Category Archives: Jewelry

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.

LondonPacking8Clothing

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!

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!

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.

What I’m Loving Now: Winter 2013 Edition

Now that the busy holiday season is behind us and a new year stretches ahead, it’s an ideal time for reflection. Personally, I have been asking myself questions like, What behaviors and habits worked for me this past year? What do I want to change in 2013? Is it time to turn over some new leaves? Essentially (like many other people), I’m trying to find the right balance between focusing on others and making sure that I’m taking care of myself, too. Remember, you won’t be as effective in any area of your life if you’re overwhelmed and depleted. It’s important to honor your own needs and desires, and to make sure that the way you live your life reflects who you are and what makes you happy.

As an image consultant, I have learned that the clothes you wear and the way you style your hair are only a small part of honoring and expressing yourself. How you feel about yourself—mind, body, and spirit—are just as important. I urge you to use this time of transition to renew and reinvigorate your life, whether that means finding the perfect vacation spot, splurging on beautiful jewelry and new shoes, or simply discovering a new recipe that makes your taste buds tingle.

Discovering a wonderful new scent or great pair of jeans is always exciting, and being able to share it with everyone is one of my favorite things to do. Read on to learn about the top nine things that I am loving now:

1. Savor the soup of the season. There’s nothing better than a mouth-watering soup for both a chilly winter night and a growling belly. One of my staple recipes for this time of year is called Farmer’s Market Zucchini Soup. My friend Beth gave the recipe to me a couple of years ago and it is so simple and delicious!

I always like my soups thicker, so I prefer to use just four cups of chicken stock instead of six—but that’s just my personal preference. When I make a batch, I usually freeze some so I’ll have it on hand later. This scrumptious soup will keep your family nice and cozy this winter. (Please see the end of this blog post for the recipe.)

2. These shoes are made for walkin’. Let’s face it—sometimes you just don’t want to wear high heels, but your outfit looks too casual with a ballet flat. Enter Diane B. With a classic style and comfort, these fabulous shoes can easily become a staple piece for your wardrobe.

Quite simply, I am in love with these shoes. They have a half-inch angled heel that makes them look dressy, but they’re so comfortable that you can run around in them all day. My favorite is the camel-colored patent leather flat, because it can be worn with so many different looks. I also ordered the black patent shoe without the silver buckle. One of the best things about Diane B. is that you can custom order. The company has a wide variety of patterns, from stripes and florals to solids and polka dots—so there’s something for everyone!

3. Pucker up. During the coldest months of the year, taking care of your lips is a must, and a perfect lip stain is just what the doctor ordered. I recommend Yves Saint Laurent’s Glossy Stain Lipstick.

They have created the perfect combination of lipstick and gloss that’s a steal at $32. It’s one of Allure magazine’s top picks, and one of mine, too! I originally bought a coral shade (#12), but recently purchased a red for winter: #9. YSL’s Glossy Stain Lipstick goes on like a gloss and stays on like a lipstick. Even after you eat, the stain stays on your lips so you won’t have to run off to the ladies’ room to reapply.

4. Plan a visit to Downton Abbey. Everyone is talking about Downton Abbey, which has mesmerized viewers on both sides of the Atlantic—and I’m no exception. The third season just started on PBS, and in my opinion, it’s well worth spending an entire Saturday on the couch catching up if you haven’t seen the first two seasons. The show follows an aristocratic British family and their servants as they are impacted by events including the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, and more.

 I love the show because it gives you a fascinating glimpse into the lives of people in a very different time and place, while remaining very relatable. The writing is incredible, and the costumes and sets are gorgeous. Before long, you’ll feel like you know the people who live in Downton Abbey—both upstairs and downstairs—and you’ll be cheering on your favorite characters through their obstacles and triumphs. Once you start watching, you won’t be able to pull yourself away…and you may find yourself wanting to plan a trip to England.

5. Seams or no seams? (That is not a question.) In the under(wear) world, you have two choices: endure the dreaded thong or feel self-conscious all day about your panty lines showing (a major no-no!). At least that’s how it used to be. But after I worked with a client who kept going on and on about Uniqlo seamless panties, I finally had to check them out for myself—and I’m so glad I did.

These undergarments are called ultra seamless briefs, and they are such a find! A lot of women don’t like to wear thongs, so these are a perfect alternative. They are made of nylon and spandex and have no seams. It’s like wearing a really comfortable bikini, but with all the benefits of wearing a thong. They are $9.90 a pair and come in several different colors, including pink, black, beige, and white.

6. Discover something scent from above. You can never underestimate the power of a beautiful scent to make you feel confident and feminine. Travel-Reviving Cempaka is a scent by Molton Brown that I am really enjoying right now.

I use the bath and shower gel and the body lotion. What I really love about it is that lift it gives you in the morning, when you aren’t quite ready to start the day. And the scent, of course! It’s heavenly!

7. Make a statement. A beautiful piece of jewelry can truly complete an outfit and help you stand out. I recently discovered Alexis Bittar, who is known for his exotic acrylic and crystal jewelry. I have two cuffs that are acrylic with gold accents (you can also get silver). It’s the perfect backdrop to any outfit because it’s acrylic, so your skin shows. These cuffs don’t overpower your outfit like some jewelry can; instead, they complement it.

