Nurturing Beauty Style Secrets Blog: Fashion Archives

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

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

Beauty and the Beach: How to Create a Beach Wardrobe You Love

Beauty & the Beach

As you may recall from a recent blog post, I am not a beach lover — at least not at full sun! I do occasionally go down to the ocean, which is one block from my house, replete with my beach chair, umbrella, a towel (in case I need to cover my legs), and sunscreen.  And, even with all that, I don’t stay too long. I also have not had a swimsuit on in over 10 years and I’m happy with that. Of course, I know I’m unusual in this way and I help plenty of my clients find beautiful swimsuits. What I have learned over the years is that it’s not all about the swimsuit! Yes, some of you step into your swimsuit, toss on a pair of flip flops and sunglasses and are raring to go. Others need a little emotional and fashion support and that’s what I’m hear to talk to you about.

It doesn’t matter whether you get a one-piece, tankini or bikini — swimsuits are all revealing. Every one of them exposes more skin than we allow for any other outdoor activity. So, it’s no surprise that we can feel anything from low-grade anxiety to out and out panic when we put one on.

The good news is that your anxiety can be lessened. With all the fun beach accouterments (cover-ups, hats, beach jewelry, totes and more), you can breeze through this experience with confidence and joy. Of course, as always, whatever you choose from bare-bones basics to over the top beach bling it has to be in keeping with who you are.  That’s the joy of it. No one-size-fits-all beach shopping allowed!

The first step is knowing what your options are, so I would like to share a few of my favorites!

Here is an example of a beach wardrobe that looks cool, stylish, flattering and comfortable.

Ready for the Beach

 

If that cover-up isn’t your cup of tea, try one of these:

Hot Pink Sarong Paisley Coverup 60s Style Coverup

 

Plus size women often get the short end of the stick when it comes to swimwear, but there were so many options, I had to stop myself from listing too many here! Check these out:

Plus Size Coverup Plus Size Coverup

 

Want a little fun beach jewelry? Try one of these cute bracelets:

Cube Bangle Bracelet Sea & Sky Bracelet Crocheted Bracelet

 

And, I just couldn’t resist these:

Flower Earrings Sea Glass Earrings

 

These are just a few ideas! If you are someone who spends any time at the beach, why leave it all to chance? If the idea is to go to the beach to have fun and you go hoping no one will see you and plan to spend all day hiding under your beach blanket or in the water, take a breath. There’s still time to catch some great summer sales and add a little extra beauty, peace of mind and joy to your summer festivities!

Are You Trying to be Invisible?

Are You Trying to be Invisible?

Leslie had called me because she was feeling unsettled with her personal style … actually, she felt like she had no personal style and wanted to find out if she could change that.  As we chatted, she shared, “I never paid much attention to fashion or style. In fact, I poo-poo’ed it. I tried to be invisible or neutral and was purposefully indifferent about my appearance.”

With this admission, Leslie precisely verbalized how so many women approach their image and express themselves through their wardrobes — they don’t!  When she reached a point that she felt so unsettled about how she looked that she didn’t know how to address it effectively any more (or maybe she never did and was just exhausted from trying), she gave up and resorted to blending in as much as possible.  While feeling invisible was not her (or any other woman’s) preference, she didn’t know what else to do.

While, yes, a lot of women have succumbed to indifference about how they look, not everyone ignores fashion or style for the same reason.

Here are stories women have shared with me:

  • Meredith never used to pay attention to fashion or style because she felt comfortable with herself and how she looked.  Then things changed! Her body started to shift, she was getting older and her effortless beauty no longer felt effortless. Not knowing how to adjust to the changes, she poo-poo’d “fashion” and convinced herself (rather ineffectively) that how she looked was not important to her. She resorted to wearing a lot of black and gray because it was easy and spent as little time as possible fussing.  Meanwhile, she readily admits that if she were truly honest with herself, the fact that she doesn’t feel good about how she looks weighs on her psyche and distracts her (if only sporadically) from the things she really wants to focus on.

 

  • Andrea never felt like she fit the prescribed definition of beautiful: she felt a little too short, a little heavier in her middle, her hair had a mind of its own and her feet often hurt.  As a result, she always felt like her efforts to look good were in vain. She could never measure up to her own expectations and suspected others were equally as judgmental. So, instead of trying to fit in, she dismissed all efforts at feeling beautiful and developed a ‘take me as I am’ attitude. Meanwhile, on the inside she felt less empowered than the message she was projecting and it was exhausting to keep her insecurity undercover.

