Our New Normal: 10 Changes To Doing Business In The Midst Of A Pandemic

Recently, I was helping a long time customer in our dressing room area.  For the past several years, we have offered complimentary bottled water and coffee to our customers.  With the financial hardship that Covid19 presented to my business, I have avoided non-necessary expenses.  My customer questioned me on why I didn’t have the water available like I usually do.  Not wanting to get into a conversation about finances, I  simply told her I was out of water.  She was visibly frustrated; she expected the water.  She then went on to mention other changes she noticed in the store.  I made my excuses and tried to keep the conversation positive.

This whole experience got me thinking.  This customer seemed unaware that it was unrealistic to expect things to be as they always had been. It occurred to me that maybe she didn’t know…because no one had told her…how this pandemic has changed things for businesses and how we are all operating under some form of new normal.  I thought it might be helpful to share some changes you might be seeing here in our stores and offer some explanations for them.

  1.  Covid related safety equipment: This change is familiar to most of us.  With the increase in cases all over the country, many businesses, including mine, have added screens at the counter, hand sanitizing stations, temperature checks, rules that employees must wear masks, social distancing floor decals, and extra cleaning.  Additionally, because it is impossible for us to help our customers and maintain 6 feet of distance, we offer free masks and ask that our customers wear a mask.  You might find some of these changes frustrating, as screens limit counter space and masks can be an inconvenience, but we here at Fashion Crossroads Inc. believe that the health and safety of our staff and customers is of vital importance.  We have also found a very good triple layer cloth mask that is made by one of our Canadian vendors.  It sells here in the store for $12, and it fits comfortably while still allowing you to breathe easily.
  2. Fewer perks: As I mentioned in my opening story, I have had to cut down on non-essential expenses.  This means you might have noticed fewer rewards coupons in the past several months or the lack of extras, like coffee cups for the coffee maker.  As everything recovers, I am slowly adding all of these things back…I bought bottled water this week SMILE.  If you have shopped with us within the last several months, your coupons are coming! FC Outlet customers will get a coupon in September and Fashion Crossroads customers will get one in October.  In the mean time, you will still be receiving your earned rewards that you get for spending $200.
  3. Less inventory: Due to the abrupt shut down of our state, I had to make some changes in my inventory.  We received about 80% of our normal spring/summer inventory so the store feels a bit empty right now as a result.  The great news is our new fall from Charlie B, Tribal, and French Dressing will begin arriving next week, so we will soon be full up again!
  4. Changes in inventory flow: Our clothing markets, like all other large events, have been cancelled.  All of the inventory that I order 6 months ahead of time is guaranteed, but the inventory that we usually buy at market will all need to be purchased in other ways.  This will mean that vendors will have to come to the store for me to make an inventory purchase or I will need to buy online.  Sadly, not all vendors have travelling sales people or online capacity.  You may find that it takes longer for me to re-stock on items we carry or I may not even have some of your favorite brands.    If this happens, be sure to let me know.  If there is any way I can order for you, I will.  Additionally, many vendors are behind due to being shut down or to supply disruptions of goods made in countries hard hit by the virus like China.  As a result, some vendors are pushing the inventory shipping dates back.  Please be patient with these changes, as this is an evolving situation.
  5. Low supply of coins: Covid 19 has seriously disrupted the supply of coin and as a result the Federal Reserve has limited the amount of change it sends to banks.  We are trying to stay ahead of this situation by buying extra change rolls.  So far, we have been able to get all the change we have needed.  I have heard of other businesses, however, not being so lucky.  There may come a time when paying with cash might be a challenge.
  6. Smaller than usual staff: I have been fortunate to maintain most of my staff, but I am staffing the store a little differently to respond to a decrease in traffic.  I know many businesses are in the same situation, doing the same work with fewer employees. This may mean that it takes longer for me to respond to your emails, comments on social media or to messages via Messenger.  Please know, your communications are very important to me.  If you don’t get a quick response to a question, please call the store at 307-237-9221.
  7. Changes in vendor offerings: The financial impact of Covid19 hit all sectors of retail, including our manufacturers.  As a result, they too have had to make changes.  Sympli, as an example, is not taking any special orders for the remainder of 2020 because they had to lay off 80% of their seamstresses.  They do have merchandise available that has already been made and can be ordered.  If you want an item that you cannot find in the store, please let me know, and I will see if it is available or if we might be able to get it in another color.
  8. Changes in in-store events: We just finished our VIP Pre-Crazy days sale and were able to have that in-store event while maintaining a safe environment.  The next big in-store event will be our Sympli Trunk Show which is scheduled in September.  I usually host an in store fashion show for that event.  Due to social distancing, we cannot do it the same as we usually do, but I am looking at other options like more spacing or even a virtual show.  I often ask our Fashionistas to weigh in and offer opinions and suggestions on our Fashionistas Facebook group.  If you are not already a member, please join today.
  9. Changes in dressing room protocol: You absolutely can try our clothing on while you are in the store.  What we have changed is that we hang the clothes over night after they have been tried on before returning them to the sales floor.  We also sanitize the dressing rooms in between customers.  We ask that you please give us any clothes that you have tried on so we may be sure to quarantine them properly.
  10. Additional ways to shop: This is a good change that has come from the pandemic.
    1. In addition to shopping in store Monday-Saturday from 10-6, you can shop online at http://www.fashioncrossroadsinc.com. We have beefed up our online inventory and added an in-store pickup option so you don’t have to pay shipping if your total is less than $100.  All online sales have a 30 day return window.
    2. We also post outfits on both Facebook and Instagram.  You can comment on those posts or message me in Messenger with questions about any items you are interested in.  We can then complete the purchase over the phone.  We ship for free if you spend $100 or more.  You can also use our alley way pick up or come and get your purchase in the store.
    3. We have added a personal shopper option called our Fashionista Kit.  You tell us what you want and what your budget is, and we will pull the items for you.  You can have your kit delivered to your home or you can use our alley way pick up option.  Just return what you do not like.
    4. I am hosting live sales the first Wednesday of the month on Facebook from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  You can tune into these on our Fashionistas Facebook Group Page or on either of our business pages for Fashion Crossroads or FC Outlet.  The live sales feature new arrivals from both stores and always have special discounts and give-aways.  To make a live sale purchase, just comment “sold” and the size you want during the live sale.  The purchase will be completed the next day, and you have 2 weeks to return any items.

