale flyers, ads, runway shows… These visuals are often our main source of new fashion images, but these may not be the best place to pick up outfit ideas! They are a fabulous springboard for inspiration, but the carefully staged shots we see everywhere are designed to place the focus on the clothes. The whole point is to sell the clothes, not the models wearing them, so buying (or imitating) the outfit from top to bottom is likely to create a style and personality mismatch! One in which the clothes are doing the wearing. Another frequent inspiration is celebrity fashion, which although more wearer-focused, is still the product of a celebrity stylist, often with a “look” that is identifiable from client to client. Now, those celebrities may have similar personalities, but when you recognize the stylist behind the outfit, by the outfit, that should be a warning flag!

An Easy Way to Check the Focus

One of the easiest ways to check the focus is probably laying right at hand… Yes, I mean your smartphone camera. Take a full-length selfie after you get dressed in the morning (it only takes about a minute) and look at yourself in the picture. What do you notice first? Your face? Or is it the way your trousers are catching on your booties? Others see us far more like a camera sees us. The picture helps because when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we tend to focus on what we want to camouflage first, to see if that has been taken care of… or we skim past the bits we’d rather not see. Neither gives the more objective view of the camera lens. Try it for a week, and look back over the week’s pictures. What do you see?

Learning New Things: Beauty Forum

Learning New Things: Beauty Forum

I am all about learning new things! You don’t even need to sell me on how what you want to teach me will help me today, or even this week. I just like to learn. You never know when something you learn today, that seems totally unrelated to your life, may be just the knowledge you need tomorrow… (Buy me a cup of coffee and I’ll tell you my tax preparation school story!) Or you may simply have been gifted information to share with others.

I had a learning adventure this morning! I was fortunate to be invited to a Personal & Beauty Care Forum sponsored by  the Greater Augusta Black Chamber of Commerce. There were representatives from many personal & beauty care businesses and schools in attendance, including students from the some of the local cosmetology and barbering schools. To the best of my knowledge, I was the only Image and Wardrobe Coach there, unless another one slipped in after we made the introductions! I went in with eyes and ears wide open, to learn as much as I could about the issues and problems salon owners and other beauty related businesses have, and what problems might be specific to black business owners, and how those problems affect their clientele.

What a variety of perspectives, and a wealth of experience was there this morning! I met some wonderful professionals, with whom I hope to connect again soon. I learned about cosmetology schools and barbering schools, on both sides of the river, and met a lovely young woman in the middle of big life changes who seems a little unsure if she is making the right decision.

One of the reasons I love what I do as an Image & Wardrobe Coach is that I get to learn everyday. Maybe I am learning about new trends or colors, or learning about a new client and his life and goals, to help that client get the most out his wardrobe dollar. Tomorrow could be meeting with a salon owner to find out what kind of image she wants her salon and stylists to project, and presenting a workshop to help her make that dream a reality.

What kinds of things do you want to learn? Please share with me in the comments below!

Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

The familiar quote above is from CC Colton, although others have said similar through the ages. In our social media (especially Pinterest) age, where are the lines between imitation, inspiration, and cultural appropriation?

Imitation and Inspiration

I will say flat out, that I have no answers here! This is all interpretation, unless you are dealing with patent law, and piracy, neither of which involve flattery, merely profit. For fashion or style, I define imitation as the the duplication of another’s look. Maybe, you are trying to duplicate one of Kate Middleton’s maternity looks for a baby shower. You find the same dress, and the closest possible shoes, but alas, you cannot duplicate the jewels! Understandable, so you go for a matching set you have that is similar. You are trying to recreate her look. That says imitation to me. Pre-teens do this all the time; I am sure most of us have seen two or three together, (sometimes more!) wearing matching outfits.

Inspiration works on a much looser principle. You like someone’s look, and you take something from that look, and make it your own. Maybe you use the color scheme, or the proportions, or the way she mixed her jewelry, but you do it using your own items, in a way that works for your personality, shape, and lifestyle. I have a client who loves Katherine Hepburn in her wide legged trousers and crisp white shirts, and Nicole Kidman’s modern interpretation of that same Elegant Chic. My client would be swamped in wide legged trousers, and does not wear woven shirts, but she takes her inspiration from the color combinations, and simple accessories they use.

