Tag Archives: Shoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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?

ParisPacking1ParisPacking5

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!

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.

Spring (Wardrobe) Awakening: Four Fresh Accessories That Will Wake Up Last Year’s Wardrobe

As you flip through fashion magazines and keep your eye on the displays in your favorite stores, you’re probably getting excited about all of the new spring and summer styles that are making their debuts. You’d love to go out and completely overhaul your wardrobe so that you’re on the cutting edge of all the latest trends. There’s only one problem: You aren’t made of money, and new clothes aren’t free. (Plus, if you’re honest, most of the pieces in your closet are still really nice.)

Here’s the good news: You can make last year’s wardrobe look fresh for spring by targeting a few key accessories.

I’ve always been amazed by how much of an impact accessories can have. They can really define your whole outfit. So if you want to update your look for spring but don’t want to break the bank, focus on acquiring some versatile accessories that will breathe new life into a variety of outfits. In this post, I’m going to share four of my top accessory recommendations for spring and summer:

Pick up a new purse. A new handbag is a wonderful way to make last year’s wardrobe look fresh—and they can be found at all price points, too, so you can spend as much or as little as you want. Here are some options to consider:

• Neon colors are fresh, in-your-face, and will certainly make you stand out in a crowd. In fact, Chanel is doing green and orange nylon bags this season, which is something completely new for them!

• A white bag will immediately freshen up your whole look. Just make sure to purchase one that’s made of an easy-to-clean material, like leather, since white does tend to show dirt.

• Leopard-print bags might not seem versatile at first glance, but I promise that they are. Leopard works with black, white, and earth tones, and it will also tone down a bright or neon outfit.

• Floral patterns are big this season. Look for a purse in a print you love!

• Mixed media bags (for instance, a leather bag trimmed in raffia) can bridge the gap between classic and cutting-edge. They’re also visually interesting without necessarily being in-your-face.

Freshen up your footwear. There’s nothing like a pair of new shoes to wake up what you’re wearing. Flats are always a good idea since they’re stylish and comfortable. You can take black and white clothes from last year and mix them with floral-print flats to instantly update your look. Metallic flats are also a good idea, since they’re the ultimate neutral: eye-catching and universally flattering. And if you’re feeling daring, look for a colored shoe that can add a bright pop of blue, red, or orange to an otherwise head-to-toe black outfit (you don’t want to wear head-to-toe anything or the fashion police may arrest you!). You can also reverse the look and wear a colored dress with a black and white shoe.

Let yourself sparkle and shine. Jewelry can be a fun and inexpensive way to update just about any outfit. A piece with colored stones or enamel will add a fun pop of color to a black and white or neutral outfit. And with this season’s styles, you don’t have to play it safe—so look for neons and other bright colors. On the other hand, crystals are the perfect neutral when it comes to jewelry, whether it’s an earring, a necklace, or a cuff. There isn’t anything crystals don’t go with, and they can be dressed up or dressed down. Plus, unlike neons, they won’t go out of style as the seasons pass.

Wrap yourself up (in a scarf, that is!). These days, scarves aren’t limited to your grandmother’s bulky, scratchy, cable-knitted wool. They’re full-blown fashion accessories, and they can add a touch of fun, whimsy, or even elegance to an outfit. I think that a metallic gold scarf or animal print in a silk chiffon are great purchases that will give you a lot of mileage since they will go with everything. If you’re looking for more color, then go with a solid. And remember, a larger scarf in linen, silk, or pashmina can double as a shawl if you get chilly in an air-conditioned space.

The best thing about accessories is that—unlike a shirt or dress—you can wear them every day if you want to. Most accessories will work with a variety of different styles and looks, so experiment with your purchases. You’ll probably be surprised—and extremely pleased—by how far they’ll go and how fabulous they’ll make you feel!

