Tag Archives: Debbie Roes

Beware of Sales!

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sales shoppingJanuary is a time of year when sales abound in all of the stores.  Not only are retailers trying to clear out the holiday items that didn’t sell, they’re also trying to make room for their spring merchandise.

As you may know, the fashion industry and retail stores are always a few months ahead of the game.  While we’re still shivering (yes, even here in San Diego!) and donning coats and boots, the stores are beginning to stock everything that’s new and exciting for the warmer weather ahead, even if we won’t feel that warmth for another four or five months.

When a Bargain Isn’t a Bargain…

Sales can be a wonderful thing, but they also present numerous hazards for shoppers. We often lose all common sense when we see a bright red “Sale” sign in front of us.  I say “we” because I too have often fallen prey to the allure of a “bargain” that was just too good to pass up, only to find myself with an unworn wardrobe “orphan” down the line.

Since many of you will be shopping the sales this month, I would like to offer a few tips to help you shop smarter and avoid making misguided discount purchases.

Shop with a List

I always suggest that people maintain an ongoing shopping list to take with them when they hit the stores.  Not only should you create such a list, but you should use it to guide all of your shopping decisions – even when shopping the sales.

I’ve learned this one the hard way.  Since it’s very easy to find tops that fit me (don’t even ask me about pants…), I would frequently snap up beautiful tanks and tees at rock-bottom prices.  Sounds good, right?  But many of those discount purchases, as well as the other tops in my closet, were never or rarely worn because I had far too many of them!  It would have been far better for me to focus on my actual wardrobe needs than to amass more and more of what I already had.

Use your shopping list to target your purchases at the sales, and don’t try anything on that isn’t on your list unless it’s beyond extraordinary.

Shop for What You’ll Wear Now

It’s easy to be tempted to buy in advance for events in the future, but this can be risky.  Sure, you’ll find lots of formal dresses on sale in January, but if your only dress-up events occur around the holidays, what are the chances that you’ll want to wear your sale pieces eleven months from now?  Chances are you’ll want the latest and greatest items, or perhaps your size may shift such that your bargain purchases no longer fit you.

If you’re going to buy something on sale, buy garments which you can wear right away.  For example, you’ll find lots of sweaters, coats, and boots on sale this month.  Since the cooler weather will be around for at least a few more months (and longer for some locales), you can buy such items on sale and wear them immediately.  These purchases will fit your body, the weather, and your current style aesthetic.  If you can’t wait to wear a prospective purchase, and you know you’ll wear it very soon (and it’s on your list!), it’s a good buy.

Ask Yourself this Key Question

One magic question can save you a lot of money on misguided sale purchases:  “Would I buy it at full price?”  If you can honestly answer yes to that question (and the item is on your list and for the current season), it’s a good buy.

So often people buy something because it’s cheap, but they would never consider purchasing the item at full price.  This is one of the biggest hazards of thrift and consignment store shopping, as well as sale shopping.   We have a tendency to make allowances for color, style, and fit when the price tag is low, forgetting that it’s not really a bargain if you don’t wear it.

If you don’t love something enough to buy it at full price, don’t buy it on sale, either.  It’s very likely your purchase will hang in your closet and collect dust!

Damage Control

Last but not least, consider whether or not you’ll be able to return the item should you change your mind.   Even the best shoppers among us can make mistakes at times.   We can get caught up in the sales frenzy or fall victim to poor lighting or “skinny mirrors” in store fitting rooms.  But, unfortunately, many clearance items are “final sale,” eliminating the possibility of returns.

When shopping sales (and in general), it’s best to only buy things that can be returned later if necessary, if not for a refund than at least for store credit.  Try to only purchase “final sale” items when you are absolutely sure they work well for your body, lifestyle, and personality.  Reserve these risky purchases for “10s” that you want to wear immediately!

Take Your Time

I hope these tips have been helpful to those of you who are planning to shop the post-holiday sales.  I will leave you with one final tip… Take your time when shopping.  Some of the worst shopping mistakes are purchases that are made on the fly.  I understand that people are busy and it’s hard to set aside a full day for shopping, but try to give yourself a couple of hours if at all possible.  Take your list with you, try everything on, aim for “10s,” be careful, and have fun!

I gave a few of my best tips, but I know there are more valuable insights out there. If you have any other tips for sales shopping, please share!

