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Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Final View of 2012

As I sit with my laptop, evaluating my year and what is to come in the next, I grin and grimace (if that is possible) at the same time. From the family perspective it has been pretty good, mostly highlights with of course a few moments that rocked my world in a negative way. As for business, has it been productive, engaging and do I still feel as passionate about it as I did twenty plus years ago? Am I taking care of myself like I should be physically, mentally and spiritually? Do I still like the person that I am? Have I given back to the community and my fellow man in a way that I feel makes me worthy of starting each day? From a fashion perspective (cause you know I gotta bring that up), have I continued to reinvent my style and dress in a way that fits my lifestyle and age? 

As 2012 comes to an end, I reflect on a few very common themes I have heard from clients over this past year:

  • My hair has changed and I don't want to spend a lot of money on it or time fixing it. 
  • I am not happy with the extra 5-20 pounds I am carrying, but it is what it is! 
  • I am so tired of wearing the same 5 things and need "desperate" help. Desperate was a recurring theme this year, which is harsh, but I keep hearing that word used by clients.
  • My husband needs your services but doesn't have time, or will make the time.
  • I cannot find a good fitting pair of jeans that aren't less than $100 and I won't spend that! Incidentally, I agree.
  • I want to learn to accessorize, but how?
  • I need a "look book" of coordinated outfits from my closet to help me.
  • What do mean you no more "matchy matchy" and what is blending of tones?
  • I can't believe what a difference having my clothes tailored has made. I love the fit and how it has been redone!
  • When is your book coming out? All I know is that I promise it will definitely be in early 2013!

As we all view 2012 from behind in the mirror, take a final look, smile and whip your head forward with a plan to tackle just one of the fashion lifestyle concerns you have in 2013!

From my closet to yours, and a happy and healthy New Year to all - Suzanne 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Eco Fashion, TRIfabb and More!

Two blogs in one day! Must be some kind of record or something. Maybe it's just the desire to spread some holiday cheer?

Redress Raleigh, our local eco fashion show, has expanded! They are now taking vendors for the show and the weekend long meeting. Be sure to check in with them if you're interested in helping out!

I've also discovered a group of like-minded people...at TRIfabb. They are all local bloggers, and some blog about fashion, some life, and some beauty. If you have some time to spare...head on over and check out some other local bloggers.

Lastly, be safe for the holidays, and if you've taken time off, relax and enjoy yourself! X7YQHE5S82ME

Emerald Green - Just in Time for the Holidays!

We have a new Pantone color - Emerald Green. Must be all the fast fashion, with the shortened seasons, that cause us to get a new Pantone color every other month or so. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it makes it difficult to purchase smart. Of course, fast fashion isn't about purchasing smart, it's about purchasing now. And I don't think it's a bad thing to have some color in your wardrobe at any time, so there's that.

Speaking of color in a wardrobe, if you went to your closet right now, would you see a variety of black, white and brown? A friend of mine went to a holiday party recently, and while I view holiday parties as an opportunity to wear some color and break out the red, she mentioned that the first five women were all wearing black, white or grey. Only a couple of people wore something with color in it. So what gives? Are we suddenly afraid of color, or is it not sudden and I've just now noticed it?

So really, what's in your closet? If you don't wear color, why not? Don't know how to wear it? Not sure what colors look good on you anymore? If you think you're lacking color in your closet, go to a clothing swap, or better yet, have someone (me), come in and clean out your closet. Bring your best friend and a bottle of wine, and you'll get some honest feedback in the form of unbiased feedback from me, and what your friend thinks you'd look good in. You may not want to know what your friend thinks, but it's nice to have another perspective, and who knows, you might find yourself with enough colors in your wardrobe to cover whatever the next Pantone color is.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stretch Marks to Stilettos

Catchy title, right, and I bet you're wondering what this blog is all about. I met Page Crawford Fehling from my days of doing the fashion segments on My Carolina Today. Then, she was one of the original three hosts of the show. Page is now doing traffic and anchoring on the NBC morning show. When I met her, Page was pregnant with her second child and I remember thinking how maternity clothes had changed since my pregnancy some 20 plus years ago. Somehow I can't see Page in the mu-mu's I used to wear.

So Page is back for an encore with baby number three. Exciting for her and Jake, and a blast for me, because I'm going to dress her monthly. I thought about how fun it would be to watch her baby bump grow and talk about transitioning an everyday wardrobe to what will eventually need to be a maternity wardrobe. Each month for the next nine months, I will feature Page in two outfits, along with style tips for maternity dressing and helpful hints as her baby bump grows. If I know Page, she will be rocking the stilettos for a while!

Page is 17 weeks along and here are my initial suggestions:

* This is a wonderful opportunity to ask your friends to borrow maternity clothes. In  speaking to Page she said she had numerous friends who were pregnant currently or recently. As long as they are further along than you, they may have clothes they can no longer wear and won't mind lending or giving you.

* I would encourage Page and her friends to get together and do a maternity clothing swap. I would expect most everyone would be willing to swap a garment or two for anything that was new to them! The best way to recycle!

* If your jeans are too snug to snap or button, take a rubber band through the buttonhole and then wrap it around the button. Presto, you just gave yourself a bit longer before having to buy maternity jeans.

* The store bought alternative is the belly band that fits around the waistband of your jeans and hides the zipper closure. Personally, I'd opt for the rubber band and find a pair of jeans down the pike!

* Lastly, I would suggest going through your closet and breaking your closet into three sections. Maternity wear is the obvious first section, and then in the second are items that can be used for maternity such as camisoles, tank tops, long sweaters, button down tops, leggings and maxi dresses and skirts. The third section are items that are a no-go for the pregnancy. Wave them good bye and plan on getting re-acquainted next year at this time!

* Don't forget to go through your husband's end of the closet. His button downs can be used for layering and worn open with a tank underneath. His button up cardigans or v-neck sweaters are also great to use as needed. Add a scarf to draw attention up around your face and not directly to your stomach. Yank up your sleeves and add a chunky bangle, tights and boot and I expect you will feel just as sassy as ever. Page and other pregnant women....this is when I would opt for a riding boot, ballerina flat or driving moccasin and not the stilettos!

Check out Page in her two the two outfits that we coordinated for work. I love adding accessories. Page has purchased two knit skirts to wear. One totally neutral and another to transition into spring. Layering non-maternity tops as we have is helpful and extending her wardrobe.
Until next month's installment of Stretch Marks to Stilletos...from my closet to yours - Suzanne

Friday, December 14, 2012

More on Charleston Fashion Week

Fashionista's take note! Three designers that were selected bore further scrutiny, just to see what they were all about. Not that all the designers aren't worth a look, but I thought I'd start with the ones that interested me most. These designers are really talented, so if you want them in your local boutique, you should ask the designer or the boutique (or both)!

At the young age of twenty Jazsalyn McNeil was able to incorporate her interest in nature as it relates to a spiritual freedom. Look for vibrant colored fabrics, free flowing designs and the interesting hemlines that are sure to slither down the runway. Very talented, and designed for women who don't necessarily want to feel constricted in what they wear.

