5 Key Sweater Trends

It’s almost sweater season, and now is the time to grab some new styles to update your wardrobe. In my “Kyleen’s Picks” collection of the week, I wanted to highlight some of my favorite new sweaters and tell you a little about the sweater trends to be watching for this season.

1. Sweater ponchos: Top left
A true poncho is more like a cape, but designers have taken that basic style and adapted it this season to sweaters. While a typical poncho has open sleeves, many of the poncho sweaters I’m seeing are more sweater than poncho and have sewn in sleeves while maintaining that looser poncho feel. A great example of this is our new poncho sweater from Charlie B that has just arrived. With its rounded hemline and loose fit, it feels a bit like a mix between a poncho and a tunic sweater. I love the casual style that pairs beautifully with jeans. You can see more views of this sweater here: https://fashioncrossroadsinc.com/products/charlie-b-funnel-neck-poncho

2. Reversible Sweaters: Top Middle
This new reversible sweater from Charlie B is such a great combination with its tobacco dominant side and grey dominant side. I love this trend because it gives so much value to the sweater because you can wear it both ways offering two color palates. And, the great thing about these two palates is one is warm and one is cool, giving you loads of pairing opportunities! You can see more views of this sweater here: https://fashioncrossroadsinc.com/products/charlie-b-reversible-print-sweater

3. Long Sweater Cardigans: Top Right
We are still seeing the long sweater cardigans be a strong trend that has continued from last season. Long sweater cardigans work well as light weight coats in the fall and as warm and cozy sweaters in the dead of winter. They also are great for the office because they simulate a jacket and look professional. I’m loving this new black and white plaid that has just arrived because of its versatility. Take a closer look here: https://fashioncrossroadsinc.com/products/charlie-b-pepper-hooded-cardigan

4. Tie Dye: Bottom Left
Tie dye prints are everywhere this season, so it is no surprise that we are seeing them on sweaters. While many tie dye prints I have seen are focusing on neon colors, I love that this one has a subtle grey and black print. Tie dye typifies casual, so this style may be best left for the weekend, but I think it could be easily paired with both jeans and leggings to change up the look and give it mileage in your wardrobe. Plus, it is just so darn stylish! Grab it here: https://fashioncrossroadsinc.com/products/tribal-long-sleeve-tie-dye-top

5. Nordic: Bottom Right
Nordic inspired sweaters are a really strong trend for the season, and they feel fresh because we haven’t seen them in awhile. What makes a sweater “Nordic” is the diamond shaped prints that harken back to the classic ski chalet sweater. I think this new grey one is so pretty with its denim and cream accents. Get a closer look here: https://fashioncrossroadsinc.com/products/charlie-b-grey-alpine-sweater

Every week, I choose some new arrivals that are my favorites. These sweaters are my “picks of the week” because they all offer a new trend that will keep your look trendy and stylish. You can see them all in my weekly collection here:
https://fashioncrossroadsinc.com/collections/kyleens-picks-for-the-week

Fall And Winter Color Trends for 2020

If 2020 were a color palate, what would you choose? Thank goodness we don’t have to wear the sad colors that probably first jumped to mind! With lovely pops of color like Mint, Mustard, Cayenne, Powder Blue, and Hot Coral, your fall and winter wardrobe can actually help brighten your mood!

Let’s start with key neutrals. Navy and grey have taken over black as the trendiest neutrals, and the geniuses who decide what colors will trend did us all a favor by including colors that pair well with navy. Many of us feel a little unsure of what to wear with navy and so avoid it, but if you think about your favorite pair of dark denim jeans as an example of navy, perhaps that will help you feel more confident! Mustard, yellow, hot coral, mint, grey, and powder blue all look amazing matched up with navy. For grey, try the bright yellow, powder blue, and the hot coral as great choices. A more neutral palate choice might be a navy top and grey bottom or vice versa.

Mustard (Zinnia) and Cayenne are warmer colors and will pair well together or with browns. Think of a warm sunset to help you imagine these colors. And, while you are imagining a sunset, add in a beach and a pina colada. That might improve your mood too!

For those of you who prefer cooler tones, you will love the Mint, Bright Yellow, and Powder Blue. The last of these is a personal favorite because it makes me feel peaceful….there is just something about soft blue that is soothing. On the days when you need a pick me up, choose the brighter colors and on the days you just need to feel peaceful, choose the blue.

