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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What Today’s Trendy Man is Buying

Recently I was thumbing through the Fifth Anniversary Issue Esquire 2011 Fall Big Black Book, which is the Style Manual for Successful Men. My first question is what actually makes a man successful. Is it wardrobe or his character? I think both. A greatly dressed man certainly makes my head turn, but really it is a man of strong character that really makes me think of success. But since it isn't up to me to judge what Esquire Magazine is putting on their cover, let's just talk wardrobe. Here is a list of what they recommend for the successful man who is looking to update his wardrobe. Check out my own personal color commentary to this fabulous guide.

ISIA Statement Suit. A statement suit a pinkish-brownish windowpane suit. According to Esquire, men are no longer throwing caution to the wind and are willing to be either very brave or very foolish. I would rather put my money in something other than pinkish when investing in a windowpane suit. Make sure you kill the look by adding a really cool shirt, tie or even a pocket square, but opt for brown with cream or even a charcoal suit.

The Dries Van Noten Wool Coat. Heavy wools, flannels and melton wools that are tightly woven are popping up all over for men this season. Dries Van Noten is setting its’ own trend by offering a coat made of kemp, a coarse, crinkly wool. It is tweedy in appearance and will weather in cold situations. Great for anyone living in weather challenging places, but for most of us a nice wool mid-thigh coat will suffice!

The Paul Smith Velvet Blazer. A double-breasted navy velvet blazer. Stunning in color and the fabric appears so rich. Look instead for a single breasted brown or camel jacket. Easier to pair with dress jeans, and a boot. Paul Smith offers this jacket for $1075, but I bet Calvin Klein has something that may do the trick!

An 11-hole pebble grain hunting boot. Yes, timeless in shape and construction, but I am thinking any lace-up dark boot will work from day to night. Putting money into a nice leather shoe always makes any outfit look polished.

The Belvest Unlined Shetland Blazer. Talk about learning something new every day. A shetland blazer is kin to a Harris Tweed, but with a different process. Belvest has taken processing to a whole new level by deducing how to wash the stiffness out of Shetland wool without warping the wool. Their solution was to construct the jacket so its proportions are a touch off kilter, allowing the shrinkage to be brought down to its’ intended size. Alone, this is a fascinating feat, but to have the jacket be unlined and the wool soft is amazing! The price tag on this jacket is $1095. I vote for this fabulous fabric, as it will offer comfort, quality and most of all a great style for years to come. I expect it will also age like a fine wine. Personally, I'd wait to start looking for discounts to help with the cost.

The Brunello Cucinelli Double Breasted Non-Suit. Can't tell you what a non-suit is exactly.... Most men are cautious about selecting a double breasted suit as they feel like a gangster or banker on Wall Street. This designer has actually combined two pieces, plaid and houndstooth, and woven in black and navy yarns. The unlined suit features buttons on the jacket that are narrowed from its’ previous double breasted look. The end look offers an ooh-la-la appearance without looking ridiculous. I'm hoping that this will be a trend that we will see more of. Amazing how moving the buttons in closer and keeping a garment unlined can make all the difference.

The Prada Tumbled Leather Bag. Just like the writer states, “Investing in status luggage can be fought with peril". Anytime we see someone with designer bags or luggage we think one of three things. Great bag, knock-off, or show off. The tumbled leather bag offered by Prada for the successful man is just that, a serious investment item. Like many fine leathers, it only looks better over time, and often what I refer to as vintage. The price tag is pretty stiff at $2,550 and it is safe to say there is something out there that is comparable for less, but a great item for any guy.

The Allegri Winter Linen Jacket. This seems like an oxymoron in conception, but actually does make sense. It takes the look of a tweed jacket (not of heavy wool) and is actually summer linen. The Italian company has perfected the process by waterproofing the yarns and inserted a microlight nylon down vest, buttoned into the coat for warmth. It is multi-tasking at its best for versatility and style. Now that is fabulous, but again comes with a price tag of $895. That jacket is great for those living in winter warm weather climates. If I could shake my money tree a little more, I would purchase this for my father in Florida, as it would combine his favorite look of tweed with his like of really linen fabric with the warmth needed for slightly cool weather nights. Better than that, it would go with his khaki's, since that is his uniform trouser of choice!

Really great article about men’s fashion for fall and winter. If you are interested in seeing more go to the website and check out all the pictures. I'd love to hear what you would invest in from this list.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Holiday Shopping Traditions

For those in Great Britain and formal British Colonies, Boxing Day is a significant holiday that occurs right after Christmas. Boxing Day, traditionally December 26 or the second weekday after Christmas, is a bank or public holiday. Boxing Day is very similar to the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. Recently, British shops have broken with tradition to have sales and often dramatically discount goods. Just like Black Friday, British retailers look to make their largest profits of the year. As in the States, retailers open early and stay open late to offer store busters and loss leaders. The holiday shopping day has been so successful over the years that stores often have to secure crowds by providing numbers to allow customers to enter and exit in a way that avoids chaos. The online version of shopping is called Cyber Boxing Day and continues to grow in popularity.

The background of Boxing Day originates when employers used to give their servants or employees a gift of money or food in a small box since they frequently had to work Christmas Day. During medieval times, the lord of the manor would gather his workers and distribute boxes of tools, food and cloth. This was compensation for work being done throughout the year. In later years similar stories have been told that servants were able to take boxes or hampers home for their families. This tradition still happens but generally the week before Christmas. Another variation of this theme occurred in churches and public places. Townspeople would drop off money, clothing or other gently used items to be donated to the poor. Children were encouraged to give up their year old toys and clothing, or toys and clothing they never wore, to the poorer among them.

For those interested in checking out deals to purchase outside the United States check out this Boxing Day site.

For those looking for post-Christmas buys here in the States, beware. Many shoppers are hitting the stores to return unwanted gifts. No need to re-gift an item when most stores will take it back. Keep in mind a few things when returning unwanted clothing to stores:

* Make sure the item has a ticket attached

* Having a receipt will guarantee you receive the money that is due to you

* Do not feel as though you have to purchase a replacement item that same day

* Take a store credit, as stores will mark down items even further in the New Year

* Early spring items will hit the stores in February and your store credit will allow you fresh goods to choose from

* Bring your patience and remember store employees are doing the best they can. That is why a gift receipt or tag is imperative!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tacky Holiday Themed Clothes Are Back!

Ugly holiday sweaters are making a comeback. Really? I have been pitching out holiday sweaters and shirts in client’s closets for years! I have seen some doozies over the years, too. How do you evaluate something that may have sentimental value and say ok, time to go. That is a common theme I hear from clients.

I personally don't have any of holiday themed clothing floating around my closet, but I do understand the feelings and emotions of what a garment may bring to a person. Oops, come to think about it my husband does have some old Rutgers t-shirts floating around on his side of the closet, but they are definitely not holiday themed!

Back to ugly holiday sweaters. The shirts and sweaters I have seen over the years in closets were hand painted, bedazzled, embroidered and appliqued. In the 1980's, I found an artist that hand painted dresses and shirts. I think she sold her wares at the big flea market in Boca Raton near where my grandmother lived, and I often visitedmy grandparents during the winter to get away from the cold of Philadelphia. I was constantly amazed by the number of people purchasing from her.

