Summer is a time for relaxation and fun. It’s also generally a time when the temperature, and sometimes the humidity, soars. You probably spend more time outside where you get hot, and dare I say, sweaty which begs the question…what do you wear? Continue reading…
Dresses are so easy to wear, can be light and comfortable and feel perfect for everything from work to a warm summer evening get-together. Continue reading…
After a long, cold winter, spring fashion designers have a tendency to get a little crazy with floral mania, explosions of color and a variety of exposed body parts. While it is certainly a welcomed relief from the bleak winter doldrums, it can also be a bit of a shock! How do you make sense of it all? No worries. That’s what the “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” seasonal trend update is all about. Continue reading…
Every morning when you get dressed and stand for what seems like an hour in front of your closet trying to find something to wear, you dream of being able to grab a uniform and go. Your mind goes to a fantasy of reaching into your closet while still half asleep and pulling on something fabulous without having to try on ten or twenty things. Then, your mind snaps back to reality and you think, “Sure, I already have a ‘uniform’ and it’s so boring I can hardly stand it!”
While your mind is intrigued at the thought of wearing a uniform, your heart says no because it sounds so dull and limiting and holds out for something more exciting.
Before you give up on the idea altogether, let’s rethink the concept of a uniform. It can run from firefighters’ and police officers’ mode of dress to your Catholic school outfit or what you and every other girl in your girl scout troop wore. In these cases it identifies you with a particular group. The problem is that none of those is appropriate to your every day dress now. While that’s true, you don’t have to give up entirely. You can create your own group uniform with a membership of one: you. Continue reading…
You can look great this holiday season without spending a lot of money or hours shopping.
You have a couple of holiday parties to go to and, of course, New Years Eve is approaching. Although the holidays seem to come and go so quickly, you still want to look beautiful and feel special without breaking the bank. You just don’t know where to begin. Yes, you could wear the same thing you’ve worn the past two years — your little black dress with a pendant necklace, or your velvet skirt and shimmery blouse — but that doesn’t feel special anymore. How can you spice it up without spending hours fighting the crowds at the mall or buying an entirely new outfit? Continue reading…
It’s that time of year — winter — and who doesn’t want to be warm! When I first became vegan I was so concerned I wouldn’t be able to find warm clothes and I’d go through the entire winter freezing — but 8 years later, I can safely say it’s just not true. And even better I realized that I don’t have to sacrifice ANYTHING to be vegan. In this day and age, we can have it all without ever hurting a defenseless animal again — and that feels great.
To be honest, up until eight years ago I had no idea that any choices I made were hurting animals. It wasn’t something anyone I knew ever talked about and, as a result, it never entered my consciousness. I’m sure the same is true for you. I know you don’t set out to cause misery and suffering to animals when you go shopping. But, if you are purchasing anything made of wool, silk, fur, leather or down, then you are. I know. I know. It was an eye-opener for me, too!
Nearly 20 years ago, I vaguely remember someone pointing out to me that although I didn’t eat red meat, I did wear leather. At the time, I thought, “Well, of course I do. What is the alternative? And, besides, leather is a byproduct of the meat industry so it’s not like they are killing the animals just for the leather.”* Oh, dear. Can I tell you how much I WISH he had continued the conversation with me! I had no idea how misguided I was and how just a little more information would have changed my life (and saved the lives of so many animals). Sadly, I do not even remember who this phantom person was or why we were on that particular subject in general. I just know that I dismissed the notion that I was contributing to animal suffering because I didn’t know any better and thought there were no alternatives.
It was many years later before I learned the truth. I would like to share with you some of the information I waited so long to hear and understand, because I suspect that you might not know either, and I don’t want you to have the same regrets I do. Plus, let me share a little secret, it’s SO much easier now!
Two things are keeping you from making clothing choices that are cruelty-free:
- You aren’t aware that traditional, beloved fabrics like wool, silk, down and leather come with a very high price tag. Whether the actual monetary value is high or low, the one thing that is true across the board — they all cause immeasurable suffering. Yes, even wool production causes misery and ends in the death of the lambs and sheep (maybe not immediately, but always way before their natural life would end). You can read more about it here. Those pretty, delicate, soft, cozy sweaters are covering up a lot of pain and suffering. Believe me, I, too, was so sad to hear this.
