Nurturing Beauty Style Secrets Blog: Personal style Archives

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Time You Get Dressed

Every time you look in the mirror to get dressed you wonder who the woman is staring back. You shake your head in disbelief. When did you let your wardrobe dwindle to a handful of outfits that are easy and safe—none of which makes you feel fabulous? You sadly acknowledge that you have learned to settle for passable!

Sure, you can get out the door each morning in a jiffy, but it does absolutely nothing to help you feel good about yourself. It can even go so far as to undermine your self-confidence and take up space in your head as you push back the concerns about who might notice that your pants are a tad too short or that you’ve worn the same tired jacket three times this week. You feel aggravated as you tug at the waistband of your pants or keep checking to make sure your bra isn’t peeking out of the neckline. It’s exhausting, but you’ve gotten used to it.

Phew! Take a breath. It does not have to be that way forever and I’m going to show you how to get unstuck.

The truth is that when you feel good about how you look, your self-confidence soars and you waste no energy worrying about what others think. It’s a win-win on so many levels!

The problem is that if your wardrobe has slowly deteriorated and you are at a loss as to how to resuscitate it, the wardrobe gremlins take over and you either spend time convincing yourself that you don’t care or you worry that you do care!

Let me assure you that I am so much less concerned about what others think. As I mentioned, that takes care of itself when you feel good about how you look. So, instead of trying to please everyone else, we can put all our attention to helping you create a look and wardrobe you love. 

I am also not concerned with how much your clothes cost or whether you are dressed to the nines each time you leave the house. Creating a look you love has nothing to do with being fancy or spending a lot of money.

Creating a wardrobe you love has to do with listening to your heart and soul and regularly using a few guidelines to help you dress with intention instead of by default.

Before I share the 3 questions to ask yourself every time you get dressed, let me be perfectly clear. These 3 questions are the first step in creating a look you love. They will not solve every fashion dilemma you’ve ever had. But if you stay true to the heart of these questions you will make progress and every step forward gets you closer to how you want to feel in your clothes.

Start right now.

Take a look at what you are wearing and ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. Do You Love It?

Even if you don’t, on first glance, know why you do or don’t love the garment, it gets the conversation flowing! What do you love about the outfit you are wearing right now? There has to be something or you wouldn’t have put it on. Perhaps it’s simply that it’s comfortable. Great…hold that thought. Maybe it’s that it’s black so you feel like you are getting the best slimming potential from it. Okay…good. It could be that, after really focusing, you realize that you love the neckline because it shows off your neck and shoulders and allows you to wear pretty jewelry. Whatever it is, write it down.

When you practice this question often enough, it will become your fashion mantra.

2. If You Saw It In a Store Today, Would You Buy It Again?

Before you answer, I want to remind you of one thing. The answer has to come from your heart—from the place of, “Yes, I feel fabulous wearing this and I wish I had 3 more.” If it speaks more to that ‘safe’ place of, “well, it’s cozy and I can hide in it,” then that’s not the answer you want. The question is, ‘would you buy it again because you feel amazing wearing it?’

Now, let’s take this to another level. Whether you answer yes or no, make a list of all the reasons why you would or wouldn’t buy it again. This is very valuable information for your next shopping trip! If you wouldn’t buy it again because you feel frumpy in it (even though it is a good color and is comfortable), then that’s good to know. Or, maybe you are somewhere in between. You love the print, but the style makes you feel like you have to hold your stomach in all the time, in which case, note both of these responses.

After a while you will begin to see patterns. Who knew you loved blue so much or that you feel best in a v-neck but that you tend to wear turtlenecks to keep warm. Maybe you love the fabric of the sweater or the ruching on the sides of the dress or the buttons on your favorite jacket. Consider everything. The next step will help you put it all together.

3. What Could You Add/Change To Make This Outfit Feel More Special? 

Let’s go back to the fact that you love blue (or whatever color you discover for yourself) and you prefer v-necks over turtlenecks, but you worry about staying warm. Even if you are dressed head to toe in black or gray, you can add some blue by way of a beautiful scarf. While you might not think the outfit is perfect, you’ve taken a step forward. This is big! You now have the benefit of the beautiful blue color and you can stay warm, too, without resorting to a turtleneck sweater. Here’s a pretty example:

(For help knowing how to tie a scarf check out my scarf-tying video here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tyerfgBfNro)

Another option is that you like the top, but it needs tailoring. Otherwise you will continually fuss with it by trying to keep the sleeves rolled up or folding the hem under so it isn’t too long and that’s just plain annoying. Bring it to the tailor right away. (Even if the top only cost $20 and you have to invest $15, you will have a $35 top that you love and will feel great wearing as opposed to a top that aggravates you every time you wear it.)