Cultural (Mis)Appropriation

Talk of imitation and inspiration often leads to a discussion on cultural (mis)appropriation. This is a messy topic, and much like the author of this article in The Atlantic, I do not want to only live the culture of my Irish, German, and Alsatian ancestors; I would look silly running about in a dirndl and shawl. (Although a pint of Guiness would not be a strain…) I can see how taking elements from another’s culture, using them for profit, and not giving credit is a problem, as the author of this Thoughtco.com article elucidates. Years ago, I was astonished when a folk-dance enthusiast and instructor commented on a necklace I was wearing. She recognized it as an antique Kuchi Wedding Necklace (I think…) and asked how it came to be in my possession. She told me these necklaces were very special pieces, and rarely left the family. When I put on the silver necklace that was a gift from my mother, I was not pretending to be an Afghan bride. My mother saw it at an estate sale, and thought the craftsmanship beautiful; it is a work of art.  I wear it with that same appreciation. I appreciate its beauty even more, now that I know more about it.

Most of us are past the imitation phase in our lives, so, where do you find inspiration for your outfits? Please share in the comments below!

 

10, 20, 30

10, 20, 30

Fashion lists are everywhere! The Top 10 Items You Must Have for Fall. 20 Things No Woman Should Wear after 40.  30 Things Every Woman Should Own by the Age of 30. Magazines and fashion websites are full of these lists. Hooooey! I don’t think there is any clothing that is a must-have for EVERY woman. My must-haves and yours will vary widely. Mine includes a pair of red shoes. You may have absolutely no need for red shoes. I do not need the ubiquitous black pumps on almost every list… Not anymore!

To Thine Own Self Be True

This is where the rubber hits the road. Personality, values, and lifestyle. These are what will create your personal must-have list. I know a woman who wear jeans almost daily, and life without them would be unimaginable. I know another woman who has not worn a pair of jeans in more than 30 years, and sees no reason to change that. The list requiring The Perfect Dark Jean is not for the latter, nor is the one calling for a tuxedo jacket for the former! Know yourself, know your lifestyle, know your values.

Categories (and Perfect)

What can be learned from the lists is categories of clothing that may need to be addressed in your wardrobe. Note the MAY! When the list calls for The Perfect White Shirt, and you are a warm-complexioned mom with 3 preschool children at home, who despises collars because they make you feel like you are choking, the white shirt is probably not for you! (Yes, that sentence was waaaay too long!)  Let’s take that shirt and think about the purpose it serves… Its category: light colored top to pair with jeans, skirts, and shorts. Maybe your Perfect White Shirt is a nicely finished ivory tee that can be machine washed and dried. The Classic Trench? Look for rain protection, in a 3 season weight. Your values may prohibit the Perfect Leather Jacket; if you love the look, find yourself a casual, rough and ready jacket in some other material. I despise the tyranny of the Perfect Anything. Perfection is not attainable here on Earth… (Settling for good enough is a problem for another post.)

What Categories Fit Your World?

If you are a yoga instructor, you will need a week’s worth of yoga gear. The rest of us, not so much. Sorry. Your life may require special clothing for work, and more casual presentable clothes for “play.” If you spend your days in the C-suites, your wardrobe should reflect that. If you never go clubbing, skip the bodycon dance dresses. The one category I do believe everyone needs to cover is the “something appropriate to wear to a funeral, or for a meeting with a lawyer or accountant.” For one woman that might be a sheath dress and a jacket, for another, dark trousers and a nice blouse. You do not want to have to run out and buy something at the last minute when you are, or someone you love is grieving. (Sorry I can’t be there for you… I have to go to the mall.)

Spend some time thinking about how you spend your time, what is important to you, and what makes you happy. Write down what you discover. When you don’t, you waste money on clothes that your closet wears, and still lack what you need. Much of what I do as an Image and Wardrobe Coach is help people figure those three things out. Some call it closet therapy!

I told you red shoes were on my list. What’s on yours? Please let me know in the comments below!

Beauty Bundles

Beauty Bundles

I love the ever amazing Brenda Kinsel, and the versatility of what she (and many others, now) calls Beauty Bundles. A Beauty Bundle (BB) is a group of coordinated accessories that can be used to add a punch to a variety of outfits. Think of them as accessory families. Now don’t panic. A BB is not fixed; you don’t have to wear all the pieces at once, and there is no set number of pieces required. You probably have some at home already…

(Please forgive my extremely amateur photos… They were taken years ago, for my own reference, ages before I ever imagined I would be blogging!)

