Monthly Archives: January 2012

Closet Must-Have: LBD

Ah, the LBD. Where would “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” be without it? This is definitely a must-have.

You always seem to find just the right dress at the wrong time, and cannot find the perfect dress at the needed time, so here is my solution.

Think separates. Yes, Little Black Separates. My LBD is actually LBS. I have three basic bottom pieces: palazzo pants with an elastic waist, a floor length skirt with an elastic waist, and a ¾ length skirt with an elastic waist. The elastic waist not only allows for a smooth line under your tops, but it allows for water fluctuations when you need the “dress” to fit in a pinch.

The tops to my little black separates consist of a sequined tank, a silk ¾ length sleeve sweater, and a lace bustier. I also have a velvet evening blazer, and a knit bolero. With these separates I can create a myriad of LBD’s.

With the LBS system, I simply match a bottom with a top to create the specific look needed.  I am not limited to one dress, one style, or one dress size. The LBS system is tailored to you. It is a win-win system.

Don’t be afraid to look in the lingerie departments for tops. I find some of my best purchases in that department.

When looking for accessories for your LBS, be creative. You can use makeup bags, pretty coin purses, or even unique eyeglass cases for evening bags. Jewelry is just as flexible. A pretty pendant tied on a ribbon, a long strand of pearls wrapped around your wrist, or a brooch pinned on your waist. Think out-of-the-box.

I only need one pair of evening shoes to carry various looks, so this allows me great freedom in other areas.

And my last secret, the LBS can be any color of the rainbow.

Stay Real,



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Color: Nature v. Neutral

Several years ago, I found the perfect neutral purse. The color was sky blue. Perhaps, most people would not consider sky blue a neutral color, but look up when you go outside on a clear, sunny day. You just might see a blue sky. The purse style was similar to a doctor’s bag; some might even consider it more of a mini suitcase. But it was made of the softest pebble leather, and in fact, the sky blue did go with absolutely every item of clothing in my closet. My family considered it an impulse purchase, but to me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime find.

This gave me pause to ponder, if the sky goes with everything, then perhaps it is a neutral. As I looked around me, I realized that the sky goes with the grass, goes with the flowers, goes with the trees, etc. This opened up a whole new world of neutrals. Looking around nature, I rarely saw black, taupe, or saddle brown. I saw vibrant, beautiful color.

Now, yes, I do have the obligatory neutrals of black, taupe, and saddle brown in my closet for the professional events where some might not appreciate the beautiful colors of nature. But looking at my purses in the closet is like looking at a beautiful rainbow of neutrals.

Stay Real,



Filed under Color, Style

Closet Must-Haves 4, 5, 6

Let’s move on to addressing three more closet must-haves. To review, my first three closet must-haves are a full-length mirror, a black suit, and skin care. I hope all of you have added these to your closets.

I notice that I keep reaching for these next three items, again and again, to get me through these blustery days of winter. So, I share them with you.

A Smile. A smile is a great item to wear. It lifts your spirits, it lifts other people’s spirits, but most of all, it lifts the corners of your mouth creating a more vibrant appearance. During this cold, winter season, so few people take the time to share their inner beauty with one another through their smile. Yes, it is gray and dreary outside. So wearing a smile is even more important. Smile when you answer the phone. It will show in your voice. Smile when you are with your family and friends. They will know you are enjoying their company. Smile, even when you don’t feel like it.

Coat. Most everything I read says a trench coat is a must for your closet. I agree that a trench coat is a very wise purchase, as it is a multi-functional coat. But here is an option that is also multi-functional – a cape. I purchased a cape about 15 years ago. Unfortunately, it went to clothing heaven as I used up every last thread. The cape fit my body regardless of my size. It was my winter coat during my pregnancy, pre and post. Due to the gliding nature of the piece, it gracefully covered my body as it morphed into different sizes and shapes. A cape fits over winter suits, weight gains and losses, and looks chic in most every situation. When running errands, put on cute shoes, an outfit, and Poof! You are chic and covered. But the main reason I prefer a cape to a trench coat is the fact that I do not have to tie a belt or wear a double-breasted coat that enhances my least attractive body parts. Yes, I purchased a new cape this year. It is gray, with a black diagonal zipper, and black buttons at the neck. It is perfect!

