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How to Survive a Shopping Diet

April 9, 2014 in On style


Shopping Diet - Final
I’ve got a confession to make. I’m on a diet.  No, not that kind of diet, although I think it would be easier to lessen my intake of chocolate.  I’ve put myself on a shopping diet (gulp).  You may wonder why someone, who makes a living helping others make smart additions to their wardrobe, is curtailing on her own shopping activities? Well for the seven weeks I’ll be doing some home renovations which has meant shift in priorities.  (Think paint, tile and cabinetry instead of clothing, accessories and makeup.)  And since my apartment is now filled with workmen and materials – not to mention that most of my wardrobe is now in boxes – I honestly don’t have the room for much more.

Does this mean I have not/will not add anything to my wardrobe in the next two months?  Not a chance.  But does it mean I have implemented ways to stretch my budget and shop smart? You bet.  Here are some shopping tips that have helped me – and may help you – stay on track.

Expensive Coffee - Final

Review and reprioritize your budget. When going on any kind of diet, the first step is a look at the big picture.  With a food diet, you’d look at the amount of calories you intake vs. the amount of energy you expend.  With a shopping diet, you’ll want to look at your overall income vs. your expenses. While your income may be fixed, your expenses are probably not. In certain instances you may have the option to reallocate.  For example when I looked at my budget and how much I was spending in coffee and metro cards, I made a conscious decision to opt out of Starbucks and leave enough time to walk to my appointments, rather than take a subway.  I have allocated these savings to some new wardrobe additions without increasing my overall bottom line.

Girl Looking in Closet - Final

Re-tool and re-invent. When you need to cut down on new purchases, the first place to shop is your closet.  Consider those items you haven’t worn in forever or wear all the time and are tired of.  Is there a way to repurpose them so they feel more exciting and enticing?  For example, maybe you wear a crew neck pullover over a dress to give it the look of separates?  Or belt a dress and pair it with leggings to give it the look and feel of a tunic?  Perhaps you chop the bottom off of a blouse to embrace the new shorter, crop top trend?  Get creative and have fun.

Gap Flap ClutchAdd impact, not investment pieces. If you are counting your shopping dollars, it is not the time to splurge on too many investment pieces.  Instead opt for ‘impact’ pieces…those little goodies that won’t break the bank but add variety and visual interest to your existing investment pieces and ensembles.  I have given myself a budget of $50/each for these little wardrobe pick-me-ups.  One of my favorite finds has been this leather flap clutch.  It may be small and hold only the essentials (phone, credit card, lipstick & mints), but it’s big on personality and echoes some of the design details found on more expensive bags.

Woman Considering a Purchase

Take time and carry on. When you’re on a budget, every purchase counts so think about the mileage and utility of an item.  Can it be worn multiple ways, for multiple occasions and thru multiple seasons?  If you’re unsure for any reason, walk away and give it some time (I recommend overnight).  If you wake up the next day and are still thinking about the item, that’s one thing.  If on the other hand, you’re not even thinking about the item the next day (aka, out of sight, out of mind)…well, enough said.

Remember to set yourself up for success.  Try not to shop when you are tired or feeling a little blue as retail therapy is not part of this diet.  Also you will want to avoid shopping with your group of gal pals, as often it is easy to get talked into buying things that are not in your budget or that you might not have purchased if you were alone.

The good news is that by cutting back on your shopping, you’ll enjoy more space in your closet – and money in your pocket (smile). What’s more, with fewer purchases you will savor each and every one that much more.

Shop Like a Pro

March 21, 2014 in On style

Author: Long Island Pulse | Published: Friday, March 21, 2014-
See the full article at  lipulse.com

carol_2013You are itching for spring and you are ready to shop. We asked the pros to tell us where to find the best deals on the latest trends. These five masters of their craft have scoured thrift stores, racks and showroom floors to provide the intel needed to spruce up a stale wardrobe, work in fads with no remorse and blend vintage with new at home. Follow these words of wisdom and be prepared to start hearing,  “Where did you get that?” A lot more often.

Carol Davidson is president and chief style officer at StyleWorks of Union Square, an image consulting company. She teaches others how to use their visual identity to influence the image they project. For the spring shopping list, she suggested adding a touch of trend:

Floral prints, colored stripes, boxy cropped jackets, collarless coats and pattern matching. Spend on the investment pieces…a great trench, fabulous black pants and signature accessories. Add a bit of “cheap chic” for the trendier items from Zara, Michael by Michael Kors and Vince Camuto. For chic pool, patio or beachside looks, Calypso St. Barth. Shop on Friday—most stores do the bulk of their business on the weekends and the store is fully stocked.

