Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Budgeting

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!

X Body Shape

X Body Shape

In a previous post, I talked a bit about the different women’s body shapes, and how body shape has to do with your skeleton, and with how your “meat” is attached to those bones.  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. There are 8 basic women’s body shapes, 5 balanced and 3 unbalanced. The X is one of the balanced shapes with the shoulders and hips of the same width. This is another feminine, curvy, (and desirable) shape!

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

The best way to determine your body shape is to 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 your waist is defined, you are an X or an 8 shape. The difference between the two can be subtle, but the difference in how to dress their shapes is enormous!  Both are often referred to as an hourglass figure, so how do you tell if you are an X or an 8? An 8 has a high hip shelf, and an X usually has a smooth transition from the waist to the widest part of the hip. X’s are frequently long waisted, and 8’s are frequently shorter waisted. 8’s are more prone to love handles, and X’s are less love handle prone. (Marilyn Monroe was an 8; Sophia Vergara is an X.)

X’s What to Wear

If the goal is to create a balanced figure, you X’s are blessed because you already have one! In general, drawing attention to the waist, with a waistband or belt is a great look for the X. (If you are busty, you may choose to skip this advice, as drawing attention to your small waist can make your bust look larger.) Wrap dresses are amazing on X’s (Thank you, Diane von Furstenburg!), as are wrap tops. Fit and flare dresses are custom made for the X as well. A-line skirts are fabulous for your figure, as are straight or trouser leg jeans, especially if they zip up the side. If you are self-conscious about your curves and don’t want to show off your waist, at least make sure that your tops and jackets are shaped, or princess seamed. Properly placed darts can make you look 10 pounds thinner in an instant!

X’s What to Avoid

Losing the waist can make an X look heavy. Avoid blousy or oversized tops that hide your waist, and boxy tops and dresses. Long straight jackets are less than flattering on an X, and double breasted pieces often just make the X shape look bulky. Stiff fabrics often create extra visual weight that the X may not want. Avoid ending your tops at the widest part of your hips. Make sure jackets are belted, or nipped in at the waist. Even a drawstring on an anorak makes a difference! On trousers, avoid tapers, cuffs, and embroidery on the rear or thighs.

When You Love It Anyway

It may need altering. X’s often struggle to buy trousers and jeans that fit. There are more curvy-girl jeans than ever out there, which has made the hunt easier, but if you are still having a hard time, buy your bottoms to fit your hips, and have a tailor take in the waistband. You don’t need the bulk (or discomfort) created from belting a too large waistband to keep your pants up!

Another option for X’s is to belt it! This fall belts are making a comeback, so you X’s are in for a treat! Coats and jackets are showing up with self-belts, and leather belts over coats and blazers are everywhere, so you can make even shapeless garments work better for you!

A note about alterations… Unless you are employed as a fit model, assume that everything you buy will likely need alterations, and include them in your budget. Many women (and men) can’t be bothered to have their clothes altered to fit properly. Or maybe I should say they won’t pay to have everyday clothes altered to fit properly. Dresses for special occasions get special treatment, but why only them? Those special occasion pieces will be worn once or twice. Life is a special occasion! Shouldn’t the clothes you wear everyday fit you beautifully, and make you look good everyday? You deserve clothing that fits well and makes you feel great.

Wardrobe Audit: Not As Seen On TV! (Prep Work)

Wardrobe Audit: Not As Seen On TV! (Prep Work)

Fall arrives next week (weather not being a factor), so this weekend is a great time to take stock of your fall wardrobe. Often when readers see Wardrobe Audit on my list of services, they ask “Do you mean like on TV?” I always answer “Not at all! I don’t belittle you, make fun of your choices, or shove your clothes into a trash can. I help you go through what you own, determine what’s working for you, and what you need to complete your wardrobe so that it expresses your personality, fits your lifestyle (AND budget) and supports your goals.” Wow! That sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it… but if your wardrobe isn’t doing that for you, it’s time to ask why isn’t it?

There are thousands of articles (and some great videos too!), about how to do a Wardrobe Audit, closet clean-out, or closet edit. (It goes by a variety of names.) The biggest reason people don’t do their own audit is finding time to commit to the task at hand, or they become overwhelmed by the emotions that examining our clothing and buying patterns can bring to the surface, so they never start. Sometimes they start, give up, and shove it all back in. Let me make this clear, a Wardrobe Audit (WA) is work, not a dawdle before heading out to a party, but it is work well worth the effort! A closet that works for you rather than against you is an ally everyone should have. Ideally, a WA should take between 3 and 4 hours, but if you have multiple closets, it may require more time.

If you are doing this on your own at home, you can do your prep work over a few days prior to the closet work. Just like when painting, good preparation makes the rest of the job easier, look better, and last longer. Prep well!

Preparation

Any Wardrobe Audit requires preparation. Take time for some self-reflection. Do a personality analysis, and a lifestyle analysis. Spend time thinking about your values. I do these three with my clients before we even think about diving into the closet; the answers to these inventories inform the choices we make in their wardrobes. For example: Is comfort key for you? If so, maybe those pointy-toed patent stilettos might need rethinking. Does your social life consist of Flix and Chill, and the last time you went to a black tie gala was in 2005? Why are there three pre-offspring ballgowns taking up your valuable closet real estate? Maybe you are a vigilante vegan, and that beautiful suede purse your grandmother gave you is hidden on the top shelf. I know… Grandma gave it to you, and it is beautiful; you can never carry it again, and getting rid of it would be wrong, right? Think of this personality, lifestyle, and value work as a roadmap to your ideal closet. Not perfect, there is no perfect!

