Nurturing Beauty Style Secrets Blog: Personal style Archives

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!

Are You White Pant Phobic? Here’s My Secret!

The Secret to Wearing White PantsLast night I was shopping with a small group of women. Everyone was looking for fun summer looks in anticipation of a warm, glorious summer. As expected, the question of white pants came up. Some said they live in them all summer. Others said they are afraid of them, and still others said they had never thought to buy a pair. The one thing that was very clear was that there are a lot of misconceptions around white pants and part of that is because there are a number of pitfalls you want to avoid if you choose to wear them.

So, let’s talk about white pants and address some familiar questions. Before we get to that, however, let’s talk about why white pants are so handy. That’s easy. Many of us, especially if we live in a cooler climate, build our wardrobes around black, brown or navy pants or jeans. These dark neutrals are easy and provide a good foundation upon which to build a versatile wardrobe. Of course, in the past few seasons colored pants have been gaining popularity, but not many people I know are banishing all their dark neutral pants in favor of bright colors.

So, where do white pants fit in?

They instantly add a lighter, more summery feel to an outfit. This is especially helpful for people whose best, most flattering colors are deep and rich. In the summer, if you pair your deep, rich colors with black pants, you feel heavy, wintery and out of sync with the season. Now, imagine changing your black pants to white and wear the same deep, rich colors near your face. You instantly add radiance and lightness to an otherwise dark outfit. Ahhh, an immediate sense of lightness surrounds you.

Great, you say, but I don’t wear white pants. They look terrible on me. That’s where the rest of this discussion comes in.

My suggestion, before you dismiss white pants entirely, is to keep reading. It might just change your mind. Believe me, I hear from clients all the time that they don’t wear white pants. And, then, with the right pair in the right fabric and paired with the perfect top, the results are magical … every time.

Debunking the top two reasons for not wearing white pants

I’ve heard all the excuses for not wearing white pants. In fact, I’ve heard them over and over. It’s doubtful you find it surprising to hear the top two reasons women don’t wear white pants:

  • I’m too heavy and they’ll draw attention to my lower body.
  • I’m bound to spill something on them immediately and then they’ll be ruined.

At the shopping event the women there ranged in size from 4 to 2X. As it turns out, every one of them looks great in white pants. Often I find that when a woman gains weight she immediately resorts to black and other dark colors on bottom to (in her estimation) camouflage her lower half. Sure, that can work to some extent, but it’s not the only way. There are plenty of people who look disproportionately larger on bottom even when they are wearing black pants. It’s not completely about color. It’s also about fit and styling.  A well-crafted outfit that includes white pants can easily be as slimming (or even more slimming) than an haphazardly tossed together outfit containing black pants. Not convinced?  In a minute we will talk about some of the pitfalls and styling tricks to choose a great pair of white pants.

But, first let’s talk about the dirt factor. Sure, there’s no getting around the fact that white pants will show dirt more readily than black pants. I also suggest you could be surprised by how long they last relatively dirt-free. You might also be sure that the white pants you get can be washed as opposed to dry-cleaned. That way you can toss them in the laundry at the first signs of any marks and save constant dry cleaning fees (and fewer chemicals).

Not to mention that it’s not the end of the world if you get a pair of white pants and they get irrevocably stained. You either go get another pair (and refrain from eating blueberry pie while wearing them) or you give up on white pants (I recommend the former option). I rarely hear of one of my clients (even those with small children) saying that they ruin every pair of white pants. It’s possible, but unlikely. So, why let that keep you from experimenting with a potentially terrific summer look.

Here are some tips for choosing your go-to white pants:

Choose your fabric wisely. My favorite white pants are white jeans. This is true for several reasons.

  • Denim is heavy enough (even the lighter weight denim) so that you don’t have to worry about the see-through factor.
  • Denim is durable and washes easily.
  • These days denim is versatile.  If you buy a nice pair of white jeans you can dress them up or dress them down.

On the other hand, denim can be a tad hot when the temperatures soar. In which case, you have options. Linen is one of the coolest fabrics, but the see-through factor is often off the charts. Occasionally you’ll find lined linen pants but that usually defeats the purpose of wearing linen — which is to stay cool. And, some women can’t stand the immediate wrinkling that invariably happens with linen. You either love it or hate it.

