Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Personality

Center of Attention

Center of Attention

When you dress, what is the center of attention? You or your clothes? People often think that as an Image and Wardrobe Coach, I am all about the clothes, but that would be untrue. My focus is on my client, and keeping my client the center of attention, not the client’s clothes! Your clothes should reflect who you are, your best you, not someone else’s version of you.

Who’s Wearing Who?

Have you ever met someone, and you feel like you have known them forever, or they just seem familiar to you? Believe it or not, that is often a result of dressing with authenticity. Some call it style synchronicity. The outside reflects who they are on the inside, their personality, values, and lifestyle. When you find out more about them, there are no unpleasant surprises, and that kind of inner/outer integration creates trust. You leave feeling that you know that person better, and are likely remember the person, not what he or she was wearing.

Contrast that with attending an event where you met a woman, and later could not remember ther face, or name, but you did remember the purple dress she was wearing? Or the striped shirt he had on? Maybe you are watching a television interview, and you can’t keep focused on the person speaking because his tie is shouting “Look at ME!” In these cases, the clothes are wearing the person.

Sometimes we want our clothes to draw attention. Maybe you are going hunting… Yup, that particular shade of orange is a fabulous fashion choice! If you are speaking in front of a large group from a stage, again, something very eye-catching may be a great way to keep the audience’s focus; they aren’t seeing your face and expressions, so you need to appear larger than life. Most other times, though, the wearer should be the center of attention. We want to keep people focused on our face and expressions, what we refer to as our communication center.

The Flaw in the Plan

Fashion magazines, sale flyers, ads, runway shows… These visuals are often our main source of new fashion images, but these may not be the best place to pick up outfit ideas! They are a fabulous springboard for inspiration, but the carefully staged shots we see everywhere are designed to place the focus on the clothes. The whole point is to sell the clothes, not the models wearing them, so buying (or imitating) the outfit from top to bottom is likely to create a style and personality mismatch! One in which the clothes are doing the wearing. Another frequent inspiration is celebrity fashion, which although more wearer-focused, is still the product of a celebrity stylist, often with a “look” that is identifiable from client to client. Now, those celebrities may have similar personalities, but when you recognize the stylist behind the outfit, by the outfit, that should be a warning flag!

An Easy Way to Check the Focus

One of the easiest ways to check the focus is probably laying right at hand… Yes, I mean your smartphone camera. Take a full-length selfie after you get dressed in the morning (it only takes about a minute) and look at yourself in the picture. What do you notice first? Your face? Or is it the way your trousers are catching on your booties? Others see us far more like a camera sees us. The picture helps because when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we tend to focus on what we want to camouflage first, to see if that has been taken care of… or we skim past the bits we’d rather not see. Neither gives the more objective view of the camera lens. Try it for a week, and look back over the week’s pictures. What do you see?

Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

The familiar quote above is from CC Colton, although others have said similar through the ages. In our social media (especially Pinterest) age, where are the lines between imitation, inspiration, and cultural appropriation?

Imitation and Inspiration

I will say flat out, that I have no answers here! This is all interpretation, unless you are dealing with patent law, and piracy, neither of which involve flattery, merely profit. For fashion or style, I define imitation as the the duplication of another’s look. Maybe, you are trying to duplicate one of Kate Middleton’s maternity looks for a baby shower. You find the same dress, and the closest possible shoes, but alas, you cannot duplicate the jewels! Understandable, so you go for a matching set you have that is similar. You are trying to recreate her look. That says imitation to me. Pre-teens do this all the time; I am sure most of us have seen two or three together, (sometimes more!) wearing matching outfits.

Inspiration works on a much looser principle. You like someone’s look, and you take something from that look, and make it your own. Maybe you use the color scheme, or the proportions, or the way she mixed her jewelry, but you do it using your own items, in a way that works for your personality, shape, and lifestyle. I have a client who loves Katherine Hepburn in her wide legged trousers and crisp white shirts, and Nicole Kidman’s modern interpretation of that same Elegant Chic. My client would be swamped in wide legged trousers, and does not wear woven shirts, but she takes her inspiration from the color combinations, and simple accessories they use.

