Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Shopping

Abundance… When does Enough become Too Much?

Abundance… When does Enough become Too Much?

How much is enough? In the immortal words of Larry the Cucumber… “I don’t know; how much stuff is there?” (Larry was answering Bob’s query about how much you need to be happy.) It’s funny how that number shifts. Unless you are well on your way to a minimalist lifestyle, I would say that most us have more than we need in our closets, but need is a very relative term… I have no magic item count for an ideal wardrobe. That varies for every person. I have seen people happy with everything from 15 to 300 pieces. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before adding something to your closet. (These are also good questions for a Wardrobe Audit!)

Does it fit my lifestyle? (AND my budget!)

Is the item in your hot little hands something you will wear? Or, as Bridgette Raes asks “Where are you going in that?” A fabulous dry-clean-only millennial pink skirt suit may be a perfect fit, and a great deal, but if you are a classroom teacher of littles and spend your evenings with your own children on the sidelines of the soccer pitch, maybe it is best left on the rack.

As an Image and Wardrobe Coach, people often think I am all about designer clothing. If that’s what makes you happy, and it’s in your budget, fantastic! I shop at all price points, and always try to work within a client’s budget. I may push outside someone’s item-price-limit (i.e. Jane will not pay more than $50 for a pair of shoes.), because the client is not thinking about cost-per-wear and total budget, but about price.

Do I already have something similar at home?

(Or: How many pair of black trousers are in your closet?) Your easy find may be black pants, or colored tees, or tennis shoes, but realistically: How many do you need? This is another Know Thyself (KT) question. How many weeks’ worth of clothing do you feel you need before repeating an outfit? How often do you do laundry? If you are looking at neutral basics, those can be worn more frequently without anyone noticing, but bright or patterned tops do stand out more, so you may find you want more variety. According to a 2015 article by a denim expert, the average American woman owns 7 pair of jeans, and 25 percent of American women own 10 or more pairs. Both groups only wear 4 pair regularly. Are those new jeans going to change your world, or just going to keep the unworn ones company?

Is this a replacement for something I already own? (Corollary: Will I get rid of the piece it is replacing?)

If you have worn something out, or worn it to a lower level of refinement, replace it if a new one still serves your purposes. I try to ask myself, “Do I love this XYZ more than the one I am replacing?” Ideally, a yes means that the old and trusted one can now retire! If you do buy a replacement, what are you going to do with the worn out one? I know people who have new pieces with tags still on, but they are wearing the threadbare one because the new one is for “good.” Really? Get over good. Any day I am still breathing qualifies as good.

Can I make at least three looks with this piece and what I already have at home in my wardrobe?

Here’s the question to help prevent sad and lonely Wardrobe Orphans. You love that breezy boho blouse because it is so different from the closet full of fitted tops you own. Great! Maybe it’s time to try a new silhouette! What are you going to wear with it? Do you pair all those fitted tops with wider legged bottoms for flattering volume and proportion? Then blousy boho top will need a pair of narrow trousers for balance. Do you have any, or will you need to buy a new bottom to make it work? Buying an outfit is fine, but keep in mind that you will only be wearing that outfit one way, and may tire of it very quickly. How about looking for a more fitted top with the same feel that you could wear with at least three bottoms you already have at home? Or go for the experiment, and be ready to buy more narrow trousers later if you like the new look!

Do I love it? On a scale of 1-10 is it at least an 8?

This can be the hardest question of all. There are lots of ways an item can be an 8. Maybe you are tired of cold wet feet. Those new boots, although not your favorite look, will make your winter morning commute more bearable every day for 4 months of the year. That ranks as a 10 for me, but might not for another woman! Ranking a potential purchase comes down to really knowing your values and personality. If you are all about comfort, then that gorgeous scratchy sweater may be a 2 for you, but a 10 for someone else.  I see lots of color impulse purchases. Someone loved the color (10), but not the fit (4), or feel (2). Make sure the whole garment is an 8, not just one aspect!

So, When is Enough Too Much?

