Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Accessories

How to Pack: Travel Outfits

How to Pack: Travel Outfits

Good day, dearest reader!

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

Check the Weather

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

Activities/Location

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

Shoes

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

Travel Clothes

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

The Rest, Accessories, Bags

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

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

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

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

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

Stay Stylish!

What’s Your Style Signature?

What’s Your Style Signature?

My apologies for the squinty shot…

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

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

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

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

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

 

Shoe Wardrobe

Shoe Wardrobe

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

Before You Go Shoe Shopping…

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

Your Lifestyle and Personality

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

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

A Dress Shoe

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

A Casual Shoe

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

A Work Shoe

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

A PT Shoe

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

To Think about When Choosing a Shoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

5 Tips to Look More Stylish

5 Tips to Look More Stylish

Back in December, a reporter from our local paper asked me for three tips to look more stylish without leaving the house. After some digging, I discovered he meant without spending any money, although I can do that without leaving home! Thank you, Internet…  As that article was going into the business section of the paper, I gave him three suitable to both men and women. Today want to share 5 clothing-oriented tips, some geared more towards those of us of the female persuasion, to help you feel just a bit more stylish as you head out the door.

Fit (and Alterations)

I have to regularly remind my clients (and myself!) about fit One of the easiest ways to up your style quotient is to wear clothes that fit. By fit, I do not mean clothes that you can get into, or that don’t fall off. I mean that fit YOU properly. I could sing all day long about this, but what it comes down to is: if you are not employed as a fit model, then you should expect to have almost all your clothing altered. Some brands will be better for you than others, but in general, expect to add the cost of alterations to anything you buy. If you don’t like it enough to pay for the alterations, you probably don’t love it enough to add it to your wardrobe!

Petite Special: Our clothing should have less ease than that of a tall girl. Extra fabric can make us look like we are in borrowed clothing!

Oversized vs. Skinny

When you wear an oversized top, pair it with a narrower bottom, and vice versa. A wider or more relaxed bottom pairs better with a more fitted top. Unless you are 6 foot tall and svelte, the oversized over oversized silhouette is overwhelming. (Like all the “overs” in that last sentence!) And skinny over skinny can look like you are going clubbing.  Think about which body zone is best for you to oversize. If you are generously endowed through the hips and thighs and narrow through the torso, oversizing the torso is going to make you look bulky all over. Show off your narrower half (most women have one) by keeping that the more fitted piece. If you are balanced top and bottom, remember to relax only one.

Third Piece

Adding a third piece to a simple top and bottom creates more interest. Humans are drawn to odd numbers. Even babies will stare at odd numbered groupings of objects longer than even numbered groupings. If your top and bottom are jeans and a tee, add a third piece with a topper: a vest, cardigan, jacket, or even a scarf, hat, or statement necklace.

Love Your Leather

Take care of your leather goods. Clean and polish your shoes. Take them to be reheeled and resoled. Care for your bag. Clean it gently, empty it and vaccuum out the inside. I don’t advocate emptying it each night a la Marie Kondo, but please don’t use your bag as a shopping cart. Even small bags can be an eyesore. A bulging wristlet gives the same impression as trousers two sizes too small! If it is bulging, you need a purse clean out, or a larger bag. If you absolutely must carry the kitchen sink, make sure to set the bag on a flat surface rather than hanging it. Give the handles a break. A large, heavy tote is often better hand carried, rather than over the shoulder. Your back, shoulder, and MD will thank you.

Accessorize

No, accessorize is not just the name of a shop in the UK! Accessorizing is one of the fastest ways to get your style on, and usually takes less than 30 seconds! Pop on an accessory or two, or even better, three (You already know how I feel about odd numbers.) on your way out the door. There are times in our lives when certain accessory choices may not make any sense. One of our sons was an incorrigible earring grabber. I switched to clip-ons for more than a year; other children will tug any necklace they see. Maybe this will be your life season of scarves, or outrageous sunglasses. One of the most common questions I get from women is about creating the Effortless Chic look. You don’t need to pile on the bling! If that is your personality, go for it! But if it is not, too much flash will feel and look uncomfortable. Choose one necklace, or a great bracelet, or stand-out earrings. Even a scarf can be the touch that makes the difference between rolled-out-of-bed-and-put-on-the-clothes-on-the-chair and intentional dressing. That one touch makes the difference that says “I meant to do this.”

