How to stay on track to achieve your new year’s resolutions

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Believe it or not the new year is already 38 days old. Time races by; days run into weeks and before you know it February will fade from memory. If you’ve read my blog postings lately, you know that I made a few resolutions for 2015 that I’m serious about achieving. I committed to getting in shape after an injury wreaked havoc with my fitness level. I also vowed to further streamline my wardrobe and stock up on casual and activewear wardrobe basics.

Experts advise that regular check-ins help keep us on track to achieving our goals. These check-ins provide us an opportunity to honestly assess our progress and also fine tune our strategies for success. Today I listened to the experts and paused to consider how well I’m doing. This exercise yielded positive results. I tweaked my fitness regimen to include daily stretching exercises and longer aerobic workouts. I also collected additional clothes to donate and consign, and made a list of items to purchase for spring.

If you’ve commited to enhancing your style in 2015, then check out “Ten steps to a stellar style” in 2015″, which appears in the January issue of Palmetto Parent. In this article I offer tips for advancing your style, such as adding two new trends to your wardrobe and breaking up black with touches of color. Trending colors for spring include soft shades such as aquamarine and yellow. Sports inspired clothing and colorful suede pieces rank high on the list of top spring trends.

Have you put style on the back burner so far this year in spite of your desire to look more polished and put together? Don’t despair. The path to success includes setbacks, and taking little style steps each day could lead to transformative image changes. How about spending some time this week in your closet to help you decide what you need for spring? This will ready you to shop during Presidents’ Day weekend for new wardrobe basics, like the ones featured in this set.

Casual spring wardrobe essentials

NIC ZOE cuff shirt
nicandzoe.com

Tulchan blue floral cardigan
$75 – houseoffraser.co.uk

Topshop short sleeve tee
$25 – topshop.com

Joseph pants
$225 – farfetch.com

L K Bennett pleated midi skirt
$140 – johnlewis.com

Boot shopping basics

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Boots are my favorite footwear. Even though I loathe cold weather, I can’t wait until the temperature dips enough to warrant breaking out my boots. Judging from the vast array of boots I see on a daily basis, other folks must feel the same way. I understand their widespread appeal, for boots keep your feet warm and comfortable, look good with almost anything, and have a long style life. Although tall riding boots are my all-time personal favorites, I’m also partial to short stacked heel booties.

I acquired my first pair of boots at the age of eight during a cross country trip from Indiana to California. After stopping at Frontier City in Oklahoma, I set my sights on a pair of cowboy boots, and nagged my parents until they bought them for me. No ordinary boots, these were turquoise and black and beautiful! Of course I wore them for the remainder of our entire trip along with a western style shirt and bolo tie. I probably looked like a cast member from the musical Annie Get Your Gun.

Since boots are a bit of an investment and you will want to enjoy them for many seasons, here are some shopping pointers to help you select the right pair for your style and foot needs:

1. Take Your Time

Don’t shop when you are rushed or in an impulsive mood. Before you enter a store, do some research online and pinpoint certain brands and styles that you like. Make sure you read boot ratings and customer reviews to better passess a boot’s suitability for you. Then hit the stores and try on all kinds of boots. Once you purchase a pair, “test drive” them at home for a week (only inside or the store will not accept your return) at different times of the day to make sure they fit well.

2. Learn about your feet

Go to a reputable shoe store or shoe department with well-trained sales clerks and get your feet properly measured. Become informed about your feet so that you select footwear that won’t end up collecting dust in your closet.

3. Think about your needs

Are you on your feet a lot or do you walk long distances to and from work?
Do you live in a climate where a waterproof boot with good traction is a must?
Do you have a foot type or condition that requires a specific design quality such as a wide toe bed or extra shock absorption in the heel? The boot you want may not necessarily be the boot you need. Listen to what your feet are telling you.

4. Look for brands that have a solid reputation for quality, comfort, and style.

Quality and comfort trump style anytime. What good is a gorgeous pair of shoes if they cause pain and damage your feet? Nowadays you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort because there are plenty of brands that offer both. You can read weekly reviews and get email updates about comfort shoes at www.barkingdogshoes.com.

I just bought the boot by Rieker pictured below at GB warehouse in Greenville, SC, but it is also available online . I love the cordovan color of this boot, the decorative ankle buckle, and the fact that it is water resistant and lined with a fleece like material. Originally $130.00, I snagged this boot on sale for $89.99.

