Category Archives: Scarves

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!

 

 

 

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.

RedDress2RedDress1

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.

BeigeDress1 BeigeDress2

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”!

BeigeDressCoat BeigeCoat

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!

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!

The Evolution of You: Seven Tips for Kick-starting an Updated Image

Do you know what it’s like to look in the mirror each morning and feel ambivalent about what you see? You don’t hate the way you look, but you don’t get excited about it either. If so, you’re not alone. We all get so caught up in other aspects of our lives that we let our images evolve (or not, as the case may be) on autopilot. And as I’m sure you know, when you don’t give a task your full attention, you usually can’t expect spectacular results.

One thing I’ve learned as an image consultant is that spending some focused time and attention on updating your look every once in awhile is well worth the effort. Not only will you love what you see in the mirror every morning, your image can also affect how confident, energetic, and balanced you feel throughout the day.

The best news is, you don’t have to totally revamp your wardrobe, your hairstyle, and your makeup to reap these benefits. Here, I’d like to share a list of tactics that can help you kick-start an updated image. Some of them will apply to you; others you may be “on top of” already. Just mix and match, then say hello to the new you.

*Schedule a closet cleanout… The messy closet problem plagues millions of women all over the world. If you’re one of them, your closet is probably a primary cause of your lackluster look. After all, if the state of your closet stresses you out, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, or if you can’t easily see many of the pieces you own, you won’t be able to maximize your wardrobe.

Make a serious commitment to go through your closet, determining which pieces honor you for who you are right now. That means you’ll need to remove clothes that don’t fit; pieces that are worn, stained, or out of date; colors that don’t make you look your best; things that don’t match your current lifestyle, etc. Be sure to try on everything as you go so that you’re making an accurate assessment of each piece. It might be a good idea to hire a professional or to ask a trusted, non-judgmental friend to help you with this task.

*…then restock your wardrobe. This task goes hand-in-hand with cleaning out your closet. As you discard pieces, make a list of items you’ll need to build complete looks with the clothing you’re keeping. For example, perhaps you discarded a blouse because it was damaged or didn’t fit anymore. Or maybe you need a new sweater or jacket to go with a skirt that you love, but with which you have nothing to wear. Once your list is complete, head to the store! Again, you might want to hire an image consultant or bring a friend along to ensure that you’re making wise choices. (Look back at this blog post for more ideas on how to clean out and restock your closet.)

*Figure out what flatters you. I’m sure you know that different colors look better on different people. The same thing goes for various clothing styles. The question is, do you know which colors and styles look best on you? If not, you might be unintentionally sentencing your look to “average” instead of allowing it to be amazing! It’s a good idea to revisit this topic every few years as both fashions and your body change. Get clear on colors and styles that are most flattering, and stick with those guidelines whenever you make a new purchase.

If you’re not sure where to start, many fashion magazines and websites offer general advice regarding what colors and styles tend to look good on various complexions and body types. 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.

*Do a handbag and shoe review. A good pair of shoes can transform how you look, how you walk, how you feel, and how other people perceive you. And a great handbag can have a similar impact on your comfort level—not only because of how it looks, but because it’s not too heavy while holding everything you need. Sometimes, though, it’s easy to ignore both shoes and handbags if you’re too focused on clothing.

Take some time to review your shoes and handbags. Which ones do you use on a regular basis? Which colors and styles do you need to complement your clothing? Are heels or flats better suited to your lifestyle? How high of a heel are you comfortable wearing? How large of a handbag do you need? Is a certain type of handle most comfortable for you to carry? Write these criteria down and refer to them when shopping. Don’t come home with ten pairs of black shoes!

For this season, nude or muted metallic shoes and bags make clothing look fresh, and can be carried throughout the year. Other neutrals (that category includes black and animal print!) are also good long-term investments. But don’t be afraid to spice up your look with a brightly colored pair of shoes or tote when the spirit moves you.

*Sort through your jewelry and scarves. Sometimes it’s the small things that make an outfit really pop and that help you—and other people—fall in love with your look. Do you own pieces that make you feel beautiful and excited when you get dressed? Or are your accessories an afterthought? Especially if you’ve owned the same things for years, this may be a good time to invest in a few key pieces of jewelry and/or scarves that will give you a distinctive look. Keep in mind that spending a little more money on fewer statement pieces will set your look apart. And the dollar-per-wear ratio will be in your favor over the long run!

