I need some fancy in my outfits, do you?

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fancy-2I have a friend who enjoys clothes nearly as much as I do. She wanted me to check out a jewelry sample sale with her at one of our favorite local boutiques. How could I say no? We checked out the jewelry and also the newly delivered clothes and accessories that had come in for early fall. My friend spotted a handbag that intrigued her and asked my opinion. I thought it looked great on her.

“You try it on,” she said. I did, but it just fell flat on me.

The sales associate offered her opinion. “Brenda, you’re more fancy than that bag is,” she said.

She was right. I don’t know that I would have explained it that way but I loved the word she used: fancy. Yes, I don’t feel right if I’m wearing fabrics that are all dull or jewelry that doesn’t have any bling to it. I like polished fabrics, patent leather shoes, a cluster of sequins or beads appliquéd on a sweater. I wouldn’t wear those things from head-to-toe. I just need sheen, luster, or luminescence to represent about twenty percent of my outfit. It makes me feel happier, cheerier, even more youthful.

As I read more about it, I think I’m more of an introvert than I thought. And having something “fancy” in an outfit helps me be out in the world with more confidence and ease. At least that’s how I feel at this moment in September.

How about you? Do you like wearing clothes or accessories that have some bling to them? How much fancy do you need in your outfits?

 

Wardrobe Fix: What’s a Sleevey Wonder?

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Sleevey Wonders

I have a problem in common with many of my clients: how do I wear something sleeveless while camouflaging my arms? Oh, I could go commando like other clients of mine and bare my arms (I am cheerleader for that, too!) but I won’t.

Recently I was working with a client, making outfits from her current wardrobe, and we found ourselves facing this very issue once again. She has the added condition of running warmer than anyone else in the room. She’d be happy living in freezer like conditions. I can make fabulous outfits in my head but I know they won’t pass her heat test. “I can’t wear that. I’ll be too hot,” she’ll say.

She had a sheer long-sleeved crew neck black stretchy top in her closet. We’ve used it as a layering piece before. But in truth, even layering doesn’t work well for her. So I suggested to her that we get a duplicate of this stretchy top so I could cut one of them up and make it skimpier and cooler for her and still layer it. I wanted to cut the neckline down and take out one layer of the double layered front panel. I knew what I wanted. I was determined to come up with a solution.

But last week, a readymade solution came to me. I was with my Bellas, my image consultant friends who meet once a month, and we were doing a favorite thing: shopping at Specialtees Boutique in Lafayette, CA. Our great sales associate heard me lamenting about needing sleeves for something I’d just fallen in love with. She said, “Oh! Wait! You need a Sleevey Wonder!”

A sleevey what?

She brought me a lingerie item, a Sleevey Wonder, in a variety of sizes and colors. Here’s how it works.

Step one: Put your bra on (if it isn’t on already).

Step two: Put your Sleevey Wonder over your bra and fasten it in front.

Step three: Put your sleeveless dress or sleeveless top over your two underthings.

Step four: Finish putting your outfit together.

Step five: Find a full-length mirror and admire your arms and your whole look from head-to-toe. You look fantastic!

I bought two of them. The gray one in the photo above is what I’ll wear under my ink colored crinkled dress. I bought a black one to wear under a sleeveless black tunic and about a million more things I can think of come fall and winter. You can even wear them backwards!

That shopping trip was on a Sunday. On Monday I was scheduled to see this same wardrobing client, the one that gets warm but wants sleeves. “Boy, do I have a treat for you!” I teased her. I wore the black one with the tunic I bought so she could see it in action. Then I pulled out my gray Sleevey Wonder and she tried it on. She was amazed. We immediately went to my iPad, got online and ordered them in a variety of colors.

Have you seen these before? It’s the miracle solution I wish I’d invented! Maybe you’ll find them in lingerie departments near you but if not, go to their website and check them out. I feel like they run generously. I bought a medium and in tops I’m often buying a large. They feel very well made.

