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While it was almost 100 degrees outside, I received five fall catalogs in the last few days with pictures of cuddly sweaters, wool jackets, layered looks and leggings. Ugh! Who can think of fall when it is so hot!!

Makeup? I don’t know about you, but mine melts off before I even get out the door. And that is with the air conditioning on. This is where your bright lip colors come in handy. A stroke of powder on your lids, touch of mascara on your lashes and a tinted lip balm or plum lipstick. You are good to go!

Monday I wore a white pencil skirt (similar to this one from Old Navy) and a hot pink and white sleeveless top. I don’t go sleeveless often, but since I don’t work in an office and I am running in and out all day, a jacket isn’t practical. White, you say. Gasp! It’s after Labor Day. Everyone knows that you can’t wear white after Labor Day or before Memorial Day.

nordstrom_white_jeansWrong. Wear clothing that is appropriate for what you are doing and the weather. When there is three feet of snow on the ground, wearing white isn’t practical, unless you enjoy doing laundry. So grab those white shorts, white jeans and white skirts and get those final wears out of them this week. Before long the temperature will drop and you can cuddle up in wool.

Until then, enjoy leafing through the various catalogs. Chico’s catalog for September 2013 shows 23 items of clothing with animal print! Hmm, I wonder if animal print will be in vogue this season? Coldwater Creek (right next door at Coral Ridge) didn’t show any animal print. But they show a lot of skirts.

chadwicks_leather&jeansChadwicks is bringing JG Hook back into the fashion scene.  Their clothes tend to be traditional and work appropriate. But they aren’t afraid to take on red! They also have two-piece suiting, which is very helpful for top heavy or bottom heavy women. Only two animal prints in the entire catalog. But Chadwicks has a great leather blazer. I showcased this jacket at my Fall 2012 gathering. They carry it in five colors and besides regular Misses sizes, they also carry it in Petite, Tall and Women. It’s a $99.99 jacket, but there is a coupon for 20% off. Too bad you can’t get free shipping!

landsend_animal_shoesLand’s End comes in with four animal prints (three in shoes!). And, as usual, they carry great timeless sweaters sets, cable knit sweaters and the requisite down coats.

Overall, the one thing I am noticing about this fall’s catalog is color. This year they have gone beyond olive green and boring beige to bring vibrant pinks, purples, red, bright greens and blues. No falling asleep on the job!

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AT_beige_suitMost people argue with me when I tell them should have at least one suit in their closet. I am not talking about the polyester suits you find at Younkers (although they have their purpose). I am talking about two-piece suits where you buy the jacket and pants separately (and in different sizes if you need to). Clients have expressed hesitation because a suit feels too structured, too stuffy or too boring. I can see where they get that feelings, especially when suits are presented in catalogs and in stores like the one pictured here from Ann Taylor.  You could fall asleep looking at this plain outfit. Thankfully the model is wearing a bright lip color.

But let’s take another look at this neutral suit. (Neutral colors are black, white, beige, navy, gray and brown.) It amazes me how many people coordinate their suit with only the top it came with or the one they bought at the same time. Stretch your imagination. Imagine how that suit will look with a simple change of top:

Clockwise from the upper left side we have:

suit_options

Ann Taylor Diamond Shibori Top. The lines create the hour-glass shape so will be very flattering.

Loft Shirred Top. This top has a lot of texture (see last post) so it will add interest to the “boring” suit.

Ann Taylor Crepe Shell. Simplicity at its finest. Nothing more need be said. Well, okay, I’d probably put a statement necklace with it!

Land’s End Ruffle Collar Blouse. If you like a bit of femininity to contrast the masculine pant suit, this is your ticket. Don’t both trying to get the ruffles to go over the suit lapels. Just let them lay down flat under the jacket. They will still look frilly.

Notice that all the tops have either bright colors, patterns or texturizing–anything to add interest.

Now that you’ve experimented a bit with different tops, think of all the possibilities you can do if you just use the jacket with a floral or denim skirt. Pair the jacket with a sundress and you will be comfortable in all the air conditioning. The pants will look great in the early fall with a gorgeous sweater or long-sleeve blouse. 

Go find your suit!

