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.

Are we seeing fewer fashion trends?

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Each season I report on what’s trending and what’s not. Last year’s fashion prognosticators buzzed about oxblood as the “it” color; now the color burgundy reigns supreme. After gazing into my crystal ball, I see maroon on the style horizon for 2014. In the fall of 2011, I pronounced the return of iconic dresses of the 1960’s. This fall, ultra feminine “fit and flare” dresses hang on every dress rack in almost every store. Even though pendant style necklaces staged their comeback in 2011, Accessories Magazine deems pendants as a “breaking” trend for 2013-2014. Animal prints and tailored jackets join the list of not so new trends. Am I the only one noticing that many of the supposed new seasonal trends are just slightly tweaked versions of what we already wear? Highly effective retail marketers convince us that we are laying eyes on these fashions for the first time.

When I observe the apparent recycling of trends phenomenon, I ponder these questions:

Are fewer real fashion trends emerging each year? If so, what’s behind this trend recession?

Perhaps the world awaits a visionary designer who will inspire a fashion revolution. On the other hand, maybe the best and brightest designers already discovered the magic fashion formula for our modern society. I propose that living in an unpredictable and relentlessly changing world makes us less enthusiastic about embracing constant fashion upheavals. Personally, I’ve grown accustomed to and find comfort in wearing familiar styles. I feel great in my favorite pair of jeans, tailored jackets, and statement necklaces.

When does a trend deserve the right to be labeled a classic?

I assign animal prints the title of classic by mere virtue of their staying power. What about skinny jeans? Although a good friend of mine predicted the demise of skinny jeans three years ago, they still dominate the jean category. Someone should invent a word that describes a fashion that falls between a fad and a classic. I adore my skinny jeans, but I am not ready to group them in with other classics like plaid shirts, striped tees and equestrian boots just yet.

This outfit showcases some of the hottest fall fashions. You be the judge, are they new trends or re-trends?

First Fall Weekend

Weekend Max Mara dot sweater, $245 / Dorothy Perkins blouse / H&M jean jacket, $39 / Reiss pants, $145 / Freda Salvador leather shoes / Topshop handbag / Bracelet jewelry / Jewelry / Chloé heart pendant / Stud earrings / Oversize Falling Leaves Stencil 1 Falling Birch Leaves, $93

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer hats for style and sun protection

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Hats off to all the mothers in the world for insisting their children wear head gear in the hot sun.  Medical professionals and skin care specialists alike advise that lathering up with sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and wearing a hat are two ways of cutting the risk of skin cancer and premature aging of the skin.  Who could predict that, in addition to their utilitarian function, hats now command attention on the cat walk?

When it comes to current millinery fashion, wide brimmed hats steal the show.  After sweeping into style several years ago, they remain the ultimate chic accessory. Glamorous Faye Dunaway wore a wide hat in the Thomas Crown Affair and Gene Tierney dared to wear one with plumage. Peggy Lipton of Mod Squad fame even fought crime in her floppy suede number. From a stylist’s perspective, a broad brimmed style softens and adds fullness to angular face shapes. It also provides superior sun protection for the face, back of the neck and shoulders. To make the ultimate glamour statement in Greenville, check out the Mast General Store’s selection of wide brimmed hats. Their online store carries them in straw as well as synthetic materials that contain moisture wicking, anti-microbial and UPF 40 sun protection properties. The appropriately named “Sun Goddess” comes in a brilliant berry jam color and its brim extends to 4 inches in back.

Haute couture designers from the likes of DKNY to Dior and Lanvin have taken a shine to an athletic and leisure wear institution…the baseball cap. Now baseball cap devotees can break out favorites from their collections  and look stylish in each one. Anything goes when it comes to this unexpected trend; caps in leather, camouflage, felt and neon prints expect to remain strong this fall for both men and women. The Pink Bee on Augusta Street, known for their Lilly Pullitzer collection, also sells quality baseball caps by Collard Greens, Vineyard Vines and Southern Proper. Summer still holds plenty of opportunities, like backyard barbecues and lazy beach days, to strut one’s style in this American millinery classic.

 

Wide brimmed hat from Nordstrom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Style for a song

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The bargain shopping gene pulses through my blood, and I have spent years cultivating this innate ability of finding style for a song. The huntress in me emerges as soon as I step into any store and begin the prowl for deep discounts. My systematic approach starts with a walk through of the store to get a feel for how merchandise is displayed and spot any examination worthy items right off the bat. I then hone in on the clearance section, and go through each and every item in my size range and color palette. I also quickly scan the other sizes to find any misplaced pieces in my size, which occurs fairly frequently. I then eliminate anything that does not match my personal style and body type. I look again at the remaining items with my stylist eye and evaluate them using these criteria: design features, brand, workmanship, compatibility with my wardrobe, and price. I try on any items that make the cut. If the fashion gods smiled on me that day, I seal the deal. Before leaving the store, I take another lap around the place  one last time to make sure I didn’t overlook any treasures. Once I get my bargains home, I try them on again with pieces from my wardrobe before removing the price tags. I also follow this tried and true approach when shopping for my clients. They appreciate how quickly I shop and the amazing fashions I find for them at such low prices.

