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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Are We Truly Overdressed?

Someone I know recommended a book to me recently, and I thought, why not? The book is titled Overdressed, and it's written by Elizabeth Cline. What an eye opener! Living in North Carolina, where the demise of the textile industry is big news, I had no idea what an impact it was to the garment industry when everything moved overseas. Brace yourself, this blog might cause you to think....

The book itself is heavy on statistics, and makes cost of living comparisons to various pivotal points in US history, but it's a surprisingly easy read. It focuses on the way our shopping habits have changed through the years, the easy ready-to-wear impact on our closets, our belief that we are overpaying for fashion but purchasing more, and the sheer volume of clothes imported into the US for purchase. Now, I've always been a shopper who values shopping local, but I had no idea how much shopping and manufacturing locally means to the economy and the environment.

One of the things the book focuses on is a lost art - sewing. I love my tailor, and utilize his services frequently for myself and my clients. It makes good or medium quality clothing stretch far longer, even with repeated washing and wearing. We all have our favorites, right? Hand in hand with the lost art of sewing is our tendency to toss and buy new shoes when the heels wear down or they become scuffed. I remember polishing shoes - not because we were poor, but because we liked the shoes and wanted to keep them for as long as possible. And quite frankly, breaking in new shoes is sometimes painful and we wanted to put that off for as long as possible.

Another thing the book points out is that our shopping habits have not only increased the number of clothing coming into the country, but also where it's made, the lowest minimum quantity a manufacturing facility will take, and what happened to the LA and NYC garment districts. It's not pretty, and the numbers are staggering. Some designers bring in new styles every other week, which doesn't lend itself to quality clothes or unique design. Crazy, huh?

That fact inspired me to take a walk through a local department store to see if I could find any clothes made in the US. Surprisingly, I found some, but the cost of the clothing was higher, and I had to look closely at different pieces of clothing to determine if they were all made in the US. The book states the higher price is due to hand-sewing the finer points of the goods and the quality of the fabric used. Which is nice - no one wants a flimsy, unlined article of clothing that only lasts through one or two washes before starting to unravel. Some of the countries designers are using are China, Indonesia, the Phillippines, Jordan, India, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, which I thought was part of India, but maybe I'm wrong.

All in all, it's an interesting read. As a wardrobe consultant, it's obviously nice that consumers are used to shopping all the time, want to have the next big trend, and will wait until things go on sale because it tends to happen more quickly and their dollars go further. I also wait for things to go on sale before buying, just from a smart shopping standpoint, and I understand when new shipments are coming and what to look for. The unfortunate side affect, besides the economic and environmental ones the book points out, is that we require bigger closets and tend to have so much to wear that we can't wear it all. That's my first task when working with new clients - going through their closet to see what they wear, what they haven't worn, and what doesn't fit anymore. It's an incredibly great feeling to consign clothing or donate it, and to find 'lost' space in your closet. According to Cline, the not so funny result of finding lost space, is our desire to fill it with new clothing.

It was a great read, and I recommend it if you are looking for something new and different. The one take-away I had that I always encourage is shopping locally for quality basics. What do you think? Does it matter if all our clothes are made in other countries? Does the quality of your clothing matter to you?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Fashion on the Red Carpet at the Carolina Music Awards

Sunday night I hosted the red carpet interviews for the Carolina Music Awards in downtown Raleigh. This is my second year hosting, if you remember last year I hosted the Red Carpet Fashion Lounge. The red carpet once again proved a very exciting venue with fabulous fashions and quite a few jaw dropping outfits! 

The event started at 5:30 with a warm up band and crowds beginning to milling about. Red Bull drinks were being passed around, while most people were trying to deal with the heat. I for one was trying to do just that. I had already prepared to have my hair up, so my long hair was a non-issue, except possibly combusting if anyone came near me with a flame. My make-up, however, was another story, which is why if you can't laugh at yourself then how boring are you! 

My make up was done by Patricia Saccardo, a professional make up artist who can make any person look years younger or have flawless skin. Either way, I'm a winner as long as Patricia is doing her thing on my face. Patricia not only opted for false lashes, but a newer version that started mid eye and winged out like a bird in flight along the edges. Loved the look - especially when my own lashes have decided that they no longer want to be a part of my eyes. 

