How to dress an Emerald or rectangular body type

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

I received my styling training from a Seattle-based organization called The DRES System. The company’s founder, Margaret Spencer, believes that “everyone possesses their own unique beauty and authentic style”. It’s our job to bring out that beauty for the world to see.” I use DRES System’s body type designations because they promote the notion that each woman is as unique as a precious gemstone: Diamond (hourglass), Emerald (rectangular), Sapphire (triangle), and Ruby (inverted triangle).

Emeralds come in all sizes and are the most common figure type. Tune into any televised women’s track or soccer event and you will see your share of them in action. As most women age, they become Emeralds because their waists expand. Because Emeralds’ shoulders and hips are balanced and their arms and legs are usually well proportioned, creating an illusion of a smaller waist is the secret to dressing them. Maintaining the balance between the shoulders and hips and playing up the waist creates curves in all the right places. An Emerald’s best wardrobe companions are fit and flare dresses, peplums, open front jackets, and flare leg pants. Layering dark colors over light, strategic color placement at the waist, and wearing varying shades of one color palette also sculpt this body type. Boxy tops and formless shift dresses, on the other hand, produce the opposite effect.

Emeralds will surely sparkle in these outfits.

Rockin looks for rectangular body types

Badgley mischka dress
$250 – houseoffraser.co.uk

Topshop white v neck shirt
$67 – nordstrom.com

Uniqlo shirts top
$7.63 – uniqlo.com

Vanessa Bruno long sleeve jacket
$270 – thecorner.com

MANGO long brown jacket
$185 – johnlewis.com

Dolce&Gabbana brown dress pants
$355 – farfetch.com

Amanda Marcucci long beaded necklace
$345 – wolfandbadger.com

Michael kors earrings
bloomingdales.com

Jules Smith necklace
renttherunway.com

Uncomplicated style

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

In my August 25th posting, “Style tips for overworked women“, I laid out five strategies for how to look your best when every day resembles an endless sprint. Essentially, style for the perpetually busy needs to be uncomplicated, and having a wardrobe that consists of functional, versatile pieces makes achieving a seamless look a whole lot easier. The concept of minimalism comes into play here as well. Time challenged individuals want to get dressed quickly, using as few clothes and accessories as possible.

I’m a huge fan of the wardrobe basics in this visual, because they offer endless style possibilities. Take the little black fit and flare dress, for example. Fashionistas can easily convert it into a jumper by wearing it over a sweater or feminine silk blouse. For those who like a more edgy look, they can pair the dress with a moto style jacket, like the cobalt blue one in the photo.

How would you style a fit and flare dress?

Uncomplicated style

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.

Thanksgiving holiday travel outfit

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

My faithful green Subaru will join the other 100 million vehicles on the road during this Thanksgiving holiday. An estimated 25 million people will also fly to their holiday destinations.

If you ever wonder what not to wear when traveling, just spend time in any airport or roadside rest stop. I’ll never understand why so many travelers look like something the cat dragged in when today’s fashions offer both style and comfort. For my nine hour car trip back to Washington, DC, I’ve chosen an outfit that closely resembles this one. For me, the word comfort conjures up images of soft leggings and cozy sweater tunics. Because layering provides extra warmth without the bulkiness of a coat, I will wear a long sweater or sweater vest as my outer layer. You will never see me in athletic shoes unless I’m on a treadmill or walking my dog Chloe on the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, South Carolina. My comfy travel shoe of choice is a John Fluevog short brown boot, a recent acquisition from Clothes Mentor, a consignment store in Greenville. The answer to a sojourner’s prayer, these supple leather flat boots sell for $289 online, and I found them for $48.00.

What do you typically wear when you fly the friendly skies or take your road trip?

Holiday travel outfit

The charm of a basic tailored jacket

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Since January is the month for fresh starts, many individuals purge their closets of unwanted clothing and try on a new look for a new year. This month also offers the opportunity to stock up on great wardrobe basics at deep discounts.  Jackets rank high on the list of clothing must haves because of their versatility and undeniable sophistication.  A multitude of jacket styles abound for winter and spring, including boyfriend, shrunken and double breasted blazers, as well as Channel inspired toppers. The ideal jacket fits like a glove, and suits one’s body type, proportions and coloring. To qualify as a wardrobe essential, it should also work well with many other pieces.

The BB Dakota Stewart leather lapel blazer qualifies as an all-around stellar jacket. Classic dressers like this item for its clean lines, and chic style personalities gravitate to its leather detailing and menswear inspired design. Here are three ways to wear this multipurpose item, which is available online and at Fa’brik in Greenville, SC:

  1.  Working hard for the money: blazer paired with Macy’s INC International Concepts teal and black paisley blouse, Ann Taylor deco print ankle pants, and Softt grey and beige python platform heels.
  2. Thinking outside the box: Blazer and pants worn with Macy’s INC International Concepts long sleeve boat neck  tee and Banana Republic Floral statement necklace (not available online).
  3.  Fancy That: Blazer over sequined embellished velour top by Jennifer Lopez for Kohl’s, gunmetal grey brocade pencil skirt by Banana Republic (no longer available), and Nine West taupe and black lace heels.

