What is Wardrobing?

For those of you who might not be familiar with the term, wardrobing is a method of mixing and matching your clothing to maximize the number of unique outfits you can create with the smallest number of pieces possible.  It is how you shop, travel and dress like a boss!  The concept is simple really, but perhaps no one has ever taught you how to do it.  That is the purpose of this blog post, and my live video coming up on Saturday, February 24th at 10:15 mountain.  You can listen in on the video by joining our Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas Group Page.  I’ll be giving away a Treska necklace at the end of the video.  To get entered to win, just comment on the video while it is live by telling me something you like or even asking a question.

Wardrobing is the art of combining bottoms, tops and cover-ups in multiple ways by layering the pieces and adding accessories to change the look.  I’ll be using Sympli to demonstrate this tomorrow, so let me use some of their pieces to show you how it is done.  Take a look at the pictures above: Let’s call the leggings on the left picture 1 and the cropped top on the right is picture 4.  Assuming the model is wearing pants (and not leggings) in picture 3 and 4 and the white top in pictures 3 and 4 is the same top, how many outfits can you create with these 6 pieces?

Playing Jeapordy music now…..

How many outfits did you come up with?  Let’s see if we found the same number…

  1.  4 outfits as pictured
  2. Dress over leggings
  3. Dress over leggings with crop top
  4. White top under dress without leggings
  5. White top under dress with leggings
  6. White top under dress with smock over top without leggings
  7. White top under dress with smock over top with leggings
  8. Black crop top under dress without leggings
  9. Black crop top under dress with leggings
  10. Smock over dress with leggings
  11. Smock over dress without leggings.

That’s 14 outfits with 6 pieces.  Now, imagine we added into the mix a tunic and a jacket, like the ones pictured below.  I’ve demonstrated the concept, let’s see how many more outfits you can come up with?

Honestly, just adding the jacket over the outfits creates another 5 possibilities.  If you put the tunic over the dress and leggings, you get another 2 possibilities.  The tunic with the leggings and the pants, another 2 possibilities.  Now, with only 8 pieces, you have a possible 21 options.  And we haven’t even discussed adding a few accessories like a kimono, a couple of scarfs and a few necklaces, and a belt.  This adds an at least 15 more outfits.  It’s like a puzzle, and it is a heck of a lot of fun to see how many combinations you can create.  This is wardrobing, and it is a handy little tool when you need to stretch a work budget, pack for a two week trip with a carry on, or just simplify your closet.

Want to see it in action?  Join me tomorrow, and I’ll show you how it’s done.  Be sure to join the group prior to the start of the video so you can watch.

Sympli

 

Spring 2018 Color Trends

spring-2018-color-palletteIt’s nearing the end of January, and I spent yesterday skiing with my family.  It was really a beautiful day with a warm winter sun.

Despite my fun in the snow, however, February is an absolutely rotten, no-good, horrible month in Wyoming.  There is nothing redeeming about February: it’s cold, grey, snowy and, usually, windy.  Which is why I relish the new spring arrivals at this time of year because they are a reminder to stay strong…spring is on the way.

Take a closer look at the Pantone color palate at the top of this blog post so you can see just all you have to look forward to this spring.  It includes Meadowlark yellow (which I love because that is our state bird), Cherry Tomato, Little Boy Blue, Chili Oil, Pink Lavender, Blooming Dahlia, Acadia, and Ultra Violet.  From earthy and warm to soft and cool, spring’s palate is sure to have you clamoring over at least one color.

My color crush for the season is Blooming Dahlia.  We just received our new Tribal Sportswear, and within our January collection are several pieces in Blooming Dahlia. It is such a wonderful, peachy pink.   It pairs beautifully with soft olive and navy blue, as you can see in the pictures.  Of course, it is always great with white too.  Best yet, it is a decidedly feminine color that just makes a girl feel pretty.

I would love to hear about your color crush for the season in the comments to this blog post, and in the mean time….stay strong.  Spring is coming!

10 Steps To Being A Smart Shopper

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We love practical and easy, don’t we?  I don’t know about you, but I am drawn to “3 steps to do this” or “5 steps to do that books.”  Somehow, knowing there is a fairly short list of things I need to do in order to have the desired result feels, well, encouraging.  So, in the spirit of getting right down to it, here are my 10 simple steps to becoming a smart shopper.

