Photography as a Tool

I’ve been instagramming most of my outfits for the last few weeks.   It’s been an interesting experience.

I know how to dress myself.  Obviously.  I’m an image consultant.  It’s my job.   But even so, as my body changes and I work through the changes in my lifestyle, my style is changing.   The mirror is great, but when you look in the mirror, your eyes go where you’re used to having them go.   They focus on your favorites, they focus on your flaws, and they ignore the big picture.  Can’t see the forest for the trees.

When you look at a photograph, you see the whole you.    Just the way OTHER people see you.   It’s a huge correction!

Well, with picture after picture of my outfits, I have some data to work with to adjust my reality.   Here are my two favorite looks for this month:


One of my great temptations is always to just play it safe.   But “safe” is NOT my best look.   “Classic” is not a descriptor for my style.    Those outfits are super boring – and not me at all.   I am also frequently tempted by white shirts – this experiment has been most revealing in that regard.  Light colors go on the BOTTOM.  This is not a fashion rule that I get to break.

Body changes are a thing here – as I lose weight, I can rock a pencil skirt – at least if it’s a wrap skirt with a diagonal line.   Bold jewelry > delicate jewelry.  (This is much more apparent in photographs than in the mirror).  And that side braid?   It’s my best hairstyle.  (Again, it’s working to break up the line of my wide, square shoulders).

As I lose weight, however, it becomes progressively more apparent that my shoulders show the hard work I do at the gym.  I have a *lot* of torso, and not only do I look better with my shirts tucked in, but I look better still with a topper over my shirt.   That said, no blocky boxy toppers for me, I need something fitted.  Long toppers are a *win*.

It took quite a bit of data to come up with these conclusions.  And meanwhile, I have the clothes that I have – I’m not weeding right now.   HOWEVER – this is one of the benefits to being in transition.  Intermediate Amy is NOT the final product, and I’m learning lessons that will end up in my closet at the end of the game.

If you’re trying to figure out your style and work through some things, why not do the same thing?  Take pictures of your outfits, and then look at them later, in aggregate, and see what stands out as “Nice, but not me”, “why did I do that?”, and “Yes Please”.  Pictures don’t lie.


Using Clothes to Reinforce Change

We all go through changes in our lives, some voluntary and some not.   If you’re walking through a change and want to help yourself adjust to that change or make peace with it, changing your adornment can help you along.

Why?  How?

Every day you through the process of getting dressed.  You select the clothes and jewelry that seem the most “you” – from your mood (subconscious) to your mission (conscious), you’re reflecting who you are and what you’re up to today.  So the first way in which you are making clothing work for you is that you use them to reframe your choices every morning.

The second way you support yourself is in your reflection and the small bits of yourself that you can see of yourself all the time.  Even now as I type this, my peripheral vision allows me to see bits of me.  Every time I get up and pass a reflective surface, I see the rest.   Have I cared for myself today?  What have I chosen to reflect to the world?  That all comes back to me, and it reinforces the choices I’ve already made.  It tells me who I am.

Every day, you tell a story about yourself, and every day you are your most attentive listener.

Please make your choices wisely.   If you’d like to learn more about how you’re making those choices and what the language of clothes has to say about you to you, pick up my book, Wardrobe Communication.

DSC06868Right now, I’m in a transitional stage.   I’ve been working hard at the gym, harder at the plate, and I’ve lost 15lb.  My next book is well on its way to completion.   I’ve been spending less time at home, more time at my office job.   I’m not where I am going – yet – but I’m not where I was.

I had to go shopping.   Half my wardrobe was hanging from me like a potato sack.   As I shopped, I decided this next self would have a name – I’m calling her Intermediate Amy.

Intermediate Amy has the skills that Old Amy did not have – she’s willing to do marketing that Old Amy avoided.   She’s stronger.   She’s looking for opportunities to exercise the gifts that God has given her in new ways.   She’s more confident.

She’s not yet New Amy, on a book tour or doing speaking engagements.   But that’s what she’s looking towards, and working towards.   She’s leaving behind what was before, and giving up the fear that it might sneak up and snatch her back to the beginning.   Intermediate Amy is the Amy who is in the process of changing her life.

It’s probably just as well that she has new clothes to remind her of that, all potato sack situations aside.



