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Sourcing: Jewelry

As someone who enjoys a bohemian/romantic personal style, I’m all about the jewelry.   How do I find those pieces that stop traffic and get compliments without breaking the bank?

I spend a fun afternoon going to the gem faire, am a regular at street fairs, and never miss checking out the booths at my county fair’s gem show.

All of these items were found at gem fairs, and most of my not-husband-purchased jewelry was too.

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Most of us enjoy a good shopping experience, and let’s face it – the mall is boring or overpriced or both.  These goodies are gorgeous, they’re real – and they were inexpensive.

In addition, I do a ton of Christmas and birthday shopping at these spots.  Yes, today was a day of Christmas shopping.   I hate waiting until the last moment!   Generally speaking, such fairs don’t only have jewelry/gems/beads – they also have some garments and lots of items of interest, like fossils and geodes and the like.

If you want to get one-of-a-kind items, you have to get off the beaten path.   Try a gem faire!  You won’t be disappointed.

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Upgrade your look: Wear a Blouse

Blouses

 

How do you upgrade your daily look?  Transfer your regular knit shirt to a blouse.

The photo below serves as a comparison…  Both tops are long-sleeved, in the same color family, have similar necklines – but one is knit, and one is woven.   One is basic cotton, and the other has a slight sheen.

 

There’s nothing wrong with the knit shirt on the left.  I wear it to the grocery store, to the home-improvement store, to do errands.  But there’s no upgrading it.   The shirt on the right can run errands and it can also go out with my husband on date night.   Because it’s a woven, because of the materials used, it can be paired with a skirt or pair of slacks and head to the office.   When you’re ready to upgrade your look, it becomes time to add some woven items to the mix, not stick totally with knits.

A blouse will translate easily between dressy casual and work-appropriate, so it’s a utility infielder in your closet.  Change the jeans to slacks or a skirt, depending on how formal your work environment and your personal style needs.   Perhaps add a blazer.    Done.

Going out to eat with your friends, heading to a birthday party, attending a casual church – “dressy casual” is where it’s at, and the easiest way to hit dressy casual is to wear a blouse.   You look appropriate when you’re running through the market or meeting your kids’ teacher, and a change in jewelry and shoes upgrades your look to most evening occasions.*

What’s the most useful of all tops?  A white** shirt***.  A white shirt is a tabula rasa – especially with jeans.  You can make this into anything you desire by changing up your accessories.

 

Goal:  Pulled together, fitting in, looking like what’s expected +1?   CHECK.  The only downside to a white blouse is that you’re going to wear the poor thing to shreds – and stains.  It’s never a bad thing to keep your eyes out for an extra white blouse.  You’ll use it.

Blouses are also great statement pieces.   If you find a blouse that suits your style, snag it.  You could become known for that one look… that vibe that says YOU, no matter what you pair it with.  Interesting sleeve treatments and long sleeves are on-trend – feel free to break loose of the everyday and show who you really are.

 

 

Woven blouses always look more pulled together, more finished, more adult, than a comparable knit top.   It’s worth your while to start adding them to your wardrobe, because they allow you to get maximum interest from a minimum of clothing.   And isn’t that what we all want?

 

If you’d like help figuring out what blouse style would fit best in your life?  Drop me a line and we can work together.  amyrosehearth@gmail.com

 

 

 

*Location, location, location – SoCal, where I live, is very casual – great denim + cool blouse + accessories on point = dressy casual.  Your mileage may vary – you might want to pair that cool blouse with an elegant pair of slacks if you’re in a more formal area.

**White always refers to your best shade of white.

*** I am using the words “blouse” and “shirt” somewhat interchangeably throughout this post.  Technically, a blouse is a garment only worn by women, and a shirt is more androgynous in style.   If your husband could wear it, it’s a shirt (eg buttondown).  If not, then it’s a blouse.  A blouse is slightly more formal.  For this post, the difference is irrelevant.

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Industry Trend: Used Clothes

There’s a new trend in town… wearing used clothes.   Wait, you say – that’s not new!  Thrift stores and consignment shops have been around forever!  True.  But the trend is going high-end and becoming more widely used with shoppers who aren’t trying to get dressed on a dime.   Don’t expect to find $5 blazers in any of these spots… but you might find something wonderful at a deep discount.  (Think of it as going to the sale rack, not the Salvation Army).

  • Rented Special Occasion clothing (eg Rent-the-Runway)
  • Shared clothing exchange (eg Gwynnie Bee)
  • High-End Consignment shops (eg Luxury Garage Sale)

 

Why is this getting popular?  