Corollary: If you have noticeable holes in your ears, wear earrings, especially if you have short hair. Empty holes look like unbuttoned buttons, or unsnapped snaps. If you don’t want to be bothered, find a small stud or hoop that you leave in all the time.

Which of these 5 tips is a no-brainer for you? And which is more of a challenge? Please share in the comments below… I love to hear from you!

 

Trend Watch-Floral Blouses

Trend Watch-Floral Blouses

I know florals for spring are a recurring trend, but wow. Gucci went over-the-top, madly floral from head to toe in Spring/Summer of 2016, and has continued with that theme. It has finally bloomed across (sorry) the mass-market ready-to-wear that most us shop. Above, you can see a few I have fallen in love with…

Floral blouses of every hue and variation are on-line, and showing up in the stores. I struggle with floral blouses, because on my  “femme d’une certaine age” person, those lovely florals can look plain old old lady, unless they are styled with a youthful twist. For my style, a floral blouse with dress trousers would be a no go, but with a pair of frayed cropped jeans and booties or sandals, great! (I’m not sure I’m sold on a blouse I can only style with jeans…) Keeping the texture sheer helps lighten and modernize the look as well. Abstract and oversize florals, like the ones showing up this season, can be easier for more mature women to wear without looking dated. Realistic and ditsy florals are often better left to the young who can wear them with an ironic twist. Even the more traditional spring ginghams and polka dots can be seen combined with floral embroidery for those who like their flowers less flowery.

Floral shoes are everywhere. This is a trend I can jump all over! Tapestry, embroidery, or just plain print. I have a pair I pull out every summer, and would love to add this navy embroidered lovely from White House Black Market to my collection, but I am trying to leave room for serendipity in my Spring/Summer 5. (And I know I really do not NEED another pair of shoes!)

Floral jewelry was everywhere this past winter, and some darling pieces can be picked up for a song and worn to death this spring and summer. Sequins are another huge SS2018 trend, and quite a few of the clearance necklaces at Talbot’s right now combine the floral and sequin trends. If statement necklaces are your thing, you may want to check them out! I can see one thrown on with jeans and a tee for a fresh and relaxed look. Or tuck one inside the collar of an oversized boyfriend shirt.  Even Lands’ End is running with this one, so you can find your floral fix everywhere, and at a price point that makes your wallet happy.

If just dipping your toe in the water is more your style, take a look in your own jewelry box, and scarf pile. You probably have a floral motif in there somewhere. Maybe an old brooch? Dig them out, and enjoy a touch of spring now, even when the warm weather seems like it will never come.

How do you feel about florals? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Let me know in the comments below! I love to hear what you think…

And thank you to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

 

2017’s Top 5’s Accessories

2017’s Top 5’s Accessories

Last week I shared my Top 5 most worn wardrobe pieces, and thought to address accessories, since they are where the fun in my wardrobe comes out to play. Realistically, I need to break this down into jewelry, scarves and bags, and shoes. Picking just five total would probably make me cry! As I mentioned before, my clothes are pretty basic and unassuming (part of my heavily Classic personality type) but I have magpie tendencies that find their sartorial expression in my “extras.” I again warn you, dear reader, that some of the images here come from my phone, so the quality is iffy! I am curious as to whether my most worn pieces match up with my personal Must Have’s that I published earlier in the year. Let’s see how that worked!