Color or Theme?

Often, BB’s are thought of as a way to add color to an outfit, and they can be a great way to pop your neutrals, or add a second color to an outfit without feeling like you are dressed like a clown. If a Beauty Bundle is an accessory family, think of the bundle’s DNA as what makes it hang together. That DNA could be a color, or a theme. I have a polka dot problem (no there is no support group available, yet!) and pulled together a polka dot bundle. No, I would not wear all my polka dots at once, but I would mix up two or maybe three! Maybe you feel a little rebellious some days and need a Rock-n-Roll Bundle. One summer, feeling a little sad that a trip to Capri was not on my itinerary (A friend was going and I was extremely happy for her, as well as a little jealous), I pulled together a Capri beauty bundle. In my mind’s eye, that meant turquoise blue, gold, and white, and a boho luxe flair. While she was away, I joined her (in spirit) on her trip by wearing items from my Capri bundle each day. Crazy? Probably, but it made me happy, and when we did sneak off to the beach later in the summer, I packed my bundle, and that long weekend became my Capri!

Packing with a Bundle

Which brings us to one of the ways Beauty Bundles can be most effectively used. Packing! I love to travel, and will throw together a suitcase at the drop of a hat. Weekend away is one of my favorite phrases in the English language. A BB, whether by color, or theme, can help a suitcase full of basics turn into a customized travel wardrobe. Imagine my Capri bundle on the left packed with white jeans, a white tee, a denim shirt, a turquoise tee, and a chambray sundress and a swimsuit. You would be dressed for days, with very little in your bag!

Pulling Together a Bundle

Since color is the easiest place to start, head to your closet or drawers and choose a colored accessory. It could be a pair of shoes, a scarf, a handbag, or jewelry. This is your starting point. Now look through your other pieces and see what else you have that shares that piece’s color DNA. Look everywhere. Bandanas count, too! Take a snapshot of your bundle, and next time you put on jeans and a white tee, add two or three pieces from your bundle, and see if you don’t feel more polished.

Back to School Shopping? Shop Your Wardrobe First!

Back to School Shopping? Shop Your Wardrobe First!

What is it about all the back to school shopping ads that makes me want to pick up my purse, and head to the stores with a list? Years of early training sets habits that are hard to break. Back-to-school used to be the second largest driver for clothing retail, right up there with Christmas. As a girl, I remember my mother taking me to the store for new school shoes to replace the grown-out-of pair from the previous year, and new blouses to wear with my uniform skirts. The skirts rarely needed replacing; they wore like iron! Most of the school shopping for the year was done, and unless a growth spurt sized me out of something, that was it. I continued the habit with my sons. Now I have no one at home to back-to-school shop for, but the drive is still strong!

Out of Season

A frequent client complaint is that the items in the stores don’t match our seasons, especially for those of us who live in warm climes. Here in Georgia, we may very well be wearing sandals all the way through November. By the time we need cold weather gear, the stores have moved onto resort wear, and spring items are on the shelves. My (not so sympathetic) response is PLANNING. You know the “cold” will come. It does. Every year. Plan for it. I don’t know when Planning and Budgeting became dirty words. Both are powerful tools, and pack a real punch when used together!

Budgeting

Do you have a clothing budget? If not for yourself, how about for your family? I would venture to guess that the answer is no. Most of the people I talk to, unless they are in finance, don’t bother thinking about a clothing budget. They may choose an amount they want to spend on Christmas shopping or on a personal shopping trip, but overall, most Americans seem to have lost the concept of a budget. At one time, back-to-school shopping had to be saved up for… Now, we can buy almost anything we want on credit. No worries, right? Recreational shopping (aka: malling, retail therapy, hitting the shops) wreaks havoc with a budget, unless you have the discipline (another out of fashion word) to keep your wallet in your pocket, and wait for the right item at the right price. Many financial calculators put the amount you should spend annually on clothing at anywhere from 5-10% of your total budget. (If you are dressing a family, your number should be at the higher end of the range.) Just knowing how much you have to spend makes you a more careful shopper.

