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Take YOUR Personal Style to BlogHer ’14!

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

I am about to leave for a 3 day blogging conference in San Jose, CA.  I am going with my friend and Midlife Mixtape author Nancy Kho and friend and colleague Amy Roseveare, author of Jewelry Fashion Tips. Stop by their blogs and give them some BlogHer love.   Nancy is a seasoned veteran of BlogHer and has been my go to person for questions, concerns and advice for newbies like me.  It was at her urging, that I decided to weigh in on dressing for BlogHer.

Blogher 14

BlogHer 14 has a Facebook page that many of us have joined and the MOST asked question by far is “what do I wear???  Normally, I would jump all over this question!  I am a Personal Shopper and get paid for helping people with their wardrobes.  After reading tons of entries over the last few weeks, I came up with advice and guidance to answer that ‘what to wear’ question.  I’m not going to offer packing tips, Pinterest boards, Polyvore sets or trend advice, but some thoughtful guidelines on how to dress for BlogHer or any other intimidating and new situation.

“Always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of someone else”.  I love this quote by Judy Garland and have repeated it many times.  Dress like and for yourself, not for someone else.  I have read countless posts about feeling scared, unsure and downright out of place, coming to BlogHer for the first time.  I am inspired by how many people have said to dress comfortably and in what you feel most powerful and confident in.  This is the very same advice I give to my clients.  If I am not taking their personality, lifestyle and spirit into consideration when choosing items, then the clothes we buy together will go to waste.  Buying clothes that aren’t ‘you’ is the equivalent of buying a new couch and leaving it in the attic; neither will ever see the light of day.


Be a first rate version


Are you artistic, flamboyant and outgoing?  Wear color!  Are you a bit shy and reserved, not wanting to stand out in the crowd?  That’s OK, wear more subtle understated colors and clothing!  Don’t like the way jeans fit your frame?  Wear A line skirts and dresses!  There is a solution for everyone.

Remember, personal style is not static.  Are you the same writer you were 5, 10, 15 years ago?  Probably not.  In that same way, our own personal style changes, grows and morphs as we make our way in the world.  No need to go all out dressing up if you spend most of your working hours in the comfort of a home office.  It’s not necessary to buy lovely dry clean only separates with babies or toddlers around.  Dress for your life today, don’t worry about where it will be next month, year or decade.  Celebrate where you are now.

My BFF has a picture of me circa 1999 in a pair of pale blue linen overalls!  She uses it in loving way to remind me of where I came from.  At that time I was a new mother to boy/ girl twins.  You could say I was overwhelmed and sleep deprived and that would be the understatement of the year!  The fact that the overalls were easy to clean, supposed to be wrinkled (they were linen after all) and could be easily undone for nursing, made them a slam dunk in my wardrobe.  Would I wear them now?  Most likely not, but my life has changed a lot since then.  My kids are going to be high school juniors this fall, so parks, playgrounds, dirty diapers and sippy cups are a distant memory.

My linen overalls.  I hated to get rid of them.

My linen overalls. I hated to get rid of them.


Having spent the whole of my career in the fashion/ retail industry, my style has grown and changed accordingly.  Spending time in NY covering Fashion Week (talk about stressful packing), requires a very different mindset and wardrobe than driving a carload of teens to the movies.  No matter what I wear with my teens, I will never look cool enough, young enough or hip enough.  Here’s the rub, I don’t want to!  I dress for my age, figure, budget, husband, girlfriends, but most of all, I DRESS FOR MYSELF!  So as you fellow BlogHer 14 attendees are scrambling to pack, do last minute errands, get manis and pedis, remember, whatever you have on will be the perfect outfit for YOU!

And if happen to notice you in overalls  (BTW, they are very on trend right now ), you will get an understanding, accepting and admiring nod from moi!


