The Must-Have Style Item for Every Woman

I have one item I think every woman needs to have great style. This one item is cheaper than a basic white shirt, a VPL-free Hanky Panky thongs, or even a tube of DiorShow mascara. It fits all shapes, no matter your height, your dress or shoe size. It is guaranteed to pull every single outfit together beautifully. You know what it is?

A full-length mirror.

So how many of you ladies actually have one, and for those who have one, how many of you use it on a daily basis before leaving the house? Is it in a place that makes it easy to review a look? How is the lighting in that part of the home?

As you know, I take pictures of my outfits almost daily via a full-length mirror in my office. I chose the office because it’s hidden behind a door that is usually left open, and I have enough space to stand far enough from my reflection to get a good look at the whole picture. It also has good lighting, both natural from the two windows and from the wall light. Though a bedroom seems like a logical place, the layout of the room didn’t give me enough room to get a good view or decent lighting. The mirror I use? $12.99 at Kmart, same mirror I have had since my college apartment.

I love this mirror not just for the ability to take slightly crooked self portraits every morning, but because I get a complete view of my look. It’s darn near impossible to get a finished look without a full-length mirror. Walking down the street you can easily pick out those women without one – pants a hair too short, shoes not exactly complimentary to the trousers or skirt, garments that bunch at the crotch, have not-purposeful frayed hems, tops tucked in that would look far better untucked (and vice versa).

I encourage all of you to invest in a full-length mirror and use it daily. Not only will it help you understand how your clothing works with one another, it will also help you get to know and appreciate your figure. Often we ignore that we do not like and I know many women don’t have a full-length mirror because they don’t enjoy looking at their reflection below the shoulders. However, this is the body you have. Ignoring it will not make it go away or morph into a different shape. In fact, looking at your reflection on a daily basis will make you really understand your shape, see how it looks differently in soft knits versus crisp tailored pieces or slim jeans versus wide-legged trousers. Studies have shown that women who weigh themselves on a regular basis are more likely to lose or maintain their weight; women who examine their reflection on a daily basis are also more likely to lose or maintain their weight. Those who ignore it are more likely to gain. You should know your body better than your doctor or significant other.

When you look at your reflection, be honest with yourself. Of course you look better with your stomach sucked in, your shoulders pulled back and your leg sticking out like an actress on the red carpet. However, what you’re looking for is the image you portray when standing in line at the bank, chatting with coworkers at the water fountain, sipping a drink with friends at your favorite bar. Notice how you stand naturally, and how your clothing and figure react to it. Do your shoulders suddenly slump a bit, causing your neckline to gape enough to show a bra strap? Is your tucked-in shirt accentuating your lower belly instead of highlighting a small waistline? How are those buttons holding up over your bust when you sit, when you put your hand on your hip, when you walk?

Before your next shopping excursion, take a half hour or so and try on a handful of different pieces from your wardrobe. Note the difference between your bootleg and your full-legged trousers, your wrap sweater versus your crewneck, a wrap dress versus a sheath. Which pieces make you feel good? Slim? Curvy? Tall? Chic? Comfortable? Note these styles and consider them when shopping.

Once you are comfortable with your front reflection, it’s time to acknowledge your back view. A hand mirror held in front of you with the full-length mirror behind you should give a decent view. Note how your pants hang over the top of your shoes, the condition of your shoes’ heels, how your hair looks in back (we often don’t straighten or style the back of our hair with as much care as the front), how your blouse is tucked in, how your pants or skirt hangs over the rear. You will be amazed at how differently pieces may look – some of your favorite garments may not be as flattering from this angle. You may suddenly have pile of clothes to take to the tailor or a longer list of staples to purchase. When shopping, always take advantage of the three-way mirrors at stores (a great tip is to stow a hand mirror in your bag for trips to outlet malls and shops you know don’t have three-ways so you can get the back view as well) so you can ensure each new purchase flatters from every angle.

Think of style icons, be it Grace Kelly or your coworker in Accounting. What makes their look so great? Maybe it’s the elegant cashmere sweaters and pencils skirts, but often what makes the look work is the sense of comfort that woman has in her body. Confidence comes from that comfort and it affects every aspect of your appearance. The only way to gain that confidence and body comfort is to know your figure, to accept your figure and to work with, not against it. Nothing can help you with this task more than greeting your COMPLETE reflection every day with a smile!

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9 Comments

  1. October 9, 2007 / 3:03 pm

    You are – once again – so right! I caught a glimpse of myself full length the other day – not so pretty. As soon as I figure out which door to stick a full length mirror on, I am so purchasing one.

  2. September 30, 2007 / 3:21 pm

    Use the dressing room at a Neiman Marcus and you’ll understand how crucial it is to have a 3-way with the right lighting. It is a critical investment.

  3. September 26, 2007 / 5:25 pm

    That is true. I have also found also the opposite – think I look utterly sassy and then catch a glimpse in a shop window or see a picture and am shocked by the “actual” look that day.

    However, I know with friends and clients over the years, those who have a regular REAL relationship with a full-length mirror seem to understand their body a bit better, shop with less stress, weeding out those obviously inappropriate items for their frame. But yes, the picture is an amazing tool as well! 🙂

  4. September 26, 2007 / 5:13 pm

    I think it’s hard to non-judgementally regard yourself in a mirror. I’ve found that taking a full-length picture of myself, and then looking at that allows me to be a much better judge of what I REALLY look like. I’ve had many a “fat day,” that disappeared when I looked at myself in the digital camera display.

  5. September 26, 2007 / 1:21 pm

    I have a full length mirror but I don’t look at my back view as often as I should…you always give such great tips on here!

  6. Anonymous
    September 26, 2007 / 1:15 pm

    …and may I add, if you can afford it, a 3-way mirror is even better, to get a view of how you look from behind!

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