Fashion Fridays: Fresh Color Inspiration

I love mixing colors.  Interesting twists on your typical color combos. 

However, there’s still a remnant of women who tested their earliest fashion sensibilities out in the 1980s when everything “MATCHED!”  Well ladies, sophisticated fashion calls for sophisticated palettes.  That requires you to create well beyond a black suit with a red blouse and red handbag or (gasp) heels! 

These are a few of my scarves which inspired me to begin writing this post:

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I love the idea of corals with blues and bright greens with deep blues.  And how interesting is that lavender and aqua?  If you ever want to think beyond your traditional notion of what works together, browse the Design Seeds website.  While it is normally used to inspire everything from blog color palettes (which I’m reworking right now!) to home décor, it’s a wonderful place to find inspiration for your wardrobe as well.

What are some combinations you might not traditionally think of using in your wardrobe but work beautifully together if you’re brave enough to try? 

1.  Orange with plum/burgundy/maroon!  What on earth say all the UT and A&M alums?  We can’t wear our colors together!  Think of more sophisticated shades than collegiate burnt orange and dull maroon, and these knock out outfits are great examples.  Depending on your coloring, it may be that you pair one color on bottom and the other on top to most compliment you.  For me, I’d have to pair the orange hues on bottom or as a shell with plums on top. 

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2.  Those last two inspirations bring me to my next favorite: Anything with deep blues. 

Seriously.  This color is gorgeous and looks beautiful on almost any skin type.  Pair rich blue hues with coral, kelly green, cranberry, white, pink, YOU NAME IT! 

Here’s just a sampling of inspiration, from closets on the web: 

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If you wonder if you can mix and match colors, then consider this nutty jacket of mine. 

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While it is particularly sophisticated to pair independent pieces yourself so you can layer pattern and texture, try a wardrobe item which already marries color together if you’re too hesitant to start.  Then, as you recognize interesting pairings, you can begin to pull them together independently. 

OR, use one wardrobe piece that combines colors you love as your palette inspiration, and go forth and shop for unique pieces in those various hues.  The sky is the limit.  Who said grown ups can’t still color? 

So what about you?  What are your favorite color combination inspirations?  {And orphan piece folks, thank you, post coming next week!)

Orange photos courtesy of KendiEveryday.com ,Palette photo courtesy of colorpalettes.net; Blue photos courtesy of (in order) Viewfrom5ft2.com, polyvore, jseverydayfashion.com, and kacieskloset.blogspot.com.

Fashion Fridays: S.W.A.P., From Office to Hot Date

This is a fun one girls!  For today’s “Shopping with a Purpose,” S.W.A.P., we’ve got a hot date coming up!  Wahoo!  Nothing you want to knock out of the ballpark like a first date.  My friend’s date, just like my own first date with my now-husband, immediately follows a work day.

What’s a girl to do?  Bring an entire wardrobe change to the office?  Heck, no!  There are GREAT first date options which move seamlessly from day to evening with only a make-up freshener and accessory change needed.

If you are firmly in the anti-dress camp, then I’ll try to figure something out for you.  But seriously, a dress is the perfect solution.  You can pair a great dress with a blazer for day and then slip off the blazer and add some chandelier earrings and you’re ready for a date.

In addition, if you are firmly in the anti heels camp, then I can’t help you.  You wear heels on a first date, especially if it follows work AND you’re wearing a dress.  Get a pair of great nude heels – your legs will look a mile long.  Here’s a great pair for only $60 at DSW:

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Wear them before the date so you know how to walk in them and they’re not slippery on the soles (nothing worse than busting your bum in front of your date because of slippy shoes).

So let’s get to the centerpiece:  The Dress.  You don’t want to go over-the-top, and you should play to your best features.  No matter what dress I show here, the specifics may not work on you because you carry weight in your hips or you have a larger chest or you have all up and down lines.  Wear something you feel AWESOME in and in which you will feel comfortable through the day and evening.

If you don’t carry weight in your middle like I do, I love this dress.  I’m showing it in several ways because of the smart styling – look at the cool back zipper and if you paired it with a fabric blazer instead of a leather one it would work beautifully for work as well as your date.

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If you do carry weight in your middle or hips, this is a lovely option.  My girlfriend just bought it and it looks chic and eye-catching on.

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If you prefer something more understated, this is a fashion forward but neutral option with cool leather color blocking (I’d pair this with gray heels instead of nude).

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Freshen up your make up in the ladies room before heading out and think about darkening your eye make up for a little dramatic flair but keep your lips and skin neutral.  Then swap out your work earrings for something a little edgier – or add a fun necklace and keep the simple earrings (I like long tassel necklaces).

All of these are simple fixes for less than $40 (necklace courtesy of Nordstrom, earrings courtesy of Macy’s, and make up courtesy of your local drug store):

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Here’s a couple of ideas I love for a confident professional woman’s date night out but I just couldn’t quite make them work friendly!

