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#GivingTuesday and The Health Wagon

giving tuesday

We had a day for giving thanks. We had two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. Today, Tuesday, December 2, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s simple: find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity. Share on social media how you gave and use the hashtag #Giving Tuesday.

This year, I am supporting The Health Wagon for #GivingTuesday. Earlier this year I saw a piece on 60 Minutes regarding The Health Wagon and have been a supporter ever since. I donate a portion of my revenue from the blog to The Health Wagon and for those who visit Wardrobe Oxygen’s actual site will know I donated ad space to promote the organization.

Nearly one million Virginia residents lack health insurance. Those who work full time at minimum wage make too much to be eligible for Medicaid, but not enough to afford healthcare even via the ACA. On top of that, many parts of Southwest Virginia have little medical access or health resources. The Health Wagon is a nonprofit organization providing mobile health services in Southwest Virginia since 1980. Every dollar donated to The Health Wagon is approximately $100 reaped in health care benefits. In 2013, the Health Wagon assisted more than 11,000 patients obtain access to care valued at over $1 million.

The Health Wagon strives to meet the unique challenges of health care delivery to the medically under-served and indigent in poverty-stricken areas of rural Appalachia. Through the use of this innovative mobile health unit, health care doors are opened to many needy individuals, families, and communities; doors that would have otherwise remained closed. The Health Wagon visits eleven sites in Southwest Virginia’s Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, and Wise counties on a weekly, biweekly, and monthly basis. Accessibility to culturally sensitive primary health care services that emphasize education and prevention is considered the key to improving the health status for populations residing in these rural areas. Services are rendered essentially free of charge; however, donations are encouraged and accepted.

Please consider participating in #GIVINGTUESDAY and donating to The Health Wagon by clicking here or texting WAGON10 to 41444 to donate $10.00, WAGON20 to 41444 to donate $20.00 or WAGON (enter amount) to 41444 to donate any amount.  To donate online visit this link to go to The Health Wagon’s donation page via Network for Good.

I’d love to hear how you are participating in #GivingTuesday, do share your stories in the comments below!

Tuesday Tip – For the Fashion Fearful

Many of you may be reading this for entertainment. You are stylish, you are hip to trends. You know what looks good on you and what is positively ghastly. You wear your shape with pride and class. You don’t need assistance, you’re just cruising by.
Others, you care, but you don’t know where to start. You have been wearing the same pieces for over a decade, even though your shape, lifestyle and tastes have changed. Clothing has been something you use to not get arrested for indecent exposure, not something you care about. Now for whatever reason, you have started to care. And this terrifies you. Where to start?
First things first, fashion does not have to be scary. Let’s scratch the word FASHION. It evokes 3-inch thick Vogue magazines, stiletto heels, clothes you cannot sit in and designers one’s name cannot pronounce (or ever be able to afford). I like the word STYLE. Style does not disappear when a hemline goes out of the limelight. It does not waver from season to season. It does not offer free advertising for brand names and it spans generations and waistlines. Style is available for all, no matter your shape, your age or your budget.
I am going to ask you to do a very terrifying thing. Purchase a full-length mirror if you do not already own one. They are available for less then $20 from Big Box retailers like Kmart and Target. This can be most anywhere – the back of the bathroom door usually hidden by your robe, on the inside of your closet door, in your hallway closet in the foyer I even have one in my office/gym/spare room (which explains the Bowflex in every picture on my other blog). Place it anywhere you want and what works with your home. Now USE IT. So many women do not own a full-length mirror. This must explain why so many women walk around in too-short trousers, clunky shoes with trim pants, and panty lines visible a mile away. Each day before you leave your home, LOOK AT YOURSELF. Do you like what you see? Now you can’t remove the hips, the wrinkles, the breasts or the nose with a flash of a wand, but that is not what you are looking at. Are you “wrapping the package” in a flattering way? It doesn’t matter what you like and dislike about your figure or your face; you do not have immediate control over that. What you do have control over is how it is covered.

Do those trousers dig into your midsection causing the dreaded “muffin top?” Is that skirt hitting in the middle of the widest part of your calf, causing your legs to look shorter and thicker than they really are? How does that turtleneck REALLY look with your round face? Is that skirt really work appropriate or more dance club appropriate? Does that baggy sweater cover your bumps or accentuate them?

Once you have become comfortable with said full-length mirror (at least two weeks of daily views) you will see your wardrobe will change slightly. The pleated pants will be worn less, and possibly donated to a charity. The beloved dress that is “a little tight but not bad” may take a place farther back in the closet until you again reach goal weight. And those tunic sweaters that you feel hide all your sins? You will see that they really don’t achieve much at all. This is a good thing. A GOOD wardrobe is based on quality, not quantity. So you only like two pairs of trousers in your closet now. Who said you can’t wear the same pants twice in a week? Unless they are lime green with fuchsia polka-dots, I highly doubt anyone will notice. What they will notice is the stained, threadbare too short chinos that you are sporting in the sensible trousers’ place. If you don’t like something on you, you should not hang on to it. You will not miss it after a short period, and if you keep it, you may actually wear it again. Even if you end up with only three bottoms and four tops, you will survive. Slowly you can add to this collection with pieces you love and that love your body.
Now how does one go about buying new clothes? Malls are scary places, sensory overload of sights, smells and sounds. Online shopping is a game of Russian roulette and can be quite costly with returning those items that are not right. Boutiques are quaint but often costly and have a minimal amount of sizes and selection.
As I have mentioned before, I find malls to be the best for the new to wardrobe building. Clothing is something you wear every day and effects every aspect of your life. You would take a half day for a doctor’s appointment, why not schedule a wardrobe doctor appointment. Malls are lovely before the lunch rush. The stores are pretty empty and the salespeople are bored. Bored salespeople equal helpful salespeople and less frantic of salespeople. They will take their time with you, bringing you other sizes to the fitting room and giving you advice and opinions. Managers usually work on Monday early shifts and they usually have the most experience and the best sales skills. If you cannot take off a morning to shop, consider early on a Saturday or later on a Sunday.
Go to the mall with a list. A pair of black trousers, a new pair of brown boots, a couple of business casual tops. Then stick to that. If you need work clothes, do not even walk by the yoga pants, the jeans or the hoodies. They may be safe, but they are not necessary right now.
Consider solids. Solids may seem drab and boring, but they are the most versatile. A solid top will most likely match your solid bottom, and it’s less memorable, meaning you can wear it more often without anyone noticing. You see when your neighbor wears that floral skirt again, but when she wears a blue dress, you only notice the color, not the date of when it was worn. Find your personality through scarves, jewelry, shoes and handbags. No clue what colors go with what? Here is some assistance. This is not all-inclusive, but a simple list to help with those crazy colors shown in stores this season:
Color Bottom
Color Top
Complimenting Accessories (shoes, belts, bags)
Black
Most any color except a medium brown or browns and navys that are almost the same shade as the black
Black is a safe bet. You can go with a contrast color (anything but brown, tan and navy) as long as the top is also black or a dark basic color (red shoes with a khaki sweater and black skirt)
Brown
Ivory, brown, tan, red, pink, lighter shades of blue, dark orange/rust/terracotta
Again, safe to go with the same color and only use a contrast if the top and bottom are both neutral (ivory sweater, brown pants and green pumps)
Camel
Brown, pink, black, ivory, plum, dark greens, navy, French blue, red, dark purples
If you have camel already, great! If not, consider the top. If it is a warm color (red, ivory, plum) brown is a nice compliment. If it is cool (black, purples, French blue) consider black. Navy is a shade that can go either way, though I think darker shades look better with black and lighter shades with brown.
Navy
French or baby blue, pinks, white, camel, ivory, dark red, lighter shades of green
Again, if you have navy shoes that closely match the bottom, wear them. I personally find navy bottoms hard to match and just never wear them. If you like navy, consider the rules above. Darker navys with black and lighter with dark brown or camel.
White (no matter what the fashion mags say, should only be worn from June through August unless you are a true expert fashionista)
Most any color except beige, ivory or a very pale shade of a color.
I do not believe white shoes should be bought by anyone except nurses, brides and true expert fashionistas. Since these white skirts and pants are being worn in the summer ONLY, consider a neutral like a tan shoe. If you are wearing a bright colored top (colbalt blue, hot pink, red) consider black shoes instead.
Ivory
Black, brown, medium to dark greens, pinks and blues, red, navy, tan, purples and oranges
If it is a warm shade (orange, brown, tan) consider brown. If cool (black, blue, green) consider black. No one needs to own a pair of ivory shoes.
When you are shopping, consider your lifestyle. If you are reading this, you are probably not the type to have 40 pairs of shoes. Try to build your wardrobe around one shoe color. If you are fair haired, you may feel better in browns. If you are a brunette, you may be like me and prefer black. I only own one brown pair of shoes and no navy; I shop and think, “would this go with black shoes?” If it won’t go with a pair of shoes already in my closet I will not even try it on. It is far too expensive and complicated to buy a pair of pants and then have to search for matching shoes, belt, top and accessories to match it. If you like black shoes, consider only buying bottoms in black, ivory and tan or camel. If you prefer brown, consider only brown, khaki and camel. Personally, I find navy too difficult to match and blend into a wardrobe. If you cannot think of at least two things and one pair of shoes in your closet that an item will match, don’t buy it. It will cause you too much strife.
As for WHAT to buy, check out the sidebar. I have some suggestions as to what basic items every woman could use in her wardrobe. Also consider your lifestyle. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you may not need a pantsuit as much as quickly as a woman who meets with clients at work on a daily basis (though trust me, once you have a new wardrobe and a new look on life, almost all women will find needs for all the items on the list!).

Start off slow. A pair of pants to replace the ones that accidentally got washed and now don’t hang right. A new sweater to replace the baggy tunic you have sported for a decade. A dress for that upcoming wedding that will also be appropriate for your company holiday party AND your niece’s christening. A pair of simple black pumps that will go with your work pants AND that dress for the upcoming wedding. Go slow. No one is keeping a tally of how many pieces of clothing you own. Scour sale racks. Once you are comfortable with your size and what styles flatter you, venture to the online vendors and boutiques for variety (and often for better prices). Note the designers that fit you well and be loyal to them. Also be loyal to the shops that fit you and treat you well when you visit. Good salespeople will take down your information and notify you of sales and special events in their shops. This can save you money and time when adding to your wardrobe. Try to stay away from malls at holidays and on Saturday afternoons until you feel very strong and comfortable with shopping – these times will make you want to crawl back into your home and cover yourself with fleece.