Whether one of these stories rings true for you or your history is somewhat different, here are two steps you can take to elevate your indifference to hope and positive anticipation.

  1. Infuse Your Wardrobe with Color.  “Sure,” you say,“That’s easy for you to do.  You know about color. But, I can’t tell what looks good and what doesn’t so I stick with neutrals.”You’re right. It isn’t always easy for us to know exactly what colors look good on us.  There is conflicting information everywhere and the colors in the stores change constantly. So, what’s the answer? Ideally, you will want to have your colors analyzed by a professional. Choose your expert wisely since you are relying on his or her eye to guide you. If that is not an option, here are three colors I talk about in my book, That’s So You! that work on many people. Even if you just take these colors and mix them with your favorite neutral, you will be way ahead of many people: deep teal, watermelon and periwinkle blue.
    Teal Morpheus Dress Deep Teal. You can make it a bit more blue teal or green teal depending on your preference. Visit this Pinterest board for more examples of teal.
    Watermelon Watermelon. A beautiful red that is between a pink and coral so it works on many, many people.
    Periwinkle Periwinkle Blue. Visit this Pinterest board for more examples of periwinkle.
    Forest Green BONUS! Forest green is another great option.

    When colors flatter you they have the potential to elevate your look from ho-hum to striking all on their own. It’s an easy fix!

  2. Elevate Your Tops.  So many women get stuck in a top rut.  They gravitate towards button down shirts or basic T-shirts because they are “classic,” but they feel bored or feel like these tops now accentuate fit issues.  What can you wear on top that will make you smile?
    Chico's CardiganOne World Crochet Top
    Layer for Comfort and Ease. It’s so easy to add a layer and this helps to camouflage arms, tummy or bustline. Here’s one cardigan that has a classic feel. Or, try something slightly more trendy like this crocheted top over a tank
    Chico's Printed Cowl
    Use Prints to Distract the Eye. Have you been sticking with “safe” solid colors? Why not branch out and incorporate a print into your wardrobe. Prints can distract the eye so the focus doesn’t rest in one area. These colors are pretty and the cowl neckline is flattering on most body shapes.
    Susan Graver Scarf Top
    Try Something Completely Different. This will be too big a stretch for some people and it will not appeal to everyone.  But, if you love the idea of wearing something flowy and elegant, why not try one of the summer’s hottest looks: a scarf top. Here’s a fun example and it is not expensive so it won’t cost a lot if the experiment doesn’t work out.

Phew, that’s a lot! Remember, do not try to do it all at once — change doesn’t happen overnight. And, if you do try to do it all at once there is a good chance you will feel overwhelmed and throw in the towel before you see any results. Instead, take it easy and have fun with it. Choose one possibility from above and explore. See what happens and leave me a comment below!

Do You Have a One-Dimensional Wardrobe?

This summer I was shopping at Nordstrom Rack and came across an Alberto Makali top that caught my eye. The colors were beautiful and the design was sparkly, ethereal and just plain pretty! But I hesitated…just for a split second, but I made note of the hesitation.

My momentary uncertainty intrigued me. What was keeping me from running right into the dressing room to try it on (although I did ultimately do that)? Was I limiting my options or was it really not me?

Have you done the same thing? Have you admired something or been even mildly captivated by something but just walked on by – determining from past experience or some nebulous fashion rules you think you remember hearing somewhere that it isn’t right: women over 40 shouldn’t wear it, horizontal stripes are a no-no, or anyone with hips needs to stay way far away from that style… (you get the idea)?

Here’s something to ponder: There’s a fine line between “knowing” yourself (for instance, feeling genuinely confident that harem pants are not for you) and ‘limiting’ yourself, and your style when it’s not necessary.

Many women pigeon hole themselves into a prescribed way of dressing and thereby limit their options and often squelch their sense of delight. Their wardrobe becomes functional and one-dimensional — devoid of any personal style and their boredom level escalates.

What is at the root of a one-dimensional wardrobe?