All in all, embrace color this season. It can do a lot for your perspective on things. Let your clothes lead your psyche into a better place because we WILL make it through this! Better times are ahead.

For more on this and for examples from our store of these colors and how the pair them up, watch our Saturday Savy video which will be published this Saturday on our Facebook Page.

How To Wear The Latest Short Trends

Have you noticed the re-surgence of shorts in the market this season? The come back of shorts for all ages actually began last summer,  but this trend has truly taken hold here in Wyoming for summer 2020.  For some of you, this new trend will be a welcome change from the capris that have dominated the market for the last 5 years.  For others, it may have been awhile since you wore shorts, and you may be feeling a bit reluctant.  As a result, I thought it might be helpful to all of you for me to do a trend review on the latest short styles.

First of all, let me reassure you that I am seeing many lengths of shorts in the market this season from short ripped up denim styles all the way to the traditional longer Bermuda style that is pictured above. If you have been used to wearing capris and/or are reluctant to show your legs, the longer styles might be a good place to start.  Bermuda styles will hit just above the knee, leaving only the bottom half of the leg exposed.  If you are in for a shorter length, the mid thigh styles are very popular as well.  As a woman of almost 50, I’m going to leave the shorter, distressed jean styles to my 15 year old daughter, but the choice is totally up to you!

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Just as with denim, the trendiest shorts are printed, colored or embroidered.  You’ll see everything from checkers to stripes and every kind of embroidery and embellishment you can imagine.  Take a look at the denim shorts in the picture above from Charlie B and notice the cute embroidered flowers.  These details add a flirty and youthful feeling to the short as well as make them distinctive.  As far as color goes, look for mustard, yellow, coral, and olive denim as well as a variety of regular denim from vintage wash to dark and even striped.

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Another fun new trend are regular rise, fabric shorts with tie front waists like the one pictured above.  These make great dressy shorts and can be worn with wedges to casual weddings or other events that require dressed up casual.  Look for these in lots of checkered prints from black and white to coral and white.  Pair them with a tucked in top to show off the waist.

While many businesses allow capris, few will allow employees to wear shorts.  This is a downside to this trend, so if your employer won’t allow shorts, instead of sticking to your capris this season, go for slim, ankle length pants.  These are also very trendy and look amazing with a heel and dressy top.  To correctly pull off this style, the length is very important.  An ankle length pant should hit an inch above your ankle bone.

The good news about shorts is that I don’t see this trend going away anytime soon so you will be able to wear the ones you buy this season next summer as well.  And, let’s face it, when it gets hot, you want as little fabric on as possible.

 

 

5 Steps to Embracing Trends And Still Dressing Your Age

pearsonphoto2018_031As a boutique that focuses on career clothing for women aged 30 and over, I often get asked if wearing the trends means a woman is dressing too young.  My emphatic answer is a resounding NO! I have ladies in their sixties and seventies that keep up with the trends while still always looking age appropriate.  I think there is a misconception that at a certain age, you should stop worrying about being trendy.  I totally disagree.  We’ve all seen women who looked like they were dressing too young, and these experiences cause us to worry that we might be doing the same thing.  But, the key is not to avoid the trends; the key is to wear the trends appropriately.  Here are my 5 tips for embracing the trends while still dressing your age.

