A new year a new you

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

My New Year’s Eve celebration ritual always includes watching Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper readying the crowds for the ball drop in Times Square. I never tire of Kathy’s zany unpredictability and Anderson’s adorable giggle. As I observed last night’s revelry I reflected on the passing of one year and the beginning of another. It wasn’t until 2014 that I made my first new year’s resolution. Last year I vowed to get rid of things I didn’t want or need. In fact I blogged about this milestone in my life last January in a piece entitled “Three steps to a streamlined closet.” A year later I am happy to report that I kept my promise to own a pared-down wardrobe and an uncluttered house.

Spurred on by last year’s success, I decided to take another stab at resolutions by joining the ranks of those who commit to getting in shape. Since this resolution always makes the top ten list of resolutions most commonly broken, I admit that it is a risky choice.

Rather than focus on the likelihood of failure, I choose to think confident thoughts. Four months ago my 92 pound labrador ran head on into me and fractured my tibia. The injury that I sustained required surgery and put me on crutches until just a few weeks ago. Thanks to physical therapy and daily rehabilitative exercises, I am now walking and mending well. However, as my surgeon and therapist stressed, full recovery takes one year and requires faithfulness to a demanding exercise regimen. Considering the ramifications of not following doctor’s orders makes me even more determined to do the work. Because I am a former dancer, athlete and exercise instructor, I also abhor the feeling of not being in peak condition.

So what does all this have to do with style? My own therapeutic process has helped me realize the similarity between fitness and style principles. Like fitness, style involves setting goals, creating a step by step plan to reach them, and putting in the time it takes to experience results. Having the right mindset is also a key to positive change. Throughout the month of January, I will chronicle my fitness journey and also explore the style-fitness connection on my blog and Facebook postings. I would love for you to join me in these discussions and share how you are progressing with your resolutions.

Until my next posting, I leave you with this affirmation: “I am a warrior”. I now repeat this daily, especially when I’m pushing myself beyond the limits of what I think is possible.

Fashion confessions of a wardrobe stylist

Monday, July 28th, 2014

This is my first blog piece in five months. In my January 21 posting, “Three steps to a streamlined closet”, I referenced the life changing event of relocating from Washington, DC to Greenville, SC that has occupied most of my waking hours over these past months. Those of you who have endured a major move know all too well the highs and lows of such an endeavor. No moving story is the same; some folks describe their experience as exhilarating while others call it traumatic. Mine included ample doses of both emotions and played out this way. After going back and forth between two cities for two years, my husband and I decided to permanently relocate to Greenville at the end of 2013. As a first step, we fell in love with a gem of a house in Greenville’s downtown West End and bought it. Then we immediately returned to DC and set to work to sell our DC home of 30 years. This required a quick and merciless de-cluttering campaign combined with strategic home improvement and staging efforts. Fortunately, our house sold in three days. Albeit a blessing, this development meant that we faced another herculean effort to get packed up and moved in one month. I am happy to report that we are now in our new home. Although boxes still line our hallways and there are still pictures to hang, life seems almost back to normal.

In spite of the fact that my styling business took a back seat to the business of moving this winter, I continued to work with clients and write a monthly style article for Palmetto Parent. Upon reflection, I realize that the entirety of events taking place during this time taught me more about style than I could have ever learned from a textbook or training. A Spanish proverb says that “experience is not always the kindest of teachers, but it is the best.” For starters, I called upon my design and style background every day to make difficult furniture and houseware editing choices, pick paint colors, and stage spaces to give them that wow factor.

Most importantly, I reacquainted myself with what it feels like to be consumed by something. Everyone goes through periods where your measure of success is getting through the day. During times like this, life seems like a sprint against the clock. I had to make many choices about what I could accomplish, and what things I had to let go. Although I didn’t let go of my style, I adjusted it to fit my needs. There is nothing remotely glamorous about meeting with contractors, cleaning, emptying attic crawl spaces and schlepping items to Goodwill. My utilitarian clothing selections, therefore, reflected my need to get down and dirty. I developed a fondness for “distressed” clothes and sturdy shoes that offered comfort and durability for marathon work days. My core wardrobe consisted of jeans, denim or flannel shirts, sweatshirts, and athletic shoes. I accessorized with a back brace which I wore over my clothes. Thank heavens for this attractive accoutrement, for it offered me an extra measure of support when lifting heavy things. Although I religiously stuck to my skin care regimen using Rodan & Fields products, I seriously abbreviated my makeup and hair styling routine. Fortunately my pixie style hair lends itself to the wash and wear look. When I dressed for social and work commitments, I followed my own B.E.S.T. formula and kept my style basic, elegant, simple and tailored. I also discovered some additional time and energy saving ways to look polished.

Guess what? I not only survived this temporary style challenged period, but resurfaced feeling more personally liberated and less fashion perfectionistic than in my previous life. I am also busy developing a list of style tips for all of the overworked and time pressed women out there. The list and future blogs will be forthcoming. No more five month lapses, I promise. It feels too good to blog again.

Pedal Power

Monday, April 9th, 2012

I visited Pedal Chic Boutique in downtown Greenville for the first time last week. As soon as I stepped into this bike emporium and women’s athletic apparel store, I felt energized.  It could have been the large bold orange accent wall or the display of luscious shiny metallic touring bikes that animated me. In any event, I knew immediately that Pedal Chic spoke my language.  As a wardrobe stylist and personal shopper, I pay close attention to color, fabric, cut and style. The selection of athletic and lifestyle wear at Petal Chic deserves gold stars in all four areas. Take for example the Pucci inspired bike dress in an olive, mint and tangerine geometric print.  The only accessory you need with this little traffic stopper is attitude.  I like versatile wardrobe pieces, and this one fits the bill. You can bike to your favorite restaurant in it for lunch with friends, or take it on a weekend beach getaway. Speaking of the beach, Petal Chic also sells bathing suits. I adored the two piece lavender suit with a bandeau top and briefs that have a short sarong skirt overlay. This suit offers both strategic coverage and distinctive style. Carmen Miranda would give this one a “thumbs up”!  

