Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Color

Choosing a Color Palette for Your Wardrobe

Choosing a Color Palette for Your Wardrobe

Hello there, fabulous readers!

Recently, I was working with a client who had a Personal Style Consultation some months ago. In the interim, she had been texting me when shopping to ask whether an outfit was “working” or not.  Although the styles were great, I would regularly ask her if they had the XYZ (my shorthand for random item!) she was looking at in a different color, one more flattering to her warm coloring. She clearly is a warm palette woman (although she’s not had a full color consult). Over time, I realized that there was no coherent color scheme to the pictures. She was choosing pieces in colors she loved, but with no plan for color in mind. At her Closet Inspiration session she asked for help to see how to best use what she owned, and how to work her new purchases into her (already very full) wardrobe. When I got a peek into her closet, I could see her problem. It was a beautiful rainbow (Organized by color! YAY!), but because the colors were warm and cool, bright and muted, light and dark, it was a challenge to take advantage of the bounty in there.

Choosing a Color Palette for a Wardrobe

Two by Two

When a client needs an entirely new wardrobe, we start by looking at her personal coloring. Is she warm or cool complexioned? What is her Value Contrast? And is her coloring overall lighter or darker? If she’s warm, I would help her choose two warm neutrals (like camel, olive, brown, warm navy, tan, or ivory) that suit her and her personality best.  If her coloring is cool, I would look at grey, dove, charcoal, flannel, navy, taupe, rose brown, and white, and we’d pick two that suit. After choosing her two neutrals (that reflect her overall coloring and Value well), we would choose two  accent colors from the color wheel. (Ideally, I look for colors that make my client’s skin and eyes glow!). You can go on and add more neutrals and accents, but two and two is a great place to start.

What If You’re Not Starting from Scratch?

Polyvore of Warm vs. Cool Neutral Women's ClothingTwo Neutrals

Even if we want a wardrobe overhaul, most of us are not starting from scratch. (Our wallets thank us for that!) As described above, with this client I started by looking at her coloring, and then at what she had in her closet. She is a medium to light warm complexioned woman. We took an analytical approach, and started looking for pieces in just four colors, two neutrals and two accent colors (more like color families). I began by pulling the warm colors I saw the most of, olive and tan/khaki. I left behind the blacks. Black (although easy to find at the stores) is not flattering on her, nor does black play well with the colors that make her glow.  Black is not a must! (Contrary to popular opinion, no one MUST wear black!)

Since this client struggles to find bottoms that fit well, on our first grab, we took two neutral trousers, one olive and one khaki. Then our goal was to find two tops and two toppers to create a column of color that she could spark up with her accent colors. Aha! Only one bottom had tops and toppers to coordinate. The best part of this neutral core approach is that she could see her wardrobe holes and start on a strategic list for future shopping trips. Once we pulled some tops and toppers in the same color families as the trousers, we began to play around. Now this woman is vibrant! She has warm blue-green eyes, and WOW! her personality just shines, so all neutral outfits would never feel “her”.

Two Colors

Then I started looking in her closet for colors (vice neutrals). As I said, she had a rainbow in there. She owns oodles of salmon/coral/russet, and since this color makes her look radiant, that was an easy pick. She can wear these lovely sunset shades with both her olive and tan neutrals, and with them in combination. We took some time to play in her accessories, and found scarves and jewelry that looked fabulous together. Once we were working with light and medium warm colors, it was easier to create outfits. Then we moved on to different combinations, including a salmon top with a russet cardigan over it. Although an atypical combination, it looked amazing with both neutrals, and she started to see how fewer color options, carefully selected, would give her great looks with less stress.

By the time we finished, we had about 20 pieces on her bed, and literally hundreds of outfits for her that spanned a variety of seasons.  She had felt like she needed more clothing, and all that was already in her closet! She also had a great start on a (very small!) shopping list that would make her pieces even more versatile. (It was necessary to put leopard print shoes on that list, BTW!)

She had a few turquoise tops, so we chose those as her second accent color, and found even more accessories to make these play well with her olives and tans. One of our favorites was the turquoise top under the olive cardigan with the olive trousers. She had the perfect necklace that created an effortless and intentional look at the same time. After that she added another accent of a purple that makes her happy, and plays well with her olives and tans. We separated a large number of tops in cool blues, greys, blacks, and whites, and moved those out of the way. She may donate those, consign them, or overdye them to create more flattering colors.