Abundance becomes too much when you can’t keep what you own in order, you can’t keep track of it, or can’t stop buying. It is very easy to confuse want and need, and to fall into the buy-something-new-for-a-mood-boost trap. (AKA: Retail Therapy.) If you feel like your closet is out of control, you may want the help of someone like me, or if the shopping habit has become an issue, check out Jill Chivers’ amazing site, My Year Without Clothes Shopping.  I have completed a few shopping fasts since we moved to Georgia, some for Lent, and twice for a year each, and learned new things about myself each time! If your abundance has become too much, a fast might be just the ticket to appreciating what you do have. If a year seems a bit drastic, maybe just a shopping free month, or start small with a week. Apparently, Americans add about 52 items to their wardrobe yearly. That’s something new each week. Yikes!

Do you have enough? Or too much? Do you define it by number? Or some other way? Please share in the comments below!

The Perfect Handbag

The Perfect Handbag

I spent years looking for the perfect handbag. I don’t literally mean years wandering the Earth in pursuit of the perfect bag, but I might have had a wee obsession. Pretty much anywhere I went that had anything vaguely resembling a handbag, I would look. This led to some amusing, and some incredibly practical purchases, and quite a bit (Oh, let’s just say a lot!) of wasted money. It wasn’t until much later that I thought to spend  time thinking about what I thought made a handbag “perfect.” Let me make something clear; I despise (No, that is not too strong a word.) the tyranny of “perfect.” There is only one perfect, and it’s not found on this Earth. I prefer: Ideal for you now. This is where I struggle with the what-every-woman-MUST-own lists discussed in a previous post. At some point I discovered that there is no perfect handbag, or even ideal, but there is the handbag that best works for at this point in my life, and for particular occasions.

Here are a variety of questions to ask yourself before exchanging your cold hard cash (or credit card) for a new bag…

Know Thyself Questions

  • What is my life like? Do I need a bag that is easy to clean? (Maybe that cute suede hobo isn’t such a good idea…) Where will it live at home or work? On the floor? In a drawer? In a coat closet? On the dining room table where spills happen?
  • What do I want this bag for? Everyday? A special event like a wedding? Travel?
  • How much do I like to carry around with me daily? Am I the kitchen sink woman, or a  phone, credit card, and lipstick woman? Or am I  somewhere in between? (If you are the kitchen sink woman, know that you will spend more time and money at the doctor’s office later!)
  • Do I want a bag du jour (the latest trend), or one that will stand the test of time?
  • Do I want to change bags often, or have one that goes with “everything”? (Note: There is no bag that goes with everything. There are bags that go with your everyday everything!)
  • How much do I have to spend? How much do I want to spend? (These are two very different questions!) Am I willing to spend more than I want to get what I really like? (Note: I would NEVER suggest you spend more than you have to get what you really like!)
  • What size and shape bags are best for my personality, body shape, and scale?
  • Is brand important to me? Do I like carrying a recognizable bag? Do I like logos? Or do I prefer to go stealth? (Be honest here…  It is a pity to spend a fortune on a bag just to find out you don’t want to be advertising for a particular company. And it is OK to want a bag with someone else’s initials if that makes you happy!)

Know Your Bags Questions

  • Do I prefer a shoulder strap? How long? A cross body? Maybe a handheld satchel is more my speed. Or does it need to be convertible to handle all these options? Some women prefer a wristlet or clutch.
  • How much structure do I want? Soft and squishy, or more structured? What shapes do I like best? Soft and rounded? More angular? Taller than wide (North/South) or wider than tall (East/West)? Frequently there is a connection between angularity and structure, but lately there are structured round bags everywhere, and square squishy totes, so be sure to keep your structure and shape preferences defined.
  • What materials do I prefer? Fabric and PVC (even when called Vegan Leather) are, for the most part, less long wearing than leather. If you have issues with leather bags, expect to replace yours more frequently.
  • Do I have a hardware preference? I have seen a woman reject her (otherwise) ideal bag because the hardware was silver colored and she only wears gold.
  • What colors do I like best? What goes with the majority of my outfits? Do I want a bag that blends with, or stands out from my outfit? (Hint: A black or camel handbag stands out like a sore thumb on many women; a handbag in the same color as your hair goes with all your outfits, because you wear your hair wherever you go.)

