Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Month: October 2017

Abundance… When does Enough become Too Much?

Abundance… When does Enough become Too Much?

How much is enough? In the immortal words of Larry the Cucumber… “I don’t know; how much stuff is there?” (Larry was answering Bob’s query about how much you need to be happy.) It’s funny how that number shifts. Unless you are well on your way to a minimalist lifestyle, I would say that most us have more than we need in our closets, but need is a very relative term… I have no magic item count for an ideal wardrobe. That varies for every person. I have seen people happy with everything from 15 to 300 pieces. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before adding something to your closet. (These are also good questions for a Wardrobe Audit!)

Does it fit my lifestyle? (AND my budget!)

Is the item in your hot little hands something you will wear? Or, as Bridgette Raes asks “Where are you going in that?” A fabulous dry-clean-only millennial pink skirt suit may be a perfect fit, and a great deal, but if you are a classroom teacher of littles and spend your evenings with your own children on the sidelines of the soccer pitch, maybe it is best left on the rack.

As an Image and Wardrobe Coach, people often think I am all about designer clothing. If that’s what makes you happy, and it’s in your budget, fantastic! I shop at all price points, and always try to work within a client’s budget. I may push outside someone’s item-price-limit (i.e. Jane will not pay more than $50 for a pair of shoes.), because the client is not thinking about cost-per-wear and total budget, but about price.

Do I already have something similar at home?

(Or: How many pair of black trousers are in your closet?) Your easy find may be black pants, or colored tees, or tennis shoes, but realistically: How many do you need? This is another Know Thyself (KT) question. How many weeks’ worth of clothing do you feel you need before repeating an outfit? How often do you do laundry? If you are looking at neutral basics, those can be worn more frequently without anyone noticing, but bright or patterned tops do stand out more, so you may find you want more variety. According to a 2015 article by a denim expert, the average American woman owns 7 pair of jeans, and 25 percent of American women own 10 or more pairs. Both groups only wear 4 pair regularly. Are those new jeans going to change your world, or just going to keep the unworn ones company?

Is this a replacement for something I already own? (Corollary: Will I get rid of the piece it is replacing?)

If you have worn something out, or worn it to a lower level of refinement, replace it if a new one still serves your purposes. I try to ask myself, “Do I love this XYZ more than the one I am replacing?” Ideally, a yes means that the old and trusted one can now retire! If you do buy a replacement, what are you going to do with the worn out one? I know people who have new pieces with tags still on, but they are wearing the threadbare one because the new one is for “good.” Really? Get over good. Any day I am still breathing qualifies as good.

Can I make at least three looks with this piece and what I already have at home in my wardrobe?

Here’s the question to help prevent sad and lonely Wardrobe Orphans. You love that breezy boho blouse because it is so different from the closet full of fitted tops you own. Great! Maybe it’s time to try a new silhouette! What are you going to wear with it? Do you pair all those fitted tops with wider legged bottoms for flattering volume and proportion? Then blousy boho top will need a pair of narrow trousers for balance. Do you have any, or will you need to buy a new bottom to make it work? Buying an outfit is fine, but keep in mind that you will only be wearing that outfit one way, and may tire of it very quickly. How about looking for a more fitted top with the same feel that you could wear with at least three bottoms you already have at home? Or go for the experiment, and be ready to buy more narrow trousers later if you like the new look!

Do I love it? On a scale of 1-10 is it at least an 8?

This can be the hardest question of all. There are lots of ways an item can be an 8. Maybe you are tired of cold wet feet. Those new boots, although not your favorite look, will make your winter morning commute more bearable every day for 4 months of the year. That ranks as a 10 for me, but might not for another woman! Ranking a potential purchase comes down to really knowing your values and personality. If you are all about comfort, then that gorgeous scratchy sweater may be a 2 for you, but a 10 for someone else.  I see lots of color impulse purchases. Someone loved the color (10), but not the fit (4), or feel (2). Make sure the whole garment is an 8, not just one aspect!

So, When is Enough Too Much?

Abundance becomes too much when you can’t keep what you own in order, you can’t keep track of it, or can’t stop buying. It is very easy to confuse want and need, and to fall into the buy-something-new-for-a-mood-boost trap. (AKA: Retail Therapy.) If you feel like your closet is out of control, you may want the help of someone like me, or if the shopping habit has become an issue, check out Jill Chivers’ amazing site, My Year Without Clothes Shopping.  I have completed a few shopping fasts since we moved to Georgia, some for Lent, and twice for a year each, and learned new things about myself each time! If your abundance has become too much, a fast might be just the ticket to appreciating what you do have. If a year seems a bit drastic, maybe just a shopping free month, or start small with a week. Apparently, Americans add about 52 items to their wardrobe yearly. That’s something new each week. Yikes!

