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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Best of Finding Your Style

Stylist Suzanne with client Jennifer Gauvin

The fabulous women from Marmi Shoes
Last Saturday’s “Find Your Style“ event and book signing at Southpark Mall in Charlotte was truly a pleasure! The ladies who came out for the event all had a similar stories that I have seen countless times over the years as a stylist.

We all face similar challenges with our hair, skin and body. Constantly wondering if we are wearing the right garment for our body and if it’s age appropriate. We can all relate to struggling with finding the perfect hair style and color, proper fit of tops and  bottoms, and correct length of jackets and shirts. Always questioning if the colors we are wearing are washing us out rather than solidifying our look. Whether the woman was 35 or 65 years-young, they all shared the same concerns. I commend all the women who received their style consult, I offered suggestions and options that would help these women move forward with their lifestyle dressing.  During the consults I gave the women suggestions on the upcoming fall fashions and ideal styles that would best complement their bodies and lifestyles.  The key to lifestyle dressing is not a closet full of clothes but fewer quality pieces that properly fit your body and daily life. Having a weeks worth of garments and accessories that can be mixed and matched and worn in different ways to accommodate your changing needs is be what I strive for when working with clients.

Saturday’s event at Marmi  Shoes was the first “Find Your Style” event in Charlotte and don’t worry if you couldn’t attend because I have already asked to return! I’d like to extend special thanks to all the great gals I met and the women from Marmi Shoes and Cache.  Special thanks to Southpark Mall for their support! http://www.simon.com/mall/southpark

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Dressing Despite The 80 Degree Weather

It seems like the beginning of every September, stores have their final push to clear the odds and ends leftover from the hot days of Summer. Fall goods are placed onto the racks despite the humidity and usually sit idle until the first jolting cold wave that awakens our inner consumer. Although we won't be wearing the fall clothing in September, the excitement of fresh goods, styles, colors and textures make us want to participate in this yearly ritual.

For me this ritual begins as well. I encourage clients to go online and buy any last minute clearance finds especially handbags, jewelry and shoes. I also like to check out early fall sales that are generally offered as flash sales or for many departments stores, pre-sale and anniversary sales. These strategic moves generally encourage consumer spending before the season is in full swing.

As a big fan of fall fashion I can’t wait to say goodbye to the summer heat so I can delve into some of my fashion favorites! Personally fall can’t come soon enough!

I am going to share with you my process for transiting my wardrobe from warm summer days to cool autumn dressing J

My Personal Closet Plan
 Grab my rolling rack and roll it as close to my garments as possible
 (Oops I’m already showing my laziness) 

 pick out the garments I neglected to show off for yet another spring and toss it to the side for possible consignment next year. Far too often I find that I am just flat out tired of a garment, or maybe its just tired of me!

 shift through my dresses and skirts and pull the very light-weight and obvious summer patterns to put away for next year.
I constantly keep in mind that colors like burnt orange, purple, green and most medium blues can easily be transitioned into fall. Pairing these colors with black, brown, and navy make them fall ready!

check out all my camisoles, tanks and short sleeves tops and weed out the ones that scream summer and that won't layer well. This is the time to retire the tops that have peeling, nubbing or are noticeably faded. 

 riffle through my lightweight jackets and sweaters because many can work through fall as the perfect layering piece for those early mornings or cool fall nights.

 make sure to keep my sleeveless and short sleeve silk/poly blend dress tops so I can pair them with dress pants and skirts with my favorite fall and winter jackets.

 have recently purchased more sleeveless or cap sleeve solid dresses which I can continue to wear with cardigans and cropped jackets. Wearing chunkier gold chain necklaces with bomber style leather or pleather jackets will be a hot fall trend.
       Dresses are a truly a big part of my wardrobe. Due to trends and hot flashes, (TMI?)  

 Shoes are an easy decision. Suede sandals can stay (I have a great pair of dark purple suede that I LOVE). Heavier weight black sandals and pumps are good to go as well. I have a few summer cork and raffi wedge heels that have to hibernate along with a brilliant blue patton with a cord heel.
 If you have read my previous blogs then you of about my personal goal to incorporate more navy garments and accessories versus the basic black.

Because of my spectacular slate wall display of all my necklaces, accessories are not a big to do. I just steer clear of the summery tones.

A recent purchase of an Italian leather black bag will be a key piece of mine this fall.
 If I find a bold navy bag that is worth investing in, I just might indulge!

Now that I have shared my transition plan with you, give thought to your brief closet transition that is necessary for you to get through this warm weather!
If you get stuck, call and I can help or opt to read Chapter 4 Be prepared to take a big step and begin with your Closet in my book Portraits to Lifestyle Dressing Your Style, Your Closet

From my closet to yours,

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Heading to Charlotte’s Southpark Mall

Last week I was at Southpark Mall in Charlotte to meet with the three stores I am partnering with for the event Find Your Style. My event will be held on Saturday September 28 from 11-4pm.

