Nurturing Beauty Style Secrets Blog: Inner beauty Archives

Hello Beautiful! 7 Styling Tools to Enhance Your Natural Beauty

You are beautiful no matter what your size or shape. Yes, I know, society wants to dictate a particular standard of beauty and that’s what you see day in and day out in the media. It is also what you use to compare your body to see if it measures up. Perhaps you’ve already noticed that this only makes you feel frustrated and deflated. Very few women, if any, actually achieve and maintain this standard. Instead, why not embrace your natural beauty and use a few styling tools for creating balance and harmony.

Beauty is not about looking like every other woman out there – how boring is that! It’s about celebrating who you are and creating a look you love. The key is to choose clothes and accessories strategically to give your body an uninterrupted line and draw the eye where you want it to go. It’s easier than you think!

Open necklines draw focus to your face. Your face is where you want the eye to go since it’s disconcerting to talk with someone while they are staring (for whatever reason) at another part of your body. Use this to your advantage. A v-neck or scoop neckline will do that by creating a long neckline and a beautiful frame around your face.  This neckline pictured here is just about the right amount of scoop (approximately one head length down) to balance her body. Scoop Neck Sweater
Choose your shoe color wisely. Want a long lean body line? Your shoes are key. When you are wearing pants, match the color of your shoes as closely as possible. If you wear navy, black or dark brown shoes will do the trick. If you are wearing a light colored pair of jeans, wear a skin tone colored shoe. Here’s a good example of that.This is particularly true if you are wearing a skinny pant because pants that end at the ankle or above, shorten your leg. By matching the color all the way to your toes, you are extending your leg line Skinny Jeans
Wear open vamp shoes with a dress. The recent trend that has gone on way too long is to wear a dress or skirt with ankle boots. It’s a hideous trend and rarely works. The only exception is if you are super tall, have very long legs and wear your skirts very short. Otherwise, especially if you wear a boot that contrasts with the color of your legs, it will make your legs look shorter and thicker.Here is the same Nordstrom model in two black dresses that are the same length, but she’s wearing different shoes.  You can see the difference very clearly. The photo on top doesn’t work, but the photo below with an open vamp shoe does.

 

Black Dress
Taper your straight skirt. A straight skirt can look great, but it can also visually add pounds. It hangs straight from the hipline and so the hem creates a wider horizontal line around your knees. You do not usually have this issue with a pencil skirt which is often stretchy and fits tighter to the body all the way down. If you like straight skirts, but sometimes feel like they make you look heavier than you are, take it to a tailor and have it tapered slightly at the sides. This follows your body line and creates a leaner look. Pencil Skirt
Pair flowy with fitted. There are lots of flowy tops out there right now. This is not surprising since there is still a trend towards skinny pants. Wearing a skinny top with a skinny bottom can feel a little revealing, but pairing it with a flowy top adds balance. Here’s a great example. Scoop Neck Sweater
Have a professional bra fitting. If it has been more than a year since you’ve had a bra fitting, it’s time to do it again. An ill-fitting bra will totally undermine the look of a great outfit. Go somewhere where that’s their specialty not to the local department store (with the exception of Nordstrom which usually has good bra fitting specialists). There is an art to finding the perfect bra. I can highly recommend Intimacy. They have stores around the country. If you are in the Boston area, make an appointment with Maria Stern at Intimacy at Copley Place. She’s terrific and helps me and many of my clients. Bra Fitting
Consider shapewear. I do not usually love wearing shapewear and mostly I don’t wear it! But, I wore a dress recently that was fitted and since the temperatures outside were in the teens, in addition to the smoothing benefits, I wanted the extra layer of warmth it provided. At my last bra-fitting at Intimacy I had picked up a control brief that came all the way up under my bra! I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it was! This is the one.These days fabrics tend to be lighter and more revealing. Good and comfortable (yes, I can attest that it’s possible) shapewear can be very handy. Shapewear

Use these tips to help you make great choices and feel great about how you look!

All photos feature clothing that is vegan/cruelty-free.

You Are Not Flawed, Imperfect or Botched

Be Yourself

It’s your differences that make you unique and beautiful not how well you fit a prescribed standard of beauty. Shefinds.com, an online shopping guide, clearly missed this point and the results made me fume!

I subscribe to all kinds of online fashion newsletters to keep up with what’s going on in the world of fashion. Recently, I saw a message from shefinds.com entitled, “H&M’s Huge Facebook Mistake.” Their marketing is brilliant and I was hooked. I couldn’t click to the site fast enough to read more.

When I went to the website, the title of the article was, “Is It Just Us or Did H&M Seriously Botch This Poor Girl’s Legs In Photoshop?” My sensitivity antennae was immediately activated and I kept reading. They start by saying, “Look closely–the right leg of the model seems to be awkwardly turned inward.” They go on adding, “….the model could be a little bow-legged, in which case: that’s awesome. It’s good to see beautiful women with real imperfections in advertising! Not everyone can wake up FLAWLESS like Beyoncé.”

At first read you might think, yeah, you’re right. Let’s see more real women in advertising.  But then, the subtle message comes through. On one hand they are saying that showing “real imperfections” is “awesome.” And, on the other hand they are saying that if she has “real imperfections” then her body looks “botched” and flawed and they pity that “poor girl.”

Given the line of work I’m in, and my own personal experience growing up, I am extremely sensitive to this kind of talk. The ramifications are insidious. The more we hear the message that our bodies are botched and imperfect, the more we internalize that and believe it. Every day I hear women speak harshly about their own bodies. If, like most of the women I work with, I ask you what you don’t like about how you look, I suspect you can spout an endless torrent of reasons you aren’t happy with your body. If I ask you what you like, the list dwindles dramatically.

The last thing you need is someone else cheering you on and at the same time telling you that your body doesn’t meet the standards that are prescribed by…by whom!? Celebrities? The media? Their idea of perfect beauty ultimately infiltrates society so we finally (even after resisting) get the message that there is something wrong with us. But, they add, yay, poor girl, we admire your willingness to venture out into the world, flaws and all.

The impact goes way beyond this article and is exactly why my virtual program has an entire chapter on hurtful comments and unwanted advice. These messages affect you at a deep, soulful level and eventually it is hard to resist and you unwillingly buy into their destructive message.

