Nurturing Beauty Style Secrets Blog: color analysis Archives

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!

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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.

The Graying of America…

I bet you think I’m going to talk about your hair, don’t you? So many women are contemplating letting their locks go naturally gray and some are even doing it (and looking great!). I’m all for it if you feel good about it. But, that’s not what I’m here to talk to you about today.

One day, not too long ago, I was standing in line in New York City waiting to place my lunch order. With not much to do except look around (and gawk at the sheer number of people waiting to order and the efficiency with which the restaurant was handling the crowds), I did a little people-watching.

It will come as no surprise to you, I am sure, that I am always curious about what people are wearing. On this particular day, there had to be at least 30 people in line and about two-thirds of them were women. It shocked me to notice that every person (men and women) was wearing either gray or black. Yes, every single person! Not one person was wearing another color. Not one!

Well, that’s New York City for you, you might say. Maybe, but let me assure you that sadly the black/gray epidemic has spread beyond the Big Apple. When I gave a presentation to 140 young business women in the Boston area, ninety-eight percent of those in the audience were wearing black or gray (perhaps there was a smattering of navy blue but you get the idea). It was startlingly noticeable.

So, here’s what I’m wondering…Why?

Of course, I hear all the reasons from the women I work with but let’s really look at what gray and black are doing for you…or not doing for you, as the case may be. Let’s start with black because there is so much of it out there and everyone assumes it’s a great neutral.

1. Black goes with everything.

This is generally true if black looks good on you and you are wearing all your best colors with it (which are probably pretty strong colors). But, if your most flattering colors are soft and you try to mix them with black all eyes will be drawn automatically to the black because it will be too harsh compared to the colors that look best on you.

And, let me just say this about black. If it isn’t one of your best colors (and your best colors are based on your hair color, eye color, skin color and your personality) wearing black will naturally drain you, and I’m not just talking about color-wise. Black is very powerful and intense, and it will, if it’s not your best color, stifle your natural joy and radiance.

2. Black doesn’t show dirt.

True enough but there are lots of other beautiful dark colors that will do the same thing. So find the one(s) that look great on you, and they will hide a multitude of sins just as well as black does and often look more flattering.

3. Black is slimming.

Again, who cares if it’s slimming if the overall color is harsh and draining. Other deeper colors will do the same thing. And, guess what, even shades of white will work on you when the outfit is well balanced and in your most flattering colors. (I know the thought of wearing shades of white scares a lot of women so just keep breathing…). Creating a slimming effect is not just about color, by any means.

4. Black is a neutral.

For some it is. But for others it’s not. While some stylists believe that a neutral is a neutral, I don’t. I know that everyone has two or three great neutrals they can wear that work beautifully with their natural coloring and blend well with their best colors. They could include brown, navy, gray, black, camel, cream, and white. This creates a seamless look and gives you lots of ways to play with it without worrying about trying to make a color “work.” Who needs or wants that extra stress?

5. Black is easy.

While there is truth to this it’s mostly because the designers throw so much black (and gray) at us that you can build an entire wardrobe all in black in about 20 minutes. Will it be easy? Yes. Will it be satisfying and delicious? Usually not. As you begin to integrate more of your fabulous colors into your wardrobe, an all black outfit (unless black is really one of your absolute best colors) will lose its appeal.

In many women’s closets black is there for all the reasons above, and it’s no wonder that when they get dressed, they easily find an outfit that is “good enough” or “easy” but that feels lacking in personality. Why end up with an entire wardrobe of “good enough” when you can have (and deserve) so much more?

Now let’s look at gray for a minute, too.

For a couple of years now, gray has been the “new black,” and as a result many women have entire wardrobes created around this color. It felt refreshing to them after so much black, but they were hoodwinked into believing that everyone can wear it well and were told that’s because “it’s a neutral.” Yikes! Light gray only looks good on a tiny fraction of people but huge numbers of women are actually wearing it. Charcoal gray is slightly better but then it just comes close to black. Like any color, if it looks good on you then it’s amazing and that makes it a great neutral, otherwise leave it on the rack. (And, if you’re not sure, steer clear!)

I often hear women say, “But gray looks decent on me.” Be careful of this. In most situations, ‘decent’ is synonymous with “good enough,” and that is a far cry from awesome. There was so much gray in the stores that it made buying it easy but, again, this is not a way to build a lasting and delicious wardrobe. As Cheryl Richardson says, always pass up good for great!

It is never worth it to settle for colors you don’t love and that don’t look beautiful on you. Ninety-nine percent of the time you can find at least some of your best colors in the stores (or wait 2 weeks and new shipments of clothes come in in new colors and you can look again). Do this long enough (even in those seasons when the color choices are challenging), and you’ll have a complete (and beautiful) wardrobe. The more you hold firm and select only the colors that look great on you, the better chance you will have of creating a wardrobe you absolutely love. Give in too often and you end up with a ‘decent’ wardrobe – that doesn’t sound particularly inspiring or fun, does it!

This is one of the key steps in creating a beautiful wardrobe, and there’s very little “gray” area here.

Not sure what colors look best on you? Find a color expert (not someone who does colors by the seasons) and have your own personal palette created. It will be one of the best steps you’ve ever taken toward a fabulous wardrobe. For more information about what a consultation with me looks like, go here: http://totalimageconsultants.com/services/personal/color-analysis/

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

Since we worked together I’ve had all of that tailoring done that we discussed and have given a lot of clothes away to Salvation Army. My closet looks very different, in a good way. I often refer to the pictures that we took during the wardrobe consultation to help me plan outfits. There’s still room for improvement, but I’ve learned SO MUCH so far! So, thank you again! Lisa Adams