Today there is literally not a moment available just to think. Most appointments demand our constant attention with “need-to-be-here’s” and “got-to-be-there’s.” That being said, how do you make sure you find time for me-things like yoga and still feel prepared for the rest of your day? Continue reading…
Be honest. Do you look in your closet and think, “Wow…I really need clothes. I have nothing to wear!” You stand there in dismay trying to figure out what to do next and then, you hear it — the voices that bombard you with a list of excuses as to why you can’t or won’t get new clothes any time soon. So, you nod your head, shut the door and go about your day. Until the next day, when you repeat the same scenario.
Admit it. There’s a sense of relief when you hear the reasons why you can’t go shopping. You don’t really want to do it anyway and having what feels like a valid excuse lets you stop worrying about it…at least for the moment. Instead you resign yourself to the daily stress of getting dressed and the familiar sense of longing for clothes that make you happy. You figure that some day the timing will be right but not now.
It’s no wonder you don’t love shopping for clothes. You spend time you don’t have wandering around the stores that feel too big and leave with things you don’t love but that will suffice. After all that, you go home worn out. No feeling of excitement or anticipation of having new things to wear. You’re just glad it’s over.
Phew! It’s completely understandable why you wouldn’t want to repeat that experience anytime soon!
What’s your favorite excuse? Do you tell yourself you’ll shop when:
- You have more time
- You have more money
- The stores have better choices
- You lose weight
At the time reasons feel legitimate. The problem is that they are open-ended – you can go on forever like that. If you dislike shopping or you don’t feel like you deserve a good wardrobe, then there’s always something else that will come along to take up your time and money.
So, what’s the answer?
“You must become a priority on your to-do list. And somehow it has to become a more enticing and rewarding experience or it is easy to keep putting it off.
What’s behind each of these excuses? Fear.
- Fear that you’ll waste time and come home with nothing worthwhile to show for it.
- Fear that you’ll waste money on things you’ll never wear. (Often this piggy backs an overriding belief that you have to spend a lot of money in order to have a great wardrobe (you don’t!))
- Fear that you’ll discover they don’t make clothes anymore that look good on you.
- Fear that you’ll buy new clothes and then lose weight and have to buy more new clothes, or
- Fear that you’ll buy clothes for your current (undesirable) weight and then you’ll feel complacent and not lose the weight you want to lose.
It’s not surprising that you’d rather stay with what’s familiar even if it’s uncomfortable than take a step that stirs up a whole bunch of new feelings that support your deepest fears.
So, now what? How do you get out of your rut and make this a happy experience rather than one that makes you feel even worse than your current limiting wardrobe?
Let’s address some of your underlying fears and then identify steps you can take to move in the direction you want to. Your past experiences are valid which is why you are reading this and looking for guidance. You want to move forward. This also says that you are willing to make some changes and take a step even if it feels uncomfortable or a bit scary.
- Time: If you’d rather have a root canal than go clothes shopping you’ll never set aside the time to do it until you’re in pain, i.e., you don’t have anything left to wear or you need something for an event and you must shop. Shopping when you are desperate is never a good use of your time and can severely deplete your energy. Nine times out of ten it just reinforces the fear (sometimes all of them!) and makes you even more reticent to shop again before you have to, setting you up for a vicious cycle of shopping only when you’re desperate.
- Money: Let me dispel this fear right up front. Sure, it would be wonderful to have an unlimited clothing budget, but to be honest, very few women have that luxury. In fact, it’s important to know what your budget is (no matter how big or small) so you spend it wisely. Nor do you have to shop at the ritziest stores in order to have a great wardrobe. You can find great clothes at any price point. I have things in my closet that I’ve found at thrift stores, consignment stores, off-price stores, department stores and boutiques. You name it, I’ve found clothes there. If you know how to make good choices then you can shop anywhere (I know. I know. This is why you haven’t been shopping – because you don’t know how to make good choices — but we’ll get to that).
One thing I need to point out is that bargain shopping sometimes takes more time and energy because thrift stores, consignment stores and off-price stores are often more hit or miss, and you have to filter through more racks than department stores or a boutique that you know carry lines of clothing that work for you. But, when you know what you’re looking for it gets easier and quicker either to find things or leave empty handed but satisfied you didn’t buy something just to buy something.