Not only does this two and two method provide a framework to get a grip on an overstuffed closet, it’s a fabulous way to pack for a trip! But more on that next week…

Let’s start a conversation below!  I love to hear your thoughts! What is your favorite wardrobe color combination?

Stay Stylish!

Thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

Wear Red Day

Wear Red Day

I know… Wear Red Day for Women’s Heart Health Awareness may not be high on your list of priorities for today, but it is on mine. My father died of a massive and unexpected heart attack in 1999, when we were living overseas, and thus began one of the hardest years of my life. Then in May of 2014, my mother (who lives with us) had a heart attack, too. I’m just glad she was living with us by then, because if she’d been living alone, I doubt she’d be with us today. I may not have my parents’ high blood pressure, but having two parents with coronary disease has made an impact on me.

The American Heart Association sponsors Wear Red Day the first Friday of February to raise awareness of women’s heart health issues.  We associate heart attacks with men, but heart disease is the number one killer of women in America. The dramatic chest clutching popular on TV and in movies is not the sign you want, and often by that point, it’s too late. Women frequently exhibit very different symptoms of heart attack then do men, and unfortunately are easily brushed aside.

I have challenged the women in my networking group to join in on Wear Red Day, and will be donating to the AHA for each woman in red. (Love that song, too!)

If you want to donate, you can find out more about how, right here. Please consider making a donation… if not in your name, in honor of someone you love!

 

 

Myths About Wearing Black

Myths About Wearing Black

(AKA: Black is NOT the Only Chic Color!)

Black, black, black, black, black. Black, black, black, black, black, black, black. It probably comes in black. It only comes in black. We only have it in black. No, I am not talking about the Model T, or the first telephone. I am talking about the tyranny of black that reigns in fashiondom and the retail world.

I get it. Black is easy. And cheap clothes usually look better in black than in other colors. But black is not the only color! And it is certainly not the only color that looks chic!

Ten plus years ago, when my hair was still much darker, black was not only one of my best colors, it was my hands down favorite and default. My coloring is cool, and was brighter and more vivid back then. I looked good in black, and as a petite person, coming across as a little intimidating and authoritative was not something I minded. (Especially in the classroom…) Black was my signature color, and I often had a hard time finding clothes in black. (There used to be a bias toward making petite clothes in “girlie” colors, which I found downright patronizing.) As luck would have it, now my coloring is much lighter with my grey hair and softening skin color. I am still cool, but the black of my younger wardrobe looks harsh and unflattering on me. I still have a few black items, and a cocktail dress; since those are usually not worn in the bright, harsh light of day, but in the dimmer and more forgiving lighting of evening (and with extra makeup), I can still get away with them.

Myth: Black looks good on everyone.

Reality: Everyone CAN wear black, but many should not. Much of the population does not look their best in black. (In daylight!) Women and men with cool, dark, and bright coloring look good in black. That leaves out most of us. Those with warm, dark coloring look better in warm neutrals: dark chocolate browns, dark eggplant, dark olive. Those with warm light coloring look better in warm lighter neutrals: camels, ivories, olives, warm greys. Cool, light coloring looks better in lighter neutrals, like cool greys and taupe. Black has a tendency to make under eye circles more intense, the shadows and wrinkles around our mouths deeper, and chins double. (Who needs any of that?!)

Polyvore Women's Clothing Illustrating Columns of ColorMyth: Black makes you look thinner.

Reality: Any dark color can make you look thinner. Especially in contrast with a light color. Any color will make you look thinner when worn as a column from shoulder to knee, or to ankle! If your coloring is warm and light, black will drag the eye of your beholder away from your face (where you want attention to stay) and to the black item. The contrast with your natural coloring will appear heavy and pull you down, especially that pair of black pants that you bought to make your bottom look smaller. Colors in harmony with your personal coloring will make you look healthier and happier. When you look healthy and happy, no one notices your thighs or your tummy!

Myth: Black looks chic.

