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Guest Post by Diane Barnes: Marla Celebrates 25 Years as an Image Consultant

In June 2015, I realized my good friend Marla Tomazin has been an image consultant for 25 years. In many cases, milestones like this aren’t acknowledged, much less celebrated (and celebrating others is actually one of Marla’s strongest attributes).

Twenty-five years in business is a huge accomplishment, particularly given how competitive the NYC fashion industry is. It got me thinking: How did Marla not only survive, but thrive, in a tough market and through several tough economies? As one of Marla’s clients from the beginning (and for many years now, her good friend as well), I’ve been privileged to observe what makes her stand out—and what keeps a steady stream of clients requesting her services.

Here are some of the secrets to Marla’s success:

Marla makes “being stylish” simple and doable. For those of us who aren’t in the fashion industry, “style” can sometimes seem like a foreign language that we don’t completely understand. But Marla makes it simple and doable. Instead of giving clients a long list of fashion rules and creating interesting but complicated outfits, she teaches clear, easy-to-apply strategies, like column dressing and making sure all of your clothing is well tailored. There is no greater satisfaction than wearing an outfit you put together yourself and having several people admiringly compliment you on the way you look. When you listen to Marla’s suggestions, you get these kinds of compliments all the time.

She’s good at giving advice. When you hire Marla, you know that your image needs some improvement—but that doesn’t mean you want to be criticized. Luckily, Marla is a master at giving advice, suggesting changes, and even disagreeing in a way that doesn’t make you feel bad. Instead, you walk away feeling like you’ve learned a lot and like you’ve been collaborating with a close friend. She is an expert communicator. She delivers compliments and constructive criticism in an even tone with back-up and substance. You really listen to her “must-haves” and “don’t-dos.”

She’s hands-on. No matter what aspect of your image you hire Marla to help with, she really gets in the trenches with you. She’ll dive into a dirty closet, help you pick out frames at the optician’s, and look through the racks of clothes at a boutique. Marla doesn’t just tell you what works; she shows you—and makes sure you understand how to replicate that success.

She’s interested in you as a person, not just as a client. Marla doesn’t just take your physical appearance into account when you hire her as an image consultant. She also takes the time to get to know you: your preferences, your likes and dislikes, your lifestyle, your goals for the future, etc. That’s what makes her great at choosing pieces that flatter your body, reflect your personality, and make you feel confident—or as Marla says, “the best version of the true you.”

To Marla, “image” is about a lot more than the clothes in your closet. I would venture to say that most people hire Marla because they want to refine and improve their wardrobes. But they get so much more. Marla understands that a positive image is built through finding mind-body-spirit balance, so her clients also benefit from her insight on topics ranging from mindfulness to principles of effective communication to how to rejuvenate yourself when you’re feeling stressed. When you work with Marla, expect for her to make your life better!

She isn’t stingy with best practices. Marla freely shares her best practices with clients and non-clients alike. She genuinely wants to help and doesn’t treat her tips and advice as proprietary information. (Just look through this blog for free fashion advice, information on closet organization, packing tips and tricks, recipes, product recommendations, and more!)

She goes to the “mat” with you. We have often shopped together to find something special for a big event, trade show, wedding, etc., and these occasions can often be emotionally charged, time sensitive, and with zero margin for error. Recently, Marla made sure a certain designer dress, which came in the wrong size, was exchanged. She was consistent in her follow-up with the manufacturer to make sure it was right. She was unfailing in her analysis of the problem, and she creatively worked through the “fix.” The ultimate success of this transaction was due to Marla’s solution-driven approach and not taking no for an answer. I am very happy with the end result.

Once you work with Marla, you’re a friend for life. I’m definitely not Marla’s only client who has made the transition to “friend.” There are many of us who now plan lunch dates with Marla, shop with her (for fun!), and receive birthday cards and calls from her.

For many years, I have always been excited on the days we would go out together and look at wholesale showrooms for new fashions. I now have a wardrobe of long-standing, classic, well- made, and interesting clothes made with quality fabrics. Over time, this collection of easily wearable, but architecturally distinctive outfits has helped create “my brand.” I am happy to say that Marla has curated my investments in good clothing to a point where I now feel deep satisfaction when I open the closet door. This says it all.

All of these things explain why Marla gets so much repeat business and so many referrals, and why her business continues to thrive. While it’s nice to live in a world of department stores and two-day shipping, we still crave personalized attention, consideration, and validation. And that’s what Marla Tomazin does best.

Packing for London and Morocco

It’s summer—officially vacation season. When I talk to my friends and clients about traveling, many of them mention what they believe is one of the most stressful parts of the whole experience. It’s not traffic jams, or long security lines, or trying to navigate an unfamiliar place. You guessed it: For many of us, the actual planning as well as the packing is the most stressful part of traveling.

There’s something about leaving your home with only a small slice of your closet that makes us anxious. What if I need a heavier jacket? Do I have the right scarf? What if these shoes aren’t comfortable enough? What if I stain my most versatile pair of pants? It’s tempting to mitigate the risk by shamelessly over-packing, but that comes with its own set of issues. Who wants to pay extra baggage fees and lug 100 pounds of luggage over a long distance? (In London, the hike from the gate to the baggage area went on for what seemed like miles.)