Although I think Shefinds was well-intentioned, this type of article comes in the guise of supporting women when, except for the most self-confident woman, it actually undermines their self-acceptance. I know this not only from my work with thousands of women, but also from my own personal experience. I have spent years coming to terms with the fact that I have knocked knees. My legs are different from other women in real life and in magazines. As a teenager I would sit on the beach with my friends and watch all the women walking by comparing my legs to theirs and looking for someone else who had crooked legs as she walked confidently along the beach. I never saw one which made me feel even more sensitive about my legs. Finally, years later, I have made peace with them despite the fact that the author of the H&M article considers them imperfect, botched and flawed.

Shefinds might believe Beyoncé to be flawless, but what would the world be like if we all looked like Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus or whomever the media has chosen as their latest obsession? Boring, that’s what. It is your uniqueness that makes you special and not how much you are the same as everyone else or how well you fit society’s vision of beauty.  Finding your own personal vision of beauty is the key to feeling personal satisfaction with how you show up in the world.

Use these two steps to move you closer to that personal goal:

  1. Find one part of your body that isn’t your favorite–that you wish, because of articles like these, was more like what you think it’s supposed to look like rather than how it is. Maybe, like me, it’s your legs. Or perhaps your waist, hips, shoulders, bustline or arms. Choose just one.
  2. Change your perspective. Find something great about this part of your body. For instance, my legs might be crooked, but they are long and that’s what I dress for every day. For you, maybe you always feel like your hips are too big. But perhaps, as a result (these two things often go hand in hand) you have a small waist. When you wear something that shows off your waist and your hips you feel curvy and feminine. Or, maybe you feel flat chested and like your body is shapeless. But then you realize that this allows you to add curves with your clothes and easily wear something strapless or with ruffles, ruching or patterns on your chest without worrying about appearing top heavy.

It is important to note that there is always a positive result to be found. Find yours and celebrate it. I invite you to share your awarenesses in a comment below to celebrate your natural beauty and inspire other women to find their unique beauty, too.

And, if you want help dressing your body so you feel great, get a copy of my body image, self-esteem and style handbook and virtual program: www.whotaughtyouhowtodress.com

Trapped in a Fashion Rut … and the Secret to Getting Out

Trapped in a Fashion Rut?

You want to get out of your fashion rut and feel good about how you look, but every time you go shopping you leave discouraged or overwhelmed. The reason has as much to do with your mind as it does with your body and by incorporating two very important changes to your shopping experience, you can find new success every time you shop.

Think about it. You have been in a fashion rut for years (or maybe it just feels that way!).  Nothing you buy ever feels right any more. You’ve resorted to reading fashion magazines with titles like “99 Little Ways to Your Best Body” or “200 Secrets to Looking Great Now” with less than flattering results, and you even allowed your two best friends to take you shopping. Yes, they helped you choose new clothes, so why don’t you feel any better? Even after that intervention, you are still in a rut (you can’t remember what you are supposed to do with that long flowy plaid vest anyway?). You feel like an imposter every time you look in the mirror where a poor imitation of your friend stares back at you. You’re $500 lighter and no closer to finding a wardrobe that makes you happy. A cloud of hopelessness is descending so now what, you wonder!

The key here is that you don’t feel confident choosing clothes that you feel good wearing because you don’t love your body and you think nothing looks good on you. You feel like your body parts are shifting nearly daily or you’ve gained weight (or both) and somehow clothes just don’t fit the way they used to. You hyper focus on the parts of your body you don’t like and when you do go shopping all you see are things that don’t look good. You walk into a store and walk out again empty handed or you take those two well-meaning friends with you and walk out with clothes, but you don’t really feel any better when you get dressed than you did before you went shopping. Fashion magazines aren’t helping — they are all written for svelte twenty year olds who could be your daughters — and you don’t know where to turn. All you can think is that nothing works and that you’re doomed to look frumpy and boring for the rest of your life.

You’re left wondering that if magazines and makeover TV shows (where all the style gurus are handing down valuable fashion advice) and even your stylish friends can’t help, what hope is there for you? Wow … with that kind of attitude I can see where shopping would not be fun and it certainly wouldn’t be productive.

I promise, however, there is plenty of hope. First of all, when you look out into the real world, do you see women (be they female friends, family or strangers you’ve seen at the mall, work or grocery store) whose image you admire — women who look like they are well put together whether it’s for work or leisure? Of course you do. Get a picture in your mind’s eye of two or three of them and ask yourself this one important question: Are they all built like a super model? No, of course they are not and this is good news! Chances are good you are not shaped like a super model (I know I’m not!) and you just confirmed that you do not have to be super model tall, thin and very young to look great. You can look great no matter what size you wear, how tall you are or how young or old you are.  These women prove it — they are just like you with things they like and don’t like about their bodies.

What these women do have that you don’t is two things:

  1. Fashion guidelines to help you identify garments/outfits that have potential, and
  2. The belief that you CAN create a look you love.

These two things lead to increased self-confidence and the well put-together look you want for yourself.

Is this learnable? Yes.

Did they learn all of this in one day? No.

So, give yourself a break, use the information I’m about to share with you to move you step-by-step closer to having that put-together look you long for and the self-confidence will grow with each positive step.

So, where do you start?

Change Your Mindset

Begin with your mindset. Otherwise, the fashion tools will be ineffective. Why?  Because you get what you expect and if you expect not to find anything you love or you find something you love but they don’t make it in your size or you approach the shopping experience as if you were going into a losing battle, guess what you’ll get: nothing you like (everything will seem ugly, shapeless and too trendy) and things that don’t fit. You will prove yourself right.

Even if this has been true in the past, you must find a glimmer of hope in your shopping experience because if your expectations are based on the past and the past wasn’t good, then guess what you’ll get now? That’s right … more of the same.

Or, if your past shopping experiences were terrific, but now your body has changed (and not in a way that makes you happy) and you can no longer wear what you used to, but you wish you could and berate your body for not staying the way it was (you can see where this is going…), then you will go in with frustrated energy and all you will see are things that were created for your former body. Your mindset is crucial to a successful shopping experience.

Okay, you say, but how do I do that when I can feel my anxiety rising when I simply think about shopping, never mind step into a store!