If you’d like to make a new self and need some shopping help?  You might note that Intermediate Amy got her wardrobe redone in two shopping trips, back to back.   1 nightgown, 2 yoga pants, 6 camisoles, four sweaters, five skirts, three blouses and a t-shirt, all of which go with the items that didn’t need to be purged, because she knows her colors… and since she is me, I’d love to give you the benefit of my expertise and save you time on your next shopping trip too!   Need to reveal the self hidden inside?   Need some help getting her the clothes she needs?   Drop me a line and we’ll get to work.


We are all ambassadors

We are all ambassadors.

For whatever group we belong to, be that family or work, faith or hobby – we are its ambassadors.

That fact makes everyone uncomfortable.  After all, no one wants to be on display all the time, and ambassadors are held to a very high standard.   In the modern world, we tend to want to be “just us” – whatever that means.   If nothing else, one is always an ambassador for oneself!

We’ve been trained by decades of entertainment in flickering blue screens, of seeing our representatives (of faith, city, country, etc) more often on those screens than in person to think of life-as-fishbowl.  We are the observers, not the observed.   We sit outside and watch… but we are not-to-be-seen.   After all, if we’re not on camera, what we say or do is private – right?   This has led us to vastly decreased standards of personal style – and an attitude of “don’t judge me”.

When you go out in public, you *are* seen.   You’re seen by people who you might want to befriend, be employed by, or date.   You’re seen by people who learn to think of your hobby by how you treat others.   You represent your immediate family members – how many times have you heard the trope of being embarrassed by one’s mother?

And perhaps most of all, you are a representative of your faith.   Faith is contentious in these times, and stereotypes abound.    I’m a conservative Christian – what do you think of, when you hear those words?   Do you think of someone who loves clothing, who loves beauty, who loves art?   Probably not.   But I am all of those things.   And I know that I am an ambassador, whether or not I am adequate in the position, I have to walk it.

If thinking of yourself in these ways makes you uncomfortable – you’re human.  If you’d like to get better at representing and you need “how-to”, please see my book, Wardrobe Communication.   If you need a bit more “why” to get you off the couch and into your closet, my second book, Beauty Destroys the Beast will be out soon.

And as always, if you’d like a consultation, drop me a line – I’d love to work with you.


Beauty is intrinsically worthy

It is good that there is beauty in this world.

I was admiring a picture of a stained-glass room this morning.   Absolutely stunning.

I don’t need to own that room to receive value from it.   I can know that it exists.  I can see it.. maybe one day in person.   It pleases me, to know that someone has made this beauty.

Beauty is worthy.  It is, all by itself.   When we create beauty, we do good.  When we participate in beauty, we contribute.

I believe that the world at large has lost this truth, that everyone has the opportunity to participate in beauty.   They think they don’t have the capability, or that they don’t need to come alongside, because others can carry the weight.  Or they simply don’t see the importance, because they so seldom see any kind of beauty-in-human-form outside the silver screen.   But no one is simply an observer in life.  One participates.

Perhaps they see themselves and don’t understand that there is more than one kind of beauty.  It is not only stained glass patios that stun me.  The majestic redwoods and rugged cliffs of the Lost Coast do the same.   And what of a congregation, dressed in Easter finery?  Can you say that this is not beauty?

Every day, we make a choice.  We choose to make beauty or not.

What do you choose, today?



Coming soon… my new book, “Beauty Destroys the Beast” – if you liked this blog, you’ll love the book.   Sometimes we all need to get a little “why” to help us start moving towards the “what”. 


You Can’t Be Too You

too much like oneself

You just can’t dress too much like yourself.   Oh sure.  Situations.  But … even so.  You should always look like YOU in those situations, whatever they are.

I worry often about dressing just … too too.  Too too sweet – am I becoming mutton dressing as lamb?   Too too bohemian… do I look like I’m wearing a costume?   But when I get compliments, that’s how I’m dressed.   Not sensibly.  Nope.   Utterly insensibly like myself.

My two dearest friends could not look more unlike.  One of them is tall and slender, and she looks amazing the more dystopian and punk she dresses.   I have – no joke – seen her rake in compliments dressed in a plain black dress that she’d slept in the night before!  (Do not try this at home).   She currently has one side of her glorious mop of red curls shaved… and it made her look more like herself than ever.   I keep trying to convince her to wear woad stripes.

The other friend has the delicate coloring of a Waterhouse mermaid – but her personal style runs classic Americana.   A classic pair of boot-cut jeans, solid shoes and a tasteful sweater?   Her grin stretches from ear to ear, she relaxes, and so do you.   Calvin Klein is her designer of choice, and (her shades of ) red, white and blue are always favorites.

