Category Archives: Nails

My Must-Haves for Summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Beer-Can Chicken Recipe

4-3-2-1 Spice Rub Recipe

Get your own poultry infusion roaster here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

What I’m Loving Now: 16 Products to Get Your Face, Skin, and Lips Ready for Spring

The snow that has fallen during this abnormally chilly winter has been absolutely beautiful to watch…but if you’re like many women, that’s where your enjoyment of the season stops. Between the polar vortex and artificial heating, the odds are high that your skin is dry and your lips are chapped. And that’s not even taking into account the havoc winter may have wreaked on your immune system.

But take heart. While you may not be able to change the weather forecast, you can choose how to deal with its effects. As I’ve battled this particularly harsh New York City winter, I’ve made it my mission to find the best ways to soothe my skin and keep germs away. I know from experience that when your skin is dull and itchy, your lips are chapped, and you’re feeling run down, your self-image will suffer no matter how stylish your wardrobe is.

Here are 16 products that have helped me to refresh and revitalize my skin (and stay healthy in general!) over the past few months. I’ve also included Amazon links in case you’d like to learn more about them yourself.

Face It 

Aside from the chic boots, scarves, and other cold weather clothes we all love, not much about winter is glamorous. In particular, your face really suffers as it’s continuously exposed to wind, dry air, and constantly changing temperatures. If you’re suffering from dry, tight, chapped skin, these four products can make a world of difference.

  • Clarins Double Serum. Amongst other states, New York has had an especially harsh winter, but Clarins Double Serum has kept my face looking and feeling good. During a makeup night at Bloomingdale’s, a makeup artist used this product on a friend, and I couldn’t believe what a difference it made. I decided to try it later and am so glad I did! Apply this serum all over your face, except around your eyes, for a look that’s luminous without feeling greasy.
  • Clarins Super Restorative Tinted Cream. If you really want to go the extra mile, this product is great to use in place of your normal foundation. The tint looks very natural, and as a bonus, has an SPF 20 rating—which is still important even in the depths of winter! The combination of these three Clarins products leaves a beautiful finish.
  • RapidLash. You may not have ever considered the effect that winter can have on your eyelashes. But cold temperatures can dry them out, just as much as they do the hair on your head. The good news is, you can cultivate longer, more luxurious lashes without breaking the bank, and they’ll help your entire face to look brighter and more youthful. I have been using RapidLash for about two months and I can really tell a difference. You apply a thin line every night along the base of your lashes, the same way you’d put on eyeliner. It doesn’t burn, it’s not oily, and it really works!

Dry Skin & Brittle Nails

Two of the most irritating effects of cold weather are dry skin and weakened nails. No matter how much lotion or cream you slather on, nothing you do seems to make a difference for long. But that’s about to change. These seven products will keep your skin and hands feeling fresh and moisturized all day long.

  • Nailtiques. Having trouble keeping your nails looking good between manicures? Look no further. Nailtiques is the go-to for cuticle care oil. A friend who has been using this product for about six months recommended it to me. I have seen improvements in both my nails and cuticles in just one month of use, despite the awful temperatures and wind!
  • Curel. For body moisturizing, Curel is my reliable go-to. I’ve used Curel on my feet since it was recommended by my podiatrist and I love it.
  • CeraVe Body Cream. CeraVe body cream was recommended to my husband by a top dermatologist in New York. It’s thick, soothing, and extremely moisturizing. Best of all, one application lasts all day.
  • Aveda Hand Relief. I’m sure you know how it feels when your hands are so chapped and rough you just want to scream! Well, that’s a thing of the past with Aveda Hand Relief. It instantly soothes my dry hands and keeps them feeling moisturized throughout the day.
  • Aveda Foot Relief. This foot relief cream has peppermint in it—my favorite. When you’ve been on your feet a lot, it’s so cooling and refreshing to smooth on at the end of the day.

