Nurturing Beauty Style Secrets Blog: style Archives

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!

Are You a Creature of Habit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is the Belief Behind Being a Creature of Habit?

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

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

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

Why am I sharing all of this with you?

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

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

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

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

Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered Your Fall 2011 Special Fashion Update

The Fall shopping season is my favorite.  The colors are beautiful and everything looks so cozy.  For the most part, I have to say that this season is shaping up nicely (of course, it is still early but I’m hopeful it will stay that way and get even better as the months pass).

Brown is back (a huge yay!) – although it is still only dribbling into the stores but that should change as the weeks pass.  Stacked heels are giving women the lift without the wobbly feeling.  And, there’s more!

That’s what this special seasonal update is all about.  I’ll share with you what I love and what I don’t in my Fall 2011 “Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered” Fashion report.  Enjoy!

Bewitched

Color: Bright, bold and rich colors are in.  It’s a delicious time of year!  Orange (we’ll come back to this), cobalt blue, red (yes, it’s a tribute to vampires and blood), magenta, Forest colors (sage, hunter, jade, teal).  Brown is back…thankfully!  And, camel takes on more of a rust tone.

Let’s talk about red for a minute.  They are touting it everywhere as THE color of the season, but I just spent an entire day in Lord & Taylor in New York City with a client who really wanted to wear red and could we find any at all?  Nope!  Not one piece.  So, perhaps it is planning to be fashionably late but don’t get too excited about it yet.

All of this is good except the focus on orange (it’s not a great color for a lot of people although those of us who can wear it are happy!) and the camel moving closer to rust is not fabulous.  Again, those with super duper warm tones in their skin will be ecstatic.  Everyone else will have to admire it from afar!

Dresses & Skirts: There is a lot going on here – every imaginable length is in.  Work dresses (with sleeves…hallelujah!) are hot.  Midi’s (that hit mid-calf) are the newest (albeit tricky) addition.  If it hits you at the widest part of your calf it will make your legs look heavy, so be careful.  Maxi dresses are all the rage but they can overwhelm you in a heartbeat and can look a little goth.  Go ahead and try them but don’t feel badly about leaving them on the rack.

Stacked Heels (including loafers): This trend will make many women’s hearts sing.  What’s most lovely about this is that every heel width is still available so for those for whom stacked heels are too clunky, you can still find slimmer heels, wedges and flats.   For those who have been longing to wear heels but don’t like teetering on stilts, these will be a blessing.  The loafer look (some are even platforms!) could be a bit over the top but some will embrace it and carry it off just great.  It can be a fun look with pants.

Shimmer for Day: One of my favorites!  When the weather gets cold and dreary, wearing something with a little shimmer or sparkle can be a great pick-me-up.  Here’s a great example to wear under a casual sweater or a jacket: http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/lauren-by-ralph-lauren-sleeveless-metallic-jersey-top/3191392?origin=keywordsearch&resultback=5934

Plaid: Once again, plaid is big for Fall.  Like most prints, a little goes a long way so if you like it wear it sparingly and be sure the basic colors in it look good on you.  If you just want to experiment, a scarf is a great way to add a touch of it without going overboard: http://www.zappos.com/echo-design-embroidered-plaid-olive

Capes: Capes are pretty but often fairly impractical – at least here in the northeast where there are usually about 10 days when the weather is just right for you to wear them.  But, if you like that Jane Eyre kind of feeling, have fun with it.  Here’s a beautiful short cape (that is also cruelty-free!): http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/via-spiga-asymmetrical-cape/3176405?origin=related-3176405-60133843-0-1-1

Bothered

Bright Pants: Oh, dear, I had a little 1980’s déjà vu.  Bright red jeans are everywhere.  With rare exceptions (most of which are on the very young) they are tricky.  You really have to know what you are doing and have the personality to pull it off.  Eager to try them?  Get one pair and see what you think (and if you wear them or they sit in your closet looking tempting but never actually make it on your body!).  If you aren’t sure, I’d say skip it.