Create a positive affirmation and visualize success. You have to train your mind to approach the shopping experience from a different place. Here’s a great one for starters: “More and more I find clothes I love and that look great on me.” Notice I didn’t say, “Everything looks good on me.” Or “I look great in everything I try on.” Even I (who knows what I am doing when it comes to shopping for clothes) do not look great in everything I try on and I won’t even think about shopping when I’m crabby or don’t think I’ll find anything I like. My results will be the same as yours would be — my mind will say, “You think you’ll only find things you don’t like or that don’t fit you well or are too young or badly made? Great … let me go find those things for you so you won’t be disappointed!” I’ve had this happen and I now know to laugh at myself and realize I went in with a bad attitude!

Create a positive affirmation that you can relate to. Then, don’t just say the affirmation once and wait for fairy dust to sprinkle down on your head and the perfect new store to open next door (although, hey, wouldn’t that be nice if it happened!). Say it over and over. Say it with as much joy and positive expectation as you can muster. Your mind/body believes what you tell it, so tell it something good and positive. Give your mind the assignment of finding things that will make you happy rather than prove you right that there’s nothing out there that looks good on you.

Then, as you are heading out to shop, visualize yourself having a great experience finding things you love in your size and color. Picture yourself trying something on and feel amazing. (It’s less about the specific item — so you don’t have to visualize exactly what that amazing piece is — and more about the feeling attached to it.) If you start to get overwhelmed and some of that old history comes flooding back (which it will from time to time), take a deep breath and repeat the affirmation and visualization.

Getting your mindset heading in a positive uplifting direction first is critical. Once that is flowing we can add in a few fashion tools to get you started.

Most of us, myself included, need to have guidelines when we shop. Understanding how to create a look you love takes more than just walking into a store and grabbing something random off the rack hoping it will work because it looks good on the mannequin or you saw it in a magazine. It is important to make your selections with intention. Knowing what to look for helps you ignore the parts of the store that don’t work for you and concentrate on the parts that do. Follow these rules for more success when you shop:

  • Search for colors that look great on you. If you don’t have a personalized color palette here are some basic guidelines. Do not buy light gray, yellow, army green or beige unless you are absolutely sure it is your perfect color. When in doubt (which should be most of the time with those colors), choose one of these colors: emerald to forest green, deep periwinkle, medium to deep teal, or watermelon. These colors all look good on a lot of people.
  • Make sure it fits. While this is not the only criteria for choosing a garment, it is very important. For instance, be sure the fabric skims your body and doesn’t cling too tightly or look too big and messy (lift your arms and if there is a lot of excess fabric there that creates buckling at the bustline, then the top is too big). And, if it doesn’t fit consider whether it can be altered by a tailor. Yes, if you love the garment it is ALWAYS worth having it tailored. A word of caution: a current trend is for oversized, shapeless tops. I generally recommend avoiding these, but if you love them, try wearing one with a pair of skinny jeans or leggings.
  • Make sure you love it. There is no substitution for loving something you are wearing. Look for patterns that make you smile, textures that feel good and fabrics that feel nice on. Never buy something because you think you should (remember how that worked out when your friends took you shopping).  You will never feel happy wearing it unless you are excited about it.

When you combine these tools with positive affirmations and visualizations, you are setting yourself up for success — one step at a time. Knowing what to look for is helpful and while everyone’s body is different and different styles appeal to different people, let me give you a few ideas that look good on a lot of women:

  • Get a wrap top like this one (the color pictured here is a pretty color on many people). The wrap is flattering because it hugs your curves and draws the eye up, the neckline is flattering on most women (balancing your head and neck) and the fabric has a nice weight to it and has stretch.

Nic+Zoe Wrap Top

  • Want a terrific jacket? This one looks good on a lot of women. A fun twist on the classic blazer. The fabric is cozy — like wearing a sweatshirt and the colors are gorgeous — deep teal, dark malachite (green) and nightshade (deep purple) among others. It also tends to hit just below the widest part of many women’s bodies. Wear it with jeans or trousers — even over a little black dress!

Nic+Zoe Jacket

You will notice that both of these are by Nic+Zoe. I have been very impressed with their line this season. They have a variety of colors, some gorgeous, dreamy prints, most items fit well and aren’t as oversized as we are seeing with other designers and everything I have looked at is cruelty-free/vegan friendly. Not only can you find Nic+Zoe online, but Lord & Taylor is now carrying some of the line, as is Nordstrom and many smaller boutiques like The Studio in Brookline, MA and you can even find them online at Zappos.com. Please note that they also make petite and plus size styles!

Remember, keep these ideas in mind when you shop:

  • Look for color, good fit and things that make you smile when you look at them.
  • Don’t go shopping until you have done your affirmations and visualizations. Don’t just say them rotely — they won’t work. Say them with passion, desire, as much positive belief as you can muster and say them often!

You WILL make progress if you do this.

You have to start somewhere or you’ll stay mired in doubt and frustration for the rest of your life — never feeling good about how you look and envying the women who do. That is no way to live and, better yet, it’s absolutely unnecessary. You CAN look great. I have just shared several steps you can take in your journey towards feeling like one of those women whose image you admire. Just take it one step at a time and celebrate each success no matter how small. You will get there!

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NOTE: Do you need guidance in helping you make choices that get you out of the rut? I know it can feel like a foreign concept at first! If so, get your copy of “Who Taught You How to Dress?” here: www.whotaughtyouhowtodress.com. Not only will you get a 180 page workbook and CDs — you will have access to an exclusive on-line forum where you can ask questions to move you along in your journey more quickly and with more confidence!  If you have questions about whether it’s right for you, let me know.

What Do You Wear When No One Else Sees You?

Understanding your personal style can change your life by turning the dread of wearing something you don’t like into the power your style can give you as you go about your business each morning.

If you work out of your home or have a day you spend running errands, what are your go-to outfits?  Do you dress in a way that makes you smile and stand a little taller or do you throw on whatever is handy and try to avoid looking in the mirror?

Dianna Huff’s experience speaks directly to this common issue.  Her story is something that not only makes me proud but inspires me every day. She is a talented marketing consultant who works with small industrial companies and ghostwrites books for CEOs.  Here is a chance to let her story inspire you, too!

 

Dianna BeforeOne of the things I’ve learned, working with Ginger, is that her fashion advice is always spot on – especially her advice that it doesn’t take any effort to dress “up” each day if you buy clothes in your color palette that make your heart sing.