One reason women shy away from buying expensive statement pieces is because they don’t know if the dollar per wear ratio is worth it. But in my opinion, if you’re looking to buy jewelry that goes with everything, this is it. The cuffs are terrific, and could definitely transition into warmer-weather accessories, too.

8. Get the ultimate fashion staple. As the temperatures hit their low points, finding the perfect pair of jeans is on the top of the to-do list. Luckily, I’ve already done the legwork.

I got my first pair of DL 1961 jeans around a year and a half ago. I prefer the angel cut, because it’s midrise, skinny ankle, and has four-way stretch. Unlike so many other brands, these jeans don’t lose their stretch, which is important. They come in several different winter colors like taupe and dark green, and are $158. They also look fantastic on, which makes me feel good.

 9. Most importantly, remember to take a breather. Just thinking about everything you have to do, want to do, and should do this year can be stressful. It’s so important to take time for yourself to relax and revive your spirit. My new favorite place to enjoy some R&R is The Grand Del Mar, a resort in San Diego.

Everyone needs a special place to go to revive their spirit and take a moment to release stress. Once I lay my eyes on some beautiful scenery, my tension immediately begins to melt away. The staff at The Grand Del Mar are very polite and friendly, but not overly so. It’s extremely nurturing, the perfect getaway.

Ultimately, remember that the most important criteria to keep in mind when it comes to fashion, beauty, or anything else in your life are: How does this make me feel? Does it honor who I am? Does it boost my comfort and confidence? It has been my pleasure to share nine things that meet these qualifications for me. I hope that some of them will enhance your enjoyment of the upcoming months, too!

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Farmer’s Market Zucchini Soup

2 tbs butter

1 carrot, sliced

3 celery stalks, sliced

1 onion, diced

2 tsp thyme

5 zucchini, ends cut off, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced

4 cups of chicken stock (you can use 6, but I prefer 4 for a thicker soup)

2 tsp salt

2 tbs pesto sauce (store bought!)

In 8-quart soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add thyme, zucchini, and chicken stock and increase heat to high and bring to boil. When boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in salt and pesto.

Working in batches (no more than ½ the blender), purée the soup in blender or food processor until smooth. Enjoy!

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!

Accessible Accessories: Four Ways to Organize Your Personal Ornaments

When it comes to wardrobe organization, you may have your clothing under control. But what if everything else—the pieces that round out your outfits—is a different story? I’ve found that many women’s shoes tend to end up in a pile on the floor while their socks, scarves, jewelry, and more are crammed into various drawers. And that’s a problem! Not only is this storage “system” disorganized (which can tend to frustrate you), it’s also inefficient. You’ll end up wearing the same accessories over and over again, and you’ll also run the risk of buying a new pair of earrings, for example, that closely resembles a pair you already own—all because you couldn’t see the first pair and forgot about it!

Most of my clients don’t hire me just to organize their accessories, but that usually ends up happening whenever I do a wardrobe analysis. Women (and even men!) are always surprised by how much of a difference smart organization makes. The fact is, you bought all of your accessories because you liked them—so make the most of them with a new storage system that allows you to see what you own. I promise, it’s an easy fix! Here are some guidelines to keep in mind as you get organized:

Shoes. First, realize that your shoes will need to be changed out twice a year unless you live somewhere that’s warm for all four seasons. This will keep temperature-appropriate footwear—whether it’s sandals or boots—in the front of your closet and fresh on your mind. (In many areas of the country, April and September are good times for this task.) And make sure that the pile-on-the-floor storage method becomes a thing of the past. Invest in stackable shelves or a shoe rack that hangs from your closet door or clothes rod so that you can see all of your choices. Lastly, make sure that you’re storing your out-of-season footwear properly. I recommend stuffing shoes, especially boots, with plastic bags, tissue paper, or “shoe or boot inserts” made expressly for this purpose. You’ll lengthen the life of your purchases, because they’ll hold their shape in storage even if there is weight on top of them.

Handbags. Like shoes, it’s usually a good idea to change out handbags semi-annually. After all, you’re not going to carry your straw bag or white purse in the winter, or your suede or calf-hair purse in the blazing heat. (That said, there are many bags that are appropriate year-round.) And again, as with shoes, there’s a smart way to store the purses you’re not carrying. I often suggest that clients stuff handbags with other smaller purses or plastic bags.

Accessories. The most important thing to remember when storing accessories is to make sure they’re visible! If possible, clear a space on your closet wall so that you can hang necklaces or put in a belt rack. (Tie racks also work well for this purpose.) Hanging pieces individually is crucial to being able to see what you own. If that isn’t possible, try storing belts, gloves, hats, and scarves in clear bins and stacking them according to color or function. Similarly, break your jewelry into categories and store it within drawers in clear trays (I love Lucite) that you can see to the bottom of.

Socks and stockings. Yes, you may already have a drawer set aside for socks and pantyhose, but I promise you can organize a lot more effectively than that! Sort your stockings and tights by color, and then put each group into an individual, labeled Ziploc bag. Presto—squinting to distinguish between black and navy on dark mornings is a thing of the past! Plus, your hose will also be protected from snags. You can also use this baggie method with trouser or athletic socks.

It won’t take much time or money to make these organizing solutions a part of your closet, but they’ll make a huge difference in how effectively—and quickly—you’re able to accessorize.

 

 

 

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!