10 Steps To Being A Smart Shopper

pearsonphoto2018_010We 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 encouraging.  So, in the spirit of getting right down to it, here are my 10 simple steps to becoming a smart shopper.

But, 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’s a bit OCD, but I am totally convinced it will make your life so much simpler, I want you to spend the time doing it.  The “it” I am talking about is organizing your closet.  First, go through your clothing and separate everything you haven’t worn in a year.  Take it out and put it some other place for a short time.  Next, seperate your tops, pants, skirts and dresses into different areas of your closet.  Then, seperate your winter tops from your summer tops and then do this with your pants, skirts and dresses.  At the end of this step, you should have all your tops together, all your pants together, all your skirts together and all your dresses together.  Within each of those sections, you should have your summer items seperated from your winter items.  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.  No, 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.  Donate the rest.  Whew….sit down and rest a bit.

Why, you ask, did I have you go through that 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 like 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 you eye.

Step 3 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.

Step 4 is to 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 is to 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 is to 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 is 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 is to 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 them to disassociate what they feel is stylish for what actually looks good on you.  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 its right or wrong?

Step 8 is to buy or the body you have and not the body you want.  We get ourselves into trouble when we do one of two things: buy a size smaller than we need because we are going to loose weight or avoid buying anything until we loose weight.  The problem with both of these lies in the same basic principle: when you feel good about how you look, you feel more motivated to do better in other areas of your life.

How To Rock A Graphic Tee

Let’s face it; a tee shirt and jeans is just…well…meh.   But with all the focus on graphic tees right now, you may have been wanting to dig into the back of your closet for some of those old concert tees…. Lord help us!

Better yet, grab a new tee that represents your lifestyle.  The trendiest tees tell the world what you are about.  Are you a mom?  Do you love Jesus?  Are you a badass?  Your tees should make you say, “hell yeah!”  I’m a huge fan of a new one we just received that says, “My husband has a freakin’ awesome wife.  True Story.”  I don’t know about you, but my husband needs reminding of this simple fact every now and then.  Then there’s the sweet, “Always stay humble and kind.”  I’ll wear that one after my husband has taken the hint!  And, once he’s read this blog post there will be a “Bad Moon Rising” in our house!  But that is okay, “I put the She in Shenanigans,” right? Oh gosh, I just crack myself up! BTW, just click on the links to see the tees I’m talking about!

Once you have found your perfect tee that represents you, take your style up a notch by pairing it with a kimono or midi cardigan.  Don’t be afraid to mix a printed kimono with a printed tee.  The rule of thumb is to make sure that both the tee and the kimono have the same colors.  When you do this, they will look amazing together.  Take a look at the pictures at the top of this blog post for an example of what I mean.

Now add your favorite ankle jean and gladiator sandal, and you will have a dressed up casual outfit to die for.  And, you’ll be styling some of the latest trends while still announcing to the world that you are uniquely you!  For some ideas on tees and kimonos to style together, check out our tee and kimono collection on our website!

Happy pairing!

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!

 

Discover Sympli – Easy Dressing For Every Body.

What do you get when a woman gets frustrated over the fact she can’t find a simple tee that really fits and flatters?  Well, you get Sympli.  Jan Stimpson’s quest to find a tee led to the creation of a company designed around women’s bodies and fit.  Indeed, the women behind Sympli “shape each garment on multiple women and spend countless hours designing, tucking, pinning and repinning…flattering fit is an evolution and [they] don’t cut corners.”  What is the result of all of this effort?  A garment that fits where you need it to and doesn’t cling where you don’t.  Honestly.

In fact, Sympli is so passionate about creating a product that any woman, no matter what body shape, can wear with confidence, they stand against the unreasonable expectations the fashion industry places on women.  Supporting a Canadian non-profit that helps women overcome eating disorders is just one of the many ways Sympli is taking a stand to encourage women to love their bodies.  The other is creating a product that really fits and flatters, from a size 2 to a size 24.

If you have never tried Sympli, I encourage you to come down to Fashion Crossroads this weekend for our trunk show.  Our Sympli Rep Charlotte has been with the company for over ten years, and will be in the store with the Spring 2018 Sympli samples as well as some in stock samples.  We have stocked the store with new Sympli in preparation for our event, so there are many new items to try!  Best of all, we are having a trunk show party on Sunday from 11-5 p.m. that will be catered by Grant Street Grocery.  Join us for great food, a little wine, and in store modelling from 12-4 p.m.  All in stock Sympli will be $10 off for the entire trunk show, and any Sympli purchase will get you registered to win one of two free Sympli tops to be given away on Sunday.

