Which Flower are You?

Posted on March 25, 2010 by admin 

In spite of our cold winter, spring has finally arrived in Atlanta and springtime flowers are emerging in all their splendor.  I grew up in Eastern Oregon, called the “Switzerland of America,” which is a most appropriate name for this beautiful area.   The spectacular mountains are covered with snow in the winter and summers are rarely very hot.  As in most mountain regions, a snowfall in April or May is not unusual so spring sort of slips by unnoticed and suddenly it is summer.  After graduating from college, I moved to Los Angeles for a number of years where the seasons come and go without any fan fair as it is hard to differentiate one from the other.

Moving to Atlanta in the fall, I marveled at the beauty and variety of colors as the leaves changed.  Everyone told me that spring was even more spectacular but I could not imagine how that was possible until the following spring arrived.  It seemed there was wave after wave of glorious new blossoms on a daily basis, combined with the emerging of leaves once the flowers started to fade.

Again, this spring the long-awaited tree and flower blossoms just take my breath away.  As I have been observing this spectacular display of beauty, I am reminded of how each variety has a beauty all its own.  The tulips and daffodils, standing so straight and proper, adorned with just one or two blossoms are true minimalists.  Japanese Magnolias, with their tulip-like blossom present themselves in a bubble of soft color, giving the tree the appearance of a giant, pink ice cream cone.  Delicate, wild looking forsythia branches covered with joyful yellow blooms, invite you to skip through a meadow.  Conversely, the delicate, pink cherry blossoms convey a feeling of fragile beauty and femininity.

In observing how each species has a beauty all its own and each conveys a different message, I have been struck with how similar we are, each with our own individual beauty.   We would think it ludicrous if the forsythia grumbled because it wished to be an azalea or the tulip wanted to be a pansy but we don’t think it unusual if we look at someone with a different type of beauty than ours and wish that we were like her.

A fun exercise to do is to think of your favorite flower.  Consider what attributes draw you to love that particular flower.  Often you will realize that the flower represents you.  I know of one woman who loves white tulips.  She is very competent and efficient and dresses in an understated, minimalist way.  Another lady loves an amaryllis.  This is the person who will never walk into a room unnoticed.  Her magnetic personality and sparkle telegraph to everyone that she is present.  Yet another woman absolutely loves a sunflower.  Like the sunflower, she has a personality and presence as big as all out doors.   Each person will be drawn to a particular flower that reflects a blend of her personality and appearance.

As we marvel as each new flower emerges this spring, let’s also marvel at our own unique beauty and savor the beauty with which we have been designed.

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Why Women Buy Clothes They Never Wear

Posted on March 17, 2010 by admin 

As a Certified Image Consultant, I have been in untold numbers of closets, sometimes revealing small boutique of new clothes bearing tags from present and past seasons.  My clients and friends seem to fall into different categories as to “why?”

The Clueless person has no understanding of which colors and styles looks best on her.  So when she see a new style or color trend, she impulsively buy it without giving thought to how it will look on her.   Then you add the allure of finding something at a deep discounted sale price and it becomes impossible to think clearly.  Of course, that great price also includes a “No Return” tag.   Just because it is a size 14 and you wear a 10 is not important at the time until you discover it will cost more than the original price to do the alterations necessary.   This joins other such purchases hanging in the closet.

The Insecure shopper is the person who needs a friend to shop with her and help her make a decision.  Most friends choose garments that work for them without recognizing that it won’t work for others.   The shopper brings home the article chosen by her friend and recognizes upon a second try-on, that it doesn’t really work. Thus, the garment often is not returned and just hangs in the closet, new tags in tact.

The Hunter is typified by my daughter, Cyndi.   She shops consignment boutiques, deep discounted stores and vintage stores.  It is always a thrill when she finds something by a name designer.  I remember how excited she was when she bought a brocade jacket by Jenny, a well-known Italian designer some twenty years ago.  The brocade didn’t exactly match her spunky personality and penchant for wearing something slightly funky, but it was a Jenny jacket.  Neither did the jacket exactly work for the one formal event she attended each year nor did she have anything with which to wear the jacket; but it was a Jenny jacket!    Cyndi carried that jacket in the back of her car for probably three years, searching every consignment shop for something to go with it.  I even got drawn into the process on more than one occasion.  I don’t think she ever found anything with which to wear the jacket and I doubt that she has ever had it on her back but she undoubtedly got her money’s worth from the pleasure she had in having a reason to go on the hunt.

Then there is the Marinater.     This process is most useful with husbands when you buy something that you absolutely love but feel guilty about the purchase. Out of guilt (or perhaps by design) it rests in the closet for a marinating period.   It might even be pulled out to wear to a luncheon or ladies event where you can return it to the closet without your husband seeing it.  At an appropriate time in the future, you put on the garment and your husband asks, “Is that new?”  You can honestly say, “Why, no.  I have had it for a long time.”  It is even more convincing if he says, “I don’t remember seeing it” and you can respond, “Really?  I know I’ve worn it before.”   Being a recovering marinater, I can attest to the effectiveness of this technique.