  1. There is a huge divide in price between high-end and mid-range ready-to-wear clothing.   High-end resale fills that niche.
  2. There is a huge divide in quality between high-end and mid-range RTW.  Wearing used clothing allows the consumer to access the higher end materials without breaking the bank.  As much.  It’s still pricey!
  3. Social norms have changed – once it was only the extremely rich who expected not to repeat a look.  Now social media has spread that policy around, and more people are uncomfortable with keeping a look too long.  Renting a dress is smart if you’re only going to wear it once.
  4. Makes having a larger wardrobe more affordable – if you’re not in love with a garment, you don’t have to keep it.
  5. Because of social media, people hear about certain brands or looks and want to have them for themselves, but can’t afford the new-car price of some of those items.  Luxury consignment fills the niche.

 

Is this trend for you?

  • Are you a standard or small size?  Most luxury consignment is in the smaller size ranges.  (Shared clothing runs a full size range – Gwynnie Bee has lots of choices in the plus-size category).
  • Are you someone who needs (or wants) a wide array of clothing choices, either because of your industry or social demands?   If you’re expected to hit a gala event once a month – this might be a good choice.
  • Are you madly in love with a certain designer or certain look, and can’t pay retail?

 

Doesn’t really sound like you…

  • You always have your clothing tailored to fit properly.   You have a hard time finding clothing that fits well.
  • You like a minimalist/capsule wardrobe.
  • You love to wear signature pieces and prefer to keep your clothing as long as possible.

 

The fashion industry has changed a great deal in the last ten years, and it behooves all of us who have to wear clothing to keep abreast of the possibilities.   The shared/used clothing marketplace is expanding rapidly, and if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, it’s worth giving it a try.

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An At-Home Wardrobe

So, you say – it’s great that you’re telling me about how to dress for the office, but I don’t work in an office!  How do I look pulled-together as someone who works in (or from) her home?

Pulled Together

First things first – even if you aren’t going into an office, you still need to look pulled-together.   Your clothing choices affect your productivity and your view of yourself.  Start swanning around in ragged shorts and stained t-shirts, and you’ll find yourself losing interest in your work – as well as some self-respect.

Pulled-together doesn’t mean that you’re dressed up, or that you’re wearing expensive clothing.   Being pulled-together means that if the doorbell rings, you’re not going to be ashamed to open it to the kid across the street who wants to sell you a candy bar (and whose mom is standing five feet behind her).   Being pulled-together means that it takes you five minutes to get ready to walk out the door, not thirty.   Being pulled-together means that when you clean the hall mirror, you don’t avoid looking yourself in the face.

So, let’s start with your face.   You don’t need a full-face of makeup, especially if you’re not a makeup person.  But you do need to take care of your grooming rituals.   A bit of tinted chapstick, eyebrows that have been shaped, and some moisturizer might be enough.    Your hair should be properly brushed, and put in order.    Five minutes to make a nice ponytail instead of thirty seconds to slap on an elastic won’t make much difference to your schedule, but it does make a difference to how you feel for the rest of the day.

Your clothing should be fit-for-purpose, neat and in good repair*.   Yes, I know you’re going to get dirty as you chase after the kids and clean the house and convince the cat to take its pill.   Clothing fit-for-the-purpose of at-home work is washable, and comfortable.  If you can’t bend over and crawl behind the toilet and that’s what needs to happen today, then your outfit isn’t working for you.

But how many of us honestly spend the entire day at home, even when that’s our job title?  Errands, whether running to the grocery store or taking the kids to school, happen nearly every day.   If you’re going to be going out, you need to be presentable.    An outfit in which you can quickly switch a cat-fur covered tank top for a blouse and head out the door (see: be ready in five minutes) is going to make you feel far more in control of your persona than something you have to change completely.

So, what items do I suggest for a stay-at-home wardrobe?  (Mom or otherwise)

SAHM checklist

  • Long, wide skirts.   Gypsy skirts (tiered skirts) in particular give you freedom of movement and are fun.  They’re more traditionally modest than jeans or shorts, and they’re great for herding small children.
  • Jeans.   A well-fitting pair of jeans is a basic – it goes with everything.  You can dress up a pair of jeans in the time it takes to change your shirt and put on a flashier pair of earrings.
  • Long shorts – something in which you can bend over without the least worry.
  • T-shirts with a feminine neckline
  • Wide-strap tank-tops (because you’re wearing it over a bra, and bra-straps are tacky).
  • Button-down shirts (to be worn over the t-shirts and tank tops for a slightly dressed-up look, and on their own with interesting accessories as a medium-dress look).

