Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Personality

Jeans Everyday?

Jeans Everyday?

Good day. Whew, it’s been a wild ride. Please pardon my neglect! My mother returned home after a long hospital stay, and then we were hosting visitors for Thanksgiving. What a couple of weeks! So much so that I wore jeans every day week before last. For many people, that would be a “Yeah, duh.” moment. Why wouldn’t you wear jeans 7 days in a row when you can? Others would answer “Why would you?” Because a week of jeans doesn’t suit my personality.

Let’s Talk Personality!

I have talked previously about how your personality drives, (or should drive) what you choose to wear. (So much so that every post I have published thus far has been labeled in the category Personality. It may be time to revisit those…) Now, I realize that many people don’t wear what they would like to for work. Maybe they have a uniform, or a dress code that is the antithesis of their personal style. More about that another day… Often clients hire me when they discover that they don’t like their clothes. Frequently, they discover that their clothes are no longer “them.”

Maybe You Have Changed

Having a baby. Entering or leaving the job market. Receiving a serious diagnosis. A lifestyle shift, or a big life event. Any of these may change who we are, or how we feel about ourselves. The wardrobe of the young professional and party girl you were in your 20’s and early 30’s is dramatically different from the one you find yourself needing as a happily married young woman and new mom. The professional businesswoman has left the workplace to start her own business, and doesn’t need the suit dresses and heels that her former life required. These life changes can seem to happen overnight. You may look into your closet with nostalgia for the life you led, or frustration at the lack of options for the life you have now. If you feel like the inside of your closet doesn’t reflect (and fit!) who you are right now, it’s time for a little wardrobe therapy. You have evolved, and your wardrobe needs to as well!

Who Are You Now?

Taking some time to figure out who you are right now is a must. It may seem indulgent, or a waste of time to spend time learning who the new you is. Productivity specialists will tell you that time spent planning or strategizing saves time and money in the long run. It’s the same with your wardrobe! Start with what you have and love. Even if you don’t actually wear these pieces, they give a glimpse into your personality. If you have a closet full of yoga pants and logo tees, but your favorite pieces are a strand of your grandmother’s pearls and a pair of riding boots, you might have a personality disconnect.  Neither the yogi nor the country gentry is you, but details from both! The devil is in respecting and integrating the different parts of your personality so that when you dress, you create a balance that feels authentic.

(And Where Do You Want to Go?)

Are you are a stay-at-home mom, and plan to go back to work once the youngest is in school? That may seem like years away, but if you are a person with a low wardrobe turn-over rate (you keep items for a very long time) you should be thinking about that return to work as you buy items now. If you are buying something that won’t keep, do you want to spend on it, or would it be better to spend on a piece that will work now AND later?

How Do You Spend Your Time?

Another important inventory to take is to look at how you spend your time. How you really spend your time. Not what it looks like on Instagram or Facebook! Take a look at your calendar. A fitness coach will have a very different wardrobe than a preschool teacher. The bank teller and hospital volunteer will not have the same wardrobe needs. Take an honest look at your lifestyle. There is nothing wrong with a wardrobe full of Converses and jeans if that is what works for your lifestyle and personality. Just make sure you have something in your closet appropriate to wear to a funeral, or meeting with a lawyer or accountant!

What Drives You?

We all have different values, and these shift in priority throughout our lives. It is important to make sure what we own still reflects the values we hold now. If comfort and modesty are your main drivers, you are not likely to be happy in a sheer tulle skirt with bare legs and booties. But that same outfit might be perfect for someone who puts comfort and modesty at the bottom of their values list.

My definition of modesty might be completely different than someone else’s. Values have both personal and cultural aspects to take into account. I remember gazing in wonder at a young woman in London. She wore a long sleeved tee, jeans, sneakers, and a headscarf. Sounds modest, right? It would have been had her clothing not been so snug that it left absolutely nothing to the imagination. She may as well have been naked, but she was covered from head to toe in fabric. That qualified as modest for her, or I expect for her parents!

For many, economics is a main driver. These shoppers should beware the false economy of the markdown. A cheap item you never wear is money wasted, no matter how low the price. Others see clothing as nothing more than a necessity to keep warm and prevent arrest. These concept driven folks are unlikely to call an Image and Wardrobe Coach, but may well have one called for them by an employer unhappy with their lack of concern!