When I first contacted Ginger about five years ago, I was a stressed work-at-home mom with a young son. To save time, I wore standard-issue mom clothes that I could order in bulk online: “mom jeans” from L.L. Bean, khaki shorts and pants, and polo shirts. I felt depressed much of the time; I knew I didn’t look my best but didn’t know how to change. Like many of the women Ginger works with, I would get completely overwhelmed in a department store, so I avoided them altogether.

As Ginger helped me with colors, style, fit and makeup, I began to fill my closet with bright, colorful, beautiful clothes — what I call my “happy” clothes — clothes that make me feel good and look good on me. Because Ginger is all about working with you and your personal style, I now have clothes that I can wear anywhere, whether to a client meeting or out to dinner with a friend.

Dianna HuffAnd, I do wear them, every single day, even though some days I’m the only person who sees me in them.

Getting “dressed” each day has changed my life.

I had read somewhere years ago that our environments impact how we feel. If you live in a cluttered house, for example, your cluttered surroundings can impact your thinking and your energy. It works the same for your clothes. Before Ginger, I would throw on my old shorts and polos — or worse, my smelly gym clothes. (I’d put them on in the morning as reminder that I’d needed to go to the gym – and then never make it.)

Due to working with Ginger, I was now wearing clothes that I loved. I felt happier, confident, and more energetic — and it showed, because more and more people began telling me I was “glowing,” “beautiful” and “stunning.” (And trust me, no one had ever used those words before to describe me.)

Dianna in RedWhen I ventured out to Staples one day, a woman asked if I had bought my dress in New York as the style was “so sophisticated.” “No,” I replied, “Lord & Taylor in Burlington, Mass.” When I had my picture taken in front of Niagara Falls earlier this year, my friend said, “Dianna! Look at you! Look at that red coat and matching scarf. You look fantastic!” Just today the woman at the pharmacy said, in reference to the purple top I was wearing, “Oh my gosh! That purple – it’s gorgeous. It looks so good on you! And I love the necklace, too!”  Thank you, darling. :-)

Another benefit of getting dressed each day is that it changed my perspective on my work and my business. Slowly, over time, I stopped viewing myself as a “freelancer” and began viewing myself as a CEO. In fact, I found myself saying on a regular basis, “I am the CEO of DH Communications, Inc.” By looking and feeling like the CEO of my company, I began changing things inside my business that I had wanted to change for years. Today I’m doing work I love – which shows on the bottom line.

Dianna HuffThe most important thing I’ve learned, however, is that getting “dressed” each day doesn’t take any more effort than putting on those old khaki shorts and shirts I used to wear. All this summer, for example, I wore the colorful skirts and tops Ginger and I picked out at the beginning of the season — plus the bright sundresses we had found a couple of seasons ago. Putting on a skirt, a top, a necklace and some earrings takes as much time as pulling on a pair of ho-hum shorts and a t-shirt. Only now, I look and feel fabulous. When I look in the mirror, I find myself saying, “Darling, you look marvelous!” And that to me is priceless.

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Dianna Huff is a marketing consultant who lives and works in Plaistow, NH. She enjoys walking her neighborhood with her two dogs in her fabulous wardrobe.  You can learn more about Dianna at www.diannahuff.com

Is Your Wardrobe Holding You Back?

 

Is Your Wardrobe Holding You Back?

If I had a dime for every time a woman told me that she had declined an offer because she didn’t feel like she knew what to wear and it felt too hard and overwhelming to figure it out (and, what if she was wrong and what she wore was inappropriate!), I would be rich. It is a shame to pass up amazing opportunities because you feel overwhelmed and insecure about how you look. You cannot go through life like this and I am going to make sure you don’t have to!

Sally is a perfect example. She once stood in front of her closet for two hours wringing her hands and sighing as she tried desperately to figure out what to wear to a dinner with her husband’s colleagues. A half hour before they were supposed to leave, her husband found her half dressed sobbing on the closet floor. She felt discouraged and embarrassed because she couldn’t figure it out on her own. She ultimately wore something she didn’t feel great in because she didn’t want to let her husband down. Not surprisingly, the whole time they were out, she couldn’t wait to get back home.

Then there was Catherine who wanted to put her name in for a job promotion, but she knew that the new position meant much more personal interaction with clients and she realized her existing wardrobe wouldn’t fit the bill. Her heart said yes, but one look in her closet said no way. Her existing job was relatively solitary and she wore jeans and a casual shirt every day. She felt torn about the possible promotion, but couldn’t make herself take that step without the confidence of knowing she would feel comfortable in how she presented herself. She felt discouraged but didn’t know what to do next so she did nothing and stayed where she was.

What have you said no to that, if getting dressed for it were easy, you would have said yes in a heartbeat?

What opportunities in life have you missed either because you declined an invitation, never took the steps toward your goal or did step out but were distracted the entire time because you didn’t feel comfortable in your clothes?

How is your wardrobe holding you back?

This is not about fitting into someone else’s expectations about how you should look. This is about not living up to your own expectations and even more to the point, it is about not feeling like you express yourself authentically in a way that honestly reflects your true inner beauty.  While it’s easy to get dressed (anyone can throw on a T-shirt and jeans), it is not as easy (but, oh, so critical) to express your inner essence in your wardrobe choices.  Sally wasn’t looking for just something to clothe her body.  She was looking for something that made her feel beautiful and special.  But, no matter how hard she looked, she couldn’t find it in her existing wardrobe.

If you try to make your life fit into your wardrobe instead of your wardrobe into your life, you are missing out on a powerful form of self-expression — one that impacts all areas of your life.

This concept is expressed beautifully by L.V. who said:

“I want to share some news that results from the investment I made when I first started working with you: I have a new job — one that I wouldn’t have gotten without the personal growth that came from thinking about clothes, and identity, and how I wanted to put myself out in the world.  By making the investment in good clothes for myself, I was really sending an internal message that I was valued, and that in turn shaped how I set a professional path to work with a remarkable group of women.”

Wow!  She says it all there.  Was she trying to be someone she’s not?  No! In fact, she has been practicing expressing her inner essence in her wardrobe choices as she shares here:

“For my first interview I wore a dress and shrug from Max Mara (bought on sale and where I was smart enough to buy the matching sweater on the spot, even though it wasn’t).  I’ve gotten so much value out of that one dress!  Dare I say, it was sagacious and poetic. This summer, in the casual realm, I also found myself in a deep blue top and turquoise shorts, and green shorts and a blue shirt—the shorts were actually a steal from, of all places, Kohls. (Who knew?).” 