A Day In The Life At Market

One of my favorite parts of my business is market.  If you love clothes like I do and have an eye for fashion, market is like being a kid in a candy store.  Booth after booth line isles in huge convention centers filled with every type of clothing you can imagine.

I thought my readers might like a closer look at what a day at market is like for me.

A market day starts early with a good breakfast around 8 am and then a taxi or shuttle ride to one of the many markets in Las Vegas.  We buyers call markets “shows” so there is the Off Price Apparel Show, the Women’s Wear In Nevada Show, the Magic Show as well as Stitch, Project, Platform and others.  Whew, I’m out of breath just reading all of those back to myself.  And it’s like that at market, we work at a frenzied pace trying to go to as many shows as possible in the span of five days.

Once we have arrived, we stop at registration to get our buyer’s badges and then wait for the doors to open at 9 am.  Security guards check everyone’s badge, scanning each one.  Once inside the convention hall, it’s a quick check of the schedule and off we go.  Because my mom and I are buying for three stores (two brick and mortar and one online), we often split up so we can maximize our time.

I head to my first vendor and begin looking through the samples.  Different buyers have different preferences for this part.  I like to look through all the samples before I sit down.  Some buyers have the manufacturer rep show them the line by hanging each item on a grid.  I feel this takes too long and since I am always pressed for time, I can speed things up by looking myself.  I know what I want, so usually I will pick the items I am interested in and begin there.  This is when it is really helpful to have a relationship with my manufacturer representative.  If he or she knows me and my store, then the buying process can happen much quicker because my rep can edit the line for me by only showing me what will work for me.

If my mom and I are buying a line together, we both pull items that we like and then go through them together.  Sometimes I will really like something that my mom doesn’t and vice versa.  If one of us feels strongly about an item, we evaluate it together.  The things we consider are sizing, fit, sleeve lengths, color, fabric, target age and ease of wear.  If the item has several negatives, we usually reject it.  So for example, I really like the print and the style of a top, but my mom notices that it seems to run small and has cheap feeling fabric with sleeves that not everyone will like.  Given the negatives, the top would probably get rejected.   This process helps us avoid making bad buys.

After all the appointments have been met, we always try to allow time to browse the show.  This is a time consuming process of simply walking the isles and looking at displays for something that catches our eye.  Usually, we are looking for something specific like jean friendly tops, for example.  This keeps us on track so we don’t end up buying something we already have.  When we see something interesting, we stop and checks line sheets or ask prices.  If the line seems like a good choice, we either sit down at the booth or make an appointment to come back.

At the end of the day, we add up units to make sure we are staying on target with our buying plan.  We use detailed sales reports to help us set buying targets or each vendor. We always allow some “open to buy” for the new vendors that we find.  If we over spend on one vendor because we really liked the line that season, we cut back on another.  It is a delicate balancing act that takes constant vigilance to avoid being over-inventoried.

After a relaxing dinner, we head back to the hotel to write orders before its time to fall asleep so we can get up bright and early the next day to repeat the whole process over again.  And that’s a day in the life at market.

Bra or No Bra?

By far, the most significant summer trend this season is the myriad of shoulder bearing tops.  Ladies, it is time to show your shoulders.  The great news is that we women can heartily accept this trend because, for most of us, the shoulders are one of our best features.  They don’t show fat, and bearing them draws attention upward toward your face rather than downward.

There are a myriad of options for shoulder bearing from the cold shoulder top that has cut outs at the shoulder to the off the shoulder top that is worn down on the arms  One of the biggest issues with tops that show the whole shoulder area is the question of a bra.  Many women are just not willing to go bra-less and, let’s face it, strapless bras leave a lot to be desired.  With all the fiddling and re-positioning that has to happen, it is high maintenance fashion.  Personally, I’d just rather not.

If you feel this way too, may I suggest a bandeau (see picture below).  These little fashion wonders are a great option.  They are essentially a spandex style strapless band that is lined and goes around your bust area.  They work as a solution for any top that cannot be worn with a traditional bra.  We have bandeaus from Nikibiki at our store that are one size and just stretch to fit.  My guess is they will not work for large busted women, but if you are an A cup to a C cup, they should work just fine.

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If you are D cup or larger, you may be stuck wearing a strapless bra to get the support you need.  I like the strapless bras that have the ability to add clear plastic straps.  These essentially disappear against your skin while still providing the stability of a strap.  One other option is to use the Silicone Cover Ups from Hollywood Fashion.  We have sold these in the store and have had great customer feedback about them.  These cover ups are silicone pads that stick to the front of your nipple area to cover it so you have the confidence to go bra-less.

Thus, don’t let the issue of a bra keep you from trying out the seasons hottest trends.  Give these three solutions a try until you find one that works for you, and make sure you bare those shoulders this season.