Most of us don’t think about texture in our wardrobe when it is 80 degrees at 7:30a. But texture adds interest to a wardrobe and can be used all year round. Lace is a good place to start since it also gives the impression of a light airy feel. I know, I know, I’ve said lace isn’t a good idea at work. I stand by that statement when it comes to your basic clothes. Lace dresses, tops or skirts say “see through” which implies something other than a “get down to work” attitude. But lace as an accent is another story altogether.

savannah-guthrie_lace_accessoriesThis basic white sheath dress is something that will never go out of style. There is nothing flashy about it. The neckline is appropriate and the length is appropriate. But without accessories, it can look so boring. Women don’t want to be boring. A black lace belt takes this from something simple to something fabulous. The lace adds texture without heaviness and the dark color emphasizes her waist. The neutral shoes keep the attention where she wants it. This can also be done with a dark dress and a bright bold lace belt in, say, hot pink!

There are other ways to add texture, as show in these outfit selections.

texture_for_summer

  1. Stitched Waist Dress adds simple stitching to give it some texture without bulk. While this doesn’t call as much attention to the waist, it adds interest to the outfit.
  2. Mesh Pullover. I normally don’t recommend mesh or anything sheer. However, if the top underneath the mesh is one that can be worn without the mesh, it would be acceptable.
  3. Side Ruched Dress adds texture throughout the bodice, calling attention to curves without being too tight, too short or too low.

Alas, while patterned tights add texture, they rarely add professionalism. Fishnet stockings, although airy enough for summer, are too tantalizing for the office!

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Several months ago a friend asked me about jersey dresses. Jersey dresses can be great because most of them will glide over your body and hide many flaws. But this is not true of all jersey dresses. The first thing you need to do is make sure it isn’t too tight. If we can see the cellulite on your hips, your dress is too small. If we can see bulging lines across your back where your bra strap is, your dress is too small. If the hem hits your mid-calf, it is probably too long. If you like it long, remember to wear a neutral shoe to minimize the impact of the hemline hitting you at the widest part of your leg.

The reason this came up now was I was reading an on-line post about what to wear to work. The dress on the left as considered appropriate for the corner office. I have no idea who the designer is or where to buy it, but I have to disagree about it’s work appropriateness! While it is a jersey dress, the neckline is way to low for any office environment. I can see the swell of the breast. That’s beyond cleavage. Plus, a wrap dress is great while you are standing. But sit down and the wrap often gaps, showing more of the chest area than before–unless it is stitched down in that area. Even if this one were stitched, it is so low that it would gap no matter what. Showing cleavage in the workplace is not professional. Showing the swell of the breast in the work place is just wrong!

work_dresses

The dress on the right is also a jersey dress. This one is from Nordstrom’s. I bet you can already see how much more professional this dress is. Not only is the neckline much higher, but the color is a power color. This woman will be noticed the minute she walk in the room, but in a good way. The dress compliments her female shape without pushing it in your face. The rushing on the side helps when you have a bit of imperfections across your midsection (who doesn’t?).

I also need to mention that both of these dresses are just a bit too short for the work environment if you are striving for the corner office. I would have kept them at the knee–right across the center of the kneecap. Remember, when you sit down, the dress will likely ride up. What started out as two inches above the knee will end up to be four inches above the knee. Now we are talking bedroom rather than boardroom.

May you always look great!

Emerald, declares Pantone, is the color for Spring 2013. You may recall my post a year ago “Eyes for Emerald.” This tells you how popular this color can be. (Or maybe I’m just ahead of the trends.) Either way, emerald is a great color on most people. It is considered a cool bright color. You may recall that bright colors bring brightness to your face, which is a good thing. When you face looks bright (compared to dull) you will look more vibrant, thus looking younger.

You can pair your emerald green with any neutral color: black, white, gray, navy, beige, cream. For a pop of fun color, try these Coach pumps with a simple shirtdress (like this one from Younkers). If you work in a creative environment, you could be more bold and wear emerald green with this purple shirtdress from Banana Republic!

emerald_pump_w_shirtdress

chadwick_colorblock_jacketdresschadwick_ruched_crossover_dressWhile emerald may be the “in” color for Spring, timeless cuts in this color will take you through many seasons. Chadwick’s ruched dress or their colorblock jacket dress are two items that will stay in your wardrobe for many years.

nordstrom_lanvin_silk_blouseIf you prefer something to pair with your current black skirt or pants, try this silk blouse from Nordstrom’s.