Was she using the tools we had worked on together (both inner (she’s sagacious and poetic) and outer (focusing on color and fit)) to create a wardrobe that felt authentically her?  Yes!

Does this kind of transformation happen overnight?  No.  As L.V. shares:

“I remember you said more than once that this would be a slow process, and sometimes that frustrated me, but it’s really unfolded just the right way, and I have stronger shopping skills and a better sense of myself to make me more comfortable in my new realm.”

You can have this kind of transformation, too.  Whether you are sobbing on your closet floor or just throwing your hands up in despair, resigning yourself to wearing the same thing over and over, the results are the same: lost opportunity to tap into what makes you special and share that with others.  The only way this won’t happen for you is if you give up and just keep doing what you’re doing.  The transformation begins by taking the first step.

So, how do you begin to make the changes L.V. made in her wardrobe that supported powerful changes in her life?

Every time you get dressed, ask yourself these four questions about what you are wearing:

  • Do you love it and think it is beautiful? (This is the first step in identifying things that you feel great wearing and that capture your inner essence.)
  • Does the color look great on you?  (You’re not going for OK, decent or just good enough.)
  • Does it fit you right now?  (If it doesn’t fit you right now, move it out of your existing closet. Why take up space with something that you can’t wear now.)
  • Is it comfortable?  (If it’s not comfortable and the cause of discomfort cannot be remedied, it goes away.)

Do you love it and think it is beautiful is first because without that none of the rest of it matters!

Here’s the bottom line: If you apply this one day at a time, within a short amount of time you will have analyzed every garment in your closet, learned a lot about what makes you happy and eliminated a lot from your closet that doesn’t.  If you don’t do it, you will stay stuck in a wardrobe that is not making you happy or supporting your life.

Imagine what a freeing experience it is to love getting dressed every day.  This is your chance to take the very first step in claiming your personal essence and purposely designing your wardrobe to express that brilliantly.

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Need help?  You don’t have to do it alone.  If you are local or excited about traveling, register for my next “Your Style, Your Way” workshop coming up on Saturday, October 19 — www.YourStyleYourWayWorkshop.com.  If you are not in the Boston area and can’t travel all is not lost!  Women are experiencing amazing successes as part of the”‘Who Taught You How to Dress?” community.  Learn more here: www.WhoTaughtYouHowToDress.com

Beauty and the Beach: How to Create a Beach Wardrobe You Love

Beauty & the Beach

As you may recall from a recent blog post, I am not a beach lover — at least not at full sun! I do occasionally go down to the ocean, which is one block from my house, replete with my beach chair, umbrella, a towel (in case I need to cover my legs), and sunscreen.  And, even with all that, I don’t stay too long. I also have not had a swimsuit on in over 10 years and I’m happy with that. Of course, I know I’m unusual in this way and I help plenty of my clients find beautiful swimsuits. What I have learned over the years is that it’s not all about the swimsuit! Yes, some of you step into your swimsuit, toss on a pair of flip flops and sunglasses and are raring to go. Others need a little emotional and fashion support and that’s what I’m hear to talk to you about.

It doesn’t matter whether you get a one-piece, tankini or bikini — swimsuits are all revealing. Every one of them exposes more skin than we allow for any other outdoor activity. So, it’s no surprise that we can feel anything from low-grade anxiety to out and out panic when we put one on.

The good news is that your anxiety can be lessened. With all the fun beach accouterments (cover-ups, hats, beach jewelry, totes and more), you can breeze through this experience with confidence and joy. Of course, as always, whatever you choose from bare-bones basics to over the top beach bling it has to be in keeping with who you are.  That’s the joy of it. No one-size-fits-all beach shopping allowed!

The first step is knowing what your options are, so I would like to share a few of my favorites!

Here is an example of a beach wardrobe that looks cool, stylish, flattering and comfortable.

Ready for the Beach

 

If that cover-up isn’t your cup of tea, try one of these:

Hot Pink Sarong Paisley Coverup 60s Style Coverup

 

Plus size women often get the short end of the stick when it comes to swimwear, but there were so many options, I had to stop myself from listing too many here! Check these out:

Plus Size Coverup Plus Size Coverup

 

Want a little fun beach jewelry? Try one of these cute bracelets:

Cube Bangle Bracelet Sea & Sky Bracelet Crocheted Bracelet

 

And, I just couldn’t resist these:

Flower Earrings Sea Glass Earrings

 

These are just a few ideas! If you are someone who spends any time at the beach, why leave it all to chance? If the idea is to go to the beach to have fun and you go hoping no one will see you and plan to spend all day hiding under your beach blanket or in the water, take a breath. There’s still time to catch some great summer sales and add a little extra beauty, peace of mind and joy to your summer festivities!

Are You Trying to be Invisible?

Are You Trying to be Invisible?

Leslie had called me because she was feeling unsettled with her personal style … actually, she felt like she had no personal style and wanted to find out if she could change that.  As we chatted, she shared, “I never paid much attention to fashion or style. In fact, I poo-poo’ed it. I tried to be invisible or neutral and was purposefully indifferent about my appearance.”

With this admission, Leslie precisely verbalized how so many women approach their image and express themselves through their wardrobes — they don’t!  When she reached a point that she felt so unsettled about how she looked that she didn’t know how to address it effectively any more (or maybe she never did and was just exhausted from trying), she gave up and resorted to blending in as much as possible.  While feeling invisible was not her (or any other woman’s) preference, she didn’t know what else to do.

While, yes, a lot of women have succumbed to indifference about how they look, not everyone ignores fashion or style for the same reason.

Here are stories women have shared with me:

  • Meredith never used to pay attention to fashion or style because she felt comfortable with herself and how she looked.  Then things changed! Her body started to shift, she was getting older and her effortless beauty no longer felt effortless. Not knowing how to adjust to the changes, she poo-poo’d “fashion” and convinced herself (rather ineffectively) that how she looked was not important to her. She resorted to wearing a lot of black and gray because it was easy and spent as little time as possible fussing.  Meanwhile, she readily admits that if she were truly honest with herself, the fact that she doesn’t feel good about how she looks weighs on her psyche and distracts her (if only sporadically) from the things she really wants to focus on.