There are no doubt additional reasons why women buy clothes they never wear but when that image consultant comes to help audit your closet, all of those clothes will be repurposed and there will be a Cyndi who will be thrilled to find such a treasure when on her thrift shop or consignment store shopping rounds.

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A Dress for All Seasons

Posted on March 9, 2010 by admin 

Diane Von Furstenberg reintroduced the wrap dress a few seasons ago, launching a return to dresses.  Although dresses don’t offer the versatility of skirts or pants, which can be paired with a jacket or sweater, it is nice to see women’s legs again.  Wrap dresses are particularly limiting, since they don’t lend themselves to layering, but a sheath offers great versatility.

The sheath can be flattering for any body shape, can be worn with jackets or sweaters to give more style options and can go from day to evening.   Anyone who likes to wear dresses can wear a sheath.   By knowing which style will fit your body and your lifestyle, you can add lots of miles to your wardrobe just by including the right sheath.

A classic sheath dress just skims the body, zips up the back and has a boat neck.  The best fabrics for this dress have body such as linen, lightweight wool or knit.   Fabrics that have a bit of stretch work well.   I think solid colors give more latitude in how you can wear the dress whereas a print is more memorable and will take it out of the category of being a basic.  If you like a touch of drama, choose a sheath with an asymmetric neckline.  Surprise is one of three techniques one can use to create drama.  Sleeves add more versatility, helping bridge the seasons.   I have been amazed to see so many women in newsrooms this winter wearing sleeveless dresses with below freezing temperatures outside!  This always seemed to me a bit of a disconnect.

If one has an oval or rectangle shape, the sheath should just skim the waist area and the skirt bottom should hang straight.  For a small waist, extra fit can be achieved by having a side zipper, which will contour more closely to the body.  For wider hips, the skirt should be a modified “A” line skirt allowing for the width through the hips.  Those with narrow hips can have the skirt tapered in slightly at the bottom or the “Sicilian cut”.  This will require a slit in the back to facilitate waking.  An inverted triangle, although slim through the hips, can balance the hips with the shoulders by wearing more of an “A” skirt shape to give the illusion of wider hips.

A sheath can have a wide range of variations from design detail at the neckline or waist or being belted or a flippy bias flounce at the bottom just to name a few.  A jacket or sweater will give a more tailored, work appropriate look then add a necklace, change from business pumps to strappy sandals and you are ready to go to dinner.

Stores are filled with great selections of sheath dresses from which to choose.  This could be your one big purchase to wear for spring and throughout the year.

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Everything is in Style

Posted on March 4, 2010 by admin 

Although I just wrote two blogs on spring fashion trends, the day has finally arrived when these trends have become suggestions instead of dictates.   David Wolfe, creative director of Doneger Group, has been analyzing style trends for 41 years.  He recently told a room full of retail executives, “There are no more style trends.  Everything is in style.”  Wow!

We love to watch old films if for no other reason than to either giggle or long wistfully over the fashions.   The flapper look of the 1920’s, the very fitted suits with long skirts of the 1940’s, miniskirts of the 1960’s to name a few, all furnish us with ideas for costume parties or fill us with nostalgia.   I remember those minis of the 60’s being so short that breathing could cause embarrassment.  One creative manufacturer included panties that matched the dress to avoid over exposure.  It was probably a blessing that I was too conservative to wear minis myself!  Each decade offered a distinguished style, different enough from the previous one that one looked very “yesterday” if past favorites were worn.

Today, pants ranging from wide legged to skinny and every width in between are shown side by side – often by the same designer.  Skirt lengths, although usually above the knees or mini, can also be found in longer lengths.   Jackets have a wide variety of styles, including various jacket and sleeve lengths.   Finally, women are able to be stylish in clothes that work for them – body shape, age-appropriate, and personality.  It may take some extra work to find the store that carries your style but it is out there.

With the trend toward more lasting clothes styles, I suggest you buy the best quality you can afford in your classics pieces, especially wools for the cooler months.  Higher quality fabrics will cost more but they last longer without showing wear.  For example, there are two brands of slacks that fit me very well so I have a wardrobe of black, grey, brown, navy and winter white at all times.  Because the wool is good quality, these core pieces will last three or four seasons so I can replace a particular color when I know it is reaching its limit of wearability.    In this way, I am only purchasing one or two pair of slacks a season and have the possibility of finding them on sale.    Other wardrobe items can be rotated in the same way.  Summer clothes need to be replaced more frequently as the fabrics do not hold up as well but they are generally not as expensive.   This is the season that you can really throw in some fun pieces that you might want to keep only for a season.

So let’s make the most of the “Everything is in style” trend for as long as it lasts!

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