After 25 years of working as an image consultant, I have learned to walk the fine line between over- and under-packing. Yes, I think that no matter how well prepared you are there will always be a few “what if I need XYZ?” worries. But by curating a versatile, interchangeable capsule collection, you can see the world in attire that is appropriate for the locale you are visiting, and that makes you feel comfortable and confident. (And remember, if you do forget something, there are stores and shops all over planet Earth!)

Last fall, I wrote a blog post detailing what I packed for a brief trip to Paris and got great feedback. Multiple people told me that they referred back to my packing list when preparing for their own travels. So when my husband, Barry, and I traveled to London and Morocco in late May for our anniversary, I decided to share what I packed once again. Packing for this trip was challenging because London is cooler and rainy, while Morocco is hot. But after giving it some thought, I pulled together a group of multifunctional pieces that worked well. In hopes that you’ll find my packing list helpful on your own travels, I’d like to share what I brought to London and Morocco.

Shoes

As you can see, I took more pairs of shoes than I did to Paris last year, but the London/Morocco trip was longer—and these shoes are mostly lightweight. I wore the beige-and-black flats on the plane. The Nike workout shoes were perfect for our hike into the High Atlas Mountains, while the blue pair of Clarks are light as a feather, slip on, and are good for walking. I brought the flip flops for the pool at La Mamounia hotel in Marrakech, the black sandals for dinners, and the nude sandals with turquoise embellishments for a pop of color.

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I wore dark denim jeans and my navy Armani blazer (which you may remember from my trip to Paris) on the plane, and took my St. Laurent raincoat in case of inclement weather in London. For fancier occasions, I packed two dresses, one black cardigan, and a cream stole. (You might recognize the animal-print dress and matching cardigan as some of my purchases from Paris! The black dress was purchased in Martha’s Vineyard seven years ago—a classic.)

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Here’s my packing list:

  • 1 navy ankle pant
  • 1 pair of dark denim jeans (worn on plane)
  • 1 tan cotton cropped pant
  • 1 tan/cream seersucker ankle pant
  • 1 navy/white striped cotton dress (worn with clear belt)
  • 1 animal-print dress
  • 1 black dress
  • 1 navy cotton/cashmere sweater (worn on plane)
  • 1 black cardigan
  • 1 white linen sweater
  • 1 cream stole
  • 1 navy blazer (worn on plane)
  • 1 orange Worth Favorite t-shirt
  • 1 turquoise cotton sweater
  • 1 beige/white striped t-shirt
  • 1 Worth white linen top
  • 1 black bathing suit and cover up

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Jewelry and Accessories

I mixed neutral pieces with those that would add a pop of color to some of my outfits.

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Here’s the list:

  • My go-to long lucite necklace
  • Gold hoop earrings
  • Turquoise earrings from Bounkit
  • Turquoise bracelet by Alexis Bittar
  • Carnelian/citrine bracelet and earrings from Bounkit
  • Crystal cuff from Bounkit
  • Crystal earrings by Alexis Bittar
  • Pearl earrings by Jennifer Miller
  • Lucite cuff by Alexis Bittar
  • Gold earrings by Ted Muehling (These are about 20 years old and a standby. They were a birthday gift from my girlfriends.)
  • Pearl ring (My mom bought it for me in Portofino, Italy. It has great sentimental value and I love wearing it.)
  • Hat I wear in the Hamptons
  • Hermès scarf from Paris
  • Clear belt

Bags

After some consideration, I decided to take a neutral animal-print Bric’s tote bag, a Brighton lightweight tech fabric purse (which besides being super-light, has lots of pockets inside and out), and my Longchamp wallet, which holds my passport. I love the color—it makes me happy. I also packed a small black leather bag for evening, which can be seen next to my clear belt in the photo of my clothing above.

LondonPacking12If you’re wondering about my luggage, here’s a true confession: I took my larger suitcase, which I almost never do. But for a trip that lasted almost two weeks, I don’t think this was excessive. Neither Barry nor I brought a carry-on.

Final Impressions

Looking back at my trip, I’m happy with my packing choices. I wore every article of clothing at least once. The only shoes I could have eliminated are the sandals with the turquoise embellishment—though I did wear them. By far my favorites were the Clarks slip-on tennis shoes. They remained comfortable through a LOT of walking.

LondonPacking10Soon, I’ll post some photos from the trip to show you how I wore it all. Stay tuned!

Biting into Beauty (and Celebrating a Birthday!) with Custom Lipstick

If you know me well, you’re aware that I love birthdays—my own and others’. I think we all deserve to be acknowledged and appreciated on this special day. Another year of life, love, and experience is truly something to celebrate! (Take a look back at this blog post for more on why I think we should all set aside time to savor and celebrate birthdays, no matter how many candles are on the cake.)

