April 20, 2009
Chris stated that she often goes shopping and finds there is nothing out there for her to wear. C’mon. Nothing out there. There is so much out there for women it’s incredible. In fact, there may be too much, if there can be such a thing.
Chris, there are a few things you must realize.
First, I’d bet the reason that you’re not finding anything is that what you’re looking for does not work for you, and therefore, when you try on the clothing it all looks bad. The color, the shape, the patterns.
The solution: start with the basics. Have your makeup touched up to fit a today’s you. Next, invest in a great a color chart to weed out what does not work. Next, focus on today’s basics. Pants that don’t hug the hips up high (think “Mom jeans”), straight-leg pants, cut tops and fashionable shoes. This goes for casual or for upscale.
Second, I’d bet that your eye is also looking for specific styles that you expect for your perceived age appropriateness, but what you think you should be wearing may not be currently available in stores. Here’s an analogy. When you start looking for a car, your mind learns a new shape and miraculously you start to see the car all over the place. The same with style. You need to train your eye to shapes and patterns that look like today’s women in your style.
The solution: find a body shape that mimics yours in magazines or in real life, and then start to watch what they wear. If they’re contemporary, you’ll start to create a new awareness and then the clothing will jump off the rack.
Third, just because you’re a “shopper,” does not mean you know how to shop efficiently enough to avoid frustration. Walking, perusing, and purchasing seem simple enough, but without a strategy, you can end up at the finish of the experience frustrated that all you did was walk, peruse, and maybe purchase. Remember, the best shoppers shop in preparation and not desperation and say no a lot as they have the mindset they are building a wardrobe and not building a closet.
Based upon our conversation, this will take some changes, however it’s achievable.
April 13, 2009
I’ve got to begin by saying that if you can’t afford to shop, DON’T shop. I think too many people believe that because retail is doing poorly and there are bargains all over the place, that they need to pick up deals. That’s plain wrong. Even if the item you wanted was 90% off and you’d love to have it as part of your wardrobe, if you can’t afford to pay your credit card bills, then stay home.
What you can do, is start to think differently. Change out the buttons on a suit and now you’ve got a new look. Start to look at making different combinations of accessories and not the main garment. This would mean that you wear your skirt without the top and fancy up the outfit with a blouse or your hair up. Changing makeup applications and altering your shoes all make you look different.
Men do this all the time. We don’t have 70 pairs of shoes nor do men have 40 outfits. What they do is take the same outfit and modify the tie and wear a different color shirt. Cuff links, watches, socks, rings, scarfs, overcoats all play a role.
Now, if you do have some cash, start to think how to change your look with little to no cost.
This means that a $500 designer blouse at a discount to $150 is still an expensive blouse when you can find similar garments for less, and no one will know the difference. No one besides you and those you tell. Besides, who do you need to impress all the time. Good grooming doesn’t have to go designer.
(Please do believe that I’m not saying you need to shop at stores where there are poorly made products that don’t last or hurt to wear. I am. however. saying purchase the Nike shoe from last season at $49 down from $110.)
This means to shop not at the top but at the bottom and look upward until you see something that works. Drop by H&M or Macy’s or better yet that discount mall or store and start to scour the racks. If there is nothing in terms of color, quality and fashion (remember color first) then jump up a notch. Slowly.
Let me give you a personal example. My wife and I were in NYC this weekend and she needed a white blouse that fit her color pallet. We started at a discount store where there was nothing that worked, hit H&M and the kept moving up the line until we found a garment that was $60 that worked. Then we discussed the style and in the end, she decided that the garments she found would not add to her wardrobe. The primary reason was the color was off a hair and the shirts looked similar to what she had at home. We stopped.
I, too, do the same with all clothing. When I look at ties, I don’t start at Versace even thought they have great designs. What I’ve found is in ties, just as jeans, shirts, belts, etc., price does not dictate quality. When the Hummer was sold in the US, it was considered one of the worst cars in need of repairs right off the factory floor. With sticker prices of $50,000+.
So, I start down at the bottom, and work my way up. I scan the discounted and cheaper garments first to see if there is a steal on the rack. I have a $400 leather jacket for $30 to show for it.
At a recent visit to one of my favorites stores, Century 21 in NYC, down in the Financial District, I went looking for a new pair of shoes and some ties realizing that these two items change my wardrobe quickly and less expensively than a suit.
I began to scour the racks for a pair of shoes in my size and then color. (I only pack blacks–not black and browns–so that when I travel, I don’t have to have a second set of belts, shoes, and other items that match brown.) I then found a pair of Dolce & Gabbana shoes that were just perfect. Unique and yet stylish.
On the ties I began at the cheapest section where ties run $9.00 for an $80 tie. I found two and then I found several more for $12 and $16 and $24. In the end, I walked out with one tie that I would wear. Ironically, the tie I wore the next day to a friend’s wedding, that cost me $12.99, had more compliments over the past two months than any other tie I’ve owned (some very expensive). People have actually gone out of their way to say they loved the tie.
