Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Month: August 2017

Adapting on the Fly

Adapting on the Fly

Any of you out in weblandia who follow my Facebook page have probably seen my Sunday Reminders. I am a fan of laying (or in my case hanging) out my clothes for the next day as part of my bedtime routine. This lowers my stress in the morning, and as I am less creative when I have just woken up, I am happier with an outfit that I planned when I was more alert! The bonus is fewer surprises in the morning; you know, the “#$%&, that shirt is in the dirty laundry” surprise or the “two different colored socks because the light was bad” surprise.

So what happens when the day doesn’t go planned? Adapt on the fly! Planning (and a carefully chosen color palette) makes that easier. Monday was a great example. I had a casual business meeting on my schedule, so I hung up this outfit: White Jeans, Blue Silky Blouse, Jewels, Turquoise Suede Wedges. I was sorted for the day. Monday dawns. My meeting was cancelled and my grandsons needed watching because they were both home sick from school… (That cancelled meeting turned into a blessing!) My adult day turned into a quick grocery run and hanging out with a sick Kindergartener and 2 year old. So the silky blouse went back in the closet, and a easy-wash tank in (almost) the same color replaced it. Sandals took the place of my pumps. Was I a little dressed up for child-minding? Maybe, but I felt good and put together in what I was wearing. I was ready to get out the door in a hurry to help, and feeling together is a valuable asset when children are cranky!

Do you hang out (or lay out) your clothes the night before? What is your least favorite morning dressing surprise? Please share in the comments below!



My Wardrobe Musts

My Wardrobe Musts

A few weeks ago I published a post about all the Must Have lists, and thinking about your lifestyle to determine YOUR Must Haves. Everywhere you look are wardrobe must have lists. I enjoy reading what others think are wardrobe musts, but these lists do not send me running off to the shops, because usually the writer’s life is very different from mine. One of the most comprehensive (beautifully illustrated and witty) is Nina Garcia’s 100.  but since my life is not nearly as jet-setty as hers, that 100 doesn’t work for me. Tim Gunn has an interesting list, as well, and I especially love his “sweatsuit alternative” (something comfy cozy and still presentable). In the interest of transparency, and satisfying some askers, here’s my 10.

#1 Narrow Trouser: I’m short. No euphemisms necessary. (Although I do like “fun-size” and altitudinally-challenged.) For me the standard trouser needs to be narrow, even when I am carrying extra weight. Wearing big pants just makes me look bigger. Most other lists have a skinny jean here, but I’ll throw my denim on with #10.

#2 White Knit Top: I have cool coloring, so mine is soft white. I love a white top for how cool it feels in May-October. (And for the fact that I can bleach it to get out all the food I drop on myself.) A nicely fitted white tee is harder to find than it should be, and unfortunately needs replacing frequently. (It’s the Goldilocks thing, people: not too loose, not too tight; not too thick, not too thin; not too long, not too short; not too high-necked, not too low-necked.)

#3 Colored Shoes: I know, everyone says you need a black pump, but unless your hair is very dark, they are not the most flattering choice. I love colored shoes, because most of my clothing is neutral.

#4 Sparkles: I would grab my big silver hoops if evacuating. Yup. Trivial, but they always make me happy and I love how they look with #9. If not those, then a fun necklace. Most likely turquoise.

#5 Big-ish Tote: This one is all about scale. If you are a large scale person, your large tote will dwarf mine. My current fave is 14.5 in X 6.5 in X 10.5 in. That wouldn’t be large on someone who is 5′ 10″, but on me, it’s plenty large. Bigger than a handbag, smaller than a tote, my everyday bag. Much bigger and I look like a child carrying Mummy’s handbag.

#6 Day Dress: Throw and go. That’s one of the reasons I love me a dress. That and the fact that in our unbearably-hot-for-6-months-of-the-year weather, a dress means less places the fabric is touching your body. No Waistband=More Coolness. Air circulation is a godsend.

#7 Short Cardigan: The long boyfriend (or grandpa) cardie is too long for me. (See shortness issue in #1) I opt for short; then, it also looks better with a dress. I am still looking for one I can turn around and wear buttoned up the back…

#8 Watch: Yup, again. I am old-school. Yes, this is a generational thing. Most of the under-30’s I know don’t wear a watch (unless they are medical personnel.)   I like a watch. As a matter of fact, I love my watch. It’s old, scratched, and sturdy; it has proven to be the best clothing/accessories purchase I ever made. Thank you LLBean!

#9 Neckerchief: Anyone who knows me, knows that this is a signature for me. Maybe you prefer long scarves, or maybe a scarf would never grace your neck. I can’t explain why they make me happy, they just do. Ideally, this neckerchief would be the same color as item #3 above!

#10 Denim Jacket: This is another signature item for me. Mine is years old, from Target. The one before that was Levi’s. Who knows from where the next one will come? It casual-izes any dress or trouser, and wards off the chill in frigid air conditioned spaces. Layered with a cardie underneath, it handles most of what qualifies for winter here in the CSRA. Other items move in and out of my wardrobe with the seasons, but the jean jacket is there 12 months of the year. Some day, heaven forfend,  I will pull it out of the washer to find it has come from togetherness. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. And a halt to all superfluous activity until a suitable replacement is found.