Step 1: organize your closet.  Let me warn you right off the bat.  If you are looking for quick and easy, step 1 might seem a bit daunting.  If I’m being honest, it is totally OCD, but I am completely convinced it will make getting dressed in the morning so much easier.    First, go through your clothing and separate out everything you haven’t worn in a year.  Next, separate your tops, pants, skirts and dresses into different areas of your closet.  Then, separate your winter items from your summer items within each category.  At the end of this step, you should have all your tops together, all your winter pants together, all your summer pants together, and so forth.  Last, organize each section by color using the ROYGBIV acronym for the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.  Complete the rainbow by putting your greys and blacks after your purples and your whites and creams after that.  Now, go back to the items you removed in the beginning.  Put all your classic items like black blazers, white blouses and black pants back into your closet unless they are out of date.  Donate the rest.  Whew….sit down and rest a bit.

Why, you ask, did I have you go through that arduous process?  Because now you can clearly see what you have.  If you have 20 short sleeved shirts and only 2 long sleeved ones, you know you need to balance out your wardrobe a bit in this area.  If you have 8 hot pink tops and no neutrals, you may want to shop for some great basics that will work with more things in your closet.  Make sense?

This leads us to step 2: make a shopping list.  Once you know what you need to shop for, write it down on a list that you keep with you all the time.  Shopping trips happen at unexpected times while you are waiting for an appointment or when you have a few extra minutes.  Keep that list with you so that no matter when you shop, you can check it and stay focused on what you need rather than wandering aimlessly through the store waiting for something to catch your eye.

Step 3: shop with a color palate.  This step also requires some work, but not to worry, I have a handy video that will give you a great start.  Shopping with a color palate will focus your shopping in amazing ways.  It will help you say “no” to items that you love but are in a color that is not flattering on your skin.  It will also help you have the confidence that when you get that item home, it will go with something else in your closet, including your accessories like purses and coats.

Step 4: know when the best sales happen at your favorite boutique or store.  For most of the industry, January and February are sales months for winter and July and August are sales months for summer.  Early markdowns happen in December and June as well.  Start checking back frequently in late December and late June to get the first chance at the best items.  If you wait to the end of the sale season, most of the great buys will be very picked over.

Step 5: use the store perks.  If your favorite stores have a layaway program with no fees, this is a great way to shop early in the sale season and put the items on layaway so you can pay for them a little at a time.  Does your store of choice have a rewards or loyalty program?  Make sure you are utilizing it and maximizing your shopping budget.

Step 6: shop for quality and not quantity.  Nothing is a great deal if you never wear it!  Don’t buy just because it is on sale.  In fact, when you consider the cost per wear of an item, in many cases you are better off to spend more on something that is higher quality and will last longer than less on something that is poor quality and will fall apart.  Check out my blog about cost per wear to learn more on this topic.  To determine quality, look at the button holes; they should be bound and not raw with clean edges and no hanging strings.  Next, examine the seams; they should lay flat with no ripples or bumps.  Then, look at the stitching; good quality items have 8-12 stitches per inch.  If the item is patterned, look at where the pattern comes together at the seam.  Does it match or is it askew?  The higher quality items will match the pattern all the way around the garment.  Last, look at the hems; a quality hem will be double stitched and will not be visible from the outside of the garment.

Step 7: shop alone.  I know, I know….you’re thinking that you need that teenage daughter or friend to tell you the truth about how something looks.  Who can trust a sales associate, right?  Well, speaking from personal experience, you can trust a good sales associate, especially one you have built a relationship with and who knows you and what styles and brands you like.  The problem with your teenage daughter or friend is that oftentimes their advice to you is based upon what they feel is a good style for them.  It is difficult for most of us to disassociate what we feel is stylish for what actually looks good on someone.  This is where a professional comes in who has been trained how to help you shop.  At the end of the day, you are the one who has to wear what you take home.  Shouldn’t you be the one to decide if it’s right or wrong?

Step 8: buy a complete outfit rather than pieces.  Nothing is worse than buying something amazing at the store only to discover that you have absolutely nothing to wear it with when you get home.  Worse yet are the various orphans in your closet that you were sure would match that pair of pants but didn’t and so just hang there…waiting.  You can avoid this scenario by buying an entire outfit from the start, including the accessories needed to complete it.  After all, good dressing isn’t just about the top and bottom you are wearing; it is about the complete look with the appropriate shoes, accessories, handbag and coat.  Not sure you agree with me?  Have you ever seen someone put a Columbia parka over a dress?  Sadly, I have.

