Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

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Myths About Wearing Black

Myths About Wearing Black

(AKA: Black is NOT the Only Chic Color!)

Black, black, black, black, black. Black, black, black, black, black, black, black. It probably comes in black. It only comes in black. We only have it in black. No, I am not talking about the Model T, or the first telephone. I am talking about the tyranny of black that reigns in fashiondom and the retail world.

I get it. Black is easy. And cheap clothes usually look better in black than in other colors. But black is not the only color! And it is certainly not the only color that looks chic!

Ten plus years ago, when my hair was still much darker, black was not only one of my best colors, it was my hands down favorite and default. My coloring is cool, and was brighter and more vivid back then. I looked good in black, and as a petite person, coming across as a little intimidating and authoritative was not something I minded. (Especially in the classroom…) Black was my signature color, and I often had a hard time finding clothes in black. (There used to be a bias toward making petite clothes in “girlie” colors, which I found downright patronizing.) As luck would have it, now my coloring is much lighter with my grey hair and softening skin color. I am still cool, but the black of my younger wardrobe looks harsh and unflattering on me. I still have a few black items, and a cocktail dress; since those are usually not worn in the bright, harsh light of day, but in the dimmer and more forgiving lighting of evening (and with extra makeup), I can still get away with them.

Myth: Black looks good on everyone.

Reality: Everyone CAN wear black, but many should not. Much of the population does not look their best in black. (In daylight!) Women and men with cool, dark, and bright coloring look good in black. That leaves out most of us. Those with warm, dark coloring look better in warm neutrals: dark chocolate browns, dark eggplant, dark olive. Those with warm light coloring look better in warm lighter neutrals: camels, ivories, olives, warm greys. Cool, light coloring looks better in lighter neutrals, like cool greys and taupe. Black has a tendency to make under eye circles more intense, the shadows and wrinkles around our mouths deeper, and chins double. (Who needs any of that?!)

Polyvore Women's Clothing Illustrating Columns of ColorMyth: Black makes you look thinner.

Reality: Any dark color can make you look thinner. Especially in contrast with a light color. Any color will make you look thinner when worn as a column from shoulder to knee, or to ankle! If your coloring is warm and light, black will drag the eye of your beholder away from your face (where you want attention to stay) and to the black item. The contrast with your natural coloring will appear heavy and pull you down, especially that pair of black pants that you bought to make your bottom look smaller. Colors in harmony with your personal coloring will make you look healthier and happier. When you look healthy and happy, no one notices your thighs or your tummy!

Myth: Black looks chic.

Reality: Neutrals look chic (of which black is just one!), especially when in a column of color, or as accents with each other. Ivory from head to toe, topped with camel? Yes, please! Grey trousers and a sweater with brown crocodile accents? Gorgeous! Olive with cognac? Rich! Navy from head to toe? Lovely! Camel with oxblood accents? Oh, my! International Orange? No, not chic. Yes, cheap clothes will usually look more expensive in black than in other colors, but if it looks cheap in its other shades, it probably doesn’t deserve a place in a wardrobe that you want to last.

Myth: Black goes with everything.

Reality: Anything black goes with, other neutrals go with, too. And often much better! Especially if the other colors have warm undertones. Love coral? It looks even better with ivory, olive, chocolate, and warm grey than it does with black. Yellow? With black it can look bumblebee, but with grey? That’s a home run! Turquoise with chocolate? OMGoodness! Pink with chocolate, navy, grey, ivory, taupe, basically anything. Yum! Purple and olive? Yes, please! Oh, and lavender with chocolate? Luscious! I haven’t found a color yet that doesn’t work with navy. Yes, even black does. Let’s play with all the crayons in the box, not just the black ones!

What is your favorite (not black) color to wear? What’s your favorite neutral other than black? I love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the comments below…

 

Thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

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!

 

Occasions of Dress

Occasions of Dress

My apologies for the delayed publication of this post… I’d love to blame Technical Difficulties, but it really comes down to Operator Error.

Gone are the days where women or men had one outfit for Sunday Best, and another for the rest of the week. Now we have closets full of clothes, and people regularly complain that they don’t have what they need for the occasion at hand, whether that be a baby shower, or job interview.

One of my favorite books about fashion and style is The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish. I reread it regularly, and refer to it often. It is a book for anyone interested in the history of style and fashion in America, and the history of women in American society. In it, Linda Przybyszewski refers to a collected group of brilliant and determined academics as the Dress Doctors, who were “fashion influencers” long before the existence of social media. They believed in elevating everyday life by applying the principles of art and the occasions of dress. These multi-talented women found themselves relegated to the Home Economics departments of universities, and found a way to thrive and be taken seriously. “Home Ec” was an art, not merely a necessity. They preached that beauty can and should be found in the quotidian. After all, that’s where most of us live. The Dress Doctors considered dress to be:

one of our social duties for two reasons. First, because the world has to look at us whether it wants to or not. Second, because the world has work to do, and an inappropriately dressed individual can be distracting. These two reasons explain why “making the most of your looks is not vanity.” The effort “indicates proper self-regard and consideration of others.”

