Eye Candy for Fashionistas

Presidential inaugurations are a bit like the Oscars in that it is an opportunity for those participants to show off their very best attire. Last Friday was exceptional considering the cast of ladies in the spotlight.

Left:  Melania Trump  Far right:  Karen Pence
Left: Melania Trump Far right: Karen Pence

Melania Trump, new First Lady, was a professional model before she married Donald Trump. What a training ground to learn what looks best on you and to know how to show off what you’re wearing to the best advantage!   Ivanka Trump is not only an accomplished businesswoman but she has her own shoe line and a business-wear for women clothing line. Donald Jr. is married to a former model and Eric’s wife is a business executive. Tiffany Trump, the youngest of the Trump women, chose a younger look that worked well for her.   All of these ladies created beautiful images of being appropriate for the occasion and looking fabulous.  Of course, they have the advantage of having attended many important events and a budget for doing it right.

Jackie's classic elegance style an Melania's
Jackie’s classic elegance style an Melania’s

Not since Jackie Kennedy, have we had a First Lady who captured the country with her elegance and superb sense of style. Melania worked with her designer in the creation of her ball gown for the inauguration. Jackie took ideas from European designers and worked with Oleg Cassini, an American designer, to create a similar look for her so there could be no criticism for not choosing an American designer.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s choice of the burgundy coat and dress ensemble was excellent. She set the president of choosing a little known designer. Melania followed suit with the choice of Herve Pierre to make the gown for her inauguration ball and other little-known designers for several of her other outfits. The sky blue cashmere dress and jacket, which she wore for the inauguration ceremony, was by Ralph Lauren. Lauren also designs for Hillary Clinton. We are getting a better sense of Melania’s style. She chose an elegant look, simple, yet with beautiful design details.  

Inaugural ballgown by Herve Pierre
Inaugural ballgown by Herve Pierre

Karen Pence’s black princess coat over a simple dress was perfect. The princess coat with a flaired skirt creates a nice waist definition while black boots complete a one-color look adding visual height. Her dress showing at the neck adds an interesting detail and draws your eye to her face.

I’m sure the next four years will provide a banquet for the senses as we watch this classy lady take her role as First Lady and have cameo appearances of other ladies in the family.

Be Casual and Comfortable with Style

Transform jeans and tee from "blah" to "wow"!
Transform jeans and tee from “blah” to “wow”!

 

I am amazed to see how much more casual people are dressing now. Of course, I love reasons to dress up but I also love wearing jeans and a cute top around the house or to run errands. The balance is to bridge from torn jeans and a non-descript, baggy tee shirt that might be appropriate to wear while cleaning the garage to looking chic and casual.

Fit is a must. There are jeans and there are jeans. Since jeans have become a staple in most everyone’s closet, there are jeans to fit every body. A good friend of mine who is a grandmother, wears jeans and a classic sweater or crisp shirt much of the time. She usually wears black jeans and a neutral top, perfect to express her a well-groomed classic look. Adding a simple favorite necklace, she is always appropriate for lunching with a friend, a shopping excursion or even a week in Europe. Her secret: A polished conservative look supporting her style that affords huge versatility in a wide range of settings.

Friday Casual Day at the office.
Friday Casual Day at the office.

Wearing a statement necklace can transform “blah” into “wow”. Look at the lady wearing black skinny jeans with a black tee shirt. The necklace transforms her black on black from ordinary to stunning. Adding heels and a dressy clutch make it appropriate for the theatre or dinner.

Jeans for casual Friday at the office can portray professional when worn with a white blouse topped with a jacket, accented with the bold turquoise necklace. Don’t you love the boots?

Of course, a blouse doesn’t need to be classic white. This pink checked blouse worn with dark blue jeans makes a statement of its own. Adding bracelets and a creative statement necklace turns this into a showstopper. It is not a look for the shy and retiring but would be perfect for that confident person with great presence.

Casual style impact with color.
Casual style impact with color.

It doesn’t take much to transform from a casual look that elicits a yawn to smiles and compliments!

Flea Markets, antique shops, resale shops and the like are great places to find unusual statement jewelry. It need not be expensive but must have character. Don’t forget to check out family jewelry boxes for forgotten pieces.

 

 

Happy Birthday Coco Chanel

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, born August 19, 1883, remains one of the most influential couturiers in women’s fashion.   Perhaps the loss of her mother and abandonment by her father drove her to make the most of her life.