And finally, believe in yourself. Wearing flattering, well made and fitting clothing is something you DESERVE. You work hard, you care about others, you are an important person on this planet. You deserve to feel good, to look good, and to present yourself to others as the wonderful person you are.

Tuesday’s Tip – Looking Presentable

I was IMing with a friend on yesterday. We were discussing makeup. I was telling her about this new product I bought at Sephora last week that I have fallen in love with because it makes my skin have a healthy dewy glow without looking shiny. She said that she only uses makeup to look dressed up, and she believes she can “look presentable” without makeup when she doesn’t have breakouts.

Looking presentable, what does this mean exactly? I know many women who keep items in their wardrobe because they find them to be “good enough,” that they may not be the most flattering, but if they wear that piece they will at least “look presentable.”

My friend met me for drinks last week after work. She is a high-powered attorney who spends the majority of her days in the courtroom. She met me at the bar in a collared shirt that looked to be washed a few too many times, a pantsuit that was a size large due to her recent weight loss, a low ponytail with sideswept bangs and no makeup. She did look presentable……

Looking presentable is right up there with a little bit pregnant, technically married and all those other fibs we tell ourselves. No one is providing an award for the largest wardrobe; why keep things in there that do not look great? If you look at yourself in the mirror and think, “well I guess I look presentable;” you are not doing anyone a favor. Presentable is just a step above horrible. Presentable means no one will stare at you in the grocery store, but no one will really notice you either. You won’t look like a mess, but you won’t look like yourself – a respectable, intelligent and attractive person who cares about herself. What image was she portraying to her client, to the members of the court?

We discussed this over glasses of wine. She admitted she hasn’t been sleeping well, she didn’t feel prepared enough for this case, and felt a bit depressed about the whole day. The bright point of the day was the end when she could meet her girlfriends for happy hour. She admitted that the suit was looking a bit frumpy since her weight loss, but hadn’t gotten around to taking her better suits to the cleaners. And as for the top, she regularly considers donating it but figured it’s “nice enough” and it would be waste to get rid of. She chose to wear it that day because she hadn’t gotten around to laundry and was out of shirts.

I know many of you women are nodding to this. We all have tops in the back of our closet that we hang on to for days like this and bags of dry cleaning that sits in the trunks of our cars. We hold on to clothes that are too small or too big “just in case,” and have drawers of stained and snagged sweaters for those days when we have nothing else to wear. We hit snooze a few times too many and have no time to do our hair, let alone apply mascara. Life is too hectic to get all this done.

Would you help your child with his homework, and rush through it, feeling confident that he will receive at least a C on the assignment? If you invited guests over, would you just wipe down the bathroom with a wet paper towel and not use cleanser because it would at least look clean? If you went to a restaurant and received your dinner to find out it was not what you ordered, it was cold and it was a dish you dislike, would you shut up and eat it because at least it was food and it was achieving the goal of filling your tummy?

I hope you would say no to all of these questions. There is no need to compromise when it comes to the important things. You want your house to be clean, you want your child to be successful, you want your money well spent. You are willing to drive an extra few miles for the better grocery store, wake up an hour earlier than usual to take your kid to swim practice, lose an hour of sleep at night to clean the house for guests the next day. Why then are we so lackadaisical with our appearance? Why do we feel that just a passing grade is okay for us but not for every other aspect in our life?

Toss that sweater that became misshapen the last time it was washed. Those pants that are a hair too short should be donated to a person shorter than you. If you don’t have the time in the morning to do your hair, then wake up 15 minutes earlier. Which will make you have a better day, 15 minutes of sleep or being pleased with your reflection in glass doors, windows and the bathroom mirror? It’s better to wear the same well-fitting pair of pants three times in one week than switch them out with a disaster of a pair. No one will comment on a sweater being worn repeatedly unless it is unattractive. But one day in a bad outfit and people will notice. So don’t just be presentable, be great. Get rid of that which holds you back from greatness. A great wardrobe would let you dress in the dark and still come out looking lovely. A good haircut will require minimal time in the morning, and a good skincare and makeup routine will leave you with attractive and fresh skin; all which is far better than just being presentable.

Tuesday Tip – Winterizing Your Wardrobe

Unless you live in a perpetually sunny and warm locale, the temperature is dropping, the days are getting shorter, fall is upon us and winter is right around the corner. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to winterize your wardrobe.

  • Pack away summer bags. Spot clean if necessary. I love the Coach leather cleaner – I get it at the outlet for a lower price, and use it on all my leather goods, Coach and not. Recently was loving my Tide to Go stick to remove a few stains on the lining of my purse. Also works well on microfiber and other cloth bags. Once clean and dry, stuff with plain paper (newspaper ink can rub off on surfaces – next time you go to a discount store like Marshall’s and buy anything breakable they will give you tons of plain paper – store it for times like this and for possible moves, packing, etc.) to maintain the bag’s natural shape, and store in an old pillowcase. A pillowcase will protect the bag from dust, but will let it breathe, leaving it pliable. Store your bag on a closet shelf or in a cardboard box under your bed – do not store bags in the attic or a deep cellar for fear of dampness, extreme heat or cold affecting the fabric. Come spring you may end up with a mildewed bag with all the seams separating. I have a cardboard box I got in a set of three – it’s long, not too tall, slides under my bed and has a pretty toile pattern on it. In there I keep out of season bags and other accessories that need to have ventilation.
After Labor Day, you really should pack away any straw bags, cotton purses, bags that are a summer color (white, pastels, brights like apple green and candy pink) or any bag that can be mistaken for a beach tote (raffia, clear plastic parts, woven plastic parts, stripes). This fall is about more subdued and rich colors, nothing screams summer more than a candy pink purse with grosgrain trim. Even if your straw and canvas bag is designer and cost a pretty penny, it is not appropriate for the colder months and should be stored gently so it can get plenty of face time in the spring.
  • Pack those summer shoes too. Flip flops should not be used except for showers at the gym. Ditto to Tevas, Merrills, Crocs, Birkenstoks and any other sort of sandal. A heavy pair of socks with these shoes does not winterize them. Same with shoes that follow the rules of summer bags – straw, canvas, summer colors, white. All those beaded leather thongs this summer need to be packed up too. Strappy heels can transcend seasons if they are of a neutral fabric (crepe, silk, satin, leather) and are worn only for evening. Same with peeptoes and slingbacks. If they are a seasonless fabric (patent leather, leather, suede, pony hair, silk) and color, they can usually carry into fall and winter. For the rest, ensure they are in good shape. Take them to the cobbler to be reheeled and resoled and any buckles repaired. Nothing is worse than starting spring with a new outfit that will go perfectly with your canvas and cork peeptoe pumps to find out last minute that the heel is broken or the sole is pulling away from the shoe body. Fix them now, so you will be ready in a few months.
Once your shoes are in working order, polish and remove stains as necessary, and like bags, store them in a well-ventilated container and a climate-controlled environment. Dressy shoes and heels I store in original shoe boxes in my closet. Pumps get tissue paper stuffed in the toe to keep their shape and are stored in a spare closet in one of those over-the-door canvas shoe holders. Boots are stuffed with the same paper mentioned for purses, and are stored in old pillowcases on a closet shelf.
  • Stop wearing those sundresses. So Mischa Barton and Mary Kate Olsen wear a gauzy sundress over a turtleneck, footless tights and ballet flats. That doesn’t mean that the everyday woman can carry this off. As I say often; if you are not a fashionista, do not dress like a fashionista. It is far more flattering and stylish to dress simply and appropriate for the season and the situation.
Make sure all of your dresses, shorts, capris, gauzy tops, white pants and skirts are clean and pressed. Take them to the dry cleaners for one last cleaning. When these clothes are clean, take care in storing them.
· Pants are best if the legs are creased by hanging seam-to-seam. This will give creases down the front of the leg – very flattering. If you have the room, hang them from the pant hem on clip hangers to keep their crisp lines. If you need to store them in a box, fold carefully. If the fabric is prone to wrinkles you may wish to roll the trousers or place tissue between the folds. If the pants are denim or another stiff fabric, they should be fine for a few months folded naturally.
· Clothes returned from the drycleaner should be immediately removed from the plastic and the metal hanger. Several months on a metal hanger will make any dress or top have permanent dents and creases in the shoulder. The plastic inhibits ventilation, causing fabrics to possibly yellow, mildew or have their fibers break down.
· Dresses should be kept hanging whenever possible – I have a canvas storage bag in my spare closet. It zips down the front and in there I keep out of season dresses, coats and other items that are best left hanging. The canvas allows the clothing to breathe, but protects them from dust.
  • Do a little spring cleaning in fall. While you are packing up your swin suits, capris, halter tops and sandals, reexamine them. Are they still in good condition? Do they still fit? Are they high enough quality and beautiful enough to deserve year-round real estate in your closet? Now is the time to pare down. If you are storing a pair of shoes that never saw the summer sun, maybe it’s time to donate them and free up some space for a pair of shoes that will be adored and worn often. If those capris are looking a bit haggard, it may be best to donate them now so you are forced come Spring to buy a new pair instead of wearing a threadbare, stained, horrific mess. All too often we pull out the new season’s clothes from our attic or storage box to find clothes that remind us of what we dislike most about our bodies. So you spent $80 on that dress in March, it always slides down the shoulder exposing your bra strap, and it makes your butt look big. If it made you unhappy this season, why store it for another season of unhappiness?
A great idea is having a clothing swap. Get together with several of your friends – varying ages and lifestyles makes it all the better. On a Sunday afternoon, have some veggies and crackers and cheese, a couple of bottles of wine and each woman comes with 3-5 items that are still in good condition but not appropriate to her wardrobe any longer (weight change, style change, new job, etc.). For each piece you offer to the group, you are able to take a piece home with you. Anything leftover after the event gets donated to a charity. This is a great way to update your wardrobe, give good pieces a good home, and not spend a dime. Last year my friends and I had one of these parties – my neighbor chose a lime green boatneck dolman-sleeved top I bought on a whim because I had the same in black and loved it. I look terrible in green, and the top not in black was a fashion no-no on my figure. My neighbor wears it often – with jeans and a white tank under it for a trip to the mall, with crisp black trousers and heels for a night out. It looks great on her tall slim frame with her honey blonde hair. It makes me happy to see her look so great in something I myself couldn’t carry off. I in turn wear a candy pink merino v-neck that was too large for a friend who had great success with Weight Watchers and get compliments every time I have it on.
  • Don’t be stuck out in the cold. It’s November. It’s snowing in some parts of the world, in others it is just starting to get colder. Are you prepared?
· Do you have a winter coat that looks nice? Not a cast-off from your husband’s company or the navy parka you wear to shovel the driveway. I mean a nice, simple coat that can be worn to the grocery store, to work, to dinner and to your company holiday party. Every woman in a cold climate should have a simple wool coat that hits below the hips. If the coat is between hip and calf length, it usually works with dresses as well as pants, jeans as well as suits. Single breasted is the most flattering on female figures. Black is safe and timeless, but camel, ivory, brown, dark purple and even red can be basics that will work year after year.
· How about your winter accessories? Hat, scarves and gloves are worn daily in a cold climate. You can get great sets and individual pieces at discount stores like Marshall’s and Ross, sale pieces in catalogs like Victoria’s Secret for a song, and really cute pieces in big box retailers like Target and Old Navy. When you have accessories that look good, you feel good. Keep the fuzz-balled stretch gloves for shoveling making snowballs, get a nice knit or leather pair for everyday wear. Leather gloves are easier to drive in, and I saw beautiful pairs in stylish colors and styles at my local Target. Every few years I replace my leather pair with a new pair from Ralph Lauren or Coach, found at my local discount store for an insanely low price. I love scarves – they add color to dreary winter days. I have a few pashminas and shawls that double as scarves in the winter, and I always let loved ones know that new scarves are an always-welcome holiday gift.
· What’s on your feet? Do you have a pair of boots that can handle the weather? You don’t need puffy nylon snow boots, but a pair of footwear that reaches past your ankles, has good grip on the bottom, are water-resistant and stain-resistant will be your best friend. Each year or two I invest in a pair of pleather city boots. Last year I got a great pair with great style at the Nordstrom Half-Yearly sale. Not too tall of a heel so I can maneuver on black ice, but still a chic shape. They are pleather, look like leather, but water beads up on them. They are Thinsulate lined, but you would never be able to tell from the sleek style and slightly pointed toe of the exterior. I can wipe them clean, and my toes don’t freeze at the bus stop. These are my work-appropriate snow boots. I also have a pair of boots that are waterproof, sturdy, flat and made for walking, shoveling, running errands. Like the fashion boots, these are also attractive. I don’t feel foolish when indoors. Lands End has some wonderful weatherproof shoes and boots for very reasonable prices.
· The weather has changed, has your skin regimen? With the cold and the dry recycled indoor air, skin gets dry and tight. Consider switching to a cream-based cleanser. Only cleanse before bed and in the morning splash water or use an alcohol-free toner. This will keep your skin hydrated with it’s natural protective oils. You should still be using sunscreen, but you may wish to upgrade to a heavier moisturizer or add a serum under your daily lotion. Hands and lips get especially dry this time of year. I keep on my nightstand Hemp Hand Protector from The Body Shop – not the best smell, but this intensive moisturizer on hands and feet (with or without socks and gloves) will let you wake with soft, supple skin. I also keep a tin of Bag Balm (found at most drugstores) for elbows and lips. I slather up before retiring and wake looking brand new. Your skin needs extra TLC in the colder months, take care of it. Unlike that designer purse or that fabulous pair of shoes, you are forced to wear your skin season after season, whether you like it or not. It deserves attention and care more so than any other item in your closet.

