Mirror, Mirror…

Mirror, mirror, on the wall; who’s the fairest of them all?  We all remember this from Snow White but how many people are saying, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall.   I hate what I’m seeing!”

I find that women have a much greater tendency than men to be self-deprecating.  When they look in the mirror, they see just the things they don’t like and dismiss their natural beauty.

One of the things I love the most about being an image consultant is helping women discover their personal beauty and learn how to make it work for them.  After all, if each of us has totally unique finger-prints and irises, then without question, each of us is a unique creation, never intended to look like someone else.

Little girls look in the mirror and appreciate their image.  Look at the sheer delight in the face of this little girl.  I have always love the Norman Rockwell picture of a young girl all dressed up admiring herself all dressed up in her make-believe world.  How do we lose that?  It may be from some thoughtless critical remarks.   It often comes when young girls start to compare themselves with others.

It always saddens me when I see Cher today.  She was strikingly beautiful with her dramatic bone structure.  Her American Indian heritage was evident, giving her a unique beauty unlike anyone else.  Then there is Michael Jackson.  What an adorable young boy prior to his multiple surgeries.

The key is to accept the “is’s”!  So you wish you were tall enough to be a model and you are 5’ 2”.  That’s and “is” and can’t be changed.  Learn how to appreciate your petite frame and make the most of it.  You can wear things that no 5’ 10” woman can wear!  Or perhaps you are large boned.  You aren’t going to going to be able to wear something frilly and very feminine.  You will probably look fabulous in more tailored, classic or sporty clothes.

I encourage everyone to stop and look at your own beautiful design.  Do you get compliments on your hair?  Then choose a style that accentuates your hair, one that you can maintain.  Then, let that be your crowning glory even running to the grocery store.  You have a small waist but are fuller through the hips.  Choose styles that minimize your hips while accentuating your small waist.  You get the picture.  Focus on the features that bring you compliments, those features that you love about yourself and make the most of them.

If you are not quite sure how to make this work for you, please call for a half hour complementary converstion.  I look forward to hearing from you!  Beryl@StyleWithAplomb.com 404-428-2527

The Sleeveless Dilemma

How frequently I hear complaints that ladies can’t find dresses appropriate for them.  Designers create beautiful collections but offer only a sleeveless version.  Many women prefer not to show their upper arms.   It is truly a puzzle why plus size manufacturers predominately feature sleeveless designs.  This issue, however, is not just for plus sizes.   Most ladies after the age of 45 want their upper arms covered.

I often suggested wearing a shrug,  or light jacket to create a more polished, professional appearance.  This does not take into account another challenge for the over forty-five market.  Menopause!  Who wants to wear a jacket or sweater if you are burning up?  And let’s not forget those sudden bursts of perspiration.  Dressing professionally while experiencing such physical fluctuations can be daunting.

You can imagine my delight when I walked into church this Sunday and encountered my friend Wendy wearing her classic sheath, topped with a jeans-type jacket in a sheer fabric.  It was genius!  She looked fabulous!   When I spoke to her about her jacket, she mentioned the very points that I just covered.  She prefers to have her arms covered and, on occasion, she experiences those “flushes” that make you wish you were wearing a swimming suit!  This jacket added virtually no extra warmth or weight, and it was almost indiscernible that the jacket was so light and sheer.

Wendy graciously agreed to allow me to photograph her in order to share her look with you.  Wendy chose a chocolate brown sheath, matching her chocolate colored hair.  Then, the sheer leopard print jacket added interest and scaled the look up to a more professional or dressy look.  I like the rounded shapes of the leopard print as they support Wendy’s soft features.  What doesn’t show well in the photo is a red and gold necklace in a rich, warm red, adding a pop of color.

If a sheer jacket needs to find a home in your fall wardrobe, I suggest using the internet as fall collections will be less likely to offer something so lightweight.   Look smart and stay cool!

Oh, Nostalgia!

Have you ever gotten a nostalgic knot in your throat when looking at beautiful gowns of the late 19th century and wondered what it would have been like to live in that era?  Those gowns seemed so elegant, every lady was beautiful.  Who would not want to look like one of the lovely ladies from a Monet, Renoir or Manet painting?  Maybe it’s because the impressionist era is my favorite, but I get a little misty when I look at that romantic era.

Okay, it’s time for a reality check.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is just coming to the close of their exhibit of impressionistic paintings featuring clothes from the 1860’s to the 1880’s.   With this exhibit came some revelations of what it really was like in that era.

Black became a fashion color, not just reserved for mourning.  Since black is the most complex color, the dying process is more difficult.  Thus it was considered a luxury because of the additional expense.   Women, however, decided black was  universally flattering so it became popular with the masses.

