Tag Archives: Style

Packing for Our Anniversary Cruise—and How I Wore It All

There’s nothing like the excitement of heading off on a special trip, especially when it is to celebrate a wonderful time in your life. This summer, Barry and I embarked on a 10-day trip to the Mediterranean, which included a week-long cruise in celebration of our wedding anniversary. It was a most magical trip where we delighted in the beauty of various locations along the sea, enjoyed the brilliant sunshine of the Italian, French, and Spanish coasts, and experienced the food, history, and cultures of this storied part of the world.

Any time you’re planning to travel for more than a few days, it can be outright tricky to come up with a packing plan that works perfectly for your destination and the duration of your travels. That’s why it’s important to get started on your packing a few days early—so you can decide whether you need to streamline a bit, throw in a few more items, or just start all over again! Taking the time to pack your bags carefully always pays off and allows you to be carefree throughout your vacation.

Here’s what I packed for our trip:

Clothing:

For this trip I chose a black, white, and navy color story that worked very nicely together. I always recommend coming up with a color story so you can effortlessly mix and match your pieces together. And, it never hurts to throw in a surprising pop of color here and there for variety’s sake.

I packed a black pant, white pant, red pant, white short, navy short skirt, red dress, and a print dress. For shirts, I brought a black top, white top, a navy sweater, and an orange cotton long-sleeve sweater. And for a dressy evening I packed a navy sequin top (the very same one I wore on my trip to Paris a few years ago) to pair with a cream crepe pant.

I also brought a white casual shawl, a black cashmere shawl, and three bathing suits plus two cover-ups. And to help block the sun, I packed a big hat and a roll-up brimmed hat. Here’s a helpful tip to remember when packing your swimwear items: Consider bringing both a one-piece swimsuit and a bikini when you travel. The one-piece will be perfect for walking along the beach or splashing in the pool, while your bikini is great for lounging comfortably in the privacy of your own balcony.

Shoes: For sightseeing, exercising, and more, I took AGL black flats, black sandals, muted gold flat sandals, black heeled sandals, Nike workout sneakers, walking sneakers, and flip flops. And in Rome, I bought a cute and comfy pair of white sneakers.

Purses: I brought a Tumi cross-body lightweight nylon bag, a small black bag for evening, and a small gold bag for evening. I also brought a backpack because it’s comfortable to wear all day long.

Accessories: Accessories have the power to really bring a great outfit to life. I brought an assortment of jewelry, including a cheerful turquoise bracelet and earring set; a black cord necklace with a silver oval, silver hoops, a silver ring, and pearl earrings; and a crystal cuff to wear on a dressy night with large crystal and iolite earrings. Finally, my very favorite jewelry pieces for travel are my crystal on a long gold chain coupled with an Alexis Bittar lucite and gold bracelet and gold hoop earrings.

I want to share an invaluable piece of advice: Take extra care not to overpack! Somehow it’s always harder to pack up a suitcase at the end of the trip—plus you’ll want to have a little extra room for souvenirs or new clothes you buy while you’re traveling.

Now, on to how I wore the clothes I packed, and some sightseeing and shopping highlight photos from our trip!

Arriving in Rome

 On day one of our trip, we arrived in Rome and enjoyed some shopping until our room was ready. Our hotel was one block from the Via Condotti, the Spanish steps, and streets lined with nice shops. I bought a pair of fun white sneakers that were very comfortable to wear on the remainder of the trip, as well as a red-and-white-striped t-shirt.

On our first night, I wore my red pants with a white eyelet top to dinner.

Day 1, Boarding the Ship

We boarded Seabourn’s brand-new Encore midday and took a look around. The gym was great, and the coffee bar was located on our deck so Barry got me a cappuccino every morning before we went to breakfast.

That night there was a cocktail welcome party before dinner. It provided the perfect occasion for my postcard print dress with gold accessories.

Day 2, Corsica

We toured in beautiful Corsica and took in the sights. After having lunch on the ship, we relaxed on our deck and enjoyed some reading before dinner.

