Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Category: Wardrobe

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!

 

 

Colors and Neutrals

Colors and Neutrals

Sometimes I feel like a Color Convert, or maybe a recovering Blackaholic. Either way, I have seen the light! (Horrible science pun, I know…) I appreciate all the colors of the rainbow, and feel obligated to spread the color gospel.

Color Preferences

Some color preferences are universal; some are cultural, and some are purely personal. Most of us have a favorite color, and interestingly, different favorite colors for clothing. As children, these colors are usually the same, but as adults, we often choose a favorite clothing color that becomes a default. This handy sorting mechanism may save time shopping, but it can also be limiting, or downright unflattering if we choose a color that doesn’t suit our personal coloring. Many people think you can tell a lot about a person by his or her favorite color, but often those favorites go back to experiences we have had, either positive or negative. If you had a horrible time in middle school, and your school’s colors were garnet and gold, you may avoid those colors like the plague. If you were on the winning team and your team color was orange, you may associate orange with success. Time spent thinking about the colors you love and despise and why can be a small journey into your past and therapeutic to boot!

Neutrals

I know many a woman with a sea of neutrals in her wardrobe. By neutrals, we mean those colors that are not found in the rainbow, black, white, navy blue, grey, brown, tan/khaki, taupe, camel, and variations on these. To confuse the issue, there are colored neutrals as well! Colored neutrals are those rainbow colors with enough black added so that they work as neutrals. Deep burgundy, dark olive, deep teal, eggplant, and other similar shades are colored neutrals.

WarmCoolNeutralsA wardrobe full of neutrals may allow you to mix and match almost everything in your closet, but your outfits will often feel lifeless and draining, unless you add color with accessories. I see many women who buy bags full of neutrals because they are afraid of making a color mistake. Neutrals are “safe.” Furniture retailers and decorators will tell you the same principle applies to upholstered items; customers will regularly default to the safety of a neutral. The world does not need more beige sofas or walls!

The Tyranny of Black

Bridgette Raes, a New York stylist, coined the term “Blackcident” for those women whose wardrobes overflow with black. I hear (and myself often gave) all kinds of reasons for black-heavy wardrobes. “Black makes you look thin.” “Black clothes look more expensive.” “Black looks good with everything.” “Everyone looks good in black.” “Black is chic.” “Black hides stains.” And on, and on… Most of these are opinion rather than fact! Recently, I was in a dressing room with a client, and a mother nearby was shopping with her petite, fair-skinned, blond, high school daughter for (college) interview suits. They found a darling navy sheath dress with cream trim and a coordinating jacket. Then mom saw a black crepe dress and matching jacket. The sleeveless black dress was perfect for daughter’s figure; the neckline was flattering, and her bare arms helped break up the dark color, but when the young lady put on the jacket, she looked overwhelmed, and unwell. As the daughter hemmed and hawed, mom was determined that the black suit made her girl look sophisticated and serious, rather than like an orphan in mourning.

Be Bold:  Pick Another Neutral, or Two!

So instead of black, how about a different neutral, or two, or three? Even if black was a great color for us when we were young, it can often be harsh and aging as we grow in wisdom. Since letting my natural grey shine through, grey has become my new black. I have been transitioning my once black-heavy wardrobe into one relying on grey, white, and navy as neutrals, depending on the season. (I still have a few black pieces, but these have become the exception, rather than my rule.) For the warmer complexioned, how about a trio of ivory/light tan, olive, and warm navy? These would look amazing paired with coral and turquoise for accent colors.

How about you? Do neutrals form the backbone of your wardrobe? Or does your closet look like the rainbow? Please let me know in the comments below! I love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

 

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

My husband and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary at the end of the month, and spent more than half of our married life gallivanting around the world for his job. On my walk this morning, I realized that even though we have been in the same house for 10 years now (I really feel the need to move!), we have shared 7 different homes since we wed. That is a lot of moving, and it taught me a lot, even some things about style and fashion! So here are 5 style lessons moving has taught me…

Style is Regional

People used to ask if I was stocking up on clothing before we moved so that I wouldn’t have to go shopping, especially overseas. While I would stock up on things I thought might be challenging to find (new bras, or narrow shoes), I preferred a wait and see take on style. Style is incredibly regional, even with social media and mass market retailers. I also do not like to stand out like a sore thumb/stereotypical American tourist, so I spend quite a bit of time people-watching in our new home to see what looked natural. This holds true even here in the US. What looks completely in line in New York City can look a bit harsh here in Augusta, Georgia.