Jewelry

I thought I would have to preface this section with a disclaimer about my “dealer” (as my better half calls my friend) who sells Premier Designs Jewelry, but since my PD stash gives my wardrobe its immense variety, those pieces don’t show up in my most worn 5. The old standards that are mixed and matched with them do! I am not including my everyday watch or religious necklace in my five, because they are worn almost daily. Even if the necklace isn’t visible, it’s usually still inside my clothing. So for the sparkles you can see…

Hammered Silver Hoops  I don’t remember when I bought mine, but I think it was back when I was living in Maryland, and working in Bethesda, at the NIH. That would have been in the early 90’s. They have certainly earned their keep! I still love them, and they are my default when wearing a scarf because they are an endless hoop that doesn’t catch in the folds. Their round shape also harmonizes with the polka dot patterns I love, and other curved details I wear. (This pair is similar to mine…)

Silver Prehistoric Hammer Earrings  Circa 2005… A souvenir from Stonehenge (when we lived in England). If I am not wearing the hoops, these are likely to be in my ears. At the time, I remember thinking the price was a bit much to pay for a little silver earring, but they have been worth every penny. They are quite small, and have a subtle brushed finish, so they mix and match with almost any other silver jewels I may wear. These and the hoops above are the first things to go into my jewelry bag any time we travel.

Turquoise Bead Bracelet  This stretchy little number was picked up on Amazon some time last year. I wanted an inexpensive colored bracelet or two to help carry color back from my feet to my face; I already had turquoise shoes, scarves, and necklaces, so this made a good middle point for the eye. This strategy gives a simple outfit intentionality, and creates a polished look. I think of it as the Power of 3. The wrist or waist is a good point between feet and face to keep the eye moving upwards!

Small Gold Hoops  For the same reason I love my silver hoops, this smaller version goes with almost any gold jewelry I wear. Having a cool complexion, I usually opt for silver jewelry as it flatters my skin much better than gold. I have some sentimental gold pieces that I love, and like to wear gold tones mixed with silver in the fall for a warmer twist. The fall shades of gold and brass give my warm weather clothing the more autumnal look and feel that I like when the weather is still so hot but I want a change for the season. These have been in my jewelry box since 10th or 11th grade… (See, I can still fit into something I’ve had since high school!)

Silver Oval Bangles  These have also been in my jewelry box since time immemorial. I know they were a Christmas gift from my parents. I have very small wrists, and most bangles fall off. These oval lovelies (one twisted, one plain) don’t rattle around as much as a round bangle would, and sit nicely above my watch. The turquoise bead bracelet gets to play with these two regularly, as I find I wear bracelets in 3’s or 5’s.

Scarves and Bags

Sea Green Tote  I don’t know what rock I was living under last spring, but when I found this incredibly well made leather tote (for a great price) on Amazon, I did not notice that it was an Hermes “rip-off.” I generally avoid the whole issue because I don’t like to buy designer imitations, and the real thing is not in my budget or values. I spent a few weeks trying to choose a color, and decided to go bold and not beige, (or at least NOT a neutral!) and make it one of my Spring/Summer 5. Even if it’s not “the real thing,” the color makes me happy, and is far more versatile than I ever imagined. It looks great with all my neutrals, and blends well anytime I am wearing my Turquoise/Teal accents, so it’s win. It could be a large purse, or a small tote, but it doesn’t overwhelm my petite frame. The wide bottom prevents tip over, and I prefer the short handles to a long shoulder strap. (So does my MD!) The only drawback is the single snap closure, but since I organize most of my gear in bags within my bag, that’s not too much of an issue.

Berry Tote  My love for Sea Green Tote made me rethink neutral (safe) totes, and I was looking for a larger tote to carry gear for work. This bag went on my Fall/Winter 5 wish list, and stayed there, so I hunted down one at a price I was willing to pay on Ebay. It turned out to be larger than I thought (measurements can be deceiving–even when you cut out a mock-up), so is not an everyday bag, but it is fan.tastic. for hauling around folders, books, and swatches for work. I would never carry it on a Personal Shopping trip with a client, but it’s great for almost all other work related hauling, and I can see using it for a travel tote, too!