Rev Up Your Wardrobe with Red

February 12, 2014 in On style

If ever there was a month to wear red, February is it. Not only is it the color we associate with love and Valentine’s Day, it’s also the official color of the Go Red for Women® campaign.  While red is often perceived as exciting, assertive, stimulating, dramatic and passionate, it is also a power color that encourages action and confidence.  So if you or your clients are looking to add some excitement to your wardrobe or simply looking for a few, fun ways to embrace this month’s favorite hue, read on for some of my favorite picks.

InfinityScarf

It’s a wrap.  Baby it’s cold outside…and there are no signs of it warming up anytime soon. What’s a girl to do?  Bundle up in style, of course.  The infinity style makes this scarf easy to wrap around your neck, while the chunky knit keeps you cozy and warm. In addition to adoring the scarf itself, I’m smitten by the company – Paula Bianco.  The company helps give young designers a voice by hiring up-and-comers from a fashion school to design products that are in keeping with their aesthetic.  (A win-win for all!)  No wonder they are a favorite amongst chic shoppers and celebs alike.  ($59.50 at shopbop.com)

nordstrom

Stay a step ahead. It’s hard to believe we will ever be out of snow boots, but I know that day is coming.  And when it does, you’ll want to be ready with footwear that easily bridges the seasonal transition.  Cue this wonderful bootie.  A bit retro in feeling, yet definitely of-the-moment, this peep-toe bootie can easily be worn with textured tights now and sans hosiery come spring.  The bootie beautifully pairs with everything from a slim ankle pant to a full, midi skirt or sheath dress.  What’s more the suede and tortoise-toned-heel give it a luxe look and feel. ($149.95 at nordstrom.com)

CalvinKleinDress

Say ‘yes’ to the dress. Chances are you already have (at least) one LBD.  And while it’s always right, sometimes you want to move beyond the tried and true.  Enter the LRD. Curved seam detailing gives a fluid, feminine effect to this vibrant sheath dress, plus the little bit of stretch makes this beauty every bit as comfortable as it is flattering.  If that weren’t enough, is that this is a dress that gives back. Until February 28th Macy’s will donate 10% of each sale to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women® movement. Think about it this way…why just look fab when you can also feel fab about doing something good for others? ($89.98 at Macy’s)

Valentino

It’s time for cuff love. The cuff bracelet trend began a few seasons ago and continues to be an important accessory going forward.  This one, with its bold red color and tough girl embellishment, adds a bit of edge to any outfit.  (And Is it just me, or does everyone think that the signature Valentine “pyramids” are really cool?) What’s more the leather band not gives the bracelet a sumptuous look, but it also offers a great way to participate in the leather trend without having to go all-out. ($345 at Neiman Marcus)

narsredPucker up.  There is, quite possibly, nothing more sexy than a red lipstick…unless it’s one that has a patented blend of conditioners and antioxidants to hydrate, nourish and protect lips.  Nars lipsticks are enriched with vitamin E to increase wearability and keep the “true color” intact. While their rich, vivid shades range from neutrals to high-fashion hues, this month I’m all about “Red Lizard” (though there are other fabulous reds to choose from).  Trust me, it was no accident they were voted Best Overall Lipstick by InStyle (2011). ($26 at www.narscosmetics.com)

Whether you embrace red in a big or small way – with one of these products or with something you already own – please don’t forget to wear red on February 7th to Celebrate National Wear Red Day®.  To learn more about the movement or to get involved at any time, check out www.goredforwomen.org.

How to Wear Sheer Fabrics

February 12, 2014 in On style

It’s been a few seasons now, yet sheer fabrics continue to be a strong part of the equation for Spring. Elegant and chic, this transparent trend gives a feminine and flirty vibe to any ensemble.  While adding a little sexy to one’s wardrobe can be a beautiful thing, it is important to remember that any peek-a-boo piece can easily transition from tasteful to tawdry.  The key lies in knowing when and how to wear it. If your or your clients would like to add a touch of this alluring accent without bearing all, read on for some helpful tips that are nothing short of sheer genius (smile).

Modesty

Modesty may be the best policy. I’d first encourage you to think about the situation you find yourself in and what’s considered appropriate.  For most work environments, you’ll want to keep your sheer statement to a minimum.  Think about sheer sleeves or transparent panels instead of sporting an all-sheer blouse or skirt. Alternatively you may want to cover up with a jacket or cardie for day.  On the other hand, you can easily tick up the amount of transparency for social events, as long as you stay within your comfort zone and can wear it with confidence!