More Preparation

Next, a little more prep work is in order. Pull out 5 items from your closet that you L.O.V.E. and that make you feel great. That’s right. Five. Take the time to look at these pieces and think about why you love them. Analyze them. Is it the color? How it makes you feel? How it feels on your skin? How it makes everything else play well together? List adjectives (grammar flashback!) that describe the pieces and how you feel when you wear them. Look at your list, are there duplicates, or words that are very similar or encompass some of the same qualities, like comfortable and cozy? Or chic and sophisticated? Determine the adjectives you used most frequently; list 3-5 of them. Look carefully at these few. Is this how you want others to see you? If so great! If not, spend some time thinking about how you want to be perceived… Add two or three of those how-I-want-to-be-perceived adjectives to your list. This short list will be a draft of your Style Recipe.

Gather Your Supplies

You may want to break your Wardrobe Audit out into two sessions, prep work one day, and closet work on another. If so, make sure you have all your supplies on hand before you start on Part 2. For the next portion, you will want a vacuum cleaner and a duster on hand. You may as well clean your closet while it’s empty! Yes, it will be empty. You will also need water, a full length mirror, and good lighting. Make sure you have two good sized boxes or bags for Give Away, and Throw Away pieces.  Last, but not least, make sure you are caught up on your laundry before you head into your closet.

Now that the prep work is done, let’s pause (For a snack? I love a snack!) before we head into your closet! If all this sounds daunting, give me a call. I’d love to help!

When was the last time you did a Wardrobe Audit? Do you spend time for analysis beforehand? I’d love to hear how you do yours. Please share your experiences in the comments below!

 

 

Closet Sabotage

Closet Sabotage

Sabotage is a funny word. It comes from an old French word for shoe. In particular, a kind of wooden shoe. Sabotage is an apt word for the malicious mischief we do to our own wardrobes (and often budgets!). When I speak of a wardrobe, I imagine a set of coordinated clothing that fits the lifestyle of the owner, expresses his or her personality, flatters, and makes the wardrobee (Yes, sometimes a new word must be invented.) happy. What are the most common acts of wardrobe sabotage? You commit wardrobe sabotage when the clothing you buy…

Doesn’t Fit YOUR Lifestyle

I see this one all the time, and have been guilty of this act of sabotage more than once! Maybe you are a new mom who lives in jeans and tees, and spends your day nursing a newborn and trying to remember what the floor looked like before it was covered in children’s toys. You find yourself trying on a darling little black cocktail dress, dry clean only. You don’t remember the last time you had a cocktail, and while you may have regular dreams about an enormous margarita, you cannot imagine when you might actually have one. The babysitter, margarita, and dress (on sale) combined would cost more than a week’s worth of groceries.  Shopping for a life you do not lead is a bad idea. The brilliant Bridgette Raes calls this “wishful wardrobing”. Now, this does not mean that you should not buy something to make a new outfit for the holidays, but maybe rather than that dry clean only LBD, you should look for a new happy-making ( and nursing friendly) washable top to wear with jeans or dress pants, to which you can add some extra sparkle for New Year’s Eve. Even if you can’t afford the sitter, you can have your party at home!

Doesn’t Fit Your Personality (or Body Shape)

I love hippie chick flowy boho dresses and tops; they look airy, carefree, and easy, but when I put them on I feel like a clown, or like I am pretending to be someone I am not. I am more comfortable in a different aesthetic, and that’s just fine. I get my boho on with jewelry, or maybe with my sandals, or a scarf. That works for me. I have learned to steer clear of the cute little gauze spaghetti strap top that would show more skin than I am comfortable with, and doesn’t cover the foundation garments the girls require. It is perfectly fine to love a look on someone else, and not feel obliged to add it to your closet. The (also brilliant) Jill Chivers talks about appreciating fashion like art or architecture. She talks about loving the Eiffel Tower, but not needing to put it in your living room. I feel that way about lots of clothes. I can love that cute little military styled jacket with the brass buttons and red trim, and not need to add it to my closet!

Doesn’t Play Well with Others

Before handing over your hard-earned money, if you cannot think of at least 3 ways to wear the item you are about to carry to the register, it may be best to leave it behind. There a few ways we commonly sidestep this guideline. Wearing that cute floral cold shoulder top with three different jeans does not count as three ways! Can you wear that top with three different bottoms? Maybe with your jeans, your black dress pants, and your casual chinos. It might be a good choice. Can you imagine wearing it in three different situations? On a play day? Or running errands? How about to work? On a date, or girls’ night out? Not every purchase will work in three different situations, but you should be able to make it work for more than one. Does the coloring work for you, and what you already own? If you are rebuilding a wardrobe from scratch, you may need to buy whole outfits; if you already have a closet full of clothes, you shouldn’t need to buy a whole outfit to make one piece work. If you do, it’s probably best left at the store.

Exception to the Situations Guideline: Workout Wear. Wear it for working out. Please. Leggings are NOT pants. I don’t care what the Spanx ads show. They are ads, with women who are paid to show off their assets. If you are being paid to show off yours, rock them, but most of us are not that woman.

Wardrobe Orphans

When we buy clothing that corresponds to one of the above acts of sabotage, those pieces often end up being wardrobe orphans: unhappy items (often with the tags still attached) that hang in your closet making you feel guilty, wasteful, and sometimes plain old foolish. Maybe it is time to do a Marie Kondo and thank the piece for the lesson it has taught you, and release it to be loved and used by someone else. Or it may just be that you need help finding ways to wear those orphans, and help them find their lost family. Those are the kind of things an Image and Wardrobe Coach can help with!

We all make mistakes, learning from them is the key! Which kind of sabotage are you most frequently guilty of? Let me know in the comments below!

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

Back to School Shopping? Shop Your Wardrobe First!

Back to School Shopping? Shop Your Wardrobe First!

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

Out of Season

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

Budgeting

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

Pre-Planning

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

Planning

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

Now, Shop!

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

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