Tuesday’s Tip: Humidity and You

If you live on the Eastern Seaboard, the past week has left you feeling a bit like a wet mop. If it isn’t raining cats and dogs, the air is thick with humidity. This weather may be delightful for the roses and hydrangeas, but wreaks havoc on the beauty rituals of us women. How can you live in a humid or rainy climate and still look fabulous?


Try Air Drying
You spend all morning in front of the mirror, ceramic straightening iron in one hand, silicone anti-frizz product in the other. You yank, comb, smooth and slick your hair as straight as a board and then head outside and your hair stands on end. Little fuzzies appear everywhere, a cowlick you never before had sprouts up in the front of your hair and either you lose all shine or look like an oil slick. If you curl your hair, you diffuse, again pull out the silicone products, and even try to control curl with an iron to no avail. You walk outside and suddenly look like a member of Bon Jovi circa 1986.

Why waste the time and electricity? Try letting you hair air dry, if at least for a bit. I know it’s a scary thought – try it the first time after work or on a weekend where if the final result is horrific you can hide it under a scarf or hat. After washing and conditioning with a frizz-reducing set of products, apply a styling lotion, a serum or some product that does not have alcohol in it (alcohol will only exasperate the frizz problem), scrunch it a bit if you have the least bit of wave and let it run it’s course. The look may be a bit more casual/beachy but it will be more consistent when it interacts with the air outside.

Tone Down The Makeup
When you apply a lot of foundation, concealer and powder and head outside, it all gets sticky and melts away. You feel icky, you keep applying powder to combat the meltdown and the sweat and end the day looking cakey and false.

Consider switching to a tinted moisturizer – one less layer to your face and less color to smear over the hours. Apply it first, then dab on concealer with a brush. Using a brush add less oils to your face, reducing meltdown (even if you wash your hands, applying makeup with your fingers adds oils and spreads oils, good for the winter and even application, bad on humid days). Use a touch of loose translucent powder – loose powder doesn’t have the oils that pressed powder does (something has to keep that stuff caked together!). Throughout the day, instead of applying more powder, invest in some blotting tissues. I have a pack from Clean and Clear that I picked up at Target – great price and a complexion savior (the less makeup on your face, the less chance for breakouts).

If you must have great coverage (special event, pictures being taken, etc.) consider mineral makeup. I have survived every summer for three years thanks to Bare Minerals (can be bought via QVC or Sephora). There are now variations sold by major brands at your local drug store and other mineral brands that are available through specialty stores and online boutiques. Mineral makeup seems to hold up better than traditional cosmetics. It is also less likely to clog pores and cause breakouts. Just know a little goes a long way so use a light hand!

It’s All In The Fabric
Hold off on the linen, the 100% cotton and the heavy knits. These fabrics will crease, show moisture (sweat, dampness from jumping puddles, rain splattering on your shoulders) and will end up looking like a crumpled paper bag by the end of the day. Cotton and heavy knits hold the tiniest bit of moisture, leaving you feeling soggy and gross after a short period of time.
Come the humid days I reach for matte jersey. Matte jersey, also called travel knit or slink knit is a synthetic fabric with a matte texture and a bit of stretch. This fabric moves in the breeze, doesn’t cling to the skin and handles a trip in the gentle cycle of your machine. It doesn’t show perspiration or rainfall and mixes nicely with knits, silks, and many other fabrics. Invest in some lightweight dresses than can go from work to a backyard barbecue with ease. Matte jersey shells can be paired with suits, capris or a lightweight skirt. I have a set – cardigan, shell, knee-length skirt and gauchos all in black. I can mix and match for any occasion and know I will end the day wrinkle free. Currently Ann Taylor has a few simple pieces in matte jersey; I have found pieces in most department stores and specialty stores like The Limited, Chico’s, J. Jill and Banana Republic.

Wear Weather-Appropriate Shoes
Nothing will ruin your day faster than stepping in a puddle wearing your new silk heels. Plan accordingly. I invest in a few pairs of sandals from discount retailers like Target and DSW just for these days. Ankle straps and thong styles will stay on better even if the footbed gets wet from a splash. By paying less you feel less pain when the shoes do get wet. Additionally cheaper leather seems to handle more wear and tear without affecting it’s look. My black leather heeled sandals from Target have been in many puddles, muddy yards and rain storms and still look great. For $16.99 I can handle it if they have worn out come Labor Day.

Tuesday Tip: The Skin You’re In

Often women change their skincare routine with the weather. It is true that the heated air in buildings in the winter cause our skin to be dryer, as does the cold winds that slap our skin as we scurry from car to office. Summer usually comes with humidity, offering constant moisture to our skin. Even with these changes, it isn’t always necessary to be so drastic in changing your regimen.

Sweat does not equal moisture. We often switch to stronger cleansers and moisturizers geared toward oily skin to keep moisture at bay and prevent our makeup from slipping. Often women go without moisturizer all together, finding it the culprit for shiny summer skin.

Everyone needs a moisturizer, be your skin an oil slick or the Sahara. Moisturizer is a protective barrier for your skin to fight against the elements, also known as free radicals. Free radicals come from environmental pollutants, the sun, makeup, most anything that touches your face. Moisturizers with antioxidants (Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Kinetin, White Tea, etc.) will create a shield to prevent free radicals from attacking your face, reducing elasticity, fine texture and health.

Another reason moisturizer is needed is that when the skin feels over-dry, it fights back by producing oil. The body creates oil as a natural protectant. The more detergent-like cleansers, alcohol-based toners and harsh exfoliants you use on your skin to fight oil and acne, the more your skin will produce oil. Try a week using a vary lightweight gel or oil-free moisturizer and see how much happier your skin will be.

In summer we still need moisture and to protect our skin. If you have very dry skin in the winter, it is pretty likely that come summer your skin is not oily, just sweaty. Try switching your moisturizer for a lighter consistency, but don’t change anything else for a week. Often times all that is needed is a small change to have your skin adjust to the changing seasons. Also consider a makeup primer (I have used and loved ones by Smashbox and Paula Dorf – both available at Sephora). Primers will help your makeup adhere to the skin in the most humid and steamy of days, without yanking precious moisture from your skin.