Maybe it’s less about adding something and more about combining pieces differently. Maybe the top is great, but it’s long and has some flow to it and instead of wearing it with old, sloppy jeans like you do now, it needs skinny jeans with knee high boots or a pair of wedge sandals.

Or, as we talked about in the first question, if you love the slimming quality of black, perhaps there’s another color that will offer the same advantage. Say, aubergine, merlot or midnight blue. Guess what? This aubergine top from Ann Taylor will be equally as slimming as black:

If you do these three steps regularly you will transform your wardrobe. It has to happen.

When you break the pattern of throwing something on simply because it is safe and easy, you will feel happier when you look in the mirror.

It only takes seconds to stop and ask yourself:

  • Do you love it?
  • Would you buy it again if you saw it in the store?
  • What could you add/change about the outfit to make it feel better?

Start right now and see what happens. What have you got to lose? Nothing. And, each new awareness will bring you closer to feeling fabulous about the way you look, and you deserve to feel fabulous!

Do You Fill Your Closet With Black Because It’s Easy?

Black, black, black and more black. That’s what you have in your closet. Admit it (I promise you are not alone), you wear black out of habit. It’s easy, it’s slimming, there’s tons of it out there and it has a reputation of being chic and versatile. Phew! With that much going for it, who wouldn’t want an entire wardrobe in black?

The problem is that while black is certainly all of those things, I don’t see anything there that says anything about it looking fabulous on you!

Black is:

  • Easy…check
  • Slimming…check
  • It’s everywhere…check
  • Chic…well, maybe
  • Flattering on you? Hmmm…

With all the black hype out there it’s easy to assume you look great in it and so when it comes to buying clothes you think the more black the merrier. But, hold up a second. Before you drown in a sea of black (oh, yes, and a smidgeon of gray) clothes, let’s rethink your love affair with black.

Here are two critical things to consider before concealing yourself head to toe in black.

  • Other Colors Look Great, Too

Even if you look great in black, designers do make clothes in other colors and some of those will look beautiful on you. You don’t need the entire rainbow of colors in your closet. You just need a few exquisite colors to support and complement you. If you don’t know what those colors are, now (before you do any spring shopping) is the time to find out. If you don’t have a well-trained color consultant near you, then you can always start with the four colors that look great on everyone: forest green, deep periwinkle, deep teal and watermelon.

4 best colors

  • Your Personality Affects Your Color Choices

The other day I was shopping with a client who looks terrific in black. Her natural coloring (dark hair, light skin) embraces black, but if she dresses ALL in black, it squelches her fun, brightly-spirited personality. Head to toe black feels heavy on her UNLESS it has some fun design elements to it, like polka dots, a loose weave or cutouts that let her skin shin through.

Later that same day, I was shopping with my redheaded client. Her peaches and cream complexion complemented her hair and, as a result, black looks very intense on her. Lots of solid black seriously overwhelms her. That said, she will be presenting at a conference later this month and we did get her this amazing Joseph Ribkoff black coat jacket with sequins.

coat

It’s perfect. Why? Because the black speaks to the intense part of her personality that we dubbed ‘a little bit dangerous’ and the stunning style of the coat along with the sequins perfectly addresses the part of her that is elegantly alluring. Everyone in the store commented on how gorgeous she looked when she had it on. Her energy matches the intensity of the black and the sparkle softens it and allows her elegant nature to shine, too. It’s a bit of a sensitive balancing act, but in this case it paid off.

Then there is Diane. Two of Diane’s inner beauty words are delicate, natural beauty and fun. As you can see below, neither of those words is evident when she wears black..

dianebeforedianeafter

Photo Credit: Meri Bond Photography

Granted, the before outfit is not exactly ‘fun’ anyway, but when you see her in an equally business-like outfit in colors that support her, her delicate, natural beauty shines through and allows her ‘fun’ side to be seen more easily. Not to mention that she ‘feels’ more fun in the lighter outfit. The intensity of black swallows her up—both her physical being and her inner essence. This is not to say that she always has to wear light colors, but she must be very specific about the dark colors she wears (shades of navy, brown and deep teals are lovely) and how they interact with other colors. Too much contrast easily overshadows her. (You can see more pictures of Diane on my website.)

