“Go to” fashion basics that retain their style appeal

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

A corner in every woman’s closet holds the “go to” pieces she loves to wear. Clothes deserve this elevated status because they pass the test for comfort, versatility and enduring style. These feel-good items are not only easy to wear, but they also provide figure flattery and a seamless fit. Oh how happy we would be to have an entire closet full of our treasured pieces. Maybe the fashion forecasters are gently moving us in this direction with their predictions of a  return to effortless style and simple elegance in 2013.Vogue describes this trend as “practically styling-free” and “no-fuss beauty”. Unlike the unkempt, grunge look, this trend celebrates  natural beauty and a pared down approach to style.

What better way to embrace this back to basics fashion philosophy than to purchase a few standout wardrobe essentials? These always trending fashion must haves definitely deserve the “go to” worthy label:

jeans: The relentless quest for the ideal jean may well be over. Greenville, South Carolina based Beija-Flor sells figure flattering denim in a variety of styles and colors for modern women who want style, fit and comfort. Ringing endorsements keep appearing for these stretch denim “curve friendly” wonders from publications such as Oprah, People Style Watch and Health Magazines. I’ve seen these jeans and they are ultra soft and beautifully made.

Cardigan Sweater:  Comfort and style harmoniously coexist in the Ann Taylor cashmere hoodie. Pair this sweater with skinny jeans or a pencil skirt, and wear it running errands or to work. This high fashion hoodie, now selling at 50% off the regular price, comes in luscious colors like pomegranate, and nouveau blue. Sounds like an ideal holiday gift to me.

Striped t-shirt: Stripes endure season after season and never disappoint. I love my assortment of striped tees, and I especially like wearing them with print or plaid scarves. Navy blue micro-striped tees attract classic dressers, while dramatic types gravitate toward bolder, bigger multi-striped ones. J Crew even sells a sequined striped tee at $128 for the gals who want their stripes and glamour too.

What does your “go to” list consist of?


Beija-Flor, Greenville, South Carolina jean company

Beija-Flor, the miracle jean










Fancy striped tee















Women’s winter jacket trends

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The indispensable leather jacket is a girl’s best friend.













Jack Frost’s arrival brings chilling temperatures that require the right outerwear options. Everyone needs a versatile winter jacket for both weekend and workday wear. It also pays to buy quality outerwear that doesn’t look ordinary.  Jackets appear front and center in every store window display and fashion magazine this season. The epitome of classic American sportswear, jackets complete any outfit and always look sharp. Styles include woolen school blazers with contrasting piping, double breasted pea coats, and twill stadium jackets with fur trimmed hoods. Holiday shoppers looking for stylish and practical presents may want to put these three stellar outerwear pieces at the top of their gift lists:

  • Gap 1969 denim faux Sherpa lined jacket –The black color, zippered sleeves and lining add edginess to this always trending jean jacket, priced at $89.95.
  • Eddie Bauer leather field jacket – The rich caramel color and quilted sleeve detailing of this military inspired jacket makes it runway worthy.  The jacket sells for $349 and also comes in dark brown.
  • American Eagle Outfitter’s hooded toggle duffle coat – This classic style of yesteryear has emerged as one of the strongest trends for men and women. Because of its roomy cut, bulky sweaters and blazers fit easily underneath a duffle coat, and provide extra protection from the extreme cold. The coat sells for $129.95, and comes in black and red.  Who could resist red, the ultimate power color for 2013?

How many different ways can you wear a jean jacket?












2012 Thanksgiving Day Parade

Toggle coats are the hottest outerwear trend for both men and women


















Women’s working wardrobe trends

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

I dedicate this posting to National Career Development month and all those who take bold steps to advance in their professional careers. Quite simply, image matters in life. It remains a mystery to me why individuals overlook the fact that presenting a pleasing image is a key strategy for success. Studies confirm that people base their first impressions of others largely on appearance. Opportunity knocks more loudly for individuals who look their best and present a positive personal brand. I include the results of additional revealing research on image in my book, The Power of DRES: Dres System’s Guide to Building a Professional Image and Working Wardrobe. I co-authored this book with eight other stylists from across the country, and my chapter explored “Our Relationship With Clothes”.