Clarissa Arocena and Bryan Datinguinoo are both part of the Anni Albers Scholars Program at NC State.  As a duo, their artistic talents lean toward traditional tailoring with classic lines. They like the true craftmenship of olden day artisans such as shoe cobblers, leather smiths and metal smiths to direct their designs. Personally I love the mixture of leathers and tradtional beading that add to their clean lines and soft flowing dresses. I will look forward to watching them grow as designers as well as at the CFW!

Lastly, worth mentioning is what I call a mature designer of 34, Hope Wallace. She will be showing swim and resort 2014 at CFW. She works with geometric shapes and graphic designs. I love the clear vision that the graphics offer with generally a big push on black and white and strong colors. It is very mod and reminds me of my younger days of pop art in the early 70's. Her designs are something I would really enjoy coordinating back with a few of my more traditional wardrobe pieces. 

All the designers will obviously bring their most inspiring looks, as once again checking it out is half the fun! If you want to go check it out for yourself, grab a friend and plan a weekend - tickets to CFW are on sale now.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Do Your Clothes Fit You, or Do You Fit Your Clothes?

I read something recently that really spoke to me - we need to stop thinking there is something wrong with our bodies, and realize that there is something wrong with our clothes. In my many years of styling, I have found the biggest single obstacle for everyone is the way people view their bodies.

It doesn't seem to matter if you are a size 0, 4, 14 or 22. Men seem better able to deal with the number associated with their waist size, but I do have some male clients who are alarmed at the increase in their waist size, and most of that has to do with their dislike of shopping, in general. It could be they really want to be in shape but don't have the time, but mostly it's about shopping. And it's traumatic, I agree. You go out, find something you really like to wear - that go-to piece you wear at least once a week, and then it doesn't fit anymore. Stressful. So, what next?

The response I get from a lot of people is that they really just need to find something temporary until they lose whatever their magic number is, or they fit into a specific size. Since they believe they will soon be back in the clothes they love, and that are familiar, the clothes they buy in their current size don't get the same amount of attention because it's just a temporary solution. So now we're back to the original question - do your clothes fit you? or do you fit your clothes?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holiday Blues....And Then...

...Charleston Fashion Week popped into my inbox! As many of you know, I spend a lot of time at the mall shopping for or with clients. I try to avoid the mall when it's super crowded, like Black Friday, and in general the entire month of December. So seeing spring fashion show previews got me going again. Want to know what I found out?

The email was to announce the 2013 Top 2013 Top Design 20 Emerging Designer Competition: East semifinalists. They are Afriyie Poku, Callie Nichol, Cassidy Brown, Clarissa Arocena and Bryan Datinguinoo, Hope Wallace, Hyemin Cho, Jazsalyn McNeil, Karen Hulse, Katherine Barron, Kendra Duplantier, Kita Nolley, Lulu Long, Mary Katherine Schweitzer, Megan Huntz, Monisha Pillai, Roz Morris, Sabrina Spanta, Serena da Conceição, and Victoria Cid.

Of the twenty emerging designers, three are from North Carolina and two are from the Triangle area. Clarissa Arocena and Bryan Datinguinoo are from Durham, Victoria Cid from Charlotte and Jazsalyn McNeil is from Raleigh. We hope they all do well at the show!

CFW this spring is March 19-23, and if you've a mind to volunteer some time, you'll get to see some great fashion and hang out in Charleston. What could be better?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cyber Monday or Cyber Week? And Other Miscellany

I heard on the news yesterday that Cyber Monday was a great success. Some retailers are extending their deals through the week, begging the question...when does it end? Will Cyber Monday become Cyber Month?

Just to reiterate - if you're taking advantage of all the online deals to buttress your wardrobe, make sure you know what you're looking for, or can gift the items you can't find a place for in your closet.

Good news for all you Triangle shoppers - I've heard reports of a new store opening in January or Febraury. It's called Rene Michele Boutique, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us.

Are you heading for the ski slopes, or somewhere cold for the holidays? You can still be chic when dressing warmly. Think woolen mittens and matching scarves, fun hats or bands that keep your ears warm, and a great pair of ski pants or long underwear. A great pair of boots can't hurt, either, with some nice thick socks!

Stay tuned for more...later this week we'll have a holiday shopping guide!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Buyer's Remorse?

Some of you are probably looking at your purchases from yesterday, and wondering what the heck you are were thinking, and if you have someone you can gift whatever item is making you feel guilty. I meet so many clients who have purchased an item, on sale, and then found it didn't work with their wardrobe the way they thought. Common sense tells us to return it or gift it, but because it was such a great deal, we have a hard time letting go. It's almost like a badge of honor to have gotten an item of clothing on sale when it's a great price. So there it sits, in their closet, taking up space (with the tags still on) and waiting for someone like me to come along and say things like 'why do you still have this' and 'if you've never worn it, was it really that great of a deal?'. Either way, that item of clothing likely reminds you that you made a bad purchase, and it makes you feel guilty.

For some shoppers, it's a reason not to shop - that worry that about making another bad purchase. For others, it's a simple nuisance, and although they feel a little guilty, it won't stop them from making another impulse purchase in the future. Black Friday is the day that the guilt of buyer's remorse will make or break you. Different than Cyber Monday, you can actually see and feel the energy of shoppers around you, who are competing to get the best deals before the stores run out of whatever you need.

Buyer's remorse takes on another form, and it's the 'one for you, one for me' mentality. With so many good deals in front of you, it's hard not to get some shopping in for yourself, too. It's easy to use Christmas shopping, a time when you're looking for a great deal on the Christmas presents on your list, to find great deals for yourself. And the reasoning sounds something like this 'wow, what a great scarf. And so soft. That's a great gift for (insert name of friend or relative here). But it's such a great deal, and if I get one for myself in another color, no one will notice, right?'. Sound familiar?

Buyer's remorse typically sets in when you look at your closet and think to yourself, did I really need that? The answer for most is no, you didn't. But you wanted it, so you bought it. I'm here to tell you there's nothing wrong with that. Over the years I have told clients to go shopping with a plan. It really does cut down on those errant purchases, and it reduces the buyer's remorse.

My advice: if you know shopping causes you to buy impulsively and feel guilty after, take a list of the things you are looking to add to your wardrobe. And stick to it! It's not a good deal if you can't wear it or gift it...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Does Your Bra Fit? How Do You Know?

When you think you have heard everything about a bra fitting......