  1. Keep it classy: If you are over forty-five, you may want to avoid plunging necklines, too short of hemlines, spaghetti straps and overly tight fitting clothes.  These, more than anything else, can make you look like you are dressing too young.  If mini-dresses are in, for example, this doesn’t mean you avoid them altogether, but it may mean that you look for a longer rather than shorter mini dress and wear it with tonal tights to avoid drawing attention to the hemline.  If you love skinny jeans, wear them, but choose a longer top that covers your front and rear.  Use jackets and cardigans to cover problem areas and make the look more conservative.
  2. Choose the more conservative version of the trend: Every fashion trend has a scale from edgy to conservative.  As an example, consider the cold shoulder trend that we have just seen come and go.  As a buyer, I saw everything from the whole shoulder and half the arm to just a small sliver of the shoulder being exposed.  The latter of these would be the more conservative version of the trend.  Staying away from the edgy side allows you to wear the trend while still making it appropriate for your age.  As a general rule, the older you are, the more conservative you should go.
  3. Wear the trends correctly: Being knowledgeable about how the trend should be worn is key.  Oftentimes, a trend is dependent upon the other items in your outfit being the right style to pull it off.  As an example, right now the trendy hem length in bottoms is an ankle length (an inch above the ankle bone).  This style needs the right type of shoe to make it work.  If you are short, ankle length bottoms work much better with a little heel or wedge.  It is also important that the bottom hits you at the right place on your ankle.  Too long or too short, and the pant looses its trendiness and just looks strange.  Another example is the long, printed blouses that are trendy this season.  A long blouse worn with bootcut jeans will look strange.  You need a skinny or slim bottom to help balance out the volume of the top. To be sure you know how to wear a trend, ask your favorite boutique sales staff to educate you or google the trend and look a images.
  4. Let the brand help you decide: If you shop by brand, paying attention to the marketing images that company is using can really help you decide if the label is appropriate for your age.  Are you 50 but all the models for the brand are 20? That would be an indication that the target market for the brand is a bit younger than you.  If this is the case, you can go back to tip number 2 to be sure you are choosing the less edgy pieces from that brand.
  5. Pay attention to what other fashionable ladies your age are wearing: We can learn so much just by being observant.  Do you have a friend who dresses well that you admire?  What is she wearing? How do your clothing choices compare? Perhaps you’re in a rut with your style and need to freshen things up a bit.  Either your friend or a trusted boutique can help you transition into a trendier wardrobe that is age appropriate.

I hope these guidelines help you and encourage you that being trendy is not just for the young and thin.  Staying up with the times helps us feel beautiful and stylish.  There is no age limit for that!

For examples and more detailed information on this topic, please watch my video How To Embrace The Trends And Still Dress Your Age

What Trends To Buy Now And Wear Next Fall

When you are making your spring purchases, it may be helpful to know what will be trendy for this coming fall so you can buy with an eye to what will transition into the next season.  After all, that is just smart shopping.  Fortunately, many of the strongest trends for spring will also be important for fall.  If you think carefully about your color choices, you will be able to make spring purchases that will carry over.

Top Fall Trends To Buy Now:

  1. Printed tops: From beachy to polka dots and stripes, printed tops are a great way to add a pop of color to your neutral bottoms.  Since there are several carry over colors from spring to fall like mustard, navy, pink, and wine, if you choose your top styles carefully, you should be able to wear them this fall too.  This adorable leaf printed tank could easily be paired under a grey blazer and worn with black slacks for fall, as an example.  IMG_5685
  2. Printed bottoms: look for animal, camo, and herringbone to be key prints for fall bottoms.  As you are shopping spring and summer, you will see many of these same prints, but in lighter colors.  Keep in mind how you might be able to transition your purchases now into fall later.  Grey animal prints, for example, are season-less and can be paired today with a grey tank and next fall with a grey sweater.
  3. Colored denim: I saw everything from mustard, olive green, wine, and even pink for fall, so this is a trend you will definitely be able to carry into next season.  Obviously, some of the more summery colors like mint won’t work, but if you buy a mustard or pink jean now, you will most definitely be able to wear it next season.
  4. Colored blazers: Just as a rainbow of colored denim was a key trend, I saw this same idea in blazers.  Again, thinking forward, if you buy a color like denim blue, mustard, or pink, you will be able to wear it now while it is colder and then use it again when the leaves start to fall.
  5. Embellished jeans: The market was flooded with all kinds of embellished bottoms for spring and summer.  See my spring trends blog post for more info.  This trend will continue to be very strong into fall.  Look for raw edges, painted designs, and embroidery to grace the bottoms of jeans.  Again, since everything is about the ankle length right now, the ankle jeans you buy now will most definitely be wearable in the fall as well.  The great thing about ankle length bottoms is they are season-less!
  6. Teddy Bear Coats: This trend takes nubby fabric, like you might find on a teddy bear, and applies it to an over sized, zip up coat body.  The most popular color that I saw was teddy bear brown, see below.  We saw this trend be strong for this past fall season too, so if you bought one, you will definitely be able to wear it next fall or if you find one this spring that you like, you can feel confident that this trend will continue.  IMG_5689
  7. Wool Dress Coats: I am doing the happy dance on this one! While I love my down coats for warmth, I have missed the classic wool dress coat!  They are back for next season.  Now is the time to shop for coats, so if you find a wool dress style you like, buy it and put it away for next season.
  8. Vests: Here in Wyoming we love our vests.  They are so versatile, and a very handy extra layer when it is 2 degrees.  They will be fashionable next season, and I saw everything from down puffy vests to suede vests to menswear inspired styles. Vests are 3 season items, working for spring, fall and winter.  Thus, they are always a great investment.
  9. Shoe boots: Because the ankle length bottom is so strong, shoe boots continue to be an important trend in shoes.  I saw quite a few printed shoe boots, especially in animal prints.  Again, these are a great transitional style that will work now as well as into the next season.
  10. Polka Dots: The dots just keep going and going.  There is no slow down in the pre-occupation of designers with polka dots.  Again, a black and white dot top will work well for spring and fall.  Another great choice, would be a navy and white or mustard and white option.  These are colors that will transition easily into colder weather.  Wear white with them in the summer and then choose navy or black in the winter.