On the jewelry front, I’m currently enjoying Alexis Bittar’s acrylic cuffs, which are accented with silver, gold, and crystal. (I wrote about them a few months ago as well!) They’re beautiful and unique, but because they’re clear, they match any outfit. I also recommend larger Majorica pearl statement necklaces and/or earrings as well as colorful jewelry of all types from Bounkit, which can be customized to complement your wardrobe.

*Face yourself. Your look isn’t all about what you wear. Your face is one of the first things that people notice when they meet you, and it’s also what they primarily look at as they interact with you. Unfortunately, beauty rituals pertaining to the face are one of the easiest ruts for women to get stuck in! Think about it: When was the last time you changed your hairstyle? Have you updated your makeup this century? And when was the last time you switched your glasses frames?

If you haven’t addressed any of these areas in awhile, it might be time for a change. Plan a visit to your favorite makeup counter, your hairstylist, and/or your optometrist. Explain that you’d like to update your look in a way that’s fresh, stylish, modern, and that plays up your natural beauty. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the right makeup, hair, and glasses take years off my clients’ faces!

*Take your clothes to a tailor. Many people I know are reluctant to visit a tailor because they assume the service is too expensive, or not worth the money. I promise you, that has never been my experience. The fact is, when your clothes are properly tailored and fit you perfectly, you’ll look great, you’ll feel even better, and you’ll get more wear out of the pieces you own. And guess what? When you love what’s in your closet, you won’t feel compelled to shop as often, meaning that the cost of tailoring will pay for itself.

Even if you don’t typically have trouble finding clothes that fit, I encourage you to visit a tailor. Almost everyone needs alterations to take pieces from “fits well” to “fits perfectly,” no matter what size they are to begin with. A few seams, tucks, and hems can take your look from okay to WOW!

If you’re familiar with me and my philosophy, you won’t be surprised by the last piece of advice I’m going to give you: When it comes to updating your image (or making any change in your life, for that matter), avoid things that make you feel uncomfortable, negative, or fake, no matter how trendy or in style they may be. Regardless of what you wear or how you style your hair, the best accessories are always a confident attitude and positive outlook that come from being authentic and true to yourself.

Jackets, Scarves, and Boots, Oh My!: Ten Tips for Updating Your Cold Weather Closet

It’s official: the cooler temperatures have arrived, which means autumn is here and we are well on our way to the winter season. As the temperatures on the thermometer continue to drop, you’re probably considering updating your look to include the rich colors and fabrics of the season in an effort to stay warm while still looking fresh.

If that’s the case, get excited—because there are plenty of ways for you to transition to the season of bright-colored leaves and pumpkin spice (and on into the oncoming winter weather) without breaking the bank.

Over the next few weeks, anything that screams summer—from your head to your toes—needs to go, if it hasn’t already. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to change up your clothes, accessories, and overall look by shopping your closet, purchasing a few versatile new pieces, and paying special attention to your beauty regimen.

If you’re ready to, well, fall into fall fashion, then read on for ten tips to make your transition smooth from head to toe:

On Beauty…

Treat yourself to a good facial. It’s true—everyone is looking for ways to save money these days. But there are some luxuries that are well worth your money (and that you’re worth, too!)…and a good facial is one of them. As you start to plan for the upcoming holiday season, perhaps, or as you oversee your family’s hectic daily schedule, you’ll appreciate this relaxing treatment. And your (possibly) sun-baked skin will thank you, too.

Polish up your nails. Over the summer, your fingernails and toenails may have sported a number of bright shades, including coral, tangerine, turquoise, seafoam, or a classic pink. But just as your clothes are likely to exhibit a range of darker, richer colors during the cooler months, so should your nails. Look for dark reds and purples especially. They’ll blend well with traditional fall hues while still making a trendy statement.

Give your hair a good conditioning. If you’re like many Americans, you probably spent a lot of time outdoors during the previous season. And after experiencing the sun’s bleaching rays and the drying effects of chlorine, your hair may be feeling and showing some wear and tear. Make sure to include some good deep conditioning treatments in your beauty regimen so that your frizzy locks don’t contrast in all the wrong ways with the rich fabrics you’ll be wearing. And since you are transitioning into different types of clothes, this is also a good time to think about updating your hair color, too.

Don’t skimp on the H20. Yes, everyone knows how important it is to stay hydrated during the scorching months of summer. But just because the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean you can leave your water bottle behind! Cooler weather can dry out your skin very easily, so make sure to replenish that moisture by drinking water throughout the day.