In The Lost Art of Dress, Ms. Przybyszewski outlines the Six Occasions of Dress  for older children and adults. These included: (1) School, (2) Spectator Sports and Active Sports, (3) Street, Travel, or Work, (4) Housework, (5) Afternoon Affairs or Tea, (6) After-Five or Formal Evenings. From what I see on the streets today, categories 1-4 seem to have collapsed into one for many Americans, unless they work in an office with a dress code at a level above Business Casual. Category 5 has disappeared completely for most of America, unless you count happy hour. After-Five and Formal Evenings still hold a place, albeit for most of us, very rare.

I am not the only person who has noticed that in our current culture, for many, dressing for the occasion is dead. I am called into workplaces for employee training for exactly that reason. (Or because employees are taking their work wear cues from Hollywood and Pinterest.) I have witnessed church wedding attendees in cargo shorts, logo tees, and flip-flops. (The wedding party was in full length dresses and tuxedos, so no, the wedding was not casual.) Even beach weddings with flip-flops don’t usually go to the cargo shorts and logo tees extreme.

Many blogs and articles complain about the “casualization”of American dress, and give myriad reasons for the shift to “dressing down.” Everything from ignorance of propriety, laziness, lack of discipline, the obesity epidemic, and fast fashion have all been blamed for sweatpants culture. The “high” cost of clothing is my favorite… This excuse does not come from those in the industry. Cost cannot be the reason. We buy more clothing than ever, and still spend a lower percentage of our income on clothes than we did in the 1950’s, when (after looking at lots of photos) we were certainly better dressed! More than anything, I think it reflects the infantilization of our modern American society.

Since the 1960’s and the Youthquake, maturity has taken a beating. Our culture has been chasing youth, or the illusion of youth, for more than a generation. We don’t even grow-up anymore. We “adult”. What rubbish! There are privileges that come with maturity as well as responsibilities. Why not celebrate the privileges rather than cling to immaturity. There is nothing wrong with a youthful attitude (I think it’s a necessity), but dressing like a teenager usually comes across as childish rather than youthful. Previously, one of the privileges of maturity included what you could wear. Women in their 20’s were not seen as mature enough for the elegant styles designed for a woman in her 40’s. I remember looking into my mother’s closet as a girl, and wondering when I would be old enough to wear some of her beautiful things. (Cocktail pretties, and later, a stunning silver St. John knit gown!)

For those whose parents were busy chasing an extended adolescence, and missed out on the education of what to wear when, I have taken liberties with the Dress Doctor’s 6 Occasions for our modern age. Your wardrobe needs to fit your life, so if you never attend weddings or eat out at nice restaurants because that violates some deeply held principle, don’t worry about that category! Most funerals are not planned, and shopping is the last thing you need to be doing when grieving, or supporting those that are; please make sure you at least have something that fits the Solemn Occasion category…

School/Work

School:  At one time, elementary school children, high school students, and college students all had their own styles of dress. Now, university students can be seen at class in their pajamas, and many other students attend classes dressed for athletic competition, or they look ready to clean out the garage. School is the child’s equivalent of work, and students should be dressed for it. Not necessarily shirts and ties, but in comfortable, not ready-to-roll-in-the-dirt, clothes. (Or where I live: ready-to-go-hunting clothes.) Creating a distinction between school clothes and play clothes (as in previous generations) creates a structure that supports the business that study is. When I taught in a school with uniforms, I (and other teachers!) dreaded out-of-uniform days for the attitude shift in the children. There was less respect for others, and less concentration on schoolwork. When students dress for play, they demonstrate play behavior and manners from the first bell to the last.

Work:  The same principle applies to adults and work. Unless you are a yoga instructor, or personal trainer, you don’t need to wear fitness gear all day long. I understand the appeal of athleisure, but by definition, work is not leisure, so save athleisure for non-office time. If you work from home, like I often do, and are caring for children or slipping in housework between business calls, dress in a manner that you will not find you embarrassed if a client or business associate drops by, and throw an apron over your clothes if you worry about stains. (I wear mine when having coffee because I am a mess.) Check your business dress code. If you need to make up your own, unless your job requires dirty physical labor, it is usually better to find yourself overdressed than underdressed.

Leisure/Play

Going to a game? Playing after work or on the weekend? Gardening or hitting the building supply store for work on that project? Great! Wear what works for your sport, hobby, or project. And think about where else you may choose to go. Please think twice before going to brunch after spinning at the gym. You don’t need to be marinating in your own juices for the next two hours, especially at a restaurant.

My husband and I take ballroom dance classes, so some of my leisure/play wear looks like what someone else might wear to a wedding. That fits my lifestyle, but maybe not yours. I keep a box of clothes to wear for yardwork and camping under my bed; they don’t need to take up my valuable closet real estate.

Occasions

Festive: In festive occasions, I include events such as wedding or baby showers, dinners out for celebrations, casual or daytime weddings, and other similar affairs. Often these outfits are brighter in color, or have bolder patterns than work wear, but if your workplace is more casual, you may have pieces that cross over well. A brightly colored dress, or trousers with a cheerful blouse can usually fill in the gap, especially with some added sparkle. Leave your work tote or everyday bag at home. Try something smaller and less utilitarian.

