Getting out the Door in Minutes

We are all busy these days, especially if you are a mom. Do you feel like you have no time for yourself?  Do getting the kids ready for school in the morning consume all your time?  I get it.  It can be hard when you have others that you have to look after as well as yourself, to stay stylish, but it is certainly not impossible with a touch of planning.  Maybe you do not have kids still at home, but you still struggle in looking stylish every day.  DO NOT fear, because you are not alone.  Here are some helpful tips to get you out the door in the morning, every morning, looking stylish!!

1.  Plan your outfit the night before – pull it out of the closet, and check to make sure it is clean and pressed.  Then find the accessories you need to go with it and add them on the hanger.  This way do not have anything to think about when you are getting up and dressed and other people want your attention.

2.  Make sure you accessorize – remember that accessories can make an ordinary outfit stand out.

3.  Update  your wardrobe seasonally – many women who have busy lives end up putting themselves and their wardrobes last.  The kids get new clothes but you hardly ever do because you just do not have time to shop for yourself.  Make sure at least once each new season you take some time out for yourself to update a few items in your wardrobe to keep you looking fresh and stylish. If you have been wearing the same jeans from five years ago, then it is time to invest in some new ones.

4.  Get a hairstyle you can do fast and easily – a stylish hairdo makes a huge difference to your whole look.  Let your hairdresser know your limits – how much time you have each day to spend grooming your hair, that way they can cut it with that knowledge, plus ask them to show you the best way to style your hair yourself.   Then do your hair, every day, spend that three minutes each morning making it look stylish.

5. Wear makeup – you do not have to do a full makeup routine, but even a little mascara or some lipstick can make you look more put together and finished.

6. Buy easy care clothing – if it needs dry cleaning or special attention you are less likely to wear it.  Check care labels before you buy, so you know you can throw it into the machine with all your other clothes.

7. Make sure your shoes are not looking scruffy – polish shoes to keep them looking good.  In general I would advise wearing leather shoes, they can be fixed easily and improved upon.  Many synthetic shoes once they are scuffed cannot be fixed.

8. Cover up – if your kids are still young and often have messy hands, then wear something over your clothes until you are about to leave the house, that way any breakfast foods do not make it onto your clean clothes before you get out of the house!

9. Have a ‘go-to’ uniform – Plan a handful of outfits you know you look good on you, and know the accessories you wear with them. This way when you are rushed you can reach for your stylish ‘go-to’ outfits and feel good. Even adding a jacket over a tee and jeans, throwing on a scarf and some boots or ballet flats will make you look stylish rather than frumpy.  A little structure in your clothes can go a long way!  A dress is a great item to wear as it makes you look stylish and means you only have to decide on one item.

10. Size matters  – yes you may be losing the baby weight and not back into your pre-pregnancy size, but if you are wearing oversized clothes, you will never look stylish.  You may need to invest in some “in-between sizes” clothes. Some new well-fitting jeans and tops can make you feel so much better than slobbing around in old-tracksuit pants.  Do not get stuck in your maternity clothes or in sizes that are no longer relevant to the body you have today. Dress the body you have TODAY.

Investment Pieces

As the wise Carrie Bradshaw once said, “I like my money right where I can see it… hanging in my closet.” Creating the ­perfect closet and wardrobe is an art form. I like to think that the recipe for success is a handful of fun, trendy pieces and a foundation of classic wardrobe staples. It is smart to invest in timeless staples rather than the more frivolous items, because those staples will never go out of style. Plus, you can build the rest of your wardrobe around them. While everyone probably has their own version of “The Classics”…here is my list of wardrobe staples worth investing in.

