It’s spring and summer is right around the corner. You can’t wait to get out of your winter clothes and you realize you need a few new things to add to last year’s warm weather wardrobe. So you build up your resolve, push down your chronic dread of shopping and head out to the stores. Despite your past shopping experiences, you try to remain hopeful, but when you arrive home after hours perusing the racks and more time trying things on in the dressing room, all you have to show for it is more ‘stuff.’ Continue reading…
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! Continue reading…
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? Continue reading…
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. Continue reading…
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. Continue reading…
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.)
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!
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 cringe. They have absolutely no place in your wardrobe. This exercise will help you make your closet all about you!
- 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.
- 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.
- Lay the stranger and the item you love side by side, and get a piece of paper or a notebook.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
One 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.
And, 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.)
When 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.
The 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
If I had a dime for every time a woman told me that she had declined an offer because she didn’t feel like she knew what to wear and it felt too hard and overwhelming to figure it out (and, what if she was wrong and what she wore was inappropriate!), I would be rich. It is a shame to pass up amazing opportunities because you feel overwhelmed and insecure about how you look. You cannot go through life like this and I am going to make sure you don’t have to!
Sally is a perfect example. She once stood in front of her closet for two hours wringing her hands and sighing as she tried desperately to figure out what to wear to a dinner with her husband’s colleagues. A half hour before they were supposed to leave, her husband found her half dressed sobbing on the closet floor. She felt discouraged and embarrassed because she couldn’t figure it out on her own. She ultimately wore something she didn’t feel great in because she didn’t want to let her husband down. Not surprisingly, the whole time they were out, she couldn’t wait to get back home.
Then there was Catherine who wanted to put her name in for a job promotion, but she knew that the new position meant much more personal interaction with clients and she realized her existing wardrobe wouldn’t fit the bill. Her heart said yes, but one look in her closet said no way. Her existing job was relatively solitary and she wore jeans and a casual shirt every day. She felt torn about the possible promotion, but couldn’t make herself take that step without the confidence of knowing she would feel comfortable in how she presented herself. She felt discouraged but didn’t know what to do next so she did nothing and stayed where she was.
What have you said no to that, if getting dressed for it were easy, you would have said yes in a heartbeat?
What opportunities in life have you missed either because you declined an invitation, never took the steps toward your goal or did step out but were distracted the entire time because you didn’t feel comfortable in your clothes?
How is your wardrobe holding you back?
This is not about fitting into someone else’s expectations about how you should look. This is about not living up to your own expectations and even more to the point, it is about not feeling like you express yourself authentically in a way that honestly reflects your true inner beauty. While it’s easy to get dressed (anyone can throw on a T-shirt and jeans), it is not as easy (but, oh, so critical) to express your inner essence in your wardrobe choices. Sally wasn’t looking for just something to clothe her body. She was looking for something that made her feel beautiful and special. But, no matter how hard she looked, she couldn’t find it in her existing wardrobe.
If you try to make your life fit into your wardrobe instead of your wardrobe into your life, you are missing out on a powerful form of self-expression — one that impacts all areas of your life.
This concept is expressed beautifully by L.V. who said:
“I want to share some news that results from the investment I made when I first started working with you: I have a new job — one that I wouldn’t have gotten without the personal growth that came from thinking about clothes, and identity, and how I wanted to put myself out in the world. By making the investment in good clothes for myself, I was really sending an internal message that I was valued, and that in turn shaped how I set a professional path to work with a remarkable group of women.”
Wow! She says it all there. Was she trying to be someone she’s not? No! In fact, she has been practicing expressing her inner essence in her wardrobe choices as she shares here:
“For my first interview I wore a dress and shrug from Max Mara (bought on sale and where I was smart enough to buy the matching sweater on the spot, even though it wasn’t). I’ve gotten so much value out of that one dress! Dare I say, it was sagacious and poetic. This summer, in the casual realm, I also found myself in a deep blue top and turquoise shorts, and green shorts and a blue shirt—the shorts were actually a steal from, of all places, Kohls. (Who knew?).”
Was she using the tools we had worked on together (both inner (she’s sagacious and poetic) and outer (focusing on color and fit)) to create a wardrobe that felt authentically her? Yes!
Does this kind of transformation happen overnight? No. As L.V. shares:
“I remember you said more than once that this would be a slow process, and sometimes that frustrated me, but it’s really unfolded just the right way, and I have stronger shopping skills and a better sense of myself to make me more comfortable in my new realm.”
You can have this kind of transformation, too. Whether you are sobbing on your closet floor or just throwing your hands up in despair, resigning yourself to wearing the same thing over and over, the results are the same: lost opportunity to tap into what makes you special and share that with others. The only way this won’t happen for you is if you give up and just keep doing what you’re doing. The transformation begins by taking the first step.
So, how do you begin to make the changes L.V. made in her wardrobe that supported powerful changes in her life?
Every time you get dressed, ask yourself these four questions about what you are wearing:
- Do you love it and think it is beautiful? (This is the first step in identifying things that you feel great wearing and that capture your inner essence.)
- Does the color look great on you? (You’re not going for OK, decent or just good enough.)
- Does it fit you right now? (If it doesn’t fit you right now, move it out of your existing closet. Why take up space with something that you can’t wear now.)
- Is it comfortable? (If it’s not comfortable and the cause of discomfort cannot be remedied, it goes away.)
Do you love it and think it is beautiful is first because without that none of the rest of it matters!
Here’s the bottom line: If you apply this one day at a time, within a short amount of time you will have analyzed every garment in your closet, learned a lot about what makes you happy and eliminated a lot from your closet that doesn’t. If you don’t do it, you will stay stuck in a wardrobe that is not making you happy or supporting your life.
Imagine what a freeing experience it is to love getting dressed every day. This is your chance to take the very first step in claiming your personal essence and purposely designing your wardrobe to express that brilliantly.
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Need help? You don’t have to do it alone. If you are local or excited about traveling, register for my next “Your Style, Your Way” workshop coming up on Saturday, October 19 — www.YourStyleYourWayWorkshop.com. If you are not in the Boston area and can’t travel all is not lost! Women are experiencing amazing successes as part of the”‘Who Taught You How to Dress?” community. Learn more here: www.WhoTaughtYouHowToDress.com
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.
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.)
- Know what you need. If 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.
- 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.