  • For some it is a fear of stepping out and being noticed as opposed to blending in or trying to disappear.
  • Some worry they will make a fashion mistake and look silly. It’s understandable that someone would rather look and feel boring than silly, but it is rare that most women will push the envelope to the point of looking silly. Their worry is generally unnecessary. Unfortunately, anything outside the norm of what they usually wear feels so foreign that they lose perspective on whether it’s trendy, fashionable, cutting edge or none of the above. As a result, tried and true (or not so true but at least safe) wins out.
  • And some women are so bound and determined to “find their style” that they hyper focus on certain designs to the exclusion of all else – “knowing” that they can’t wear those things – although not always knowing where that knowing came from (and it has often been received second or third hand at best).
  • Still others try really hard but can’t quite seem to figure out how to make it all work and give up from sheer overwhelm and frustration.

I hear this from women all the time. “I can’t wear that,” or, “That doesn’t work on my body,” or, “I’ve tried that before, and it just doesn’t look good.”

Sure, sometimes it’s true but honestly, more often than not it is a self-imposed fashion rule. And, most fashion rules have an exception from time to time.

The next step is: How do you move into a wardrobe that has more personality and dimension without it feeling overwhelming or making lots of expensive mistakes?

Let me go back to the Alberto Makali top I eyed. I was intrigued enough to try it on. Sure, in general I am not the bohemian type but I also know that it’s all about how you interpret any given style, bohemian included.

The top is beautiful! I did buy it.

  • It fit me perfectly.
  • The colors are beautiful and great on me.
  • The top has that ethereal, slightly bohemian quality but in an exquisite, elegantly beautiful way.
  • I wear it with more structured pants to keep me from feeling swallowed up by too much airy fabric.
  • I wear it when my mood (and the temperature) is more relaxed, sultry and quiet.
  • And, I got it at Nordstrom Rack so if I had made a mistake (better to make an occasional mistake than feel restricted by too many self-imposed rules), it would not have been an expensive one.

How can you translate this experience for yourself?

  • Pay attention to what catches your eye. It never hurts to try something on. The worst case scenario is that it looks terrible or doesn’t fit right (and can’t be tailored) and you take it off and put it back on the rack. No harm done and often something valuable learned.
  • Complete the outfit before you decide. Tossing something on with a pair of sweat pants or sneakers and a skirt will not help you visualize (unless you’re very good at it!) whether the garment has potential. Try to complete the outfit as closely as possible in the dressing room to give you as much of an idea of how it will look finished as possible.
  • Listen to your heart and be practical all at the same time. Always imagine where you’ll wear the garment and how it will fit into your wardrobe and lifestyle. AND, if it is something you absolutely love, be adventurous. Hey, although mostly I wear the Alberto Makali top casually and socially, I might choose to wear it to a picnic or baseball game (not that I went to either this summer) if I felt inspired to and it made me feel good – who says I can’t!

Each of us has different parts to our personalities and part of the fun of getting dressed is not only liking the way we look (of course) but also expressing each part of our personality that desires to be expressed in a heart-felt, authentic way. Sure, there are parameters determined by your body type, your age (sometimes), and the particular occasion, but you get to put the spin on how you express your own individuality. Don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut or a hard and fast prescribed way of dressing. Exploring is part of what keeps it all interesting and fun!

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My Fashion Dilemma: The Dress or the Skirt

Recently, I stopped into one of my favorite stores – the Studio in Brookline, MA to pick up something they were holding for me.  Shopping in July is nothing short of hit or miss (often more miss than hit), but they had some inviting sales going on throughout the store, so I had to take a peek.

Our summer has been unseasonably hot, hot, hot!  Very little rain, temperatures topping 90 and humidity hovering around the miserable level.  As a result, my sleeveless tops haven’t seen this much action in at least 5 years.

It also makes wearing pants rather unappealing, so one of the things I have been looking for is more casual skirts. The fashion world, however, has had other ideas, and the pickings (overall) were slim.  Dresses, yes…skirts, not so much.  (The Studio actually had one of the best selections of skirts of any store this past spring.)

As I perused the racks, I thought I’d see what (if anything) they had left for cute skirts.  Two items caught my eye right away. One was a green/yellow/brown jersey skirt.  The other was a dressy dress.  Ooops, not what I was looking for, but hey, there it was.  It was a gorgeous ombré (gradation of color from dark to light) design of blue floating down into a shimmery taupe.  I was intrigued enough to try both on.

The skirt was nice but the dress was amazing!  My first thought was, “Well, the skirt is practical and the dress isn’t.  It’s also comfortable and a great price…”

Then, I asked myself the most critical (and revealing) question of all, “Do I love the skirt?  Am I excited to wear it?”

The answer was a resounding NO!  Practical, yes.  Comfortable, yes.  Great price, yes.  Fabulous…no!