What do you do when you choose a pair of white pants and they are somewhat transparent? Three things:

  • Wear skin-tone underwear. That way there is no risk of seeing the polka dots from your favorite pair of panties peeking through.
  • Remove the pockets. Why designers put pockets in unlined linen or other lightweight/slightly sheer fabrics is beyond me. Seeing the lining of the pockets is unsightly and distracting and makes it very obvious that the pants are not opaque.
  • Do not wear these pants skin tight. If they are even the least bit sheer the tightness will leave little to the imagination. Plus, wearing them that tight undermines the main purpose of wearing linen pants which is to keep cool — air cannot circulate when the pants are glued to your body.

I replaced all of my white pants this season because the ones I had were either old styles (I’m talking several years old (see, white pants can last)), too big, too small or just uncomfortable. I now have two pairs — a skinnier jean (can’t believe I’m even saying that!) and a pair of looser ones for when the weather is hot and I don’t want to be in something too snug.

If you are wondering how to style them, here are a few ideas (click on the images for more details):

 

Summer outfit with white pants and vegan flats

 

 
 
 
Dressier outfit with white pants and vegan handbag

 

 
 
 
White skinny jeans with longer top and vegan sandals

 

 
 

What are your biggest fears around wearing white pants? Or tell me why you love them! Post a comment for a chance to win a free digital copy of my new book That’s So You!

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.

Are You a Creature of Habit?

The other day I was emptying the trash in my office and I looked at my trash basket. I mean really looked at it. It was then that I realized I’ve had that same trash basket for thirty years. You heard me right … the same exact basket for thirty years!

Even after all that time there’s nothing particularly wrong with it except that it is a basket so you have to wiggle things out of it sometimes, but mostly it works. It holds just the right amount of trash and is still in good shape. To be honest, it has never occurred to me to replace it — even when I had a whole new office desk system installed a few years ago. I simply placed the same basket in a convenient spot and went about my business.

I bet you are wondering why I am telling you about my trash, right? It’s because this new awareness got me thinking about what else I may be holding onto out of habit and familiarity (rather than for love and beauty) for years or even decades? I began to wonder how that is serving me … or not.

Ginger's JacketsAs you can imagine, I am pretty good at evaluating my wardrobe each season and I regularly let go of clothing and accessories that no longer make me happy, don’t fit or are worn out. Since my new awareness, however, I have honed in on a few items that I have had for, ahem, ten+ years. Two jackets immediately came to mind. One is a brown jacket by my favorite designer, Joseph Ribkoff, and the other is a green jacket from JC Penney that seems to be indestructible. Both are in great condition although I realized I have not been wearing them as much lately. So, in the spirit of understanding this phenomenon (both for my own benefit and my clients’ support) I started asking myself a few questions:

  • Are they still in style — or at least not out of style (e.g., remember the 1980′s when pleated, tapered pants were in? They are no where to be found now (thankfully!)) — Yes.
  • Do they still fit?  Yes.
  • Where will I wear them? (Sometimes, our lifestyle changes and we no longer have the need for certain garments or outfits.) The brown jacket I wear working and the green one has become more casual.
  • Can I make a complete outfit with them? (Have you ever had the experience that you retire one part of a full outfit and then can never seem to find anything else that works as well?) Yes.
  • Do I love wearing them? (This is the clincher!)  Hmmm… think I’m just tired of them.

After the trash basket incident and the awareness that I keep some of clothes for a very long time, I began to gaze around my home with a new mindfulness. It didn’t take long to realize that I am a creature of habit. I sometimes keep things simply because they are familiar. While I don’t do this as much with my clothes because I have learned to assess and reassess what really makes me happy, both when I get dressed each morning AND when I shop, when it comes to items around the house, it’s a different story.

What is the Belief Behind Being a Creature of Habit?

