Archives for September 2013

DTI Lesson 3 – Sensible Splurging

As a self-proclaimed fasionista it is sometimes hard for me to resist committing to an item of clothing that I love.  Of course the reality is that with an eleven year old, student loans and a mortgage, staying on my budget is important.  Dare I say even more important to my sanity then a new piece of clothing?  Hence the problem in finding something you love and holding fast in your budget.  This does not consider that my strong will is often trumped by a good sale.  Some of your favs may not make it to the sale, however, so you have to carefully balance your love for an item with how it fits in your budget and how much you would regret not purchasing the item.

I recently attended the Neiman Marcus CUSP event at the Houston Galleria and it presented a perfect opportunity to put this careful balancing act in practice.  First on my list in considering a purchase is how often I will wear it, then how it incorporates into my existing wardrobe and finally the price.  Some items speak to my soul, but if I can only really wear it once or twice a year I have to appropriate accordingly for my budget.

Whte Theory DressThe perfect example of the love scale is this Theory Ribbed Knit Dress.  I love knit and the fit looks impeccable so it gets high marks on the love scale.  When I balance that with how often I will really wear a knit white dress I decide to keep looking.

 

 

Next these Theory Timba Polished Slim Pants caught my eye.  Getting to know designers you like helps out as you can easily feel comfortable with the quality and ultimate value of the designer.  Black PantsI can’t speak highly enough of the versatility of a good fitting pair of black pants.  They can take you from day to night in a matter of seconds.  Despite the high marks for versatility, it does not fair as well when I think about what I already have.  I have a lot of black pants so to add a new pair they really have to be distinctly different or a price I can’t walk away from without some major regret.  As these pants, although nice, or neither of my requirements I keep looking.

Finally I looked at this Rebecca Taylor Ribbed Peplum Sweater.  Rebecca Taylor SweaterAgain it speaks to my love of knits.  The peplum is still in style and it works to really accentuate (or create) a waist and can work to cover hips or a butt.  Altogether it rates equally high as the dress on the love scale.  It is also around the same price, however, unlike the dress this shirt has endless possibilities.  It can be work with slacks or with jeans and the neutral color really helps focus on shape and give the option to add variation with a wide array of jewelry.  I don’t have another shirt I can directly compare to this shirt so it has a specific and distinct purpose in my closet.  The versatility of the shirt makes it a winner for me and I can commit knowing I stuck to my budget and made a smart purchase I will get lots of use out of.

Sale FlyerLuckily Neiman Marcus has all of the items an extra 25% off until tomorrow so maybe there is some sense to getting the dress afterall…

DTI Lesson 2 – Mixing up the old and the new

In this Dress to Impress lesson we are focusing on putting together the puzzle of old and new pieces for your wardrobe.

The transition of one day in jeans and flip flops and the next is suit and pumps can be a rough one.  Even the move from business causal to business professional can be a shock to the system and the budget if not done properly.  For most people the option to do a complete wardrobe upgrade is out of the question.  So the question is how to best blend the old and new and find a new way to express who you are in a professional setting.  For me the secret comes in building pieces in a similar way one would a puzzle.  Taking pieces from your old look and style and mixing them into your new look to get a whole new result of you.

The challenge in putting together this puzzle is that you may not have a clear idea of what the end picture should look like.  Following some simple steps should help identify the neutral pieces which can carry through to your new career and what pieces you should add that make sense to your budget.

