Nurturing Beauty Style Secrets Blog: Personal care Archives

Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered: Fall 2014 Fashion Update

While I was not ready to see the glorious summer fade away this year, I have to admit I always enjoy witnessing the upcoming trends, especially in yummy fall colors. This season will not disappoint. While some trends are expected, like velvet and turtlenecks, others are a delightful surprise, like tassels and A-line dresses.  Then, of course, there are the ones that leave me feeling bewildered, wondering if the designers are either tired or are simply at a loss for new (flattering) ideas. Continue reading…

The perfect scarf tie

The Scarf Tie that Will Keep You Cool, Stylish and Pulled-Together Continue reading…

How to Dress for an Interview: The Good, the Bad and the Frizzy

In a recent article for Real Simple, entrepreneur icon Barbara Corcoran discussed an evolving error made by interviewees every day: missing the mark on what is acceptable; either wearing too much of the right things (“too much makeup and jewelry or impractical shoes”) or too little of the right things (i.e., inappropriate things like “stretchy pants, oversize tops, and sneakers”). So with the fall bringing in new opportunities for so many, let’s discuss three commandments to getting an interview outfit right in a way that will ease your mind and make a positive impression. Continue reading…

Have You Fallen Victim to the Comfort Trap?

With today’s hectic pace of life and constant demands on your time and energy, it is natural to seek as much comfort as possible whenever and wherever you can.  Feeling comfortable physically, especially in the clothing you wear, is one of the key components to being able to deal with the rest of the stress life throws at you. Continue reading…

Do You Dread Shopping?

It’s spring and summer is right around the corner.  You can’t wait to get out of your winter clothes and you realize you need a few new things to add to last year’s warm weather wardrobe.  So you build up your resolve, push down your chronic dread of shopping and head out to the stores.  Despite your past shopping experiences, you try to remain hopeful, but when you arrive home after hours perusing the racks and more time trying things on in the dressing room, all you have to show for it is more ‘stuff.’ Continue reading…

3 Shopping Habits That Keep You Stuck

It’s spring.  Well, at least it is in the stores even if the weather is telling you something different.  A sea of bright colors greets you as you enter any clothing store, and this alone is enough to send some women into a tizzy.

A couple of days ago I was shopping with a client in a department store.  As we headed out into the racks of clothes she looked at me with a faint smile and said, “How do you know where to begin?  My eyes keep darting in a million different directions and I feel totally overwhelmed.”  I calmed her fears and assured her I would help her navigate the store.  I also know that so many women share the same feeling of anxiety when they go shopping for clothes, and since we are about to enter a new shopping season this topic is very timely.

That said, I am not going to address all the ins and outs of shopping successfully (you can read about that in my newly released book, That’s So You! where I devote an entire chapter to this topic.

But I do want to touch on three specific shopping habits that can keep you stuck and frustrated as you shop and even more discouraged when you get dressed every day.  Change these habits and you will change your wardrobe forever.

Here are three confessions I hear from women all the time.  Let’s look at them and see if they ring true for you.  If so, this is a great opportunity to release those old habits and start fresh:

1. “I have been shopping at __________ store(s) for the past 5/10/15 years.”  If you are shopping at the same places you did ten years ago and are no longer having any luck, the culprit is one of two things.  It could be that the store is now identifying with a different demographic–sometimes they have a new buyer who is taking them in a new direction.  If it is not the store then it must be you.  This is not a bad thing, it’s just life.  Like it or not, as the years pass, our bodies shift, our lifestyles evolve and there is no doubt that we get older each year.  It could also be that the store is still a good choice for you, but you don’t know how to switch your focus to find those more suitable options.  No matter what, it eventually requires a different way of looking at your wardrobe and it will affect your shopping experience.  There comes a point when if you keep shopping in the same places without getting the results you want, buying clothes will continue to be an exercise in futility and frustration.

We also tend to believe that we should be able to shop at xyz store because everyone else does or it used to be great or they talk about it in magazines or television.  What happens then is that you stop looking for new stores to explore, especially if shopping is not an experience you enjoy.  And, hey, can’t everyone shop at Marshalls, Macy’s or Talbots?  Not necessarily.  One of my clients told me that her husband thinks I’m wonderful because now they don’t have to stop at every Marshalls they pass.  She used to go in because she was searching for ways to complete her wardrobe and the lower cost appealed to her (and felt less scary if she made a mistake) and, as a result, she would often buy things because of the price rather than the value it contributed to her wardrobe.  Now that she has a wardrobe she loves she still shops occasionally at Marshalls, but she does it strategically and because it feels fun rather than out of desperation.