The designer I remember most distinctly is Michael Simon. Michael got his start in 1979 in NYC, using his lifesavings for a batch of colorful yarn and weaving them into oversized sweaters. His signature look was bold creations with appliques, embroidery, sequins, beads, and crochet accents. Michael’s statement knits could be seen at all the better stores with most holidays celebrated on the entire sweater. Over the top was clearly the theme, but just like any good designer, Michael’s creations have evolved over time and are current with today’s looks.

Years ago, when I worked with Macy's, that was the big ticket item. The sweaters came to the hip, generally had three large buttons and were suitable for anyone that looked like a line backer. But they sold! Over the years, I have seen knock-offs and last year’s styles at Steinmart or TJ Maxx.

Last week on the NBC Today Show, they did a segment on ugly holiday sweater parties being the rage. They showed a typical party, with the guests all wearing tacky holiday tops and sweaters. The old adage that what is old, once again becomes new!

Fashion does come full circle over time, but I am not sure this is one of those cases where it’s appropriate. The tacky holiday fashion belongs more to a vintage theme party, than every day wear. I love the concept because I expect for many it wasn't too hard to find a top or sweater to wear. It takes the pressure off having to pull together a fabulous holiday outfit, and certainly is a major conversational topic. At this point as a stylist, I can't make a recommendation on what to pair your tacky top with besides a simple colored bottom. If you have tacky, tinsel ball earrings or jewelry, you may as well go for it!

On a personal note.....I hope the New Year’s party I attend has some of that action going on, as I would love to snap some pictures and add it to my collection of pictures for my upcoming book!

Happy Holiday's ya'll!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Party Time......What to Wear, What to Wear

Have you ever gotten an invite to a party, and then when the day came you looked in your closet and discovered you didn’t have anything to wear? And then normally we all think to pull out our little black dress. Well, let's not do that this year, I vote no. Let's work with what we already have in our closet and invest in just a little something-something to pull it together.

First is the planning part:

What invitations or parties are you expecting to attend this year?

Day or evening events?

Casual or Dressy?

Once you have determined your commitments, saunter on into the closet to see if you have any of the following to pull off a fabulous holiday look:

  • A crisp white blouse
  • A black satin or nylon camisole or blouse
  • A cream top, any fabric, with sleeves
  • A fitted black or winter white skirt or pant
  • A satin pant
  • Any sequined garment
  • Black tights with a pattern
  • An open cardigan with ruffles
  • A tuxedo or tailored cropped black, brown or white shirt
  • A belt in any other color than black or brown

The best suggestion I can give is to wear what you have, but add one key brightly colored accessory or underpinning to pull together a holiday look. All it takes is one item of either color or size to provide a more festive feel to your appearance. It can be a belt, a necklace, scarf, or any item that is jewel tone, embellished or heavily textured. Keep in mind that this would be the ideal time not to buy full price but shop consignment stores, discount and trendy shops.

Most consignment stores are eager to get holiday items in and out the door and may be willing to negotiate the price. Stores like H&M, Old Navy, Forever 21, Kohls and Steinmart carry inexpensive trendy items that will fit the bill perfectly. This is not the time to invest in quality, especially if you have more than one holiday party to attend. I usually preach the importance of cost per wearing, but for trendy holiday items, I vote for the most bang for your buck without appearing the tasteless or tinsel tacky.

Some items to consider:

  • A jewel tone belt
  • A colored suede pump
  • A brightly colored feathered necklace
  • A faux fur collar
  • A layered necklace
  • An embellished silk or nylon scarf
  • A jewel tone camisole or shell

DKNY Jeans Missy: Sequin Tank With Knot Back

Try pairing this fuchsia racerback tank with a dark wash jean and a feathered earring in similar tones. For a dressier holiday look, grab a dark brown, maroon or burgundy color pant from your closet and add a bronze heel. Jewelry should be simple and not matching, so opt for an earring with brown stones or beads.

Vigotti: Ulinda

I love a red shoe! A red shoe is only good if it can be worn a multiple of ways. Try not to select a red shoe that is overly trendy. Look for a classic line that can be worn on many occasions. I see this shoe being worn with a slim pant, a crisp white fitted blouse or any jewel tone solid shell and a dynamite necklace or draping patterned silk scarf. The red shoe should be a nice alternative to the ever so boring and predictable black pump!

Fossil: Granny Drama Necklace

Great colorful mixed crystal and brass necklace. This alone makes its’ own statement. Keep your top simple, whether it is a shell, camisole or blouse. As for earrings, find a flat gold or brass colored hoop.

The most important thing to remember is find items that won't bust the bank and that may be worn again after the holidays, if needed. Think outside your box and take cues from discount stores. Have fun with accessorizing and remember to leave the LBD in the closet and go for other simple pieces that are easy to add a little glam to by adding one dynamic item.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Monday Shopping

If you have had your fill of turkey and relatives and now you are trying to catch your breath before Cyber Monday hits, I thought I would give you some quick food for thought. Can you believe I actually mentioned food again? Before you start cruising the internet and reading through the dozens of emails, all advertising cyber deals, think about the following questions, particularly if you get the bug to shop for yourself and not for holiday presents:

What makes this internet offer such a good one?

What is written in the small print - is there a minimum spend to get the deal?

Have you bought from them before?

Is it a secured site?

Does it offer free shipping and return postage?

Can the item be returned?

What is the delivery time promised? Express or snail mail? Estimated delivery time?

If it is not being offered at at at least 50% off or more, forget it. It probably isn't worth the effort.

Is it an item that will enhance your wardrobe, or just a splurge?

There are some items that are worth checking out that are worth investing in at this point in the season, and that you may have been not been able to look at previously:

  • A good leather or suede boot
  • A wool coat
  • A leather jacket
  • A classic raincoat
  • A long strand of pearls
  • A rich leather handbag
  • A good leather belt with a handsome buckle, and remember to go up one size. If you buy size 28 jeans, buy a 30 inch belt.
  • Your favorite brand and style t-shirt in multiple colors
  • Your favorite scent

Big box stores will provide the biggest draw for sale items, as well as specific designers or brand names. If you like a certain brand or designer, look at the site. And don't dilly dally! If you find something that piques your interest - go for it. I guarantee if you check back, it will have sold out.

Happy shopping, but remember a great sale on wardrobe items is only good if it’s something that will work with your existing wardrobe. This is not the time to build a wardrobe. This is, however, a great time to do a quick, and I mean quick, closet evaluation and see if you can catch any steals online to complement what you already have.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday

To all of our loyal readers:  we know you'll be sad to hear our fashion tips and tricks are finished for the week. We know you'll be too busy to read anyway since you'll be preparing your Black Friday shopping kit, and if my daughter gets her way, so will I. We'll be back Monday with a fresh blog about our holiday shopping, unless we're too busy taking advantage of the deals on Cyber Monday....hmmm.

Happy holidays, and happy shopping!

Calling All Women!

Calling all women, calling all women! Do you think you could rock this look in the Triangle? Can you imagine getting up in the morning and throwing on this cute little red dress with some black tights and boots? Would you have the confidence to go from your everyday attire, whether it is jeans or that little black skirt, and wear this dress proudly?