- You think you will have to sacrifice beauty and comfort if you don’t wear clothes made from those fabrics.
I was in exactly your situation eight years ago. I had just learned about the horror these animals endured to make it to my plate (even though I hadn’t eaten red meat for over 25 years, I still ate chicken, eggs, fish and dairy) and then the full realization hit me! Animals didn’t just suffer to be on my dinner plate — some of the clothes I was wearing were fraught with that same pain. This was such a source of sadness for me and at the same time I had this awareness that it could dramatically impact my livelihood! I am, after all, in the business of helping women choose clothing they love and that they feel good wearing. Not only that, but I like to feel good in my clothes. I quickly realized that I had to find a way to do both — feel good about how I looked AND not cause any more animals to suffer so I could still look good and be a good representation of my business. Wow! I had a few moments of abject fear when I thought maybe it wasn’t possible. Could I really have a cruelty-free wardrobe and still feel stylish? Yes! I was determined to make it work and, even more importantly, I committed to making it an adventure, and that’s exactly what I did.
Lucky for you, though, times have changed. Since then, as awareness is growing and people like you and me are choosing cruelty-free fabrics — the options are exploding. Just today I took a client shopping and, without even looking (she’s not vegan…yet) the sweaters she purchased were soft and lovely and unless you looked at the tag you would have had no idea they were not cashmere. I have watched this happen over and over this fall and it is so heartening to see. Eight years ago you were hard pressed to find anything like those sweaters. The best you could do was cotton or a scratchy acrylic. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. Yes, unfortunately, there is still plenty of wool, cashmere, alpaca, mohair and angora in the world, but if you want to find the other options, they are there, too and the choices are growing daily!
Are you ready for a change but not sure how to begin?
- Read labels. Everything you need to know is on the garment’s label. If it says wool, silk, fur, leather or down, it is not cruelty-free.
- Layer. This is good advice no matter what you are wearing since temperatures vary everywhere you go. Recover offers great layering pieces in 28 different colors and at a great price point. I’m especially fond of the long sleeve scoop neck top. They are one size fits all (pretty much a size 2 to 16) and I take the sleeves in a bit at the wrist since I like them more fitted. I mention another layer piece below.
- Speak up. If you don’t see what you want … ask. It is easy to miss something that could work AND it is important for the stores to know that you are looking for something they might not have. If they know there is a demand for cruelty-free garments, they are more likely to consider including them in future seasons.
Not sure where to look? While you will certainly find some alternatives at the major department stores (Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom carry Nic+Zoe, for instance), you can find options everywhere from smaller chain stores like Ann Taylor Loft to boutiques and from all price points (Bloomingdale’s to Kohls).
Here are just a few examples:
Texture Top from Nic+Zoe
(55% Cotton/35% Acrylic/10% Rayon).
Add this 3/4 sleeve layer piece for extra warmth.
Cowl Neck Sweater from Ann Taylor Loft
(60% Acrylic, 40% Nylon)
Flame Stitch Chelsea Pullover from Chico’s
(76% acrylic, 12% nylon, 6% rayon, 6% polyester)
Lurex Cardigan from Kohl’s
(acrylic and polyester)
* In case you are wondering, leather is not a by-product of the meat industry. It is a co-product and helps keep the selling of meat economically viable. By buying leather you are supporting the meat industry. (I’ll share another article about leather and non-leather alternatives soon.) You can learn more right here.
When you don’t know what your personal style is and you don’t feel confident about choosing clothes you love, it is tempting to let someone else dictate your style for you. But, don’t do it! You will never feel completely satisfied with how you look as long as you are dressing by someone else’s rules! It is never too late to explore what makes you happy when you get dressed.
Who do you see when you look in your closet? Is your mother’s face smiling back at you from that ruffled shirt you’ve never worn? Or is your best friend’s favorite dress hanging out in there taunting you?