Reality: Neutrals look chic (of which black is just one!), especially when in a column of color, or as accents with each other. Ivory from head to toe, topped with camel? Yes, please! Grey trousers and a sweater with brown crocodile accents? Gorgeous! Olive with cognac? Rich! Navy from head to toe? Lovely! Camel with oxblood accents? Oh, my! International Orange? No, not chic. Yes, cheap clothes will usually look more expensive in black than in other colors, but if it looks cheap in its other shades, it probably doesn’t deserve a place in a wardrobe that you want to last.

Myth: Black goes with everything.

Reality: Anything black goes with, other neutrals go with, too. And often much better! Especially if the other colors have warm undertones. Love coral? It looks even better with ivory, olive, chocolate, and warm grey than it does with black. Yellow? With black it can look bumblebee, but with grey? That’s a home run! Turquoise with chocolate? OMGoodness! Pink with chocolate, navy, grey, ivory, taupe, basically anything. Yum! Purple and olive? Yes, please! Oh, and lavender with chocolate? Luscious! I haven’t found a color yet that doesn’t work with navy. Yes, even black does. Let’s play with all the crayons in the box, not just the black ones!

What is your favorite (not black) color to wear? What’s your favorite neutral other than black? I love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

 

Thanks 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!

2017’s Top 5’s

2017’s Top 5’s

NB: Some of today’s images were found in my Camera Roll. Apologies for their ultra-amateur nature!
As an Image and Wardrobe Coach, lots of people ask what are my favorite pieces. I’m not always sure why, because my favorites are not necessarily going to be someone else’s favorites. I have written about how I find Must Have lists problematic, and what my personal Must Haves are, and thought it might be a good idea to look over my Camera Roll from 2017 and figure out if my faves correlate with my Must Haves! There are lots of missing days, but between my phone and Stylebook app, I hope to find out what my real workhorses were in 2017.

I should probably explain… This list will look really ordinary! I have a very structured (some call it “boring”) wardrobe, built around a small color palette. This approach doesn’t work for everyone, and certainly not for many of my clients, but it’s how I like MY closet to work. My neutrals are Grey, Navy/Denim, and White and my accent colors are Pinks/Wines, and Turquoises/Teals. I get my sartorial kicks from playing with accessories: shoes, scarves, and jewelry. So leaving out the kicks (another post, maybe?), my most worn basics in 2017 were:

Tops:

Bright Navy Linen Blouse (no collar)

This and the same style in white listed below were clearance purchases from Talbot’s a year or two ago. I love linen for our hot summers, and can live with the wrinkles! The blue is fabulous for fall when I want darker colors, but still need cool. This with my white jeans is a three season go-to, and I can work different looks just by changing the accessories…

3/4 Sleeve Gathered Waist Chambray Shirt

A consignment shore purchase in 2016(?). I was unsure how I would like it, but it is the one shirt I am always impatient to get back from the wash. (It inspires me to iron, and that says a lot!) In general, I am not a collared shirt fan, but mine has a Y-neck and gathers under the bust that make it a more feminine choice than your average chambray shirt. I wear it with trousers to take them down a notch, over a sheath dress to make it look like a skirt, and with jeans when I’m feeling it. This shirt is a three season piece and will stay in my winter capsule and move into spring to rock the denim on denim trend that will be hot again in 2018!

Teal Gathered Neck Blouse

One of my fall/winter purchases, the green flatters my skin and eyes, the loose fit lets air circulate, and it gives the color I crave in fall and winter. To top it off, it has 3/4 sleeves, which are a must for me. It was one of my Baker’s Dozen Capsule pieces and went right from the laundry back onto my body. No ironing necessary! I wear it with any of my trousers and jeans, and expect that when it finally dies, I will be one sad woman… (If anyone at Loft is listening, you could make my shirt again!)

Confetti Spot Shell (Wine/Pink/Grey)

This is a another Talbot’s (sale) item bought in the fall, but it became an instant favorite. It is lightweight and airy, and the wine background makes it great for our warm falls and winters. The bright pink splashes give it life, and in our recent cold snap, I’m loving it over a turtleneck. It’s a little apron-y styled like this, but in a good way.

White Linen Blouse (no collar)

I am a hot mess, so what am I doing with a white shirt? Well, it can be bleached, and that sorts out most of my problems. And a white shirt goes with pretty much everything, as long as it’s your white, and doesn’t create contrast issues. I love blue and white, and grey and white for hot weather. They may be neutral combinations, but they feel “cool” to me. Most people splash into brighter colors in the spring and summer, but I work in reverse… I wear more colors in the winter, and more neutrals in the summer.

