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.



10 Steps To Being A Smart Shopper


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!

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


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!