Just ask Wendy Yellen (www.EideticLifeCoach.com) about the value of finding a great store.  While working with the ‘Who Taught You How to Dress?’ coaching program (www.whotaughtyouhowtodress.com), she learned the value of venturing into a few smaller boutique stores in her local area.  In her exploration she was delighted to find one that fit her style exactly.  Who knew!  She shared with me that, Because of your encouragement, I actually now have a ‘favorite store’ and, unbelievably, people regularly—and often—ask me where I shop and tell me how great I look. Even better, I FEEL great about how I look!”  This one step changed her life.

A common concern is that boutiques are too expensive, but, as Wendy discovered, if you make wise choices there is a good chance you won’t spend any more than you used to.  You might have fewer clothes, but you will wear everything rather than having a lot of unworn garments hanging in your closet.  As you get to know the women who work at the store there is a good chance they will make sure you are the first to know about upcoming sales.  And, this might surprise you, but not all boutiques carry expensive lines of clothing.  Some actually have a low-moderate price point and some have a wide range of prices so there’s something for every budget.  Finding a store(s) you love can be life changing for you, too.  You get a wardrobe you feel great wearing, nothing hangs in your closet unworn, and you spend much less time shopping because you know where to shop.

Let me also say that it does not have to be a boutique that is your new go-to store.  It can be a consignment shop, a department store, a designer store, a big box store or even a thrift store—or a combination of some of the above.  It is just a matter of doing a little research in the beginning to find the places (one to four stores) that make you happy.

2. “I never try things on.”  This is a huge admission.  I know that many women dislike shopping so much that they swoop into a store, grab a few things that look promising or familiar and head home.  Or, they order online almost exclusively because it means they do not have to go anywhere near a store.  Once home they eventually try things on and too often they find themselves either trying too hard to make something work when clearly it is not ideal or they disappointingly acknowledge that the item doesn’t work, but then, with their busy lives, they often forget to return it.  It also means that they are less likely to branch out and try something new because it might not look good and then it is one more thing they have to return.  When your goal is to stay out of the stores as much as possible, the idea of venturing in even to return something takes a backseat to almost anything else in your life.

The problem is that waiting until you get home to try things on does not allow you as much freedom to explore and entertain new possibilities so you are more likely to stay stuck wearing a version of the same thing all the time.

I know what you’re thinking, “I never find anything new that I like.  Everything is too young, too old or just plain ugly and so it’s a lot easier to stay with what feels safe and easy.”  The problem is that this often means that you don’t feel inspired or excited about your wardrobe either.  Not that you have to be a fashionista, by any means, but every woman deserves to feel great about how she looks.

When you think about shopping for clothes, I’m sure you can come up with about six million things you would rather do or that feel more pressing, but if you choose a store you enjoy and schedule enough time so you don’t feel rushed and can actually try clothes on while you are there, you might be surprised at what new possibilities open up.  Why not take a deep breath and make a commitment (and actually schedule it) to expand your shopping experience?  You just might find yourself sighing with relief!

3. “I buy pieces when I find them.”  This certainly sounds innocent enough, but this one behavior can wreak more havoc on your wardrobe—and psyche—than the other two combined.  If you have orphaned pieces sitting unworn in your closet then it is well worth taking a look at this shopping habit.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a spectacular piece here or there and even better when you can get it on sale.  The problem arises when you get it home and realize that, although you love it and are excited about wearing it, you cannot—no matter how hard you try—make a complete outfit out of it.  I know. I know.  Your intentions are to find something that you like so you can wear it, but for right now, it’s a lonely piece sitting there teasing you and begging to be worn.

Here’s the thing… the time to think about whether you can make it into a complete outfit is before you buy it.  Before heading to the checkout counter, mentally rummage through your closet and think about what will work with it.  Be specific.  If you cannot think of at least two items you already own that can finish it, then leave it at the store or buy the rest of the outfit (provided you love it) right then and there.  Yes, I know this takes discipline and focus, but it is worth it.

Do this exercise before you purchase another orphaned item: Take a minute and add up all the money you have spent on things you do not wear because you couldn’t figure out how to make them work and then allow that to inspire you to adopt this new shopping habit.  It will never let you down.

