Tag Archives: Accessories

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!

10 Fashion Tips for Men Who Aren’t Into Fashion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

To Buy or Not to Buy: Shopping in Paris

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

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

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

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

RedDress2RedDress1

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

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

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

BeigeDress1 BeigeDress2

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

BeigeDressCoat BeigeCoat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy shopping!

Packing for Paris—and How I Wore It

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

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

Here’s what I took:

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

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

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

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

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And here’s how I wore it:

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

Window shopping in Paris

Window shopping in Paris

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

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

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

Outside the Palace of Versailles

Outside the Palace of Versailles

A delicious dinner at Spring

A delicious dinner at Spring

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

We loved walking along the Seine.

We loved walking along the Seine.

Another memorable meal—this time at Graff

Another memorable meal—this time at Graff

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned!

Stay tuned!

Ditching, Switching, and Swapping, Oh My!: Seven Tips for Changing Out Your Seasonal Wardrobe

After the long, brutal winter we’ve just endured, the temperatures are finally beginning to rise and the flowers are starting to bloom. And as the seasons change, so should your closet. Of course some pieces like frequently worn jeans and shoes will stay, but your heavy sweaters and boots will need to make way for sundresses and sandals. If you’re like most of us, just the idea of taking on this task can be exhausting. But I promise, if done correctly, updating your wardrobe for warmer weather will make every single day easier for you. (As I’ve mentioned before, getting dressed—whether it’s easy or frustrating—can set the tone for your entire day!)

Here are seven strategies to help you prepare your closet for the upcoming summer months (and with a little imagination, these tips can be adapted for every other season, too!):

Clean your closet. Yes, the actual closet. Take the time to dust the shelves, vacuum the floor, wipe down the walls, and get rid of any clutter that has been building up over the last few months. When a room is clean (even if it’s “just” a closet), you’ll feel more positive and inspired when you’re in it.

Choose a storage technique. If possible, I recommend storing your off-season clothes in another closet. If you don’t have the space, though, you can also keep them in air-tight plastic containers under the bed or in a storage room. I strongly advise that you not store your clothes in the attic or basement, as these spaces aren’t always climate controlled. And often, mildew, insects, and other pests find their way in.

Have any dirty clothes or shoes cleaned. Set aside any cold-weather clothes, including outerwear, that need to be professionally cleaned. It’s best to take care of this task now so that everything will be ready to go next fall. (I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to take out a favorite wool coat next October, only to find that the cuffs are dingy!) Likewise, take any boots and shoes that need new heels, cleaning, and conditioning to the cobbler before you put them away. I also suggest stuffing them with newspaper so that they’ll keep their shape while they aren’t being worn.

Evaluate each item. All clothing should be reviewed before being stored away to make room for your warm-weather clothes. Ask yourself the following questions: Have you worn the garment this year? Is it time to donate it? Is it damaged and worn? If so, can it be repaired? Missing buttons, ripped hems, and broken zippers can usually be fixed by a tailor. After you’ve made decisions about each item, pack up the clothes and shoes you’d like to donate and have others repaired and washed before you put them away. (For more information on cleaning out your closet, see my past blog post “The Giant Tangle.”)

Organize, organize, and organize some more… I can’t say enough about the importance of keeping your closet neat, clean, and yes, organized. If you want to be able to put together fabulous outfits and still get out the door quickly, it’s important to be able to see what you own. When everything is in a jumbled pile, you wear only the items on top—and getting dressed is a very frustrating experience! As you move your warm-weather pieces into your closet, I recommend grouping them by type (e.g., skirts, shorts, pants, blouses, cardigans, etc.) and then by color. And no, I really don’t think this is overkill. The next time you’re looking for a green blouse or a pair of white slacks, you’ll know exactly where to find them. No more digging through drawers or pawing through an entire rack of hangers! (For more advice on creating an organized closet, see my past blog post “Life Post-Tangle.”)

…and don’t forget your accessories! As you evaluate and organize your clothes and shoes, don’t forget about your accessories. This is a great opportunity to eliminate belts, scarves, hats, jewelry, handbags, and other accessories that no longer fit your body or your lifestyle, and to organize those that are left over.

Make yourself picture perfect, literally. Now that everything is put away and you can see your clothing and accessories, take the time to create and document ensembles you’ll enjoy wearing all season. I use the Picture-U-Perfect formula with my clients and my own wardrobe! Specifically, I put together outfits, complete with accessories, and then take a picture so that the next time I need to find something to wear for a certain occasion, I can look back through my photos to find the perfect look. Often, I’ll include some alternate pieces in a look; for instance, several pairs of shoes that would work, or two different colors of shirts that match the same skirt. I can’t tell you how much I love having key outfits totally accessorized and ready to put on. My closet is organized by category and color so I can lay my hands on what I need quickly. Shoes, handbags, earrings, and belts are stored by color and are visible. I do practice what I preach, and it pays off!