I recently had an opportunity to interview Kathy Bartholomew, a fit specialist for a company called Essential Bodywear. She has been fitting women of all sizes since 2011 and boasts that the company has sizes from 32A to 50H. I expect your eyes have just widened at this point. Never heard of a 50H? I've always known bras come in a variety of sizes. The H was a surprise, though.
Kathy told me about the number of women who she sees wearing the wrong bra size, and Kathy herself has a few goals. She wants to take that statistic of 85% of women wearing the wrong bra size and personally fit you so you no longer have neck, shoulder or back problems. She finds that most women want comfort and disregard getting the correct fit, let alone making sure the breast tissue is properly in the cup and not pulling at your pectoral muscles. Oh my, not the pecs!  
As a stylist I make sure that my clients are wearing bras that fit properly because it makes all the difference in the world of how clothes fit and hang on the body. I do recommend that clients get fit every six months because as we know through weight loss or gain, pregnancy or the ever lovely menopause, our breasts change. Eventually they go south, and Kathy has an answer for that as well. Essential Bodywear has bras that are made for seniors whose breast tissue have dropped.
Kathy has several clients who swear by her bra fitting and recommend the entire experience. She offers her bra fitting services in the privacy of your home or hers, and then there are the bra fitting parties with girlfriends. If you decide to host a party, you get free bras if she sells $800 or more. The company also offers holiday style bras, sports bras and underwear. Kathy started with the company after she finally found a sports bra that she could wear while horse back riding. She told me she got tired of bouncing!

Nancy is full of tips and quirky statements and it's really hard not to appreciate her sense of humor. We are talking about breasts, right?

* To put on your bra properly, put your arms through the arm holes by learning forward and reach behind your back to clasp the hooks. I said what? What if you can't reach behind your back. Nancy recommends either grasping the top or bottom hook and take your time and it will help. No one has ever told me that you will stretch out the band if you buckle it in front and twist it around!

* Once you have gotten the bra on, bend over and pull your breast tissue up and from the side and fit it into the cup of the bra. Believe me, it works!

* Use a mild detergent like Ivory liquid, and never Woolite, to hand wash your bra in cold water. If you opt to wash it in the washing machine, use a lingerie bag and the hand wash cycle. 

* Never hang a bra by the straps or band. Lay flat and mold cups with a towel. This sounds like a lot to dry a bra, but it makes the bra last so much longer.

* When storing your bras, don't fold the cups into one another, and use socks to keep cups molded when packing for travel.

As I mentioned Kathy has a few quirky sayings that I would be remiss if I didn't pass along. Kathy believes she can take anyone from saggin' to braggin'! But I like this one....posture counts and boobs shouldn't bounce!

Kathy offers gift certificates for the holidays and swears that spouses love picking out bras for their wives. I'm thinking Sid wouldn't know where to begin. I vote for a sports bras.

Next time you have the urge to go bra shopping, be sure to check out what Kathy has to offer and take her up on a good bra fitting. I know I'm gonna! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Calling all men...what are you wearing on your feet this fall?

No different than many of my women clients, I often get questions about what shoes are appropriate for particular outfits. After wandering around SRI Shoe Warehouse, I came up with some fall style men's shoes sure to fit for a business, business casual or weekend wear ensemble. Take these tips and see if you have something that is similar in your closet.

* Black is alway dressier than brown. Your shoe should match your belt or at least be in the same general family.

* If you are wearing a suit for an interview, board meeting or event, go with black. A brown lace up will do the trick with a navy or charcoal suit.

* Make your first dress shoe purchase a glossy leather versus an exotic material.

* An elongated toe box is more classic and less trendy and will be there for the long haul. I am not referring to pointing toed shoes, though, guys!

* The sole of your dress shoe should be at least a quarter of an inch thick and preferably leather not rubber. Rubber is easier to find, but leather wears forever.

* Just like a great fitting pair of pants or a suit, if you find a brand that fits your feet and feels comfortable, look for another style made by the same manufacturer.

* Buy the best quality shoes possible as they will be there for the long haul!

Did I hear you ask about classic loafers?

* Bass Weejuns are still making their mark and living strong. While at SRI, I came across some navy, low sheen, metallic Weejuns, which were very nice. SRI does carry the ever-so-popular classic cordivane color which is safe, but let me tell you how to wear the navy. (much more fun)

* A navy Weejun pairs well with the colors grey, brown, camel, khaki, stone, hunter green and aubergine and of course any shade of denim. A loafer is best worn with casual pants and business casual attire but not shorts. Yes, I know there are a lot of you men out there that would wear a Weejun with a short, but that's what got us ranked 75 for worst dressed in a recent GQ poll about Raleigh! Opt for a soft leather driving moccasin that has a rubber sole for shorts please!

* Try pairing a loafer for business casual with a button down or crew neck, pullover sweater, henley or vest for fall layering with a casual sports jacket of either a sueded cotton, tweed or corduroy. Match your socks to either your shoe or pant.

Boots, the cold weather favorite

Boots, whether they are men's or women's, have made a huge impact in our lifestyle wardrobes. Only for a select portion of the population do we find men wearing cowboy boots, but the Chelsea boot has become a common theme in most men's wardrobes. Selecting a boot regardless of the brand, for example Frye, Bass, Cole Hahn or Teva, is a daunting task. Give thought to these questions before buying a boot:

* Black or brown? Brown tends to be a little more relaxed in look and equally as versatile as black.

* Distressed or smooth? Either way looks better over time the more they are worn.

* Buckles or grommets? Choose either adornment, but not both, and remember sometimes less is more when it comes to details.

* Rubber or leather sole? Decide whether this is a weekend wear boot or possibly for business casual work. Rubber soles remind me of work boots, so leather is a best bet.

Think long term when buying a boot. Boots are now considered season-less and guys, they can take any boring jean and t-shirt and offer instant appeal. Boots can be dressed up or down and worn with most anything except a tux. Then again, if you are attending the CMA's, then a tux and boot would work just fine.

A final note.....did you know that 90 percent of people have feet that are two different sizes?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Apricot Lane!

Triangle area fashion mavens are no strangers to great boutique shopping, and just in time for the holidays, Apricot Lane is opening at North Hills. Apricot Lane is known for their celebrity inspired and branded apparel, and their advertising promotes their stores as having fashion forward, quality clothes for every budget. I'm all for it! Dressing well shouldn't break the bank, and another boutique to shop is great for area fashion.

Speaking of not breaking the bank, look for great deals throughout the month. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are, of course, great times to shop great deals, but as one might guess from the holiday decorations that are up already at area locations, like Crabtree Mall, retailers are looking jump on holiday sales. It's worth a trip to the outlets in Mebane and Smithfield to see what they have to offer. Be sure to take your holiday shopping list - outlets generally have a fair amount of stores that sell things you don't generally find anywhere else.

Back to Apricot Lane...I'm hoping they will carry some Sanctuary pieces, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Gentle Fawn has to offer. The store at North Hills opens on November 9, same day as the new Bond film, so maybe a trip to the movies for some glamorous inspiration from the always fashionable Bérénice Marlohe, and then some shopping? What do you think?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Layering - How to Do It Right

Layering is something everyone talks about when the weather gets colder, and some nail it, and some don't. Wardrobe Consulting is here to help. With the recent low temperatures here in NC, the flooding in NJ from the hurricane, and snow in the Rockies, it's a good time to discuss how to layer so you're not too hot and not too cold.