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Have fun and text me details friend!

 

Photo Credit of Eye Shadow: Make Up Women Stalk; Photo Credit of Taylor Swift: TSwift Daily

Fashion Fridays: How To Style An Interesting Piece

My friend and I were talking about orphan pieces the other day.  She, and others, have mentioned their struggle with figuring out what to pair with a single item they found and loved – a blouse, skirt, sweater, necklace…

So FIRST for Fashion Friday, I’m issuing a call for orphan pieces!  I will be writing a post on how you should wear the item in your closet you just don’t know how to put together  (but don’t want to give away because you LOOOOVE it).  Send me a photo of the orphan wardrobe item, or a link to the item if it’s current, and I’ll build an outfit for you. 

Next, today’s will jumpstart this conversation; let’s talk:  How to Style an Interesting Piece

We all find something in the fitting room (or in the box on our doorstep) we think is gorgeous but wonder, what should I wear this with?  Those items aren’t the black pants or the ivory cardigan, but something interesting which doesn’t logically fall into what you imagine pairing in your current wardrobe. 

The key is to find a way to use it in more than one application.  A cool cocktail dress is one note.  We can style it with shoes and hair but you have limited uses.  A valuable piece is one you can wear in multiple applications. 

Example 1: Oversized Graphic Sweater

This is a lovely example from Nordstrom. 

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For the weekend, pair this sweater with skinny bootcut jeans, narrow lines are key when you have an oversized piece and bootcut is this season’s statement, and a neutral shell.  I’d prefer something deeper than the ivory shown here for most skin types.  Look at the navy and maroon featured in the pattern; select a solid shell in a lighter shade of one of those colors.  Because of the pattern, keep jewelry neutral and polish off with a great boot. 

For work, partner this sweater with a navy shift dress and oversized belt.  Simple jewelry and gray heels will make a bold but professional statement.  

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Example 2:  Embellished Blouse

Consider a neckline on a blouse with partnering it with a jacket or sweater.  Try not to create conflicting lines or layers which take away from the best aspect of your feature item. 

Here’s another example from Nordstrom’s:

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It partners jacquard with small stitch embellishments and tiny black pearls. 

For work, this would be gorgeous under a navy suit.  The neckline here is straight so it’s easy to marry with a blazer and it needs no necklace as the shell serves as all the accessory you need.  (Plus this color pairs beautifully with navy, a classic contrast for work in any traditional environment like energy, finance, and law.)

For the weekend, this would be a perfect brunch topper.  Pair it with a high-waisted full skirt in a contrasting color, again navy would be a great choice but you have far more flexibility, and platform pumps for a feminine, retro look.  (Imagine this MINUS the midriff showing!)

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Okay girls, so this should get your creative juices flowing.  Send over all your orphan pieces and let’s see what we can create!

Sweater/Dress Photo Credit: Hello, Gorgeous!; Top/Skirt Photo Credit: Style!

Fashion Fridays: My Closet Clean Out

DSC_0345 DSC_0347The tables have turned.

Some of my dear friends, and previous closet victims, visited my house this week and did some spring cleaning of their own.

It was actually a lot of fun.

I may have cheated a little and cleaned my closets a bit before they came.  I actually thought because of my preemptive strike they would find little to question in my closets (yes, I do have two, but as you can see, they are small).

Boy was I wrong.

One friend, who you may remember from her own closet massacre, was BLUNT!  (My other darling friend, who has endured TWO closet reviews, was kinder and gentler.)   And out stuff went.  Here were some things I learned I hadn’t been applying to my own wardrobe:

1.    Just because it’s classic and a staple piece doesn’t mean it should remain in your wardrobe.  WHY?  Because it’s worn out.  There were several basics, a red shell or an ivory blouse, which my girlfriend yelped about when she saw because of the pilling and snags.  She reminded me executives may notice such wear, and those items are easily, and reasonably, replaced.  Out they went.  (And into the trash can because you shouldn’t donate worn out items.)

2.    Color matters.  There were a couple of items which my artistic friend with an eye for color told me to donate because the color did not work for my skin tone.  Blues, greens, and reds may all work for you in a particular shade but add too much yellow or too little yellow to the mix and the color can quickly sour your skin.  Green is one of my favorite colors but one shell got tossed because it was the wrong shade.  I DIDN’T let her toss my taupe shell because it is so lovely, but I promised only to wear it under blazers to mitigate the color not working well on my skin tone.

3.  Disguise may not do what you think it does.  I had a top (in my favorite green color, boohoo) and a lovely date dress I purchased because I thought it disguised my belly weight.  Not so my girlfriends said.  The peplum on the dress actually accentuated the weight I carried there, and the empire style of top made it appear more maternity than professional.  Sigh.  Out they went.

4. Don’t forget fit matters too!  Two of my girlfriends got a few new pieces from my wardrobe because they never quite fit me right.  I had already pulled them because the material strained around my shoulders, and it never fit like it should have.  So one friend got a gorgeous teal velvet blazer and the other a black dress coat and blue dress (and yes, it is OVER an existing dress)!

