Monthly Archives: December 2014

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!

Six Positive Things to Do for Yourself This Holiday Season

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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