How can you be authentic, real, and true to your best self? Most women would say they want this for themselves. When I speak to groups of women, I always talk about this concept of matching your inside and outside. I give them the list of adjectives shown, and ask them to circle the ones they think describe them, then we talk about whether their current look sends that message out to people around them.
Here are two examples of women whose inside and outside do NOT match.
How about a woman who is a musician, loves art, is warm, modern, friendly and artsy. She is drawn to bohemian styles, but has a misguided idea that she "should" be dressing "professionally" in structured suit jackets and white shirts with collars. She isn't comfortable in these clothes, and feels like she isn't being herself, because she loves more free-flowing clothing like this long, striped cardigan by Free People and that expresses her artistic side more authentically. She will be much happier and more comfortable with herself if she makes some changes in her wardrobe to reflect her true, best self.
Or how about a teenager who wears all black, hats that cover her face, and t-shirts with scary messages, but is confident, strong, intelligent and reliable, and wants to be seen as approachable? Her clothing is sending the opposite message. This outfit from Nordstrom BP shows those around her how she really feels and IS inside.
Take a look at the qualities listed above, then look at the clothes in your closet and think about whether your clothes are sending the message and portraying the person you want to show to the people you come in contact with every day. Be your best, true, authentic self by learning your style and shopping to fit that style.
This is the title of one of the lessons in my book,Six Word Lessons to Look Your Best. Maybe "fun" isn't quite the right word to describe budgeting for clothing, but it can definitely be rewarding, and make you feel proud of yourself for keeping your purchases to a predetermined, reasonable amount. So, in a way, it's kind of fun.
I have had a budget for about 20 years, and when I took a break for a few years, I gradually started spending too much, and realized that I felt guilty no matter how much or how little I bought! When I started budgeting again, I saw the benefit of keeping track of what I was buying, which made me feel much more in control.
Use a Spreadsheet. My husband and I started a household budget when we were first married, and we used Microsoft Excel, but there are other spreadsheet and budgeting products. Even paper and pen will work, just use what you like.
Save Receipts. I save receipts for everything that I am budgeting for--clothing, shoes, jewelry, etc. I don't include beauty products or services, because they aren't as difficult for me to control. Create categories as you see fit. Keep receipts from these categories in your wallet, or designate a basket or bowl in a prominent place at home, which works well if you are budgeting as a couple for your household. This helps to have them handy for returns as well. If you do return something, make sure you credit your spreadsheet.
Record Purchases Once a Week. Sit down with your receipts and record your purchases onto your spreadsheet and see what your balance is. Doing this once a week, say Sunday evening, helps you to always have the number in your head that is available to spend.
Set a Monthly Budget Amount. This is the hard part, and it's different for everyone. Obviously, you need to be able to afford it, but beyond that, try to come up with what you would like to be spending. You can make it quarterly or weekly amounts if you'd like, but monthly seems the right timing for me.
Keeping my clothing purchases within a budget has helped me to shop more intelligently. I shop at a variety of stores, such as Target, Nordstrom Rack, and consignment, as well as traditional clothing stores. Budgeting also helps me make better use of the clothes I have in my closet, by wearing them more often, but mixing them in different ways. I am more careful with what I buy, making sure it is the right fit and color, and that I really love it. It has helped me to be aware of major store's sales and keeping some money available for those sales.
Using a budget allows you to save up for large purchases you otherwise would think are too expensive or you would feel guilty about. As you purchase items, be very sure you want to keep them and wear them. This can take some time and trial and error, so always save receipts and invest the time to return items that you decide you don't like. Also, if something is in good
condition, and can't be returned, sell it at a consignment shop and use that money for new clothes.
For more information on setting up a budget, and a sample spreadsheet, contact me at email@example.com or 425-736-5893.
At any stage of life, there are challenges with keeping up with style, staying on a budget, and looking your best, but mothers at this stage have some unique issues to deal with.
Changing Bodies. Between pregnancies and nursing, your size and shape changes constantly. Find a few inexpensive pieces that fit, vary them with accessories, and put things away that you hope to fit into later on. That way you're not looking at the visual clutter in your closet of clothes you can't wear.
Toddler Effect on Your Clothes. Your kids get everything from spit-up to mud on your clothes. There are plenty of cute, fashionable clothes that are washable. Save the silky dresses for when you're out without the kids, but don't abandon them completely. Expect to change clothes sometimes during the day, but don't resort to sloppy t-shirts. Look for color, shape and detail in washable fabrics.