In response to the question, “Who do you see when you look in your closet,” I most often hear:
- My mother
- My sister
- My best friend
- Myself, pre-children
- Myself, pre-thirty extra pounds
- Myself, pre-menopause
- My favorite celebrity
- Whoever was working at the store the day I went shopping
- The store window mannequin
- All of the above!
Guess what? When you look in your closet you want to see YOU — just you. You want to see items that make you smile and that you associate with fun times and delicious moments. Maybe the memories are of pushing your daughter on a swing, lunch with girlfriends, a successful business presentation, or a precious date with your sweetie. These are the simple pleasures that make up life. And you want these feelings to be reflected in every aspect of your wardrobe — down to your nightgown and slippers!
So evict the strangers and weed out those garments that make you roll your eyes or cringe. They have absolutely no place in your wardrobe. This exercise will help you make your closet all about you!
- Remove one item from your closet that feels more like someone else than you. If you are near your closet, go there right now and do this (if not, write down the first thing that comes into your mind so you will remember to remove it later). Do it even if you don’t know why it isn’t you or what to put in to replace it. The very first step is to get it out of there.
As long as something that is not you is taking up space in your sacred closet (yes, it is sacred because this is where your essence is expressed every day), you will feel overburdened, frustrated, annoyed or discouraged — or resigned to all of those feelings — every time you get dressed, and none of those is good. It is also very likely that you are not wearing this garment anyway. It is more like a security blanket, but the security is a sham.
- Identify one garment or outfit that makes you smile the second you put it on your body. It can be a dress, pair of pants, a pair of shoes or a scarf. No item is too small or insignificant.
- Lay the stranger and the item you love side by side, and get a piece of paper or a notebook.
- For the item that is not you, write down everything you do not like about it. Be as picky as you can. Maybe it’s the way the fabric feels. Perhaps the buttons seem overwhelming, or there are just too many of them. It could be that you dislike the pattern or the way it clings. Or perhaps it has a belt, and you do not like belts. Write down everything! If there are a few things you like about it, write those in a separate column. Maybe the color is pretty, but it can’t make up for the fact that the style is so shapeless.
- Write down everything you like about the item you love: color, texture, fit, shape, ornamental details, the way it feels or anything else about it that comes to mind. Maybe it makes you feel sophisticated, down-to-earth, spunky or pretty. Whatever it is, write it down.
- Use these lists when you go shopping to help you stay focused. They are your lifelines! The next time you try on an item, run down both lists and see how the garment compares. It is so easy to get distracted by all the choices, the lighting or the helpful “advice” from sales women or your shopping buddies. Keep this shopping mantra in mind: Only buy or wear something if you love it.
This is an excerpt from my book, That’s So You! Create a Look You Love with Beauty, Style and Grace. It’s a big topic and the foundation of creating a personal style you love. If you are not sure how to tell what makes you happy when you wear it and you need more support, get a copy of my book here: www.createalookyoulove.com And, if you want even more personal support check out my “Who Taught You How to Dress?” virtual coaching program or my upcoming “Your Style, Your Way” workshop. The most important thing is that you take step forward to get yourself unstuck.
I love autumn. Yes, I know I say this every year but I really, really do. And, this year I’m particularly excited for the transition because it was such a very hot summer. The cooler weather is such a wonderful relief. So, for those of you mourning the end of summer, let me share some fun fashion updates for the Fall that will bring a delicious smile of anticipation to your lips and sometimes an out loud guffaw at what they try to pass off as style! Thankfully there is more to celebrate than bemoan.