Step 9: focus on building your basics first and then add the trends.  Make sure you have the bones of a good wardrobe – one or two pairs of black pants, a black blazer, a black skirt, and several nice blouses or tops that can work back with all of your basic bottoms.  Then begin adding other neutrals like browns and navy, all according to your color palate.  Make sure you have a nice casual coat and a nice dress coat.  Be sure you have shoes that coordinate with your wardrobe and are appropriate for dressing up or work.  Once you have this foundation, you can start spending money on trends like cold shoulder tops, embroidered bottoms, and the like.

And finally, step 10: don’t wait for sales to get your workhorse pieces.  There are items in your closet that wear out the fastest because you wear them the most.  Your basic black items are usually among these.  Don’t settle for less than wonderful on your workhorse items.  These are the things you splurge on to get the absolute best quality you can afford.  At the end of the day, quality = longevity.  The better quality fabrics and workmanship of higher priced items will hold up in the washing machine and will with stand wear much better than cheaper items.  Spend your money where it counts.  For these pieces shop in the prime season so you get the best selection of sizes and the most choices.  This means shopping in March and April for summer items and September and October for winter items.

Are You A Warm Or A Cool?

22154CB-3-Matrix-Likity-Split-Top-27120-Pivot-Pant-2-720x1080My journey with color began almost as soon as my career in fashion.  One of the most common questions women ask me is how a certain color looks on them.  “Do you think this color makes me look too pale?” or “What do you think of this color on me?” are questions I answer almost every day.  About ten years ago, I decided to invest in getting my own colors done professionally in an effort to learn all I could about diagnosing colors for my customers.  My own color analysis began with the draping of sheets over my shoulders – one silver and one gold.  This test determined the undertone of my skin.  From there, the next forty minutes were spent in holding different swatches of fabric next to my eyes and looking carefully to see if each one made my eyes bright or dull.  This process produced my color palate, and I have been using it ever since.

What I discovered about having my colors done is that shopping changed and so did my closet.  I first went through and pulled out every piece of clothing that wasn’t in my palate.  That was difficult because some of my favorite items ended up in the donate pile.  But a surprising benefit occurred too.  When I stood back and looked at my now greatly reduced choices, I could see how everything went with everything else.  I no longer had to worry about hanging my clothes by outfit.  Now, I could hang them by category and choose any bottom or top I wanted, feeling confident that they would coordinate perfectly.  Best yet, I knew my shoes, jewelry and handbags would also complete the look.  It was a revelation to me, and I have been encouraging women to spend the money to get their colors done ever since.

So, in my Fashionable Friday video series about how to dress your best, I knew I would want to do a video on how to choose your best colors.  My research into the process began with a copy of Color Me Beautiful which was first published in the 50’s and is the iconic book that places people in one of four seasons: Winter, Spring, Autumn and Summer.  I also looked the topic up online to see what modern articles were saying about color.  While I found that most new information on this topic has ditched the four seasons and now just refers to people as cool, warm and neutral, the basics of color analysis have not changed much since Color Me Beautiful was written.

There are several tests that you can do to determine if your skin has warm or cool undertones.  First, there is the drape test.  Take a piece of tinfoil and another piece of golden foil.  Remove all your makeup, and stand in front of a mirror in natural light.  Drape the silver foil around your face and then observe the following things: your eyes, your teeth, the darkness under your eyes and the smoothness of your skin.  Then take the golden foil and do the same thing.  Which ever one is better for you will make your eyes brighter, your teeth whiter, your skin smoother and the dark circles under your eyes less noticeable.  If it is the silver foil that makes you look your best, you are cool toned.  If it is the gold, you are warm toned.

The next two tests are quicker.  In the same natural light, look at the veins on the under side of your wrists.  If you are warm toned, they will appear green.  If you are cool toned, they will appear blue.  If you are still not sure, recruit a friend to look behind your ear.  Yes, behind your ear.  Look at the skin in the crease created by your upper ear and your skull.  If the skin appears yellow, you are warm toned.  If it is pink, you are cool toned.

