Tag Archives: Wardrobe

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!

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

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

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

Here are four strategies to help you do just that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

What I’m Loving Now: Winter 2013 Edition

Now that the busy holiday season is behind us and a new year stretches ahead, it’s an ideal time for reflection. Personally, I have been asking myself questions like, What behaviors and habits worked for me this past year? What do I want to change in 2013? Is it time to turn over some new leaves? Essentially (like many other people), I’m trying to find the right balance between focusing on others and making sure that I’m taking care of myself, too. Remember, you won’t be as effective in any area of your life if you’re overwhelmed and depleted. It’s important to honor your own needs and desires, and to make sure that the way you live your life reflects who you are and what makes you happy.

As an image consultant, I have learned that the clothes you wear and the way you style your hair are only a small part of honoring and expressing yourself. How you feel about yourself—mind, body, and spirit—are just as important. I urge you to use this time of transition to renew and reinvigorate your life, whether that means finding the perfect vacation spot, splurging on beautiful jewelry and new shoes, or simply discovering a new recipe that makes your taste buds tingle.

Discovering a wonderful new scent or great pair of jeans is always exciting, and being able to share it with everyone is one of my favorite things to do. Read on to learn about the top nine things that I am loving now:

1. Savor the soup of the season. There’s nothing better than a mouth-watering soup for both a chilly winter night and a growling belly. One of my staple recipes for this time of year is called Farmer’s Market Zucchini Soup. My friend Beth gave the recipe to me a couple of years ago and it is so simple and delicious!

I always like my soups thicker, so I prefer to use just four cups of chicken stock instead of six—but that’s just my personal preference. When I make a batch, I usually freeze some so I’ll have it on hand later. This scrumptious soup will keep your family nice and cozy this winter. (Please see the end of this blog post for the recipe.)

2. These shoes are made for walkin’. Let’s face it—sometimes you just don’t want to wear high heels, but your outfit looks too casual with a ballet flat. Enter Diane B. With a classic style and comfort, these fabulous shoes can easily become a staple piece for your wardrobe.

Quite simply, I am in love with these shoes. They have a half-inch angled heel that makes them look dressy, but they’re so comfortable that you can run around in them all day. My favorite is the camel-colored patent leather flat, because it can be worn with so many different looks. I also ordered the black patent shoe without the silver buckle. One of the best things about Diane B. is that you can custom order. The company has a wide variety of patterns, from stripes and florals to solids and polka dots—so there’s something for everyone!

3. Pucker up. During the coldest months of the year, taking care of your lips is a must, and a perfect lip stain is just what the doctor ordered. I recommend Yves Saint Laurent’s Glossy Stain Lipstick.

They have created the perfect combination of lipstick and gloss that’s a steal at $32. It’s one of Allure magazine’s top picks, and one of mine, too! I originally bought a coral shade (#12), but recently purchased a red for winter: #9. YSL’s Glossy Stain Lipstick goes on like a gloss and stays on like a lipstick. Even after you eat, the stain stays on your lips so you won’t have to run off to the ladies’ room to reapply.

4. Plan a visit to Downton Abbey. Everyone is talking about Downton Abbey, which has mesmerized viewers on both sides of the Atlantic—and I’m no exception. The third season just started on PBS, and in my opinion, it’s well worth spending an entire Saturday on the couch catching up if you haven’t seen the first two seasons. The show follows an aristocratic British family and their servants as they are impacted by events including the sinking of the Titanic, World War I, and more.

 I love the show because it gives you a fascinating glimpse into the lives of people in a very different time and place, while remaining very relatable. The writing is incredible, and the costumes and sets are gorgeous. Before long, you’ll feel like you know the people who live in Downton Abbey—both upstairs and downstairs—and you’ll be cheering on your favorite characters through their obstacles and triumphs. Once you start watching, you won’t be able to pull yourself away…and you may find yourself wanting to plan a trip to England.

5. Seams or no seams? (That is not a question.) In the under(wear) world, you have two choices: endure the dreaded thong or feel self-conscious all day about your panty lines showing (a major no-no!). At least that’s how it used to be. But after I worked with a client who kept going on and on about Uniqlo seamless panties, I finally had to check them out for myself—and I’m so glad I did.

These undergarments are called ultra seamless briefs, and they are such a find! A lot of women don’t like to wear thongs, so these are a perfect alternative. They are made of nylon and spandex and have no seams. It’s like wearing a really comfortable bikini, but with all the benefits of wearing a thong. They are $9.90 a pair and come in several different colors, including pink, black, beige, and white.