Do you have enough? Or too much? Do you define it by number? Or some other way? Please share in the comments below!

Randomness

Randomness

It’s another Lazy Saturday post, but there is nothing lazy about this coming weekend. I have been privileged (that word again) to be able to sponsor a women’s retreat this weekend, and will be there part of Saturday, and then I want to get our Halloween decorations up this weekend, along with the grocery shopping, and regular weekend runaround. Halloween is my favorite holiday, and our wedding anniversary as well! This year will be the big 25. We always know what we will be doing on our anniversary… Handing out candy to small monsters and monstresses!

I started my Baker’s Dozen Capsule last weekend, and it has already been making my days easier, except for needing to take a snap each day to document it. Pffffft. Forgot about that part. If you are looking for daily snaps you can find them on my Instagram.

Here’s a brilliant and quick video on questions to ask yourself before choosing a hairstyle. Hint: your face shape is NOT the first consideration! Take Imogen’s advice and eliminate “bad hair day” from your vocabulary. Yes, you can keep the ball cap, but now you won’t have the excuse!

If I have hours to spare, the YouTube rabbit hole down which I could tumble headlong is The Ultimate Fashion History. Amanda Hallay is immensely knowledgeable, and intensely funny, to boot! You would be hard pressed not to find a video that will interest you. There is something there for everyone, even those who can’t imagine fashion history being of any interest at all!

As I always try to include a “real book,” I didn’t want The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared to end. I realize I am late to the game, and that it was made into a movie in 2013, but OMGoodness. My poor husband has been subjected to more than half of it as I am unable to stop reading aloud to him every time I burst out laughing. Just when you think it can’t get any more ludicrous, it does.

Wishing you a peace-filled and/or restful weekend! Whichever it is you need to recharge…

 

V Body Shape

V Body Shape

Previously, I have talked about different women’s body shapes, and how body shape has to do with your skeleton, and with the way your “meat” is attached to those bones. So far, we have tackled the AX8, and I. To determine body shape, we look at the shoulders and hips, and their relationship to each other, and at whether the waist is defined or not. When we talk about the X, 8, and I, we say that those are balanced shapes, meaning that they are even in (visual) width at the shoulders and the hips. The A is an unbalanced shape, with hips wider than the shoulders. The V is another unbalanced shape; but with the shoulders wider than the hips.

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

(This first part is the same for all body shapes!) To determine your body shape, take a full length photo of yourself in leggings and a form-fitting cami. Print out the picture if you can, and lay a ruler on it. Draw a straight line from your shoulder bone (not the outside of your arm) to the widest part of your hip. For some women this will be at the hip bones. For some, the widest part may be across the leg crease. If the line you draw angles in toward your hips from wider shoulders, you may be a V. Some V’s have waists, and others have no defined waist. V’s are often thought of as having a “swimmer’s body.”  V’s are often the envy of their hippier sisters like A’s, X’s and 8’s. Celebrity V’s include Cameron Diaz., Demi Moore, and Hayden Panettiere.

V’s What to Wear

If the goal is to balance your hips and shoulders, then V’s may do this by wearing darker colors on the top and lighter colors on the bottom. Raglan sleeves, and plain tops are good choices. Skirts and pants with horizontal patterns or details also can also help balance the bottom. Whiskering on jeans works for V’s, as do cargo pockets which many other body shapes need to avoid. Gathered and pleated skirts balance the shoulders as well. Trousers or jeans with a flare or bootleg are flattering. V’s should look for tops and jackets that have v-necks or low lapels, and look great in jackets with patch or flap pockets near the hips. Feeling fancy? Halterneck dresses and gowns are made for you, Miss V! The V body shape is the opposite of the A, and they dress “oppositely” too…

V’s What to Avoid

V’s wanting to create balance should avoid drawing attention to the shoulders. Pass by the tops and jackets with epaulettes, cap sleeves, gathered or puffed shoulders. Spaghetti straps on tops just make those broad shoulders look even more broad. Shiny and blousy fabrics on the top will also create more volume where it is not needed. Wide, high lapels like those on biker jackets also create more unnecessary width. Stay away from double-breasted styles to avoid adding bulk to your upper half.