And finally, EVERYONE needs sunscreen. No matter your skin color, your age, how well you tan. You can get sun damage in the short trip from your house to your car. A minimum of SPF 15 is required for all faces to keep them healthy, elastic and glowing. If you are fair, consider a moisturizer with a higher SPF and look into foundations and powders with sunscreen (Bare Minerals cosmetics have a natural SPF of 20,Almay carries SPF 15 foundations, Guerlain has a foundation with SPF 30). The SPF in your foundation will not replace your moisturizer, but provide an added barrier against the environment.

Here’s a test to show how skin is affected by free radicals. Cut an apple in half. Leave one side bare, on the other side put a coating of your favorite antioxidant-rich facial moisturizer. Let it sit for 30 minutes. You’ll see that the moisturized side stayed the same color and texture, while the uncovered side turned brown and mushy. Think about your day – walking the dog, gardening, walking from the parking lot to the grocery store or your office building, the recycled air in your office or on a plane… so many opportunities to wreak havoc on your skin. Our hands and our faces show our age first because those are the two parts of the body that are exposed to the elements on the most regular basis. Women who regularly moisturize their face and wear sunscreen look younger than their non-protecting peers.

Obviously tanning isn’t good for your skin. If you must have that “healthy” glow, consider some of the new self-tanners on the market. Jergens has one that is a gradual tan – less likely to get streaks and orange palms and builds up to a great tan. In small doses Mystic Tan and the other spray tans can offer a natural looking glow and color to your face and body. And if you must be a sun worshipper, toss the baby oil and grab some SPF 15 sunblock – you will still get color while out on the beach, you just won’t be basting like a Thanksgiving turkey. Reapply often – a tan may look great, but nothing looks better than healthy skin. Sun damage may cause loss of elasticity and moisture to the face, it can also exasperbate stretch marks, increase the number of freckles and moles on the skin, increase wrinkling, cause loss of elasticity to other body parts too (who wants to encourage sagging breasts?) and make you look older than your years. For suggestions on great products with sunscreen in them, check out this link provided by the Skin Cancer Foundation: http://www.skincancer.org/aboutus/documents/SealList.pdf

When you consider what makes you beautiful, consider if that beauty trick or regimen will help you stay beautiful ten years down the line. Proper care of your skin will help you feel great, look your best and keep yourself healthy. Trust your skin – if it’s dry in winter, it can still be thirsty in summer, even if it causing your makeup to dribble off your chin. Even if you seem to have great healthy skin now, invest in a daily sunscreen to keep that skin looking healthy. You only get one body, treat it well. It will outlast your favorite books or handbag and even your dearest friend. Give it the respect and pampering that it deserves.

Tuesday Tip: Getting the Brush Off

So your hair is not looking it’s best. Split ends? Lackluster locks? Breakage? Hard to manage? Well take a look at your brush. Does it look like what your hair feels like? Most times than not we are using either the wrong type of styling tool or one that is way past it’s prime.

The past couple of days my hair has been really nice to me. It has been doing what I want, has felt so silky and looks very shiny. Was it the new shampoo? Was it my diet? No, it was that I replaced my brush. I have hair just past my shoulders that is wavy. Like many, I use a round brush with my hair dryer to straighten my hair and give it fullness. Like many, I have tried almost every type of brush on the market to get the best results – vented, ceramic, metal, plastic bristles, rubber-tipped bristles, boar bristles, paddle… you get my drift. I have found the best results, the least amount of frizziness and the most shine from a boar bristle brush. Boar bristles are softer than plastic, help impart a sheen to the hair strand and are less likely to break the hair. However like human hair, boar bristles react to the heat of the dryer. They melt, curl, split and frizz over time. Eventually they barely run through your hair, but work almost as a Velcro roller sitting under the hair as the dryer passed over it. This causes frizziness, lack of tension causing less straightening power.

You don’t need to break the bank and buy a Mason Pearson, I buy the $9.99 Goody brushes at Target. I find that if I replace it every three months, I maintain healthy hair.

I was shopping with my mom and she was complaining about flyaways, little hairs that stick up in the humidity and wind and ruin the polish of her French Bob. I asked her what kind of brush she uses to dry her hair, “Oh I have this round metal brush. It gets the hair dry really quickly.” She admitted that said metal brush also had sharp plastic bristles that scratched her scalp if she got too close to the skin. Well gee, let’s make your dryer even hotter and more damaging, and let’s use sharp little tools to scrape through your hair. Might as well use a Brillo pad on your ‘do. I suggested she switch to a boar bristle. A week later, I asked if she had gotten a new cut – her hair looked amazing. Nope, it was all in the brush.

Before you invest in yet another heavy-duty conditioner or shine serum, consider your styling tools. They may be the culprit to less than stellar hair. A few tips:

  • Curly hair doesn’t necessarily need to be brushed, even when wet. A brush will separate curls, causing frizziness. If you do have tangles that cannot be removed by your hands in the shower during the conditioning rinse, invest in a very wide-toothed comb. I find wood combs to be more gentle to the hair shaft.
  • If you are using a metal brush to have your hair dry faster, invest instead in an ionic hair dryer. Don’t know why, but the ionic dryers get the hair dry faster and are less damaging than more heat.
  • If you have straight hair and want to brush it when dry, invest in a brush with a padded base for the bristles. Your scalp will thank you, and you will be less forceful when brushing, reducing split ends.
  • If you are straightening wavy hair, consider a boar bristle brush. You may find your hair to be shinier, softer and have more body.
  • The 100-strokes every night rule for brushing is proven to be bad advice. The more you brush your hair, the more you damage it. Try to brush and comb your hair as little as possible, and on lazy days, let your hair air-dry. You get vacations, your hair deserves one as well!

Tuesday’s Tip: What to do When

When You Get a Run in Your Stocking:

  • The Nailpolish Tricks Works. If you are at home or near polish, apply clear or a non-noticeable color. This will freeze the run and you can get by without any more damage.
  • Any product that will stiffen the fabric – I have been stuck at work or away from home and have gotten a run in my hose or tights. I have found that hairspray works decently, and if it is under my skirt, I have even used Wite-Out to control the run.

When Your Favorite Pant’s Lining Rips:

To have a pair of trousers glide instead of bump over curves, a lining is a must. Problem is that many pant fabrics have a touch of stretch, while synthetic linings do not. After many sittings, squattings and living in trousers, the lining often tears at the crotch or bum.  As that the lining is smaller than the pants and not stretchy, it is hard to have a tailor repair them without altering the fit of the pants.

  • If it isn’t noticeable, wear the pants with the torn lining. If the lining starts to hang (imagine polyester chaps under your suit pants), feel free to trim the lining so it does not bunch. I have been known to completely cut the lining out of dark colored trousers and wear them until I can purchase a replacement pair (or if it a suit and not terribly noticeable). I know some who have had a tailor replace the lining, but I find that to often cost almost as much (or if on sale, more!) than a new pair of trousers.
  • Invest in a full-length mirror and a hand mirror. Place the full-length mirror in a spot that gets lots of natural and artificial light and really check out your rear view. If there is any bunching of fabric, VPL (visible panty lines) or anything else unattractive, do not continue wearing the trousers. It is far better to wear the same trousers three times in one week than wear unflattering clothes.

You Get Deodorant on Your Clothes:

  • At home: If you have a steamer, fill it with distilled water and apply it to the spot. The deodorant will magically disappear. This is great for very gentle fabrics like silks. If you do not have a steamer, a steamy bathroom removes some subtle deodorant streaks.
  • A bunched pair of pantyhose (use a light color) will take deodorant off most knits and synthetic pieces. I have also used the foamy gripper part of hanger from the dry cleaners and a black washcloth on black sturdy fabrics.
  • Away from home: Often if you rub a garment against itself, the deodorant streak will disappear.

When You Spill on Your Clothes:

  • Invest in a Tide To Go pen! I am famous for spilling on myself. I have carried all types of stain removers, and I have found this to be the very best out there. It has removed wine, olive oil, liquid foundation, pen and much much more. It sometimes may leave a water ring or not completely remove the stain, but it works as a pre-treater and will help have your garment wearable after cleaning.
  • If you do not have a stain remover on you, immediately attempt to blot the area with clear water. Do not rub for you may make the stain worse and damage the fibers. If you have access to liquid dish detergent, apply a bit to an oily stain. I have had dish detergent remove months-old stains on silk knit sweaters and delicate dresses. Bridal salons often use dish detergent mixed with water to remove stains off of sample dresses.

Your Trouser’s Hem Unravels:

  • At home: if you know how to properly hem, go for it! However a straight stitch will not do it. You need to make the hem invisible to keep the pants being quality. If you do not have the sewing skills, invest in having your cleaners or tailor perform the repair for you.
  • Stitch Witchery and other equivalents are terribly popular, but they often change the line of a trouser.This is good for sturdy pieces like chino trousers, but little else. You spend good money on your clothes; to get your money’s worth through the years you need to treat and repair them with care.
  • Away from home: always carry a few safety pins in the change purse portion of your wallet. These can be used at the side seams to temporarily keep your pant from dragging, as well as a multitude of other uses in fashion emergencies. I have been known to use small pieces of duct or electrical tape to hold up the hem, and even with stiff fabrics like tweeds I have stapled inside the side hems (less damage to the fabric, and a staple perpendicular to the hem within the side seam is almost invisible).

You Get a Snag in Your Sweater:

  • Take a needle or safety pin and from the inside of the garment, pull in the snag. NEVER CUT A SNAG! This could create a large hole or run and ruin the garment. If the snag is very long, try typing a knot in it from the inside and then you can snip the excess.

