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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.

ueminiboom-group

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.

Summer-Maxi-Dresses-Type

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.

‘Future Beauty’ at SAM

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

It’s hard to believe that summer is over, kids are back at school and fall is almost upon us.  Vacations are a distant memory and plans are being made for the holidays already…yikes, take me back to summer!  We took a wonderful family trip to the Pacific Northwest; Eugene, Seattle, Vancouver, Whistler and Portland in that order.  I had discovered an exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum that I was REALLY excited about, Future Beauty 30 Years of Japanese Fashion.  Although always a fan of the sculptural silhouttes of Japanese designers, I do not own any pieces, nor do my clients lean in that sartorial direction.  I really loved this exhibit and it was only enhanced by the perspective of my 15 year old daughter.

IMG_0500

The entire exhibit was on loan from the Kyoto Costume Institute, a museum I would LOVE to visit one day (#327 on my bucket list).  The exhibit starts with 1973, the year designer Rei Kawakubo started Comme des Garcons (meaning “like the boys”), known for it’s androgoneous styles that challenged gender stereotypes.  Pictured below is a piece from the 1997 collection, “Dress Meets Body, Body Meets Dress”, sometimes referred to as the Quasimodo collection.

Rei Kawakubo/ Comme des Garcons Top and skirt of stretch nylon/ polyurethane plain weave printedgingham checks; down pads Spring/ Summer 1997

Rei Kawakubo/ Comme des Garcons Top and skirt of stretch nylon/ polyurethane plain weave printed gingham checks; down pads
Spring/ Summer 1997

It’s interesting to note that Kawakubo did a stint as “guest designer” for H & M in 2008.  Here is another Comme des Garcon collection piece designed by Kawakubo that is as appropriate today, as it was in 1992/93 when it was first shown…

Rei Kawakubo/ Comme des Garcons One piece dress of three sheets of black and purplish brown polyester georgette; of two sheets of the same material at sleeves; black nylon knit at neck; trained Autumn/Winter 1992-93

Rei Kawakubo/ Comme des Garcons One piece dress of three sheets of black and purplish brown polyester georgette; of two sheets of the same material at sleeves; black nylon knit at neck; trained
Autumn/Winter 1992-93

Yohji Yamamoto was another Japanese designer emerging at the same time as Kawakubo.  He showed his line in Paris for the first time in 1981, and was a rumored paramour of Kawakubo.  Together, along with Issey Miyake and Kenzo Takada, they embodied Japanese fashion design and elevated it to what it is today.

Yohji Yamamoto Dress, Black and white felt; black knit under skirt. Autumn/Winter 1996-97

Yohji Yamamoto Dress, Black and white felt; black knit under skirt.
Autumn/Winter 1996-97

Following on the heels of Yamamoto and Kawakubo was Junya Watanabe, former apprentice and protégé of Kawakubo at Comme des Garcons.  Watanabe worked his way up through design positions, finally designing under his own name for Comme des Garcons.

Jnya Watanabe Comme des Garcons Autumn/Winter 2000-01 Red polyester organdie jacket;Yellow polyester organdie skirt

Junya Watanabe Comme des Garcons
Autumn/Winter 2000-01
Red polyester organdie jacket;Yellow polyester organdie skirt

The above ensemble was just incredible!  Pictures do not do it justice, the architecture is just beautiful.  Pictured below is another piece by Watanabe in denim, a great fabric to work with, but a little unexpected from this genre of designers.

Junya Watanabe Comme des Garcons Blue washed denim dress and trousers Spring/Summer 2002

Junya Watanabe Comme des Garcons
Blue washed denim dress and trousers
Spring/Summer 2002

Future Beauty also paid homage to the newer up- and- coming Japanese designers like Jun Takahashi for UNDERCOVER.  He has collaborated with Nike and Uniqlo in past seasons.  Below is a look designed for UNDERCOVER.  He also designs with his wife RICO as well (not sure what the capitol letters signify???).

Jun Takahashi/ UNDERCOVER Jacket, sweater, scarf, belt, bag, gloves, stockings and wig of various fabrics including wool, mohair, synthetic 'leather', painted, printed and embroidered with plaid pattern  Autumn/Winter 2000-01

Jun Takahashi/ UNDERCOVER
Jacket, sweater, scarf, belt, bag, gloves, stockings and wig of various fabrics including wool, mohair, synthetic ‘leather’, painted, printed and embroidered with plaid pattern
Autumn/Winter 2000-01

Hokuto Katsui and Nao Yagi designer for mintdesigns and they represent the new  aesthetic of younger Japanese designers.  The dress below conveys the creativity and vision of this new crop of designers.

Hokuto Katsui and Nao Yagi for mintdesigns White and blue silk-screen printed polyester; shredded magazines Autumn/Winter 2008-09

Hokuto Katsui and Nao Yagi for mintdesigns
White and blue silk-screen printed polyester; shredded magazines
Autumn/Winter 2008-09

This exhibit was really a highlight for me, as you don’t expect to see a major collection like this outside of New York or the de Young in San Francisco (speaking of which, I can’t wait to see The Art of Bulgari, jewelry exhibit opening at the de Young on Sept. 21st!).  I was totally impressed with the 100+ pieces this exhibit encompassed and my hope is that it travels to other locations in the US, before returning home to Kyoto!

“What you wear can largely govern your feelings and your emotions, and how you look influences the way people regard you.  So fashion plays  an important role on both the practical level and the aesthetic level.” —Kawakubo, Interview Magazine