You want as much mix-and-match as you can manage.  The easiest way to do this is choose whether you like pattern on top or on the bottom, and select a color palette to work with.

You’ll note that everything on this list can be tossed in the wash.  And it will be.  You probably don’t want to invest very much in t-shirts or tank tops in the messier stages of your life, but fortunately one can find basics of both in the most affordable price ranges.  Buy a selection, and be ruthless about disposal.  (All-cotton items make good rags, if you feel wasteful).

Flexible pieces can be dressed up easily… here’s a denim skirt (jeans +1) and white blouse with a simple necklace.   It looks clean and elegant.   Good blouses will change basic pieces like jeans from “at home” to “ready to run to the bank” in only a few minutes.  Picture this with a neat ponytail and some hoop earrings – which would have been just as appropriate with a t-shirt and apron, frying bacon for breakfast.

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It is entirely possible to look and feel polished and put together, even when you’re “only” going to be at home.   For, say, ten years…. or twenty… and do you really want to spend all that time in a pair of yoga pants?

 

If you’d like help making up a personalized wardrobe or finding your style, drop me a line at amyrosehearth@gmail.com and we’ll start working on your solutions today!

 

 

 

*But when can I wear my grubbies??   If you’re painting, refinishing, or otherwise engaging in clothing-destroying activity and you don’t do this activity at least once a week, feel free to wear your grubbies.  That’s why you have them.  If you do whatever activity frequently, it’s time to invest in specialty clothing or protective gear.   E.g. apron or overalls.  

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How to: Closet Reboot

What are you to do, when your lifestyle changes and you need a new wardrobe?

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Determine Your Colors, Choose a Palette

 

I’ve already done that – I know my season, and I know, further, the colors that are my very best.   Jade green, turquoise, ivory, navy, pine green, warm red, coral, and buff.  Most of those colors will play well with what I have in stock – because I always shop from this list.

 

Determine Your Needs

 

I’ll be working from an office in the near future, and my wardrobe requirements have radically changed, while the number of discrete outfits I need has increased dramatically.    Corporate dressing means that I have to leave my beloved ankle-length skirts at home – there are a couple of blouses that can carry from my normal life to the office, but otherwise there’s little cross-over.

 

Evaluate What You Own

 

I spent some time this week pulling out everything I have that’s corporate and matching it up on my dolly.

Here are the outfits that I can make from those combinations.  Minus the red & green, which in these particular shades is a tad too Christmasy.   This is 15 possible outfits.

Skirts:  One navy blue silk skirt, one dark green wool skirt, one rainbow silk skirt, one cotton floral skirt, and one polyester navy floral skirt.  (5)

Blouses:  One white linen shirt, one red polyester blouse, one aqua rayon blouse, one navy lace blouse, one navy floral blouse, one red & white cotton blouse, one red-embroidered cotton blouse (7).

Jackets:  Nada

Dresses:  One jade green dress, cotton twill (aka not totally corporate).

Shoes:  Navy blue heels (comfortablish), nude stilettos (not comfortable)

 

 

Determine Your Needs

 

So, what kind of shopping list am I looking at?   Well, yours truly has been shopping from the heart, and that means I have a lot of patterns.  What I need is some solids that will match as many as possible of my current items.  And shoes.  I dearly need some dark-brown heels in which I can walk more than three steps.

 

 

Prioritize in Order of Utility

 

  • Blouse, linen (1) (Ivory)
  • Light-neutral skirt (1) (Ivory)
  • Shoes, dark brown
  • Solid colored blouses (2) (Turquoise, jade green)
  • Blazer (1) (Ivory)
  • Light-neutral skirt (1) (Camel)
  • Shoes, nude
  • Solid-colored dress (1) (Ivory)
  • Blazer (1) (Jade Green)
  • Blouse (1) (Soft coral)
  • Solid-colored dress (1) (Jade Green or Turquoise)
  • And after that, I can play with patterns and florals once again.

 

Why in this order?