Now the really hard work is done.  All that remains is to understand your value, either light or dark, and then get to the business of finding the best colors for you.  If you want to know more about this topic and see some examples of specific color palates, watch the video.  It really is worth your time to figure out what colors compliment your skin and avoid the days when five people ask you if you are tired or sick when you feel just fine!

Details, Pattern and Proportion

IMG_5219Dressing your best means more than just choosing great styles; it means choosing great styles for YOU.  I have embarked on a live video series called Fashionable Friday to share with you some of the basics of good dressing that I have learned over the years.  I will be re-capping the content of my videos in my blog posts over the next several weeks, but if you want to see how to put these principles into practice, watch the live videos on my Facebook Group Page Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas each Friday morning at 9 a.m.

Details in clothing refer to things like lace, ruffles, embroidery, or stylistic additions that clothing manufacturers add to the style to direct the eye and draw attention.  They can be helpful or harmful to figure flattery depending on your skill in using them.  Keep in mind that wherever you have a detail on your clothing, the eye will naturally be drawn to that spot.  If you have embroidery at the neck of your top, it will highlight your face which is good.  If, on the other hand, you take that same detail and place it around the top’s hemline, the eye will be drawn to your middle.  If you are slim hipped, this would be a good use of detail.  If, however, you are wide hipped, that added detail will work against you rather than for you, making you seem wider. Read more about using color to draw attention to your assets here.

This same principle is true on skirts.  If you have a midi skirt with a ruffle detail that hits you right at mid-calf, the eye will be drawn to your legs and in particular to your calves.  Again, depending upon your body type, this may be a good or bad thing.  You need to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to drawing attention to your figure.  Make sure your clothing is accenting your best feature and not your worst.

Pattern works similarly.  Used appropriately, it can be slimming and help hide figure flaws.   It is important to keep your prints in proportion with your body.  If you are petite or short, you will want to choose small prints.  If you are tall or plus, you will want to choose larger prints.  In addition to knowing the size of print best suited for you, it is helpful to understand the difference between tonal and contrasting prints.  Tonal prints will have different shades of the same base color.  You might have tobacco, chocolate, and tan mixed together, as an example.  Contrasting prints have different colors mixed together, say black, pink and white.  Tonal prints will always be more slimming than contrasting prints.

Placement of prints on your body can draw the eye to your assets.  Wearing a printed top and a black bottom, for example is a good choice if you are small on top and larger at the hips.  The same principle is true the opposite way.  If you are slim hipped but large busted, wear a tonal print on the bottom with a solid top.

One of the prints that seems to cause people a lot of trouble are stripes.  Many women feel they can never wear stripes.  This is simply not true!  If you are smart about stripes, they can work for you rather than against you.  Largely spaced stripes, like those in a buffalo plaid for example, will make you look wider.  If you are small busted, these stripes can actually give the appearance of a larger bust.  If, on the other hand, you are busy or heavy, you will want to avoid largely spaces stripes over the heaviest portion of your body.  Conversely, Thinly spaced stripes, can be very slimming.  These types of stripes work to lengthen your body and are good for short waisted body types.

This brings me to proportion.  Understanding if you are short or long waisted is an important part of dressing your best.  To find out, just measure from the bottom of your last rib to the top of your hip bone.  If the measurement is only a few inches, you are short waisted.  If it is four inches or more, you are long waisted.  To keep your body in balance, you want to give the impression of perfect proportion.  Thus, short waisted women need to elongate the torso and therefore should wear low to mid rise pants.  Long waisted women want to shorten the torso and therefore should wear higher rises.  I will be talking more about this on my next Fashionable Friday live video this coming Friday, December 15th at 9 a.m.  I’d love for you to join me, and feel free to send me a question during the video, and I’ll be happy to answer it!

Use Fit, Fabric and Color to Flatter Your Figure

23122-2-Uptown-Tunic-27141-Jolt-Pant-2295V-2-Pulse-T-27126V-Bravo-Pant-720x1080Great dressing means using fit, fabric and color to lengthen your body, slim your figure and direct attention to your assets and away from your problem areas.  Here’s what you need to know to make this happen.

