Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Tips

Why I LOVE a Dress

Why I LOVE a Dress

Good day, dear reader!

Happy Frockday! I know that for many business people, Friday is casual day, but for me Friday is Frockday! (I have an overwhelming need for alliteration and puns in my world…) One of my Style Resolutions for 2018 is to wear more dresses. When I was in the classroom, I wore a dress every other day, and it made me happy. Now that I often work from home, I have fallen out of the frock habit, and need to get some of my mojo back. I know. Some women never wear dresses. I know clients who flat out refuse to consider them when I make the suggestion, but if you are on the fence, here are some of the reasons I love to rock a frock.

One and Done

A dress is the ultimate throw-and-go. One piece, and you look like you made an effort. With none. Bam. Of course, you do still need to put on shoes, and maybe a scarf or some earrings, but basically you are done. No worrying about whether your pants and top compliment each other. No proportions issue, or heel and hem trials. No fiddling with to-tuck-or-not-to-tuck. Or half-tuck? Arrrgh. Nope. None of those issues with a dress. Slip over head, zip if needed.

Polyvore Women's Clothing Illustrating Columns of ColorInstant Column of Color

If your dress is solid, or one pattern all over (not color-blocked) then you have an automatic column of color. For those of us who might like to look a little taller, or a little more slender, a column is a great way to go. A dress with tights and boots of the same color will give you a really long column, with no stress, and lots of style. If the weather is too warm for tights, a dress that goes to your knees creates an automatic column from shoulder to knee, which gives a much longer visual line than crop pants or shorts!

More Forgiving than Trousers

Most dresses do not squeal when you have one too many desserts on vacation. The fit often has more ease than a pair of jeans, and are not likely to expose the love-handles. Not only are dresses more forgiving than trousers (unless incredibly body-con, which really isn’t day wear anyway), they are often easier to fit and alter than a pair of trousers. There is a dress to flatter every body shape out there. It´s just a matter of finding yours. Sheath? Fit and Flare? Swing?

Cross Seasonal

I find dresses cooler in the summer than shorts and a tee. Less contact with my body and more air circulation is a great thing in my book! A swingy summer frock that only touches my shoulders is about the best style idea for a blistering and humid day, far better than any short-short. No waistband equals more cooling. A dress makes a great swim-suit coverup, too! (With less of the peed-my-pants effect…)

The summer dress transitions well into fall or can start its heavy lifting in the spring with a cardie or shirt over the top, and some tights and boots. Or maybe just a little ballet flat rather than the summer sandals.

On a chilly winter day, I can fit more cozy layers under a dress than I ever can under my jeans and a sweater, and I can still pile a cardigan on top for extra warmth! Another plus: With every layer, you trap air and create insulation. A dress with thermals underneath can be just as warm or warmer than a pair of jeans and a sweater.

Dress Up or Down

One of the biggest myths out there is that a dress means dressy. Not true! (That’s why I called it a myth.) As a girl, when I would go shopping with my mom, her catch-phrase for a good piece was “You can dress it up or down.” So much so, that we still laugh when we say it today. Take your LDD (Little Day Dress… It doesn’t have to be black!) and throw on a jean jacket and some flats. Go shopping, and sightseeing. Take off the jean jacket, throw on a shawl and some heels, and Pow! You are ready for a dinner out. No phone booth needed for the transformation. Yes, you can do that with jeans, too, but you’ll likely still need to change your top. I find dresses so practical that I almost always pack a dress when we go on vacation. (Sometimes even when we go camping!)

So how about you? How do you feel about dresses? Do they have a place of honor in your wardrobe, or do they never see the light of day? Why or why not? Let´s start a conversation in the comments below! I love to hear your thoughts!

Stay Stylish!

 

How to Pack for a Trip

How to Pack for a Trip

Happy Valentine’s Day, sweet reader!