Cultural (Mis)Appropriation

Talk of imitation and inspiration often leads to a discussion on cultural (mis)appropriation. This is a messy topic, and much like the author of this article in The Atlantic, I do not want to only live the culture of my Irish, German, and Alsatian ancestors; I would look silly running about in a dirndl and shawl. (Although a pint of Guiness would not be a strain…) I can see how taking elements from another’s culture, using them for profit, and not giving credit is a problem, as the author of this Thoughtco.com article elucidates. Years ago, I was astonished when a folk-dance enthusiast and instructor commented on a necklace I was wearing. She recognized it as an antique Kuchi Wedding Necklace (I think…) and asked how it came to be in my possession. She told me these necklaces were very special pieces, and rarely left the family. When I put on the silver necklace that was a gift from my mother, I was not pretending to be an Afghan bride. My mother saw it at an estate sale, and thought the craftsmanship beautiful; it is a work of art.  I wear it with that same appreciation. I appreciate its beauty even more, now that I know more about it.

Most of us are past the imitation phase in our lives, so, where do you find inspiration for your outfits? Please share in the comments below!

 

10, 20, 30

10, 20, 30

Fashion lists are everywhere! The Top 10 Items You Must Have for Fall. 20 Things No Woman Should Wear after 40.  30 Things Every Woman Should Own by the Age of 30. Magazines and fashion websites are full of these lists. Hooooey! I don’t think there is any clothing that is a must-have for EVERY woman. My must-haves and yours will vary widely. Mine includes a pair of red shoes. You may have absolutely no need for red shoes. I do not need the ubiquitous black pumps on almost every list… Not anymore!

To Thine Own Self Be True

This is where the rubber hits the road. Personality, values, and lifestyle. These are what will create your personal must-have list. I know a woman who wear jeans almost daily, and life without them would be unimaginable. I know another woman who has not worn a pair of jeans in more than 30 years, and sees no reason to change that. The list requiring The Perfect Dark Jean is not for the latter, nor is the one calling for a tuxedo jacket for the former! Know yourself, know your lifestyle, know your values.

Categories (and Perfect)

What can be learned from the lists is categories of clothing that may need to be addressed in your wardrobe. Note the MAY! When the list calls for The Perfect White Shirt, and you are a warm-complexioned mom with 3 preschool children at home, who despises collars because they make you feel like you are choking, the white shirt is probably not for you! (Yes, that sentence was waaaay too long!)  Let’s take that shirt and think about the purpose it serves… Its category: light colored top to pair with jeans, skirts, and shorts. Maybe your Perfect White Shirt is a nicely finished ivory tee that can be machine washed and dried. The Classic Trench? Look for rain protection, in a 3 season weight. Your values may prohibit the Perfect Leather Jacket; if you love the look, find yourself a casual, rough and ready jacket in some other material. I despise the tyranny of the Perfect Anything. Perfection is not attainable here on Earth… (Settling for good enough is a problem for another post.)

What Categories Fit Your World?

If you are a yoga instructor, you will need a week’s worth of yoga gear. The rest of us, not so much. Sorry. Your life may require special clothing for work, and more casual presentable clothes for “play.” If you spend your days in the C-suites, your wardrobe should reflect that. If you never go clubbing, skip the bodycon dance dresses. The one category I do believe everyone needs to cover is the “something appropriate to wear to a funeral, or for a meeting with a lawyer or accountant.” For one woman that might be a sheath dress and a jacket, for another, dark trousers and a nice blouse. You do not want to have to run out and buy something at the last minute when you are, or someone you love is grieving. (Sorry I can’t be there for you… I have to go to the mall.)

Spend some time thinking about how you spend your time, what is important to you, and what makes you happy. Write down what you discover. When you don’t, you waste money on clothes that your closet wears, and still lack what you need. Much of what I do as an Image and Wardrobe Coach is help people figure those three things out. Some call it closet therapy!

I told you red shoes were on my list. What’s on yours? Please let me know in the comments below!

Passing a Trend By…

Passing a Trend By…

In our digital world, if you are a living body with a credit card, and/or internet access, you likely receive “newsflashes” about the newest fashion trends. You don’t need to be remotely interested in fashion for this to happen. Shop online anywhere just once, and the notices start coming. You may have been buying a power drill, and magically you end up on the “rugged man sale list.” If you browse online before going to your local brick-and-mortar, you probably receive sales and trend notices from them, too.  All the hype about trends can get exhausting! Regularly unsubscribing from lists can help you maintain your sanity.

