Archive for the ‘Style’ Category
How many times have you looked in your closet, heaved a heavy sigh, frustrated that you “have nothing to wear?”
Fact is, you literally can’t see the outfits for the tees. An overstuffed closet is worse than actually having nothing to wear, because you’ve clearly invested a small fortune into its bulging racks.
The kindest cut
The best thing you can do is cull your wardrobe. Pull out everything and lay it on the bed. One by one, TRY ON each piece. Do you love it? Is it in good repair? Is it the right colour for you? Is the style still current? Does it fit you today (not some day when you’ve lost 10 lbs)? If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no,’ then set the item aside to donate or discard.
(A word about donations: just because people in need may receive your items for free doesn’t mean they have to accept crap. Please do NOT use your local charity as a garbage bin. If the items are ripped, worn out or stained, throw them out!)
You’ll feel better once your wardrobe is reduced to a manageable size, containing just the items you love and wear. You will be able to see components of outfits at a glance and will likely end up making new combinations right before your eyes.
I haven’t posted for a while – it seems the day job has been keeping me busier than usual! A flurry of social events, meetings and client activities means my wardrobe has been put to the test.
In the past two weeks alone, I will have been to a couple of cocktail parties, a black-tie gala, a book launch, donor recognition event and an auto show (for a client).
Having a flexible wardrobe means having the ability to shift gears (no pun intended) quickly and still be suitably attired for each event. What works for me:
- A couple of go-to cocktail dresses that work in all seasons. That means sleeves or a bolero jacket to cover up, plus a couple of stylish wraps.
- A formal gown for the one or two times a year we attend black-tie functions. See my earlier post on the challenges of finding a suitable evening gown that isn’t either Princess Barbie or Queen Mother in style.
- Lots of separates that can be combined – jackets and trousers or skirts provide a great range of possibilities.
- Dresses – because they are a complete outfit. Just add shoes and accessories and you’re good to go.
- A few great suits, for business meetings or more conservative events.
- A large range of shoes – gentlemen, in case you’re wondering why we have so many, it’s because we have to not only be appropriately attired, but also seek some comfort and the ability to change them up after a long week.
What works for you?
When considering options, nothing compares to the style and comfort of a dress. Dresses come complete. Top and bottom, perfectly cut, matched and coordinated. Dresses always look more chic than anything else a woman can wear (in public). Dresses are cool when it’s hot. And, with tights, dresses are comfy when it’s chilly.
Dresses hide a multitude of issues. Tuck a tummy, hide your hips, lengthen your legs. Dresses are appropriate for work, play, special occasion, picnics, dances… Dresses are flexible – worn with a jacket for day, a wrap for evening.
A dress with pearls is sophisticated. A dress with a wooden bead necklace is bohemian. Blingy costume jewelry adds sparkle.
Ballet flats or stilettos, boots or booties. Ah, a dress. Is there anything it can’t do? Tomorrow, slip into a dress and see how it instantly makes you feel better.
My favourite fashion show these days is @NBCFashionStar – a competition-style ‘unscripted’ show that pits designers against each other… with a twist. It incorporates the need to have one of three retail chains purchase designers’ clothes to ensure the contestants make it through to the next round. Further, viewers can buy the selected clothes online from the retailers within minutes. Clothes available as part of the show often sell out at either Express Macy’s or Saks Fifth Avenue. This high-low empire dress by designers JesseRay Vasquez and Garrett Gerson is already sold out at Macy’s:
What I love about this is the rounded view the show gives viewers of the fashion industry. Designers are given a challenge each week and have to create ‘saleable’ fashions that the store buyers want in stock. It’s not just about fashion as art. It’s not about out-of-range couture creations. It’s about the fashion industry as a business.
The show offers a glimpse at not only what it takes to create great fashion, but also what buyers look for when considering merchandise. When a designer’s piece is selected, the successful buyer explains what made the item so marketable. And, when a designer fails to sell his or her piece, the buyers identify why the item was not picked up. This is a fascinating look at the business of fashion, from concept to sale. It is further validated when the successful designs are sold out at the retailers.