So in a climate with or without opportunity, you don’t have to shop if you can’t afford it. You can change a garment with simple button, or configurations of existing clothing. You can shop more intelligently from the bottom up and find deals that give you the wardrobe you need.
This is also assuming you need something new, and it’s not your ego or need for affection that makes you have to buy. Maybe you should take a trip inward before taking a trip to the store.
April 6, 2009
I can’t tell you how many shirts I’ve lost due to a small spot, a tear, or shrinking. You know what I’m talking about: the shirt that once fit and now it does not; the shirt you don’t want to throw away, because you spent a small fortune or worse yet, you just looovvvvve the shirt and can’t stand the thought of its demise.
Maybe you’ve found a fabulous top but the sleeves are just too short. Take the item to a tailor and covert it to either 3/4″ length sleeves or short sleeves. A tailor might charge $8.00 and you get extended life out of the garment.
My entire short-sleeve collection has grown with some fancy fabrics using this tip.
September 18, 2008
I don’t know about you, but I love to touch garments when shopping. Anyone who has learned to shop with me learns that one critical way to catch a great find is to touch, touch, touch. It’s key to finding what you want, once you’ve already determined that the color fits your pallet and the size works (or may work) for you.
Here’s how I do it.
I first make sure the color fits the color pallet. No sense wasting time. Then I scan the garments touching most of them with my hands as I rapidly move through the aisles. The reason is simple. I’m feeling for texture, something that’s tough to see, then my mind and my hands are waiting for that moment.
Sometimes the moment causes me to turn a a garment from the rack to the front. You’d be surprised how often the face-forward garment is a killer and the turned sideways is not. The touching also triggers a focal connection. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with the quantity of clothes you have to look through in a store. This hands-on approach helps to filter out the extra and keeps me focused. Lastly, I can also tell the sales associate, “Do you have something like this fabric in a different style?” This opens doors to new possibilities.
You may think touching makes shopping slower…it doesn’t.
September 16, 2008
I can guarantee you that in the next year you will need to dress up at least once, and you’ll need something that makes you shine. It’s a given.
Then if it’s a given, let’s take a look at your typical routine.
* Notice comes in the mail or email.
* You accept.
* Put off purchasing the gown.
* Last minute you drive around town looking for the right item complaining that there is nothing that fits or works.
* You come to hate the shopping experience and ultimately end up with a gown that’s OK but not what you wished you’d be wearing.
* Your closet now has an item you won’t throw out, and yet it’s not you.
* Event comes and you look wonderful yet in the back of your mind you think of the whole experience as bad.
So let’s change the routine.
* You’re visiting friends in a major city and you stop in to a major name to just check out the merchandise. No worries, just looking for something on sale/discounted/fashionable what ever your need. You find an item you like, however, it’s not killer. You pass.
* It’s a Saturday and you’re having coffee with your friends down in the boutique store area of your home town, and you leave a few extra minutes to browse the shops. In the back of your mind you are looking for the next fashionable outfit you can wear to the typical events you get invited to attend: dinner, wedding, anniversary, banquet, etc. You find an item, but it’s too large and yet it could be altered. You pass.
* A month later, while driving with your friends you ask if you could have 20 minutes to stop in the mall to check out some merchandise. You put on a dress, and it works perfectly. Still needs a little altering, however, the color is in your color pallet, the length makes you look stylish and still sexy. It’s yours.
* You get the item tailored.
* An invitation arrives in the mail and you accept knowing that you already have the perfect item.
* When you arrive, you’re turning heads including your date’s/husband’s and anyone else’s in the room.
* A big fat YES!
I know you’re now thinking who has time for all this. Well you do. You do it already, just in a different format. Stressed, worried, anxious you travel around from store to store wishing you could find the perfect item. Then you spend whatever is necessary, even if out of budget. Mind you I’m not forgetting shoes, and accessories. This could really throw you a curve ball.
In my scenario you actually save time and money and your wits.
Case in point. When I travel to NYC, I often pick a store or two to visit knowing that I may walk out empty handed. Which I often do. This past week I spent about an hour walking the floor in the suits area and the young men’s clothing area.
I tried on several sports coats and then found a jacket marked down from $495 to $69.00 The guy in the shop said, “This is a no brainer.” He was right. In fact, if I only wore it once, it would be worth the price.
I then scanned the suit section looking for specific style and characteristics. Then I tried on about 12 items, most did not fit as they were too long or just the wrong cut. One item was killer. A steal. A Zenga tone-on-tone suit marked down to an unreal $499. Zenga suits sell for $2000. I tried it on and it fit. European cut, two button and flat front, a must, with pants that are not all baggy.