Looking over this list, everything here is rather mundane, and would certainly be the first things I would throw into a suitcase for almost any trip. It just goes to show that it is the personality of the wearer, and how she chooses and combines her basics that makes all the difference!

What are your top ten? What would you throw into your bag if you had to leave home in a hurry? Please share in the comments below!

Wardrobe Tips from Military Life

Wardrobe Tips from Military Life

When I appeared on the radio last week with John Patrick from Buzz on Biz, we talked about why I love what I do, and how it combines the creative with the analytical. He drew the connection between my time in the Navy, and my personal wardrobe philosophy. That has been jiggetting about in my brain since last Thursday. So, for your amusement, I share three things that my Naval service retaught me about dressing and image.

Uniforms Are Easy

Sure a military uniform is easy. You don’t have a lot of choices, and the work of the day generally determines what uniform you will be wearing. Civvie Parallel: Think about what your day holds, and dress accordingly. Have a “you-niform” (thanks Bridgette Raes) to fall back on when time is tight, all goes haywire, or plans are changed on you. My fallback is a simple dress, usually topped with a cardie (A/C can be brutal) and a scarf or splashy necklace. If I am in trousers, they are probably blue, with a white shirt, fun shoes, and some color by my face. No thought needed. Throw and go. Yours might be jeans and a colored tee with a cool stack of bracelets. Unless you are a yoga instructor, your “you-niform” should probably not be yoga pants…

Polish Your Shoes

One of the quickest hits during inspection was shoes. Scuffed, raw laces, not edge-dressed, or heels run down. We would put on freshly polished shoes at the very last second, and walk carefully down to line up for inspection. Civvie Parallel: Take care of your shoes. Find a good cobbler, not just one of the quickie shoe repair places (although they can be a godsend for heel taps in a pinch). Cobblers do still exist, but are becoming more rare than hen’s teeth. Find one, respect the craft, and treat him or her like the amazing gift he/she is. Buy shoes that can be improved. Care for them. Clean them. Polish them. Store them properly at the end of the season. (This sounds like it needs to be its own post, hunh?)

The Details Matter

Are your ribbons on straight!? Did you check with a ruler? Are they in the right order? Are your creases crisp? Is the edge of your belt buckle lined up exactly with the keeper? Yes, these details may seem trivial, but when everyone is wearing the same clothing, those little details stand out and shout. Civvie Parallel: Press clothing that should be crisp. Wear your trousers at the right length. Adjust your necklace(s) so that they hang at a flattering point. (Those are your balance points… That will be another post, too!) Change your shirt if it gapes at the buttons, or pulls across the bust. Look at yourself from head to toe (or even better, snap that full length selfie!) before you head out the door.

Bonus: White Chalk Hides a Multitude of Sins

We wore white uniforms from about March through September or so (depending on location). White trousers or a white skirt with a white shirt. Let me tell you, for me this was an enormous problem; I was (and still am) a walking food disaster. I learned the blessings of washing with bleach, and to carry a stick of white chalk in my bag to scribble on stains to hide them and absorb grease until I could get home and pop the poor garment back in the washer. Civvie Parallel: If you love white, try chalk, or just  carry a Tide To Go with you. At home, a damp washcloth to rub off stains (or baby wipe in a pinch) might just save the day.

Do any of these speak to you? Which one(s)? Please let me know in the comments below… I love to hear from you!

Playing Saturday Share Link-Up with the lovely Catherine at Not Dressed Like Lamb!

Buzz on Biz Podcast

Buzz on Biz Podcast

Long, long ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, and I was a young college student, I did a stint at our dorm area radio station as a weekend morning DJ with a four hour show. No one wanted the Sunday morning 8-12 slot. Everyone was asleep, and being there at 8 on a Sunday morning cut into Saturday night’s party time. I took it. How hard could it be? I found out.  Some of those mornings were painful, but I enjoyed being there in the quiet of the studio, doing my own thing, and sharing music I loved with the three listeners out there. That was all a hazy golden memory until…

Fast forward to last Thursday. I was invited to appear on the Buzz on Biz radio show with John Patrick, which airs on WRDW, AM 1630. The scheduler seemed surprised that I preferred to go to the station for the show rather than call in my interview by phone, but I couldn’t resist the chance to see a radio studio again, and besides, the sound quality would be better. What a pleasure the interview was!  John Patrick is a fabulous host; he puts you right at ease, and makes what could be intimidating feel like a cocktail party chat. We talked mostly about the Personal Services side of my business, and had a few laughs along the way. To hear the podcast, please click HERE.

The time flew right by, and there was so much more we could have talked about! If you have questions that he did not ask, please feel free to ask them in the comments below! What would you like to know?