No other unscripted show gives viewers such a complete look inside an industry. If you’re interested in fashion, you should check it out. Fridays on NBC.
French women are famously chic. It starts with their self-confidence and the way they are always appropriately dressed for every occasion. They are effortlessly elegant, perfectly poised and always au courant. Their mannerisms are refined; their deportment is flawless. And, I find them inspiring. If they have a certain je ne sais quois, it’s because of the time and attention they pay to their appearances.
Having recently done a little research into the stylish French, here are some things I’ve learned:
- Quality matters. Always buy the best clothes you can afford. It’s better to have fewer clothes of higher quality, than an overload of cheap or poorly made clothes.
- Wear clothes appropriate to the event, and when in doubt, it’s generally better to be overdressed than underdressed. (Although black tie is only appropriate for black tie events.)
- Pull together your entire look thoughtfully: top, skirt/pants, shoes, hose, handbag, jewelry, belt. Always check a full length mirror before you leave the house.
- Dress ‘up.’ Never leave the house in yoga pants or sweats unless you’re on your way to work out. Throw out all your old, misshapen, oversized t-shirts. Even if you’re just going to the mailbox or corner store, wear jeans or trousers and a nice top. You never know who you’ll see.
- Be neat and clean. Throw out anything ripped, stained or damaged. Make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. Use a lint brush. Shine your shoes.
- Accessorize judiciously. A scarf or statement necklace can complete an outfit. Wear one or the other; not both. Balance is important. Resist the urge to wear too many pieces at once.
- Put your best foot forward: shoes complete your look. Pumps, booties, wedges, platforms or penny loafers… choose the right shoe for the right occasion. Never wear flip flops (even bejeweled ones) to work. Match your socks to your shoes, not your trousers. Wear hose with pumps, and bare legs and a cute pedi with strappy sandals. Match your shoes and your belt – but it’s not necessary to match your shoes and your handbag.
Find your personal fashion style – and own it!
In recent years, I’ve been fortunate to acquire some very special pieces. Some are classics. Some are fashion-forward. Some, however, are beyond my reach – so I’ve created this wish list if that lottery win ever comes in:
- Chanel handbag. I love the classic style quilted handbag with the chain strap.
- Burberry trench. The iconic trench would be an amazing addition to any wardrobe.
- Louis Vuitton carryon luggage. I would NEVER trust a full set of luggage with an airline, but having a carryon bag (that I would protect and keep my eye on) would be amazing.
- Carolina Herrara dress. Having had the opportunity to see the workmanship, detailing and tailoring, I would love to own a CH dress. Her collections are always very wearable.
What’s your dream collection? I’d appreciate hearing from you.
Ever since Simons (@SIMONS_eng) opened in November at West Edmonton Mall, I have been a huge fan. There’s a sense of service that harkens back to the golden age of retail – and yes, I mean Woodward’s.
(For those of you who shop in the US, it’s equally reminiscent of experiences you enjoy at Sak’s Fifth Avenue or Nordstrom.)
The Edmonton store is over-staffed by Alberta retail standards. That means that lots of helpful, friendly staff are located in the departments and at the plentiful cashier desks. What a treat! This level of service is a hallmark of the Simons brand.
At the recent unveiling of the spectacular art installation, Simons Aurora, I had a chance to catch up with CEO Peter Simons. Mr. Simons is pleased with the way the store is progressing and he feels they are getting their service levels up to the Simons standard.
PHOTO: the stunning art installation, Simons Aurora, by Philip Beesley.
“We have a lot more service hours here than anywhere else,” said Mr.
Simons, “We’re working hard to get our services levels up to top notch.”
Mr. Simons acknowledges it takes time to develop the Simons service culture in a new location. It starts with hiring the right people.
“We have interviewed lots of people but I’m more interested in their values and commitment than their retail experience,” said Mr. Simon.
“You can’t teach values. Staff have to want to help customers, solve their problems and enjoy the pleasure of serving people.”