1. A Little Black Dress. The LBD tops every list of wardrobe must haves for good reason…it is eternally stylish and versatile. Invest in one you really love, and I guarantee you will be rocking it for years to come.
2. A Pair of Dark Wash Jeans. Versatility and timelessness make for an ideal wardrobe staple, like jeans. Jeans are a great staple because they can be styled in an endless variety of ways. And they are really comfortable! Choosing an investment pair will guarantee you get a really good fit and durable fabric that will last you throughout the years.
3. A Structured Jacket. A structured jacket is one of the most versatile pieces you can own. When you choose a well fitting option, it’s also one of the most flattering things you can wear. The perfect blazer can be worn to dress up your jeans, top off your pencil skirt, or even contrast a flowy maxi dress. The options are truly endless with this classic.
4. Comfortable Black Pumps. Black pumps are the little black dress of footwear. They are professional enough for work, stylish enough for a date, and perfect for just about any occasion. So while I love skyscraper heels as much as the next gal, it is not smart to spend a ton of money on shoes that are too uncomfortable to wear.
5. A White Button Down Shirt. Finally, every girl needs a nice button down shirt. Like all the other staples, it can be dressed up or down and worn in a variety of different settings. For my ladies with larger chests, be sure to choose one that does not pucker at the buttons.
Inspiration from Pinterest.

Transitioning Your Wardrobe From Summer to Fall ~ Do’s and Don’ts

It is hot outside. No wait, now I am freezing! How am I supposed to pick an outfit?! If this internal monologue sounds just a bit too familiar, you will want to pay attention. I have several fashion tips for what to wear during that tricky transition between summer and fall.

DO add tights to summer dresses. As you transition into fall, do not take your favorite summer frocks out of rotation. Throw on opaque tights under your pretty dress, and your friends will be too distracted by your put together ensemble to notice just how familiar it actually is.
DON’T let layering get the best of you. Layering is the perfect strategy for extending your summer faves into fall, but keep it simple to avoid looking like you are being eaten alive by your own outfit. They key is make sure you have no more than three levels of layering going on.
DO stretch out sandal season. One way to turn hard core fall pieces into great transition looks? Pair them with sandals. Keep your toes exposed as long as you can to make the start of fall flirty.
DON’T overdo it with accessories. A fun scarf, pretty knit cap or dramatic belt are your best friends when transitioning your wardrobe into fall….just do not bring ‘em all out to play at once.
DO try this cool color combo. Khaki, white and your favorite jeans are a never fail combination. You could invest in a neutral jacket, then you would have about a trillion easy, stylish fall outfits on your hands.
DON’T bare your midriff. Rolling up sleeves or cuffing pants? Fab-fabbity-fab ideas for fall transition wear. Trying to pull the same thing off with your shirt hem? Just DON’T!
DO start wearing fall hues. Channel those changing leaves. As you transition your wardrobe, start dabbling in fall’s signature hues like orange, red, rust and mustard yellow.
DON’T wear it if you are swimming in it. We get excited about wearing our favorite pieces from last fall too, but we always make sure that they still fit before resurrecting them.
DO become best friends with the scarf. Between seasons, a scarf will update any outfit. I dare you to try it out this fall.
DON’T bring hiking gear off the mountain. With the zillion adorable fall jackets you could pick, why choose your hiking fleece? “Camper-chic” just is not a term in my fashion vocabulary.
DO mix it up on the bottom. Try tailored leggings with your fall separates as a surprising alternative to shorts and trousers.
DON’T be a walking peep show. Avoid overexposure by being vigilant about fall’s semi-sheer fabrics. What is opaque in your bedroom may not be kosher once you step out into daylight.
DO be ready at a moment’s notice. Snag a tip from the Boy Scouts and be Prepared. Keep a pair of rain boots at your desk for the crazy ups and downs transition weather.
DO go tights-free as long as possible. If summer sticks around, go ahead and bare your gorgeous legs. You can give a nod to fall by opting for dark shoes and heavier fabrics on bottom instead of stockings.

When to Get Rid of Clothes

You probably have some clothes and shoes taking up space in your closet that you could let go of, right? It might be time to recycle or donate if your clothing falls into one of the following categories.

1. If the piece has stains or a musty smell it needs to go. I know this may seem obvious, but for some extreme clothes hoarders, getting rid of clothes is very emotional. However, in the case of clothes moths or mold, dye, or ink stains, you need to accept that your clothing is beyond recovering.

2. If you no longer LOVE it, then it is time to get rid of clothes and shoes. Closets are typically small spaces in our homes, so maximizing space is key. If you do not LOVE something, there is really no reason to give up space to it in your closet.

3. If it is out of fashion… and not coming back. If you bought something trendy that you cannot incorporate into outfits going forward, it is time to toss or donate. There is no value is storing something you will never wear again.