Are you wondering if anyone looks great in all black? The answer is absolutely! Heather Dominick is a perfect example. She’s a brilliant, intuitive, “EnergyRich” coach who rocks black. That’s because one of her inner beauty words is ‘stillness.’ Black has that qu ality of stillness like no other color and when Heather wants to embody the essence of stillness nothing supports her more than wearing all black. When she adds a touch of shimmer, sparkle or shine, she adds a feeling of ‘effortless shining’ to her presence—another of her inner beauty words—and the effect is magical as you can see here where she was on stage at one of her live events.

hands

The bottom line is that if you are filling your closet with black, solely (rather than soul-y) because it is easy, slimming, versatile and everywhere you look, then you are missing two of the key ingredients critical to creating a personal style you adore—colors that look gorgeous on you and colors that support you at a soul level.

Think about this the next time you shop. Pay attention to how you look and feel in black as compared to other colors.

That’s what Pam K. did as she shares here: “Your lessons are still working on me every day: I saw a top I loved that had GREAT styling and was so true to my words…except it was in black. I ordered it anyway, thinking I could go for black since I loved the style and cut. In fact, it didn’t sing on me like it did on the model and after wearing far more flattering colors recently I found I couldn’t stand the morbid black! So back it went.”

If you do decide to buy a black garment, make sure you are doing it because you look and feel amazing in it, not because it is easy. Really tuning in to what feels great will serve you in the long run and before you know it you will end up with a wardrobe you adore. How do you make black work in your wardrobe or have you eliminated it altogether?

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.

Want to Look Great Every Day? Create a Daily Uniform!

Every morning when you get dressed and stand for what seems like an hour in front of your closet trying to find something to wear, you dream of being able to grab a uniform and go. Your mind goes to a fantasy of reaching into your closet while still half asleep and pulling on something fabulous without having to try on ten or twenty things.  Then, your mind snaps back to reality and you think, “Sure, I already have a ‘uniform’ and it’s so boring I can hardly stand it!”

While your mind is intrigued at the thought of wearing a uniform, your heart says no because it sounds so dull and limiting and holds out for something more exciting.

Before you give up on the idea altogether, let’s rethink the concept of a uniform.  It can run from firefighters’ and police officers’ mode of dress to your Catholic school outfit or what you and every other girl in your girl scout troop wore.  In these cases it identifies you with a particular group.  The problem is that none of those is appropriate to your every day dress now.  While that’s true, you don’t have to give up entirely.  You can create your own group uniform with a membership of one: you.

The thing about a uniform is that it does not have to be boring and it certainly does not mean that you wear the same exact thing day in and day out.  It’s about consistency of design and style and then you add variety within that consistency.

Ginger's UniformLet me show you how:

Choose a style that looks good on you, is comfortable and fits into your lifestyle.* For instance, my current favorite uniform consists of a pair of skinny jeans, a long layering tank, and a long cardigan. I just purchased the most spectacular belt (and I’m not generally a belt person) that adds great flair to the outfit. I actually have 3 sweaters – one forest green, one deep teal and one brown. Green, off-white and brown layering tops go easily underneath and besides my skinny jeans I have black skinny ponte knit pants and depending upon the weather and how cold it is I either wear black high-heeled ankle boots or black or brown knee-high lower-heeled boots. My earrings can change depending on my mood and where I’m going. The most exciting part: I can get fully dressed in two minutes and feel great. It’s no wonder I wear some version of this outfit several times a week!

Important: Notice that each of the individual pieces in my uniform is a solid color. This makes it more versatile and I add visual interest with my accessories.

Here’s another example: a client who asked me to help her find a work uniform to get her through the next few months. She has a very heavy work schedule and does not want to have to sit and ponder what to wear every morning. She needs it to be easy and automatic. She knows she likes dresses and what’s easier than a dress! So, I helped her find 5-7 dresses that she can alternate over the next few months adding different jewelry and a sweater or jacket if she wants to and know she looks terrific every day.

Teal Dress

Here’s an example of a dress that would make a great uniform.  It’s simple, the solid teal color is beautiful on many people and you can add a sweater or jacket over it if need be (but it’s not necessary). Just have a couple of different options for necklaces or scarves (here are some examples) or add a belt (hint: avoid basic belts that you would wear with your jeans.  Choose something fun and interesting and in keeping with your personality.  Ideally a belt should be 1″ to 2″ wide), and you are ready to go. Pair it with tights and pumps or knee high boots and you’re done.