  • I need one impeccable outfit.  The ivory linen blouse (Italian linen, long sleeved) + my navy blue silk skirt = that one impeccable outfit.
  • More of my wardrobe orphans are blouses than skirts, and I have more blouses, period.  One neutral skirt that goes with most of my blouses will increase my total number of outfits far more than another blouse.
  • But I have some zingers in the skirt category.  Love is love… and these items were acquired over the course of years.  If I get a few more solid blouses, those skirts get to come out to play more often, and with more variety.
  • It’s August in Southern California.  Blazers may be de rigueur – but it’s too hotto wear them, and it will be too hot for at least another six-eight weeks.  I would rather make up my splendid jade green … but looking at what I have, ivory will be far more flexible.  More flexible yet if I choose the same fabric as my light-neutral skirt (that would give me a suit).  Navy is the traditional color for blazers.  Bright navy is an excellent color on me.  BUT – navy is a tricky color.  You have to match the dye lot and fabric if you want to wear it with another navy, and I have three navy skirts, all slightly different shades.  If I pick navy, it will only go with one of those skirts, which defeats the purpose.
  • I love a good dress, but they’re worn less often in offices than they used to be, and are stand-alone statements without a jacket.  Without-a-jacket is generally how you are seen when actively at work, so that pushes them down the list too.
  • Accessories are not a problem for me – I have a ton of jewelry that will add interest to a wardrobe made up of solids.  I also have several beautiful scarves.
  • Shoes are a problem for me – I have a bad foot and most office-appropriate shoes don’t fit or are excruciatingly painful.   Finding good shoes is difficult (and expensive), I’m not going to vary my wardrobe by what’s on my feet.

 

Now all I have left to do is shop…

 

Seem complicated?  Need some help in your own wardrobe transition?  Feel like you have a million clothes and they’re not serving you properly?    Drop me a line at amyrosehearth@gmail.com and I’ll get to work on your wardrobe conundrums post haste. 

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When style and body don’t match

There are any number of “style types”, and those types come with a default expected body.   One of the first great style books, Color Me Beautiful, actually wrote prescriptions for women’s style based on their bodies.   This works very well, if the woman in question has an innate preference for one of these types – but if not, then you have the problem of a woman who looks amazing in a certain type of clothing who won’t be seen dead in it.

Contrariwise, if you try to wear a style type *exactly the way you see it portrayed* and it doesn’t work for your body, you come off as a try-too-hard stereotype.

True style marries body and soul, mind and fashion.

That’s why you’ll find four elements of style used in my book rather than the usual breakouts of “bohemian” vs. “classic” vs. “ingenue”.   I use those words in my consultations because they’ve become standard fashion vocabulary, but they’re just a stopping point, not a destination – not a “why”.

Fire = Energy/Sexuality/Power

Water = Femininity/Flow/Softness

Earth = Solidity/Athleticism/Nature

Air = Whimsy/Change/Experimentation

It is my firm belief that we all incorporate all four elements somewhere in our personal expression.    Three are public, one is private.

So, having gotten your pinboard together, you’re looking at that look you would just DIE to wear, the one that you know would make you look like a half-grown boy (and you’re not the androgynous type).   Analyze it!  What elements are screaming at you?  What can be discarded or changed?  Pin up a few more outfits that you like almost as much.  What do they have in common?  What can you take from that?

Find the heart in the style, that which speaks most strongly to you.

That style can be incorporated into garments that fit your body shape and proportion.   Accessories are incredibly helpful here – they transform the spirit of an outfit.  You might not be dressing on easy mode, but you’re going to make it your own.

(This Part 1 of a series)

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Personal Stylist vs. Image Consultant

I read an interesting article last night about the personal stylist who works with Kylie Jenner.   Fewer than 10 clients, and she’s working 16 hours/day, deciding on every outfit they wear, every day.

Why?   Because her clients need to look up-to-the minute, all the time.   They’re followed by paparazzi.   They have too many other facets of their lives to manage, they don’t need to figure out their clothes.   Having a personal stylist is a lot like having a publicist.   Someone else takes care of your public image.

All power to her.

An image consultant, on the other hand, is someone who teaches her clients to take control of their clothing communication for themselves.   Of course there is a period of “try this outfit” as well as the (always necessary) closet purge, and even personal shopping.   But once you have your client well-taught, they can fly on their own.

One of my passions is teaching people to understand themselves better, so that they can take correct action.    That correct action extends to the clothing that they choose.   I follow the dictum by Yves St. Laurent, “Fashions fade, style is eternal”.  I’d rather teach you about the style lines that work on you, the colors that make you pop, and the ways to express your true self than tell you to wear this year’s latest trend.

There is room for both personal stylists and image consultants in this world.   I appreciate the work that Dani Michelle does – social media has made celebrity the catwalk for the world, and she determines what the world envisions when they see the latest trends.

I have something else in mind.   I’d like each woman to wear her own style with confidence, speak truth, and live in beauty.    Knowledge is power – I want to empower you by giving you as much knowledge as I can.