Whenever I can, I try to find ways to celebrate birthdays that aren’t standard gift exchanges. In my experience, it’s much more fulfilling and memorable to spend meaningful time with family and friends. Last month, I had the opportunity to do just that with my good friend Donna. To celebrate our birthdays (which are only a week apart), Donna and I made an appointment at BITE Beauty Lip Lab in SoHo, New York City, where we were able to design and purchase lipstick. Afterward, we shopped at Deco Jewels and had dinner at one of our favorite spots, Gotham Bar and Grill.

Sharing this adventure with Donna was so much fun, and I’ll be recommending BITE Beauty Lip Lab to friends and clients who would like to have a custom-colored lipstick. Here’s a look at our lipstick-designing experience:

First, our assistant showed us pots of color and asked us to choose a few shades we liked best. I chose warm tones in peach and coral that I knew would complement my skin tone. Donna, who prefers cool colors, chose pinks and rose tones.

We also had four textures to choose from, starting with glossy and finishing with matte. Donna chose gloss, and I picked a satin finish. Both had a creamy texture and went on well.

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Once Donna and I had picked our preliminary colors and textures, our assistant mixed what we’d chosen and gave us a little brush so that we could try on the lipstick. She continued to mix samples with different combinations of colors until we were satisfied with our shade. Since my lips have a lot of natural pigment, we added more warm tones to my shade so that it wouldn’t look too pink when worn.

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The next step was choosing the lipstick’s flavor. I wanted something very light and chose vanilla with a drop of mint. No fruity flavors for me! I loved that the Lip Lab provided samples of real fruit and herbs to represent each flavor.

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Now we were ready to mix our creations. The correct combination of color and flavor pods went into a machine that looked like a centrifuge.

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Once our assistant confirmed that the final mixed color matched our samples, she poured the lipstick mixture into a mold to dry. Then the lipstick was placed in a tube, and we were ready to go! At $35 a tube for quality, customized lipstick, I thought this experience was well worth the money—especially because it was a lot of fun to do with my good friend.

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Since creating my lipstick, I have worn it several times. The color is saturated and stays on well. As we move into spring and summer, I look forward to trying various gloss colors on top of it.

If you’re in the New York City area and decide to visit BITE Beauty Lip Lab, I’d love to hear about your experience!

10 Fashion Tips for Men Who Aren’t Into Fashion

By and large, women spend a lot of time studying style trends and determining which looks do and don’t work for them. They read fashion magazines, observe other women, and ask friends for image advice and feedback. Men? Not so much. In general, guys don’t put nearly as much time and energy into figuring out what works for them. And unless a style-savvy woman in their lives takes on the role of image advisor, their “look” often comes together by happenstance.

Now, don’t get your feathers ruffled, guys. (You know it’s true!) While most men look presentable most of the time, paying more attention to your look can pay off in ways large and small. I always tell my clients—female and male—that you begin to communicate with others before you ever open your mouth to speak. This is true for life in general, and especially in a professional setting.

So, what does this mean for men who are used to giving the mirror only a cursory glance before heading out the door? Just this: Spending a few more seconds really looking at and interpreting your reflection each day can boost your self-image and your professional stature.

Ask yourself, Does everything look well kept and congruent? Does anything stand out or look out of place? What would I assume about someone wearing this outfit? When you’re interacting with others, you want the focus to be on you—your face, your eyes, and your words—not your clothing. And remember that when you’re confident in your look, you feel good about yourself too.

For the man who (let’s face it) will never buy and read a fashion magazine cover to cover, here’s a quick hit list of my best practices for polishing your image:

Spring for quality. Frugality may be in style (and more power to the money savers!), but filling your wardrobe with the cheapest price tags you can find won’t do much for your image. Always buy the highest quality fabrics you can afford—even if it means owning fewer clothing items. Quality garments tend to travel well. They last for a long time and don’t need to be dry cleaned as often. And, of course, quality looks great. In particular, I recommend looking for lightweight wool suits, trousers, and sport coats, as well as fine cotton shirts.

Make sure it matches up. Your clothing doesn’t need to be “matchy-matchy,” but each outfit should have balance. When you choose a shirt, tie, and blazer combo, everything should blend. (So leave the “loud” statement ties in the closet.) If one element stands out in contrast to the rest of the clothing and draws the eye, it can be a distraction that keeps other people from really engaging with you. And don’t forget about “hidden” elements of your outfit, like socks. Make sure your socks match either your pants or your shoes, and ensure that they are long enough so that your leg never shows if you cross it.

Join the navy. The ranks of men who wear navy, that is. Every man should own a tailored navy suit and navy sport coat. Navy works well with virtually every skin tone and is very versatile when pairing with other colors. In particular, a navy blazer can take you from casual Fridays to a date night look, depending on whether it’s paired with jeans, khakis, or wool trousers.

Work from the feet up. If you don’t already own a pair, invest in a good dress shoe. I like a long toe box—it makes the wearer look taller and leaner. When clients are skeptical, I ask them to wear their old shoe on one foot and the new shoe on the other. Without fail, they see a difference. And one more thing: Make sure your shoes are always polished and properly heeled and soled. No scuffs allowed!