- Better Choices: Wouldn’t it would feel so much easier if fashion would just stay the same for a while? Maybe, maybe not. The reality is that styles change, trends change, and your body changes…sometimes even your lifestyle changes, so your wardrobe is constantly evolving (whether you want it to or not!). There are always new choices to be made and understanding how to make them for your body, lifestyle and personality is key.
- Weight: This is by far the #1 reason women don’t shop when they need to. Whether your body has shifted due to having children, going through menopause, health-related issues, or just getting older, its easy to mourn the days when it used to feel easier to get dressed (if that ever was true for you – for some women it was never easy and they just get worn out as the years go by), or, you just feel frustrated by the fact that you have a closet full of clothes that fit you at a different weight, and you can’t wear any of them now.
Whatever your weight is, you deserve to feel good right now. If your weight has changed, it doesn’t mean you have to go spend tons of money or buy massive amounts of clothes at your current weight if you are expecting it to change again. But you do need to have clothes you feel good in now. Focus on basic colors and garments you can mix and match to leverage your purchases and then add accessories to bring in personality. This will serve you much better than berating yourself for gaining weight or putting pressure on yourself to lose the weight. Good self-care and kindness to yourself will ease the experience and help you achieve your goal with less angst.
All of your reasons for not shopping are valid, but the good news is that they don’t have to keep you stuck forever.
- Set aside some time. If you’re used to dashing in to Kohls 20 minutes before you have to pick the kids up at school, then you’re setting yourself up for stress and frustration. Schedule in at least 90 minutes to shop. Put it in your calendar or you’ll never do it. No matter what your schedule is you can find it somewhere if you really want to even if you schedule it a month out.
- Shop with a plan. Have a list of priorities with you. Maybe you need new jeans and a winter coat. Or, a dress for a special occasion and a fun clutch. Even if your wardrobe needs a total overhaul do not go in as a blank slate with an open-ended list. You’ll be overwhelmed in a matter of seconds.
- Always look for your best colors first. Scan the racks, see what colors (your most flattering colors, of course) call out to you and start there. It immediately limits the number of options you have and makes it easier and quicker to shop. If you’re looking for a dress, for instance, in your shades of green, teal or purple and all you see is gray and orange, then you’re done. On to the next item on your list or to the next store. Don’t try to make something work just because you’re there. That’s how wardrobes get out of control!
- Be willing to try on new styles. Sure, some garments will make you roll your eyes and wonder what genius designer thought “that” look was a good idea, but there are always new options hiding on the racks just waiting for you to try them on. And, do not leave the store without trying things on – unless you really will return everything that doesn’t work before their return policy expires (I’ve seen too many closets full of clothes with tags on them), and even then I don’t recommend it. You’re less likely to take something that’s new and different (and potentially won’t work) home than you would be to bring it into the dressing room and leave it behind if it’s not right.
- Be willing to use a tailor. So many women have said to me, I’m petite so I shouldn’t have to hem petite pants. My response…why not? A petite woman can be 4’11” or 5’4”. I’ve even shopped with women who are taller and have long torsos in comparison to their legs and petite pants fit them well. That’s a wide range and no way you can expect one length to cover everyone. And, that’s just pants. Other alterations often need to be done so allow for this cost when you buy something or else don’t buy it (and in that case you can expect your choices to be considerably limited). This is true for everyone, not just petite women. Find a great tailor and you open up a whole new world of options.
- Complete the outfit as much as possible in the dressing room. You’ve heard me say this before, and I’m happy to say it again and again. You can’t try on a pretty dress with clunky sneakers and socks on. Most likely (I know this is true for me), you’ll feel dumpy and you’ll dislike the dress immediately without giving it a fair assessment. In this case, if you’re shopping for a dress, bring a pair of shoes with you that you’d wear with it just so you can get an idea of what it would look like finished (at the very least, take off your socks!). If you are trying on a pair of skinny jeans (and women of all sizes and shapes can wear them so don’t think they are just for tall, thin women), you’ll want to have a jacket or sweater that covers your butt and maybe even a pair of tall boots to get the full effect. It’s too easy to dismiss something when you can’t see the final look.
