Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Tag: must-have

The Perfect Handbag

The Perfect Handbag

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

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

Know Thyself Questions

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

Know Your Bags Questions

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

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

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

 

            

 

My Wardrobe Musts

My Wardrobe Musts

A few weeks ago I published a post about all the Must Have lists, and thinking about your lifestyle to determine YOUR Must Haves. Everywhere you look are wardrobe must have lists. I enjoy reading what others think are wardrobe musts, but these lists do not send me running off to the shops, because usually the writer’s life is very different from mine. One of the most comprehensive (beautifully illustrated and witty) is Nina Garcia’s 100.  but since my life is not nearly as jet-setty as hers, that 100 doesn’t work for me. Tim Gunn has an interesting list, as well, and I especially love his “sweatsuit alternative” (something comfy cozy and still presentable). In the interest of transparency, and satisfying some askers, here’s my 10.

#1 Narrow Trouser: I’m short. No euphemisms necessary. (Although I do like “fun-size” and altitudinally-challenged.) For me the standard trouser needs to be narrow, even when I am carrying extra weight. Wearing big pants just makes me look bigger. Most other lists have a skinny jean here, but I’ll throw my denim on with #10.

#2 White Knit Top: I have cool coloring, so mine is soft white. I love a white top for how cool it feels in May-October. (And for the fact that I can bleach it to get out all the food I drop on myself.) A nicely fitted white tee is harder to find than it should be, and unfortunately needs replacing frequently. (It’s the Goldilocks thing, people: not too loose, not too tight; not too thick, not too thin; not too long, not too short; not too high-necked, not too low-necked.)

#3 Colored Shoes: I know, everyone says you need a black pump, but unless your hair is very dark, they are not the most flattering choice. I love colored shoes, because most of my clothing is neutral.

#4 Sparkles: I would grab my big silver hoops if evacuating. Yup. Trivial, but they always make me happy and I love how they look with #9. If not those, then a fun necklace. Most likely turquoise.

#5 Big-ish Tote: This one is all about scale. If you are a large scale person, your large tote will dwarf mine. My current fave is 14.5 in X 6.5 in X 10.5 in. That wouldn’t be large on someone who is 5′ 10″, but on me, it’s plenty large. Bigger than a handbag, smaller than a tote, my everyday bag. Much bigger and I look like a child carrying Mummy’s handbag.

#6 Day Dress: Throw and go. That’s one of the reasons I love me a dress. That and the fact that in our unbearably-hot-for-6-months-of-the-year weather, a dress means less places the fabric is touching your body. No Waistband=More Coolness. Air circulation is a godsend.

#7 Short Cardigan: The long boyfriend (or grandpa) cardie is too long for me. (See shortness issue in #1) I opt for short; then, it also looks better with a dress. I am still looking for one I can turn around and wear buttoned up the back…

#8 Watch: Yup, again. I am old-school. Yes, this is a generational thing. Most of the under-30’s I know don’t wear a watch (unless they are medical personnel.)   I like a watch. As a matter of fact, I love my watch. It’s old, scratched, and sturdy; it has proven to be the best clothing/accessories purchase I ever made. Thank you LLBean!

#9 Neckerchief: Anyone who knows me, knows that this is a signature for me. Maybe you prefer long scarves, or maybe a scarf would never grace your neck. I can’t explain why they make me happy, they just do. Ideally, this neckerchief would be the same color as item #3 above!

#10 Denim Jacket: This is another signature item for me. Mine is years old, from Target. The one before that was Levi’s. Who knows from where the next one will come? It casual-izes any dress or trouser, and wards off the chill in frigid air conditioned spaces. Layered with a cardie underneath, it handles most of what qualifies for winter here in the CSRA. Other items move in and out of my wardrobe with the seasons, but the jean jacket is there 12 months of the year. Some day, heaven forfend,  I will pull it out of the washer to find it has come from togetherness. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. And a halt to all superfluous activity until a suitable replacement is found.

Looking over this list, everything here is rather mundane, and would certainly be the first things I would throw into a suitcase for almost any trip. It just goes to show that it is the personality of the wearer, and how she chooses and combines her basics that makes all the difference!

