Packing for Our Anniversary Cruise—and How I Wore It All

There’s nothing like the excitement of heading off on a special trip, especially when it is to celebrate a wonderful time in your life. This summer, Barry and I embarked on a 10-day trip to the Mediterranean, which included a week-long cruise in celebration of our wedding anniversary. It was a most magical trip where we delighted in the beauty of various locations along the sea, enjoyed the brilliant sunshine of the Italian, French, and Spanish coasts, and experienced the food, history, and cultures of this storied part of the world.

Any time you’re planning to travel for more than a few days, it can be outright tricky to come up with a packing plan that works perfectly for your destination and the duration of your travels. That’s why it’s important to get started on your packing a few days early—so you can decide whether you need to streamline a bit, throw in a few more items, or just start all over again! Taking the time to pack your bags carefully always pays off and allows you to be carefree throughout your vacation.

Here’s what I packed for our trip:

Clothing:

For this trip I chose a black, white, and navy color story that worked very nicely together. I always recommend coming up with a color story so you can effortlessly mix and match your pieces together. And, it never hurts to throw in a surprising pop of color here and there for variety’s sake.

I packed a black pant, white pant, red pant, white short, navy short skirt, red dress, and a print dress. For shirts, I brought a black top, white top, a navy sweater, and an orange cotton long-sleeve sweater. And for a dressy evening I packed a navy sequin top (the very same one I wore on my trip to Paris a few years ago) to pair with a cream crepe pant.

I also brought a white casual shawl, a black cashmere shawl, and three bathing suits plus two cover-ups. And to help block the sun, I packed a big hat and a roll-up brimmed hat. Here’s a helpful tip to remember when packing your swimwear items: Consider bringing both a one-piece swimsuit and a bikini when you travel. The one-piece will be perfect for walking along the beach or splashing in the pool, while your bikini is great for lounging comfortably in the privacy of your own balcony.

Shoes: For sightseeing, exercising, and more, I took AGL black flats, black sandals, muted gold flat sandals, black heeled sandals, Nike workout sneakers, walking sneakers, and flip flops. And in Rome, I bought a cute and comfy pair of white sneakers.

Purses: I brought a Tumi cross-body lightweight nylon bag, a small black bag for evening, and a small gold bag for evening. I also brought a backpack because it’s comfortable to wear all day long.

Accessories: Accessories have the power to really bring a great outfit to life. I brought an assortment of jewelry, including a cheerful turquoise bracelet and earring set; a black cord necklace with a silver oval, silver hoops, a silver ring, and pearl earrings; and a crystal cuff to wear on a dressy night with large crystal and iolite earrings. Finally, my very favorite jewelry pieces for travel are my crystal on a long gold chain coupled with an Alexis Bittar lucite and gold bracelet and gold hoop earrings.

I want to share an invaluable piece of advice: Take extra care not to overpack! Somehow it’s always harder to pack up a suitcase at the end of the trip—plus you’ll want to have a little extra room for souvenirs or new clothes you buy while you’re traveling.

Now, on to how I wore the clothes I packed, and some sightseeing and shopping highlight photos from our trip!

Arriving in Rome

 On day one of our trip, we arrived in Rome and enjoyed some shopping until our room was ready. Our hotel was one block from the Via Condotti, the Spanish steps, and streets lined with nice shops. I bought a pair of fun white sneakers that were very comfortable to wear on the remainder of the trip, as well as a red-and-white-striped t-shirt.

On our first night, I wore my red pants with a white eyelet top to dinner.

Day 1, Boarding the Ship

We boarded Seabourn’s brand-new Encore midday and took a look around. The gym was great, and the coffee bar was located on our deck so Barry got me a cappuccino every morning before we went to breakfast.

That night there was a cocktail welcome party before dinner. It provided the perfect occasion for my postcard print dress with gold accessories.

Day 2, Corsica

We toured in beautiful Corsica and took in the sights. After having lunch on the ship, we relaxed on our deck and enjoyed some reading before dinner.

That evening was the “dressy night” on the ship. Some of the women wore gowns, and there were also men in tuxedos. I wore my navy sequin top with ivory pants and a black shoe, paired with crystal jewelry and a small black bag.

Day 3, Cinque Terre

On day three we toured three of the five towns in Cinque Terre, in what ended up being a ten-hour day of sightseeing! The towns were very pretty and we enjoyed roaming around. I wore white shorts with a pale orange t-shirt and the white sneakers I bought in Rome. I also wore my brimmed sun hat, and even bought another hat the same day.

That evening on the ship I wore my red pants again, this time with a dark navy and white sweater with black accessories for dinner.

Day 4, Santa Margherita and Portofino

On day four we toured and shopped in Santa Margherita and then attended an olive oil tasting and lunch at the Splendido Hotel, which overlooked the harbor in Portofino. I wore my new red-and-white-striped t-shirt, navy skirt, and sneakers, along with a hat.

That evening for dinner, we had a reservation at the Thomas Keller restaurant aboard the ship and enjoyed a fantastic dinner. I wore my orange/red dress with a black sandal and black bag, paired with gold jewelry.

Day 5

We visited a small French island on day five and strolled through their weekly market. There was lots of fun food to look at, and I bought a small straw bag. For sightseeing, I wore white shorts, a striped t-shirt, sneakers, and carried my black Tumi bag.

That evening at dinner, I wore my fun “postcard” dress—that’s what I like to call it. I accessorized with gold jewelry and wore gold sandals. That night, we had a special treat when we were asked to dine with the head engineer of the ship! We heard many interesting stories about how this state-of-the-art ship was built and how it is maintained.

Day 6, Palamós

The highlight of our day in Palamós, Spain, was taking part in a cooking class. It was great fun, and we got to prepare and then eat delicious seafood dishes.

That evening, back on the ship, I dressed for dinner in my black off-the-shoulder top with white pants, black heeled sandals, and carried my black bag.

Day 7, Mallorca

In Mallorca, Spain, we went shopping, and I wore my white shorts with a green t-shirt and sneakers, plus my sun hat. There, I bought a lovely Majorica pearl necklace, which I wore later on the trip.

That evening there was a “farewell” cocktail party on the ship and I repeated my outfit from our first evening in Rome: red pants with a white eyelet top.