  1. Jacket Skirt and BlouseSee what you have that are appropriate core pieces:  Most of your office outfits will start with your basics of a shirt and skirt or pants.  Take an inventory on what you have keeping in mind that you should flag those items that look overly worn or that are a little too short or tight.  My basis is often a white shirt, but you can quickly change an entire look with a nice jacket or other colorful shell.
  2. IMG_0012 See what you can transform into a professional twist.  Dresses are a mainstay that allow you to dress up or dress down an outfit pretty quickly.  Just take a quick look at what a different a dress can come off when you add a nice jacket.   Don’t just assume pieces that you like are business professional but take a good hard look at it as if you were watching a person walk in your office with the outfit on.  Hemlines may not be able to be quickly IMG_0022corrected by adding on but sleeveless dresses or clothes that are a little more form fitting can be quickly corrected with a sweater or a jacket or the right accessories.  When you shop, knowing what works and what you currently have gives you the best basis for what you should focus spending your money on.
  3. Accessories can be your outlet.  Honestly professional attire can be a little boring.  You don’t have to just conform just because everyone has on a similar grey or IMG_0025black power suit however.  Accessories really highlight an outfit and can take your ensemble up to the next level to show more of your personality.  The bold gold necklace in this piece sets off a really monotone back and white outfit, not only giving the outfit some pizazz but also accentuating the face (which is where you want people looking anyway).

DTI Lesson 1 – Choosing your statement piece

Lesson One: Choosing your statement piece

In most instances when considering your wardrobe I think it is wise to build a good foundation of flexible pieces you can use in a wide array of situations.  As I recently attended the Luxury Fashion Show for the 2013 Houston Simon Fashion Now, however, I began to think of the decoration instead of the base of the style cupcake you design.  Although everyone wants a delicious cake, our eyes are often drawn to the one with the best decoration.  For many, especially those of us on a budget or just starting off in a new profession, focusing on luxury items may seem just out of reach.  Watching this fall’s high fashion items walk down the runway, however, I am reminded that some of these pieces can add real value to your wardrobe and the impression you can make to your new profession.  A strong purse, brief case, or coat can send a message of confidence, assertiveness, and even give some insight into your personality outside of work.  Max Mara out did themselves with some of the timeless styles they presented as well as some show stoppers from Fendi and Jimmy Choo.  Even when paired with a dress from Zara or Banana Republic the overall look some of the signature pieces can add is incomparable.

I know some wish these things don’t matter but finding the right balance of expression can really help in building some important networks.  To be sure, statement pieces are an investment and over the years I have picked up some guidelines that assist me in choosing pieces that have stood the test of time.

  • Make sure the piece has some classic components.  With every new season that comes out, designer puts out new trends that speak to the fashion of the time.  Unless you have the budget flexibility to do a wardrobe refresh every couple of years thought targeting these items can be a mistake.  Choose statement pieces that have components you will still like years after the initial component.  This means stick with shapes that are modest and can move to the natural changes you will have in your identity.  Trendy can work as long as some parts of the piece can carry your through one trend to the next.
  • Focus on what moves you.  When making an investment in fashion a statement piece can really be used to show your own personal taste.  It may be the pop of color in an otherwise monochromic existence or a more classic piece in a wardrobe normally based on fun.  An easy way to make sure it is an expression of you is to describe the piece.  Can some of the ways you described the piece alternatively be used to be describe who you are and who you are trying to represent to the world (i.e. classic, fun, modern)?
  • Put the expense in context.  Budgeting is too important not to consider.  The piece you buy should fit into what you can afford in a given time period.  Buying a trendy $100 coat every year is comparable to buying a really nice coat once that will stand the test of time.  Be mindful that sometimes a sole focus on price may not pay off in the long term if the quality is not there.

For more inspiration on a signature piece that expresses who you are check out the weekend schedule at the 2013 Simon Fashion Now Houston.

Dress to Impress Series

Fendi from Fall 2013 Line Dress to Impress Series

Life transitions are guaranteed to bring change.  In my case the move from student/office manager to attorney is a major change.  Like others navigating their fashion obstacle course, the question becomes how can I work towards presenting to the world this new image of my professional space? As first impressions can often be lasting impressions a major component of our presentation is how we dress.   Coordinating who we feel we are with how we dress the role can be pretty difficult though.  The dress to success series will walk through some of the critical considerations when sculpting a wardrobe to say “Look out World, Here I Come!”

 

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