I wore one last night when I met my wonderful friend and colleague, Sarah Brummitt from London, for drinks and dinner at Des Amis on Union Street. She and her husband, Anthony, met the whole Bay Area family: Caitlin, Erin, Mike, and Russ. We were there for five hours! Sarah loved my whole look and if it had been easier to do, I’d have slipped my dress up to show her my Sleevey Wonder. Instead, I’ll suggest she reads this blog post!

Would Sleevey Wonders be a solution for you, too?

Wearing my Sleevey Wonder and having a wonderful time with Sarah

Wearing my Sleevey Wonder and having a wonderful time with Sarah

 

 

Hosiery, the confidence building accessory

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hosiery 1

I love having plenty of time at the airport terminal because I have things to study, like studying other people’s great travel outfits. While some people choose sloppy casual as their travel attire, others wear outfits that will take them directly from the airport to their first meeting or romantic rendezvous.

The woman (above) seated just outside the international terminal at SFO certainly was chic in her print dress, trendy hosiery and laced up heeled booties. I wanted to know more about her!

I’m seeing lots of hosiery choices for fall. A fashionista’s treat is to shop on Maiden Lane in San Francisco, stepping into the Wolford store where you just can’t help but feel more courageous about trying patterned or colored stockings. They have walls of choices and displays that jump forward at you. I guess one reaction would be to get scared and run out vowing to only wear pants, but I’m hosiery-friendly even if I may not be as courageous as the woman at SFO.

When I was a teen, I was on the Herbst Teen Board in Fargo, North Dakota. I represented my high school, West Fargo High. Besides being involved in lots of community projects, I worked on the weekends and some evenings at the most upscale store in Fargo. I floated around the store and filled in in different departments but the one that I fell in love with was the hosiery department.

I felt like I sold confidence at that hosiery counter. A woman would show up with an outfit challenge and I’d help her choose hosiery that harmonized with her look, polished her outfit, and set the stage for her to walk into any room and let her inner light shine.

I left Fargo, North Dakota after my high school graduation to follow my best friend, Patricia, to another corner of the world called California. There was nothing about California that was like North Dakota. When I needed to find a summer job, I interviewed at Gottschalk’s, a brand new department store that was just opening up. The one thing that felt like home was the hosiery department and that’s where I landed.

I was 18-years-old. The women working with me were so much older, maybe even as old as 40 or 50! It was a big department and I dove right in learning all I could. I made a few back and forth trips between ND and CA before settling in Southern California in my early 20s. I was always able to get my job back in the hosiery department anytime I wanted it.

Fast forward a few decades and hosiery is still on my radar. There’s nothing more fun than visiting the hosiery department at the start of a season and finding out what’s new, what the trends are, what the best sellers are. I like to make sure my clients have their hosiery needs covered before we end a shopping trip.

hosiery two

Does a strong hosiery pattern make you nervous? Check out this nude one. When I flew to Fargo, North Dakota last January to visit the folks, my best friend Patricia (who ended up leaving California and moving to Minnesota) picked me up at the airport and we stopped at one of our favorite Fargo spots, Nichole’s Fine Pastry.

That’s where we met this lovely woman all bundled up in her fur and boots. She loves vintage and was wearing a lot of it–her coat, her DVF dress. I loved the patterned nude tights she was wearing with her outfit. The way the graphic element in her dress related to the graphic design in the tights made me swoon. I wanted to know all about her life! But our visit was cut short. Patricia said, “Brenda, we have to leave! It’s starting to storm!” She was right. We had 75 miles to drive to my parent’s home and just as we got off the freeway they closed it. It was one of those events I hadn’t experienced since leaving North Dakota and getting my first California driver’s license. Mom and dad are asking if I’ll be back next January. I’m not so sure.

With fall coming up, will you step into some great hosiery? In case you need a little more inspiration, take it from the authors of the book Paris Street Style. They say about tights, “If you’re afraid of making an error of taste, go for black opaque; but colors aren’t the sole preserve of little girls. Abandon red (which can be dangerous when associated with black); opt instead for violet, anthracite gray, luminous fuchsia, lilac … all are superb with khaki and fall colors in general.”