Bottoms:

White Gap Jeans

Purchased last spring to replace an old ill-fitting pair that taught me how practical white jeans can be, this pair wears like iron. As stated in the white shirt review, I am a hot mess, but bleach can sort a multitude of sins, and so can a little white chalk. These are a 3 season wonder, too, and I even regretted putting them away for the winter, but expect that will make me even more happy to see them again in the spring. They work with every top, and were a backbone of my fall Baker’s Dozen Capsule. They will look cute with my new confetti spot shell, and I just hope I can fit back into them by the time March arrives.

Skinny Jeans

An inexpensive pair of Levi’s (Denizen) from Target, they have more spandex and are thinner than I like a jean to be. Although, this does make them perfect for our hot summers, and the weight gain I have been plagued with this year. I love them for travel, as they are comfortable to sit in for road and plane trips, and that alone is enough to earn a spot in my closet. They will stay in my wardrobe even if they aren’t faves, just because they are so darned practical, and are the only jeans that still fit comfortably. (Arrrgh!) I wear them with any of my blousy tops, to balance the silhouette.

Levi’s 501’s

I love, love, love my old Levi’s 501’s, but they are just too heavy for most of the year here. Last spring I cropped them and left the raw edge to fray because I was not buying a new pair of jeans at some ridiculous price for the frayed look that I wanted to try. Once the weather warmed up, away they went to be broken out again for my winter capsule, and they are making me so very happy. I love the frayed crop with a short boot, ballet flat, or wedge. It feels extra casual with an edge, and just the other day, a woman stopped me to ask where I got my “cool jeans.” Go figure! (Here’s that chambray shirt, too!)

Blue Cropped Kick Flare Trouser

I picked this fave up at Banana Republic a few years ago before the one at our mall closed. (And a sadness came over the land…) I wore them about twice a week for more than a year, and put them away this winter. We’ll see how I feel about them come spring, and if I can even squeeze into them. I love the sass of a kick flare, and how they give a little more air circulation than a long trouser. The only drawback to these is that they are dry clean only.

Little White Dress

This was another clearance item a few years ago at the Gap. It lived in the back of my closet, unworn for months because I couldn’t work up the courage to wear a white dress. (What’s with that?) Then we took a trip to Hawai’i. All sorted. I wore it there, and then had no reason not to break it out regularly. With wedges, sandals, jean jacket over it, belted if I’m feeling sassy, loose if it is hotter than blue blazes. It’s a perfect foil for jewelry, and a colored shoe. Another bleachable white natural fiber. Thank you Clorox!

Not very interesting sounding are they? So, how do these Top 5’s compare to my personal Must Have list? Not very well! To be fair, many of my personal Must Haves fall into the accessories side of the clothing camp, and the above list is only tops and bottoms. Only one top made my personal Must Have list, a white knit top. It hung unloved in my closet this year while the white linen did all the heavy lifting. Maybe I should edit my list, but as you will find “the perfect white shirt” on almost every other Must Have list, I don’t think I’m too far off! As for bottoms, my personal Must Haves included a Narrow Trouser. My Kick Flares are narrow every other way, and so are my white and skinny jeans, so I have that one covered. My Little White Dress fits my Day Dress Must Have perfectly. I might even be able to stretch my Chambray Shirt to cover the Denim Jacket listing… If so, I did cover all my clothing Must Haves!

Do you track what you wear? What are your most worn pieces, and are they your favorites? Or do your favorites fall into some other category? Please let me know in the comments below! I love to hear your thoughts…

 

 

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!

Holiday Dressing

Holiday Dressing

What makes a great holiday outfit? Ugly Christmas sweaters aside, what feels festive to you? It should really depend on the event. Caroling on a chilly night requires a different  ensemble than the office holiday ‘do. (Speaking of the holiday office ‘do… It’s still office, and NOT the place for cleavage, bra or booty!)