I realized there are two things going on here. One is my reluctance to get rid of anything unless it’s falling apart. I tend to live by the old protestant ethic of my upbringing that says ‘waste not, want not’ and if it’s still in good condition I feel I should keep it. I admit that this is a good and wise choice for the environment — I am certainly not into “fast” consumerism — the idea of buying something just to use once or twice and then discarding it holds very little appeal (on many levels) for me. I like to procure things I enjoy and keep them for a long time. I also am now realizing that I do not have to make apologies for passing something along that I have used well and I can do this before it is in total tatters.

The other thing is that I still have (on some level) the belief that I should save my best things for special occasions. While I have definitely learned not to do this with my clothes and I talk about this more in That’s So You! in the section entitled, “What Are You Waiting For?”, I have not yet applied this to everything in my life.

Silverware - Old & NewThe truth is that as a creature of habit, it is hard for me to see new possibilities when I am tied up in old, automatic habits. In fact, as a result of writing this I had a realization about my every day silverware. I’ve had it for well over 15 years. Do I love it? No. It’s fine (I’m not even sure I loved it when I bought it). It works. It’s in good condition, but I certainly don’t love it. Then I remembered that I have this beautiful silverware that I purchased in St. Augustine Florida at an antique store many years ago that sits in a beautiful box in the pantry waiting for company. Oh, dear. We rarely have company for dinner and even then I often forget to use it. So, it is sitting there in its precious box unused and under-appreciated. I have been such a creature of habit that every day I reach into the kitchen silverware drawer, pull out a fork or spoon and eat. While I’m very particular about the plate I use and always choose that with great intention, it has not occurred to me to question my silverware … until now.

Why am I sharing all of this with you?

  • Because it was a completely new awareness for me and now I can’t stop evaluating everything in my house. I have been totally committed to only keeping and wearing clothes that I love and enjoy wearing, so the realization that this habit had not extended to the rest of my possessions, felt profound. Just as I move things out of my wardrobe from time to time and consign or donate them when they no longer serve me, I can do the same with everyday items in my home. Who knew!
  • If I am having this new awakening with household items then I suspect that there are many women out there who are doing the same thing with their wardrobes: wearing things out of habit rather than because they love the garment and feel beautiful wearing it. As a result, they are oftentimes either overwhelmed with too many clothes (as they add new things without purging older items first), or, they are settling for wearing things that are “good enough” because the clothes are still “wearable” and fit even if they no longer make their heart sing.

It also makes me even more committed to purchasing things only if I love them. No more settling for “good enough” (you can read more about this in That’s So You! as well in the section on “Are You Settling for Good Enough?”). If I am going to keep something for a long time (which I don’t see that habit changing anytime soon) then I want to be fully aware of my appreciation for the item and use it with joyful intention rather than just out of habit.

While there is comfort in habit, it is also easy to fall into a fog of complacency or to do things on automatic pilot. The good news is that we can change all of that. Every night before I fall asleep I spend a few minutes feeling appreciation for people, things and experiences throughout my day. As of now, I have added a new component: I will find one thing to appreciate that is new each day — something seemingly mundane, something I take for granted. As I do this, it will create a new awareness of where I am settling for things that don’t make me happy. Believe me, as I unpack my new/old silverware I will be appreciating that for a long time!

So, where are you a “creature of habit?” And, where is that not serving you?  Have you had any new awarenesses?  If so, please feel free to leave a comment!

5 Tips to Help You Spring Clean Your Closet Now

The other day I was looking through my closet thinking about what I would keep and what I would get rid of as the change of season approaches. Of course, here in New England, we never know what kind of winter we will have and so sometimes I don’t get to wear something as much as I thought I would because the weather was either colder, warmer, snowier or icier than usual.

As I reviewed my wardrobe one piece stood out to me: a brown casual, safari-style jacket that I have had for many years. It’s still in good shape, but I found myself putting it on and taking it off a couple times too many this winter. So, I stopped to analyze it since I don’t like things taking up space in my closet that don’t make me happy. And, like most of us, I am reluctant to let something go until I know why I won’t wear it anymore.

One look in the mirror gave me my answer. The color is just muted enough that it no longer works with my hair, which is slightly more bright and intense red than it used to be. While the style is useful, I don’t feel great in it now, and, although it is useful, that alone is never a reason to keep something. So, it is going away.