Solemn: As I mentioned above, solemn occasions are not usually planned. A court date or jury duty, funerals, or other important appointments are less of a stress if you already have something appropriate to wear. My least favorite appointment is being called to help someone buy an outfit for a funeral, even if it is a privilege to help during a difficult time. If your work wear is conservative and neutral, you probably have what you need, but if most of your clothing is leisure wear, making sure you have a neutral trouser outfit with a subdued top, or a easy to throw on (not party) dress in your closet can be an emergency lifesaver. This is the time to leave the sparkle at home, but adding a bit of subtle sheen looks like you made an effort.

If you find you need to buy a new dress for a festive or solemn occasion, and they are rare in your world, please don’t spend a fortune on your outfit. Are you really going to wear it again? If not, look at renting, or check out the consignment stores in your area. The cost per wear on party outfits is a budget buster! Spend your money where you make your money, not on a party frock!

Special Event Wear

Other events are much dressier. Does your company have a holiday cocktail party every year? Or do you have formal occasions to attend? I used to have two dresses for the military ball we would attend each year. We moved every three years, so I would just alternate years. If anyone was bothered that I wore the same dress, that wasn’t my problem. Now I don’t have any, because our life doesn’t require gala wear. Buy for the life you live. If clubwear doesn’t fit your life, then leave it behind in the store, no matter how cute that little dress is… I have a few dresses I wear for ballroom dance events, and these can cross over for cocktail parties and other (exceedingly rare) events of that type. I am looking for a new dress to wear for my son’s wedding next fall, and am hoping to find one I love that I will be able to wear again.

What categories of dress do you need for your lifestyle? Did I leave out a category that is a must for you? Please let me know in the comments below; I love to hear from you!

 

Fashion Seasons vs. Calendar Seasons

Fashion Seasons vs. Calendar Seasons

The seeming insanity of the fashion world… Last fall, when fashiondom was all about Spring /Summer 2018, we mere mortals were all thinking about whether or not a new snow shovel was in style for the coming winter.

Just as we are beginning to thaw out from the most recent cold snap to imagine that spring may someday spring, the Fall/Winter 2018-2019 fashion week(s) are gearing up. Men’s Fashion Weeks have been running since the beginning of the month. Paris Haute Coture begins January 22nd, and the others follow on directly after. If you enjoy the spectacle, Fashion Week Online has complete listings of shows, not only the big 4 (Paris, New York, London and Milan) but of other Fashion Weeks all over the world.

I am often asked why fashion jumps so far ahead of the game. It’s not the insanity it seems. Fashion shows have become a media sensation reported on outlets all over the world, but that is not how they originated. Fashion shows were for buyers. Not you and I, but (capital B) Buyers who work for stores. Buyers would travel to attend the shows and then place orders for their stores. Lines would then contract with their manufacturers, fabric suppliers, etc. to fill those orders. The turnaround time from order to delivery was not the mere weeks we see today in the fast fashion stores, who steal a look from the runway and have it in stores in two weeks to a month. Pattern houses would send representatives to fashion shows to sketch their impressions, and create looks for the home sewer. Last, but certainly not least, were the fashion magazines who would send reporters and photographers. The two big fashion issues each year still take months to create, using material from those shows two calendar seasons before.

We take for granted the speed at which our modern world works, but quality manufacturing, publishing, and other ventures work on much longer lead times than our Amazon Prime habits would have us think. Today’s turnaround times for fashion are dramatically shorter than in decades past, but still require months of preparation. Imagine the stress of working for the fashion houses themselves… They were designing and producing the F/W 2018-2019 looks as soon as (and before) the Spring Summer 2018 shows last September were done and broken down!

How about you? Do you work in retail and see the trickle down from the runways to your shop? Do you enjoy the spectacle of fashion week (wherever it may be)? I love to hear from you! Please share your thoughts in the comments, below!

My Spring and Summer Style Picks (A Work In Progress)

My Spring and Summer Style Picks (A Work In Progress)

I have what Rudyard Kipling called in The Elephant’s Child, ‘satiable curtiosity. I am curious about everything, so last fall, when the Spring/Summer 2018 fashion shows were in the news, I was making notes. Not looking for clothing! Just noting what style inspirations, colors, and ideas were showing on the runways. Like most of us, I am a mass market shopper (and consignment shopper); I don’t buy from the runway.

I jot down the trends I see, and start pulling images that interest me from ads, catalogs, and magazines. I save on-line images as well. Over time I start to see commonalities in the images. These common threads are trends I may be interested in trying. Maybe it’s the sherbet colors/pastels trend. Or the bright yellow color trend. (Love the color, but it doesn’t love me, so I’ll skip it for clothes thank you, but a great beach tote? Or a bracelet to stack with others?) Thanks, but no thanks is the vinyl/plastic trend for me. Although, a bubble umbrella like the one I had when I was a child would make me smile!