Want to change it up?  Here are some ideas:
Turquoise + Silver Necklace Carmelia Necklace Silver Heart Necklace
Scarf Scarf
Here’s a fun belt for the dress:
Belt
Here are three ideas for earrings to pair with the dress and belt:
Gold Earrings Gold + Turquoise Earrings Teal Earrings

 

Think about what makes you feel good and what you can wear a lot. Whether it’s a dress or a long sweater and skinny pants or perhaps you love vests, jackets, trousers and turtlenecks.

It is also important to know that you don’t need a huge uniform wardrobe. That would actually overcomplicate things and it will then take you longer to get dressed as you weed through everything in your closet, thus defeating the purpose. Think of my 3 basic options or my client’s 5-7 dresses. Maybe you love button down blouses, but are sick of the baby blue and white options. Great, choose a blouse like this:

Nic+Zoe Blouse

Get several interesting button down blouses in gorgeous colors. Pair them with black pants, skinny jeans or tuck them into a skirt and add a belt. You can always add a vest, jacket or cardigan over it or leave it plain with fun earrings or a scarf, easily coming up with 5-7 options that you can wear over and over.

Not only does a uniform make it easy to get dressed, but it expands your shopping dollar: when you wear something a lot it cuts the price per wear every time you put it on.

Begin by finding one of your favorite pieces in your closet and start exploring and experimenting. Try some of the ideas above or add your own. Share your insights and uniform ideas by commenting on my blog. The season is just underway so there’s plenty of time to fine tune it as you go along. Find a uniform you love and you will look forward to getting dressed every day!

(Every outfit and accessory pictured here is cruelty-free and vegan-friendly!)

* Need help getting started? If you need help identifying and creating your personal uniform, register for my “Your Style, Your Way” workshop. The January 25 workshop has sold out, but if there is enough interest I will add one on February 22 or get on the VIP notification list for the May 3 workshop. That way we can work on it together!

3 Style Tricks to Look Taller, Elongate Your Legs and Hide Your Tummy

Ginger's Style Tips & Tricks

You are quick to jump to conclusions that certain styles don’t look good on you. Time and again you try things on and instead of feeling beautiful you feel inadequate or worse yet, frumpy! BUT, there are 3 simple style tricks you can use immediately to make an outfit work for you and feel great wearing it.

Do you have a model’s body? Probably not. I know I don’t. In fact I wouldn’t be writing this if I did because I wouldn’t understand the issues you deal with every day when you get dressed. But, I do understand because I have many of the same concerns. The difference is that I know how to create the illusion that I have a well-balanced body.

Now, if you’re thinking, “But I’ve seen you and you always look terrific!,” that’s great and I appreciate your kind words. It means these style tricks work because, like you, I can (without hesitation) list 10 things about my body that I would change if I could wave a magic wand. I used to cringe and bemoan the fact that my body wasn’t perfect starting with the fact that I’m knock-kneed, have narrow shoulders and wider hips and I’ve always had a tummy. I always felt like everyone was staring at the parts of my body that embarrassed me and I felt so conspicuous and insecure. It took me years to make peace with my body, but I did because I learned how to hide what I don’t want someone to see and accentuate what I do. I feel so much better and you can, too. I am going to show you how to do the same thing for your body and your wardrobe!

You have to remember that the styles that are out there are designed for a model who is 5’10″, 120 pounds, broad shoulders and no where near busty. She is in the minority, not you! Very few of us, myself included, fall into that category. Clothes that are meant to look great on a 5’10″ model don’t necessarily translate easily to someone who isn’t, i.e., the rest of us. So, before you start getting down on your body and how it isn’t a super model’s, let’s look at things you can do to look taller, slimmer, and more balanced and give your body a fighting chance with some of these crazy styles that are out there right now.

Feeling good about how you look in an outfit has everything to do with understanding how to balance your body with the clothing choices you make. If you find yourself scratching your head wondering what that means, don’t worry. You are not alone. The problem in the fashion world today is that designers are ignoring the rules or worse, suggesting that they don’t matter. But, they do! Of course, if you are 5′ 11″, 125 pounds and have legs that go on forever, you can probably wear a paper bag and look stunning. But, since most of us aren’t super models, the rules do matter. In fact, they matter a lot if you want to feel good about how you look!

