Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Month: October 2017

Thanksgiving Travel

Thanksgiving Travel

It’s almost November. Pumpkin spice season has been in full swing for weeks now. In less than a month, we in the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the largest travel weekend of the year, and the largest shopping weekend as well. Thank you Black Friday and Cyber Monday. (Don’t even get me started on how I feel about stores that open for shopping on Thanksgiving to start the holiday bonanza early…)

A weekend full of travel, family, food, and shopping sounds like a dream to some, and a nightmare to others! For those of you who are heading out of town, here’s a long weekend travel wardrobe that will fit into a carry-on, leaving plenty of room in the trunk for a cooler to carry leftovers, and those newly purchased Christmas gifts.

This travel wardrobe isn’t for everybody. I had a particular woman in mind as I selected these pieces. She’s casually feminine, values comfort, and likes her casual to feel polished. She doesn’t mind doing laundry while traveling. If she spills on her trousers on the way to her in-laws, she’ll pop her jeans into the laundry on T-day! Then, they’ll be clean for adventures on Friday, and the trip home. She and He prefer to travel home on Saturday so they have Sunday to themselves to relax and recover!

Travel Day:

Jeans and a Tee, Moto Sweater, Scarf and Boots

(She learned early to travel in her bulkiest shoes. That way they aren’t taking up valuable space in her suitcase!) She puts a crossbody bag inside her tote, so that she can leave the tote in the car when they jump out to eat or sightsee.

In Her Carry-On:

Dress, Tennies, Two Tops, a Short Robe & (pretty) Jammies, Ballet Flats double as slippers, Jewelry & Toiletries

She has carefully chosen her pieces to mix and match, and be dressed up or down by changing shoes and jewels. If she was going someplace colder, the short sleeves would be exchanged for long, or for lightweight sweaters. She would add tights or leggings to wear with the dress. Either way, it will still all fit into one carry-on.

What are your travel challenges? Are you a minimal packer, or do you take the kitchen sink? Feel free to share in the comments below; I love to hear from you!

 

Thanks to Katherine @notlamb for the Link-Up!

 

 

 

Blog Staycation…

Blog Staycation…

Sometimes you just need to say “No.” So this is my week to rest, and get ready for a celebration this weekend. I will still be posting on Facebook, at Closet Play Image, and on Instagram, so come see what I am up to there!

See you next week!

Stylishly yours,

Liz

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

My husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary at the end of the month, and spent more than half of our married life gallivanting around the world for his job. On my walk this morning, I realized that even though we have been in the same house for 10 years now (I really feel the need to move!), we have shared 7 different homes since we wed. That is a lot of moving, and it taught me a lot, even some things about style and fashion! So here are 5 style lessons moving has taught me…

Style is Regional

People used to ask if I was stocking up on clothing before we moved so that I wouldn’t have to go shopping, especially overseas. While I would stock up on things I thought might be challenging to find (new bras, or narrow shoes), I preferred a wait and see take on style. Style is incredibly regional, even with social media and mass market retailers. I also do not like to stand out like a sore thumb/stereotypical American tourist, so I spend quite a bit of time people-watching in our new home to see what looked natural. This holds true even here in the US. What looks completely in line in New York City can look a bit harsh here in Augusta, Georgia.

Dry Cleaner/Hairdresser

Two of my priorities after finding a place to live were finding a good hairdresser and dry cleaner. This is a quality of life issue, so I would ask anyone with a good looking cut where they had their hair done, especially if their hair texture was similar to mine. Any recommendation whose name came up repeatedly would be my first choice to try.  I would also accost anyone particularly well dressed to ask what dry cleaner they trusted. It can be awkward to put yourself out there to ask, but I never had anyone refuse to answer. If you explain that you have just moved, and that finding these professionals can be a challenge, most people will respond positively.

Planning Is Essential

This may sound in conflict with the style is regional piece, but this focuses on preparation. Before you pack out your home to move overseas, you need to think through 3 lists: (1) The Things You Will Carry With You, (2) Stuff for Your Express Shipment (You will see it in a few weeks and need to be able to live with it until 3), and (3) The Slow Boat Shipment (you will see it in 3-4 months). On one of our overseas moves, the children and I were staying with my mother for 4 months while my husband was in a class across the county. That meant packing everything we needed for summer in the South, summer and fall in the Mid-Atlantic, and Winter in England. Well thought-through planning made the whole adventure far less stressful than it might have been, an continues to make travel a dawdle, rather than a stress. Pack for a two week trip in a carry-on. Give me half an hour. Let’s go!