Re-Fill: Step 3 To A Closet That Makes Sense

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So here is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and this is why you have faithfully gone through Get Organized: Step 1 To A Closet That Makes Sense and Refresh and Renew: Step 2 To A Closet That Makes Sense .  Now, you are truly ready to take advantage of your newly organized and cleaned out closet.  If you would like, you can also watch my videos on our YouTube Channel where I explain the process in detail, and if you need even more help in the process, you can join our VIP Facebook Group, Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas , and watch me go through the process in my own closet! 

The goal for today’s time spent in your closet is to create a “Buying List” where you will record all the things you need to shop for in the future.  I recommend that you carry this list with you in your purse for those unplanned shopping days.  It will keep you on track to purchase the things you need, and, as a result, you will be a smarter shopper who avoids bringing items home that have to be eliminated in your next closet clean out!

Please grab a piece of paper and divide it into 3 Categories:

  1. Basics I Need
  2. Items that Need Matches
  3. Trends I Want To Buy

BASICS I NEED:

This section of your list should include all the core basics that are missing from your closet or need to be replaced.  Basics include solid neutrals such as grey, black, white, tan, navy, brown.  Take a moment to take stock of your sleeved and sleeveless tops, jackets, skirts and pants.  Are there any that you didn’t pull out but that are wearing out? If yes, write this down on your list.  Other items in this category might be classic prints and fabrics like Hounds-tooth,  tweed, some basic plaids, etc. Also consider your layering pieces.  Are there any jackets that need basic tops to complete them? Do you have any basic slacks that lack a coordinating blouse or top? Do you have a good white blouse? Do you have a basic black dress that can be dressed up or down? Do you have a nice pair of black work slacks? What about your shoes? Do any of these need to be replaced? This step should produce the biggest portion of your list because these are the core items in your closet that work back and forth with everything else.  These are the things that you should spend more money on and focus on getting quality that will last.

ITEMS THAT NEED MATCHES:

This section of your list is for all those printed items that need a match to make them work.  Is a there a jacket that you don’t wear enough because you don’t really like the top that goes with it? Write that down.  Is there a printed skirt that needs a top to match?  Maybe you eliminated a top that you always wore with that skirt in steps one or two of this 3 step process.  Now you need to replace that top.  Write it down on your list.  It is also helpful to take pictures of any printed items so when you get to the store you can remember what colors are in the print.  Better yet, however, is to set some time aside to go “match shopping” and bring all of your items with you so you can see not only how the colors work but also how fabric textures and styles work as well.  Try new items on with your old items and see how they work together before you buy them.

TRENDS I WANT TO BUY:

Make sure you leave some room in your closet for current trends that will keep your wardrobe updated.  Take some time to read trend reports (I’ll have one coming in the near future), and identify your favorite trends of the season.  Write these down so the next time you are shopping, you can pull out your list and remind yourself what you need to look for.  Trendy items can be less expensive because they are the most likely to come and go quickly and won’t need to stand the test of time.  Just keep in mind, the lighter the fabric, the more it will show your figure flaws.  Usually, the thicker (not stiffer) the fabric, the better the drape will be and the better job the item will do of disguising extra weight.