Feathers in your hair: This is a hugely cruel new fashion trend.  Those long feather extensions sported by celebrities like Mylie Cyrus and Hillary Duff come from live roosters.  They are not fake.  It is bad enough that the roosters are raised so their feathers can be used as fishing lures in fly-fishing but to be a fashion trend has caused the demand to escalate and more roosters are suffering.  Please say no to such a cruel and unnecessary trend. Click here to read more.

Choker Necklaces: These remind me of a prom outfit gone wrong.  Occasionally they can look sweet but mostly not.  And, if you have any softness in the neck area, they will only draw attention to it.  Not to mention that the proportions are totally unbalanced.   There are plenty of other beautiful necklace trends and lengths to experiment with (including long pendants).  I suggest leaving this one alone.

Silky pants: With rare exceptions these will look like you are wearing your pajamas.  They are great for lounging around the house or for celebrities who are super trendy, but otherwise save your money for a style more lasting and flattering.

Sky High Platforms: So what’s up (so to speak) with this crazy trend.  Women are falling (yes, they are!) and teetering unattractively on platforms so high that we fear for their lives.  It is hard to walk gracefully in a shoe like this!  Yes, I think platforms are great fun but when women’s lives (and ankles) are at risk or they walk funny, then what’s the point?

Bewildered

Beehive Hairdo: I have often wondered if this style would ever make a comeback.  Well, it has and not only that but it has incorporated a twist that makes it even a little more eeeuw! – Imagine a “grunge beehive” and the image that brings up.  I’m sure a beehive hairdo can be done tastefully especially if it’s just for an evening out (although I still can’t imagine it’s good for your hair!) but when you add the grunge factor I think all hope is lost.

Mustard Hues: I thought yellow was challenging when that was all the rage for a few seasons but now they are taking it one step further from wearability – mustard!  Sure, there are a few people who look good in it but whereas at least bright yellow looks lively and fun, mustard just looks blah and a tad sickly on someone whose skin tone can’t handle it.  Unless you’re sure, skip it!

The Denim Shirt: Denim never seems to go out of style and that’s fine.  Now that we have a little stretch in denim I have my fair share.  But, when it comes to jean shirts and dresses, beware.  Most of them are made from a soft, lighter colored denim.  Unless you are sure this is a great color for you, I would walk on by.  Also, in most cases, it has a super casual, slightly rustic feel to it, so if that doesn’t fit with who you are or how you want to express your style, again, leave it on the racks.

The shopping season is in full swing and there is a lot to celebrate out there, and, as always, the styles will shift and evolve as the season moves along. Right now, for instance, there are not many jackets for women to wear to work (although there are plenty of suits), while there are lots of long cardigan sweaters.  They can be great for business casual but it’s nice to have the option of a fabulous jacket or two…I suspect we’ll see more of those in the next month.

Have fun exploring.  You’ll see lace, peplums and polka dots throughout the season as well – all fun trends for the right person.  If shopping sometimes feels overwhelming, take this guide with you for a little moral support!

Plan to shop now and again in October, and you’ll round out your wardrobe for the approaching winter.  Mostly, have fun and listen to your inner voice as it guides you to styles that look and feel fabulous!

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Style vs. Comfort: The Friendly (or Not!) Tug of War

Picture this…it’s cold outside, you’re slightly weary, and you just want to sit with a cup a tea and a good book.   But, you have to pick the dog up from the groomer, your daughter from art class, drop off a document to your new client and make a quick stop at the grocery store so you have something for dinner.  What do you wear?  (Hah!  I bet that wasn’t the first question you asked yourself!)

But let’s pretend it was…here’s where it gets tricky.  Your soul screams for cozy (and let’s just get going) and your heart says, “But I want to feel good about how I look, too.”  If it were your children fighting over a toy, you’d say, “Break it up, you two, let’s play nice!” (well, maybe not exactly those words, but you get the idea!).

So, I am suggesting that you can do the same with your style tug of war.  Let’s play nice!