You’re Famous for Losing Buttons and You Bought Something with Buttons:

  • As soon as you get the garment home, paint all the threads with nailpolish.  
  • If it is a coat or a garment that will get much wear and tear on the threads attaching the button, add another layer of thread. You don’t have to be a seamstress to thread a needle, do a couple swipes through the button holes. Swing the thread a few times around the thread between the button and garment to protect the stitching, and then knot on the inside of the garment.
  • Either keep the spare buttons on the garment (if not noticeable – I have all my coat buttons still inside hanging in their packages), or on the package that spare buttons come in, write the brand and description of the garment for reference. I have a jar on my bureau that holds all spare button packets and I dig through it to find the replacement when I have a button loss.
  • When you toss clothes (past the point of donating) remove the buttons and save in case of emergency. I have a few small pearl-white buttons in my change purse, and some horn, wood, shell and clear buttons in my button jar from garments that got torn, paint splattered or otherwise ruined. These often will closely match those on a current garment that has lost a button.

Tuesday Tip – Don’t Believe the Hype

This week’s Tuesday Tip is early as that I will be out of town the majority of this week.

Just because it is on a mannequin or on the cover of a catalog does not mean it is stylish. I know this can be terribly confusing for those new into building a personal wardrobe. But like the news, you cannot accept everything as gospel. As there are three sides to every story, there are many views of current fashion.

I received a copy of the recent Newport News catalog in the mail. I usually toss this immediately. Newport News, Chadwicks, Boston Proper, Carabella, Venus and Spiegel are all lumped in the same pile in my mind. These are catalogs that are 90% full of the ugliest crap in the world. The other 10% is good simple basics at a low price, but simple basics that I am wary of. Will the rise be more Soccer Mom than Hot Mama? What is the fabric quality? Is the leg straight from the hip down, or the knee down resulting in a tacky tapered line? Needless to say, I have learned to simplify my life by tossing these catalogs and finding my low-priced staples at Target, Old Navy, The Gap and the sale racks at Ann Taylor.

Recently, I have seen items from the Newport News collection in my favorite fashion mags. This does not mean that their clothing is hip or great; it means that they sent free pieces to the editors in hops that it would fit a story and be displayed. However some of these items looked fairly cute. I was especially intrigued by a military-inspired long jacket in black velvet.

I flipped through the catalog and was assaulted by many current trends gone bad, yet some decent novelty pieces along with the basics. I ordered two shirts and a jacket and will let you readers know how these items work for me once they arrive. The bad fashion was so prevalent, I felt it necessary to comment on it.

1. Just because leggings are in style does not mean you should wear them. I know, I know I have stated this before but I cannot say it enough. When I went to the Newport News website, the first picture I saw was tall leggy women in turtleneck tunic sweaters and leggings. The company is offering a free pair of leggings with every tunic sweater. Wow, free! Who can pass up free? And that sweater looks cozy and will cover one’s ass quite nicely. Who can pass on that?

YOU. Please please please do NOT buy into this look as being fashionable or even flattering. Really look as these gorgeous models. Examine them in the rest of the website, the same women now in dresses, or suits. Compare the two looks. Do they look better in the dress or the tunic? Now think, if they look better and thinner and prettier in a dress than a turtleneck tunic, imagine how you will look in that sweater. Not that pretty of a picture, is it?

2. More isn’t better. This is another statement I make from time to time, but it holds true in this fall/winter season of luxe fabrics, Russian and military influences and leftover bohemian touches from summer. Even on the front cover of the catalog the model is wearing a frilly top that has the front ruffles AND the blouson sleeves with tweed pants that are not just tweed but have a black silken bow at the waist. On top of this she has chandelier earrings and long tendrils of blonde hair. A blouse that could possibly work on it’s own, a pair of pants with a bit too much detail, a pair of earrings that could look gorgeous with the right outfit, sexy hair… the whole combination is a busy, confusing and hot mess.

The inside page is even more exhausting. A leather jacket with a sheer blouse with a lace scarf and a denim skirt with lace insets and a rhinestone belt. Whew! I can just imagine the lace-up leather and suede boots in two-tone that she probably has on under this skirt. Then the next page. Faux fur stole? Cute! Faux fur stole with a faux cheetah print tunic, large braided hip belt and tinted jeans with hem detail? Frightening. How about the crocheted top and matching crocheted long skirt? I personally do not want to walk around looking like a living doily. And let’s not talk about the black and white overload outfit in the center.

If you have a fussy top, match it with simple trousers. This blouse with simple, classic tweed trousers, pearl studs and more simple hair would be lovely. The pants with a black turtleneck, black boots and a low sideswept ponytail could be chic and classy. The earrings with a simple crepe sheath and pumps would add flair and formality to a simple evening look. There should only be one focal point on an outfit or the viewer gets dizzy. Accent with a scarf, or a bold necklace, or a cool belt, or a patterned skirt or fun shoes. Not all of them at once.

3. Belts are not always best. IF you do not love your midsection, steer clear of wide waistbands on tunics and all these large belts. I believe men have decided that large hip belts hide our midsections. In actuality, these kind of details only draws attention to your tummy and hides any shape or wait definition you may currently have. A tall slim blonde in a calf-length unstructured jacket, leggings, tall boots and a hip belt may look cool and stylish in a new millennium Stevie Nicks sort of way, but I bet once she stands upright, removes her hand from her belt, she will look a bit disheveled and confusing. Few women can carry off the layers and ruffles of Stevie, or the belts associated with her look.

If you aren’t sure, keep it simple. No one will find a woman in basic trousers and a solid sweater to be a fashion victim or tacky. You may blend into the woodwork, but with some time honing your style, investing in creative accessories that show your personality, you will look stylish instead of scary (or Stevie).

4. Consider your shape.
The catalog shows a lovely vertically-striped boatneck sweater in a dark chocolate shade. Smaller braided hip belt with a buckle to compliment the sweater (and actually fits, doesn’t sling down but sits right at the hip), a fringed brocade shawl tossed over one shoulder and a long tan tweed skirt. A very pretty concept… however if you are petite, a floor-length skirt will look more like a costume than work-appropriate attire. Same with a shawl on the shoulder. This woman is probably near 6’ tall and the shawl falls past her knees. Consider your height prior to purchasing. What may work on a tall lean blonde may not work on a curvy petite, or a long-waisted 5’7” gal with hips. A knee-length skirt and a large square scarf folded on an angle and secured at the shoulder with a brooch may be a better choice than a shawl and belt.

This being said, I have ordered two wrap-style cotton shirts in solid colors and a ¾ sleeved swing jacket in black velvet and hope they will look great. I just believe women should proceed with caution in stores and catalogs. That which is displayed may be harmful to your fashion health. Know your style and know your figure and dress for that first and foremost. And if you have the panache to carry off fringe and ruffles like Stevie Nicks, well I’d like to hear from you!

Tuesday’s Tip – Mind Over Matter

This is a post I have been thinking about writing; have made drafts but never completed. This is to many women in my life who fear that caring for their looks detracts from their intelligence. You are beautiful, you deserve to feel great about all aprts of you, not just your mind.

Many women, especially Americans feel that caring about their looks detracts from their intelligence. I remember my freshman year of college, attending study sessions with women wearing threadbare and misshapen thrift store sweaters, ill-fitting stained trousers and skirts, clunky shoes and unbrushed hair. It seemed that the less a woman cared for her appearance, the more intelligent she was.

Why can’t a woman be intelligent AND well put together? Looking good does not require a woman to invest many hours a week pouring through fashion magazines and watching only the Style network on television. You don’t need to hit the mall every weekend and you do not need to change your interests. It isn’t being hip to the latest trends that makes a woman look great; it is having a sense of style that transcends trends and accentuates the persona of the wearer.
Oprah Winfrey. Diane Sawyer. Ségolène Royal. Hillary Clinton. Anna Wintour. You may not agree with their politics or profession, but would anyone doubt the intelligence of these women? They are all smartly dressed females, yet their intelligence is able to shine through. What works for Diane Sawyer can work for you as well.
Just as you wouldn’t put any old painting on your wall, you shouldn’t place any old sweater on your body. If you don’t care for your person, why should others care? If you are intelligent, more often than not you are sharing your knowledge with others, be it for business lunches, discussion groups or presentations. You are interacting with people, and people will be judging not only what comes from your mouth, but the package holding that intelligent mind.
Without changing your entire world, there are a few things you can accomplish to maintain your lifestyle but add some personal style to it.
  1. Care for your hair. If it’s always in the way and you keep tucking it behind your ears, pulling it up in a clip or piling it in a half-hearted bun, you may need a haircut. Your profession causes you to bend your head down in concentration; long layers may not be the best for you. If you find your hair a burden, it’s often best to have less of it. Along these lines, care for the hair you have. Accept that it is curly, fine, straight or coarse and have it styled to accommodate that. This doesn’t require hours of time with tools and products, just a decent haircut that allows a low-maintenance regimen. Along with that, use proper shampoo and conditioner for your hair type. The cheap brands at the drugstore are just as bad as washing your hair with dish detergent – they will increase spit ends, frizziness and lackluster color. There are lower-end (and cost) brands that will baby your hair – consider the Suave Professionals line. It’s in most big box retailers and usually is less than $2.00 a bottle.
  2. Donate the distressed. Would you drive a client in a car with a hole in the window? Would you serve guests at your dining table with a broken chair? Then why are you wearing clothing with holes, stains and tears in them? Replacing these items will not cost you an arm and a leg – slowly replace them by carefully searching sale racks, discount stores or even thrift stores. You can be quirky, creative and intelligent with complete clothing.
  3. Show your personality. So you are an artist, an author, a Nobel peace prize winner. Why are you dressed all in gray, brown and black? You have a colorful mind, let it show in your dress. Love purple? Why not get a purple sweater, a purple scarf, a purple purse. Add some color to your wardrobe; this is the easiest way to freshen your complexion, add shine to your hair and improve your figure. Don’t believe me? Buy something in a color you are passionate about and see the compliments roll in. People will think you are thinner, taller, happier and in love just with a change of color.
  4. Go for simplicity. When you are busy, the last thing you have time for is matching outfits and worrying about your wardrobe. Make it simple. Buy solids and stick to simple cuts and fabrics. If you invest in simple flat front pants, a-line skirts, solid well made sweaters and basic dresses, you can wear them for years without looking dated, trendy or tacky. Prints are memorable, it’s harder to have a simple fuss-free wardrobe if it is full of plaids, paisleys and florals. It’s easier to wear the same dark red merino v-neck for five years, once a week than a striped one. Want to show your creative side? Do it with necklaces, bracelets, scarves, shoes and handbags. Invest in basic simple pieces – less worry about what you are wearing and more ability to transcend seasons, years and trends.
  5. Care for your skin. You don’t need to wear makeup to look polished; if your skin is healthy, you will glow. Wash it with a gentle cleanser, be fastidious with the sunscreen, moisturize day and night, do not overwash your skin (skin should never feel tight after cleansing). You will have your body and your skins forever; care for it now and it will be a good friend throughout your lifetime.
  6. Buy a new pair of shoes. Like your skin, your feet are with you forever. Your shoes should be in good shape, supportive and a joy to put on each day. Instead of basic black flats, why not try a pair of red, or even leopard spotted ones? Shoes should be reheeled and resoled every year or so; this will keep them from being permanently damaged or affecting your health (bad shoes can cause leg and back pain as well as feet woes). A woman does not need seven dozen pairs of footwear, but should have the basics for all events – sneakers for sports and activities, pumps for dresses and more formal events, boots or loafers for pants and jeans and a sandal that can be worn with skirts, dresses, cropped pants and shorts. The rest is up to you. As for these essentials, keep them simple and you will need fewer pairs. Keep them polished, maintained and in a safe place when not worn and they will last you for years.