In my heart I knew that if I got it, it would be okay.  But, as I tell all my clients, okay is never good enough! Do that often enough and you end up with a ho-hum wardrobe (one of the reasons many women come to me in the first place).  It’s a slippery slope so you have to be vigilant.

The dress, on the other hand, made me smile.  It felt great (very comfortable), was a great price, and I felt like Grace Kelly wearing it!  I admit I even had to squelch the urge to wear it home.

Yes, I have no occasion to wear it right now.  But, there are two things I tell all my clients:

  1. When you find a dressy outfit you love, buy it – even if you have no dressy event on your calendar!  If you wait until you need something, you can’t always find what you want and often end up settling for something second rate.
  2. If you buy it, the universe will eventually reward you with an occasion to wear it. (Or, as I talk about in Chapter 7 of “Who Taught You How To Dress?” – there are all kinds of creative ways to wear something you are saving.)

So, what do you think is hanging in my closet now?  That’s right!  The dress, and I know I’ll be wearing it before too long and will feel great.

Do I miss the skirt?  I miss the idea of a skirt but I don’t miss that particular skirt.  I’ll just keep looking.  I learned first hand a long time ago that it is never worth it to settle for something you don’t love.

Have you had a similar shopping experience?  If so, which choice did you make and how has it worked out (or not) for you?

The Biggest Summer Fashion Faux Pas

Yay!  Your feet slide into sandals, you wiggle your toes and breathe a sigh of relief.  Summer is here, your feet are free, and you are good to go, right?  Well, maybe…

It is easy to forget about our feet.  I mean, hey, they are way down there, and we don’t see our heels and the bottoms of our feet unless we make a conscious effort to do so.  So, unless they hurt for some reason, it’s a classic case of “out of sight, out of mind.”

Here’s the dilemma: other people can (and do) see your feet…much more than you might think!  And, while fashion and style preferences might be personal, good grooming is universal (or at least we hope so).

The other day, for instance, I was sitting at the little café next door, drinking tea and writing.  As I was thinking and mulling over some ideas, I casually glanced around the room taking in the scenery and the people enjoying their social time and lunch.  I noticed several women sitting at a table nearby.  All were neatly dressed, chatting and having a lovely time with their friends.

As my eyes drifted down, I could not help but notice a row of dried, cracked heels staring back at me.  Perhaps I am wrong but I suspect that if they were aware that their feet were in such a sad, neglected state that they would have run to their bathroom to grab their pumice stone or to the nearest salon for a pedicure.

Women (and men, too) who would never leave the house with dirty, unkempt fingernails are unwittingly (I assume) walking around with heels and sometimes toes that clearly need some attention.   (Please know that I am not talking about bunions or more complicated feet issues – unless those feet could also benefit from some simple basic grooming.)

And, I am not pointing this out to embarrass anyone.  It’s really more about awareness.  Like I said, it’s easy to overlook something that we can’t see.  Even if you take a shower or bath every day, it doesn’t mean your feet are getting as clean as you think.  We walk around in sandals open to the dirt of the streets so they get twice as dirty twice as fast!

So, if this makes you think, “Ooops, I better take a peek,” then here are 3 quick steps to get your feet looking and feeling good:

  1. Every day when you take a shower or wash up in the morning, take a quick look at your feet.  It is easier to give them a little TLC once a day than to have to do a major intervention every week.
  2. If they need some refreshing, give them a quick wash and then keep your pumice stone or Ped-Egg handy to give them a once-over.  It takes all of about 2 minutes tops if you have everything at the ready.
  3. Rub a little moisturizer into them, and you’re good to go.

If doing anything more than that feels overwhelming and you just keep putting it off, then find a nearby salon (ask around to find one that you’ll enjoy going to and that takes sanitation very seriously) and once every couple of weeks have a soothing pedicure.  It’s good for your feet, is soothing and relaxing (so it’s good for your soul), and is one less thing you have to think about doing so you can get back to enjoying the summer.

That said, if you prefer to do your own pedicure, check out this site for step-by-step instructions: http://fitnesslines.com/health-tips/tips-for-a-home-perfect-pedicure-tips-to-help-you-achieve-salon-quality-results-without-the-expense/

Then, how about treating yourself to a new pair of sandals – aren’t these pretty: http://www.shoes.com/Shopping/ProductDetails.aspx?p=EC1072745&pg=5055049

Want more?  Join me for my new monthly seminar (only $20!).  Limited to 20 people.  The first one will be held on Tuesday, July 20 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm when I’ll talk about “The Top 10 Most Unflattering Summer Fashions: How to avoid them, replace them and live without them.” Location (in the Greater Boston area) is to be determined so stay tuned.