Everyone knows that coming in from hot weather to cold air conditioned air is something we just have to deal with in the summer. It works that way in winter, as well. We come in from the cold to the nice warm heat, and in some offices the heat is dry and too hot. The solution required for the winter months are layers that stand on their own, which is tough to do with ultra-light fabrics that gape and hug in some interesting places, but provide warmth.

When thinking about what you are layering, start with the foundation garments. If the bra strap is going to hang out, maybe that bra you're thinking you might need to replace isn't the best one to wear that day. If you are thinking colored tights, like your favorite ones with the tiny little hole on the calf, they may not be your best bet if you are not wearing boots or something that will cover what will eventually become a bigger hole. While we're on the topic of colored tights - if they have stretched so much that the coloration looks different in some visible places, it's time to think about getting some new ones. I know they are hard to shop for and it's hard to find a pair that fit just right, are the perfect color and aren't too binding, but when layering, it's crucial to have foundation items that look right no matter what you layer over top of them. For guys, the raggedy, beat up Fruit of the Loom undershirt you love, you know, the one with the frayed collar that everyone will see, is probably a great candidate for replacement in this case.

If necessary, think about what you are wearing as your base layer to think about your foundation garments. Your base layer is the fashion forward outfit you can strip down to if the temperature turns out to be blazing hot in your office, the doctor's office or when you come into a house heated to 70 degrees when it's 30 degrees outside. The temperature change is likely welcome, but sooner or later, you'll want to start taking layers off so you don't sweat. This should be a fairly lightweight layer, things like a light cotton sweater with quarter length sleeves, or for guys, a short-sleeved polo or a button down with sleeves you can roll up.

When we talk about layering, it's mostly about keeping your upper body warm. Layering your lower body just doesn't really work unless you're planning on wearing long johns or some other kind of figure hugging legging to retain warmth. If you do happen to live in a cold weather environment where long johns are required to ward off frostbite, make sure they fit correctly. Having something that bunches and gathers under your pants or skirts will make you look bulky and likely cause discomfort.

The rest of the top layers should be easier. A sweater for guys, or a nice tweed jacket, and then an overcoat, like a nice trench. For women it becomes a lot about balance. Some women like to layer so the longest layer is the foundation layer, creating a visual rise with each layer. Some women like to layer so the longest layer is the first one removed, creating a different look with the removal of each layer.

Some final tips:
  • If you worry about any problem areas, choose fitted clothing and not tight clothing. Tight clothing, even under layers, highlights problem areas or creates new ones.
  • Wear your slimmer clothes underneath. For instance, a fitted shirt layered under a loose cardigan made of a lightweight wool or cashmere, layered under a lab or tweed jacket. Then a longer pea coat or trench to wear outdoors.
  • Fluffy and bulky do not layer well. Anything that looks like it adds weight to your frame probably doesn't need to be layered except in a minimalist way, like a performance shirt designed for warmth underneath.
  • Remember your colors - not too matchy-matchy. Layering colors that match tend to make the layers disappear.
  • Use belts, scarves and other accessories to add dimension to your layers. Don't go overboard, though. There's no need to look like you wore everything in your closet that day - just add a couple simple touches to finish the look.
Do you have layering tips? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dmitry Sholohkov - Winner or Recount?

So Christopher Palu mentioned he was going to ask for a recount when Dmitry Sholohkov won Project Runway Season 10. I don't think it was sour grapes, but I hope he realizes that impeccable construction and unique creations go a long way. I don't think his collection was bad, I just think Dmitry's was better.

The dress to the right was the highlight moment of the show, and looks well-made, expensive and truly unique. This is a dress that doesn't look like it's going to fall apart, and although unique, has enough classic elements to ensure it won't go out of style anytime in the next decade.

I do confess, the dress above right is for a very specific fashionista, and not for anyone who is unsure of their personal style. It takes confidence to wear a bold pattern combined with fringe and the sheer fabric highlighting the midsection.

Dmitry introduced his collection stating it came from his love of architecture and clean lines. In the above left image, his vision was spot on. That's a dress that is visually stunning, and with the right accessories, can go anywhere.

I love this yellow dress on the right! The embellishment on the shoulders adds to the architectural detail on the collar and at the waist. This is a nice dress to go out in. Demure enough to go anywhere and edgy enough to make a statement. That's what we want to be, right? Comfortable and memorable...

Having looked at all the collections, there were pieces I liked from each. Melissa created a spectacular black and white jacket (on the left), and was easily a contender for the win. The judge's comments were that she designed for herself, and I am particularly impressed with the fact that she learned to sew two years ago. And she used leather as her primary material throughout her entire collection, which is quite impressive. Her whole collection was black and white, and the highlight moment was the blood orange/tangerine/red dress with the stand up collar. I hope to see more from her in the future!

Fabio was the brief departure from black and color. His use of color evoked a very spring-like and resort feel, and it was refreshing to see a lot of color walk down the runway. A nice relaxed look for a relaxed lifestyle.

I loved the statement dress at the end of Christopher's show. There were some nice pieces in his collection, and I do think he's a good designer and very creative.  The blue jacket in particular was interesting and fun.

What do you think? Which collection do you like best? Recount, anyone, or did the best designer win?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Boots and Bags!

One of the many fashion questions I have gotten this season is about boots and bags, so I thought we could chat about it today.

What kind of boot do I look for this season and how do I decide which boot is best for me and my lifestyle?

Start in your closet and see what you already have. If you are a pant wearer, than opt for either a shoe boot or mid-calf style. If you like to wear leggings or jeggings go for a boot that is mid calf or western style. If you prefer dresses or skirts then select a boot that comes to either mid calf or below the knee. Above the knee boots look best with leggings, tights and dresses or some really skinny jeans.

What color do I go with - black or brown?

Both colors are equally versatile, but it is optimal to have one pair of black and one pair of brown boots, in different styles of course.

Do I look for leather or suede, embellishments, hardware or fringe?

If you are not an avid collector of boots (I have one client that prefers boots to shoes, and have come across several clients through the years that collect shoes of all kinds) then I recommend to bite the bullet and invest in one good pair of boots in a classic style that will last you for years to come. Personally, that is the way I like to roll. Purchase less, but better quality. If you tend to get tired of things easily and, no, I am not talking about your spouse or boyfriends, just clothing items, then spend less money and buy a few moderate priced boots of lesser quality and plan to pitch at the end of the season. Important to note here that boots made of pleather or plastic crack and do not allow your feet to breathe.

How do I decide on a handbag this season?

If we are talking about an everyday handbag, give thought to what kind of straps or handles you prefer. Over the shoulder, one strap or two, cross body or shorter, two handles, held on the wrist or by hand. This is purely a comfort call. Think about what you will also really need to put in your bag, or the little things that end up in your bag on a regular basis. Do you keep limited contents in your purses or do you prefer to have everything, including items from the kitchen sink. I literally once had a client that carried silverware and napkins in her bag.