Dry Cleaner/Hairdresser

Two of my priorities after finding a place to live were finding a good hairdresser and dry cleaner. This is a quality of life issue, so I would ask anyone with a good looking cut where they had their hair done, especially if their hair texture was similar to mine. Any recommendation whose name came up repeatedly would be my first choice to try.  I would also accost anyone particularly well dressed to ask what dry cleaner they trusted. It can be awkward to put yourself out there to ask, but I never had anyone refuse to answer. If you explain that you have just moved, and that finding these professionals can be a challenge, most people will respond positively.

Planning Is Essential

This may sound in conflict with the style is regional piece, but this focuses on preparation. Before you pack out your home to move overseas, you need to think through 3 lists: (1) The Things You Will Carry With You, (2) Stuff for Your Express Shipment (You will see it in a few weeks and need to be able to live with it until 3), and (3) The Slow Boat Shipment (you will see it in 3-4 months). On one of our overseas moves, the children and I were staying with my mother for 4 months while my husband was in a class across the county. That meant packing everything we needed for summer in the South, summer and fall in the Mid-Atlantic, and Winter in England. Well thought-through planning made the whole adventure far less stressful than it might have been, an continues to make travel a dawdle, rather than a stress. Pack for a two week trip in a carry-on. Give me half an hour. Let’s go!

 

Travel Light

If you saw us load up that station wagon to travel to my mother’s house for that 4 months, you wouldn’t have thought we were travelling light! I think it probably qualified as a miracle that we got 4 people’s clothing, all our homeschool materials (I forgot to throw that wrench into the works!) and some toys for the boys into the back of our Subie Wagon. If we’d tied a rocking chair to the roof, we’d have looked like the Clampett family. (Buy me a drink sometime and I’ll tell you about the engine overheating on that trip from Georgia to North Carolina.) When it came time to fly overseas, we each had one large suitcase, and our carryon/backpack. (We shipped the school books.)  That large suitcase had to hold everything we would need for the next 3-4 months. To this day, I prefer to travel light. I rarely check baggage, even for a trip of a week or more, I’d rather wash in the sink than have to haul around a lot of luggage. If you forget something and it’s really important, you can probably find something similar where you are headed, and you’ll have a souvenir of your trip.

Go With the Flow

I may be a planner, but I have learned not to assume the plan will go as planned! It’s great to have a Plan, and even a Plan B, or Plan C, but sometimes you just have to throw it all to the wind and go with what’s right in front of you. When we lived in England, we took a Christmas holiday in London. We rented a flat, brought our tree and presents, and spent a fabulous week. It even had the courtesy to snow as we walked to Mass on Christmas Eve. One of the trip highlights was an afternoon Christmas dinner at the Savoy. Our children still fondly remember that experience 12 years later. The booking had been planned months in advance. My outfit, on the other hand for that special day was completely go-with-the-flow. I would have frozen in the dress I had brought for our special dinner, so I threw on an ankle length black-on-black plaid kilt (the one I wore to walk to Mass in) and some sweater I found in my bag. My Hero accessory was the shoulder grazing chandelier earrings that my sons (aged 16, 12 & 11) had given me that morning. (They were carefully chosen for me at Accessorize by three boys with their own meagre funds. I still have those earrings, and wore them on a Christmas holiday date with my grandson last year!) Even our waiter commented on the “unique” earrings I had on that evening… The boys were chuffed, and it was all good! It still is.

What style lessons have you learned from strange places? Please share in the comments below! I’d love to hear your stories…

 

 

I Need a Hero! (AKA: I’ve Got Nothing to Wear!)

I Need a Hero! (AKA: I’ve Got Nothing to Wear!)

Do you stare into your generous closet and think “I have nothing to wear!”? Some days we are lacking inspiration, but often we have a Heroes/Basics imbalance. Every closet needs both, but when we have too many of one, and not enough of the other, it can be hard to get dressed.

