Cultivate The Habit

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I recently heard a woman encourage others to develop positive habits.

Then she used this quote by Aristotle.

I don’t know about you today, but that is encouraging.

Leadership strengths can improve each year if you cultivate those skills.  If you develop habits that encourage positive and clear communication, goal setting and retooling, mutually beneficial relationships with your peers and those at all levels in your life and organization, consistent alignment with your life values and vision, and giving back to others around you, then you will be known for excellence.  Not because you are putting on an act, but because you have remained committed to a life of habits that improve your skills and abilities as well as those around you.

Fashion Fridays: The Basics, Fit

I am having the darndest time this spring writing.  I write all these posts in my head, but when it comes time to put them down on the blog with links and formatting, well, I just go to bed instead.

So sorry ladies.

Generally, when I’m stuck, a series helps.  Today, I’m launching a four part Fashion Friday series on The Fashion Basics!  I am so excited.  It will also really help me as I need to edit what’s in my closet.  I’ll photograph it soon (one of my friends has offered to come help), but having the basics in mind will guide you both as you shop and as you pair down your closet.

Here they are, the Four Fs: Fit, Feel, Fresh and Fad.  Fit may be the most obvious, yet overlooked, basic – your clothes should fit you well.  Feel has to do with the quality of the clothes that you buy with “quality over quantity” as its cornerstone.  Fresh relates to how you bring a unique and distinct perspective to fashion.  And fad, the logical counterpoint to fresh, addresses when not to embrace a trend just because it’s considered fashionable.

Today we start with the most basic element:  FIT.

Your clothes should fit you.

This does not mean they are capable of being zipped or buttoned.

This does not mean that the numbers on the tag comport with the number you carry around in your head as “your size.”

Start with your undergarments.  Your body changes shapes and sizes and so should your underwear and bra.  Your daily clothes won’t hang well unless you start from a good base.  Go get fitted for a bra.  Buy panties in three sizes to see what fits.  In addition to having “pretty” undergarments for your spouse, invest in a few basic pieces which help clothes lay smoothly like t-shirt bras and underwear with anti-ride “tape” at the bottom.  You’ll immediately see a difference.

Next, experiment with different brands.  I am a notorious on-line shopper because time is short, but on-line shopping has contributed to mass ill-fitting clothes.  You think, oh, this is okay, it will work, because you don’t want to mess with returning it, but you wouldn’t have settled on it in store.

Go to a department store.  Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Dillard’s, whatever you have in your area, and try clothes on.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a range of sizes.  Take a size smaller and larger size in addition to the one you normally wear to the fitting room.  You often won’t realize something is too big or too small until you see the alterative.  Sit down in it.  Move in it.

Does it cause pinch points?  Is the dress too short?  Does the shirt gap?  Can you see your panty line?  Does the fabric pull or balloon?  Look at belts, buttons, snaps, zips, and see how they hang and where they fall.  Do the trousers fall above your ankle or drag on the ground when you pair them with your shoes?  Do all blazer buttons button?  Where do the sleeves fall – too high or low?

If you have some atypical features like a super narrow waist or short arms, then find a good tailor.  Take recommendations from friends and neighbors.  Take a piece in and see if he does a good job.  If not, try the next one.  Tailoring is an inexpensive way to make sure your professional wardrobe looks custom.

Here’s some great examples of perfect fit in action:

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Experiment!  Have fun!  And find something you feel beautiful AND comfortable in.  Hope to see you next week.

Fashion Fridays: When It Doesn’t Matter

I love fashion.

I love talking to so many of you and helping solve fashion conundrums.

I also know I’ve been in and out here on Fashion Fridays this past month because of travel, but I’m coming back with a bunch of new ideas including a beginner series.

HOWEVER…

I’m also finding places and times not to worry one lick about fashion. 

When it comes to career, I believe that dressing professionally and smartly gives you an edge.

When it comes to date night with your love, I believe it’s important to show your man you love him enough to make an effort.

But sometimes we need to unplug from all the muss and fuss.

Sometimes we need to say it’s not important to impress anyone.

That was a lesson I learned this weekend.

We spent the weekend, mostly, poolside, and then had group dinners in the evening with the board and their families.  I had a fun conversation with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages as our daughters played.  As we got ready to head back to our rooms to get ready, conversation turned to attire.  I found myself saying, I’m not even washing my hair – I’m hopping in the shower, throwing my hair in a ponytail, and throwing on shorts.  I’m not trying to impress anyone. 

Can we discuss how liberating that statement is?

All too often, we’re really just trying to impress each other.

Maybe we could call a time out?  Especially on Saturdays?  A group of women at brunch is some of the fiercest fashion and make up I have ever experienced.  That doesn’t have anything to do with our job or our relationship.  The brunch fashion race is just about keeping up.

Now, I’m human.  And I was definitely one of the frumpiest looking chicks at dinner this weekend.  And I noticed.  Maybe even felt a little twinge of insecurity.  But then the kids bounded up with Mother’s Day art and messy kisses, and I remembered what really mattered.  Remembered my lack of make up or accessories never registered with these prizes.