Packing Tips for the Experienced Traveler

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Most every school in the western U.S. is out for the summer, including my kid’s school (YEAH!).  That usually means some type of vacation or trip.  As we turn our attention away from driving carpool and towards lounging by the pool, packing the right clothing is paramount to enjoying your vacation to the fullest.  I’ve done other posts on packing tips and you can read them here, here and here.

What I want to share are some more specific tips for people that are already seasoned travelers , but want to take it to the next level.

1.  Carry-on is the only way to go!  This bears repeating, as anyone who checks these days is just asking for trouble!  You can fit everything you need in a carry on.  One of the things I love most about travel is the adventure of it and the ability to wander unencumbered.  One caveat to the carry on is if you are traveling for an extended period like the entire summer and really need more than a week or two worth of clothes.

carryon with hat

2.  What about workout clothes/ sneakers?  What always puts me over the edge while packing is the fact that I need to include clothing for running or working out.  Sneakers specifically, take up a lot of room in my carry on.  My solution?  I just bought a pair of Nike Free sneakers.  Mine are more for running and cross training.  I’m not going to wear them to run a marathon, but for vacation workouts or hiking, they’re PERFECT!  They are feather light, mashable and they come in fun colors.  I also pack light performance fabric clothing for workouts and roll them to fill in gaps in the suitcase.

Nike free

3.  One of the hardest parts of packing is limiting your color palette.  I always choose between taking neutrals; khaki, brown, gold, rust, orange, coral OR, I take black, white, red, teal, yellow and jewel/primary tones.  By doing this you automatically cut down on the shoes you need to bring and increase your ability to mix and match.   I am going on a tropical vacation in a few days, so I am sticking with warm neutrals.  I am taking 4 pairs of shoes: Nike Frees, bronze flat sandals, brown/gold flip flops and a cinnamon colored wedge with natural jute bottom.  Making sure that everything works together, gives you a ton of outfit possibilities and keeps you from over-packing!

cramming a suitcase

3.  If you LOVE to have music on your vacation, but don’t want to pack a lot of adaptors or hope the hotel has some kind of player, a Bluetooth wireless mini speaker is the way to go.  I just invested in the UE mini boom a by Logitech and I love it.  It has great sound for such a small speaker and it is so portable.  It is perfect for the beach, tailgate party or in your hotel room.   It has a 10 hour rechargeable battery  and an added plus is it’s conference call capability…  NOT that I recommend taking conference calls while on vacation.


4.   In addition to your carry on suitcase, your personal item also has to work double or triple duty.  I like to have a tote bag that I can also use as a beach or day bag for sightseeing.  I really like the foldable ‘Le Pliage’ tote by Longchamp in the medium size.  It comes in tons of colors, folds up really small  and is made of a water resistant nylon material.  It can be wiped off with a damp cloth, is sturdy and fits a ton of stuff.

Longchamp Le Pliage

5.  Dresses are your best friend while traveling!  There is no need to match tops to bottoms and many dresses can also be used as a bathing suit cover up.  They can be dressed down with a jean jacket and flats and dressed up with a colorful wrap and heels.  I love maxis for beach locations and knee length dresses for cities.


I know packing is an art form and everyone has their own little tricks and tips.  One of my favorite things to do for my clients is to help them pack for a trip.  If you have trouble narrowing down what you want to pack, call me!  I can help you put together a vacation wardrobe that fits your itinerary and makes packing for your vacation effortless.

pin on map

As for me, I am heading to Costa Rica with my husband for our 20th Wedding Anniversary.  I’d love to know what far flung places you’re traveling to this summer and what packing tips have served you well…  Bon voyage and safe travels wherever you may go!

airplane at sunset

Animal Prints, It’s a Jungle Out There!