What’a a Hero?

A Hero is a standout piece. It could be the color, cut, or details that make it a Hero. Maybe it’s an artist’s print on a shirt, or a white shirt with dramatic pleating or ruffles all around the neckline and hem, or an oversized pair of cropped trousers. A shocking pink pair of suede pumps can be a hero, as can a bold necklace. You might collect ethnic jewelry that piled together makes a Hero. What kind of Heroes are you drawn to? I have been told that my clothes are boring. I’m okay with that, because I am happier in clothes that are Basics, and love Hero accessories. That’s just part of my personal style. Others prefer Hero clothes, and more Basic accessories, and some like both.

Too Many Basics

When your closet is filled with Basics and not enough Heroes, dressing can be a bore. Think about a recipe with chicken, rice, and broccoli. There’s nothing wrong with the ingredients, but there’s no pizzazz. To give the meal flavor, you need some spices, or at least some onion and garlic! An outfit of all basics with no Hero lacks focus and interest. If your closet is full of Basics with no Heroes to provide the spice, you can feel like there’s Nothing-to-Wear.

Too Many Heroes

Too many Heroes in an outfit gives us the opposite effect. Instead of no interest or focal point, we can have competing focal points. This kind of outfit distracts us from the person in the clothing. There are some people who have a gigantic personality (often Dramatic or Rebellious) and look perfectly themselves in these over-the-top outfits, but they are the exception rather than the rule. The inimitable Iris Apfel is a woman for whom there is no such thing as too much! A closet full of Heroes can be hard to mix and match, and leave us feeling the same Nothing-to-Wear angst.

Finding Your Balance

One rule of thumb is to make sure you include a Hero in every outfit to prevent the snooze factor. Some people wear more than one hero, but keep them corralled to a particular category, like adding Hero accessories to an outfit of Basic clothing, or Basic accessories to Hero clothing. It takes some experimentation to find your comfort level. Taking a good look in your closet and identifying your Heroes and Basics is a great place to start. If you have no Heroes, it may be time to pick up one or two, and if you have no Basics, you may need a trip to the store as well, but beware! Stay focused on what basics will bring out the best in your Heroes. Pick a Hero out of your closet tomorrow and build your outfit around it by adding some Basics, and wear it all day. You might find that you have a lot more to wear than you thought!

What’s your favorite Hero? Let me know in the comments below!

Thank you to Katherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the link-up!

 

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!

Why I Love a Good Capusle

Why I Love a Good Capusle

Traveling through this strange and wonderful adventure we call life, I keep finding that people often fall into one of two categories when it comes to clothing. Some are Options Lovers, and others are Limits Lovers. You may be an Options Lover, and for you a closet full of a rainbow of colors, styles, and silhouettes makes you happy as a clam at high water. You may be a Limits Lover that finds all that choice overwhelming, and prefer fewer pieces, colors, or silhouettes. Other Limits Lovers find that fewer choices opens a door to creativity, that the Options Lover can’t image with so little. Neither is right or wrong. They are both right for themselves! It is a matter of knowing thyself, and what works for you.

I have been a Limits Lover for a long time. That would be why I love me a good capsule. I think it’s probably related to my inventory tendencies. The next few weeks are going to be bananas crazy around here, and for me fewer choices means happier me. So, this past weekend I pulled out a Baker’s Dozen Capsule; 13 pieces for 31 days should help me find just a few more minutes of time in my day, and less stress making decisions.

If you are so inclined, you are welcome to visit my Facebook Page where I posted a completely unprofessional (unedited) and chatty video of me talking through showing my selected pieces.

What makes you happier? Are you an Options Person for your wardrobe, or a Limits Person? Please let me know in the comments below!

PS: Thank you Katherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the link-up!

Dressing Stressing to Blessing (Turning Lemons to Lemonade)

Dressing Stressing to Blessing (Turning Lemons to Lemonade)

Monday morning can be a challenge for anyone. Here are 10 ways to make dressing less stressing and more of a blessing,,, Just try one. And then maybe add another next week. And maybe another after that. Who knows what might happen?