A good fit means your clothes skim over your body.  When your clothes are too tight or too loose, they add pounds.  You want your clothing to show your figure without clinging to it.  To judge if you have the right fit, all your buttons, lapels, pockets and seams need to lay flat.  If your garment is too tight, pockets will bulge, seams will stretch, buttons will gap.  Conversely, if your shoulder seam is 1/2 over the crest of your shoulder or if you have extra fabric under your arms when you lift them up, those are signs the item is too loose.  You want the shoulder seam to sit right at the end of your shoulder before it begins to slope down into your arm.  Having a poorly fitting shoulder will give the appearance of rounded shoulders.

Another key aspect of good fit is hemlines.  Your shirt sleeves should come to your wrist bone and no further.  When your shirt sleeve is too long, your whole top will look too big.  Similarly, when your pant leg is too long, the fabric will be pushed up from the bottom of the pant, making the knee and legs of the pant fit poorly.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been down on my hands and knees folding pants up so a customer could see that issue was not in the fit of the pant but in the fact the pant leg was just too long.  It is amazing the difference that a properly fitting hem makes.  It is worth the money and the time to get your shirts and pants hemmed to the perfect length.

Your choice of fabric will also make a difference in how your clothing flatters your figure.  You want the fabric to fall smoothly over your body.  Stiff fabrics will hold their own shape, and can add pounds.  Too soft of fabric will cling to every lump and bump.  Ideally, you want a fabric right in the middle of these two that is soft but beefy.  Heavier fabrics will drape instead of cling.  Remember that you get what you pay for in fabric.  The better quality fabric, the nicer it will look on your body.  It is helpful to understand cost per wear when you are considering more expensive fabrics and clothing.  Read my blog post on that topic here.

It is also helpful to understand how to combine colors for optimum figure flattery.  Anywhere you create a line of contrast between one color and another will draw attention to that area.  For example, if you are hippy and wear a colored jacket that rests right at your hips over black pants, you will be drawing attention to your problem area rather than away.  Monochromatic dressing (or wearing the same color head to toe) eliminates this issue and creates one, long, clean line from head to toe.  This will slim you and make you seem taller.  You can play around with adding two tones of the same color like black and charcoal, as this will still allow you to have the long line without having to dress in all the same color.  Dark colors absorb light and make you look slimmer, so wear them over your problem areas.  If you do create a contrast line by pairing a top and bottom of different colors, make sure the line is in a flattering place on your body.

You can join me for live videos on the topic of figure flattery each Friday at 9 a.m. on our Facebook Group Page Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas.  Just join the group, and you will be able to see the videos live as well as ask questions during them.  You can also view previous live videos on our website.

Throw kindness around like confetti!

 

What Is Style?

I read something this morning that resonated.  Fashion and style are not synonymous; while one definitely informs the other, they are decidedly different.  Let me explain.  Fashion refers to the trends of the moment – the styles, fabrics, cuts, and themes that inform what is trendy and what is dated.  Fashion, by nature, is a moving target.  It constantly changes from season to season, year to year.  Style, on the other hand, is constant, transcending the moment.  Style is the distinctive way we act, dress and talk; style is the persona we put on for the world around us.  

I think there are some inherent themes that determine personal style.  Are you classic, tailored, bohemian, organic, sporty, funky, utilitarian, or edgy, for example? If you’re not sure, the style you gravitate toward in clothing, is probably also reflected in your life style, attitudes and decorating.  Would you, for example, choose a leather couch with clean lines (classic) or an overstuffed couch with an ethnic feel (bohemian)?  Or maybe you are more of a futon person (utilitarian).

Whatever your choice, personal style will affect every clothing decision you make.  How you wear a trend will have much to do with your inherent style.  A classic, for example, might take a trend like a velvet kimono and pair it with a collared blouse, belt it at the waist, and wear it with sleek black pants.  A funky would take that same kimono and pair it with ripped leggings, military boots and a tee.  Therefore, having a clear understanding of your style preference is the first place to start in your journey to dressing well.  

If you’d like to learn a little more about this idea, join me Friday, November 17th at 9 a.m. for the first in a series of Fashionable Friday live videos.  I’ll be discussing all of the elements of personal style like how to choose the best colors for your skin, how to use style to direct attention to your best assets, how to evaluate fit, how to dress your body type and more.  The very first live video in the series on November 11 will delve into this issue of personal style: how to determine yours and how to use it to make good wardrobe buying decisions.  Join me on my Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas Facebook Group Page at 9 a.m. next Friday morning to begin your journey to becoming a well dressed woman.  

We all want to feel beautiful, so always remember, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.