Fashion Trends for Fall 2020

It’s mid July and serious summer sale season starts next weekend at our annual Crazy Days event.  As we mark down summer and transition the store to sales racks, I always start looking forward to the new fall merchandise that will begin arriving in August and, in earnest, in September.  While most of you are just embracing summer, we in the fashion industry are already shifting gears to fall.

Most of my early fall deliveries will be from vendors that require pre-booking; in other words, I ordered this merchandise last February while I was at market.  That seems like an age ago with the last several months being so dominated with Covid-19.  I wanted to re-mind myself of the significant fall fashion trends, so I looked up several trend reviews and wanted to take a minute to give you an over-view of which ones I think we will see here on the streets of Casper, Wyoming.

IMG_7074 Fringe: this trend continues to be strong, but the most edgy version of fringe has morphed into long, car wash style fringe.  While I doubt we will see much of this dramatic fringe, we will see fringe on purses, tops, accessories, vests and jackets.  This cute top from Vocal, as an example, added interest and detail with a layer of blinged up fringe at the shoulder.

IMG_0817Equestrian: look for lady like and tailored suits  as well as the return of the tall riding boot as a footwear trend.  Here in Wyoming, we love tall boots because they are so practical for our snowy days, and they work with everything from skinny jeans to skirts and culottes.  We are a little too casual for suits, so I don’t expect to see much of this trend make it here, but we definitely see the boots.

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Grunge: this ultimate casual trend is the iconic plaid shirt tied around the waist and paired up with a graphic tee and beat up jeans.  It also includes camo prints and thick soled, lace up boots.  The teens can really take this trend to the edgy side, but for us older women, we need to just play around with some of the elements.  Take, for example, the picture above.  This cute camo printed top is nodding toward the trend, but we’ve toned the look down with a solid and not beat up olive jean and loafer instead of heavy boot.  Still, this is the trend driving the beat up (ripped, holes) jean trend so we will continue to see these jean styles take center stage.