Tuesday’s Tip: Switch It Up With Color!

Several years ago I worked in retail. I was a trainer, I traveled teaching staff about the proper way to fold a pair of jeans, the correct way to dress a window, the company’s standard on accessorizing, and later in my retail career I preached about proper bronzer application and where to spritz perfume and how to layer scents for fragrance longevity.

I wore a lot of black during this time. When I worked for the beauty care company, it was required. Notice the people at the makeup counter, Sephora or even your local salon on day spa. Usually they are wearing at least 90% black. The reason is not to make the employees look slim or sophisticated; in fact black shows the least stains and it also disappears. If you are selling great hair or makeup you want to have that be the eye-catcher, not your outfit. I wore black when I sold fashion – it accentuated my accessories and made me look older and more of an authority figure.

When I left retail, my husband and I had a bonfire in our back yard chimenea – seven pairs of black pants, stained with oily foundations, liquid liners and moisturizers up in smoke. It felt so good, so liberating. I promised myself that I would only buy one pair of black pants a season and bring more color into my life, and not just on my eyelids.

Something came with the color switch – a personality switch. No longer was I a tough professional, suddenly I had personality. I laughed more, and I was complimented more. I seemed to gain a warm heart along with warm colored clothing. It is as though people saw me in my black merino v-neck and black trousers and black boots and saw me as tough/mean/unapproachable. Switch to same sweater in blue and pants in tan and I was a nice/warm/open person.

It isn’t that black makes one look slim, it’s that black disappears. You still have those thighs, you still have that chin, you still have that tummy. It’s just that you aren’t memorable. From the back your ass will look the same, be the pants black or brown or gray. So why not make it fun? If you are willing to paint your walls, your toenails and even your lips with cheery colors, why not your body? Doesn’t your body deserve a little color and fun?

The next time you consider picking up yet another black sweater, try it in a different color. Start of slow with a plum or maroon. Maybe try a pair of charcoal trousers in place of a 50th pair of black. You’ll see the difference in how you are perceived. Suddenly you look prettier, slimmer, happier. People will compliment your hair even if you haven’t had a cut in months. You will be asked if you have lost weight, even if you are bloated and PMSing.

The best thing about color is that it reflects your personality or mood. A simple top in a favorite color is far more telling of your spirit than a creatively designed black one. Consider this when you meet his parents for the first time, when you have that interview or when you’re presenting in front of 300 people the proper way to fold jeans. Now that I have conducted presentations, interviews and training outside of a wardrobe of black, I realize that I can command just as much respect in color and look just as sophisticated, stylish and powerful. Now I am powerful, but personable.

Tuesday’s Tip – Making the Clearance Rack Your Friend

When I go into a store, the first place I look is the clearance or sale rack. I don’t want to be tempted by full priced items when a good equivalent is available at half the price in the back of the store. Even when planning my wedding I first scored sample sales and discount bridal shops before even looking at a single full-priced gown. It is better to buy quality instead of quantity, but just because it’s on a sale rack does not mean it’s poor quality or lacking style or fashion.


Take Your Time
Clearance racks are a mess. Why waste good salespeople hours in cleaning up the back of the store when the real money making is in the front displays of new product? Because of this, do not limit your search to the section designated with your size. Take the time to flip through all the racks. You may find a size 10 amongst the size 2s or a great size Small blouse hidden amongst size 14 blazers. Grab everything that even remotely appeals to you, and a few things you would not usually consider. The best way to spend money on trendy pieces and unusual finds is to pay for them at a discount – less buyer’s remorse.


Sizes Can Be Deceiving
Sometimes items are on sale racks because they are missized. I have tried on size 6 jackets that are too big for me and size 14s that are skin tight. Don’t just look at the label – pull the item from the rack and see if it may possibly fit. Often the missized items are at a super reduced price because they are being looked over.


Consider a Tailor
I decided to write this post because of my clearance rack prize of yesterday. Sueded cotton trench, hip cut, gorgeous color, originally $179 on sale for $29.99. No obvious flaws but the coat was too large for me – I am petite and it is not. It is an XL and a generous cut, I am not. I bought the awesome bargain after trying it on and seeing that the shoulders were fitting decently, though the sleeves were past my fingers, the waist was too big and the length too long. I took it to my local dry cleaner and for $35 she is shortening the arms and hem and nipping in the waist. So for $65 I got a $179 jacket that is perfect for the upcoming fall.


Sleeves that are too long, hems dragging on the ground, gaping waists and baggy jackets can all be easily fixed by a neighborhood tailor or dry cleaner. They can also replace missing buttons, broken zippers and some torn seams. If the price is right, often the tailoring still keeps the garment at a discounted price. I have bought suiting pants 75% off just because the zipper is broken, a suede blazer at 80% off because the lining had pulled away from the jacket body.


Do not invest in garments that are stained (salespeople usually try to remove the stains with a cleaning fluid, if it’s still stained it probably won’t come out in the wash or at the cleaners), torn (resewing a seam may make the item fit differently), irregular (remember quality is key – no one should be wearing a sweater with two different sleeve lengths) overly large (tailor costs will be insane and the true look of the garment will be lost) or too small (don’t buy for the body you hope to have, buy for the current you. Also tailors can’t make things larger – there’s usually not enough fabric at the seams and if they attempt the fit of the garment will be compromised).


If You Don’t Love It…
Don’t buy it. Would you buy it if it were full price? If the answer is a quick “no” leave the item in the fitting room. Just because an item is cheap does not mean you can scrimp on cut, style or fit. A 50% markdown does not justify a gaping armhole, an unflattering color or even a staple that you really have enough of already. The world sees you and your outfit, not the reduced price. They don’t know if what you bought cost $200 or $20, they just know it doesn’t look good, doesn’t flatter your body or your personality. Every dollar in your wallet is precious, don’t waste it on crap. If you can’t imagine the item with at least two other things in your closet, it’s not worth your time or money.

