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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Remember When...

...I told you I got to interview Lisa Pliner? Well, here it is! I hope you enjoy learning about her work and life as much as I did. She's very down-to-Earth in person, and easy to talk to. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The CFDA Annual Awards - Who Will Win?

With every industry, there are people that belong to a trade organization. You know, doctors have the AMA, dentists have the ADA, and so on. We in fashion have a trade organization dedicated to protecting the rights of the people that live, breathe, eat, and sleep fashion. It's the Council of Fashion Designers of America, otherwise known as the CFDA. And they have an annual awards ceremony every year to celebrate innovation and creativity, among other things. For those of you who want to go, the event is June 4 in NYC. 

For those wondering how runway fashion is able to translate to the local scene (or not), or just want to see if the designers are making anything you'd wear - check out this link. The link is for the CFDA awards show, and on the left hand side of the page they have nominee lookbooks. I thought I'd take a look and give my thoughts as to who I'd vote for in each of the awards categories:

Womenswear: A tie between Marc Jacobs and Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen For The Row. I love several items in each group. I could easy see wearing many of the garments, but where to is another question.

Menswear: Simon Spurr designs are classically developed with unique fabrics that are integrated into the garments in strategic places.

Accessory: Alexander Wang offers eye catching lines with colored textured leathers and hardware.

Swarovski Womenswear: Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis of Suno offer outstanding combinations of opposing fabrics in relaxed flowing designs.

Swarovski Menswear: Todd Synder takes this awards hands down. Just when you are convinced he will continue a classic look, he adds a rich detail to a jacket or interesting coloration to a knitwear.

Swarovski Accessory: I absolutely loved Irene Neuwirth and Pamela Love. Both have very creative designs. I look forward to watching their success.

Let me know your favorites! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Quest for Fashion

Every season I try and travel to a different market or two to check out what the "locals" are wearing, and what is trending in their neck of the woods. I also use it as an opportunity to find potential new resources for clients. I love finding well-priced local stores and jewelers that may provide my clients with items not found in our area. I may only order from them for one season, but it keeps me motived as well as interested in what is outside our area. 

For the next few weeks I will be making some quick trips to two known fashion hot spots. The first brings me to South Beach in Miami. I am here celebrating a milestone and had promised myself it would not go unnoticed. I will let you imagine what that milestone may be. I chose Miami so I could have a quick glimpse of what is trending in the fast lane of wealth and sunshine, where jet setting and spending is an hourly occurrence. I expect, and hope to see, what women and men view as everyday casual dress, dressing influences of their surrounding culture, most common colors and clothing worn, and night life dress. I expect I will be in for a few surprises as well as some really exciting aha! moments.

Stay tuned for more about my trip!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Hair Issues and a Product I Swear By

Most of us have at least one issue with our hair, right? As we get older, just like our skin, our hair texture begins to change. It is almost like a rite of passage. Once we have given birth to our children certain things begin to move south. I don't need to spell out the particulars, but I expect you know what I mean. The texture of my hair has changed, and any good hair stylist can likely tell from your hair where you are in life. It's just the way it is. The changes to my hair can also come from all the dye chemicals, hair products, dryers, and flat irons I have used forever. I mean, I'm just saying I have been coloring my hair since I was 16. I expect many of you are cringing at this point, but if you lived through the Eighties, you probably got at least one perm, if not several, so you understand. I do cringe, every once in a while, but I am on the forever quest of trying to like my hair, so I will try anything. 

So as many of you know, I am now writing a column for Wake Living Magazine and I completed my article for the summer addition about shoes. While we were discussing the article, they mentioned a page that they were looking for items for, so I told the editor that I would assist in finding items that should be part of their Triangle Style page, too. The featured products are great items, either cutting edge products or unique items worth noting, that you should try at least once, if not outright purchase and add to your routine.
On one of my recent trips to Douglas Carroll Hair Salon, my stylist Michelle Tabbert told me about a new styling brush that has just recently come out. It is called the Bio:Ionic and although ion based products have been around for a while (think the ion diffuser that detoxifies the air around you), this one seems to work. Don't know how, don't know why, but the science speak the companies put out sounds like it should make sense.  