Day 8, Barcelona

After the cruise, we spent our first day in Barcelona sightseeing. We viewed breathtaking architecture by Antoni Gaudí, Spain’s most illustrious architect. Along the grand boulevards of this beautiful city, we visited the Loewe leather store, as well as a fun shoe shop that sells only ballet flats in many different fabrics and colors. (Sadly, I was in between sizes and just couldn’t make it work.) We had lunch on the rooftop restaurant of our hotel, The Majestic. That day, I wore white pants, my red-and-white-striped top, sneakers, and a hat.

That evening, I wore my black off-the-shoulder top and black pants with my new necklace that I bought in Mallorca.

Day 9, Barcelona

On our second day in Barcelona, we were out most of the day with our guide, Marta, and our driver. We visited the stunning Gaudí Sagrada Família along with some other beautiful churches, as well as one of the venues for the 1992 Olympics. In the Born area, our guide told us of a particular bakery that was known for its mascarpone-filled croissants. Barry went running in and bought three immediately! I have to say, it was delicious and worth every calorie! I wore my navy skirt, white t-shirt, blue sneakers, and wore my orange cotton sweater around my neck in case it got cold.

That night for dinner, I wore a black tank, black pants, cardigan, and a black sandal. I also carried my small black bag. The very next morning we set out toward the airport for our flight home. This was truly a trip to remember forever!

 Here’s what I would do differently next time: Overall I feel good about my packing choices for this trip, as I wore nearly everything I brought with me. However, next time I would make a few small changes. First, I would likely add another short or skirt for daytime touring, and a cotton hoodie or zipfront jacket in white for daytime wear. I would also add another bottom for daytime wear.

Finally, I would bring only one or two bathing suits and a single cover up; I didn’t actually spend that much time lounging at the pool because we went out touring every day instead. Still, this is a great example of how a little planning can go a long way. You don’t need to overstuff your suitcase to be able to craft lots of different outfits for a variety of events. When done right, you can bring a great assortment of clothing and accessories and still have plenty of room left for the treasures you find along your journey.

If you have a favorite packing tip, send it along to marla@marlatomazin.com and I will share it with all of our friends around the country.

 

 

 

 

 

Renew Your Spirit Just in Time for Spring

Spring, the loveliest of seasons, is finally here, and the world is ripe with new beginnings and hope. This palpable sense of rebirth is perhaps why so many of us feel inspired to throw open our windows, scrub our floors, and make room in our homes and hearts for the wonderful new things in store for us. For me, springtime is the perfect occasion to dust off the cobwebs (literally and figuratively) and welcome a fresh new start. This is a good occasion to adopt new healthy habits, indulge in a little self-care, and set a new intention to live more simply, purposefully, and be more present. Here are a few of my favorite springtime rituals that I use to invite a new season of harmony, sunshine, and joy.

Have an “out with the old” exorcism… Chances are, you’re dealing with some clutter in your home that you’d like to get rid of. Get into the spring cleaning spirit by setting aside some time to go through the junk that’s accumulated over the past year. Devote a morning or afternoon to decluttering each room in your house and determine which items should be recycled or disposed of, and which items can be donated.

…and do a closet purge while you’re at it! While you’re taking stock of what should stay and what should go, pay extra attention to your closet. It’s not enough to swap out your winter coats, sweaters, and accessories for your springtime essentials. Really take stock of any items that are worn out, outdated, or simply no longer bring you joy. It’s time to move these items on to make room for clothing that makes you shine. Be sure to rehang items that have fallen to the floor and reorganize unruly belts, scarves, and other accessories. This is also the perfect time to clean and vacuum out your closet—especially your shoe shelves, which tend to accumulate dust and debris.

If you are having trouble with your wardrobe purge, consider working with me to spring clean your closet. I regularly assist clients in letting go of clothes that no longer work, organizing the clothing that stays, and creating totally accessorized outfits that reflect their true selves. To book an appointment, please email me at marla@marlatomazin.com.

Make your home sparkle. A fresh and clean home dramatically improves your quality of life. Make time to do a thorough “spring cleaning” and you will reap the benefits of a tidy home for the rest of the year. Take time to sweep or vacuum your floors, wipe down baseboards and window sills, and dust all surfaces. And if you want to go the extra mile to kill any lingering germs, I recommend using Young Living’s Thieves Household Cleaner to safely sanitize your home; it’s chemical-free and its light scent will freshen your rooms.

Diffuse an uplifting scent. Nothing says “let the sunshine in” like a fresh, inviting scent. Use a diffuser and your preferred essential oil to purify and fill the air with the fragrances of springtime. Not only will your house smell wonderful, but you may also benefit from the therapeutic qualities of some of the oils. My personal favorites for daytime include peppermint, lemon, and lavender. At night, diffuse Young Living’s Peace and Calming essential oil to relax you into a peaceful slumber.

Step into TOE-tal renewal. Nothing feels more renewing than a good pedicure after months of hiding your feet from winter’s chill. After a little pampering, you will be more than ready to break out your sandal collection. Be sure to choose a spring-worthy color for your toes like the one I’m wearing here, OPI’s Living on the Bula-vard.

Embrace uplifting shades. For even more color, celebrate springtime hues, including pastel pink, lavender, and Pantone’s color of the year, “Greenery.” Try wearing a soft pink T-shirt with crisp white jeans, or pick out a great new pair of lilac-tinted sunglasses. And if you’ve really got spring fever, brighten up your living room with a few green throw pillows in this vibrant and captivating hue.

Try a few on-trend tops. Spring fashion is in bloom, so update your wardrobe with a few new shirts and blouses. This year, it’s all about ruffles, ties, lacing, and arm details. The off-the-shoulder look is also back and better than ever. Here’s a hint: If your shirt is really frilly or otherwise embellished, keep the rest of your outfit and accessories neat and simple.

Bring the outdoors inside. Indoor plants help clean the air and cheer up any room with a fresh pop of color. Celebrate spring by bringing home a few new potted plants from your local nursery. Or, start a window-sill herb garden to brighten up your culinary creations. I recommend growing a mix of basil, dill, parsley, or cilantro.