Do I choose a color for my new bag or must I stay with black or brown?

If you are ever going to make a statement an accessory this is the time. Certain colors this season are equally neutral like greys, maroons and dark blues. I would even go as far to commit to a texture. There is something about a fabulous bag that can make the rest of your boring outfit pop. Not that you would ever wear a boring outfit, right? Just remember a great bag makes everything look more interesting.

Now you are armed to begin the boot and bag hunt. Tread slowly until you find exactly what you need. It is certainly out there for the picking.

Happy shopping!

Boots and Bags!


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Clean Closets and Inspiration

These past few months have taught me a lot about myself and the cloth I am made of. I have always enjoyed being a part of something that helps others. In recent months I have hitched my wagon and styling talents to the organization Dress for Success.

Dress for Success Triangle, founded in 2008, promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women succeed in work and in life. The founder of the Triangle chapter is Pat Nathan, a delightful and extremely articulate beautiful woman who I met about six or years ago. She purchased a certificate that I had donated to another organization for a closet consult at a fundraiser. As we talked during her consult, she shared that she had just begun developing Dress for Success in Durham, at the lower level office space of Northgate Mall. She saw a need and felt as though with her business background and ties to the community she could help women who needed it. Turns out that she, along with many volunteers, have made a difference in many lives - the women she helps and their families.

In chatting with her through the years, I always offered to help in whatever capacity was needed. Recently, she's been taking me up on my offer, and I am motivated and inspired by the women she helps. Last month I worked with three women from various backgrounds and selected a work appropriate outfit, a wardrobe basic and lastly, clothing that made them feel good. Not a tough challenge after hearing each of their stories of wanting more for themselves and their children. Whatever difficult, sad or tragic background they may have had, they were all eager to move forward to a better life and place.

After spending time with the women and dressing them with outfits given to them by Dress for Success, we prepared for the event at a board member's home the following week. The purpose of the evening was to gather a group of working and non-working women and offer them a glimpse of what Dress for Success was all about. The group of 25 gathered and then Pat made the introductions to talk about what Dress for Success does. I then proceeded to interview the three women to share their stories, hopes and future dreams. I have to say it was one of the most moving evenings I have had in a long time. I also brought fall fashions attendees should add to their closet while encouraging the guests to do their own closet clean out and to donate pants, shirts, dresses, jackets, coats, shoes and accessories they no longer wore or need to Dress for Success.

Last week I had an opportunity to be a part of a member-guest event at Treybourn Country Club in Durham doing something very similar for Dress for Success. I again talked about fall fashions, but how to do that fall closet clean out and what to donate. I met the new Marketing Director of Northgate Mall and I spoke to her about starting one of the first personal shopping programs at that mall in November of 1994. The mall offered my shopping services for anyone spending $100 or more. I remember it being a lot of fun and a wonderful opportunity to get to know the Durham community. Being based out of Raleigh, I just didn't get to Durham as much as I may have wanted to. I can't say that holds true now. I spend a lot of time at Smitten Boutique shopping for clients. So many things in our lives come full circle. Reconnecting with Northgate Mall and my continued work with Dress for Success keeps me so true to myself and my values. It is working and helping others that is so gratifying! I hope you all will either call me or begin your own closet consult and donate your clothing to a worthy program in our area. I promise the feeling is contagious and will only make your morning lifestyle dressing that much easier. Call if I can help, as fall is finally here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Statement Coat

I've written about statement pieces before, and this fall has such a wonderful group of coats that can easily stand on their own as a statement piece and I wanted to share with you. Look for coats that have details or come in colors that are not the traditional color or shape. And remember that if the coat is silk or other lightweight material, check before buying that there is something substantial between the outer fabric and the lining to keep you warm enough for your climate. We can't have you all freezing in the name of fashion!

The first coat is probably more a fall coat, or a winter coat for warmer climates, like places it never snows. The Donegal knit coat has a beautiful drape, no buttons so you can wear it in a more free flowing form, and oversized collar. Absolutely beautiful!

The second coat I'd like to bring to your attention is also a knit. The Hart jacket is somewhere between comfortable knit sweater and edgy warmth. The leather accents are what make this a statement coat, and again, if you're living in a somewhat warmer climate, this is a great winter coat!

Moving on from knitwear...I've seen a lot of copies of this online, and read about quite a few people taking this image to a tailor to make a copy, or trying to make it themselves. Should I insert a cautionary statement here? Something like, if you haven't been sewing for several years, you might not want to try this at home? The original was made by Alexander McQueen, and is breathtaking. It's sort of an equestrian coat, but with added flare and layers in the back. You'll definitely make a statement wearing something like this!

Next coat of the day - a London jacket. This coat has muliple textures (how's that for making a statement?) and looks reptilian. This coat looks like it has dimension, and is in a neutral color so should work with a lot of clothes in anyone's wardrobe. Important here is to remember to watch the texture mixes. Statement coats don't have to have a unique feature and be a non-neutral color, they can be one or both. Just remember when shopping it should meet the requirements of both your climate and your lifestyle.

Big this year with a lot of clothing are ruffles for adults. This coat embraces ruffles using a tie closure and a bright color. Even if ruffles aren't quite your normal style, we're looking for a statement piece here, and I'd encourage you to try on a coat in a cut or color you wouldn't normally wear. After you get over laughing at yourself for finding and trying on a coat that might look like something you would never, ever wear, take a look around and see if you can find a coat that has a unique collar, fabric or hem. Or just a different look than what you are comfortable with. Then try it on...and take a picture. If you look at the picture for a week or so, and you start thinking you should have purchased the coat because it looks good on you, you may have found your statement coat!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Does Plus Size Shopping Frustrate You?

In the past, women that were plus size struggled to find clothing that would enable them to dress and feel their best. Designers were not catering to the plus size shoppers and consumers had very little selection. As a stylist, it was equally challenging for me to service clients. I obviously am resourceful, but ten years ago the challenge was on! It seemed like the only options had no basis in anything other than covering up. As we've moved forward with fashion, designers, and more importantly retailers, discovered the market of plus size fashion. It made things easier, but what if you are comfortable the way you are and want to find something beyond what the retail stores carry? 

Recently I was at Charlotte International Fashion Week and had an opportunity to visit with a friend who owns a plus size boutique called Scarlet Plus. I met him last year, and we had a long discussion about the state of the plus size market, and what he envisioned as the future of plus size fashion. My friend, and the owner of Scarlet Plus, is Todd Albaum. He offers many fashion lines and what he refers to as "item pieces" in the store. He has a few wardrobe basics, but mostly what I refer to as "statement pieces" that are worn with basics to offer the look of a well dressed, updated person. 