Do you have any idea how horrible I look in a plain black t-shirt dress?  I assure you, if I were to wear one, you’d try to hospitalize me, not compliment me.  And while my bestie can rock a sailor blouse, it’s too blocky and formal for me.

We are not meant to dress the same way.   Praise the Lord, it is no longer 1970, and there is no reason to protest a department store because you hate the new hemline.  You have freedom of choice!   Yes.  Styles go in and out, but there is so much leeway now – you can feel free to dress in the clothes that look best on you and not give a hang about what the latest trend might happen to be.

Yes, of course we have situational rules of dress.  My dystopian friend should probably not wear distressed t-shirts to an office job (if one can imagine her in such a prison), but she certainly could dress like her version of David Bowie and be both appropriate and fabulous.    My mermaid hates getting dressed up these days, but if she does – it’s not in five yards of lace.   It’s more likely to be something understated and elegant.

Dress like YOURSELF.   If it’s like you – the real you – do it.  Take a chance.  Push the envelope.   See how it feels.

You only look like you’re wearing a costume when you’re trying to be someone you are not.


On The Hunt – Online Shopping Adventures

Successful hunt:   Eshakti online.  I’ve ordered two more dresses, having added a couple of inches to my shoulder-to-waist measurement, and they’re lovely.   A great deal.   You MUST know your colors and style lines to make this work – but if you do, you’ll have a good time.  (Watch thy fabric content).  Note:  Necklines, hemlines, sleeves are usually changeable on their designs – so if you like something but wish it came a foot shorter/longer or wish it covered a bit more territory up top?  Doable.  Takes a couple of weeks to arrive.  This is not Amazon.  Price point?  Entirely reasonable.  I’m spending what I would normally spend on fabric and notions to make myself comparable clothing.

Continuing adventures:   As an aesthete, I’m all about the full effect of my presentation, very much including how I smell.   Unfortunately, regular perfumes and my body chemistry don’t get on.  I’ve been searching for a signature fragrance for years.   I’ve found a few almost-rans, but nothing that I fell in love with.  And the esoteric scents that I love tend to be very difficult to sample – and sample I must.

I’ve been doing business off and on with BPAL, but they’ve gotten a bit *much* with the branding.   And it takes a long time to get samples… one is never quite sure what you’re going to end up with.  I loved one of the random samples they sent me (Paris), it’s darling – and it disappears in an hour. -sigh-   But that was enough to send me on the hunt.  Online, natch.

I found a new shop, loaded up my cart with $6 perfume samples (that’s about the standard price point for a sample vial in my experience), and am anxious to let you all know of a new source for perfumes.  They have a million options on that site… hopefully I will fall in love.  (Stay tuned).

I was bummed to find that Wintersilks has discontinued most of their daytime clothing, although I recommend them as a source for real silk underthings and nighties.   Silk, if you are unaware, is a magnificent insulator.     Well, stick to your strength – always a good move for any retailer.

Etsy is a marvelous place to get leather goods.  Again – buyer be aware.  One must examine the pictures closely and read the details.   I just scored two vintage leather belts, and I spent no more than I’d have spent on pleather in the mall.  They’re beautiful belts, and appear to have been barely worn.

Shopping online success?  KNOW your colors and stick to them.   KNOW your fabrics, or you’ll end up with trash.  If it’s too cheap to be believed, … it is.   KNOW your style lines and stay close.   Online clothes shopping isn’t a good place to take chances, unless you’re really willing to send things back en masse – I hear this is popular, but I don’t have time for that nonsense.    The dressing room remains the place to try wild new things – you should! – not the computer screen.  (Call me old-fashioned if you will – I take it as a compliment).   Utilize online review sites that aren’t the website itself if at all possible – the website can edit its reviews.

Exciting times!



Made to Order Online: Eshakti Review

One of the banes of modern shopping existence is the difficulty of the hunt.   The standard mall stores are progressively less imaginative and less stylish, with progressively lower quality garments.   Online retailers are everywhere – but what’s a girl to do if she’s not a standard size?  Sending piles of clothing back is just a pain in the behind.

Enter Eshakti.  They  offer custom-fit clothing with a wide variety of options.  You start with one of their pre-designed dresses and then for a $10 fee, you can change the hemline, neckline, and sleeve.   Included in that $10 fee is custom fitting – so you can have your dress made to measure.