Hand Mirror. Hopefully, you added a full-length mirror to your closet. But do you have the hand mirror to hold at just that right angle to view your backside? How many people have you seen that look spot-on as you walk up to them, just to get an atrocious view of their backside as they pass by? There are many faux pas going unseen due to the lack of a view of the backside. Hair that looks like a rat attacked, jacket vents left uncut, jackets or sweaters pulling too tight across the shoulders, and OH NO! The dreaded VPL’s. Please do yourself a favor, and put a hand mirror in your closet so that your backside matches the beautiful you in the mirror.

Take a good look of yourself in the mirror, put on your winter coat, and smile.

Stay Real,



Filed under Must Haves

Color Your Style

I – am – so – excited. I just completed my color analysis on the computer and guess what – I am a Winter! So, the report says to run out and buy all my seasonal clothes and makeup so that my eyes will be brighter, my teeth whiter, and I will be amazing. But wait, the analysis only asked a few questions. What color is my hair? Brown. What color are my eyes? Blue. What shade of white-out is my skin? Translucent.

Based on these three questions, how does the computer, or anyone, really know my exact colors to make me lighter, brighter, smarter, and perfectly polished? Guess what – the computer forgot to ask my age.  It forgot to ask me if my “real” hair color is brown, or is it dyed my natural-brown color. Are my eyes still blue, or have they faded to a gray-blue, but I am still in denial and fudging on the real answer. Is my skin the same smooth color of translucent that it was a decade ago? What happened to the questions relating to my profession, personal preferences, and fashion style? Perhaps there is more to this seasonal magic than meets the eye.

As an image consultant, I want to be that special person that takes the three infamous questions and transforms them into your image, not a homogenous product.

Your color analysis and image are more than a mere short questionnaire. They are the perfect you waiting to emerge.

As decided above, I am a winter. My colors are black, white, red, and various other jewel tones. But wait, my black is no longer black. My black is now charcoal gray. And I have noticed that I have been purchasing my suits in navy (three of them), gray (again, three of them), and only one black. My famous red accents have slowly moved to a more claret color, and fuchsia softened to raspberry. Why, because I have aged and the softer colors provide me the same powerful look, without washing out my remaining translucent skin, or flaunting my emerging wrinkles. The colors also complement my naturally-colored dyed hair. I was unaware I was making these subtle changes, but subconsciously something just screamed that the changes were needed for the newly-aged me.

So we will begin with the answered questions, and start creating the perfect color palette. Although there are as many different ideas on color analysis as there are authors, the fact remains that you will fall into one of the four seasons; winter, spring, summer, or fall. There will be a season for you representing your best colors, but your colors may have softened within the season. Again, this is a normal procession of life. You will find that you are more confident in certain colors from your season, making you more in charge of your image. Using paint chips, yes I borrowed this wonderful idea from David Zyla, look and compare the colors to your personal likes and dislikes, as well as what will work with your life. This will become a mini package you can keep with you at all times to arm you with the correct tools for your purchases. In many cases, a need for an impulse purchase for immediate gratification is sought. This impulsive purchase for purely immediate gratification happens to everyone.

Maybe you fall into my target market of ages 40+, who has reached an executive or top professional position. You need the correct color wardrobe to enhance your credibility, wear the correct colors to your professional events, in order to create that critical first impression in any situation in which you may find yourself.

I see so many of our professional peers fall into the “black hole” as I call it, which is not as becoming to 40+ year-old skins. The color black becomes harsh to clients as they age and a new color may need to replace black. This is the age where you need to present yourself in your correct and most becoming colors to give you an edge over the other “black hole” professionals.