That evening was the “dressy night” on the ship. Some of the women wore gowns, and there were also men in tuxedos. I wore my navy sequin top with ivory pants and a black shoe, paired with crystal jewelry and a small black bag.

Day 3, Cinque Terre

On day three we toured three of the five towns in Cinque Terre, in what ended up being a ten-hour day of sightseeing! The towns were very pretty and we enjoyed roaming around. I wore white shorts with a pale orange t-shirt and the white sneakers I bought in Rome. I also wore my brimmed sun hat, and even bought another hat the same day.

That evening on the ship I wore my red pants again, this time with a dark navy and white sweater with black accessories for dinner.

Day 4, Santa Margherita and Portofino

On day four we toured and shopped in Santa Margherita and then attended an olive oil tasting and lunch at the Splendido Hotel, which overlooked the harbor in Portofino. I wore my new red-and-white-striped t-shirt, navy skirt, and sneakers, along with a hat.

That evening for dinner, we had a reservation at the Thomas Keller restaurant aboard the ship and enjoyed a fantastic dinner. I wore my orange/red dress with a black sandal and black bag, paired with gold jewelry.

Day 5

We visited a small French island on day five and strolled through their weekly market. There was lots of fun food to look at, and I bought a small straw bag. For sightseeing, I wore white shorts, a striped t-shirt, sneakers, and carried my black Tumi bag.

That evening at dinner, I wore my fun “postcard” dress—that’s what I like to call it. I accessorized with gold jewelry and wore gold sandals. That night, we had a special treat when we were asked to dine with the head engineer of the ship! We heard many interesting stories about how this state-of-the-art ship was built and how it is maintained.

Day 6, Palamós

The highlight of our day in Palamós, Spain, was taking part in a cooking class. It was great fun, and we got to prepare and then eat delicious seafood dishes.

That evening, back on the ship, I dressed for dinner in my black off-the-shoulder top with white pants, black heeled sandals, and carried my black bag.

Day 7, Mallorca

In Mallorca, Spain, we went shopping, and I wore my white shorts with a green t-shirt and sneakers, plus my sun hat. There, I bought a lovely Majorica pearl necklace, which I wore later on the trip.

That evening there was a “farewell” cocktail party on the ship and I repeated my outfit from our first evening in Rome: red pants with a white eyelet top.

Day 8, Barcelona

After the cruise, we spent our first day in Barcelona sightseeing. We viewed breathtaking architecture by Antoni Gaudí, Spain’s most illustrious architect. Along the grand boulevards of this beautiful city, we visited the Loewe leather store, as well as a fun shoe shop that sells only ballet flats in many different fabrics and colors. (Sadly, I was in between sizes and just couldn’t make it work.) We had lunch on the rooftop restaurant of our hotel, The Majestic. That day, I wore white pants, my red-and-white-striped top, sneakers, and a hat.

That evening, I wore my black off-the-shoulder top and black pants with my new necklace that I bought in Mallorca.

Day 9, Barcelona

On our second day in Barcelona, we were out most of the day with our guide, Marta, and our driver. We visited the stunning Gaudí Sagrada Família along with some other beautiful churches, as well as one of the venues for the 1992 Olympics. In the Born area, our guide told us of a particular bakery that was known for its mascarpone-filled croissants. Barry went running in and bought three immediately! I have to say, it was delicious and worth every calorie! I wore my navy skirt, white t-shirt, blue sneakers, and wore my orange cotton sweater around my neck in case it got cold.

That night for dinner, I wore a black tank, black pants, cardigan, and a black sandal. I also carried my small black bag. The very next morning we set out toward the airport for our flight home. This was truly a trip to remember forever!

 Here’s what I would do differently next time: Overall I feel good about my packing choices for this trip, as I wore nearly everything I brought with me. However, next time I would make a few small changes. First, I would likely add another short or skirt for daytime touring, and a cotton hoodie or zipfront jacket in white for daytime wear. I would also add another bottom for daytime wear.

Finally, I would bring only one or two bathing suits and a single cover up; I didn’t actually spend that much time lounging at the pool because we went out touring every day instead. Still, this is a great example of how a little planning can go a long way. You don’t need to overstuff your suitcase to be able to craft lots of different outfits for a variety of events. When done right, you can bring a great assortment of clothing and accessories and still have plenty of room left for the treasures you find along your journey.