The other day, a Facebook friend shared a meme picturing a frog “talking” about going on a trip and needing 4 outfits, and packing 37. The tagline was “That ought to be enough!” I find lots of women AND men pack that way, my husband included! I never understood why he found it necessary to take half his closet when we would pack for vacation, until I realized that he was packing the way he always did when deploying for 4 to 6 months. I would ask “Why are you taking that?” The answer was always “Because I might need it.” (He’s better now.)

The love of my life is married to a woman who headed home (to help my mom after my father’s unexpected death) for an undetermined period (6 weeks to 3 months) with her clothes and shoes in a large duffel bag, along with our three sons’ clothes and shoes. I was flying standby with three boys, a car seat and a booster. Clothes were an afterthought. Do you know how much food you have to pack for an international flight with three sons, ages 4 to 10? (Ordering pizza to be delivered to the airport really is a lifesaver.)

Even with so little in my bag, I have yet to feel I have under-packed. I would rather spend my travel time exploring, and indulging my curiosity, rather than standing in front of the closet (or drawers) wondering what to wear today. Although… Last summer, I did wish that I had not forgotten my white dress! Even so, what I had packed was enough, even without the dress. How do I pack lightly but still manage to have enough and feel put together?

Check the Weather

First order of business is to check the weather at your destination. This used to be a royal pain, but technology has sorted that. I would be surprised if you don’t have an app on your phone that can do this for you in 30 seconds or less! If you are unused to the kind of weather you will experience, knowing that snow, icy rain, desert heat or rain forest style humidity are expected not only helps you pack the right gear, it helps you prepare mentally, too. I think about the difference in weather between my starting point and destination, as well, when choosing my travel outfit. On one of our trips to Arizona, it was freezing at home when we left, and in the upper 80’s upon arrival. I wore my boots, and layers, and tucked my sandals into the outside pocket of my suitcase. Get off plane. Remove outer layers. Change shoes. Move ahead smartly.

Activities/Location

I check my calendar and/or guide book to see what kind of activities we are planning. The suitcase for a long weekend in New York City will be different from the one packed for a camping trip in the mountains. Will we be museum hounds, or hikers? I always plan something to wear to church, and that does double duty if we splash out on a nice dinner. For this, I usually pack a dress, or at least a dressy blouse to go with trousers or a skirt. Are we staying with family, or in an apartment? If so, I pack three to four days of clothes (or so) and do laundry while there. In big cities laundry is generally easy to find. If you don’t want to pay the (often blackmail worthy) prices for laundry at your hotel, you can swish out your undies in the sink, and air your shirts and trousers for another wearing. When our family spent 10 hot and sticky days in Rome, we dropped our dirty clothes at a laundry near the convent where we were staying. Bless the owner who returned our clothes fresh and clean at the end of the day… With the hundred-aught Euros my husband had left in his pocket to pay for our lodging, neatly pressed and sealed in an envelope!

Shoes

Our activities determine not only our clothing choices, but more importantly our shoes! These need to be the most comfortable and versatile possible. Unless we are planning on PT, I do not pack running shoes, but I will bring hikers or tennies if the activities will be very sporty and  casual. I normally pack a pair of oxfords, or very comfortable ballet style flats for days walking and sightseeing. The ballet flats can double as slippers in the room. If the weather is cold and I want boots, I make sure to wear them on our travel days to minimize the weight I have to carry in my bag.

Travel Clothes

I never used to travel in jeans. With the advent of Spandex in almost every pair of jeans, I may wear jeans for a trip, but prefer to pair them with a blazer to keep my look polished. Travel blogs will tell you this is a good way to get an upgrade if there is a seating issue. That blessing has yet to happen, but I do think it has helped  when there have been flight cancellations and reschedules. It certainly helped me feel more adult and in control as I stood there with everyone else juggling logistics!  I do not understand flying in pajamas. There are plenty of other ways to dress comfortably, and not be dressed for bed. I dress in layers because I tend to the chilly side, and airports, planes, and other forms of transport are notoriously unpredictable in regards to temperatures. A tank at the bottom (one that can be worn on it’s own, not an underwear cami) topped with a tee, maybe a button front shirt or a cardigan, whatever jacket is needed for the trip, and always, always, always a large scarf or shawl. The scarf can be a blanket, a pillow, bedhead concealer, eyeshade, sunshade, napping/nursing baby cover, footie blanket if I want to take off my shoes and still keep my toes toasty, and so much more. It’s easy to tie onto a bag strap if the weather is too warm where I am at the moment.