What happens if you ignore these rules? You start blaming your body. When was the last time you looked in the mirror and thought, “Why aren’t my hips/tummy/thighs smaller?” Or, “If only my legs were longer, ankles slimmer or bustline bigger.” Yesterday?  Five minutes ago? Maybe even ten times in the past hour?

Give your body a break. Keep it as healthy and strong as possible and then use fashion as your secret weapon! Style is all about illusion and understanding how to balance your body to give the impression of longer legs, broader shoulders or a slimmer tummy gives you an edge. It is all part of the experience, so why not use it to your advantage?

Before you get discouraged and give up on your wardrobe (and your body!), check out these three common culprits. Here are three of my favorite body balancing tips:

  1. Change Your Shoes. This doesn’t mean you have to wear spike heels to look taller and thinner (in fact, stilettos are not always the most slimming choice anyway because the heel is so thin that it can make your ankles and legs look heavy in comparison). Elongating your legs has less to do with the heel height and more to do with the vamp (the part of the shoe that goes across the top part of your foot). The higher the vamp (the closer it comes to your ankle), the more it shortens your legs and body. The lower the vamp, the more it elongates your legs and body.  It’s that simple.Don’t expect the fashion designers or trendy celebrity TV shows to help you with this. They’ve all gone wacky and have women wearing clunky shoes or black cage heels or ankle boots with skirts. If your legs go on forever, fine. Otherwise, think twice before adopting that trend.Notice in this picture how your eye stops at the top of the boot making her legs appear like they stop there, too.

    Don't wear this!

    If you really, really feel compelled to wear cage heels or ankle boots with a dress, the color must match either your skin or your tights to keep an uninterrupted leg line and make your legs look long.

    Wear This!

    Or, the next time you put on a dress or a pair of skinny jeans and think you can’t wear it, switch to a pair of shoes with a low vamp like this and you will be surprised at the difference it makes.

  2. Keep Your Armholes Slim. Dolman sleeves (a.k.a., batwings) have been popular for a couple of seasons. They are comfortable to wear, but they can also make you appear broader and more stout — especially someone who is short waisted and/or large busted. Look at the difference between these two armholes. The width of the dolman sleeve interrupts the vertical line of her body making her appear wider and heavier. Of course, since she’s a tall, slim model, a little width doesn’t matter as much. The top with the higher armhole makes the model look taller and slimmer. The next time you are feeling heavy and frumpy, however, check your armhole and see if it is making you look wider than you are. 

    See the Difference?

     

     

  3. Wear the Right Bra. At least two-thirds of all the women I have worked with have been wearing the wrong size bra. Or, maybe you are wearing the right size, but you have worn the same bras for so long that they have no lift or elasticity left in them. When you’re twenty and small busted that might be okay, but as you get older, a little support is helpful if you want your clothes to fit you properly. If your bust is several inches lower than it should be or your bra is too big or too small, darts won’t hit you in the right place, you will look like you are slumping and your tummy will look fuller. Yes, the right size bra can fix all of that and more! (Hint: you need to have at least 5 bras that you rotate regularly and even then, you should plan to replace them at least every 18 months.)

    Don't Let This Happen to You!

    And, never, ever go shopping in a sports bra. It’s not worth your time. You will never be able to tell if something looks great on you. You’ll feel dowdy and leave frustrated and discouraged. A quick bra change can save the day! And if you need a bra-fitting my favorite place is Intimacy. There’s one in Copley Place if you live in the Boston area (ask for Maria!) and if you don’t, check out their website at www.myintimacy.com for other locations.

If you want to look taller and slimmer or just not shorter and wider, then use these three guides the next time you get dressed or shop, especially if you are questioning an outfit and really wonder if it is flattering. Your clothing choices can make body parts look bigger, smaller, wider or longer — use that to your advantage! These three style tricks will get you started.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you like these tips and find them helpful, please comment below.  If I get enough comments I’ll be happy to share three more body balancing tips!

Are You Dressing for Yourself or Someone Else?

Are You Dressing for Yourself or Someone Else?

When you don’t know what your personal style is and you don’t feel confident about choosing clothes you love, it is tempting to let someone else dictate your style for you.  But, don’t do it!  You will never feel completely satisfied with how you look as long as you are dressing by someone else’s rules!  It is never too late to explore what makes you happy when you get dressed.