(f you don’t know a suit for a man can run from a Men’s Warehouse at $200 to A Brioni for $9000, so in the world of men’s suits, $400-800 for a quality suit is not out of range.)
Both the jacket and the suit need tailoring on the sleeves, hem and the jacket a little on the back. Both items are hanging near the back door of our home for me to take to the tailor….no rush. I purchased for a future need and not a current need. When I arrive at the tailor, I don’t need to ask for the item in two days; I can easily fit into the normal tailoring time.
Did I need the items right that moment? No. But by purchasing in preparation and not in desperation I found an item I absolutely love and will wear over and over again.
Ironically we received a wedding invitation just after I returned … guess what I wore?
* Outfit from http:www.threadsocial.com
June 27, 2008
Julie asked me this question after the last posting on bras, and since I’ve had at a ton of emails asking the same question, I thought I’d move this to the front page.
Let me first give you the name and location of the #1 place to get a bra fitting in the US. It’s The Town Shop in NYC. They’ve literally worked with hundreds of thousands of woman since Samuel Koch opened the store in 1888. This is my first choice, and when women travel to learn how to shop with me in NYC, this is where we go.
Their address is
2273 Broadway (between 81st/82nd Sts.)
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 787–2762
The question I know you’re now asking is, “If I’m not going to be visiting New York City in the near future, what do I do?”
A more challenging question than you might believe given that I’ve witnessed some pretty pathetic attempts by other retailers to deliver the same quality fit.
So here are some choices.
#1 Try to do it yourself. Not the best approach but a start.
Start by tightly measuring yourself under your breast.
Then measure around your fullest part of your breast to get your cup size.
Calculate the difference, and if the difference is:
1″ you are an A cup
2″ you are an B cup
3″ you are a C cup
4″ you are a D cup
5″ you are a DD cup
6″ you are a DDD cup
You can already guess this is not the best technique, because each woman’s body and breast shape is different.
#2 You can try another store in your area such as Nordstrom’s or Saks. If these are not available, you could also try JC Penny’s or Macy’s as second tier.
Lastly, I would avoid using Victoria’s secret for your fitting. The staff are not well trained, their bra selection is limited, and the quality of bras offered does not compare to what is used in stores such as The Town Shop. Once you have the fitting, you can then shop where you’d like to shop with the new information and a feel for what fits right.
June 26, 2008
The next time you’re making choices about your skirt or dress length, throw out the rule that as you get older you need to go longer. Take a look at what you’re wearing and make your own choices. If you don’t like the condition of your legs, hosiery can cover a host of “evils,” so dress length doesn’t have to be your sole solution.
June 24, 2008
One suggestion I always advise women to do is to try to put on just one “attention grabber” when you get ready for the day.
What’s an attention grabber (or the ONE ITEM)? It’s that one item that stands out yet fits right in with everything else you’re wearing: a great broach, necklace, bangle, belt, shoe, hair piece, earring, dress, skirt, hat, etc. It could be your lipstick or your hair. It’s something that forces others’ eyes to gravitate to a particular item or in a certain direction. (I don’t consider a body part to be a one item.) It also could be something done in a certain combination that with other clothing is not the ONE ITEM but it is with a different combination.
Now I know you’re thinking, “I always try to find something that makes me look good.” No, I’m saying the ONE ITEM is your attention getter. It draws attention from other parts of your body to this one point where others will either take notice or comment. (Don’t confuse one item with two items or three items. It’s too much.)
I’ve seen necklaces capture the heart of an entire image, like a pair of shoes that just are so elegant that even a man will take notice. Lorrie has a pair of brownish shoes with fine silver stripes that always get at least one man to comment while the ladies also take notice. I take notice!
Madison Avenue marketing knows this. A great ad for a product pushes the eyes of the buyer towards the one item that’s being highlighted. Open up More, Self, or any other publication, and you’ll see the thought that went into the ONE ITEM.
You probably already have this in your closet or drawer. I’d also suggest that when you’re shopping in the future, you start looking for these items. Remember, “Buy In Preparation, Not Desperation.”
While outside of San Diego, I walked a community flea market of art and jewelery and finally selected a hand-made glass pendant out of hundreds. The cost was only a few dollars, because it did not come out perfect for the artist. When I showed the other women I was with at the event, they all wanted me to help them find one just like it. I did not buy anything else. I had found the ONE ITEM. (Lorrie put it on today with a black scoop neck top. Killer!)
So the next time you get dressed, ask yourself, “What is my ONE ITEM attention grabber?” If you don’t see one, go back and find something, and I’ll bet your day will be different.
NOTE: This tip is not about shorts that ride up to show the cheek of your backside, garments that let your chest hang out, and clothing that puts you on the fringe of the style you’ve selected. (If you like a Gothic look then you should try to have ONE GOTHIC ITEM that makes you stand out in this style.) This is about one item that no matter what your style, it’s still a great addition to the outfit.