For my readers who aren’t too familiar with SouthPark Mall, it’s a premier mall owned by Simon Property Group. The luxury mall is the home to many high-end specialty stores and chains that can’t be found anywhere else in North Carolina. For a stylist’s it’s a truly a dream. Perusing through stores like Burberry, St. John, BCBGMAXAZRI, Hermes, Kate Spade New York, Neiman Marcus and Louis Vuitton gives me a whole new perspective! If these high priced stores aren’t for you, don’t fret the mall offers an array of more moderately priced stores from Chico’s, Cache to Belk.

My visit to the stores included in the Find Your Style got me even more excited for the 28th to come!
For Marmi Shoes I met the store manager Clarissa Green last spring when I was shopping with a client for shoes. I love having a client in Charlotte because I get to scout out the great merchandise SouthPark offers.

Marmi Shoes is a special store because it gives me the wonderful opportunity to fit my clients that have either a narrow or wide width foot. After walking into Marmi Shoes I immediately received a friendly greeting from the employees. San the stores operating manager offered me a kind hand as I was juggling the event’s signage and press materials. I quickly noticed San’s rapport with the mall employees and compared it to a mayor running for office. She was always greeted with smiles and pleasantries from all passerbies. She obviously enjoys her job as much as I enjoy my own!

After setting up the merchandise in the store window and spending time with Clarissa I moved on to meet sassy Tammy, the manager of Cache. I always love a seasoned manager who’s employees have been loyal for years. That is a true testament to Cache itself!  I had a quick visit at Chico’s and proceeded to walk back to Marmi Shoes. I must admit I made several wrong turns during this process.  Ok, so I might have been a bit distracted by the store windows!

After a full day of observing the clientele at Southpark I knew I had made a great decision to partner with Marmi for the Find Your Style event. For those wanting to do something special for themselves or someone close to them a style update might be just be what you need to jumpstart your fall wardrobe.

Participants receive a pre-consultation questionnaire, a 20 minute individualized style consultation where I will use my Lifestyle Fashion Guidelines to help you look your best and feel fabulous, a personalized list of your 5 most important wardrobe needs and a signed copy of my book “Portraits of Lifestyle Dressing Your Style, Your Closet”. Consultations will be held at Marmi Shoe, Southpark Mall Charlotte. Registration and payment is required in advance of your scheduled appoint. I am offering special event pricing of $35 per consultation.

To sign up call Marmi Shoes at 1-704-221-8589 or stop by the store. Appointments slots will go quick!

I am so thrilled to working with Southpark Mall, Marmi Shoes, Cache and Chico’s. Looking forward to meeting some new faces and spreading the word of Dressing for Your Lifestyle! http://www.simon.com/mall/southpark

From my Closet to yours

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wearing Navy and Black Together This Fall

Calling all people who wear black clothing day in and day out, this blog is for you. This season navy has pushed aside the ever so popular black for a shot in fashions spotlight. Now navy is being paired with not only black but also grey, red and white. A recent trip to New York City gave me the perfect opportunity to hit several boutiques in NYC’s most trendy pockets. Navy garments were often shown paired with black silk or leather trims around the collars, lapels, front seams and waistbands. Navy is also being shown in various tones from brilliant blue to midnight blue (which could be hard to distinguish unless placed side by side). The trick to wearing the two colors is to embrace the darkness and accessorize with a pop color. Be confident when wearing the two, but keep in mind this is another form of tonal dressing.

Use these tips as guidelines for wearing both navy and black together or just navy alone. Either way it’s hard to go wrong!

·    *  If you choose to wear all navy, don’t try to match the darkness of the garments.
o   Several shades will not only playoff one another but be more interesting
·    *  Try pairing at least one textured garments when wearing navies together.
·    *  Opt for choosing a color block navy sweater or blouse paired with a black bottom.
·    *  Keep an eye out for specific trims that stand out on the garment, such as leather, silk, suede or embellishments
·    *  Make a statement and choose chunky gold jewelry.
·     * Pick a red or grey colored shoe when wearing a navy or black piece.
·      * Make sure to choose a classic handbag no matter if its navy or black!

For all those nay- sayers that are having a challenging time wrapping their heads around the navy movement, give one quick thought to what you have just read. Navy has been around as long a black and provides the same vital protection to figure flaws, dirt and is also easily coordinated with other items. I was sold on navy as soon as I realized how dramatically softer my skin completion look, which hey doesn’t hurt as we age…

This fall I challenge you to buy one navy outfit to either wear alone or with a black garment.  I look forward to your comments!