As the seasons converge, it is the perfect time to reevaluate items from both seasons. As you review your winter wardrobe, it is fresh in your mind what you wore and what never saw the light of day. The questions below will help you determine if it is worth storing an item until next year or if you need to bid it a fond farewell now. The same thing is true as you unpack your spring and summer wardrobe. Do you look at something and think, “Oh, yay, I had forgotten about this and can’t wait for the weather to get warm enough so I can wear it.” Or, do you look at it and think, “Wow, I still have this thing?” Hang the “oh, yay” one in your closet straight away. Keep the other one handy as you refer to the 5 steps below to determine whether it finds a home along side the “oh, yay” item or heads to the nearest consignment store, donation center or trash barrel.

1. Does the color look great on you? “Well, it goes with everything” (that’s usually our answer to black or gray) doesn’t cut it, nor does…my mother gave it to me, or…everyone is wearing this color. None of those things matters unless the color also looks great on you. Why settle for a color that’s just ho-hum (or worse!) when you can have a closet full of colors that make you sparkle? If it isn’t a great color on you, let it go.

2. Does it fit you right now? So much can change in one season and our weight is one of those things that can fluctuate widely within just a few short months. If it doesn’t fit, you can keep it (as long as you can say yes to the other questions, of course), but do not put it in your working closet. Storm it away for now. Or, if the fit issue can easily be remedied by a trip to the tailor, then add it to the tailoring pile (you do have a tailor, right?).

3. Is it in good repair? It is so easy to toss something into the out-of-season closet or storage unit figuring you’ll think about it when the temperatures dip or soar again, but now is the moment of truth. Has this item seen better days? Is it pilled, frayed, stained or thread-bare? If so (be honest), it goes. Yes, even if it was your favorite. If that’s the case, it’s actually a good thing. It means you got your money’s worth out of it and now it is time for it to retire and make room for something fresh and new to take its place.

4. Is it comfortable? You know you won’t wear it if it isn’t, and yet it is so easy to keep something thinking we might need it sometime when, in our hearts, we know that we will always find something we feel better in rather than wear something uncomfortable and spend the entire time longing to take it off! If it isn’t comfortable, it goes.

5. Can you make a complete outfit out of it? If you recently “retired” the only item that made this garment into a complete outfit, then it’s time to reflect on its value to your wardrobe. Will you easily be able to create a new outfit with it or is it one of those things that you will drag around from store to store looking for a match? If the latter is true, thank it for its past contribution to your wardrobe and pass it along. And, if it has been sitting in your closet with the tags still on it because you can’t find something that will go with it, first check to see if it passes the test of the other four questions. If it does, then give it one last chance to find something to go with it. If, within the next week, you do not find a suitable companion for it and it is still sitting in your closet, consign it or give it away. You won’t believe how relieved you will be to let that energy go. You will no longer be reminded that you spent money on something you can’t wear or put pressure on yourself to spend valuable time trying to make it work or wearing it in a combination that doesn’t make you happy.

Are you ready for the final test? This is crucial and should really be the first thing you ask yourself: Do you love it? So, why do I have it last? Because I also know from past experience that until we go through the exercise above, it is way too easy to think you love something until you put it to the test. Lydia is a perfect example of that.

When I was in Lydia’s closet with her, she pulled out a dress that she had had for years and said, this stays, it is a long-time favorite and I love it. Okay, great. I asked her she minded if I asked a few questions about it. She agreed and so I asked her when she had last worn it. That’s when the story began. She hadn’t actually worn it in about three years because it was a tad tight–and had been for all that time. Ooops, that’s #2.

She had also recently started coloring her hair and when she put the rose colored dress on it clashed with the auburn highlights she had added to cover the hints of gray in her naturally brown hair. Until she put it on she hadn’t realized that the color made her complexion look a little ruddy and the color felt dull rather than soft and pretty as it had originally. With the first two questions being answered with a resounding no, that was enough to make her realize (with no further promptly from me) that it needed to be in the give-away pile, but the clincher was when she realized there was a stain at the waist band that clearly had been there for a while and was likely not coming out.

At first she felt sad, but then she remembered how wonderful she had felt in that dress for many seasons and she was fine with letting it go.