6. Discover something scent from above. You can never underestimate the power of a beautiful scent to make you feel confident and feminine. Travel-Reviving Cempaka is a scent by Molton Brown that I am really enjoying right now.

I use the bath and shower gel and the body lotion. What I really love about it is that lift it gives you in the morning, when you aren’t quite ready to start the day. And the scent, of course! It’s heavenly!

7. Make a statement. A beautiful piece of jewelry can truly complete an outfit and help you stand out. I recently discovered Alexis Bittar, who is known for his exotic acrylic and crystal jewelry. I have two cuffs that are acrylic with gold accents (you can also get silver). It’s the perfect backdrop to any outfit because it’s acrylic, so your skin shows. These cuffs don’t overpower your outfit like some jewelry can; instead, they complement it.

One reason women shy away from buying expensive statement pieces is because they don’t know if the dollar per wear ratio is worth it. But in my opinion, if you’re looking to buy jewelry that goes with everything, this is it. The cuffs are terrific, and could definitely transition into warmer-weather accessories, too.

8. Get the ultimate fashion staple. As the temperatures hit their low points, finding the perfect pair of jeans is on the top of the to-do list. Luckily, I’ve already done the legwork.

I got my first pair of DL 1961 jeans around a year and a half ago. I prefer the angel cut, because it’s midrise, skinny ankle, and has four-way stretch. Unlike so many other brands, these jeans don’t lose their stretch, which is important. They come in several different winter colors like taupe and dark green, and are $158. They also look fantastic on, which makes me feel good.

 9. Most importantly, remember to take a breather. Just thinking about everything you have to do, want to do, and should do this year can be stressful. It’s so important to take time for yourself to relax and revive your spirit. My new favorite place to enjoy some R&R is The Grand Del Mar, a resort in San Diego.

Everyone needs a special place to go to revive their spirit and take a moment to release stress. Once I lay my eyes on some beautiful scenery, my tension immediately begins to melt away. The staff at The Grand Del Mar are very polite and friendly, but not overly so. It’s extremely nurturing, the perfect getaway.

Ultimately, remember that the most important criteria to keep in mind when it comes to fashion, beauty, or anything else in your life are: How does this make me feel? Does it honor who I am? Does it boost my comfort and confidence? It has been my pleasure to share nine things that meet these qualifications for me. I hope that some of them will enhance your enjoyment of the upcoming months, too!

—–

 

Farmer’s Market Zucchini Soup

2 tbs butter

1 carrot, sliced

3 celery stalks, sliced

1 onion, diced

2 tsp thyme

5 zucchini, ends cut off, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced

4 cups of chicken stock (you can use 6, but I prefer 4 for a thicker soup)

2 tsp salt

2 tbs pesto sauce (store bought!)

In 8-quart soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, and onion and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add thyme, zucchini, and chicken stock and increase heat to high and bring to boil. When boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in salt and pesto.

Working in batches (no more than ½ the blender), purée the soup in blender or food processor until smooth. Enjoy!

Jackets, Scarves, and Boots, Oh My!: Ten Tips for Updating Your Cold Weather Closet

It’s official: the cooler temperatures have arrived, which means autumn is here and we are well on our way to the winter season. As the temperatures on the thermometer continue to drop, you’re probably considering updating your look to include the rich colors and fabrics of the season in an effort to stay warm while still looking fresh.

If that’s the case, get excited—because there are plenty of ways for you to transition to the season of bright-colored leaves and pumpkin spice (and on into the oncoming winter weather) without breaking the bank.

Over the next few weeks, anything that screams summer—from your head to your toes—needs to go, if it hasn’t already. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to change up your clothes, accessories, and overall look by shopping your closet, purchasing a few versatile new pieces, and paying special attention to your beauty regimen.

If you’re ready to, well, fall into fall fashion, then read on for ten tips to make your transition smooth from head to toe:

On Beauty…

Treat yourself to a good facial. It’s true—everyone is looking for ways to save money these days. But there are some luxuries that are well worth your money (and that you’re worth, too!)…and a good facial is one of them. As you start to plan for the upcoming holiday season, perhaps, or as you oversee your family’s hectic daily schedule, you’ll appreciate this relaxing treatment. And your (possibly) sun-baked skin will thank you, too.