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I had some interesting insight into how my closets are structured too.  In the first closet you see pictured above, my suits, pants and blouses (along with high heels and flats) reside.  In the second closet, in the guest bedroom/my office, my blazers, dresses, skirts, and jeans (along with sandals and boots) reside.  The girls were perplexed I hopped back and forth between the rooms in any given morning to pull together my outfit.  I have weekend mixed in with work when maybe I should organize closets by lifestyle rather than item type.  I’m debating whether I have the energy to make one closet my work wear and the other my weekend/evening wear.

I received positive feedback too.  They loved the mix of blouses in assorted colors and patterns which would easily add interest to an outfit.  There were also items they thought might need to go until I tried them on and they were sold.  I find this in every closet review.  Clothes look different, good or bad, when hanging, so don’t just an outfit by its hanger!

Finally, they were amazed at what I could do with such a small space (one friend said she imagined I’d have this cavernous space where we would have to send a search party in for them).  You can see from the below picture (my dress/jacket closet), I hang all my necklaces at the back of the closet so I can tell what I might need as an accessory.  And you’ll notice from the top picture all of my scarves and earrings are hanging at the back of that closet so I don’t forget what my options are.

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We also talked clothes theory.  Like how is it possible someone who is 5’4 and one weight and another person who is 5’10 and another weight and shape could possibly fit into the exact same size 10 item of clothing.  We forget sometimes how much brands matter as well as styles and cuts ,and why it only makes logical sense for us to all have a tailor on stand by.

Little bit came in at the end and sat atop all the clothes going to new homes and made her own judgments on her favorite dress of mommy’s!  We had a blast and I learned a lot.  Hopefully, some of my tips will help you in our own closet clean out!

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Fashion Fridays: S.W.A.P., Speaking Up

A good friend of mine hasn’t been in the business work force for a few years.  In addition to being an active mom and volunteer, she’s a writer and has been asked for a few speaking engagements this month.  They are during the day (super hot in Houston) to exclusively female audiences.  She mentioned her wardrobe hadn’t been refreshed recently and asked what to wear.  She specifically asked “what kind of dress?”

So all you speakers out there, today’s Shopping With A Purpose is how to refresh your wardrobe when asked to speak.

While a dress is certainly a good option, my friend has broader shoulders and narrow hips, so dresses can be a bit trickier to fit.  My first recommendation is separates.  Easy, polished, fitted, and transitions easily to different audiences (business versus non business, etc.).    I also note, that if your audiences will be more faith based like hers and less business audiences, that come fall you have a zillion more options.  Knee high boots with dark denim and a cool vest or sweater are perfect for daytime audiences.

For summer separates, think pretty blouse with any number of bottoms.  I recently acquired a gorgeous blouse that would look stunning with my friend’s coloring and figure.  Now this blouse was pricey, and I only bought it because I had store credit, but it’s a great example of a top for her engagement because of it’s rich color and simple style.

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For a bottom, try a neutral pant or a dark denim trouser jean.  Keep them long enough to pair with a wedge or heeled sandal.  I like these dove gray trousers, a great color for summer, or even in ivory (if you DARE!).  Or if you can stand the heat, these simple dark denim jeans are only $25 at Old Navy.  And you can always bring your pant hemline up a bit and go for the ankle pant with flats look which is cute and comfortable.

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Pair this base with a lightweight cardigan for something more informal or a blazer if she wants to formalize the look.  These two staple pieces make a very versatile base.  Then add a cool tassle necklace with simple earrings and you’re all set.

However, a dress is definitely still a solid choice for summer.  And a wrap dress, with flexibility to cinch at the waist, is a great option for different top and bottom sizes.

This selection is VERY style dependent.  Here are a couple of lovely options from Nordstrom’s, but it’s really up to the speaker to know her audience and whether to go for something bright and patterned or more subdued.  The key is to buy the dress is a quality, heavier, fabric to cover any areas you might feel less comfortable about.

I personally like this wrap dress, it feels interesting to me, but I’d be nervous because it says “lightweight fabric:”
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From a “best in style” perspective, look at all of Diane von Furstenberg’s dresses and get one that looks like that as most don’t have a full price DVF in our budget – seriously, everything she does is so perfect (maybe you can search eBay or ThredUp and get lucky):
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The most critical component is to TRY out your outfit!  Try it standing and sitting down.  Try it moving around a pretend stage.  Stand in your shoes a while to see if they hurt.  Wear your necklace around to see if it itches or moves too much.

You must be comfortable in front of the audience or else you’ll twitch and tug.  I know because I have twitched and tugged after selecting the wrong speaking outfits.  I almost always go with blazers and trousers now simply because I feel the most comfortable and confident in that pairing.  So do what feels right for you as well as your audience.

Have fun and look as gorgeous as you are!