Current women’s professional styles definitely reflect the preferences of confident women who embrace their femininity. Gone are the nondescript power suits of the past that made women look like men. The new dress for success wardrobe includes distinctively designed separates with surprising sartorial details like asymmetrical collars and peplums. Attention getting textured wool and jacquard fabrics combined with flowing blouses and bold accessories send a self-assured message. This modern look also epitomizes the preeminent formula for the working wardrobe, which is expressed by the acronym B.E.S.T. (Basic, Elegant, Simple, and Tailored). Trends suggest that women want to buy B.E.S.T. work clothes. Although today’s longer hemlines, classic blazers and understated dresses resemble yesterday’s classics, they also capture the here and now. One might very well find these three pieces from the innovative Spanish clothing company, Zara in a fashion forward working woman’s closet:

Modern Women like  B.E.S.T: Basic, Elegant, Simple and Tailored.



Working Women's styles from Zara

Today’s trends reflect a confident and accomplished woman














The Power of D.R.E.S. Book Cover

























Fashion’s fixation with the color red

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Forget “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Fashion’s latest obsession revolves around the color red. This season marks red’s dramatic return as the “it” color after a hiatus of over two decades. In the mid-eighties, red took center stage in movies and music. Who could forget Gene Wilder’s hysterical quest to meet the red dress wearing beauty in the 1984 film “The Woman in Red”, or the love song “Lady in Red” that rose to the top of the music charts a few years later?

Red commands attention and expresses authority. This head turning shade also epitomizes passion and panache.  Red, classified as a neutral, adds vibrancy to the family of other neutrals, like brown and grey. A red blouse spices up a simple suit, or a pair of jeans. Although fifty shades of red may not exist, the color wheel holds plenty of red possibilities for a range of personal styles and complexions. The long list of reds includes cherry, tomato, wine, crimson and oxblood.

If you aren’t bold enough to wear that red dress, how about adding just a pop of red to your outfit?  The following accessories made Style Matter’s red objects of desire list:

  1. Coach Legacy canteen cross body bag in deep cherry at $158 – small and sensational;
  2. Fossil double wrap red leather buckle bracelet for $38 – definitely arm candy;
  3. Ann Taylor color block infinity scarf in berry and black for $44.99 – the ultimate power piece.











Simplicity sums up Kohl’s first DesigNation collection

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Fashion masterminds like Andre Couregges, Calvin Klein and Helmut Lang, exemplify the concept of minimalism in their designs. Fashion educator, Moncia Murgia, describes minimalism as “removing the superfluous”, and cites multiple reasons for her personal attraction to minimalist fashion.  In her opinion, streamlined designs enhance a wardrobe’s versatility and functionality. Pared down looks in a few colors allow individuals to easily combine, accessorize and colorize the contents of their closets. Daily dressing becomes easier when clothes transition from day to night, weekend to work week and summer to winter.  Because minimalist designers focus less on trends, they create clothes that have lasting appeal for women of all ages.

Narciso Rodriquez heralds the cause of simplicity and inclusivity in fashion. On November 7, Kohls launches their first DesigNation Collection which features a limited edition of this award winning designer’s line.  Rodriguez describes his collection this way: “I never try to separate women. It’s a collection that really has many women in mind….. My woman can be 20….my woman can be 60…she’s ageless”.

Rodriguez drew inspiration for his collection from the towering minarets, exotic spices, evocative music and ornate tiles of Istanbul. His East meets West experience culminated in the creation of a minimalist collection that includes color blocked dresses, flowing pajama pants, and graceful print tops.

The interplay of black and white and bold color announces the Kohl’s –Rodriguez collaboration, priced at $30  to $150.

Narciso Rodriguez dress for Kohls DesigNation Collection









Fall 2012 purse power

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

A women’s almost constant companion is her purse.  It holds her treasured valuables and expresses her unique personal style. Most women keep their antennae up for the perfect bag that blends both form and function.  Every gal lucky enough to have found such a celestial item can attest to the fact that a good purse holds numerous rewards. First of all, carrying a five star bag boosts one’s style confidence and adds a chic factor to the plainest of outfits. Secondly, a well-designed and constructed purse enables the wearer to reach inside and retrieve items effortlessly from its contents.  Few things in life compare to this welcome feeling!  Thirdly, quality handbags withstand the test of time because they hold up and retain their luster even after years of wear.