Commit only to activities that fill your spirit. Too often, we overcommit ourselves with activities that don’t resonate well with us. Whether you have joined a club that doesn’t bring you joy, agreed to organize yet another fundraiser, or sit on one too many boards, take a step back and reassess your motives. Life is too short to commit to obligations that don’t really fill your soul with joy. Reflect on your current commitments and decide what, if anything, should be edited from your schedule. Trust me, you’ll increase your energy and joy tenfold once you cut out the commitments that don’t enhance your life.

Start a new healthy habit. (It’s simpler than you think!) Now is the perfect time to start taking better care of yourself. Many people delay on making these types of changes, because of time and energy concerns. But remember that you don’t have to overhaul your schedule or routine to make impactful changes. Five minutes of deep breathing in the morning, or a 15-minute mid-day walk will greatly affect your health and happiness. So whether you choose to swap your fries for a side salad, or opt to go to bed a half hour earlier, choose to invest in your own health today. It will pay off in more ways than you think.

Just as the Earth effortlessly bursts with new life and color, springtime joy comes naturally. Your job is to clear away the things that diminish that joy…and then gratefully allow it to flourish in your heart and life.

 

The Pursuit of Mindfulness: How to Get Out of Your Head and Into the Present

Today it’s increasingly viewed as normal to have a mind that’s always “on.” Our lives are busy, we face plenty of stress, and many of us spend our days in a bearable but unpleasant state of inner turmoil. When your mind is working overtime to deal with these factors, it’s very easy to slip out of a healthy and present state. Unfortunately, most of us are unable to retire to a remote mountaintop or a deserted beach in order to escape from the pressures of the modern world. Instead, we must maintain a healthy inner sanctuary by dwelling in the present instead of worrying about the future and the past. Tapping into mindfulness is a great way to re-center yourself when you’re coping with stress, uncertainty, conflict, and chaos.

Mindfulness is the state of paying attention to the present so you can truly live in the moment. Though it may seem elusive right now, mindfulness is easily accessible and allows you to experience, enjoy, and co-create a better life for yourself. In fact, you can slip into mindfulness in just a few seconds and continue reaping the benefits for the rest of your day.

Ready to give mindfulness a try and reap its many benefits? Here are six of my favorite techniques to help you get “out of your head” and access mindfulness easily and quickly.

Take 60 seconds just to breathe. You don’t have to adopt an extensive meditation practice to get real results in your life (although you certainly can if you wish!). Mindfulness can be achieved in just a few seconds with my favorite breathing exercise. You can practice this anywhere, like a busy restaurant, an elevator, or even in a bathroom stall. Give yourself 60 seconds of silence and during this time focus on your breathing. In this brief amount of time, you can actually stop negative thoughts and calm yourself down when your thoughts start racing. You can do this exercise several times a day to instantly get back into the present.

Get off the worry wheel. If you are a habitual worrier, like so many people are, you may not initially notice when your thoughts and fears begin spiraling out of control. And before you know it, anxiety takes over and starts running the show. In order to break a worry cycle, you must first realize that you are in one! Throughout the day, take a moment to assess your inner state. Ask yourself, What am I really feeling right now? Does it feel good or am I coming from a place of fear? If you discover you are feeling anxious or fretful, take a deep breath and pause. Remind yourself that you are in control of your thoughts and that you have the power to calm yourself down and reset your mind to dwell in a place of peace. Then create the intention to carry on in the present.

Put a positive affirmation on “repeat.” Whenever a worrisome thought (or a whole collection of them!) creeps in, be ready to counteract it with a positive affirmation. Affirmations really work to help you stop negative thoughts in their tracks. Disrupt negative thoughts and feelings of self-doubt with a grounding phrase you can repeat to yourself anytime you need centering. Some examples I like include I am a kind and loving person and I am capable and strong.

 Simplify your life. Sometimes a simpler approach is best for helping you tune in to the present. Take a look at your calendar—and your life in general—to determine if you need to audit and reduce your daily activities. Have you taken on too many obligations? Do any of your commitments give you an unpleasant gut reaction? Ask yourself if there are any simplifications that you can make that will give you more time to tune into your needs. When you do cut out unnecessary activities, take the time you have gained and spend it on improving your inner state.

Eat a mindful meal. Think back to the last time you really tasted and savored your food. Has it been far too long? Many people rush to eat every meal so they can get back to work or on to the next task. But mindful eating is much better for your digestion and your mental state. Try to have at least one mindful meal a day, or if that simply isn’t possible, aim for a few mindful meals a week. To eat a mindful meal, take time to really experience your food. Chew each bite carefully and focus on the beautiful flavors on your plate. You will enjoy your food more and may even find that you don’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied. And to be fully present for your meal, be sure to put aside any newspapers, magazines, iPads, and iPhones until after you have finished eating.

Get some fresh air and sunlight. I believe we are designed to spend time in nature and that doing so is restorative and helps us stay peaceful and clear-minded. Make sure that you are getting enough outdoor time in natural settings to help you calm your inner noise and become more mindful overall. Head outdoors for a dose of Mother Nature every day, if possible. Visit parks, ocean or lake shorelines, grassy fields, and forest trails to connect to the earth and gain some much-needed calm and presence.

Remember that when life feels overwhelming, you will be okay the moment you find your way back to the present through mindfulness. You don’t have to stay in a place of suffering; a healthier and happier version of you is always just a few deep breaths away. By practicing these steps daily, you will learn to recognize the triggers that pull you out of the now and can take gentle action to become present once again. In time, you will quickly be able to return to your center and dwell in a place of peace and awareness.

 

Seven Tips to Help You Find Peace in an Unpredictable World

We live in times of great uncertainty, and it is taking a toll on all of us. For many people, not knowing exactly what the future holds creates fear and anxiety and leaves them feeling depressed, desperate, and worried. I believe we weren’t meant to live life this way.

While we all must live with a certain amount of uncertainty, it is unhealthy to become so enmeshed in circumstances beyond our control that we lose ourselves in the grips of despair. It’s true that we can’t know what the future will hold, but I believe we can find peace and joy in the present moment by learning to tune into our own needs, by being generous and kind to our fellow man, and by—in our own small way—making the world a better and more beautiful place.