Belt it out. For a modern look, I recommend quality leather belts that are between 1 ¼ and 1 ½ inches wide in brown or black—depending on the color of your shoes! Look for a matte finish on the buckle—preferably in a silver or pewter tone—and avoid buckles with logos.

Focus on fit. Many men tend to buy clothing that is too big for them, which can look sloppy. Be sure to look for pants, shirts, and coats that fit your frame—and take everything to a tailor! Proper alterations are so important. When a garment is too tight or too loose, when your sleeves are too long or your pants are puddling over your shoes, when your pants ride up and show your socks—all of these are red flags. I tell every client that good tailoring can make a $100 garment look like a $500 garment…and the reverse is true for a piece that doesn’t fit properly.

Give grooming some thought. Skincare and hairstyle make a difference in how you’re perceived. If your skin is dry, for instance, you can look older than you are—and you don’t want to be thought of as “not vital” or up to the job. Look for an unscented moisturizer and drink plenty of water, which lubricates the skin naturally. And if you’ve had the same haircut for years, ask friends, family members, and your stylist for an honest assessment. Does it need to be updated? Is it flattering? Should you go in for a trim more often?

Pay attention to posture, too. Posture is key. The way a man carries himself can make him look more successful and healthy—or not. I have instructed many male clients on their posture, and I know that slouching can be a difficult habit to change. Working out with a trainer to strengthen your back is a good place to start.

Make sure the eyes have it. If you wear glasses, you probably don’t think of them as a fashion accessory. But they are an important factor in your overall look. Glasses can age you, make you look tired, and/or be a distraction if they are not the right color and shape for your face. Choosing the right glasses will bring positive attention to your face and can even help others maintain eye contact with you during conversations. A pair of quality frames is worth investing in. And be sure your glasses are clean! Smudges on the lenses can look very sloppy.

Don’t leave out outerwear. A properly fitting overcoat, scarf, and gloves (and possibly also a briefcase or computer bag) complete the look for a well-dressed man. If you arrive to a meeting in an ill-fitting, beat-up old coat, that might be what people remember—not the beautiful new suit you were wearing underneath! And on some occasions, others may never see what you’re wearing under your outerwear, so think these details through. As with “regular” outfits, make sure that everything coordinates.

 

You don’t have to be a slave to fashion to look polished and put together. Paying attention to a handful of details can make a huge difference in your image and in how you’re perceived by others. It might just have a surprising impact on how comfortable and confident you feel, too!

 

 

The Year of Thoughtfulness: Six Simple Actions to Show Others You Care in 2015

Have you ever heard someone comment that thoughtfulness seems to be going the way of the dinosaurs? Perhaps you’ve had the same thought yourself from time to time. We’ve all experienced an every-man-for-himself attitude at work, given gifts that weren’t acknowledged, walked down streets that seemed full of bad attitudes…and much more.

I think that as a society, we might be becoming less considerate to others than we were in the past. But let me be clear: The problem isn’t that we don’t care or that we’re trying to be rude. We’re simply busier, more stressed, and more overwhelmed than ever before! As we navigate our hectic everyday lives to the best of our ability, going out of our way to make others feel good simply doesn’t cross our minds. We’re so focused on checking all the boxes on our growing to-do lists that we don’t have extra mental bandwidth to devote to anyone else. Believe me, I get it!

Fortunately, acknowledging others in a positive way doesn’t require very much of your time and energy—which means that being more thoughtful is a New Year’s resolution that will be easy to keep! Taking one or two minutes to engage with someone else won’t set you back very far on your to-do list, but it can completely change the tone of that person’s day (and improve your own mood, too!).

In 2015, I hope you’ll join me in committing regular acts of thoughtfulness. Here are six simple ways to do just that:

Remember birthdays. In the age of smartphones, electronic calendars, and automated alerts, it has never been easier to remember when a friend’s, loved one’s, or colleague’s birthday is coming up. And even though many of us downplay the significance of this occasion, deep down, it feels nice when someone else acknowledges us on our special day.

I have always enjoyed wishing people in my life a happy birthday. To me, birthdays are a very important day of the year, and no matter how many candles are on the cake, I believe they’re occasions to celebrate. Sometimes I call the person. Sometimes I mail a card with a personal note, or do both. These actions take only a few minutes to accomplish, and they make such a wonderful impression. They make me feel great, too!

Ask, “How are you doing?”…and mean it. We all have challenges. We’re all dealing with various issues in our lives that most other people have no idea exist. That’s why it’s so meaningful to sincerely ask others how they’re doing and what’s happening in their lives.

If someone doesn’t want to share the details of his or her life with you, it’s easy for that person to say, “I’m fine” and leave it at that. But many times, the other person will be grateful for a sympathetic ear and perhaps some advice. Devoting a few minutes of your time solely to someone else can make a huge difference in letting that person know he or she is not alone and that others care.

Pass compliments along. Picture this: You’re talking to a friend, and she mentions how much she loves your mutual hairstylist. The next time you have an appointment, don’t just describe the cut and color you’d like; make a point to let the stylist know how much your friend appreciates her.