What will you wear emerald with this Spring?

Have you ever watched What Not To Wear and hear the poor girl say, “But I found it in the stores!” when Clinton and Kelly tell her the attire is not appropriate. Well, just because it is in the stores or you see in a catalog doesn’t mean it is appropriate or flattering.

Here are some examples:

  1. talbots_refined_collectionTalbot’s is showing work attire and this image was in their recent flyer. The black skirt length is great. The pump is work appropriate. The bright, bold color of the top is great and even the necklace is nice. But can you see what is wrong? No matter how think you are, cleavage is not appropriate for the workplace. With a wrap top, this can often be a problem. If you see a top you like with this sort of wrap neckline, try and see if it will stay closed with the neckline not as low. A little trick I use is the pin the under piece to my bra at a high enough point so no cleavage is showing. If the over piece is cut properly it will lie flat against the under piece and you will be set. I do not suggest trying to pin both pieces of fabric as it usually pulls as you move throughout the day and calls more attention to the area!
  2. chadwick_blouson_dressWhile Chadwick’s isn’t calling this a work-appropriate outfit, it is shown on a page that contains other office attire. So what’s wrong with this dress? The length is fine. The neckline is fine. The problem is the dress overwhelms her. The top is too voluminous. Even with a tied waist, this dress makes her look too top heavy. You may recall that patterns also add bulk. The bigger the pattern, the bigger the bulk. This dress is too much, whatever way you look at it!
  3. chadwick_border_printI also have to comment on Chadwick’s border print dress. You may recall I reviewed a dress a few months ago that was also a border print dress. That dress was considered “right” because it was well balanced. This dress is not balanced at all! Note all the attention goes to the bottom portion of the body. If you are top heavy, this might not be a bad thing. Another problem is the decoration that seems to top out at the abdomen. If you have flat abs, this is great. The rest of us probably don’t want anyone staring at our abdomen. And don’t get me started about where the largest print of the pattern sits!

May you always look great!

mirrorINPUT FROM READER: “reading a romance novel and a sentence caught my eye and thought Wow, that makes sense When trying on clothes, do not look in the mirror until the outfit is fully on.  Take a breath, count to 3 and than turn and look. That way you get the pow! Can’t wait to try it.” K2

Thanks “K2” for your suggestion because it is really a good one. Often when we see only one piece of the outfit we make a decision that would be different if we tried on the entire outfit. To go along with that suggestion, here are some other tips:

  1. If you are looking for something to go with a specific piece of clothing, take the piece of clothing with you to the store. Then try the entire outfit on (using K2’s suggestion above).
    • Try to do this without a sales associate nearby. You need to see what your personal thoughts are. Do not let a sales associate talk you into something. If you don’t love it without their help, you probably won’t love it when you get home!
    • Move around in the outfit to see what would happen in real life: sit down, bend over, lift your arms, twist at the waist. If the item lands “funny” then you will probably be worrying about it all day long and that just isn’t worth it.
  2. If you spot something and don’t happen to have the specific item with you, see if the store has something similar. Almost every store has black pants, white blouses, black jackets, etc. Strive for something as close as possible to what you have at home. Remember that you don’t buy what you are using as a substitute!
  3. If neither option above possible, make sure you try on the complete outfit as soon as you get home. That way you won’t accidentally miss the “return by” date if the outfit doesn’t work. Keep your receipts and don’t take the tag off anything until you are 100% sure.

Any other tidbits of advice you’ve picked up that you can share with others?

Back from vacation in Florida for a few weeks at the end of January and this cold weather is tough! The day we left Florida it was 85 degrees at 10:30 am. When we awoke in Iowa the next day, there was six inches of snow and the wind chill was below zero!

talbots_ankle_pantWhile looking through the catalogs that arrived while I was gone, I noticed Talbot’s “One Fine Day” collection. The clothing is bright, fitted and professional looking. The ankle pant worn with heels is on trend. (Don’t let your heels get higher than 3″ as it will diminish your professionalism.) While the blouse might be a bit drab for the more adventurous woman, they have plenty of other tops in bright colors to keep you feeling happy!

A word of note about ankle pants, or any other trend for that matter: be careful when you try to transfer the trend to other similar clothing items. For instance, the ankle pant is slim fitting. This allows the eye to see the length of the leg, even when it is cut off at the ankle. The look would be totally off if you tried to wear a boot cut pant at your ankle. That would say “high water” pants. (And you remember what the cool kids said about people who did that in high school!)