1)  Lay (or hang) out your clothes for tomorrow when getting ready for bed. Check your calendar and the weather, first. (This also lets you know whether or not you need to shave in the morning!)

2)  Keep photos of outfits you love in a folder on your phone for days that you forget #1! Or make sure you have some go-to Outfit Recipes.

3)  Do your laundry before your work week begins. (No more “Arrrgh, it’s in the hamper!”) Smaller, more frequent loads are a lot easier to fold and put away.

4)  Pull together some Beauty Bundles to make accessorizing outfits easier.

5)  On your “weekend” choose a small cohesive capsule for the week, and dress out of only those clothes. Fewer choices means less stress (Try 4 shirts, 3 bottoms, 2 toppers, and a dress.)

6)  Next time you go to the hairdresser, ask about a cut that works WITH your hair’s natural texture, rather than fighting it.

7)  Time how long it takes to do your makeup in the morning. Simplify your routine to 5 minutes, MAX!

8)  Get all the out of season clothes out of your active closet and into a storage box. If your closet has room, separate out of season from current season items.

9)  Keep a lint roller in your car; then it doesn’t matter if the dog or cat loves on you on the way out the door.

10) Limit your color palette (for any season) to two neutrals, your white, and two accent colors. Careful choices here will give you a mix and match wardrobe! Think Garanimals for grown-ups…

What other tips do you have for turning dressing stress into a blessing? Please share in the comments below!

 

 

Got Wardrobe Orphans?

Got Wardrobe Orphans?

What’s a Wardrobe Orphan?

Wardrobe Orphans (WO’s) are those items we love in the store, we buy, and bring home, but never wear. Often they hang in our closets with tags still on. We might smile to see it hanging in the closet, or it may make us feel guilty; an orphan never makes it onto our body and out of the house. Maybe the orphan doesn’t go with anything, or maybe it just feels funny on. Let’s talk about some of the reasons we have WO’s, and some ways to avoid them.

Personality

The Personality Orphan can sometimes be attributed to shopping with a friend who may have a very different style personality than you. Maybe you are predominantly Classic and Feminine, and your friend is a Relaxed Creative. The shirt she loved, and you bought, fits her personality but doesn’t work for you because it doesn’t fit yours! You may love a pattern, color or style, and the friend who wears them well, but that pattern/color/style never feels right on you, because it isn’t your style personality.

Another common shopping fail occurs when we shop with someone who has a fixed idea of what (they think) you should wear. Beware shopping with relations… (Moms and teens battle this one all the time!) The best way to avoid these Personality Orphans is to know thyself! Work on honing your Style Recipe. Keep your Style Recipe on a card in your wallet. (Not an outfit recipe, that’s a horse of a different color! A bit of Style Recipe information can be found here.) Before you pull out your wallet to pay, look at the card and check if the garment you are holding fits your style words. If it doesn’t, analyze what it is you love about it, and apply that to an item that does fit your Recipe.

It is good to step out of our comfort zone and try new things, but baby-step it. Try just one new part of the pattern/style/color rather than all at once. Maybe you want to try the cold-shoulder trend. So, buy that top in a color you know you look great in. That gives it the familiarity you may need to take the leap and wear it out of the house!

Color

Color Orphans are items that don’t go with what you already own, or with your personal coloring. There are two main ways to avoid color clash orphans.

(1) You can limit the color palette in your wardrobe to 2-3 neutrals, and 2-3 accent colors. If the item is not one of your neutrals or accents, you can feel free to leave it behind, or even better, ask the store clerk if it comes in one of your wardrobe colors. This method requires a great deal of self-discipline, and is not for everyone, especially those who crave variety.

(2) Another method for avoiding the dreaded clash is to have a Personal Color Analysis. There are lots of systems out there; most have come a long way from the old 4 Seasons of the 1980’s.  My favorite is the (very nuanced) Absolute Color System, and it is the one I use with my clients. (Here you can see the 9 warm palettes!) Knowing your personal palette gives you hundreds of colors to choose from, and because they share the same color properties, they mix and match without the dreaded “clash”

Personal Pet Peeve: Color systems that come with personality labels, or tell you to dye your hair to fit your type. Beware!