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From my closet to yours,

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Living In The Moment

As many of you know my daughter Kelsi is starting graduate school up North next week. This summer she came home for what I expect was her last substantial time home..(if not that’s ok). I’m not quite sure were the time went, but preparing for her move sure did keep us busy. Up fitting an apartment with furniture, kitchen-wares, bedding, pictures and nick knacks was quite the endeavor. We also spent hours going through garments, shoes and accessories, which she has plenty of! We prioritized in a few key ways: fit, style, and donation versus consignment. Somehow, it became a joy to do this with my daughter. Years ago we did something similar together before undergraduate school and saying it was not fun is putting it nicely. I attribute this to my daughter’s maturity and my mellowing (which I hope she would agree with). This time we both knew we had a job to do and realized that haggling over a simple garment would not be beneficial to either of us. Ready or not the cold weather climate was coming for her and she had to be prepared.

I’d like to share with you what this experience has taught me. Through dissecting her wardrobe, packing her up, unloading her belongings, and settling her into her new home I have added new qualifications and work experience to my resume.

1.  No garment is worth more than a 3 minutes conversation.
*I have always been able to judge very quickly on a client whether it works for their body or not.  The moment I begin to cock my head to the right (I’m a lefty) it is gone!

2.  If you haven’t worn it in 2 years then you will probably never wear it.
*If it’s a pair of jeans, then chances are they won’t be in style or you’ll fall out of love with them.

3. If it is not great quality it will show by peeling or the seams will begin to fray or open.
*Buy the best quality you can afford. I have been buying my daughter core pieces (coats, jackets and boots) for a few years now.

4. Try and stick to 5 colors in your wardrobe. Black, brown and navy are considered core colors.
*Choose 4 others and build a wardrobe around it as well as household knick -knacks. There is something to be said about consistency in our lives!

5. Most accessories such as necklaces, scarves, hats and quality bags don’t go out of style and have a longer shelf life, so keep em’!
*Many of the household items she took from our attic still worked and looked current. This included a ceramic set of colorful canisters that I broke while I was in the process of explaining to her how great they would look in her new kitchen! Crap!!

6. If your favorite item of clothing is looking too worn then don’t freak because you most likely can get it restored!
*If a heel of a shoe is worn down to its nub then it can be re-heeled. Make sure to think in terms of whether it is a trendy shoe or something similar to a classic. It wouldn’t make sense to spend money on just a one-season shoe.
*It also is not cost effective to clean up and repair shoes that are not leather.

7. Decide if it is worth your time and your effort to consign certain garments.
*If the garment is quality and current merchandise, then go for it! My daughter and I got a rude awakening when she brought over 4 bags to one trendy store and left with three full bags and only $20 cash…

In conclusion there are two points I want to make.
1) Going through your closet thoroughly should happen twice a year, regardless of where you are living.
~Keep only the items that work in your closet, it will make pulling together outfits easier!
2) Embrace your loved ones while you can.
~ I enjoyed my time with my daughter so much that it almost didn’t feel like work (although I almost left an invoice on her dresser).

I’m going to reflect on this time we shared together for many years to come. It makes me reminiscent of a similar, earlier journey we shared as we looked at more than a dozen colleges spread out all along the east coast together. I love a good memory, especially the ones that I still remember!

From my closet to yours-

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's A Shoe Thing, Part II

This season we have so many skirt length options to enjoy. Whether the skirt is short or right above the ankle, straight or flowing, buying a shoe to express your lifestyle dressing is easy.
Short Skirt Options
Casual - We all interpret casual dress differently, and the most important element of a casual look is the shoe should scream comfort. A thong or woven flat sandal, a casual sequin open toe flat, or a canvas Ked are certainly good options for a casual short skirt.  
Dressier short skirts - Wedge sandals, whether you opt for espadrilles with ankle straps or fabric ties, are easier to walk in than high heels and look great with most length skirts. Kitten heels, lightweight leathers, microfiber shoes, or open toe patent leathers are great for a dressier short skirt.
Options for Longer Skirts
Casual long, flowing, or gauzy fabric skirts pair easily with sandals and wedges of all sorts. Metallics are true neutrals and soften bright colored fabrics and patterns. Transparent shoes in a smoky black or clear, along with blush, bone, or flesh tones have replaced the white shoe - amazing! Various colored corks, a lace up low heel, and open toe platforms pair easily with dressy chiffon fabric blends or simple cotton. Mules are a wonderful comfort shoe for flowing skirts, but are not necessarily a look to wear with straight long skirts. It may appear too heavy and clunky.
Tip for wearing long skirts: Hem the skirts to allow two and a half inches to show from the top of your foot to your ankle. It is more flattering for your foot and shoe.

With all the choices of colors, textures, fabrics, lightweight leathers, embellishments, heels heights, and styles, it is a fabulous time to let your personality shine through your shoe choices. Being practical works, but being expressive can be so much fun too!