Pink Polka Dot Neckerchief  This scarf wins most worn hands down over all others, and it’s an inexpensive little scarf from the clearance bin at Charming Charlie. Neckerchiefs are a signature piece for me, and this one brightens up my mostly neutral wardrobe and adds some mischief and spunk to plain old jeans and a tee. It’s an outfit maker all on its own. The polyester chiffon is not the coolest, but it is very lightweight. I can swish it out in the sink when it gets sweaty, and it dries in a New York Minute. And yes, I wear it with jewelry, too! (Yes… those are the earrings from 2005.)

Black Polka Dot Neckerchief/Jeweltone Paisley Silk Scarf  These two tied for second place in the scarf category. I just couldn’t decide! The black polka dots are a great value contrast creator when I wear light or jewel toned tops, and the touch of black lifts the eye back to the portrait area when I (infrequently) wear black shoes. If I had not done the Baker’s Dozen Challenge in the fall, I don’t think the paisley silk scarf would have had such heavy wear, but that challenge was a game changer in more ways than one. It reminded my how much happier I am with a carefully curated closet, and it made me step out of my usual accessories routine to give my outfits a little extra snap. (There it is hiding in the berry tote photo!)

Shoes

Grey Flats with Buckle Ornament   I bought my grey flats at Talbot’s on sale, and a second pair from the $19.99 clearance shoe table at our local store a few months later because they were getting so much wear. They look like a cross between a pilgrim buckle, a loafer, and a ballet flat. I wear them with just about everything, trousers, jeans, skirts, dresses, and even shorts. Since they are the same color as my hair, they are the most practical color shoe I can own. I wear my hair everywhere, and the grey shoes create a natural “top and tail” effect. Win-win!

Teal Suede Wedges and Turquoise Sandals  I wasn’t sure what I was thinking when I bought these (also on the clearance table) but both turned into winners. Turquoise/teal is one of my two accent colors, and looks great all seasons of the year with my neutrals (grey, navy/denim, white). I have always loved turquoise jewelry, and these look fabulous with both silver and gold jewelry.

Beauty Bundle: Jade/MintMint Peep Toe Mary Janes  Last January, my husband bought me a beautiful jade bracelet for my birthday. It was not a color I thought I had anywhere in my wardrobe, but when I started to dig, I found a scarf of the same minty jade color. I decided to splash out and create a small mint Beauty Bundle. I set a max of $50 (I didn’t want to spend a fortune on an experiment), and kept my eye out for minty-jade colored pieces. I picked up a very inexpensive pair of earrings and a bag, and have since been gifted another scarf and necklace. When I saw the peeptoes at Goody Two Shoes, it felt like a confirmation of my new color interest. I love how the mint looks with my neutrals, and it feels cool and fresh in our really hot summers. This shade looks like a very light turquoise, so I suppose it’s still in the same family with my teals and turquoises. This color experiment was what gave me the courage to splash out on Sea Green Tote (and it looks great with these other pieces!) The bag here has gone on to another home.

Pink Medallion Flats  Closed-toe fabric shoes (not satin or lace) read as more casual than leather shoes of the same style, so my pointy toed flats that combine both pink and burgundy were an easy choice. Mine are closed and structured, so are still work appropriate. They coordinate with all my pinks and wines, and add a pop of color to my neutrals in an unexpected way. I’ll even pattern mix and wear them with my pink neckerchief… No, the colors are not the same, but I’m not holding my feet up near my neck when I run around town, so who’s going to notice? It’s about blending, not matching!

Looking back to My Wardrobe Musts, it looks like I have covered all the non-clothing pieces here (#s 4, 5, 8, &9)! What are your favorite accessories? Do you mix them up, or are they your everyday old-faithfuls? Please share in the comments below! I love to hear from you…

And thank you to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

How to Wear Colored Shoes

How to Wear Colored Shoes

I love colored shoes! I may have a bona fide problem, but I’m not interested in recovery. I know some people think colored shoes weird, or impractical, but I have never found them to be so. Many women will wear colored tennis shoes and flip flops, but buying a colored “dress shoe” strike fear into many a heart. If you have been on the fence, here are some pointers…

Pick a Color You Love!