All About Lips 

Spend five minutes outside in these temperatures, and you’ll probably experience dry, cracked lips—which are unsightly and uncomfortable. Here are two products that will help you find lip bliss in the midst of winter:

  • Aquaphor. Aquaphor is an incredible product that you can pick up at your local drugstore. I usually put it on, then use a clean towel to buff my lips. The dry skin comes right off, leaving my lips smooth and soft.
  • Young Living Cinnamint Lip Balm. I also apply this daily. I’ve used it for years, and it always gives me great results. The peppermint oil in it, which is absolutely wonderful, gives my lips a warm little tingle.

Immune System Support

Flu and cold season is in full swing, and it’s crucial that you take care of yourself. Aside from trying to avoid those who are sick, you can use these three products to keep yourself healthy.

  • Young Living Inner Defense. Young Living Inner Defense, which comes in pill capsules and contains health-reinforcing essential oils, is exactly the boost your immune system needs. I take one to two capsules per day as a preventative measure, and so far, so good! If you feel a cold coming on, you can take up to five per day.
  • Young Living Thieves Oil. To some, sanitizing everything in your house on a fairly regular basis might seem unnecessary, but to me, it’s just good sense. That’s why YL Thieves Oil, which has a 99.99 percent bacteria kill rate, is a must-have household item. I diffuse the oil in our apartment, which makes it smell and feel clean.
  • Thieves Household Cleaner. I also depend on this product to keep my house germ-free. It is non-toxic and has replaced most cleaning products in our home. We use it to clean the counters, all mirrors and glass, and the floors. I also spray it on a paper towel and use it to wipe down glasses, phones, and iPads—places that are usually skipped over during a cleaning spree but house a ton of bacteria! This household cleaner smells good, is safe, and gets the job done for a reasonable price. I recommend mixing about two capfuls with water in a spray bottle for cleaning.

When you succeed in keeping the cold from negatively affecting your face, skin, and immune system, you’ll be surprised by how much more bearable winter seems. Choose the products you need to put a spring in your step, and before you know it, spring will actually be here. And in the meantime, don’t forget to drink lots of water—it really does help to hydrate your hair, skin, and nails!

The Second Interview Blues: Advice for Mature Job Seekers

Whether you want a greater challenge, a better fit, increased financial security, or a new start after surviving the economic turbulence of the past few years, there are many reasons why you might be looking for a new job. But unlike younger job seekers, you may be concerned about the effect your age might have on your chances of being hired. What if employers pass you up because they believe that you’ll retire soon, you’ll increase their health insurance costs, or your experience is based on outdated industry knowledge and tactics?

If you’re in your 60s, 50s, or even 40s, it’s tempting to blame your birth date for the fact that you aren’t getting called back for second interviews in spite of ample qualifications and what you thought was a good first interview. But the truth is, your birth date may have less to do with the situation than you think.

As I always tell my clients, you are communicating before you open your mouth to speak, so it’s important to make sure that every aspect of your look is saying what you want to be saying. You should put as much thought and consideration into your body language, clothing, and grooming as you do into prepping answers to interview questions.

Since it takes an average of a year for workers 55 and older to find work (longer than any other age group!), it’s especially important to consider in detail the impression you’re making on potential employers.

Based on advice I give my clients (male and female!) who want to refine their images during a job search, here are four reasons why you might not be getting that second interview:

Your body language and manners aren’t saying what you want them to. It’s smart to evaluate how your body language and manners might look to someone else and to make a conscious effort to speak the physical language of confidence and capability during job interviews. I recommend that you:

  • Have good posture when walking in and sitting at the interview. Also, keep your arms at your sides and not crossed in front while standing, and keep your hands in your lap when sitting. Keeping your chest open sends the message that you are open and receptive.
  • Show confidence, interest, and alacrity as you engage in the interview. Have a pleasant, relaxed look on your face and focus on meeting your interviewer with a firm handshake. During the interview, meet the interviewer’s eyes and try to refrain from mannerisms that might connote nervousness or insecurity, such as wringing your hands, picking at the material of your pants or skirt, biting your lip, etc. And don’t forget to smile—you want the interviewer to know you’re enthusiastic about the job opportunity!
  • Be mannerly—but not overly so. Specifically, make sure that the way you treat other people doesn’t make you seem disinterested or diffident. You shouldn’t dispense with courtesy, but be aware that being too polite, laid-back, soft-spoken, and self-effacing can be misinterpreted as a lack of confidence.