These five questions (plus the bonus question) will help you identify and remove from your closet the items that are no longer serving you. While I know this exercise can feel a bit scary, it will also feel liberating. No more pressure to wearing something you can’t or do not want to. Of course, these questions also raise more questions. What if it passes all those tests and you still don’t wear it? Then, it is time to get my book, That’s So You! or go to your local bookstore and ask them to order it.

That’s So You! helps you identify many more reasons why things aren’t working for you and gives you answers to questions you don’t even know you have right now. There is an entire chapter on Tapping Into Your Inner Beauty followed by Taming Your Closet and Real-Life Fashion Advice. Those are just three of the nine chapters that help you create a look you love with beauty, style and grace.

The bottom line is that you can have a wardrobe you feel great in. Take a moment now to begin your spring cleaning process and feel lighter and refreshed as you step into the warmer weather.

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.

How Can You Dress to Look Slimmer? (Part 2)

Two weeks ago we started the discussion of how to avoid wearing clothes that add width and make you look heavier than you are. You can review those first five tips here. Now that you’ve had a chance to experiment with those ideas, let’s continue on with the next five:
6. Pockets can ruin a good outfit. While, pockets can be a very handy addition to a coat or jacket, there are plenty of other situations when you have to wonder what the designer was thinking. Patch pockets (a big square pocket sewn on the outside of a garment) are big offenders when it comes to adding physical and visual bulk, yet they appear on blouses at the bustline, on jackets or sweaters at the waist and on the hips of your skirt or pants. Not only are they large but they often gap or sag unattractively, drawing more focus to the part of your body they cover. Are there exceptions? Yes. If you are small busted, for instance, you can handle a pocket on your chest because you can afford to add volume, but if you are larger breasted, avoid it. It will just make you look bustier than you are and draw focus to that part of your body.

My recommendation is to avoid patch pockets anywhere on your body where you do not want to draw attention. So if you carry weight in your tummy, you certainly do not want to wear a jacket or sweater with pockets at your mid-section. And, if you have a few extra pounds on your hips and thighs, then patch pockets on your longer sweater or cargo pants with pockets on your legs will not do you any favors. Also, while we are on the topic of pockets, angled pockets that are often in women’s dress trousers should be banished. For most women, these pockets just pull and gap and make you look and feel heavier than you are. This does not mean you have to pass up a pair of pants that has them. In most cases, you can apply an easy fix. Just have the pockets removed and sewn shut by your tailor, and the front of your trousers will be nice and smooth.

7. Use color strategically. By this, I mean use color placement to your advantage. One great way to use color well is with color blocking. This just means that instead of wearing all one color or a smaller pattern of colors, you wear large blocks of colors in one outfit. Dresses often demonstrate this idea well. For example, a slimming design is one that has dark side panels (often with the dark panel indenting at the waist to create an hour-glass shape) and a brighter color down the middle of your body.

Take a look at the first dress pictured at the right. The eye automatically goes to the brighter pop of color, and the darker side panels recede, which appears to whittle your waistline. The dress pictured at the bottom offers another example using black and a print so your eye goes to the print and the curve of the floral design accentuates or gives the illusion of, that curve of the body.

You can do this with separates as well. Match your tank top to your skirt or pants, and then wear a long, sleek, dark neutral cardigan or coat jacket. Leave the sweater or jacket open, and you create a long central column of color with the outer jacket fading into the background. Of course, monochromatic dressing—wearing an outfit all in one color (or slightly varying tones of one color) from head to toe—will also have a slimming effect because the eye doesn’t stop or is not drawn horizontally as it would when, for instance, the hem of your yellow sweater contrasts with the brown of your pants.

8. Gathers or pleats around the waist are no one’s best look. While there are exceptions to every fashion rule out there, very few women can pull off gathers around the waist which we sometimes see in skirts that have an elasticized waistband and tiny folds of fabric pulled together known as gathers. This extra fabric adds width and fullness at the waistline. Pleated pants or skirts also add volume at your tummy and hip area and will automatically make you look heavier than you are. Sleek, flat front pants and skirts are always more becoming.