On Fashion…

Throw out the old rules and keep those white jeans. Yes, that’s right—the old “no white after Labor Day” rule is a thing of the past. So if you enjoyed pairing your white jeans with breezy tank tops over the summer, leave them in your closet and start wearing them with a cashmere sweater and flats. Another way to make a stylish statement is to pair white jeans (or corduroys!) with a white cotton turtleneck, t-shirt, or sweater to create a column, and then top it off with a luggage (in other words, camel) or chocolate leather or suede jacket. Finish the look with a pair of coordinating flats. Very Ralph Lauren!

Cool it down with dark cottons. As you’re shopping your closet or your favorite store, pay special attention to dark cotton pieces. Navy, taupe, brown, and olive green are wonderful for fall, and they pair fabulously with other dark colors as well as with leather jackets and boots. I recommend wearing a black or olive shirt with khakis, cream pants, or a cream skirt to achieve a transitional feel. Another winning look can be achieved by starting with a white or cream t-shirt and topping it off with a darker cotton sweater, cotton or linen jacket, or even a leather jacket. And if you want to branch out to a heavier material, look for tropical-weight wools. They are comfortable to wear for nine months out of the year in most climates, so you’ll get a lot of mileage out of the investment.

Say farewell to flowy dresses… It looked great on the beach and did an admirable job of keeping you cool, but it’s time to retire your favorite flowy dress or skirt until next summer rolls around. This season is all about cleaner, more structured lines. And what about sundresses? Well, you might consider pairing a sleeveless sheath or A-line with a cardigan or cropped jacket; just be careful. Remember, your rule of thumb is to say goodbye to anything that screams “summer.”

…and say hello to scarves. What’s not to love about scarves? They’re always in style, they can take an outfit from average to amazing, and as temperatures get cooler, they’re functional, too. The thing to remember about scarves is that the pattern really needs to tie in with what you’re wearing. An of-the-moment look I’m loving right now is a silk gauze scarf in a color that works with a leather jacket—the scarf is a great connector piece! Also, a brighter scarf can add “pop” to an outfit that might be dominated by darker colors.

Add in some tights. Like scarves, tights are another accessory that can be stylish and functional. The thing to be careful with here is to make sure that your tights work with your outfit instead of dominating it—especially considering all of the styles and patterns out there! For instance, thick tights don’t work well with thin dresses since they create visual dissonance. On the other hand, an example of a classic look that is never a faux pas is to extend a slim black skirt with a black tight and chunky black heel. It will move through the season well, and you can even add a leather jacket for some extra punch.

Don’t forget your feet. Last but not least, let’s look at what is many a woman’s very favorite accessory: shoes! Finally, it’s time to start sporting closed-toe pumps, flats, and ankle-and-other-length boots. Some of my perennial favorites include subtle animal-print flats, which can work as a neutral, as well as nude flats in camel and pinkish-beige, which are fast becoming season-less. And if you’re looking to incorporate an of-the-moment trend into your wardrobe? Crimson patent leather—in pumps, flats, and even handbags—is very popular. I recommend using these accessories to accentuate an otherwise simple outfit—perhaps one made up of blacks or navies—since the color is so strong.

Here’s one last piece of advice to consider as you start putting together autumn-appropriate looks: Make sure you are always honoring who you are right now. Just because a trend is out there doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Make sure your clothes, accessories, and personal style reflect your personality and place in life. The bottom line is, if you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing, your confidence and happiness will be your greatest accessories of all.

 

 

Spring (Wardrobe) Awakening: Four Fresh Accessories That Will Wake Up Last Year’s Wardrobe

As you flip through fashion magazines and keep your eye on the displays in your favorite stores, you’re probably getting excited about all of the new spring and summer styles that are making their debuts. You’d love to go out and completely overhaul your wardrobe so that you’re on the cutting edge of all the latest trends. There’s only one problem: You aren’t made of money, and new clothes aren’t free. (Plus, if you’re honest, most of the pieces in your closet are still really nice.)

Here’s the good news: You can make last year’s wardrobe look fresh for spring by targeting a few key accessories.

I’ve always been amazed by how much of an impact accessories can have. They can really define your whole outfit. So if you want to update your look for spring but don’t want to break the bank, focus on acquiring some versatile accessories that will breathe new life into a variety of outfits. In this post, I’m going to share four of my top accessory recommendations for spring and summer:

Pick up a new purse. A new handbag is a wonderful way to make last year’s wardrobe look fresh—and they can be found at all price points, too, so you can spend as much or as little as you want. Here are some options to consider:

• Neon colors are fresh, in-your-face, and will certainly make you stand out in a crowd. In fact, Chanel is doing green and orange nylon bags this season, which is something completely new for them!