Celebrity Body Image Role Models

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In a recent article, I wrote about a few of my personal “body image role models,” women who embody healthy body attitudes and have helped me to cultivate similar perspectives.  Now it’s time to consider the celebrities…

We often hear about the negative effects of the media and the damage created by trying to live up to celebrities in terms of beauty and thinness.  While it’s true that many stars are not good role models for young (and older) women, there are some women in the limelight who possess refreshingly positive attitudes related to weight and body image.

Today’s post shares a few quotes from some of my celebrity body image role models, as well as my commentary on what they had to say.   The women quoted represent various professions – an athlete, a model, a singer, and a reality TV star – but they all have powerful insights to share with those who are working to rehabilitate a negative body image.  It is my hope that you will gain a few tidbits of wisdom or “aha moments” from reading the quotes below.

Beautiful Inside and Out!

 “What I’d like to teach my daughter about self-image and self-esteem is that you’re beautiful on the inside and the outside, and not to get obsessed with pictures that are out there in magazines of skinny models.  I had an eating disorder in college and wanted to look like those models and be thin.  So I’ll probably share that experience with her and let her know that you’re beautiful just the way you are.”  – Dara Torres, Olympic swimmer and mother to a 6 year-old daughter

I have been a fan of Dara Torres for years, both for her athletic prowess and her tenacity to keep pushing herself to succeed at an age when most people in her sport have hung up their goggles.  Now I can add another item to my list of reasons for admiring this remarkable woman.  She is striving to cultivate a healthy body image and self-esteem in her young daughter and hopes to spare her from the pain that she herself endured while growing up.

Parents really can have a positive impact on their daughters and help mitigate some of the damage caused by the unrealistic standards perpetuated by the media and entertainment industries.  Dara is sending a positive message to her daughter that we should cultivate both inner and outer beauty – and above all, self-acceptance!

A Healthy Perspective on Aging

“I don’t have anxiety about [getting older], so I’m not running to get Botox.  Maybe that will change, but I don’t think so.  I feel comfortable in my skin and comfortable with aging, so I think it’s okay that I get wrinkles.”  – Heidi Klum, supermodel and host/producer of “Project Runway

Heidi Klum has always looked beautiful, healthy, and vibrantly youthful.  Her attitude toward aging is a healthy one.   It may help that her heritage is German instead of American.  I’ve found that European women don’t tend to be as obsessed as American women with being wrinkle-free, perhaps because older people are celebrated more in other cultures than here in the United States.

Whatever the reason for Ms. Klum’s attitude on growing older gracefully, it’s a welcomed and refreshing message!  I join her in avoiding Botox and other such anti-aging treatments.  I do my best to take care of my skin, but I’m a 46 year-old woman and it’s okay for me to have some wrinkles!  I don’t need to look like I’m 20; I just want to look like the best possible version of myself.

Accentuating the Positive

 “I am not a sample size, and I am okay with that.  I’m good with who I am.  I like to accentuate the positive.  My waist is something I love to show off.  I’m also happy that more and more women are embracing who they are, because everybody’s different.  You don’t have to be a size 0 to be pretty.  You just have to be comfortable with who you are.” Jordin Sparks, American Idol winner

I think that all women should strive to identify and accentuate the positive aspects of their bodies instead of simply lamenting the aspects they feel are flawed.  This is something I encourage all women to do!  We all have positive attributes that can be highlighted and celebrated, regardless of our size.

Most women are unable to achieve a model-thin figure without excessive diet, exercise, and obsession, but we all can look our best and show off our best traits.  For me, it’s my arms and shoulders.  I am blessed with toned and slender arms and broad, square shoulders.  I do my best to highlight those features through the way I dress.  I am also grateful for my height and long limbs.  I am much happier when I reflect upon my positive attributes than when I curse my hips and thighs.  It’s all about where we place our focus!

Embracing Your Curves

“All my friends were super-skinny.  I watched my mom and she helped me with my outlook.  I have curves and that’s never going to change, so I’d better start embracing them.”  – Kim Kardashian, reality TV star and entrepreneur (on growing up in Hollywood)

Kim Kardashian is echoing the positive message expressed by Jordin Sparks above.  Ms. Kardashian not only embraces her curves, she is known for them and has become a very wealthy woman as a result of being a “poster child” for curves in Hollywood.

I, for one, am happy to see women with curvier bodies becoming famous and being regarded as sexy and beautiful in our society.  Had Kim Kardashian hidden her curves or dieted down to a standard Hollywood body type, I doubt she would be as successful and famous as she is today.  She also embodies confidence and self-acceptance, which are as sexy as her curves, in my opinion.  Kudos to Kris Jenner, Kim’s mom, for teaching Kim to be proud of who she is and to love herself and her curves.

