May 4, 2009
There’s a truth and a falsehood in the statement: “Dress your age.”
Wow, what a lot of room for discrepancy in interpretation! My philosophy is this:
While a sixty-year-old woman might look ridiculous in a 16-year-old teen’s bare midriff outfit, that woman of wisdom could wear a cute skirt that falls at mid thigh if she’s got the legs to pull it off. I say go for it!
If looking youthful for your age is important to you, here are some things to consider when building a wardrobe or dressing each day:
Perspective: when you’re healthy and happy with yourself and your life, you already exude a youthful glow. There’s a twinkle in your eye, a spirit to your step, and a spark to your personality that screams all that’s appealing about youth—flush to the skin, erect posture, ease of mobility. Without changing a stitch of clothing, you can see how your internal feelings affect your appearance.
Color: don’t feel that when you hit a certain age, like the big 4-0, that you suddenly have to weed out the fun colors and replace them with “safe” beiges, grays, and blacks. Although the latter are great colors for neutral items and provide a sound base for any wardrobe, infuse your daily outfits with pops of color in your blouse, a fun scarf, earrings, or shoes. While most women don’t pull off fuchsia peddle-pushers, they can add life to their getup with a blouse patterned in pops of fuchsia.
Trends: find what works for your body type, in other words, what plays up your figure and features first. Then, from that foundation, you can add a piece or two to your annual wardrobe from the current trends. Remember that you don’t have to follow the trend to the T. If the trend is a cropped pea coat, you can find a pea coat that falls at your hip instead. If the trend is round-toe stilettos, you can find a round-toe 1 ½” pump to update your look.
Overall, my message to you is this. As you age, you can still maintain a look of energy, vitality, and youth without making a fool of yourself. Women fear embarrassing themselves if they dress “too young.” My belief is that it’s always better to participate in the current trends instead of making do with granny skirts and tunics. The secret is in moderation.
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.
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 10, 2008
Beth asks me….”As a woman I’ve got so many shoes to pack, and airlines keep charging for extra bags just to bring my shoes with me. What can I do?”
Beth, first off let’s take a look at packing smart. Packing is not about shoes but about creating a look that works for you. If you’re a traveler, this is an extremely important first step. The reason is that travelers need to stick to a narrower range of colors so that when they pack, every piece becomes part of a combination machine.
Let me give you the strategy I use and one that’s easily transferable to anyone’s closet.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the process where people are categorized by seasons of the year, depending on what colors look good on them. Your skin color and tones, your natural hair color, and your eye color help the color consultant determine whether you look best in the warm, neutral colors of autumn or the cool, clear, brights of summer. I’m a winter. This means I can wear certain dark colors including certain grays, blacks and blues. Brown works, however, not as easily. Knowing that I only have so much space in my overnight bag, and ALL my business is out of town, I stick with only the blues, grays and blacks. This means my shoes also remain black. If I take one brown garment I must immediately bring a pair of brown shoes, and to me, it’s not worth the effort.
This approach means that when shopping, I only stick to a certain color range and my closet is also only in this range. The result is it’s pretty easy to pack. When I pack to the extreme, I take two additional pair of shoes: one pair of relaxing shoes, and a pair of Nike sneakers that are paper thin and take up almost no room.
Remember, my three pairs of shoes can take up the space of at least 4 pairs of women’s shoes.
Now for you, consider your color and style. Even though you may want to wear more colors, you, too, can stick to a pallet to increase the ability to use a single pair of shoes in multiple ways. A 3-inch pump can be worn, with slacks that come down to the street so that the shoe is seldom seen. The same shoe can be worn casually with jeans. Bring the pants up some and you’ve now got a new look. Use the same shoe with a skirt while shifting the attention to your belt, and now you’ve got 4 different styles with the same shoes. Remember, depending on whether you’re in a conservative business climate or not, you can also easily slip a pair of strappy sandals in for an exciting night-time look.
The “idea” that women need to bring a lot of shoes is not a myth; women do need to spice up their look more than men in this department. What I’m taking about is being smart about your approach. Keeping in a range, making combinations, and the fact that the shoes may have less size/weight means that if this philosophy cut down on 1 or 2 pair on a trip, you’re winning.
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.
May 27, 2008
This is my favorite shopping quote that I use all the time when working with women.
The concept is simple. If you take the time to purchase in preparation, you tend to be in relaxed mood, and therefore, you can make sound decisions about your wardrobe. This calmness helps you to anticipate what you’ll need in the future, enables you to get tailoring done, and opens up the door to possibilities outside of your normal purchasing outlets.
When you buy in desperation, you not only run the risk of purchasing an unflattering garment, you may over spend, or make everyone else’s life miserable in the process. Besides, now you have a garment in your closet you don’t like, which clutters your life.
Take the time to shop when you’ve got time and energy, and you’ll be surprised at how fun shopping can be.
May 22, 2008
Can you guess the five necessities you need to bring with you when you shop? I’ve asked countless woman what they believe these are and I’ve gotten some typical and also wierd suggestions. Here are a few most common:
- Credit card and Money – Yes, a biggie, but you’d not shop without this, so it’s not on the list.
- Water – Good idea, but you can pick this up along the way. (Plus, how many bathroom stops do you want to make?)
- Attitude – Yes, the type of attitude is important.
- Friend – This might actually be bad if they’ve not good taste or know what’s right for you.
- Sneakers – or comfortable shoes would be useful.
- Snacks (Nutritional bar) – I’d prefer to eat on the road, but make sure you have something healthful in you before you start so that you can think clearly and prevent delays.
All good but not the top 5.
Here they are:
- A color chart of your best colors. This way you can insure that the colors you’re selecting fit your personal requirements. You would be surprised how helpful this is when looking at colors that are close in value. It also helps the sales staff to keep on target when advising you.
- A backback or bag with an assortment of shoes and accessories. Women’s stores are set up with most shoes and accessories in different departments and often on different floors. If you have your particular size shoe and one in your style, you’re ahead of the game. The accessories are there to do the same.
- Your made up face. – If you don’t wear your makeup as you wear it every day, you lose that little eye that tells you what your wearing really works for you.
- A white/off while form fitting, collared, fitted shirt. This way you can try on anything your heart desires. If you’d like a scoop neck in your bag, that’s OK, too, but I’d shop with the shirt.
- The right bra and undergarments. – The bra: to make sure the garments you try on fit you the way they should fit. The undergarments: so that your shape is the way you’d expect to wear the garment and so the color does not show through and become a distraction. (If you don’t often wear a bra, you can take it off to try on specific items.)
If this appears to be a lot of work, consider the time and energy invested in selecting an item; do you really want to have to return something because you get it home and it doesn’t work. The better prepared you are, the more complete becomes your wardrobe and the better you look.
With these five necessities taken care of, your entire shopping experience will be more enjoyable and productive.
I will cover more details about each of the 5 in the months to come.
May 6, 2008
When making a purchase, ask yourself, “If you had to pack for a trip and had limited space, would I select this item or would I bring an alternative item that makes me look better?” If you say no, then walk away. If you say yes, take a second look while asking yourself the following questions.
- Am I just adding something to my wardrobe that is very similar to another item knowing full well this is just an extra you’ll throw out one day?
- Does this item first match my color (winter, spring, summer, fall), the style and fashion sense you’re looking to achieve and lastly, could you find something better.
I often ask myself, if I purchased this item would I bring it on my next trip and most of the time I’ll hesitate just enough for me to stop. That’s the signal to put it back.