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.

How Do I Wear Raw Edge Jeans

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A new and important jean trend is raw edge jeans.  If you are unfamiliar with this term, it simply means the bottom edge of the jean where there would normally be a hem is left unhemmed and has a raw edge.  All of our jean companies are jumping on this trend band wagon, so to speak, from our young contemporary jeans like Silver Jeans (pictured above) to our more missy jeans like Jag Jeans and Not Your Daughter’s Jeans.

In fact, let me stop right here and digress a bit.  Ladies, here is a great fashion tip that will serve you well.  Every brand has a target demographic.  You can get a sense of this by looking at the age of the models that the company uses to picture their product.  The missy lines will generally target women aged 45 to 65.  You will see this reflected in both the way they picture their product and in the features.  For example, NYDJ and Jag Jeans make their jeans with a regular rise (comes all the way to the waist), something that appeals to women over 40 because of our tendency to have a muffin top.  So, if NYDJ and Jag are producing a trend like raw edge jeans and they target a missy customer, you can feel secure that you can wear the trend without looking like you are trying to be a teenager.  This is a great tip for age appropriate dressing.

Once you have determined if a trend is something you should wear, the next hurdle is to figure out how to wear it.  If a trend is new to me, I pay close attention at market to see how other buyers and vendors are wearing it.  If I want to see pictures of the trend in action, I will google “how do I wear….”  and then click the images tab.  A search like that will usually lead to a plethora of pictures answering my question.  In fact, a search like that just might lead you to this blog!

In the picture above, you can see me wearing my raw edge jeans from Silver Jeans.  All the raw edge jeans that we have in the store are cut to an ankle length (an inch above the ankle bone).  This length works great with ballerina flats or Converse tennis shoes in the summer and perfectly with shoe boots in the winter.  When wearing shoe boots, you want the raw edge of your jean to hit the top edge of your shoe boot.  If the jean goes inside the boot, you not see the edge, defeating the whole point of the trend.  If the jean goes outside the boot, it may be too long for you.  Getting the right length is one of the most challenging things about the ankle length trend, but it really matters, so hold out for the right length for you! Too short looks odd.  Too long looks like you are preparing for a flood.  Smile.

Get out there and try some raw edge jeans this season.  No telling how long the trend will last, but it’s a fun twist on your basic jean and will make you feel trendy, a confidence booster to be sure!

How To Wear Velvet In The Day

One of things that trips us up sometimes is when a traditional way of looking at a fabric gets turned on its head by a new fashion trend.  This is the case with velvet this season.  Traditionally, velvet has been a dressy fabric, reserved for special occasions, holiday parties, and lounge lizards…smile.  (Don’t ask me why, but I just had an image of John Travolta singing “ah, ah, ah, ah…staying alive”).

Well this season, velvet has emerged as an every day fabric that can work for cozy weekend, work and date night.  Those of you who still think of  it as dressy only, may be struggling to figure out how in the world to wear this new trend.  The answer is really very simple: pair it with a casual fabric like denim.

Let’s face it, while the head to toe velvet active wear jogger is trendy right now, most of us (uh, um) older ladies are not going to go for that.  We can still do velvet, however, by toning it down and mixing it up.  For example, pair a velvet kimono with beat up boyfriend jeans and shoe boots.  Wear a velvet top with dark denim skinny jeans and boots.  Pair a velvet tailored jacket with a classic button down blouse, black slacks and heels.  Do you get the picture?  You have to re-think your old way of seeing velvet.

The truth is, this luxurious fabric is fun to wear.  What is not to like about velvet, unless you are like one of our employees who is wierded out by the fact that if you brush the velvet one way, it’s soft.  But, if you brush it the other way….yikes.  She is just skipping the trend all together.  If you have texture issues, you might want to join her.  For the rest of us, however, velvet is a wonderful fabric and should find a place in our wardrobes this season!

Amping Up Your Plaid

39Button up plaid shirts were a huge trend last fall and winter, so you probably purchased one – at least I hope you did.  This season, manufacturers have re-invented the plaid shirt by adding new details such as a contrasting back, like the one in the picture.  This one from Tribal Sportswear has a pretty floral print, capitalizing on two trends for the season – florals and plaids.  I also have plaid shirts in the store with solid backs as well as blouse tunic plaid styles with uneven hemlines.  If you didn’t get into the plaid trend last season, jump in now!

So what do you do to amp up your plaid shirt from last year that doesn’t have all these fun details?  I love adding a vest over a plaid shirt.  A basic button down blouse works great with any kind of vest, and plaid will coordinate with many fabrics including fur, leather and down.  The key to combining a vest over a blouse is to choose a complimentary color to your plaid.  A tan fur vest, for example, will work beautifully over an olive green, red, burgundy, or brown based plaid.  A silver grey puffy vest would be great over any plaid that has white in it.  I paired a vintage black leather and fur vest today over my olive green and rust plaid shirt as an example.  22281821_10154937840438085_4171428333840452733_nYou can even choose a vest with a little embroidery.  Keep in mind the rule for combining prints – both prints need to have the same colors.  If they do, you can get crazy and put a paisley printed vest over a plaid shirt.  The Tribal plaid is a great example of how to do this.  Get courageous and have some fun with your clothing!