When You Love It Anyway

I am sure everyone is tired of hearing the alterations mantra, but it suits for every body type. V’s may find tailoring trousers to take out bulk from the hips and thighs a necessity. Buy jackets and tops to fit through the shoulders, and have the body tapered to fit properly. If a blousy ruffled top is a must have, wear a long vest over it to create a smoother longer line. If you must wear a top with a very high or closed neckline, draw verticals with jacket openings  or even a long necklace or two. Gotta have those skinny jeans? Pair them with riding boots for balance.

Clothing as Language

Clothing as Language

I was privileged to be asked to participate in a Professional Empowerment Seminar for women this week! The sponsor was a financial advisor particularly interested in helping women secure their financial independence. While finance and fashion may seem an odd combination, empowerment is at the root of how both of us work. I thought I would share just three of the questions I was asked here, as well as (what I remember of) my answers.

What is the most common question that people ask you when they find out what you do?

I get very different reactions from men and women. Women are often more interested in finding out what I do, and how, but usually the first thing men will ask is a confident “How’d I do?” accompanied by a head to toe gesture with the hands. My reply is usually “That depends… What did you mean to say?” Which gets me a quizzical look until I explain that dress is communication, and that you speak volumes with what you put on each day to go out the door, whether you gave it any thought or not.

What is the difference between Fashion and Style?

Those two terms are often used interchangeably, especially in the media. When I use them, fashion is the clothing found in the stores, or in our closets. Fashion is the “stuff” or even the trends or the looks that define an age. Think big shoulders in the 1980’s were the fashion, or Athleisure is a current fashion favorite. Style, in contrast to Fashion, is the outward expression of your personality. Fashion is the tool you use to express your Style. Yves Saint Laurent said it best when he said “Fashion fades, but Style is eternal.”

What does Fashion (or Style) have to do with empowerment?

This question could be answered with a doctoral thesis! In a nutshell, what we wear affects not only how others perceive us, but also how we feel about ourselves, and even how we perform. Psychologists call this “enclothed cognition.” If you ever had a “lucky” shirt, or shoes you were taking advantage of enclothed cognition. Have you ever noticed how when you feel like you look good you walk with a spring in your step? You carry yourself differently, with more confidence. I call that empowerment. For many women this is hit and miss, and many days they don’t feel great walking out the door. Some people have a talent for style, but dressing to one’s best advantage is an art and science every woman can learn. You don’t need anyone’s permission to dress yourself to feel great. Give yourself permission; that’s empowerment!

Anything you would like to ask? Please do in the comments below!

Why I Love a Good Capusle

Why I Love a Good Capusle

Traveling through this strange and wonderful adventure we call life, I keep finding that people often fall into one of two categories when it comes to clothing. Some are Options Lovers, and others are Limits Lovers. You may be an Options Lover, and for you a closet full of a rainbow of colors, styles, and silhouettes makes you happy as a clam at high water. You may be a Limits Lover that finds all that choice overwhelming, and prefer fewer pieces, colors, or silhouettes. Other Limits Lovers find that fewer choices opens a door to creativity, that the Options Lover can’t image with so little. Neither is right or wrong. They are both right for themselves! It is a matter of knowing thyself, and what works for you.

I have been a Limits Lover for a long time. That would be why I love me a good capsule. I think it’s probably related to my inventory tendencies. The next few weeks are going to be bananas crazy around here, and for me fewer choices means happier me. So, this past weekend I pulled out a Baker’s Dozen Capsule; 13 pieces for 31 days should help me find just a few more minutes of time in my day, and less stress making decisions.

If you are so inclined, you are welcome to visit my Facebook Page where I posted a completely unprofessional (unedited) and chatty video of me talking through showing my selected pieces.

What makes you happier? Are you an Options Person for your wardrobe, or a Limits Person? Please let me know in the comments below!

PS: Thank you Katherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the link-up!

Random Thoughts on Inventory

Random Thoughts on Inventory

I have always been an inventory taker and list maker; it is just part of my personality. I remember sitting up in the branches of the willow tree in our front yard (I spend countless childhood hours up there.) thinking about what toys I would take if my family had to move and all I could take was a suitcase. My mother came to the US from Germany as a child with her family, and that awareness of leaving it all behind must have seeped into my childhood consciousness. The space race, and TV sci-fi fueled my inventory habit… What 10 movies, books, you-name-its would I take on a space mission? Fast forward to adulthood and a three year tour of duty in England.