The science speak goes exactly like this:
Ions are atoms that have gained or lost an electron and bear a charge of energy. Positive ions have lost an electron and are considered unhealthy. They are found in dust, smoke and other toxic substances. Negative ions have gained an electron and greatly assist in a body's mood, energy level and overall health.

So basically, this product is going to re-balance the ions in your hair, by breaking down water and letting it penetrate the hair shaft. Sure. I've seen these things before, mostly on late night tv, and they all sell for $19.99, but for a limited time only and if you call right now, you can purchase two for $9.99 plus shipping and handling as their special offer to you. I was a little skeptical about what this was going to do for my hair, but I trust Michelle and was willing to give it a try. So very happy that I did...

Each kit comes with six rollers and a brush base. They give you six clips and a booklet to guide you towards whatever style you want to achieve with your hair. Pretty standard stuff for any hair care product. I should mention here that this is to be used with your hair dryer.

For my initial try, I chose the 5th Avenue Fashionista with Sexy Volume style. No surprises or laughter from the peanut gallery, please. I sectioned off my hair into six areas with the clips provided and started in the back by attaching a larger roller to the base brush. It snaps in easily and proceeded to blow dry my hair like I would normally do with my round brush. After a minute or two the roller turns from blue to white telling you it is done. I snapped off the base from the roller and let it continue to curl my hair as I went to the next section. After completing the six sections, I pull out the six rollers and then tilt my head over and shake out the curls. 

OMG, I am a believer! I have volume and bounce in my hair with no frizz or tangles. The product works! Half the time of my normal hair drying experience, which of course tends to leave me quite testy. I expect once you get over the sticker shock, you will appreciate the value of this product. It retails at $159.00. Just a little more than two for $9.99, right? If it will get me out of the bathroom ten minutes earlier I'm game, though! Check it out at Bioionic or on their FaceBook page. I'm sure they sell it on Amazon, and someone decided it wasn't for them and are selling it on eBay. Wherever you find it at the price you want, you should definitely add this to your collection of hair care tools.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Grand Re-Opening of The Limited at Triangle Town Center

Who says a store can't reinvent themselves? I met up with the district manager Mandy Gaitskill on Friday to walk the new store for the grand re-opening. Last time I blogged about The Limited it was for the grand re-opening at Southpoint in Durham. As I approached the store, I immediately noticed a whole different feel starting with the store windows. The display window back drop was a sheet held together by clips with handbags hung on a strung rope. On the store front windows there were masking tape lines and letters guiding the eye to various items displayed on the mannequins. Hmmm, edgier and definitely trendier. I noticed the pleather handbags were textured or patterned and the mannequins actually were showing how to wear pattern on pattern. Hmmm, no matchy matchy, I'm liking this.

Mandy was armed and ready to walk me through the store as I began my barrage of questions. The focus is now on the front of the store with the first five mannequins detailing the featured items of the month. Each look is designed to represent a different part of lifestyle dressing: casual, wear to work, business casual, trendy casual, and evening. The focus was on the coordination of the separates with various accessories. The feeling is almost as if I had entered my own closet! Floor fixtures now feature the clothing and the coordinating jewelry, scarves, and belts. Many of the standard long table units were replaced by round tables, or what they refer to as wardrobe tables, with a few coordinating items.  The walls now look like a wardrobe wall unit with shelves of complete looks with a few tops and bottoms and jewelry to match. The mass merchandise look is gone and the feeling of my closet was before my eyes. The new look is inviting and exciting all rolled up into one, including the wrap desk stationed in the middle of the store - no longer at the end of the store. The beautiful chandelier is now above the 3-way mirror in the fitting room and not the focus in the middle of the store. Think I could get the new visual designers to come to my closet? Wow!