The Rest

Once I have decided on shoes and the kind of travel clothes I want to wear, I choose a color palette for the trip. One neutral+ denim + one accent color is usually enough for a trip of up to two weeks. (If you don’t wear blue denim, than choose another neutral.) I always pack one more pair of underwear and one extra pair of socks than I have trip days, especially if the trip is adventure-y. For any trip up to about a week, I pack a second bottom (I am wearing one already), a dress, and three tops, which brings my total to five. The last piece depends on the destination climate. If cold, I’ll pack another topper, if warm, a second bottom. Everything will mix and match, and I can usually get at least 12 outfits out of my six. That should be enough variety for a week or two, and if we get stuck somewhere on the way home, I still have options. For a shorter trip I may only pack 4 or 5 pieces. Packing light also leaves me space in my suitcase to buy something special that might leap in my path. (Thanks to Janice Riggs at The Vivienne Files for her term “Six-Pack” for packing!)

I know people who plan an outfit for each day’s activities, and package them up in a Baggie, accessories and all. That works, if you have lots of space, and don’t mind the extra weight. I prefer the flexibility that keeping a tight palette gives me. Less stuff to carry = less stress.

Accessories

Some travelers don’t “waste” precious luggage space on accessories, but I get more outfits out of less clothes by packing them. In the same space that a tee shirt takes up, I can pack two scarves, some jewelry, and a belt. Unless hiking through the forest is the entire itinerary, these additions give my clothes far more options and variety than the one extra tee would. (And are a great way to sneak in another accent color if you feel you must!)

Bags

Carry-on seems to be the only way to fly (unless you fly Southwest!), and I pack accordingly, even when we drive. (Caveat: All bets are off when we take our grandsons to the beach. That adventure more resembles Hannibal crossing the Alps, but without the elephants.) We have a small wheelie suitcase that does most plane trips, and for the car I usually pack my trusty LL Bean duffel. It has been trekking the world with me since somewhere around 1998, and is still going strong.  For the little things, en route I prefer a tote or backpack to haul my need-at-hand items, but at our destination, I usually want a cross body bag. My go-to travel purse is this one from Baggallini. I have it in grey. Since it matches my hair, it goes with everything! The last flight I took with my mother, sherpa-ing both our suitcases and totes, pretty muchly convinced me that it is time to find an adult (and less utilitarian looking) backpack for my under-seat bag. This one is in the running… Although the teal is REALLY tempting!

(Note: I have received no compensation from the companies whose items are linked above. I am sharing the information just because they have been my trusty travel companions for years now, and they deserve the love!)

PS: If they wanted to, I would not be opposed to trying out a new color!

So those are my packing basics! How about you? How do you prefer to travel? Light? Or with all the comforts of home? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below!

Stay stylish!

 

5 Tips to Look More Stylish

5 Tips to Look More Stylish

Back in December, a reporter from our local paper asked me for three tips to look more stylish without leaving the house. After some digging, I discovered he meant without spending any money, although I can do that without leaving home! Thank you, Internet…  As that article was going into the business section of the paper, I gave him three suitable to both men and women. Today want to share 5 clothing-oriented tips, some geared more towards those of us of the female persuasion, to help you feel just a bit more stylish as you head out the door.

Fit (and Alterations)

I have to regularly remind my clients (and myself!) about fit One of the easiest ways to up your style quotient is to wear clothes that fit. By fit, I do not mean clothes that you can get into, or that don’t fall off. I mean that fit YOU properly. I could sing all day long about this, but what it comes down to is: if you are not employed as a fit model, then you should expect to have almost all your clothing altered. Some brands will be better for you than others, but in general, expect to add the cost of alterations to anything you buy. If you don’t like it enough to pay for the alterations, you probably don’t love it enough to add it to your wardrobe!

