Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Three Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy the Outfit

When you go shopping for clothes, what motivates you to buy? If you are like many women, chances are that your reasons for purchasing that new outfit are far more unconscious and emotionally driven than you'd like to believe. To avoid making a purchasing error, here are three questions to ask yourself before you buy.

1) Question: Am I buying this to fit in, or because it looks good on me?
We all fall prey to the whimsy of trendy clothing. We have a powerful drive for approval from others, and one way we get it is by fitting in. You can see this unconscious force in action by watching how a previously hideous look grows on you as you see more and more people sporting it. But the truth is that not every style will look good on you, no matter how popular or trendy it might be!
Key point: Know the basic lines, silhouettes and proportions that suit your body type, and don't be tempted by trends that won't suit you.

2) Question: Is this outfit for me, or for my alter-ego?
A great many of us are shopping to outfit an imaginary persona. We may be emotionally drawn to a certain look even though it has no place in our current lifestyle. And so we shop for the glamorous diva when we are really just a jeans-and-t-shirt kind of gal. Figuring out how you actually need to dress each day versus how you imagine you will, will help you stop buying clothes for your alternate personalities.
Key point: Know exactly when, where, and how often you plan to wear the outfit before you buy.

3) Question: Is it comfortable?
We are all creatures of habit, and we seek out comfort whenever we can. Don't be tempted to ignore subtle signals that an outfit doesn't feel right. If an article of clothing is too tight, too itchy, doesn't fit right, or in any way makes us doubt ourselves when we put it on, chances are that it will go matter how good it might look on us!
Key point: Don't ignore discomfort. If it doesn't feel right, don't buy it.

Ask yourself these three simple questions before you buy your next outfit, and you will find yourself making wiser, more appropriate choices for you and your closet.

See you next time...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more information on Wardrobe Planning or to sign up for my e-zine, stop on by my website.)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Black or Brown? Revisiting Base Neutrals

A reader of my e-zine, Michelle, posed this question: “You write about personal branding and having a base neutral so that people expect you to wear that color and thus forget about it basically, but can you make a brand with more than one base for example both black and brown?”

This is a question that is near and dear to me! I have gone back and forth with this one myself, so I know how frustrating it can be trying to make these decisions.

The short answer is that whatever you wear consistently will become your brand. If your wardrobe is 75% black with two or three accent colors, people will associate the color black with you. The same goes for brown. If, however, you have a mix of brown and black as your base neutrals, people will associate you with “dark neutrals“. If you use the same few accent colors with both brown and black, these few accent colors bridge the neutrals and the color scheme is tighter. If you have different accent colors for each neutral, then the effect is somewhat diluted.

Naturally there are benefits to choosing a base neutral or neutrals. But let me just point out that using a base neutral to brand yourself is not the only way! Perhaps your brand is that you are always wearing bright, neon colors…which change all the time, but are always bright, bright, bright. Or maybe it’s animal prints…every outfit has a piece with an animal print. Or maybe it’s lace. See how this works? Choosing an element that you incorporate consistently is what brands you. Color just happens to be one of the easiest ways to do it because it’s most noticeable. But you should by no means feel constrained or anxious about your choices. This is why I think my method of wardrobe planning is so much better than the capsule wardrobe method. It allows you to develop your style and your brand with much more freedom while still keeping your wardrobe very small.

So, Michelle…go ahead and use both black and brown in your wardrobe. Have fun using your style persona and your accent color to further develop your personal brand.

See you soon...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more information or to sign up for my e-zine, please visit my Wardrobe Planning Webpage.)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Repeating Outfits -- The New Trend?!

Recently I encountered two separate articles with the same theme: repeating outfits.

The first, from the is titled Vogue Editor Anna Wintour Wears Same Dress Three Times by Anita Singh. From the article: "It is unthinkable that she would make a fashion faux pas. So when Vogue editor Anna Wintour made her third appearance wearing the same dress in the space of a fortnight, observers could only conclude she was making a style statement."

But the fun doesn't end there. More recently, Derek Blasberg posted at a little gem titled Hallelujah: It's OK to Wear Things Twice. This fun little piece mentions that Emanuelle Alt, the Paris Vogue stylist was caught wearing the same pair of pants in one week. Quelle Horreur! And then she was seen wearing not only the same pair of shoes in one week, but the exact same pair of shoes that Carine Roitfeld was wearing at the same time! Non!

The somewhat tongue-in-cheek message behind both these articles is that if the big names in fashion are now recycling their outfits, it must mean that it's now trendy to do so. Repeating your outfit has now been officially sanctioned from on high. Yay!

When I read articles like these, my first reaction is to be ever so thankful that I'm not in the spotlight so much as to have every detail of my daily wardrobe documented and criticized. Jiminy Crickets! It's enough to make me want to become a hermit and live on a desert island.