Polish up your nails. Over the summer, your fingernails and toenails may have sported a number of bright shades, including coral, tangerine, turquoise, seafoam, or a classic pink. But just as your clothes are likely to exhibit a range of darker, richer colors during the cooler months, so should your nails. Look for dark reds and purples especially. They’ll blend well with traditional fall hues while still making a trendy statement.

Give your hair a good conditioning. If you’re like many Americans, you probably spent a lot of time outdoors during the previous season. And after experiencing the sun’s bleaching rays and the drying effects of chlorine, your hair may be feeling and showing some wear and tear. Make sure to include some good deep conditioning treatments in your beauty regimen so that your frizzy locks don’t contrast in all the wrong ways with the rich fabrics you’ll be wearing. And since you are transitioning into different types of clothes, this is also a good time to think about updating your hair color, too.

Don’t skimp on the H20. Yes, everyone knows how important it is to stay hydrated during the scorching months of summer. But just because the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean you can leave your water bottle behind! Cooler weather can dry out your skin very easily, so make sure to replenish that moisture by drinking water throughout the day.

On Fashion…

Throw out the old rules and keep those white jeans. Yes, that’s right—the old “no white after Labor Day” rule is a thing of the past. So if you enjoyed pairing your white jeans with breezy tank tops over the summer, leave them in your closet and start wearing them with a cashmere sweater and flats. Another way to make a stylish statement is to pair white jeans (or corduroys!) with a white cotton turtleneck, t-shirt, or sweater to create a column, and then top it off with a luggage (in other words, camel) or chocolate leather or suede jacket. Finish the look with a pair of coordinating flats. Very Ralph Lauren!

Cool it down with dark cottons. As you’re shopping your closet or your favorite store, pay special attention to dark cotton pieces. Navy, taupe, brown, and olive green are wonderful for fall, and they pair fabulously with other dark colors as well as with leather jackets and boots. I recommend wearing a black or olive shirt with khakis, cream pants, or a cream skirt to achieve a transitional feel. Another winning look can be achieved by starting with a white or cream t-shirt and topping it off with a darker cotton sweater, cotton or linen jacket, or even a leather jacket. And if you want to branch out to a heavier material, look for tropical-weight wools. They are comfortable to wear for nine months out of the year in most climates, so you’ll get a lot of mileage out of the investment.

Say farewell to flowy dresses… It looked great on the beach and did an admirable job of keeping you cool, but it’s time to retire your favorite flowy dress or skirt until next summer rolls around. This season is all about cleaner, more structured lines. And what about sundresses? Well, you might consider pairing a sleeveless sheath or A-line with a cardigan or cropped jacket; just be careful. Remember, your rule of thumb is to say goodbye to anything that screams “summer.”

…and say hello to scarves. What’s not to love about scarves? They’re always in style, they can take an outfit from average to amazing, and as temperatures get cooler, they’re functional, too. The thing to remember about scarves is that the pattern really needs to tie in with what you’re wearing. An of-the-moment look I’m loving right now is a silk gauze scarf in a color that works with a leather jacket—the scarf is a great connector piece! Also, a brighter scarf can add “pop” to an outfit that might be dominated by darker colors.

Add in some tights. Like scarves, tights are another accessory that can be stylish and functional. The thing to be careful with here is to make sure that your tights work with your outfit instead of dominating it—especially considering all of the styles and patterns out there! For instance, thick tights don’t work well with thin dresses since they create visual dissonance. On the other hand, an example of a classic look that is never a faux pas is to extend a slim black skirt with a black tight and chunky black heel. It will move through the season well, and you can even add a leather jacket for some extra punch.

Don’t forget your feet. Last but not least, let’s look at what is many a woman’s very favorite accessory: shoes! Finally, it’s time to start sporting closed-toe pumps, flats, and ankle-and-other-length boots. Some of my perennial favorites include subtle animal-print flats, which can work as a neutral, as well as nude flats in camel and pinkish-beige, which are fast becoming season-less. And if you’re looking to incorporate an of-the-moment trend into your wardrobe? Crimson patent leather—in pumps, flats, and even handbags—is very popular. I recommend using these accessories to accentuate an otherwise simple outfit—perhaps one made up of blacks or navies—since the color is so strong.

Here’s one last piece of advice to consider as you start putting together autumn-appropriate looks: Make sure you are always honoring who you are right now. Just because a trend is out there doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Make sure your clothes, accessories, and personal style reflect your personality and place in life. The bottom line is, if you’re comfortable in what you’re wearing, your confidence and happiness will be your greatest accessories of all.