If people ask “Are you feeling alright?” when you wear something, that’s a cue that it is not a good color for your personal coloring! Using your personal color palette to select the colors that best flatter you helps you avoid the “Are you okay?” from those you meet during your day.

Body Shape

A Body Shape Orphan is an item you bought that just doesn’t work for your body shape Frequently BSO’s will make you feel frumpy, or overexposed/tarty; they may make you physically uncomfortable. The waistband is too snug, the shape is boxy and you need shaping, the cut is too low, or too tight. The boots squeeze your calves; those shoes give you a blister every time you wear them. Some Body Shape Orphans can be rescued with a trip to the tailor, cobbler, or a cami to cover the extra cleavage, but often it is best to say goodbye to them. . When you try on everyday clothes, make sure they will work for your everyday activities! Sit, walk, and stretch. Make sure the clothes can do what you want them to!

Knowing your body shape can help you avoid these orphans by makeing you aware of what cuts, styles, and proportions look best on you, and helps you avoid the boxy, oversized, frump zone. Clothes do not have to be baggy to be comfortable, they just need to fit your shape. I cannot say this enough: If you are not employed as a fit model, don’t expect clothes to fit off the rack! Alterations should be a regular part of life for us mere mortals.

The best way to avoid orphans is to be a conscious shopper. Look carefully before you buy. If you cannot make at least 3 outfits with the new piece and what you already own, save your money. Once home, if you need to buy an entirely new outfit to make an orphan work, it is probably best to return it or set it free. It will be perfect for someone else, so donate it, consign it, or have a clothing swap with friends. Make it a Wardrobe Orphan Home Finding Party! Your wardrobe orphan may just be someone else’s outfit completer!

What orphan is hiding in your closet? Please let me know in the comments below!

 

 

X Body Shape

X Body Shape

In a previous post, I talked a bit about the different women’s body shapes, and how body shape has to do with your skeleton, and with how your “meat” is attached to those bones.  To determine body shape, we look at the shoulders and hips, and their relationship to each other. We also look at whether the waist is defined or not. There are 8 basic women’s body shapes, 5 balanced and 3 unbalanced. The X is one of the balanced shapes with the shoulders and hips of the same width. This is another feminine, curvy, (and desirable) shape!

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

The best way to determine your body shape is to take a full length photo of yourself in leggings and a form-fitting cami. Print out the picture if you can, and lay a ruler on it. Draw a straight line from your shoulder bone (not the outside of your arm) to the widest part of your hip. For some women this will be at the hip bones. For some, the widest part may be across the leg crease. If the line you draw is perpendicular to the ground and your waist is defined, you are an X or an 8 shape. The difference between the two can be subtle, but the difference in how to dress their shapes is enormous!  Both are often referred to as an hourglass figure, so how do you tell if you are an X or an 8? An 8 has a high hip shelf, and an X usually has a smooth transition from the waist to the widest part of the hip. X’s are frequently long waisted, and 8’s are frequently shorter waisted. 8’s are more prone to love handles, and X’s are less love handle prone. (Marilyn Monroe was an 8; Sophia Vergara is an X.)

X’s What to Wear

If the goal is to create a balanced figure, you X’s are blessed because you already have one! In general, drawing attention to the waist, with a waistband or belt is a great look for the X. (If you are busty, you may choose to skip this advice, as drawing attention to your small waist can make your bust look larger.) Wrap dresses are amazing on X’s (Thank you, Diane von Furstenburg!), as are wrap tops. Fit and flare dresses are custom made for the X as well. A-line skirts are fabulous for your figure, as are straight or trouser leg jeans, especially if they zip up the side. If you are self-conscious about your curves and don’t want to show off your waist, at least make sure that your tops and jackets are shaped, or princess seamed. Properly placed darts can make you look 10 pounds thinner in an instant!

X’s What to Avoid

Losing the waist can make an X look heavy. Avoid blousy or oversized tops that hide your waist, and boxy tops and dresses. Long straight jackets are less than flattering on an X, and double breasted pieces often just make the X shape look bulky. Stiff fabrics often create extra visual weight that the X may not want. Avoid ending your tops at the widest part of your hips. Make sure jackets are belted, or nipped in at the waist. Even a drawstring on an anorak makes a difference! On trousers, avoid tapers, cuffs, and embroidery on the rear or thighs.