June 19, 2008
Here’s a real-life scenario that I experienced while doing some research for a David’s Fashion NY in a high-end clothing store.
A saleswoman in a department store was considering purchasing a particular top and bottom outfit (along with a blouse that matched perfectly) from the store where she worked. She was a newly divorced woman and single-mother of one child. She had a figure to die for and face that could easily be in magazines. This particular outfit was way out off her price range–like by a small mortgage amount– and we found ourselves in a discussion about what she should purchase if she could only purchase one item in the set.
If you were in a similar situation, which of the following options would be your smartest investment?
A. The jacket top: an Armani in what I believe is the Blue Bold Diamer pattern. A fitted cut that would make you look like you’re worth a million dollars.
B. The blouse: a white fitted, smooth silky top that would go well with any item you put on.
C. The skirt: made of the same Bold Diamer pattern that flows and helps to give you that well-put-together womanly feel.
Do you have your choice?
Now let me tell you first what the salesperson suggested.: She chose the jacket top.
For me, this is not the right choice.
This is what I told her, and again, she knows how to dress, looks incredible, and advises others on making purchasing decisions.
Don’t buy the jacket. If you’re lucky, you could wear this item 3 times in the next year or two and each time everyone will notice it’s the same garment. (If she traveled for a living and did not see the same people all the time, I would advise differently.)
Besides, did this woman have the $1200 to spend on a jacket? From our conversation and her situation, NO.
Don’t buy the blouse. Blouses are always going on sale and spending money on the Armani would have been overkill for her. She could carry a $39-$99 blouse without any trouble and still look great. The price in her department was $400.
The skirt, if she were to purchase anything, was the item she should take home.
There are several reasons. The skirt was cut beautifully and highlighted her figure. The skirt could also be worn with white, red, blue, and black shoes of a high heal or low heal, a pump or open toe or open back. Just the shoes would change the look. Add a thin belt, a fat belt. A white, yellow, or pink shirt. Sleeveless or long sleeve. And she could make the skirt the highlight of the outfit or just an accessory to a larger picture.
The skirt was the most versatile of all the garments.
When I finished, she stood there for a minute and then said, “I never would have purchased the skirt, but now I see it as the best item on the rack, especially in my situation. Besides the $400 skirt I can pick up for $200 using my discount.”
So the next time you’re faced with a decision, make sure you’re thinking for yourself. It’s not that the advice of salespeople are all wrong; it’s that not all salespeople see the big picture or know what looks best on you. Besides, they don’t know your wallet, your closet, or your life style.
June 3, 2008
I’d like you to pause for a moment to think about all the other shoppers you’ve ever witnessed clothing shopping during your life time. Now, I’d like you to try to count the number of times you’ve seen someone walk around with a color chart in their hands.
Can you give me a number? Bet you could count the number of times you’ve seen this happen on just one hand.
Now let’s get personal. How about you? Do you carry a color chart when you’re shopping? If you’re like the rest of the world, you don’t. That’s because you fall into one of three categories: 1-You think you already know what’s good for you and don’t need a color chart, 2-You’ve never even thought about having one or have never heard of color chart for clothing, or 3-You’ve got one, but you leave it at home instead of storing it in your purse.
For those who haven’t seen a color chart before, it can range in size from a checkbook to an elongated deck of cards, and consists of fabric swatches in colors that suit the skin/hair/eyes of a person depending upon which color category they fall within.
Hey, “I look great in green and some blues.”
Yes, you may look great in green and a few blues, but what if I were to tell you you’d get that same fantastic look in 62 other colors. And, what if you knew which values of green and blue work the best with your skin, hair, and eyes. A color chart gives you a tool to follow when you walk into a store to shop and it can make all the difference in the world. If used properly, having the chart handy will:
- Make it easier when shopping, as you’ll avoid/turn away garment colors that don’t match.
- Force you to not purchase anything that does not fit within your color pallet.
- Help with color ranges, given that there are ranges that work best.
Here are the benefits.
- If you use the color chart properly, you can quite literally walk into a store and skip by any color that does not fit your color chart. This may seem insignificant and yet I’ve watched women walk a full store looking for items that might work for their body.
- If you eliminate color first, upwards of three quarters of the store may not work for you. If you’re going to spend a few hours shopping, the color chart could save you countless hours and a lot of walking.
- Your wardrobe will be more precise, given that the clothing you purchase will actually work with your look. If we used a quality color chart to organize your closet, we’d be chucking out several items, some you may even adore and yet, they are completely wrong for you.
- The chart will keep you not only on target with the right colors, it will give you limitations as to what will work and what is out of range. Again, we’re talking a quality color chart.
Yes, there are some people who are naturals at selecting the right colors, there are others who look good but not great, and there are those that have no clue. For everyone, a color chart is a great investment.