What I have found is that as we get older something happens…neither our psyches nor our bodies tolerate discomfort in the same way.  There comes a point when we say, enough is enough.  Give me polar fleece or give me…well, it’s not that bad.  And, while we sometimes gain a little extra cushioning on some parts of our bodies, places like the balls of our feet lose it.  (The good news is that we now have many more fashionable choices of comfortable shoes than we did 30 years ago.)

So how do you make peace between the part of you that longs for comfort and that part that loves the confidence that comes from feeling good about how you look?

Here are a few ideas to ponder…

•    Stretch Is Your Best Friend: Get it out of your mind that comfy is equated only with sweats or the equivalent.  That used to be the case, that’s true.  But now with the inclusion of stretch in so many garments, we can breathe a little easier (yes, even after a plentiful meal).  For example, years ago, I never understood everyone’s love affair with jeans.  To me they felt restrictive, stiff, unforgiving (unless you wore them really baggy), and heavy.  Not any more.  Stretch has made a world of difference, and now I have jeans in black, brown, white and blue.  Love them!

This picture of me is from the Studio (www.studio233.com) one of my favorite stores in Brookline.  Every item I am wearing has stretch in it (the jacket is by Joseph Ribkoff) – super comfortable and pulled together!

•    Overlooking Possibility: You can’t always tell how something will feel (well, if the fabric feels like sandpaper you can probably pass it by) until you actually try it on. You might be pleasantly surprised – and if you’re not, it can easily go back on the rack.   For example, I happen to like high heels (although I wouldn’t exactly describe them as “cozy.”).  I try to be smart about how often I wear them so I don’t torture my feet, and I try to get ones that are relatively comfortable while I have them on.   That said, it always amazes me that sometimes I have shoes that have 3″ heels that feel miles better than a pair with a heel height half that high.  What’s my point, you ask?  Do not dismiss something simply because you “assume” it will be uncomfortable.  If it intrigues you try it on and figure out the comfort level from there.

You’ll probably think I’m crazy (I thought I was at first, too!) but I walked all over New York City in these shoes http://www.zappos.com/madden-girl-kizzler-black-paris and the sandals I wore the day before which were much lower heels gave me blisters!  Go figure!

•    Messy Begets Messy: Ever wonder why you feel so disheveled, out of sorts, not pulled together?  If your closet looks like a bomb went off in it then it’s hard to find the energy (especially when you are rushed or tired) to filter through all the stuff to get to something you really want to wear or to mix and match to create an outfit you love.  Often, as a result, what gets worn is what is easy to find and the subsequent outfit can often look a bit piecemeal at best.  Controlling closet clutter can do wonders for your style in the long run.  (Hint: Don’t try to tackle it all at once.  You’ll just get frustrated (or never do it).  Take baby steps to create an organize closet over time.)

•    Cozy And Shapeless Are Not One And The Same: Some of my most comfortable clothes are Joseph Ribkoff designs.  They are incredibly versatile, washable (yay!), and super duper comfortable.  Even his jackets have stretch and feel amazing on.  They are form-fitting, and if I could have an entire wardrobe of Joseph Ribkoff, I think I would (now, if he’d just stop making so much black…).

Anyway, my point is that just because something follows your body shape does not mean it has to feel restrictive or uncomfortable.  Believe me, I understand because I have no patience for that any more either.  But, I know lots of women who buy clothing that is 3 sizes too big (and I understand that comfort is not always the driving reason behind it but 9 times out of 10 it’s part of it at least) because they do not want to feel constrained in any way.  Don’t let this false assumption keep you trapped in yards of unnecessary and unflattering fabric!

Whether you see yourself in one, two or all of the above scenarios, the bottom line is that we often tend to have a narrow, pre-conceived interpretation of what comfort means when it comes to our wardrobe.  Yes, I admit that few things are as delicious as polar fleece, but I have also seen many surprised (and delighted) smiles on women’s faces when they discover that something they think is pretty is also comfortable.  How exciting and how fun!  It will open up a whole world of comfy-cozy options…just you see!

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:

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.

Does How You Look Really Matter?