If uncertainty is undermining your sense of well-being, I promise that you can restore balance to your life and find happiness once again. Below are some of my favorite tips to help you face moments of uncertainty and find your way to a place of personal peace.

First, get comfortable with uncertainty. Change truly is the only constant we can rely upon. Therefore, make peace with uncertainty and the role it will inevitably play in your life. Practice managing your expectations so you’re not on a constant roller coaster ride of emotions with each new disappointment. And remind yourself that you have a choice in how you react to anything that happens to you.

Focus on what you can control. Sure, plenty of factors are out of your control, but you’ll go crazy if you constantly fixate on them. Instead, focus on things that are actually in your control. For example, you can’t control whether or not you will get that big promotion at work, but you CAN control how well you prepare for the interview. Apply this philosophy any time you find yourself worrying about the future. Ask, Can I directly control the outcome of this situation? If not, take a deep breath, and try to release the incessant thoughts of worry you are feeling.

Create a “best-odds” plan for managing your stress. Constant stress, fear, and anxiety are destructive to your health and distract you from living your best life. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make a realistic plan for dealing with these unhealthy emotions. Aim to get plenty of sleep each night, stay hydrated, and eat a balanced diet of healthy foods, including plenty of nutritious vegetables. Be mindful of your alcohol intake, and don’t overindulge in sugary drinks and sweets; they may temporarily make you feel good, but are destructive to your long-term health. Additionally, use all that nervous energy for good by exercising each day! Exercise diminishes stress like nothing else. So be sure to go for a walk, hit the gym, or attend a fun class to get active. You’ll be doing your body a favor, and working out those nervous jitters in a productive way.

Get present with meditation. When you worry about the past and future, you are living in uncertainty instead of focusing on the now. But practicing mindfulness gets you “out of your head” and guides your consciousness to the moment at hand. Consider adopting a meditation routine to help you gently reorient your focus to the present moment.

You don’t have to be an “expert” to meditate. Anyone can practice meditation and reap the benefits. Here is an easy routine that I like to do. If you are able, go somewhere quiet like a bathroom stall, and for sixty seconds, follow the breath in and out of your nose. That’s it. The best thing about this practice is that you can do it anywhere from the back of a cab to a crowded café. It’s a fast way to calm down when you feel uncertainty steering you toward unpleasant feelings. Try it whenever you sense your attention slipping to the past and the future—or any time you feel fear or worry creeping in. If you’d like a little more structure to your meditation routine, I recommend the Headspace app for guided meditation sequences.

Take social media breaks and curtail cable TV. If you give it your undivided attention, a constant stream of information about the state of the world will make you mad with worry. Therefore, take breaks from all the noise on your social media accounts and focus on your real life any time you need a mental health break. And if they upset you, turn off cable news shows and get out into the world to spend time with friends and family.

Avoid negative obsessors and overly anxious people: They really do affect your psyche! Entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Think long and hard about who is in your inner circle. Are you surrounding yourself with positive, life-affirming people or with fearful pessimists? Try to spend most of your time with the former group—and you may just notice their sunny dispositions rubbing off on you.

Find a special way to make a difference. While you can’t solve all the problems in the world, you can do meaningful work to help others. I guarantee that you don’t have to look far to find someone or something in need. Serve meals at a soup kitchen, collect clothes and coats for underprivileged children, or raise money for a cause you believe in. Your service will give you the peace of knowing you can make an impact and be a force of positive change and progress. Just try it, and you will be amazed by how wonderful your meaningful contribution makes you feel.

Remember that while none of us can see into the future, you don’t have to let uncertainty overwhelm you or make you feel despair. If you can learn to embrace uncertainty as just another mystery in this journey called life, you may be surprised by the positive outcomes you never did foresee. For this reason, I believe in remaining optimistic about life and the future. You never know what new blessings could be just around the corner.

I’m Feeling Fall! How About You?

Now that Autumn is in full swing, there’s a distinct chill in the air that makes me eager to wrap up in a fuzzy sweater and get outside to enjoy the crunching leaves, the golden light, and a pumpkin flavored treat! But before I can fully enjoy fall’s splendor each year, I always make sure my closet is organized and well-stocked with clothing and accessories appropriate for cooler weather!

Many of you may know about my partnership with www.thethreetomatoes.com. It’s a fabulous website dedicated to fashion, news, and lifestyle for “women who aren’t kids”—in other words women who are in the prime of their lives! I write a regular style column for them, and this month, I’ve written a piece on simplifying the daunting task of swapping out your summer clothing with your fall and winter staples.

Be sure to head over to The Three Tomatoes soon to check it out:

How to Stop Fall Closet Chaos: Eight Tips for Organizing Your Autumn Closet


Thanks for the Tip! 11 Pieces of Timeless Advice My Clients Rave About

Style is a very personal thing. Your “look” is yours alone and ultimately serves as the image you broadcast to the world. That’s what makes the subject so intimidating, and yet so important for many people. Everyone wants to accentuate their best features and let their authentic selves shine through, but they don’t always know how to get started.

Fortunately, after being a style and image consultant for 25 years, I’ve come to know a thing or two about putting my best foot forward and helping others do the same. The truth is, a trusted advisor can give you the perspective you need to help you see your closet, your clothes, and your habits a little clearer.

I feel grateful that I am able to do what I love every day, by helping my clients hone their style, and find confidence and joy. Of all the advice I’ve shared over my career, there are several key pieces of advice that apply to nearly everyone. These style and life rules never go out of fashion, and they are as true today as they ever were.

Below are 11 of the most useful “client-approved” pieces of advice I have had the pleasure to share over the years.

 Remember that column dressing is your best friend. When in doubt, wear a matching column of color to make you look taller and leaner. You can either wear a skirt and top, or a top and pants in the same color to look pulled together and great. Then top with an accent jacket—or the column can be a matching jacket or top with a skirt or pant.

Figure out your best colors (and the colors that don’t work). Wearing the right colors for your skin tone is one of the simplest improvements you could ever make—and it can make a big difference! Figure out which colors make you look best, then remove the non-flattering colors from your closet and refrain from buying more of those colors. Once you’ve got a closet full of flattering colors, your outfits will come together more easily and your accessories will match your clothing.