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Look around next time you’re out walking around a city or suburban mall.  You will definitely see a healthy amount of animal print roaming around.  Animal print used to be a trend for only the most fashion forward among us.  It has successfully crossed over from fashion ‘trend’ to fashion ‘classic’.  Animal prints have become mainstream and can be seen in many different sartorial iterations.  Here are some ways you can wear a little or a lot of animal print.

animal print photo3 corrected

If you just want to dip your toe in the pool and not dive in completely, take a baby step with a scarf, pin or umbrella.  The three pieces in this photo were all easy to find and easy on the wallet.  The lighter colored scarf and pin are both from H & M, VERY affordable.

animal print photo2 corrected

The next step you can take is a pair of animal print shoes.  These are all styles that I have worn consistently over the last 5 years.  I love the Zebra ones for easy black and white pairings with a splash of color (I do red with these a lot).  The Tod’s pair on the left are my absolute favorites and I wear them ALL the time.  Because they have black and browns, they go with so much!

animal print photo4 corrected

If you are feeling brave, you can go further with an animal print shirt, pant, or in this picture, a handbag.  I just got this Kate Spade bag and I am using it like crazy.  In an unusual twist, a client found this while shopping in Santana Row in San Jose with a friend.  I saw it and decided (with her agreement) I had to have it.  Again, it can be worn with black or browns, can be wiped off and travels really well.

This blouse is also a great way to work animal print into your wardrobe.

animal print photo1 corrected

I often caution clients not to go overboard with any particular look, animal prints included. Too much of a good thing is TOO much!  One or two small pieces, like shoes and a scarf or pin are lovely, but head to toe is a NO-NO.

animal print photo5 corrected

I LOVE the way Janice was able to wear this beautiful Tory Burch animal print dress with so much style and verve!  She is a wonderful example of embracing the look and making it her own, way to go Janice!  She kept things simple, like her jewelry and wore black tights and over- the- knee boots… perfect.

How do you wear animal prints?  I’d love to hear your answers and even better, see your pictures.

To the Maxi!

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

As soon as kids are out of school (or back from school) it seems like our wardrobes take on a more relaxed vibe.  I, for one, am a big fan of the maxi dress.  I bought my first one about 5 years ago and have slowly added one per season since then.  I love the way they look on different figures, and they look equally great on women of all heights.  My one pet peeve is if they are too short, or too long.  Spend the extra money to get it hemmed if it’s too long and pass it up, if it’s too short!  Here are a few styles that I LOVE:

Trina Turk maxi

Trina Turk maxi

Bailey 44 maxi

Bailey 44 maxi

Ella Moss maxi

Ella Moss maxi

Young Fabulous and Broke maxi

Young Fabulous and Broke maxi

Maxis are easy to wear with a cardigan or jean jacket over them, when it’s gets cool at night.  They are also great for travel.   All of the above styles are from Neiman Marcus online, but there are lots of styles out there that are very affordable.  I just bought one at Loehmann’s for $50!  I’d love to see pictures of your favorite maxi dresses if you want to send them along!

Mycra Pac warehouse sale!

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Mycra Pac is one of those smaller bay area companies whose styles are instantly recognizable, yet they remain under the radar.  Mycra Pac is a manufacturer of cool designer rain wear and they are located right here in Moraga, CA.  Nordstrom carries a wide range of styles and colors in all of their stores.  One of the things I like best about these raincoats is that they’re so packable and come with their own little pouch that doubles as a handbag.  They are designed and made in the USA and have hoods that are perfect if you have no umbrella and they don’t mess up your hair!  Oh, as if that wasn’t enough, they’re reversible!

Reversible Mycra Pac rain coat

Reversible Mycra Pac rain coat

Mycra Pac has a yearly warehouse sale at their offices in Moraga, and it starts WEDNESDAY, June 12th continuing through TUESDAY June 18th.  This needs to make it on your calendar!  Women wait all year for this sale, so it does get pretty crowded.  People start lining up early.  As with most warehouse sales, they don’t put everything out on the first day, so I’m sure each day will have new merchandise.  See you at the sale!