The color Black does not necessarily mean that you made it to the top. Black signifies that you may have lost touch with yourself and your station in life or simply that you have not taken the time to improve you. Your black suit need not be black, but your best color, be it gray, navy, chocolate, or other suitable professional color, or maybe it is black.

Your colors are confident. Your colors are fun. Your image begins.

Stay Real,



Filed under Color, Style

Closet Must-Haves

I have been a stylist for 47 years. I have poured over countless magazines, books, videos, blogs, and websites. I have lived in Japan, Miami, and my current home-town Huntsville, Alabama. My profession as a CPA has taken me to New York, Chicago, D.C., Boston, Fort Lauderdale, and other stylish cities. In visiting and living in these various places, there has been one underlying style I have seen time again – mine.  You see, I have been a stylist for me.

I know myself better than anyone else. I know my favorite styles, colors, likes and dislikes. I understand every nuance of my body. I have a style that is unique, yet timeless.  My style belongs to me. I own it.

In evolving my style over the years, I have created a checklist of 25 items that all stylish women should possess.  Perhaps this list is not the customary list found in all the books and magazines that women study in the hopes of finding her style, but it is a list that is fail proof.

Here are the first three items on my list.

A full-length mirror.  A full-length mirror is your best friend.  It never lies. It does not try to sell you the latest fashion fad. It actually does the opposite. It tells the brutal truth. If you listen to it, you cannot purchase a poor choice for your style. The mirror saves you from yourself. This item will show up time and time again in my checklist.

The “Black Suit.”  My black suit is actually a charcoal gray pantsuit. The jacket has a one button closure, and the pants are straight-leg, no pockets, and sit low on my waist. The black suit is a staple that should be in all women’s closet, but it can be defined to the person wearing it. The color need not be black, but the color that looks best on you. The style can range anywhere from a skirt suit with a jacket made for your body, to pants with a cardigan as the jacket. Find the suit that looks best on your body. You know your body. Trust your instinct to choose your best “black suit.”

Skin Care.  The one item you wear every day, regardless of your outfit, is your skin. This item should be of the best quality your money can buy. Though you can hide a great deal of your skin under clothing, you can rarely hide the skin on your face. Look at skin care the same as you look at dry cleaning. Maintain the one item worn everyday as you would your favorite item of clothing. Treat it with the utmost care and it will be the classic that rewards you over and over.

I have covered the first three items on my style checklist and look forward to sharing with you my next items.



Filed under Must Haves, Style

Julia’s Story

On March 28, 1964, Julia was born in a suit, not in a birthday suit, but in a black and white hounds-tooth suit. Since birth, she has had an affinity for not only menswear fabrics, but for fashion.  Fashion intrigues her by the way it is interwoven into all facets of her life, though few realize the significance of this.

This is the story of a little girl who loves clothes with a fierce passion and has short curly hair, named Julia. The little girl attends a private kindergarten five days a week, from 8:00 am until noon. She puts on her tailored dress, or two-piece dress, her shiny shoes (patent), and gathers her purse and gloves as she walks out the door. She feels quite confident and empowered for the day because she is appropriately dressed for the vigorous kindergarten assignments that lie ahead. As the year ends, she is awarded top honors. Was it purely based on academics at age five, or on the fact that her fashion cocooned her as she faced her days and worked in earnest?

Her parents give her the choice of a reward for her hard work in kindergarten. Where most little girls would have chosen a doll, Julia chose a long, straight-haired wig. Short curly hair was not in style at her grade school and she was always fashionable and in style. Even at age 5, she wanted to be fashionable. Curly hair was not fashionable in 1970.

Move forward a few years, and Julia is in middle school. As most adolescents grow, their body parts do not all grow in sync with one another. Luckily, Julia’s mom could sew. The heavens of the fashion world opened. There were endless supplies of patterns and materials from which to choose the perfect clothing. Julia’s clothes were custom-made. No one else at school could have the unique style and fit, as well as the most fashionable clothes that Julia adorned. As Julia’s mom grew tired of sewing, Julia faced a new problem. How was she to remain the best-dressed kid in school without her tailored clothing? A compromise was reached – Julia’s mom would continue to make the pants, since ready-to-wear pants were not ’ready to wear’ for Julia, but all other pieces had to be purchased.