Who Are YOUR Celebrity Body Image Role Models?

I know that there are many more celebrity body image role models out there. If you have any quotes you’d like to share, I welcome your feedback and may even include your quote in a future post.

Tips for Packing Prowess

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Travel Packing TipsIn this post, I share some of my tips for effective packing. Since most of us take at least one trip per year and the airlines are placing more and more restrictions on baggage allowances, it has become increasingly important for us to learn to pack wisely.

My packing tips have been gleaned through my many years of over-packing and my subsequent concerted effort to mend my “wicked ways.”   While I still have a tendency to over-shop on vacation, my packing for the outbound portion of my trips is now much more modest and manageable.  Read on for my packing prowess suggestions…

List Your Probable Activities

Before you even open your closet to start the packing process, take a few moments to jot down the probable activities in which you will be engaging on your trip.  Is your trip for business or pleasure?  Will you mostly be sitting in offices or meeting rooms, or will you be venturing outside for open-air activities?  Will formal dinners be a part of your plans, or will you primarily be eating in casual diners?  Think about what you will most likely do on your trip, as that information will be a key guiding factor in terms of the clothing and shoes you will need.

Check the Weather Forecast

Most people remember to investigate the weather report for their destination, but I thought I’d add a gentle reminder in case this quick check slips your mind.  If you will be traveling to an area that experiences a lot of weather shifts, it’s always a good idea to find out what you might face during your time away.

For example, my recent trip was to the Lake Tahoe area, a region for which snow is a possibility in pretty much any month of the year.  I have learned to never assume that the sunny San Diego weather will follow me to Tahoe, especially since my summer skirts and dresses didn’t provide sufficient warmth when the weather turned on a dime a few years ago.  This year, I lucked out in terms of weather, but now I always remember to check the forecast and plan accordingly.

Select a Color Palette

It is much easier to maximize your outfit combinations using minimal garments if you select a color palette for your trip.  I usually recommend deciding upon one key neutral color (maybe two, if you include denim) and two other colors.

As a reminder, neutral colors include black, brown, navy, gray, white, cream, and beige.  Neutrals can be combined with each other and basically every other color in existence, so including neutrals when you pack really gives you a lot of “mileage” (pun intended…) in your travel wardrobe.

Let’s say you love to wear black.  If you include one of each key piece – shirt, pants, skirt, jacket, etc. – in black, you will have a lot of mix and match possibilities.

Shoes First, Bottoms Next, Tops Last

I find it’s best to select your shoe options first.  Shoes are the heaviest items in our suitcases, so I recommend wearing one pair of shoes (ideally the heaviest pair) and packing a maximum of two other pairs.  While exceptions exist, three pairs of shoes will generally be all you’ll need for most trips.  Select shoes that you love and can easily walk in, as we typically walk more while traveling than in our day-to-day lives. Ideally, select shoes that can be worn with all or most of the outfits you will pack for your trip.

After deciding upon which shoes you’ll take with you, choose your bottoms.  For men, this means pants, jeans, and possibly shorts.  For women, skirts and dresses may also be added to the mix.   Since bottoms can usually be re-worn at least once, you don’t need to pack one bottom per day of your trip.

Select your tops after you’ve finalized your bottom options.  Since tops generally weigh less than bottoms and shoes, here’s where you can include a wider variety of choices.  A good rule of thumb is to pack twice as many tops as bottoms.  Remember to include at least one jacket or coat (usually not more than two or three) for evening wear or cooler climates.

Use Accessories to Increase Options

The best way to increase your outfit possibilities is through the use of accessories.  Of course, this tip applies more to women than to men, but men have accessory options as well (belts, jewelry, sunglasses, pocket squares, etc.).  Accessories usually don’t weigh very much, so if you have carte blanche to over-pack anything, this is the category.

If you are a woman and love scarves, tote a few along in colors or patterns that match or coordinate with the garments you are taking on your trip.  Pack your favorite costume jewelry pieces (it’s generally better to either leave your expensive items at home or wear them throughout your entire trip) to add personality and life to your ensembles.

A Word about “Just in Case”…

There are three words that are responsible for the bulk of over-packing – “just in case.”  Many of us keep throwing more and more things into our suitcases with those words in mind.  We want to plan for every possible contingency that might occur during our travels.  My best advice also consists of three words – just say no!

While it’s okay to pack an umbrella for potential rain, I don’t recommend overloading your luggage with things you won’t need on the off chance that your plans may take a 180 degree turn.  Plan for your most likely activities and pack accordingly.  If something completely unexpected arises, you can shop for anything else you might need.  Yes, I said shop!   A change of plans may necessitate a shopping trip.  Win, win, says this shopping enthusiast…  And since you didn’t over-pack, there will be room in your suitcase for a few new purchases.

