Tag Archives: Confidence

Seven Reasons to Become a Quitter in 2016 (and Why Ditching These Bad Habits Can Make This Your Happiest Year Yet)

Life is built on routines. It’s easy to go years—or even decades—without consciously assessing what’s working and what’s not. As a result, many of us are surrounded by people, obligations, objects, and habits that aren’t exactly making our lives better (far from it!). Well, no more. With a new year upon us, it’s the perfect time to take a fresh look at your daily existence—and drop all the dead weight that’s holding you back.

We tend to think of “quitting” as a bad thing, but the fact is, the things that used to fit well into your life may not be honoring who you are now. It’s very important to live on purpose, not by accident. So instead of piling even more responsibilities onto your plate in the form of overly ambitious New Year’s resolutions, resolve to become a quitter in 2016. Here are seven habits and behaviors you might want to consider leaving behind:

Quit making excuses about your health. Have you been meaning to lose a few pounds (for the last 10 years)? It’s so easy to bump exercise and healthy eating to the bottom of your to-do list. There are usually so many other tasks that seem more pressing: Get that report to the boss. Set up a time to get the car inspected. Make sure the kids get to cello lessons on time. Meanwhile, you tell yourself, I’ll start going to spin class next week. Problem is, “next week” never arrives.

If you don’t like the number you see on the scale, it’s time for the excuses to stop, regardless of how legitimate they are. And there’s a good reason for this tough love: Your weight isn’t just about your silhouette—it’s about your health, your energy level, and your confidence, too.

Quit burning the candle at both ends. Do you pack your days too full and get too little sleep in order to accomplish everything you want to? You may think you’re getting ahead, but in reality, you’re hurting your quality of life. There are more studies coming out each year that affirm the health benefits of getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

If you make taking care of yourself more of a priority, you’ll feel better about taking care of other people and have more energy throughout the day. Taking time for yourself isn’t selfish; it’s healthy and necessary. Whether you spend a day at the spa or simply take ten minutes to purchase and enjoy a cup of hot tea in the midst of running errands, investing in yourself will make you more resilient and will also reduce your stress and tension.

Quit spending so much time with people who don’t enrich your life. How many people do you regularly spend time with—even though you don’t really want to? You know the ones: Perhaps your sister-in-law constantly asks to get together, but spends the entire time criticizing everything from your clothes to your career to your parenting. Or maybe a certain frenemy peppers the conversation with backhanded compliments and one-upmanship, making you feel like your whole life has been one long series of bad decisions.

People with whom you feel obligated to spend time can suck up your energy and positive outlook, dragging down an otherwise great day or week. Often it’s impossible to back out of the relationship entirely, but there are things you can do to minimize its negative impact on your life. First, make sure you have set up clear boundaries. In some cases, people might not realize how bad they’re making you feel! And second, remember that you can gracefully say no to one social activity while accepting another, more positive one.

Quit saying yes to everything. Many of us have trouble saying no for a variety of reasons: We don’t want to let others down, we don’t want to be seen as weak, we’re afraid to refuse, etc. However, until you learn to say no when you need to, you’ll never be in the driver’s seat of your own life.

You don’t have to chair every event, take on every project, host every party, participate in every activity, and accept every invitation. Remember, you—not your boss, your friend, or your child’s teacher—are in charge of your calendar. Right now, as 2016 is just beginning, decide ahead of time what’s most important to you and prioritize those things. Then you can feel okay about saying no to some of the rest.

Quit at least one bad habit. Maybe you’re always running late, or you’ve been overspending lately. Perhaps you tend to procrastinate on big projects until the last minute, or you stuff yourself with junk food when you’re stressed.

To start, pick one bad habit—something that causes you a lot of stress would be a good choice. Then design a game plan that will enable you to kick it once and for all. For instance, if you’re always dragging into work late, you might set out your clothes and pack your lunch the night before, wake up 15 minutes earlier, and refrain from turning on the TV until after you’re showered and dressed. You’ll probably find that in most instances, summoning the motivation to change and taking that first step are the hardest parts!

Quit looking “good enough.” Most of us will never be runway models, but that’s no reason to settle for a humdrum, forgettable appearance. Wearing clothes (or a haircut, or makeup) that are dated, not flattering, or “good enough” isn’t doing your self-image any favors. And like it or not, people really do judge a book by its cover. Don’t you want to make an impression that clearly communicates your drive, personality, and confidence?

