Hey - we've updated our Image Inspiration and Delightful Distractions pages. Head to the top of the page. Enjoy!
I've been getting some questions about "invite only" shopping sites. Mainly, "What are they?" They're a fairly recent addition to the shopping world, essentially extensions of the age-old "secret sample sales" that happen in fashion districts in New York and LA (Milan, London, Paris, etc.)
The websites offer a variety of designer (both big name and up-and-coming) clothing, shoes and accessories. A couple of them offer men's and children's clothing, and some, like Rue La La and Hautelook, even offer perfume, makeup (like Stila!) and home decor sales.
Items are usually offered at better than 50% off. I'm currently stalking ideeli for a particular pair of 85% off heels to pop up in my size. Another nice aspect is these are not super-model sizes. There's usually a broad range, instead of just 0's and 2's. These are good sites for scoring deals on those investment items.
Want a tiny taste of what's available today? How about the fabulous wrap dress below from Gomatta Girls for $45 instead of $395?!? Also comes in black, white, and a pale blue floral.
Or either of these two Anne Klein dresses from ideeli for $92 instead of $168! Love them!
To get free access to any or all of the sites, simply click on the logos or links below.
And remember - moderation in all things. Don't get sucked into obsessively checking the sites everyday. This is just another way of casting a wide search net when fishing for wardrobe additions. All the sites give you the option to sign-up for email alerts or their RSS feeds. The email will preview what's going on or coming up and you can decide if it's something you want to check out or not. Enjoy!
All right, let's talk about Style Files!! If you already keep one, this post will hopefully offer a few ideas about ways to expand or organize it. Or motivate you to share your great ideas with us! If you don't keep one, or don't know what I'm talking about, allow me to explain.
A Style File is a collection of inspirations to help you express your own style, dress better or more creatively, and use your wardrobe more efficiently. These little pictures and notes help us avoid wardrobe ruts and "Closet Blindness" moments that occur. You know those times; when you're standing in front of your clothes but can't come up with anything to wear. A Style File is the miracle cure.
Here's a pic of one of my own Style Files and one of the empty folders waiting to be filled. I use the Briefcase Files from Levengers. Bought them years ago for work and despite all the use and abuse I've put them through, they still look brand new. I LOVE that they're see-through and double sided! At a glance I can instantly see what types of things are tucked in there. While rummaging through my office supplies for a better Style File option than a manila envelope, I found them tucked into a tote and literally shouted for joy that I'd kept them. They're perfection.
I checked out Levenger to see if they still had them. And they do! Currently they're offered in these lovely soft shades. Click here to check them out.
They also have these on sale, though from the picture they don't look nearly as durable. Check them out here for yourself.
So - what do you put in a Style File?
How do you organize your Style File? The options are virtually endless but here are a few tips:
If you're still skeptical of the benefits of a Style File, just try it out for a while. I guarantee you'll find new outfits in your closet you never knew were there. You'll take a few healthy steps out of your style rut and start wearing the same pieces in new ways. Which pretty much equates to new clothes! It'll help you define your personal style if you aren't sure what it is. As you collect things for your file you'll start to see patterns emerging. It also helps you when shopping. If you have pictures or notes of things you need or want in your wardrobe, you can better target your search. So start printing, snapping, snipping and ripping (out of your own magazines, of course!) And discover a whole new wardrobe world through your Style File!
SHARE YOUR STYLE FILE TIPS! How do you organize it? What do you keep it in? Where do you find the inspirations to put in it? Leave a comment and help spread good style.
One of the perils of online shopping is the inability to try things on. You're just not sure whether the item will fit you or not. As I've mentioned before, knowing your measurements will alleviate much of that fear. Never trust sizes - they're never the same between designers and stores. But it's very rare to find a shopping site without a Size Guide. Clicking on this handy little link will give you a chart (like the one pictured here from Banana Republic) outlining the basic measurements associated with that item. There are usually specific size charts for jackets/outerwear, blouses, dresses/skirts, jeans/trousers as well as for regular, tall, petite, and plus.
Now, it's easy to measure your own bust, waist and hips in front of a mirror. But any kind of length measurement without help is much harder. Bending over to look at the tape measure obviously doesn't work. Pressing the tape along your body almost always results in a wrong number. But here's a little trick to determine if the length of an item will suit you or not.
Grab a flexible tape measure (these are dirt cheap at fabric stores!) and a small metal binder clip.
Fasten the binder clip onto the tape measure so that the little arms are directly over the desired measurement. Now head to your full-length mirror!
Say you want to know where a skirt that measures "21" from natural waist" will hit you. At the knee? Above the knee? Just hold the 0 end at your natural waist and let the tape measure hang. The binder clip provides just enough weight for the tape to hang straight and the little arms show you right where the 21" will be. And because the tape is hanging, like the skirt will, you get an accurate measurement over your stomach and hips.
This works with dresses and pants as well. Try it and take advantage of that free-shipping a little more confidently!
A very funny reader sent this question in response to my latest post...
Q: Great advice! But what do I wear while I'm GAINING weight?
A: As funny as the comedic timing was, it's a truism!! We all go through this and it's not a fun road to travel. Trust me. The answer can pretty much be boiled down to something we all learned as kids - Stop, Drop and Roll. Stop watching so much television. Drop the number of calories you eat. Roll yourself out of bed to workout every morning. or Roll on in to the gym after work every day. Whatever works for you. And I know, it's easier said than done. Trust me.