BGAlice&Olivia

It’s what’s underneath that counts. Choose your undergarments carefully. For those more modest amongst us, you might choose to wear a cami and/or boy shorts instead of a bra and panties.  Regardless of the coverage, for the most elegant execution opt for opaque undergarments that match your skin tone or the color of the item.  All-lace underwear amps up the allure and is probably best saved for evening wear.

SheerBlouse

Maintain a sense of balance. If you decide to go sheer in one area, cover up another. For instance, if you wear a sheer top, team it with a pair of trousers or midi-skirt to limit the exposure.  Or if you are wearing a skirt with sheer panels, think about a top with ¾ sleeves or one with a higher neckline.  Wearing sheer allover may not only send the wrong message, but you could run the risk of looking like a bathroom or kitchen curtain!

StyleBopMMissoni

It all goes back to our ABC’s. Let’s face it…there are certain areas of the body that we went to accentuate, others that we want to balance or camouflage.  Think about “strategic” sheer placement.  Do you have toned arms?  Look for a blouse with sheer sleeves. Love your shoulders?  Choose a top with a sheer front panel that runs from the shoulders to the top of the bust line. Are you blessed with shapely legs?  Consider a skirt that’s sheer from the knees down.  Transparent fabrics are one of the many tools in our dressing toolbox that allow us to highlight a particular area – and as a result – draw attention away from another.

SheerBlousewAccessories

Keep it simple. This trend is worn best when it’s done in an understated and elegant way.  With that in mind, you’ll want to KISS (keep it simple) with your accessories so that they convey the same vibe and aesthetic.  Less is more here so you’ll want to downsize a bit on the quantity and scale of your jewelry.  Similarly you’ll want to stay away from chunky heels and over-sized bags.  Instead try a thin, kitten heel or strippy, strappy sandal worn with a small cross-body bag or clutch.

Take care. Transparent fabrics are often delicate and require special attention when handling.  Make sure to remove all jewelry when taking a sheer item on or off.  While hand-washing in a mild detergent is best, with certain less fragile fabrics you also have the option of laundering them in a lingerie bag.  If your item is sheer at the shoulders, it’s best to hang it on a padded hanger or fold in a drawer.

Whether it’s for Valentine’s Day or any day, why not go ahead and dare to bare…at least a bit!

Radiant Winter Pick-Me-Ups

January 22, 2014 in On style

radiantorchidWhat’s in a number? Plenty if it’s number 18-3224 – otherwise known as Pantone’s 2014 Color of The Year, Radiant Orchid. You may wonder, what’s is the big deal? It’s a fair question but I assure you, making this selection is no easy undertaking.  Pantone combs the world looking at every conceivable color influence. Everything from the entertainment industry to art to technology and socio-economic conditions is carefully considered so that the ‘chosen one’ reflects the world we are living in. What’s more, its selection influences countless industries such as art, accessories, apparel, beauty, interiors, paint, home goods, lighting and so much more.

Building on the messages of Emerald Green (a.k.a the 2013 Color of the Year) which symbolized harmony, renewal and prosperity, this year’s selection has been dubbed by Pantone’s executive director Leatrice Eiseman as, “an invitation to innovation encouraging enhanced creativity and originality.” I very much like the sound of this, especially at the start of a new year. But while Radiant Orchid has already been seen all over the runway for the spring 2014 shows, I’d rather not wait to enjoy this hot hue. So with that said, here are some of my favorite Radiant Orchid picks to perk up your wardrobe right now.

asosradiantorchid

Carry on. The easiest way to add some Radiant Orchid into your otherwise neutral closet is by way of an accessory. This one, by Cambridge Satchel Company, offers exceptional craftsmanship in a bag that marries fashion and function. The front pouch pocket offers a great way to stay organized, while the design echoes school girl chic. What’s more, the design can take you from work week to weekend in a wink. ($149 at asos.com)

Patagoniapuffer

Get down with it. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the cold weather. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy a wardrobe of coats and jackets – especially those of the brightly colored variety. This one is fully padded with 800-fillgoose down for warmth, yet it’s fitted to the body so it keeps you protected without looking bulky. It boasts double water-repllent properties which means snow flakes slide right off. Plus you can count on the color to lift your spirits as the temperatures plummets. Wear this winter must-have in the city or après-ski for a chic, yet sporty look. ($299 at Nordstrom.com)

radiantlush

Pucker Up.  This one-stick wonder offers rich, matte color in a dazzling Radiant Orchid hue that’s flattering on a variety of skin tones. Infused with orchid essence for nourishment and collagen for a subtle plumping effect, the creamy formula glides on and provides all-day wear that rivals the staying power of your favorite lip stain. Since this hot hue it’s a limited edition, you will want to stock up. Note: to prolong the life of extra tubes, store them in your refrigerator. ($18 at Sephora.com)