 

  • Andrea never felt like she fit the prescribed definition of beautiful: she felt a little too short, a little heavier in her middle, her hair had a mind of its own and her feet often hurt.  As a result, she always felt like her efforts to look good were in vain. She could never measure up to her own expectations and suspected others were equally as judgmental. So, instead of trying to fit in, she dismissed all efforts at feeling beautiful and developed a ‘take me as I am’ attitude. Meanwhile, on the inside she felt less empowered than the message she was projecting and it was exhausting to keep her insecurity undercover.

Whether one of these stories rings true for you or your history is somewhat different, here are two steps you can take to elevate your indifference to hope and positive anticipation.

  1. Infuse Your Wardrobe with Color.  “Sure,” you say,“That’s easy for you to do.  You know about color. But, I can’t tell what looks good and what doesn’t so I stick with neutrals.”You’re right. It isn’t always easy for us to know exactly what colors look good on us.  There is conflicting information everywhere and the colors in the stores change constantly. So, what’s the answer? Ideally, you will want to have your colors analyzed by a professional. Choose your expert wisely since you are relying on his or her eye to guide you. If that is not an option, here are three colors I talk about in my book, That’s So You! that work on many people. Even if you just take these colors and mix them with your favorite neutral, you will be way ahead of many people: deep teal, watermelon and periwinkle blue.
    Teal Morpheus Dress Deep Teal. You can make it a bit more blue teal or green teal depending on your preference. Visit this Pinterest board for more examples of teal.
    Watermelon Watermelon. A beautiful red that is between a pink and coral so it works on many, many people.
    Periwinkle Periwinkle Blue. Visit this Pinterest board for more examples of periwinkle.
    Forest Green BONUS! Forest green is another great option.

    When colors flatter you they have the potential to elevate your look from ho-hum to striking all on their own. It’s an easy fix!

  2. Elevate Your Tops.  So many women get stuck in a top rut.  They gravitate towards button down shirts or basic T-shirts because they are “classic,” but they feel bored or feel like these tops now accentuate fit issues.  What can you wear on top that will make you smile?
    Chico's CardiganOne World Crochet Top
    Layer for Comfort and Ease. It’s so easy to add a layer and this helps to camouflage arms, tummy or bustline. Here’s one cardigan that has a classic feel. Or, try something slightly more trendy like this crocheted top over a tank
    Chico's Printed Cowl
    Use Prints to Distract the Eye. Have you been sticking with “safe” solid colors? Why not branch out and incorporate a print into your wardrobe. Prints can distract the eye so the focus doesn’t rest in one area. These colors are pretty and the cowl neckline is flattering on most body shapes.
    Susan Graver Scarf Top
    Try Something Completely Different. This will be too big a stretch for some people and it will not appeal to everyone.  But, if you love the idea of wearing something flowy and elegant, why not try one of the summer’s hottest looks: a scarf top. Here’s a fun example and it is not expensive so it won’t cost a lot if the experiment doesn’t work out.

Phew, that’s a lot! Remember, do not try to do it all at once — change doesn’t happen overnight. And, if you do try to do it all at once there is a good chance you will feel overwhelmed and throw in the towel before you see any results. Instead, take it easy and have fun with it. Choose one possibility from above and explore. See what happens and leave me a comment below!

Does Beauty Have to Hurt?

Does Beauty Have to Hurt?Recently, as I was shopping with a client, she turned to me and shared, “My mother always said that in order to look beautiful I had to put up with a certain amount of pain.” We laughed about it, but there was a ring of familiarity to it. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that there was widespread acceptance (or maybe just resignation) that in order to look great you had to suffer and be uncomfortable — whether it was bustles, bone corsets and multiple petticoats or simply pantyhose and high heels. The sad fact is that many women still accept this as absolute truth and worse, they feel like they have to sacrifice who they are and how they want to dress in order to be comfortable, and when faced with a choice between the two, comfort almost always prevails. There seems to be little room for allowing that beauty and comfort can co-exist.

I hear you! With each passing year, I have less and less tolerance for things that bind, scratch, squeeze or restrict me in some way. It might also come as a surprise to learn that not everyone has the same ideas about what is beautiful, painful or comfortable. This one took me a long time to understand and accept. Over the years, I have learned that we are all different. Our bodies vary. Our histories are diverse and our beauty monitors are very personal. Helping hundreds and hundreds of women shop for clothes has created an important awareness for me that what one person perceives of as beautiful another might see as downright hideous. I don’t judge. I just listen and help them integrate their preferences with beauty, style and grace.

This idea that beauty varies from person to person was driven home for me many years ago while buying a wedding present for friends. At the time, I thought that buying something from someone’s registry felt impersonal. I wanted to choose something special and unexpected. After looking in a number of beautiful artisan showrooms, I thought, hmmm, perhaps I should take a look at their registry just to see what they like and need and to get some ideas of what might fit well in their home. Well, lo and behold, I personally was not attracted to anything they had chosen on their list. Not one thing. I immediately realized that chances were good that if I didn’t like anything they had selected that they would probably dislike anything I chose and thought was beautiful. So, I purchased something off their registry to be sure they were happy and made a mental note that this was not an isolated experience.

The same thing translates to painful vs. comfortable when it comes to clothing. I know women (more than you might expect) who are perfectly comfortable wearing pantyhose.  In fact, they prefer it. I, on the other hand, will occasionally wear pantyhose (although I ALWAYS cut the waistband so they don’t squish my tummy), but whenever possible (assuming I have to wear stockings at all) I opt for thigh highs. I have also found that some women enjoy wearing layers to keep them warm and cozy while others think layers feel bunchy and restrictive. Some women sing the praises of ballet flats as combining comfort and beauty, while others, like me, cannot find a pair that feels good on their feet.  Thankfully, we have options — in fact, more than any other time in history.

It’s not that we need to get rid of certain styles, it’s more that we each have to explore and discover what makes us happy within the parameters of what we personally perceive as beautiful and comfortable. In my book, That’s So You!, I talk about “What’s on Your Never-Wear-Again List.”‘ The thing I have learned is that that list will be different for each person and the list will change as time goes by. I also know we have to honor it without restricting our options so severely that we feel lost. I can speak to that from personal experience.