Coco’s nickname was established when she was a cabaret singer. It was also there that she met the first of her wealthy lovers. Her background would never have allowed them to marry her but their influence and funding were invaluable in helping her succeed.  Coco loved comfortable clothes that accommodated her active life.   She often raided her boyfriend’s closet and adapted his clothes to a style of her own providing the comfortable attire she loved. Her first venture was a hat shop in Paris financed by her wealthy boyfriend at the time.

The First World War brought occupation of Paris so Coco followed the multitude of wealthy Parisians who escaped to the north of France. There she began creating more casual clothes and clients loved them.

The war contributed greatly to women accepting the more casual and comfortable designs Coco made. Men had to go to war and women began going to work in the factories. Certainly factory work could not be done in the styles of the day. Chanel’s more casual, comfortable designs were ideal for the working girl. By the end of the war, they were widely accepted throughout the fashion world and Chanel was on her way.

Her areas of influence in fashion are too numerous to mention but an article I recently read, chose five of her favorite quotes that I thought an appropriate tribute to this fashion trailblazer.

  1. Always wear lipstick! Preferable red. “If you’re sad, if you’re disappointed in love, put on your makeup, give yourself some beauty care, put on lipstick, and attack.”
  2. Have a Signature Scent!A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” Coco believed that everyone needed a signature scent to make a lasting impression.   Chanel No. 5 was launched in 1921 and reportedly sells a bottle every 30 seconds. She may have been right!
  3. Embrace Your Individuality. Chanel followed this rule personally by pioneering the concept that if a woman looks comfortable , she will feel comfortable. She can be herself. Chanel stated it this way: “In order to be irreplaceable, you must be different.”
  4. Choose the right shade. Color is one of the most important aspects in showing you off at your best. Whether choosing the color for your dress or the perfect shade for your make-up Chanel’s philosophy was, “The best color in the whole world is the one that looks good on you.”
  5. Aging Gracefully. “At 20, your face has been given to you by nature; at 30, your face has been fashioned for life; but at 50, it is up to you to deserve it.” Embrace the changes that occur as you age. Take care of your skin and enjoy the beauty of a more mature you.

 

Final Mark-downs! Choose the Best!

 

If you loved the idea of resale shopping, let’s look at a more traditional way to add new pieces to your wardrobe at a fraction of the original cost. Shopping final seasonal markdowns! My favorite store for shopping final sales is Saks for several reasons.

0400089343457_247x329First, Saks carries a wide selection of good quality clothing. They have the high-end designers on the top floor—Armani, Escada, Chanel and dozens more with new designers and less expensive labels on the bottom floor. I have come to prefer the bottom floor.   Along with more traditional labels like Eileen Fisher, one can find Hugo Boss, Elie Tahari and Peserico, a new Italian label which has become one of my all-time favorites. I discovered this label a few years ago when I found a dress by Peserico while consignment shopping with Cyndi. You can imagine my delight when I discovered that Saks is now carrying the label. The best part of this label is that the pants actually fit me! When you find a label with styles you love and the clothes fit, you have just hit a home run!

Secondly, Saks has the best sales that I have found. At the very end of the season, they mark down a final time resulting in generally a 75% saving. If the store does not have your size in something that you love, it is often available at another store. I have found dresses that were originally in the $400 range for about $100. Unlike some stores that bring in lower quality merchandise for a final sale, I have never found anything on the sale rack that is not a familiar label carried by Saks.0400087723684_247x329

As I mentioned, pants are a real problem for me so I was thrilled to find some casual pants that fit! I found a pair of capris and two pair of walking shorts that have become my go-to casual wear. One trick I learned the hard way is to always take a critical back view when trying something on. This is especially true with pants. I have experienced coming home with a new treasure only to examine the back view and find that it pulls where it should not and cannot be corrected. Good fit needs to include all angles and a treasure is not a treasure if it doesn’t fit.

Oddly enough, this end of summer sale included some sweaters. I found a very French looking striped sweater to breathe new life into my fall/winter look. I also was able to add a couple of blouses so that some past season treasures can now be retired. I wear the Ellie Tahari with my new taupe and white capris but I tuck in the bottom. It is a cute look with the bottom ruffle just covering the waistband. The other top will even take me into fall and winter because of the sleeves.

Each of the items I added can be worn with a variety of things I already have and will either replace something that is getting tired or add variety. Each item is a very good quality so can be an active part of my wardrobe for the next few years.