Do you have some hosiery tips or stories to share? Bring it on!

Don’t delay! Wear those summer clothes today!

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Wear it now

There’s going to be a day in late September when you’re looking at something in your closet and you’ll wonder, Can I still wear this or is it past the summer expiration date? There isn’t a hot line for answers, not like the Butterball turkey hotline for novice cooks on Thanksgiving. The answer in August would be yes, a no-brainer. But September? Not so sure!

It’ll happen again in October. There will be a day that month that will get your attention. It won’t be because of who is winning the World Series. No, it’ll be because you look in your closet to grab a warmer layer and you discover a summer top that you forgot all about! Suddenly you can think of three occasions when it would have been PERFECT with your white linen pants that you won’t wear until next summer. But today you’re looking for something to wear with your coated burgundy jeans and it’s not that top! You’re pissed at yourself for the missed opportunities to wear it.

Isn’t it the Buddhists that encourage us to live with no regrets? Or was that my dad’s advice? Either way, it’s a good idea to go through your closet right now, this week, and take an inventory. Let your fingers touch every hanging garment as you move from left to right. Pull out every item that you’ve forgotten about and would feel horrible about not wearing before the summer is out. Put these items in a designated NOW OR NEVER section of your closet where you’ll see them first thing when you open your closet doors tomorrow.

Whether you organize by color or by function, these clothing pieces want to serve you before the summer is out. Let them. Let them delight you like crazy for the time remaining. Put them into outfits from now until September 15th.

Remember, no regrets. Wear it. Wear it now.

Are you working your makeup stash?

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Use what you have

Elina is our beauty guru ever since she helped my eldest daughter, Erin, get her first tube of Chanel lipstick and taught me how to wear age-appropriate makeup. Elina, a tall beauty with patience for those of us who feel like we’re blundering our way through beauty products, is a beauty specialist at Nordstrom, Corte Madera.

Elina taught me how to apply and use products that were new to me. When my makeup containers are nearly empty of product, I bring them in to see if she wants me to continue using that particular color or product or if she wants to suggest a change. She’s always amazed at the condition of the little pots of color that I show her. “Wow, you’re really using your product,” she’ll say. Hey, she gave me a plan and I work the plan. That’s it!

She recently suggested a different lipstick color for me for spring/summer. Her suggestion? Red. Here’s how the conversation went.

“RED!” I said. The introvert in me wanted to crawl under the Laura Mercier counter.

“Yes,” she said calmly.

“Maybe for special occasions, but not every day,” I fussed.

“Why not?” She wasn’t budging, not even a teeny bit.

“But what about when I just go to the coffee shop and write? I can’t wear red lipstick there, can I?” I argued.

“Absolutely, it’s you. Wear it and write,” she insisted.

Okay, okay, red lipstick. I bought it. I’ll try it, I thought. Estée Lauder Vengeful Red came home with me.

Fast forward two months and I am still wearing it. Recently Erin and I were at a San Francisco Giants ballgame and got separated when we were wandering around the concession stands. She went to the usher of our section and said, “I’ve lost my mom!” “Is she wearing red lipstick?” he said. “Yup!” she said. When she located me she told me the usher story and said, “See, it’s your signature color!”

One day Erin wanted Elina to look at the lipstick color she’d recently purchased. When Erin fidgeted about whether or not there were other shades she should be wearing instead, Elina said firmly, “Erin put it on and be happy. You don’t need more lipstick.”

Are you using what you’ve got? Maybe you need to take your stash of products to a professional and have her go through them to help you get a plan. Or, maybe like myself, you gave up a while back and thought there was nothing out there for you? Listen, if I can learn new things, so can you. Next lifetime, I swear I’m going to come back as a wildly extroverted person who loves products and wants to try every single one, a person who could easily fit right in as a MAC counter girl. But for now, I’m just happy being me…with Elina’s help!

 

Makeup Lessons

1. Find someone you trust and be open to learning new things.

2. Practice, practice, practice those new things. Give them a chance instead of falling back into the rut you brought with you to the makeup counter.