You are dressed inappropriately. While many of my clients understand the basics of interview attire and etiquette, I often find that there are small details they aren’t aware of or are overlooking. Here are some “hazards” you should avoid:

  • Trying to appear too youthful. Try to convey youthfulness with your attitude and ideas, not your wardrobe. Women, stay away from “sexy” pieces and/or those that show too much skin. Men, avoid overly trendy suits, such as those with matchstick trousers.
  • Ill-fitting clothing. Clothing that doesn’t fit well (too tight, too short, or too large) not only detracts from your look; it can also make you feel uncomfortable. You don’t want to be pulling at the hem of your skirt throughout the interview or be distracted by the fact that your shoes pinch! And you don’t want your interviewer to remember you because your pants were too short, for instance, or because they puddled over your shoes.
  • Dressing for the wrong time or place. Dated suits and shoes can work against you by conveying that you’re stuck in the past. And remember that fashions, as well as ideas of what’s in good taste, do vary from place to place. For instance, an office in Boston might expect different attire from an office in Los Angeles. And if you’ve ever lived abroad, the differences might be even more pronounced.

Your look is distracting. At an interview, you always want the person with whom you are interacting to be looking at your face and eyes—not your clothes—and listening to what you are saying. Above all, your look should be congruent. You don’t want your interviewer to be looking at your statement tie, your patterned stockings, your jewelry, your elaborate hairstyle, or your cleavage while you’re talking. Before your interview, look at yourself in the mirror to make sure that one element of your outfit doesn’t stand out compared to the others. While every job applicant wants to stand out from the crowd, at the interview stage it’s best not to do so via your look. Instead, focus on setting yourself apart by how you present yourself, your experience, and your potential.

You aren’t well groomed. When it comes to personal grooming, nothing is too small to overlook. As applicable, make sure that:

  • Your hair is in place and that you’re not touching it nervously.
  • Your facial hair is well groomed.
  • Your nose hair is not showing.
  • Your body odor is not noticeable and/or you’re not sweating through your clothing.
  • Your fragrance isn’t overly strong—your perfume or cologne shouldn’t enter the room before you do!
  • Your teeth aren’t yellow. Yellow teeth say, “I’m old!” while white teeth convey vitality. (Crest Whitestrips are quite effective if you don’t want to go to your dentist for whitening.)
  • Your nails and cuticles are groomed.
  • Your nail polish isn’t chipped or flashy. Play it safe and wear a nude or pale polish.
  • Your shoes are polished and your heels aren’t worn down.
  • Your clothing isn’t faded, worn, or pilled.

Above all, remember that the best thing you can add to your interview look is confidence. If you’re feeling pessimistic or defeated (which may be the case if you have been unemployed for a while), an impeccable outfit won’t be able to mask your attitude. Before going into your interview, do whatever you need to do in order to revive yourself and boost your energy. Listen to an upbeat song, read a motivational quote, or call your spouse or a friend for a pep talk. Even the simple act of hydrating with a glass of water can help!

When you walk into an interview feeling comfortable and confident, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. And you’ll also be one step closer to getting that coveted job offer.

You Are What You Feel: Six Ways to Rev Up Your Sex Appeal This Valentine’s Day

Cupid is calling, and Valentine’s Day is almost here again. Maybe you have some special plans in the works: a romantic getaway, attending a show or event, or simply hiring a babysitter so that you and your spouse can go to a restaurant that doesn’t give out crayons with the placemats.

However, if you’re like many women, you may not be feeling that excited. Chances are, carpool drop-offs, client meetings, and that laundry list a mile long have left you feeling anything but romantic. The truth is, we spend so much time being caught up in the everyday rat race that we often forget to take the time to make ourselves and our partners feel special.