Mycra Pac sale 6-12-13

It’s CAMPER season

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Ok, I admit I used the word camper to get your attention.  Most people either LOVE or HATE anything to do with camping.  Having spent the better part of my childhhood in campgrounds up and down the eastern seaboard, our family loved camping.  Well, this post has nothing whatsoever to do with camping, but with a Spanish shoe brand called CAMPER!  Fooled ya…

As a stylist, almost every client I encounter has a “foot issue”.  It’s usually shared in hushed tones, with head down and a slightly embarassed demeanor.  Hammer toes, neuromas, plantar fasciitis, bunions, and on and on.  I have news for you…EVERYONE (over the age of 35) has a “foot issue”.  Camper shoes are so fun, cool, european inspired, that even with “issues”, they are great shoes.  Here’s the one I just bought ( and bought for 2 different clients):

Camper "Beetle" sandal

Camper “Beetle” sandal


I loved the color, the hieght and the dual closures.  This is an incredibly comfortable shoe.  I can walk miles in it and it’s perfect for your European trip this summer (or anywhere you’ll be walking a lot).  They are incredibly light if you’re taking a carry on.  You can loosen one or both sides, as your feet swell or expand.  Here’s another one I like:

"Twins" Camper sandal

“Twins” Camper sandal

I love the use of the three colors, but each shoe is slightly different.  The pair below is a collaboration between designer Veronique Branquinho and the Camper brand.  Notice that this is a full fledged wedge with almost no rise at all…they are almost flat!

"Veronique" Camper sandal

“Veronique” Camper sandal

I didn’t forget the guys, Camper has great men’s styles as well.  Camper originated in Mallorca, Spain in 1975 and opened their first store in Barcelona in 1981.  Today the brand has over 300 stores worldwide and 10+ in the bay area.  VOILA, no more “foot issues”.

For more information and store locations




What the heck do I wear???

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

It’s the same time every year, so why am I always so surprised when I have to decide what to wear???  I am referring to the annual AICI (Assn. of Image Consultants Int’l) 3 day Education Conference I attend each January.  This is a wonderful, informative, action packed couple of days that sends your mind into overdrive by the time you leave on Sunday evening.  The San Francisco chapter of AICI sponsors this conference and I NEVER miss it!  I have been a member of AICI sine 2005, received my FLC (first level certification) in 2007 and my CIP (certified image professional) certification in 2009.  In order to maintain this certification you have to earn CEU’s on a regular basis, which is only ONE reason I go so religiously.

The only part of the weekend that stresses me out is when I go to put my outfits together for each day.  This is a great looking group, let me just say!!!  The only other comparison I can make is when I have to pack for NY Fashion Week…YIKES, that is stressful.  I’m sure you’ve heard it said that ‘women dress for women, not men’.  I definitely agree with that.  The vast majority of the attendees are women, and there are usually only one or two men (sorry fellas).  I definitely dress for the women I will be encountering over the weekend.  These are wonderful women that are mentors, colleagues and friends.  You’d think I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed by the prospect of packing for this weekend.

My rack with "potential" outfits

I start planning the outfits in my mind at least a month beforehand.  I re-work and edit along the way and then the week before, I take out my trusty rolling rack and start coordinating.  You might think this is strange behaviour from someone who makes a living dressing people…and it is!  After trying on all possible outfits, I tweak them and substitute pieces where necessary.  By the time the conference starts, I’ve put aside all possible doubts and settled into the fun and camaraderie the weekend brings.

Oh boy, better start planning for next year…


Summer packing can be a breeze

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Summer is here, schools are letting out and if you’re like me, my attention is focused on summer trips. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going by plane train or automobile, how you pack is almost as important as where you go. Packing can strike fear in the hearts of the uninitiated. I have taken a very unscientific survey among friends, family and strangers in order to come up with packing tips that are sure to make your trip a little smoother.