9. An ill-fitting bra adds pounds. You have most likely heard me talk about wearing a bra that fits you properly, and that’s because it is so important in creating a flattering silhouette. When your bra fits you well, your breasts are supported and lifted, and there is more space between your bustline and your waist. And, back fat is reduced when your bra fits your body. It’s a winning solution all around.

10. Accessories can add pounds, too. Yes, even accessories can add the illusion of pounds and a big offender is the choker necklace. Thankfully, chokers are not often a popular fashion accessory, but they do come into style now and again. When they do, choose wisely as they are not always the most flattering embellishment. Wearing a choker is not a big problem if you have a long thin smooth neck—in which case you can wear a thick or thin choker if it really makes you happy. But, in general, if your neck is short or full, the choker will just make your neck look shorter and wider, and, as you get older, it can draw attention to a softening jawline. Chokers can also have a somewhat unsettling effect—dare I say wearers look beheaded?—which is not usually a fashion statement anyone chooses on purpose. In general, a more flattering look is to wear a necklace that hangs down a few inches on your chest creating the illusion of a longer neck.

Did you notice that something was missing in the list of looks that add pounds? I’ve saved horizontal stripes for last.

It has been ingrained in women from a young age that horizontal stripes are universally unflattering and make every woman look heavier than she is. As a result, women everywhere avoid them like the plague. And, this isn’t always necessary. One general rule: the wider the stripe, the heavier it will make you look, and the thinner the stripe, the more slimming it is. Here’s a perfect example. Where does she look the widest?

You can also go one step further. If you want to wear horizontal stripes but worry about looking heavier, choose a thin stripe in related colors, such as medium blue with navy or pink and orange as in the example pictured at the top right, and the effect will be softer and more forgiving (than black and white, for example). You can also experiment with stripes that are wiggly or with patterns where the lines are diffused. These will also have a softer effect as you can see in the dress pictured at the bottom right. That said, it is not all lollipops and roses when it comes to donning a striped garment. As stripes—which are traditionally straight—navigate over your curves, they can look distorted and draw attention to the parts of the body they cover.

Believe it or not, for some women horizontal stripes are a blessing. Women who are tall and thin and feel a bit on the lanky side can use horizontal stripes strategically to add width and break up the vertical line. The point here is that you might not want to dismiss stripes so readily—unless you just don’t like them—and allow for the possibility that you might one day find a beautiful horizontal stripe that looks great and that you enjoy wearing.

I have yet to meet one woman who wants her wardrobe to make her look heavier and wider than she is. That’s why this checklist is so important. Whether you are mixing and matching from your existing wardrobe or out shopping for new items, keep this list handy as you make adjustments to each outfit you put together. In fact, here’s a distilled version of the list so you can refer to it often:

  1. Expand your dark (a.k.a., slimming) color repertoire–black is not the only option.
  2. Choose clothes that skim your body—not too big or too small.
  3. Pair slim cropped pants with shoes with a low vamp to elongate your legs.
  4. Ankle straps and high vamp shoes shorten your legs so be careful what you pair them with.
  5. Keep your posture tall and straight.
  6. Notice the pockets on the garment and make sure they do not detract or add bulk.
  7. Use vertical columns of color to create a slimming effect.
  8. Avoid gathers or pleats around the waist or hips.
  9. Wear a bra that fits perfectly.
  10. Avoid wearing a choker necklace unless you are sure it is flattering.

Practice applying these ten powerful tips and watch how those changes make you instantly appear taller and slimmer.

And, watch for an expanded version of this article in my upcoming book, That’s So You! Create a Look You Love with Beauty, Style and Grace due out next month!

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!

Have You Skipped the Dress Rehearsal and Gone Right to Opening Night?

I had carefully planned my wardrobe for a recent trip to New York City where I was going to be spending an entire day shopping with a client. I’m not a light packer, and I don’t apologize for that. I always bring something extra just in case my mood changes, the weather doesn’t cooperate or I spill something. Thankfully, this trip was no exception but what happened made me more aware of the importance of giving your clothes a “dress” rehearsal.

