Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Tag: personality

Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

The familiar quote above is from CC Colton, although others have said similar through the ages. In our social media (especially Pinterest) age, where are the lines between imitation, inspiration, and cultural appropriation?

Imitation and Inspiration

I will say flat out, that I have no answers here! This is all interpretation, unless you are dealing with patent law, and piracy, neither of which involve flattery, merely profit. For fashion or style, I define imitation as the the duplication of another’s look. Maybe, you are trying to duplicate one of Kate Middleton’s maternity looks for a baby shower. You find the same dress, and the closest possible shoes, but alas, you cannot duplicate the jewels! Understandable, so you go for a matching set you have that is similar. You are trying to recreate her look. That says imitation to me. Pre-teens do this all the time; I am sure most of us have seen two or three together, (sometimes more!) wearing matching outfits.

Inspiration works on a much looser principle. You like someone’s look, and you take something from that look, and make it your own. Maybe you use the color scheme, or the proportions, or the way she mixed her jewelry, but you do it using your own items, in a way that works for your personality, shape, and lifestyle. I have a client who loves Katherine Hepburn in her wide legged trousers and crisp white shirts, and Nicole Kidman’s modern interpretation of that same Elegant Chic. My client would be swamped in wide legged trousers, and does not wear woven shirts, but she takes her inspiration from the color combinations, and simple accessories they use.

Cultural (Mis)Appropriation

Talk of imitation and inspiration often leads to a discussion on cultural (mis)appropriation. This is a messy topic, and much like the author of this article in The Atlantic, I do not want to only live the culture of my Irish, German, and Alsatian ancestors; I would look silly running about in a dirndl and shawl. (Although a pint of Guiness would not be a strain…) I can see how taking elements from another’s culture, using them for profit, and not giving credit is a problem, as the author of this Thoughtco.com article elucidates. Years ago, I was astonished when a folk-dance enthusiast and instructor commented on a necklace I was wearing. She recognized it as an antique Kuchi Wedding Necklace (I think…) and asked how it came to be in my possession. She told me these necklaces were very special pieces, and rarely left the family. When I put on the silver necklace that was a gift from my mother, I was not pretending to be an Afghan bride. My mother saw it at an estate sale, and thought the craftsmanship beautiful; it is a work of art.  I wear it with that same appreciation. I appreciate its beauty even more, now that I know more about it.

Most of us are past the imitation phase in our lives, so, where do you find inspiration for your outfits? 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!

Beauty Bundles

Beauty Bundles

I love the ever amazing Brenda Kinsel, and the versatility of what she (and many others, now) calls Beauty Bundles. A Beauty Bundle (BB) is a group of coordinated accessories that can be used to add a punch to a variety of outfits. Think of them as accessory families. Now don’t panic. A BB is not fixed; you don’t have to wear all the pieces at once, and there is no set number of pieces required. You probably have some at home already…

(Please forgive my extremely amateur photos… They were taken years ago, for my own reference, ages before I ever imagined I would be blogging!)

Color or Theme?

Often, BB’s are thought of as a way to add color to an outfit, and they can be a great way to pop your neutrals, or add a second color to an outfit without feeling like you are dressed like a clown. If a Beauty Bundle is an accessory family, think of the bundle’s DNA as what makes it hang together. That DNA could be a color, or a theme. I have a polka dot problem (no there is no support group available, yet!) and pulled together a polka dot bundle. No, I would not wear all my polka dots at once, but I would mix up two or maybe three! Maybe you feel a little rebellious some days and need a Rock-n-Roll Bundle. One summer, feeling a little sad that a trip to Capri was not on my itinerary (A friend was going and I was extremely happy for her, as well as a little jealous), I pulled together a Capri beauty bundle. In my mind’s eye, that meant turquoise blue, gold, and white, and a boho luxe flair. While she was away, I joined her (in spirit) on her trip by wearing items from my Capri bundle each day. Crazy? Probably, but it made me happy, and when we did sneak off to the beach later in the summer, I packed my bundle, and that long weekend became my Capri!

