Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Tag: wardrobe planning

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!

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

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…

 

 

Building a (Wardrobe) House

Building a (Wardrobe) House

A lovely woman named Victoria (in a Facebook group I play in) likened building a wardrobe to building a house. She had been having trouble because she had been buying all kinds of lovely things, but still didn’t feel like her style was growing. Then she realized those beautiful accessories were like the throw pillows, and paintings in a house. Until you have a foundation and walls, and furnishings, all the trimmings in the world won’t help! I loved her analogy and asked to borrow it. With her permission, I am going to push the analogy further to examine how a wardrobe is built. Thank you, Victoria!

The Blueprints

Your blueprints are what determine how your house is built. Your wardrobe blueprint is your plan. It should take into account your terrain (your body shape), your budget, and your needs. Your needs are determined by your lifestyle, values, and personality. Choosing a palette can help give your plan definition.

The Foundations

I’ll be lazy here and let Foundations be foundations. Your underthings. Here I include panties, bras, camis, socks and hose, and myriad other bits. Shapewear, too, if that’s your thing. As frilly and flimsy, or sturdy and practical as you like

The Structure

The Structure is the studs, plumbing and ductwork that hold your house together and make it liveable. Your wardrobe Structure is the basics you come back to day after day. These are the workhorses of your wardrobe that you can always count on. For one woman that might be jeans and a tee, for another–a skirt suit, another–a dress. They are usually simple pieces in solids. Your basics should be versatile and comfortable. (No, that does not mean all yoga pants.) A wardrobe full of Structure pieces will keep you protected and covered (like an empty house) but get boring very quickly.

The Furnishings

At home, the furnishings are what make your structure livable. You could live in an empty house, but it’s much more comfortable with beds, tables, and chairs! Your wardrobe Furnishings are different from Structure pieces. You might think of them as wardrobe Heroes, pieces that definitely stand out. It could be the color, cut, pattern, or detailing that makes an item a Furnishing item rather than a Structure piece. Frequently tops, and statement accessories fill this category. You don’t want to wear them day after day because they are quite memorable. A wardrobe full of Furnishings with no solid Structure leaves you with a closet of nothing to wear. (Kind of like a room set up outside… It may look fabulous, but you don’t want to be sitting there when the rain comes!)

The Decor

This is the place you can get into trouble, or be a really easy way to revamp your look. At home it’s throw pillows, bedding, artwork, and knick-knacks that you choose to spark up your home. This is often where we indulge our personalities and quirks. If your furnishings are bright and complex, you may keep the rest of your decor items pretty simple. Or you may be like Iris Apfel, and everything is over-the-top. You wardrobe Decor pieces are your Accessories: shoes, scarves. jewelry, hair baubles, watches, purses, even phone cases.

Remodel

Most of us don’t start from scratch and build a whole new wardrobe.  That is usually reserved for those poor souls who have lost everything due to disaster. The structure is there, the foundations are solid (or may need some shoring up), but most of what we are doing is a remodel. Maybe you have outgrown your old style, or are simplifying. To remodel, you still start at the beginning with a plan, and then work through the list to see what you can still use, and what needs repairing or replacing. And if you want, you can always call in a contractor. I love to help with wardrobe remodels!

What is your favorite piece of clothing? Is it Foundation, Structure, Furnishing, or Decor? What do you have too much of? Or need more of? Please let me know in the comments below! I love to hear what you have to say…

What’s Your Wardrobe Budget?

What’s Your Wardrobe Budget?

Many people with whom I speak are under a false impression. They think that I want them to spend lots of money on their wardrobes. Nothing can be further from the truth! I am all about a budget, and being responsible with your finances. More years ago than I would like to admit, I heard a finance guru say “If you don’t manage your money, it will manage you.” Having had many beans and rice days, I appreciated how my money had been managing me and my emotions. It has taken a long time, but I am getting better at money management.

You Gotta Know Where It’s Goin’

Every finance and budgeting resource begins with the basic of tracking your expenses. I sat down last weekend and updated my wardrobe expense tracking to find that I still have some money left in my annual budget. Woo hoo! Now when you hear wardrobe expense tracking, please don’t be impressed. My wardrobe expense tracking system is a brown 6X9 envelope with “Wardrobe Expenses 2017” written on the top. My initials are on one side, and hubby’s are on the other. There are 2 paper clips inside one for my receipts, and one for his. (Yes, the paper clips are color coded. I’m like that.) On the outside I keep a running total on each side of the envelope. High tech? No. Functional? Very.  When I started doing this, I was afraid to find out how much I was spending. I quickly learned I was dropping $10-$20 frequently, resulting in lots of spending and lots of waste. After a year or two, I found myself spending less often, and making better choices that were longer lasting, and yes, more expensive. A budget made shopping less stressful and I was loving my wardrobe more.

How Much Should You Spend?