Pick a Trend, Any Trend

Let’s talk about passing a trend by… I have at least 12 trend notices weekly in my mailbox, and that’s with a rigorous unsubscribe schedule! This week alone, one notice included: High-Neck Dresses, Striped Dresses, Plunge Swimwear, Wide-Leg Jumpsuits, Tropical-Print Dresses, Bell-Sleeve Tops, Backpacks, Maxi-Skirts, Espadrilles, and last but certainly not least, Off-Shoulder Dresses. Even if you have been living under a rock, you have probably noticed the Cold-Shoulder Top trend. (These are so ubiquitous that even my husband asked what was going on!) For the sake of argument, I will address the above-noted Off-Shoulder Dress trend.

Why Skip a Trend

There are lots of reasons to leave a trend in the shops. The Off-Shoulder Dress (OSD) is one bandwagon on which I will not be jumping. I think they are darling, but they don’t fit my personality, my figure, or my values. (Values and Personality are not the same thing… More on that another day.) (1) My personality skews to the more Classic side of Feminine, so the often ruffly tops of an OSD do not work for me. (2) I have yet to find a strapless bra that I am comfortable in for more than a few hours, and that actually defeats gravity in the way I need, so a strapless dress doesn’t work for my figure, either. (3) And last, and, most importantly, Modesty is one of my highest ranked Values, so the OSD doesn’t fit for me either. Please don’t get me wrong, there are lots of OSD’s out there that I do consider modest, but the way they tend to slide about and down makes me worry for the wearer! For me, that is three strikes against the darling OSD;  it shall stay on the rack for the right person. If a trend works for your lifestyle, personality, values, and shape, and you love it, run with it. Just make sure anything you take home you can wear in at least 3 different ways, please!

Nod to a Trend

So what if you LOVE a trend, but it just doesn’t work for you? There are often ways to finesse a trend and nod to it, but work it your own way. Maybe you are feeling daring, and want to play with the lingerie as outerwear look. I will not suggest that you head to the office with your bra on exhibit, or even go clubbing that way; celebrities make a living being outrageous, don’t risk your livelihood doing the same! How about a bustier or corset laced over a white shirt and jeans? That’s one way to nod to the look without risking an indecent exposure charge. Maybe you love Wide-Leg Jumpsuits, but getting in and out of the restroom quickly is imperative for you. (If you do not understand this, you have never had small children to care for.) Nod to it! Wear your wide legged jean or culotte with a chambray shirt and a denim sash. You’ll have the look and less restroom stress!

What trend are you loving now, or what look do you love and wish you could wear? Let me know in the comments below!

Finishing an Outfit

Finishing an Outfit

Common conversation…

“How can I make a casual outfit look not sloppy?”

“Do you mean casual, but intentionally so?”

“YES! That’s exactly what I meant! How do I do that?”

This conversation, or a variation of it, happens almost weekly! So many women with very casual lifestyles go through their day feeling messy and not very together. Three is a lucky number for me, so here are three tips to help you with that casual, but intentionally so feeling.

Grooming

Even if you are having a jeans and tee shirt day, take a moment to check your grooming. I’m not suggesting makeup for the opera, but make sure your teeth are clean, and your hair is brushed. I am sure you are doing this anyway, but somethings are worth hearing again. A little mascara, and some tinted lip balm can take your face from naked to defined. If you, like me, are loving your grey hair, making sure your brows are defined can make a world of difference! One sure route to looking intentional is a quick swipe of bold lipstick. Red, pink, plum, whatever you love, as long as it’s bold, it can stand alone.

Shoes

If you want to feel more put together, put on a pair of shoes. By this, I mean (very loosely) what my mother used to call “real shoes.” Not shoes you would wear to the beach, or in a locker room shower. Not bedroom slippers. Not gym shoes. I don’t mean you have to wear heels, but a shoe that would not be at home in the gym or at the beach looks more like you meant to get dressed that morning, and less like you just threw on yesterday’s clothes that were hanging on the chair… If you want to wear gym shoes, than go all out and rock them with a skirt or dress, street style!