4. If it no longer projects the image you want to project, it is time to let it go. For example let’s say you used to be a corporate type, but now you have decided to pursue a career as a yoga instructor. At this point, you do not need to have a closet full of oxford shirts and tailored slacks.

5. If it itches, scratches or pinches you need to toss it. I am all for “suffering” for fashion, but there is a limit! If something is truly uncomfortable, you need to let it go. This includes scratchy fabrics that are irritating your skin, itchy fabrics and high heels that pinch your toes.

Tips for Saving Money on Clothes

So, the last time you went shopping you ended up spending way too much and now you are really regretting it. This happens to almost everyone, including me. Saving money on clothes does not have to be difficult though. Here are my top tips for saving money.

1. Shop in-store, not online. I would not take online shopping completely off the table, but I will say that prices are often a lot less in retail stores than they are online. My theory for this is that stores do not have the physical space to hold as many clothes, so they are much more likely to mark things down, whereas online stores use big warehouses and they are in less of a hurry to cut prices. I do almost all of my shopping in stores. Plus you get to try them on!!

2. Use coupons and promos. Before you head out to shop, I recommend taking a moment to gather coupons and bring them with you. My favorite way is to set up a free email account and sign up for emails from your favorite retailers. Do not be shy about asking the store manager if there are promos going on that day. I often find they have coupon codes they are willing to share, and there is more wiggle room and potential for negotiating than you may think. And if you qualify, do not forget to ask for student and / or military discounts.

3. Pay attention to the calendar. Black Friday might be a great time to shop for electronics, but it is not necessarily the best time for clothes. There are two main seasons in retail, and when those seasons switch are the best two times to save money. These switches occur right after Christmas, and at the end of June.

4. Determine the retail cycle. Beyond the two major retail seasons, stores have smaller retail cycles where they get new merchandise in, and mark old items down, and so on. When new clothes go on the floor at full price, the old stuff is reduced. A few weeks later, they start marking down the new stuff, with smaller discounts. A few weeks later, they get ready for the next shipment and a lot of the store goes on sale. How to find out where you are in the cycle? Just ask. Stores will be happy to share this information with you.

5. Predict future markdowns. Finding out how long an item has been in the store can help you decide if now is a good time to buy it. If a store just got the item, but only a few are left, then you probably will not get a clearance price and a coupon or promo is your best bet. BUT if an item has been in the store for awhile and there are tons left, then you can usually count on that item being marked down.

6. Look outside the sale rack. As a budget shopper it can be really easy to put on blinders and race to the back of the store and only look at the clearance section. But you actually want to look elsewhere for your best deals. When retailers have tons of one item left, that they will often put them on a rack together, not mixed in with other clearance items. So look for sale signs throughout the store, and not just clearance in the very back.

7. Check multiple stores. If you find the deal of a lifetime but it does not fit, then do not give up. Find out if another store in your area has that same item in your size. A short drive could be worth it, and some stores will even ship that item to your house directly from a nearby store.

8. Sign up for credit cards. We have all been asked by sales people to sign up for the store credit card. If you do not shop there often, are not good with credit cards, or are working on improving your credit score, then it is best to say no. However, if you spend a lot of money at that store, and pay off the balance in full each month, then it is something to consider. Stores often give card holders exclusive coupons, and even better, some send you rewards like $10 for every $200 you spend.

9. Make friends with a manager. Many higher end stores will put you on an email list for exclusive events and sales that are local to you, and if you befriend a manager or store associate, they more than happy to keep an eye on an item for you and / or let you know when specific markdowns are happening. Having a friend in the store can really help.