3. If what you’re doing is working, stick with it. Visit your trusted beauty expert for additional tutorials as the seasons change.

4. When you’re using what you have you don’t have to worry about makeup expiration dates. Your products are going on your face well before they’ve expired.

5. Put it on, wear it. You’ll be happy you did.

Erin and I visiting our beauty stylist.

Erin and I visiting our beauty stylist.

Fashion with purpose: You have too much stuff

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Not using your stuff

I think there’s an epidemic in our country and most of us are affected. That epidemic is called Not Using Your Stuff. You think you’re immuned to it? See if you can relate to any of these statements.

  • I buy new makeup, try it once or twice, get bored and want something new.
  • I have clothes in my closet that still have the tags on them.
  • Sometimes I find things in my closet that I forgot were even there.
  • What looked good in the store looks weird at home but I keep it because I don’t want to go back to the store.
  • I bought it, but I don’t know how to wear it so it just sits in my closet.
  • I let people talk me into stuff and then never use it.

It’s easy to not think and just buy for not very clear reasons. But here’s what’s possible when you stop looking out there (on shopping websites, store displays, makeup counters) for the next new thing and focus on using what you already have.

You feel good about yourself. You invested money in new stuff and when you use that stuff within days or weeks of purchasing it, you start to see a return on your investment. The more you use your stuff, the better return you’re getting.

When you use what you have and get value out of it, you’re less likely to spend money foolishly. Often we spend money in dribs and drabs, here and there, maybe even every week. Instead, when we use what we have we feel more satisfied. We spend less often so we can save up and buy something special if we’d like. We stop spending money out of habit and create a thoughtful plan instead.

When we use what we have, we avoid those yucky feelings that can creep up when we whip out our credit card to buy yet another pair of black pants or another pair of boots to add to the ones we have at home that aren’t being worn. What are the names of those yucky feelings? How about guilt, remorse, regret?

So let’s just say that you’ve read along so far and you realize that you are indeed Not Using Your Stuff. Why do you suppose that is?

Sometimes you can’t see or appreciate what you have because your closet is loaded with things that don’t work. Stuff may have to go before you can spot the gems that are already there. And that task seems daunting!

Sometimes you’re scared to actually try the new things you purchased. Maybe you’ll look great! Maybe you’ll get attention! Maybe you won’t know how to handle the attention! Maybe people will say to themselves, Who does she think she is?

Or maybe you just don’t have the time it takes to really get into your closet and put together outfits that would work for your different roles in life. Instead you ignore the stuff you purchased and default to the stuff you can put on without thinking. Not managing your time is wasting your money.

Maybe your motivation is low and resistance is high. You have some negative self-talk that takes over before you even use the new makeup techniques you learned or wear the outfit that looked so great in the dressing room. You know what I mean—those negative statements that you’d never say to anybody else. Things like:

You’re 60. Who cares?

You’re just a mom.

Nobody notices you anyway.

Ouch! Those hurt!

Over the next few days I want to give you a few tips for beating this epidemic of Not Using Your Stuff. Why? Because when you do, you’ll see your investment paying off. You’ll build confidence in yourself. Good stuff will come from learning how to use your stuff. I promise!

Travel comfort can happen with just two inches or less

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travel-comfort

When you board an airplane, you really don’t know what’s going to happen next. Will you arrive at your destination on time? Will you be delayed because of bad weather at the other end? Will someone have forgotten to order a pushback crew to guide the plane out of the gate area? All of those things happened to me in Duluth, Minnesota last month. My flight left at 5:15 a.m. — or rather, it was supposed to leave at 5:15 a.m. I was up by 3:30 a.m. and my hostess with the mostest best friend was kind enough to get up early and grind some coffee beans by hand (her specialty) and make me a cup of her great coffee. I took it “to go” and we headed to the airport.

It was pouring down rain. The sky was full of lightening. Thunder was crackling all around us. As we arrived at the terminal I thanked Patricia for the last cup of Minnesota coffee on my trip and maybe the last cup of coffee I’d ever have if we were actually going to travel in that weather!