Plushshort

Purple and plush.  I’m not sure why, but many people are willing to make a concerted effort on their work and social attire, yet ignore their loungewear. That’s one approach, but I believe you have the right to look (and feel) great no matter what you’re doing – even if it’s just cozying up at home. Let 2014 be the year that you make this part of your wardrobe a priority, even if you’re the only one that sees it. Why not start with this yummy robe? The heathered hue and cropped cut make this hooded, plush robe an easy addition to any at-home wardrobe. ($49 at Nordstrom .com)

alexisbittarearrings

Ear candy.  The holidays may be over, but who says you can’t still enjoy a bit of bling – especially when it frames the face?! These earrings are demure enough to be worn for day, yet have enough movement and visual interest for a night on the town. Hand-painted lucite details the radiate at the center, while Swarovski crystals create a shimmering outline. They have an art deco vibe that gives them an almost “collectible” look and feel. ($98 at Shopbop.com)

So while this winter you may be tempted to reach for the dark neutrals in your closet or accessory drawer, why not invigorate your wardrobe with a few well-chosen pieces in this gorgeous hue?

New Year, New Approach

January 15, 2014 in On style

weights

If your inbox looks anything like mine, during these first few weeks of January you have been bombarded with dozens of ways to jump start the new year. From hair and makeup techniques, to diet and exercisestrategies, to style and clothing tips, your head is probably spinning with “new” opportunities to make positive changes to your look and your life. Usually I am the queen of New Years resolutions, planning all the ways I’ll change whatever isn’t working – physically, emotionally and psychologically. (The beginning of a calendar year has a way of making us feel more flawed than we actually are – smile.) This year, however, I’ve decided to take a more balanced approach.

Instead of just making a list of areas for improvement, I’ve supplemented it with a second list. I’ve taken a page (literally and figuratively) from Marie Claire magazine and decided to re-create a version of their “What I Love About Me” feature. Have you seen it? Month after month they showcase a handful of women who share what they love about themselves. They focus on appearance but I decided to dig a bit deeper.

If you like this idea of looking at both sides of your personal balance sheet, why not start your own list? Using the ABC’s of image, here are a few categories to help get you started.

womanlookinginmirror

Appearance: I love my __________ (fill in the blank). Even though we tend to focus on our challenge areas, we’ve all got assets. It’s just a matter of owning them. Take a few minutes to objectively and lovingly look in a full-length mirror and acknowledge those characteristics that make your look unique. Do you have sparkle in your eyes, luscious lips, a mega-watt smile, great curves, legs that go on for miles, a a va-va-voom bust line, spirited hair (that’s me), and/or other wonderful qualities? Once you acknowledge your assets, you can make clothing and accessory selections on a daily basis that honor and accentuate the positive.

volunteer

Behavior: l am proud that I __________ (fill in the blank). What do you do that enriches the lives of others? Do you mentor someone at work? Volunteer your time? Donate old clothing? Approach out-of-towners who appear lost and ask if they need directions? Babysit to give friends or relatives some needed time off? Give to a charity? Pitch in before being asked? Think about all of the random acts of kindness you perform on a weekly basis (when no one is watching) and pat yourself on the back for doing something just because it’s the right thing to do.

communications

Communications: People can count on me to be __________ (fill in the blank). Are you a good listener?  Do you hear both sides of a story? Do you have a wonderful sense of humor? Are you an expert problem-solver? Are you willing to challenge the status quo? Are you compassionate and non-judgmental? Do you lend support when needed? Are you respectful in your language? Do you make others feel comfortable? How you interact and communicate with people is an important part of who you are and the effect you have on the lives of others. Treasure those qualities that others have come to count on.

While this list starts in January, I would encourage you to think about your wonderful qualities the whole year long. Who knows – this may be one of the best New Year’s resolutions you make.