Petite Special: Our clothing should have less ease than that of a tall girl. Extra fabric can make us look like we are in borrowed clothing!

Oversized vs. Skinny

When you wear an oversized top, pair it with a narrower bottom, and vice versa. A wider or more relaxed bottom pairs better with a more fitted top. Unless you are 6 foot tall and svelte, the oversized over oversized silhouette is overwhelming. (Like all the “overs” in that last sentence!) And skinny over skinny can look like you are going clubbing.  Think about which body zone is best for you to oversize. If you are generously endowed through the hips and thighs and narrow through the torso, oversizing the torso is going to make you look bulky all over. Show off your narrower half (most women have one) by keeping that the more fitted piece. If you are balanced top and bottom, remember to relax only one.

Third Piece

Adding a third piece to a simple top and bottom creates more interest. Humans are drawn to odd numbers. Even babies will stare at odd numbered groupings of objects longer than even numbered groupings. If your top and bottom are jeans and a tee, add a third piece with a topper: a vest, cardigan, jacket, or even a scarf, hat, or statement necklace.

Love Your Leather

Take care of your leather goods. Clean and polish your shoes. Take them to be reheeled and resoled. Care for your bag. Clean it gently, empty it and vaccuum out the inside. I don’t advocate emptying it each night a la Marie Kondo, but please don’t use your bag as a shopping cart. Even small bags can be an eyesore. A bulging wristlet gives the same impression as trousers two sizes too small! If it is bulging, you need a purse clean out, or a larger bag. If you absolutely must carry the kitchen sink, make sure to set the bag on a flat surface rather than hanging it. Give the handles a break. A large, heavy tote is often better hand carried, rather than over the shoulder. Your back, shoulder, and MD will thank you.

Accessorize

No, accessorize is not just the name of a shop in the UK! Accessorizing is one of the fastest ways to get your style on, and usually takes less than 30 seconds! Pop on an accessory or two, or even better, three (You already know how I feel about odd numbers.) on your way out the door. There are times in our lives when certain accessory choices may not make any sense. One of our sons was an incorrigible earring grabber. I switched to clip-ons for more than a year; other children will tug any necklace they see. Maybe this will be your life season of scarves, or outrageous sunglasses. One of the most common questions I get from women is about creating the Effortless Chic look. You don’t need to pile on the bling! If that is your personality, go for it! But if it is not, too much flash will feel and look uncomfortable. Choose one necklace, or a great bracelet, or stand-out earrings. Even a scarf can be the touch that makes the difference between rolled-out-of-bed-and-put-on-the-clothes-on-the-chair and intentional dressing. That one touch makes the difference that says “I meant to do this.”

Corollary: If you have noticeable holes in your ears, wear earrings, especially if you have short hair. Empty holes look like unbuttoned buttons, or unsnapped snaps. If you don’t want to be bothered, find a small stud or hoop that you leave in all the time.

Which of these 5 tips is a no-brainer for you? And which is more of a challenge? Please share in the comments below… I love to hear from you!

 

Beauty & Style Advice for my 30 Y/O Self

Beauty & Style Advice for my 30 Y/O Self

This weekend is my 55th Birthday! I am so excited!!! I know that sounds nuts; everyone else I know is complaining about getting older, but I’m such a kid at heart. I love my birthday. I don’t care what the number is, and I’m not embarrassed about my age, or apologetic. I loved turning 40, and 50. Those round decade numbers give a freedom to not give a rip about many things that used to be important. I don’t want to know what my future holds, thank you, and wouldn’t have believed you when I was 30 if you’d told me what my life would look like right now. But a little style and beauty advice might have been appreciated… Not understood, but maybe paid a few seconds mind!