Balance the sparkle in your clothing with your jewelry. For example, a silver and pearl necklace would go with a sequin tank, but not a necklace with its own sequins or glitter.
Limit your "bling points" to 3. Bling points are places on your body where you could wear something sparkly, such as ears, neck, hands, feet, and your dress, top, skirt or pants. Don't let every one of the points sparkle, spread them out and keep it to only 3 total. (From the late fashion editor Charla Krupp)
It's OK to mix metallics, such as gold, silver, bronze and copper. For example, dark bronze metallic shoes can go with a silver top. Golds and silvers can go together. Colored jewels look beautiful with metallic fabrics.
Use color sparingly with metallics, glitter and sequins. If you're wearing one glittery piece, like a top, mix it with only one color. Black always works, and it can be combined with one other color in addition to your sparkly piece.
Have fun looking and feeling your best this season!
I talk to so many people who truly hate shopping for clothes. But even if you like it, it can be challenging. Here are a few ways to make it a little easier:
Avoid Crowds. Go when the stores are less crowded, like when they first open or weeknights. Obviously, this is not always possible, but it's less stressful to have more space to look at the racks, more available salespeople, and no waiting for the fitting rooms.
Wear Comfy Clothes. Wear clothes and shoes that are easy to take on and off, with a camisole that can be left on. Slip-on shoes are much easier than something with ties or worse, boots.
Try Two Sizes. Take two sizes of everything into the room. Sizing is incredibly inconsistent, even within the same stores and
brands, so don't assume you know your size in a particular garment.
Keep Options in Mind. Find fit first, then color. If you love the style and fit, ask about having the color you like shipped to you
or sent from another store, if not in stock.
Be patient with yourself and remember you can always finish at another time, and return items that don't work out once you get them home. Know yourself, and whether you shop best alone or with a friend or relative. If I'm serious about finding what I need, I usually do best by myself. Don't give up and try to enjoy it!
I first heard this term from the Nordstrom website. I have since heard it several times. It's not really a new concept, but the term was new to me. The idea is that it fits closely in your ribcage and upper waist area, which is usually your smallest section, and flares out over the lower tummy and hips, camouflaging typical problem areas. They are also flattering on women who are thin from head to toe, because they give everyone an hourglass shape. I just bought one, and I would recommend this if you need a new dress for summer weddings or other events.
Do you want to look young, healthy and glowing? Or pale, washed-out and older? Color makes the difference! It is worth knowing which colors look the best and worst on you. It will give you confidence in knowing that your outfit is flattering, and make shopping and choosing what to wear easier.
To find your best and worst colors, you can have a professional color draping with a color specialist or wardrobe consultant, or try it yourself. Considering first your skin, then hair and eyes, determine whether you look best in black and white, or brown and beige. Hold the swatches under your chin in natural light with little or no makeup on. If a color gives you more shadows, makes you look sallow, pale or washed out, then it’s not for you. If it makes your face look soft and glowing, it’s right for you. You should see your face first, not the color. Compare brown with black, and beige with white. If you can’t tell which looks best, ask for a second opinion. If you look better in brown and beige, then you have warm skin, which has yellow undertones. Black and white means that you are cool with blue undertones.
Next you will want to find out whether you look better in light or dark colors within your warm or cool spectrum. This is where your hair and eyes will come into play. Using clothing in your closet, drape different colored items against your face, watching for the same effects that you did with the neutrals.
Keep examining colors when you go shopping. It’s a process, and you will start to see one or two colors that look fantastic on you, and some that look good or okay. Once you have a start, you will find it easier and easier to know what colors work for you. Don’t get rid of all your wrong colors right away, but gradually replace them with better ones, and mix them with your better colors near your face.
How do you appear to others at your work place? In the last several years, especially the last decade, the rules have relaxed so much, that I am hearing employers wish some of their employees would dress more appropriately for work. In my opinion, general rules for women are: no cleavage, no spaghetti straps or strapless tops, and skirts or shorts should be below fingertip length. (remember high school?) For men, shirts should have collars for most settings, but here in the Northwest, Microsoft employees can literally wear anything they like. That doesn't always fly with every company, however, so look around to see who is dressed the best, especially in jobs above yours, and follow their examples.
Does your company have a written dress code? I can help put together a simple list or a published manual. How do you decide what to wear to work?
Wardrobe Consultant and Personal Shopper. Love to help women match their outside image to their unique inner beauty.