My father used to call it navel-gazing, but time spent reflecting before shopping equals time well spent, and, frequently, money saved!

Have you been through any style changes this year? Please share in the comments below!

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!

 

Observations on Dress

Observations on Dress

I dress the way I do because it makes me happy. Some days are “dressier” than others.

Observation:

On Facebook and Instagram, most of the positive feedback comes from the “dressier” outfit posts, the outfits that people say they “like but would never wear.” My question is: Why not? People like to see others dressed up, but don’t want to do the same themselves? What’s that all about? Is it:

Fear of Standing Out or “Who Does She Think She Is?”

Unless you are naked, or wearing a meat dress, (Thank you, Lady Gaga.), most people do not notice what you are wearing unless it is dramatically inappropriate for the circumstances: think tuxedo on the soccer pitch, gym gear at a wedding, or cleavage in the office. The average person is far more concerned about what is going on in their own heads, hearts, and phones, than they are about what others are wearing. Some women (and men) feel that if they stand out, others will comment, and those comments make them uncomfortable. Outfit comments are often variations on the What-Are-You-Dressed-Up-For? theme. My favorite response is to smile mysteriously and leave them guessing, or simply reply “This just felt right today, thanks!” It’s really not their business, is it? If you ignore them, others will stop asking.

I Don’t Feel Good about Myself

A more common outfit comment is the compliment. Maybe it’s as simple as “Love your shoes!” Or “You look great today!” These are easy to handle. There is one correct way to answer: “Thank you!” You don’t need to apologize, or “What! This old thing…” A simple thank you is the perfect answer. If receiving a genuine compliment makes you uncomfortable, practice just saying “Thank you!” It can be a challenge, but refusing a compliment is insulting to the giver. Sarcastic or backhanded compliments are not your problem, they are the givers’, and nothing you do will fix that. They will simply find another way to pick on you, so don’t apologize for looking good. A simple thank you to these will usually defuse and confuse the insincere compliment-giver.

If you are waiting to feel better about yourself before you dress better, take note! It works both ways. More than one study shows that paying attention to your appearance, and putting a little effort into dressing makes you feel better about yourself. Not only do we dress better when we feel better, we can make ourselves feel better by dressing better. Simply trying new things challenges us and also improves our mood and attitude.  I’m not suggesting a ballgown on Monday morning for work, but something as simple as wearing two necklaces instead of your usual one can be a positive stimulation. Keep changing things up, and trying new combinations. It’s good for you!

I Don’t Feel Beautiful

What is your definition of beautiful? Most women I work with and talk to don’t define beauty by what someone looks like on the outside. Usually their answers regarding beauty reflect a person’s character, personality, and being true to oneself. Why then do we judge our own beauty by the exterior standards that the media bombards us with daily, rather than by the same definition we apply to others? This is craziness! I hear women obsess about their perceived flaws every day, whilst overlooking their own outer and inner beauty. Let it shine out! You are beautiful!

Thank you for allowing me to sort that out. You are beautiful, you should feel good (at a minimum!) about yourself, and to blue blazes with standing out being wrong! You were created in the image and likeness of God. Rock that!

(Climbing down off soapbox now.)

Clothing as Language

Clothing as Language

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

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

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

What is the difference between Fashion and Style?

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

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

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

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

Got Wardrobe Orphans?

Got Wardrobe Orphans?

What’s a Wardrobe Orphan?

Wardrobe Orphans (WO’s) are those items we love in the store, we buy, and bring home, but never wear. Often they hang in our closets with tags still on. We might smile to see it hanging in the closet, or it may make us feel guilty; an orphan never makes it onto our body and out of the house. Maybe the orphan doesn’t go with anything, or maybe it just feels funny on. Let’s talk about some of the reasons we have WO’s, and some ways to avoid them.

Personality

The Personality Orphan can sometimes be attributed to shopping with a friend who may have a very different style personality than you. Maybe you are predominantly Classic and Feminine, and your friend is a Relaxed Creative. The shirt she loved, and you bought, fits her personality but doesn’t work for you because it doesn’t fit yours! You may love a pattern, color or style, and the friend who wears them well, but that pattern/color/style never feels right on you, because it isn’t your style personality.