 

Last Minute Holiday Gifts

December 6, 2013 in On style

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. So why are so many of us so stressed out about holiday shopping? Well with less than two weeks to go, time is of the essence. And the stores are a wee bit crowded. Also, if your list is anything like mine, it keeps growing with people you’ve accidentally left off (the dog walker, the neighbor that signs for your packages, your hairdresser and so on). If you’re out of ideas (or energy), why not give a ‘taste’ of the season? Read on for some last minute food gifts that are far more creative than the typical Starbucks gift card (or boxed chocolates), but have just as wide an appeal.

hugmugHug Mug Set: Ahhh…the Chocolate Drinking Ceremony. It’s a ritual. It’s when you close your eyes, hug your mug (with both hands) and slowly sip the thick hot chocolate, letting the sweet steam heat your face. The lucky recipient of this gift will relive this moment of joy and again and again with Max’s Brenner’s specially-designed Hug Mugs. This set includes two of Max’s specially-designed Hug Mugs with saucers and Chocolat: European-style, thick, hot chocolate powder. Yum! ($29 at Max Brenner)

Queen Catherine de Medicis Box: MacarOn Café in NYC Queen Catherine de Medicis Boxwas established to pay homage to the delicate French confectionery, the macaron. They have been recognized as connoisseurs of this delicious French pastry because of their wonderful variety of flavors so authentic (not to mention delicious) that they “transport you to Paris with (just) one bite.” This lovely gift box is shipped with 18 flavors of your choosing, plus 2 cocktail macarons. Merci bocu! ($50 at MacarOn Café )

PSnackBarsersonalized Energy Bar Gift Box: Do you know someone who loves protein bars? At YouBar, they believe the best gifts have a personal touch. That’s why their gift boxes allow you to customize the energy bars with any personalized photos, messages and images you like. The recipient then receives a gift box filled with 6 delicious energy bars wrapped in the packages you designed. The NYT said it best, “With these nutrition bars, every order is special.” ($49.95+ at youbars.com)

Green Herbal Tea Set: This holistic tea set offers an opportunity to sip from an teakitarray of nine medicinal herbs and three varieties of eco-certified, organic green tea from Japan, India, and Sri Lanka. From toxin-cleansing rose petals to cholesterol-lowering tamarind, every special herb is labeled with its unique blend of health benefits, making it easy to formulate just the right tea for the mind, body and spirit. The loose leaf teas and herbs are steeped in the reusable tea bags made from biodegradable corn silk. A tranquil gift, if ever there was one! ($40 at uncommongoods.com)

Spoonable Salty Caramel Sauce: Trust me when we say that in this instance, being ‘saucy’ is a good thing (smile.) spoonablecaramelThis salty caramel sauce is soooo good that it’s hard to resist eating it right out of the jar. However the salty-sweet sauce pairs beautifully with both sweet and savory dishes. Featured as one of Buzzfeed’s Best Food Gifts Under $20, this is a gift that any recipient will be delighted to receive. ($8.50 at eatboutique.com)

Himalayan Salt Block: Extremely versatile, this block of Himalayan salt Himalayan Salt Blockimparts a hint of mineral-rich salt to whatever is served on it. It can be used to cook food on a grill or in the oven, chilled and used to serve sushi or frozen desserts or as a serving plate for fruits and cheeses. Says one reviewer, “Food tastes amazing on it!” It makes a thoughtful and unique gift for those who know their way around the kitchen – or those that aspire to. ($39.95 at redenvelope.com)

Do you have some favorite food gifts that you’ve loved to give (or get?) If so, please feel free to post them on my Facebook page: /StyleworksofUnionSquare – and please like it while you’re there.

Holiday Dressing: Festive, Yet Frugal Finds

December 4, 2013 in On style

I know you’re smack in the middle of holiday gift shopping. And buying something for yourself may be the last thing on your mind – and possibly not included in your year-end budget. But ready or not, the holiday invites are ushering in. From after-work cocktails to family functions to New Years Eve soirees, your dance card is probably full. But your closet may not be – or at least not full of party-ready pieces. If this is the case, fear not my friends. You can add a few well-chosen, inexpensive items to perk up your wardrobe basics and take you from day to play. Read on for some festive, yet frugal finds for holiday dressing.

velvetpantsThe Royal Treatment: Nothing says opulent and ’tis-the-season’ like a velvet pant. This one is featured in a rich jewel-tone, which adds a luxe look and feel. What’s more the slim leg pant has a touch of stretch and a more relaxed fit through the hips and thighs, making it every bit as comfortable as it is stylish. Pair it with a ruffle blouse or embellished sweater for a regal, yet festive look. ($98 – available at Ann Taylor)