If this seems like an awful lot of questions to ask before heading to the shops or to your computer, take a moment to think about what else you could do with the $25-$2,500 (or more!) one can spend on a handbag. (Movie, or family vacation…) Spending time thinking through what your ideal bag looks/feels/smells/carries like is well worth the time it will save you shopping. Think of it as the shopping equivalent of Measure Twice, Cut Once.

Do you have a favorite bag? Or did you, but it is no longer right for your life? Please share in the comments below!

 

            

 

Style/Fashion Myths

Style/Fashion Myths

Myth: Black shoes go with everything.
Reality: Black shoes go with everything only if you have black hair! Otherwise, shoes the color of your skin or hair go with everything!

Myth: Don’t wear navy and black together.
Reality: Navy and black worn together can look very chic when combined intentionally! The same goes for black and brown.

Myth: Never wear white after Labor Day.
Reality: If you look good in white, wear it all year long!

M: Don’t mix metals.
Reality: Mix away! To make it look like you meant it, make sure to choose at least 1/3 of one metal.

Myth: Flats are more comfortable than heels.
Reality: A low heel can be more comfortable (and better for your feet) than flats!

Myth: You shouldn’t repeat an outfit during the week.
Reality: If the outfit is made of neutral basics, no one will notice, especially if you change your accessories!

Myth: Clothes need washing after each wearing.
Reality: Clothes last longer the less they are washed. Many clothes only need an airing before wearing a second or third time.

Myth: One size fits all.
Reality: One size fits no one well!

Myth: There is something wrong with my body; I can’t find clothes that fit.
Reality: There is NOTHING wrong with my body; there is something wrong with these clothes!

Myth: A $5 shirt is a good deal.
Reality: A good deal is defined by Cost Per Wear. If you only wear that shirt one time, it cost you $5. But the $100 dress that you wear once a week for two years costs you less than $1 per wear. Think CPW, not cost!

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

The Power of Image

The Power of Image

When people ask me why I got into the Image and Wardrobe Coaching business, I usually explain that I really enjoy helping people feel better about themselves, and share about a wardrobe makeover that I witnessed that changed a woman’s life. I know that sounds a touch dramatic; Image Coaches see it often.

Back in the 1980’s, when I was a young college student, I worked one summer in the real estate sales office of a multi-use facility. It was gorgeous; there was an upscale shopping center, restaurants (no chains), apartments and condos, and office space. The office manager was a bundle of energy, and had a mind like a steel trap. I’ll call her Lina. She remembered the size of dozens of different spaces, and she knew every tenant’s contractor, how close they were to completion, and what their opening dates were. Lina kept track of everything, stayed cheerful under pressure, and was funny, to boot. She spent most of her time in the back, on the phones, keeping hundreds of balls in the air at once. Our boss wanted to promote Lina, but felt unable to do so, because putting her in a client facing position would have been a problem. Lina dressed like a 12 year old.

One Friday morning, our boss pulled Lina aside and explained that he knew she was an amazing employee and he wanted her to succeed. He told Lina that if she wanted, she would be leaving work at noon and going to Dayton’s for an appointment with a personal shopper; that she would be there all afternoon, and all day Saturday as well. She had a beauty salon consultation and appointment with the lead stylist, for anything her heart desired, plus $1000 to spend on a new work wardrobe. (This was a lot more money back in the Midwest in 1984!) Lina left work early that day, and none of us had any idea why.

Monday morning, when Lina came into the office, only two people recognized her. When someone tried to stop her from walking into the back (private) offices, she just laughed. Lina was a transformed woman. She looked exactly like Lina, simply Lina, all grown up and polished. Client facing? No problem! So, she took the world by storm.

I got it. Clothes do matter. And confidence is priceless.

Have you ever had a experience that taught you the value of dressing a certain way? Please share in the comments below! I would love to hear from you…

Wickenburg, Arizona (Part 1)

Wickenburg, Arizona (Part 1)

Before our trip, people kept asking me why, in the name of all that’s holy, would we go to Arizona in the middle of summer? Short answer: People we love live there. (And my husband had just finished a grad school quarter.) Timing perfect! Funny thing is, the residents of Wickenburg kept asking us the same question!