I was leisurely getting ready in my hotel room on the morning of the shopping trip. I put on my brown pants and a jacket. My makeup was on, and I was fully accessorized. The only thing left to do was finishing packing and put on my shoes. And, then it struck me. The shoes I had brought did not have a high enough heel for the pants I planned to wear with the outfit. Sure enough, when I put my shoes on, the hem dragged on the ground – not a particularly elegant look and certainly not good for the pants.

I was so upset with myself. Thankfully, I was not completely stuck. I was able to wear the pants I had on the day before. They were the perfect color and the heel height was right. I just wasn’t as happy with the combination since the pants weren’t quite as elegant as the pair I had planned on wearing (although I’m probably the only one who noticed that). I took a breath, made peace with the outfit and vowed to rehearse my outfits more carefully the next time. It’s one thing to find that out in the privacy of your own home where changing is easier, but this was a new pair of pants, and I had not put it through the rehearsal process long enough to be sure what shoes would work best with them.

But, there’s a bigger lesson here. Fashion magazines are full of great ideas but it’s not until you translate those ideas directly to your body that you know whether it’s a hit or a miss. Something can look just perfect and inviting when you lay it out on the bed or see it hanging on the mannequin in the store, but it’s another thing to actually put it on your body and see how it all works in real life.

Recently, while doing a wardrobe consultation with Diane I mentioned my dress rehearsal concept. She told me that she does a “staging” with her clothes. She chooses her outfit ahead of time and then hangs it altogether on her closet door. She reviews it several times to see if she likes it before she decides to wear it. This certainly sets the stage for a fun outfit but, she agreed, it isn’t until she actually puts it on that she knows for sure whether it really works or not. My point exactly.

We are not one-size-fits-all or one-dimensional, and we do not have mannequin bodies. It’s easy to assume that the outfit will look just as good on us as it does laying the bed or on a mannequin, but it’s those assumptions that contribute to our frustration when they don’t. Your own private dress rehearsal will solve this problem.

Amy told me of a similar experience she had had. She found out she was to be the recipient of an award from her company, and it was to be presented to her at a special dinner. It’s no surprise that she wanted her outfit to be special. She found a dress she liked. It was sleeveless so she bought a pretty cardigan to go over it in exactly the right color. Her shoes, jewelry and handbag completed the outfit. She had been staring at the combination for 2 weeks with anticipation, and finally the day of the event arrived.

She got dressed and realized that not only did the sweater make the neckline bunch up funny but when she tried to walk more than 10 feet in her shoes her heels would slip, and she nearly fell out of them. They had been fine while she was standing looking in the mirror and moving ever so slightly but as soon as she walked any distance, yikes, she walked right of them. All she could think of was why hadn’t she done a full dress rehearsal before. What had she been thinking!

She ended up pinning the neckline to the sweater, and it turned out the room was warm so (phew!) she didn’t need the extra layer most of the time. She found some gel pads to stick in the front of her shoes so she could walk up on stage to receive her award. Unfortunately, the shoes made her feet hurt but at least she wasn’t leaving them 4 steps behind her when she walked. She had averted disaster and supreme frustration but her experience was not as fun and elegant as she had planned for it to be.

The moral of the story is that even if you’ve worn each piece separately before – even many times – it’s important to see if the new combination you’re considering really works. Your memory can do funny things, and it’s easy to forget that something was particularly clingy or only looked good with a skinny pant. The proposed outfit might look attractive hanging on the closet door lulling you into a false sense of security. Until you put it on. That’s the real test. Yes, you might feel like you have better things to do (a.k.a., things you’d rather do) than try your clothes on ahead of time. But, I promise that if you do this you’ll be so happy you did. No more last minute frantic clothing changes complete with cursing, tears and threats of not going anywhere. You’ll breath a sigh of relief as you get dressed with ease. And, if a practiced outfit doesn’t work during a dress rehearsal not only do you have a chance to tweak it with less stress.

A director would never go directly from selecting the cast and staging the space to opening night, and it’s not advisable to do that with your wardrobe either. A dress rehearsal is an invaluable step in your journey (whether it’s done in your home or at the store if you purchase everything at the same time) to creating a wardrobe you love with ease and joy. A few extra minutes of practice can save you frustration and anxiety as the curtain goes up, and the next day there will be glowing reviews all around!