These are the looks that don’t make it into Fashion Friday posts: NICU feedings and early morning baseball games and ponytailed late nights with friends and playing on the farm and laughing with coffee stains.

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Now I’m always going to love me some fashion.  I believe it serves a very real professional purpose.  But let’s not let it hold us hostage.  Let’s not be scared of looking real and messy and going au naturale (this summer especially!) on occasion too.

The Face of Busy

Too often, we don’t write down the basics of our schedule on a sheet of paper for the week.

We forget what the face of busy is because we don’t look at it on paper.

This is one of those weeks, the last in the series of eight, where I’m having to really look at what the week, seven simple days, look like.

Here is how my week is unfolding – what about yours?

May 3rd – a gift of a Sunday at the farm; it did mean that we got in at 10 pm and hadn’t shopped for food the week ahead;

May 4th – leave home by 6:15 am to make a breakfast at a WEN partnership event for the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) kick off; drive from south Houston to north Houston at nine for work; meetings all day; leave early for the first day of swim team at 4 pm where kids melt down and two threaten to quit; kids taken home and I run to get teacher gifts for appreciation week and basic groceries; home by 6 pm to cook dinner; kids in bed at 8:30 so I can bake a blackberry cobbler and blog;

May 5th – meetings start at 8 am; one more early day this week to pick up little man at engineering while the other two go to swim team practice; make dinner and assemble teacher gifts; pack for weekend away since leaving town Thursday;

May 6th – ninth wedding anniversary – hoorah; meetings downtown, including project for work and board meeting; boys go to swim team and I pick up little bit at ballet; mom comes to babysit so Bray and I can go out to dinner to celebrate; finish packing for my trip and for family weekend trip;

May 7th – wake before 5 am to catch 7 am flight to Minneapolis; arrive, delightedly, to see girlfriends living in Minnesota before giving keynote speech for Minnesota Women Lawyers annual conference; dinner with friends and then off to bed for early flight;

May 8th – vacation day – hoorah again, but yawn; wake before 4 am to catch 5:30 am flight out of Minneapolis so I can get back to Houston before 8:30 am, arrive home to load car and family and drive to Horseshoe Bay for wonderful state bar awards meeting and getaway for family;

May 9th – dare we sleep?  Horseshoe Bay filled with jet skis and canoes and swim outings if the rain doesn’t drive us indoors;

May 10th – Mother’s Day – hoorah, still yawning though what with 48 hours of non-stop triplet energy on the water; brunch and then meet family in Austin for a boat outing; arrive in Houston in evening to see own mom and hopefully run to grocery…

Is that what you see ahead?  Is that what you saw last week?  How do we do it?

Well, we fit in breaks.  We pray for supernatural energy.  We carve downtime out wherever we can create the opportunity.  For example, next week is all in town and bedtime will be much closer to 9 pm than 11 pm as it was the week preceding.  You play catch up.  You make sure that you have downtime interspersed with the crazy uptime periods.

After eight weeks of madness, I have two weeks with no travel and a mere four weeks from a full week-long family vacation in a national park with no connectivity to the outside world!  That’s the solution.  Building in breaks and delivering the best performance of your life during the big delivery season.

And in the meantime, try to go to bed!

Fashion Fridays: Steal this Look

I know I’m a little late today, but I’m finally back into town and have a freshly inspired Steal This Look!

The woman sporting my sophisticated inspiration was one of the leaders of the group I had meetings with, and boy did she carry herself like she led {I couldn’t snap a picture so you’re going to have to work with me}. 

Think mid-50s executive, striking short blonde bob, simple black sheath, bone-colored ribbed long sweater over sheath, stockings, high bone-colored patent heels, thick gold unadorned ring, and large gold pendant necklace hanging from a neutral beaded strand. 

She looked rich.  Elegant. Sophisticated.  Empowered.  And she carried every ounce of her power as she strode into the room.  Y’all, sometimes attitude is what takes the outfit over the top. 

But as I studied each of her pieces, none individually looked particularly expensive, so I think you could easily recreate this simple, sophisticated look on a budget. 

Here are my recommendations. 

1.  Base sheath: This simple sheath from the Limited is on sale for $64 and you could purchase it in navy or black for this ensemble.

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2.  Ribbed sweater jacket: I knew the ribbed cardigan would be the hardest item to find, particularly during the spring, and it was.  This will give you a flavor but ideally you’d have one in a light neutral with some ribbing and long enough to approach the hem of your sheath.

This creamy long number is stunning, but even on sale at Nordstrom’s it’s pricey.

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This is my favorite style, but the fabric is too casual and I wish it was longer.

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The ribbing on this sweater from Last Call is spot on, but it only comes in this charcoal color which is too dark to polish the look.

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3.  Pumps:  Shoes are always the easiest, and if you are willing to sport the patent look, this is the perfect number from DSW.

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4.  Accessories: Finally, for the necklace to top it all off, here’s a high end and low end price option. 

For a piece on the high-end, this chunky gold pendant from Nordstrom works perfectly.

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For $50 or less you can go simple or a little bolder (no beads v. beads!):

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So tell me, what are you sporting these days??  I’ve missed you and ready for new challenges!