You are more likely to wear something if the color is one you love. Applied to the matter at hand, that would mean buying shoes in one of your favorite colors. Ideally, you will already have other pieces that will coordinate with your new shoes. They don’t need to be an exact match. Let me say that again: They do not have to be an exact match! As long as they coordinate, or look like they are from the same family, you will be fine. Your shoes are not going to be seen up against your blouse or scarf. Also, shoes are likely to be made of a different material than your clothing, and the different textured surfaces would make even dye-matched items look different. The other plus to a color you love is that if someone does compliment you on your shoes, you have the perfect response… “Thanks, it’s my favorite color!”

Keep The Color in Your Palette

If your new shoe color is one of the colors in your personal color palette, or your wardrobe’s color palette, you will find it easier to mix and match with the pieces you already own. Why does this matter? It will save you from spending money on shoes only your closet will wear, and make it easier to work them into outfits and look pulled together. The exception to this rule would be if you are buying a color that you love but is unflattering on you. For me that would be bright yellow or olive green. I love them, but they don’t love me! I would buy them in a cute shoe though, to get a color fix and wear them with my neutrals for a better look.

Repeat the Color Near Your Face

Beauty Bundle: PinkThey key to wearing colored shoes and not having everyone staring at your feet is to draw the attention back up to your face with your shoe color. Some stylists call this topping and tailing. When looking at a person, humans start at the face and move downward toward the feet. This is a natural progression. When we get to the bottom, if there is a similar color at the top, our eye pops back up to the face. This is why wearing a shoe in your hair color will always work, because the color is already there at the top of your head. Now, if you want to wear pink shoes, there is no need to dye your hair pink! Just throw on a pink necklace, scarf, or earrings , or even a bold pink lipstick will help.

This is where the genius of Beauty Bundles comes in. When you buy a shoe that is not a color you already own and wear, grab an inexpensive scarf, pair or earrings or a necklace in that same shade. You will have the beginnings of a Beauty Bundle. If you decide you love the color and it loves you back, you can grow your bundle in bits and pieces over time. If you decide that color isn’t for you, you can gift the shoes and jewels together and start someone else out with a sweet bundle that might be just perfect for them!

A Last Note

If you have very challenging-to-fit feet, and would love to buy colored shoes, but they only make shoes that fit you in black, and if you are lucky: tan or white, don’t be discouraged! I am happy to introduce you to Angelus Shoe Paints. This versatile product is for leather shoes, and can change any shoe color to the color of your choice.  I am incredibly craft-challenged, and have successfully painted at least 3 pairs of shoes. A friend with “difficult” feet decided to paint her old and worn orthotics-friendly shoes, and is very happy with the results. She feels like she has a new pair of shoes, and a new lease on style.

Do you like colored shoes, or are they out of your comfort zone? What is your favorite pair of shoes? I’d love to know! Please share in the comments below…

Thanks to Catherine of Not Dressed as Lamb for the link up!

Choosing Accessories

Choosing Accessories

A few months ago, I listed questions that can help narrow the search for a handbag. They fell into Know Thyself questions, and Know Thy Bags questions. Know Thyself is key for all purchases! Accessories covers a lot of ground, but for simplicity, I’ll limit this post to jewelry. Frequently, a client will ask me about choosing jewelry to complete an outfit. Most women have no issues with putting together a top and bottom they like, but find themselves flummoxed when it comes to completing an outfit with accessories. This is a pity because accessories can give you variety with very little investment.

The reason I love accessories is that they can change a look in just a few seconds, and are a great way to play with your style, or try on a new personality. If it’s time to let out part of you that normally doesn’t see the light of day, fashion jewelry is a great way to go! Now, if you are a woman who wears only fine jewelry, and genuine stones, this kind of play may not be for you. The expense of your preferences makes experimentation less likely, but I would still encourage you to try out some fashion pieces for a travel jewelry capsule. Taking your heirloom pieces on a cruise, or to the beach is not always good for your piece of mind or wallet.