Get clear on colors and styles that are most flattering for your age, coloring, and body type, and stick with those guidelines whenever you make a new purchase. You might also want to ask a trusted friend for honest advice. But if you want more personalized results, I recommend working with an image consultant whose trained eye can help you to look your absolute best.

Quit spending so much time inside. This year, make a resolution to get more fresh air. Take a walk, run, or bike ride a few times each week—or just sit in a local park or on your back porch while reading a book. Getting out of your office or living room will help you think about yourself and your life from a whole new perspective.

Spending time outside helps you clear your mind, makes you feel more energized, and improves your health. What’s more, doing even the most minimal exercise outdoors helps emphasize the need to drink more water and take care of your skin with sunscreen and moisturizer. And if you’re anything like me, seeing the beautiful pictures that only nature can paint will put you in a great mood for the whole day. It’s a totally different experience than sitting on the couch to watch a movie.
The beginning of a brand new year is the perfect time to reassess your life. Instead of adding more things to your 2016 to-do list, do yourself a favor and jettison what’s no longer working for you. When you get rid of habits, mindsets, and behaviors that are dragging you down, you’ll make room for new things that make you feel good and help you grow.

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!

Virtual Worth: High-Tech Shopping At Its Best

As you may know, I am a consultant for Worth New York, a luxury clothing line based in New York City. While I love helping my clients select pieces they love, I’ve often wished that there was a way for me to work with women for whom it isn’t convenient to come to Worth’s showroom.

That’s why I’m pleased to share that I’m now able to book virtual consultations. This is a great option for women who might not have time to go to the showroom, or who don’t live close by.

When you choose to shop Worth’s collections virtually, I’ll curate a presentation just for you, based on your preferences and the image you want to create. Then we’ll “meet” virtually whenever it’s convenient for you. On your iPad or desktop screen, I’ll show you pieces in which you might be interested and give you the opportunity to browse Worth’s online “closets.” You can zoom in and see each piece up close before placing your order. And if you receive something that you don’t love, you can send it back free of charge.

So far, I’ve received very positive feedback from clients who have shopped virtually with me. Virtual consultations, they say, are easy and fun—high-tech shopping at its best. If you’d like to book a virtual consultation or have more questions, please get in touch with me. I would love to help you create the best possible look, no matter where you live!

WorthVirtual

Seven Tips for Keeping Your Sanity During Summertime Entertaining

As the summer unfolds, you may be planning to host houseguests for a weekend getaway. Of course you’re looking forward to spending time with friends and/or family. But you may also be just a bit concerned about how to have fun while taking care of the hundred-and-one details of entertaining others in your home. It can be difficult to maintain the balance between being a gracious host and feeling like an indentured servant.

I understand! My husband, Barry, and I enjoy entertaining guests in the summer at our home in Southampton. It’s important to both of us that our guests feel welcome, at home, and well taken care of. Personally, I tend to be very particular about each visit, giving much attention to detail; but there is a fine line between taking care of all the details and running yourself ragged.

And, of course, entertaining isn’t for everyone (and that’s okay!). If you don’t get genuine enjoyment out of opening your home to others, preparing for their visits, and entertaining guests, remember that you’re under no obligation to do so. There are plenty of other ways to make summertime memories with friends. (One important caveat: If you do choose to entertain, don’t do so with the expectation that others should reciprocate—doing so only sets you up for disappointment and resentment if your friends don’t share your love of entertaining.)

For those of you who are expecting guests this summer, I’d like to share a few strategies I’ve developed that will keep you from burning out, whether you’re having overnight guests or a simple luncheon or dinner party.

Consider your guest list. If you’re planning to invite several individuals at the same time, take time to consider how they might get along with each other. The last thing you want to do is invite people who have a negative history together. Individuals who have completely different (and clashing) personalities or viewpoints might not make for an enjoyable visit, either. (But don’t overthink this—you know your friends and loved ones and how they tend to behave in groups. If instinct tells you that certain people won’t work well together, follow your intuition and invite them on separate occasions.)

When Barry and I are planning on hosting multiple guests, our top priority is simply to invite people who will enjoy each other’s company. And since these are special “getaway” weekends for Barry and me as well, we don’t invite clients from business unless they also happen to be personal friends of ours. These weekends are for our enjoyment, too!

Plan your meals ahead of time. While this may seem like common sense, I can’t emphasize enough how vital planning can be in having a smooth, hiccup-free weekend. I like to check off as many things as I can before my guests arrive. For example, I typically check with guests to see if there is anything they are allergic to or don’t eat before heading out to the grocery store.