It is so easy to get set in our ways and our beliefs about what is comfortable and what is not. For years, I could not understand the appeal of wearing jeans. I found them to be stiff, binding at the waist and I thought they looked messy on me. I always felt mildly perplexed by the idea that someone would want to run home from work to put on her jeans. Jump ahead twenty years to when manufacturers started adding elastane (the miracle fabric, in my estimation) to the denim. While I still resisted trying jeans on at first because I “believed” jeans were inherently uncomfortable, I finally did and now I’m sold on them. The elasticity makes them comfortable and helps them hold their shape so they do not look and feel messy.

Do you feel stuck in a fashion rut? Do you worry that in order to feel better about how you look you will have to be uncomfortable in what you wear? If so, ask yourself these five questions:

  1. How do I not want to feel in my clothes?
  2. How do I want to feel in my clothes?
  3. How has my belief that beauty comes at a painful price kept me stuck? What has it kept me from wearing because I believe I will be uncomfortable wearing it? (Include everything even if you still think it will feel uncomfortable.)
  4. What would I add to my wardrobe this minute if I thought I could be comfortable wearing it (be as outlandish and seemingly unbelievable as you want to)? For instance, maybe you would like to wear heels instead of flats but feel sure that because of your orthotics, bunions, flat feet, painful joints, etc. you can’t.
  5. What step can I take to add more beauty to my wardrobe and personal style without sacrificing comfort? (Remember, it never “hurts” to try something again to see if there is a way to wear it comfortably or to see if it feels better than you remember.)  Perhaps you find a new store (online or brick and mortar) that makes comfy stacked heels that give you a little lift. Even if you don’t find exactly what you were looking for, allow yourself to have fun exploring. While bearing in mind how you do not want to feel in your clothes, use the information about how you do want to feel (provided your list gets beyond comfort) — remember, it’s just a list — to inspire you.

Lastly, if you see your personal beauty requirements as strict limitations they will be, whereas if you see them as an adventure in dressing, you will open up so many new possibilities — things you cannot imagine now. This is always true. Beauty does not have to hurt, but sacrificing beauty can feel painful on a soul level.

Lose Your Self-Consciousness

by Cheryl Richardson

self-consciousI’m a big fan of talent shows like The Voice (my current favorite), American Idol, and So You Think You Can Dance. I record the shows weekly (when each series airs) and I use them to motivate me to work out. I have a rule: I can watch a show as long as I’m moving on an exercise machine in our home gym.

I love these programs because I’m passionate about music, I love singing and dance, and I get so excited seeing people express their creativity and talent.  Don’t you just love that moment of magic when a performer seems to transcend time and space and become one with the audience and their art? Just think of Michael Jackson dancing in Thriller and you’ll know what I mean.

I also appreciate the fact that, more and more, these programs are showcasing the benefits of having a mentor or coach.  The feedback delivers clues as to what it takes to bring our best to the game.  The most common piece of advice is always the same: be yourself.  The mentors on The Voice, for example, are always suggesting that the singers relax into who they are so they’re better able to shine from the inside out without worrying about what others think.  Easier said than done, I know, especially when you’re in the vulnerable position of being on stage in front of judges!

The funny thing about being yourself is that you have to lose your self-consciousness — the habit of judging yourself — in order to do it.  You need to become so immersed in the moment and within yourself, that you begin to channel your pure creative spirit.  It’s in this empowered state that we’re able to not only do our best work, but also experience the blissful joy of creative expression.  As we link up with the Divinity in the present moment, we naturally connect with each other — the greater Oneness of all.  That’s when the fun begins.

Learning to be fully ourselves without concern for the reactions, judgments, or expectations of others is a life-long journey.  Regardless of how confident and self-possessed you are there will always be times in life when you feel vulnerable and afraid to be yourself.  That’s called living as a human being on planet earth.

The important thing to remember is that self-consciousness is about you – not other people.  I made the mistake of thinking that my awkwardness on stage, for instance, was about my fear of how others might judge me.  But, I learned that my self-consciousness was really my fear of judging myself once I got off stage.  This is such an important piece of wisdom to understand (thank you Debbie Ford).  I now have a blast on stage and, as a result, my audiences have fun learning, too.

The more you become your own best champion, supporter, cheerleader, and trusted confidant, the better able you’ll be to fully and joyfully express your blessed creativity.  That’s when your art becomes more and more successful in the world.

It begins with treating yourself with love, respect, kindness, and compassion.

If you’d like to lose your self-consciousness and empower your creative spirit, start by answering the following questions:

  • What do you need to do (or stop doing), right now, to become a better friend and supporter of yourself?
  • What do you need to stop saying to yourself?
  • What kind of encouragement do you need?
  • Who do you need to spend more time with?
  • Who do you need to avoid?

The answers to these questions will get you started on the road to fuller self-expression in a way that feels good — really good.

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This week’s blog post comes from my dear friend Cheryl Richardson. You can find more from Cheryl on her website at www.cherylrichardson.com where she generously “provides you with practical tools, challenging ideas, resources, and helpful information that will support you in living a life that honors your soul.”

Are You Afraid Of Your Wardrobe

Nearly every day I talk to women who want to be more adventuresome in their wardrobe choices, but they are afraid. As a result they find themselves buying the same things over and over because they feel easy, familiar and safe. But, their satisfaction is fleeting when they look in the mirror and see the same old look day in and day out.

What is the basis of their fear? Even if there are multiple reasons, one of the ones I hear the most often is the fear of looking silly and feeling embarrassed about how they look.

What causes this fear?

There can be many underlying reasons that they stay stuck, but there are three that stand out. See if you identify with any of these:

  1. Are you afraid to make a mistake?
  2. Are you afraid to step out of your comfort zone because you like it and you doubt you will find anything else you like as much?
  3. Do you rely heavily on approval from others?

1. Fear of Making a Mistake

When I was in high school I was very insecure and worried a lot about how I appeared to others. As a result, I would go to any length to avoid making a mistake. In this instance I am talking about French class.

I was very proficient at reading French. I actually read Marcel Proust’s “Le Rouge et le Noir.” Trust me. That’s not easy in English never mind French. But where I really missed out was when it came to speaking French in class. I was extremely shy and very concerned that the other students would laugh at me. I didn’t like to speak unless I was sure I would do it perfectly, with all the grammar in place and a flawless accent. Now, really…how much chance was there of that? Pretty much none. I was so worried that I would do it wrong that I didn’t do it at all unless I had to.