- Ask for help. If the next several months pass and you still haven’t gone shopping, you might need a jumpstart. Many of my clients shop with me two or three times a year so they can get it done as efficiently and productively (and with as much fun) as possible. They know they don’t like to shop by themselves or it takes too long or they make too many mistakes so having support makes it all a thousand times easier and then they don’t have to think about it again until the next time we shop. There is no embarrassment in needing help. In fact, it’s a sign of strength and honoring yourself (believe me, I’ve done it in other areas of my life and am thankful I have). Not everyone loves the experience of shopping but everyone deserves the experience of looking great every day!
So, what are you waiting for? Please don’t just turn the page and say yeah, yeah, I’ll get to it soon. Make a commitment now. Get out your calendar and schedule a time to shop. Start making a list of what you need – just 1-3 things. Start visualizing the experience being fun and easy and stick to the date. Make that commitment to yourself and your personal self-care. Each step you take is one more step towards having a wardrobe you love. Do it now!
Cleaning up our act is what prompts us to set new year resolutions. In our enthusiasm, however, we often set resolutions that involve a long-term commitment. We begin with gusto, and sadly, 80% of our well intentioned resolutions fizzle within a month. After a while we think, why bother and may even stop making them altogether.
Now you can make and complete a few resolutions in a matter of minutes! They will give you satisfaction, keep your skin healthier, and get your new year off to a clean start!
- Wash Your Makeup Sponges And Brushes. You use them day in and day out and yet most people rarely think about all the bacteria they harbor…and they do. You know that powder compact you use every day? The same sponge has been in there since you bought it, right? Give it a wash. Use a little shampoo, facial cleanser, or liquid hand soap. It probably will not ever be white again but at least it will be rid of all the built up gunk. One word of caution: if you’ve used it a really long time already, it might fall apart. It is best to wash your sponge every 2 or 3 weeks (at least). Once they get to be too dirty they won’t hold up to the washing. If you fear yours is too old, go to the drugstore and find a replacement before you attempt to wash the old one…just in case.The same goes for your makeup brushes. Chances are you invested a little bit in them and if they are good quality they will last. But, not if you don’t wash them. Built up makeup, oils from your skin, and dirt will eventually break down the bristles, and you’ll have to replace the brush sooner than you would if you simply washed it periodically. Rinse the brush under warm water. Put a bit of shampoo or facial cleanser in the palm of your hand and swirl the brush in it. Rinse it well until all the residue is gone. Squeeze the bristles gently in a paper towel and allow the brush to air dry. You’ll breathe new life into your brushes, and they’ll be so much healthier for your skin.
- Replace Your Mascara. 9 out of 10 women haven’t a clue as to when they bought their current mascara. This is the one makeup product you don’t want to fool around with. The dark, damp packaging is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Replacing it every 3-6 months is important. If you buy a new one first thing in the new year you’ll easily remember the date and know when it’s time to get your next one!
- Throw Stuff Out! Take a look in your cosmetic bag. What’s in there? Do you use it all? Is anything more than 3 years old? Does anything smell funny or have a weird consistency? Do yourself a favor and throw out at least 3 things (they are in there, I’m sure!). Get rid of those weird lipstick colors you got as a sample or the light violet blush you got because it was “in” last spring. Unload those eyeshadow compacts where you’ve used up the one color you really liked. Admit it, it’s true…you’ll never use the other colors. Dump that moisturizer you bought on a whim when someone told you it would take 20 years off your face but it felt too goopy to use it long enough to find out. You’ll never miss these things and your load will be lightened as you head into a new year.
Cleaning your sponge and your brushes can be done while you’re brushing your teeth. Buy a new mascara the next time you’re in the drugstore or favorite department store or call me, and I’ll send you one (that’s even quicker!). And throw out 3 things from your cosmetic bag the next time you’re putting on your makeup. What could be easier and more freeing!
Happy New Year!
When I work with a client in her closet invariably the discussion turns to jewelry. Does she have some? Like it? Not like it? Wear it? What kind…fine jewelry? Costume? Bridge? You get the idea.
Finally, I ask to see it. Can I tell you how many times that turns out to be a huge ordeal! At least 75% of the time her jewelry is either in a drawer in boxes, scattered in a jewelry box or in another room (in boxes, drawers or bags)!
Then, of course, I ask if she wears it. The answer is almost always…not really.