Another common shopping fail occurs when we shop with someone who has a fixed idea of what (they think) you should wear. Beware shopping with relations… (Moms and teens battle this one all the time!) The best way to avoid these Personality Orphans is to know thyself! Work on honing your Style Recipe. Keep your Style Recipe on a card in your wallet. (Not an outfit recipe, that’s a horse of a different color! A bit of Style Recipe information can be found here.) Before you pull out your wallet to pay, look at the card and check if the garment you are holding fits your style words. If it doesn’t, analyze what it is you love about it, and apply that to an item that does fit your Recipe.

It is good to step out of our comfort zone and try new things, but baby-step it. Try just one new part of the pattern/style/color rather than all at once. Maybe you want to try the cold-shoulder trend. So, buy that top in a color you know you look great in. That gives it the familiarity you may need to take the leap and wear it out of the house!

Color

Color Orphans are items that don’t go with what you already own, or with your personal coloring. There are two main ways to avoid color clash orphans.

(1) You can limit the color palette in your wardrobe to 2-3 neutrals, and 2-3 accent colors. If the item is not one of your neutrals or accents, you can feel free to leave it behind, or even better, ask the store clerk if it comes in one of your wardrobe colors. This method requires a great deal of self-discipline, and is not for everyone, especially those who crave variety.

(2) Another method for avoiding the dreaded clash is to have a Personal Color Analysis. There are lots of systems out there; most have come a long way from the old 4 Seasons of the 1980’s.  My favorite is the (very nuanced) Absolute Color System, and it is the one I use with my clients. (Here you can see the 9 warm palettes!) Knowing your personal palette gives you hundreds of colors to choose from, and because they share the same color properties, they mix and match without the dreaded “clash”

Personal Pet Peeve: Color systems that come with personality labels, or tell you to dye your hair to fit your type. Beware!

If people ask “Are you feeling alright?” when you wear something, that’s a cue that it is not a good color for your personal coloring! Using your personal color palette to select the colors that best flatter you helps you avoid the “Are you okay?” from those you meet during your day.

Body Shape

A Body Shape Orphan is an item you bought that just doesn’t work for your body shape Frequently BSO’s will make you feel frumpy, or overexposed/tarty; they may make you physically uncomfortable. The waistband is too snug, the shape is boxy and you need shaping, the cut is too low, or too tight. The boots squeeze your calves; those shoes give you a blister every time you wear them. Some Body Shape Orphans can be rescued with a trip to the tailor, cobbler, or a cami to cover the extra cleavage, but often it is best to say goodbye to them. . When you try on everyday clothes, make sure they will work for your everyday activities! Sit, walk, and stretch. Make sure the clothes can do what you want them to!

Knowing your body shape can help you avoid these orphans by makeing you aware of what cuts, styles, and proportions look best on you, and helps you avoid the boxy, oversized, frump zone. Clothes do not have to be baggy to be comfortable, they just need to fit your shape. I cannot say this enough: If you are not employed as a fit model, don’t expect clothes to fit off the rack! Alterations should be a regular part of life for us mere mortals.

The best way to avoid orphans is to be a conscious shopper. Look carefully before you buy. If you cannot make at least 3 outfits with the new piece and what you already own, save your money. Once home, if you need to buy an entirely new outfit to make an orphan work, it is probably best to return it or set it free. It will be perfect for someone else, so donate it, consign it, or have a clothing swap with friends. Make it a Wardrobe Orphan Home Finding Party! Your wardrobe orphan may just be someone else’s outfit completer!

What orphan is hiding in your closet? Please let me know in the comments below!

 

 

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!

 

 

A Body Shape

A 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, but one very common female body shape is the A. If you imagine the head at the point of the A, you can get a feeling for the relationship of the shoulders to the hips. For an A shaped woman, the shoulders are narrower than the hips, or if you prefer, the hips are wider than the shoulders. This is a feminine, curvy, (and desirable) shape!