This dress is designed by Project Runway alum Daniel Feld, and we found it at Fashionista.com. All of his goods are not only made in the good old USA, but in NYC to boot! Think about being inside his factory in the fashion industry and seeing the production line of his fashion line. If you have never been to a NYC designers factory or warehouse, that alone is worth the trip. I will never forget my first time going to the Carlisle and Etcetera warehouse that sells previous season’s merchandise. My mother and I years ago walked down the street looking for the building and were shocked to see the lack of signage on the building front. We stumbled upon the address, and opened the door to an unlit hallway. Picture me, holding my large purse like I was ready to bash someone over the head, and my mother just chattering away.

Inside the rusted out elevator door, we puched the button for the third floor and when the doors opened we strode out into a massive open warehouse with about 100 women frantically shopping as if the goods were leaving on a freight truck in minutes. As for the ten men holding women's purses, they just looked blankly into space, probably hoping they could leave before closing. I have seen that look many times before, and it ain't pretty. Ah, the smell of a musty warehouse full of bargains. Two hours later we rode back down the elevator with packages in hand looking for a cab. That was my experience with NYC warehouses, so I can imagine what Daniel's design house looks like. To rent space alone in the NYC fashion district, you are going to need design a line that is gonna sell and sell well!

Back to my original questions. The little red dress certainly looks comfortable and actually could be worn several different ways. With a poncho, with tights, leggings, a cigarette leg jean, a long sleeve fitted t-shirt underneath for warmth, with necklaces, scarves, ballerina flats, boots, or pumps, and that is all just for fall and winter.

My theory as a stylist is that it is all about comfort and making the garment be a part of your lifestyle. Wear the dress instead of it wearing you. All it takes is a little confidence in how you look and feel in it. It could easily become a wardrobe staple and essential item to build upon. This red dress is trendy on, but only if you make it appear that way.

Give thought to wearing it for everyday wear and how it could be part of your wardrobe. Could you strut yourself into Whole Foods (my husband calls it Whole Paycheck) in that cute dress? Actually, I dress up most days and often do run into Whole Foods with heels and feel quite comfortable.   I refuse to lie down and say we don't and can't wear trendy essential clothing in the Triangle.

Someone obviously is, because stores like CT Weekends are selling European designers and are doing just fine. Daniel’s little asymmetric red frock isn't any trendier and quite honestly, is right on par with what they are showing in their store. I do believe the Triangle is becoming more and more of a fashion forward location. With the growing number of fashion shows and emerging designers in the area, fashionable options that don’t come from big box stores are increasing quickly. Wouldn’t it be great to get off GQ’s list of most unfashionable cities in America? The easy way to do that is to get comfortable with dressing with purpose and for your lifestyle. This little frock could be worn with flats for day with a scarf, and with heels at night with a faux fur poncho to theatre at the DPAC. Actually, I think I have almost talked myself into it ladies! Should we check the price first?

A final tip.....I bought an asymmetric black cotton/spandex fitted dress about five years ago when that look was quite big. It's still one of my favorites, but last season I had the hem line cut straight across and ta-da! I got a brand new look!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Black Friday Shopping Expert Tips and Tricks

Retail was up .5% for the month of October. Hooray!

What does that actually mean? Retail sales haven’t shown a positive increase in forever, and stores have traditionally relied upon heavy discounting and carrying less inventory. As you may know, Black Friday is called that because stores have taken the upcoming holidays, discounted their goods for shoppers who have the day after Thanksgiving off and can go shopping, and crossed their fingers that it would allow them to show a profit.

Let's chat about upcoming shopping for Black Friday. Is it worth fighting the crowds of crazy people all in search of what they think is the bargain of the year? If you are looking for clothing, do the research beforehand. Most stores have a pretty good idea of what will be on special sale next Friday. If they choose not to share with you that is one thing, but the information should be available. You need to weigh the savings versus the stress of it all.
I had my first experience shopping on Black Friday last year with my daughter. It wasn't pretty, but I will do it again ‘cause I love my daughter. I frequently don't do malls on weekends. There has to be a really good reason for me to shop, and the same thought applies to shopping on any holiday. A holiday is meant to be just that. A break from your job! Not that I don't love it, but the crowds kill me.

I figure I log anywhere from 15 - 30 hours alone in just one of our various malls in the Triangle on any given week. That doesn't include shopping centers, or one-stop destinations.  My car survival kit isn't quite the same as most traveling salesman's. What you typically find in my car or purse on a regular basis is meant to help with my job of shopping.

Let's compare notes and see if you are as equipped for a typical shopping expedition with a personal shopper!

·         Two bottles of water, usually cold at 10 am and warm by 3 pm,
·         a small cooler if I plan ahead, with carrots, an apple and maybe some cheese,
·         a bag of my favorite snacks, typically raw cashews or smoked almonds,
·         an empty Starbucks cup, from my morning routine and just waiting to be thrown out,
·         several ink pens, because I am forever losing them between the seats,
·         black flats, for when my heels don’t like my feet anymore and my dogs are barking,
·         straight pins and safety pins, for showing clients what the garment will look like when hemmed,
·         a jewelry chain to measure what length my clients might want a necklace made to accommodate their necklines,
·         a pad of paper, and
·         a good old fashion yellow pages.

Now let's chat in terms of how you need to prepare yourself for Black Friday, and what to expect. Do your research and have a plan. Now if you’re not going for anything in particular, then are you crazy?

1.    A somewhat good night’s sleep, either Wednesday the 23rd, or if you’re hard core and don't plan on going to bed on the 24th, forget my suggestion.
2.    A plan of action. Decide what stores are most important to you and go there first.
3.    Comfortable shoes - rubber soles are a must. The mall floor will get old quickly while fighting the crowds.
4.    An outfit with no more than two layers. A sweater that can be thrown in a purse or around your waist is good for changing temperatures in stores, the mall and outdoors.
5.    A lightweight purse with a front closure or body bag purse. Don't give pick pockets an opportunity to ruin your fun.
6.    A bottle of water and a snack.
7.    Bring your patience, because you will be waiting in long cashier register lines.
8.    Any online coupons that might be used along with regular store discounts.
9.    Walkie talkies (just kidding). A cell phone will work as well. You may lose your family member in a store. Or is that the plan?
10.  Lastly, bring your smile, as this is supposed to be fun and not too painful. Hmmm, I'm just saying.

So, what might bring me out shopping besides my daughter asking me - nothing. No discount is great enough for me not to be home relaxing. If you do happen to run into me, I’ll be sporting a large cup of coffee, an extended belly from eating way too much the day before, and possibly my mother and mother-in-law on my arm. I can't imagine why they will want to come. My mother doesn't get up before 8 am. My mother-in-law is so little and doesn't hear well, and I could easily lose her under a rack or in a corner and she wouldn't hear me yelling for her. As for my daughter, truth be told, I wouldn't trade the craziness of it all to not be with her. Soon enough she won't be as determined to find a great buy at the Gap.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fashion Sneakers v Athletic Sneakers

Converse sneakers are not only timeless, but ageless foranyone who wears them. I'm just saying....