I can tell you right now that if your jewelry is strewn somewhere or neatly (or not so neatly) tucked away in boxes two things are generally true:
- It’s too much trouble to get to it to wear it.
- You probably have things you’ve forgotten about.
Thirdly, you might not love it enough to keep it handy so you can wear it. All of this could be remedied if you can create a way to display your jewelry. Several things will happen:
- You feel renewed excitement at the idea of wearing it.
- You will be able to find it easily – which is more likely to translate into you wearing it more, too.
- You will become acutely aware of what you no longer like or what doesn’t go with anything or is out of style which makes it much easier to purge.
The question then becomes, how do you display it?
Well, as you know, I spend time in lots of closets and have come across a number of women who have devised clever ways of organizing and storing their jewelry so it’s readily visible.
They are delighted to share their ideas with you:
Annie loves to take unusual containers and turn them into jewelry holders. Simply go to Bed Bath & Beyond and pick up a silverware tray and, voila, you can store your jewelry just like she does.
Amy took one shelf of in her closet to display her necklaces by attaching hooks. It was easy to see what she has and coordinate it with her clothes.
Claudyne lives in a fabulous old house that has a bit pole running through her walk-in closet. She attached plastic hooks and hangs all of her necklaces there. You can easily see what she has so getting dressed and accessorized is simple.
I also recently found this fun jewelry organizer on-line: http://www.belledangles.com/ I haven’t tried it but it looks promising. If anyone tries it I would love to hear what you think.
Lastly, I have a fabulous cabinet that doubles as a full-length mirror that I keep in my bedroom filled with all my jewels! It comes in several wood finishes, and the price has dropped since I got it so now’s your chance.
It doesn’t matter how you store your jewelry as long as you can see it and get to it easily. Like most other things when it’s out of sight it’s out of mind. Let me know what works for you!
I don’t know about you but in New England we went from winter to summer overnight. One day it was 49 degrees and drizzling and the next it was 85, sunny and humid. I hate it when that happens. There’s a whole section of my closet waiting to be worn!
Of course, wait 5 minutes and it could all change again. I keep hoping we’ll have a peek of spring sometime in the next month before we go to real true summer. But, that’s the beauty of New England…you just never know.
When the weather changes so dramatically one of two things happens:
- You’re so excited that warm weather has finally arrived that you throw caution to the wind and shed clothing with abandon.
- You were freezing one minute and now you’re hot and you stare miserably and hopelessly into your closet trying to figure out how to adapt.
So, let’s back up. While the first scenario might be more fun than the second (at least in the short term), chances are good that after a while you’ll think…Yikes…I’m feeling cooler but I’m not sure this is the best look for me. Sometimes this leads to a fun shopping session and sometimes it leads to the second scenario above!
Before you get stuck…
Let me share some tips for dressing well, comfortably, and authentically for the summer season (and for those of you who are experiencing winter right now, save this, and it will come in handy in a few more months!):
- Be prepared.While about mid-February we think spring will never come, it always does. And, often it seems to catch us by surprise. There are several reasons that being prepared makes a difference.
- You’ll have more choices. I agree that the retail shopping schedule is nutty (it’s hard to think about buying sleeveless tops when the temperature outside is hovering around freezing, but you must). If you wait until the weather warms up and you realize you need things, it could be too late. Yes, the stores are already going into sale mode and it’s barely June!
- It will save your sanity. If you have ever tried to put together a seasonal wardrobe when we’re in the middle of the season you know that yes, you might luck out and get everything you want (on sale even). But, more often what happens is that by the time you shop there is little left to buy…at least in your size (or so it seems). You find a great skirt but no top to go with it or you have a great pair of capris but all the good shoes in your size are gone. Not only will your sanity suffer but you’ll waste time inside agonizing over how to put together a wardrobe when you could be outside enjoying the warm weather.
- Is your weather fickle? In New England (and maybe other places as well) you must be prepared for the possibility of either a cool summer or a brutally hot one (like last year). By the time you know for sure what the weather will be Fall clothes are in the stores so be prepared either way or you’ll be out of luck about late July if you guessed wrong!