Shag: shearling jackets will play a key role this season, and you’ll be seeing some serious shag in long coat cardigans, sweaters, and vests.  A little shearling goes a long way, and this look can add bulk so be careful to do this one in moderation.  A toned down version of this trend might be a shearling collar or detail as opposed to an all over look.

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Cut Outs: this trend has been with us for awhile now.  It began with the cold shoulder styles and has now morphed into cut outs as a design element usually located around the neckline and shoulder area.  Notice the cut out triangles on the neckline of this top, as an example.  As with any trend, there is an edgy side and a conservative side.  With cut outs, it correlates to the size of the section that has been cut out.  The larger the cut outs, the edgier the item regarding trendiness.  To keep it classy and more conservative, choose cut outs that don’t show you bra strap and are small and tasteful.

Capes: this trend is one of my favorites because capes always make me feel very fashionable.  This is the perfect look to wear in the fall and is therefore something to shop for early in the season, as once the snow flies around here, it gets too cold to wear a cape. Another benefit of capes, is they really never go out of style.  Like camo or animal print, they just come in and out of being on the top trend list.

Chains: look for chain details on belts, handbags, boots, and the like this season.  The heavier gauge the chain, the edgier the trend.  This trend can move towards grunge and rocker, so be careful to keep the chains small and tasteful.

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1940’s: it’s the season of lady like looks that hearken back to the 1940’s including shirt waist dresses and sweet polka dots.  Look for lady like suits, dresses and pant and top combos that highlight the design styles that were prominent in the 40’s.

Sweater vests: the classic men’s wear v-neck sweater vest will be a key trend this season, and they look amazing paired over a collard blouse.  Complete the look with with slacks or skirts for a classic office style.

Victorian jackets: this trend has been inspired by the movie Little Women.  These jackets often have puffed sleeves with a high collar and very tailored fit.  Another common quality are large metal buttons either running down the middle of the jacket or on both sides.

In the next weeks, I’ll be covering more fall trends including the key colors of the season.  Stay tuned for more blog posts or, to watch a video covering these trends, please join our VIP Facebook Group, Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas.  I’ll be doing a Fashionable Friday live video today at 6 p.m. MST and one lucky live viewer will win a free gift.  Join now.

 

8 Ways To Shop During Quarantine

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During these unusual times of stay at home orders and mandates for social distancing, we’re being asked and sometimes forced to stay away from not only people we love but also activities we love.  For many off us, shopping is therapeutic, that’s why they call it “shopping therapy.”  For others, shopping is a way we connect with our friends and family as a fun activity that we can do together.  The silver lining I see to the Covid19 crises is that it is forcing all of us to look for new ways to do the things we have always loved.  Maybe you are using Face Time or Marco Polo to stay connected to your friends and family.  Maybe you are using Zoom to have meeting with your team or, like me, doing bible studies over Zoom.  As each week passes and we become more and more aware of the things we miss from our normal lives, we are becoming more willing to think outside of the box and learn new ways of still doing the things we love.

If shopping is one of those things for you , this blog post will give you 8 ways to get creative and be a savy shopper during quarantine. Here goes:

  1.  Use Your Favorite Boutique’s Online Store:  Many boutiques already had an online presence prior to Covid19, and like us, are now ramping up their offerings by increasing their online inventory.  Some boutiques that weren’t online, are now getting there.  Shopping from a small business online is a little different than shopping with, say, LL Bean.  First of all, the very nature of a boutique is to offer exclusive items that customers can purchase without worrying about seeing 15 other people in town wearing the same item.  Using my boutique, as an example, the most we buy of a single style is 6 pieces.  Quite often it might be only 4.  As a result, there is a limited supply and once the item is gone, it won’t be re-ordered.   Thus, like shopping in store, if you see something you like, grab it! It may not be there next week.  Also, boutique owners know their products: how they fit, how they wash, what they match.  Just because you are using an online venue, doesn’t mean you can’t call that boutique up on the phone and ask questions.  Many times I have worked with customers over the phone who used our online store as a online catalog and then asked me what else I had in the store that would complete the look they were trying to achieve.  In the end, the sale was a combination of online offerings and other items that I suggested.
  2. Shop by phone: If you are savy and know the brands that you love, it is quite easy to shop by phone.  Usually, boutiques carry clothing lines that have a consistent fit.  So, that favorite jean that you love, for example, is just a phone call and shipping bag away!
  3. Use Drop Shipping: The financial burden on small businesses has led to strained cash flow and inventory shortages.  As a result, many of my vendors are offering to drop ship items directly to the consumer.  The way this works is you call up your favorite boutique to get a specific item.  If they are out of that item, the boutique can call their vendor, and if they have it in stock, the vendor can ship the item directly to you.  That way, the store owner doesn’t have to invest in inventory he or she might not sell.  It’s a win, win for everyone.  Just ask your boutique if they are offering drop ship.
  4. Shop Via Messenger: Most boutiques can be reached through Messenger, an app that allows for a private conversation very similar to texting.  Yesterday, I did a sale over Messenger with a customer.  She told me what she was wanting, and  I found items that I thought she would like.  I took pictures and sent them to her through Messenger.  She picked the items she liked, and then I called her to complete the purchase.  You can also you Messenger, oftentimes, to ask questions about products or fit for items you find on an online store as well.
  5. Shop Via Live Sales: If you don’t know what a Live Sale is, let me explain.  This is basically virtual shopping where you watch a live video on Facebook of someone showing you items available for purchase. If you see something you want to buy, you comment on the items as they are presented in the Live Sale, and the transaction is completed sometime after the video ends.  It is first come, first served, which ads an element of fun.  This type of shopping comes closest to being able to replicate shopping with your friends.  Live Sales are scheduled and so you can all get together in a group call and watch the live sale together and talk about the things you like and what you should buy.  You can also communicate with each other in the comments while the Live Sale is happening.  It is fun and creates a social shopping experience while still being safe.
  6. Shop Via A Video Chat: You might be familiar with Apple’s app Face Time which allows you to video chat in real time.  This app can also be used to shop at your favorite boutique.  Essentially, you do a video chat with the boutique owner and you can see items you might want to buy right during the chat.  That way, you can give direct feedback and ask questions like, “show me what the back of that top looks like” or “can you show me a close up of that detail on the sleeve?”
  7. Shop By Appointment: Even if your favorite boutique has limited hours or is closed for in-store shopping, many owners might consider letting you schedule an appointment to shop.  This can be done while still practicing social distancing and using safe practices like sanitizing.  Of course, you would never want to request this option if you have been exposed to sick person or are sick yourself.
  8. Personal Shopping: If you have been shopping with a specific boutique for a long time, the owner probably knows you and what you like.  In this case, it is relatively easy for a boutique to offer personal shopping services where you communicate what you are needing and you allow the owner to choose items for you.  These items can then be shipped or picked up.  Even if the boutique owner doesn’t know you, a simple phone consultation can usually produce all the info necessary for he or she to shop for you.

As for my boutique, Fashion Crossroads, I am offering all of these services to my customers.  My online store can be found at www.fashioncrossroadsinc.com.  I have been working very hard while my store is closed to in-store shopping to add new merchandise, and I have expanded our online inventory greatly.  Additionally, I am here Tuesday-Saturday 12-5 for shopping by appointment, personal shopping or phone shopping.  I am offering free shipping on orders over $100 or alley way pick up.  Also, I just recently launched a weekly Live Sale every Wednesday night at 8 p.m.  You can see my most recent Live Sale here: 4/1/20 Live Sale.  The next one is scheduled for next Wednesday night 4/8/20 at 8 p.m. To watch live, join our VIP Facebook Group called Fashion Crossroads Fashionistas.

Hopefully, this blog post has opened you eyes to ways you can shop that you might not have tried.  During this time, your favorite boutique needs your support!  I encourage you to reach out to them and find out what they are doing to make shopping accessible to you.  If you would like to watch a video with more ideas on this topic, check out my latest YouTube video Ways To Be A Savy Shopper During Quarantine.

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.