Todd carries many lines made in America and complements them with Canadian lines. He also works with a jeweler who provides customers with one of a kind statement necklaces and earrings that would make most women green with envy. I was certainly one of those women as I perused the very creative and intricately woven beaded jewels and gemstones. One of Todd's primary loves (besides working with the clients) is designing customer pieces. He offers an array of fabric and custom designs - from jackets to dresses of all sizes and shapes. Over the past six years of being in the business, he has seen a steady increase in women who desire to have a garment made to their exact wants and needs. Who wouldn't want a designer designing a dress for you? Todd is providing a great custom solution to women who can't find what they want in retail stores.

Todd has a great website with several of his custom pieces shown as well as looks that he carries in the store. What impressed me the most is something relatively new he offers on his site. The program is called Fashion101 Plus. It is an online service that plus size women can join for $7.95 a month and receive tips, advice and a variety of handpicked fashion from several online retailers based upon your shape. Todd also provides on online monthly video discussing tips, concerns, and providing style advice. Todd has established himself as the go to guy and guru for plus size women and really enjoys working with women of all shapes and sizes.

As for me, Todd is a great guy who genuinely cares about his customers, and all I have to say is kudos to him!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Moving On Up?

What does it say when you get a second phone call in six years to do a reality tv show? When 'Wife Swap' was big on tv, I got a phone call from an LA producer wanting me and my family to participate. As a stylist I would travel to who knows where and swap with another wife in their home. Wow, for a brief second I was like, I wanna do this and they are offering to pay me $10K+ for my time and trouble. Not to mention the drama and the headache. That is a lot of money for me to live in someone else's home and live their life for two weeks. Could someone else do my job as well as I do, or would I have to cancel my clients during that time period. Which of my clients would want to be filmed with a potential crazy woman who may be color blind or not know the meaning of age appropriate clothing? 

The producer pursued me with a follow up email trying to entice me to do it. If you could have been a fly on the wall to see the reaction from my husband and daughter, at the time a high school junior. Even my dog Skip sensed her space would be invaded. I began to think about another woman living upstairs in our guest bedroom and somehow thinking she would parent my daughter and tell my spouse what to do and how high to jump. Hmm, for $10K, I would have gladly split it with the family. I expect my older son Scott would have made an appearance to get in on the act. No can do they shouted! I'm not sure I could have traveled to someone's home and lived in unchartered territory. Eeekkk! Sadly, I said no thank you. Could you imagine, though? What a wild ride that would have been.

Recently, I got another email from a producer in LA that wanted the next Rachel Zoe wanna-be from the South. Well, now we are talking! I don't think I could be as harsh as Rachel, but I certainly could show my own personality and fashion flair. For those that have worked with me, they would say that my facial expressions would either make me shine or put me in the dog house with many. I love it when I see clients gleaming  in the mirror and know I have done my magic. I think I am equally, if not more excited, than the client. 

So I am reading this email and the producer asks for a return phone call, so I call Jeannie and ask her to sit in on the phone call. It was a preliminary interview, and there were a lot of questions. All of them fun to answer: am I a stationary or moving stylist, who are typically my clients, do I travel a lot, and lastly, how old am I. Do I have to answer the age question? I am not a good liar but this year was a big birthday. 

After our 15 minute back and forth dialogue with Jeannie piping in and sometimes laughing at my responses, the producer concluded that they will be in touch if they are interested. Wait... did I forget to mention anything? I covered my love of fashion, my athletics, Emmy award winning client (Rhiannon Giddens), my book that is coming out, and yes, I am interested. She asked if I had an assistant or crew. I had to think about that for a nanosecond. I don't have an entourage or anything, but yeah, I have my support staff, hair make up, a few young interns when needed, and yes, Jeannie, who has zero interest in being on camera, but is willing to help. I haven't heard back yet, so maybe they were looking for a younger version? or the tv studios didn't like the pilot. Who knows. I can tell you with tv and pitching projects, there are a lot of people out there working very hard who don't make it. 

But how wild is it that my name has come up again?!?!? Too fun to even think about beyond tonight. Although....the next step would be a trip out to LA. A shopaholics dream!

So from my closet to yours, Savvy Suzanne is on the move and laughing all the way!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Designs and Designers - How to Work With What You Have

When we're little, most parents tell us we can do anything, and be anything. For some, that path is clear, and others not so much. Most of the clothing and jewelry designers I know are very creative people, and they love what they do, although I have found a great many of them who have done a variety of work before finally realizing they have to have a creative outlet and discovering that design is what they love. They have to love what they do - it's not like everyone wakes up one day, designs a shredded or bedazzled t-shirt and sells it to Saks or Nordstrom so they can sell it for $200. That's a rare occurrence, and is the reason shows like Project Runway are so successful.

I read an article today about a designer whose entire line disappeared on the way to Paris Fashion Week, and it made me think of all the hard work and creativeness he put into his line only to have it disappear. And it's not like he can just run out and get another one, he has to create and sew another one. I hope he still has his patterns...

You might be asking why I think this is sad - if he's showing at Paris Fashion Week, he must be somebody already, right? I've seen so many different designers, on lots of different runways, and I know that to get where he is now is not easy or inexpensive. And then there's that creativity aspect. Most designers start in the big houses, working in design or manufacturing and putting in long hours learning the business and the operational aspects of what it takes to start a design house of their own, all the while drawing and sketching, and working on their aesthetic. Not everyone can do it, and I've seen a lot of garments and jewelry that look great, like they would stand up to repeated cleaning and wear, and some that have loose or hanging threads, clasps that don't work or loose stones.

When you come across items you like, take into consideration that construction issues are easily fixed by a good tailor or jeweler. Most jewelry stores can fix clasps, loose stones, and any other issue a piece of jewelry might have, including adding or removing length so it hangs properly on you and complements your neckline. Tailors can strengthen a seam, or make construction adjustments so your garment looks like the designer envisioned on their sketch pad. Some jewelers and tailors will make a copy from an image or a picture, but like the designer whose line disappeared, re-creating the designs never quite meets the expectations or tweaks of the originals, and sometimes it's more fun to work with what you have in front of you to get what you want.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall Fashion Must Have's

This season is full of surprise and compromise! Lots of choices for style and fit. After you have evaluated your wardrobe, hit the stores and check out the following to round out your fall wardrobe.

Look for a silk button front blouse. If you don't want to deal with the cost of dry cleaning, opt for a polyester blend fabric instead. This season's button front blouse is soft and has a drape. Shop for small floral, animal or reptile, solid, bib front or a center line vertical stripe. This blouse looks best paired with a sleek dress pant or skinny jeans. Try wearing a layered necklace or statement piece in the neckline of the blouse.
LOVE Moschino: WSK5800
Chunky, chunky knits! Knits this season vary from thinner to the thickest of weave and pattern. There are many options - sleeveless to three quarter sleeves to hip or ankle length cardigans. Whether you prefer short or long, choose a knit that is versatile enough to wear with pants, skirts and dresses. Knits are wonderful to layer not only for warmth, but to transition short sleeve items into fall and winter.