But then I also muse on the sheer ridiculousness of the whole idea of never repeating an outfit. Since when is it not ok to wear an outfit more than once? I get it that these women in question are in the public eye constantly, in a way that few people ever have to deal with, and in an industry that absolutely requires a near-perfect designer wardrobe. Perhaps they are an exception. But even so, what gives us the right to criticize them for opening showing affection for an outfit by wearing it a few times? And why must we conform to their industry standard by editing what we wear in the same way?

And just for a moment, think about men. Are men looked down on as fashion imbeciles for daring to wear a suit more than once? I think not.

The clothing that you wear defines you and helps create your personal brand. While you wouldn't want to wear the same thing day in and day out, I can't think of any reason why wearing clothing that you love and looks great on you over and over again is anything akin to a crime. In fact, I would say that it is a real fashion coup to have built for yourself a wardrobe that you can wear repeatedly and still look amazing every day. This is the ideal... Not wasting time and money and effort worrying about whether or not it's ok to be seen in the same sweater more than once.

Just remember -- no one thinks about you as much or as often as as you think about yourself. And if they do, they are the one with the problem, not you!

Just my 2 cents.

See you next time...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more information on wardrobe planning, or to sign up for my e-zine, you can visit my website,

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Uniform Dressing

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "uniform dressing"? Military? Parochial school? Flight attendants?

Have you ever considered finding your own personal uniform?

Not in the sense of wearing the same outfit day in and day out...but instead narrowing down the styles of clothes that you DO wear to a select few...the ones that look the very best on you.

There are many style books out there that deal more than adequately with finding the most flattering styles of clothing for your figure. I won’t attempt to do that here since the information exists so many other places. One of the most comprehensive sources I've encountered is Style Rx, by Bridgette Raes.

I will say that generally speaking there are a few styles of garments that will look the best on you because of your build and proportion, and you should make an effort to find out what they are. Likewise there are a few styles that will not look good on you and will work at cross purposes. And there are general rules, such as vertical lines lengthen and horizontal stripes widen that everyone should be aware of.

However, I’m a little reluctant to say that these “rules” of dressing should be the final say…because certainly one can become crazed trying to figure out what to wear if you are a long-waisted long necked large busted long armed short legged person. Jiminy crickets! Figure out your most pressing figure concerns, and deal with them. Understand also that as styles change over time our eyes adjust to the changing silhouettes that are popular, and styles that we once thought made us look short (bootleg jeans) now do the opposite. This doesn’t mean that just because poofy skirts are all the rage that they will make you look skinny. Ummm, no. Find a balance that works for you. You want to be thinking in general enough terms that you can know what to buy for yourself for a great many years to come.

See you next time...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more information on Wardrobe Planning, or to sign up for my e-zine, please visit my website.)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sitcom Style

A lot can be learned about style by watching sitcoms. Have you ever sat down to watch some of your old favorites from years past that are now in syndication? One thing that is immediately apparent is just how dated the shows look and feel.
The reason for this is that these sitcoms capture perfectly the fads and fashions of a particular time in history -- perhaps better than any other medium. Magazines don't often have an accurate reflection of what people are wearing on the streets, on the campus, in the workplace. They are usually a mix of catwalk, advertisement and red carpet designs and have a highly fantastical element to them. Movies do reflect popular culture, but as it can take several years to produce a film, they have a slightly less of-the-moment look and feel. A sitcom, however, reaches its audience within several months of filming. The shows are designed to have an extremely wide appeal, and end up capturing the looks that are the most current. For better or for worse.
While the programs that are currently airing can offer you an insight into what is fashionable in the here-and-now, some significant style lessons are learned by watching an older sitcom, say from twenty years ago. Do the styles that you thought looked fashionable then still look good to you now? Or can you immediately spot the fads that are less than flattering? How about the shows that are only ten years old?
If you are observant, you will notice a key secret about the fashion industry. Fads come and go and look very dated very quickly. Trends last longer than fads, and have a wider impact on the fashion landscape than do fads. But overall silhouettes in fashion take the longest time to change -- sometimes ten years or longer. A perfect example of this is the low-rise bootcut jean. It's gone through several different incarnations since its comeback on the fashion scene ten-plus years ago, but its overall silhouette has remained the same.
So, what are the key take-home points in this lesson?
1) Try to avoid fads. The prevailing wisdom is that by the time the fad has reached the street, it's style life is over. And consider the family photo album: today you may look fashionable, but next year you will look dated.
2) Choose your trends wisely. Just because it's the predominant trend does not mean that it actually looks good, or will have any staying power. Stick mainly with styles and silhouettes that you know are flattering, and incorporate any new trends judiciously. Your image will actually remain current for much longer this way.
3) Periodically update your own image. You don't have to do a complete overhaul every time the fashion winds change, but keep an eye on what looks dated. You don't want to get stuck in the last decade -- or two!
Now, go and enjoy those television oldies!