 

Travel Light

If you saw us load up that station wagon to travel to my mother’s house for that 4 months, you wouldn’t have thought we were travelling light! I think it probably qualified as a miracle that we got 4 people’s clothing, all our homeschool materials (I forgot to throw that wrench into the works!) and some toys for the boys into the back of our Subie Wagon. If we’d tied a rocking chair to the roof, we’d have looked like the Clampett family. (Buy me a drink sometime and I’ll tell you about the engine overheating on that trip from Georgia to North Carolina.) When it came time to fly overseas, we each had one large suitcase, and our carryon/backpack. (We shipped the school books.)  That large suitcase had to hold everything we would need for the next 3-4 months. To this day, I prefer to travel light. I rarely check baggage, even for a trip of a week or more, I’d rather wash in the sink than have to haul around a lot of luggage. If you forget something and it’s really important, you can probably find something similar where you are headed, and you’ll have a souvenir of your trip.

Go With the Flow

I may be a planner, but I have learned not to assume the plan will go as planned! It’s great to have a Plan, and even a Plan B, or Plan C, but sometimes you just have to throw it all to the wind and go with what’s right in front of you. When we lived in England, we took a Christmas holiday in London. We rented a flat, brought our tree and presents, and spent a fabulous week. It even had the courtesy to snow as we walked to Mass on Christmas Eve. One of the trip highlights was an afternoon Christmas dinner at the Savoy. Our children still fondly remember that experience 12 years later. The booking had been planned months in advance. My outfit, on the other hand for that special day was completely go-with-the-flow. I would have frozen in the dress I had brought for our special dinner, so I threw on an ankle length black-on-black plaid kilt (the one I wore to walk to Mass in) and some sweater I found in my bag. My Hero accessory was the shoulder grazing chandelier earrings that my sons (aged 16, 12 & 11) had given me that morning. (They were carefully chosen for me at Accessorize by three boys with their own meagre funds. I still have those earrings, and wore them on a Christmas holiday date with my grandson last year!) Even our waiter commented on the “unique” earrings I had on that evening… The boys were chuffed, and it was all good! It still is.

What style lessons have you learned from strange places? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to hear your stories…

 

 

I Need a Hero! (AKA: I’ve Got Nothing to Wear!)

I Need a Hero! (AKA: I’ve Got Nothing to Wear!)

Do you stare into your generous closet and think “I have nothing to wear!”? Some days we are lacking inspiration, but often we have a Heroes/Basics imbalance. Every closet needs both, but when we have too many of one, and not enough of the other, it can be hard to get dressed.

What’a a Hero?

A Hero is a standout piece. It could be the color, cut, or details that make it a Hero. Maybe it’s an artist’s print on a shirt, or a white shirt with dramatic pleating or ruffles all around the neckline and hem, or an oversized pair of cropped trousers. A shocking pink pair of suede pumps can be a hero, as can a bold necklace. You might collect ethnic jewelry that piled together makes a Hero. What kind of Heroes are you drawn to? I have been told that my clothes are boring. I’m okay with that, because I am happier in clothes that are Basics, and love Hero accessories. That’s just part of my personal style. Others prefer Hero clothes, and more Basic accessories, and some like both.

Too Many Basics

When your closet is filled with Basics and not enough Heroes, dressing can be a bore. Think about a recipe with chicken, rice, and broccoli. There’s nothing wrong with the ingredients, but there’s no pizzazz. To give the meal flavor, you need some spices, or at least some onion and garlic! An outfit of all basics with no Hero lacks focus and interest. If your closet is full of Basics with no Heroes to provide the spice, you can feel like there’s Nothing-to-Wear.

Too Many Heroes

Too many Heroes in an outfit gives us the opposite effect. Instead of no interest or focal point, we can have competing focal points. This kind of outfit distracts us from the person in the clothing. There are some people who have a gigantic personality (often Dramatic or Rebellious) and look perfectly themselves in these over-the-top outfits, but they are the exception rather than the rule. The inimitable Iris Apfel is a woman for whom there is no such thing as too much! A closet full of Heroes can be hard to mix and match, and leave us feeling the same Nothing-to-Wear angst.

Finding Your Balance

One rule of thumb is to make sure you include a Hero in every outfit to prevent the snooze factor. Some people wear more than one hero, but keep them corralled to a particular category, like adding Hero accessories to an outfit of Basic clothing, or Basic accessories to Hero clothing. It takes some experimentation to find your comfort level. Taking a good look in your closet and identifying your Heroes and Basics is a great place to start. If you have no Heroes, it may be time to pick up one or two, and if you have no Basics, you may need a trip to the store as well, but beware! Stay focused on what basics will bring out the best in your Heroes. Pick a Hero out of your closet tomorrow and build your outfit around it by adding some Basics, and wear it all day. You might find that you have a lot more to wear than you thought!

What’s your favorite Hero? Let me know in the comments below!

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

 

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!