This article christens my Style for a Song posting which will now appear regularly on this blog. The photo shows my latest and greatest deals, all found here in Greenville with the exception of one item.

  • Long animal print pleated skirt  from L’s on Augusta for $16
  • BCBG blouse with asymmetrical bow detailing from Chesapeake Bay, Md. BCBG outlet $39
  • Hoss Intropia caramel leather belt from SavVy reduced from to $102 to $25.50
  • GRAND TOTAL: $80.50

 

Enchanted Fashion Event Fundraiser For Upstate Students

Monday, July 9th, 2012

You know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.  I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon back on June 9 that I intended to blog about much earlier, but life got in the way. That day stood out for several reasons. I sipped Mimosas, listened to live jazz and feasted on brunch at the Sapphire Creek venue in Simpsonville. Aptly named “Summer Enchantment”, this Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sponsored event raised scholarship funds for area students through the ETO Endowment Fund.

Even though I usually take a rest from style on Sundays, I never pass up a fashion show. The afternoon’s entertainment included a beautifully produced parade of summer apparel from Belk. The models commanded the runway and the guests’ attention as they showcased the hottest  summer trends. A total of thirty fashions were grouped into five themed scenes and represented a lineup of standout styles, including a short wrap dress by BCBG Generation and a strapless gown by Adrianna Papell. The  Free People neon pink net dress took my breath away.

Professional photographer Craig Sweeney memorialized the day, and here is a sampling of his work. Craig’s business, Classy Photos, provides services for all types of special events. You may contact him at Craig.Sweeney1@gmail.com or 864-380-8043.

I cast my vote for a repeat performance of Summer Enchantment in June, 2013!

Free People Neon Pink Net Dress

Bold Print Halter Sundress

 

 

Sleek and Simple Bridal Dress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NinaKate Divine Totes

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

I belong to a women’s business group called the DIVA Network, and it was at one of their monthly meetings that I first laid eyes on a NeenaKate handbag. Fellow DIVA member Suzi Kroske, a successful  Silpada Jewelry Design representative, carried a tote bag that stood out as a work of art. So many details about this bag captured my imagination. The fabric design consisted of rows of little Babar like white elephants against a black background.  A hint of hot pink ribbon trim and woven leather straps finished off this gem. I knew right then I wanted to see more bags in the NeenaKate Collection and meet the master minds behind this unique handbag line.

A few weeks ago I interviewed the company’s co-owner, Neena Dorsey, at her home office. She met me at the door wearing a bright orange blouse and an equally vibrant pair of slim leg print pants. She then took me to her office, which housed an array of tote style bags. I felt like a kid in a candy store. The stylist in me delighted in carefully examining a cross section of purses. The impeccable workmanship, imaginative lining and pocket insert combinations of each bag delighted me. I also saw bags matching every style persona, from classic to dramatic. I seized this opportunity to buy a tote for my twenty five year old niece’s birthday. Should I choose the turquoise, coral and blue marine life pattern or go with the chic leopard print?  In the end, I decided upon an ethereal grey and rust print tote, resembling an impressionist watercolor.

Not long into the interview it occurred to me that Neena embodied the same elements that I see in the NeenaKate collection: elegance, optimism and fun. Her style know how seems to come naturally as does her carefree, “glass is half full” approach to life.  Neena and partner Kate McCullough obviously understand not only what women like but also how to elevate their style by wearing one unforgettable accessory, like a NeenaKate tote.  In choosing textiles, they selected a host of inspiring designs and colors. Although we didn’t discuss our style philosophies, I believe that these two women share my viewpoint that fashion should uplift your spirits and put a smile on your face. NeenaKate handbags do both.

The NeenaKate line stands for quality and attention to detail. A great deal of care went into the creation of each of the over four hundred bags already created by this dynamic duo. This American made product comes in sizes from small to extra large and range in price from $69 to $189. Here is just a taste of the collection. For more information and photos, visit the company’s website at http://www.neenakate.com or their Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/Neenakate.  The Greenville News also recently published an article about this up and coming upstate business.

Orange and Purple geometric Tote

Creatures of the Sea Tote

Black and white tote with a touch of whimsey on the inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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