It was a short flight to Minneapolis where I’d make my connection to San Francisco. We were all buckled in and the pilot said we were set to take off. It would just be another five minutes for the pushback crew to come and get us out of the gate area. I had nothing but patience at that hour.

A few minutes passed and the pilot got on the intercom again and said, “Well, there was no pushback crew scheduled for this flight so we have to wait for someone to get here. The nearest qualified crew member lives thirty miles away. You can all get off the plane and go get some breakfast inside the terminal and we’ll let you know when we’re ready to board again.”

The person seated in front of me said to anyone who was listening, “What if they just got an unqualified person to push us out of the gate?” Chuckle chuckle.

The pilot joined us in line at the concession stand. He stood right behind me. We had a little chit chat. Gray-haired, I believed him when he said he’d done a whole lot of flying and never once had run into this situation.

On one hand, I didn’t mind the wait. If the weather got better, I’d feel a lot safer about flying.

Within the hour we got the announcement to get back on board. Having lost some of my earlier patience, I found myself fretting about the fact that I had now officially missed my connecting flight. But impatience soon gave way to fear on our short flight. I heard the landing gear coming out of the plane. You probably recognize that whirring sound, right? The plane seems to linger in the air a little heavier just before it starts the descent. There was nothing to see out the window yet because we were still in rain and heavy cloud coverage.

Suddenly, we weren’t going down anymore. The plane lurched upward and made a sharp righthand turn. That couldn’t be good. The landing gear pulled back into the plane and we were somewhere, but not at the airport! The gray-haired pilot got on the intercom again. He said the weather wasn’t cooperating and we missed a runway and he’d try coming in on the west side. Good to know, good to know.

Now I started wondering about the pilot. I think we’re in good hands I said to myself. He seemed like a nice enough guy when we talked–as if “Minnesota nice” would make the difference between landing where we were supposed to land or landing somewhere we weren’t intended to land. I began to wonder what his original thinking was when he chose this career. Did he have that moment when he woke up and thought, gee, I want to get into a huge flying machine, pack it full of people, and be the sole person they all trust to get them safely from one place to another, far, far, faraway place.

There was nothing in me that had could have dreamed up such a high stakes career like that. I was perfectly happy with the career path I’d chosen twenty-nine years ago. I get to make people feel great every day. Now I just wanted to wake up on Monday morning and go to Sara’s closet and help her pack her trip and erase that worry from her mind and then “wow” her with all the fresh outfit combos I’d create with her existing wardrobe pieces and then help her decide if shopping the Nordstrom sale was a good idea or not. Not much stress. Just a super fun job with a super great client. No one’s life would be in danger.

In another thirty minutes or so, the scare was over. The landing gear came out again. I still couldn’t see anything out the window but then I felt the happiest bump and bounce of the day–the wheels hitting the runway. We got off the plane and I found out that I’d been rebooked on a flight that would take off in two hours. All good!

When you have no idea of just how comfortable a flight will be, wouldn’t it be a good idea to make sure your bra isn’t pinching or feeling tight? Who needs more constriction, right? Right! That’s why one of my favorite inflight must-haves is a bra extender. Even if you don’t feel a real need for one in everyday life, when you’re on an airplane for hours, having that bra just a little looser can make everything more comfortable. I’m never going braless but I am going to put my bra into “relax” mode. On some trips, those little things can feel like a real blessing … that and finding the runway in a rainstorm.

Want to check out some bra extenders? Just click below!

Bare Necessities

Victoria Secrets

Nordstrom

 

Easy Rolling Travel Packing Method

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Rolling outfit pieces together.

Rolling outfit pieces together.

In both of my July trips back to Minnesota this summer I changed up my suitcase packing routine. Usually I group like items together and pack them using Eagle Creek packing envelopes. I mean, really, for years that’s what I’ve preached. Pants go in one envelope, tops in another, sports clothes in another–you get the idea. In fact, if you’ve been reading Tips & Teasers for the last few years, you could probably recite all the reasons why I think that’s such a good idea.