• A white bag will immediately freshen up your whole look. Just make sure to purchase one that’s made of an easy-to-clean material, like leather, since white does tend to show dirt.

• Leopard-print bags might not seem versatile at first glance, but I promise that they are. Leopard works with black, white, and earth tones, and it will also tone down a bright or neon outfit.

• Floral patterns are big this season. Look for a purse in a print you love!

• Mixed media bags (for instance, a leather bag trimmed in raffia) can bridge the gap between classic and cutting-edge. They’re also visually interesting without necessarily being in-your-face.

Freshen up your footwear. There’s nothing like a pair of new shoes to wake up what you’re wearing. Flats are always a good idea since they’re stylish and comfortable. You can take black and white clothes from last year and mix them with floral-print flats to instantly update your look. Metallic flats are also a good idea, since they’re the ultimate neutral: eye-catching and universally flattering. And if you’re feeling daring, look for a colored shoe that can add a bright pop of blue, red, or orange to an otherwise head-to-toe black outfit (you don’t want to wear head-to-toe anything or the fashion police may arrest you!). You can also reverse the look and wear a colored dress with a black and white shoe.

Let yourself sparkle and shine. Jewelry can be a fun and inexpensive way to update just about any outfit. A piece with colored stones or enamel will add a fun pop of color to a black and white or neutral outfit. And with this season’s styles, you don’t have to play it safe—so look for neons and other bright colors. On the other hand, crystals are the perfect neutral when it comes to jewelry, whether it’s an earring, a necklace, or a cuff. There isn’t anything crystals don’t go with, and they can be dressed up or dressed down. Plus, unlike neons, they won’t go out of style as the seasons pass.

Wrap yourself up (in a scarf, that is!). These days, scarves aren’t limited to your grandmother’s bulky, scratchy, cable-knitted wool. They’re full-blown fashion accessories, and they can add a touch of fun, whimsy, or even elegance to an outfit. I think that a metallic gold scarf or animal print in a silk chiffon are great purchases that will give you a lot of mileage since they will go with everything. If you’re looking for more color, then go with a solid. And remember, a larger scarf in linen, silk, or pashmina can double as a shawl if you get chilly in an air-conditioned space.

The best thing about accessories is that—unlike a shirt or dress—you can wear them every day if you want to. Most accessories will work with a variety of different styles and looks, so experiment with your purchases. You’ll probably be surprised—and extremely pleased—by how far they’ll go and how fabulous they’ll make you feel!

Get Your Wardrobe in Bloom: Seven Ways to Be Fashion Forward as You Put a Spring in Your Step

Whether you’re going by the calendar or by the flowers and sunny skies outside your window, the verdict is clear: Winter has officially left the building. For women, the recent season change means that it’s finally time to pack away gloves, bulky sweaters, and puffy coats…and start sporting a shapelier silhouette! Without a doubt, this spring’s emerging fashion trends will fill your wardrobe with a welcome burst of color and excitement.

One of the best aspects of warmer weather is the fact that you can finally shed some layers. Spring is definitely a great time to breathe some new life into your wardrobe. However, I also know that from Fashion Week to special magazine spreads, all of the new trends can be somewhat overwhelming. Be careful not to go overboard when you hit the stores, because you don’t want to end up with a closet full of clothes that looked great in theory, but that you really don’t feel comfortable wearing. My advice is to start spicing up your spring wardrobe with a few key pieces that represent some of the season’s most exciting trends and work from there.

Read on for seven tips to help you look fashion forward while feeling great this spring:

Slip into some colored jeans. This season, colored jeans, ranging from mid-tones to neons to pastels, are everywhere. And with so many colors and cuts to choose from, they can be flattering to any body type at any age. I recommend pairing your colored jeans with black or white accessories such as a jacket, tee-shirt, and/or shoe for an impressive level of sophistication.

Specifically, look for some “Tangerine Tango.” According to Pantone, 2012’s color of the year is “Tangerine Tango,” an eye-catching reddish orange. It’s showing up in home décor, fashion, and accessories, and the trendy hue can range from peach to red to everything in between. You’ll definitely want to jump on this citrusy bandwagon, so don’t be afraid to put a splash of orange into your wardrobe…or even into your living room!