Personality

As with all other fashion items, your personality should be the main driver for what you buy and wear. What is popular at the moment, or will be next year shouldn’t be much of a concern, unless trend chasing is a sport you enjoy. If you have a very feminine and relaxed/natural personality, biker bling and skulls are probably not for you. Likewise, the rebel is unlikely to feel called to wear a delicate pearl drop on a fine chain. Jewelry is very personal as it is often worn right next to the skin, so if a piece doesn’t reflect an aspect of your personality, it’s likely to stay in your baubles box.

Levels of Refinement

Many clothing items are wearable across levels of refinement. We see jeans everywhere from hiking trails to offices on Casual Friday, but it’s what you wear with it that makes them fit in either environment. The accessories we wear tell the world what our level of refinement is for the day. The single strand pearl bracelet above with the leather lacing is far more casual than the the triple pearl necklace. In the watches illustration, you can see how the sparkly evening watch would look out of place on the hiking trail, and the red silicone could be worn to the office, but may not have enough gravitas to keep your jeans looking professional. The leopard band women’s watch is deceptive. The gold finish and leopard band look more Level 2, but the cat ears and kitty collar bling give it a more juvenile feel.

Coloring

What is your personal coloring like? Do you look better in silver or gold? Cool colors or warm colors? An outfit of warm tones will look more harmonious with warm toned jewelry. Last spring, I watched a bride-to-be shop for a pearl necklace to wear with her wedding dress. The bright white pearls were too cool for her warm coloring; they didn’t look right on her. The coloring disconnect make them look cheap. The ivory toned pearls she tried on were lovely with her warm skin and honey hair. She was struggling, because the ivory pearls would look “funny” with her white gown. (Lesson for brides: Buy the dress that makes your skin look amazing! Not just the bright white because that’s what you (or mom) thinks the bride should wear!) Is your personal color lower color contrast, or high? Colored jewelry is a great way to add extra color to your outfits. If you are a lower color contrast woman, colored jewelry may work better with clothing in a similar shade, or with neutrals for balance.

A second color aspect to consider is the colors already in your wardrobe. Do you have a defined color palette? Do you own more neutrals or colors? Are most of your tops colored? If so, you may want to focus on finding metallic and/or neutral toned jewelry. On the other hand, if most of your tops are neutral, colored jewelry is a fabulous way to bring attention to your face where it belongs! I find that I wear more neutral colored tops in the summer because neutrals “feel” cool to me, so I try to remember to bring out my colored jewelry for summer. Other people wear more neutrals in the winter, so should look for those colored pieces to bring some brightness to grey winter days.

Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry? Are you a jewelry lover, or does it never make it onto your body? Please share in the comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Handbag

The Perfect Handbag

I spent years looking for the perfect handbag. I don’t literally mean years wandering the Earth in pursuit of the perfect bag, but I might have had a wee obsession. Pretty much anywhere I went that had anything vaguely resembling a handbag, I would look. This led to some amusing, and some incredibly practical purchases, and quite a bit (Oh, let’s just say a lot!) of wasted money. It wasn’t until much later that I thought to spend  time thinking about what I thought made a handbag “perfect.” Let me make something clear; I despise (No, that is not too strong a word.) the tyranny of “perfect.” There is only one perfect, and it’s not found on this Earth. I prefer: Ideal for you now. This is where I struggle with the what-every-woman-MUST-own lists discussed in a previous post. At some point I discovered that there is no perfect handbag, or even ideal, but there is the handbag that best works for at this point in my life, and for particular occasions.