If you have a favorite packing tip, send it along to marla@marlatomazin.com and I will share it with all of our friends around the country.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the Tip! 11 Pieces of Timeless Advice My Clients Rave About

Style is a very personal thing. Your “look” is yours alone and ultimately serves as the image you broadcast to the world. That’s what makes the subject so intimidating, and yet so important for many people. Everyone wants to accentuate their best features and let their authentic selves shine through, but they don’t always know how to get started.

Fortunately, after being a style and image consultant for 25 years, I’ve come to know a thing or two about putting my best foot forward and helping others do the same. The truth is, a trusted advisor can give you the perspective you need to help you see your closet, your clothes, and your habits a little clearer.

I feel grateful that I am able to do what I love every day, by helping my clients hone their style, and find confidence and joy. Of all the advice I’ve shared over my career, there are several key pieces of advice that apply to nearly everyone. These style and life rules never go out of fashion, and they are as true today as they ever were.

Below are 11 of the most useful “client-approved” pieces of advice I have had the pleasure to share over the years.

 Remember that column dressing is your best friend. When in doubt, wear a matching column of color to make you look taller and leaner. You can either wear a skirt and top, or a top and pants in the same color to look pulled together and great. Then top with an accent jacket—or the column can be a matching jacket or top with a skirt or pant.

Figure out your best colors (and the colors that don’t work). Wearing the right colors for your skin tone is one of the simplest improvements you could ever make—and it can make a big difference! Figure out which colors make you look best, then remove the non-flattering colors from your closet and refrain from buying more of those colors. Once you’ve got a closet full of flattering colors, your outfits will come together more easily and your accessories will match your clothing.

 When you are stressed, take a minute to adjust your body chemistry. It takes only 60 seconds of focused breathing to help you calm down when you feel stressed or anxious. Take several moments to breathe steadily and concentrate on your breath flowing in and out of your nose. You can do this anywhere—in a car, your office, or a bathroom stall—and it will instantly give you the presence you need to stay focused and calm in any situation.

 Don’t rely solely on elastic waist pants. It can be all too easy to slip into leggings or pants with an elastic waistband each day. But it’s important to resist this urge because elasticized pants are so forgiving that they allow you to gain weight without the telltale snugness that accompanies regular pants. Instead, choose to primarily wear pants that feature a zipper and waistband. Jeans and slacks with this design style keep you in check by giving you an accurate reading of your size and weight. So save stretchy pants for your yoga class or the gym.

 Know that organizing your closet can change your life! Having the right hangers and organizing your clothes by color and classification will make getting dressed in exciting and well-accessorized outfits easy. And it makes getting out the door a breeze. Take the time to organize your closet from top to bottom, and get rid of any clothes that no longer fit, flatter, or represent you. You will be amazed at how much calmer you feel when you see a neat and tidy closet of clothes waiting to be worn!

Photograph your favorite outfits. Take photos of totally accessorized outfits that you love and would like to remember to wear again. Then refer back to them anytime you need a great outfit fast. This is so helpful for everyday dressing, last-minute parties or events, and organizing for travel. You can create an album on your smartphone full of these ready-to-go outfits. Or print out a handy catalog of photos and keep them on a shelf in your closet for easy, fast access.

Create boundaries and stick to them. It can be very hard to put yourself first in your life, but doing so will bring you much more joy and ease—and remember that you can’t help others if you are too frazzled from overextending yourself. So make time for you and learn to say no to invitations and commitments that don’t resonate. It’s also smart to be upfront with your employer, friends, and family about your limits and priorities. If you don’t establish boundaries, no one will do it for you.

Have your garments tailored to fit properly. When your clothes fit you well, you will look and feel better than ever. It is a wonder what a difference a few strategic seams, hems, and tucks can make on how you wear a garment. Tailoring your clothes takes them from looking okay or good to amazing. Even if you can usually find clothing that fits, having those clothes professionally altered will give you impressive results. The extra expense of a tailor will pay for itself when you have a closet full of clothes that look great and fit you perfectly.

