Nurturing Beauty Style Secrets Blog: Boston image consultant Archives

Hello Beautiful! 7 Styling Tools to Enhance Your Natural Beauty

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

You Are Not Flawed, Imperfect or Botched

Be Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ginger's UniformLet me show you how:

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

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

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

Teal Dress

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

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

 

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

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

Nic+Zoe Blouse

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

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

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

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

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

How To Never Hurt An Animal Again and Not Sacrifice Anything In Your Life

How To Never Hurt An Animal Again

It’s that time of year — winter — and who doesn’t want to be warm! When I first became vegan I was so concerned I wouldn’t be able to find warm clothes and I’d go through the entire winter freezing — but 8 years later, I can safely say it’s just not true.  And even better I realized that I don’t have to sacrifice ANYTHING to be vegan. In this day and age, we can have it all without ever hurting a defenseless animal again — and that feels great.

To be honest, up until eight years ago I had no idea that any choices I made were hurting animals. It wasn’t something anyone I knew ever talked about and, as a result, it never entered my consciousness. I’m sure the same is true for you. I know you don’t set out to cause misery and suffering to animals when you go shopping. But, if you are purchasing anything made of wool, silk, fur, leather or down, then you are. I know. I know. It was an eye-opener for me, too!

Nearly 20 years ago, I vaguely remember someone pointing out to me that although I didn’t eat red meat, I did wear leather. At the time, I thought, “Well, of course I do. What is the alternative? And, besides, leather is a byproduct of the meat industry so it’s not like they are killing the animals just for the leather.”*  Oh, dear. Can I tell you how much I WISH he had continued the conversation with me! I had no idea how misguided I was and how just a little more information would have changed my life (and saved the lives of so many animals). Sadly, I do not even remember who this phantom person was or why we were on that particular subject in general. I just know that I dismissed the notion that I was contributing to animal suffering because I didn’t know any better and thought there were no alternatives.

It was many years later before I learned the truth. I would like to share with you some of the information I waited so long to hear and understand, because I suspect that you might not know either, and I don’t want you to have the same regrets I do. Plus, let me share a little secret, it’s SO much easier now!

Two things are keeping you from making clothing choices that are cruelty-free:

  1. You aren’t aware that traditional, beloved fabrics like wool, silk, down and leather come with a very high price tag. Whether the actual monetary value is high or low, the one thing that is true across the board — they all cause immeasurable suffering. Yes, even wool production causes misery and ends in the death of the lambs and sheep (maybe not immediately, but always way before their natural life would end). You can read more about it here. Those pretty, delicate, soft, cozy sweaters are covering up a lot of pain and suffering. Believe me, I, too, was so sad to hear this.
  2. You think you will have to sacrifice beauty and comfort if you don’t wear clothes made from those fabrics.

I was in exactly your situation eight years ago. I had just learned about the horror these animals endured to make it to my plate (even though I hadn’t eaten red meat for over 25 years, I still ate chicken, eggs, fish and dairy) and then the full realization hit me! Animals didn’t just suffer to be on my dinner plate — some of the clothes I was wearing were fraught with that same pain. This was such a source of sadness for me and at the same time I had this awareness that it could dramatically impact my livelihood! I am, after all, in the business of helping women choose clothing they love and that they feel good wearing. Not only that, but I like to feel good in my clothes. I quickly realized that I had to find a way to do both — feel good about how I looked AND not cause any more animals to suffer so I could still look good and be a good representation of my business. Wow! I had a few moments of abject fear when I thought maybe it wasn’t possible. Could I really have a cruelty-free wardrobe and still feel stylish? Yes! I was determined to make it work and, even more importantly, I committed to making it an adventure, and that’s exactly what I did.

Lucky for you, though, times have changed. Since then, as awareness is growing and people like you and me are choosing cruelty-free fabrics — the options are exploding. Just today I took a client shopping and, without even looking (she’s not vegan…yet) the sweaters she purchased were soft and lovely and unless you looked at the tag you would have had no idea they were not cashmere. I have watched this happen over and over this fall and it is so heartening to see. Eight years ago you were hard pressed to find anything like those sweaters. The best you could do was cotton or a scratchy acrylic. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. Yes, unfortunately, there is still plenty of wool, cashmere, alpaca, mohair and angora in the world, but if you want to find the other options, they are there, too and the choices are growing daily!

Are you ready for a change but not sure how to begin?