When I hear something nice about someone, I love to pass along the compliment. Recently, I worked with a client who has cancer and is going through chemo. She was always cheerful, upbeat, and inspiring to the designer, salesperson, and me. When I called to see how she was feeling before a big family event to which she was wearing one of her new outfits, she was so touched that I had called. She thanked me and mentioned how nice the designer and salesperson had been to her. I couldn’t wait to pass along the compliment. The salesperson and designer were thrilled to hear that our client was doing well and were so grateful that I’d passed along her kind words.

Send handwritten thank-you notes. We’ve all heard this suggestion before—and for good reason. Handwritten notes are so much more meaningful than texts or emails. They’re a tangible reminder to the recipient that you are grateful.

It’s so nice to receive and open a thank-you card. I love knowing that someone else truly appreciated the present, dinner, or weekend visiting our home, for example. Remember, handwritten thank-you notes don’t have to be literary masterpieces. A few sentences that take less than five minutes to write can make someone’s day!

Smile. The next time you’re out in public—taking the bus to work, picking up groceries, or walking your dog in the park, for instance—take notice of other people’s demeanors. How many of them look happy? How many of them smile at you in greeting? Chances are, you’ll find that most people go about their business with single-minded purpose, avoiding eye contact and connection with others. Their faces look closed-off and serious—some of them may even be scowling!

That’s why a simple smile can be so meaningful. Smiles can lift the moods of strangers and friends alike, whether you’re engaged in conversation or not. Try to make it a habit to smile at everyone you encounter: your boss, the cashier at the store, the people you pass on the street. Trust me; you will make a positive impression. You’ll start to feel better too, because genuine smiles open your heart and cause your body to release mood-boosting endorphins!

Acknowledge good news that you hear. When you read about someone you know winning an award, publishing a book or article, or hear news of a birth or a promotion, take the time to send a note of congratulations or mention it the next time you see that person.

Those are just a few examples of the good news that is all around us. Unfortunately, we mostly tend to talk about bad news instead. It is much more gratifying to talk about and share good news than to share unhappy news or gossip. If you’re going to engage with someone, make it a positive interaction.

 

Give it a try. Resolve to commit regular acts of thoughtfulness in 2015. You’ll have a positive effect on other people’s lives and on your own outlook. There’s no reason why our to-do lists should dictate our moods and relationships!

To Buy or Not to Buy: Shopping in Paris

After an hour or so of browsing the racks in a fabulous store, you head to the fitting room with an armload of garments to try on. Some things are a definite, immediate “no.” And when you see others in the mirror, you know you’ll be returning home with them.

But then, there are always those pieces you just aren’t sure about. You pose in front of the mirror, looking at the garment from all angles. You really like A, B, and C about it, but you aren’t sure about X, Y, and Z. Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Are you worrying too much? Is it just the fitting room lighting? Or will you still have the same concerns when you look into your own mirror at home?

We’ve all been there. Even with over two decades of experience as an image consultant, I still find myself spending a lot of time deliberating over potential outfits. Over the years, though, I have honed my “fitting room instincts.” I’ve gotten much better at deciding what I’ll actually wear and what will hang unworn in my closet.

When my husband and I took a trip to Paris in October, we spent some of our time shopping. (Who wouldn’t?) While I was trying on clothes, I asked Barry to photograph some of the outfits I was considering so that I could share my thought processes in a blog post. So without further ado, here’s a look at my Paris shopping experience. I’m sure some of the considerations I share will sound familiar—and hopefully, the final decision I made about each piece will be helpful to you the next time you just can’t decide whether to buy or not to buy.

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I loved almost everything about this red dress. But the final decision was that it was just a bit too short for me, although Barry gently disagreed. The bottom line is, if something about a piece will make you self-conscious or uncomfortable (even if others love how it looks on you), it’s better to pass. The first rule of creating a fantastic image is feeling comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing.

BlackDress This great dress and the sweater top with the cool cuffs did get my approval. The pieces I tried on in Paris weren’t a perfect fit, though, so I had alterations made. (As a reminder, always invest in alterations if a garment’s fit isn’t ideal—and don’t reject a piece you love if alterations can be made. Good tailoring always takes clothing from “okay” to “outstanding.”) I bought this particular dress one size too big in the hips so it would fit my chest and had it taken in. The store also sent a larger cardigan for me.

BlackDressAltered1This photo was taken after alterations were made. Notice the ruched fabric on the sleeves of the cardigan. It matches the dress. Cool, right? I think the cardigan with its fabric cuff is a younger, more modern way to top off a sleeveless dress instead of wearing a jacket. This combination will be a timeless classic for my closet.

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I am a beige lover at heart, and this outfit now belongs to me—including the Rex Rabbit scarf. There really wasn’t anything I disliked about it. An immediate “yes”!

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I considered this beige jacket as an alternative to the jacket above with the ruffled hem. If it worked, I thought, it could be worn with many items in my wardrobe in addition to the dress. However, this was a classic case of liking an item in theory more than in practice. I just didn’t enjoy the shape of the jacket on me or the bulkiness of the tie belt, so I passed.