0400088301013_247x329It may be too late to take advantage of this season’s sales but you can keep some of these ideas in mind when next season’s sales start. Choose main staples from higher quality labels and add trendy, one-season items from less expensive stores. This will give you fresh, fun clothes and keep your budget in check!  

New York Fashion Week Launches Spring

 

Letterman Jackets. Back to school.
Letterman Jackets. Back to school.

It’s that time of year again! Designers through-out the globe are ready to show their visions of how we should look for the upcoming season. New York was last week then on to Milan and Paris.

New York was much more abuzz with social media than what models were wearing. It was all about creating excitement with sets and technology broadcasting the show out on Instagram . As you might imagine, the younger designers, seemed to shine the brightest in their execution of technology to promote their fresh, new designs.

There were many trends. It seemed each report that I reviewed, had a slightly different list. Since this show was just New York, there will no doubt be some differences and some consolidation what is truly going to be the new trend.

Sleeves and longer length. It's a home run!
Sleeves and longer length. It’s a home run!

Bomber Jackets or school letter jackets appear in the traditional styles to be worn casually with jeans or made of the same fabric as slacks for a more sophisticated casual look. If you are a sporty type, this could be a fun look to wear. If you are elegant, dramatic, or feminine, it probably won’t work.

0400089180233_247x329Off the Shoulder is popular with many designers. We have not seen this look for some time so it is fun and fresh.   The key will be to wear the right bra. A no-bra look only works at the beach so good support and no straps visible are key.

I noticed focus on two colors. Orange is back in the spotlight again, ranging from bright orange to a salmon. These are usually best worn if you have warm-toned coloring. Orange is also a very strong color, making it memorable. You won’t be choosing orange for your basic to wear frequently.   The other emerging color trend was described by one reporter as “murky”.     This dress in Bordeaux is a perfect example .

The new "murky" colors.
The new “murky” colors.

Good news for most everyone!   Sleeves are coming back.   How long has it been since you have seen sleeves on a dress? It is also the missing component in clothing that I hear the most complaints about. Some collections went to extremes with old- fashioned mutton-leg styles. Yes, this was even pre-Downton Abbey!   Other collections offered some very creative ways to cover part of the arm such as the off-shoulder and the charming little stylized cap sleeve of the orange dress.

Versatile, wear-ever skirt in longer length.
Versatile, wear-ever skirt in longer length.

The last new trend will be welcome to most everyone over 30. Longer skirts! It is exciting to think of choosing a new dress without having to strategize how to cover 6” of thigh and still look professional.   Since longer skirts can look dowdy, look at yourself in the mirror from all angles and take a selfie. If it doesn’t seem to be your ideal length, longer skirts can always be shortened. Sometimes just below the knee is a good length and sometimes longer. We each have our “sweet spot” for the skirt length that looks best so don’t think you have to take it as-is!  

A Look at Feet this Spring

Sales are virtually over. Enter spring!

Utilitarian look.
Utilitarian look.

My mailbox brings new looks on a daily basis. The shoes have especially intrigued me this spring. What woman doesn’t love shoes?   I surely fall into that category but it is not without its challenges.   I wear a narrow width which is more and more difficult to find.   Fortunately, Marmi in Lenox Square, carries a nice array of narrow and wide widths at prices that don’t require a bank loan!

What has struck me this spring is that so many shoe styles have a heavy, utilitarian look.   They might be the perfect choice for traveling in Europe where you know you will be walking 20 miles each day but not the best complement for a pretty spring dress. The weekend Wall Street Journal featured a “slip dress” as a new look. Of course, these dresses have been seen for several seasons as a novelty look but have never quite made it to the mainstream.

Oxford.  Good look for masculine suit or slack look.
Oxford. Good look for masculine suit or slack look.

By definition, a slip dress is of satin with lace trim looking just like a traditional slip from years gone by. What I found incongruous was they were paired with oxfords! How does that work? Why not choose strappy sandals to support the delicate, feminine look of the slip dress?

If you want to add visual weight to your feet, this is a way to do it.
If you want to add visual weight to your feet, this is a way to do it.

The sandal pictured, with the heavy heel needs to be worn with something heavy. The wide straps, thick platform and bulky heel add visual weight to one’s feet. These would never work for a petite person or one with delicate bone structure. Neither would the Mary Janes. They would probably be great walking shoes or utilitarian every-day run to the store, take the kids to the park kind of shoe. Utilitarian is the perfect word to describe them.   There is no way these shoes can be dressed up to meet a friend for lunch or dinner.