I am very hard to fit, and I’m not the only one out there with Fit Issues.   So the idea of having someone not-me make a dress for me was very tempting!   But I don’t trust easily, so I kept my bets minimal.  I knew if this dress wasn’t quite right I could repurpose it.

Here’s the dress as it appears on the Eshakti site:

I opted for the just-above-knee length, and a keyhole neckline.  I submitted my detailed measurements, and this is what I got:



It is surprisingly difficult to take a picture of a navy dress indoors… but suffice to say that my 5’2″ self has a dress that fits nicely through the bust, the waist, with a perfect armlength and hem.  I knew going in that the fabric was poly/spandex, which is possibly my least favorite fabric.  But I wanted velvet for my husband.   It’s a nice weight – I will be quite warm in this dress, it’s definitely *winter only*.  (I live in SoCal, you could wear this in Spring/Fall elsewhere).

The only odd thing is what I noticed when I checked other gal’s reviews of Eshakti – the waist is high, even though I submitted a shoulder-to-waist measurement.  No worries – the back waist is also elasticated, and there’s not a ton of difference in my waist and lower-rib measurements.   Next time I order, I’ll add a couple of inches to that measurement.

I also decided to purchase a blouse from their “ready made” section.  Although I generally buy a size 14, the measurements put me in a size 16.   I was surprised to pull this blouse on and find that it fits beautifully.   Dark navy is a bit dark on me, but I’ll get plenty of wear out of this – eyelet cotton blouses are a basic in my wardrobe.

Fabric here is a nice cotton, good weight – and it unexpectedly came with a woven cotton tanktop in a lighter navy which also fit perfectly.   I’m sure it’s going to get worn under other garments!


My only beef was the amount of time this took – which is a silly first world complaint.  This is made in India, and I got in in a couple of weeks.  Custom clothing.  I should complain?  Well.  So you know – you’re not getting this overnight.

In sum:   Worth the money, especially as I had an introductory sales price.  (I hear that they often offer sales).   Add shoulder-to-waist length for custom made articles.   Be mindful of what you’re getting and know your proportions, and this is a good place to get some interesting clothing.

This post is in no way sponsored by Eshakti – it’s sponsored by my belief that we need more sensible shopping options!


How is your inaction hurting you?

We can’t get away from her.

The woman in the mirror.

She tells us the brutal truth about our priorities, past and present.  She tells us things about our history.  Our moods.   Our coping mechanisms.

And every time you catch her eye, she asks you, “why do you make me carry this mess?”

The pain of disconnect, the disharmony between the woman in the soul and the woman in the mirror, the screeching discord that will not let up… it doesn’t leave you.  It never leaves you.   Not until you DO something about it.  And even then… you have to finish what you start.

You bear the weight of that disharmony until you match the woman inside with the woman outside.

You bear that weight until you put the clothes on that work for you.   Until you fix your hair.   Until you finally get to the gym.

And the weight costs you productivity.   It costs you confidence.   It costs you time.  It costs you tears.

You know who you are.

Are you willing to reveal the truth?


Everything for a Purpose

One of the blockades inside of the mind of every woman who is embarking on the journey of personal improvement is, “why bother”?

So – why do you bother dressing intentionally for work, when the dress code is business casual, and no one cares?

Why do you bother putting on makeup, when you work in a call center – no one even sees you?

Why do you bother accessorizing – it’s just “extra stuff”.


Because visual representations affect mental impressions.   “Oh, but I won’t be meeting anyone important today”.

Well.  Maybe so.  Maybe no.  But I did not say, “affect OTHER PEOPLE’S impressions”.   I said it affected mental impressions.  It affects how you think of yourself.  And after a lifetime of not taking care of these things, or hiding behind misrepresentations, it takes more than one day and one good outfit to get you sorted.

The point of makeup and hair and clothes is to reveal the you inside the flesh shell.

If you only get pretty occasionally – you tell the world (and the woman in the mirror) that being pretty is something you are only worthy of when you’re going somewhere special.  You tell the people you interact with that they’re not worth the bother.  You tell yourself that you’re not worth the bother.

If you get pretty, but you get fake – same thing.   You’re just hiding.

It’s hard to look like your inside self, because then the world can see you.   And maybe you’re not ready to be seen.  It is frightening.  But so what?  You will never accomplish what you’re meant to accomplish in life if you don’t allow yourself that first step – the first step of being visible.

Being visible to yourself.  Being visible to others.

No, getting pretty isn’t the most important thing.  But it is a first step that almost no one can skip, if they’re serious about inhabiting the change that they crave.