So that’s it.  You’ve made it!  Wow! Great job! I’d love to hear your feedback on your biggest “ah ah” moments from going through this process.  And now…happy shopping!

Refresh and Renew: Step 2 To Creating A Closet That Makes Sense

pearsonphoto2018_010I hope you have enjoyed your newly organized closet! If you missed joining me for Get Organized: Step 1 To Creating A Closet That Makes Sense, you can read my blog post about how to do that here or you can watch my YouTube video on the process here.

I performed step 1 on my own closet via a live video in our Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas Facebook Group last Tuesday.  To watch that video, join the group here.  It felt good to get things organized, and I eliminated about 15 items that I knew I would never wear again.  They were cluttering my closet, and having the extra space feels good! Heck, now I have the room to buy more…smile!

For those of you who are ready for step 2 in creating a closet that makes sense, this week’s step is called refresh and renew because we are going to take a hard look at what you kept.  I am guessing there were some items that you didn’t pull out because you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of them or because you rationalized their value in your wardrobe and the potential that you will…someday…wear them again.  I know you did this because I did the same thing.  This week, I have challenged myself to wear some of those “sacred cows,” as I call them.  If I can create an outfit that I like with them, they get to stay, but if not, they have to go.

As I have analyzed the top 10 rationalizations I used to determine which items to keep, I think they are probably some of the same ones you use too.  For me, these are the main arguments for hanging on:

  1. I might lose weight and be able to wear this again.
  2. If I would just take this to a tailor and get it altered I would wear it again.
  3. This is still fashionable, and I still love it, so how can I let it go?
  4. I wore this item for my anniversary with my husband so I should keep it for sentimental value.
  5. I might need this for a party, vacation, or special event some day.
  6. I wouldn’t be caught dead in this any more, but I could wear it around the house or when I go camping.
  7. I can’t have too many sweaters, vests and coats; I live in Wyoming!
  8. This is a classic that never goes out of style.
  9. I can’t fit in this anymore, but I will use it as “motivation” to lose weight.
  10. I just bought this item last year, so it is a waste of money to get rid of it.

Do any of these excuses seem familiar? Building from this, I think we can create a list of corresponding questions that will help you evaluate what you kept to determine if those items really do need to stay in your closet another year.  So, here is what I want you to do: go through your closet and gather up all your “sacred cows” (the items that you have probably considered letting loose before now but always talk yourself out of) and every other item you did not wear in 2019.  Take them out of your closet into another room and then, one by one, answer the following questions for each item:

  1. I might lose weight and be able to wear this again. Is this item either my current size, ONE size bigger,  or ONE size smaller than I wear today? If the answer is “no,” it goes.
  2. If I would just take this to a tailor and get it altered, I would wear it again. Can I take this item to a tailor in the next 10 days? If the answer is “yes,” put this date on your calendar and keep it.  If the answer is “no,” it goes.
  3. This is still fashionable, and I still love it, so how can I let it go?  If the item is still in fashion and you still love it but haven’t worn it in a year, you need to evaluate why.  Take a minute now and try it on.  Maybe there is just a fit issue that you don’t like.  Perhaps it clings too much in the wrong places.  Maybe it is itchy.  Maybe it drains the color out of your face.  If you discover any issue with the item that has been keeping you from wearing it, it goes.
  4. I wore this item for my anniversary with my husband so I should keep it for sentimental value. This one is tough.  We tend to attach sentimental value to items we wore for special events, and we hold on to them for that reason.  For me, the decision to keep these items is really about space.  Do you have the space to hold onto items that you will probably never wear again? If the answer is no, it goes.  Is there another place that you could store them, say perhaps a cedar chest? If the answer is yes, move it.
  5. I might need this for a party, vacation, or special event some day. So I am particularly bad about number 5.  I had dresses I hadn’t worn in more than a year (and that I didn’t wear on my last beach vacation) that I was saving for my next beach vacation.  I had a hard talk with myself and they ended up in the “donate” pile.  After all, part of the fun of a vacation is buying something new for it.  Do you know for sure that you are taking a vacation or having a special event in 2020 that you would wear the item to? If the answer is “no,” it goes.
  6. I wouldn’t be caught dead in this any more, but I could wear it around the house or when I go camping.  Do you already have enough “wear around the house” or “painting” or “cleaning” or “camping” items? (I’m guessing your answer will be “yes.”) Are any of those worn out? (probably yes again.) Consider adding these items to your comfy group after you have thrown some others out.
  7. I can’t have too many sweaters, vests and coats; I live in Wyoming! Yes, hoarding coats and sweaters when you live in a state that has 6 months of winter seems to make sense, however, how many coats do you really need? Let me help you out: 1 long dress coat, 1 3/4 length dress coat, 1 casual coat, 1 sport coat (like a skiing jacket), and 1 spring coat.  Okay, okay…maybe you can add 1 trendy coat, but I’m giving you that one, coat hoarder….I’m speaking to myself here.  Coats are especially needed by the poor and disadvantaged, so that is even more incentive to get rid of them.  As far as sweaters go, if you didn’t wear it last year….guess what….it goes.
  8. This is a classic that never goes out of style. Another particularly tempting rationalization for me is the “you should never get rid of a classic” argument.  Well, here’s what I know about clothing from having been in this business for over twenty years.  Even when manufacturers and designers bring back a classic like the blazer, they change it just enough to make the older ones seem out of date.  The changes are small things like length, number of buttons, collar style, sleeve length, etc., but they are just enough to cause your “classic” item to become “vintage.”  Here’s my rule for “classic pieces:” if you haven’t worn it in the last TWO years, it goes.  Oh, and just in case you need to know what items qualify as “classic,” here is a list: blazers; solid collared, button up blouses; layering pieces like tanks, turtle necks and light weight sweaters; suit skirts in neutral colors; slacks in neutral colors; basic black dresses.
  9. I can’t fit in this anymore, but I will use it as “motivation” to lose weight. Okay ladies, I’m going to be in your business a little here.  Pardon me.  I have your best interests at heart, I promise.  Our bodies change as we age.  At 48, I am going through this very thing myself.  There are certain aspects of my body that will never look the same as they did five or ten years ago.  I am a BIG advocate for staying active and healthy, however, I am also realizing that I need to let some expectations about my body go.  Size 4 may be gone for me…I don’t know.  I’m working on it to see.  But, I definitely know size 2 is out, and I don’t want to work that hard to get back there any way.  If it is too tight or too small for me to get into, it goes.
  10. I just bought this item last year, so it is a waste of money to get rid of it.  We ALL make buying mistakes.  Who knows why we do it? Maybe we were influenced by a shopping partner or we were in the mood for something new or out of the box that day.  Whatever it was that caused us to buy it, we have questioned that decision ever since.  As an example, I pulled a pair of floral wrap pants out of my closet during the first step of this process that I just bought last summer.  I wore them once and then passed them up the rest of the season.  Why? They really weren’t me.  If it’s new, but you keep passing it by for other things when you get dressed in the morning, it goes.

Okay, that’s it.  These are the top 10 rationalizations I have made (and I’m guessing you have made) and my answers for them.  If you need some more motivation or emotional support in this step of the process, join me while I apply these 10 questions to my own closet in a live video on our Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas group page on Facebook on Tuesday, January 14th at 10 a.m.  To watch the video, ask to join the group by clicking this link.

Or, if you want to watch my video explaining this process, you will be able to see that on YouTube or our Fashion Crossroads Facebook Business Page on Saturday, January 11th.

See you next week!

Reflections On Christian Dior

My husband and I recently visited the Christian Dior exhibit at the Denver Art Museum.  When I told him I wanted to go, he raised one eye brow and asked, “Really?”  My emphatic “Yes!” convinced him that arguing was futile.  I can’t blame his hesitancy; I’m in fashion and so, of course, I would be interested in seeing over one hundred dresses and suits designed for women over several centuries.  The rationale for him to go was less compelling.

The crowd at the museum, filled with anticipation, looked a bit like a New York fashion show.  This was definitely not the typical, casual Denver crowd.  One woman, in particular, caught my eye in a sporty, form fitting white dress with matching dressy tennis shoes, complete with gold accents.  Her ensemble was made complete with wide rimmed white glasses.  Men in dress shirts, slim pants, sleek shoes and scarves held the arms of beautiful women dressed in all black.  A whole group of fashionable women laughed and talked in high pitched voices, their pink, streaked and bobbed hair styles bouncing as they turned heads to chat.