Monday, August 5, 2013

It’s a Shoe Thing, Part One

When it comes to summer dressing in skirts and shorts, most of us are quick to scratch our heads - wondering if we have selected the correct shoe to give our outfit the needed umph or finishing touch. For most of us the dog days of summer mean grabbing our Old Navy flip flops to pair with a cotton sundress or Bermuda short. Really, summer shoe options are endless and much more fun than a non-supportive rubber flip flop.
Summer shoes tend to be less expensive due to the reduced materials and workmanship required, and also offer multiple color and fabric variations. For these reasons alone, we try to extend our summer shoes well into fall. Summer is lighter on the feet and our shoes can express that sentiment. When selecting a shoe keep in mind just a few rules of thumb:
·      Choose shoe styles according to the occasion that you feel you will wear them most. Example: A shoe that completes a go-to cotton skirt, worn with a t-shirt during the day and loose fitting prairie style top for evening.
·      Balance the weight of your garment with your shoe. Example: A Bermuda short is worn with flats or espadrilles.
·      Matching this summer’s brightly colored shoes is tricky. Having a hint of the shoe’s color in your outfit is helpful, but blending the tones is much easier. Our grandmother’s ways of matching the shoe and bag to the outfit is no longer necessary. Example: A coral or dusty blue color linen skirt looks best with a natural color wedge with a raffia or rope heel.
What About Shorts?
Shorts are similar to bathing suits - they have to fit properly. Wearing ill fitting shorts, whether too short or too tight, can’t be saved by wearing a cute pair of shoes. Make sure the shorts are appropriate for your body shape and lifestyle. Pleats and prints will make you appear heavier, and wide legged shorts will do just the opposite. Plus size women should avoid pleats and cargo pockets. Petite women look best in a short with a 5-inch inseam, and not a longer style. Remember that fitted shorts look best when hemmed at or right above the knee, and not at the widest part of your knee.

Shoe Options for Shorts and Capri’s

Bermuda or tapered leg: Opt for a thong sandal, wedge, or color Converse for that urban twist.  Skimmers (ballerina flats), neutral driving moccasins, or boat shoes are also flattering, relaxed styles for a longer style short.
Cuffed or rolled shorts: Look for a strappy, thong, or Grecian style sandal with open woven patterns or a canvas flat, like Tom’s. 
Dress short: For a sassy look for a dressy day or night wear, stick to open toe strappy shoes or peep toe pumps. Platforms with chunky heels help elongate your leg and keep the dressy look consistent. Anything embellished or that has rivets on the shoe offer a trendier option. This is when balancing the fabric of your clothing to the shoe is most important.

Capri’s: Capri’s come in all lengths, from right below the knee to three inches above the ankle. The possibilities are endless as long as you keep the look light and not heavy with a completely closed toe shoe. Stay away from Croc’s, clogs, and cross trainers as frumpy is not a word you want to be remembered by!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fall and Winter Fashion Shows

I know it's a little early to start thinking about fall, much less winter, but I got an invitation from Vogue to subscribe. You know, the magazine offers we all get? They included a handy guide to upcoming fashion shows and I was curious enough to see where they were and what they were showing. Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to check a couple of them out.

I was not surprised to see at the Paris Fashion Week site shows starting at the end of the month for Fall and Winter Haute Couture, next month for Spring 2014 ready-to-wear, and Spring 2014 Menswear.

The website for Sao Paulo Fashion Week let me know there was still time to plan my vacation there to see the shows this fall. Kidding...kind of. They still haven't announced the collections they are planning on showing, but in October, Spring/Summer 2014 is a given.

As evidenced by the image to the right from the Sao Paulo Fashion Week site, fashion is ongoing and ever-changing. And it's fun to keep up, which is why I love my job...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Is Your Closet A Fashion History Lesson?

I read with interest an article in Bazaar about Suzy Menkes selling her legendary collection at Christie's. If you're interested in the sale, go here. The sale is scheduled to begin July 11.

Although I love a good sale, it was much more interesting to read about Suzy's perspective. A world famous fashion editor around since the 60's, she never truly parted with anything, which is the reason for the sale. She needs the space. The most interesting thing that happened to her while she was cleaning out her closet was she learned about herself. What would you learn if you took that trip through time and cleaned out your closet?

Suzy learned she loves patterns and prints, jewelry jazzes up an outfit, and she is not a minimalist. This is a woman who knows who she is and what she likes, and was surrounded by the best fashion had to offer for the last several years. It's tough to maintain your perspective when you're surrounded by inspiration.

Her clothes were both a product of her lifestyle and fit the lifestyle she was leading. I'm curious to see what made it up for auction, but it would be more interesting to see what she kept...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Summer is Finally Here!

And...it came in with a bang. Temps increased and the air conditioning came on. This is the time of year when people get summer colds - that sneezy cold that comes from walking into an air conditioned space from the warmth outside.

The smart money is on layers, as always. With men, in a business casual environment, while you can't really rely on your suit jacket since you likely won't be wearing one, you can utilize a long sleeve button down shirt. If you get chilly in the office, you can leave the shirt buttoned at the wrist. If you get warm, it's very easy to stylishly roll up your sleeves these days. Many shirts are now available with a contrasting pattern or color that gives the shirt a different look when rolled up.

Women have it much easier when layering. A simple sweater shrug over a short sleeve shirt or a tank dress with a long sleeve shirt layered over it (belt optional) is an easy solution. Of course, a jacket or long sleeve shirt always looks tailored and put together.