When we lived in England, one of my favorite radio shows on BBC Radio 4 was Desert Island Discs. If you are not familiar, the presenter speaks with a wide variety of interview subjects, everyone from authors, scientists and stars, to corporate types and academics. The interview is based on what 8 music tracks you would take with you were to find yourself on a desert island. You are gifted the complete works of Shakespeare, another book, and one luxury item. (I thought that at one time the Bible was another freebie, but I may be mistaken…) I loved the glimpse into others’ personalities, and thought processes.

The inventory habit can be illuminating, and may explain why I am drawn to capsule wardrobes, experiments like Project 333, or the Six Item Challenge. All require an inventory. During the liturgical year, Lent is a time of inventory as well, which might explain why I look forward to Lent, rather than getting stressed or depressed.

So in the spirit of inventory, I am pondering a Bakers’ Dozen Challenge, 13 items for a month of dressing. (Although I will not include my Halloween costume in my 13!)

I’m also beyond excited about going to see Blade Runner 2049, this weekend. The original has been on my 10 Movies to Take to Mars list since it came out when I was in university! Just for the record, I prefer the original with the narration vice the director’s cut without.

Here’s wishing you a fabulous weekend! Are you an inventory taker, or does the thought put you into a panic? Please let me know in the comments below!

I Body Shape

I Body Shape

Previously, I have talked about the different women’s body shapes, and how body shape has to do with your skeleton, and with the way your “meat” is attached to those bones. So far, we have tackled the A, X, and 8. To determine body shape, we look at the shoulders and hips, and their relationship to each other. We also look at whether the waist is defined or not. All three we have looked at so far are curvy waisted shapes. Today we will talk about the I, less curvy, and without a defined waist.

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

(This first part is the same for all body shapes!) To determine your body shape, take a full length photo of yourself in leggings and a form-fitting cami. Print out the picture if you can, and lay a ruler on it. Draw a straight line from your shoulder bone (not the outside of your arm) to the widest part of your hip. For some women this will be at the hip bones. For some, the widest part may be across the leg crease. If the line you draw is perpendicular to the ground and there is little to no difference between your vertical line and your waist, you are an I. I’s are straight up and down, and are often thought of as a model’s figure. I’s tend to be very thin; many curvy women wish they were I’s, but the I often wishes she were curvier! (A classic grass is always greener situation!) Celebrity I’s include Keira Knightly, Nicole Ritchie, and Nicole Kidman.

I’s What to Wear

I’s are fortunate in that clothes generally hang well on them. If the I wants to create curves, she should look for details that draw attention to the bust and hips. The ruffles and pleats that other body shapes avoid look fabulous on I’s. I’s look great in horizontal patterns like stripes, even wide ones. No worries about looking too padded in a Breton! Double breasted jackets create width, and can create curves. Flared short sleeves are great on I’s, as are tops with gathers and breast pockets. Gathered or pleated skirts can create the illusion of hips. Belts are an I’s friend, and can create a waist, especially with a softly bloused top. I’s can use color strategically to create curves as well.

I’s What to Avoid

I’s can be bony, and this often appears most prominently in the decolletage. You can avoid drawing attention to this by wearing higher necklines, or softening the neckline with ruffles or gathers. Skip big statement necklaces that lie here as well. I’s can easily be overwhelmed by large scale patterns and oversized pieces. Too much volume can make you look lost inside your clothes. Unless you want to always tuck your jeans, carefully check knee high boots before buying to ensure that they do not gape at the calf.

When You Love It Anyway

Finding small enough clothes can be a real challenge for a petite I. Alterations and tailoring are one of the I’s best friends. Tops with too much volume can be taken in at the bust, and frequently trousers will need the same, especially through the hips and thighs. Pieces that are very tailored and shaped can be softened with feminine details. If you really want to wear that statement necklace, pair it with a turtleneck, or crew neck top for impact without overwhelming your decolletage. The same necklace can also look fabulous worn over a collared shirt. Large cuff or bangle bracelets can work with the same treatment.

Work Wear Issues

Work Wear Issues

I was asked to write a series of articles for a local business paper, Buzz On Biz. This first article is an introduction–some thoughts about from where many business dress issues arise. I thought I would share it here, as readers may be familiar with some of these in their own workplaces…

“Paul, we have issues with how your team is dressing. Please handle that.” Employee Dress Issues: Three words that strike terror into the hearts of supervisors, managers, and Human Resources professionals everywhere. Dress issues crop up regularly, but no one wants to manage them; it is messy and awkward. Most employee dress issues stem from four causes.