Vivienne Westwood RED Label: S26AA0042 S41108 095
Seek out a statement coat this season. Choose from leather or wool; short, knee or calf length. Make your mark with a fabulous color or silhouette. Opt for something other than black and look for a coat with fine lines and hardware detail in soft greys, taupes, winter white or dark jewel tones. Make sure your selection is something you can wear with most everything in your lifestyle wardrobe.You'll want to wear it for many years to come.

My vote for shoe of the season is a flat boot. Simple in style and comfortable to boot! Yes, that was a shoe pun. Whether you decide upon black, brown or camel, a good leather boot will only look and wear better over time. Buy the best quality your pocketbook will allow.

Find that last key item that will make everything else in your wardrobe come together. That "it" item for fall this year is a fabulous leather bag. Find a bag that works most for your every day lifestyle. It has to be functional for everyday, and some choices are a tote, sachel or hobo. Set a budget and begin the hunt. Stores, online and brick and mortar, are offering great deals to entice shoppers to make that "it" purchase this fall. I've seen some really nice high end bags on sale this year!

Happy shopping and be sure and send me your favorite purchase for fall!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

London Fashion Week!

When NYFW is over, buyers, celebs and anyone else who follows, loves and lives runway couture heads to London, where I can easily imagine that it was a little colder than it is in the balmy SouthEast.

Some of the designers to look for this coming year are Willow, Preen, Antonio Berardi, Jonathan Saunders, Erdem, Pringle of Scotland, and what was lauded in the press as the 'winner' of fashion week - the British fashion staple, Burberry. Love, love, love the shoes from Sophia Webster, too!

Let me know what you think of the fashion - check all the lookbooks at London Fashion Week.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What Can We Learn From NY Fashion Week?

There are always a lot of things to learn from the new designs on the runway. The one thing to remember if you are watching on a designers website or YouTube, the models are just that - models. If you see a pattern you like, or a silhouette that is close to what you normally wear, go with it.

We discussed the Pantone color palette this spring, and the color for spring is described as African violet. Look this fall as summer wraps up and things go on sale to purchase shades of purple if you come across them - it'll fit in perfectly next spring. Some of the other trends noted at NYFW were light and gauzy fabrics, a short skirt underneath a see through material that is likely color blocked or having an architectural hem, and some very simple shapes.

While you're thinking about spring, take a look at the clothes in your closet now. As summer winds down and you start changing out your closet from summer to fall/winter, make plans to visit your tailor with items you won't be wearing for a while. It's so much easier to have your clothes tailored when you aren't as likely to wear them. The reason for that is that you won't miss them as a staple in your wardrobe, and when they come back from the tailor, they can go straight into storage and come out clean and ready to wear next year.

Let me know if you need help - cleaning out closets is very cathartic for me (and hopefully you, too)!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Charlotte International Fashion Week

What a difference a year makes! Anthony Simmons, the producer of this three day fashion extravaganza is in his fifth year of bringing new and emerging designers to Charlotte. Last year I was busy doing commentary behind the scenes interviewing designers, guests, models, other stylists and anyone wearing an ensemble that caused me to turn my head. This year I had the opportunity to be front and center to the runway! I was so close to the runway and the models strutting up and down that I not only saw some incredible fashions but models twitching and sweating, along with a few too many exposed body parts! I was drunk on fashion, salivating from much of what I saw, leaving me in a daze of euphoria.

Charlotte actually hosts two fashion weeks completely different from one another, one more local fashion and the other international. It was a welcome change to see what Anthony brought to the table with the international viewpoint. He is now bringing in designers from different parts of the world, rebranding what was Charlotte NC Fashion Week to include international designers and changing the vibe (and the name) of the show to Charlotte International Fashion Week.

The show features emerging international designers like Katarina Cvitkovic, who is this years winner of the Young Designer competition of the Europe Future Fashion Showcase. Katarina gained her experience from working for the fashion house of Marni and Gianesare Conca as Assistant Creative Director. I loved her creative simple designs that incorporate hand stitched puckered seams around the neck and arms of the garments. Her collection was primarily in soft watery sea tones of greens, neutrals and blues.

Another designer, who began her career in Southeast China, was Vanni Wang. At 18 years old she began teaching students in China how to sew and manufacture. Within a few short years Wang established one of the largest facilities of high fashion manufacturing. After 25 years she has moved to the United States with her family to continue her design work. She designs with the finest materials from Asia and Europe and uses them to combine elegance and couture to all her hand sewn gowns. Her work is truly breath taking, with attention to detail like I rarely see.

Among many of the returning designers was Alana B Couture, Tsvety McAuliffe and Bill Evans. All three designers continue to grow and expand their creative process and quality of workmanship. Once again, Bill Evans wowed me with his playful menswear designs worn by women. Last year he did smoking jackets and this year it was tweed suiting. Most of the jackets were oversized and the pants were high waisted with long zippers, detailed lining, buttons and rich fabrics.

I would have to say my favorite designer was Alice Andrews Designs, who offers art to wear. She began her career in textile arts as a draper for Hollywood films and commercials. It was later that she transitioned into hand printed fabric and felt. She has continued to perfect this into an eco couture concept. She offers sustainable wearable art by integrating wool fleece and natural fabrics into one of a kind garments. I could not get enough of the hand died silk dresses that look so sophisticated, and comfortable to boot!

I have to say choosing the Blake Hotel as the venue was perfect for the expanding crowds. One of the trends I see happening is an emcee or host that introduce designers from behind the stage and uses the deejay as the front man. Other notable changes was the audience opportunity to vote for the best model walk for both men and women. It reminded me of a cattle call, but obviously entertaining. Great reconnecting with old friends and fun meeting a few new folks in the process. Downtown Charlotte is a lot of fun. Next year I will plan on attending the other fashion venue to see what it is all about.

Look for my other blog this week about my trip to Scarlet Plus Boutique in Charlotte. Owner Todd Albaum is doing some really cool things!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Where Do You Get your Fashion Cues?

Fashion cues are what you see and think are fashionable. Whether you want to wear them or not is mostly subjective and always a matter of personal taste. The person standing next to you in line may be wearing something fashionable, but is not something you'd ever wear. For instance, if you tend to wear clothes with a bohemian vibe, something architectural and classic is not something you'd likely wear, but will recognize it as being fashionable.

If you are not a client of Wardrobe Consulting, then you are taking your fashion cues from somewhere. Let me guess...Style Magazine, Vanity Fair, Seventeen, Elle, GQ, Good Housekeeping, Pintrest or the local department store? or possibly the tv show What Not To Wear?