Some Sparkle

Sparkle doesn’t have to be diamonds. Choose the metallic shade that looks best on you. Statement earrings are a great way to keep attention on you (your face), and avoids the jangle of bracelets and the swinging and catching of necklaces that many find annoying. An inexpensive pair can be your holiday go-to. A metallic clutch to go along is another easy and inexpensive touch. Jeans, a tee and your earrings and clutch change the whole vibe from van driving to festive! Metallic “clutches” are everywhere this year. Look beyond the handbags to cosmetic bags and electronics gear organizers. Also look in the office supplies at supply pouches… These tend to be less expensive than the ones you find in the handbag department, and you can use them next year to keep your tote organized!

Some Cozy

What’s cozy? Please don’t  wear puppies or kittens! Think corduroy, cut or uncut, velvet, velveteen, velour, faux fur, fuzzy or marled knits. I have seen some great velvety cosmetic bags at my local big box store (red circles on the front…) with a tassel zipper pull that would make a great clutch. Cozy isn’t only for tops, though. Try corduroy or velvet jeans, or a faux fur scarf, in whatever color makes you look radiant. The point of faux is to be faux, so don’t worry about picking a “realistic” color!

Some Elegance

The soft sheen of pearls or pewter brings light to the darkness of winter. Imagine the glow of of white mistletoe berries contrasted with the green leaves. The draping of a waterfall cardigan can bring an elegant feel, or the luxurious hand of cashmere warms and regulates temperature like a dream. Lace, anyone? An oversized statement necklace, bracelet or ring that isn’t blingy feels elegant as well. Yours might be a wide silver cuff bracelet. Antique pieces and family heirlooms (grandma’s brooch or locket, or your aunt’s wedding ring that she wore on the boat over from the old country) all speak of tradition and connection. Don’t save them for “good”! If a holiday celebration isn’t good, what is? (I drink box wine from crystal, so any day is good for me!)

Some Color

The traditional reds and greens of the season feel festive, but avoid pairing them together. Even in their grown up version (burgundy and hunter) they can feel cliché, and look childish rather than youthful. The easy mix is with black, and since that can be too harsh for many complexions, why not try your favorite shade of red/pink or green with winter white, grey, taupe, or blue? Light blue and white are a great holiday combo, too, evoking clear skies and a snowy landscape. If you must wear all black, please at least add colored jewelry and a pashmina to soften and cheer your look.

Comfort!

Comfortable is a must for me! If the dress requires 2 Spanx and a pliers to pull up the zipper, you aren’t going to have very much fun. Unless you are a starlet whose job is to be stunning and you can act well enough to be happy even when boa-constricted, please try on your outfit before it’s time to head out the door, and determine if you are garbed in something you can spend the night nibbling, dancing, and socializing in. If sitting and entertaining small children are in the plan, take that into account, as well. Too tight trousers to the holiday concert will make you wish you the sugar-plum fairy would just drop dead so you can get home and into your jammies. Uncomfortable clothes = Bah, humbug!

What is your favorite holiday outfit? What item do you wear that always makes you feel special? Share in the comments below!

And many thanks to Katherine at #notlamb for the LinkUp!

What Makes an Outfit Work (Part 2)

So how does one put What Makes an Outfit Work (Part 1) into practice? Lots of trial and error, until it becomes second nature. Here’s an example…

Style Blogger in Ubiquitous Striped Top Snap!

Personality

I have a pretty out-there personality. I am friendly, mostly direct, and not afraid to speak my mind. My style recipe is Mischievous Femi-Modern. I don’t do girly feminine. I’m into bling, but not ruffles or florals. The bracelet stack is hiding in this casual shot, but that and earrings were my bling for the day. I have a lot of Classic in my personality, so Levi’s 501’s and the (ubiquitous) striped top. The Classic in me also tends toward the darker colors in my palette, rather than the lighter shades. The Feminine comes out in the silk scarf, the narrow suede shoes, and the bow on the toe.

Personal Coloring

My coloring is Sublime in the Absolute Color System. I am Sublime! (That is such fun to say!) The Absolute Color System has 18 different and very nuanced palettes. It’s the color system I have been trained in and I think it’s the best out there. I never fit very well into the Color Me Beautiful/Four Seasons system, and appreciate how this one works so well for me and my clients. My personal coloring is light rather than dark. The outfit on the right is tending too dark for me; you can see how much more harmonious the coloring of lighter outfit on the left is.