New textile production technology made detailed garments and accessories affordable making many previously unaffordable pieces available to the lower class.  Upper class ladies with private tailors were no longer the only ones able to afford luxury fashion items.  As you can imagine, the upper class began clamoring for unusual details to distinguish them from the masses.

This opened the door for luxury label designer clothing.  Charles Frederick Worth from England brought in the Designer’s signature style – styles that were distinctive and recognizable by other fashionistas.  He even added his own designer label inside each garment.

Wearing voluminous trailing skirts was often more than a little cumbersome so some creative genius tricked them out with long ribbons called tirettes, within the skirt.  These could be pulled up to shorten the skirt as desired.   This was no doubt appreciated on a picnic!

Despite the modesty of these styles, fashion police didn’t hesitate to weigh in on what they considered unseemly.  In one painting by Thore, the model was criticized for wearing “bluestockings” (unseen under her gown) because they were “comfortable”.  Oh, where have I heard that before?  Manet’s painting of a young lady with two buttons unbuttoned at the neck, met with cries of horror.  So unfeminine!

Okay, nostalgia gone!  I will remain content to admire these fabulous paintings featuring beautiful ladies magnificently attired but I am grateful that we can wear capris to picnics, suits to the office and fun dresses without hose to a party.

What color will be dominant this fall?

Violet, eggplant, amethyst, purple, lavender.  Call it by any name and it is still a shade of purple.

Although Pantone chooses “the” color of the year, designers have gotten wiser and offer a beautiful array of choices each season.  After all, not everyone can wear tangerine tango or emerald green, just to mention two of the latest Pantone choices.  That said, one color seems to dominate this fall’s palette.   Purple!  It is coming to a store near you!

Research shows that a large percentage of women choose purple as their favorite color.   Most everyone can find a shade of purple that will be flattering to them.   Shades of purple can work for business.  So, what’s not to like?

Purple is not going just limited to clothing but extends to accessories.  You will see amethyst shoes, violet handbags, eggplant suits, and the list goes on and on.   So, how does someone accustomed to gray, black, navy, brown and other neutrals, incorporate purple.

I recently suggested that a client choose a purple suit for work.  As a college professor, she wanted something that would be attractive, yet project authority.  Purple will do just that.   Throughout history kings wore purple robes.   What better choice for a woman to project authority than a shade of purple?

Purple shoes or a handbag might seem a stretch, but is it?  Many years ago, I had a really cool dress with a taupe and purple design.  I found a pair of shoes that harmonized with the purple and just made the dress.  What was a surprise, those shoes went with any number of other things in my closet.  The right shade of purple can accent neutrals, such as gray, navy and black or even some shades of brown.  Add a scarf, jewelry or other little accent to support the shoes and you look modern and chic.

A purple jacket will go with any of the above-mentioned neutrals or work with jeans.  It can be a staple in your wardrobe.  The trick will be to find your shade of purple.  Lavender can be lovely but it is soft, feminine and lacks power.   Magenta projects sexuality.   If you are warm-toned, choose a purple with warmth.  Purple with black added is more powerful and professional than a bright purple.

Regal, seductive or classy professional, adding something purple can breathe new breath into your fall wardrobe.

Getting Mileage from Your Basic Black Dress

Who would have thought that a dress could be versatile?  At first blush, it looks like it is much less practical than separates.  But, let’s take another look.

A simple sheath dress in a basic color can truly be a workhorse.  It can become your go-to piece.  Let’s start with a basic dress.   I suggest a simple style, flattering to your body type.  Select a basic color that will complement your natural coloring.  For a cool palette, navy, gray, and black are possible choices.  A warm palette might select brown, camel, warm gray or a rich teal.

Next, add a jacket.  This can match the dress to create a suit or be a contrasting color.  You may want both.   Now, you have a business suit, but you can remove the jacket, add jewelry, change shoes and purse and you are off to cocktails or dinner after work.  You can create a completely different look by wearing a sweater or shrug.  Try accenting with a scarf.  Scarves offer a seemingly endless variety of ways to wear them and can be worn with the dress alone or with a jacket.

Are your creative juices flowing?  I hope so.  There may be a conference you are to attend and you just want to take a carry-on bag.  How about other travel?  With charges for checked bags, not to mention lost baggage, there is more incentive to choose a few versatile pieces that can be carried on with you.

If you come to love the simplicity of creating a wardrobe this way, you may want to add another dress in an unusual color that says “You”.  How about burgundy, violet,  or gold?  Choose colors that will go with your jacket(s).  Of course, if you add another jacket or sweater, it should work with your dress(s).

The great thing about this wardrobe plan is that it doesn’t require numerous pieces.  Translation:  You have saved money!  Who doesn’t want to do that?