Here are a variety of questions to ask yourself before exchanging your cold hard cash (or credit card) for a new bag…

Know Thyself Questions

  • What is my life like? Do I need a bag that is easy to clean? (Maybe that cute suede hobo isn’t such a good idea…) Where will it live at home or work? On the floor? In a drawer? In a coat closet? On the dining room table where spills happen?
  • What do I want this bag for? Everyday? A special event like a wedding? Travel?
  • How much do I like to carry around with me daily? Am I the kitchen sink woman, or a  phone, credit card, and lipstick woman? Or am I  somewhere in between? (If you are the kitchen sink woman, know that you will spend more time and money at the doctor’s office later!)
  • Do I want a bag du jour (the latest trend), or one that will stand the test of time?
  • Do I want to change bags often, or have one that goes with “everything”? (Note: There is no bag that goes with everything. There are bags that go with your everyday everything!)
  • How much do I have to spend? How much do I want to spend? (These are two very different questions!) Am I willing to spend more than I want to get what I really like? (Note: I would NEVER suggest you spend more than you have to get what you really like!)
  • What size and shape bags are best for my personality, body shape, and scale?
  • Is brand important to me? Do I like carrying a recognizable bag? Do I like logos? Or do I prefer to go stealth? (Be honest here…  It is a pity to spend a fortune on a bag just to find out you don’t want to be advertising for a particular company. And it is OK to want a bag with someone else’s initials if that makes you happy!)

Know Your Bags Questions

  • Do I prefer a shoulder strap? How long? A cross body? Maybe a handheld satchel is more my speed. Or does it need to be convertible to handle all these options? Some women prefer a wristlet or clutch.
  • How much structure do I want? Soft and squishy, or more structured? What shapes do I like best? Soft and rounded? More angular? Taller than wide (North/South) or wider than tall (East/West)? Frequently there is a connection between angularity and structure, but lately there are structured round bags everywhere, and square squishy totes, so be sure to keep your structure and shape preferences defined.
  • What materials do I prefer? Fabric and PVC (even when called Vegan Leather) are, for the most part, less long wearing than leather. If you have issues with leather bags, expect to replace yours more frequently.
  • Do I have a hardware preference? I have seen a woman reject her (otherwise) ideal bag because the hardware was silver colored and she only wears gold.
  • What colors do I like best? What goes with the majority of my outfits? Do I want a bag that blends with, or stands out from my outfit? (Hint: A black or camel handbag stands out like a sore thumb on many women; a handbag in the same color as your hair goes with all your outfits, because you wear your hair wherever you go.)

If this seems like an awful lot of questions to ask before heading to the shops or to your computer, take a moment to think about what else you could do with the $25-$2,500 (or more!) one can spend on a handbag. (Movie, or family vacation…) Spending time thinking through what your ideal bag looks/feels/smells/carries like is well worth the time it will save you shopping. Think of it as the shopping equivalent of Measure Twice, Cut Once.

Do you have a favorite bag? Or did you, but it is no longer right for your life? Please share in the comments below!

 

            

 

Style/Fashion Myths

Style/Fashion Myths

Myth: Black shoes go with everything.
Reality: Black shoes go with everything only if you have black hair! Otherwise, shoes the color of your skin or hair go with everything!

Myth: Don’t wear navy and black together.
Reality: Navy and black worn together can look very chic when combined intentionally! The same goes for black and brown.

Myth: Never wear white after Labor Day.
Reality: If you look good in white, wear it all year long!

M: Don’t mix metals.
Reality: Mix away! To make it look like you meant it, make sure to choose at least 1/3 of one metal.

Myth: Flats are more comfortable than heels.
Reality: A low heel can be more comfortable (and better for your feet) than flats!

Myth: You shouldn’t repeat an outfit during the week.
Reality: If the outfit is made of neutral basics, no one will notice, especially if you change your accessories!

Myth: Clothes need washing after each wearing.
Reality: Clothes last longer the less they are washed. Many clothes only need an airing before wearing a second or third time.

Myth: One size fits all.
Reality: One size fits no one well!

Myth: There is something wrong with my body; I can’t find clothes that fit.
Reality: There is NOTHING wrong with my body; there is something wrong with these clothes!

Myth: A $5 shirt is a good deal.
Reality: A good deal is defined by Cost Per Wear. If you only wear that shirt one time, it cost you $5. But the $100 dress that you wear once a week for two years costs you less than $1 per wear. Think CPW, not cost!