To celebrate the launch of Closet Play Image (AND my acceptance as a Skilled Member of the Association of Image Consultants International — Woo Hoo!), I am giving away a Personal Style Consultation OR Wardrobe Audit ($300+ values) to one local winner to be selected at the end of August. The winner will be drawn on September 1, 2017. (Yes, Aiken is local. So is Grovetown. And Burke County! Even out Clark’s Hill Lake way…)

To help you decide which of my services would be best for you, here’s a taste of what the winning options include…

Personal Style Consultation

This comprehensive (3-4 hour) style consultation includes:

  • Personality, Lifestyle, and Values Analysis
  • What’s Working Now Breakdown
  • Physical Presence Awareness and Education
  • Somatype and Fabric Choice
  • Line and Design
  • Facial Evaluation: face shape, defining features, and other related aspects and includes recommendations for jewelry, necklines, hairstyles, makeup based on your unique qualities
  • Body Evaluation (No Measurements!): body shape, proportions, variations, clothing shapes to flatter your unique assets, what to avoid and how to camouflage, scale and how to use it to your advantage
  • Business and Social Dress Codes
  • Style File: your own customized 50+ page style portfolio with an overview diagram showing what to look for when shopping, and other reference materials for review
  • Mix and Match: a short session in your own closet, evaluating some favorite pieces and how to make them work even better for you

Wardrobe Audit

This 3-4 hour wardrobe review includes:

  • Personality, Lifestyle, and Values Analysis and
  • 3 hours closet work including:
  • What’s Working Now Breakdown
  • Piece by Piece Assessment (Fit, Potential, Modification)
  • Wardrobe Capsule Creation
  • Wardrobe Gap Evaluation
  • Shopping List for Future Purchases
  • Mix and Match: a session in your own closet, evaluating some favorite pieces and how to make them work even better for you
  • Closet Organization
  • Wardrobe Therapy File: your own customized 13 page style portfolio with capsule wardrobe worksheets and other reference materials for review
  • Removal/Donation of Unloved and Unwanted Items

How to Win

To enter, please comment below, and feel free to share with your friends! The more the merrier!

Wickenburg, Arizona (Part 1)

Wickenburg, Arizona (Part 1)

Before our trip, people kept asking me why, in the name of all that’s holy, would we go to Arizona in the middle of summer? Short answer: People we love live there. (And my husband had just finished a grad school quarter.) Timing perfect! Funny thing is, the residents of Wickenburg kept asking us the same question!

This is our third trip to Wickenburg, and although I must admit to preferring the cooler weather, there is always something to do and see, even out “in the middle of nowhere” as one local put it. Just in case you find yourself in the area, here are some thoughts… First, if you are coming in from the east on 60, stop at the Chaparral Ice Cream Shop You will regret passing them by! Their Hassayampa Mud Fudge is delicious, either with or without nuts, and just in case you need to know, it is amazing paired with their cappuccino ice cream. We were lucky to be there for live music from the Chaparral Cowboys who were kind enough to play a couple of requests for us.

When we lived in Spain, my neighbor, Carmen kindly explained to me her foolproof sightseeing method. When in Spain, head for the town’s main square, often the Plaza de España, find the tourist office and get tips from them. We continue to take that advice, modified for the country at hand! In W’burg, we hit the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce, which does double duty as the tourist office. This trip, they were in temporary digs at the old Wickenburg Hotel, across and up from the old train station (their usual spot).

We decided to do some poking about in the shops before getting lunch. We stopped at the fabulous Double H Custom Hat Company. This is the place to go if you want a real hat! Jimmy the Hat Man has been making custom hats for years, and they are gorgeous! I am thinking Christmas present for my husband… (Shhhh, don’t spill the beans!) Last visit I bought a beautiful straw hat from them that is a pleasure to wear. Here, custom means custom. They fit and shape hats on the spot. Another great place for gifts is the Rusty Rooster. My husband and I both fell in love with their woven wire baskets, and found the gourmet food treats hard to resist.

By now we were getting peckish (It happens quickly for us.), so we stopped at The Local Press Sandwich Bar, a great little sandwich shop! If there is no seating left inside, they have kindly put an umbrella over the outside table. My husband loved The Local, and the crunchy apples on the Gobbler were a cool touch on a very hot day. Beautiful and tasty sammies, served with a side of humor!

Early (around 5 AM) the next morning headed to the new Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. We thought that it was going to be a bit like the Stations of the Cross in nearby Yarnell, so were unprepared for a long hike. (No water, no sunscreen, no hats = desert disaster trifecta!) We decided to head up until the sun caught us, and then head back down to try again next visit. Watching the sun rise over the mountain made for a stunning climb. Every few hundred yards was a plaque dedicated to one of the Hotshots who died in the Yarnell fire. My husband commented how beautifully thought out the memorial climb was because it gave you a real feeling for these men and their passion for their vocation.

Later that day we headed back to town for dinner at Anita’s Cocina. We knew even before boarding the plane in Atlanta that we wanted to eat there again, and were praying they were not taking some sort of summer vacation. It is always a good bet to try their daily specials, and this afternoon was no exception!

On our way home that evening I was struck again by the severe beauty of the desert, and how different it is from our green and humid Georgia. On our drive from the airport, I had been overwhelmed by the vast dry landscape; this evening I was thankful we had stayed long enough for my eyes to adjust and see the subtle beauty I had previously overlooked.




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 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!