What else do we do during the summer? As I pointed out in my book, Portraits of Lifestyle Dressing, there is more to one's life than work. Whether you're attending an outdoor concert, a comedy show or headed out to the farmer's market, comfort and fashion can meet with ease. Making certain you are aware of the weather is key. If the forecast calls for rain or strong sun, add weather appropriate pieces to your bag or your car to make it through the day with style. Maybe add a fun summer hat or a polka dot umbrella to complement your striped sundress.

If you had to choose what to wear for 100 days of summer ahead of time, and knew what the weather would be in advance, what would you wear?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Stretch Marks to Stilettos: The Final Chapter

I caught up with Page today as she is down to the last few weeks of her pregnancy. This is baby number three and she is feeling a bit uncomfortable and really is looking forward to the arrival of her new bundle of joy. Here are some thoughts that I discussed with Page as dressing daily is a bit more of a challenge.

1. Wear nothing clingy or tight. Choose fabrics like cotton or linen that breathe. Stay away from polyester or silk as the heat of summer begins to set in.
2. Dresses, maxi dresses and skirts are great options as you may begin to feel body parts rubbing against one another which is never pleasant!

3. Choose a full body panels that come up over the belly under the breasts, versus items with panels that hit below the belly
4. Time to give up heels and pull out the ballerina flats, thong sandals or fashion sneakers for comfort in avoiding swelling of the feet.
5. Hit the sales racks and purchase shorts one size smaller than you are now, to wear once you have delivered. Most women will not be back in their own clothes for at least a few month.

6. If you have a job where business professional attire is a must, keep one well fitting darker tone pant in navy or black and a neutral in deep stone or khaki and simple tops that can be paired with the pants. Choose tops that will work while you are on maternity leave and ok if discarded once you return to your job.

7. Continue focusing on jewelry that hits right above the chest to draw the eye upward and not towards the growing region.
8. Purchase a shrug that will grow with you and then later work after you deliver to wear for warmth and privacy when nursing.

Lastly, if you have recently become pregnant this is a great time to hit the rack for much larger sizes to wear this fall and early winter from this past season. There are still a few great pieces out there.

As for Page, I told her I turn on the television routinely in the morning to see what she is wearing. As far as I am concerned, she could wear a bag and still be beautiful.  I thank her for allowing me to dress her and watch her grow and be a part of the pregnancy from Stretch Marks to Stilettos!
Post Script - Paige's lovely daughter was born on May 17 - mom is doing great and working on downsizing to her pre-pregnancy size!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's That Time of Year Again - Swimsuit Shopping

Say it isn't so! It's time to make our seasonal pilgrimage to the store to buy a bathing suit. If I had dime for every time a client brought up the dread of the how, when and where to buy a bathing suit, I'd be rich, and probably a millionaire. I, too, feel all the same emotions. For a lot of women out there, swimsuit shopping is about as much fun as shopping for a good pair of jeans. 

Normally I say eat a good meal before you start shopping, not to wear too many layers, start early in the morning and to bring a bottle of water with you. I am not going to go with any of these thoughts in this case except one. Bring a bottle of water and maybe a mint, as you will need something to grit your teeth on.

First, go to your drawer and evaluate last year's bathing suit.

Try it on. Does it fit? Is it faded or stained? If it is a one piece? Is it stretched out or is the fabric peeling?
If it is a two piece, can the top or bottom be worn? Last spring I enjoyed finding a skirted bottom that seems to hide all and be somewhat flattering. I bought the same style in two solid colors and have opted just to replace one top this season for my growing middle. Important to remember here the top and bottom colors no longer have to match, so if your top is in good shape, but you want to replace the bottom, you can do that. By taking the first step in deciding if you need to replace the whole suit or just a part of it, you'll start the process.

Time to think about what your bathing suits needs are exactly. 

Is the suit for sitting in the sun or active water sports like swimming or skiing? If you are a sun worshipper and plan to just lay there, then it may be easier to get a suit for just that. If you are looking for a suit that is for more than laying in the sun, opt for a one piece or tankini with sturdy straps. I have heard one too many stories of a woman's girlfriends popping out of the front of a suit during a water activity unintentionally. Yikes! I know there's not a lot of mystery in a swimsuit, but at most US beaches, topless is frowned upon.

Here are some great guidelines to think about when shopping for your swimsuit this summer:

If you want to add volume, look for molded cups, removable push up padding and gathering or ruffles.

If you are looking for swimsuit styles that support your breasts and give you the lift we are forever looking for, opt for contouring seams, underwire, molded cups, adjustable straps and wider bands around the bust line.

Give you some va va voom to your figure! If you are looking for that hourglass figure and the curves that you felt like you were not ever able to achieve on your own, opt for suits with princess seaming, a cut out in either the front or shoulder, the same print throughout and details that are balanced on the top and bottom.