Get Your Wardrobe in Bloom: Seven Ways to Be Fashion Forward as You Put a Spring in Your Step

Whether you’re going by the calendar or by the flowers and sunny skies outside your window, the verdict is clear: Winter has officially left the building. For women, the recent season change means that it’s finally time to pack away gloves, bulky sweaters, and puffy coats…and start sporting a shapelier silhouette! Without a doubt, this spring’s emerging fashion trends will fill your wardrobe with a welcome burst of color and excitement.

One of the best aspects of warmer weather is the fact that you can finally shed some layers. Spring is definitely a great time to breathe some new life into your wardrobe. However, I also know that from Fashion Week to special magazine spreads, all of the new trends can be somewhat overwhelming. Be careful not to go overboard when you hit the stores, because you don’t want to end up with a closet full of clothes that looked great in theory, but that you really don’t feel comfortable wearing. My advice is to start spicing up your spring wardrobe with a few key pieces that represent some of the season’s most exciting trends and work from there.

Read on for seven tips to help you look fashion forward while feeling great this spring:

Slip into some colored jeans. This season, colored jeans, ranging from mid-tones to neons to pastels, are everywhere. And with so many colors and cuts to choose from, they can be flattering to any body type at any age. I recommend pairing your colored jeans with black or white accessories such as a jacket, tee-shirt, and/or shoe for an impressive level of sophistication.

Specifically, look for some “Tangerine Tango.” According to Pantone, 2012’s color of the year is “Tangerine Tango,” an eye-catching reddish orange. It’s showing up in home décor, fashion, and accessories, and the trendy hue can range from peach to red to everything in between. You’ll definitely want to jump on this citrusy bandwagon, so don’t be afraid to put a splash of orange into your wardrobe…or even into your living room!

You don’t have to sacrifice comfort for beauty. When it comes to footwear, flats continue to be very popular for spring and summer. And since there are plenty of styles, prints, and colors to choose from, there’s a flat to fit every personality. Flats are a smart and versatile choice because they’re comfortable and are appropriate for day and evening. This spring, I recommend choosing from popular florals, neons, metallics, animal prints, and even geometric patterns—like squares or dots—as you add to your collection. What you put on your feet really can take your outfit from “average” to “interesting”!

Consider wearing white head to toe. Yes, we all look forward to wearing bright spring colors. But sometimes there’s nothing more fabulous than wearing white! Depending on your coloration, look for optic (bright) white or creamy white, and don’t be afraid to wear it head to toe. You’ll stand out, and you’ll exude vibes as light and airy as spring breezes. As an added bonus, creamy white in particular can look great year round. (Forget that old Labor Day rule!)

Incorporate some earth tones. Whites and eye-catching hues look fabulous, but you don’t want to go into “bright overload.” In other words, don’t rid your wardrobe of neutrals. Earth tones in particular are making a very sophisticated statement for the spring and summer seasons. I suggest mixing them with white or black for a classic look. You can also pair them with one of the new brighter tones like orange, pink, or yellow. For instance, choosing to put a bright shirt with an earth-toned suit might be the difference between basic and brilliant!

Don’t forget your hands and feet. It’s natural to be focused on clothes and accessories as you shake off the winter wardrobe blues. But as you’re shopping, build in time to get a fresh manicure and pedicure. Polishing up your nails and coating them in a color you love is essential this time of year as you get ready to break out the summer sandals.

Say hello to summer scarves. Scarves aren’t just for winter anymore. They’ve graduated from a way to keep warm to a full-blown fashion accessory! Scarves in lighter fabrics are a wonderful way to add that extra “pop” to your look or to try a fun color without committing to the entire outfit. Plus, a shawl made of linen, silk, or pashmina can even pull double-duty as a scarf or as a wrap if it gets cool in an air-conditioned space.

As you bring spring into your closet, feel free to try all of the trends that pique your curiosity. Just remember that the most important aspect of any piece, in any season, is how it makes you feel. As long as you’re comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing, you’ll have a renewed spring in your step…and you’ll draw eyes in all of the best possible ways.