A friend of mine at Raleigh Racquet Club was rocking herblack Converse with black jeans, print shirt and black cardigan. What I lovedwas despite being a member of the over 50 crowd, she is comfortable enough inher own style to wear them casually and for fun. TJ, is actually one of themost classy ladies I know. She is a true southerner with the most gentle wayabout her. So seeing her today in her Chuck Taylor's was a hoot!

It made me think, though, so let's get back to wearingConverse sneakers or sneakers in general as part of your wardrobe. We all wearsneakers for a variety of reasons.

* for athletic reasons when participating in sports
* for walking long distances or for travel
* for comfort, because having another type of shoe forcasual wear may be too hard to select and not worn enough to warrant purchasing
* as a fashion statement (now we are talking)

These are my thoughts on sneakers. Sneakers are a neededlifestyle item best worn with sweats, warm-up suits, shorts, capri's, andathletic wear. A regular athletic sneaker doesn’t look so good with jeans thatare blue (or any other color) unless they are more of a "fashionsneaker".

Fashion sneakers usually have a look and personality oftheir own. I love a good fashion sneaker, and when I see someone in publicwearing them it makes me smile. They’re so versatile, and can be worn with mostcolored jeans, summer casual dresses, a cool leather pant, free flowing skirts,leggings, jeggings and maxi dresses. You either get it and do it, or you don’t.Typically, I find fashion sneakers at department stores, places like DSW andonline at Zappos, like these:

PUMA: Zandy Wn'sLacoste: Meuse WOSuperga: 2750 LAMEWUGG: Laela Sparkles

Next time you go shopping for a casual sneaker, thinkabout how you actually plan to wear them. TJ's look with her Chuck Talyor'sConverse gave her an updated, but certainly not over the top, casual look (greatfor the pro-shop that she was working in, and comfortable enough to spend acouple hours on her feet). Fashion sneakers tend to offer an option for thosewho just can't pretend to want to wear a Nike or Addidas athletic sneaker withtheir everyday casual wear. So here’s to all those willing to walk on the wildside!

Shopping for Jeans

A friend of mine went shopping for jeans, and sent me the following note, which I thought I would share with you.

"Well, I went jeans shopping yesterday and now I know why all the jeans models in have their pelvises tilted back and knees bent --- skinny jeans are not flattering on upper thighs unless you've had them liposucked completely out. The way they pose keeps their thighs un-engaged hahaha. Anyway, I do like the ones I got, and they are dark in color and mid-rise. Thanks for the advice!

ps: I sure hope low rise jeans are on their way out. An average butt in lowrise jeans with tight thighs looks awful. It's like the ultimate worst thingyou could do to make your butt look unattractive: put a big 'ol horizontal line(waistband) almost at the fattest part, then make the thighs look like wads of gum stuck on top of toothpicks. The new stretchy jeans make it even worse, since they totally expose flaws, instead of holding things in place."

I wonder, how many of you have similar stories? Do share.....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Speaking at the Art Institute

Lucky for them!

Oh, to be young and so eager to make your mark in the world. I remember that feeling so well. Maybe I have been around just too darn long and am just seasoned like an avocado that is begging to be peeled and eaten. Wait a minute, am I talking about food or the students I spoke to this past week at the Art Institute of Durham?

I was invited to speak to a class of 15- 20 students ranging in ages from 18-29 years old. That is a lot of years in between! At eighteen, I was just so excited to be graduating from high school and heading to college. Free at last, free at last! As my parents dropped me at college I'm pretty sure I was not crying, but celebrating. I was eager to start working towards what I was most passionate about - fashion, of course!

The instructor at the Art Institute, Jessica Palmer, is a designer I met some months before at an emerging designer show, fashionSPARK. She designs gorgeous wedding dresses and also teaches several classes at the Art Institute. She asked me to speak to the group about what I do as a stylist. No problem for me. I went as far back as my days with dressing Barbies as a child to my first retail job and on and on. I won't bore you with all the details now, wait until my book comes out in 2012.

After I was done speaking to the group, the students each took turns stating their work interest and most recent internship. I marveled at the many accomplishments and was quick to recognize several motivated students. As I offered feedback and the dialogue flowed, I appreciated where they were at this point in their lives. So much ahead of them. I encouraged them to make the most of each internship and although they may find it is not exactly what they want to do for a career, it will offer insight to other possibilities. Recognizing opportunity and then being aggressive in what I call "a nice sort of way". It is the person who applies for a job, then follows up again and again until they hear something one way or another (Jeannie, do recognize this in me)?  Another interesting thing was that one of the students interviewed me last year by phone for one of her projects. Once she mentioned that, I giggled. I do remember that. I also remember telling her similar things to what I did the group. Here are my thoughts and motto's that I try to hold fast to myself in what I do as a stylist:
  • I am hired by people or companies because they do want to make change in their lives from where they are now. So make the change!
  • My goal is to make it a fun and non-stressful process for the client
  • A smile or laugh goes a long way especially when an outfit really doesn't seem to work well for them
  • No sense in complaining about our bodies. Everyone has something that should and can be accentuated. Beauty is truly within
  • Lastly, when I have completed my work with a client, they can expect to be able to jump into their closets daily and have the items they need for their lifestyle!

 It's all about lifestyle dressing!

I had what I call a great experience speaking to the students. Nothing is a bigger compliment in life than to provide experienced guidance to those starting in a similar profession!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Aging Fashion and Style

One of the most rewarding days in my life as a stylist......

Looking and feeling good as we continue to age

A few months ago, I got a phone call from a woman who said I worked with her mother some 15 years ago. Her mother was now in her early eighties, and had since lost her husband and remarried. She needed some help with coordinating what she had in her wardrobe. Betty's new husband loved when she dressed up and I could truly see she was quite smitten with him. Imagine being in your eighties and your husband taking pride in what you’re wearing. May I live that long and still want to wear my Spanx and heels and that Sid's eyesight still be good enough to notice I am wearing either.

I have to admit, I was quite excited about reconnecting with my client from 15 years ago. I was anxious to see if I remembered her, but also to help her with paring down her wardrobe. I expect it is very stressful for most seniors to let go of their belongings. According to her daughter Sally, Betty went shopping recently and wasn't sure about the selections she brought home. Sally wasn't convinced the items were age appropriate or a good fit her mother’s body type.

I vote for anyone over 80 years old to year whatever make you happy, feel good, and allows you to do your thing! Ok, that may be a little rash....let me retract that statement. This probably would not include pretending you are something you’re not, like a Lady Gaga wanna be or Diane Von Fuerstenberg's illegitimate sister. Lady Gaga's platform shoes and squished toes make my own tears well up in pain, and just imagine my body at 80 in a wrap dress with my breasts and belly meeting as one, other than at my waist. I'm just sayin.....

Back to Betty and her wardrobe. Betty had requested her daughter be a part of the closet consult, so she may take pictures and notes, as needed. As I approached Betty's front door, I was greeted by Sally and then Betty, and received a warm welcome from both. I just knew this would be a wonderful afternoon!