In the show “Wife Swap,” two wives switch families for two weeks – the first week living by the family’s rules and the second week setting their own rules by which the family must live. For the sake of dramatic tension, they choose families whose values and philosophy are diametrically opposed. I have to admit that I don’t watch the show much because it’s just too stressful but I remember one show where the women expressed their views about personal image. One woman believed that how you look is all that matters. The other, who felt strongly that beauty comes exclusively from the inside, was appalled at how much time her temporary family spent on grooming and dressing and was very outspoken about it. She rarely brushed her hair, never cared if her clothing matched, and shopped exclusively in thrifts stores and only when absolutely necessary. As you can imagine, much drama ensued! So, who is right? Does how we look matter above all else? Do clothing, makeup and hair choices have that much influence? Or, should our personality and inner essence be the primary focus with no attachment to how we look on the outside? Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you know that our society is obsessed with image. Not only that but the image they revere is young, thin and white. It’s no wonder so many women feel excluded! The key is to match your outer appearance with appreciation and expression of who you are on the inside. How do you do that?

  1. Be True to Yourself: Do you feel good about how you look? Hopefully, the answer is yes. Being aware of certain parameters for appropriate dress is important, but once you understand those conditions, you can tweak them to suit your personal style and preference. The biggest question is “do you know how you want to look and how to make that happen?”
  2. Know the Rules: I recently spoke to a large group of young professional women. Most were incredibly appreciative of what I shared (“Fantastic! Great addition to this year’s program!”), and a couple of them were up in arms and called my talk sexist saying that the organization that brought me in would never do the same for a group of men (wouldn’t they be surprised to know that yes, they would!). Little do they know that I am a feminist from way back (possibly, yikes, before they were born) and that my passion has been and still is to empower women. Knowing the rules (both spoken and unspoken) of how to dress for the workplace can be critical to professional success, and who would want to risk that – especially because you didn’t know any better (talk about disempowering)! If you understand the rules about dress then you are well equipped to make choices that serve you. Knowing the expectations, you can then make a conscious decision to disregard them (if you choose to) and are better prepared to deal with (or circumvent) the consequences.
  3. Show Respect: Take pride in how you look. Good grooming habits are essential and have nothing to do with where you shop or how big or fancy your wardrobe is or isn’t. Others notice when you take good care of your body and your clothes…and when you don’t!
  4. Dress With Intention: Many women have fallen into a state of unconsciousness about how they look. Is it any surprise when you consider the factors working against us (e.g., body image issues, social pressure, compromised self-esteem, disinterest in fashion…)? Women are bombarded with messages about how we “should” look and what we “should” wear. After a while, many give up and resort to dressing in what is safe and easy. After this pattern is repeated enough, it becomes an unconscious choice. If this sounds familiar, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself this question “If my clothes could talk what would they say about me?” Do you like the answer? If not, it’s time to make changes. And, if that feels like a daunting task, ask for help.

How you dress gives people visual cues about who you are. True or not, they will make assumptions about you based on what they see. While it is not possible to meet everyone’s expectations, you can meet your own. Dress with authenticity, respect and intention, and you will feel good about how you look everyday. Discover Your Style with Ginger! Grab your spot for your free ‘Discover Your Style” phone consultation. Simply fill out the “I Need Help ” form on the Total Image Consultants website and we’ll get you all scheduled! http://www.totalimageconsultants.com/i-need-help.shtml

Here’s How To Look Good While Walking the Dog, Taking the Kids To School, Running Errands…

I have never been a t-shirt and jeans kind of gal.  It’s just not me.  So, you might be wondering, why do I love Glima so much?  That’s easy!  Because they take the comfort and ease of a traditional t-shirt and add personality, flair, and, hey, they even make them flattering!

GlimaFor the past 23 years I have been a fashion stylist who helps women from all walks of life feel good about how they look.  Most of my clients want to look great not only in their professional lives but also in their personal leisure time or simply when running errands.

Too often, however, women feel frustrated (I know, because I felt that way earlier in my life) trying to create a wardrobe that flatters their body, is comfortable and fits into their lifestyle.  Phew!  They don’t know where to begin, and my job is to help them break it down into baby steps to make it manageable.  While ease of dressing is important, understanding how to do that in a way that truly expresses their personality often eludes them.  My role as a stylist is to offer them valuable tips to make it easier and more fun and to introduce them to fabulous resources.  That’s where Glima comes in!