 

Accessories for Men Are in the News

I recently read a New York Times article about how consumers have started to buy more and more accessories now that the worst part of the recession is over. (You can take a look at it here.) The surprising thing about this article is that it doesn’t focus on female shoppers. Instead, it’s about men!

As an image consultant who has worked with numerous male clients, I found myself nodding as I read about how men are using various accessories to distinguish and pull together their outfits. When I’m working with men, I always stress that the little details have a huge impact on how you look and how you are perceived.

With that in mind, here are some accessories I recommend all men pay careful attention to:

Ties. Ties are an accessory that many men love to hate. But even if you’re one of those guys who wear ties only when it’s absolutely necessary, you should still put some thought into what looks nice. Avoid safe, boring, or dated ties—I call them “nothing” ties because they bring nothing exciting to your outfit and say nothing about you. It’s fine to choose bold or rich colors, especially since they can set you apart and function as a tasteful statement piece. If you’re looking for inspiration, Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News is a good example of a man who gets it right. He consistently succeeds in wearing interesting ties that match his suits well and are still appropriate in a conservative setting. When making your own choices, take a page from his book and always make sure that your tie blends with your shirt and suit color! If you’re unsure as to what might coordinate with your suit while flattering you in particular, ask a friend, salesperson, or image consultant for advice.

Glasses. If you have less-than-perfect vision and haven’t opted for contact lenses, chances are you wear your glasses every single day. And since they’re one of your most-used accessories, it’s worth your time and money to invest in a pair that looks good on you. When I’m working with clients, I recommend plastic or metal frames because they give the wearer a much more modern look than a wireless rim would. Plus, a more substantial frame gives definition to your face. Once you have found a pair of flattering frames and have become comfortable wearing them, consider adding a second pair to your collection for a little more variety! And, as you would with any other piece of clothing, work with the sales consultant to make sure that the color and shape of the frames flatter your coloring and the shape of your face.

Cuff links. Cuff links are one of those suit elements that fall into the “optional” category. If you already wear cuff links or like the way they look and want to incorporate them into your wardrobe in the near future, one of my cardinal rules of accessorizing definitely applies: Make sure that what you are wearing coordinates with the rest of your outfit! Gold or silver cuff links are a classic choice, but it’s also fine to add a little personality to your look with color or fun shapes.

Shoes. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your shoes are less important than the rest of your clothing! If your footwear is noticeably old, worn, or scuffed, it can cancel out the effects of an otherwise put-together outfit. Like women, men have an ever-increasing amount of styles to choose from. I suggest investing in a medium-to-light brown pair of loafers for casual wear, and either brown or black dress shoes to wear with your suit. Depending on your career, you might also consider a pair of leather lace-ups so that you can alternate your look!

Socks. The same principle applies to socks as shoes: Don’t assume that they don’t matter! Especially in more formal situations, be sure to wear a sock that is either the same color as your suit or the color of the shoe you are wearing. Also, do a “test-sit” before you leave the house to make sure that your sock is the right height. Your leg should not be exposed when you sit, even if you cross your legs.

Belts. Even if you don’t habitually wear suits, you should still own at least one nice belt in the best-quality leather you can afford. A classy belt is definitely an investment piece! Choose from crocodile, black leather, and/or brown leather. I advise my male clients that a wider belt (a minimum of 1.25 inches) will give you a modern, stylish look regardless of your size or height.

Scarves. Some men see scarves as a true accessory: something with which to embellish their outfits. Others see scarves as something that’s purely functional: something to keep their necks warm when it’s cold outside. Whichever group you fall into, remember that scarves are an important element of your overall look. Make sure that yours coordinates properly with the raincoat or overcoat you’re wearing!