Packing with a Bundle

Which brings us to one of the ways Beauty Bundles can be most effectively used. Packing! I love to travel, and will throw together a suitcase at the drop of a hat. Weekend away is one of my favorite phrases in the English language. A BB, whether by color, or theme, can help a suitcase full of basics turn into a customized travel wardrobe. Imagine my Capri bundle on the left packed with white jeans, a white tee, a denim shirt, a turquoise tee, and a chambray sundress and a swimsuit. You would be dressed for days, with very little in your bag!

Pulling Together a Bundle

Since color is the easiest place to start, head to your closet or drawers and choose a colored accessory. It could be a pair of shoes, a scarf, a handbag, or jewelry. This is your starting point. Now look through your other pieces and see what else you have that shares that piece’s color DNA. Look everywhere. Bandanas count, too! Take a snapshot of your bundle, and next time you put on jeans and a white tee, add two or three pieces from your bundle, and see if you don’t feel more polished.

Jewel and Hammer

Jewel and Hammer

July Monkey Mind: Support Small Business in the CSRA!

A Christmas in July sign got me thinking about Small Business Saturday. This led to thoughts about how I want to spend my money and support our local CSRA businesses. (Even if the big box store is unavoidable for some purchases!) Which led to “Is there any other way I can help my local businesses?” Aha! I can showcase a local business on this blog. Maybe it could be a regular thing? So, starting with that silly sign, here is my first attempt at showcasing a local business.  I would love to do this more than once a month, but let’s see how this flies. Please note that I have not been compensated in any way for sharing this information with you!

Jewel and Hammer

Jewel and Hammer is a husband and wife team (Why don’t we say wife and husband?) in Grovetown who make whimsical, interesting, and beautiful jewelry! Shannon and Ryan Cooley craft their pretties in their home workshop to sell on Etsy . First, if you ever have the opportunity to meet the Cooley clan, be ready for enthusiasm! Shannon, Ryan, and their lovely girls are a bundle of ideas, energy, and just plain fun. This is truly a family business, they handcraft all the pieces, shoot the photos,  write the copy, and do their own web-work. They are a remarkable Renaissance couple. I was lucky enough to visit their workshop and see their beautiful pieces in person this past week. What a treat!

Geek Chic

Shannon and Ryan work in a variety of media, wire, semi-precious, stones, sterling silver, Swarovski crystals, Pokémon cards, and Magic the Gathering cards. Yes, you read that right! They have an entire line of Geek Chic pieces made from the cards. Lest you think these are just for children, I know quite a few adults who can tell you their favorite Pokémon character with no hesitation whatsoever. Yes, I mean adults with children and gainful employment! Alongside the G/C items, they also make one-of-a-kind wire wrapped pendants and earrings. I am keeping my eyes open for the wire wrapped bracelets Ryan told me will be coming in the next few months. He treats the copper wire to prevent further oxidation (that’s what makes you green!). Shannon does most of the filigree and crystal work, including their super sparkly line for those who just can’t get enough shine, particularly those in the ballroom dance community. I often have a problem with many earrings being too heavy, especially sparkly ones, so I was thrilled to feel how lightweight these are. Positively gravity defying! If that’s not enough variety, my favorite pieces are their Steampunk items, and Shannon was telling me all about plans for a bag of watch parts they just received… And some pearls, don’t even get me started on the pearls…

Truly Original

Jewel and Hammer’s pieces are one of a kind, and very reasonably priced! You will not see your purchase on every neck about town, so if you are someone who seeks out the unique, check them out. They are more than willing to work with clients who may wish to further customize a piece. I found a pendant for a gift, and asked if there was a way to add X and Y. Shannon helped me find just the right jewels and pearls to take it to another level of refinement. My stylist side appreciates their individuality, and the variety of styles and of scale. If you prefer larger, more bold pieces, there are items for you, and if you prefer smaller, more subtle jewelry, that base is covered, too! When you are looking for not-to-be-duplicated gift, for yourself or someone else, try Jewel and Hammer!

What other CSRA businesses should I check out? Please let me know in the comments below!

Passing a Trend By…

Passing a Trend By…

In our digital world, if you are a living body with a credit card, and/or internet access, you likely receive “newsflashes” about the newest fashion trends. You don’t need to be remotely interested in fashion for this to happen. Shop online anywhere just once, and the notices start coming. You may have been buying a power drill, and magically you end up on the “rugged man sale list.” If you browse online before going to your local brick-and-mortar, you probably receive sales and trend notices from them, too.  All the hype about trends can get exhausting! Regularly unsubscribing from lists can help you maintain your sanity.

