Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Shopping

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!

Calling All Color Nerds!

Calling All Color Nerds!

I know I am not the only one who waits to see what the Pantone people project the coming seasonal color trends. I may not be watching them for the same reasons the movers and shakers are, though. I find the cyclical socio-economic trends of color and fashion truly interesting, but I’ll save those musings for another post completely!

This season, the Pantone people (some think of them as tyrants, others just forecasters) have chosen to publish two palettes, one for New York, and one for London. (My inner culture geek is over the moon!) For now, I will stick with the New York palette, since this one will have the greatest effect on what the US consumer will be seeing in the stores this coming fall and winter., and most likely the next fall-winter season as well.

Versatile Colors

I am inordinately happy that Navy Peony (Really? I want the name choosing job! A pitcher of cocktails, some nibbles, and a swatch of colors to give names to…) is on the list for fall/winter 2017/2018. Navy is a great neutral that traditionally has shown up in resort wear and spring collections. I am keeping my eyes open for a special occasion dress in some shade of navy! It is a beautiful neutral that is far more flattering that black for many women. Shaded Spruce is another color I’m interested in… It is a deep blue-green that suits many.

Tawny Port is keeping the Marsala flame of a few years ago alight. You should see warmer and cooler versions of this color, so you can pick whatever suits you best! I am hoping to see cordovan and oxblood leather goods showing up in the stores for fall. They look rich and elegant paired with almost any neutral! If you are in the business of stalking on the Nordstrom Annual Sale, check out Women’s Shoes, and color sort for Red… You will see everything from dark wine to russet red, and even a gorgeous pair of suede sandals that might be a dead ringer for Pantone’s Grenadine!

 Warm and Cool

Some years the palette skews predominantly warm or cool. This new palette is fairly evenly divided, with a few colors (Shaded Spruce, Navy Peony, Tawny Port, and Ballet Slipper) that may be seen in both warmer and cooler variations as they show up in the stores. For warm palette women, there is a vibrant Golden Lime that could rock your world, along with more basic shades like Butterum, and Autumn Maple. Grenadine, a bright warm red, would make for a fabulous blouse, or a showstopping dress perfect for the holiday season! (Why do so many warm color names make me hungry?)

Why Bother with the Color Trends?

Really the best reason to pay attention to the color trends is (as I’ve also discussed here: https://closetplay.biz/fall-shopping-when-you-live-in-hot-hot-hot/) to know what will be coming into the stores, and where to invest your hard-earned money, or when to save your cash and let the wave pass on by! If you love a “trend” color and it suits you, then this is a great time to stock up on what you love, or replace worn items. Also, knowing what to expect to see in the stores can save you frustration when heading to the shops. Managing your expectations before you head into the mall can go a long way to making your trip a much happier one.

 

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.”

 

 

 

Choosing Colors

Choosing Colors

I was talking to a young woman the other day who asked me “How does having a color palette help with a wardrobe?” It made me realize that there are probably others out there wondering the same thing.

Can’t I just wear the colors I like?

Sure! You are welcome to wear whatever colors you love, but wearing colors that suit you and your personal coloring make you look healthier and happier. Sometimes we are instinctively drawn to our best colors, and other times we are drawn by our associations with certain colors. Have you ever had someone ask you if you were feeling well, when you felt just fine? It is likely you had on a color that was not one of your best. If you are wearing a color that is good for you, people will not notice the color, but just how great you look. They may even suspect you have a secret, are in love, or have won the lottery! Some colors we wear well, and others wear us.

What good is a Personal Color Analysis?

Having a Personal Color Analysis and a palette, gives you your own personalized crayon box of colors. The Absolute Color System has 18 different palettes, with colors custom selected to play well together. Your combination of genes makes you unique, so from your personal palette are chosen signature colors. These are the colors that enhance your skin, eyes, lips, and hair. After a Personal Color Analysis, you will know what colors suit you best, how to choose combinations that flatter your shape and your coloring, and how to use the psychology of color to your advantage.

How can knowing my colors help me make good shopping choices?

When the clothes in your wardrobe all come from the same palette, they play nicely with each other. That means that you will have more options for mixing and matching, and fewer wardrobe orphans–those pieces that you struggle to make work with the other things in your closet. Colors have different properties of lightness and darkness, brightness and smokiness, and warmth and coolness. When you mix warm and smoky with cool and bright, the result is less than harmonious, and often downright jarring! Buying items with the same color DNA creates a related and versatile wardrobe. Using a palette when shopping saves you money, because what you buy will go with what you already have, saving you money by preventing closet mistakes. Using your palette to skip past colors that aren’t good for you saves you time browsing and in the dressing room, and I don’t know anyone who wishes they had less time! A small investment in having a Personal Color Analysis pays huge dividends in saved money and time in very short order.