Thrilled with the visual aspects of the store I began my hunt for what Mandy referred to as the "fashion right products on trend." The stores suiting is merchandised in the middle of the store and continues to be a strong part of their business with various fit styles. The fabric and die lot doesn't change from season to season and is a wonderful staple for business dress. As a trendier item, the company is offering texture blend skirts in yellow with a patterned blouse and small pinstripe one button jacket. The look is fabulous, and of course I begin to wonder if the customer is going to get that look. Mandy assured me that customers were literally buying an entire assemble from the displays. The herringbone cropped pant and the small print sleeveless blouse? I am loving it and celebrating the edginess of it all. I really started whooping and hollering when I came upon what I call the MC Hammer navy and white small pinstripe pegged cropped pant. Hard not to notice the colored melon pants and cotton sateen jackets, too. I think my favorite part is how well the accessories are displayed right along with the clothes. No doubt The Limited has realized the importance of accessorizing. Amen to that!
The store is beautiful and definitely worth checking out this weekend. For this weekend only, the entire store along with the other three stores in NC are 40% off, even clearance. Triangle Town Center is giving the gift of a scarf with every purchase for as long as they have them, as well as doing a drawing for a $500 gift certificate each day. best part, you don't have to be there for the drawing - just stop by the store, do a little shopping, and enter to win. Stop by and tell Jessica, the store manager, I sent you, and be sure and look for the Colin shirt, my new favorite!

From my little old closet to yours,

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Swimsuit Shopping - Yay or Nay?

Navigating the challenging waters of buying a swimsuit is exhausting. I don't care if you are size 0 or size 24 - it's hard. Why we tend to make it harder on ourselves than need be, I will never understand. Being a stylist, I feel no different. It is a necessary thing we must do at least once or twice in our lifetime and it ain't easy. We are all on this same page on this topic, so let me give you a few things to consider before you begin.
  • Eat a light snack before heading out to try on suits. You'll need your energy, and although you don't want to feel too full or bloated, you also don't want to shop hungry and grumpy. Have clothes that are easily to change into and out of, including shoes.
  • Bring a bottle of water and a girlfriend who is honest. If don't have one, hire a wardrobe consultant to shop with you or be honest with yourself without being overly critical.
  • Plan to spend a few hours looking in several stores and at several swim suit options. If you find a great bottom at one store and not the ideal top, then buy the bottom and continue looking for a top that works. No ever said the whole suit has to be the same brand or color. One recognized trend is women wearing two different colors on top and bottom. You can either blend the two colors or do contrasting colors. There is no hard and fast fashion rule, here. I say find the best fit, first and foremost.
  • Stick to smaller patterns, unless you have attributes you'd like to make appear larger than they are. Brights and larger patterns will make you appear larger. Most women want to look slimmer. Darker colors look best on the bottom. That doesn't mean your suit has to be boring. Solid black is slimming, but navy, darker greens, browns, and purples with give you that same sliming look. Step out of the box and at least try new things to see what you think! Personally, I like to incorporate a little dark metallic into my swimwear. For some reason, it makes my skin tone look richer, because I don't opt to sunbathe these days!
  • Hopefully at this point in your life you know your best asset. If it is your breasts, then focus on drawing attention to it with either a deep v-neck, or full bra tops that have underwire for support. Just like with your clothing, you want to draw the attention upwards.
  • If your body shape is more of a pear, then look for suits that are streamlined and don't emphasize the thigh area. Stay away from any detail around the thigh and hip region. This is when I would focus on a textured dark suit or ruching on the waist drawing attention to the side.
  • If you are small chested, look for tops with detail or embellishments. A little adding padding goes a long way!
  • If you have larger thighs, look for suits with skirts or swim shorts. This will help elongate the look of your leg and will also be comfortable for swimming. That is the purpose of a bathing suit, right? Who needs a suit you can't actually get in the water in?
  • Remember to size up and bring several styles in at a time. When sizing up, don't buy to camouflage your body. The suit should be fitted to your body. It is no different than wearing baggy clothes. That is no-no, and you will actually appear heavier. Once you have actually selected a suit, remember to invest in a cover-up. Tunics tops are great options to use as a cover-up. Find a color that will complement your suit, but it can also be something that doesn't match exactly. You know my thoughts on matchy-matchy!
  • Once you are done, celebrate the achievement and begin making plans to show off your new suit!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Do People Know What You Do?