5 Holiday Looks To Make You Feel Special

The long, cold, colorless winter is upon us here in the northeast, and once the holidays are over we’ll settle in for several months of dreariness (can you tell I just love the winter!). Being cold is not one of my favorite things and yet finding warm, cozy clothes and accessories that are also fun and stylish can be a wee bit of a challenge, to say the least…especially once January comes around and the stores start to think about spring!

So, I scour the stores and internet looking for things to bring light and joy to any woman’s wardrobe, and I am, of course, more than happy to share my special finds.

Here are 5 items that I feel are pretty, refreshing or just downright adorable for you or as a holiday gift…

Warmth & Style All In One! I don’t wear many turtlenecks these days (a softening jawline and all that…) so I’ve taken to adding beautiful scarves to my wardrobe. There are lots of them out there but this one just caught my eye because the color is stunning and will look good on many women. (Coral scarf featured at right. Click here for shopping info) and this one looks cozy and again the burgundy color will look good on many women (Burgundy scarf featured at right. Click here for shopping info).

Give Your ‘Functional’ Accessories a Lift! Add some cheer to your outfit with a handbag in a gorgeous color. In addition to being pretty to look at (coming in red, green, black and silver), practical and timeless, it is also vegan and cruelty-free (Click here for shopping info).

And, as an extra bonus you can use the coupon code ‘Ginger’ through the end of the year and receive $200 discount on any handbag in their collection. I have a Jill Milan bag, and it’s totally elegant.

Big, Bold & Beautiful! Cocktail rings are all the rage right now, and they are fabulous! I have to admit it is one accessory I don’t wear (most look way too oversized on me), but if I did, this is one that I think is elegant, and unusual (Click here for shopping info).

Those of you who have been shopping with me at Jewelry by Karel know how much pizzazz a cocktail ring can add to an outfit, and she has a great selection at great prices. Whether you spend a little (you can find very fun, inexpensive ones on www.etsy.com) or a lot is up to you. It’s a fun way to add a little razzle-dazzle to your holidays.

Pretty PJ’s! I am constantly on the prowl for pretty, feminine, cozy sleepwear. So much of it out there is either dowdy, purely functional or skimpy (for me that means too short) and I’d freeze! I found a fun selection at Soma (Click here for shopping info).

Soothing Comfort All Winter! Historically, winter is a time to hibernate a bit, reflect and relax (yeah, right, you say!). Well, any little bit helps, for sure. That’s why I created this delicious essential oil blend of lavender, geranium and ylang ylang.

Use it as a massage oil or countless other ways (I include a list of suggestions for how to use it with each purchase). (Click here for shopping info).

Yes, the winter is long, but please don’t become just another body dressed in gray or black trudging through the winter months…biding your time until spring. Bring light, joy and delight to your wardrobe now! These are just a few ways to do that.

Feel free to share any juicy, sparkly, fun items you’ve found during your holiday shopping sprees. Let’s help each other celebrate beauty throughout the next few months.

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

Working with Ginger is nothing short of amazing. I wanted to change my wardrobe so I would feel fabulous and comfortable, express my own authentic style, and ‘dress to impress’ in support of my professional ambitions. The results I’ve achieved with Ginger wildly surpassed my expectations and I am quite confident I could not have done it without her. First, we pared my wardrobe down to clothes that were truly flattering, comfortable, and in-line with my personality and intentions. Ginger was incredibly astute at recognizing my unique style and what would work for me. I felt very empowered by her feedback and vision. We developed a shopping list and shopped together to fill out my wardrobe with clothing that makes me feel empowered, attractive, comfortable, and “me”. Ginger is amazing to shop with. Her knowledge, experience, and relationships made navigating the stores a breeze; she was constructive, supportive, and encouraging; and she offered clear guidance and opinions to make sure we made the best selections. She was also just a pleasure to spend time with and treated everyone we encountered with the utmost professonal courtesy and respect. I feel like a whole new person. Or, rather, I feel like I am finally dressing as I have always wanted to, and feel fabulous in my own skin and in the world. Lily