Practical Mary Jane.  Not much style but utilitarian.
Practical Mary Jane. Not much style but utilitarian.

Notice how the pointed toes add visual leg length.   The sling back pump would work for many people. A mid-heel is a wearable heel height while still looking dressy. This style will be sturdy enough to complement a suit or light enough to wear with a dress. One advantage of a sling back is that they offer a great fit for those challenged by trying to fit a narrow heel.

Dressy and versatile.  Works with suits or dresses.
Dressy and versatile. Works with suits or dresses.

Almost everyone needs at least one pair of comfortable, every day shoes. That may be one of the first shoes you add to your wardrobe. Next, I would suggest a shoe that will give you the greatest flexibility in ways you can wear it. To get the greatest mileage for your investment, I suggest choosing a shoe that will go with a wide variety of outfits in your wardrobe. That way, you always have the right pair of shoes to go with different outfits.   This practice has an added bonus of providing a little budget left over to add something fun and playful when you find it!

Thoughtfully selecting your shoes helps keep within a budget and helps avoid one of those panic times when you don’t have the right pair of shoes to make the outfit work!

Step Into the New Year With Pantone’s Soft Colors

 

 

0400088630593_ASTL_247x329Welcome to Pantone’s 2016 color selection! What is surprising, they chose not one, but two colors of the year. You have no doubt seen Rose Quartz and Serenity on Facebook. Recent years have featured rich, strong colors such as Tangerine Tango, Emerald, Radiant Orchid and Marcela but this year is different. Rose Quartz is a beautiful pastel pink reminiscent  a true rose quartz color. Serenity is a pastel blue. My husband and I walk in the evenings – our favorite time to enjoy the sunset. On a recent walk I was struck by the beauty of the sky perfectly painted in Rose Quartz and Serenity. What a perfect ad for Pantone’s 2016 colors!

Pantone’s color experts no doubt understand the psychological effect colors have on us.

Soft pink with flair.
Soft pink with flair.

Pastel colors are soothing and calming. When you think of how our busy lives are inundated with technology to “help” us while actually making our lives more stressful, it is not surprising that we need to retreat into more soothing colors. Color takes energy to wear. When we are under great stress, it is only natural to seek colors requiring little energy.

Pink can work as a neutral.
Pink can work as a neutral.

Not only does technology make our lives more stressful, world events add to our stress levels. Watching the daily news offers little that is calming or reassuring. In the past I often chose to wear red on dreary days to counteract tone of the day. However, in today’s world, a softer shade can strike the right balance of giving a psychological boost while having a calming effect.

Rose Quartz and Serenity will be versatile colors that offer great mileage to your wardrobe.

Soft blue - classic and versatile.
Soft blue – classic and versatile.

If you have warm coloring, select a coral pink to complement your peach-toned skin. Blue is a wonderful neutral that is becoming for most cool and warm-toned skin. You can also complement blue shades with a variety of other colors and accessories. Neutrals in taupe, gray, pewter, silver and black will all be great shoe colors for both blue and pink. I would avoid black unless you have dark hair.

Add some interest with print. Then top it off with a jacket or sweater.
Add some interest with print. Then top it off with a jacket or sweater.

Another advantage to these pastels, they are not as memorable as bright colors. Tangerine Tango will make a statement so that everyone remembers the last time you wore it. These softer colors will look great but not remind others that you just wore that outfit, especially if you change accessories to achieve different looks.

The world may be filled with stress but you can create a tranquil cocoon by surrounding yourself with soft, tranquil colors.

Horrors! I’m Dressed All Wrong for the Party!

Another office to party option.
Another office to party option.

 

My granddaughter just attended a holiday party where she and her boyfriend were not nearly as dressed up as their classmates! The fact that it was a fraternity party and guys are not known for being as precise on that sort of thing doesn’t help if you are a university sophomore and completely out of step with your peers!

How many times do we receive invitations with dress code like “casual” or “jacket required” or the newest one: “festive”. What in the world is festive”?

Another office to party option. Add a belt or significant necklace. Notice the interesting sleeves.
Another office to party option. Add a belt or significant necklace.  Sparkle required!
Notice the interesting sleeves.

Festive, by definition, should have some bling. Festive does not bring a little black dress to mind.   Your vision is more of fun, sparkle and color. Suppose you are going directly from the office. How about choosing black crepe slacks or ankle-length skirt?   Top it with a dressy blouse that is office-appropriate.