 When you are stressed, take a minute to adjust your body chemistry. It takes only 60 seconds of focused breathing to help you calm down when you feel stressed or anxious. Take several moments to breathe steadily and concentrate on your breath flowing in and out of your nose. You can do this anywhere—in a car, your office, or a bathroom stall—and it will instantly give you the presence you need to stay focused and calm in any situation.

 Don’t rely solely on elastic waist pants. It can be all too easy to slip into leggings or pants with an elastic waistband each day. But it’s important to resist this urge because elasticized pants are so forgiving that they allow you to gain weight without the telltale snugness that accompanies regular pants. Instead, choose to primarily wear pants that feature a zipper and waistband. Jeans and slacks with this design style keep you in check by giving you an accurate reading of your size and weight. So save stretchy pants for your yoga class or the gym.

 Know that organizing your closet can change your life! Having the right hangers and organizing your clothes by color and classification will make getting dressed in exciting and well-accessorized outfits easy. And it makes getting out the door a breeze. Take the time to organize your closet from top to bottom, and get rid of any clothes that no longer fit, flatter, or represent you. You will be amazed at how much calmer you feel when you see a neat and tidy closet of clothes waiting to be worn!

Photograph your favorite outfits. Take photos of totally accessorized outfits that you love and would like to remember to wear again. Then refer back to them anytime you need a great outfit fast. This is so helpful for everyday dressing, last-minute parties or events, and organizing for travel. You can create an album on your smartphone full of these ready-to-go outfits. Or print out a handy catalog of photos and keep them on a shelf in your closet for easy, fast access.

Create boundaries and stick to them. It can be very hard to put yourself first in your life, but doing so will bring you much more joy and ease—and remember that you can’t help others if you are too frazzled from overextending yourself. So make time for you and learn to say no to invitations and commitments that don’t resonate. It’s also smart to be upfront with your employer, friends, and family about your limits and priorities. If you don’t establish boundaries, no one will do it for you.

Have your garments tailored to fit properly. When your clothes fit you well, you will look and feel better than ever. It is a wonder what a difference a few strategic seams, hems, and tucks can make on how you wear a garment. Tailoring your clothes takes them from looking okay or good to amazing. Even if you can usually find clothing that fits, having those clothes professionally altered will give you impressive results. The extra expense of a tailor will pay for itself when you have a closet full of clothes that look great and fit you perfectly.

 Pack light and smart. When traveling, the last thing you want is to be burdened by an enormous, overstuffed suitcase. That’s why it is so important to pack efficiently and carefully select the clothing you want to bring along. Choose versatile pieces that you can mix and match for a variety of outfits and focus on high-quality fabrics that travel well. Be sure to include a couple of accessories to accent your looks and don’t forget to pack appropriate footwear. Finally, wear your bulkiest outfit on the plane instead of taking up valuable space inside your bag.

Hydrate for health and happiness! You should be drinking eight to ten glasses of water daily. This helps your organs function properly, makes your skin and hair look great, and energizes your whole body. When you think you are hungry, drink water first as you may actually be thirsty. Drinking the proper amount of water daily can help you to lose weight. Water helps fill you up and flushes toxins out of your body. And remember that when you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

 If you’ve outgrown it, let it go (that goes for clothes and people too). We often keep people and “stuff” in our lives that no longer enrich us, but it is advisable to let go of the old and make room for the new. Whether you need to release a stagnant friendship or remove yourself from a toxic relationship, respect yourself enough to politely cut ties and move on. The same goes for old clothing and even old habits. You don’t need that old sweater from the ’90s any more than you need to cling to old hurts and fears. Take a deep breath and purge the things that no longer serve you.

If you’re lucky enough to be given good advice when you need it—whether we’re talking about fashion tips or wellness guidance—you are much more likely to succeed and feel good about making informed decisions. Sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction to help change someone’s life for the better.

 

 

 

 

My Must-Haves for Summer

Summer always puts me in a sunny mood. The days are long, the weather is beautiful, and everyone is a little more relaxed and carefree. Here are a few of my essential favorites to help you celebrate summer in style this year!

A beautiful pedicure. Nothing feels and looks as good as a fresh pedicure; it keeps your feet smooth and sandal-ready for summer. Pamper yourself and kick off the summer by showing your toes a little TLC. Choose a color that makes you happy when you look at it.  I am known to choose an orangey-coral shade every year. It is my very favorite and always makes me smile.

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A great read. A great book is always in fashion, but summer is a special time for reading. I never go to the beach or on a weekend getaway without a new book to enjoy. I already have a few lined up for summer. One on my list is Before the Fall by Noah Hawley—a real page turner. Another that I’m looking forward to is The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson, who wrote Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, which I also really enjoyed.

A stylish hat. A hat can complete a look, but hats are also great for protecting your hair and face from the sun. Walking around New York today, I saw so many women wearing hats. It was a hot day, so that may have had something to do with it. I wished I had worn one and will be sure to remember one from now on, especially when it’s bright outside! There are plenty of choices and styles available, so I know you’ll find something great: small brims or larger, floppy brims—whatever suits your look.

Image Credit: www.jcrew.com Click here to buy

Image Credit: www.jcrew.com
Click here to buy

Image Credit: www.goorin.com Click here to buy

Image Credit: www.goorin.com
Click here to buy

Image Credit: www.nordstrom.com Click here to buy

Image Credit: www.nordstrom.com
Click here to buy

A fun, flirty dress. Dresses are so easy and lovely that they are sure to put a spring in your step. Choose a style and color that makes you feel beautiful. White dresses are classic and especially nice in the summer. And be sure to check out my recent article all about summer dresses here.

A beachy glow. Self-tanner formulas are better than ever nowadays. I am a fan of the Jergens family of gradual tanners. I’ve been using their new program that comes with a primer for the shower, the tanner itself, plus an extender that helps my tan last. I like to use a glove to apply so my hands don’t get stained. Everyone keeps asking me if I’ve been to Florida recently, so it must be working!

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Jergens foam mousse also works great for the body. It washes off of my hands easily and creates a smooth, even tan. For my face I love Comodynes self-tanning towelettes. I found them in a Paris pharmacy, but they are also available online. The color is realistic and the individual towelettes couldn’t be easier to use!