Color Contrast and Value Contrast

My personal coloring is 2 Neutrals plus 1 Color, which is (almost) reflected here. I have a lot of neutrals going on in the stripey shot. Denim, Dark Green, and the White in my top all behave as neutrals. My color is the plum in my shoes and scarf. The bright shoes could distract from the communication center (face), but repeating the color from the shoes with the scarf draws your attention back up where it belongs. To the left, the softer neutrals are more in line with my personal coloring; there are fewer neutrals, and they more closely mimic my hair color. The teal blouse keeps color (and attention) near my face. My Value Contrast is Medium High. The casual outfit contrast is higher than the more suited look on the left. The dark trim on the suit jacket gives the pop needed to create a higher value contrast. Without it, the look would be too low contrast.

Body Shape

I am a petite 8 Shape. The dark neutral jacket and jeans create a column of color to create a longer vertical line. That same column contains the stripes preventing the dreaded widening effect. Ideally, I should wear a trouser that is long, but I prefer a crop and fun shoe, so the column helps there, too. If I was not wearing the jacket, a full length skinny jean would look better here!  On the left, the grey trousers and tweed create a column as well, but it is chopped by the black trim at the jacket hem. Ideally, the waist detail is balanced by the verticals on the jacket front, and the heeled grey shoe carries the color to a longer line, as well.

Hope this helps you see how just a few of the pieces fit together to create an outfit that is you! (Or me, as the case may be…) What outfit feels most “you” and why? Please share in the comments below!

What Makes an Outfit Work? (Part 1)

What Makes an Outfit Work? (Part 1)

Have you ever seen someone dressed and think That’s amazing on her, but I could never wear that. So, what makes an outfit work? (Or NOT work?!) When I pull together an outfit for a client, my goal is for it to:

Reflect Your Personality

This is one reason an outfit may be perfect for one woman and feel like a costume on another. I was working with a client a few weeks ago who loves a Relaxed Feminine Creative “boho” look, but feels like a clown dressed so. It didn’t take much digging to discover that she is also an organized and responsible woman with a need for structure and routine. The “boho” outfits she was trying to create were leaving out all the Classic in her personality. When we added a little structure to the flowy, or a touch of “boho” to a more Classic look, she felt like herself, or at home in the outfits. It is important to encompass ALL the pieces of your personality when you dress.

Work with Your Personal Coloring

We have all been given a set of colors that flatter us and make us look our healthiest. You may be saying, I’ve never had my colors “done” so I don’t have colors. You have colors, whether you recognize them or not. They are the colors given you by God, or if you prefer, determined by your DNA. You have been gifted the perfect colors for you, and these change throughout our lives as our natural coloring changes. Our skin and hair softens and lightens in color as we get older (often starting in our 30’s), so the colors that looked amazing on us at 25 are probably not the same colors we look best in at 50, and those are different than the ones that will best suit us at 75! More about color terminology, here.

Harmonize with Your Color and Value Contrasts

Is your personal coloring neutral (hair, skin, and eyes) or colored? Maybe you are a combination of both. A man or woman whose personal coloring is very neutral (e.g. blonde hair, brown eyes, and neutral skin), will be most flattered by outfits composed of neutrals, or outfits that are monochromatic (one color), or made from colors closer on the color wheel. Often the bloggers who look amazing in their all neutral capsule wardrobes are those neutrals women. Maybe you are highly colored, with red hair and green eyes. Then make sure your outfits are comprised of two colors along with any neutral you are wearing. The goal is to have you wear your clothes, not to have your clothes wear you!

Value contrast is determined by the lightest and darkest colors of your person. Snow White, with her very dark hair and fair skin is a classic example of high value contrast. Cinderella is a lower value contrast princess, with her blond hair and fair complexion. Think about their signature outfits. The high contrast of Snow White’s dark bodice and bright skirt. reflects the high contrast of her natural coloring. Cinderella’s varying shades of light blue reflect the much lower value contrast of her personal coloring. Getting our value contrast right can make all the difference, and can “cover a multitude of (style) sins”!