I usually make out the menu for the entire weekend about a week in advance, so I’ll know what to shop for and won’t be scrambling for meal ideas at the last minute. I typically place my order for fresh fish, chicken, or meat a few days before and schedule a pick-up for Friday morning. At this point, I’ll also pick up any last-minute items. Oh, and one more tip: I’ve found that I save a lot of time and money by growing a nice variety of herbs on the deck outside our kitchen, which ensures that we have fresh, flavorful seasonings for our salads and main dishes.

Freshen up your guest room(s). Over the course of daily life, most of us don’t spend much time in our guest bedroom(s). You may even keep the doors closed! That’s why it’s a good idea to air them out a day or two before your guests arrive. Make sure that everything is in order and that the linens are fresh. You might also want to plug in an air freshener or light an aromatic candle before your guests arrive. Personally, I’ll often put a fresh flower from our garden in my guests’ bathroom or bedroom to welcome them. I think this adds a nice touch!

Cook their first meal (and stick with what you know). If your guests have been traveling, it’s likely that they’d prefer to relax at your house, rather than get dressed up to run out shortly after arriving. That’s why Barry and I usually cook at home on Friday nights. We try out new recipes on weekends when we don’t have guests (so we don’t have any surprises!), then serve the “winners” to our friends. Barry handles the grill while I put the finishing touches on the rest of the dinner. If guests offer to help, I often ask them to set the table, put out hors d’oeuvres, or help serve drinks so that we can talk and enjoy each other’s company.

Make breakfast easy. After a good night’s sleep, you don’t want your guests to feel like they need to rush in the morning. Unless you’ve all agreed on an early morning activity ahead of time, let them know that they’re free to wake up when they want and come down for breakfast when they feel ready. For breakfast, Barry and I put out cereals, English muffins, yogurt, fresh fruit, coffee, etc. and let everyone eat what they want.

Ask your guests what they want to do. As a host, you’re the expert on your area, so you’ll probably need to take the lead in suggesting activities. But before you make any firm plans, offer several options to your guests and ask them what they want to do. Try to make the weekend about them. For instance, Barry and I usually ask our guests if they want to visit one of the special small villages like Sag Harbor or Southampton, shop and walk around, go to the beach, play tennis, or just relax and take a nap by our pool. The most important thing is that our guests feel comfortable and enjoy the weekend.

Spend a night on the town. If your guests will be with you for several days, you’ll probably want them to see all that your town has to offer. Saturday night is a great time for this. We usually take our guests out to dinner, allowing them to choose between a few favorite restaurants we like. Afterward, we might stop for an ice cream cone and walk around one of the villages. It’s such a fun way to end the evening!

Ultimately, the most important thing is that you and your guests enjoy their time at your home. The more you plan ahead and take into account individual preferences, the more likely that will be. I hope you all enjoy your summer visits, whenever and with whomever they may be!

Common Errors That May Be Sabotaging Your Style

For most women, image is important. With few exceptions, nobody tries to leave home looking sloppy, inappropriate, or overdone. However, as you know if you’ve spent a little time people-watching in a public location, those efforts don’t always succeed. And there’s a good reason for it.

One of the many things I have learned as an image consultant is that it’s fairly easy to provide constructive feedback on another person’s look—but that task becomes much more complicated when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror. No one can look at themselves in a completely objective manner. We all have literal and metaphorical blind spots when it comes to our appearances and how we approach constructing an image in general.

I most often find that my clients are 80 or 90 percent “there” with their looks when we begin working together. After we focus in on correcting a few misconceptions and making specific improvements, these women (and men!) typically feel that their looks and self-confidence have been kicked up multiple notches.

When it comes to your image, knowledge really is power. Once you are aware of what might be keeping your look at “average” instead of “amazing,” you’ll be well on your way to smoothing out those wrinkles. Here are eight things that may be keeping you from maximizing your image potential:

*Your clothes don’t flatter your body type. Not all styles are created equal. What flatters a petite woman won’t have the same effect on a taller frame, for example, even if it makes the first woman look like a million bucks. It’s worth your time to research basic style parameters for your body type. Many fashion magazines and websites offer this type of advice—and a good friend or image consultant will definitely be able to help you zero in on what does and doesn’t work for you. I would also recommend that you get in the habit of regularly visiting a tailor. A well-tailored $100 jacket can look like a $600 jacket, for example—and vice versa.