The Power of Alterations

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Power of Alterations

If your first thought upon seeing the title of this post is, “I never alter my clothes,” you’re not alone. With the exception of having their pants hemmed or getting wedding or formal wear tailored, most people do not alter their clothing.

In this post, I present an overview of the incredible power of alterations to help you look more stylish and polished, as well as slimmer and more attractive.  It’s amazing how some simple and often inexpensive tailoring can take garments from so-so to fabulous.

Off the Rack = Not Perfect

Most people expect clothing to fit them perfectly off the rack.  If that doesn’t end up being the case, they tend to blame their bodies and think something is wrong with the way they are shaped.  In truth, it is extremely difficult for clothing designers and manufacturers to create clothing for all of the many body shapes and sizes which are out there.  In fact, it’s next to impossible.  There are just too many possibilities and permutations!

Celebrities Tailor ALL of their Clothes!

Now you may look at celebrities in their impeccably fitting clothing, even jeans and t-shirts, and think that if you were shaped like them, your clothes would fit you like a glove.  But what you don’t know is that many celebrities have each and every thing they own tailored, right down to their tank tops, khakis, and shorts.  I have this on good authority from Clinton Kelly of “What Not to Wear” fame.  No, I didn’t speak with him personally, but it’s splashed all throughout the Internet, including in this article.

Love Your Wardrobe More & Feel Amazing

I discovered the power of alterations myself about seven years ago and I have been an “alterations junkie” ever since!  My clothes are now tailored to showcase my figure’s strong suits and skim right over those parts I don’t love as much.  Please believe me when I tell you that a tailor can help you to love your wardrobe more and feel even more amazing in what you wear.

Many Tailoring Possibilities…

Here is a list of alterations that I have personally had done to my clothes over the years or have seen done to other people’s clothing (if you are in the Point Loma area of San Diego, check out Tiffany’s Alterations – I swear by her excellent work and reasonable prices!).

Alterations for Shirts and Jackets

  1. Take in at the sides (my most common alteration!)
  2. Shorten straps on tank tops and camisoles
  3. Narrow sleeves
  4. Shorten sleeves (e.g. too short long sleeved tees can be made into ¾ length)
  5. Lengthen sleeves (take down hem or add fabric at bottom)
  6. Narrow shoulders (shoulder seam should hit at the outside of your actual shoulder)
  7. Remove or replace shoulder pads (modernize those 80s and 90s style blazers!)
  8. Take up at shoulders (give a very low-cut top a more manageable neckline)
  9. Replace buttons (can really modernize a dated look!)
  10. Shorten shirts and blouses
  11. Shorten jackets (not always possible, but can be done)
  12. Add hooks or snaps to wrap-style tops (or sew shut at top)
  13. Add snaps between buttons on blouses to avoid gaping

Alterations for Pants

  1. Hem/shorten (most people know about this and have done it!)
  2. Lengthen (take down hem or add similar or contrasting fabric)
  3. Narrow legs
  4. Take in at waist
  5. Let out at waist (if seam allowance exists)
  6. Take out side or back pockets and sew shut (good for those of us with fuller hips)
  7. Make full-length pants into cropped pants or shorts
  8. Remove or add cuffs
  9. Take in seat / shorten rise (a difficult alteration but can be done)

Alterations for Skirts and Dresses

  1. Shorten (good for petites or for when styles change)
  2. Lengthen (take down hem or add similar or contrasting fabric)
  3. Narrow at sides
  4. Take in at waist
  5. Let out at waist (if seam allowance exists)
  6. If elastic waist, tighten or loosen elastic (can also replace with wider or narrower elastic)
  7. Tack down pleats
  8. Add hooks or snaps to wrap-style dresses (or sew shut at top)
  9. Take in sleeves on dresses
  10. Shorten sleeves on dresses (make ¾ sleeves, short-sleeves, or sleeveless)
  11. Add sleeves (in same or contrasting fabric)
  12. Take up dress at shoulder to make less low-cut

Give Your Clothes New Life

The list above is just a sampling of the magic that can be worked by a talented and qualified tailor.  There are many other options at your disposal!  It never hurts to ask if something can be done to improve the fit and functionality of a garment.

Often, clothing items that might otherwise be tossed aside or donated can be revitalized and given new life with a visit to your local tailor.  Of course, you’ll have to decide if the alteration is worth the cost to you.  I have to admit that I’ve had occasions of “throwing good money after bad” by altering garments I probably should have let go.  But more often than not, my alterations have been of great benefit.