A fantastic recipe. A delicious, satisfying recipe that is easy to make and a crowd pleaser is one we should all have on hand. My husband and I have been enjoying beer-can chicken using the 4-3-2-1 rub, both available at bonappetit.com. I have tried a few pans to cook it in, and I am a fan of the Weber infusion pan, which works on the grill or in the oven. Here are the recipes below, along with a link to the pan, so you can enjoy your own roast chicken delights.

Beer-Can Chicken Recipe

4-3-2-1 Spice Rub Recipe

Get your own poultry infusion roaster here.

Remember that Labor Day will be here before you know it. Summer goes by so quickly, so be sure to make every day count. Get outside frequently. Breathe in the fresh air after a thunderstorm. Enjoy time with your friends and family, and don’t forget to catch as many golden sunsets as you can.

Sun or Showers—Doesn’t Matter! Seven Tips to Help You Dress Stylishly This Spring

With more and more warm days in the forecast, most of us are excited to say goodbye to winter layers for the next six months. But between cold fronts, rainy days, and brisk breezes, it’s still a bit too early to leave the house in only a sundress and sandals.

While you probably can’t wait to wear spring’s colors, fabrics, and styles, you also aren’t eager to freeze (or maybe fry!) in the name of fashion. Since there isn’t a specific day when we “officially” switch from cool to warm temperatures, your best bet is to approach the seasonal transition with an eye toward versatility and comfort.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate the winter-to-spring wardrobe transition in style:

Update your closet in bite-sized chunks. If you keep your warm-weather clothes in another closet, pull out cotton pants, blouses, and light sweaters so that you can begin to work them into your rotation. Meanwhile, switch out the heaviest fabrics—such as tweed pants or skirts and thick cashmere sweaters—to make room. (Remember, if you can’t easily see a great spring piece, you won’t wear it!) As the weather begins to warm up, you can continue to switch out a handful of items each day or week.

Also, use this seasonal clothing swap as an opportunity to clean out your closet. Instead of putting armloads of winter wear into storage without a second thought, carefully consider which pieces no longer fit, are damaged or worn, or simply don’t honor your style or lifestyle. Repair, donate, or throw them away as appropriate. (Take a look back at this post and this post for more in-depth information about how to clean out your closet.)

Wear fabrics that are comfortable in a variety of temperatures. When it comes to keeping you comfortable in spring’s wide range of temperatures, not all fabrics are created equal. Aim for materials that aren’t paper-thin, but are still breathable.

I keep my lightweight wools in my closet 10 months of the year and have even worn these pants in the summer on cooler days. Lightweight wool pants, skirts, and blazers are great investments, not only because of their flexibility between seasons, but because they are durable, flattering, and travel well. Also, keep your eyes open for several other hardworking fabrics in addition to the standard cotton and wool: viscose, Lyocell, and polyamide with elastane. These blends wear well and are suitable for both warm and cool days.

Identify cold-weather staples that can pull double duty. If you’re like most women, your winter wardrobe contains plenty of items in neutrals like black, gray, navy, and khaki. While you may be sick of wearing your black slacks with jewel-tone blouses and sweaters, for instance, don’t forget that pieces like these can easily be lightened up when they’re paired with “springier” fabrics and colors.

While you’re waiting to wear sundresses and sheerer fabrics, mix up your neutrals with white, cream, or one of many pretty accent colors like aqua, mint, or coral. A splash of color can give winter workhorses a whole new lease on life!

I wore this leather jacket in place of a coat in March on an unseasonably warm day.  The following week, I was back in my warm coat, scarf, and gloves!

I wore this leather jacket in place of a coat in March on an unseasonably warm day. The following week, I was back in my warm coat, scarf, and gloves!

Don’t get caught in the rain or be left out in the cold. Spring is known for its mercurial temperature changes. And who doesn’t know what it’s like to be caught in a sudden rain shower? Leave the house prepared for Mother Nature’s fickleness with a leather jacket if it’s going to be sunny or a tailored raincoat if it’s not (I’m a big fan of hooded raincoats).

Both of these options are stylish, but won’t feel too bulky if you need to take them off and fold them over your arm. And don’t forget a lightweight scarf that coordinates with your outfit. It can fill multiple roles as an eye-catching accessory, a wrap to drape around your shoulders, or even a barrier between your hair and the rain. Animal print scarves add interest to your look in any season, and florals in particular are popular this spring.

My husband gave me this russet raincoat for my birthday. (He has a good eye!) It’s microfiber with a button-out vested liner. I had no idea how much I needed it until I started wearing it!

My husband gave me this russet raincoat for my birthday. (He has a good eye!) It’s microfiber with a button-out vested liner. I had no idea how much I needed it until I started wearing it!

Get ready for more foot traffic. Sick of your winter boots but not quite ready to venture out in strappy sandals? Plan to enjoy the warmer(ish) weather in a “dress flat.” I recommend low heels by Diane B. to many of my professional clients because they’re comfortable to walk in and still look great with pants, skirts, and dresses. These shoes are made in Italy, and around 15 varieties are offered each season. (If you’re interested in purchasing a pair and live in New York City, I highly recommend working with Emilio at Diane B.’s Lexington Avenue location. You can contact him at 212-644-3526.)

For a casual look, ballet flats are always classic. If you’re planning a spring shopping trip (or simply shopping your closet), look for camel or nude flats in a matte or patent material. These tones will complement most outfits and don’t feel as heavy as winter’s dark colors. If you’d like your footwear to stand out a bit more, choose a metallic shade or even an animal print—both of which I consider neutrals!

I own four pairs of Diane B. dress flats and wear them all regularly with pants, dresses, and skirts.

I own four pairs of Diane B. dress flats and wear them all regularly with pants, dresses, and skirts.

Picture yourself in perfect layers. Especially when the weather is unpredictable, putting prior thought into what you want to wear is time well spent. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to rush out the door overdressed (or underdressed) for what you’ll find outside.