The Things You Carry. Most accessories are things you wear, but men should put some thought into what they carry, too, since these things still contribute to their overall images. First, if you need to carry more than can comfortably fit in your pocket, invest in a nice leather briefcase or messenger bag. Unless you are a student, it’s time to leave canvas backpacks behind. Also pay attention to the umbrella you’re carrying when it rains. You don’t want to walk into a meeting with a brightly colored umbrella or one that is ratty and on the verge of falling apart at the next gust of wind. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable umbrella options in classic colors.

In fashion, as in most areas of life, “the devil is in the details,” as the old saying goes. When you pay attention to the accessories you’re buying and wearing, all of these seemingly small things will add up to a solid, put-together image and a great first impression!

 

 

 

Accessible Accessories: Four Ways to Organize Your Personal Ornaments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Seven Fabulous Things That Every Man Should Have in His Closet

Pick up just about any women’s fashion magazine, and you’ll probably find an article on which must-have pieces a stylish female should have in her closet for the upcoming season or year. That’s great for us girls, but what about the guys? It seems to me that guys have men’s magazines that show them “stuff” but don’t dispense much good advice.   In general, they’re being left out. And as an image consultant, I think that’s a shame. I’ve spent plenty of time working with male clients so I know what works and what doesn’t. That’s why I’ve put together a list of seven things every man should have in his closet. If you’re a guy who’s interested in sharpening his look or a woman who’s wondering what to buy a man—maybe for his birthday or Christmas—I hope that my top picks will point you in a good direction.

1) Blazer. No, I’m not talking about just any blazer. I’m talking about one that’s well-fitting (possibly even tailored) and in the best fabric you can afford; preferably gabardine or light wool. Whether you choose navy or black, you can pair this stylish and versatile piece with wool trousers, khakis, or even a fabulous pair of jeans (which I’ll get to later!). Plus, a nicely tailored blazer can go just about anywhere, from casual Fridays to Saturday date nights.

2) Casual shoes. An adaptable pair of casual shoes—think loafers—in a warm, medium-to-light brown will see you through all seasons. They’ll be a wonderful accent for blue jeans on the weekend, khakis in the summer, and darker colors in the cooler months. Plus, loafers are the perfect shoe to wear when traveling, out with friends, or with your new blazer. As you begin to wear your new shoes more and more, make sure that you pay attention to keeping them nice—their condition can say a lot about you.

3) Belt. Every man needs at least one classy belt in the best-quality leather he can afford. Choose from crocodile or brown or black leather…or all three. And keep in mind that a wider belt (a minimum of 1.25 inches) will give you a modern look no matter your height or size.

4) Perfect shirt. Many men make the mistake of choosing shirts that are too big, which can make them look sloppy. Focus on fit rather than color. If you’re lean, choose an athletic fit, and if you carry more weight, make sure that the buttons aren’t pulling open. Also, be sure to press your shirt (including the collar) before going out, whether you’re going for a casual or dressy look.

5) Jeans. The “perfect” pair of jeans isn’t an article of clothing that only women should look for. Every man should also have denim in his closet that isn’t too tight or too loose—and that includes the rear! As with shirts, men tend to buy jeans that are too big, so pay attention to your body type and avoid bagginess and dragging cuffs. And if you’re splurging on one pair (perhaps raw denim, which conforms to your body), choose a darker wash so that you can dress them up.

6) Coat. Specifically, I’d recommend looking for a trench raincoat, which is useful, versatile, and good for traveling. Depending on the prevailing colors in your wardrobe, choose between khaki (my number-one pick) or black. Make sure to leave a little extra room in the fit since you might be wearing it over a suit.

7) Watch. Sometimes commercials hit the nail on the head—a man’s watch really does say a lot about him! After all, it’s the male equivalent of classy jewelry. Don’t worry, though—there’s no need to clean out your bank account. Simply choose a piece that’s not too small, but also not so big that it draws all eyes in the room. Avoid overtly trendy watches, too—one that’s simple and understated will fall into the “timeless” category.

No matter your size, style, or age, I promise that you’ll fall in love with these seven pieces. Once they’re in your closet, getting dressed for any occasion will be a breeze.