Five Fashion Misconceptions

I have noticed there some misconceptions that people have about fashion and style. So I feel like I need to just come out and talk about them. Here are the top five misconceptions people have about fashion and style. The first misconception is that if it is designer then it looks good. This is so ridiculously wrong, yet so many people follow this idea religiously. The whole reason Joan Rivers and the Fashion Police even has a job is because this is not true. A price tag and brand name is not an indication of whether or not something actually looks good. If you know how to put together the right pieces and add some statement jewelry, the label on your clothes is irrelevant as to whether your outfit works or not! The second misconception is that if it is affordable, it cannot be fashionable. Absolutely not. You can just as easily find something trendy and fashionable at TJMaxx as you can at Oscar de la Renta. It is all about your eye for fashion and what you pick out of the mass of clothes, along with how you put it all together. The third misconception is if you are not rocking all the latest trends, then you are out of style. I personally believe that trends exist as a guideline for people who are not sure about which direction to take their style. They are also a good way to set a theme for every season. However, this does not mean that you have to be a part of every single one. The best way to take full advantage of trends is to take the ones that most suit you and tailor them to fit your personal style. It is alright to change trends up a bit to make them your own. Nothing is worse than being part of the copy and paste culture. The fourth misconception is the more choices the better. Buying everything you see is not going to instantly make you more fashionable. It is just going to cause a huge mess in your closet. You do not need to have 500 different tops to avoid wearing the same thing over and over again. It is all about the way you put an outfit together. I guarantee, if you pick the right things to buy, you can wear the same thing in many different ways. The fifth and final misconception is someone saying “your style is wrong”. This one is the absolute worst misconception out there. Do not let anyone ever let you think that your style is wrong….unless it is wearing PJ pants in public of course. There is no such thing. Your style is your own style. It is all about you, how you feel, and how you choose to express yourself. Trust me, fashion and personal style is not as snobby as people may think, there is a lot of lightheartedness in it if you just let loose and do it your way.

Get Inspired ~ Create New Outfits

Do you ever feel like coming up with a new outfit is nearly impossible? Even I experience ruts when it comes to getting dressed some days. I wonder if I have come to the end and cannot possibly think of a new combination. I am guessing from time to time, everyone feels the same way too. So here are a few tips for getting inspired and creating new outfits!

1. Clean Your Closet. Kicking it off with cleaning is not very fun, but having a Feng Shui closet is completely necessary for creativity. When things are cluttered, dirty, or bursting at the seams, it is not a good environment for brainstorming. Your closet should be a happy place.
2. Take Inventory of What you Already Own. While you are cleaning your closet, I recommend taking inventory of what you already own as a way to get inspired. It is time to raid the dark corners of your closet and the spare clothes under the bed. Even if items are out of season, it can help to pull them out and browse.
3. Regularly Read Inspirational Publications. Check out this blog and others along with magazines like InStyle or Harper’s Bazaar. You might see an outfit, and then suddenly your creative juices get flowing. You can also keep creativity going by attending art events, watching musicals or even TV.
4. Organize and Review Inspiration Photos. Besides finding new images that inspire you, re-visiting images that you loved in the past can also help jump start creativity. Pinterest is one popular way to organize what gets your creative motors running. I save images in a folder on my computer and tear pages out of magazines. If you are feeling stuck, pull these images out as general inspiration, or use them to recreate outfits in a more literal way.
5. Go Shopping. The good news is that shopping does not have to cost you any money at all. Browsing retail websites and window shopping at the mall can inspire new ways for wearing what you already own. You can also opt to shop a friend’s closet for something to borrow, head to the thrift store for a bargain, or allot a small budget at the mall. Even just one new piece – like an inexpensive statement necklace – can jolt your closet back to life and inspire a week’s worth of new outfits.
6. Repeat an Favorite Uniform. Throughout different seasons in my life I have heavily favored different uniforms. For the office it was a pencil skirt and cardigan. For casual occasions, it is a summery dress with a statement necklace. When I am in a rut it can be helpful to revisit these uniforms and use that blueprint to come up with a familiar outfit using a new combination of colors and patterns.
7. Choose one Practical or Inspirational Item. When I am standing in my closet scratching my head about what to wear, I will often pick one piece to concentrate on. If my day requires a lot of walking, then I will narrow it down to two pairs of shoes that are most practical, and create an outfit from there. If practicality is less important, then I will pick an inspirational item. Choose one or two things you love and feel really excited to wear that day, and build your outfit from there.
8. Plan Ahead. Plan your outfits ahead of time! Spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon brainstorming for your upcoming week at work, or consider big events or important meetings in the weeks leading up to it. Being fashionable does not have to be your top priority in life. In fact, spending a little more time up front can save you a lot of time in the long run. It will eliminate those twenty wasted minutes in the morning when you are not feeling all that creative. If a little planning keeps you from feeling miserable later, that is time well spent in my opinion!