In a previous post I mentioned that I try to work a French 5 Piece Wardrobe plan. This is for me. It’s not something I regularly suggest to clients, unless they have a planning and structure bent. I keep a working Polyvore board with my next season’s 5 thoughts on it, and pop on new pieces as I see them. This is a great way to have a visual to go along with the Wardrobe Wishes list in my calendar. It lets me see how my chosen 5 may work with the rest of my wardrobe. I pile more than 5 pieces on my board, and move them about and play with them, adding and subtracting over about a month to see what sticks, what keeps my attention, and what doesn’t. It’s far less expensive to make choices this way rather than buying and (possibly) returning.

The five pieces I chose for this board make my heart feel light, and support my 2018 Style Resolutions. Pink is one of my happy colors, which considering that I used to hate pink, is a real style revolution; a pink purse feels playful. The trouser jean looks fresh to me after all the seasons of skinny, but not hippie chick like some of the flares I am seeing. (They are fab for the right personality, but not mine.) The patterned dress (should) suit my shape, the colors are palette friendly, and the pattern looks like confetti! That says “fun” to me! The mint blouse is still an if… I am not a fan of long sleeves, but love the softer shade for spring and summer; it feels cool and calming. Maybe another sleeve in that color? Same for the pale rose shoes. I love the low walkable heel, and the soft-but-not-white shade. I do have concerns about keeping them clean and finding polish for them… So they may be struck off; I have high need for practicality.

How about you? Where do you find your style inspiration? Are you a planner, or more of an impulse buyer? How do you describe your style? I love to hear from you… Please feel free to share in the comments below!

Thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

How Do I Shop?

How Do I Shop?

When people find out that one of my services is Personal Shopping, they have one of two reactions… “Ooooh, that’s fun!” or “I need you. I HATE to shop.” Shopping can be fun, or at least less painful for those who hate it, but my shopping methods are probably different from your average trip to the mall. And they are remarkably similar if I am shopping for myself, or for a client. What most people want to know is: How do I shop for me?

Research

Like previous generations of shoppers, I do larger, less frequent shopping trips during the year. Twice a year would be ideal. Yes, I know I will need to hit the shops for new socks, tights, undies, and athletic wear during the year as things wear out, but for seasonal wardrobe shifts, and style updates, less often is better for me, and my budget. Planning is key to keeping a budget-friendly and integrated wardrobe, so any shopping trip starts with research. I will not head out to purchase without knowing what I own, and what I want to add to my wardrobe. I am not a let’s-go-‘n-see-what’s-at-the-store shopper. Yes, I do window shop and browse the stores to see what’s there, but browsing is normally research.

I think about what season or occasion I need to dress for, what I already have, and what I want or need. I research the trends to determine what I might see at the stores, and whether there are any I may wish to try. I review what is already in my closet, and go through my out of season storage box to determine what will be making it into my next season’s capsule.

An Aside: Last year, I decided to try a modified version of what’s known out in Weblandia as the 5 Piece French Wardrobe. No panic necessary! This doesn’t mean you have 5 pieces in your wardrobe. It means that each of the two fashion seasons, Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter, you restrict your purchases to 5 items that you have carefully selected and that reflect your aesthetic (style personality). There are lots of different versions and “rules” out there, but in my seasonal 5’s, I do not include replacements of basic pieces, jeans, etc. that have worn out or been stained beyond good use. Knowing I was only going to buy 5 “fashion pieces” made me much more selective about trends to play with, and about quality. Both are good things to consider being more selective about. I will continue with this plan again this year, although I may need to add and extra piece or two as I am struggling with some weight gain, and many of my S/S pieces may not fit… I’ll know more in March when I swap out my winter capsule for spring.

Make a List

To help choose 5, I keep (in my calendar) my Wardrobe Wishes. It is no more than a running list of items I have seen and would like to buy. Maybe I saw them in a catalog, on-line, in an ad, or when out shopping with a client. Frequently, I add something that I have noticed is missing from my wardrobe. Maybe a pink and grey scarf would pull together two or three tops and bottoms. That sounds like a wise purchase. When I add to the list, I date the addition, and where I saw it. I also periodically strike things off the list, which helps me remember that the gotta-have-it urge usually passes. The pieces that stay form the basis of my seasonal shopping list. After research and consulting my Wardrobe Wishes, I make a list of pieces I want to add to my wardrobe, and note where I am likely to find them. Some of my research time is also spent pre-shopping on-line to see who stocks the items I am looking for, and how much they may cost. On my list, I include the item, color or colors that will play best with what I already own, and make a note of my budget for the season. Usually, I try to list only 4 seasonal items and leave room for a serendipity purchase, because sometimes you just run across that Most-Amazing-Hero!

At the Mall (or Wherever!)