*You focus too much on comfort. In a world of five-inch stilettos, scratchy fabrics, and constricting cuts, it’s no surprise that many women gravitate toward comfort when they’re off the clock. However, running errands looking like you’ve just rolled out of bed sends a clear message about you to other people—and it’s probably not the one you want them to receive. The truth is, a broken-in pair of jeans, fitted cotton tee-shirt, and soft leather loafers or ballet flats can feel just as nice as gym clothes, but look much more put-together.

There’s one current comfort-oriented trend that I want to highlight in particular: leggings. At a recent Giants football game, my husband and I were walking behind a woman whose leggings were so thin I could see through them—not a sight I wanted to encounter. And in general, I’ve observed more and more leggings on the streets. When worn with a longer top, tunic, or dress that covers “strategic” areas, leggings can look very nice—but too often, that isn’t the case. Please, don’t make the mistake of dressing as though leggings are pants! Your comfortable bottoms might be revealing more than you really want them to.

*You overaccessorize. Who doesn’t love a fabulous multi-strand necklace, sparkly chandelier earrings, or a brightly colored chunky bracelet? While the fashion world is full of great accessories, wearing too many of them at once can be overwhelming. Think of statement pieces as divas who don’t like to share the stage. Limit yourself to one standout accessory per outfit, and you’ll get more of the right kind of attention. Your goal is to be dazzling, not blinding.

*You’re too trendy. There’s nothing wrong with trying to stay in style, but when you’re too much of a slave to fashion, it’s easy to veer into unflattering territory. You can unwittingly put together ensembles that aren’t age-appropriate or that (again) don’t flatter your body type. Plus, if you switch styles every season, you can send others the message that you’re inconsistent and don’t have a firmly established sense of self. No matter what is being worn on the runways, strive to develop and express a personal sense of style that is strategically supplemented by trendy pieces.

*Your undergarments are making an unwanted appearance. The dreaded panty line. The errant bra strap. The not-so-mysterious back bulges. What makes these fashion faux-pas so insidious is that they emerge without our knowledge, often in hard-to-see spots on our bodies. And to make things worse, undergarments tend to draw others’ eyes like magnets. Here’s the solution: Suck it up and get help stocking your underwear drawer. Get fitted for bras. Ask sales associates and image consultants for professional opinions on what’s most likely to stay hidden while providing you with the shape and support you want. And if you don’t have a spouse or roommate around to give you an honest once-over before you leave the house, make sure to pause (and pose) in front of a full-length mirror.

*You stay neutral. The great thing about neutrals is that they’re easy. For that reason, some women pack their closets with blacks, grays, browns, beiges, whites, and other muted tones. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with neutrals, you don’t want to constantly wear camouflage that causes you to disappear into the urban jungle. Even a small pop, like a scarf, a handbag, a belt, or a piece of jewelry, can go a long way in making you more memorable. And finally, remember that there is a time and a place for neutrals. Nobody can deny the classic appeal of a “little black dress,” for example.

*You’re stuck on size. I’m a size X, you think, so that’s what you purchase. However, buying clothes based primarily on size is a rut in which you don’t want to get stuck. Whenever possible, try on pieces before buying them, and be honest about your body’s dimensions. Don’t walk around with a muffin top because your pride won’t let you go up a pant size…and on the flip side, don’t walk around in a tent because you’re so used to buying larges that you don’t even consider trying on a medium instead. Remember, others see only how you look in your clothes, not the sizes on their tags.

*You’re living in the past. I often work with women (and men, too) who think that they’re in style. And they would be—if it were five or ten years ago! Every once in a while, I recommend asking a trusted friend for a constructive critique on your look to make sure you haven’t fallen behind. Better yet, hire an image consultant who can suggest strategic pieces to buy that will help the rest of your closet transition gracefully into the 21st century.

No matter who you are, what your body type is, or what kinds of clothes you like to wear, I have one final piece of advice that I urge you to take to heart: A full-length mirror is a must-have accessory. If you don’t own one already, make the investment—and use it every day. Checking your head-to-toe reflection from several different angles can help you to avoid many fashion missteps. And when it comes to looking great, seeing really is believing. When you know your image is what you want it to be, you’ll feel more confident and positive all day long.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re not sure where to start, many fashion magazines and websites offer general advice regarding what colors and styles tend to look good on various complexions and body types. You might also want to ask a trusted friend for honest advice. But if you want more personalized results, I recommend working with an image consultant whose trained eye can help you to look your absolute best.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.