Getting started is the hardest part. I use a rolling rack set up in my bedroom as the staging area. These racks can be purchased at Target or Container store and can also be used for hanging coats up at a party. The heavy duty commercial rolling rack at Container Store is my favorite. Make sure that all of your potential clothing choices are laundered or dry cleaned. You don’t want to be running around a day or two before your trip picking up dry cleaning. I usually start about a week before a big trip and few days before a small one. Our worst packing choices are made in haste, when we are running out of time.

Exactly what to bring depends largely on what type of vacation: city sightseeing, beach, adventure, sports related. All of these different types of vacations require very different gear. Both and are two of many websites that offer free downloadable packing and activity planners. The Frommer’s site has a list geared toward each of the above mentioned trips. In addition to making packing easier, these lists can be really useful if the airlines lose your luggage and you need to make a claim with them or with your homeowner’s carrier.

As you are laying out your clothes, there are a few things to remember. First, plan to have 2-3 tops for every bottom. This is the same ratio you should see in your closet! If you take darker bottoms, it is easier to wear them longer, as they do not show wear and dirt as much as lighter colors. Fabrics should be as wrinkle resistant as possible. Cotton blends are a better choice than linen, and any type of synthetic is going to be better to travel with than silk. Lightweight, tech fabrics are great, as they can be washed out and dry in very little time. Please note that sticking with one color scheme (black or brown) allows you to take fewer shoes, which take up the most room in your luggage. After you are done, instead of adding to the choices, challenge yourself to take away one piece every day. Most people pack much more than they need.

Once you’ve accomplished the above step, the hardest part is over. Now it’s time to fit everything in your suitcase or duffle. According to my research, the hands down winner are the “rolling” method of packing. People swear by this philosophy. As you start, roll all of the larger pieces like pants, coats, etc. They should start on the bottom of your case. As you get to the smaller things like bathing suits and tee shirts, they can be placed around the bigger pieces in the corners and crevices.

An interesting packing product that is gaining in popularity is “decompression bags”. They are the plastic bags that can be packed with clothes and then decompressed with a household vacuum. These bags seem to be a great solution. The only drawbacks I see are if you are moving around a lot, or cannot get access to a vacuum on the way home. These bags are available at the Container Store and can be used many times over.

Once your clothes are in the suitcase, it’s time to use my favorite packing instrument, the ever-useful Ziploc bag. These are perfect for lingerie, socks, toiletries, jewelry and many other items. I use both the quart and gallon size depending on what I am putting in them. They are reusable and can serve other purposes when you arrive at your destination, like transporting sweaty workout clothes or a wet bathing suit.

I always pack shoes on top or in the zippered compartments on the outside of the suitcase. The outside compartments are great for sandals, flip flops, magazines, books and maps. I use the plastic bags that the newspaper comes in to keep my shoes from soiling any of my clean clothes. Again, these bags are reusable and the perfect size for shoes.

Once your bag is packed, make a commitment to LEAVE IT ALONE. Clothes should not go in the suitcase until the day before. You don’t want too much time to ponder all of the clothes you WANT to bring! If traveling with children, I always pack healthy snacks (mostly). I also find that energy and breakfast bars are great to have for layovers or long waits on an aircraft. Lollipops work well for takeoff and landing. I also love books on CD, which can be downloaded onto an iPod. My 10 year old twins used to love The Magic Tree house. I also brought along little toys and games that could be doled out periodically on a long flight.

Once the packing is done, you’ll be free to strike out and discover the wonderful places you visit. I’ll leave you with a quote by Susan Sontag that I love: “I haven’t been everywhere yet, but it’s on my list!” Safe travels…

Packing tips make summer travel easier.

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Have you ever been on a train or plane and looked admiringly at those people that can get by with a small carry-on bag?  Haven’t you wondered how they could manage with just that small little bag for a 3 week trip to Europe?  Did you ever puzzle over why it takes a Sherpa to transport your luggage?  You’re probably asking yourself…. “what am I doing wrong?”.