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

We have all heard the 36-24-36 ideal of curvaceous womanhood, but the numbers aren’t the important part! You could be a 36-24-36 A, X, or 8, and all these shapes have different ways to best maximize their assets. Take a photo of yourself in leggings and a form-fitting cami. (Delete it as soon as you are done if you don’t want it showing up on a family member’s phone if you share a cloud!) Printing out the picture is even better, because you can 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 the hip bones. For some, the widest part may be across the leg crease; for others it will be the widest part of their thighs. If the line flares outward like the side of an A, and your waist is defined, you are an A body shape.  Body scale and proportions play into your choices as well, but in general…

A’s What to Wear

If the goal is to create a balanced figure, then A’s want to highlight the waist, broaden the shoulders, and minimize the hips. Often A’s are long-waisted, so there may be room for  belt. To visually broaden the shoulders, think boatneck tops, epaulets, or gathers on the sleeve. Wrap tops are fabulous for an A. To highlight the waist, belt tops, or tuck in to see the waistband. Even a half-tuck works here if a full tuck feels too “done”! To minimize the hips, an A-line skirt flaring out over the hips works wonders. If skirts or dresses are not your style, a plain simple straight legged jean or trouser in a darker color than the top works beautifully. Straight legged means many different things to different people; here, I mean a trouser that is the same width from the thigh all the way down the leg. If you are a long-legged A, boot-cuts can work well too, as long as the thighs aren’t too tight!

A’s What to Avoid

In general, A’s often want to avoid drawing attention to their hips and thighs, although there are exceptions. Look at Kim Kardashian; she’s perfectly happy to draw attention to her hips and thighs. If you love your more ample lower half, that’s fabulous, but not everyone has that body confidence. If you prefer to downplay your hips and thighs, avoid snug or tapered pants (Yes, skinnies, I’m talking about you.) and added detail around your widest parts. Pocket bling, cargo pockets, and whiskering are common attention grabbers. Recently, the stores are stocking jeans with worn/bleached areas on the thighs. These spotlight your thighs saying, “Hey, lookie here!”

When You Love It Anyway

Here’s the shape and style caveat: Maybe you LOVE those pants, and they are perfect for your personality, and you don’t give a rip (see what I did there?). Wear the pants if they make you happy! Just know that there are more flattering options out there for the times when you want to look your very best (class reunion, meeting your ex and his new wife, etc.), and keep some of those more flattering choices on hand. If your answer to why you choose pieces that don’t suit you well is “It’s just everyday wear,” my question to you is “Why don’t you want to look your best everyday?” You are precious. Please remember that, and treat yourself like you are.

What do you have in your closet that you love and wear even if it doesn’t make the best of your assets? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

Saturday Reading (Watching or Listening, too!)

Saturday Reading (Watching or Listening, too!)

What’s on your nightstand? Or in your bag for when you have a few minutes in a waiting room, or at the bus stop? Maybe on your phone? Since it is Saturday, I share a little light reading/watching for your weekend…

A few months ago, I picked up Beauty and Cosmetics 1550-1950 secondhand. What a treasure! I love history, but not the memorizing dates part; my passion is the how-people-really-lived part. Sarah Jane Downing shares fascinating tidbits, gorgeous paintings, and old advertisements. It is a glorious peek into how our concepts of beauty have changed, and the lengths we go to to achieve “beauty.” This little volume  sent me down a rabbit hole of history exploration… I found more than 15 other Shire Library titles that I simply must read! Aaaaarrrgh!

One of my favorite YouTubers is Justine Leconte, a French fashion designer living in Berlin. She is in the middle of a series about planning and creating a capsule wardrobe, and I had to laugh when I realized that her color plan for fall is startlingly similar to mine! There are thousands of capsule wardrobe posts and videos out there; Justine’s series stands out for its great explanations. (And her endearing accent!)

Catherine Summers, of Not Dressed as Lamb, looks at style with a witty and irreverent attitude.  In this post, she takes a critical look at the idea that we “must wear what suits us.” I love what she says about wearing what makes us happy, and expressing our personalities with our clothing choices. Fortunately, flattering and happy-making do not have to be mutually exclusive! Catherine has some very perceptive readers, and the comment thread is usually worth scrolling down for…

One of my favorite spots for visual inspiration is You Look Fab. I love a dress and sandals, or flats when the weather is hot (which it is here a LOT), and Angie’s recent post with dress and sandals/low heels is a great springboard. You likely have something similar in your closet. Check her out here.

Any favorite fashion/style articles or bloggers you follow? Let me know about them 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