When I’m working with clients, I recommend that they take an hour and put together several layered looks that can be adapted on the fly. This could be a favorite lightweight wool blazer in navy to be worn over colorful jeans in coral, red, or even white. A cream t-shirt top or white blouse and scarf complete the ensemble. Once you’ve created a look you love, take a picture of it so that you can easily assemble it later when you’re in a hurry.

My white blouse, orange cotton pants, and ballet flats look great on their own, or layered with a navy blazer and coordinating scarf.

My white blouse, orange cotton pants, and ballet flats look great on their own, or layered with a navy blazer and coordinating scarf.

Don’t forget your skin, lips, and nails. These are also an important part of your overall image, and can help you “face” the new season with a spring in your step! Stop by your local department store and ask to see new lipsticks. Just be sure not to choose a shade based solely on its trendiness; it should also be flattering to your skin and hair. (Lipstick should “lift” you, not make you look sick.) For instance, if you always wear warm tones in clothing and makeup, a “cooler” pink lipstick may not be the best choice.

The same goes for your nails. The next time you book a manicure or purchase a polish, choose a shade that will lighten your look and your mood. You might want to consider one of Pantone’s pretty pastel colors of the year: Rose Quartz or Serenity. Finally, remember to wear sunscreen and/or a tinted moisturizer with SPF to protect your skin. While it may not feel that hot, the sun’s rays can still do a lot of damage. (And yes—you have my permission to use sun damage as a reason to buy a new pair of oversize sunglasses!)

Before you know it, you won’t have to say, “Looks like it will be cold today” for months. But while the weather’s still unpredictable, plan to shake off the winter blahs with a carefully curated look that fits the temperature, this season’s trends, and your personality!

 

 

 

Eight Tips to Help Business Travelers Pack Light (While Still Looking Like a Boss)

Even for seasoned road warriors, suitcase packing tends to be a dreaded chore. Is there really a foolproof method for fitting suits, business casual, and casual attire (not to mention shoes, toiletries, and other accessories) into a carry-on bag…without forgetting anything essential?

In most cases, the answer is yes!

I’ve found that many business travelers overpack in order to prepare for every eventuality. After all, no one wants to wear yesterday’s wrinkly button-down to a client dinner that cropped up unexpectedly. But too often, this strategy causes travelers to haul around bulky luggage full of pieces that are never worn. And while you may not have considered it, agonizing over what to pack (not to mention waiting in bag-check lines and potentially dealing with lost suitcases) can shake your confidence and cause your trip to start off on a frustrating and stressful note.

Fortunately, you can make packing for a business trip easier—without stuffing your whole closet into a large bag that needs to be checked. Here are eight tips to help you downsize with confidence before your next business flight:

Think quality over quantity. You may assume that it’s best not to pack expensive clothing that might get wrinkled, stained, or worn—but actually, the opposite is true. Purchase and learn how to pack the highest-quality items you can afford. They will travel well, boost your image, and can often be worn multiple times before needing a trip to the dry cleaner’s.

Suits, trousers, skirts, and blazers in lightweight wool are always a great choice. This durable material is easy to maintain and is appropriate for a variety of climates. You should be able to wear the same pieces two or three times on the same trip, if necessary—just tweak your look by adding different accessories each day. I’d also recommend purchasing anti-wrinkle shirts and blouses, if you haven’t already.

Choose your colors carefully. You may pride yourself on the variety of interesting, fashion-forward pieces you wear to the office—but travel is not the time to show off the extent of your professional wardrobe. Whether it’s beige, gray, black, or blue, choose one base tone for all of your outfits and stick with it.

If you’re going to a warmer climate and won’t be attending any strictly formal events, you might select beige or light gray. Otherwise, choose black, navy, charcoal, or chocolate. As long as you don’t mind wearing the same pair of pants a few times (again, this is where quality comes in!), this strategy can really decrease the amount of clothes you need to bring along. And being able to mix and match items will broaden the amount of outfits you can put together.

Focus on leaving a small footprint. Footwear is definitely the heaviest and bulkiest item most business travelers need to pack, so make sure that each pair of shoes you choose is unique in terms of color and style—you don’t have room for overlap.

Men can often get away with one pair of professional shoes and a workout tennis shoe. A dress loafer is appropriate for most business meetings. If you need a lace-up shoe for serious meetings or more formal events, wear the dress loafer on the plane.

For women, a great pump and/or boot can work for a week of meetings. If you need two pairs, bring a neutral (such as black) that works with a dress and a pant, and either a dressier shoe or a nude pump that blends with the clothing you’ve packed. If there’s room in your suitcase, add a pair of more comfortable walking shoes—either tennis shoes if you intend to work out or a pair of flats with plenty of support.

Add your accents. Once you have your foundation in place, it’s time to choose one or two accent colors. A few key pieces—scarves, a tie and pocket square, or a statement necklace, to name a few examples—can add a surprising amount of spice to your outfits. You’ll probably also have room for a few “wild card” pieces—say, a bright polo shirt or patterned sundress—to wear to more casual events. As long as they blend with your chosen color theme, you can add a couple of these items without guilt.

Use plastic bags. All shapes and sizes of plastic bags come in handy while you’re packing and traveling. In addition to zip-top bags in a variety of sizes, I recommend saving and utilizing long plastic bags from the dry cleaner’s. As I’m packing, I lay a long bag down in the bottom of the suitcase. Then as I put my clothes in the bag, I weave the plastic back and forth through each layer. It helps everything stay neat and organized, and cuts down on wrinkles. If you’re staying at a hotel, the plastic bag can double as a drawer liner. And on the way home, I can use one of the bags for my worn clothes so they can go into the laundry or to the dry cleaner’s.

Utilize all extra space. When you’re trying to get by with a carry-on, it’s worth sacrificing just a little organization for the sake of using every inch of space. For example, stuff socks, hose, and underwear into your shoes instead of keeping all of these items together. Fill any awkward gaps with rolled up sleepwear or exercise clothing that can get wrinkled.

Wear your heaviest clothes on the plane. Instead of trying to stuff your outerwear into your suitcase, wear it on the plane. If you get too warm, you can always put these items in the overhead compartment or hold them on your lap. Also, while it may not be the most comfortable option, wear a suit or blazer on the plane if you can—this will save a surprising amount of space in your bag. If you do pick up a few wrinkles along the way, they should disappear after hanging the garments up overnight or giving them a good steam in the bathroom.