Start taking care of your skin now! I know it is hard to imagine when you are constantly fighting acne, but be gentle with your skin. It’s hard to believe your skin needs moisture, and will need even more later. Spend some time finding a gentle routine that works. Make skin care a daily treat for yourself. Wash your face well at night, stop tumbling into bed with your makeup on, and moisturize afterwards. (If you need a hint where to start, try Cetaphil cleanser and add a spoonful of baking powder when you need something scrubbie.)

Don’t take your amazing metabolism for granted.  Your Energizer bunny metabolism is a gift, and that pregnancy and nursing metabolism is a blessing to enjoy! (Just don’t get carried away with that sweet tooth of yours…) Eat more fruits and veggies now, and start cutting back on starches in your 40’s. It will make life easier when you play through the next hormone shift.

Learn to love exercise. I know it’s hard to imagine that someday you will not get all your exercise running after small people! Walk everywhere you can with them, and play outside with them. I know you think weights are a “man gym” thing, but pushups and situps will bless you later. Stretch! Believe it or not, someday you will want to do a pull-up, and you need to start now. Just in case you need some motivation, it will literally save your life.

Stop drinking through a straw. Just like smoking cigarettes, sucking down all your cold bevvies through a straw (especially shakes) is going to create more pucker wrinkles around your mouth. The only good way to earn those is kissing! Drink out of the glass, honey. I know, you don’t like it when people call you honey, but someday you will be living somewhere everyone does, so you may as well get used to it now, and “ducks,” too, but that’s another story.

You won’t regret letting go of those clothes, purses, or shoes every time you purge for a move. (No, not even that red Dooney & Bourke Cabriolet Backpack…) You’ll find a denim one you like even better on Ebay 20+ years from now. (What’s Ebay? I can’t even begin to explain that. You’ll need a cocktail or two before it’ll make sense!)

What decade are you in? What advice would you give your younger self? Please share in the comments below! I love to hear what you are thinking…

Wardrobe Tips from Military Life (Part 2)

Wardrobe Tips from Military Life (Part 2)

Previously, I shared a few things I learned about dressing from my short time in the military, and (much longer time) as a military spouse. I have come to realize that many of my attitudes about clothing and wardrobes come from this part of my past. It can be illuminating to poke into our past to see where some of our values and attitudes about dressing come from…

A Wardrobe Can Fit in a Suitcase (or a Seabag!)

I have this ideal of my wardrobe fitting into a suitcase. Actually two. One for clothes, and a second for shoes and accessories! It may be a holdover from carrying a year’s clothing wardrobe in a seabag. A seabag is the vertical green duffle bag you receive as a Navy recruit to transport all your new uniforms from boot camp to your future schools and duty stations. Everything except your cover (hat) and uniform to travel in was to fit into your seabag. (Please note: Uniforms have changed since the 1980’s!) Civvie Parallel: If you plan well, your clothing wardrobe can fit into a suitcase, and take you far. Any trip less than a household move does not require a 70 pound suitcase!

UOTD (Uniform of the Day)

In the military, depending on your duties you have a UOTD. This tells you what to wear. One day you may dress in a working uniform, another in a service uniform. You have what you need for everything from scrubbing bathrooms and repairing equipment to attending a military ball. You may not have a lot of options, but you are covered for all occasions. Civvie Parallel: Make sure you have what you need for the life you live, and the unexpected (funerals, jury duty, visiting your lawyer, banker, or accountant) You don’t need a lot of options, but your wardrobe should cover all the bases!