If you ask me, that’s exactly why February 14th is the perfect opportunity to give your look, and your confidence, a little boost. If you can create an outfit that makes you look romantic and sexy, that va-va-voom will translate into how you feel as well.

The trick to looking romantic for this special day is simple: Just shake things up a bit. Straying from your usual wardrobe, whether through vibrant new colors or special accessories and styling, will make you look and feel sexier. Here are six ways to get started:

Get dressed from the inside out. Before celebrating Valentine’s Day, take a few minutes to relax and focus on your inner beauty. After all, it’s hard to feel sexy when you’re frazzled from rushing around. If possible, plan ahead so that you can take your time getting ready. Now’s the time to clear your calendar, send your kids off to the sitter a little early, and indulge in some pampering so that you’ll be centered and calm before your big night out. Not only will you feel more confident, you’ll also look more refreshed and be ready to enjoy your Valentine’s Day on the inside and the outside.

Focus on the first layer. Before deciding on the perfect outfit, spend some extra time getting ready by layering on your favorite perfume and body lotion. Choose a fun new nail polish color, and finish off the “look” with a matching bra and pair of panties that you feel great in. Trust me, focusing on the details of your foundation will make you feel great and put together—and it will show.

Opt for not-so-basic black. Many of us love to wear black: It’s slimming, sophisticated, and sexy. So especially if you have a lot of black in your closet already, aim for a style in your favorite shade that’s different from what you would normally wear. Try a shirt with a lower neckline, a pencil skirt with a ruffled hemline, or a tailored jacket in a sexy silk or satin. Wearing something outside of the norm will make you feel beautiful on Valentine’s Day, and as a bonus, you’ll still be able to wear it for many other occasions.

Wrap yourself in winter white. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to wear winter white, which is one of my all-time favorite looks. Whether you choose a dress, pantsuit, or a top and skirt combination, my best advice is to choose your accessories carefully. Pearls or crystal jewelry make a great pairing with this wintry hue, as does a simple metallic or neutral color shoe and handbag. (And if you’re wearing a skirt or dress, be sure to opt for nude stockings!) You will look glamorous and feel beautiful: Be prepared to get second looks!

See red. Red is a bold, sexy color that is often admired, and yet few people dare to wear it. Try incorporating red into your Valentine’s Day ensemble—you can tone down the accessories to balance its boldness if you wish. Wear a black strappy shoe, simple earrings, and choose a small black handbag. If red is not a color you feel comfortable in, you can still dress off the beaten path by trying something in a pink or purple hue. Play around with different combinations before your big night out—mix a beautiful purple or pink top with a simple black skirt or a skinny black pant, for instance—to find the outfit that makes you feel beautiful.

Shake things up a bit. Looking great and feeling special on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to break your budget. There are plenty of tricks to make your look extra special that can be done without spending a dime. For example, styling your hair in soft curls or a sleek up-do creates a romantic look and costs you no more than a little extra time! You might also try a daring new shade of nail polish or a darker eye shadow to create a sexy, smoky look for your eyes. Finally, consider a trip to your favorite department store to visit a makeup artist—a service most stores offer for free! The trick is to just do something different. No matter what you do, getting out of your everyday routine will make you feel extra special, and that’s all that matters.

Looking great on Valentine’s Day all comes down to how you feel. If you feel confident, relaxed, and happy, it will show—no matter what your outfit looks like. Take some time out of your busy schedule to pamper yourself when Valentine’s Day rolls around this year. Your positive vibe and sexy attitude will be contagious. It just may be the best gift you give yourself, and your partner, this year.

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!

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.

 

 

Interview Attire 101: Seven Suggestions to Help You Make an Impression…and Hopefully Get an Offer!

One of the most stressful rites of passage in an adult’s life is the dreaded job interview. There’s so much to worry about: how to make a good impression on your interviewer(s); how to present yourself as the absolute best candidate for the position; and, of course, what the heck you should wear!