  1. Read labels. Everything you need to know is on the garment’s label. If it says wool, silk, fur, leather or down, it is not cruelty-free.
  2. Layer. This is good advice no matter what you are wearing since temperatures vary everywhere you go.  Recover offers great layering pieces in 28 different colors and at a great price point. I’m especially fond of the long sleeve scoop neck top. They are one size fits all (pretty much a size 2 to 16) and I take the sleeves in a bit at the wrist since I like them more fitted. I mention another layer piece below.
  3. Speak up. If you don’t see what you want … ask. It is easy to miss something that could work AND it is important for the stores to know that you are looking for something they might not have. If they know there is a demand for cruelty-free garments, they are more likely to consider including them in future seasons.

Not sure where to look? While you will certainly find some alternatives at the major department stores (Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom carry Nic+Zoe, for instance), you can find options everywhere from smaller chain stores like Ann Taylor Loft to boutiques and from all price points (Bloomingdale’s to Kohls).

Here are just a few examples:

Nic+Zoe Sweater
Texture Top from Nic+Zoe
(55% Cotton/35% Acrylic/10% Rayon).
Add this 3/4 sleeve layer piece for extra warmth.
Ann Taylor Cowl
Cowl Neck Sweater from Ann Taylor Loft
(60% Acrylic, 40% Nylon)
Chico's Sweater
Flame Stitch Chelsea Pullover from Chico’s
(76% acrylic, 12% nylon, 6% rayon, 6% polyester)
Kohl's Sweater
Lurex Cardigan from Kohl’s
(acrylic and polyester)

* In case you are wondering, leather is not a by-product of the meat industry. It is a co-product and helps keep the selling of meat economically viable. By buying leather you are supporting the meat industry. (I’ll share another article about leather and non-leather alternatives soon.)  You can learn more right here.

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

Trapped in a Fashion Rut?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this learnable? Yes.

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

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

So, where do you start?

Change Your Mindset

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nic+Zoe Wrap Top

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

Nic+Zoe Jacket

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

Remember, keep these ideas in mind when you shop:

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

You WILL make progress if you do this.

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

* * *

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

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

Ginger's Style Tips & Tricks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Don't wear this!

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

    Wear This!

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

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

    See the Difference?

     

     

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

    Don't Let This Happen to You!

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

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

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

Are You Dressing for Yourself or Someone Else?

Are You Dressing for Yourself or Someone Else?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered: Fall 2013 Fashion Trend Update

Don’t let seasonal fashion trends run your life. There is a way to manage them without becoming a slave to fashion or completely ignoring them and feeling out of touch. Adding seasonal fashion trends to your wardrobe helps to keep your style feeling fresh and new.  Knowing what to add and how much is critical otherwise you run the risk of buying things that just sit in your closet or wasting money on items that are out of style in 6 months. That’s where I can help!

This is my seasonal “Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered” trend update where I help you identify what trends to explore and which to avoid like the plague!

Bewitched

Colors: The colors you wear are vital to creating a truly beautiful look. If you wear a color that makes you look sickly or drab, then no amount of styling will save it. If you are someone who lives in black and gray, give it a rest this season and step into one of these fun, fabulous colors.

  • Emerald green. Actually nearly every shade of green is in right now so take advantage (two years ago you couldn’t find a green item of clothing to save your life). A deep emerald/forest green looks great on most people so grab it while you can. (I am wearing a perfect example of emerald green in the segment I did on TV this week)
  • Winter white is hot. It’s a softer version of stark white and, of course, as the temperatures cool down you’ll want to adjust your fabrics accordingly.  No linen and light weaves. More densely woven sweaters and weightier fabrics will let you stay warm while feeling light and cool.
  • Plum DressDeep plum is a seasonal favorite and back again this fall as is bright fuschia — although be careful with the fuschia. If you have ruddy cheeks it will clash and if your coloring is soft it will overwhelm you.
  • When in doubt a bold, meditative blue can be lovely.

Animal prints: Animal prints never go out of style. They have been “in” for the past 26 years! I’m not complaining. I like them. If you are intrigued but don’t want to wear animal print head to toe, add a hint of it with a scarf. There are so many options out there from traditional animal print to colored variations.  Or, keep it simple with one of these:

Animal Print Scarf - Nordstom.com Animal Print Scarf - Nordstrom.com

or or make a statement with your handbag:

Animal Print Handbag - Nordstrom.com

or even your nightgown:

Animal Print Nightgown - Nordstrom.com

Plaid: Another perennial favorite, plaid is everywhere. If it intrigues you, but you don’t want something screams PLAID, then check out this dress. Or, if you are feeling really adventurous, wear a pair of plaid tights (these come in black, brown or deep navy!). And of course, there are lots of other ways to wear plaid including as trim on an outfit, in your handbag or tote and even your shoes. Have fun with it!