I hope this post has helped to open your eyes to the power of alterations.  At the very least, I hope you’ll at least consider the possibility of tailoring your clothes moving forward.  It really can make a tremendous difference and help to amp up your style!

Fitting Room Tips

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This is the second in my series of shopping tips to help you shop smarter and avoid common mistakes and pitfalls.  I invite you to check out my first tip, “Try On Again at Home,” in case you didn’t see it when it was posted.

This tip focuses on the actual process of trying on clothes at the store.  You are trying on all of your clothes before you buy them, right?  If not, then that’s the first part of the tip.  Make sure you try everything on before you buy it!   As we all know, sizing is inconsistent, even within garments from a given manufacturer, so we can’t rely on past experiences to dictate how something will fit.

Take the Time to Try Things On

I understand that you may be in a hurry when shopping or have small children in tow, but the few moments you take to try things on can potentially save you the larger chunk of time required to make returns later.  In addition, some people won’t even take the time to return ill-fitting garments.  They’ll either end up wasting their money or wearing “it will do” clothing bought during a hurried shopping trip.

Once you enter the dressing room, I have a few pointers on how to make the most of that experience.  Following these quick and easy suggestions can help you make better choices and avoid having comfort or fit issues later.

Check Out the Rear View

If you’re shopping in higher-end stores, the fitting room will likely be equipped with a three-way mirror, or there will be one available nearby.  If so, make sure to check out the fit of your potential buys from all angles.  Something may look fabulous from the front, but not so great from the side or the back.  It’s good to know how you will appear to others in what you’re wearing.

Since many discount retailers and resale shops have smaller fitting rooms with just one flat mirror, it’s a good idea to take a small hand mirror with you when shopping.  This can be a make-up compact or a fold-up mirror that easily fits into a purse.  Such a mirror will come in handy for seeing your rear view in fitting rooms that don’t include three-way mirrors.   Simply turn around and hold the mirror in front of you until you can see your back side.  This view will provide additional data points to guide you in making your purchasing decisions.

Sit Down

When trying on pants, jeans, skirts, and dresses, it’s important to know how the garment will feel when you’re sitting down.  Fortunately, most dressing rooms include some sort of bench or chair in which you can do a “sit test.”  If no seating surface is available in the fitting room itself, it’s likely you’ll find some sort of chair in the nearby vicinity.  If not, then do your best to mimic a seating position by partially squatting in the fitting room, if you can…

To do this quick test, simply sit down and position yourself as you would be seated in your normal life situations.  If you generally cross your legs when you sit down, do so and check out how the garment moves with you.  When you stand up, notice if a lot of repositioning of the clothing is necessary.  Clothing pieces that require a lot of fidgeting and fussing throughout the day are often the ones that sit in a person’s closet unworn.  Since most of us sit down and stand up many times each day, we want to make sure our clothing moves well with us and doesn’t require a lot of adjustment as we go about our daily activities.

Move Around

When most of us try on clothing, we just stand straight and look at ourselves in the mirror to determine whether or not there is a good fit.  But how many of us stand still during our day to day life?  Not many!

To better ascertain the suitability of a garment for your life, move around in the fitting room as you normally would during the course of a typical day.  Raise your arms over your head, twist around, and bend your waist and your knees.  Notice what happens to the clothing as you do these things.  Minimal readjustment after movement may be okay, but if you have to smooth and pull at a piece a lot after you move, you might be better off saying no to buying that item.

I learned this lesson the hard way, particularly with tops.  I’ve had a number of tops that would ride right up each time I raised my arms, necessitating a lot of adjustment with every movement.  Needless to say, these tops weren’t worn much due to sheer annoyance and frustration!  I now make sure to move around in the dressing room before deciding to buy something.

Consider Companion Pieces

This last tip has to do with how we might wear a garment we’re considering buying.  If you usually tuck your shirts in and you’re buying pants, consider whether or not there is enough room to do so.  If possible, do a “tuck test” in the fitting room to be sure.

If you are buying pants or jeans and like to wear heels, notice if there is enough extra length for you to do so (or if there is a hem allowance for the appropriate alteration).  You might want to either wear your heels while shopping or tote them along with you to do a quick try-on in the fitting room.

Here’s to Saving Time and Money!

The bit of time it takes to use the tips above will hopefully save you time in making returns down the line.  Implementing my suggestions can also save you money in little worn (or unworn!) purchases due to fit and fuss issues.  If you have any other fitting room tips that I didn’t mention, please feel free to add them in the comment form below.