What boots are you wearing this season?

Bet on boots

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

Style tips for overworked women

Monday, August 25th, 2014

In last month’s posting, “Fashion confessions of a wardrobe stylist“, I talked about my journey through a style challenged period and the lessons I learned about how to look good when every day feels like a marathon. Here are the five style saving strategies I developed to help me during busy and stressful times:

1. Downsize your closet. Get rid of what you don’t wear, so you can quickly locate the items in your closet.

2. Uncomplicate your daily dressing routine by using fewer clothing and accessory pieces to create an outfit. The classic dress, for example, answers a busy woman’s prayer. Slip it on, pair it with a statement making accessory and shoe, and you are ready to take on the world.

3. Buy versatile pieces. A busy woman’s core wardrobe should consist of functional pieces that offer endless style possibilities. Let’s revisit the classic dress again. Wear it over a sweater or blouse and it turns into a jumper. Pair it with a trendy moto style jacket, and you’ve created the ultimate date night outfit.

4. Find your style formula. Every woman has a fashion profile, based on what looks best for their body type and suits their personal style and budget. During unusually busy periods, it’s best to stick to tried and true styles.

5. Build a personalized Look Book. Snap photos of the favorite outfits you create and store them in your phone or laptop. Keep a fashion file of looks you like and take the file with you on your next shopping trip.

What style advice do you have for the perpetually busy woman?

Winter weary wardrobe reflections

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
A wintry scene on 49th Street in NYC.

A wintry scene on 49th Street in NYC.

I’ve spent the last month in the Northeast, where winter just will not quit. Snow and temperatures in the teens welcomed me at my first stop, New York City. Throughout Fashion Week I stayed bundled up in a full length mink coat I inherited from my mother twenty nine years ago. I’ve donned this coat only a few times during nearly three decades because of my combined reservations about owning fur and wearing an item that seems over the top for my personal style. Admittedly, however, this godsend of a garment saved me during three bitterly cold presidential inaugurations and several record breaking Washington, DC winters.

Who would have imagined I’d be blogging about winter clothes in March instead of colorful spring dresses? My thoughts keep turning to the boring subject of weather. Just yesterday, freezing rain followed by a snowstorm turned our back door steps into a ski slope. Fashion fills my mind only as it relates to staying warm. Because my thin frame provides little protection from the elements, I dress myself daily in giant wool scarves, thermal underwear, and thick knit pants, even when I don’t intend to leave the house. A desperate attempt to stave off my frosty environs has also led me to make some uncharacteristic style choices. Please keep this revelation a secret: I’ve found some comfort in fleece.

Favored footwear at New York Fashion Week

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

If you doubted the wisdom of your decision to stock up on a few pairs of boots after the holidays, then find comfort in knowing that boots of every kind reigned this week at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Models walked the runway in taupe suede high heeled tall ones, and short flat ones that buckled and tied. This favored footwear noticeably took center stage at the BCBG, Koonhor and Emerson shows.

Boots, like blue jeans, endure because of their functionality, comfort, and versatility. I start wearing boots as soon as I feel a slight nip in the air, and wear them until the trees start blooming. Boot wearers everywhere have discovered that they often make an outfit.

New Yorkers love their boots, especially this week as the temps plunge into the teens. Even their furry companions follow suit. Check out this adorable Corgi in his pop of red booties.

Even furry friends in New York love their boots.

Even furry friends in New York love their boots.

Three steps to a streamlined closet

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014
Live with less

This year I broke with my tradition of not making New Year’s resolutions, and I made one. I vowed to buy and keep less of everything. My gathering days are over; now I wish to experience the sensations of sitting in an open room, opening a half full drawer, and eyeing clear kitchen counters. In other words, I don’t want my house to become what George Carlin hilariously described in his famous 1986 Comic Relief performance as just “a pile of stuff with a cover over it”.

Perhaps Carlin’s insight into the importance we give to our stuff (“Their stuff is sh.. and your sh.. is stuff.”) inspired stylists and home stagers to use a kinder, gentler word for de-cluttering…editing. However you choose to describe this process, I’ve steadily engaged in it for several years. I regularly donate or consign clothing, furniture and housewares. Every six months or so, I go through files and throw away as much paper as I can. In spite of the hours I’ve invested in this effort, I still find myself surrounded by too much of everything.