Now it’s time to head to the shops. I dress in comfortable clothes that are easy to take off and put back on. I wear shoes that slip off, and wear (or tote along) dress shoes if that is what my list will look best with. I take my color swatch. I make sure to wear the right kind of under garments for my shopping list; shopping for a prom dress in sneakers and a sports bra is and exercise in frustration! At the mall, I often make two passes. The first pass is reconnaisance, a quick walk-by to see who has what in the windows, whether there are any new stores, and a walk-through of potential shops to determine if it is worth coming back for a look. If I don’t see my color palette, and style personality, it’s not worth another pass. (I know, I might miss an amazing clearance item in the back of the store, but that’s fine with me. I have given up FOMO for the sake of efficiency, and sanity. After this first pass is a good time to stop for a coffee, and a trip to the rest room…

The second pass is all business. Now is the time to pull pieces and try them on. I take multiple sizes to the dressing room and max out the item limit. (Which is often more a guideline… Just ask politely.) The fewer times I need to return to the floor the better. Things that don’t fit are hung separately, or taken right out of the dressing room. Many stores have return-to-stock racks just for this purpose. If there are items I want to purchase, I buy them, and may ask the clerk to hold them for me (unless I need them to coordinate with another item elsewhere). If I really like those grey trousers, but want to keep looking, I will ask the sales clerk to hold them until the end of the day. I can come back for them if they are the best, or let him or her know I am no longer interested.

If I haven’t found what I am looking for, I may order on-line, but I make sure the company’s return policy is friendly before I ever hit the checkout button, and like the dressing room, I order multiple sizes unless I know a brand well, and trust their sizing.

At Home

Once I get home, I take everything out of the bags, and hang each up on proper hangars. If something new is replacing an old piece, the old one is pulled, or tossed in the laundry to be washed for the charity box. Before putting each new piece into the closet, I spend some time mixing and matching my new purchases with my basics and other seasonal pieces. I want to confirm that each new purchase will play well with the others already in my wardrobe. Only then do the tags come off. I pop my new buys into the closet with others in their category, and try to wear them in the next week or two, just in case there is a flaw or manufacturing defect. It’s much easier to return and replace a newly purchased item while you still have the receipt, rather than one that’s been hanging in your closet with the tags on for 3 months. (And if you don’t feel like you want to wear a new piece right away, maybe it wasn’t such a good purchase… Weather exceptions and special occasion wear notwithstanding.)

This may seem like a lot of work for something that the fashion industry wants to sell as entertainment (shopping), but I enjoy the research, and planning and consider it part of the “fun.” Especially when I see the results in both my closet and bank account!

How about you? Do you plan your shopping, or do you just pick up pieces as they strike your fancy? Have your shopping habits changed? Would you like them to? 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…

Trend Watch-Floral Blouses

Trend Watch-Floral Blouses

I know florals for spring are a recurring trend, but wow. Gucci went over-the-top, madly floral from head to toe in Spring/Summer of 2016, and has continued with that theme. It has finally bloomed across (sorry) the mass-market ready-to-wear that most us shop. Above, you can see a few I have fallen in love with…

Floral blouses of every hue and variation are on-line, and showing up in the stores. I struggle with floral blouses, because on my  “femme d’une certaine age” person, those lovely florals can look plain old old lady, unless they are styled with a youthful twist. For my style, a floral blouse with dress trousers would be a no go, but with a pair of frayed cropped jeans and booties or sandals, great! (I’m not sure I’m sold on a blouse I can only style with jeans…) Keeping the texture sheer helps lighten and modernize the look as well. Abstract and oversize florals, like the ones showing up this season, can be easier for more mature women to wear without looking dated. Realistic and ditsy florals are often better left to the young who can wear them with an ironic twist. Even the more traditional spring ginghams and polka dots can be seen combined with floral embroidery for those who like their flowers less flowery.

Floral shoes are everywhere. This is a trend I can jump all over! Tapestry, embroidery, or just plain print. I have a pair I pull out every summer, and would love to add this navy embroidered lovely from White House Black Market to my collection, but I am trying to leave room for serendipity in my Spring/Summer 5. (And I know I really do not NEED another pair of shoes!)

Floral jewelry was everywhere this past winter, and some darling pieces can be picked up for a song and worn to death this spring and summer. Sequins are another huge SS2018 trend, and quite a few of the clearance necklaces at Talbot’s right now combine the floral and sequin trends. If statement necklaces are your thing, you may want to check them out! I can see one thrown on with jeans and a tee for a fresh and relaxed look. Or tuck one inside the collar of an oversized boyfriend shirt.  Even Lands’ End is running with this one, so you can find your floral fix everywhere, and at a price point that makes your wallet happy.

If just dipping your toe in the water is more your style, take a look in your own jewelry box, and scarf pile. You probably have a floral motif in there somewhere. Maybe an old brooch? Dig them out, and enjoy a touch of spring now, even when the warm weather seems like it will never come.