Fall Shopping When You Live in HOT, HOT, HOT!

Fall Shopping When You Live in HOT, HOT, HOT!

Back to School Shopping, Already?

How to even start thinking about fall shopping and fashion when the temps are in the high 90’s, and sandal weather in your area lasts well into November? It’s a real challenge when the back to school shopping onslaught begins and the temps are still sweltering. Stores are already starting to stock for Back-to-School because our students start during the first half of August. But… here in Georgia, just the thought of jeans, boots, and a sweater is enough to bring on heat stroke! Unfortunately, the retail cycle is such that when we here in the southeast US finally need those jeans, boots, and sweaters, the stores are stocking resort wear and bathing suits for those escaping the cold for a holiday in the sun!

Smart Shopping: Make the Cycle Work

What’s a wise consumer to do? Be a wardrobe planner, and strategic shopper. Especially if you are a hard to fit shape or size! This is where knowing what suits you, what fits your lifestyle, and what you love, should intersect with what you see coming into the stores in the fall rush. A little research (or the help of an image coach or personal shopper) is the place to start. Find out what the upcoming season’s style and color trends are before you go to the stores. You may decide that you just can’t live without that embroidered handbag and the newest jacket silhouette, or you may decide the entire season is a wash, and choose to  save your money. It could be that this fall, the racks will be loaded with colors that are perfect for you. If so, take advantage and stock up on flattering pieces in your signature shades! Next year that particular color is likely to be nowhere to be found.

Fall Dressing in Warmer Climes

What about staying current and in season when the fashion and weather are at odds? I grew up in a distinctly 4 season climate and like to make a seasonal change, but where I live now, it needs to be subtle. I keep wearing my warm weather styles, but switch over to a more fall-like color scheme for variety. Instead of wearing my jeans with a pink top, the pink will be replaced by a darker wine for a cooler weather look without upping the heat factor. Sleeveless cardigans/vests are a great way to add a layer without (too much) weight. If even the most lightweight scarf feels like too much, consider layering a necklace or two. When sandals are still a must, think about darker shades, and suede finishes for a more fall feel. You don’t need to wrap up in wool and boots to give your look a cooler weather vibe! You can use color and detail to create the feel and variety without the overheating…

Limitations

Limitations

(Warning. Rude language at the end…)

I stopped off at my mother’s favorite store this week to see what a “new’ color looked like in person for one of my clients. (Now, I realize there are not really any new colors in the world. There are new pigments, new dye processes, new finishes, that can make colors look “new.”) For my intents and purposes, this new color was new for the season, and between monitor variations, and photographic tweaking to make everything look great, you never know what a color you see on-line will look like IRL. Whilst there, I saw that all of their spring, and much of their early summer merchandise, had been moved onto the sale racks in the back of the store, and boy(!), were they full!

When I saw the sale racks, newly stocked, I knew it was time for a shopping trip with Mama. It was time to refresh some of my mother’s tops and she was also hoping for a new pair of trousers as well, and maybe some jeans. Priority one was some new tops for the summer; Mama only wears knit tops. They are more comfortable on her fragile skin, and more forgiving of her distorted spine. My mother is a sale shopper. She does not like to pay full price for herself, even though her finances can very comfortably handle it. Full price items garner an “I’ll think about it” from her, and she never does.

Off we drove this morning. “Her” parking space was there, right at the front of the store, and we stopped for a moment to admire the windows. My mother is a city girl, who worked on Wall Street before marrying my father and moving to the wilds of the Midwest. When we traveled back East to visit family, I remember riding into the city with her on the train, and going window shopping. Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Lord and Taylor, Tiffany’s, Bonwit Teller… Beautiful window displays are not only good advertising, but a treat to the eye, and a lovely change of scenery on the streets.

After perusing the windows and peeking at the new merchandise at the front of the store, Mama and I headed back to the sale racks. The merchandise was marked down, and there was an extra 30% off the markdowns, plus another 10% off for cardholders. This is the kind of shopping that makes my mother’s heart sing! We found a bit of everything to try on, including some jeans that fit her beautifully. I headed out to look for another color in a top and asked her to try on the jeans again, herself, but the button and zipper were just too much for her twisted hands. She wanted the jeans; they looked great on her. They made her feel younger, and just a little hip and stylish. She liked them so much she was ready to pay full price for them, but she couldn’t get them on by herself. They weren’t too tight; my mother is sparrow-sized. They just were not arthritis friendly. So, we left them behind.

In the end, she went home with a cute new pair of trousers, four tops, and a lightweight sweater (all marked down!) which will be fantastic for going out to dinner, since restaurants in our neck of the woods generally keep their air conditioning somewhere near Arctic. And I will continue to search for a pair of jeans for my mother. Because she deserves a cute pair of jeans that she can get on by herself, dammit.

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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