BlackCoatI tried on this coat because I liked its unique design featuring asymmetrical ruffles, but decided against buying it because once again, it was a little too short for my taste. It’s usually easy to alter a garment that’s too big or long, but much more difficult to tailor something that’s too small or short.

BWDressThis dress was interesting because of its diagonal color blocking, but after much thought I decided it wasn’t for me. There’s a lot of black in my closet, so I am trying to buy less black unless I absolutely love a particular piece and don’t have anything like it already.

HermesScarfA stop at Hermès led to the purchase of this fabulous classical scarf, which goes with everything. I particularly liked it because of its oblong shape, which is new at Hermès. (I’m not a huge fan of the square.) In addition to the great colors, I also liked that the scarf incorporated four of Hermès’ most popular designs. All in all, it’s a wonderful piece of Paris to add to my accessories collection.

UltraseudeCoatI didn’t take pictures of these items in Paris, so Barry snapped this photo at our home. This unlined ultra suede jacket will be perfect in my wardrobe. The reddish brown color works well with my color palette. The necklace, which is a brown chain link with golden pearlized circular stones on top, is unique and works well with the brown and golden tones I wear often. After I tried them on, there was no doubt that these two pieces would be coming home with me.

I originally looked at the purse in a larger size, but ultimately decided to purchase this smaller version. It holds a file for business and all my personal items and doesn’t become too heavy. The bag works as a neutral and meshes well with my wardrobe. And I think all three pieces in the photo above work together nicely!

So there you have it—a quick look at how I made my shopping decisions in Paris. Ultimately, my advice is, if you love it (or think you love it) and it fits (or can be altered), buy it—just make sure to double-check the store’s return policy in case you change your mind. However, if you’re having doubts in the fitting room, it might be best to wait, because in my experience, they won’t disappear after you get the garment home.

Happy shopping!

Six Positive Things to Do for Yourself This Holiday Season

This is known as the most wonderful time of the year—and for good reason! We all look forward to holiday events, traditions, gatherings, and more. But as you decorate your home, cook for your family, shop for your loved ones, and attend celebrations in your community, it can be easy to forget about something very important—yourself.

Instead of stretching yourself so thin that you’re running on fumes by New Year’s Eve, remember to give yourself the gift of kindness by spending time and energy on your own well-being throughout the coming weeks. When you nurture yourself physically, emotionally, and socially, you’ll be able to enjoy a holiday season that reflects your values while emphasizing gratitude and joy.

Here are six things I do for my own well-being and nourishment over the holidays. They help me to savor the season instead of feeling stressed—and I hope they can do the same for you!

Find peace before starting each day. Each morning, I spend a few quiet moments getting grounded and focusing on all of the goodness in my life. Before embarking on a busy day, it is so calming to breathe in and out as I consciously place my focus on all of the things I’m thankful for and remind myself of my priorities and values. I’ve found that this small investment of time can create a positive, peaceful mood that lasts all day.

Celebrate friendship with time together. The best gift we can give to our closest friends isn’t something that can be placed in a box and wrapped. That’s why I make sure to plan a lunch or event with my best friends that doesn’t include the pressure of exchanging gifts. Instead, we’re able to enjoy each other’s presence as we celebrate life and our friendship.

For instance, my friend Donna and I have a holiday tradition we fondly call the “Christmas Walk.” We meet in front of the tree at Rockefeller Center around 5:00 in the evening and watch the light show across the street at Saks, which repeats every 15 minutes. After we’ve enjoyed the display, we take a selfie in front of the tree (or ask someone to photograph us), and then start our walk. We check out holiday window displays and always enjoy shopping at Henri Bendel because of all the small gift items on the first floor. We end the evening at a fun restaurant. It doesn’t matter how cold or stormy it is…Donna and I take our “Christmas Walk” every year! It’s always a special treat and a great way to savor our friendship.

Make plans to pamper yourself. Especially during a time of year when our social calendars tend to be full, it’s important to schedule some quiet time for yourself. (And no, locking yourself in your house to catch up on laundry and cleaning doesn’t count!) I’m talking about something that you’ll find restful and rejuvenating—perhaps a massage, facial, or manicure/pedicure. Think of it as a holiday gift to your mind, body, and spirit!

Let yourself off the social hook occasionally. No matter how much you love your family and friends, too much social interaction can be taxing or overwhelming. When that happens, give yourself permission to (as my dear friend Rick says) “change the channel” for a few minutes. For instance, instead of forcing yourself to paste a polite smile on your face and make small talk for the third hour in a row at your extended family’s get-together, take a walk around the block or go into another room, close your eyes, and breathe for a minute. Or if you’re hosting guests for several days, leave the house for a few hours and see a movie. When you rejoin the festivities, I promise you’ll feel much fresher.

Give yourself the gift of good health. This time of year, I find that it’s easy to overindulge while neglecting healthy routines. So, plan ahead to make sure that your well-being doesn’t fall by the wayside. If you can give your body a rest from unhealthy food and liquor for a day before and after a big feast, that will be a real gift. (Personally, I’ve found that drinking green juices and lots of water is a big help in allowing my body to heal and rejuvenate.)