But now I’m trying something new. On my visit to be with my best friend from high school who lives in Duluth, Minnesota, I planned my outfits like I usually do using my Travel Wardrobe Workout Chart but this time when it came to packing the suitcase I lined it with my bottoms (2 pairs of jeans, a slim knit pant) and rolled all the top pieces and layered them over the pants.

As I was packing, I knew Patricia had an iron if I needed to press anything so I didn’t fuss over the fabrics. I rolled all the fabrics the same–silk, cotton, linen, and wool. But the secret of not having to iron anything once I got there was probably in what you can’t see in this photo.

What you can’t see:  Most of the prints and solids you see rolled in this suitcase have partners to them. For instance, the oatmeal colored cashmere sweater that is at the bottom of the picture has a sleeveless T-shirt and a linen scarf that I planned to wear with the sweater. So I laid the sweater on my bed, put the t-shirt down the center of it, then layered the scarf, folded the ends in and rolled all three pieces together before putting them in the suitcase.

The black and white spotted silk top (upper right) has a lightweight black cardigan that is rolled with it because I wanted to wear those two pieces together. The black and white silk plaid tunic is pretty sheer and it requires a specific under piece. It’s rolled inside the tunic.

The day I wore the plaid tunic I just pulled out the roll, had everything I needed, and got dressed in less than 30 seconds. That was true of every single one of these rolled/paired garments. I think the extra cushion of rolling the pieces together with their mates made them less likely to wrinkle.

Patricia had warned me about their 45 degree temperatures which were hopefully going to rise during the week I was there. They did so I ended up wearing the cashmere sweater as well as the short sleeved yellow and white striped tee (which, by the way has a wide neck so I layer a specific white cotton tee underneath it).

This packing method felt so efficient when I got to my friend’s house. Had I used the Eagle Creek envelopes I’d have been pulling a top from one, a tee shirt from another, and a pant from another. With this method, I just slipped into my pants for the day, looked at my rolled choices, pulled one out and got dressed in a flash. I may start suggesting this method to my clients.

Will I go back to my old method? Maybe, but for now, this one is just too fun to abandon! Looking into the suitcase like that and pulling out what I wanted to wear is like looking through the glass case at an ice cream store and saying, “I’ll have that one, please.”

 

Travel with Choices

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Choices-4

I’m stopping by the coffee shop to spend an hour before I meet someone for an appointment. A whole hour! At the coffee shop! Just me and whatever I want to do for an hour!

So to fill that hour, I’ve brought a few choices. From top to bottom, here they are.

1. Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler, a book at the top of my reading list.

2. A newspaper clipping my brother sent me about Garrison Keillor, the writer and radio show host who comes from the Midwest.

3. The travel notebook with all the ideas I got while on my early July Minnesota trip. While 30,000 feet in the air, I was blessed with about 34 chapter title ideas and they all tickled my fancy. It’s just a thought but maybe they’re suitable for a next book. Will they seem as clever at ground level here in Crisp Bake Shop as they did in the air? With this hour, I might be brave enough to check it out.

4. Then there’s my project notebook where I have a few class ideas I want to look at and think about.

5. I have my iPad with me as well as the latest issue of MORE magazine. The biggest July/August MORE headline, Secrets to Aging Gracefully, has me distressed and I feel a rant coming on which I will express in my Pages app on my iPad. (Are women so freaked out about aging that we need yet another issue devoted to how to do it with grace? “Aging” is a privilege for goodness sake! Not all of us get to do it! Isn’t that grace enough?)

Wait, is that a rant already? Let me collect myself.

Okay, so what’s the point of all this and what does it have to do with travel? For some of us, having choices is important. For me it’s essential. Not having choices makes me anxious.

travel-chartPacking for a trip is stressful. I feel that way and so do my clients. I do a lot of travel packing for them. It’s one thing to throw clothes in a suitcase and hope for the best. It’s another thing to open the suitcase (or the carry-on for you minimalists) and see upon landing at your destination that you packed the right choices.

