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.

How to tap into your personal style

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Are you searching for a distinctive and genuine style but you just don’t know how and where to find it? Do you consider yourself style challenged?  Don’t despair.  Style is innate.  It incubates in our subconscious and emerges under the right conditions.  Anyone can gain style clarity by following these basic steps: (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

Saturday, October 1st, 2011
I am suited for excellence.
I understand the critical role that my image plays in my professional and personal relationships.  I take pride in my appearance and want to appear well groomed and polished at all times. My daily dressing “to do” list includes cleaning and pressing my clothes, and shining my shoes.  Each evening I plan what I will wear the next day, and lay out all my clothes and accessories. This habit helps to ease my morning ritual so that I start the day feeling calm and ready to make a winning impression on everyone I encounter throughout the day. My practice is rooted in the belief that a pleasing appearance represents personal power. By making an effort to look my best, I send a strong message that I am confident, capable and strive for excellence in all areas of my life.

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.