You can add some rich metallic shoes, change to a bright or metallic handbag, accent with some sparkly drop earrings, and Voila! You are Festive!

Maybe you want a more sophisticated look. How about pulling out your standby – the tux?

Classic tux.
Classic tux.

Add pizzazz by choosing statement shoes. Give this elegant look sparkle by adding a knockout pin. Bring in a pop of color with the evening bag. Sophisticated and festive.

Simple print. The design makes the statement.
Simple print. The design makes the statement.

Prints are usually not considered a look for evening but with the right print, you can pull it off. The dress should be the main focus with supporting accessories. This simple shift makes a great statement. All you need is a touch of color – maybe bright red evening sandals worn with a crystal decorated evening bag. Complete the look with drop earrings. Again, Festive without looking like you tried too hard.

 

Stylish Designs for the Curvy Woman

 

2015_Fall_Shoot_20150809_388_WP-300x365As articles appear describing the frustration of ladies searching for stylish larger sizes, an equal number of articles lament that designers are challenged in creating collections for larger sizes without customizing the clothing.   Proportions vary greatly in larger sizes. One person might need more room through the waist or shoulders while maintaining a smaller hip but another might have a defined waist and requiring extra room through the hips.

Last week, I met Catherine Scholze who was in town from Vermont, presenting her unique2015_Fall_Shoot_20150816_713_WP-300x365 women’s line bearing her name. Catherine, being a curvy woman, took the challenge of designing a line for the curvy woman by using herself as the beta test.  Her sizes range from 8 to 22.

2015_Fall_Shoot_20150816_824_WP-300x365The beauty of Catherine’s designs is that she sells tops and bottoms separately and has sample garments to try on in order to achieve a better fit. You won’t find a basic black palette here. She has chosen beautiful fabrics – prints and an array of colors – to help you look your stylish best.   Visit her web site at www.catherinescholze.com to learn more.

 

2015_Fall_Shoot_20150809_182_WP-300x365 The good news is that my friend Iris Gathing, president our AICI Atlanta chapter, is representing the line in Atlanta. Iris can also fit most any lady with the proper foundation piece. You can contact Iris at: iris@styledoesmatter.com to learn more.

 

 

Put a Workhorse to Work

 

Perfect for a rectangle or oval.
Perfect for a rectangle or oval.

Dresses continue to be huge in the fashion world. Exciting news for this fall is the variation of styles and lengths. Even though we have been promised longer lengths the last few seasons, stores were dominated by mid-thigh skirts. Great for the 20 something crowd but not so much for those of us over 40! Or for the professional work environment.

Another happy discovery is sleeves. Sleeveless dresses have ruled for several years. They are great with a jacket but you then lose the versatility of wearing them as a stand-alone garment. Also, I have recently been following some fashion blogs discussions only to see that many companies discourage sleeveless dresses or blouses in the workplace.0400086979286_ASTL_247x329

What I love about this season’s options is choice! I discovered several great examples without having to search far. A good sign that you won’t have to search far either. Let’s look at some different examples.

This adorable red dress shift dress is a little short but it works for most any age with the black opaque hose and booties. I love the little split design at the skirt and the ¾ length sleeves are an excellent choice for the lady who wants to show less arm. Booties are huge this season but usually give a shorter leg appearance. By using dark tights matching the booties, it gives the desired long leg line

Flaired skirt for a triangle.
Flaired skirt for a triangle.

while looking very fashion forward.   The shift will work especially well for a rectangle or oval. Bypassing the waist is really flattering for both of these body shapes.  If you top it with a jacket, choose a longer, straight jacket that is just slightly shorter than the dress.

The grey knit is a wonderful basic piece. The biggest drawback is that a knit reveals every hill and valley. Having recently attended some social gatherings where ladies were wearing the “bandage dress”, I can attest to the fact that unless you have a perfectly toned body, these knits are not the most flattering.   That being said, this dress, perhaps in a different fabric, is extremely versatile and can be worn with a variety of sweaters, vests, or jackets.

Since many ladies have triangle shapes, a classic dress with a fuller skirt is the answer.

Let's see some sleeve!
Let’s see some sleeve!

This white dress has a slightly flaired skirt but the style would work wonderfully with more flair.

What will make this dress a go-to basic is the option of being able to add scarves, belts and jewelry to the basic dress or to use accessories to augment the look with a jacket, vest , or sweater. Choose one of your best basic colors that will go well with a variety of toppers already in your closet. Then, accept the compliments and count the many ways you can enjoy your this new workhorse.