Maintaining your exercise routine is also very important at this time of year. I know I always feel so calm and peaceful after a workout, and I’m more energetic during the day. Even a long walk is effective if you can’t get to the gym! So clear some time on your schedule for physical activity, and don’t forget to pack that workout gear when you travel. Both of these strategies are great ways to ensure that you don’t have to face the dreaded “diet” in January.

Hydrate throughout the holidays. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, this last piece of advice won’t be new to you, but it is very important: Drink lots of water! (This is something we all tend to forget during the colder months.) Water keeps your organs and digestive system functioning properly and your skin looking radiant. It also gives you energy and can help stave off headaches caused by dehydration. I’m not saying you have to avoid tasty beverages altogether, but when you find yourself reaching for coffee, hot chocolate, or a cocktail, ask yourself if water might be a better choice. This time of year, I make sure to carry a bottle of water with me on all my errands.

While there is no “right” way to celebrate the holidays, taking care of ourselves is something we should all prioritize! So don’t (as I blogged about last year) overdo it—and do focus on honoring yourself. You have more control over how you feel during this hectic time of year than you may think! Here’s to a season that’s full of love, joy, peace, and friendship.

 

Packing for Paris—and How I Wore It

Without a doubt, one of the most frustrating aspects of traveling (outside of airport checkpoints, maybe) is packing for the trip. Inevitably, you want to take more clothing, shoes, and accessories than will comfortably fit into your suitcase. Even as an image consultant with plenty of experience in creating a variety of looks using just a few staples, I often find myself packing, downsizing, and repacking ad nauseum before traveling.

That’s why I wanted to share with you what I packed and wore when my husband and I traveled to Paris from October 2 to 6. I was so proud of myself for limiting the contents of my suitcase to a relatively small amount of items that I could mix and match. I hope that seeing what I took to Paris and how I wore it will make packing for your next trip a little easier.

Here’s what I took:

Clothing: An Armani navy blazer, an Yves St. Laurent raincoat, four sweaters (white, beige, orange, and black), taupe jeans, Worth black leggings, and dark denim jeans

Shoes: Black boots, black AGL flats, and my favorite Pancaldi bow pumps

Accessories: Three scarves (including an animal print pashmina), jewelry, a leather Michael Kors handbag (the strap could be lengthened to wear cross-body) and a small black bag for evening

My strategy was to take neutral basics (black, beige/taupe, and navy) and spice them up with key colored and patterned pieces. I wore the denim jeans, the white sweater, the navy blazer, and the ballet flats on the plane. I actually had some extra space in my bag, which was convenient because…well…who wouldn’t want to do some shopping in Paris?

ParisPacking1ParisPacking5

And here’s how I wore it:

Day One: Barry and I arrived in Paris. Since our hotel room wasn’t ready, I wore the clothes in which I’d traveled (a white sweater, jeans, and flats) while we shopped and ate lunch at L’Affable. After settling into our hotel, we had a fantastic dinner at L’Epigramme.

Window shopping in Paris

Window shopping in Paris

Dinner at L’Epigramme (I bought the necklace I’m wearing earlier in the afternoon while shopping on the Left Bank.)

Dinner at L’Epigramme (I bought the necklace I’m wearing earlier in the afternoon while shopping on the Left Bank.)

Day Two: We went to Versailles, saw the new Frank Gehry building in the Bois de Boulogne, and visited the Musée d’Orsay. I was a busy day, and we must have walked 4 to 5 miles (but my AGL flats held up beautifully!). We ate dinner at a great restaurant called Spring.

Outside the Palace of Versailles

Outside the Palace of Versailles

A delicious dinner at Spring

A delicious dinner at Spring

Day Three: Barry and I crossed the Seine, walked through the passageway at the Louvre, saw an interesting Nike display at a running event, and shopped the rest of the day on the Rue Saint-Honoré. We ate dinner at Graff, a wonderful local restaurant on the Left Bank near our hotel.

We loved walking along the Seine.

We loved walking along the Seine.

Another memorable meal—this time at Graff

Another memorable meal—this time at Graff

Day Four: We shopped through Le Marais and visited the Place des Vosges and Notre Dame Cathedral.

Walking through the Place des Vosges. I purchased the Yves St. Laurent raincoat I’m wearing on a previous trip to Paris!

Walking through the Place des Vosges. I purchased the Yves St. Laurent raincoat I’m wearing on a previous trip to Paris!

Of course, we had to walk past Notre Dame Cathedral on Île de la Cité!

Of course, we had to walk past Notre Dame Cathedral on Île de la Cité!

At some point during the trip, I wore everything I brought, so I’d say packing was a success! In my next post, I’ll share some photos from our shopping stops and explain why I bought the pieces I chose.

Stay tuned!

Stay tuned!

What I’ll Be Buying This Fall: Accessories

In my last blog post, I showcased three clothing items that were on my fall fashion must-have list. As I wrote in that post, I love learning about each season’s new trends, then choosing a few new pieces that I can incorporate into my wardrobe—and that goes for accessories, too!