I learned all about Pedal Chic from the owner, Robin Bylenga.  Early on in our conversation, it became clear to me that Robin loves what she does. She is also on a mission to introduce women to the joys of cycling and keeping fit.  A serious athlete herself, Robin understands the enormous health benefits associated with regular fitness activities. She also knows exactly what women need to feel comfortable and confident on a bike. Robin sells so much more than bikes and biking apparel.  First and foremost, she provides customized service, a rare commodity these days. Robin outfits individuals with well fitting clothes and foundation pieces keeping these concepts in mind: functionality, figure flattery, age appropriateness, and personal style. She also offers safe riding instruction, bike maintenance classes, personalized biking tips, and social support.  Every Tuesday evening starting at 6:00pm, Pedal Chic sponsors a “spin and sip”. Women of all levels take to their bikes and explore the neighboring trails. Afterwards, they share conversation over a glass of wine.  Pedal Chic finds many creative ways like this one to keep you motivated.

Admit it; we all want to look and feel good when we work out. Should you dare wear a floral print bike jersey with a color coordinated helmet instead of basic black when you ride?  Of course you should; “Roadways are the New Runways”. Whether you just decided to take up cycling or you’re looking for fashion forward athletic apparel, head to Pedal Chic for one stop shopping. By all means, have fun when you hop onto your bike and celebrate your personal power in style.

Pedal Chic is located at 651 B South Main Street. For more information, contact the Boutique at 864-242-CHIC(2442) or visit their website http://www.pedalchic.com


Pucci inspired geometric print bike dress


Pedal Chic's signature bike jersey


Pedal Chic's selection of stylish bike helmets


Take a spin in this shiny vanilla bike.

Put style on your mind in 2012

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Is style on your mind in the new year?

It is not too late to amend your New Year’s resolution list. Enhancing your image goes hand in hand with other worthwhile personal improvement goals, such as losing weight, eating healthier and getting in shape. A favorite quotation of mine by Jim Rohn explains simply and powerfully the importance of self care. ” Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Staying healthy, fit and attractive requires a daily dose of effort as well as a lifelong commitment to feel and look your best. When you are tempted to push the snooze alarm instead of keeping your appointment at the  gym, just think about the fact that your body houses you. Since you will hopefully reside in it for a very long time, does it make sense not to keep it in good condition? If you invest in your house, it will truly become your home.

I just wrote an article entitled “How to lead a charmed style life in 2012“. So, style has definitely been in the forefront of my mind more than usual. What does style mean? How does one capture one’s individuality through one’s image? What makes a style icon? I arrived at a formula called C.H.A.R.M. that incorporates the who’s who of wardrobe styling concepts: color, harmony, accessories, right fit and “my” style. I invite you to read it and would love to hear about how you plan to add charm to your style this year. (more…)

Today’s Fashion Affirmation: I celebrate my style on big and small occasions.

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

What better time to showcase your personal style than during the holidays. Whether your plans include an annual company party, good cheer with friends, or taking your child to see Santa, you can commemorate every event by wearing clothes that represent who you are and how you want to express yourself. Perhaps sequins show your dramatic side, or velvet suits your classic sensibilities. Maybe a ruffled satin blouse brings out your romantic nature. When you dress with intent, you herald each moment as noteworthy. Putting effort into dressing also demonstrates a  (more…)

Today’s Fashion Affirmation

Friday, June 10th, 2011

“I have made my peace with bathing suits”.

The very thought of going bathing suit shopping, let alone wearing a swimsuit in public, sends most women into a tailspin. Under those department store florescent lights, with next to nothing on, all of our imperfections are glaringly obvious. When faced with this situation, the impulse might be to put our clothes back on, flee the dressing room, and resign ourselves to wearing the same chlorine ridden swimsuit for another season. On the other hand, we could stay and face our demons.
So, if you are less than thrilled about wearing a bathing suit on your next beach vacation, then perhaps you will find comfort in being reminded of this: all of us have imperfect bodies, imperfect personalities and imperfect lives. Mare Petras, fitness expert, author and inspirational speaker, cautions us about the pitfalls of pursuing perfection in her book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Swimsuit Shoppers“. A strong proponent of mind-body fitness, Petras advocates striving for balance, “vibrancy, and vitality” rather than perfection. Removing the pressure to be perfect is a critical step towards self acceptance.
We can also make friends with our bodies by developing healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising, eating nutritious food, and managing stress levels. Living in our bodies is a lot like living in our houses. They both require constant upkeep in order for us to fully enjoy residing in them. Unlike home maintenance however, the stakes are much higher if we fail to take proper care of ourselves, and we don’t have the option of moving from our bodies. As a veteran of the fitness industry for thirty years, Mare Petras has her own formula for sustaining a healthy lifestyle. Her motto is “K.I.S.S.” or “keep it simple, sweetie”. All three of her Fitness Simply books are full of common sense techniques, meant to inspire and energize you on the inside and out.
The next time you put on your bathing suit, take some deep breaths, and then call to mind the things you like about your body. Also, do one extra health enhancing thing each day. Eat a handful of blueberries, take a brisk walk after dinner, or just sit quietly with your eyes closed for five minutes. Remember to also practice this month’s affirmation.