Glisten Up: Work this show-stopping sequined blazer into your winter sequinedblazerwardrobe and instantly amp up the glam factor. It’s an easy piece that pairs back to absolutely everything in your closet. From your favorite pair of dark wash denim to a black slim pant or pencil skirt, it’s always right. What’s more this piece is actually a classic – it’s a perennial favorite at this time of year. This means you can buy it now and wear it for years to come. Let the sequins capture the light, while you capture the attention. ($89 – available at Joe Fresh)

laceskirtA Case for Lace: Admittedly lace can sometimes have a more vintage, if not matronly feel. But his season we’re seeing lace done in a very contemporary way. With this skirt the illusion lace overlay and slim, pencil silhouette lend a modern touch – and a ladylike boost – to any wardrobe. Wear it with your favorite blazer and silk blouse for an office-ready option. Then swap out the blazer with a sparkly, statement necklace for a holiday dinner or after-work seasonal soiree. ($60 – available at Macy’s)

whitebuttondownFrill Seeker: While holiday dressing is all about pattern, texture and shine, you’ll want to make sure you have a solid, steady-eddy in your closet. Enter the crisp white blouse. This one goes well beyond the basic with three layers of elegant ruffles that adorn the placket of a classic button-down shirt. Wear it with any of the bottoms featured here to lend a tailored, yet timeless touch – not to mention a decidedly feminine edge. ($60 – available at Bloomingdale’s)

plaidpantsClad in Plaid: The Scots may call it tartan, but here on our shores it’s simply known as plaid. Trending for a few seasons running, we continue to be mad for plaid – especially the bold, overstated variety. Worn with a comfy, sparkly sweater or a shrunken blazer, these slim pants offer a whimsical and festive take on a classic favorite. It’s been said that this season’s plaid is less ‘school’ girl and more ‘cool’ girl. I couldn’t agree more! ($60 – available at Zara)

Animal Instincts: If ever there was a time to let animalprinttopyou hair down, the time is now! Why not take a walk on the wild side and add an animal print item to your closet? This one embraces some of the most festive details of the season, with its racy red and black color combo and embellished neckline. What’s more, there’s no need to add a necklace – it’s already built in. This statement sweater makes the perfect party accompaniment to all your celebratory soirees and holiday happenings. ($38 – available at Macy’s)

So while you’re making a list and checking it twice, don’t forget to add yourself – and perhaps one of these festive, holiday picks. Enjoy!

 

How to Survive Black Friday

November 8, 2013 in On style

BFridayBlack Friday will soon be here. Are you ready to wake up early – or stay up late – to snag some of the best deals of the season? Even if you’re planning to shop during normal business hours, you’ll still want to make the most of the sales and discounts. Here are some tips to help you save time, energy and frustration as you play Santa and shop the sales for all of your loved ones – and possibly yourself!

Make a list and check it twice. A list of recipients and gift items will help you stickMakeaList to your budget and minimize impulse buying. Don’t forget to include what you are prepared to spend for each item (and then adhere to it). Be sure to organize your list by store and sale hours, giving the highest priority to the must-have products that are most steeply discounted or highest in demand.

Research in advance. If ever there was a time to harness the power of the internet, this is it! For advance intel on sales and promotions, follow your favorite retailers on Facebook and Twitter or visit their websites. Websites such as bfads.net, theblackfriday.com, and blackfriday.com also provide a wealth of information about in-store or online sale information. Remember to compare prices of the same product via different retailers to secure the best details.

shopsavvyhandbagwithsnackFuel up. This includes both your cell phone and yourself! Make sure your cell phone is fully charged, especially if you decide to shop with a pal and need to meet up later. (Note: if you want to receive information about late breaking sales, apps such as “ShopSavvy” or “Black Friday Survival Guide” will deliver Black Friday deals – and updates – right to your phone.) You should also pack water and a snack, as it is important to keep your hydration and energy level up.

Be prepared. This Girl Scout motto is a good one to follow. Since the temperatures in different stores vary, dress in layers to avoid overheating. And comfortable shoes are a must! Don’t forget an envelope to keep receipts in one place and be sure to circle or notate return deadlines right on the receipt.

Remember the Gift Receipt. Most stores can print a gift receipt to include with the gift, in the event of return or exchange. (The nice thing about this type of receipt is that it does not disclose how much you spent on the item.) While some stores do this automatically for holiday season purchases, others do not so be sure to ask.

Consider a store credit card. Let me be clear here. I am not advising overusing this or any creditcardsother kind of credit card. But at this time of year, it may make sense to give up the miles (or whatever other perks you get) from your major credit cards in lieu of any extra discounts or extended warranties that may be offered when using the retailer’s store card. Note: this is only an option if you plan to pay off this card in full, as the hefty interest charges may negate any extra savings/benefits.

womenshopping6Enlist a pal. Not only will this make the shopping experience much more fun, you can buy more of an item that is limited to “x” number per customer. You and a friend can also ‘divide and concur’ to take advantage of any deals that may occur at the same time. (You can also hold each others place in line if a restroom break is needed!)