Assumptions

Assumptions can be dangerous! When management hires a new employee, the managers assume the new hire understands what dress is required, because he or she came to the interview appropriately dressed. Employee dress codes should be discussed during the interview process, to make sure that the applicant understands what will be required. This also creates an awareness from the start that employee dress is a matter of importance to the company.

In the absence of a written dress code, reviewed and signed by the employee, a new hire makes assumptions based on what he or she sees others wearing. Taking cues from others who are inappropriately dressed, or from employees with a different position and dress requirement, creates a problem. Newly promoted employees may run into the same issues as the newly hired, and the same courtesy of explanation should be afforded them.

Dress Code Ambiguity

Found in an employee handbook: “Female employees may not wear short skirts.” Dress codes are rife with rules like this.  Any parent of a teen will tell you that “short” is far too open to interpretation! Define short. Ask five different people if a skirt is short. Unless it is skirting indecency laws (My apologies, the pun was too hard to resist!) there will be disagreement. Lest you think ambiguity is simply an issue for women and their hemlines, prohibiting clothing with slogans or logos sounds simple, right? Does the horse on the pocket count? Is the boss’ shirt pocket monogram a problem?  Do I have to cut the tag off my jeans? Creating a clear written dress code with visuals to illustrate both correct and incorrect modes of dress gives everyone a clear standard.

Inconsistent Dress Code Application

When employees feel targeted, whether individually, by gender or by job, for dress code violations, morale takes a hit. Maybe at the staff meeting, the men are called out for torn (or air-conditioned) jeans, but the women are not (That’s the fashion!). On the other side of the gender divide, the women are asked to tone down their perfume when the men are wearing enough body spray to disguise a corpse in the filing cabinet. Does anyone hold the supervisors accountable when they miss a trip to the barber, or is it only the guys on the shop floor who hear about it when their hair needs a trim? As they say, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. A dress code should apply to all, or to none.

Management change is another source of inconsistency. Old Manager never enforced the dress code, and now New Sheriff in Town is struggling. This is an opportunity for the new management to demonstrate leadership and an investment in employee success. Bringing in a professional to facilitate employee dress workshops and/or training sessions demonstrates both the intention to take employee dress seriously, and provides the support needed for success. Yes, there will probably still be grumbling, but no one can complain that they don’t know what New Sheriff wants!

Uniform Buy-In

“Tom looks like he slept in his uniform! That’s an embarrassment.” Employee uniforms frequently are a source of friction. Business owners with uniformed employees must ensure that the uniforms are appropriate for the job, not just “what the boss likes.” Comfort and safety, maintenance and color, all play into appropriateness. A professional to mediate the selection process can help. Employees who have a say in what uniform they wear are happier and more comfortable. That is a win for the employee, the company, and the customer.

Do any of these seem familiar? Or do you think I am missing some categories? Please let me know in the comments below!

Dressing Stressing to Blessing (Turning Lemons to Lemonade)

Dressing Stressing to Blessing (Turning Lemons to Lemonade)

Monday morning can be a challenge for anyone. Here are 10 ways to make dressing less stressing and more of a blessing,,, Just try one. And then maybe add another next week. And maybe another after that. Who knows what might happen?

1)  Lay (or hang) out your clothes for tomorrow when getting ready for bed. Check your calendar and the weather, first. (This also lets you know whether or not you need to shave in the morning!)

2)  Keep photos of outfits you love in a folder on your phone for days that you forget #1! Or make sure you have some go-to Outfit Recipes.

3)  Do your laundry before your work week begins. (No more “Arrrgh, it’s in the hamper!”) Smaller, more frequent loads are a lot easier to fold and put away.

4)  Pull together some Beauty Bundles to make accessorizing outfits easier.

5)  On your “weekend” choose a small cohesive capsule for the week, and dress out of only those clothes. Fewer choices means less stress (Try 4 shirts, 3 bottoms, 2 toppers, and a dress.)

6)  Next time you go to the hairdresser, ask about a cut that works WITH your hair’s natural texture, rather than fighting it.

7)  Time how long it takes to do your makeup in the morning. Simplify your routine to 5 minutes, MAX!

8)  Get all the out of season clothes out of your active closet and into a storage box. If your closet has room, separate out of season from current season items.

9)  Keep a lint roller in your car; then it doesn’t matter if the dog or cat loves on you on the way out the door.

10) Limit your color palette (for any season) to two neutrals, your white, and two accent colors. Careful choices here will give you a mix and match wardrobe! Think Garanimals for grown-ups…

What other tips do you have for turning dressing stress into a blessing? Please share in the comments below!