I took a few minutes to get caught up on a few crucial things about Betty’s current lifestyle and comfort needs, and then I plunged in with my routine. I had a few questions for both the ladies before going through the racks that lined the dining room and perused the table filled with her accessories. To say the least, Betty had a very healthy wardrobe! Somewhat different than most of my younger clients, and I still needed key information:
  • What were Betty's lifestyle clothing needs? Daily casual, church, or any special events?
  • Was Betty more comfortable in pants, skirts, or dresses?
  • Did Betty have any restrictions on buttoning a blouse, zipping a pant, or reaching over her head?
  • Were there certain fabrics that were more comfortable to her and others that she did not prefer?
Soon after our discussion, we proceeded with trying on many of the items she had recently purchased to check for fit and color. Betty wanted a few tops that were different than what she owned, but wasn't sure whether the trendy top was something she could actually manage. After careful consideration we found a few that were versatile enough in look and fit to spice up her existing wardrobe.

We moved on to mixing and matching tops, jackets, sweaters, and pants with her vast array of jewelry. Betty sat on a sturdy dining room chair between changes and would pop out of the chair to peek in the mirror after being put together. Outfit after outfit I coordinated with her favorite jeans and pants. It was truly a delightful experience for the three of us. Betty was thrilled with having so many options. Sally was relieved to know that her mother wouldn't stress over not knowing what to put together. I personally was so grateful to be able to connect with a client at this stage in her life and see how well she was doing. It was very bittersweet for me.

Sally was a wonderful nurturing daughter and Betty was so grateful for her daughter’s help. I felt their love and respect for one another. Of course, for any of you who really know me, I had tearful moments of remembering my relationship with my own grandmother. Betty did remarkably well and after a little catching up on one another's lives with our children, I was out the door. I'm just saying that was a consult I won't forget anytime soon.

Here are just a few tips to keep in mind if you are elderly and shopping for yourself, or shopping for an elderly relative for a gift giving occasion:

1. Check with the caregiver or mate as they will probablyhave a good read on the senior’s requirements or limitations, as well as their likes and dislikes.

2. When purchasing bed clothing, avoid purchasing items with buttons and that are floor length. Buttons are difficult to manipulate (snaps are easier) and long gowns and robes may get tied up or cause the senior to trip when getting into or out of bed.

3. Make sure all garments have a wide neck to slide easily over the head.

4. Remember to buy fabrics that can be washed frequently and will hold up, like cotton or fleece.

5. Purchase rubber soled shoes to prevent slipping or stumbling.

Lastly, buy happy prints and color. It is amazing how great people look, regardless of their age, when wearing colors other than white, beige, brown or black!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jeans For Men

I think I have mentioned that I started this boot camp training two days a week about two months ago. I really like the format, or maybe because it kicks my butt, I enjoy the challenge. The group is made up of men and women of various sizes and shapes and I never know which of our regular 5 is going to show up, as people ebb and flow into the group.

Today’s group consisted of three women and one man. One group member, Todd, comes to really work out and seems quite focused. I, too, like to think I am focused, but then again for most that know me, I am easily distracted by the topic of fashion. Today, Todd came in and mentioned that he went jeans shopping at Crabtree Valley Mall on Saturday, spent an hour and half looking for jeans, and still came up with nothing.

I giggled under my breath and said you should have texted me and I would have sent you to look for a certain brand and told you the stores that carry it. He agreed he should have, but then again, I wouldn't have expected him to do that. His wife might have said "what are you doing with Suzanne's number in your cell phone.” LOL

Let me digress for a moment. I saw my son Scott for brunch this past Sunday and he was wearing a pair of jeans that didn't look like something I had picked out during one of our infrequent shopping trips. Could my adult son actually pick out rocking jeans on his own? Or was this a trip to the mall with another woman possibly? Anyways, as my mind began to swirl, I regained my composure and asked where he got the jeans. He stated me got them at Lucky. As in a Lucky Brand jeans store? Hooray for Scott for maybe purchasing without his mother, and yes, cool jeans!

Back to Todd. Todd went on to talk about his challenge of finding jeans that were not over the top expensive and appropriate for a 40 year old (like 40 is old). You can imagine where the conversation went from there. Here Todd was with 4 women, including the trainer, listening to us discuss the merits of men’s jeans. Stylist or not, everyone had an opinion, including Todd, who was obviously exhausted by the whole jean shopping experience.

He did try Express for Men, which I would expect to be cut for a younger guy. Macy's had their jeans arranged according to brand, which for a guy may be a challenge within itself. Most people do not want to have to go to more than one area in a store to find what they are looking for - imagine that! Todd also wanted jeans that would earn the respect of others and not feel or look generic in style, but without the high price tag. Todd was directed by this esteemed group of women to Belk Men’s store at Crabtree and then directly to Southpoint Mall that has a Lucky store. Let me just say, this whole conversation was all during our warm up. If you think any of us, including Todd, can train, talk and breathe at the same time, you are sadly mistaken. It’s bootcamp, people, and not for the faint of heart!

So, this is dedicated to all men over 35 years old that still want to show a little swagger and need some tips on what to look for when buying jeans:

1.  Consider when you will be wearing them. Will it be for work or just for casual wear?
2.  Will you wear these jeans with sneakers, boots, or dress shoes?
3.  What color is the best for your wardrobe needs? Lighter denim is considered more casual and darker is dressier in look. Keep in mind that funky washes or distressing of a jean is never timeless in style.
4. Straight leg, skinny jeans or boot cut? Skinny jeans for men is a tough look to wear successfully unless you’re in a rock and roll band, so the choices are really straight leg or boot cut.
5.  Make sure the jeans are fitted in the waist and not baggy, as jeans do stretch. If you plan to wear a belt, be sure and try it on with a belt to avoid unnecessary scrunching of excess fabric. Or plan to have your jeans tailored.
6. Try sitting down, wearing the jeans, to test comfort. Make sure you have room in the front of your jeans in the crotch area.
7. Bring along a spouse, girlfriend or anyone who will be honest with the look and the style you have chosen. If you wonder if you look ridiculous, you probably do.

A final tip. Don't expect the first pair of jeans you try on to fit. It doesn't work like that. Women may try on upwards of a dozen pairs before satisfied, so hunker down and plan to try at least three to five pairs. No two jeans are alike, even in the same brand and size!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Raleigh Denim

My own little high...

Maybe instead of being a wardrobe consultant/fashion guru/stylist, I was meant to be an ambassador of good will for clothing style. Wait a minute, that’s what I do! I love watching people emerge from a fitting room and either have that aha moment of looking great in what they are wearing or the look of eeek! not so good.

Last night was no different. About two months ago I began working out with Kris Jackson, who conducts group boot camp training out of her basement and the back yard. She is as diligent about her work outs as she is about her diet. I love Kris for both those reasons. For me, it has proven to be just the kick in the butt I needed to get rid of the some of the belly fat I have been storing for about two years. I wanna say it was menopause, but honestly it was living the good life of baked brie and wine on summer weekends.

Oh yes, back to last night. One of Kris's clients is Sarah Lyntvineko, co-owner with her husband Victor of Raleigh Denim and the Curatory downtown. Kris thought it would be great to offer her clients an opportunity to check out Sarah's store and for me to help by offer styling tips to clients in at an early evening party. So, if you know a store you want to have schedule a private party at, give me a call and/or speak with the owner or manager. It happens a lot more than people think. Back to last night - it was just that, a party. Very low-key, no-pressure jean fittings and fashion advice.