Of course you can always stay home and shop online on Cyber Monday. But let’s face it. There is something to be said for the ritual of Black Friday and the thrill of the hunt – not to mention the holiday music, festive displays and being in the company of thousands of others who embrace the spirit of giving as much as you do!

 

Wardrobe Items to be Thankful For

November 5, 2013 in On style

Thanksgiving is November’s most celebrated holiday. It’s the day when we give thanks for everything and everyone that matter most to us. We express gratitude for our bigger blessings – the people, places and experiences that nurture our spirit and feed our soul. Yet, one might argue that it’s also a good time to remember and give thanks for even the smallest of blessings. Here is some Thanksgiving ‘food for thought.’

Most of us want new things all the time – and the fashion industry is only too happy to fuel that desire with trend after trend. But let’s face it…trends come and go. So why not take a moment to give thanks for the ‘staple’ items that already live in your closet? I’m talking about the items that can be counted on, season after season, occasion after occasion. Here is a list for you to acknowledge and appreciate.

LBDThe little black dress – There is a reason why this is in the closet of every well-dressed woman. It’s always appropriate, no matter where you take it. And it never goes out of style. Dressed up or down, it goes from desk to dinner in a wink. Wear it with a blazer and high heels and you’re office ready; wear it with an edgy leather jacket and booties for a night out. It’s appropriate in your city or wherever your travels may take you, so it’s the one item that you should pack regardless of where you are headed.

cardiganpurpleThe cashmere cardigan – Is there anything that looks and feels more luxurious than cashmere? At this time of year, it’s a must have. Less formal than its structured blazer counterpart, it can be counted on for business casual or weekend-wear. For the winter season you’ll want to layer it with a turtleneck or t-shirt, and of course wear it under a warm coat. But heading into spring, you can wear it by itself as “outerwear” on a not-so-chilly day.

DarkwashjeansThe modern dark wash jean – If you’re a denim collector like me, you can always justify a new pair of jeans. But while other jeans are nice-to-have, the one that is a wardrobe workhorse – and oh so worthy of your gratitude – is your pair of dark wash denim. While it happens to be trending now, a dark wash is always in style and can easily be dressed up or down. During the days that you are permitted to wear jeans to work; a dark wash denim conveys the most polished and professional appearance.

FittedBlazerThe well-fitting blazer – This may be a piece that you take for granted. While it may not make your heart skip a beat like some of your flashier or trendier pieces, please do not under-estimate the use value of this item. It can be counted on for immediate credibility and respectability and instantly dresses up all that you put it with. For more informal options, you can pair it with a T-shirt or roll up the sleeves. And, you also can ‘pop’ the collar to give it a little bit of ‘tude.

Black PumpsThe comfortable basic mid-heel pump – Yes, it’s nice to have the leopard or snakeskin or color-blocked shoe. But let’s face it…they can have their limitations. If you have a basic black pump that you can wear all day, you have a shoe with a lot of utility – and one to be thankful for! It easily migrates from a work day to a weekend night and from the above mentioned LBD to dark wash denim. While this item is a wardrobe staple, it can be difficult to find so treasure the one you have!

Here’s to an attitude of gratitude for all the Steady Eddies in our closets!

 

Editing the Trends

October 16, 2013 in On style

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of hearing David Wolfe, Creative Director at the Doneger Group, speak.  For those of you who don’t know, the Doneger Group is the fashion industry’s leading source of global trend intelligence and retail market information. With his vast experience (he’s been in the industry 30 years) and quick wit, David did not disappoint!  I laughed, I learned and I came away ready to embrace (and share) one of his major takeaways – “fashion freedom” from trend tyranny.

accessibletrendsAccording to David, we are now in the midst of a “seismic realignment” in fashion.  Eye-catching but often unwearable, highly hyped trends are on the decline and in their place will come a return to realistic, individualized and accessible chic.  Count me in!

Sure as death and taxes, each season fashion provides a potpourri of trends to choose from.  Yet rather than use them as suggestions and select only those items that make sense, there are some people who will try to incorporate them all.  I’m not sure if it’s an overwhelming desire to be current, boredom with what’s already in the closet or simply being seduced by the pages of a favorite fashion magazine. Regardless a little “selective editing” goes a long way.

