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Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Search for the Happy You!

At this point in our adult lives, we all know of people that have either had some sort of cosmetic surgery, gastric bypass or lap band procedure, or have sought counseling for mental or emotional well-being. Such measures have become almost as common as getting a haircut or buying a new pair of shoes.

We all should do what makes us feel good about ourselves, whether it is mentally, emotionally or physically. As a stylist, I can attest to the power that dressing for your lifestyle can have on your mental, emotional and physical well-being. I recently styled six women for a fashion show at Macy's at Crabtree Valley Mall for their Spring Essentials Event.

One of the models was Cathy Arsenault, a petite powerhouse. At a modest 5'1", Cathy appeared absolutely regal thanks to her beaming smile and dynamic personality. Cathy’s personal story was what made my time with her so fun – and so rewarding. She was a successful mortgage broker, wife and mother, yet she had struggled for years with her weight. She had become discouraged by her size and found it difficult to find clothes she liked. Her turning point was the prospect of not being able to chase her new grandchild around safely.

How many times have we had that moment of realization that we have put everyone else's needs first and lost sight of what is most important? Here Cathy is two years later, more than 140 pounds lighter, modeling in a fashion show! Her excitement was contagious, and she was such a pleasure to dress for the event. The time we spent together was what I refer to as a "freebie" consult, as I selected her five looks for the fashion show. I chatted about her best colors and the proper sleeve length, necklines and silhouettes for her frame. The wonders of well-fitting clothes can do tremendous things for our psyche!


My job as the stylist of a fashion event is to make sure all the models are dressed, accessorized and red-carpet ready. I am the last set of eyes on them before they begin their walk. For Cathy, as I sent her off each time, I reflected on how clothing does make the person and that she truly seemed to be in a wonderful place in life at that moment. She had conquered her health issues and was getting ready to welcome her second grandchild. She was really enjoying how she looked and felt. As a stylist, I embrace every opportunity to be a part of these transformations in a client’s appearance and newfound confidence.

I hope that if you are going through a similar search for the “happy you," that you know you are supported and commended for what is often a hard journey. It is well worth the ride!

From my closet to yours,

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wearing Our Family Heirlooms

I was recently in a client’s closet, and we stumbled upon jewelry items in a small box. It had been tucked away in a corner of a shelf under items that she hadn’t worn in years. It brought tears to her
eyes in sheer happiness and sadness for the loss of the family member. Many of us have a similar story to tell. My grandmother, who played a major role in the person I am, gave me a strand of pearls, matching earrings, and a small gold and pearl pin in the shape of a bow. I keep them in a box in a drawer that I access daily. For me, it is not only a reminder of the bond we shared, but also a wonderful way to integrate heirloom jewelry with current fashion accessories. A girlfriend of mine had her mother’s wedding band with small diamond chips cut in half and a loop put in one end. She took a simple gold chain and wears it now as a small charm around her neck. She likes keeping her mother close to her heart. Nice, huh?

Easy Heirloom Accessories Ideas

  1. Take small brooches and cluster on jacket lapels in threes. Mix finishes, but try and keep similar themes together: bugs, flowers, embellished items and abstracts.
  2. Bracelets or cuffs should be worn in odd numbers. Pair wood finishes with woven or braided items. Gold, silver, metallic and Lucite look great when worn together!
  3. If you have several strands of pearls in various colors and sizes, and a favorite family pendent or cameo, ask your jeweler to drill on both sides of the pendent to use as a focal piece clasp for the pearl necklace. Have the pearls attached to the clasp and twist them to add interest. Wear with a simple white tee, leather jacket, jeans and boots. 
  4. If you have a collection of stickpins, add them to your summer straw hats on one side above the brim or ribbon so they are clearly visible.

One of my favorite suggestions for preserving wearable family heirlooms is to have a top, jacket or scarf made into a decorative pillow. Most tailors can do this quite easily for a reasonable price. Make sure somewhere on the pillow you write who the garment belonged to and the date. My grandmother’s hankies have made wonderful sachet pouches for my undergarments drawer.

Send me your ideas or questions. I love the challenge of refurbishing family heirlooms or even dated garments to honor the cherished people in our lives and give their wearable items new life.

From my closet to yours!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Knowing When It’s Time For A Change

This past Christmas, I got a call from a husband wanting to do something special for his wife for a gift. We put together a “Queen for the Day” package. Who doesn’t want to be a queen for the day? I’d settle for being a princess every once in a while!

I met with Dawn and we started with her hair at Douglas Carroll Salon. Dawn had always enjoyed dying her hair a vibrant color about once a year. She acknowledged it may be time to step away from store-bought brights. Quick and easy is her motto like so many working moms of today. 