Flatter Your Body Shape

One of the biggest struggles for women is that our bodies change throughout our lifetimes, sometimes repeatedly! Pregnancy and nursing, and at the other end, menopause, create a state of flux that can be frustrating. We may have known how to dress our pre-babies body, but now, extra weight from pregnancy, car-pooling or desk-sitting makes dressing a new challenge that we simply don’t have time or mental energy to research. Menopause can take a stylish woman by surprise when body parts start shifting along with the hormones. Our body shape is based on our skeleton, and how our weight is distributed on our bones. Knowing your shape doesn’t tell you what to buy (That’s your personality’s job!), but it does tell you where you want (and don’t want) horizontal and vertical lines, and details to draw attention to assets and away from your less loved characteristics.

When you take some time to get to know yourself inside and out, pulling together a great outfit becomes easier every day. (And dressing can become fun again!)

What outfit do you feel most confident and yourself in? I’d love to know! Please share in the comments below!

 

Colors and Neutrals

Colors and Neutrals

Sometimes I feel like a Color Convert, or maybe a recovering Blackaholic. Either way, I have seen the light! (Horrible science pun, I know…) I appreciate all the colors of the rainbow, and feel obligated to spread the color gospel.

Color Preferences

Some color preferences are universal; some are cultural, and some are purely personal. Most of us have a favorite color, and interestingly, different favorite colors for clothing. As children, these colors are usually the same, but as adults, we often choose a favorite clothing color that becomes a default. This handy sorting mechanism may save time shopping, but it can also be limiting, or downright unflattering if we choose a color that doesn’t suit our personal coloring. Many people think you can tell a lot about a person by his or her favorite color, but often those favorites go back to experiences we have had, either positive or negative. If you had a horrible time in middle school, and your school’s colors were garnet and gold, you may avoid those colors like the plague. If you were on the winning team and your team color was orange, you may associate orange with success. Time spent thinking about the colors you love and despise and why can be a small journey into your past and therapeutic to boot!

Neutrals

I know many a woman with a sea of neutrals in her wardrobe. By neutrals, we mean those colors that are not found in the rainbow, black, white, navy blue, grey, brown, tan/khaki, taupe, camel, and variations on these. To confuse the issue, there are colored neutrals as well! Colored neutrals are those rainbow colors with enough black added so that they work as neutrals. Deep burgundy, dark olive, deep teal, eggplant, and other similar shades are colored neutrals.

WarmCoolNeutralsA wardrobe full of neutrals may allow you to mix and match almost everything in your closet, but your outfits will often feel lifeless and draining, unless you add color with accessories. I see many women who buy bags full of neutrals because they are afraid of making a color mistake. Neutrals are “safe.” Furniture retailers and decorators will tell you the same principle applies to upholstered items; customers will regularly default to the safety of a neutral. The world does not need more beige sofas or walls!

The Tyranny of Black

Bridgette Raes, a New York stylist, coined the term “Blackcident” for those women whose wardrobes overflow with black. I hear (and myself often gave) all kinds of reasons for black-heavy wardrobes. “Black makes you look thin.” “Black clothes look more expensive.” “Black looks good with everything.” “Everyone looks good in black.” “Black is chic.” “Black hides stains.” And on, and on… Most of these are opinion rather than fact! Recently, I was in a dressing room with a client, and a mother nearby was shopping with her petite, fair-skinned, blond, high school daughter for (college) interview suits. They found a darling navy sheath dress with cream trim and a coordinating jacket. Then mom saw a black crepe dress and matching jacket. The sleeveless black dress was perfect for daughter’s figure; the neckline was flattering, and her bare arms helped break up the dark color, but when the young lady put on the jacket, she looked overwhelmed, and unwell. As the daughter hemmed and hawed, mom was determined that the black suit made her girl look sophisticated and serious, rather than like an orphan in mourning.

Be Bold:  Pick Another Neutral, or Two!

So instead of black, how about a different neutral, or two, or three? Even if black was a great color for us when we were young, it can often be harsh and aging as we grow in wisdom. Since letting my natural grey shine through, grey has become my new black. I have been transitioning my once black-heavy wardrobe into one relying on grey, white, and navy as neutrals, depending on the season. (I still have a few black pieces, but these have become the exception, rather than my rule.) For the warmer complexioned, how about a trio of ivory/light tan, olive, and warm navy? These would look amazing paired with coral and turquoise for accent colors.

How about you? Do neutrals form the backbone of your wardrobe? Or does your closet look like the rainbow? Please let me know in the comments below! I love to hear your thoughts!