In case you are new to my seasonal fashion updates, I divide the various new trends into those that I find beautiful and bewitching, those that are bothersome on some level and the ones that are just downright bewildering. Are you with me? Let’s explore:
Colors: You know I’m all about color and fall is often my favorite season for color. I love the transition as we move from lighter, brighter colors to warm, deep, rich tones. So what’s up this season? Let me share the bewitching colors here and look for the bothersome ones below. Navy blue is making a well-deserved comeback. It works on many women as a great neutral and has been hugely neglected in the past few years. Add to that a deep forest green (also largely overlooked in recent autumn/winter seasons) and a deep (not bright!) red. Yay. These are colors that work on a lot of women, so if you look great in them, snap them up now. (Click here for shopping information)
Textures: The feel of fall is yummy. Not only in the colors but also in the textures. What is more soft and elegant than velvet, and they are promising lots of it as we get into the cooler months? Want something more casual? When the temperatures take a nosedive you can turn to chunky knits but in the meantime, open weave sweaters are hot. Think of them as the fall version of the summer macramé sweaters that were everywhere. Simply wear a long-sleeved fitted top underneath, and you’ll be cozy and fashionable.
Peplums: Yes, I know. I for the past few seasons I’ve been putting these in the bewitching category, and that is deliberate. If you don’t know what a peplum is, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/peplum defines it as, “A short overskirt or ruffle attached at the waistline of a jacket, blouse, or dress.” These days, believe it or not, it even is used in reference to skirts that have a ruffle type attachment at the bottom.
Can everyone wear a peplum? Yes, technically with the right design everyone can wear one. Should you? Maybe, maybe not. It depends on how the peplum is constructed. Some are so small you can barely see them. Others are huge and long and the defining design of the jacket. The fullness or sleekness will definitely affect the success of the peplum on a particular body shape but it is possible to find one that works. But, what’s equally as important is whether a peplum suits your personality. That’s a totally different discussion and only you can decide.
Of course, if it intrigues you I’d say try them and see (you’ll most likely have to try many to find one that’s a contender). You can always take it off and put it back on the rack – no harm done or money wasted.
Wide leg trousers: No, skinny pants have not disappeared. In fact, they are as hot as ever and even come in the deep tones of the season (which are kind of fun!). But, to balance out the latest obsession with their skinniness is the wide leg trouser. Yay! A great look on many women especially those who carry a little weight in their hips and thighs (sometimes a tad tricky for petite women – but not always).
Denim: As always denim is hot. The colored jeans are continuing but the colors are deeper and richer (actually, they are very beautiful). Yes, most of them are skinny but not all so you can still pick up a pair even if you aren’t a fan of the skinny style. Denim jackets are huge right now and even double-denim is popular but it has to be done with great panache (you generally want to pair two different denim washes together so it doesn’t look like a denim suit), or it will look dated. (Click here for shopping information)
Shoes: Boots are always popular in the colder weather and knee high boots are still going strong. Whether you prefer a high heel or flat riding boot style there’s something for everyone. They’ll be flooding into the stores soon. What else is popular? Color blocking on shoes and embellished heels are fun. Ankle straps are huge again which is great if you have long thin legs and ankles but if not, avoid them (you’ll also see ankle straps with low cut ankle boots – kind of interesting but definitely a trend so choose wisely), and probably one of the hottest new trends is the smoking loafer. It’s a nice change from, or alternative to, the ballet flat. It looks great with pants and is super comfortable, and it not only comes in basic neutral colors but in prints, textures and with sparkles! (Click here for shopping information)
Prints: Prints are huge again this season and we are seeing everything from fall florals to brocade (especially in pants) and the new optic prints are exploding. As always, choose wisely for your taste, body size, and coloring and be absolutely sure that one of your best, most flattering colors is the predominant color in whatever print you choose. There is no exception to that rule.
Trench Coats: After a wonderful run of fun trench coat options, the past season or so has been a little disappointing. This fall they are offering us a new option to spice things up a bit – the patent trench. It looks like it is made of slicker material and has lots of shine but the saving grace is that it comes in beautiful rich jewel tones in addition to black.
Accessories: Brooches are back, and they are beautiful. If you love them, pick up a few of your favorites and if you aren’t a brooch type of gal, there are plenty of other jewelry options to choose from to express your unique personality. One fun option is a bejeweled headband. Very fun and playful if that suits you, and it can even be worn (in fact, it’s very fashionable and trendy to do so) with short hair.