To maintain her beloved wardrobe, Julia was left with only two options: one, get over it or two, go to work at 16 to earn the money needed to purchase all her fashion wants. The second option won.

So, Julia’s life takes a new direction. She goes to work as a hostess (in a company-provided uniform) to earn the money needed to keep her in the accustomed wardrobe. Each week, a piece of clothing was put on lay-away and a piece came home to the closet. When most high schoolers’ were hanging out with friends, Julia was working to feed her passion – fashion. A girl must wear suits and heels to high school. No one should be caught dead wearing jeans, t-shirt, and a ponytail to school when there were better options such as hounds-tooth, glen-plaid, and tweed. Some people did not have their priorities in order.

Luckily college proved uneventful and the job and clothes continued to work for Julia as she completed her degree in…accounting? Yes, her father thought that would be the best degree for a girl who spent every cent earned on clothing. If a choice was eating or shopping, peanut butter worked just fine for a month or two. There was really no choice, fashion won.

The first day at work – a Liz Claiborne two-piece suit, black with white polka-dots, black pumps, and a black and white clutch completed her ensemble. The date was January 4, 1988. Public accounting, though not Julia’s chosen path, worked out for a decade due to the fact that menswear fabrics were rampant. The beloved suit was required! And, added to the mix were pumps, purses, accessories, and anything else the mind could imagine. The work was not what kept Julia in accounting, it was the clothes. How could a person give up a career that allowed one to wear such beautiful, professional clothing?

A two-year maternity leave left Julia at home in mommy clothes. The respect she commanded when shopping on her lunch hour was no longer there when she shopped with a baby stroller and was not dressed to the nines. Funny how little respect a person gets when shopping in mommy clothes versus power clothes. Fashion is power.

Back to work after two years of maternity leave saved Julia’s sanity. She was back where she belonged, in her suits. The retail respect returned. The respect was never about money, it was about fashion. It was cheaper to stay home. But Julia chose to work to give her a reason to get dressed in the morning and a reason to shop for her professional, beloved suits. She was back!

Julia is now considered plus-size or a real woman as she would call it. She still wears her suits, menswear fabric, Chanel makeup, and dresses up for work, weekends, church, and any other event she can think of. Regardless of the event, there is a fashion to fit it.

After returning to full-time work in accounting as a real woman, Julia went to work part-time at Lane Bryant. It was not for the minimum-wage pay, but for the chance to help other real women feel better about themselves as they saw the clothes transform them in the mirror. The feeling of watching someone being internally transformed in such a positive manner is priceless. After two and a half years in part-time retail, Julia’s family asked her to return home and work only her day job to have more time to spend with them.

Now that the part-time job was over, a new avenue for her passion emerged. The administrative staff at work would periodically fall off the professional fashion wagon, and lunch-and-learns were immediately set up, along with a gift card, to help fix the problem.

Julia never had formal training in fashion. She never visited Paris in person, but she never missed a trip to a fashion capital with Elsa Klensch. She never studied history fashion, but her entire life has been shaped and wound around fashion.

Haute couture clothing, no. Hand-made tailored clothing, yes. Educated in fashion history, no. Educated and wears fashion, yes. Patternmakers, seamstresses, ready-to-wear, all these fashion terms were unknown at the time, but Julia used them in her everyday life.

Julia’s seasonal clothing changes like this: March – new spring wear, June – new summer wear, September – new fall wear (her favorite of all), and December – new winter wear. This is not quite the same as fashion week, but the crude gist of fashion week is there. A time is set to change clothing for each new season. Though fashion week might not coincide with Julia’s clothing season, the basis is the same.

Fashion was the reason she worked so hard in kindergarten to earn the wig. Her first job was to purchase her fashion. Her career had to be centered on menswear suiting. Now, her new direction in life is finally focused on her unrelenting passion – fashion.

Julia is now a certified image consultant.



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