Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Personality

What’s Your Style Signature?

What’s Your Style Signature?

My apologies for the squinty shot…

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

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

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

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

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

 

Shoe Wardrobe

Shoe Wardrobe

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

Before You Go Shoe Shopping…

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

Your Lifestyle and Personality

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

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

A Dress Shoe

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

A Casual Shoe

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

A Work Shoe

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

A PT Shoe

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

To Think about When Choosing a Shoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Changing Your Style

Changing Your Style

Is your style the same as it was 20 years ago? How about 10, or even just 5? My guess is that your answer is “No.” Many bloggers and style gurus talk about finding your style as if it is an inanimate object, that once found never changes. My experience has taught me that although there is usually a common thread, our style is constantly growing and changing, as we do. Sometimes I have to tell clients “It’s okay to change your style!”

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes like motherhood, or entering or changing jobs can require a evaluation of what is still working, and what you have grown out of (figuratively, not literally!) Big life events change who we are. That’s just a fact. Our lives change, our bodies change, and often our values change. Have you ever looked into your closet or a stored away box of clothing and thought “What was I thinking?” That’s a sign you have grown. Maybe you have given up a career to be a stay-at-home mom, or maybe Prince not-so-Charming has left you and the children high and dry so it is time to reclaim your corner office. These lifestyle changes will be reflected in what you buy and wear. Your personality may not be different, but the way you express it for the new roles in your life will be.

Personality and Values Changes

Frequently those lifestyle changes also bring about changes in our values and our personality. The designer label lover decides that labels aren’t nearly as important as she thought they were. Saving for WeeOne’s college education, and protecting the environment by reducing waste move up the ladder as ways to evaluate purchases. A newfound faith might prompt Miss Sex-Appeal to look for more modest cuts for tops and skirts. The young artist who was always concerned with having what her friends have grows up to realize she wants to wear what she thinks is beautiful, even if no one else sees the beauty. Comfort may become the primary driver for the woman who has triumphed over cancer, but is struggling with skin that has become hypersensitive and a body dramatically different in shape. There are no right or wrong values or personality markers that drive our clothing selection and shopping, but awareness of these indicators can make shopping and dressing from a chore into a pleasure.

The More things Change…

Often clients come to me when they feel they have “lost” their style. Their style is still there inside, but they don’t know how to express it with what is in the stores now. They had pieces they counted on, but those old faithfuls are no longer available in the shops. These women often need nothing more than a “translation service” to help them take what has always worked for them, and help them find the new equivalents to step out confidently into the world again!

Do you think your style has changed? For the better? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you to Catherine of Not Dressed as Lamb for the LinkUp!

 

 

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!