Plaid Dress - PeruvianConnection.com Plaid Tights - Bloomingdales.com

 

Shoes: Both pointy and rounded toes are in so there’s something for everyone. And, over-the-knee boots are still popular.They can be fun. Just one word of caution. Unless you work in a very relaxed atmosphere, save these for leisure and fun – not to be worn at the office.

Velvet: Velvet is just so luxurious, warm and elegant that I invite you to add a touch of it to your winter wardrobe.  It’s still a bit early to see a lot in the stores, but watch for more as the season goes along.  And, if you are vegan and don’t want to purchase wool or cashmere because it contributes to animal suffering, velvet is cozy and can add another layer of warmth without hurting anyone! In the meantime, is this jacket exquisite or what!

Velvet Jackie - FarFetch.com

High Shine: What they are showing on the runway is in-your-face shine. What I propose is a smidgen of shine to add fun contrast to those cold, gray winter days. While some of you might feel comfortable pulling off this much shine (photo on the left), I suspect that something that has a soft sheen rather than super high shine might be more appealing day to day (photo on the right). And, of course, jewelry is always a fabulous way to add just the right amount of shine for you!

High Shine Sweater - Nordstrom.com Soft Sheen Sweater - Nordstrom.com

 

Bothered

Oversized: Really? You’ve got to be kidding. Most of us will look three times our size when we wear these oversized sweatshirts (yes, that’s what they are suggesting!) or just as bad…oversized coats! Horrendous idea! Who thought this was a good fashion statement? — and in light gray, no less (one of THE hardest colors to look good in!). Or, this hideous style of oversized coat!

Oversized Sweatshirt - Nordstrom.com Oversized Coat - Nordstrom.com

 

Rounded Shoulders: I have spent more than half my life trying to make my shoulders appear wider and less sloped. There is no way that this style appeals to me…ever. Stay far away from it if you have narrow shoulders and wider hips unless you want to accentuate your hips and look droopy or if you carry weight in your tummy and want to look like a balloon — this look will help you do that.  Here’s an example:

Rounded Shoulder Jackiet

Bewildered

I really haven’t seen a lot of trends that bewilder me and make me wonder who thought that was a good idea. The ones that are truly horrible I put in the ‘bothered’ category. That said here are two that can be problematic.

Grunge: Mostly you will see this on the very young crowd. I am not a fan of clothes that look like they need to be washed (and that’s how most grunge looks to me) or the heavy soled shoes worn with dresses. But, when a couple of “grungy” pieces (maybe we could translate that tough girl or rocker vibe) are paired with something fun and feminine it can be intriguing. Again, with rare exceptions (and if you have to think about whether you’re an exception, you aren’t!) leave this to the under 25 (and that’s pushing it!) crowd.

Turtlenecks: The only reason turtlenecks are in this category is because for those of us over 40-ish they can be problematic by drawing attention to softening jawlines. If your jawline and neck are still firm and you enjoy wearing turtlenecks, go for it. If your jaw is slacking a bit and you don’t want to draw attention to it, then choose a turtleneck that’s wider and fuller than your jaw. Like this one.

Turtelneck - Macys.com

This is a sampling of what’s out there this season. Menswear prints like houndstooth are also popular as are trendy details like metallic mesh, but I’m not seeing a lot of that in the store just yet.

The most important thing is that you LOVE the trend. If you don’t, then ignore it. Never wear something just because it’s in style. You have to feel and look great in it and you have to OWN it!  By that I mean, it has to feel like you and make you smile every time you put it on.

Remember, trends, just by their definition, are fleeting so choose one or two and wear them a lot while they are fashionable.  Fall shopping is just getting started so have fun!

If you are completely stumped or find you have lots of old trends in your closet you’ve never worn or simply don’t know how to incorporate them so you feel good, then email me – ginger@totalimageconsultants.com — and we’ll set up a free 20 minute call.

What Do You Wear When No One Else Sees You?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Getting “dressed” each day has changed my life.

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Is Your Wardrobe Holding You Back?

 

Is Your Wardrobe Holding You Back?

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

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

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

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

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

How is your wardrobe holding you back?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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annie-before-closeup
Annie: Before
annie-after-closeup
Annie: After
meryl-before-closeup
Meryl: Before
meryl-after-closeup
Meryl: After

I’ve been meaning to write to you and let you know that every day I get so many compliments on how I look. You gave me the tools to put it all together, and I am very grateful. This season I purchased many new clothes and before I had a closet filled with clothes of “nothing to wear” now I have a closet filled with clothes, but I can’t decide what to wear because I have so many favorites. Celeste Steele