Are YOU High On Your List of Priorities?

The other day I was people watching as I walked around a local Target buying a new, pretty (ocean blue (in case you are wondering)) bath mat. One of the things I was struck by was the abundance of ratty sweatshirts (believe me, they had seen better days), ill-fitting capris and sneakers worn by women shoppers. Yes, I know it was a Sunday afternoon and everyone was clearly in errand-mode and wanted to be comfy. Mostly, I felt sad that these women were so harried and distracted. It was clear that their personal appearance was low on their list of priorities.

Are you nodding in agreement? Feeling a connection to these women? Do you position yourself at the top or the bottom of your priority list?

As a woman, you are conditioned to believe that you are first and foremost a nurturer of others (sometimes to the exclusion of everything else). As a result you often ignore or poo-poo your own needs and desires to satisfy the never-ending demands on your time and energy. Do you tell yourself that surely something as inconsequential as how you look cannot possibly be important enough to take time away from your other pressing responsibilities?

I cannot begin to tell you how often women share with me that they just stand in front of their closets and cry when they get dressed to go almost anywhere. After they do that often enough, one of two things happens – either they give up completely and dress on autopilot just putting on whatever is clean and “not horrible” (their words, not mine). Or, they stomp their foot and say enough.

Recently, a client of mine told me that her husband was so upset watching her get ready to go out for an evening with friends. He hated (and felt helpful to offer assistance) that she felt so deflated and unattractive because she had nothing to wear that made her feel good. Does any of this sound familiar?

What I have discovered over the years is that rarely are women low on their own priority list by design. It is often more that all their attempts to create a personal style and wardrobe they love have been thwarted – they can’t find things they like when they shop or they don’t know what looks good on them, so they give up and concentrate on others. It’s easier, more satisfying and causes less personal angst.
What is keeping you from putting yourself high on your priority list?
___ Guilt (that you should be doing for others instead)

___ Frustration (don’t know what looks good on you or can’t find it when you do shop)

___ Body image issues (you don’t feel like you deserve to look good)

___ Overwhelm (you don’t know where to begin and/or find it impossible to navigate the stores)

___ Other

If it is one or more of the above, list them in order of priority and begin to address them one at a time. Just like everyone else, you deserve to (and can) look good and feel good about how you look every day. Why settle any longer for “not horrible” or worse. Unsure where to start? I can help.

1. Start by reading Cheryl Richardson’s book “Take Time For Your Life” and find the chapter on “Get Your Priorities Straight.”

2. Next, I recommend Cheryl’s book “Stand Up For Your Life” and check out the chapter called “Stop Hiding Your Power” (Cheryl talks about my work with women and the benefits of feeling good about how you look.)

3. Finally, get a copy of my personal style home study program
“Who Taught You How To Dress?”

Yes, we all have demands on our time – many of them important. The nice thing about creating a look you love is that with a short investment of time in the beginning you can have a lifetime of feeling good about how you look! Start now so you can feel great about how you look now and for years to come!

**Need more personal assistance, fill out my ‘I Need Help’ form and we’ll set up a free ‘Discover Your Style’ phone consultation.

Honor Your Needs

Have you ever had a friend or sales person marvel at how amazing you look in, say, a scarf tied beautifully around your neck but all you can think of is how much longer do I need to wear this thing!? Or, perhaps you have seen women wearing 4” heels and love how they look so you buy yourself a pair. The first time you wear them, your feet are in agony for days afterwards. Still hopeful, you keep them in your closet and glance at them from time to time with a mix of longing and bitterness but never again do they adorn your feet.

As I mentioned in my letter this month, I am always cold so feeling warm is imperative when I dress every day. I rarely wear a short skirt in the winter for that reason (too many unworn skirts in the past!), and I never buy 3/4 length sleeve tops for the winter unless I know I have a sweater or jacket I can wear over it. (Yes, that extra 6 inches of exposed skin makes a big difference. I keep waiting for the trend of wearing gloves indoors to make a serious comeback but I suspect I have a long wait!)

As you know, I am a big believer in exploring new possibilities. Its how we find out what we really like and don’t like, and it is a way to keep us from getting bored or to understand how to dress our bodies as they change with the years. That said, however, there are often certain things that are just off limits things we know about ourselves that others might not that impact the choices we make and what we will and will not wear.