How do you feel about florals? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Let me know in the comments below! I love to hear what you think…

And thank you to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

 

2017’s Top 5’s Accessories

2017’s Top 5’s Accessories

Last week I shared my Top 5 most worn wardrobe pieces, and thought to address accessories, since they are where the fun in my wardrobe comes out to play. Realistically, I need to break this down into jewelry, scarves and bags, and shoes. Picking just five total would probably make me cry! As I mentioned before, my clothes are pretty basic and unassuming (part of my heavily Classic personality type) but I have magpie tendencies that find their sartorial expression in my “extras.” I again warn you, dear reader, that some of the images here come from my phone, so the quality is iffy! I am curious as to whether my most worn pieces match up with my personal Must Have’s that I published earlier in the year. Let’s see how that worked!

Jewelry

I thought I would have to preface this section with a disclaimer about my “dealer” (as my better half calls my friend) who sells Premier Designs Jewelry, but since my PD stash gives my wardrobe its immense variety, those pieces don’t show up in my most worn 5. The old standards that are mixed and matched with them do! I am not including my everyday watch or religious necklace in my five, because they are worn almost daily. Even if the necklace isn’t visible, it’s usually still inside my clothing. So for the sparkles you can see…

Hammered Silver Hoops  I don’t remember when I bought mine, but I think it was back when I was living in Maryland, and working in Bethesda, at the NIH. That would have been in the early 90’s. They have certainly earned their keep! I still love them, and they are my default when wearing a scarf because they are an endless hoop that doesn’t catch in the folds. Their round shape also harmonizes with the polka dot patterns I love, and other curved details I wear. (This pair is similar to mine…)

Silver Prehistoric Hammer Earrings  Circa 2005… A souvenir from Stonehenge (when we lived in England). If I am not wearing the hoops, these are likely to be in my ears. At the time, I remember thinking the price was a bit much to pay for a little silver earring, but they have been worth every penny. They are quite small, and have a subtle brushed finish, so they mix and match with almost any other silver jewels I may wear. These and the hoops above are the first things to go into my jewelry bag any time we travel.

Turquoise Bead Bracelet  This stretchy little number was picked up on Amazon some time last year. I wanted an inexpensive colored bracelet or two to help carry color back from my feet to my face; I already had turquoise shoes, scarves, and necklaces, so this made a good middle point for the eye. This strategy gives a simple outfit intentionality, and creates a polished look. I think of it as the Power of 3. The wrist or waist is a good point between feet and face to keep the eye moving upwards!

Small Gold Hoops  For the same reason I love my silver hoops, this smaller version goes with almost any gold jewelry I wear. Having a cool complexion, I usually opt for silver jewelry as it flatters my skin much better than gold. I have some sentimental gold pieces that I love, and like to wear gold tones mixed with silver in the fall for a warmer twist. The fall shades of gold and brass give my warm weather clothing the more autumnal look and feel that I like when the weather is still so hot but I want a change for the season. These have been in my jewelry box since 10th or 11th grade… (See, I can still fit into something I’ve had since high school!)

Silver Oval Bangles  These have also been in my jewelry box since time immemorial. I know they were a Christmas gift from my parents. I have very small wrists, and most bangles fall off. These oval lovelies (one twisted, one plain) don’t rattle around as much as a round bangle would, and sit nicely above my watch. The turquoise bead bracelet gets to play with these two regularly, as I find I wear bracelets in 3’s or 5’s.

Scarves and Bags

Sea Green Tote  I don’t know what rock I was living under last spring, but when I found this incredibly well made leather tote (for a great price) on Amazon, I did not notice that it was an Hermes “rip-off.” I generally avoid the whole issue because I don’t like to buy designer imitations, and the real thing is not in my budget or values. I spent a few weeks trying to choose a color, and decided to go bold and not beige, (or at least NOT a neutral!) and make it one of my Spring/Summer 5. Even if it’s not “the real thing,” the color makes me happy, and is far more versatile than I ever imagined. It looks great with all my neutrals, and blends well anytime I am wearing my Turquoise/Teal accents, so it’s win. It could be a large purse, or a small tote, but it doesn’t overwhelm my petite frame. The wide bottom prevents tip over, and I prefer the short handles to a long shoulder strap. (So does my MD!) The only drawback is the single snap closure, but since I organize most of my gear in bags within my bag, that’s not too much of an issue.

Berry Tote  My love for Sea Green Tote made me rethink neutral (safe) totes, and I was looking for a larger tote to carry gear for work. This bag went on my Fall/Winter 5 wish list, and stayed there, so I hunted down one at a price I was willing to pay on Ebay. It turned out to be larger than I thought (measurements can be deceiving–even when you cut out a mock-up), so is not an everyday bag, but it is fan.tastic. for hauling around folders, books, and swatches for work. I would never carry it on a Personal Shopping trip with a client, but it’s great for almost all other work related hauling, and I can see using it for a travel tote, too!

Pink Polka Dot Neckerchief  This scarf wins most worn hands down over all others, and it’s an inexpensive little scarf from the clearance bin at Charming Charlie. Neckerchiefs are a signature piece for me, and this one brightens up my mostly neutral wardrobe and adds some mischief and spunk to plain old jeans and a tee. It’s an outfit maker all on its own. The polyester chiffon is not the coolest, but it is very lightweight. I can swish it out in the sink when it gets sweaty, and it dries in a New York Minute. And yes, I wear it with jewelry, too! (Yes… those are the earrings from 2005.)