Back to my make-up sliding off my face. After an hour into my gig of interviewing many of the nominees for the award show, I begin to feel the glue from the false lashes attach to my lower lashes. Not a good place for them, just so you know. In mid-sentence and interview, I put my hand up to draw the lids open. By then it is a combination of glue, sweat and make-up surrounding my lids and eye sockets. I quickly finish the interview, drop the microphone and bolt inside to do damage control. As icing on the cake, not only is my eye running and my lashes deciding on new placement on my face, but I have sweat pouring through parts of my dress and undergarments that had never, and I mean never, felt such dampness before. Ok, I retract that statement. I do hot yoga, so yes, I can sweat, but it's different in a cocktail dress and Spanxx. And much less comfortable. Oh well, had to put on my big girl panties and get back out into the heat - I am a professional, right?

I want to highlight just a few of the wonderful and not so wonderful outfits I witnessed last night. I believe I actually had the opportunity to interview and ask them about their own personal style, which was fun and enlightening. Here's my recap, as I remember it...
  • A rapper nominee with yellow fitted jeans, a faux fur vest, a silver bike chain necklace, and matching yellow sneakers. No shirt, though.
  • A manager of a model nominee that wore black lace tights, a black suede pump with gold heels, and a black top with shoulder cutouts that covered her right below her rear end.
  • A young late-comer to the event wore a fabulous cream dress with a fitted black criss-cross banded waist, neutral hosiery and a black pump. The hose killed it, and just looking at it made me warmer than I already was.
  • A beautiful blue tunic with a draping neckline and gold boy-shorts! Love this nominee's outfit and she had the fun personality to match! 
  • A rocker nominee in a polo, baggy shorts and sneakers.
  • A hot fushia body fitting jumpsuit and gold pumps worn by a R & B nominee.
  • A country singer with a V-neck floral floor length dress with a train fully embellished by her mother, who is a seamstress. She was young and fresh and could certainly belt out a tune.
  • Black striped mens suit, with a lime green shirt, matching lime green sneakers, and cool patterned tie. He definitely had his style going on!

I could probably go on forever, but I have to mention one of the highlights of the evening were the painted models. Two guys, one with his chest painted with a country western type shirt and necklace, the other like a rapper with a painted heavy chain. The women blew me away! One petite blond wore a strapless bra with a painted corset and jewelry to work with her hot pink vinyl skirt. Fabulous details on these painted models! The winner was a tall woman with short hair and long legs that were painted white with details of flower vines up and down her legs. She wore flower petals over her nipples and a scarf around her neck down to her boy short underwear. The scarf covered the petals ever so slightly. Getting a visual at this point? Boy, did she rock the look. The foursome was great fun to interview, especially early on during the night. I expect by 8pm they were as wilted as I was.

Look for my video which will highlight the evening. A shout out and special thanks to Amanda from WRAL! She's a morning producer and filmed all my interviews and wore all black! Whew-she looked hotter than me. Lucky for her she wasn't doing the make up thing. 

Can't wait until next years Carolina Music Awards because it just keeps getting better and better!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Little of This, A Little of That

Most of you know that I love Zappos. If you're new to the blog, you maybe don't, but I really do. Easy to shop, easy to return if needed. I found a new place to shop this week called 6pm. And guess what?!? On shoe clearance were some shoes from one of my favorite designers - Lisa Pliner. They have pretty good pricing on a lot of stuff, and I really like that you can narrow your search by size, color, style, price, and designer. So if you're looking for a pair of wedge sandals, under $50, that are yellow, you can do that! I can't tell you how easy it is to shop for specific items on this site, which is great when I know exactly what I'm looking for to help a client with that perfect style. Definitely a keeper!

Next thing up this week - my second year at the Carolina Music Awards. Last year, I hosted the Red Carpet Fashion Lounge, and this year I'm changing the pace and interviewing on the red carpet. I hope to have my video footage up on my YouTube channel soon after, but it will depend on how long editing takes. I've learned that sometimes it takes a little longer than you'd think. I can't wait to see what people are wearing this year - last year there was a mix of cocktail dresses, both short and long, and some of the guys showed up dressed for success, and some wore jeans and button-down shirts. I still truly believe that clothes make the man, or woman, and when networking and meeting new people, my advice is always to dress to impress.