 Pack light and smart. When traveling, the last thing you want is to be burdened by an enormous, overstuffed suitcase. That’s why it is so important to pack efficiently and carefully select the clothing you want to bring along. Choose versatile pieces that you can mix and match for a variety of outfits and focus on high-quality fabrics that travel well. Be sure to include a couple of accessories to accent your looks and don’t forget to pack appropriate footwear. Finally, wear your bulkiest outfit on the plane instead of taking up valuable space inside your bag.

Hydrate for health and happiness! You should be drinking eight to ten glasses of water daily. This helps your organs function properly, makes your skin and hair look great, and energizes your whole body. When you think you are hungry, drink water first as you may actually be thirsty. Drinking the proper amount of water daily can help you to lose weight. Water helps fill you up and flushes toxins out of your body. And remember that when you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

 If you’ve outgrown it, let it go (that goes for clothes and people too). We often keep people and “stuff” in our lives that no longer enrich us, but it is advisable to let go of the old and make room for the new. Whether you need to release a stagnant friendship or remove yourself from a toxic relationship, respect yourself enough to politely cut ties and move on. The same goes for old clothing and even old habits. You don’t need that old sweater from the ’90s any more than you need to cling to old hurts and fears. Take a deep breath and purge the things that no longer serve you.

If you’re lucky enough to be given good advice when you need it—whether we’re talking about fashion tips or wellness guidance—you are much more likely to succeed and feel good about making informed decisions. Sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction to help change someone’s life for the better.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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

What I’m Loving Now: Holiday 2013 Edition

As the days get shorter and temperatures fall, our schedules tend to get busier and busier. Between your holiday schedule and the general end-of-year crunch, you may be spending less and less time on yourself—and feeling increasingly stressed. As you rush from errands to events to the office and back again, I encourage you to stop for a few minutes, decompress, and spend some time and energy on your own well-being.

The good news is rejuvenation doesn’t have to be difficult. Even a little bit of indulgence can go a long way towards helping you feel revitalized as you continue to tackle items on your to-do list. Here, I’ve put together a list of products that I’m currently loving—and that I hope will help you feel pampered, renewed, and indulged this season:

Button Pant Extender: Say goodbye to uncomfortable pants. As you spend time in fitting rooms trying to find the perfect pair of jeans, do you consistently find that pants fit well through the legs but are too tight in the waist? If so, you’ll understand why I was so excited to discover the Button Pant Extender. It’s a clever little device that adds one inch to your waistband by looping over the existing button—no sewing necessary. And since the Button Pant Extenders come in packages of five, you don’t have to switch the extender each time you wear a new pair of pants. You can purchase Button Pant Extenders here on Amazon.com.

Leopard Print Pants: Put some “fierce” in your fashion. In the cold gray days of winter, wearing a standout outfit can really put some pep in your step. If you’re looking for a style that’s eye-catching and unique, yet completely classy, I recommend purchasing a pair of leopard print pants in cream, buff, and black neutral tones. I bought my pair from Worth New York during autumn and find myself reaching for them again and again when I go into my closet to put together an outfit. I wear them with a low boot or flat, and pair them with a chocolate jacket and chocolate t-neck, camel t-neck, or an orange or red sweater if I want a pop of color.

Epicuren After Bath Kukui Nut Coconut Moisturizer: Soothe yourself while smelling great. For most women who are trying to combat the drying effects of cold weather, lotion is a winter staple. This year, elevate this daily ritual to a spa-like experience with Epicuren After Bath Kukui Nut Coconut Moisturizer. I use it every morning after my shower, and I love how soothing this wonderfully rich formula is. As an added bonus, it smells so great that people often ask me what scent I’m wearing. I don’t even wear perfume these days and still receive compliments well into the afternoon! I purchase this product from Leslie Sloane, who can be reached at (818) 348-4646.