 

 

Interview Attire 101: Seven Suggestions to Help You Make an Impression…and Hopefully Get an Offer!

One of the most stressful rites of passage in an adult’s life is the dreaded job interview. There’s so much to worry about: how to make a good impression on your interviewer(s); how to present yourself as the absolute best candidate for the position; and, of course, what the heck you should wear!

The clothes you wear to a job interview are a big deal, because the image you present to your interviewer can sometimes make the difference between getting and not getting a job offer. Whether you want to admit it or not, your appearance speaks volumes about the kind of employee you might be. Are you sloppy or put-together? Are you flamboyant or appropriate? Do you pay attention to details or not? Remember, in this situation the wrong kind of attention is worse than no attention at all.

Whether you’re a soon-to-be graduate looking for a first job or a seasoned professional who’s eyeing a new position, read on for seven of my tried-and-true interview attire tips:

Focus on quality, not quantity. Always, always choose interview clothing in the best fabric you can afford, even if it means starting out with only two suits or outfits. (You can build on that base later once you’re receiving your new paycheck!) Quality clothing looks best, holds up longest, travels well, and doesn’t need to be dry cleaned as often. I recommend investing in wool suits and skirts specifically, since wool is durable and easy to maintain, and can be worn at least 10 months out of the year in most climates.

Make sure your clothes match you. In addition to choosing high-quality pieces, it’s also important to make sure that your interview clothes are the right color and shape for your age, coloration, body type, and career. Ask a friend, sales associate, or image consultant for advice if you’re not sure what works best for you. Specifically, avoid pieces that are too short, too tight, or (for more mature applicants) too young. Remember, a flattering, well-tailored outfit shows attention to detail and makes a good first impression about you and how you will do business.

Be classy and memorable. Every job applicant wants to stand out from the crowd. But during the interview stage, it’s probably best not to distinguish yourself sartorially. Above all, you don’t want to make a lasting negative impression with wobbly too-high heels or an in-your-face tie. If you don’t want to be forgotten because of your “boring” beige suit, focus on setting yourself apart by how you present yourself, your experience, and your potential. Remember, people are making decisions about you from the moment you first meet, whether you realize it or not. So when in doubt, err on the side of dressing conservatively. You can think about moving closer to the cutting edge of fashion after you’ve been hired.

Find a balance between fit and comfort. Another reason to make sure that your interview clothes fit is simple: comfort. Think about it: If your jacket is a little too tight under the arms, for example, you’ll be distracted when it’s most important for you to be on your game. And if your skirt allows for only a narrow range of movement, you’ll be that much more ill at ease. Make sure that your interview clothes are comfortable so that you can focus on the meeting and on letting yourself shine through, not on what you’re wearing.

Tap into the power of the column. Column dressing is a sure-fire way to make sure that you dress successfully for your interview, as long as the color is flattering. Whether it’s a dress, a top and a skirt, or a top and pants, you can’t go wrong. Your jacket can be the same color as your column or an accent color. I promise that you’ll look pulled-together—which will please your interviewer—as well as taller, thinner, more successful, and smarter. What’s not to love?

Don’t forget the details. The details of any outfit are crucially important! Here are some things you should consider before heading out the door to your interview:

  • Your shoes should be polished and in great shape. No scuffed or kicked-in toes! Replace or repair them when necessary.
  • Your hair should be groomed and styled conservatively. If possible, schedule a trim a few days before your interview.
  • For ladies specifically: Invest in closed-toed pumps with a moderate heel height, and wear stockings (it’s best to stick with solids). Also, it’s a good idea to manicure your nails. Go with a neutral color that is easy to repair if chipped while traveling.

Top it off with a tote. Chances are, you’re not going into your interview empty-handed. At the very least, you’ll probably have copies of your résumé, a notepad and pen, and maybe even a portfolio of some sort. If you’re traveling, you might also be carrying your iPad, laptop, and/or other work files. Clearly, you’re not going to look very professional if you’re hand-carrying all of those things! I suggest that you look for a tote—preferably leather—that keeps you organized, looks great, and allows you to have all of your files and accessories at your fingertips. (Just make sure to turn off your phone’s ringer before going into a meeting or interview so you aren’t left digging around in your bag to turn it off!) Remember, a durable, professional bag is an investment, so if at all possible buy one that will serve you well for years.

When you walk into an interview feeling comfortable and confident because you know you’re dressed for the occasion, you’ll be setting yourself up for success. And you’ll also be one step closer to getting that coveted job offer.