And speaking of dressing to impress, I notice the Men's Wearhouse has a program that's new to me. It could have happened last year, but I really don't get to see that many commercials these days. Who has time to watch tv? They're running a lot of commercials this year about my favorite topic and providing a benefit, too. If you have a suit in your closet you never wear anymore, for whatever reason, you can donate the suit to the Men's Wearhouse, and get a coupon for 50% off. It's called the National Suit Drive, and they give the suits to men in need of something to interview and go to work in. During these economic times, any helping hand you can afford to give while cleaning out your closet is a good thing.

So that's my week so far - new place to shop, the Carolina Music Awards, and the National Suit Drive. What are you doing this week? Find anyplace new to shop? Donated all your suits already? Some exciting social event? Let me know what you're doing this summer...

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Keeping It Cool

Many months ago when I was doing segments for My Carolina Today on NBC, I did a story line on breathable fabrics for the extreme weather we are experiencing now. Sometimes there isn't a whole lot you can do when it is 100 degrees out, besides limit your outdoor time during the day and plan most activities for early morning or early evening. Good sound advice for everyone, although I remember laughing it off as a kid. 

I have actually worked at following my own advice as much as possible. Ask me how that's working out, after I play tennis this evening. Back to my thoughts...the story in the video was filmed at Great Outdoor Provision. It was one of the first stories I did solo without a host, and I was interviewing an employee at the store. I hit every mark I needed to include more information that anyone would ever need to know for purchasing clothing in extreme weather. I was so proficient that I went over the allotted taping time by several minutes, maybe five or more. A rambler in front of camera is something I do well! I wonder if Justin (the camera/producer) guy remembers that episode. I was a little nervous.

 Check out  this video on YouTube:  Keeping Cool for Summer Activities  

Here are a few other suggestions for keeping it cool:

* wear lighter colors and not dark colors or dark patterns (white or beige is optimal)
* choose loose fitting linen fabrics, cottons or, and this is the best choice, wicking fabrics that absorb sweat
* wear shorts or skirts and avoid pants, if possible
* sundresses are the best option and can usually be worn to work with a sweater or vest to cover your shoulders.
* avoid denim weight pants - if you want to wear denim, capri's are a better option
* wear a woven hat to shield the sun and heat
* carry a lightweight sweater to deal with heavily air conditioned places
* wear sandals that offer a leather or sweat absorbent foot bed
* avoid shoes that are man-made material such a plastic, vinyls or pleather
* if perspiration stains are a consistent problem look for medically based deodorants

My last and final reminder.....remember the sunscreen daily and reapply if you are outside for more than four hours.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Do They or Don't They?

We have the FaceBook contest going about when the last time you changed your hairstyle was. Winner gets a complimentary scalp treatment, shampoo and blow dry. I thought it was a good reward to offer since in my line of work, I have discovered that people have funny relationships with their hair. Some people are willing to change their hair color and hair cut with every season or every year. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have had clients who were stuck in a decade like the 80's or even as far back as the 50's. So today, it's about hair.

A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away) Clairol introduced the thought that it's nobody's business but yours about what your true hair color is with the tag line 'Does she or doesn't she'. Haircolor products then weren't what they are today, and it was the first product, I think, that let you color your hair at home with reliable results. L'Oreal took it one step further a decade later with 'Because I'm worth it'. Both illustrated this with different ad campaigns about what kind of person wants to keep their coloring habits a secret (the girl next door), and the kind of person who wants to feel like they deserve to color their hair whatever color they want. Two opposite ends of the spectrum.

Today, there are a lot of people out there living their lives and having an obvious silver, blue or red streak in the hair doesn't matter to them or the people around them. And there are people who are more traditional with their hair color choices while taking some risk - blonde to red, for instance, or black to blonde. Why does it matter? Believe it or not, changing your hair color impacts the colors you can wear near your face, even though your skin tone has remained the same.

That bright red hair band you used to be able to wear may not look good with the copper streaked with blonde color you have chosen to change your hair color to. Believe me, I am not against changing your hair color, in fact, I am ALL for it! But, pay attention to the colors you tend to wear the most around your face. This includes earrings, necklaces, hair bands, scarves, and tops. If your favorite color is red, then the hair color you choose should work with that red. By thinking about it beforehand, or discussing it with your stylist, you'll save yourself the time and aggravation of discovering you need to temporarily replace some of your favorite items while your hair grows out, or you wait until you want to, or have time to, change your hair color again.

If you want to win the trip to the Douglas Carroll Salon so you can talk to them , be sure to tell me about your hair on my FaceBook page. I'd love to hear about it, and believe me, I've heard a lot!
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