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 27, 2009
I know that for many women, summer is a challenge time of the year given that you want to have that tan look yet without sitting in the sun and possibly damaging your skin. One option is the spray on tan and another I would recommend is the tanning product Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs.
It’s funny, I’m trying to find a way to say, it’s OK be fair skinned and it’s OK to walk outside without color while at the same time I know that many fair skinned women want to have a little color since the American culture tends to favor a little bronze.
I know, I’ve lived with a beautiful fair skinned woman for 23 years.
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.
October 27, 2008
I hear all the time that people are great shoppers and how they are just drawn to purchase something when they go shopping. May I repeat myself, great shoppers can walk out of a store and only purchase what will enhance their wardrobe not just expand it.
As for the “compulsion to buy” use this little technique. When you enter into a store click open your phone and take a picture of the marque. Next, when you try on something and you feel the urge as the item is that wonderful, take another picture in the mirror of of the clothing on hanging. Then finish looking and leave the store.
Do this during your shopping excursion and when you’re finally done, review the pictures and go back and pick up everything that you are actually drawn to go back and buy.
Here’s what’s going to happen. You won’t go back for the majority of the items and in most probablity you won’t go back for much at all unless it was absolutely special.
OK. Your thinking, someone will purchase the item. No, now your paranoid. Most garments sit on the shelves for ages so if it’s meant to be it is meant to be.
I do this all the time and quite frankly if I can’t muster up the energy to return to a store I’m saying to myself, I don’t love it enough or it;s not really what I want/need.
The tip works wonders on your wallet, your closet and your psychy since your life is now not filled with things you don’t love. I personally want to love what I own and wear.
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
September 9, 2008
There’s a great scene in one of my favorite movies, Pretty Woman, where Julia Roberts returns to the store where the “help” insulted and degraded Julia earlier on in the movie. She then asks the sales person if she worked on commission, to which Roberts’ character replies, “Big mistake,” as she leaves with bags of expensive merchandise.
While the story is well noted and reports show that retail help is going down hill, “Last year, the Retail Customer Dissatisfaction Study — conducted by consultancy firm Verde Group and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School — found that nearly a third of consumers can’t find a salesperson when they shop. And of the shoppers who do locate a clerk, 25% report that they get completely ignored. Pushy and insincere sales staff were cited as problems, too.” LA Times Blog
Of course this depends on the store you visit, and I’m not referencing price here. It’s the type of store you visit that makes all the difference. Great stores have employees that are truly there to serve and management pushes the effort to help. (I’ve recently noticed that at Home Depot more employees are saying hello than ever, and I believe it’s due to the new CEO and their push against rival Lowes.)
Now the tip. Don’t feel bad asking your salesperson to go into the back room to get another size or color. That’s their job and in many cases what you really need IS in the back room and the few trips means you end up with comfort and style.
That said, if you really think they are there for your best interest, you might be mistaken. Employees don’t know your pocket book nor do they know your closet. In fact, if you asked for the store all wrapped up, they would do it for you. Have you ever heard someone say, “No, leave the store. You’ve already selected too many items?” So when it comes to making them work, let them do their job while you pay attention to shopping.
Make good use of the help while shopping – Tip #20 One request, please be kind to the sales people. It’s tough to stand all day on a concrete floor. The carpeting or wood flooring only helps a little. A little kindness goes a long way.
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.