The other classy look Talbot’s is showing in their Spring catalog is the length of their dresses–right at the knee. This is the most universally flattering length. The Ann Taylor Loft look uses a short sheath to keep their dress looking fun. Talbot’s look takes the v-neck dress and adds a pop of hot pink in the shoe to keep their outfit looking fun. When either of these models sits down, the dress will ride up another inch or two, making the shorter skirt even shorter and, thus, less professional. This is what makes certain clothing timeless–the ability to wear it multiple ways and be appropriate for multiple age ranges.

sheath_dress_compare

lands_end_button_downI was looking through the Lands End catalog I received a few days ago and found some basic button down shirts to replace those that are showing wear. I jumped on line and order 5 shirts in less than 15 minutes. The on-line ad said if I spent more than $50, I’d get free shipping. When the order showed shipping, I found the code for the free shipping and entered that to save $6! So far so good . . .

As soon as I submitted my order, I went to recycle the catalog and noticed that there was a 30% off plus free shipping coupon in the catalog that I initially missed! Dang, dang and double dang! I quickly called them, gave them my order number and they adjusted the price. My new savings–$67.20. Whoo-hoo!

While typing this I looked at the coupon again and it actually expired on 1/15/13, which was yesterday. And they still honored it! I just love a company that understands customer service.

I might have pretty traditional taste in clothing, but I love a good buy as much as the next gal.

What great buys did you pick up during the post-holiday sales?

A recent article appeared on Forbes.com called “The Seven Ways Your Boss Is Judging Your Appearance.” While this is no surprise, I wanted to expound on some of the areas:

  1. younkers_structured_jacketGrooming: The article refers to looking “polished” or “pulled together.” Of course it means that our clothes are clean and pressed. But a “pulled together” look is more than that. You need to put together an outfit that is pleasing to the eye. Jackets are a girl’s best friend when trying to look pulled together. Statement jewelry that is not distracting (too flashy, too noisy) gives one a polished look.
  2. Posture: Sitting tall adds to your height (see No. 5). If you’ve gotten into the habit of slouching realize that it is adding years to your look and tells others that you are not proud of yourself. Think about keeping your chin parallel to the floor. If you can push your shoulders down and back, your posture has room for improvement.
  3. Physical Attractiveness: This is where a lot of people just throw in the towel. But it doesn’t mean that only the most beautiful people will succeed. It means you do the best with what you have. Wearing cool bright colors will make most people look alive and energetic, keeping the attention on your face. People only see your flaws when you don’t tell them where to look. Take charge of your image!
  4. Slimness: Yes, some of us aren’t in the best of shape. But dressing appropriately for your shape will make you look slimmer. A black tent dress doesn’t solve all your problems. Wearing monochrome clothing does cause the eye to glide over your silhouette, but structure is still important. We need to know where your waist area is, where your legs start and stop, that you have shoulders that don’t slouch. A structured jacket will solve this problem for most people.
  5. younkers_pumpHeight: While we can’t change our height, we can add a few inches with the right shoes. Adding more than 5” heels, however, is overboard and causes you to look like you are more interested in being trendy than getting to the next meeting in one piece. I recommend no more than a 3” heel for the workplace. Again, that posture will help!
  6. Expensive Clothing: This area can be overwhelming to those with a limited budget. But it is the way the item is made and the material that is being used that is important, not the actual price tag. Recently I saw a pair of plaid pants at Von Maur where the plaid didn’t match up on the sides. This is distracting and a sign of poorly made clothing. Conversely, I saw a similar pair of plaid pants at Sears where the plaids were matched properly. Wearing items that are appropriate for your body shape will also help less expensive clothing look more expensive because they drape on your body properly.
  7. Youthful Appearance: Should all of us over the age of 40 just give up? Absolutely not! Wearing clothing that makes you look vibrant and energetic will help you look and feel more confident. When people see vibrant, energetic and confident people, they don’t even think about age. Again, cool bright colors will achieve this. A pop of lip color will also wake up your face.

So don’t be disheartened by these studies. When you are in control of your image, you are in control of your career. Don’t get left behind by being a wall flower.

Do you feel your boss is judging you by your appearance? In what ways?

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