Who do you see when you look in your closet?  Is your mother’s face smiling back at you from that ruffled shirt you’ve never worn?  Or is your best friend’s favorite dress hanging out in there taunting you?

In response to the question, “Who do you see when you look in your closet,” I most often hear:

  • My mother
  • My sister
  • My best friend
  • Myself, pre-children
  • Myself, pre-thirty extra pounds
  • Myself, pre-menopause
  • My favorite celebrity
  • Whoever was working at the store the day I went shopping
  • The store window mannequin
  • All of the above!

Guess what?  When you look in your closet you want to see YOU — just you.  You want to see items that make you smile and that you associate with fun times and delicious moments.  Maybe the memories are of pushing your daughter on a swing, lunch with girlfriends, a successful business presentation, or a precious date with your sweetie. These are the simple pleasures that make up life.  And you want these feelings to be reflected in every aspect of your wardrobe — down to your nightgown and slippers!

So evict the strangers and weed out those garments that make you roll your eyes or cringeThey have absolutely no place in your wardrobe.  This exercise will help you make your closet all about you!

  1. Remove one item from your closet that feels more like someone else than you.  If you are near your closet, go there right now and do this (if not, write down the first thing that comes into your mind so you will remember to remove it later).  Do it even if you don’t know why it isn’t you or what to put in to replace it.  The very first step is to get it out of there.
    As long as something that is not you is taking up space in your sacred closet (yes, it is sacred because this is where your essence is expressed every day), you will feel overburdened, frustrated, annoyed or discouraged — or resigned to all of those feelings — every time you get dressed, and none of those is good.  It is also very likely that you are not wearing this garment anyway.  It is more like a security blanket, but the security is a sham.
     
  2. Identify one garment or outfit that makes you smile the second you put it on your body.  It can be a dress, pair of pants, a pair of shoes or a scarf.  No item is too small or insignificant.
  3. Lay the stranger and the item you love side by side, and get a piece of paper or a notebook.
  4. For the item that is not you, write down everything you do not like about it.  Be as picky as you can.  Maybe it’s the way the fabric feels.  Perhaps the buttons seem overwhelming, or there are just too many of them.  It could be that you dislike the pattern or the way it clings.  Or perhaps it has a belt, and you do not like belts.  Write down everything!  If there are a few things you like about it, write those in a separate column.  Maybe the color is pretty, but it can’t make up for the fact that the style is so shapeless.
  5. Write down everything you like about the item you love:  color, texture, fit, shape, ornamental details, the way it feels or anything else about it that comes to mind.  Maybe it makes you feel sophisticated, down-to-earth, spunky or pretty.  Whatever it is, write it down.
  6. Use these lists when you go shopping to help you stay focused.  They are your lifelines!  The next time you try on an item, run down both lists and see how the garment compares.  It is so easy to get distracted by all the choices, the lighting or the helpful “advice” from sales women or your shopping buddies.  Keep this shopping mantra in mind: Only buy or wear something if you love it.

 

This is an excerpt from my book, That’s So You! Create a Look You Love with Beauty, Style and Grace. It’s a big topic and the foundation of creating a personal style you love.  If you are not sure how to tell what makes you happy when you wear it and you need more support, get a copy of my book here: www.createalookyoulove.com  And, if you want even more personal support check out my “Who Taught You How to Dress?” virtual coaching program or my upcoming “Your Style, Your Way” workshop. The most important thing is that you take step forward to get yourself unstuck.

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.

***

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.

* * *

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

Banish Overhwelm from Your Shopping Experience

Frustrated? Overwhelmed?

There is no worse feeling than walking into a store and feeling overwhelmed that even with all these choices you won’t like how you look in anything in the store and that you will waste time, buy something you don’t love and leave empty handed. That leaves you feeling discouraged and hopeless!

That was exactly Marilyn’s dilemma. She is petite, about a size 12 on top and 14 on the bottom. She recently gained a few pounds and, as a result, had put off shopping until she was almost desperate. Although she had set out several times to shop, she always found something else she needed to do instead. Sound familiar?

But now, things had changed. Marilyn was invited to be a featured presenter at a weekend conference, and she wanted to look her best. Anxiety began to set in as she realized that the conference was only three weeks away. The anxiety was not about what she would say in her presentation — she had that down cold. But when she thought about what she would wear she actually considered canceling her appearance! She felt frumpy and old in everything she owned and could not imagine walking out on stage feeling that way. She knew she had to do something about that right away or she would be standing in front of an audience in a pair of worn black pants and an ill-fitting blue button down shirt and that was not an option. She wanted a new outfit that made her feel confident and sassy, but the problem was she had no idea where to start and was dreading the entire experience. So, she called me for help.