Even if I might not wear them exactly as planned, I want to know I have a few outfit choices that I feel good in. I don’t want to get somewhere and lament about the things I could have/should have brought if only I’d thought it through.

I’ll take the time to try everything on before I leave for the trip, make a travel chart of my final outfit choices and then pack what’s on the chart. As happened with that early July trip, I never once looked at the chart once I got there but I could have if I needed to. With the Travel Wardrobe Workout Chart to help me focus and plan, getting dressed every day was easy and fun. You might want to try using it on your next trip.

Summary

  1. Go on a trip and find comfort knowing one thing you don’t have to worry about is feeling good in what you wear each day you’re gone. That’s a first-class treat! It takes some prep time and it’s worth it.
  2. You could get to where you’re going and wear the same outfit everyday and wonder why you fussed about a travel wardrobe plan. Or you could get to where you’re going and have a spill one day, experience an unexpected change in weather and layer every piece of clothing you brought, or heaven-forbid have to abandon the original plan and fly to another destination for a funeral without passing home first. It’s happened to me and it could happen to you too. Planning those outfit changes is your insurance plan in case things go awry.
  3. Having choices means you’re not stuck. With planning you’ll have just the right amount of choices — not too many and not too few.

Have fun!

Get your edge on when things go soft

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Metal accessories: important for spring outfits

Metal accessories can bring edge and presence to your outfits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was with a client on Monday helping her shop the Nordstrom pre-season sale. She spotted a necklace that was so out of her comfort zone. “I don’t need anything,” she said. “Great!” I said. “Let’s try on this necklace. We’re not shopping for needs, we’re shopping for wants. Today is about checking things out. Here, let me slip it on you.”

While she liked it, she protested that she’d never wear it to work. I had other ideas! While we were scouting the selling floor to select a few non-essentials to try on, I asked her to wear it on our walkabout. It was not dainty at all but rather a statement piece that nestled nicely at her throat inside her white collared blouse and turquoise cardigan. Later in the dressing room, she said, “You know, I think women can wear more jewelry as they get older.”

Agreed! I am particularly a cheerleader for wearing defining pieces. Part of it could be that fashion has been bringing out statement jewelry for awhile. But the other reason is that as we get older, we need to add more definition.

Metal jewelry like in the pictures above, bring edge and presence to outfits. And if we’re 50 or better, we need more of that. Here’s why.

1. Where we were harder, now we’re softer — like in our bodies. Perky breasts change to relaxed breasts. (Don’t you like how I phrased that?) We still have cheekbones but the skin around them may be less taut than when we were in our 20s.

2. Our coloring may have gotten softer. Eye color can soften, hair color can certainly soften. In fact, many hair colorists will recommend softening our hair color as we get older because it can look harsh and aging otherwise. The better-than-50 woman who lets her hair color go to its natural color will see softer colors as well. I sure have. My once chemical auburn/red color is now a much softer chestnut.

3. Pierced earlobes now look like dashes, not periods. Holes on ears that were pierced 20, 30, 40 years ago are often now actual lines, not holes. Anything that hangs where it didn’t used to hang is aging and not in a good way, even if it’s a small thing like earlobes. The earrings (upper left) will cover holes that have lost their original shape and will perk up our faces like magic!

4. We’re wearing softer clothing pieces. As our wardrobe has gotten more casual and our bodies have changed, we often exchange body-hugging silhouettes for looser garments that won’t show our rolls. (If you’ve got a better word for “rolls” would you please share it with me?) But without those edges that structured clothing and stiffer fabric used to give us, we can look more limp and wimpy. I want to change that. Jewelry that has edge and definition toughens up our outfits and balances anything that’s gotten too soft.

My client walked away with a few good pieces that I’ll be playing with in her closet on our next closet date in August. And guess what she was wearing around her neck when she left and went off to work? Yup! The necklace we spotted at the very beginning of our shopping trip. It looked fabulous on her!

All jewelry in these images came from Studio Collections Jewelry in Sonoma, CA. You can find some great pieces there at 126 E. Napa St. (707 935 6772).