Whether you spread the seasonal clothing swap over multiple days or do it all in one fell swoop, I encourage you not to skip any of these steps. I promise, doing the job thoroughly will have a real impact on what you wear, how quickly you can put it on, and how you feel while wearing it this spring and summer!

Life Post-Tangle: How to Create the Closet of Your Dreams

In my last blog post, I discussed the common problem of having a messy closet. While it’s not something most people think consciously about on a day-to-day basis, a tangled closet can negatively impact your self-esteem, your mood, and certainly your appearance. After all, if you can’t find your most flattering pieces amidst disorganized piles of less-inspiring clothes and shoes, you won’t look or feel your best.

When I help my clients do closet audits, they’re amazed at how much easier and more enjoyable their newly clean closets make the process of getting dressed in the morning. But as I remind them, banishing tangled hangers and cluttered shelves doesn’t stop with getting rid of pieces you no longer wear or need. You must make a consistent effort to keep your closet organized and the pieces in it up-to-date with your current lifestyle.

Here are four strategies to help you do just that:

Store your wardrobe seasonally. Few people have large enough closets to comfortably accommodate both winter and summer clothes at the same time. That’s why it’s important to rotate your clothing seasonally instead of trying to cram everything in at once. Don’t forget to switch out coats, shoes, boots, and handbags, too. Having your warm weather sandals mixed in with your fall shoes will only make it harder to find what you are looking for when you get dressed. Keep in mind, though, that some shoes, totes, and handbags may work year round, especially those that are neutral or metallic.

Harness the power of organization. No matter what season it is, one thing about your closet should stay the same: its level of organization! I recommend grouping pieces by type (pants, skirts, tops, etc.) and organizing each category in order of color or print. While this level of detail may sound like overkill, you won’t believe how much easier it will make your life—not to mention how fantastic your closet will look!

Personally, I like to hang all tops left to right, sleeveless to long sleeve, light to dark. The rack begins with white and finishes with chocolate or black. In between are solid and print tops by color, with a special section reserved for multi-colored prints. I repeat this same process with pants, jackets, skirts, and dresses. With this system, if you are looking for a white t-shirt or a blue long-sleeved knit top, you know exactly where to find it.

Learn some space-saving secrets. The more organized your closet is, the cleaner it will stay and the easier it will be to see everything you own without digging for it. While it’s (mostly) empty, take the opportunity to invest in some space-saving items. Start with shoe racks. And if you have closet shelves, line them with baskets or clear bins so you can see everything easily. (If your budget is bigger, you might even want to install shallow drawers that pull all the way out.) To make getting dressed quick and easy, add plenty of hooks in the closet. They can hold belts, ties, handbags, or necklaces. Be sure to select hooks with a large arm to give you the most holding and storage power.

Depending on how much space you have, you may also want to hang like garments together on multiple-bar hangers. You’ll save space hanging vertically, and you can also hang pieces that you wear with only one outfit together.

Maintain it! If you don’t change your everyday habits, your closet will soon return to its tangled, messy, frustrating state. (It happens faster than you might believe possible!) Fortunately, a return to black hole status can be avoided by following a few simple rules. First, commit to putting away clean laundry promptly and in its appropriate place, as well as to putting things back where they belong at the end of the day. You should also constantly audit the pieces you own. Finally, create an Attention Needed section in your closet, and use it to corral pieces that need tailoring, repairs, or dry cleaning, or that you’re considering donating or taking to a consignment shop.

Think of your closet as sacred ground and treat it accordingly. Hopefully you’ve read something in these last two posts that resonates with you and inspires you to make a change or two in your closet and then maintain your progress. Remember, the way you shop, the clothes you choose to wear, and the organization of your closet all reflect your sense of self. Make sure you’re treating yourself with respect and honor!

The Giant Tangle: How to Solve the Messy Closet Problem Once and for All

Do you dread getting dressed in the morning? If so, maybe a messy closet is the culprit. Shelves are crammed, hangers are tangled, and clothes, shoes, belts, and more are piled on the floor. You’ve got plenty to wear, but nothing inspires you. (Probably because you can’t find your best pieces!) Most days, you throw on the first thing you can find, slam the closet door, and try to avoid the mirror.

If you’re like most women, you know you should tackle the giant mess that is your closet, but other priorities—work, the kids, laundry, dishes, and so on—always seem to take precedence. Enough with the excuses—it’s time to put a clean closet at the top of your priority list, because a disorganized closet is a big problem that affects much more than just one small room in your house. A messy closet is a metaphor for a messy life, and it can have far-reaching ramifications.