This is our third trip to Wickenburg, and although I must admit to preferring the cooler weather, there is always something to do and see, even out “in the middle of nowhere” as one local put it. Just in case you find yourself in the area, here are some thoughts… First, if you are coming in from the east on 60, stop at the Chaparral Ice Cream Shop You will regret passing them by! Their Hassayampa Mud Fudge is delicious, either with or without nuts, and just in case you need to know, it is amazing paired with their cappuccino ice cream. We were lucky to be there for live music from the Chaparral Cowboys who were kind enough to play a couple of requests for us.

When we lived in Spain, my neighbor, Carmen kindly explained to me her foolproof sightseeing method. When in Spain, head for the town’s main square, often the Plaza de España, find the tourist office and get tips from them. We continue to take that advice, modified for the country at hand! In W’burg, we hit the Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce, which does double duty as the tourist office. This trip, they were in temporary digs at the old Wickenburg Hotel, across and up from the old train station (their usual spot).

We decided to do some poking about in the shops before getting lunch. We stopped at the fabulous Double H Custom Hat Company. This is the place to go if you want a real hat! Jimmy the Hat Man has been making custom hats for years, and they are gorgeous! I am thinking Christmas present for my husband… (Shhhh, don’t spill the beans!) Last visit I bought a beautiful straw hat from them that is a pleasure to wear. Here, custom means custom. They fit and shape hats on the spot. Another great place for gifts is the Rusty Rooster. My husband and I both fell in love with their woven wire baskets, and found the gourmet food treats hard to resist.

By now we were getting peckish (It happens quickly for us.), so we stopped at The Local Press Sandwich Bar, a great little sandwich shop! If there is no seating left inside, they have kindly put an umbrella over the outside table. My husband loved The Local, and the crunchy apples on the Gobbler were a cool touch on a very hot day. Beautiful and tasty sammies, served with a side of humor!

Early (around 5 AM) the next morning headed to the new Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park. We thought that it was going to be a bit like the Stations of the Cross in nearby Yarnell, so were unprepared for a long hike. (No water, no sunscreen, no hats = desert disaster trifecta!) We decided to head up until the sun caught us, and then head back down to try again next visit. Watching the sun rise over the mountain made for a stunning climb. Every few hundred yards was a plaque dedicated to one of the Hotshots who died in the Yarnell fire. My husband commented how beautifully thought out the memorial climb was because it gave you a real feeling for these men and their passion for their vocation.

Later that day we headed back to town for dinner at Anita’s Cocina. We knew even before boarding the plane in Atlanta that we wanted to eat there again, and were praying they were not taking some sort of summer vacation. It is always a good bet to try their daily specials, and this afternoon was no exception!

On our way home that evening I was struck again by the severe beauty of the desert, and how different it is from our green and humid Georgia. On our drive from the airport, I had been overwhelmed by the vast dry landscape; this evening I was thankful we had stayed long enough for my eyes to adjust and see the subtle beauty I had previously overlooked.

 

 

 

Back to School Shopping? Shop Your Wardrobe First!

Back to School Shopping? Shop Your Wardrobe First!

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

Out of Season

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

Budgeting

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

Pre-Planning

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

Planning

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

Now, Shop!

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

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

 

Fads, Trends, and Classics

Fads, Trends, and Classics

When you look at the thousands of items of clothing available, it can be hard to decide what to buy. Do you want an item that will be out of style by next year, or something that will be a wardrobe staple for years? There is room in every wardrobe for both. Is the dress, trouser, or shirt you are looking at a fad, a trend, or a classic? How do you know?

Fads

Fads are the one hit wonders of the fashion world. They come and go as quickly as a summer rain. A fad may be “huge” for one season, but often lasts about a year. Fads tend to have a very limited appeal, and are first adopted by the the JrHi-Uni age crowd. Fads often start with street style; some fads are regional. There may be a fad for your city, or region of the country. If the fad has a broader geographical sweep, you will find it in the fast fashion outlets. If the fad survives and grows to be found more broadly in retailers catering to a wider age demographic, it has matured into a trend.