It amazes me, even after all this time, that people I've known for years don't really understand what a wardrobe consultant does, and specifically, what I do every day. Some think it's just shopping for what a client wants, some think it's an 'organize your closet' job, and others think it's telling people what to wear. And there's a little truth in all of that, but just like everyone's job, there's more to it than that.

Let's start with the organizing your closet thought. A wardrobe consultant needs to see what it is you already have, what types of clothes and accessories you purchase normally, and the types of things you purchase on a whim or as an impulse purchase. You know - that skirt you bought with the ruffles that you would never ever in a million years buy normally except it was on sale? For 80% off or so, and you can justify that expense with the all purpose statement 'if I never really wear it out, it only cost $X, so it's not really like I lost any money and I might learn something'? I get a lot of clients who have items in their closet that were purchased using that same all purpose statement. Which is why I always do a closet consultation. 

It helps me know who you are, really, and what you wear day in and day out. It's actually fun, and can be cathartic if you let it. A closet consultation starts with a chat about your lifestyle, and what you tend to wear. Moving on into your closet, it's all about you. We look at the things you wear a lot, and talk about why you like them. Be prepared - this is also the time when you get to try on everything in your closet. If it obviously won't fit, we discuss why you still have it. You wouldn't believe the number of people who tell me they're hanging on to things until they come back into fashion, until they've lost that last 5 pounds, or that it holds sentimental value.

I always encourage my clients to open up their closet for new clothes, and find a way to re-purpose the older clothes they aren't wearing anymore. A simple trip to the tailor will update most clothes, and if the clothes can't be updated, then I always recommend either letting me take the clothes to a consignment shop, or donating them. Consignment shops are great ways to recoup some of your investment in your clothes, and help fund your upcoming shopping trips!

The other two thoughts, shopping for what a client wants and telling people what to wear, is more like encouraging clients to wear things that flatter them and work with their lifestyle. After all, it's a little over the top to wear a tiara to work unless you're a princess. What I do is select things that will work with your existing wardrobe, whether it's a new foundation piece or a seasonal piece, and show you how you can incorporate it into your closet full of clothes. 

Now you know where I start. Sounds pretty painless, right? It is. And it's fun, too! If you look at your closet every day and think or say that you don't have anything to wear, you might think about consulting a professional who can help with the clothes you have. If your closet gets cleaner in the process, that's a good thing.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dressing for Your Career

I'm having another I love my job week. To recap, last weekend I got to interview shoe designers Donald and Lisa Pliner, host the "Go Red For Women" fashion show for the American Heart Association at the Southern Women's Show, and host a "What's New" event at Macy's Triangle Town Center. I also had a wonderful and fulfilling experience this week. Do my various events keep me on my toes, heck yes! 

This week I had the opportunity to consult with the University of North Carolina on a project with their Career Counseling services. There is a stipend program called "Style For Success" that assists students with limited economic resources with purchasing professional attire in the hopes that they will get a job upon graduation. They asked me to work with two students, and teach them what and how to buy well fitting professional dress, as well as offer grooming and style tips. As part of this campaign, UNC wanted to update their website and You Tube account with videos about shopping for and wearing professional attire. 