Clothing Size Obsession

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Are you obsessed with the sizes of your clothing?

Do you refuse to buy an item if it is a larger size than you normally wear?

A recent article on the Weight Watchers website describes this phenomenon.  Many women have a specific size in mind when shopping for clothing and are extremely hesitant to buy anything larger than that “magic” size.

Size Inconsistencies

Some highlights of the Weight Watchers article include:

  • There is no standard sizing convention among women’s clothing manufacturers.  Often, the more high-end the designer, the smaller the size.  Even within a single brand, there are disparities.
  • “Vanity sizing,” in which measurements run larger than standard, is used by the majority of manufacturers today. One exception is the dress-pattern market, in which the measurements for the McCall’s size 8 correspond to the current 0 or 00 on the Banana Republic website!
  • Vanity sizing is driven entirely by marketing psychology.  Women like to fit into a smaller size and single digits sound better than double digits.
  • The average American woman is 5’4.5” and wears a size 12 top and a size 14 bottom.
  • The dream size for most women on the Weight Watchers plan hovers between an 8 and a 10.

My Reflections…

After I read the article, I reflected upon how it relates to me and my situation.  I know I feel good when I can fit into a smaller size even when I haven’t lost any weight and know it’s just a reflection of vanity sizing.  On the flip side, I feel a bit deflated when I am forced to grab the next size up when shopping for clothes.  Despite the fact that I am aware of the random nature of women’s clothing sizes, I still fall prey to the psychological pitfalls inherent in size variance.

A Plethora of Sizes!

In my closet right now, I have pants and skirts ranging from sizes 4 to 10 and tops from sizes extra-small to large.  All of these items fit me at my current body weight and size.   This fact alone should be enough evidence of size insanity to stop me from obsessing over the numbers when shopping.   In truth, I am less reluctant to grab one size larger than I used to be, but if I ever need to grab an item two sizes up, forget about it!  This size madness doesn’t work in the reverse direction, however.  Should I ever need to size down two sizes, bring it on!

No One But You Knows Your Size!

The funny thing is that unless one is wearing a pair of Levi’s jeans with the size plastered on the back, no one else knows what size we are wearing.   The important thing is whether or not the item fits and is flattering, not what size is on the tag inside the garment.

One suggestion for getting around size anxiety is to cut the size tag off after purchasing the item.  That way, you won’t need to flog yourself over the number and can instead celebrate the fact that you found something that you love and which flatters your unique figure.   This suggestion may be helpful to those of us who obsess over the meaningless numbers that are clothing sizes.  Clip it out, and then forget about it!

What Do You Think?

I would love to hear what others think about the Weight Watchers article and the issue of women’s clothing sizes.

  • What is your experience with clothing sizing when shopping?
  • Does the size of a garment affect whether or not you will buy it – or even try it on?
  • Are you more likely to shop at stores in which you can fit into smaller sizes?
  • Do you feel that the sizing of women’s clothing should be standardized, as has been proposed from time to time?

Closet Audit Tips

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When someone is interested in cultivating a new personal style and image, the best place to start the process is by doing a closet audit.  A closet audit involves going through all of your clothing, shoes, and accessories and assessing everything based upon your image goals as well as the color, style, fit, and fabric of each item.  You then release the items that no longer your body, lifestyle, and style preferences, and compile a shopping list to fill in any wardrobe gaps that have been identified.

An Effective and Liberating Process

The closet audit process is not only highly effective; it is also liberating, cathartic, and empowering.  At the end of what can sometimes be a lengthy and tiring process, you’re left with a nicely organized closet filled only with the pieces that support your image and style goals for success in all key life areas.

I feel that everyone can benefit from conducting a closet audit at least once per year.  It can be difficult to do because of the emotions that are often attached to our clothing, but it’s my hope that the questions I offer below will help make things easier.

Try Everything On and Ask Yourself These Questions

I suggest that you set aside at least a few hours to go through everything in your closet.  Ideally, you should try everything on and ask yourself the following questions.