My teacher was not to blame. In fact, I had an amazing teacher–one of my favorite teachers of all times–which made it even more sad that I didn’t take advantage of all she had to offer. In her classroom I had a safe place to practice and make mistakes so I could continually improve my conversational skills as well as refine my accent. In my case, being unwilling to risk making a mistake in front of others kept me limited in learning to express myself in a foreign language. Who knows how much more I could have learned or how much more quickly I would have increased my comfort level with my French speaking ability if I had just experimented more under her expert tutelage. Not to mention that any mistake I would have made would have been minor in the scheme of things—perhaps a mispronunciation, a wrong verb tense or misuse of a word. In other words, nothing earthshattering was going to happen if I made a mistake.

It’s the same with your wardrobe. When you venture into uncharted territory you might put an odd color combination together or wear a style that isn’t truly you just because you want to branch out and see how it feels. No harm done. It’s not like you are exposing things you shouldn’t or wearing every trend on the planet all at once. And, the beauty of it is that along the way you will find things you love and things you don’t. A “mistake” here or there is part of the experience in refining your look.

2. Fear of Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

I see this limitation expressed often in my clients’ closets, and Catherine is a perfect example. She and I had shopped together for many years. She was in her glory in the 1980’s when earring styles were big and covered a lot of the earlobe. She loved them! Of course, like everything else in the fashion world, eventually the earring trend went to the opposite extreme, and everyone wore small earrings. Everyone except Catherine, that is. I’m all for self-expression and had no problem with her continuing to wear larger earrings. The problem was that we couldn’t find them anywhere! It was hard for her to imagine wearing anything else (even though other styles looked equally good on her) and so she spent much of the next ten years feeling frustrated because her idea of perfection didn’t match what was available.

I know how scary it can feel to step outside your comfort zone, and I’m the first to admit that not everything will work, that’s for sure. But, when you get stuck seeing yourself just one way it prevents you from seeing new possibilities that could make you equally as happy.

3. Fear Others Will Not Approve (and the belief that they know better)

When Alison came to our first appointment she was wearing an elegantly ruffled blouse with a deep navy pencil skirt, a sapphire pendant necklace and platform pumps. Everything fit her perfectly and she looked beautiful. So why was she here? It took less than a minute of conversation before it was very clear. Someone else had dressed her. Because she felt unsure as to what looked good on her or what she felt in her heart of hearts would make her happy, she relied on her best friend and a fashion savvy sales woman to create a wardrobe for her. As a result, she looked lovely but felt out of sorts.

The way she liked to dress was in clothes that moved and felt a little bohemian and bordering on edgy. Rather than straightening her hair she loved to wear it curly but so many people had warned her that it was too unruly that she acquiesced and overrode her own style preferences. She did this because she didn’t feel secure enough in her own choices to create a wardrobe she truly loved. So she wore clothes that looked perfect on the outside and smiled as she received countless compliments. But, the satisfaction was fleeting because it didn’t reflect who she was on the inside. She had created a false sense of perfection and now felt trapped. She was afraid her friend would not approve, and she’d feel pressured into maintaining her current look. She needed a boost of confidence and guidance to find her own unique style and let go of seeking constant approval from others.

Is fear keeping you stuck in a style rut? Do you want to branch out, but you have tried to do it on your own in the past and never felt confident in your choices? I know the feeling. I could never have learned how (or goodness only knows how long it would have taken me) to speak French or create a wardrobe I love on my own. Yes, it’s true! Years ago (you can read more about my story on my website), I spent a lot of time and money making tons of mistakes. I was grappling with two of the scenarios described above. I was afraid to make a mistake (but made plenty in the process of trying to find my style) and I tried to fit in with whatever group of friends I was with. This got exhausting and never truly represented who I was. Not to mention that sometimes I knew a look didn’t work but I couldn’t figure out by myself what would have looked better! Thankfully, I found someone who could guide me in making choices that truly reflected my inner essence. It was a life changing experience and one that stays with me to this day—some 26 years later.

Can you have the same transformation? Absolutely! Every day I see how much the women on the ‘Who Taught You How to Dress?’ forum, which is part of the ‘Who Taught You How to Dress?’ coaching program, are growing in their abilities to put together a wardrobe and look they love. It is inspiring and gratifying to watch and support. Carla, who uses the forum regularly with great results, says:

I want to express a massive thank you for creating the ‘Who Taught You How To Dress?’ program and the online forum. It sounds overly dramatic (especially to a former Brit!) to say it’s life changing, but I truly think it is for me. The response to my stressful post this morning…WOW! I feel so much better and thanks to all the support, I know I will go on this trip looking and feeling great. I thought getting older would be really rough for me. Thanks to finding your coaching program and the confidence it has brought, I feel so good about where I am today.” — With gratitude, Carla

You can have the same experience as Carla. Join the ‘Who Taught You How to Dress?’ coaching program and begin exploring more possibilities right away…this time with guidance and support. As you practice what you learn there, your confidence will grow, and you will become more fluent in how to create a look you love. Sure there’s a risk you will make a mistake, but you will make fewer mistakes–notice I didn’t say they would go away completely–and learn something new each time you put together an outfit or shop for clothes. And, if you feel stumped as to why something doesn’t work, just jump on the forum and ask. I, and the other women in the community, will help you. The more you practice and learn about yourself the more success you will have and the greater your chances of creating a truly ideal wardrobe!

If you feel that you could benefit from expert guidance, here’s you chance to learn more about joining the ‘Who Taught You How to Dress?’ community. Click here for more information. And, if you want the added experience of working with me in-person, learn more here about the ‘Your Style, Your Way’ workshop coming up on April 6. You will have the ‘Who Taught You How to Dress?’ program to support your workshop experience before and after. It’s the best of both worlds!

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Jackie: Before
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Jackie: After
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Diane: Before
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Diane: After
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Amanda: Before
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Sara: Before
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Sara: After
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Marianne: Before
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Marianne: After
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Meryl: Before
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Meryl: After

Wow, you are really good on the colors. I bought this scarf before I had my colors in hand – I checked against my color palate and you are completely right there is too much purple for me. Your comments are always on target and so tactful! Very impressive. I will look for something along the lines of your suggestion and promise never to go shopping without my colors in hand. Lynn Wilkinson