Even if you don’t yet have a system, let’s think about a budget for next year! Most sources say you should be spending between 3%-10% of your household budget on clothing annually. The percentage you choose will vary depending on the number of people in your family, and your wardrobe requirements. Before you panic at those percentages, some historical perspective might be helpful. Americans spend less of their budget on clothing now than they have at any point in the past (excepting war rationing years). Clothing is cheaper than ever, but people make up for that by buying lots. The average woman has more clothes that she doesn’t wear than clothes she does. A woman’s wardrobe in the 1950’s could fit into one good sized suitcase, maybe excepting a heavy winter coat. Most of us today couldn’t imagine fitting our clothing into three suitcases! Working with a client, I find 5% a good place to start an experiment. For our family, I divided our 5% between the two of us, and that has worked for us so far. If you make all your purchases on the fantastic plastic, you should be able to access analytics from your card company at the end of the year that may help you get a handle on how much you spent.

Conscious Spending Methods

Knowing where your money goes is important, but knowing HOW it goes matters, too! Are you a piddly spender who makes lots of little purchases frequently? Or are you a big bash spender who shops once or twice a year and gets everything you need at once? The latter used to be more common, the former seems to be more the rule nowadays. Some surveys record that many Americans buy a new clothing item weekly. That’s 52 pieces a year! I know women who break down their annual budget quarterly, and buy for a season, and others who ration out their money monthly and save for larger purchases. Any and all of these can work. It depends on you and your habits. I find I am somewhere between the twice a year shopper, and the monthly purchaser. I plan to buy 5 new specialty items (non-basics) twice yearly, and replace basics as needed and found throughout the year. (PS: Replace means that the old piece the new one is replacing goes away. This should be self-evident, but I have worked in closets holding 10 pair of black pants, 8 of which never are worn.)

Do you have a clothing budget? How do you parcel out your spending? If you don’t, why don’t you? Please share in the comments below!

Many thanks to Katherine at #notlamb for the LinkUp!

Jeans Everyday?

Jeans Everyday?

Good day. Whew, it’s been a wild ride. Please pardon my neglect! My mother returned home after a long hospital stay, and then we were hosting visitors for Thanksgiving. What a couple of weeks! So much so that I wore jeans every day week before last. For many people, that would be a “Yeah, duh.” moment. Why wouldn’t you wear jeans 7 days in a row when you can? Others would answer “Why would you?” Because a week of jeans doesn’t suit my personality.

Let’s Talk Personality!

I have talked previously about how your personality drives, (or should drive) what you choose to wear. (So much so that every post I have published thus far has been labeled in the category Personality. It may be time to revisit those…) Now, I realize that many people don’t wear what they would like to for work. Maybe they have a uniform, or a dress code that is the antithesis of their personal style. More about that another day… Often clients hire me when they discover that they don’t like their clothes. Frequently, they discover that their clothes are no longer “them.”

Maybe You Have Changed

Having a baby. Entering or leaving the job market. Receiving a serious diagnosis. A lifestyle shift, or a big life event. Any of these may change who we are, or how we feel about ourselves. The wardrobe of the young professional and party girl you were in your 20’s and early 30’s is dramatically different from the one you find yourself needing as a happily married young woman and new mom. The professional businesswoman has left the workplace to start her own business, and doesn’t need the suit dresses and heels that her former life required. These life changes can seem to happen overnight. You may look into your closet with nostalgia for the life you led, or frustration at the lack of options for the life you have now. If you feel like the inside of your closet doesn’t reflect (and fit!) who you are right now, it’s time for a little wardrobe therapy. You have evolved, and your wardrobe needs to as well!

Who Are You Now?

Taking some time to figure out who you are right now is a must. It may seem indulgent, or a waste of time to spend time learning who the new you is. Productivity specialists will tell you that time spent planning or strategizing saves time and money in the long run. It’s the same with your wardrobe! Start with what you have and love. Even if you don’t actually wear these pieces, they give a glimpse into your personality. If you have a closet full of yoga pants and logo tees, but your favorite pieces are a strand of your grandmother’s pearls and a pair of riding boots, you might have a personality disconnect.  Neither the yogi nor the country gentry is you, but details from both! The devil is in respecting and integrating the different parts of your personality so that when you dress, you create a balance that feels authentic.

(And Where Do You Want to Go?)

Are you are a stay-at-home mom, and plan to go back to work once the youngest is in school? That may seem like years away, but if you are a person with a low wardrobe turn-over rate (you keep items for a very long time) you should be thinking about that return to work as you buy items now. If you are buying something that won’t keep, do you want to spend on it, or would it be better to spend on a piece that will work now AND later?

How Do You Spend Your Time?