This culture of customer service is evident as you wander through the
store: in the abundant staffing, interesting and diverse merchandise, ample cashier desks and generous supply of fitting rooms.
“The store is doing well; we’re earning our place in the market,”
commented Mr. Simons.
If you haven’t been, do yourself a favour and stop by Simons soon, and often.
Footnote: While I was at the store I found an on-trend nautical striped jacket (on sale for $39.95) and a lovely blouse, also $39.95.
This past week, I was incredibly fortunate to participate as a dresser for runway shows at New York Fashion Week (NYFW). I had a surreal opportunity to get up-close with top designer fashion as I helped out at eight runway shows.
What’s it like to be a dresser? Intense. Stressful. Amazing.
Here’s what a typical call looks like:
Arrive. Wait. Get assignment. Go to racks. Review “look” card. Understand the styling, accessories, shoe changes. Use lint brush. Meet model. Have her try on her shoes.
Start from the inside out, bottom up. That means hosiery first, then skirt/pants, then top. Shoes and accessories last. When pulling dresses or tops over the models’ heads, put a “head scarf” over the model’s face to protect the garment from her makeup. Send her to the runway line up where stylists, hair and makeup staff do final touches.
If your model has to change mid-way through the show, that adds to the pressure. A game plan is needed to gently remove the first look and put on the second look. Sometimes, shoes are shared with another model, so coordinating with other dressers is important. Attention to detail is critical. The model’s finished look must match the display card, right down to scrunching gloves or tying bows on belts. Oh, and you only have about three minutes to change into second looks and get your model back into the runway line up.
When the show is over, dressers are responsible to re-hang all the clothes in “showroom ready” condition. That means all zippers zipped, buttons buttoned and snaps snapped. Looks are usually pulled together into one garment bag. The designer’s staff does a final inventory to make sure all the pieces are there, and then we are dismissed.
The entire backstage crew was wonderful to work with – very professional and patient as I learned my way. Thanks to Barbara Berman for giving me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as part of my studies as an image consultant through the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York. It was a wonderful ‘hands-on’ experience to augment my coursework and helped me better understand the fashion industry.
NOTE: Check out all the looks from NYFW online at Vogue: http://www.vogue.co.uk/event/new-york-fashion-week
Now is a great time to pick up the basics on sale. As stores clear out winter merchandise to make way for spring fashion, look to pick up classic pieces that stand the test of time, such as:
- T-shirts (long and short sleeve) in neutrals: black, white, navy, beige.
- Cashmere cardigans, turtlenecks and mock neck sweaters are clearing out at great deals. Again, look for neutrals that never go out of style.
- Wool blend trousers and skirts
- Winter coats and jackets
- Scarves, hats and gloves
- Look for classic styles and quality fabrics.
- Avoid trendy prints and patterns that are not likely to be in style next season.
- Avoid fashion forward styles that have run their course. These are likely to be on sale at deep discounts, but it’s unlikely you will want to wear them next year as they’ll be out of style. Fashion forward styles are the most exciting but have the briefest ‘shelf lives.’
For many, it’s already been a long winter. Snow came early in Alberta and wearing warm sweaters and multiple layers is getting old.
While we won’t see spring here any time soon, there are some easy ways to channel spring into your winter wardrobe. Try some of these ideas:
- Wear bright colours, or at least a pop of colour, to brighten what can otherwise be a dark winter wardrobe. Fun, flirty scarves or bright tops under jackets can bring a hint of spring to a cold day.
- Find fun nail polish colours that lift your spirits. Bright pinks, oranges and fun nail art can help you feel spring-like, even on dark winter days.
- Change up your fragrance to a lighter scent. Citrus notes, for example, can remind us of warm summer days.
- Lighten up your make-up. We tend to use a heavier hand in the winter… remember the warm summer days ahead and reflect that in your look.
- Lastly, many boutiques are starting to receive spring stock. Check out the beautiful fashions arriving in stores now.
These are simple steps to help you cope through the final weeks of winter. Enjoy!