Keep a packing list for reference. Even the most experienced travelers can save time by creating and referencing a packing list. Yours might include a general list of what you’ll need (e.g., two suits and four dress shirts) or, if you tend to fill your suitcase with the same pieces trip after trip, a list of specific items. And don’t forget miscellaneous items (like phone chargers) and toiletries. We all know what it’s like to realize you didn’t pack your toothbrush or reading glasses—not fun! Keep your packing list on your computer or smartphone so that you can easily edit and improve it on the go.

 

By learning to make some tough choices during the packing process, it is possible to zip professional style into a carry-on. And in a worst-case scenario, I’m sure there will be stores where you’re going!

Seven Reasons to Become a Quitter in 2016 (and Why Ditching These Bad Habits Can Make This Your Happiest Year Yet)

Life is built on routines. It’s easy to go years—or even decades—without consciously assessing what’s working and what’s not. As a result, many of us are surrounded by people, obligations, objects, and habits that aren’t exactly making our lives better (far from it!). Well, no more. With a new year upon us, it’s the perfect time to take a fresh look at your daily existence—and drop all the dead weight that’s holding you back.

We tend to think of “quitting” as a bad thing, but the fact is, the things that used to fit well into your life may not be honoring who you are now. It’s very important to live on purpose, not by accident. So instead of piling even more responsibilities onto your plate in the form of overly ambitious New Year’s resolutions, resolve to become a quitter in 2016. Here are seven habits and behaviors you might want to consider leaving behind:

Quit making excuses about your health. Have you been meaning to lose a few pounds (for the last 10 years)? It’s so easy to bump exercise and healthy eating to the bottom of your to-do list. There are usually so many other tasks that seem more pressing: Get that report to the boss. Set up a time to get the car inspected. Make sure the kids get to cello lessons on time. Meanwhile, you tell yourself, I’ll start going to spin class next week. Problem is, “next week” never arrives.

If you don’t like the number you see on the scale, it’s time for the excuses to stop, regardless of how legitimate they are. And there’s a good reason for this tough love: Your weight isn’t just about your silhouette—it’s about your health, your energy level, and your confidence, too.

Quit burning the candle at both ends. Do you pack your days too full and get too little sleep in order to accomplish everything you want to? You may think you’re getting ahead, but in reality, you’re hurting your quality of life. There are more studies coming out each year that affirm the health benefits of getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

If you make taking care of yourself more of a priority, you’ll feel better about taking care of other people and have more energy throughout the day. Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish; it’s healthy and necessary. Whether you spend a day at the spa or simply take ten minutes to purchase and enjoy a cup of hot tea in the midst of running errands, investing in yourself will make you more resilient and will also reduce your stress and tension.

Quit spending so much time with people who don’t enrich your life. How many people do you regularly spend time with—even though you don’t really want to? You know the ones: Perhaps your sister-in-law constantly asks to get together, but spends the entire time criticizing everything from your clothes to your career to your parenting. Or maybe a certain frenemy peppers the conversation with backhanded compliments and one-upmanship, making you feel like your whole life has been one long series of bad decisions.

People with whom you feel obligated to spend time can suck up your energy and positive outlook, dragging down an otherwise great day or week. Often it’s impossible to back out of the relationship entirely, but there are things you can do to minimize its negative impact on your life. First, make sure you have set up clear boundaries. In some cases, people might not realize how bad they’re making you feel! And second, remember that you can gracefully say no to one social activity while accepting another, more positive one.

Quit saying yes to everything. Many of us have trouble saying no for a variety of reasons: We don’t want to let others down, we don’t want to be seen as weak, we’re afraid to refuse, etc. However, until you learn to say no when you need to, you’ll never be in the driver’s seat of your own life.

You don’t have to chair every event, take on every project, host every party, participate in every activity, and accept every invitation. Remember, you—not your boss, your friend, or your child’s teacher—are in charge of your calendar. Right now, as 2016 is just beginning, decide ahead of time what’s most important to you and prioritize those things. Then you can feel okay about saying no to some of the rest.

Quit at least one bad habit. Maybe you’re always running late, or you’ve been overspending lately. Perhaps you tend to procrastinate on big projects until the last minute, or you stuff yourself with junk food when you’re stressed.

To start, pick one bad habit—something that causes you a lot of stress would be a good choice. Then design a game plan that will enable you to kick it once and for all. For instance, if you’re always dragging into work late, you might set out your clothes and pack your lunch the night before, wake up 15 minutes earlier, and refrain from turning on the TV until after you’re showered and dressed. You’ll probably find that in most instances, summoning the motivation to change and taking that first step are the hardest parts!

Quit looking “good enough.” Most of us will never be runway models, but that’s no reason to settle for a humdrum, forgettable appearance. Wearing clothes (or a haircut, or makeup) that are dated, not flattering, or “good enough” isn’t doing your self-image any favors. And like it or not, people really do judge a book by its cover. Don’t you want to make an impression that clearly communicates your drive, personality, and confidence?

Get clear on colors and styles that are most flattering for your age, coloring, and body type, and stick with those guidelines whenever you make a new purchase. You might also want to ask a trusted friend for honest advice. But if you want more personalized results, I recommend working with an image consultant whose trained eye can help you to look your absolute best.

Quit spending so much time inside. This year, make a resolution to get more fresh air. Take a walk, run, or bike ride a few times each week—or just sit in a local park or on your back porch while reading a book. Getting out of your office or living room will help you think about yourself and your life from a whole new perspective.

Spending time outside helps you clear your mind, makes you feel more energized, and improves your health. What’s more, doing even the most minimal exercise outdoors helps emphasize the need to drink more water and take care of your skin with sunscreen and moisturizer. And if you’re anything like me, seeing the beautiful pictures that only nature can paint will put you in a great mood for the whole day. It’s a totally different experience than sitting on the couch to watch a movie.
The beginning of a brand new year is the perfect time to reassess your life. Instead of adding more things to your 2016 to-do list, do yourself a favor and jettison what’s no longer working for you. When you get rid of habits, mindsets, and behaviors that are dragging you down, you’ll make room for new things that make you feel good and help you grow.