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Dress the body you have

Does anyone really love the body that they have?dsc05107

I don’t think so.   If so, I’ve never met someone who just loved their body without quibble or something that they’d change, given the opportunity.

I was putting my hair up this morning and using the double mirror in the bathroom to make sure my hair ornament went into the right spot.  Noticed, as I usually do in that mirror, how prominent my traps are these days.

On one hand – I work very hard in the gym.  I’m there 4-5 hours/wk, doing strength training and a bit of crossfit.  I *love* being strong.  I love pushing myself and getting stronger, that whole self-competitive thing.  It’s awesome.   As a woman in her mid-40s, more physical strength is a major benefit.  It just makes my life easier.  I wouldn’t trade it.

And this is what my body is good at.  I’ve only known this for about a year and a half now, it was an unexpected blessing.   I knew my body wasn’t good at dance, or yoga, or running or sports involving balls flying at your face.   It’s fun to use your body the way it was meant to be used.  It’s good, in a very profound way, to use your body in a way that brings it joy.

But.  If you asked me to design my ideal body, the one you see in this picture wouldn’t be it.  It wouldn’t be it if I burned off all the fat I’ve yet to burn.  There would be longer limbs, a more profound hip-to-waist ratio, a long neck, and an aura of grace.

I don’t have that body.  Not all the dieting and plastic surgery in the world will give me that body.

So which body should I dress?  The one in my daydreams, or the one in my reality?  The answer is obvious.

Moreover, I shouldn’t dress my body with ill-temper.   What has it ever done to me?  Nothing but work hard, that’s what.

Sure, I can choose to dress in a way that draws out the vision of self which I prefer, which is exceedingly feminine.  That’s my heart.  But I also have to work with what’s on the ground – and that means embracing these muscles and showing them off.  Because I *am* very traditionally feminine… and very, very strong.

I’m both.  I dress both.

Dress your truth.   Dress who you are on the inside, and the body you have on the outside.  Be fearlessly yourself, don’t allow the world to stick you in a box.  It takes a bit more work, but that work is worth it, because the woman you see in the mirror is going to be the woman you really are.

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Working with your husband’s preferences

I was out to dinner with my husband last night after spending the day stuffing Christmas cards.   I remarked to him on my being still covered with glitter, and he responded that he had just been about to compliment me on it!  I blinked, and was told that he liked the dsc05077youthful whimsy attendant in a bit of sparkle, but no credit ’cause it came from stuffing cards.  -laughs-

I’ll be 44 on my next birthday, and as far as I was concerned, as far as the rules are concerned, my glitter days are long past.  (Or long future – women past a certain age are allowed quite a lot of whimsy).

But my husband likes it…. he likes a lot of things that I think I’m too old or too fat  to wear.

I know that I’m not the only woman in the world who has had this discussion.  So, what do you do when your husband likes something that is outside of your normal style?

  1. Wear it when you’re together!  This is much of the point of having a date night – the play attendant in getting gussied up for your spouse is a beautiful thing.  When you dress in a way that pleases your husband, you’re offering your respect to him.   Not only that, it helps you get outside of your comfort zone.  Maybe you honestly do look nice in …. and you’re just being hard on yourself.   Allow your husband’s desire to give you courage.
  2. See if you can figure out how to integrate his preferences into your normal style.  Is it a color he loves – or loathes?  A way he likes you to wear your hair?  If you can merge that with your own style, you’ll both be happier.  (Who doesn’t like a little admiration from the man she loves?)  Take some thought and add a few touches here and there.

Part of who we are, if we’re married women, is our position as wives.  When we inhabit that reality, we honor ourselves and our decision to marry, and we honor our husbands.  When we choose to say with our bodies that we have someone who is pleased to see us in a certain light, and that we hold that person in high enough regard to please them, we say something powerful about our characters.    We say that we are caring women, women who are capable of giving respect and honor, women who are capable of giving new ideas a chance.

And sometimes… we say that we’d been waiting for an excuse to wear a little glitter…. 🙂

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Bra Sizing

Yesterday I was shopping with my 12yo daughter, and giving her bra instruction, which is what my mom did with me when we went bra shopping.  When we came out of the dressing rooms, a lady asked me if I was the one she’d heard talking, and was bummed that I didn’t work there.  So I helped her find a bra that fit while my daughter chose colors for herself.

I wasn’t going to write this post, because I thought it had been done – but when I posted this story on FB, another friend said she’d always been mis-sized, so I guess I’d better get to work!