Women were trying jeans and I was styling them with shoes from Main and Taylor and jewelry from Christine Jones Jewelry. Raleigh Denim offers premium jeans for men and women. I was loving the deep teal blue and spruce wash jeans. Both are versatile and wonderful in color. Raleigh Denim also offered earlier this year a white jean with a black dye component on the inside that gave the jeans a white/gray faded tone. It was a great color combination that provided a unique option for people not wanting to do the stark white. Since I am all about wearing white all year long, this would be an easy option for those that are still suspect of this ‘white’ trend.

One after another, women emerged from the fitting room in all shapes and sizes, modeling jeans of various styles, including a newer high-waisted look. Not like the look Jessica Simpson made the news for, but a sleeker, more modern high waist. For women that are short waisted not so good, but for those who were petite in height or tall, the look was really nice and flattering. It was amazing how it elongated their legs. Then again, seeing Sarah in her high-waisted jeans and rocking 5 inch spruce green suede heels made us all salivate. Her genes, believe me, are not the norm.

Many people wonder if price matters. I loved seeing how a premium jean versus a Gap or Levi's jeans sit on a woman's body. I have always said you get what you pay for. Then again, most people can't afford or justify a pair of jeans for over $200. And I’m not knocking the Gap or Levi’s - they’ve been in business a long time, and make great jeans, it’s just that there’s something about a pair of premium jeans that makes it worth the money.

One of the many styling questions that I got last night was what type of boot to wear with what jeans. Do I do black belts and boots, or brown belts and boots? Either works, and it’s a matter of preference. Brown is a little softer and tends to blend versus black is more sharp in contrast.

I also talked about gold and silver jewelry and accessories. One of the things I like most that Christine Jones has done more and more of this season, is combining chains that are in several finishes. She often combines one or more of gold, silver, pewter and copper. Most people can wear both gold and silver, but often choose just one to incorporate into their wardrobe. Stepping out of that comfort zone is often hard, but that is frequently what I try to get clients to do. There’s nothing more freeing than trying something new and discovering that, if you like it, your wardrobe has just expanded itself without a single additional purchase!

Last night I spoke to several women about buying one key item a season that may be slightly different from what they gravitate towards. Items from the Curatory gave women a chance to do just that, with many different looks, including a beautiful black wool coat with a front buttons and back full zipper. Truly stunning! There were also several tops that were short in the top and longer in the back. Now....let me just say, that look is not for everyone. And it may not be appropriate in a corporate setting, but certainly great for a night out.

What I enjoyed most last night was the relaxed buzz of the room. It was a smaller space, filled with women bonding over jeans! Imagine that. Then again, John the expert employee who runs the shop, was quite mellow himself. I had to giggle when one gal came out in a plunging deep v-neck top fully exposing her cleavage and the top of her bra. I had to comment that I expected John has never seen a breast, to which he replied "never" and slyly grinned. One of those moments that’s like asking him if he’s ever encountered a woman that hates to shop for jeans.

As the evening wound down and I packed up, the proverbial icing on the cake was when someone asked about my skin in a complimentary ‘what products do you use’ kind of way. I mentioned the new product line I was using, Rodan and Fields. Of course, she asked my age and I actually told her my age. In my mind I will be 29 or maybe 39 forever. Ahhhhh.........what a fun night!

Monday, October 24, 2011

J. McLaughlin

Good for North Hills! Kane Realty must be doing something right because they just snagged another well-known small chain to move into North Hills, and I think it’s a great fit. J.McLaughlin has plunked down a small store next to Francis King Stationary, and near one of my favorite eatery's, Vivace. Good for both Kane Realty and brothers Jay and Kevin McLaughlin for realizing North Hills in Raleigh would be a perfect market for them.

With the recent announcement of the closing of Tyler House (one of my personal favorites for clients), I really began to look to see who could fill the gap. No, I am not going on the record to say that this new store will do that, but it is sure good to have them here. I have already stumbled in and met the manager, the lovely Erin Wallace, and her few sales associates. I remembered I had been to another store in Florida with my mother this past spring, and my mother mentioned she had gotten some her favorite sweaters at the store.

So, I began eyeballing the racks and then proceeded to gently rifle through to see if there was something I could potentially buy for clients. Let's start with the quality....yes, I mean, yes, and yes again. I am not seeing made in China. The colors and patterns are bright and often something I had to squint at. I love me some bright, but I am not seeing how orange and yellow will translate for fall here. Blue and yellow maybe but in a belt buckle pattern, I am just saying. The black, browns and grays in the spandex henley seemed most on the mark.

My favorite item by far was a chocolate suede skirt with a flattering waist and body style. It was mine for the taking, as I knew my client would be thrilled. I continued to make my way through the store, and I noticed that they carry at least four different body styles of dress. The wrap, the a-line pullover, the classic shirt dress, and one called the Panama. I'm liking that there is a style to fit most every body type, but tall women beware, it may not be for you.

The sweaters also grabbed my attention for both men and women. Again, the attention to detail and the quality was wonderful. I also got the feeling of what I often see some other boutiques stores do. Only put out X amount of sizes and styles and keep the rest in the stockroom. I hope that doesn't end up being the case, because I think most shoppers don't think to ask if their size isn't there. I know space is sometimes an issue, but there are a lot of shoppers that don’t think to, or simply won’t ask for a larger size.

Moving on to accessories…I am all about a nice leather tote. As I was checking out with Erin, I kept glancing at a beautiful soft yellow bag. I was almost afraid to ask to have it taken off the high shelf above. One or two things would happen. I would ask to see it and try it on my shoulder and try and justify the purchase or I would squirm at the price and wait until the end of the season. Needless to say, I behaved! Other items I could have easily wrapped up and carried away were some wonderful rich colored silk and cashmere scarves, belts that would have added a touch class to any outfit that needed some panache, and lastly, dynamite small clutches! The store does have a distinct client feel and if you haven't figured that out with this blog than maybe you need to go see for yourself. I expect when word is out, many shoppers will flock in droves. In the meantime, since the store manager said they aren't big on advertising, saunter on by and let them know I sent ya!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Power shopping at its’ best.

I often get the question where do I personally shop. Well, I shop all over the place. Sometimes in town, always when I am away. I always like to check out stores in regions other than our own. I find different areas of our country buy obviously for their weather, demographic and surrounding influences. And as you can imagine, if I am in a store looking for items for a client and see something I like, I make a mental note to go back and pick it up or I buy it.

I like a bargain like anyone else, but quality and fit is the number one priority. I don't settle for items that don't feel good or that I don't feel wow in. Just because I am tall, doesn't mean I don't have my own style challenges. I would be lying if I didn't say I don't cock my head in the dressing room and make faces in the mirror after putting a garment on. I even break out in a giggle every once in a while.

I also have specific designers I like, and I know which stories carry their lines, and they sometimes come to town for trunk shows. If you haven’t been to one, it’s a great experience and I highly recommend it.

One of my favorite designers came to town Friday, Kay Unger, just in time for my power shopping excursion. Somehow Kay’s dresses fit my body like a glove. A good glove, and her newer line is called Phoebe and is designed by her daughter. I met Kay a few years ago at the same trunk show. She is in her 60's, slim, dark hair, and full of spit and vinegar. It’s obvious that she is well seasoned and loves coming to do trunk shows - it’s a great opportunity for her to speak to the women who wear her things about what they like and what they love.