Take a peek at the things in your closet that you don’t wear (some might even still have tags?). Is it just that they don’t have the other pieces to complete the outfit or perhaps it doesn’t fit right now (those are all issues for another time!), or is there something more? Perhaps it is in a fabric that itches and you are extremely sensitive to the feel of the fabric against your skin (not everyone is). Maybe it exposes a scar on your arm that you are sensitive about.

The next time you put something on and find yourself anxious to take it off again, explore more fully why that might be. It’s possible you will learn something very valuable about yourself. Something that will help you shop in the future and keep you from buying things you won’t ever wear.

There are many, many reasons we impose limitations on ourselves about what we think we can and cannot wear. Many can be overcome or tweaked so that they are no longer limiting. I have found, however, that most true fashion needs are not simply a matter of personal preference but have more to do with physical comfort. Do you have any needs that you have been ignoring?

Do You Have a Fear of Standing Out?

How do you feel about standing out from the crowd? Does it excite you and make you smile or does it strike terror in your heart and make you cringe at the very thought. What has been your alternative to standing out? Many women describe their style as “beige,” “predictable” or “downright boring.” Rarely do they purposely choose that look, as you can imagine. It is usually a response to their deeply rooted fear of standing out for the wrong reasons, i.e., they would rather fade into the woodwork than risk looking silly or inappropriate. The results? Each time they get dressed their self-esteem and confidence takes a direct hit.

For some women they equate standing out with looking flamboyant, outrageous or ostentatious. But that doesn’t have to be true (although those looks certainly do cause a few stares!). Standing out means owning who you are and celebrating that (and if flamboyant, outrageous or ostentatious is who you are then celebrate it!). It can run the gamut from subtle and elegant to dramatic and bold. What is important, however, is that it be in keeping with your personality and inner essence. Then, no matter where on the continuum you fall, it just feels (and looks!) right.

Recently, I met with a woman who was about to re-enter the dating scene and felt apprehensive. Her most pressing question was, “On what date should I show cleavage?” Together we did some work and determined that her personality was primarily gentle, heartfelt and radiant. I could tell just by looking at her that the idea of showing a lot of cleavage felt foreign and uncomfortable. She had this predetermined belief, however, that she was supposed to expose her cleavage, so it came as a huge relief to her to learn that she never had to if she didn’t want to. What she really wanted to explore was how to look and feel sexy in a way that was authentic for her. Now, that’s a different story!

What is your look saying about you? What motivation is driving you to choose the outfits you do? Are you trying to blend in and hide (this never really works) or stand out in a way that gives you confidence and feels good? I have learned that most women would prefer to stand out in a positive way but they just don’t know how to do it so they retreat into what feels easy and familiar.

The next time you get dressed, rate the outfit you choose to wear on a scale of one to ten. In this case a ten would mean that you are totally celebrating and dressing authentically and with no apologies, and one would be that you are hiding as much as is humanly possible. Obviously, the goal is to get to ten! Next, analyze your look. What aspect of your style feels like you are trying really hard not to be noticed? Is it the color (too beige, black, neutral)? Is it the cut of the outfit (boxy and shapeless)? Is it the fabric (sweatshirt, head to toe polar fleece)? Is it the accessories (or lack thereof)? Is it that it’s all solid colors and there are no interesting textures or patterns? Once you have made a determination, make a concerted effort to tweak (remember, baby steps) just one of those components at a time. Add a touch of color, texture, or accessories. Keep trying until it feels good and fun. As you build on this step-by-step and begin to make positive changes, you will find that standing out has a whole new, delightful meaning!

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

The biggest difference I see since taking the Totally You workshop is my consciousness while shopping. After recycling nearly half of my wardrobe before the workshop, I had a few items I had paid a lot for or had some sentimental attachment to which I thought I wanted to salvage. Ginger’s and the other group participants’ honest feedback helped me drop any assumptions I had about how good those clothes actually looked on me. As I endeavor to fill in gaps in my wardrobe, I know I will be saving money overall by buying only items I will make good use of that look great on me based on my evolved inner knowing. I am a master scavenger at thrift and consignment shops and still often shop in those places but with a new consciousness. No more impulsive, unconscious or bargains only based shopping for me which leads to wasted effort. Thanks so much, Ginger for assisting me with your diplomatic, practical, compassionate and expert feedback! Cecilia Bennett