There are a couple of different ways to size yourself and pick a bra.  They all involve using a measuring tape.   You measure (while wearing a bra) under your bra around your chest, as high up as you can get, and you measure over the fullest part of your bust.  Then, you get a division of opinion.  Do you simply subtract the smaller number from the larger number and select a cupsize and bandsize straight off (this is my preference), or do you add a certain amount to the rib measurement before selecting your band?  Two theories.  But start there.

Or you can ask questions about the bras you currently own:

  • Does the wire lie flat against your ribcage, at your sternum and on the outside of your breasts, not sitting on breast tissue *anywhere*?
  • Is all of your breast tissue contained in your cup, without extra room?  (Caveat:  As we age, our breasts lose volume up top, so if you can’t size down the cup without hitting breast tissue, look to changing styles, not sizes).  You don’t want quadra-boob.
  • Can you wear your band in comfort, or is it seriously too tight around the ribs?  (they say if you have bulge, you are in a band too tight, but I think it means your back is chubby under your arms.  You don’t want it to hurt, okay?  Other than that, a tight band is where you get your support).

When in doubt:  Cupsize up, bandsize down.   This could be quite a lot more than you think, so let me cover sister-sizing for a second.

It is a mystery exactly who doesn’t want to create or carry the full range of sizes that we need … but they don’t.  Instead, if you’re shopping at a department store or mass-market lingerie shop (naming no names), you’re going to be pushed into what is called a sister-size if they can’t get you into one of their bras.  It’s better than going braless, but only barely.   Go to a serious lingerie store if you’re out of the normal size range.  Or the internet, if you can’t get to a good lingerie store.   The first time I put a bra on that was my size, my shoulders screamed hallelujah and I visually lost 10lb.  Your bra matters.

Anyway.  Sister sizing is about overall volume and that over-bust measurement.  Band size + cupsize = total overbust measurement.  Sooooooo… if you wear a 38A, you can get into a 36B, 34C, 32D.  But only one of those is going to fit properly, especially in underwire.  (This is useful info when you’re changing styles – especially if you’ve been wearing wireless bras, underwire is a good bit more picky.  I think this is part of why people don’t like underwire, they had their wires on their breasts.  Ouch!)

So, you have a general idea of what size you wear.  Grab bras two sizes (at least) on either side of that size and several styles and brands.  Go into the dressing room and try, try, try.  I hate to break it to you, but word is that even DYE LOT can change size … you have to try them on.

This is, btw, where you adjust the straps.  Straps are there to get your nipple where it should be while not cutting off circulation over your shoulders.  Try for 3″ below armpit for D cup or less, 4″ to around a G cup, and 5″ or so over a G.  Reduce those measurements by an inch if you’re trying to carry off a truly vintage look.

Once you have a good fit, do the bounce test.  (Jump.  Did you bounce a lot?  Skip that bra).

Having done the bounce test, put your shirt over your bra.  Does it give you a good line?  Any weird bulges?  How does the back look?

Oh, a word about color:  Buy most of your bras in something approximating your skin color.  Not white, not black.   Buff, pink, brown, cocoa, beige… also, not turquoise.   A hot pink bra can only be worn under heavy clothing.  Do you need a bra you can only wear under certain clothing?  Not for your first purchase you don’t!  I know, so boring.  And if you’re a big fan of knit shirts, you need to skip the really lacy business.  Show-through isn’t a good thing.  T-shirt bras have foam cups to smooth out your nipple, which you need for the sheer knits they’re selling in stores these days.

Now, look at the price tag and try to keep breathing.  Good lingerie tends to be expensive.  I’m sorry.  It is what it is, and you get what you pay for.  Take good care of it (hand wash, drip dry) and it should last you six months to a year, depending on your wear habits.   If you’re very good and have enough bras to not make one or two do all the work, you can get it to a couple of years, max.  (Regrettably, bras are made out of elastic.  Elastic stretches.  Which is why your old bra is more comfy but you’re sagging.  Annoying).

There’s the 411… hope this helped!

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Why use an image consultant?

Why would you utilize the services of any professional?

You utilize professional services to do things that you can’t do for yourself or choose not to do for yourself because either you don’t feel you do a good enough job, or because your time is too valuable to spend on performing that service.

You utilize an image consultant either for a once-a-decade full session where you are walked through a full wardrobe transformation and given the skills you need to upkeep your new image OR you work with an image consultant on an ongoing basis, having her take care of your needs as they appear.

Image consulting – knowing how to clean out a closet, how to select attractive clothing and bring out our natural beauty – is one of those things that most women seem to believe that they should naturally be able to do with no training or study whatsoever.   So they feel guilty about using a professional for this, whereas they feel no guilt whatsoever about having someone else do their taxes for them, or prune their trees.