We met at a department store and after we had walked around for a few minutes and did not yet have anything she wanted to try on, I could feel her anxiety growing. She got more and more quiet with each step we took and I could sense discouragement and sadness in each of her sighs.

Finally, she turned to me and said with a slight break in her voice, “I would have left the store by now.” Without missing a beat, I smiled and jokingly said, “You can’t leave.”  (Actually, I was only half joking) “I promise we’ll find what you need.”

We stopped for a minute and I asked her what she was feeling. She looked around and with a wave of her hand said, “There’s too much here. I don’t know where to start and everywhere I do look I don’t see anything I want.”  I had heard this before from other women and know that this feeling of overwhelm is something many women struggle with all the time.

The truth is that department stores are big and at first (and sometimes second or third) glance can feel completely overwhelming. It is not your imagination. There is a lot to choose from. Look one way and you’ll see a sea of dresses — some sparkly and dressy, some short and flirty, and everything in between. Look the other way and you will see a wall of designers’ names, jeans in every imaginable color, not to mention shoes, handbags and jewelry counters that seem to go on forever.  It can make your head whirl! And, this is not only true about department stores. It is just as easy to feel out of your element in an off-price store, a consignment store or boutique.

Do you know your colors?So, how do you break the shopping experience down into manageable steps so you don’t flee the store immediately?  First of all, take a breath and begin by focusing only on these two things to start. (We’ll add more tools later.)

  1. Know what you needIf you go in trying to find everything all at once the overwhelm will haunt you. Purposely choose to shop for only one thing at a time. With Marilyn, for instance, our very first goal was to find her a beautiful jacket. We started in the suit section and then made our way to some of the designers — the whole time only looking for jackets. If you don’t find what you want you will know pretty quickly and you can choose to go to another store. Very little time wasted this way.
  2. Sort by color. While looking for the perfect jacket we didn’t look at every jacket there. That would have invited in more overwhelm. Instead, we started by focusing on finding colors that look fabulous on Marilyn. We skipped the light gray and mustard and headed for any deep purple and red we saw. By doing this we drastically reduced the amount of time we needed to find what we wanted and she knew that at least the color would be a success.

(If you do not have a current personalized color palette or know for sure what colors look great on you, review this article where I talk about the four colors that look good on many people)

Just focus on those two things for now. One more thought: Practice at different stores and see how you do. I know that, especially in department stores, there is a lot to see and it is so easy to get distracted. (No, you cannot make a detour to the children’s department to get your daughter a new dress!  You know you will never go back to shop for yourself.)

Plus, sometimes a store that used to be your favorite doesn’t work for you anymore. For instance, some of my clients used to love Ann Taylor and then several years ago, Ann Taylor changed their focus and, as a result, their styles changed. I rarely go in there now because it tends to be less classic and more trendy and often has a very limited color selection. It wasn’t that there was something wrong with these women, it’s that the store stopped making what worked for them. So, it was time to find a new store.

Remember, even if your wardrobe needs a complete overhaul, just focus on finding one thing at a time for now and only the colors that look great on you. Even if you don’t buy something, the experience will be quicker and much more enjoyable.

In my next blog, I will share how to take this experience to the next level so you can continue to refine your choices and banish the overwhelm.

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!

jackie-after
Jackie: Before
jackie-before
Jackie: After
diane-before
Diane: Before
diane-after
Diane: After
amanda-before
Amanda: Before
amanda-after
Amanda: After
donna-before-closeup
Donna: Before
donna-after-closeup
Donna: After
jan-before-closeup
Jan: Before
jan-after-closeup
Jan: After
sara-before-closeup
Sara: Before
sara-after-closeup
Sara: After
marianne-before-closeup
Marianne: Before
marianne-after-closeup
Marianne: After
annie-before-closeup
Annie: Before
annie-after-closeup
Annie: After
meryl-before-closeup
Meryl: Before
meryl-after-closeup
Meryl: After

I have been using your mantra of ‘more and more I feel…’ and it is so empowering. Saying I am beautiful wasn’t working for me but the more and more I feel beautiful, powerful, etc. is absolutely working AND happening! Woohoo. Kim Raymond