Color: Two very hot colors this season are mustard and gray. Okay, so I acknowledge that these colors are important to some women who look good in them but the ratio of these colors on the store racks to other more widely flattering colors is way skewed in the wrong direction! Mustard is one of THE hardest colors to wear well and light gray is dreadful on a huge number of women (charcoal fares better). Is this some kind of cosmic fashion joke? Please, unless you are absolutely positive that these colors look good on you, avoid them like the plague!
Coats: As we move into colder weather we are seeing a new trend for coats. Let me preface it by saying that I really loved the 80’s. I had big hair (I do big hair really well!) and loved the beautiful colored structured suits with shoulder pads that balanced my hips. I leaned toward the elegant side of the 80’s so when I see them bringing back the most questionable trends from that decade, I have to wonder. So, what we’re seeing now (and let me warn you that when we get a trickle of a trend one season within about 2 seasons we usually experience it as a full blown trend) is what they are calling the boyfriend coat. You know how the boyfriend jackets have been popular (they are longer and slightly oversized and are meant to look like you are wearing your boyfriend’s jacket)? Well, translate that into a coat and that’s what we’re seeing – oversized, shapeless coats. Please say it isn’t true!
Ripped Denim: So much is happening here as you saw in the bewitched category so why this fascination with ripped or distressed denim? Now it has expanded from pants to ripped jean jackets and shirts. Very few people can pull this off without looking messy (what a surprise!) so my advice is steer clear.
Contrasting Peter Pan Collar: No. It’s that simple. Youthful is one thing, infantilized is another. Leave it to the teens and super trendy fashionistas.
Matchstick Pants: These are everywhere just as they were in the spring. Designers and advertisers make them sound like the best thing since sliced bread but they aren’t. They are slightly fuller in the thighs so they won’t feel as constraining as skinny jeans (which can be good), but they are meant to end at the ankle. Because they are not generally as snug to the leg they tend to make your legs look infinitely shorter than long pants. If you have long thin legs this will work well but if not, hmmm, I’d pass them by.
Coated Denim: This is in this category only because the coating makes the pants shiny so they draw a lot of attention to the lower half of your body. Maybe good? Maybe not? Coated denim in a jacket is rather fun and a little more wearable.
Capes: They are beautiful. They are not practical – at least in the cold northeast of the U.S. If you don’t mind that you probably have about 5 days of the year when you can actually where it, then by all means get one. Otherwise, admire them in the stores, even try them on, but leave them hanging on the rack and buy something where your price per wear will be more in your favor.
So, there you have it — the fashion update for the coming season. Clothes are flooding into the store so start looking and see what you see that you like. Take this with you if you want to to inspire you and get your wardrobe moving in a really fun direction.
As you may be aware, I write a monthly article for One Green Planet — a blog that brings together a range of distinct voices, unified by a commitment to spreading good ideas that benefit people, animals and the planet.
Many of my readers have indicated that they are interested in my vegan lifestyle and the options available to anyone interested in exploring cruelty-free fashion choices.
My latest article, “5 Reasons to Use Vegan Makeup Brushes,” has been published and can be of interest to Vegans and non-Vegans, alike. After all, every woman needs good quality makeup brushes.
to read my latest article.
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This is an animal lover’s nightmare. You spend countless hours scouring the stores for a fashionable coat that does not have real fur on it and finally, yay, you find one!
Then, you see something like the report I just saw on “Inside Edition,” and your heart sinks. Reporters went undercover to see if faux fur being sold in stores (Loehmann’s and Burlington Coat Factory) were truly faux.
Sadly, in each case, they found evidence of deception (not on the part of the stores but by the designers who purposefully sold miss-marked merchandise). Both rabbit and raccoon dog fur were found on garments that were labeled as faux.
So, buyer beware! Sadly, we have to be investigators in our own right, as much as possible, when we shop for winter coats. The offending label at Burlington Coat Factory was Ed Hardy (they have since removed all Ed Hardy coats).
To read (or watch) the entire report, go here: http://www.insideedition.com/news/5410/inside-edition-investigates-is-that-fake-fur-on-your-coat-really-fake.aspx
At the end of the story, you will find the link to learn how to tell real from faux.
Thank you for caring and being willing to take a stand for animals to wear their OWN fur!