You don’t have to sacrifice comfort for beauty. When it comes to footwear, flats continue to be very popular for spring and summer. And since there are plenty of styles, prints, and colors to choose from, there’s a flat to fit every personality. Flats are a smart and versatile choice because they’re comfortable and are appropriate for day and evening. This spring, I recommend choosing from popular florals, neons, metallics, animal prints, and even geometric patterns—like squares or dots—as you add to your collection. What you put on your feet really can take your outfit from “average” to “interesting”!

Consider wearing white head to toe. Yes, we all look forward to wearing bright spring colors. But sometimes there’s nothing more fabulous than wearing white! Depending on your coloration, look for optic (bright) white or creamy white, and don’t be afraid to wear it head to toe. You’ll stand out, and you’ll exude vibes as light and airy as spring breezes. As an added bonus, creamy white in particular can look great year round. (Forget that old Labor Day rule!)

Incorporate some earth tones. Whites and eye-catching hues look fabulous, but you don’t want to go into “bright overload.” In other words, don’t rid your wardrobe of neutrals. Earth tones in particular are making a very sophisticated statement for the spring and summer seasons. I suggest mixing them with white or black for a classic look. You can also pair them with one of the new brighter tones like orange, pink, or yellow. For instance, choosing to put a bright shirt with an earth-toned suit might be the difference between basic and brilliant!

Don’t forget your hands and feet. It’s natural to be focused on clothes and accessories as you shake off the winter wardrobe blues. But as you’re shopping, build in time to get a fresh manicure and pedicure. Polishing up your nails and coating them in a color you love is essential this time of year as you get ready to break out the summer sandals.

Say hello to summer scarves. Scarves aren’t just for winter anymore. They’ve graduated from a way to keep warm to a full-blown fashion accessory! Scarves in lighter fabrics are a wonderful way to add that extra “pop” to your look or to try a fun color without committing to the entire outfit. Plus, a shawl made of linen, silk, or pashmina can even pull double-duty as a scarf or as a wrap if it gets cool in an air-conditioned space.

As you bring spring into your closet, feel free to try all of the trends that pique your curiosity. Just remember that the most important aspect of any piece, in any season, is how it makes you feel. As long as you’re comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing, you’ll have a renewed spring in your step…and you’ll draw eyes in all of the best possible ways.

 

Accessories for Men Are in the News

I recently read a New York Times article about how consumers have started to buy more and more accessories now that the worst part of the recession is over. (You can take a look at it here.) The surprising thing about this article is that it doesn’t focus on female shoppers. Instead, it’s about men!

As an image consultant who has worked with numerous male clients, I found myself nodding as I read about how men are using various accessories to distinguish and pull together their outfits. When I’m working with men, I always stress that the little details have a huge impact on how you look and how you are perceived.

With that in mind, here are some accessories I recommend all men pay careful attention to:

Ties. Ties are an accessory that many men love to hate. But even if you’re one of those guys who wear ties only when it’s absolutely necessary, you should still put some thought into what looks nice. Avoid safe, boring, or dated ties—I call them “nothing” ties because they bring nothing exciting to your outfit and say nothing about you. It’s fine to choose bold or rich colors, especially since they can set you apart and function as a tasteful statement piece. If you’re looking for inspiration, Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News is a good example of a man who gets it right. He consistently succeeds in wearing interesting ties that match his suits well and are still appropriate in a conservative setting. When making your own choices, take a page from his book and always make sure that your tie blends with your shirt and suit color! If you’re unsure as to what might coordinate with your suit while flattering you in particular, ask a friend, salesperson, or image consultant for advice.

Glasses. If you have less-than-perfect vision and haven’t opted for contact lenses, chances are you wear your glasses every single day. And since they’re one of your most-used accessories, it’s worth your time and money to invest in a pair that looks good on you. When I’m working with clients, I recommend plastic or metal frames because they give the wearer a much more modern look than a wireless rim would. Plus, a more substantial frame gives definition to your face. Once you have found a pair of flattering frames and have become comfortable wearing them, consider adding a second pair to your collection for a little more variety! And, as you would with any other piece of clothing, work with the sales consultant to make sure that the color and shape of the frames flatter your coloring and the shape of your face.

Cuff links. Cuff links are one of those suit elements that fall into the “optional” category. If you already wear cuff links or like the way they look and want to incorporate them into your wardrobe in the near future, one of my cardinal rules of accessorizing definitely applies: Make sure that what you are wearing coordinates with the rest of your outfit! Gold or silver cuff links are a classic choice, but it’s also fine to add a little personality to your look with color or fun shapes.