As the Anna Wintour of your own wardrobe, it begs the question…How do you know if a trend is right for you? To answer this question, you will want to first consider the following.

honorbodyDoes the trend honor your body?  While you may love the look of a trend, do you love it on you? Does it compliment your body shape? Does it play up your assets?  First and foremost anything you buy should flatter your body. If it doesn’t, it’s best to leave it on the rack.  If, on the other hand, it does flatter your body, it may be worth considering.

matchlifestyleDoes it make sense with your lifestyle?  Think about the trend relative to your own clothing needs and how you spend your time.  If the season is all about show-stopping, sky-high stilettos, but you have a job that requires you to be on your feet for 8 hours a day, how often will you reach for this type of shoe? The trick to a functional wardrobe is to have a selection of well-edited pieces that suit your lifestyle and that you can wear with frequency.ageappropriate

Is the trend age appropriate?  Crop tops may be a huge trend right now, but I believe there is an ‘expiration date’ for a trend like this.  (Ditto for things like leather shorts and combat boots.)  If you are wearing the same trend the same way that your teenage daughter or niece is, I would respectfully ask you to reconsider it.

comfortableIs it comfortable to wear?  I do love the look of a pointy toe shoe and I’m so happy to see it back this season, but the shape just kills my feet.  So just like the Mona Lisa, I’ll admire it from a far without taking it home.  Many people sacrifice comfort in the name of fashion, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  There are always more comfortable versions of whatever trend you are considering, so why not take the time to look?

Would you be inclined to wear the item after the trend has passed?  If not, you can lastingstill participate in the trend, but you won’t want to spend a lot on it.  Instead opt for a less expensive version of that item (hello H&M) that will probably last as long as the trend itself.

Adding a few trends each season will not only freshen up your wardrobe, but also help to give it variety and visual interest. So by all means experiment and have fun in the store, but bring home only those trendy items that make good style sense for you.

 

Six Bras Every Woman Should Own

October 16, 2013 in On style

Between the magazines, store windows and promise of cooler temperatures, your fashion focus is presumably on what’s brastrending for fall.  But truth be told, what’s “underneath it all” is just as important – if not more – than the clothes themselves.  So as you concentrate on your fall must-haves, you won’t want to forget your lingerie drawer – especially the bra section.  What follows are six that you simply cannot live without.

strapless3Strapless bra – This is a lingerie staple whether you are wearing a strapless top/dress or any other piece of clothing in which a bra with straps would show. (Think of tank tops, off-the-shoulder or one-shoulder styles, tube tops, halter tops and so on.) With a strapless bra, the band provides all of the support.  Make sure that it is made with strong elastic that will maintain its tension, yet not cause bulges above or below the band.  Start with a nude version, as this can go under light or dark colors and add a black one later on.

pushupPush up bra – Push up bras are very popular because of their promise to enhance cleavage and make the bust appear larger.  If you like the sound of that, then you will need at least one push up bra in your lingerie drawer.  Some versions contain padding (which may feel like too much), while others contain metal or plastic underwire that can cause discomfort.  Make sure to try on a few different styles and choose a push up bra that not only looks – but feels – great.

T-shirt bra – This seamless, contoured style is perfect for even the tightest of T’s.  But tshirtbradon’t let the name fool you.  Because it’s designed without raised seams, excessive lace or adornment, a T-shirt bra can also be worn with fitted sweaters and light-weight knitted tank tops and blouses.  Very often you will have the option of a moulded cup.  Slightly more rigid than their non-moulded counterparts, a moulded cup creates a nice, smooth shape, especially under a tighter fitting top.

sportsbraSports bra – You don’t have to be an athlete to need a sports bra or two.  Whenever you hit the gym or go for a run, wearing a sports bra will help prevent damage to the delicate breast tissue.  The amount of movement associated with your favorite recreational activity (a.k.a. the ‘impact level’) is an important factor that helps determine the best sports bra for you.  (You will want to test the support of the bra by jumping or running in place.)  In addition to performance, fit and comfort, you will also want to consider the fabric’s wicking factor.

convertiblebraConvertible bra – A convertible bra is a wardrobe workhorse and will serve you in a variety of different ways.  It comes with modifiable straps that can be “converted” into a halter, racer-back, one-shoulder or strapless style.  Look for one without excessive embellishment for even more mileage and utility.  Think of this one as a worthwhile investment as it offers a great solution for most wardrobe needs.  This makes it the perfect bra to include in your travel bag.

lacebraLace (date night) bra – Don’t buy this one for a significant other, but rather buy it for yourself!  One of the best ways to boost your mood – and your confidence – is to put on a beautiful, feminine lace bra.  Here’s fair warning – this type of bra is going to be habit-forming. If you have one, you know what I mean.  If you don’t, what are you waiting for?

Remember, the proper bra can make or break your look so choose yours with the same care you do your outfits!