As a stylist my job is stay as up to date on style trends, colors, seasonal fabrics, fads and what I feel will help my clients with their lifestyle dressing. I'm sure you've all noticed the economy is slow to bounce back, and in some areas the current weather isn't helping in the short term. There are a few things I have found over the past years that are most helpful in working with my clients.
  • Know what quality goods are available in the market, whether it is in a store or online.
  • Know when the sales are going to happen.
  • Prioritize client needs.
  • Always keep moving clients (as well as myself) moving forward with their style.
  • Budget, budget, budget and make a wish list to purchase later or to share with friends and family.
  • Remember to make every purchase count and don't be sucked into items that really aren't you!
  • Take time to evaluate what is in your closet and remember to consign or donate what is not working. Keep only what works!
A note about moving forward with your style, or being fashion forward. As we continue to age we have different wardrobe needs. What suited us in our 20's is no longer appropriate in our 30's or 40's. Although 40 is the new 30 and so on, we do change. I call it evolving to a better and more carefree place. As we mature, staying current to avoid the frumps is even more important, but finding that style may be more challenging given the body changes we all face as we age. My son refers to it as the mom body and when I questioned it, he said it is mom's with a belly. What am I supposed to say to that besides looking down at my own pooch and rubbing it like a buddha?!? My male clients have their own fashion and body issues they worry about, so I know no one is immune. Balding, the growing belly over the pants, pant legs they no longer fill out and so on. Who needs to point it all out? Although comfort becomes increasingly important as we age, feeling good about our appearance should never wane.

Back to your fashion cues...whether it is from me, your significant other, a fashion magazine or online take the time this fall to begin the process of dressing for your lifestyle by putting your best foot forward. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Setting the tone for Menswear Fall 2012

We already know that women's wear will mimic some of menswear with the typical plaids, suiting with vests, high waisted pants and pinstripe button downs. With our economic concerns and the looming election right around the corner, we are all rethinking our budgets for fall.

Your budget will take a hit if you don't know what you have in there and inadvertantly buy something you already have, so men, it is time to do the great closet clean out. Go through your closet and evaluate what you have. If your pant hems and shirt collars are frayed, it is time to donate them. If your suit jackets are double breasted and are lacking a double vent in the back, it may be time to shove them to the back of the closet. Maybe those suits will come back sometime in the next ten years. This is fine provided your shape doesn't grow. If your shoes are scuffed and the heel is worn down, this is a great opportunity to visit the shoe repair shop for a polish and new heel. At the very least a new heel. If you'd prefer to polish them yourself, it's an easy budget saver, and fairly quick to do. These are easy fixes that are much more economical than purchasing new ones. Make do and put your fall wardrobe dollars into a few key pieces for under $500.

* This season Gap is offering a collegiate American style cord blazer of quality cotton. It promises to be a key lifestyle builder to pair with wool or cotton pants, denim, plaid shirts and a military cap. Nothing like a classic style corduroy jacket to take your lifestyle wardrobe from day to night. At a budget conscious price of $88 - it's a steal as a wardrobe staple.

* Hugo Boss is offering a lace up sneaker-shoe that is functional as well as stylish. The calfskin leather is ideal for daywear paired with a casual dress pant, and right on trend to navigate a busy nightlife. The rubber sole provides the comfort for long days and is ideal for the man wanting more style than a typical sneaker. Found it at Piper Lime for a very affordable $125.

* Choose a low rise boot cut jean to add as a foundation piece. American Eagle is offering a jean this fall with a designer look minus the designer price. I especially appreciate that men are moving away from skinny jeans and are going back to a less trendy and more versatile look. The classic dark wash with deconstructed detailing makes this lifestyle wardrobe builder suitable for most casual office wear provided your office considers nice jeans business casual. Try throwing on the blazer to sharpen your style. If you like the fit, buy more than a pair at the easily budget friendly $49.50 pricing.

* The final item to complete your budget friendly fall wardrobe is a military theme suede cap from Banana Republic. This trendy accessory has become another option to the very stylish fedora but more easily worn. Great paired with jeans and a chunky cable sweater or a leather jacket, scarf and boot for an upbeat look. Look for the overall price of wearing when buying this cap for $69.

As always I recommend you start in your closet ans build from there - prioritizing what you may need. Keep your look clean and not overdone and use jackets and blazers, scarves and shoes as items that show your personality.
Send me your best fall look!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hold the Presses!

It looks like fashion is making a big splash here in Raleigh. Among the many events I've blogged about, I might be most excited about this one. Making eco-fashion staple Redress Raleigh more than a fashion show, organizers announced the creation of the Redress Eco-fashion & Textiles Conference. Taking place March 22-24, 2013 at the Raleigh Marriott City Center, it seems like a great opportunity to promote both shopping locally and as consciously as possible.

The purpose of the conference is to increase dialogue among boutique owners, designers, suppliers, and customers who have an interest in eco-fashion and textiles. Although conference panelists, scheduling, workshops and the marketplace vendors haven't been announced yet, this is an exciting step forward for fashion in the area.

Not only is Redress Raleigh working on a eco-fashion textiles conference, they're working on a fashion show for Halloween called Redress the Dead. Scheduled for October 27 in downtown Raleigh, it's exciting to see planned family friendly events featuring fashion. And for Halloween! Wonder what kind of fashion will stroll down the runway - costumes, or every day wear?

Speaking of...what are you wearing for Halloween? or are we all too grown up to dress up for a good ol' fashioned Halloween party?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

More Places to Shop on a Budget

I know you all know how much I just love Zappos, and I recently wrote about 6pm. I shopped a lot locally for the clothing the models wore at the book shoot, and I do wholeheartedly support shopping locally. Sometimes, though, you have a budget in mind for what you're shopping for, or you just can't find it in your local area. You know, that perfect party dress that you may only wear once, or the conservative interview attire you hope to only wear during the interviews at the job that allows business casual. Or maybe you find it crazy to spend over a $100 on a pair of sneakers you wear infrequently, like my tennis shoes. I haven't seen them in a while!

I recently came across a wonderful site, Sierra Trading Post. Mostly for outdoor gear, I was pleasantly surprised to discover they carry brands like New Balance tennis shoes. I checked some other sites, and Sierra Trading Post offers some pretty good discounts, even when not on clearance. I know you know that living in NC we don't get a lot of winter weather, but this is definitely a site I'll use to stock up on some bad weather gear and tennis shoes to run around in.

As much as I hate to say this, but with the kids having just gone back to school and Labor Day coming up, we are about to hear a lot about the holidays, so get ready! I use gift cards a lot for people who are acquaintances or that I do work with occasionally and they've done an outstanding job, or who I know prefer a gift card to specific stores. I know a lot of managers use gift cards as rewards for employees who they may know only in a work context.

I found a great gift card website, GiftCardGranny, and they buy, sell and exchange gift cards. I might even use it for myself. If I buy a $100 gift card for $65, and buy something I may wear a couple times this year at 40-50% off, then I've made a purchase that would have otherwise cost me $120-$150 for $65. If you take care of the item, you can sell it on consignment in January or February, and may get your original investment of $65 back. How great is that?!?!

Free stuff is also good...don't forget to comment on our FaceBook contest, too, about whether you change clothes after work, whether to relax, keep them clean, or to do another activity. The contest comes from me laughing at the idea of my mom making me change out of my good school clothes and into something she didn't mind if I got it super dirty. Now we're all so busy going from one activity to another, I wondered if we had the time or inclination to do that anymore. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic!
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