Pre-Planning

One of my favorite quotes about planning is from Dwight D. Eisenhower (a man who knew something about preparation). He said that when preparing for a battle, “plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Your wardrobe is no different! You should have a wardrobe that flatters you, fits your lifestyle, supports your goals, makes you happy, AND fits your budget. This does not happen by accident! I firmly believe that you should always have something in your closet appropriate to wear to a funeral, or to a meeting with a lawyer or financial professional. (Emergency shopping for these situations tends to lead to poor and/or expensive purchases…) A ready-for-your-life wardrobe is possible, but only if you think before you buy. Do you know what you need? I see clients who think they need a new pair of trousers, only to find they have three with price tags, hanging in the closet unworn. Please, do your closet, your bank account, and the planet a favor. Start in your own closet. Instead of spending three hours at the mall, spend those three hours going through what you already own. You are going to stock your own personal boutique. Put on some music. Grab a glass of water. Try things on just like you would in the store. (Bonus: You can grab the right shoes, too!) If an item does not fit, suit you, or you wouldn’t buy it from a store today, it probably does not deserve a place in your boutique. Bless someone else with it. There are hundreds of articles and videos about how to do a wardrobe audit.

Planning

Now that you know what you have, you probably have a better idea of what you need. Were the two tops you wear with your workhorse trousers past their prime? Did you finally say good-bye to those too tight/too baggy/too faded jeans? Take a close look at what you have, and what you need to buy to make outfits. Start your list. You don’t need to list “pink button-down shirt” just because you got rid of one. Is that really what you need, or do you need a flattering light colored shirt to wear to work, and with jeans? Maybe a dark colored jacket would pull together those trousers and blouse to give them a professional edge. Maybe you just need some casual pants that don’t say yoga. Once you have a plan, and know how much you are willing to spend, you can head to the shops.

Now, Shop!

Armed with a list, and aware of your budget is a great way to make a shopping trip easier, whether at the mall, or online. You don’t need to waste time looking at everything (and consequently find nothing). If you know what you are looking for, you are more likely to bring home something you need and will wear. If you don’t love it (unless you really have nothing left at home) don’t bring it home. If a trip without a purchase feels like a waste of time, think of the trip as a money saving reconnaissance mission!

If all of this sounds like too much work or is too stressful, you can always call a professional… I would love to hear from you!

 

Good Colors/Bad Colors

Good Colors/Bad Colors

I love color! As a matter of fact, if you want to see me break into a grin, just hand me a new box of crayons… There’s so much potential in those little bits of wax and pigment! Now, I should make something clear. Just because I love color, does not mean I wear just any color, or lot of it, and I don’t wear a lot of colors at once. I do love color, especially the right colors on the right person!

What is a Good Color?

The power of color is that it can make you look like you have just won the lottery, or are at death’s door. Some people will look at a color, say Pantone’s Golden Lime, and say “Yuck!” because it is a color that does not appeal to them. Maybe they had a bad experience with that color, or maybe they know that it makes them look like death on a stick. They can’t imagine that color being flattering, but there are people on whom Golden Lime will look amazing! Golden Lime will make them look gorgeous, vibrant, and like they have a fabulous secret.

How do you know what colors look good on you? Have you every worn an item and, all day long, people remarked, “You look great today! Did you do something different?” You were wearing one of your best colors. Notice that I did not say they commented on the color. There’s a difference. In the first case, you were wearing the color, and in the second, it was wearing you. Every color is a “good color,” on the right person, and a “bad color” on the wrong person.

Your Perfect Colors

You were given your perfect coloring at birth, and that coloring gradually changes throughout your life. The colors and combinations that look best on you will be a reflection of the colors that are already a part of you. Some take that to mean that if you have brown hair you should wear brown, but it is not that simple. If you look closely at your iris, you will see a variety of colors there. A green eyed person may have 5 different shades of green in her eyes, along with the outer ring which she may have thought was brown, but on closer inspection turns out to be a deep smoky navy. Look, also, at your cheeks. There are so many different shades of pink there when you blush. All of those colors in your eyes, and your God-given blush are beautiful colors for you! (And so many more!) Next, we add in the other colors from the color wheel, in the correct values, that are complements of your personal colors, along with the various triads, and analogous colors that all come from your personal coloring.

I Love Orange…

Confession: I love orange, but I do not wear it. In any shade. It makes me look ghastly. I indulge my love of orange in other ways. My favorite coffee mug is orange, and it brightens my morning. I surround myself with colors I love, and I try not to wear the ones that don’t love me…