The Power of Three (3)

No higher math required! Just think in threes. Odd numbers are interesting to the human eye. Research shows that even wee little babies will look longer at odd numbered groups of objects than at even numbered groups. Use this inherent trait and add a third piece to an outfit, like a vest or a jacket over a top and bottom. If that is too warm for you or your climate, then use three pieces that relate, as in the Polyvore above. The three could be related by color, or by theme. Maybe you love flowers; then wear floral Keds, a silver floral pendant, and a hair elastic topped with a flower! Look through your accessories and find groupings that make you happy, then throw them on like you mean it!

Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day

Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day

How important are routines to you? You may think routine boring, or you may love it… Either way routines are essential. They are one way our brains save time and energy for more important work. Some people have routines for almost everything, and find themselves at a loss when they are thrown out of order. My years of teaching taught me a great deal about the value of routine for small people, and even more so for myself (especially as the one in charge of littles)! But… we have to be careful that our routines don’t become ruts from which we cannot escape.

What is a routine?

A routine is “a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.” Some synonyms: procedure, practice, pattern, drill, regimen. (Oxford Dictionaries Online) My dad was a procedures man, even down to choosing his clothes for the day. He alternated what he called Blue Day and Brown Day. I used to tease him mercilessly about this when I was a teen and college student. The tables have turned, and he is laughing at me from Heaven as I admit to running a Blue Day/Pink Day schedule pretty steadily for the past few weeks. It’s not completely conscious, just more of a “I wore blue yesterday, so I feel like something different today…” kind of thing. I remember asking him in a smart-alecky tone where grey fit in. I was answered with “Grey can go either way; that’s why I always pack a grey suit for business trips.”(Along with both blue and brown day ties!)

How Can a Routine Help?

You can use a clothing routine to make getting dressed in the morning faster and easier. When getting ready for bed, I check my calendar and the weather (thank you smartphone!) and hang up my clothes, including underwear and accessories, for the next day on a hook inside my closet door. It takes about 2 minutes to do while I am still awake, and saves far more than 2 minutes in the morning. My creativity level is zero first thing in the morning. If you want to change your mind about your outfit, feel free, but having a default automatically lowers the AM stress level! Another plus to preparing in the evening: no morning surprise that something you want is dirty, torn, or just plain trashed. Also mismatched socks or shoes are less likely to surprise you later in the day!  Dirty Secret: We go to church on Sunday evening. I dress for Mass right before we leave, and when we get home I hang my outfit back on the hook to wear Monday morning if the outfit suits the day’s schedule. Ta-Da! Monday morning no-brainer! (Today includes crawling about under our house, so the dress can wait for tomorrow.)

When the Routine Becomes a Rut.

When we were living in Spain, and I was home-schooling our sons, one winter was particularly grim, and cold to boot… Mondays were almost unbearable, and I fell into the Monday morning black turtleneck, denim overalls, black buckle booties rut. Every Monday, for weeks on end. It was convenient, and saved brain space, but was adding to my Monday Blues.  If you are bored with your clothes, you may be in a rut. How to climb out? Maybe your rut is capris and a tee. Jeans and a logo tee. It might be a dark suit and white shirt. Start small. Add something extra. Maybe a necklace, or shoes that aren’t flip flops. Maybe your daring could be a pocket square. If you are a jewelry queen, your challenge could be to take something away. If you wear bold jewelry, try something more delicate. Dainty pieces are your go-to? Try something more assertive. Change is good, and teaches us new things about ourselves. Chances are you have pieces in your closet you never wear. Why not put one of them on today?

 

 

Personal Shopping

Personal Shopping

Not Retail Therapy

I enjoy personal shopping with my clients. It’s not that I love shopping per se, but I see shopping as a puzzle to be solved, and a way to try out new ideas. You have holes or gaps in your wardrobe puzzle, and my job is to help you find the missing pieces. To solve the puzzle, I spend time getting to know you; I want to understand your personality, your values, your goals, and what you already own. This helps me to see the final picture the puzzle should make, and to make choices that are a good “fit” for you . (Sorry, the pun took over and forced its way in…) Your body shape and coloring play into the puzzle solution as well. I will probably stretch your boundaries, and ask you to try things you might never have given a second thought. I plan out our trip to make the best use of our time, and take care of many of the stressors of shopping. Your job is to come prepared, and with an open mind. I make no money from the stores we visit. I work for you, and want you to get great value for your money and have a wardrobe that makes you happy!