With the first exhibit, Christian Dior’s classic women’s suits in black captured my attention.  The structured fabrics tailored just perfectly to accentuate the curves of a woman’s body, and the impeccable tailoring still fashionable today, made me wish I could wear one.  From these first suits to the last dramatic dresses, I wandered from exhibit to exhibit in complete awe of the beautiful workmanship and creativity expressed again and again through the decades, and always with careful attention in how to best flatter the female frame.

My favorite dresses were in a grouping of floral inspired gowns dedicated to Christian Dior’s sister who he named his Miss Dior perfume after.  One beautiful gown had hundreds of hand sewn flowers that peeked out of delicate and flowing organza so that as you walked around the dress, you could see yet another flower you hadn’t seen before.  The art work and craftsmanship were inspiring.   The most surprising piece of art work at the exhibit was a Salvador Dali bust of a woman with a french baguette on her head.  As it turns out, Dali and Dior were friends and partners in trying to challenge the traditional views of women, art and fashion.

As we walked back to the car in silence, I asked my husband what he had thought of the exhibit.  “Fashion really is art,” he mused, pausing.  “I really didn’t understand that until I watched ‘The Devil Wears Prada,’ you know, how much fashion actually influences our society.”  “Yes, honey. ” I responded. “I’m so glad we went.”

 

5 Steps To A New Year Closet Clean Out

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It’s a new year…the time to move out the old and move in the new!  Perhaps you’ve already made a few New Year’s Resolutions.  I like to start the year by getting organized.  I find, when I feel organized, I feel more in control and less frazzled.

One of the first places to get organized is your closet.  There is nothing worse than starting the day out with a harried rush to put together an outfit and putting on and then taking off several outfits before you decide on one.  You can make getting dressed in the morning a breeze and a pleasure with a few simple tips on closet organization.

  1.  First, each year you need to remove the items you haven’t worn in a year.  So, if you didn’t do this at the start of the winter season, do it now.  You will be tempted to talk yourself out of removing items, so don’t second guess this process. Don’t worry that you will have to get rid of anything.  Instead just separate out all of those items and lay them somewhere out of eye sight.  We will get back to this pile later.
  2. Second, separate your tops, bottoms and dresses and put them together.  This will make putting an outfit together so much easier, and you will begin to see holes in your wardrobe that you never noticed before.
  3. Third, within your tops, organize them so that the short sleeved tops are together and the long sleeved tops are together.  If you have both summer and winter in your closet, also separate them by season so the summer are together and winter are together.  Do this same thing with your bottoms.  Put your leggings, slacks, jeans together by category and season. Last finish with your dresses.  Put your sleeveless, short sleeved and long sleeved dresses together and separate them by season.
  4. Fourth, color code each section.  Do you remember learning how the memorize the colors of the rainbow with the ROYGBIV acronym?  It stands for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.  Put each section, for example short sleeve tops, into this color order.  Keep the hues together: pinks go with reds, turquoise with blue or green depending on the color, etc.  Finish with your neutrals in this order: white, tan, brown, grey, black.  When you are finished, you should have each section organized by color.
  5. Fifth, now let’s tackle that pile from step one.  First go through it and separate out any item that is out of date, pilled, stained, torn, un-hemmed, etc.  These go in the donate pile.  Then, consider each remaining item carefully.  If it is a classic piece, like a black blazer, keep it.  If you love it and can’t part with it, keep it one more season, but if you haven’t worn it when you repeat this process next year, donate it.

Now, stand back and admire all your hard work.  You now should be able to clearly see what you have and what you don’t.  What do you notice.  You probably can quickly see that you tend to buy certain colors.  You might notice that you are really short on blouses but have a ton of pull over tops.  Or you may see that you need some more long sleeve tops.  Perhaps you have too many jeans.  When your closet is organized, it will talk to you, and you can be a smart shopper in filling in holes rather than just buying because you love it.

The other benefit to this process is ease of putting outfits together.  Now, when you choose your slacks for your work day, you can go to your jacket section and choose one that matches and then to your shell section and choose a coordinating shell.  No more searching through an unorganized mess.

If you’re feeling really industrious, why not do this with your purses and shoes too?  Believe me, it is worth the effort!

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.