  • Do I love it?  (Rate each item on scale of 1-10; if less than 8, alter or donate!  See “The Power of Alterations” for information and suggestions on tailoring your clothes.)
  • Does it fit?  (If it’s too tight, either donate or store elsewhere if you think it might fit again soon.  If too loose, consider alterations if you still love the item.)
  • Is it flattering?  (Does it highlight the parts of your body you love and downplay any areas you might not love as much?)
  • Is the color good for my skin tone?
  • Is it age-appropriate?
  • Is it my style?  (If you’re not sure of your style, tear photos out of catalogs and magazines of things you love.  Compare to what is in your closet. Also see this article for more tips on finding your personal style.)
  • Does it fit my lifestyle?  (We often buy things for “someone else’s life.” Your wardrobe should be appropriate for who you are and what you do.  More on this HERE.)
  • Have I worn it in the past year?  (In most cases, barring formal wear and a few sentimental pieces, items not worn in over a year should go!)
  • Do I feel good when I wear it?  (You want to feel attractive and confident in your clothes and ready to take on life’s important events and challenges!)
  • Do I receive compliments when I wear it?
  • Would I buy this item today?  (Ideally, your answer should be yes!  Wardrobe mistakes and outdated pieces should be passed on.)

Perhaps Enlist an Assistant

It can be helpful to invite a friend or family member to assist you with the process (and offer to do the same for him or her), especially if you know that person will offer honesty and constructive criticism.  In other words, don’t ask your mother to help you if she thinks everything looks good on you.  Remember, you want to edit your wardrobe down to a more manageable size and have it support your image and style goals.

Just Do It!

I hope the questions and suggestions above will be helpful to you when you do your next (and perhaps your first!) closet audit.  A closet audit may take a lot of time and energy, but the rewards are extremely powerful.   The bottom line is that you should follow the advice of Nike – Just Do It!

Body Confidence

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Awhile back, I watched an episode of “The Tonight Show” featuring a plus-sized model named Ashley Graham.  ABC had recently refused to air her Lane Bryant ad during “Dancing with the Stars” on the grounds that it was too revealing.

Jay Leno heard the story and felt ABC’s decision was ridiculous, particularly in light of the many Victoria’s Secret ads regularly shown on television.  Leno wanted to increase awareness of broadcast double-standards and discrimination toward plus-sized models, so he invited Ashley Graham to appear on his show.

Confidence, Magnetism, and Self-Love

Watching Ms. Graham on “The Tonight Show” elicited a strong and unexpected reaction in me.  When Jay Leno introduced her, Ashley glided out on the stage dressed entirely in spandex!  While she is a very beautiful woman, she’s definitely much curvier and voluptuous than most models we see in magazines and on runways (I read that she’s a size 16 at 5’9”).

While I didn’t feel the spandex ensemble was the most flattering thing she could have worn (this applies to pretty much anyone, mind you… – the outfit above is a much better option!), that’s not what struck me most about Ashley Graham.  What I noticed first and foremost was her abundance of … confidence.  She carried herself with pride and poise and looked every bit as statuesque, sexy, and elegant as any movie star who might walk onto the Tonight Show stage.  I was mesmerized by her magnetism and evident self-love.

Body Image Lessons from Ashley Graham

What can we learn from Ashley Graham?  Here are a few thoughts for women (including myself at times…) who could use a shot of “body assurance serum”:

  • Sexy and beautiful are not attached to a certain size or to a societal ideal.
  • There are many definitions of beauty, not just one!
  • If a woman acts and feels attractive, others will see her that way as well.
  • If you love your body, others will, too!
  • If you carry yourself with pride and “own” every inch of your body, you will feel more confident.

Self-Love at Any Size!

We can’t all look like Victoria’s Secret models, nor should we.  But we can strive to be our very best and love ourselves through each step of our life journey.  We can learn to love our bodies for what they do for us and for the fact that they carry us through our lives faithfully and steadily.  We can learn to embrace and celebrate our best points and release our judgment about those parts we don’t like so much (clothing can definitely help in this pursuit!).

We can end the war within and enjoy our precious, beautiful, and all too brief lives.  That is my solemn wish – for all women (and men, too) who struggle with body image issues.  We can learn to love our bodies as they are and one day stride onto the “stages” of our lives with the grace and assurance of Ashley Graham!

Wear Everything in Your Closet!

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Declutter your closetMany of us have far too many clothes in our closets!  Contrary to what you might believe, having more clothing does not make it easier to get dressed.  In fact, a preponderance of choices can be overwhelming and make the dressing process far more difficult than it needs to be.

If you love and wear everything you own, it can make sense to maintain a larger wardrobe.  However, I’ve found that this isn’t the case for most people.  Far more common is the situation in which there are a lot of unworn garments in a person’s closet.  This can make it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.  Your “star players” can be obscured by a bunch of ho-hum garments that are merely occupying valuable space in an overly stuffed closet.  That’s a situation we want to avoid!

A Simple Tip – Wear Everything!