Think of it this way – how much do you spend on your hair in a year?  How much do you spend on clothing that you don’t wear, or wear a few times and discard?    How much does it bother you not to be able to find anything in your closet?  How many hours do you spend in your bedroom, agonizing about what to wear – or disgusted, because once again, you just don’t have anything “right”?

What you get with me specifically?  You get someone who can’t make herself shut up when it comes time to explain why something works – or doesn’t.  You get someone who wants to educate you about fabric, drape, color, quality.  You get someone who likes to make people smile, and really enjoys the process.  You get a realist, not a fashionista who wants you to wear the latest thing – no matter what it looks like on you, or how it works with your life.

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Closet Cleanout Sample: Kim

  • Name:  Kimdsc05069
  • Occupations:   RN.  Mom.  Wife.
  • Climate:  San Diego
  • Season:  Spring
  • Elements:  Water, Air, Earth
  • Age:  Mid 40s

Kim has two categories in her closet – work clothes when she’s really working, and clothes for the rest of her life.  I didn’t touch her work clothes, because … scrubs.  She doesn’t need me to edit a uniform.

Kim does have one work related clothing need outside of the uniform – she needs to look pulled together and professional when she attends meetings, seminars, and classes.   She doesn’t need Fire for any of those things – good nurses are reliable, sensible, and caring… not exciting.    This comes up a few times/year, usually for no more than a week at a time.

Kim socializes a fair bit with her husband’s friends – he has a very wide social circle, and loves to get together.  So she needs cute clothes to throw on and head to the movies, the park, or out for a cup of joe.

Kim needs comfy clothes that she can move in.   She doesn’t like fussy things, and she doesn’t like to show much skin.

Kim really loves soft textures, and her best look is cute and sporty.

We’ve been doing shopping for some time, in fact we just got back from a big trip about a month ago.  There was wailing and gnashing of teeth (on my part) when I found one of our shopping bags in her OFFICE, tags still on.  dsc05070

We started by emptying everything from her closet onto her bed.   After we’d sorted her closet clothes, we got into the drawers, then we hit the accessories and shoes.  I thought this would take a lot longer than it did – I was there about two hours.

Once things had been sorted out, we put them away properly – that means the sweaters that had been living on hangers were folded neatly away in the drawers, and like items ended up with like.  She had a lot of duplicates of odd bits, so when she saw all the “why do you need ten of these?” we really started tossing.

Unfortunately, she’s developed plantar fasciitis, so we got rid of nearly all her shoes – none of them will work.

Because I’m not a monster, I did let her keep truly sentimental things.  They went to live in a sentimental bag, on top of the closet in a space that’s not very useful for her 5’2″ self.  Limit your sentiment, and put it out of your way!  It’s not part of your wearable clothing, and shouldn’t take up space in your closet.

And once things were sorted and cleaned and put away neatly, we looked at what she had left and made a list for our shopping adventures.  This is what’s on her list:

  1. Jeans – she lives in jeansdsc05075
  2. Slacks – she has one nice pair that go with everything, but one pair isn’t enough
  3. Shoes
  4. Toppers/light jackets – she has a ton of heavy jackets (which she keeps in a different closet) but no light jackets.
  5. Cute and easy tops to throw on with jeans.  She has more than she thought she did, but not enough for her lifestyle.
  6. A pencil skirt

Kim’s always telling me that she doesn’t have anything to wear to those seminar events, and I pointed out that she has, in fact, several items at this time that she can wear – and they all mix and match.

dsc05074One of the fun surprises about cleaning out a closet – you *always* find things you didn’t know you had, things you didn’t know would work together.  Kim had bought a kilt and t-shirt at an Irish Fest and desperately wanted to keep them.  Sure, a kilt.  But a men’s t-shirt, in a color that doesn’t work for her?  No way!  However, I was happy to point out the two blouses *already in her closet* that she could wear with the kilt and look age-appropriate and match perfectly.  (Not to mention the oversized sweater that works beautifully for winter).

Plus, we found this hat.  It still had the tags on!  Kim tried to convince me as we were cleaning things out that she “needed” a baseball cap.  Okay, if you feel that need, fine.  But you have something cute – so we’re getting rid of the generic cap and the stained cap.  You keep the one you look adorable in.

And that’s what a closet cleanout looks like.   How much time it takes varies from person to person, but two-three hours should be a good estimate.  If you’re considering purchasing this service, you can shorten your time by going through the closet before I get there and getting rid of the stained, ill-fitting, and otherwise absolutely awful items.  If you want hints on that, buy my book and read up.

Next up, some shopping!