Think about it.  Your typical t-shirt is shapeless, has an unflattering crew neckline, and sleeves that invariably make your body look wider than it is.  What woman wants that!  But, that’s what they often settle for because they don’t know that there are other choices.

What a joy it was to discover Glima shirts where you can get a beautiful scoop or v-neck, a variety of sleeve lengths (none of which is oversized or baggy), pretty colors, and even better, fun designs that are elegant and can express your personality.  Plus, the fabric has enough weight to it that it won’t draw focus to every lump and bump (which is a concern for many women).  Can you tell I like them (which is why I feature them in my personal style home study program “Who Taught You How To Dress?” – www.whotaughtyouhowtodress.com).

I have had many women tell me that I have a dream job, and I have to agree.  I adore helping women create a wardrobe and personal style they love.  It all begins with understanding who you are at a deep level (I like to refer to it as ‘aligning your inner and outer beauty’) and then we address how to use tools like color, fit, style, details and accessories to fully express your personality through your wardrobe.  As one client put it, “I have to 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.”  Well, I didn’t do it alone.  Glima helps make my job easier by offering women a casual look that really has grace and ease!

Want to know even more?  Sign up for their weekly newsletter at www.Glima.com (the subscribe button is in the lower right corner).

Happy shopping!

Ginger Burr
Total Image Consultants
www.totalimageconsultants.com

You, too, can have a wardrobe and personal style you love. Simply go to http://www.totalimageconsultants.com/i-need-help.shtml, fill out the ‘I Need Help’ form, and we’ll schedule 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?

Unapologetically Matchy-Matchy!

Recently, I was browsing in one of my favorite stores, and one of the sales women said to me, “Oh, one of your clients was just in, and she bought that necklace you told her about.”  (I had seen this necklace that was SO her and sent her a picture).  She then said, “I showed her another necklace as well that she loved, but we couldn’t find earrings to match so she didn’t get it.  She told me that she’s ‘matchy-matchy’ like Ginger.”  I laughed.  Yes, there are a few of us left!

No, I do not go so far as to have my handbags and shoes be exact matches, but I do insist they blend and make sense together.  I sometimes watch “What Not To Wear” and, while I think a lot of their advice is valuable, I sometimes look at the outfits they create and think “Really!  It looks like a mish-mash – like they got dressed in the dark!”  It just goes to show you that fashion is not an exact science and personality and personal preference play into it.  Clearly, there’s a stylist for every taste.

So, while I never expect my clients to be matchy-matchy, I do know that most of them rely on me to help them know how far they can push the envelope (if that’s what they want to do).  It’s funny, too.  Twenty years ago, as a new image consultant, I attended a fashion seminar at Henri Bendel’s, and I clearly remember the woman saying with great disdain that matchy-matchy was so “out!”  I briefly questioned my style, but then I took a long look at what she was wearing and thought, if that’s the alternative I’ll stick with what I’m wearing.

I have remained true to my personal style preference and wear it with confidence.  I admire those who are funkier and trendier than I am and who wear the look well (not everyone does!).  I also know that there is no one right way.  If there were we’d all look like clones – what fun would there be in that?

So, matchy-matchy or not, honor your own preferences.  That said, don’t be afraid to step outside your self-imposed box and try new things.  That’s how we keep it fun and fresh.  But if a trend doesn’t work for you, that’s absolutely fine.  Just know (or find out) what does and be true to that!

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
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Jan: After
sara-before-closeup
Sara: Before
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Sara: After
marianne-before-closeup
Marianne: Before
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Marianne: After
annie-before-closeup
Annie: Before
annie-after-closeup
Annie: After
meryl-before-closeup
Meryl: Before
meryl-after-closeup
Meryl: After

When you begin to dress like yourself you can’t live any part of your life NOT like yourself. Working with your inner beauty words is very powerful and contributes to many positive changes beyond your wardrobe. Jennifer, Germany