Pick a Trend, Any Trend

Let’s talk about passing a trend by… I have at least 12 trend notices weekly in my mailbox, and that’s with a rigorous unsubscribe schedule! This week alone, one notice included: High-Neck Dresses, Striped Dresses, Plunge Swimwear, Wide-Leg Jumpsuits, Tropical-Print Dresses, Bell-Sleeve Tops, Backpacks, Maxi-Skirts, Espadrilles, and last but certainly not least, Off-Shoulder Dresses. Even if you have been living under a rock, you have probably noticed the Cold-Shoulder Top trend. (These are so ubiquitous that even my husband asked what was going on!) For the sake of argument, I will address the above-noted Off-Shoulder Dress trend.

Why Skip a Trend

There are lots of reasons to leave a trend in the shops. The Off-Shoulder Dress (OSD) is one bandwagon on which I will not be jumping. I think they are darling, but they don’t fit my personality, my figure, or my values. (Values and Personality are not the same thing… More on that another day.) (1) My personality skews to the more Classic side of Feminine, so the often ruffly tops of an OSD do not work for me. (2) I have yet to find a strapless bra that I am comfortable in for more than a few hours, and that actually defeats gravity in the way I need, so a strapless dress doesn’t work for my figure, either. (3) And last, and, most importantly, Modesty is one of my highest ranked Values, so the OSD doesn’t fit for me either. Please don’t get me wrong, there are lots of OSD’s out there that I do consider modest, but the way they tend to slide about and down makes me worry for the wearer! For me, that is three strikes against the darling OSD;  it shall stay on the rack for the right person. If a trend works for your lifestyle, personality, values, and shape, and you love it, run with it. Just make sure anything you take home you can wear in at least 3 different ways, please!

Nod to a Trend

So what if you LOVE a trend, but it just doesn’t work for you? There are often ways to finesse a trend and nod to it, but work it your own way. Maybe you are feeling daring, and want to play with the lingerie as outerwear look. I will not suggest that you head to the office with your bra on exhibit, or even go clubbing that way; celebrities make a living being outrageous, don’t risk your livelihood doing the same! How about a bustier or corset laced over a white shirt and jeans? That’s one way to nod to the look without risking an indecent exposure charge. Maybe you love Wide-Leg Jumpsuits, but getting in and out of the restroom quickly is imperative for you. (If you do not understand this, you have never had small children to care for.) Nod to it! Wear your wide legged jean or culotte with a chambray shirt and a denim sash. You’ll have the look and less restroom stress!

What trend are you loving now, or what look do you love and wish you could wear? Let me know in the comments below!

Finishing an Outfit

Finishing an Outfit

Common conversation…

“How can I make a casual outfit look not sloppy?”

“Do you mean casual, but intentionally so?”

“YES! That’s exactly what I meant! How do I do that?”

This conversation, or a variation of it, happens almost weekly! So many women with very casual lifestyles go through their day feeling messy and not very together. Three is a lucky number for me, so here are three tips to help you with that casual, but intentionally so feeling.

Grooming

Even if you are having a jeans and tee shirt day, take a moment to check your grooming. I’m not suggesting makeup for the opera, but make sure your teeth are clean, and your hair is brushed. I am sure you are doing this anyway, but somethings are worth hearing again. A little mascara, and some tinted lip balm can take your face from naked to defined. If you, like me, are loving your grey hair, making sure your brows are defined can make a world of difference! One sure route to looking intentional is a quick swipe of bold lipstick. Red, pink, plum, whatever you love, as long as it’s bold, it can stand alone.

Shoes

If you want to feel more put together, put on a pair of shoes. By this, I mean (very loosely) what my mother used to call “real shoes.” Not shoes you would wear to the beach, or in a locker room shower. Not bedroom slippers. Not gym shoes. I don’t mean you have to wear heels, but a shoe that would not be at home in the gym or at the beach looks more like you meant to get dressed that morning, and less like you just threw on yesterday’s clothes that were hanging on the chair… If you want to wear gym shoes, than go all out and rock them with a skirt or dress, street style!