And, if you need more guidance, check out my hot-off-the-press book, That’s So You! and take a look at the section entitled, “Unworn Clothing: Love It or Let It Go” (just one of many that will help you) for inspiration and support.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall….

Not only do most women not have an enchanted mirror like the Evil Queen in Snow White, most do not have an adequate ordinary mirror, period!  Am I right?

I suspect that you are now mentally taking inventory of your personal mirror collection.  Where are they, and are they truly functional is the question.  Much like most women’s lighting situation (that’s another story for another day), many women settle for substandard mirror options in their home.

Let me give you an example.  I was doing a wardrobe consultation with a client one day and at one point I asked her to put something on so we could look at the fit of the outfit and play with the mixing and matching possibilities.  She very readily agreed and after she changed I asked her where her full-length mirror was.  I followed her down two hallways, three rooms, and into a closet to get to a mirror in a guest bedroom on the other side of the house!

“Do you use this?” I asked.  “Occasionally,” she replied sheepishly.  She explained that mostly she used the mirror on her medicine cabinet in her bathroom where she could see, at most, to her waist if she stood on her tiptoes.

How did she ever tell if something looked okay, I asked.  She didn’t.  Mostly, she just crossed her fingers a lot and hoped for the best!

Having a mirror where you can see from head to toe is not a luxury.  It is a necessity, and, thankfully, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take up massive amounts of space.

Let’s not just wonder if an outfit works.  Let’s know for sure!

If you are relying on the mirror on your dresser that cuts you off at the knees or a full-length mirror on a door you can’t open all the way in a dark corner at the end of a hallway (you think I’m kidding, right?), please take 10 minutes, go online and invest (it can be a tiny investment) in something much more functional.  Once you do, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

Keep these five things in mind when choosing a mirror.  It must be:

  1. Conveniently located in your bedroom close to your closet.
  2. Well lit.  It is useless to look at yourself in the dark!
  3. Smooth and straight.  Warped, “fun house” mirrors distort your body (and your perspective), and they don’t do a thing for your self-image or self-esteem either.
  4. The right height.  Can you see all of yourself without standing on a chair or squatting?  (Yes, your head and feet are important parts of how you look.)
  5. Lastly, you must use it!

Once you have a great mirror, it is important to look every once in a while and make sure all is well – if nothing else, take a peek at your rear view and make sure everything looks okay.  Others see this view of you all the time, and you want to be sure you know what’s going on back there!  (Some day I will share the story of a friend going to her mailbox…)

Need help choosing a mirror?  Here are 3 options:

Over the door mirrors.  Here’s a beautiful (albeit more pricey) one from Pottery Barn, but you can find a door mirror (some need screws) for as little as $14 at Target.

Multi-functional.  This one stores all your jewelry, too.  I own this mirror and love it (the price has dropped significantly since I got it—lucky you!).

http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/view.2/app.detail/params.item.H86082.desc.Gold-Silver-Safekeeper-Mirrored-Jewelry-Cabinet-by-Lori

Your traditional floor mirror.  They range in price from $33 to $200+.

http://www.amazon.com/Cherry-Finish-Cheval-Floor-Mirror/dp/B000K2O4UK/ref=pd_sbs_hg_18

Hey, I even found an ironing board that has a full-length mirror on the other side!  There is no end to the options.  So, if you do not already have a great mirror, have fun shopping!  Oh, and I’m not done with mirrors yet.  Look for a future article on makeup mirrors!

I’d love to hear from you if you find any full-length mirrors that you think are particularly great.

The Biggest Summer Fashion Faux Pas

Yay!  Your feet slide into sandals, you wiggle your toes and breathe a sigh of relief.  Summer is here, your feet are free, and you are good to go, right?  Well, maybe…

It is easy to forget about our feet.  I mean, hey, they are way down there, and we don’t see our heels and the bottoms of our feet unless we make a conscious effort to do so.  So, unless they hurt for some reason, it’s a classic case of “out of sight, out of mind.”

Here’s the dilemma: other people can (and do) see your feet…much more than you might think!  And, while fashion and style preferences might be personal, good grooming is universal (or at least we hope so).

The other day, for instance, I was sitting at the little café next door, drinking tea and writing.  As I was thinking and mulling over some ideas, I casually glanced around the room taking in the scenery and the people enjoying their social time and lunch.  I noticed several women sitting at a table nearby.  All were neatly dressed, chatting and having a lovely time with their friends.