The clothes you wear to a job interview are a big deal, because the image you present to your interviewer can sometimes make the difference between getting and not getting a job offer. Whether you want to admit it or not, your appearance speaks volumes about the kind of employee you might be. Are you sloppy or put-together? Are you flamboyant or appropriate? Do you pay attention to details or not? Remember, in this situation the wrong kind of attention is worse than no attention at all.

Whether you’re a soon-to-be graduate looking for a first job or a seasoned professional who’s eyeing a new position, read on for seven of my tried-and-true interview attire tips:

Focus on quality, not quantity. Always, always choose interview clothing in the best fabric you can afford, even if it means starting out with only two suits or outfits. (You can build on that base later once you’re receiving your new paycheck!) Quality clothing looks best, holds up longest, travels well, and doesn’t need to be dry cleaned as often. I recommend investing in wool suits and skirts specifically, since wool is durable and easy to maintain, and can be worn at least 10 months out of the year in most climates.

Make sure your clothes match you. In addition to choosing high-quality pieces, it’s also important to make sure that your interview clothes are the right color and shape for your age, coloration, body type, and career. Ask a friend, sales associate, or image consultant for advice if you’re not sure what works best for you. Specifically, avoid pieces that are too short, too tight, or (for more mature applicants) too young. Remember, a flattering, well-tailored outfit shows attention to detail and makes a good first impression about you and how you will do business.

Be classy and memorable. Every job applicant wants to stand out from the crowd. But during the interview stage, it’s probably best not to distinguish yourself sartorially. Above all, you don’t want to make a lasting negative impression with wobbly too-high heels or an in-your-face tie. If you don’t want to be forgotten because of your “boring” beige suit, focus on setting yourself apart by how you present yourself, your experience, and your potential. Remember, people are making decisions about you from the moment you first meet, whether you realize it or not. So when in doubt, err on the side of dressing conservatively. You can think about moving closer to the cutting edge of fashion after you’ve been hired.

Find a balance between fit and comfort. Another reason to make sure that your interview clothes fit is simple: comfort. Think about it: If your jacket is a little too tight under the arms, for example, you’ll be distracted when it’s most important for you to be on your game. And if your skirt allows for only a narrow range of movement, you’ll be that much more ill at ease. Make sure that your interview clothes are comfortable so that you can focus on the meeting and on letting yourself shine through, not on what you’re wearing.

Tap into the power of the column. Column dressing is a sure-fire way to make sure that you dress successfully for your interview, as long as the color is flattering. Whether it’s a dress, a top and a skirt, or a top and pants, you can’t go wrong. Your jacket can be the same color as your column or an accent color. I promise that you’ll look pulled-together—which will please your interviewer—as well as taller, thinner, more successful, and smarter. What’s not to love?

Don’t forget the details. The details of any outfit are crucially important! Here are some things you should consider before heading out the door to your interview:

  • Your shoes should be polished and in great shape. No scuffed or kicked-in toes! Replace or repair them when necessary.
  • Your hair should be groomed and styled conservatively. If possible, schedule a trim a few days before your interview.
  • For ladies specifically: Invest in closed-toed pumps with a moderate heel height, and wear stockings (it’s best to stick with solids). Also, it’s a good idea to manicure your nails. Go with a neutral color that is easy to repair if chipped while traveling.

Top it off with a tote. Chances are, you’re not going into your interview empty-handed. At the very least, you’ll probably have copies of your résumé, a notepad and pen, and maybe even a portfolio of some sort. If you’re traveling, you might also be carrying your iPad, laptop, and/or other work files. Clearly, you’re not going to look very professional if you’re hand-carrying all of those things! I suggest that you look for a tote—preferably leather—that keeps you organized, looks great, and allows you to have all of your files and accessories at your fingertips. (Just make sure to turn off your phone’s ringer before going into a meeting or interview so you aren’t left digging around in your bag to turn it off!) Remember, a durable, professional bag is an investment, so if at all possible buy one that will serve you well for years.

When you walk into an interview feeling comfortable and confident because you know you’re dressed for the occasion, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. And you’ll also be one step closer to getting that coveted job offer.

 

 

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.