- Dress to Express. Remember my article on never settling for just ‘good enough?’ This is a season when I see a lot of that going around. Knowing who you are and how to reflect your personality in your wardrobe whatever the season is, is super important. It’s the missing link for many women. Yes, the summer throws in monkey wrenches like sandals, capris and lightweight (a.k.a., less forgiving) fabrics, but that means it’s even more important to stay true to yourself. Please never settle for just good enough! There is always a better choice (or else leave it on the rack). Listen to your inner guidance for cues as to what really speaks to you.
- Understand Your Needs. Are you always hot…cold? Do you walk a lot so you need super comfortable sandals? Do you have to crawl around on the floor (with children, as an IT specialist or organizing guru), or do you run board meetings and have high-powered lunches? What about leisure time, vacation, and dressy summer events? When you are in the dressing room, be sure to ask yourself, “When will I wear this?” and “How will I complete this outfit?” The last thing you want to do is get home and realize that you bought some fun things but you still have a lot of wardrobe loose ends!
- Have a Back-Up Plan. If your favorite designer has gone crazy and shows everything in chartreuse or only cap sleeved, flimsy T-shirts with cargo shorts, you want to be sure you know where to turn next. Having 2, 3 or 4 stores where you like to shop can make a frustrating shopping trip more productive and fun. You just leave and head to another store.
- A love affair with linen. One of the first questions I ask clients at this time of year is…do you love linen or hate it. No one is neutral on this! If you love it great, but you might want other alternatives for those days when linen doesn’t feel right (you’re not in the mood for the rumpled look) or you just want a change. This season has been great for that.
There are lots of pretty jackets and sweaters with a loose weave that let you stay cool but still feel covered, pulled-together, or professional (or whatever your reason is for wearing another layer). Here is a pretty example:
Or, a short-sleeved jacket can be a good alternative (be careful, though, this look can get frumpy in a heartbeat):
I’m sharing this now because there is still time to create a fabulous wardrobe for the summer. Hey, it’s a beautiful season when we don’t have to be all bundled up and wearing our snow boots. You want to spend as much time as possible enjoying the experience and not dreading getting dressed every day. Take a few minutes to plan your wardrobe now and then you can relax and enjoy the rest of the season with delicious abandon!
It’s a familiar nightmare. You arrive at a party and the host greets you. It’s then that you realize you are wearing your pajamas or, worse, only a bath towel. There’s no place to hide, and everyone is looking at you. Thankfully, at that moment, you awaken to realize it was all a bad dream. Phew!
These dreams often coincide with an invitation to a company picnic, baseball game or even a pool party with colleagues. While declining the invitation is an option, it might not be the most prudent choice. Short of praying for rain so it will be canceled, you are now left with the dilemma of what constitutes appropriate attire for such an event.
How do you choose a look that says relaxed and fun and yet still elicits a sense of proper business etiquette? You don’t want to dress down to the point of looking inappropriate and yet you also do not want to look like the office fuddy-duddy. This is a concern that plagues many women prompting some to call in sick rather than risk looking foolish or feeling uncomfortable.
The stakes are higher for women than for men in these situations, especially in male-dominated professions. As John T. Malloy, author of “The New Women’s Dress for Success Book” says, “When men dress casually they lose some of their authority. When women do the same, they lose most of theirs.”
While employees hail business casual as a desirable benefit, many women are either stymied by the lack of direction or overwhelmed by the options available. Throw in a pool, barbeque pit, or baseball diamond and the challenge feels even greater. Do you wear shorts, pants, or a skirt? How about sneakers, sandals or flip-flops?
With summer in full swing it’s only a matter of time before the invitation arrives, so let’s address a few important considerations:
- When in doubt, ask. It’s that simple. If you are not sure what the expectations are or what others (especially those more senior than you) are wearing, simply ask. You will often get more direction than you had or at least discover what someone else is wearing and perhaps even have a partner to talk to.
- Plan ahead. Shopping at the last minute in desperation is rarely productive, efficient, or satisfying and will only add more angst to the situation. If you don’t have what you need to feel comfortable, do a little research, take a trusted friend with you, or ask a personal shopper for help.
- Compromise. Cropped pants (although please forgo the cropped cargo pants in favor of something a little more upscale) can solve the dilemma of shorts, pants or a skirt. Three-quarter length sleeves (unless it’s 100 degrees) can look comfortable and casual without concern about exposing your arms (some women worry about this). Avoid T-shirts with advertisements on them, but do add color and fun embellishments.