Minimizing Your Bottom
Oh yes, my favorite of all the topics. Start with a dark fuller bottom and have the top of the suit provide the detail and focus to move the eye upward. Lastly, look for a longer tankini, if possible.

If you want to create the illusion of hips or just accentuate what you have, look for belted suits, bottoms that tie on the sides and brightly printed bottoms and solid or darker color tops. Please send photos if that is your goal. I'd love to see what you come up with!

To minimize your hips, look for skirted bottoms, wraps and skirts and of course opt for detail on the top of your suit around the bust.

For the appearance of longer legs, wear suits that are cut up on the sides and sit up higher on the hips and have a higher waistline. It automatically draw the eye up. 

Defining The Waist
If you want your waist to be the feature attraction remember to balance the top and bottom with the same pattern and look for a body style with a cutout. Embellishments on the bottom will always help draw the eye upwards to the waistline.

To minimize the waistline line opt for suits that flow away from the body and may have ruching, v-neck, color blocked or princess seaming.

Try More Than One Swimsuit Before You Buy

Regardless of your specific bathing suit needs, remember to plan on trying at least 6 to 8 swimsuits before you purchase. Always size up and remember to wear as thin of a panty as possible when trying on swimsuits. If you opt to go with an online company to do it in the privacy of your home, check the return policy and speak to the swimsuit specialist if she is available. Getting help to make the right decision for your body type and identifying the activities you will do in your swimsuit go a long way when speaking to someone who is trained in this industry. If you opt to do it in the stores, take a good friend who can be objective. If you opt to take your significant other, then I'd make sure they know you want the absolute truth. Regardless, keep your swimsuit selection age appropriate and realistic.

Happy Shopping! Be sure and send photos of the wonderful choices you have made. No need to send a the picture of you in it, just the suit!

From my closet to yours-

Monday, April 8, 2013

To Wear or Not to Wear Stripes

Every spring stripes re-emerge on the scene in a burst of glory - wide and narrow, horizontal and vertical and in colorations of soft and bold. What to do, what do? As a small child, my mother must have dressed me in a few too many stripes because I have a slight aversion to stripes on many of my clients. I have a set of fashion guidelines I like to follow with most clients, but I also keep an open mind. I have some clients that are partial to polka dots (large and small), some who love an animal print (and some who don't) and some who prefer to dress in solid colors only so getting dressed is uncomplicated. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and I have to admit - once in a while I am surprised at how much I like stripes on some people. My daughter must have gotten my mothers love of stripes gene because she is forever looking at tops that have them. She is the queen of finding that wonderful stripe combination of width and color, so then again maybe the gene came from me. I'm just saying. Now that I have given you my own personal thoughts on stripes, may the information flow!

For men, the return of stripes for spring is really not a return, but more of a continuance. Men are more than ever prone to wear stripes with their suiting, dress shirts, polos, pants, bomber jackets, knits and socks. One of the newest trends for guys this spring is patterned socks, as in striped socks. Wide and narrow, horizontal and vertical. Remember when your father wore argyle socks? These days what you find is either tri-color block socks or stripes.

Vertical stripes can take on a different feel in appearance. Vertical stripes make you appear taller which is wonderful if you're not tall to begin with, men!  If you are on the taller side, make sure the stripe is thin and no more than one inch in width. Anything more and you may appear to be rocking that "street style"! Horizontal stripes tend to be more slimming and color blocking of stripes work as well in polos, as long as the blocking progressively gets larger and not smaller as it moves to your midsection.

Contrasting of stripes from a suit to a dress shirt is simple. If your suit has narrow stripe, opt for a slightly wider stripe for your shirt. As for the tie, please go solid or slightly textured and no additional stripes. Generally, it is the tie where I like to add that pop of color. Nothing is finer though than for spring and summer than to see a man in a linen jacket with a narrow stripe worn with either a casual crew neck t-shirt or solid dress shirt, jeans and a loafer! Relaxed, but well put together. As for the wrinkle in the linen jacket, it only makes the stripe look better! Striped seersucker suits can be worn as a whole suit, but often looks better if broken apart and worn as separates.

As for casual polos, I've touched on color blocking but not the actual stripes. Try and opt for a slimmer stripe if you have a well padded stomach. Wide stripes will only make you look wider. Try to find striped shirts that only have two different colors and not a rainbow of colors. Too much distraction for the eye. I know one always thinks that black is more slimming, just keep in mind the severity of it and visit navy instead.

Either way, whatever the striped clothing item or accessory you choose to add to your wardrobe, keep in mind, less is more. Choose no more than two striped items per look and don't over-do the look. Stripes can be season-less depending on your fabric selection and can be worn for many months out of the year.

Send me your picture of your favorite striped item and I will send you back another way to wear it!

From my closet to yours-

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ready or not, spring is officially here!