The most obvious consequence of having a chaotic closet is the fact that getting dressed becomes a frustrating experience that has the power to ruin your day. And since you feel stressed and depressed just thinking about organizing your wardrobe, you end up spending too much money on new clothes. (Going shopping, you figure, is easier and more enjoyable.)

You may even end up buying pieces you don’t need, simply because you’ve forgotten what you already own. When I do a closet audit with my clients, I find that many of them own items that are beautiful, flattering, and comfortable—they were just buried beneath layers of less-inspiring clothes.

If you’re tired of feeling like your closet has a life of its own, and you’re ready to start making the most of your wardrobe, read on for six of my tried-and-true tips on how to tackle the giant tangle and successfully clean out your closet. In my next blog post, I’ll share some more tips to help you take the pieces that are left and build the closet you’ve always wanted.

Just do it. Whether it’s a new diet, new workout regime, or just a new day, getting started isn’t easy for anyone. However, you have to remind yourself that tackling your tangled closet will make your life better. You might even surprise yourself and have fun! I recommend planning ahead and scheduling time—perhaps a Saturday morning or several 30-minute periods on weeknights—to complete this project. If it’s on the calendar, it’s more likely to happen. And once you start, you’ll almost immediately begin seeing the benefits of having a cleaner, more organized closet.

Bring in the troops. The messier your closet is, the more helpful an objective third party will be. A friend, a family member, or an image consultant can help you make smart choices and give you honest opinions. If another person comes to your house for the sole purpose of weeding through your wardrobe, you won’t be able to put the task off with excuses. Plus, this person won’t be emotionally attached to price tags and memories. Regardless of who helps you tackle this project, you (and your closet) will appreciate having a voice of reason and extra moral support in the room.

Commit to living in the present. As I have said many times, when you wear old clothes that don’t reflect and honor who you are right now, your confidence and self-worth will suffer. Spend some conscious thought on matching your wardrobe to your current lifestyle. While it’s fun to think about how things used to be, our clothes have to reflect who we are now!

The simplest way to accomplish this is to do what I call The Closet Audit. First you need to sort through what you have. It’s not easy—if it were, you would have done it already. Everything must be tried on to get an accurate reading on whether it still fits and is something you want to keep. Ask yourself: Is it a flattering cut for me now? Do I ever wear it? Is it out of style? Is it great on me or just so-so? Does the color flatter me and my skin tone? And the number one question: Would I buy it again today?

Set up a trial separation. Clothes are often the diary of our lives, and that’s why they can be so hard to part with. For example, maybe you spent a lot of money on a fancy dress to wear to an evening wedding, but haven’t taken it off the hanger since. Or perhaps your mother or friend gave you a sweater that isn’t your style, but that you have a sentimental attachment to.

I suggest removing those rarely or never-worn garments that you can’t quite let go of from your closet. Box them up, or hang them in the basement or another closet. Leave them in this limbo for a year, then revisit them. This trial separation is easier on your emotions because there is still a way back. But if absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder—and often, it does quite the opposite—you will know it’s time to let those pieces move on!

Sort smart. As you begin to sort through the piles of clothes, keep pieces with similar fates together to make the rest of the process much easier. Divide everything into four separate categories: items to throw away that are ripped, stained, or frayed (this is the easy one!); items you are keeping; items worth saving that need alteration or dry cleaning; and items to be donated. Your to-be-donated pile can be further separated into items that can be used by Dress for Success (a nonprofit that donates professional attire to disadvantaged women), items that you wish to take to a resale shop, and items that could be donated to Goodwill or The Salvation Army.

Don’t forget accessories. Once all of your clothing is sorted, it is time to go through your shoes and boots, handbags, jewelry, lingerie, hats, gloves, etc. Often, you’ll find drawers of scarves that you’ve never worn, for example, and nearly forgotten shoes and boots piled up under racks of clothing. (And don’t forget to visit the coat closet!) Use the same sorting criteria that you did for your clothing. Remember, shoes that are worn out or that have a dated toe or heel can take away from an otherwise fabulous outfit. If beloved and still-fashionable shoes need new heels, soles, or a cleaning, take them to a shoe repair shop to give them a new lease on life. Usually, this is less expensive than buying a whole new pair!

Throughout the cleaning process, remember to stay calm. Untangling your closet is supposed to be healing and freeing, so don’t allow it to overwhelm you with stress. It’s okay to take breaks and walk away from the task for awhile, especially if you encounter an item that strikes an emotional chord in you, or just to gain some fresh perspective. And again, don’t be afraid to call in help. An outside opinion can make all the difference, especially when it comes to those pieces that you just can’t decide whether to keep or let go of.

Be sure to stay tuned for my next blog post, in which I’ll give you some ideas to save space and stay organized.

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.