As my eyes drifted down, I could not help but notice a row of dried, cracked heels staring back at me.  Perhaps I am wrong but I suspect that if they were aware that their feet were in such a sad, neglected state that they would have run to their bathroom to grab their pumice stone or to the nearest salon for a pedicure.

Women (and men, too) who would never leave the house with dirty, unkempt fingernails are unwittingly (I assume) walking around with heels and sometimes toes that clearly need some attention.   (Please know that I am not talking about bunions or more complicated feet issues – unless those feet could also benefit from some simple basic grooming.)

And, I am not pointing this out to embarrass anyone.  It’s really more about awareness.  Like I said, it’s easy to overlook something that we can’t see.  Even if you take a shower or bath every day, it doesn’t mean your feet are getting as clean as you think.  We walk around in sandals open to the dirt of the streets so they get twice as dirty twice as fast!

So, if this makes you think, “Ooops, I better take a peek,” then here are 3 quick steps to get your feet looking and feeling good:

  1. Every day when you take a shower or wash up in the morning, take a quick look at your feet.  It is easier to give them a little TLC once a day than to have to do a major intervention every week.
  2. If they need some refreshing, give them a quick wash and then keep your pumice stone or Ped-Egg handy to give them a once-over.  It takes all of about 2 minutes tops if you have everything at the ready.
  3. Rub a little moisturizer into them, and you’re good to go.

If doing anything more than that feels overwhelming and you just keep putting it off, then find a nearby salon (ask around to find one that you’ll enjoy going to and that takes sanitation very seriously) and once every couple of weeks have a soothing pedicure.  It’s good for your feet, is soothing and relaxing (so it’s good for your soul), and is one less thing you have to think about doing so you can get back to enjoying the summer.

That said, if you prefer to do your own pedicure, check out this site for step-by-step instructions:

Then, how about treating yourself to a new pair of sandals – aren’t these pretty: http://www.shoes.com/Shopping/ProductDetails.aspx?p=EC1072745&pg=5055049

Want more?  Join me for my new monthly seminar (only $20!).  Limited to 20 people.  The first one will be held on Tuesday, July 20 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm when I’ll talk about “The Top 10 Most Unflattering Summer Fashions: How to avoid them, replace them and live without them.” Location (in the Greater Boston area) is to be determined so stay tuned.

Three Important Questions About Sun Protection…

  1. Is Bigger Better?  Do you think that wearing a sunscreen with a higher SPF will give you better protection?  Probably not!  The Environmental Working Group recently reported that, “Users of high SPF sunscreens stay in the sun longer with a single application and get burned when the product’s chemicals break down, wash off or rub off on clothes and towels.  Armed with a false sense of security, they extend their time in the sun well past the point when users of low-SPF products head indoors.  As a result, they get the same number of sunburns as unprotected sunbathers and absorb more damaging UVA radiation, which many high-SPF products do not effectively block.”  Does this describe you?What’s the answer?  No matter what SPF number you wear be sure it has UVA/UVB protection and reapply, reapply, reapply – every hour.
  2. Is the Sun Friend or Foe?  If you grew up like I did, your mom cut the toes off of socks so my sister and I could wear them on our arms.  Weird, I know.  But there was no sunscreen back then and since we are both fair-skinned redheads we had our fair share of horrible blistering sunburns.  This was my mom’s very creative (albeit not exactly a lovely fashion statement) way of letting us be outside a bit more without suffering.  (We wore hats and sleeves whenever possible and I was the one on the beach in jeans and wrapped in a towel after 30 minutes baking in the sun…it’s no wonder I don’t find the sun relaxing to this day!)That said, the sun does serve a very useful purpose other than brightening our lives.  It provides us with vitamin D.  Yes, you can get it from supplements but nothing beats the sun for natural vitamin D synthesis.  Just 10 minutes in the sun a few times a week (May through October) (I keep my arms free of sunscreen for that long), and you’re good to go.
  3. You Might Not Get Burned But Do You Get Old?   Yes, UVB rays can cause severe sunburns or golden tans so you can see how successfully you protected yourself with your sunscreen.  What you cannot so immediately see, however, is whether your skin has been subjected to too many UVA rays.  The UVA rays are the ones that age you (think A for Aging).  They go through car windows and are strong in January as well as July.  And, the basic SPF rating only tells you how much it protects you from the UVB rays, not the UVA rays.

So, the next time you purchase a sunscreen, be sure it has UVA/UVB protection (titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are two of the most effective ingredients).  The last thing you want is untimely wrinkles, lines, sagging and sun spots!