When You Love It Anyway

It may need altering. X’s often struggle to buy trousers and jeans that fit. There are more curvy-girl jeans than ever out there, which has made the hunt easier, but if you are still having a hard time, buy your bottoms to fit your hips, and have a tailor take in the waistband. You don’t need the bulk (or discomfort) created from belting a too large waistband to keep your pants up!

Another option for X’s is to belt it! This fall belts are making a comeback, so you X’s are in for a treat! Coats and jackets are showing up with self-belts, and leather belts over coats and blazers are everywhere, so you can make even shapeless garments work better for you!

A note about alterations… Unless you are employed as a fit model, assume that everything you buy will likely need alterations, and include them in your budget. Many women (and men) can’t be bothered to have their clothes altered to fit properly. Or maybe I should say they won’t pay to have everyday clothes altered to fit properly. Dresses for special occasions get special treatment, but why only them? Those special occasion pieces will be worn once or twice. Life is a special occasion! Shouldn’t the clothes you wear everyday fit you beautifully, and make you look good everyday? You deserve clothing that fits well and makes you feel great.

Outfit Recipes

Outfit Recipes

Do you feel bombarded at the grocery store checkout by the magazine covers? I often do! Quick and Easy Family Meals… 30 Minute Dinners… Shortcuts to Supper… (And have you ever noticed that for every diet/slim down article, there’s a Best Dessert Ever recipe? So unfair!) Literally millions of recipe ideas at our fingertips, but we frequently default to the family favorites we cook so often that we need no recipe at all. The best are the ones that have some wiggle room for adaptation. Maybe we are out of chicken, but it works with ground beef, too. Or, we have no taco seasoning, so we swap in Italian seasoning, and serve it over pasta instead of with tortillas. These are the best kind of recipes, endlessly adaptable, and never boring! Wouldn’t the same kind of recipes for your closet be fabulous?

What’s An Outfit Recipe?

An Outfit Recipe is a dressing shortcut. The best recipes are quick, easy, and adaptable, not the ones with ingredients you can’t pronounce, let alone find at the store (in your closet). I am not talking about the black pants with the pink blouse and heart necklace, that’s too specific and gets boring very quickly. I am talking about those flexible recipes, the ones that with a little spice can keep your wardrobe feeling full of variety. Everyone has their own favorites. Mine change with the seasons, and with my activities for the day. When I was teaching in the classroom, my winter default recipe was dress+boots+cardigan+scarf. With just 3 dresses, 3 cardigans, 3 boots, and 3 scarves, you could go on for quite a while before repeating! (If they all mix and match, you have 81 outfits. That’s 4 months worth of work outfits!)

My Recent Recipes

This month I have been doing the Inside Out Style Daily Picture Challenge. Reviewing one week’s photos startled me. I wore almost the same outfit all week long, but it didn’t feel like it. My recipe that week was Column of Color + Scarf or Necklace for contrast. Some days the column was blue, other days it was white. It could be an inner column (shirt and trouser) or an outer column (trouser and jacket) but CoC + SoN 4 Contrast it was! (Maybe these should be Wardrobe Equations instead of recipes!) My apologies for the selfie… I don’t have an Instagram Husband!

Some Recipe Ideas to Try

Simple Dress + Bold Necklace + Jean Jacket + Shoes/Boots (appropriate for the season)

Slim Cropped Trouser/Jeans + Loose/Flowy Shirt + Layered Thin Necklaces + Ballet Flats

Wide Trouser/Jeans + Slim Fitting Top + Bold Necklace + Wedges

Column of Color (top and bottom of the same color) + Scarf/Necklace and Shoes (of a second color)

The great thing about recipes is their flexibility. Don’t wear trousers, sub in skirts instead! Can’t stand necklaces, sub in bracelets and earrings for interest. Scarves are too complicated? Try the necklace option! Too hot for trousers, sub in shorts!

What’s a favorite recipe that you return to again and again? Please share in the comments below!

And thank you to Katherine of Not Dressed as Lamb for the Linkup!