She works hard for the money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BB Dakota jacket with work casual separates

Thinking outside the box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BB dakota jacket paired with dressy separates

Fancy that!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new year a new you….2013 style tips

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Each new year offers possibilities for change. Many take the age old adage “out with the old and in with the new” very seriously by stepping onto treadmills, loading up on fruits and veggies, and discarding their cigarettes. In fact, the month of January takes its name from Janus, the Roman God associated with doorways and beginnings. Judging from the spike in closet cleaning activities during this month, perhaps Janus also looked after wardrobes. Those who desire a fresh new look in 2013 will want to read these ten style tips:

1. Conduct a full scale closet review. Keep only versatile and flattering pieces in good condition that deserve a four star rating;

2. Take advantage of post-holiday sales to stock up on basics, like black slacks, jeans or a tailored jacket;

3. Look for tops and sweaters that update and complement your core wardrobe;

4. Embrace colorful clothing and accessories. The Pantone Color Institute picked emerald green as the “it” color for 2013;

5. When assembling an outfit, mix multiple textures together for visual excitement, such as leather, silk, velvet and tweed;

6. Play around with jewelry. Layer necklaces and bracelets, and combine fine and faux;

7. Go for quality, not quantity. Wait for sales, shop at consignment shops, and avoid impulse buying;

8. Pay attention to grooming. Check for lint, stains and piling on clothing. Press clothes and shine shoes;

9. Invest in good looking outerwear for casual and work activities;

10. Build in an extra 5 minutes each morning to dress. Look in a full length mirror before leaving the house.

Now you’re ready to walk out the door feeling confident and looking fabulous.

Put your best style foot forward in the new year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greenville’s Summer Style

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Between weddings and theatre performances, downtown Greenville buzzed with energy last night. With my lawn chair and bottled water in hand, I headed to the TD Bank Amphitheatre in Falls Park to watch “Much Ado About Nothing”. I arrived early to soak in the sights and engage in a little style research. As a personal wardrobe stylist, I think of the world as a runway, not a stage. Last night I had shorts on my mind, partly because I saw so many of them. There were cargos, bermudas, daisy dukes, and assorted gym shorts. To my surprise I didn’t see many rompers (exactly three), which are one piece short outfits. They come in a variety of styles and lengths. I like rompers for the same reason I like dresses and jumpsuits. They provide an instant outfit and present a pulled together image. They also remind me of something from a 1940’s pin up poster.  

Last night’s fashion award goes to one of my fellow theatre goers who wore a black zipper front, drawstring romper. She accessorized with a turquoise chunky necklace, cuff bracelet and a pair of Jackie O style sunglasses. Besides looking adorable, she smiled, ate heartily, and looked like she was having a grand time.

You can find rompers in most stores this summer. Bluefly.com also has a decent selection of very stylish ones by BCBG. I particularly like the pale peach and blue print one shoulder number with a draped bodice featured below for $105. 

Will I shop for rompers for my clients next summer? Only the style gods know if they have fashion staying power. The character of Conrade in “Much Ado…” had this to say about the frivolousness of fashion. “I see that the fashion wears out more apparel than the man”. Alas, how we quickly purge those outdated styles from our closets long before they show signs of wear!

 

woman wearing black romper style outfit

“Much Ado About Rompers”

 

  

peach and blue floral short romper by BCBG

“Floral Print BCBGeneration Romper on bluefly.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty Mother of the Bride Dresses

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Wedding bells don’t get any rest here in the Upstate throughout the summer months. Since several of my clients are in the midst of preparing for their children’s nuptials, I’ve been on the prowl for mother of the bride dresses. First of all, I’m bothered by the fact that mothers of the groom don’t have a dress named after them. Why the obvious snub? I created the all inclusive acronym MOBGD, which stands for mother-of-the-bride-and-groom-dresses. Maybe my terminology will catch on.

I developed a dislike for MOBGD during my time in retail sales. I worked in an enormous dress department with oodles of gorgeous gowns. Unfortunately most of them suited prom goers or generation Y folks. Any grandmother of the bride or groom would love the leftovers. I wanted to run and hide every time I heard a customer utter these dreaded words, “My daughter/son is getting married”. Inspired by  the Kubler-Ross grief model and Nora Ephron’s description of the six stages of email in her memoir, “I Remember Nothing”, I came up with the four stages of MOBGD shopping. These all too familiar angst ridden stages routinely played out this way:

Stage 1: Shock  Is this your entire MOBGD selection?

Stage 2: Denial  Where is your other MOBGD department?

Stage 3: Anger  Your store has some nerve. I wouldn’t be caught dead in any of these!

 Stage 4: Depression  Maybe I am old and frumpy.

Possible Stage 5 Outcome: That settles it. Let the kids elope.

What déjà vu I experienced when my client told me she wanted to look pretty and not frumpy on her wedding day. When I entered the dress department at the Haywood Mall Dillard’s a few days ago, I expected to see the same type of stodgy dress and jacket combos in shades of pewter or beige that lined the walls of the other department store.  Although I did see dresses that fit this description, thankfully they were tucked in a corner. I give Dillard’s buyers kudos for selecting an impressive array of youthful gowns for different personal styles and body types. I chose to highlight the following dresses (available on Dillard’s online) using this simple MOBGD barometer: I could see all of them on me.  

So, all you MOBGD huntresses keep the faith.  You will feel gorgeous on the big day and look radiant in the wedding album.  If you shop at the Haywood Mall Dillard’s, ask for Sabrina and Donna. Both sales associates were extremely helpful.

JS Collection One Shoulder Gown

Aidan Maddox Beaded Gown

Tadashi Ruched Metallic Gown 

 

 Elegant Mother of the Bride Dress

     Elegant mother of the bride dress