Fashion Feast or Fashion Famine

I shop all price points, from Neiman Marcus to consignment shops! My job is to know the trends, do the research, and find the pieces that will complete your puzzle and not break your budget. Fashion is fickle. Some seasons everything appeals, fits, and is fabulous for you. Other seasons there is nothing to be found, even under the most obscure rocks. Recently, I went on a personal shopping adventure in California with a lovely lady who was in the middle of a life transition: she was moving, changing jobs, and taking on new personal responsibilities. Being out of town, I couldn’t do much of the pre-shopping or planning I would normally complete before meeting a new client. She was ready to buy, but most of the items in the stores were not her personality, not her colors, and not her silhouette; we did find a few gems for her to buy in her sizes and colors on-line when she returned home. Afterwards, I sent her a Polyvore with ideas for her to use as she heads to the stores on her own.

I’ll Take a Friend

It pays to have someone along who knows you, your style, and your needs when you head to the stores with your hard-earned money. Many people take a friend to help, but that may not be the best way to get what works for you. As a trained professional, my job is to identify the best out there for you. Not what I like, not what I wish I could wear, not what the celebrity mags say is all the rage. In my client’s words “I loved your blend of straightforward yet kind, down-to-earth yet highly knowledgeable approach to coaching the way I see myself and wardrobe choices. I look forward to practicing another way of seeing in the days ahead.”

 

 

 

My Love-Hate Relationship with Pink

My Love-Hate Relationship with Pink

Pink. Love it? Hate it? Or both? My relationship with pink is complicated. I used to h.a.t.e. pink. I don’t remember owning pink clothing as a girl. My mother preferred, and bought me, clothes in more classic colors. The only pink I clearly remember from my childhood was Bazooka Bubble Gum. And that pink, wrapped in wax paper with the Bazooka Joe comic inside, with its jaw straining memories (to soften it up), is the color I associated with pink for years. (Even Barbie wasn’t nearly so pink in her pre-vehicle days!) No pink for decor either, my bedroom was painted blue; we tried yellow at one point, but it was too bright, streaky, and stressful, so back to blue it was.

I never really liked pink until I found “my pink.” I was well into adulthood before I did. We were living in England, in the most amazing house in which we will probably ever abide, with our three sons. Two were teens at this point, and the third was hot on their heels to becoming one. In desperation, I bought myself a pink towel, hoping that the bright color might give my sons pause before grabbing it to dry their semi-washed hands. It was amazing! They left my towel alone. Not only did they not dry their hands on it, they never even grabbed it when their own was not at hand. They would walk dripping wet past my towel to get one of theirs out of the airing cupboard. Hallelujah!

And so began the parade of pink. When I needed a new Thermos, I found one in pink. Then came a pink coffee mug. I even bought a pink scooter. My strategy became “If I don’t want to share it, I will find it in pink.” Pink became my happy color, and not just my selfish color. My affection for pink these days is much more broad. There are myriad shades of pink I find attractive, and I love how there is a pink to flatter everyone.

It’s just a matter of finding “your pink.”

What shades of pink do you love, or hate? I would love to know! Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

What’s a Must-Have?

What’s a Must-Have?

Stylish and Modern, or Fashion Victim? It’s easy to fall victim to the fashion rollercoaster. Fashion is everywhere… on the streets, in the stores, on the cover of magazines in the grocery stores. Everywhere you look are lists of the new season’s MUST-HAVES. Really? Must have? Technically, we must have clothing that covers and protects our bodies from the elements, but even our prehistoric ancestors wanted more than mere protection!

How do you choose what Must-Haves are musts for you?  Your must-haves depend on your personality, your lifestyle, your body type, your comfort level, and your values. (so they depend on YOU!) Some might throw in age as a factor, but that is up for debate! It’s good for us to try new things. Without novelty, our style can grow stale, and we get bored with our closets. Unfortunately, too much fashion novelty can leave us with a closet full of clothing, and no outfits.

If a seasonal Gotta-Have-It is something you love, and it works for you and your life, knock yourself out! Wear it to death, and enjoy the fun of the ride. But if isn’t, feel free to pass it by. Save your money, and pricey closet real-estate for the right Gotta-Have-It for you. Your ride will come around. It always does.

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