What are your top ten? What would you throw into your bag if you had to leave home in a hurry? Please share in the comments below!

10, 20, 30

10, 20, 30

Fashion lists are everywhere! The Top 10 Items You Must Have for Fall. 20 Things No Woman Should Wear after 40.  30 Things Every Woman Should Own by the Age of 30. Magazines and fashion websites are full of these lists. Hooooey! I don’t think there is any clothing that is a must-have for EVERY woman. My must-haves and yours will vary widely. Mine includes a pair of red shoes. You may have absolutely no need for red shoes. I do not need the ubiquitous black pumps on almost every list… Not anymore!

To Thine Own Self Be True

This is where the rubber hits the road. Personality, values, and lifestyle. These are what will create your personal must-have list. I know a woman who wear jeans almost daily, and life without them would be unimaginable. I know another woman who has not worn a pair of jeans in more than 30 years, and sees no reason to change that. The list requiring The Perfect Dark Jean is not for the latter, nor is the one calling for a tuxedo jacket for the former! Know yourself, know your lifestyle, know your values.

Categories (and Perfect)

What can be learned from the lists is categories of clothing that may need to be addressed in your wardrobe. Note the MAY! When the list calls for The Perfect White Shirt, and you are a warm-complexioned mom with 3 preschool children at home, who despises collars because they make you feel like you are choking, the white shirt is probably not for you! (Yes, that sentence was waaaay too long!)  Let’s take that shirt and think about the purpose it serves… Its category: light colored top to pair with jeans, skirts, and shorts. Maybe your Perfect White Shirt is a nicely finished ivory tee that can be machine washed and dried. The Classic Trench? Look for rain protection, in a 3 season weight. Your values may prohibit the Perfect Leather Jacket; if you love the look, find yourself a casual, rough and ready jacket in some other material. I despise the tyranny of the Perfect Anything. Perfection is not attainable here on Earth… (Settling for good enough is a problem for another post.)

What Categories Fit Your World?

If you are a yoga instructor, you will need a week’s worth of yoga gear. The rest of us, not so much. Sorry. Your life may require special clothing for work, and more casual presentable clothes for “play.” If you spend your days in the C-suites, your wardrobe should reflect that. If you never go clubbing, skip the bodycon dance dresses. The one category I do believe everyone needs to cover is the “something appropriate to wear to a funeral, or for a meeting with a lawyer or accountant.” For one woman that might be a sheath dress and a jacket, for another, dark trousers and a nice blouse. You do not want to have to run out and buy something at the last minute when you are, or someone you love is grieving. (Sorry I can’t be there for you… I have to go to the mall.)

Spend some time thinking about how you spend your time, what is important to you, and what makes you happy. Write down what you discover. When you don’t, you waste money on clothes that your closet wears, and still lack what you need. Much of what I do as an Image and Wardrobe Coach is help people figure those three things out. Some call it closet therapy!

I told you red shoes were on my list. What’s on yours? Please let me know in the comments below!

What’s a Must-Have?

What’s a Must-Have?

Stylish and Modern, or Fashion Victim? It’s easy to fall victim to the fashion rollercoaster. Fashion is everywhere… on the streets, in the stores, on the cover of magazines in the grocery stores. Everywhere you look are lists of the new season’s MUST-HAVES. Really? Must have? Technically, we must have clothing that covers and protects our bodies from the elements, but even our prehistoric ancestors wanted more than mere protection!

How do you choose what Must-Haves are musts for you?  Your must-haves depend on your personality, your lifestyle, your body type, your comfort level, and your values. (so they depend on YOU!) Some might throw in age as a factor, but that is up for debate! It’s good for us to try new things. Without novelty, our style can grow stale, and we get bored with our closets. Unfortunately, too much fashion novelty can leave us with a closet full of clothing, and no outfits.

If a seasonal Gotta-Have-It is something you love, and it works for you and your life, knock yourself out! Wear it to death, and enjoy the fun of the ride. But if isn’t, feel free to pass it by. Save your money, and pricey closet real-estate for the right Gotta-Have-It for you. Your ride will come around. It always does.

2017Jun19