DRES System stylist consultant Melissa Sabatine, one of the co-authors of  the newly published book “The Power of DRES”, made this comment about the importance of a handbag: “a handbag is often the first thing someone notices when a lady enters a room, which can either be a good or bad thing.”  She went on to say that size matters when it comes to handbags. In other words, small to medium size bags suit petite women, and larger, taller women can rock oversized ones. Another “Power of DRES” co-author, Colleen Bradley, details which handbag sizes and shapes suit each of the four DRES System’s body types: Diamond, Emerald, Ruby and Sapphire. Furthermore, she promotes the DRES System’s philosophy that body type, personal style and lifestyle needs should guide one’s handbag choice. Ms. Bradley also advises that every gal should have a day bag, a weekend bag and an evening bag in their closet.

Does your handbag wardrobe need a pick me up? Here is what’s new on the handbag horizon for fall and winter:

  • Oxblood and wine colored purses – the new neutral;
  • Shearling and fur trimmed bags – fun and whimsical;
  • Embroidered and needlepoint purses – old world charm;
  • Micro messenger bags – for those who pack light.



Glam it up this fall

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Although “All that glitters is not gold”, sparkling elements illuminate those who wear them. This fall, designers have taken a shine to sequins and beads, and they appear prominently on clothing and footwear. Belk’s Vice President of Trend Merchandising and Fashion Direction, Arlene Goldstein, coined the phrase “glitz before six” to describe the phenomenon of wearing apparel traditionally reserved for cocktail parties. Successfully pulling off this look requires style savvy and a dose of attitude. Wardrobe stylists advise pairing sequins and beads with tailored, toned down pieces. The latest look books show models wearing beaded cardigans with pencil skirts or loose shimmering tops with slim leg neutral slacks. By co-mingling fashion opposites, designers achieve an effect of unpretentious elegance that refuses to take itself too seriously.

Glitz goes hand in hand with the element of surprise, and nothing surprises more than the glittery shoe trend. Ever since Dorothy followed the yellow brick road with Toto in her ruby slippers, we’ve had a love affair with sparkling shoes. Who could forget the red Swarovski crystal stilettos worn by Marilyn Monroe in the film Gentleman Prefer Blondes? These heavenly heels are currently on exhibit at the  Ferragamo Museum in Florence in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the movie icon’s death.  Can’t afford this celestial shoe brand?  Sparkle ballet flats and the new ballet flat and loafer hybrid offer glamour at an affordable price. The Nine West Panto flat in silver and gold makes a stellar style statement for under $70.

Glitz and Glam by Sugar






















Rediscover navy this fall

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Navy and Black is all the rage this fall

The blazer clad U.S. Olympic team’s entrance at the London game’s opening ceremony presaged the popularity of navy as the color for fall. Tagged by Neiman Marcus as the “new neutral”, navy commands an elegant and approachable image for men and women.  Fall fashion week featured the unlikely pairing of black and navy, as well as navy dominated prints with smatterings of other blues, like cobalt.

The psychological effect created by navy and it’s compatibility with other colors could explain its strong return on the fashion scene. Although navy epitomizes sartorial seriousness, it is less overpowering than black.  Because navy looks less severe than its color cousin, it softens the lines and features of those who wear it.  This fact partly explains why political candidates and business professionals gravitate toward navy. It also blends beautifully with a rainbow of accent colors such as red, grey, yellow and pink.

Navy minded fashionistas in Greenville, SC can find just what they want in this shade at Fab’rik in the shops at Greenridge. The boutique offers clothing, shoes and accessories that express “high style without attitude or sticker shock”.  Every distinctive item in this store, except for the denim, sells for below $100. Their navy feather print sheer chiffon long sleeve top for $52 breathes life into even the most sedate suit. When worn with skinny jeans, the top’s back exposed zipper adds sophistication to a casual look. Fab’rik’s navy and white contrast dress, styled in the color blocked tradition, fits the bill for an ideal summer to fall transitional dress. Wear it with flat sandals on the weekends or heels during the work week.  Known for their head turning jewelry, Fab’rik’s necklace collection includes an Egyptian inspired blue collar necklace, suitable for the likes of Cleopatra herself. This outstanding piece at an affordable price of $36, exemplifies the chic monochromatic trend of wearing blue on blue.

Shop online and at Fab’rik during the month of August and help combat sexual exploitation in young women. Contribute from $10 to $30 and get a percent discount off merchandise that matches your donation amount.  Funds support the Wellspring Living, an organization dedicated to getting young women off the street and into homes and providing them with neededsocial services.