Tuesday Tip – Add Class To Your Wardrobe and Not Spend a Dime

  1. Remove all Logos. Would you ever see Jackie O, Audrey Hepburn, or even Ashley Olsen or Gwyneth Paltrow in a tee shirt with rhinestone appliquéd “Bebe” on her chest? I think not. The first problem with logoed shirts (be it says “sexy thing,” “American Eagle” or “Proud to be an American”) is they are busy. One is reading your chest, not your personality. Second, why are you paying to buy a shirt to advertise for a company? It’s not free advertising for them, it’s with guaranteed profit. Third, it’s tacky. Yes, some celebrities walk around in head to toe visible designer brands. However the style mavens, the fashionistas do not. Your clothing should accentuate you, not speak for itself. So you like a certain brand, or cannot afford it but for the logo tee. Wearing a designer logo tee will not make you look rich; if anything it makes it look as though you can afford nothing but the tee shirt. And as for your pride in your country/your corporation/your vacation spot? Well that’s just dandy. Again, state it yourself, you don’t need your shirt to state if for you. Fly a flag outside your home, carry around your business cards and frame a picture of you in the Outer Banks at your desk. Just don’t have it emblazoned on your breasts. As for those shirts with witty sayings? Keep them for the gym, the bachelorette party and around the house. A woman of style says what she feels, she does not wear it. Just removing logoed and message clothing from your daily ensembles, you will add much class, taste and a more expensive look to your existing wardrobe.
  2. Change your hair accessories. It’s hot out and you want your hair off your neck. It is possible to achieve this without resorting to a tacky hair accessory. Get rid of anything that is not hair colored or black. That means the rhinestone encrusted, the teal to match your teal sweater, the white, the gold and the animal pattern. Just because they are in the aisle at CVS does not mean they are fashionable. Secondly, pare down what you own. If you find yourself reaching for the scrunchie, “ouchless” elastic or butterfly clip on a daily basis, you need a haircut my dear, not an accessory. Hair accessories should be left to children, the gym, the garden and the salon white other sections are being blown straight. A few accessories are acceptable for everyday use. These are nondescript headbands (tortoise, elastic, accordion), nondescript barrettes (a clamp-style can hold up loose ends, brush back bangs and not take the focus off your entire look. Bobby pins are a must for updos and bangs that are not the right length – keep them hair colored) and maybe a hair-colored or black narrow elastic in your bag for hair emergencies. I cannot stress it enough – if you are wearing your hair in a clip or elastic more than two days a week, you need to consider your current haircut. And by all means, do not try to wear your hair accessories as fashion accessories – no claw clips attached to purse straps, no scrunchies or elastics on your wrist, no barrettes or bobby pins clamped to the hem of your top. This ruins the look of any outfit.
  3. Untuck the shirt. Say what? You were raised that a proper lady tucks in her blouse. It is the epitome of decorum and modesty to properly tuck a blouse, correct? Not always. In this day and age, many tops are not created to be tucked in. Also many of our figures are not flattered with a tucked-in shirt. If you have a bit of a belly, an untucked tailored shirt, polo or sweater can do wonders to camouflages that area without looking messy. A tailored, proper length shirt (no longer than your hips) will look more modern if untucked – if button downs have a scooped hem, they look great untucked; those with a straight hem are made to be tucked in.
  4. Iron your clothes. Seems like a given, but unfortunately we often do not have the time or full-length mirrors to really see what we look like to others. Creased pants will not sort themselves out in the commute to work, and wrinkled blouses from the dryer have a totally different look than shirts that got a bit rumpled through the average day. If you purchase cotton clothing, expect to iron. If you do not have time for ironing, take the pieces to the cleaners. Shirts usually are cleaned and pressed for less than $2.00. A properly pressed garment will add tons of class, style and an expensive look to your outfit.
  5. Protect the midsection. Again, let’s use the example of Jackie O. Do you think she would have ever visited the mall with her navel exposed? Be you a few pounds overweight and your clothes fitting a bit snugly, or be it you have the most amazing toned six-pack, there is never a reason for an adult to show her belly anywhere but at the beach or pool. If your shirt is riding up, this means it is at least one size too small. If you bend over and more than ¼” of your underwear is showing, your pants do not fit properly and need to be donated or tailored. If you ensure that your midsection is properly covered (even when you sit, yank your bag on your shoulder or raise your arm) you will look thinner and far more elegant.
  6. Don’t be a slave to fashion. Just because leggings have appeared on the runway after a 20-year hiatus does not mean you need to dash out and purchase a pair. Fashion is not black and white as it was of decades past. This means pick and choose what appeals to you and is flattering each season, and stick to your classics to pull the look together. If you are too short-waisted for thick belts, then by all means do not purchase them. I personally have thicker legs and do not plan on purchasing any of the stovepipe jeans or leggings that are in every magazine this season. This doesn’t mean I will be seen as unfashionable, it just means I am dressing for my figure, not for a fashion magazine.
  7. Accept your size. Also accept that your size in one store may be different from another. You will be the same shape be you wear a size 8 dress or a 10. If you are so self-conscious you can cut the tags out a la Mariah Carey. A size smaller in a blouse will actually make you look larger. On the other side of the coin, clothing that is too big for your body will make you look misshapen, sloppy and also bigger than you truly are. If you have trouble due to curves, purchase the larger size and take your garment to a tailor (many dry cleaners do tailoring) and have it adjusted to your shape.
  8. Check your bag. Is your bag overstuffed? Fraying? Covered with pen marks? If so, you are like many women in America. If you cannot afford a replacement bag, clean the one you currently have, snip any frayed areas with nail scissors and always keep it zipped up and only to 70% capacity at most. This will make your bag look far more polished than when you have a planner, sippy cup, wad of Kleenex and an apple popping out of the main compartment. Bag too small to stay at only 70% capacity? Gut it, lay everything out on your bed or dining table and really evaluate every item – is it a necessity? Is it easily found/accessible in your bag 9do you need smaller cosmetic bags to organize)? If everything is a necessity, it is time to either purchase a larger bag or a second bag for school/work papers/your laptop/toys and snacks for the rugrats.
  9. Chin up. The best way to exude class and style is to have good posture. Chin up, neck elongated, chest out, shoulders back and down. Think about your walk; glide, don’t clop. A graceful walk will make even ratty sweatpants look elegant.

Tuesday’s Tip – Quick Tips to Look and Feel Great This Summer

1. Replace your facial moisturizer with a lighter weight or oil free version. Your skin doesn’t require as much nourishment in the hot and humid months. This change will make your makeup apply and last better and help keep your skin clear. Of course your moisturizer should have at least an SPF of 15!

2. Give the flat iron a break. In all the magazines models are sporting beachy waves. This is easy for most types of hair, just scrunch in some styling product, let the hair air dry or use a diffuser. This will give your hair a holiday, you will look hip and you won’t stress out about the humidity causing havoc on your ‘do. There are many products out there geared towards achieving “beachy waves,” often containing real sea salt water or synthetic versions. Try it out, using a curling or flat iron for any unruly parts. Your hair will thank you.

3. Add salmon to your diet at least once a week (or if you are a vegetarian try to fit flaxseed and flaxseed oil into your diet – great for salads!). Salmon and flaxseeds have large percentages of Omega-3 fatty acids. After three weeks you’ll see a difference in your skin tone and texture. Feel your elbows – you won’t recognize them, they will be so much softer. And don’t be surprised if someone says you seem to be glowing, your skin will feel good from the inside out!

4. Buy a new pair of sunglasses. Even if it’s a pair under $20 from the kiosk in the mall, if you like them, you’re more likely to wear them. The more you wear sunglasses, the longer you keep crows feet at bay. Think about it, when you go out in the sun without shades you squint, and squinting does nothing but crease the skin. That plus the sun’s ability to break down the skin’s elasticity can do some severe damage. While protecting your youthful appearance, you are also protecting your eyesight. Seems worth that $20, huh?

5. Stay refreshed with a spritz. Hot weather and sweat can make you feel sticky and gross in no time. Companies like Evian and The Body Shop sell face spritzers of water or lightweight moisturizers that quickly perk you up, freshen you without ruining your makeup. I keep The Body Shop’s Vitamin E mist in my purse and at my office desk – it’s light rosewater scent is calming and the mist perks me up, hydrates my face and doesn’t make me feel greasy. For an extra hot weather pick-me-up, place the spritzer in the fridge – what a welcome treat at the end of a hot day!

6. Make sunscreen more appealing. We all know we should use sunscreen, but it’s such a hassle. It’s sticky, it’s hard to rub in and how the heck are we supped to properly coat the backs of our knees and our shoulders? Several companies (I like Coppertone) have come out with aerosol sunscreens that don’t need to be rubbed in. The scent is mild, the texture is light and easily absorbed and you can easily coat your whole body without assistance or a Charley horse.

7. Lighten up your fragrance. That lovely floral or musk can be a bit too heavy in the summer when your skinh is hotter. The scent gos from being mysterious to overpowering. Consider switching to a body spray. The allover scent is light enough to reapply before a night out but heavy enough to leave a fresh scent and feeling all day. Bath and Body Works has several to choose from, I enjoy their “Breathe” collection. Breathe Energy has a grassy crisp scent that smells clean, Breathe Delight smells like orange blossoms and is delicate and juicy and not too candy-smelling or strong.

8. Drop the foundation. Even if you are dedicated with the sunscreen, your skin will get a touch of color this season. That and the humidity in the air will help your skin retain a nice glow. Consider using just concealer, or switch from a heavy foundation to a sheer tinted moisturizer. Your skin needs to breathe, and foundation doesn’t stay put when you sweat anyway. Why fight nature? Instead try a bronzing powder to keep shine at bay and provide coverage and color.

9. Flavor that water. Having a hard time achieving the recommended eight glasses of water a day? Why not make it more appealing. Companies like Crystal Light have created individual packets to flavor a bottle of water. Emergen C is a product with the RDA of Vitamin C as well as many other nutrients; it too comes in individual packets. Even a small drop of lemon or lime juice in a tall glass of water will give it a bit of zing that will keep the water from being boring. Drinking plenty of water is even more important come summer, so drink up!

10. Watch your posture. Come summer we don’t have bulky sweaters and coats to cover our figure. The quickest figure fixer is standing and sitting up straight. Use a small pillow or a rolled up towel in the car or at your desk chair to help you sit upright; placed in the small of your back it will force your spine to stand at attention. While standing in line, be aware of your posture. Pull back and down your shoulders, pull your chin away from your neck. And smile! It takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown, and we know the more facial muscles you use, the quicker the wrinkles appear! Stand tall and smile and you will look five pounds thinner and five years younger!

Free Tip – Keep it Clean

When was the last time you washed your makeup brushes? Not wiped them on a tissue to change shadow colors or even use a swab of makeup remover, but actually cleaned them? Not only will a good washing of your brushes keep them hygienic, it will help prevent breakouts from bacteria and miscellaneous crud being transferred to your skin, and also will help with the application and pigment level of your cosmetics.

There are some great precuts out there specifically for the cleansing of makeup brushes, but I use shampoo. A tip I learned when I worked in skincare is to occasionally switch out the gentle shampoo with an antibacterial wash (I use the Body Shop’s Tea Tree Face Wash) to give the brushes a gentle yet thorough cleansing.

Wet the bristles with warm water, trying to keep the water on the exposed bristles only. In the palm of your hand, mix a bit of shampoo or cleanser with water to form a soapy lather. Swirl the brush in your palm gently; you will see the lather become opaque or change colors as the makeup is lifting away from the bristles. Rinse, and swirl to see if any pigment is left. If so, repeat. Dry brushes flat on a towel, reshaping the bristles. If possible, let the bristles hang over the edge of your counter or table to help air flow through the bristles to prevent any mildew.

You will feel as though you have a new set of super-soft brushes and your makeup will go on so much more smoothly! Before you decide your blush, bronzer or foundation is starting to look dull and boring; wash your brushes. Often times, the problem isn’t the product or even your skin, but the applicator!

Free Tip – Cut the Purse Strings!

Each week I will be posting a free way that you can update your look or wardrobe – simple and budget friendly steps that are super easy to accomplish. This week’s idea – cutting the purse strings!

purse leatherWith use, leather and leather-like bags often start to fray, especially at the straps. We often miss this detail, with our purses becoming almost a part of our bodies. We throw them over our shoulder and don’t usually give them a second look. Walking to work today, I saw several women (and men with messenger and laptop bags) carrying expensive looking and new styles of bags that looked a big raggedy just because of these wayward threads.
With a pair of embroidery or cuticle scissors, snip all the little strings from the edges of your purse. While you’re at it, grab your laptop bag, your favorite tote and any other handbags in your collection and give them a trim. You won’t need to even touch the fabric, little scissors like this will get close enough to the bag for a clean finish without damaging the material.
A little snip of those purse strings, and your bag will look newer and more polished!