Trends

Trends are the fads that have grown past the teenage/university student age market. They have a much broader appeal, and have often been adapted for an older demographic. (The first skinny jeans were a fad only the very young and thin could wear, but retailers soon adapted the cuts, and silhouettes. Originally, there were no “curvy skinny” jeans!) Trends stay around for about 2-5 years. When the rest of the market adopts the trend, it loses its cachet with the young and they move onto the next fad/possible trend.

Classics

Classics are pieces that have stood the test of time, they neither come nor go, but are found year after year. Classics form the basis of many wardrobes; many people think of them as boring, but classics can be a great foundation on which to build. Classics vary over decades; the blue blazer of the 1980’s will not fit anything like the blue blazer of 2017, but it is still recognizable as a blue blazer. Dress trousers are an easy item in which to see the shift in silhouette. Take a peek on the racks at Goodwill, and you will see a “classic” black dress trouser of multiple silhouettes.

Time decides the fate of all fads, some even endure long enough to become classics… Jeans, Statement Necklaces, and Breton Shirts are just a few.

 

Jewel and Hammer

Jewel and Hammer

July Monkey Mind: Support Small Business in the CSRA!

A Christmas in July sign got me thinking about Small Business Saturday. This led to thoughts about how I want to spend my money and support our local CSRA businesses. (Even if the big box store is unavoidable for some purchases!) Which led to “Is there any other way I can help my local businesses?” Aha! I can showcase a local business on this blog. Maybe it could be a regular thing? So, starting with that silly sign, here is my first attempt at showcasing a local business.  I would love to do this more than once a month, but let’s see how this flies. Please note that I have not been compensated in any way for sharing this information with you!

Jewel and Hammer

Jewel and Hammer is a husband and wife team (Why don’t we say wife and husband?) in Grovetown who make whimsical, interesting, and beautiful jewelry! Shannon and Ryan Cooley craft their pretties in their home workshop to sell on Etsy . First, if you ever have the opportunity to meet the Cooley clan, be ready for enthusiasm! Shannon, Ryan, and their lovely girls are a bundle of ideas, energy, and just plain fun. This is truly a family business, they handcraft all the pieces, shoot the photos,  write the copy, and do their own web-work. They are a remarkable Renaissance couple. I was lucky enough to visit their workshop and see their beautiful pieces in person this past week. What a treat!

Geek Chic

Shannon and Ryan work in a variety of media, wire, semi-precious, stones, sterling silver, Swarovski crystals, Pokémon cards, and Magic the Gathering cards. Yes, you read that right! They have an entire line of Geek Chic pieces made from the cards. Lest you think these are just for children, I know quite a few adults who can tell you their favorite Pokémon character with no hesitation whatsoever. Yes, I mean adults with children and gainful employment! Alongside the G/C items, they also make one-of-a-kind wire wrapped pendants and earrings. I am keeping my eyes open for the wire wrapped bracelets Ryan told me will be coming in the next few months. He treats the copper wire to prevent further oxidation (that’s what makes you green!). Shannon does most of the filigree and crystal work, including their super sparkly line for those who just can’t get enough shine, particularly those in the ballroom dance community. I often have a problem with many earrings being too heavy, especially sparkly ones, so I was thrilled to feel how lightweight these are. Positively gravity defying! If that’s not enough variety, my favorite pieces are their Steampunk items, and Shannon was telling me all about plans for a bag of watch parts they just received… And some pearls, don’t even get me started on the pearls…

Truly Original

Jewel and Hammer’s pieces are one of a kind, and very reasonably priced! You will not see your purchase on every neck about town, so if you are someone who seeks out the unique, check them out. They are more than willing to work with clients who may wish to further customize a piece. I found a pendant for a gift, and asked if there was a way to add X and Y. Shannon helped me find just the right jewels and pearls to take it to another level of refinement. My stylist side appreciates their individuality, and the variety of styles and of scale. If you prefer larger, more bold pieces, there are items for you, and if you prefer smaller, more subtle jewelry, that base is covered, too! When you are looking for not-to-be-duplicated gift, for yourself or someone else, try Jewel and Hammer!

What other CSRA businesses should I check out? 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!