Black Polka Dot Neckerchief/Jeweltone Paisley Silk Scarf  These two tied for second place in the scarf category. I just couldn’t decide! The black polka dots are a great value contrast creator when I wear light or jewel toned tops, and the touch of black lifts the eye back to the portrait area when I (infrequently) wear black shoes. If I had not done the Baker’s Dozen Challenge in the fall, I don’t think the paisley silk scarf would have had such heavy wear, but that challenge was a game changer in more ways than one. It reminded my how much happier I am with a carefully curated closet, and it made me step out of my usual accessories routine to give my outfits a little extra snap. (There it is hiding in the berry tote photo!)

Shoes

Grey Flats with Buckle Ornament   I bought my grey flats at Talbot’s on sale, and a second pair from the $19.99 clearance shoe table at our local store a few months later because they were getting so much wear. They look like a cross between a pilgrim buckle, a loafer, and a ballet flat. I wear them with just about everything, trousers, jeans, skirts, dresses, and even shorts. Since they are the same color as my hair, they are the most practical color shoe I can own. I wear my hair everywhere, and the grey shoes create a natural “top and tail” effect. Win-win!

Teal Suede Wedges and Turquoise Sandals  I wasn’t sure what I was thinking when I bought these (also on the clearance table) but both turned into winners. Turquoise/teal is one of my two accent colors, and looks great all seasons of the year with my neutrals (grey, navy/denim, white). I have always loved turquoise jewelry, and these look fabulous with both silver and gold jewelry.

Beauty Bundle: Jade/MintMint Peep Toe Mary Janes  Last January, my husband bought me a beautiful jade bracelet for my birthday. It was not a color I thought I had anywhere in my wardrobe, but when I started to dig, I found a scarf of the same minty jade color. I decided to splash out and create a small mint Beauty Bundle. I set a max of $50 (I didn’t want to spend a fortune on an experiment), and kept my eye out for minty-jade colored pieces. I picked up a very inexpensive pair of earrings and a bag, and have since been gifted another scarf and necklace. When I saw the peeptoes at Goody Two Shoes, it felt like a confirmation of my new color interest. I love how the mint looks with my neutrals, and it feels cool and fresh in our really hot summers. This shade looks like a very light turquoise, so I suppose it’s still in the same family with my teals and turquoises. This color experiment was what gave me the courage to splash out on Sea Green Tote (and it looks great with these other pieces!) The bag here has gone on to another home.

Pink Medallion Flats  Closed-toe fabric shoes (not satin or lace) read as more casual than leather shoes of the same style, so my pointy toed flats that combine both pink and burgundy were an easy choice. Mine are closed and structured, so are still work appropriate. They coordinate with all my pinks and wines, and add a pop of color to my neutrals in an unexpected way. I’ll even pattern mix and wear them with my pink neckerchief… No, the colors are not the same, but I’m not holding my feet up near my neck when I run around town, so who’s going to notice? It’s about blending, not matching!

Looking back to My Wardrobe Musts, it looks like I have covered all the non-clothing pieces here (#s 4, 5, 8, &9)! What are your favorite accessories? Do you mix them up, or are they your everyday old-faithfuls? Please share in the comments below! I love to hear from you…

And thank you to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

2017’s Top 5’s

2017’s Top 5’s

NB: Some of today’s images were found in my Camera Roll. Apologies for their ultra-amateur nature!
As an Image and Wardrobe Coach, lots of people ask what are my favorite pieces. I’m not always sure why, because my favorites are not necessarily going to be someone else’s favorites. I have written about how I find Must Have lists problematic, and what my personal Must Haves are, and thought it might be a good idea to look over my Camera Roll from 2017 and figure out if my faves correlate with my Must Haves! There are lots of missing days, but between my phone and Stylebook app, I hope to find out what my real workhorses were in 2017.

I should probably explain… This list will look really ordinary! I have a very structured (some call it “boring”) wardrobe, built around a small color palette. This approach doesn’t work for everyone, and certainly not for many of my clients, but it’s how I like MY closet to work. My neutrals are Grey, Navy/Denim, and White and my accent colors are Pinks/Wines, and Turquoises/Teals. I get my sartorial kicks from playing with accessories: shoes, scarves, and jewelry. So leaving out the kicks (another post, maybe?), my most worn basics in 2017 were:

Tops:

Bright Navy Linen Blouse (no collar)

This and the same style in white listed below were clearance purchases from Talbot’s a year or two ago. I love linen for our hot summers, and can live with the wrinkles! The blue is fabulous for fall when I want darker colors, but still need cool. This with my white jeans is a three season go-to, and I can work different looks just by changing the accessories…

3/4 Sleeve Gathered Waist Chambray Shirt

A consignment shore purchase in 2016(?). I was unsure how I would like it, but it is the one shirt I am always impatient to get back from the wash. (It inspires me to iron, and that says a lot!) In general, I am not a collared shirt fan, but mine has a Y-neck and gathers under the bust that make it a more feminine choice than your average chambray shirt. I wear it with trousers to take them down a notch, over a sheath dress to make it look like a skirt, and with jeans when I’m feeling it. This shirt is a three season piece and will stay in my winter capsule and move into spring to rock the denim on denim trend that will be hot again in 2018!