The Power of Three (3)

No higher math required! Just think in threes. Odd numbers are interesting to the human eye. Research shows that even wee little babies will look longer at odd numbered groups of objects than at even numbered groups. Use this inherent trait and add a third piece to an outfit, like a vest or a jacket over a top and bottom. If that is too warm for you or your climate, then use three pieces that relate, as in the Polyvore above. The three could be related by color, or by theme. Maybe you love flowers; then wear floral Keds, a silver floral pendant, and a hair elastic topped with a flower! Look through your accessories and find groupings that make you happy, then throw them on like you mean it!

Personal Shopping

Personal Shopping

Not Retail Therapy

I enjoy personal shopping with my clients. It’s not that I love shopping per se, but I see shopping as a puzzle to be solved, and a way to try out new ideas. You have holes or gaps in your wardrobe puzzle, and my job is to help you find the missing pieces. To solve the puzzle, I spend time getting to know you; I want to understand your personality, your values, your goals, and what you already own. This helps me to see the final picture the puzzle should make, and to make choices that are a good “fit” for you . (Sorry, the pun took over and forced its way in…) Your body shape and coloring play into the puzzle solution as well. I will probably stretch your boundaries, and ask you to try things you might never have given a second thought. I plan out our trip to make the best use of our time, and take care of many of the stressors of shopping. Your job is to come prepared, and with an open mind. I make no money from the stores we visit. I work for you, and want you to get great value for your money and have a wardrobe that makes you happy!

Fashion Feast or Fashion Famine

I shop all price points, from Neiman Marcus to consignment shops! My job is to know the trends, do the research, and find the pieces that will complete your puzzle and not break your budget. Fashion is fickle. Some seasons everything appeals, fits, and is fabulous for you. Other seasons there is nothing to be found, even under the most obscure rocks. Recently, I went on a personal shopping adventure in California with a lovely lady who was in the middle of a life transition: she was moving, changing jobs, and taking on new personal responsibilities. Being out of town, I couldn’t do much of the pre-shopping or planning I would normally complete before meeting a new client. She was ready to buy, but most of the items in the stores were not her personality, not her colors, and not her silhouette; we did find a few gems for her to buy in her sizes and colors on-line when she returned home. Afterwards, I sent her a Polyvore with ideas for her to use as she heads to the stores on her own.

I’ll Take a Friend

It pays to have someone along who knows you, your style, and your needs when you head to the stores with your hard-earned money. Many people take a friend to help, but that may not be the best way to get what works for you. As a trained professional, my job is to identify the best out there for you. Not what I like, not what I wish I could wear, not what the celebrity mags say is all the rage. In my client’s words “I loved your blend of straightforward yet kind, down-to-earth yet highly knowledgeable approach to coaching the way I see myself and wardrobe choices. I look forward to practicing another way of seeing in the days ahead.”

 

 

 

Boutique or Rummage Sale?

Boutique or Rummage Sale?

When you open your closet, what do you see? A mini-boutique of custom selected clothing, all just right for your shape, size, and coloring, chosen to maximize your assets and your options, and able to dress you well for any occasion? Or does your closet feel more like a stuffed-to-the-gills hodgepodge of color, size, and shape, with nothing to wear? The closet dream, or the closet nightmare?

The nightmare is usually the result of shopping without a plan. I know, planning sounds boring, but wardrobe shopping without a plan is kind of like going to the grocery store drunk, hungry, and without a list. (If you don’t drink, imagine letting a toddler fill the grocery cart. You’ll have the same result.) You come home with an empty wallet, a kitchen full of snacks, pizza rolls and ice cream, and no staples to make the week’s meals. This seems to be how much of America wardrobe shops. (Just head to the mall on Saturday afternoon if you aren’t sure. Or, watch a couple of haul videos on YouTube.)

The fabulous mini-boutique is the result of discipline and planning, combined with a dash of serendipity.  Now, discipline has become quite the dirty word of late; the first entry in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary for discipline is PUNISHMENT. A further entry lists the synonym SELF-CONTROL. That sounds so much better! Self-control means that I am the one choosing what comes into my boutique. I want it to represent my boutique’s brand or concept. For my closet, I want it to represent my personality and values, so I am willing to wait for the right thing, instead of the newest thing that the shops are pushing this week.

More about wardrobe planning next week…

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