Shoes. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your shoes are less important than the rest of your clothing! If your footwear is noticeably old, worn, or scuffed, it can cancel out the effects of an otherwise put-together outfit. Like women, men have an ever-increasing amount of styles to choose from. I suggest investing in a medium-to-light brown pair of loafers for casual wear, and either brown or black dress shoes to wear with your suit. Depending on your career, you might also consider a pair of leather lace-ups so that you can alternate your look!

Socks. The same principle applies to socks as shoes: Don’t assume that they don’t matter! Especially in more formal situations, be sure to wear a sock that is either the same color as your suit or the color of the shoe you are wearing. Also, do a “test-sit” before you leave the house to make sure that your sock is the right height. Your leg should not be exposed when you sit, even if you cross your legs.

Belts. Even if you don’t habitually wear suits, you should still own at least one nice belt in the best-quality leather you can afford. A classy belt is definitely an investment piece! Choose from crocodile, black leather, and/or brown leather. I advise my male clients that a wider belt (a minimum of 1.25 inches) will give you a modern, stylish look regardless of your size or height.

Scarves. Some men see scarves as a true accessory: something with which to embellish their outfits. Others see scarves as something that’s purely functional: something to keep their necks warm when it’s cold outside. Whichever group you fall into, remember that scarves are an important element of your overall look. Make sure that yours coordinates properly with the raincoat or overcoat you’re wearing!

The Things You Carry. Most accessories are things you wear, but men should put some thought into what they carry, too, since these things still contribute to their overall images. First, if you need to carry more than can comfortably fit in your pocket, invest in a nice leather briefcase or messenger bag. Unless you are a student, it’s time to leave canvas backpacks behind. Also pay attention to the umbrella you’re carrying when it rains. You don’t want to walk into a meeting with a brightly colored umbrella or one that is ratty and on the verge of falling apart at the next gust of wind. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable umbrella options in classic colors.

In fashion, as in most areas of life, “the devil is in the details,” as the old saying goes. When you pay attention to the accessories you’re buying and wearing, all of these seemingly small things will add up to a solid, put-together image and a great first impression!

 

 

 

Seven (Fabulous!) Staples for Every Woman’s Wardrobe

I hope that you all had a wonderful and relaxing holiday weekend. This week, I chose to touch on a topic that I am commonly asked about. I hope you enjoy!

As an image consultant, I am frequently asked about what staple pieces I would suggest investing in when it comes to a woman’s wardrobe. A mix of classic pieces with flirtier, modern styles will keep any wardrobe feeling fresh. If you’re looking to invest in a few pieces that will go the extra mile for your style, consider these seven staples:

1. A great-fitting pair of jeans. Jeans can be dressed up or dressed down, and few things feel better than a pair of jeans that fit just right. Once you find a style that fits you well, it’s worth investing the money in them. In fact, that perfect pair of jeans is so hard to come by, you may want to consider buying a second pair as well!

2. A little black dress. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating. You can never go wrong with a well-fitting black dress. Opt for a short style (not a long, formal version) that can take you to a cocktail party or a luncheon—or even to the office! Choose a style that is flattering and, most importantly, comfortable for you.

3. A classic white shirt. Whether you go plain or opt for a little detail, a crisp white shirt is a staple every woman must have. It looks great by itself or layered for a different look, and this style is as classic as they come—which means you’ll get lots of leverage out of this purchase.

4. A perfect pair of gold hoops. Whether you love accessories or prefer a more minimalist look, a perfect pair of gold hoop earrings is a must. They look great on everyone and can be your everyday go-to earrings just as easily as they can dress up for a special night out.

5. A great trench coat. This classic coat is flattering and practical. The tailored cut of a trench coat looks great on any figure and instantly makes any look more polished. Consider one in black or tan, depending on what works best with your wardrobe as a whole.

6. A fun scarf. Scarves are one of the most versatile accessories in any woman’s wardrobe. Add a punch of color to your outfits by choosing scarves in brighter hues or opt for a print that adds interest and texture to your basic black attire.

7. An animal print accessory. Whether it’s a fun pair of flats, a sexy scarf, or a flirty blouse, I recommend investing in at least one animal print accessory. Choose a print that can work as a neutral with your wardrobe. (Leopard works well with brown hues, while a zebra print may be better if you wear more black.) It will instantly make you feel fresh.

No matter your lifestyle, personal style, or budget, these seven pieces will work for any woman, anywhere. Be on the lookout for these classics and shop your own closet to see what you may already own. With the integration of a few key pieces, your wardrobe will feel brand new again!