Teal Gathered Neck Blouse

One of my fall/winter purchases, the green flatters my skin and eyes, the loose fit lets air circulate, and it gives the color I crave in fall and winter. To top it off, it has 3/4 sleeves, which are a must for me. It was one of my Baker’s Dozen Capsule pieces and went right from the laundry back onto my body. No ironing necessary! I wear it with any of my trousers and jeans, and expect that when it finally dies, I will be one sad woman… (If anyone at Loft is listening, you could make my shirt again!)

Confetti Spot Shell (Wine/Pink/Grey)

This is a another Talbot’s (sale) item bought in the fall, but it became an instant favorite. It is lightweight and airy, and the wine background makes it great for our warm falls and winters. The bright pink splashes give it life, and in our recent cold snap, I’m loving it over a turtleneck. It’s a little apron-y styled like this, but in a good way.

White Linen Blouse (no collar)

I am a hot mess, so what am I doing with a white shirt? Well, it can be bleached, and that sorts out most of my problems. And a white shirt goes with pretty much everything, as long as it’s your white, and doesn’t create contrast issues. I love blue and white, and grey and white for hot weather. They may be neutral combinations, but they feel “cool” to me. Most people splash into brighter colors in the spring and summer, but I work in reverse… I wear more colors in the winter, and more neutrals in the summer.

Bottoms:

White Gap Jeans

Purchased last spring to replace an old ill-fitting pair that taught me how practical white jeans can be, this pair wears like iron. As stated in the white shirt review, I am a hot mess, but bleach can sort a multitude of sins, and so can a little white chalk. These are a 3 season wonder, too, and I even regretted putting them away for the winter, but expect that will make me even more happy to see them again in the spring. They work with every top, and were a backbone of my fall Baker’s Dozen Capsule. They will look cute with my new confetti spot shell, and I just hope I can fit back into them by the time March arrives.

Skinny Jeans

An inexpensive pair of Levi’s (Denizen) from Target, they have more spandex and are thinner than I like a jean to be. Although, this does make them perfect for our hot summers, and the weight gain I have been plagued with this year. I love them for travel, as they are comfortable to sit in for road and plane trips, and that alone is enough to earn a spot in my closet. They will stay in my wardrobe even if they aren’t faves, just because they are so darned practical, and are the only jeans that still fit comfortably. (Arrrgh!) I wear them with any of my blousy tops, to balance the silhouette.

Levi’s 501’s

I love, love, love my old Levi’s 501’s, but they are just too heavy for most of the year here. Last spring I cropped them and left the raw edge to fray because I was not buying a new pair of jeans at some ridiculous price for the frayed look that I wanted to try. Once the weather warmed up, away they went to be broken out again for my winter capsule, and they are making me so very happy. I love the frayed crop with a short boot, ballet flat, or wedge. It feels extra casual with an edge, and just the other day, a woman stopped me to ask where I got my “cool jeans.” Go figure! (Here’s that chambray shirt, too!)

Blue Cropped Kick Flare Trouser

I picked this fave up at Banana Republic a few years ago before the one at our mall closed. (And a sadness came over the land…) I wore them about twice a week for more than a year, and put them away this winter. We’ll see how I feel about them come spring, and if I can even squeeze into them. I love the sass of a kick flare, and how they give a little more air circulation than a long trouser. The only drawback to these is that they are dry clean only.

Little White Dress

This was another clearance item a few years ago at the Gap. It lived in the back of my closet, unworn for months because I couldn’t work up the courage to wear a white dress. (What’s with that?) Then we took a trip to Hawai’i. All sorted. I wore it there, and then had no reason not to break it out regularly. With wedges, sandals, jean jacket over it, belted if I’m feeling sassy, loose if it is hotter than blue blazes. It’s a perfect foil for jewelry, and a colored shoe. Another bleachable white natural fiber. Thank you Clorox!

Not very interesting sounding are they? So, how do these Top 5’s compare to my personal Must Have list? Not very well! To be fair, many of my personal Must Haves fall into the accessories side of the clothing camp, and the above list is only tops and bottoms. Only one top made my personal Must Have list, a white knit top. It hung unloved in my closet this year while the white linen did all the heavy lifting. Maybe I should edit my list, but as you will find “the perfect white shirt” on almost every other Must Have list, I don’t think I’m too far off! As for bottoms, my personal Must Haves included a Narrow Trouser. My Kick Flares are narrow every other way, and so are my white and skinny jeans, so I have that one covered. My Little White Dress fits my Day Dress Must Have perfectly. I might even be able to stretch my Chambray Shirt to cover the Denim Jacket listing… If so, I did cover all my clothing Must Haves!

Do you track what you wear? What are your most worn pieces, and are they your favorites? Or do your favorites fall into some other category? Please let me know in the comments below! I love to hear your thoughts…