Thursday Tip: Starting the New Year off Right

Okay, so I am totally late on this. Forgive me, I was on vacation! However during my week of fun in the lack of sun, I realized I took some beauty and fashion regimens for granted and suffered the penalty. As that most of us do not have time during the week to accomplish tasks, we all (me included!) can begin 2007 with a weekend of cleaning and beautifying!

1. Give Yourself a Facial.

When I was attempting to pop a second blackhead at my jawline, I realized I have been treating my skin terribly. Late nights of work make me too exhausted to wash my face before bed time. The face wash is in the medicine cabinet and I am sopping wet in the shower so I’ll use the bar soap to scrub off my mascara. I ran out of eye cream in October and decided to hold off to see if I got any beauty gift cards for Christmas (and I did not). Add to that a few too many glasses of wine, cups of eggnog and flutes of champagne to wash down fatty finger food, chocolate goodies and ginormous holiday feasts and too much time on my bum….. well my skin has suffered.

One evening, wash your face with a gentle facial cleaner. If it exfoliates, great. If not, follow with a scrub. Since this is not a regular occurrence, your scrub can be a bit more abrasive. Do not use any scrub unless it is made specifically for the skin of the face. I use either Dove’s Gentle Exfoliating Daily Cleanser, or Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash with the (now discontinued but I stocked up) Body Shop Soy and Calendula Face Scrub.

After this, apply a mask appropriate for your skin type. I like either The Body Shop’s Oceanic Clay Mask or Olay Facials Deep Cleansing Clay Mask. After it is complete, remove it completely with cool water.

Now fill your sink with steaming hot water, bend over it and throw a towel over your head, holding in the steam. Do not let the water hit your face – you do not want to scald your skin. Hang out for a few minutes – I bring in a stool to the bathroom, have a seat and close my eyes and meditate. Some like to add a few drops of essential oil. I do not for my skin can be sensitive and many oils can be caustic to the face.

When you have had enough, drain the sink, and dab your skin with an alcohol-free toner to hydrate and soothe the skin. I like the Vitamin E Face Spritz from the Body Shop – I spray it straight on the skin and dab off with a cotton ball. I also use this product on planes – the bottle is small enough to take in your carry-on and it keeps your skin hydrated throughout the flight without mussing your makeup.

Then continue with your regular night creams and supplements. I use the Vitamin C Intensive Night Repair from the Body Shop, and over it use Olay Regenerist Night Recovery Moisturizing Treatment and Kinetin Eye Cream from The Body Shop. The next morning you will be AMAZED at how good your skin looks and feels after a deep cleaning and pampering experience. It will make you want to continue good skin deeds the rest of the year!

2. Organize your Closet
I was packing for my holiday and couldn’t find a blasted thing. Where is my black velvet blazer? How about my blue fleece? My strappy silver heels? These are all things I do not wear on a regular occasion but needed at this very moment. I could find suits in two sizes too small, found my high school prom dress and found a sorority sweatshirt with big “billboard” letters but ended up tearing my entire closet contents out and onto my bed to find what I NEEDED. I realized it was time to do some organizing.

I tossed all the flimsy metal hangers from the cleaners. I tossed any plastic bags still left on cleaned clothes. I made sure everything was on appropriate hangers (suit jackets on sturdy hangers, sleeveless tops on hangers with the nook to hold the top in place, wide-necked tops on hangers with grippers). I then categorized:

  • Clothes I rarely wear but need to be hung to not get ruined
  • Going-out tops
  • Work tops
  • Jackets and blazers
  • Suits
  • Skirts
  • Pants
  • Dresses for special occasions
  • Dresses for work and everyday

Everything else was folded and placed on closet shelves or in drawers. The special occasion and rarely worn pieces got the space in the back of the closet, the most worn items given top real estate. To conserve space, I “monkey-hung” similar pieces. This is where you take a hanger with a swiveling neck and hook one hanger into the other hanger so they tier down. I monkey hung suit pants, and then outing pants. Going out tops were tired upon one another, and even blazers and short dresses got the same treatment. Pants were hung upside down by their cuffs, seam-to-seam to keep nice crisp creases in the leg.

When I wear something, I leave the hanger so I know where it goes when it returns to the closet. This means I don’t end up losing hangers and doubling up items or shoving delicate pieces into a drawer. A nice thing was when holiday shopping at R.E.I. I saw they were giving away nice plastic hangers with grips and swiveling metal necks right at the door. I took home a dozen and replaced all the crappy metal and sloping solid plastic ones I have been holding on to for years. Why pay lots of money? Next time you buy clothing, ask for the hanger. And when you go to shops that have designer hangers (Arden B, Ann Taylor, REI, etc.) they may give you a few for free. Doesn’t hurt to ask!

As for bags and accessories, I went through them. The stuff I haven’t touched in years and wasn’t in good condition I donated. I placed bags and boots in old pillowcases to protect them from dust and rearranged my shelves and storage bag (I have one of those canvas bags that hang on the closet bar and has canvas drawers in it. I store scarves, bathing suits, small bags and belts in it) putting the most used pieces in the places most easily reached.

Anything that was in need of repair or cleaning was removed from the closet and tossed immediately into a large bag to take to the cleaner/tailor/shoe repair person near my job. Nothing is worse than pulling out an item to wear to find there is a hole or a missing button.

3. Go Through Your Makeup

When was the last time you bought a new mascara? Why are you holding onto that sparkly purple lipstick? How dusty and dirty is that drawer/bag/box that is holding your cosmetics? I have a makeup case – the professional style bought at a ridiculously low price at a Nordstrom Half-Yearly sale. Though I have little compartments in it for shadows, glosses, pots and potions, somehow weird stuff collects in there. I removed all the hair elastics and bobby pins, the earring backs and the plastic wrapping from new products that were tossed in the bottom in haste. I then removed all the makeup and wiped down all the areas with a damp cloth, getting rid of the shadow and pencil sharpening dust. When I put the makeup back, I kept it organized, with the most used products in front and center. As I replaced pencils, I re-sharpened them. Lipsticks I checked their consistency and tossed those that were old, separating or downright ugly. I usually finish a foundation, concealer or powder before it goes bad, but if you have pots and bottles of this type of stuff that you had at this same time last year, it is time to toss them. Mascaras should only be kept for 3-5 months so maybe this is the time to get a new tube. This gave me a chance to try the Cover Girl Lash Exact mascara that people have been raving about!

And really, why are you holding on to so much random stuff? If you always wear the same colors of eyeshadow, what’s the point of holding on to the crazy colors? For a random Halloween costume or that dress that NEEDS electric green eyeliner? I went through all the weird colors, glitters and spangles and decided that if it hadn’t been worn in the past year, it didn’t deserve real estate. Yes, even I, a fan of crazy shadow colors tossed a sparkly pink and a creamy emerald. I hadn’t worn them since I wore pleather pants and well…. That was a terribly long time ago.

Now on to your brushes. Did you know that you should be washing them every week at a minimum? Take all of them, wash them individually with a bit of baby shampoo, and lay them on their side on a towel to dry (should be ready to use by the next day). You will be amazed at how much better your makeup goes on with fresh brushes! I couldn’t believe how much pigment was stored in my eyebrow brush alone. If you wash and maintain your brushes, they will be a good friend to you for years.

These three January resolutions will get you on track to having an organized and beautiful 2007. The best way to be fabulous while being frugal is to care for what you already own. Treat your face, your skin, your beauty products and clothes with care, and they will care for you for a long time!

Black Friday Tip – Online Shop & Save!

Before you do any online shopping, use Google (or I prefer Good Search – online search engine that donates a penny to the charity of your choice every time it is used!).

Today I made a purchase at Ann Taylor Loft. When I got to the checkout it asked me to add any promotional code. I didn’t have a promotional code, but I searched “Ann Taylor Promotional Code” on Good Search, and the third site I went to had a code that gave me 20% off my order! Last week I ordered a gift for my mom and the site also asked if I had a promotional code. After doing about two minutes on a search engine, I found a site that offered me 15% off AND free shipping!

A few minutes on your favorite search engine can save you lots of money on your holiday and personal shopping. Take the time and reap the savings!

Tuesday

Well hello there awkward pose! I totally envy those style bloggers who get 50 pictures of themselves on city streets, in golden fields of wheat, even in their living room. Oh to have that time! While this picture was being taken, there were two cats in my court fighting each other, Emerson was in the car in her carseat throwing toys out onto the road, and a neighbor was trying to start up a conversation with my husband the photographer. AND I was late for work. This is my reality!

Anyway, this dress really does look better in person than in this and the previous post. Swear! Today I had a stranger and three coworkers compliment me on it. The little bit of weight loss from the inaugural wearing to today has made a big difference in the way it drapes, and it makes me like it even more. I am still wearing it with my vintage belt, though I pulled out my belt collection this morning to see if another belt would give it a different look. Paired it with my new gold pendant from Ann Taylor, my Ann Taylor twig bracelets and my brown croco sandals from Sofft.

Greetings from the Metro!  I got my favorite seat on the train, and the only other person in my car was passed out asleep.  Nice!

Hair is second day, and in desperate need of a cut and color. Maybe this weekend… Makeup is my standard – Max Factor Pan-Stik, Nars blush in Orgasm, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis, DiorShow mascara and today’s lipcolor is Tarte’s Natural Lip Crème in Peaceful – very subtle creamy peachy tan.

Tuesday

Camera battery needs to be recharged, so full-length pictures came out all weird and blurry.

This is my dress from Muse that I bought last year.  They have similar dresses, same cut but different prints available at Nordstrom and also recently at Overstock (and remember to first visit Ebates first to get money back if you shop at either location!).  With it I am wearing my silver cuff, silver chain with my wedding band, silver hoops from Ralph Lauren.

Hair is second day, I took big sections around my curling iron to smooth, and a touch of BioSilk to keep frizz at bay.  It has been raining almost every night the past few days, leaving the days very… thick.  Tres muggy, tres frizzy.

Classic makeup, the only change-up is I used my Tarte Indelible Wink eyeliner in eggplant along the top lash line.  I love this liner for day wear – it’s a very dark gray-tinted purple that makes my brown eyes look more brown, and isn’t as intense as black.