I have never been someone that could severely limit my luggage (just ask my husband/Sherpa).  I guess one could say it’s an occupational hazard.  I would always think about all those beautiful outfits at home, languishing alone in my closet.  I have also fallen victim to dressing in the perfect ensemble, only to be shattered by the realization that the perfect bag for this outfit was left out.

Although I will never be part of the “carry-on elite”, I do have many tried and true tips for the packing -challenged.

Think in terms of “outfits”.  Do not throw in a lot of “orphans”.  What I mean by this, is pack things that go together.  Do not include pieces that do not relate to the rest of your choices.  Some people choose to keep their clothing in either the brown (earth tones) or black (cool tones) families.

Along these same lines, make sure every bottom has 2-3 tops.  Bottoms are generally less memorable than tops.  By including a few different tops for a denim skirt or cute capris, you have created 2-3 outfits instead of one.

Choose pieces that can perform “double duty”.  An ethnic inspired tunic can be worn as a bathing suit cover up or over jeans for a city tour.  Zip off pants are also a good choice, as they can start out on a cool day and end up at the beach with the quick slip of the zipper.

Lightweight and wrinkle-free fabrics are a godsend for travelers.  These new fabrications are great for the little space they take up, as well as their good looks after spending hours rolled up in a suitcase.  Scala makes a great line of packable hats for keeping the sun off your face.  Remember to hang up garments upon arrival so they have time to breathe before wearing.  A good steam in the bathroom while you shower, also does wonders for all fabrics.

Don’t underestimate the power of Denim.
  Although this is no-no for a lot of power packers, I think it is a must have for most people.  A nice pair of jeans can be dressed up or down for both men and women.  They can be rolled up to a capri for daytime, and jeans are understood everywhere.  Denim almost never shows dirt, and can be in the lightest and stretchiest fabrication.   Denim is also one of the few pieces you will own that goes with almost everything.

T-shirt dressing is the way to go.  the basic tee is such a versatile piece, that more of them can only be better.  Layering them makes for a fashionable look, and they can be worn in many different combinations.  They also satisfy the “double duty” criteria, as they can be daytime/nighttime appropriate and worn over beachwear.  Get a little creative with the colors and you’re there!

Flip-flops are a travelers best friend.  Footwear can be a very mystifying part of the packing process.  A good quality, nice looking pair of flip flops can be used in many different environments, and they’re comfortable!  Again, they meet the “double duty” criteria on many levels.  A fashionable trainer, like those by diesel or sketchers, can be a good shoe for travel.  They are lightweight, and can be worn for many hours of sightseeing.  Remember to pack one pair of dressy sandals/shoes for a fancy night out at that 4- star restaurant.

A neutral colored cardigan can save the day (or night).  Lots of destinations can be chilly at night despite being hot and muggy during the day.  Plan for this to happen.  Again, layering can be a good strategy for cool evenings, and a cardigan or neutral colored wrap can solve the problem.  I also use a wrap on long plane rides, as they are nicer that the airline blankets.  Pashminas work well for this.  If you are going to bring a heavier weight jacket, wear it rather than packing it.

Think before you carry on.  Make sure whatever you bring as your carry on luggage, can be carried everywhere else.  If you like a backpack, bring that.  If you’re headed to the beach use a lightweight, waterproof mesh bag to carry on.  Once you get to your destination, this bag will get lots of use.

Lastly, leave a little “wiggle” room.  Most of us come back from vacation with something new, even if they’re souvenirs for loved ones.  Make sure you leave a little extra room to accommodate these.  You’d hate to pass up those gorgeous Tony Llama cowboy boots from the dude ranch, just because they don’t fit in your luggage!

Now that you are such an expert packer, I hope to see you rolling your not-too-large roller bag through some exotic airport.  Look for me, I’ll be the one with the Sherpa…