Another important inventory to take is to look at how you spend your time. How you really spend your time. Not what it looks like on Instagram or Facebook! Take a look at your calendar. A fitness coach will have a very different wardrobe than a preschool teacher. The bank teller and hospital volunteer will not have the same wardrobe needs. Take an honest look at your lifestyle. There is nothing wrong with a wardrobe full of Converses and jeans if that is what works for your lifestyle and personality. Just make sure you have something in your closet appropriate to wear to a funeral, or meeting with a lawyer or accountant!

What Drives You?

We all have different values, and these shift in priority throughout our lives. It is important to make sure what we own still reflects the values we hold now. If comfort and modesty are your main drivers, you are not likely to be happy in a sheer tulle skirt with bare legs and booties. But that same outfit might be perfect for someone who puts comfort and modesty at the bottom of their values list.

My definition of modesty might be completely different than someone else’s. Values have both personal and cultural aspects to take into account. I remember gazing in wonder at a young woman in London. She wore a long sleeved tee, jeans, sneakers, and a headscarf. Sounds modest, right? It would have been had her clothing not been so snug that it left absolutely nothing to the imagination. She may as well have been naked, but she was covered from head to toe in fabric. That qualified as modest for her, or I expect for her parents!

For many, economics is a main driver. These shoppers should beware the false economy of the markdown. A cheap item you never wear is money wasted, no matter how low the price. Others see clothing as nothing more than a necessity to keep warm and prevent arrest. These concept driven folks are unlikely to call an Image and Wardrobe Coach, but may well have one called for them by an employer unhappy with their lack of concern!

My father used to call it navel-gazing, but time spent reflecting before shopping equals time well spent, and, frequently, money saved!

Have you been through any style changes this year? Please share in the comments below!

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!

 

            

 

Saturday Reading (Watching or Listening, too!)

Saturday Reading (Watching or Listening, too!)

What’s on your nightstand? Or in your bag for when you have a few minutes in a waiting room, or at the bus stop? Maybe on your phone? Since it is Saturday, I share a little light reading/watching for your weekend…

A few months ago, I picked up Beauty and Cosmetics 1550-1950 secondhand. What a treasure! I love history, but not the memorizing dates part; my passion is the how-people-really-lived part. Sarah Jane Downing shares fascinating tidbits, gorgeous paintings, and old advertisements. It is a glorious peek into how our concepts of beauty have changed, and the lengths we go to to achieve “beauty.” This little volume  sent me down a rabbit hole of history exploration… I found more than 15 other Shire Library titles that I simply must read! Aaaaarrrgh!

One of my favorite YouTubers is Justine Leconte, a French fashion designer living in Berlin. She is in the middle of a series about planning and creating a capsule wardrobe, and I had to laugh when I realized that her color plan for fall is startlingly similar to mine! There are thousands of capsule wardrobe posts and videos out there; Justine’s series stands out for its great explanations. (And her endearing accent!)

Catherine Summers, of Not Dressed as Lamb, looks at style with a witty and irreverent attitude.  In this post, she takes a critical look at the idea that we “must wear what suits us.” I love what she says about wearing what makes us happy, and expressing our personalities with our clothing choices. Fortunately, flattering and happy-making do not have to be mutually exclusive! Catherine has some very perceptive readers, and the comment thread is usually worth scrolling down for…

One of my favorite spots for visual inspiration is You Look Fab. I love a dress and sandals, or flats when the weather is hot (which it is here a LOT), and Angie’s recent post with dress and sandals/low heels is a great springboard. You likely have something similar in your closet. Check her out here.

Any favorite fashion/style articles or bloggers you follow? Let me know about them in the comments below!

 

 

Adapting on the Fly

Adapting on the Fly

Any of you out in weblandia who follow my Facebook page have probably seen my Sunday Reminders. I am a fan of laying (or in my case hanging) out my clothes for the next day as part of my bedtime routine. This lowers my stress in the morning, and as I am less creative when I have just woken up, I am happier with an outfit that I planned when I was more alert! The bonus is fewer surprises in the morning; you know, the “#$%&, that shirt is in the dirty laundry” surprise or the “two different colored socks because the light was bad” surprise.

So what happens when the day doesn’t go planned? Adapt on the fly! Planning (and a carefully chosen color palette) makes that easier. Monday was a great example. I had a casual business meeting on my schedule, so I hung up this outfit: White Jeans, Blue Silky Blouse, Jewels, Turquoise Suede Wedges. I was sorted for the day. Monday dawns. My meeting was cancelled and my grandsons needed watching because they were both home sick from school… (That cancelled meeting turned into a blessing!) My adult day turned into a quick grocery run and hanging out with a sick Kindergartener and 2 year old. So the silky blouse went back in the closet, and a easy-wash tank in (almost) the same color replaced it. Sandals took the place of my pumps. Was I a little dressed up for child-minding? Maybe, but I felt good and put together in what I was wearing. I was ready to get out the door in a hurry to help, and feeling together is a valuable asset when children are cranky!

Do you hang out (or lay out) your clothes the night before? What is your least favorite morning dressing surprise? 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!