The tip I’m about to offer is very simple and straightforward and is particularly useful when combined with my previous tips, “The Hanger Trick”” and “The Power of Tracking.”  My suggestion is that you push yourself to wear items that haven’t been worn in a while.  See, I told you it was simple!

If you’re like most people, when you go through your closet deciding what to wear, you pass over certain garments time and time again.  I suggest that at least a few times per week, you actually challenge yourself to wear one of those frequently rejected pieces.  Pull it out, create an outfit with it, and wear it!

Actually wear the item out of the house.  It may be better to wear the questionable piece on a short errand or low-risk situation (a first date may not be an ideal situation for test-driving your clothing!).  That way, if you find yourself hating it, you won’t have to keep it on for very long.

Wear It, Then Make a Decision

This is a two-part tip.  The first part is to wear the item in question.  The second part, and this is very important, is to make a decision about it!  When you get undressed later that day, decide what you want to do with the garment.  Did you find an unexpected “diamond in the rough” and wonder why you never wore such a great item of clothing?  If so, great!  Hang it up and vow to wear it again regularly.

If you couldn’t wait to get the garment off your body, you should know what to do.   If it’s in good condition, add it to a donation bag for charity.  After all, just because you don’t love something, it doesn’t mean someone else won’t.  One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, as the old saying goes.

Aim for All 8’s to 10’s in Your Closet

Some items will fall into more of a gray area, but I always tell people they should aim to have all of their clothes be “10s” or very close to that.  If something is an 8 or a 9, it is a keeper.  Below that, do you really want to wear something that doesn’t make you feel fabulous?  None of us really needs a huge wardrobe and “8” to “10” pieces can be found at all price points, so why keep things that are just so-so?

Alterations can definitely take some garments from ho-hum to magnificent and many people forget about this valuable opportunity.  If you really like a garment but it’s just not right, try taking it to a tailor to see what can be done.  I’ve rescued many a garment by having my personal “miracle worker” (for those in the Point Loma area of San Diego, I highly recommend Tiffany’s Alterations) perform her magic on it.

A Personal Example…

FYI… I personally use all of the tips I recommend on this blog.  As we’re now into the second half of 2012 and there are still items in my closet that haven’t been worn this year, I use this tip almost daily at this point.

Just yesterday, I wore a black lace top that hadn’t been worn since 2011.  I discovered I still like the top, but it’s an odd length – too short for pants and too long for skirts.  It’s also longer in the front than in the back.  I’ve decided to shorten the top and even out the length all around.  I feel confident I will then love this top and wear it regularly with skirts,  However, I would have never figured this out if I had left it unworn in the closet for months – or even years – on end.

Goal – A More Streamlined Closet

I hope this tip will be helpful for you in better managing your wardrobe.  Remember to wear those questionable items in your closet and then make a decision about what to do with them – keep (and wear!), alter, or donate.   Over time, you will be rewarded with a more streamlined, functional, and pleasing closet.

Try On Again at Home

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After you shop, I always recommend that you try your new purchases on again once you arrive home.

There are several reasons for this recommendation:

1. Harsh Lighting & “Skinny Mirrors”

Shopping Tip - Try On Again at Home

It is easier to assess an item in a familiar environment.

Store lighting is artificial and often harsh and some stores are known to have “skinny mirrors.”

(If you’re a “Seinfeld” fan, you might remember the episode in which Elaine bought an ill-fitting dress at Barney’s due to this phenomenon.)

2. New Pieces Should Play Well with Others

You can try on the new item with your existing pieces to ensure that it “plays well” with them.  I recommend that each new garment should be easily incorporated into at least three outfits (the more, the better!).

3. Test Drive New Garments

You can “test drive” the new pieces more easily at home.  Move around in them, sit down, do the things you would normally do.

This is especially important with shoes.  When you try on shoes in a store, you’re often walking only short distances on a carpeted surface.  You’ll get a better sense of long-term comfort if you wear the shoes around your house for an hour or more.

4. Store Return Policies

Some stores have strict return policies.  If you try things on as soon as possible at home and end up determining that something won’t work out, you can schedule the return for a convenient time within the store’s return window.

5. Don’t Let this Happen to You!

In most overly packed closets, you’ll likely encounter unworn garments with tags still attached.  In many cases, these items have been in the person’s closet for months or even years and can no longer be returned.  This tip – try everything on again at home – would likely eliminate at least a portion of such problems.

I hope this tip will be helpful for you on your future shopping excursions. Stay tuned for more shopping tips to help you get the most out of your clothing dollars and avoid shopping pitfalls.