Fresh Sugar Acai Age-Delay Body Cream: Feel younger in your skin. Here is another option to help you stave off the dreaded winter dryness. This product is not only super-moisturizing; it also firms and conditions skin to help it look and feel younger. A friend bought me a tube of this cream as a gift, and I loved the way it made my skin feel: soft and supple. My only problem is not using a whole tube in a week! According to my friend, though, a little goes a long way, so I’m trying to use it sparingly.

Tom Ford Intensive Eye Treatment: Say hello to brighter eyes. While purchasing a favorite lipstick at Saks, I was introduced to Tom Ford Intensive Eye Treatment. The saleswoman told me that many of her clients loved this product so much that they had given up their La Mer eye cream for it. I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try. I tested the Eye Treatment under one eye and thought I saw a difference, but decided to ask my husband’s opinion as well. He immediately pointed to the eye under which I had put the cream and said it was less puffy. That was good enough for me! Because of the price, I use this product only once a day in the morning.

Juice Press: Cleanse yourself. Chances are, you’ve heard of juicing (extracting juices from fruits and vegetables) and its benefits. Juicing is a great way to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet, to absorb nutrients, to cleanse your body, and to give it a break from digesting food. Juicing can even help you lose weight if you prepare juices with the right proportions. (Beware, though—adding too many sweet ingredients like cranberries and apples can actually make you gain weight!)

If you don’t want to buy an expensive juicing machine or don’t want to spend time preparing the juice yourself, using a juice bar is a great alternative. I go to Juice Press in New York City. I love many of their juices—particularly the green ones, because they contain so many enzymes and antioxidants—and have done Juice Press’s six-juices-per-day cleanse. I highly recommend searching for a juice bar in your hometown if you’d like to clean up your diet! 

The Time in Between: Get lost in a fantastic book. When life gets hectic, diving into a good story can give you the respite you need. If you’re wondering what should be next on your reading list, I recommend The Time in Between by Maria Duenas. It’s the story of a courageous Spanish seamstress who becomes an undercover Allied spy during World War II. It’s clever and full of suspense. My book group recently read it, and we all loved it. If you’re anything like me, you won’t want to put The Time in Between down.

Inner Defense: Stay healthy from the inside out. From one of my favorite companies, Young Living, this natural supplement offers health-reinforcing essential oils in a pill capsule. I always keep this product on hand, but I’m especially diligent about using it in the winter to keep my immune system strong. You can take one pill a day as a preventative measure, and up to five per day if you feel a cold or flu coming on. I purchase Inner Defense from Lucey Harley, who can be reached at (610) 641-1116.

CellPower Super Silica and Good Nutrition: Defy the weather with great hair (and overall health!). It’s no secret that winter isn’t kind to hair. Harsh weather, cold temperatures, static electricity, indoor heating, and more combine to make our manes extra dry, dull, and brittle. And that’s not even taking into account the everyday damage we inflict through poor nutrition, hot styling tools, hair ties, brushing, and more. The problem is so widespread, in fact, that the Today show recently noted that many women are cutting their hair into shorter styles because of damage. To rejuvenate your hair (and your health in general), I have two tips:

  • You may be focusing on healing your hair through external means, like deep conditioning treatments. While those methods are helpful, I’ve learned that the biggest changes occur not because of what you put on your hair, but because of what you put in your body. So first, I recommend using CellPower Super Silica, an easy-to-use supplement that can be taken in water. Since I started using Super Silica, I have noticed a big difference in how strong and shiny my hair is. And best of all, Super Silica’s benefits extend well beyond the hair: It can also strengthen nails, increase bone density, boost energy levels, and more.
  • Secondly, I suggest meeting with a nutritionist to see what your individual body needs. Nutrition is far from a one-size-fits-all proposition. My nutritionist, Dr. Jairo Rodriguez, told me I needed to take omega-3 oils for my joints. A nice side effect, he said, is that omega-3 oils contribute to healthier hair! Dr. Rodriguez is certainly worth the trip to New York City if you’d like to meet with him specifically.

So often, it’s the little things that take life from “humdrum” to “enjoyable.” No matter how busy you are this winter, don’t forget to earmark a little time and money for yourself. I hope that these suggestions will help make your life a little more comfortable and pleasant!

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.