Here, I’d like to spotlight three items I’ve chosen to purchase this season. I think they’ll really help to put the finishing touches on my outfits. And, like the clothes I profiled last week, each item is versatile and will have a life that extends well beyond autumn!

Bounkit Cuff Bracelet

Bounkit cuffI recently purchased this cuff, which is set with mother-of-pearl, keshi pearl, citrine, and aquamarine. I absolutely love wearing it (and I think you can see why!). It looks fabulous with a simple white shirt and can also be used to dress up a more formal ensemble. The gold setting and bold stones will look great against all of autumn’s saturated, earthy colors. Like all Bounkit jewelry, this bracelet is a true investment piece that I can see myself wearing for years to come.

To order this bracelet or any other Bounkit pieces, you can contact me.

Tory Burch York Buckle Tote

 

Image credit: www.toryburch.com

Image credit: www.toryburch.com

In addition to purchasing this bag myself, I have been recommending it to many of my professional clients, and to all women who love totes. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The York Buckle Tote comes in two sizes, so you can pick the size that’s best for your needs and lifestyle. The larger size can hold a computer, umbrella, files, water bottle, and more. The smaller size will comfortably hold a business file and an iPad, along with your other necessities.
  • This bag is available in multiple colors, all of which are beautiful for autumn: dark plum, navy, black, dark walnut, Kir Royale, and luggage.
  • The bag itself is lightweight and is made of Saffiano leather, which I love. It is textured so it won’t scratch easily and can be cleaned with a little water on a towel.
  • Both sizes have a center zippered section in which you can secure your valuables. That’s in addition to multiple inside pockets, which make for easy organization.
  • The small “T” logo at the top of the bag isn’t overwhelming. (Obviously, the “T” works well for me!)

I own the smaller size of this bag. It works as both a tote and as a purse for me. If you’d like to purchase this bag, you can do so online, in Tory Burch stores, and at Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom.

Tom Ford Lipstick—Twist of Fate

Image credit: www.tomford.com

Image credit: www.tomford.com

I love the quality of Tom Ford lipsticks. Several years ago when they were first introduced, my husband insisted that I buy Wild Ginger. It has been my “go-to red” ever since, particularly for evening wear. Yes, these lipsticks are a bit of a splurge, but they wear well and last quite a while.

The color I’ve chosen for fall is Twist of Fate—not a typical fall color, but one that I think will be a good complement to a range of autumnal hues (including my favorite, chocolate!). On me, this lipstick is a peachy nude.

As you curate your own fall wardrobe, I hope that my suggestions will be helpful. If you’d like any advice on your image, or if you’d like to share your favorite pieces with me, please get in touch!

What I’ll Be Buying This Fall: Clothing

There are a lot of reasons why we get excited when summer finally transitions into fall: the beautiful leaves, cooler temperatures, kids going back to school, and pumpkin-flavored goodies, to name just a few. And if you’re anything like me, something you get especially excited about is the chance to spice up your look with the season’s new styles.

When updating my wardrobe for a new season, I like to learn about current trends, then carefully pick a few new pieces that I believe I’ll wear a lot and that will blend well with what’s already in my closet.

Here, I’d like to share three pieces from Worth New York’s collection that I’ll be adding to my fall wardrobe:

Optic White Cotton Extra Perfect Shirt

Optic White Cotton Extra Perfect Shirt

Optic White Cotton Extra Perfect Shirt

I can’t say enough good things about this versatile shirt. It really is perfect, and I own it in multiple colors. Here’s what I love about it:

  • The shirt has a placket front, so there are no buttons to cause the shirt to pull and gap open.
  • There are hidden zippers on each side to ensure a snug, flattering fit.
  • The shirt has a curved bottom so you can wear it tucked in or out.
  • The open collar has (and holds) a great shape. I think the collar looks beautiful open, but there’s a button at the top in case you want to wear it closed.
  • The sleeves have turn-back cuffs that look like French cuffs. You can, of course, roll the sleeves up for a more casual look.

Chocolate Chip Ponte Harley Pant

Chocolate Chip Ponte Harley Pant

Chocolate Chip Ponte Harley Pant

These pants are a must-have for right now and for when the weather gets colder.

  • I’m buying the Harley Pant in chocolate chip, which is a trendy color this season and also a favorite of mine. They’re also available in black and navy.
  • These pants are made of ponte knit, so they’re very comfortable to wear. Actually, they feel like leggings, but are substantial enough to function as pants.
  • This is a repeat style that’s tried and true and loved by all who own it.
  • This season, the Harley Pant can be worn with a short bootie, a high heel, or ballet flats. Once the weather gets colder, tuck them into high boots.

Camel Hair Turnlock Coat

Camel Hair Turnlock Coat

Camel Hair Turnlock Coat

I really like this camel hair coat. The fabric is soft and beautiful. I especially enjoy the turnlock closures and the brown faux leather facing behind the closures, which adds visual interest if you choose to wear the coat open. I think this piece will be perfect for crisp autumn days and will remain useful well into winter. It also comes in a rich Bordeaux color.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of these three pieces (either in person or in one of my new virtual appointments), please let me know!

In my next blog post, I’ll share a few accessories that are on my fall list.