At what point does quick and easy become not age appropriate and not really the best we can be? Is it easier not to care than to take time to figure it out? Self-style evaluation can easily happen by simply looking in a mirror or seeking advice from fashion books or magazines. Updating our style shouldn’t be a struggle, something that we put off, afraid of what we might actually feel. As we age, our style needs change. It is a matter of allowing ourselves the gift of asking for help, whether it is from a stylist, a book or a hair salon.

After we left Douglas Carroll Salon, our next stop was Belk at Crabtree Valley Mall for brows and makeup. Check out this transformation. Clinton and Stacy have nothing on me and the crew that helped!


After the hair and makeup update, I sent a picture of Dawn to her husband. He quickly responded with, “Beautiful!” Dawn clearly was equally pleased and so taken aback by her beauty and transformation that she teared. I was happy to share that moment but had to call in the cavalry for makeup touch-ups! Just for the record, my usual mantra….I love my job! 

Clothes were the last component of becoming “Queen for the Day.” Dawn’s casual lifestyle needed some updating from t-shirts and jeans, to soft feminine tops and jeans. Accomplished. Perfect for her casual work environment and life on the go with two girls.

So what is the missing link? Would Dawn ever have given herself the gift of dressing not only for her lifestyle but updating her overall look? I’d like to think at some point she would have gotten around to it. We all deserve to grow gracefully with a new hairstyle, an occasional skin and makeup update, and clothing that really states who we are and where we are going!

As for Dawn and her updated look, how can you do anything but smile? Dawn looked truly beautiful and she was really receptive to trying something new. She was a pleasure!


If you are interested in beginning your own self-reflection evaluation, start by reading my book “Portraits of Lifestyle Dressing” and then give me a call. I will be happy to chat with you by phone. You can purchase and receive a personalized signed copy by visiting http://portraitsoflifestyledressing.com/

I’d like to give special thanks to Brandon Partin at Douglas Carroll Salon and Brent Usrey at the Bobbi Brown Studio at Belk in the Crabtree Valley Mall. Both are stellar artists in their fields.

From my closet to yours,

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One of Life's Best Little Experiences

For most who have met me, it is very clear that I am passionate about what I do, and I really enjoy all aspects of my job. My various projects keep me re-energized, focused, and, most of all, grateful for what I learn from each of them.

Last week, I had the privilege of working with 12- to 17-year-old models from the inaugural Girls World Expo at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. The expo was a great opportunity for girls to come together to hear from successful women in the community on a wide range of topics and to see interesting, educational demonstrations and exhibits. 

A few of the highlights for me were the exhilarating step team dance performances, the wonderful Tri-Force Jump Rope ensemble from Durham, and of course the fashion show. Last week, I had the opportunity to meet and style more than 20 young girls at Dillard’s to dress them for the show. All the girls wore a "prom look" as well as an everyday outfit. After gathering the girls at Dillard’s, I introduced myself and explained what my role was with the overall game plan. I released them into the Juniors department to begin pulling outfits of their choosing. As they came out of the fitting room, I began looking at the color, fit and style of the garments they had selected. Some got it right while others needed my assistance in making selections. Some of the girls needed affirmation that their choices may have been satisfactory, but there were likely to be other options available to them that truly were fabulous. 

When I work with young women, I am very aware that most are self-conscious about their bodies and really need support in making the right choices. Most have had little guidance in dressing. I had the same motives the day of the fashion show. I wanted to make it fun, give them positive feedback and keep them moving! Each would find a way to feel comfortable and confident once they climbed the stairs to the runway platform. 

Just before the show started, I spoke to the audience – there were more than 4,000 in attendance – and let them know this was the first modeling experience for most of the young women. I encouraged them to put their hands together in a show of support. The response was outstanding! Joined by actress and singer Lucy Hale, whose concert had taken place just minutes before, the audience greeted the girls with a warm welcome. They clearly enjoyed a camaraderie that had formed from their experience. 

I cheered for the models and for the audience, as I felt hopeful that events like these can and do bring young women together in kinship and friendship! No matter how many years I am in this business, I feel as though I grow exponentially when I have the opportunity to work with young people.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Wear It Well - Wake Living Magazine

2012-2103 brought great fun and a challenging opportunity to write and create the vision for  the column "Wear It Well" with Wake Living Magazine. As my readership grew, so did my ideas of what was most important to express. Many of the models were friends and clients, offering a true sense of "Dressing For Your Lifestyle". If you missed, or would like to re-read, any of my articles I've posted them into an album on my Facebook page.

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