Most students begin the interview and job seeking process with little knowledge about the importance of their initial presentation. When UNC asked me to do this, I decided that I needed to work with a store that offered both quality and value so that both students could begin to understand the process of building a working lifestyle wardrobe over time. With the allotted stipend, I knew value was important. I have been very fortunate in my over 21 years in the business to build some lasting friendships with many retail merchants. Travis Groome, who is now at Macy's, has always been a retailer who believes in paying things forward. Travis and I met and talked about the importance of teaching students how to put their best foot forward, making the right buying decisions, and how to go about it. We have worked together for so long that our views on dressing are always well suited for one another. Nice pun, huh?

Two students that were selected, one an economic engineering major and the other a communications major. Robert, the engineering student, had already attended an event where he was not adequately dressed for a meeting/seminar that he had attended a few months prior. He had arrived in jeans and a polo, only to find most others dressed in suits or a sports jackets. That alone can make anyone feel at a slight disadvantage. And there are some adults out there (you know who you are), who either don't care what you wear to any event or feel like you can't afford the appropriate clothing. And to be fair, business casual can be a tad confusing sometimes. Robert is trying to get his foot in the door at a time when a lot of graduates are having a tough time finding their first job, and making a first impression and looking like you will fit in to a company culture is important. 

Robert and Suzanne
As I have always told clients, it is that initial impression within the first three moments of introduction that can often make or break an opportunity. For Robert, he needed clothing that would be appropriate for an interview or business function, as well as an evening networking event. Teaching Robert how to purchase  suit separates, including a jacket, a few paris of pants, and a couple of shirts and ties would give him the option of mixing and matching for any job or business occasion. We also discussed if you don't know what the dress is for a particular function, that being overdressed is better than being underdressed. It is much easier to take off jacket and tie, and just have a crisp button down and dress slack on, versus wearing a polo and jeans. I was quick to notice the extra confidence that Robert had once he was dressed in a suit and tie. It also probably helped that we all told him how "dapper" he looked. Boy, I sound like a mother whose own son is graduating from UNC Law this coming week! Dapper he was! Between the new black shoe and belt, and few basic grooming tips and caring for his clothes, Robert was ready for his next business opportunity. He will be a man I will enjoy tracking his success!

Sam and Suzanne
Sam is a senior who is interested in working in all aspects of theatre. She is interviewing for a job with a small family owned theatre company that will involve working anywhere from behind the scenes of a production to handling the marketing or ticket sales. Sam's own wardrobe consisted of what most college students own. A short black skirt, stilettos, jeans, tanks tops, and a few dressy tops. My first job was to discuss with with her that although her job is not considered corporate, and therefore not really requiring a corporate wardrobe, that it was still important to dress more conservatively for the initial interview. If Sam is then asked back for a second interview, a less structured outfit would work. More importantly, cleavage and stilettos would not work to her advantage and should be regarded as something to not do. There were so many tips and tricks to offer Sam, here are just a few we discussed:

1. Hosiery is not needed unless interviewing for corporate companies.
2. Skirts and dresses should not be shorter than 2 inches above the knee. Believe it or not, many corporate HR departments have policies about your skirt being longer, and those policies generally put your skirt just above the knee.
3. No sleeveless tops or dresses. Plan to wear a jacket, simple shrug or sweater if you are wearing a sleeveless dress or top.
4. Blush color is an alternative to black pumps. Avoid open toed shoes and sandals, and no higher than two and a half inches tall.
5. Make sure your nails are well groomed without a statement color, and avoid perfumes or too much makeup.

Katherine, Travis and Suzanne
It was a long but wonderful five plus hours of filming, with many bloopers and many surprises about what was appropriate! I really commend UNC on recognizing the importance of dressing for an interview. I like what someone once said to me about dressing for the job you hope to have in years to come and not for the one you are actually interviewing for. Both Robert and Sam were terrific, and I wish them much success.

For more information on the "Style for Success" stipend program offered at UNC, check out  http://careers.unc.edu/students/job-search/styled-success-stipend.htmlIn the meantime, special thanks to Katherine Nobles, the Career Counselor at UNC, and of course my buddy Travis at Macy's Triangle Town Center. I will be posting the videos on my YouTube channel as soon as they are made available.
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