Last week I wrote about transitioning items in your closet from winter into early spring despite the cold weather. Well spring is officially here and it isn't getting a whole lot warmer. We know it's gonna get there but for many of us we are willing to transition our wardrobe because we are so tired of our winter clothes. 
Spring is looking great this year. There seems to be a lot of color-emerald greens, numerous melon to red orange tones, cobalt to navy blues to creamy whites and metallics . Pattern are color blocked, floral or abstract but regardless there is something for everyone and I mean everyone!
Just to get you started I have compiled a list of items that are worth considering to give your wardrobe a boost. Stores are stock full and weekend deals and promotions generally start running Thursdays. Do your own quick closet evaluation or give me a call for a more thorough closet consultation, but either way, it's time.
Spring Wardrobe Boosters
1. A military or fitted style jacket. Find a jacket that is versatile enough to wear with pants, casual dresses or jeans. I have seen several jackets that are made with two different fabrics, like a linen blend and cotton or cotton and silk. Personally, I chose an army green silk and polyester with a drawstring closure for a more fitted look.
2. A racer front dress maxi dress. Maxi dresses continue to be a fun option for spring and summer designer Rachel Pally has designed a new twist to the everyday look. Opt for a fitted cropped shrug for a dressier look for evening or jean jacket and flip flops for day!
3. A digital print blouse. How fun is it to add a digitally enhanced print blouse or top to wear back with your basic black skirt or pant? This isn't this season's wardrobe builder, but an item that will make more of a statement and add a pop to any wardrobe basic.
4. A floral or patterned print jean. I have seen bold prints and small and not so small floral jeans this season. From skinny to straight, cotton to stretch lycra, it's all out there for your choosing. A few recommendations:
  • If you are petite, keep your look overall more tonal. Choose a pattern that is small versus large and select a tee or top that is simple and preferably the dominant color in the pant.
  • If you are fuller figured and have more substantial thighs, look for overall patterns that are less busy or more muted. Make sure you balance your top to your bottom and you keep your top layers fitted and not full.
  • Pockets, embellishments and stitching beware! Wearing a pattern or floral jean is generally enough of a statement that few other details on the jeans is a good rule of thumb.
5. Leather or pleather pieces. Anything in a colored or texture lightweight leather in a top, jacket or skirt will be a hit this season. I have seen metallics, whites, melons, reds and blues. Again, this is a fashion piece, so a large investment is not required unless you see yourself wearing it for years to come. Personally I have seen a few fabulous bomber jackets in supple leathers that are somewhat pricey from $350 to $500, but certainly are pieces nice enough to grow old with. On the other hand, I have seen items that are simply made and often are leather and cotton combined that are inexpensive and really fun. Either way, go forth and make it something you would really feel great in.
6. A drawstring handbag. I have always loved a bucket drawstring bag. Work it this season with a colored bag other than black or brown in leather. Take specific care in selecting a bag that will add a pop of color to your wardrobe without adding a lot of distracting details. Choose color and texture over embellishment and hardware.
7. A great wedge. Don't go safe, go color! Choose a colored fabric or leather with a woven rope or textured heel with either a fabric tie around the ankle or buckled straps.
8. A colored pair of sunglasses. Take a sandwich on the road one day and spend your lunchtime at discount stores like SteinMart, Nordstrom Rack or TJ Maxx and find the most colorful shades you can endure to wear this season. 
After viewing this list most of you are probably scratching your heads. For those who regularly read my blogs, I preach wardrobe foundation pieces to complement fashion pieces and lifestyle dressing. This season, I'm thinking wardrobe boosters. Add one or two out of your box items and I promise it will give your carefully calculated wardrobe a new feel.
Happy shopping!
From my closet to yours-

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Should You Pull Out Your Spring Wardrobe Now?

It's the weekend and I am still debating to bring out spring and summer clothing because of the crazy inconsistencies with the weather. For those of you living in cold weather states with a few months to go before you start experiencing balmy weather one day and freezing temps the next day, bookmark this blog and come back in a month or so. Spring will get there - I promise.

Back to me and my closet issues. Getting the weather update from my husband for the week brought me to a few quick conclusions. Although I am steadily working with clients on their spring clothing and in stores daily purchasing, I am not personally ready to give up my tights and boots, but I will agree to put away my heavy wools, warm weather sweaters and coats.
Here are some tips on transitioning for the next few weeks until Mother Nature decides to commit to warm weather:
  • Plan your daily outfits for cold mornings and warming around noon or 1 pm by incorporating layers. This is the time of year also when not only is Mother Nature trying to decide how warm or cold it is, but your office or building administrator is also trying to decide if the heat or the a/c should be on.
  • Start with a camisole, blouse and a jacket or sweater. By lunchtime, if the sun is shinning and the sweat begins to bead down your chest, begin by taking off the sweater and keep on the camisole and open the blouse and wear it like a jacket. I have even gone as far as to rid myself of the blouse and just wear the jacket or sweater with the camisole. Call me crazy, but I'm alway thinking that if my outfit is going to take on another look, I need to have a back up plan. So I generally plan to add a silk scarf or necklace if I am left with a camisole and an open neckline. Scarves are easily carried by tying them around a purse strap.
  • Since I am all about making it really easy, I like to wear dresses. Many of my dresses are short sleeve or sleeveless. I may start with a coat, but again, carry a cardigan or a shrug and usually switch it out by late morning. Another crazy thing I have been known to do is wear tights and boots and once I have my first hot flash or urge to rip off the tights underneath my boots, I do. I may carry an extra pair of socks, so I don't have to go sockless with my boots. That would just feel icky, right?
  • Go ahead and begin taking out of your closet any heavy pants, wool tweed jackets, corduroy, velvet items, heavy long sweaters, turtlenecks, long leather skirts and furs from your closet. Pull out any long sleeve blouse or tops that scream winter and you won't wear into the spring.
  • Add heavy scarves and shoes to the list, as well. Suede shoes are still worn in the spring, especially the lighter colors like grey, camel or blue. Anyone besides me out there own denim blue suede peep toe shoes?
Keep these in your closet for now:

short height or ankle boots
cowboy boots - I so enjoy wearing them into the spring and summer
non-wool scarves, like the nice silk and linen ones we know you own
fedora hats
basic white blouse
jean jackets
short sleeve sweaters
short and long sleeve dresses
anything in lighter color palettes
poly, spandex, nylon, cotton model, silk layering items
basic black or neutral pumps
jeans, of course
skirts and jackets that are either lightweight tropical wools or unlined items.
winter white - keep and wear
So hang in there, and don't let this global warming get the best of us. Spring is right around the corner and stores are full and awaiting your arrival! This is a great time to evaluate your wardrobe needs for spring and begin budgeting for new spring items. In the meantime, be sure to read my latest article in Wake Living on Tone on Tone Dressing for Spring.
From my closet to yours,

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Coming Full Circle

This past week I took some time off from my clients to work with the organization Dress for Success.  Dress for Success Triangle NC was founded in 2008 and their mission is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools to help women succeed in work and life. Those who regularly follow my blog know I am passionate about helping others, whether with the Sisko Foundation, a grass roots organization supporting women with breast cancer, or in the variety of donations and committees I serve on to provide my services for those in need.

I believe if my memory serves me, which we know it often doesn't, it was after meeting Pat Nathan, the founder of Dress for Success, I decided I absolutely had to help her with the mission of the organization. Have you ever met someone and knew what they were doing was so very important on so many different levels that you wanted to be involved? Pat's passion and compassion led me to knowing that I could offer my skills to this organization with my knowledge of fashion, lifestyle dressing and teaching poise and confidence to all that I work with. Success Suits Her is an annual luncheon put together by Dress for Success and is a fundraising event for the organization. Since the organization is devoted to helping low income women make tailored transitions into the workforce, the unique lunch will offer Triangle professionals an opportunity to hear women who have been through the program tell their inspiring story and model clothing selected specifically for their job goals and aspirations.

This is the second year I am involved in working with the models, who are former clients of the program. It's so much fun to work with these women by choosing age and size appropriate clothing, teaching them how to walk the runway and the dialogue preparation for telling their incredibly passionate story. Once again, I am humbled by their inner strength and drive to move forward and better themselves. This year I had the opportunity to work not only at the Durham office, but also at the more recently opened location in Raleigh.
Each of the women had a story to tell. As I engaged the ladies, I found they began to open up with their own challenging stories, often involving loss or heart break. One of the most uplifting encounters was with a woman by the name of Tia. Tia had an upper level marketing job when she lived in Washington, DC. Her husband was transferred to the area and the family had to move and away her job went.  After a few years of looking she has been unable to secure a position that utilizes her talents and job experience. While living in DC, she was part of a similar organization that assisted women in their job search and provided clothing and counseling. Tia relished the opportunity to help others as she was secure in her job and community and never believed she would be on the end needing that same support. As you can imagine, the transition from being in a position to help to requiring help has taken some getting used to.

Tia was so happy to find Dress for Success and discover they could help her. Though the past few years have been stressful, Tia has reached out to help others and volunteered with The Girl Scouts of American and led large events at her church. Using her skills and diversifying her job search has enabled her to have interesting potential prospects. In counseling her for what she could expect during the luncheon, I reminded her that being asked to tell her story was a wonderful opportunity to share with others her many life experiences and what she could offer potential employers. For many women who come through the program their experience is not only successfully finding employment, but the ability to give back to the program with their skill set and need to nurture others. Tia has already begun to fill those shoes, and I am confident with her smile and inner strength she will find her way. As for the others I have dressed and guided in preparation for the luncheon, I look forward to hearing how the audience was wowed by their lifestyle dress, their swagger down the runway and heart warming story of moving forward with the help of a group of women who embrace them and want to see them succeed.
To get tickets to this event, click here. In the meantime, for those out there struggling with their image as they continue to move forward in either their job or lifestyle, know that I am here to help!
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