You Can Survive with 4 Pair of Shoes

I had some lovely shoes before I joined the military, and plenty of them, but I never wore them nearly as often, or learned to take care of them, as I did in the Navy. The 4 included: running shoes, boondockers (work boots, and I still have them), oxfords, and pumps. They were all incredibly comfortable and practical. Civvie Parallel: If you feet aren’t comfortable, you won’t be comfortable. When I pack a suitcase to travel, I often start with the shoes. Do I have what I need for all the different adventures planned on this trip? (But I probably don’t need more than 4 pair…)

Pumps and Trousers

I know the pumps and trousers look is ubiquitous, but in my 1980’s new-university-graduate mind, trousers and jeans (and anything else) were worn with flat shoes. Heels were reserved for skirts and dresses. When we were fitted for our dress and service uniforms, we were instructed that either oxfords or pumps were our shoe options. Oxfords with a skirt? Pumps with trousers? I certainly didn’t see either as a fashion statement, but it got me out of my default habit of trousers and oxford style shoes, and skirts and pumps.  Civvie Parallel:  Mix up your silhouettes and see how you like it! Sometimes we get into a rut, and forget we have other options. Trousers with heels can rock! So can a skirt or dress with oxfords!

What attitudes about dress come from your childhood? Or from your university and early post-uni days? Please share in the comments below!

 

 

Wardrobe Tips from Military Life

Wardrobe Tips from Military Life

When I appeared on the radio last week with John Patrick from Buzz on Biz, we talked about why I love what I do, and how it combines the creative with the analytical. He drew the connection between my time in the Navy, and my personal wardrobe philosophy. That has been jiggetting about in my brain since last Thursday. So, for your amusement, I share three things that my Naval service retaught me about dressing and image.

Uniforms Are Easy

Sure a military uniform is easy. You don’t have a lot of choices, and the work of the day generally determines what uniform you will be wearing. Civvie Parallel: Think about what your day holds, and dress accordingly. Have a “you-niform” (thanks Bridgette Raes) to fall back on when time is tight, all goes haywire, or plans are changed on you. My fallback is a simple dress, usually topped with a cardie (A/C can be brutal) and a scarf or splashy necklace. If I am in trousers, they are probably blue, with a white shirt, fun shoes, and some color by my face. No thought needed. Throw and go. Yours might be jeans and a colored tee with a cool stack of bracelets. Unless you are a yoga instructor, your “you-niform” should probably not be yoga pants…

Polish Your Shoes

One of the quickest hits during inspection was shoes. Scuffed, raw laces, not edge-dressed, or heels run down. We would put on freshly polished shoes at the very last second, and walk carefully down to line up for inspection. Civvie Parallel: Take care of your shoes. Find a good cobbler, not just one of the quickie shoe repair places (although they can be a godsend for heel taps in a pinch). Cobblers do still exist, but are becoming more rare than hen’s teeth. Find one, respect the craft, and treat him or her like the amazing gift he/she is. Buy shoes that can be improved. Care for them. Clean them. Polish them. Store them properly at the end of the season. (This sounds like it needs to be its own post, hunh?)

The Details Matter

Are your ribbons on straight!? Did you check with a ruler? Are they in the right order? Are your creases crisp? Is the edge of your belt buckle lined up exactly with the keeper? Yes, these details may seem trivial, but when everyone is wearing the same clothing, those little details stand out and shout. Civvie Parallel: Press clothing that should be crisp. Wear your trousers at the right length. Adjust your necklace(s) so that they hang at a flattering point. (Those are your balance points… That will be another post, too!) Change your shirt if it gapes at the buttons, or pulls across the bust. Look at yourself from head to toe (or even better, snap that full length selfie!) before you head out the door.

Bonus: White Chalk Hides a Multitude of Sins

We wore white uniforms from about March through September or so (depending on location). White trousers or a white skirt with a white shirt. Let me tell you, for me this was an enormous problem; I was (and still am) a walking food disaster. I learned the blessings of washing with bleach, and to carry a stick of white chalk in my bag to scribble on stains to hide them and absorb grease until I could get home and pop the poor garment back in the washer. Civvie Parallel: If you love white, try chalk, or just  carry a Tide To Go with you. At home, a damp washcloth to rub off stains (or baby wipe in a pinch) might just save the day.

Do any of these speak to you? Which one(s)? Please let me know in the comments below… I love to hear from you!

Playing Saturday Share Link-Up with the lovely Catherine at Not Dressed Like Lamb!