Last time we met I told her I was a stylist, and we chatted briefly as she juggled several clients. This time, I arrived at the store at 10:10, knowing if I was ever going to power shop this was the time. I had to catch a plane in two hours and I was going to be focused and try only what wowed me. I was also gonna work the friends and family discount. Good clothes (tailored well, nice fabrics) are so darn expensive, but I know I will wear one of her dresses for years.

This is what happened in the 25 minutes I was there. They wanted to introduce her to me. I said we met two years ago. "Hey, Kay,” as I extended my hand, “I am Suzanne Libfraind, stylist. I have to catch a plane but I want to try a few casual dresses, not business but a dress that can go casual as well."

Kay was wearing a v-neck ruched and gathered to one side leopard print dress. Cute, but not screaming gotta have. She pulled a muted beige and brown weave with a cowl neck. Hmmm, thoughts begin swirling. Tried it on with my cowboy boots and walk out for Kay to adjust the belt. She yanks the neckline over my shoulders, making it an off the shoulder garment and opening up my neckline - it's a wow dress! I loved the belt - a supple leather with gold framed holes and buckle. Not the usual flimsy belt that often comes with dresses. Now that is a bonus!

Of course, then I proceeded to talk business. How could I stand there and make it all about me when I have five minutes to talk shop?!? “So Kay, how is the newer line Phoebe doing?” She stated that it was doing quite well and that she found people were enjoying the everyday appeal. We chatted about my motto of lifestyle dressing and she heartily agreed. Her leopard print dress is one of her favorites this season because it is easy to toss in a bag and bundles up in a suitcase. Yes, easy care fabrics. I can't say it enough, everyone wants things that are low maintenance. Just like friendships should be, as I always say. 

How refreshing it is that a designer is so personable and listens to what the customer is saying. I did giggle as she tried to get me to try several other dresses including a great looking black sweater cape that would have been a wonderful addition to any wardrobe. Very fresh and nice lines. I didn’t try it but only because I already bought something similar earlier this season.

So that was my power shopping - in less than 25 minutes at a trunk show I tried 4 dresses and chatted with Kay about what she was doing to keep up with the times and economy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wondering what you might wear for, say, a themed holiday party or maybe at the office holiday party? Or a winter wedding? Come join us at the All Occasion Venue Tour and Fashion Show, held at The Mill Room in Wake Forest on October 23, 2011. Two of the VIP seats could be yours! There’s a guaranteed party dress waiting for you to feast your eyes on – one of the shows is a red dress show benefiting the American Heart Association. No need to always wear a LBD when heading out to holiday parties (or any party, really).

TO WIN: Post your story on Twitter with an @savvysuzanne mention or at the Wardrobe Consulting Facebook Page, and tell us about your holiday dressing wardrobe malfunction. Was your zipper not zipped? Did your outfit bunch in unflattering places? Did holiday eating cause you to gain 5 pounds, and you looked like a stuffed sausage? The funniest wardrobe malfunctions win two VIP tickets to the event.

Like or Follow Wardrobe Consulting to qualify – that’s where we’re announcing the winners!

Fleming’s Steakhouse Contest

You might be wondering how fashion and wine fit together, but it does! Fleming’s Steakhouse has launched their signature wine, Forty-Six Diamonds Toscana 2009, and we’re giving away gift cards to so you can taste it! The basics: Forty-Six Diamonds Toscana 2009 is a collaboration between Fleming’s Wine Director, and Il Borro Winemaker Nicolò D’Afflitto. And this is where wine and fashion meet – Il Borro is the winery owned by quintessential luxury designer Salvatore Ferragamo. Fleming’s is located at Crabtree Valley Mall, so I think a little shopping, eating and drinking is in order, don’t you?

TO WIN: In honor of the Forty-Six Diamonds release, post a picture of your favorite piece of jewelry on the Wardrobe Consulting Facebook page or tweet your entry to @savvysuzanne by Oct 30 and explain why you like your jewelry piece so much. Whether it was a gift from a deceased relative you loved, your first ‘real’ jewelry purchase, or simply a cheap impulse purchase that wears well with everything, we want to know! Best stories get the gift cards, and it won’t hurt if I love the picture, too!

Like or Follow Wardrobe Consulting to qualify – that’s where we’re announcing the winners!

Wardrobe Consulting gets some great swag, and we like to share!

Be sure to Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for details.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Boots.....you gotta have them.

The cold weather is finally beginning to make its’ way to our state! For many people, boots have been a year round wardrobe staple, similar to the newest trend of wearing white jeans all year. So let’s chat about wearing and rocking boots all year round.

The style that comes to mind that I see most is cowboy boots. Case in point, this past spring when the market was flooded with ruffles and flowing floral dresses that came to mid-thigh or long ankle-length peasant skirts, both worn with cowboy boots. I must admit I saw more young women and gals in their mid twenties sporting the relaxed look. I loved it, and even saw the return of the short denim skirt, layered strappy tees, big earrings and boots for a fun summer look. I love that shoes and now boots are season-less and that if people see Taylor Swift wearing her boots it somehow becomes more acceptable.

I purchased my first pair of cowboy boots back in college (just a mere 10 plus years ago) by Nine West and still have them. For those of you that know me or have seen me you know that the ten plus years ago is joke and that I actually have a daughter, Kelsi, who herself is in college. No need to do the math!

So about 4 years ago I bought a pair of basic tan Frye boots. I have worn them with long skirts, leggings and long sweaters, jeans and my favorite dresses. I no longer feel like I need to wear them out West only. It is amazing that anything goes, as long as you wear them with confidence. Along that line, UGG's have made such an impact on the market for the past 6-8 years that I am at the point that all I can say is “Really?” How many times can something be reinvented?

Check out these sequined puppies that I saw recently at Belk’s:

So, if you are insistent on wearing these, here are the ground rules:
  • You must be no older than 13 years old and no taller than 5'3''.
  • You must not like or know what a valley girl is.
  • You may not wear any other sequins on your body (that includes scarves).
  • You must not try and match any other garment on your body with the color of your sequined UGG's Pair with jeans, leggings, jeggings, short neutral one color skirts, no longer than 19 inches.
  • Lastly, when the sequins begins to fall off, color the bare spots in with the same color marker bought from a craft store.
  • Don't expect to want to wear them more than one season. You will tire of them. OMG, I sound like my mother! I never tire of things that are funky.
  • If you insist on buying them, then rock them out girls!
So we have covered cowboy boots and UGG's, so far. What’s new this season?

Skinny, chunky, lace ups with rubber soles, textured or weathered with a burnout look, buckled boots, over the knee, snakeskin, fabric and all heel heights and toe boxes.