What Are Your Lips Saying About You?

The next time you pass a mirror, stop and take a good look at your lips. How are they? Are they soft and smooth or dry, chapped and in need of a little (or a lot!) TLC?

We often take our lips for granted and since they are always exposed, they take a lot of unintentional abuse. If it isn’t the wind and cold then it’s the heat and sun. Then, we often make it all worse by licking them when they feel dry (and often we are not even aware we are doing that!).

Where I live we are heading into the summer months, and the UV index is rising daily. We are intensifying our sunscreen application, buying hats and finding shade whenever possible…or maybe that’s just me!

Whether you burn or tan (on purpose or by default), there is no relief for your lips. Skin cancer can and does occur on people’s lips so protection is essential. And, there are rumors out there that traditional lip gloss (because of its shininess) can actually strengthen the intensity of the UV rays. Ooops…that’s not good!

Relief is now available. I have been waiting for this for years! Colorescience just came out with a lip product that adds shine and has an SPF of 35 – the best of both worlds!

Oh, and there’s more. It comes with an easy to use wand applicator and is vegan and gluten-free.

Take this opportunity to baby your lips this season, and do it at a savings!

Colorescience Sunforgettable Lip Shine SPF 35 — Reg. $25. Now $21.25

Do You Have a Fear of Standing Out?

How do you feel about standing out from the crowd? Does it excite you and make you smile or does it strike terror in your heart and make you cringe at the very thought. What has been your alternative to standing out? Many women describe their style as “beige,” “predictable” or “downright boring.” Rarely do they purposely choose that look, as you can imagine. It is usually a response to their deeply rooted fear of standing out for the wrong reasons, i.e., they would rather fade into the woodwork than risk looking silly or inappropriate. The results? Each time they get dressed their self-esteem and confidence takes a direct hit.

For some women they equate standing out with looking flamboyant, outrageous or ostentatious. But that doesn’t have to be true (although those looks certainly do cause a few stares!). Standing out means owning who you are and celebrating that (and if flamboyant, outrageous or ostentatious is who you are then celebrate it!). It can run the gamut from subtle and elegant to dramatic and bold. What is important, however, is that it be in keeping with your personality and inner essence. Then, no matter where on the continuum you fall, it just feels (and looks!) right.

Recently, I met with a woman who was about to re-enter the dating scene and felt apprehensive. Her most pressing question was, “On what date should I show cleavage?” Together we did some work and determined that her personality was primarily gentle, heartfelt and radiant. I could tell just by looking at her that the idea of showing a lot of cleavage felt foreign and uncomfortable. She had this predetermined belief, however, that she was supposed to expose her cleavage, so it came as a huge relief to her to learn that she never had to if she didn’t want to. What she really wanted to explore was how to look and feel sexy in a way that was authentic for her. Now, that’s a different story!

What is your look saying about you? What motivation is driving you to choose the outfits you do? Are you trying to blend in and hide (this never really works) or stand out in a way that gives you confidence and feels good? I have learned that most women would prefer to stand out in a positive way but they just don’t know how to do it so they retreat into what feels easy and familiar.

The next time you get dressed, rate the outfit you choose to wear on a scale of one to ten. In this case a ten would mean that you are totally celebrating and dressing authentically and with no apologies, and one would be that you are hiding as much as is humanly possible. Obviously, the goal is to get to ten! Next, analyze your look. What aspect of your style feels like you are trying really hard not to be noticed? Is it the color (too beige, black, neutral)? Is it the cut of the outfit (boxy and shapeless)? Is it the fabric (sweatshirt, head to toe polar fleece)? Is it the accessories (or lack thereof)? Is it that it’s all solid colors and there are no interesting textures or patterns? Once you have made a determination, make a concerted effort to tweak (remember, baby steps) just one of those components at a time. Add a touch of color, texture, or accessories. Keep trying until it feels good and fun. As you build on this step-by-step and begin to make positive changes, you will find that standing out has a whole new, delightful meaning!

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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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Amanda: After
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Donna: Before
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Donna: After
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Jan: Before
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Jan: After
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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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Annie: Before
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Annie: After
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Meryl: Before
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Meryl: After

I have been planning my outfits for my vacation in Spain which starts Saturday and it has been a joy! That’s a first for me and I’m sure it’s due to everything you’ve helped me with in terms of building a wardrobe I love and am comfortable with. 
Jen Sato