Recent life changing events gave me the boost I needed to seriously scale down. My husband and I made a decision to sell the house that has been our home for thirty years. Each room of this charming four story Victorian brims with belongings. We also live in a well stocked apartment in Greenville, SC. In less than six weeks, the interior of our home must be cleared from top to bottom and take on a minimal appearance to attract buyers. Next week, we move out of our apartment and into a new home in Greenville.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. My editing has reached a feverish pitch. I spent the past two days flagging furniture for consignment at Southern Housepitality and mercilessly streamlining my wardrobe, breaking only for a closet consultation with a client! My time was well spent. I now have less for the movers to do, and a wardrobe I love to wear. The following three recommendations helped me reach my desired outcome:

1. Become a detached observer. Until you remove your emotions from the editing equation, you will not part with possessions.
2. Once is not enough. I advise that you go through all your clothes, shoes and accessories at least twice. The third round was the charm for me, even though I agonized over which items should make the final cut.
3. Say yes. Ask yourself these questions to help you decide what should stay and what should go: Will I wear it enough to earn the space it occupies? Does it deserve a ranking of at least 8 on a scale of 1-10 for style, fit, and quality? Can I wear it with an array of other items I own? Do I really need duplicate items?(for example two black cardigans or two raincoats)?

I’d like to hear from you kindred spirits out there bent on living with less?

How to overcome F.T.S. or failure to shop

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

All wardrobes require a solid foundation of clothing and accessory basics. If dressing each day puts you in the doldrums, then perhaps you suffer from F.T.S., otherwise known as failure to shop. This condition often afflicts those who lack the time or motivation to build a well rounded wardrobe. Several clients I worked with this month took bold steps to cure themselves of F.T.S. by engaging in some much needed retail therapy. Rather than rely on Santa’s fashion sense, the busy, overworked, and budget bound took matters into their own hands and did some serious shopping.

If your wardrobe needs style intervention, then now is the time to pick up functional winter pieces at deep discounts. Follow Santa’s prescription for gift gathering. Make a list of the basics (and check it twice) that you don’t own by inventorying your closet. Maybe it’s a quintessential black blazer that goes with a variety of pants, skirts and dresses, or a statement making animal print or bold colored blouse to make neutrals pop. Then carve out some time to shop for YOU.

I recently worked with a client at The Loft in Greenville, S.C. A woman on a mission, I combed the store to find reasonably priced work wear which flattered my client’s figure, and made her look and feel polished and professional. Two hours later, she left the store with most of what she needed and wanted to start a new year in style. What else could a wardrobe stylist ask for from Santa?

Many of the purchases my client made appear in this visual.

A Week 's Worth of Business Casual Basics

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

Suited for business fashion basics

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

As soon as I walk into Dillards, I head directly to the Antonio Melani, Vince Camuto and Gianni Bini sections of the store. If you peeked into my closet, you would see a variety of dresses and separates from these three exceptional lines.

I’ve often written and spoken about my winning formula for a powerful professional image. Quite simply, I advise men and women to always wear B.E.S.T clothes and accessories at the office – basic, elegant, simple, and tasteful. These three lines offer all four elements at a reasonable price point. I swear by Antonio Melani dresses and jackets because they offer classic, well tailored styles in practical neutrals. I own two Vince Camuto blazers that suit both South Carolina summers and winters. Last month I purchased a stunning cobalt blue Gianni Bini fitted jacket which makes my neutral separates come alive. I especially like the the ruched detailing on the sleeves as well as their cropped length. These design details automatically make me look taller.

I chose to showcase these lines at an upcoming fashion show entitled “Suited for Business”. I along with Dillards, The YWCA of Greenville, Business and Professional Women, and Events with Amore are hosting this free event to celebrate National Women’s Business Week. The evening includes a networking reception and silent auction to support the programs of the YWCA. So, if you live in the Greenville, SC area, I invite you to sip wine, mingle, and see fabulous working wardrobe fashions. Here is a sneak preview of some of the styles you will see on the runway on October 24.

Suited for Business

Antonio Melani dress / Vince Camuto tank dress / Antonio Melani blouse / Gianni Bini blouse / Vince Camuto jacket / Vince Camuto t-strap pumps / Antonio Melani handbag / Vince Camuto earrings / Vince Camuto stone pendant necklace / Vince Camuto dressy scarve / Antonio Melani