As much as you might love your flip flops, I recommend highly against wearing them unless you are at the beach (and even then sandals can always do the job better). They are ultra-casual and noisy (they aren’t called flip flops for nothing!)
- Keep Monday morning in mind. Refrain from wearing anything too provocative, messy, or cutesy. Leave your belly shirts, tube tops (in fact, abstain from anything that requires you to go braless), daisy dukes, and anything too sheer in the closet. Remember that you have to see these people at work the next day.
- Keep it upscale. No, the outfit does not have to be expensive, by any stretch of the imagination, but it should not look like you are going to pick blueberries or clean your garage. (If you have lost perspective on the viability of your casual wardrobe (it’s hard to be objective about ourselves sometimes), ask for feedback from a trusted friend or professional. Better safe than uncomfortable.)
Remember, the idea of these company events is not to torture you but to have fun. Depending on the type of event, be sure to bring your sunscreen, bathing suit cover up, hat, nice sneakers (maybe there’s a company baseball game?) or a cool pair of sunglasses, and enjoy!
So, what’s your favorite work/summer outing outfit? Please do share and inspire others, or, of course, ask questions!
My cats love to hide. Their disappearing acts are a constant source of amusement. Invariably, a tail is sticking out–sometimes even a whole back end. It’s the cutest thing! It’s just not particularly effective! Do they think that if they can’t see me, then I must not be able to see them?
I think women sometimes perceive their undergarments the same way. If they can’t see them, then no one else can either. It’s a case of out of sight, out of mind. As a result, we often see more than we care to and wonder why they aren’t aware of what’s so obvious to the rest of us.
Undergarments are the basis on which a look is created. An ill-fitting bra, improper support, or things sticking out in unusual places can totally undermine an otherwise beautiful look. Just as you wouldn’t ask a plumber to do an electrician’s job, you cannot ask a sports bra to do what a convertible bra must or wear a thong when support-wear is called for.
Here are four considerations:
Wayward Bra Straps: There’s a disturbing fashion trend out there of purposely visible bra straps. It befuddles me not because it’s obscene but mostly because it’s often unattractive. Not all bra straps are created equal. Here’s a rule of thumb: If your bra straps look like bra straps (which 99% of them do), keep them hidden. If you have a bra that matches your top perfectly and the straps are delicate and pretty so that you cannot tell the bra strap from the cami straps (maybe get some other input here because you cannot see your back (or be as objective) as well as someone else), then maybe a slight peek of bra strap every now and then is okay AND only for ultra-casual. Never, ever to the office.
You can also get some really pretty sparkly straps to put on your convertible bra for evenings out. So pretty!
Visible Panty Lines: Let’s end this problem forever. Before you leave the house, always take a look at yourself from behind. It’s that simple. Twist, turn, bend, and move. Can you see a pantyline? If so, there are many options out there that make pantylines disappear. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at the most comfortable thong at Hanky Panky lingerie or Spanx Hide & Sleek panty smoother or Commando underwear.
Visible Thong: Although it seems to be fashion gone awry with young men, the idea of exposing one’s underwear while wearing lowrise pants is downright unattractive on anyone. Again, check your rear view, and don’t just stand there. Bend over, move around. Get a glimpse at what the rest of the world sees. Underwear is meant to be just that…under-wear!
Misfitting Bra: I saved the best for last. Ill-fitting bras can ruin an outfit, and the number of women wearing the wrong size bra for their bodies is mind-boggling. When your bra fits well, clothing hangs better, darts fall in the right place, and everything looks more balanced. If you’re not sure, get fitted by someone who knows what she is doing. (A great option in the Boston area is www.nightanddaylingerie.com or in more cities www.myintimacy.com) It will forever give you a new appreciation of the value of undergarments.
The first step is awareness. Have you been taking your undergarments for granted? Do you buy a new bra and then don’t think about it again until it is so ragged and lifeless that it practically falls apart in the laundry? Do you figure that if it’s covered up no one else will know that your underwear desperately needs a makeover? The truth is that well-fitting, appropriate undergarments are seen only by you. Ill-fitting, inappropriate undies are “visible” to everyone. With a little forethought, it’s an easy problem to remedy, and the results are immediate and fabulous.