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Online Shopping

It was my last trip to [decent department store] that did it.  Camel, meet straw.   I hit the designer section – I was looking for some silk or linen blouses.  Being honest, I’d have accepted a nice rayon or a poly that was sufficiently high-quality.   Was that what I found?  No, it wasn’t.  What I found was polyester – thick, scratchy polyester.   If I wanted to wear sandpaper, I’d go to Lowe’s.

I grew up with that quality of polyester – I remember leaving it behind in the 80s.  Nasty polyester was ‘so 70s’.  But at least back in the day, you’d only find it in cheap clothing – low end department stores.  Now, it’s everywhere.   It’s the new standard.   I can’t support this.  Not if you know how to source better garments – and I do.

I have to come out of the closet on this…. we’re all going to have to learn to shop online.   I know.  I know.  I KNOW.  Who wants to deal with shipping and returning and credit cards and the whole rigamarole?    No one.  That’s who.  No one.

None of my clients want to do this.  I don’t want to do this for myself.   However, the market has determined that if you want nice clothing, you’re going to have to shop outside the box (or in very high end stores).  That means you’re going to have to shop in unexpected places, which include online retailers.

I would like nothing more than to take you out shopping – have a great day together, pile you high with beautiful garments, find your best lines, experiment, laugh, teach.   I love doing this, and my clients have gotten an education from our time together.   But unless we’re hitting Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Saks – or indie retailers at the same price-point – I can’t give you that.   It’s not you.  It’s not me.  It’s what’s in stock.

So I’m switching gears – I’m going to work up a list of online retailers with good return policies that sell quality clothes.    Send me your feedback – this is a project we can work on together.

Let’s start with a classic American brand – Pendleton USA.  Sells classic wool clothes, decent return policy.  Here’s a page of basic suit separates and a few wool dresses.    https://www.pendleton-usa.com/women/womens-featured/seasonless-wool/

 

The downside to online shopping is that without a plan, you can end up buying things you have no need for, or messing with the returns endlessly because you picked something up on a whim.   Want to *not* find yourself neck-deep in “oops” online shopping?   You need a plan.  Planning is where I come in – when you know yourself, and you know where you’re going, you’ll be able to get there with confidence.

 

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Must Have Item: The Pretty Dress

You need at least one pretty dress in your closet.

What sort of dress you choose is going to depend on your lifestyle and the events that come into it.  You must be honest with yourself.  While your pretty dress can go to church or date night or most parties, only you know which you spend more time attending.
For instance, I attend a very casual church, but I go out to dinner with my husband quite regularly and we almost never attend dressy parties.  Therefore, my “pretty dress” is going to be mostly a date dress.  If the situation was reversed, and I attended a church that still dressed up, I would have a nice quiet dress that I could sparkle up when we went on the town.  Likewise, if we went to a lot of parties, I would choose something that could be accessorized with endless variety (the classic LBD*).   My really dressy dress stays in the closet most of the year, but it’s stunning and I love it.
Your special dress should be fit you perfectly.  It doesn’t have to be a “timeless classic” unless you’re spending enough time in it that you’ll be recognized as wearing the “same old thing” over and over.  (Timeless classics, like LBDs, can be accessorized so as to not be obviously re-wears).    Wear what suits you, and what you love.    A pretty dress is exactly the right place to indulge your heart.

*The LBD doesn’t have to be black!  It should be a basic neutral, suited to the dominant season in your area.  It should fit and flatter you, which may well let out the slim sheath dress that has probably popped into your head at this point.

**You may substitute in your white blouse and dark skirt until you are able to find this special item.
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Blast from the Past: Dressing Your Changing Body

Ah, another picture snapped at the gym… we had a barbeque… I did some deadlifting…

This is why you rely on the camera for truth, not the mirror.  Because I look in the mirror every single day, and I hadn’t noticed how compact I’d gotten, how square I’d gotten.  How can I dress myself if I can’t see myself?compact-figure

How can you dress yourself, if you don’t see what someone else sees?   Take pictures.  Look at the pictures other people take of you.  And when you stop wincing at the unflattering angles and bad lighting, look at your overall shape.

What is your shape?  What are your proportions?  Where do your best horizontal and vertical lines sit?  If you put your hemline *here*, what happens to your overall impression?  If I added or changed my accessories, would it improve things?  Am I achieving the impression that I want to achieve?

When things change radically, you need to step back and completely re-evaluate your look.

Ask some more cheery questions like, “What is awesome about how I look right now?”  “What’s interesting about me?”  “What parts of my personality are peeking out of the corners?”

Maybe your changing figure means that you need to change your look to make the “you” show up a little bit more loudly.   Be open to throwing everything you think you know about dressing yourself out the window, and starting from scratch, as if you were dressing someone new.