Before purchasing boots here are a few things to remember:
  • Brown boots can be worn with black, camel, navy, dark greens and most every color clothing.
  • Black boots are not a must for your wardrobe.
  • Think about what you will wear your boots with to determine whether you want a shoe, ankle, under your knee or above your knee boot.
  • Try thinking out of the box, but remember to only select a boot that has a comfortable foot bed and heel height that is good for walking. This is when comfort must meet style, no matter what the models are wearing on the runway. You never want your boots or shoes to send you running to the podiatrist.
  • Check the boots you have already in your closet to have them polished or re-soled. A little polish can really make an old boot look wow!
  • Lastly check out www.zappos.com for a huge boot selection. They even have a foot specialist available to answer questions. Take advantage of the free shipping.
Before I close this blog, I have to mention that this idea came from my good friend, who loves a bargain and generally does quite well. She has her own sense of style and I am thrilled with the ways she shops consignment stores looking for hidden treasures. She sent me pictures of all her boots, asking which can be worn and which should be tossed. Here are my suggestions:

  • Love the short black boot- wear it with pants or jeans and a black or tweed blazer.
  • Ugg's  - save for bad weather but limit the use. Been there done that!
  • Love the tan boots with flower around the ankle. Pair them with tights of all colors and wear with dresses, skirts and leggings!
  • Black slouch boot will also be good with leggings or skinny jeans and longer jackets and sweaters.
  • The tall black boot with the chunky heel, I think I would consign or pack away for a while. 
If you want to purchase anything new this season, I would go for a textured or weather looking brown boot.

Good job girlfriend!

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Fond Farewell To Tyler House

So this past week one of my closest retail friends decided to call it quits and close her store. I have known Jennifer Huggard, owner of Tyler House, for about as long as I have been in business. I realize it simply wasn’t feasible for her to call all her friends and let them know, but it was a shock to read it in the mail. I was opening up my mail last Sunday after a very long ride home from Charlotte after Charlotte Fashion Week. I was so tired, and concerned that I might doze off, I made Jeannie talk business with me the whole way home. She really wanted to zone out herself and send me an email about things up and coming, and I knew the comment of how is your book coming along would be said, but for me I needed to stay awake. More coffee was really not the answer, but pushing conversation with Jeannie was. I finally get back to Raleigh and pull in around 2pm, and gather my mail out of the mailbox. I see a letter from Tyler House and realize it wasn't a bill.

“Dear Friends,
     Over the past seventeen years I have had the privilege of owning Tyler House, the store where I worked while in school and first began to learn from Mr. Tyler the skills of being a good merchant. As I face the end of my lease, I have decided it is time to begin a new chapter in my life......”

Jennifer goes on to say she will be starting a sale and will begin to reduce prices to prepare to close her doors. I don't gasp or grab my chest often, but being tired, I did both and started to tear. I quickly call Jennifer to ask if she and John (her husband) are ok. She replies yes, but her aunt was not. I remembered Jennifer mentioning that her aunt was quite ill, and that they were only three years apart in age. Her aunt, who really was like a sister had been there for her own sister, Jennifer’s mother, when she was ill so many years before.

Jennifer wanted that same time with her aunt and plans to travel with her retired husband. No, it wasn't that the business wasn't doing well, it was that Jennifer wanted to trade her very hectic life to one filled with travel and family. I repeated many times how happy I was for her and glad that she had made such a wonderful choice. Most of us spend our lives working day in and day out not taking enough time to evaluate what is most important to us. I think Jennifer has it right!

For me I sat down to calculate the many losses it meant to me, as Jennifer has not only been a friend but a true supportive business confidant over the years. This is my top ten list of what I will miss most about Tyler House.
  1. The greeting I receive from Ann Suber every time I walk in.
  2. That Jennifer is always, and I mean always, very accommodating and will never let a client walk out unhappy.
  3. Jennifer takes back most everything even after a month or longer. This is not Nordstrom, it is a boutique mind you!
  4. Jennifer will always try and get a garment if requested by me for a client, even if she knows chances are slim.
  5. The store is always clean and well dressed!
  6. I will especially miss Tot's very southern twang and conversation
  7. Jennifer and I know one another so well we almost have a secret code when something happens in the store that makes up both want to bust out and laugh
  8. Jennifer knows so much about fit and body type and the merchandise she carries that I can always pick her brain.
  9. The way Ann Suber has no problem asking a client of mine a random question that usually catches me off guard.
  10. The back room and office has always been one of my favorite places to hang out with Jennifer and Claire, her assistant, because we can chit chat about retail locally.
In finishing this list, I realize what I will miss most about the store closing is that for me I am not sure I can fill the void of what the store carried for my clients. Jennifer has done a great job with private label. For the many people that thought she bought for the conservative client, I say not. I could always find that piece that would bring on the wow factor. So, if there are any local merchants out there, I hope you have the opportunity to hop on some of the vendors that Jennifer had relationships with and grab them quick.

I do expect to keep in touch with Jennifer and catch a lunch or dinner, but it won't be the same. Tyler House is like my favorite high heels and robe all wrapped up into one. Be sure and drop by and catch some of the great savings before she closes her doors. I sure hope that Mr. Tyler is smiling down on Jennifer because she has been gem to so many and we will long remember her when wearing our Tyler House duds!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Many thanks to The Limited!

So Charlotte Fashion Week was pretty darn terrific! If you have been following me on Twitter and Facebook, you have seen my various looks each night. I felt like a princess and loved having the opportunity to have my hair and make-up done to highlight my dress. When The Limited agreed to dress me for the event, I knew that what I chose would have to highlight each night’s events on the runway. The first night’s show, I wore the very streamlined and fitted raspberry and slate grey dress. It was rusched at the top in raspberry and fitted in the slate grey towards the bottom. Boy, was it fitted. Thank G-d for the old Spanx! The dress was perfect for an evening that highlighted local stores such as Saks OFF5th, Nitsa's Apparel, and Sada Fashions, to name a few. My hair was blown out, soft curls were put in, and a very smoky berry eye. I was perfectly dressed for the occasion. You know how easy it is to be over or underdressed!

The second evening I wore a one shoulder, aubergine dress with a twisted flower on the shoulder stopping right above my chest. I can't tell you how many people I interviewed who commented about how pretty the dress was. I was quick to mention to a designer that asked who I was wearing that it was from The Limited. The initial response was "shut up"! I laughed, realizing it was actually a compliment that many people are quick to judge a particular store by its’ history. I am going on the record to say, just as people change, stores grow and move towards what they want to be, frequently by adding an element to their strategy. The Limited has done that and I was feeling marvelous! I went with a soft eye, heavy eyeliner and a loose side bun. All I needed by the end of the night was a good foot rub from my husband. The dress, the hair and the make-up definitely held up longer that I did. The whole look once again complimented the designers, including Navy and Pearls, Tsvety Fashions, and sassy Mew Designs.

The last evening I chose a black v-neck lace neckline and softly tiered dress. The dress came with a fitted black belt with a black embellished center. Have to wear a LBD for the finale, right? I wore my hair in a high woven bun with soft green eye shadow. I loved the black tie dressier look and I was really happy with my lower heeled Stuart Weitzman pumps! The final show was highlighted by the couture designers, so it was only fitting I dress in black.

If you have to know which one was my favorite, I may be hard pressed to answer. Any or all three would be fabulous wardrobe builders! Lucky for the women that will get these donated fashions from The Limited!

Again, special thanks to The Limited. I had numerous compliments every night from both men and women about the dresses, which is a good sign, if a woman is willing to be that gracious. I always felt very chic and dressed to fit the evening. Everything I wore can be found online at http://www.thelimited.com/ on the wedding and events pages.

I will be happy to share about fit and fabric if anyone would like to know the specifics!
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