If you HAVE reached the state where your waistbands are a bit too tight, you can try this little trick I learned while in that first phase of pregnancy where your own pants are beginning to be uncomfortable but maternity pants slip down your belly. Take a hair elastic, the kind you would use to put your hair up in a pony tail. (Rubber bands are too long and the thin ones snap too easy.) Slip the elastic through the button hole. Now slide one end of the elastic through the other and tug. The elastic will now be cinched around the button hole and you'll have one free loop in your fingers. Stretch that loop over the button and Voila! You've got a little more wiggle room until you either a) grow enough to fit into maternity pants or b) shrink enough to fit your clothes again. This trick works best with jeans (the metal buttons are sturdier) and you obviously have to wear your shirts untucked.
Thanks for sending that in! I got a good laugh. And best of luck with either the pregnancy (that weight gain is well worth it!) or battling your little bulge.
Q: I'm finally losing weight (for good this time!) and have lost enough that my clothes no longer fit or look good. I still have more to go, but what should I wear until I hit my goal weight?
A: Indeed a conundrum and I'm not making a joke! This is a happy but difficult time. (Don't they say the same thing about pregnancy, when your weight is going the opposite direction?) I'm actually in the same phase myself and enjoyed compiling this answer for you. It helped me as well!
I always research answers. Looking for the best style advice available. And weeding out the bad! I actually read the suggestion that you should wear a "poncho" while you're losing weight. Say what??? Sure. Let's throw a broad expanse of fabric over our shoulders, hiding any shape, and let it fall down from one of the widest parts of our body, our breasts. Great idea. I don't think they realize that any tent-like shape will just make a person appear larger. A poncho pretty much only looks half-way decent if you're a small person.
One question we have to ask ourselves is, are we talking short-term or long-term weight you're losing? Short-term as in, "I just had a baby and will probably be back in my previous clothes by the end of the year." or long-term as in, "I've been battling this blasted bulge for twenty years and I'm finally winning the war!" Short-termers tend to have "skinny" clothes and little else. Long-termers may or may not. You definitely sound like the latter so I'm going to guess that, like most people, you probably have a range of smaller sizes in your closet. So gird your loins and try on some of those smaller sizes! Do NOT beat yourself up if they still don't fit yet. They will soon! And if they already do, you'll be a happy camper. You might also consider organizing your closet by size - largest to smallest - and work your way through them as you lose weight.
If you do find yourself needing/wanting to purchase some new items, consider the following:
Set yourself a time limit. This applies if you have nothing much in your closet that looks good. If at the end of, say, 3 months, you haven't lost the weight you had hoped to, still buy something that makes you look good. If you DID lose the weight you planned on, buy something in your new size. Either way, you'll look and feel better.
No matter how many messages I leave, Giorgio (Armani, that is) still hasn't come 'round to measure me for a custom wardrobe. Nor has Ralph (Lauren), or Nannette (Lepore), or Tommy (Hilfiger), Karl (Lagerfeld, Chanel), Carolina (Herrera) or any other of the many designers I like. You either? Didn't think so.
Until they do, we're going to have to employ that tried and true method of having our clothes tailored. Altered to fit our own unique bodies. And it's always a shock to me when women tell me they've NEVER had anything tailored. Have you ever bought a suit with your husband or pair of dress pants? Notice how it wasn’t even a question that the pants and jacket would be tailored to fit him? And how the hem of the pants probably wasn’t even finished?! I wish women's clothing worked the same way. Women have more curves so how is it we don’t naturally tailor things to fit those curves?!
Why to Tailor and When!
Dresses & Blouses -
Blazer - For years I have employed these same tips for tailoring a blazer. Suit jackets and blazers look INFINITELY better after a little tailoring. And I've only ever found one jacket that fit so well it didn't need it. All the rest did and it was totally worth it.
Choosing A Tailor
Don't live in Thailand? Me either. It's a veritable hive of fine tailoring. Superb skill at fractions of US prices. Would be nice to just jet over there as needed. But excellent craftsmen are to be found on our home turf. I've never once had a Nordstrom tailor return anything but perfection. And they've even altered clothing I didn't purchase at Nordstrom.
Asking around is your best option. You'll probably get advice on who to visit as well as who to stay away from. If that doesn't yield any results, check out online resources, such as the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals, Craigslist, etc.
So whipstich! that wardrobe into shape! And smile in your closet a little more often.
A woman once told me, "I hate to shop. It's like running the gauntlet and always getting destroyed."
She didn't have any real personal style and her daily outfits consisted of whatever she could cobble together from a very muddled wardrobe. No real surprise, considering the wardrobe consisted of random pieces she'd grabbed when she or someone else had forced her to go shopping.
A few days later I saw an episode of this hilarious Japanese show (highlighted below) and it struck me that for many women who hate shopping, it must feel just like running this gauntlet and coming out the other side feeling crushed!
The woman called me her "Shopping Therapist" but I prefer something a little sexier. Maybe continue the Asian theme with Style Samurai.
Ever since, it's been fun categorizing the skills of those I'm shopping for, or with,
in terms of karate ranks.
Newbies with no idea what to buy or where?
Shoppers who've confidently shopped before but are stuck in a style rut?
Skilled shoppers looking for inspiration or to discover different stores/sites?
While Image Interpreters is all about the WHOLE image of a modern modest woman, shopping is a huge factor. So we're glad to announce our new shopping section is complete!
The Shopping Section will highlight the best stores and sites we find. Simply click the little pink shopping bags in the sidebar!
We'll keep it fresh with tons of information about the stores/sites, what they offer, price range, what they're best for, what to avoid, etc.