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Mar 29, 2013

This Fashion Advice is Not For You

Bloomingdales recently started giving fashion advice for certain occasions, which is a really fun feature on the website except that professional women must take the workwear advice with a grain (or cup) of salt. This advice, like the workwear advice featured on most fashion magazines like Vogue, InStyle and Lucky, are really only for certain jobs — often creative and casual-wear jobs — and not for more conservative and old-fashioned workplaces like law firms and investment banks. So if you’re looking for some fashion tips, look at the people around you and find inspiration there rather than on the fashion pages.

Why this look doesn’t work for professional women:
- The dress is unstructured, bringing it closer to an intimate nightgown look than a corporate dress look
- The hemline is much too short
- The shoes are too edgy and trendy
- The jacket is too casual

What does work:

-The bag

-The iced latte

-The sunglasses (but only for the commute)

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Mar 5, 2012

Are You a Fashion Lover or a Fashion Hoarder? An Interview with James Allen Smith

When it comes to our closets, most of us are guilty of it being a bit overstuffed — sometimes with things we’ve owned for 10 years and other times with things that still have tags hanging on them.  But where do you draw the line between fashion lover and fashion hoarder?  James Allen Smith of Hoarders gives us his insight.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

James:  I have to preface the following with a mild disclaimer. I’m not a doctor, therapist, or professional organizer. I did grow up as a child of a hoarder before there was any awareness or even real definition. I’m a Story Producer / Writer for an A&E documentary series called Hoarders. I do not go to the shoots, I only deal with all the footage once it is shot. I’ve worked on close to 30 episodes to date, so the answers I’ll give will only be based on watching 100′s of hours of footage through the window of my computer screen.

Prune:  Why do you think some people hold on to clutter in their lives?

James: In the case of extreme hoarders, almost all can point to a traumatic event or series of events that trigger their hoarding behavior. If you watch Hoarders you’ll usually learn what that trigger was for the hoarder before the first commercial break. For less extreme conditions, it can literally be as simple as disorganization. Disorganization, and procrastination are human nature, so it’s very easy for those behaviors to manifest themselves physically in our environment. We hold onto things because we think we’ll need them later, we keep old magazines because we eventually want to get to that article… Most all of us get to a point where ‘enough is enough’ and we take 5 minutes, 2 hours or a weekend to take care of our clutter. A lot of times this cleanup is spurred by a guest coming by. Sometimes we throw things in a closet (5 minutes). When there’s no room left in the closet we close the bedroom door when guests arrive (damn, I really need to take 2 hours and de-clutter this room). When the clutter is so bad that we’d prefer to meet friends out of the house, it might be time to take a weekend and de-clutter.

Prune:  Where do you draw the line between collecting and hoarding?

James: Respect. When you’re walking through your house and a pile falls over what do you do? If you stop and take a moment to straighten the pile out, you might collect stuff or even have issues with clutter. If you sigh and step over it, you could be on your way to becoming a hoarder. Collectors respect their things, because it really is about the things. They’re fascinated by them, they get excited about finding new things for their collection and they are usually pretty meticulous about how they’re going to organize and display their things. They know exactly where each item is and can find instantly or at the very least, have a system to find it quickly. A hoarder usually uses things to comfort them or protect themselves. Sometimes their hoarding is about building a wall, so the condition of the individual things loses importance. The trees turn into a forest. It becomes less abouth this and that and more about “my stuff!” seen in the singular.

Prune:  What is the one thing you are dangerously close to hoarding?

James:  Bags! My wife says I’m already a bag hoarder. Shoulder bags, computer bags, grocery bags, luggage, you name it. nearly half of my garage is stuffed with bags… I think I need to take a weekend to de-clutter.

Prune:  Have you implemented any purging habits as a result of what you have learned on Hoarders?

James: I hear people say that they watch Hoarders while they clean their house (cool, but please don’t watch it while you’re eating). The organizers do say a lot of practical and relevant things about organizing that we often don’t have time to put into the show. I used to keep old mail and old magazines… Now I throw them out.

Prune:  Would you ever be able to live a minimalist lifestyle?

James: I think about that a lot when I travel, and I think I could. I sometimes go weeks at a time living out of my carry-on. I’ve learned that I really only need clothes and the Internet.

Prune:  How would you describe your home organization habits?

James: My wife asked me to deal with “Jenga” last night, referring to the recycling bin that had a pile sticking out as high as the bin is deep. I’m definitely a procrastinator, but I can’t deal with looking at a mess. I have bins with miscellaneous electronics tucked away in Ikea shelves in my office. And of course there’s those bags in the garage. There are always magazines out and I love me a couple nice coffee table books but for the most part, I like the place neat.

James Allen Smith is a documentary filmmaker and Story Producer / Writer for the Emmy-nominated television show Hoarders.  After he completed his first documentary film, Floored, in 2009, he connected with a television production company based in his hometown of Seattle, where he was introduced to the show Hoarders.

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Mar 2, 2012

The Smoky Eye Defogged — How Professionals Can Bring the Trend to Work

The smoky eye is one of the most popular looks in the beauty industry. But its intensity can be intimidating, especially for women looking for a professional look. Fortunately, there are less intense versions of the smoky eye and once you realize that the smoky eye is really just a variation of a basic eyeshadow technique, you don’t need a beauty expert to tell you how to wear it.

The components of a dramatic eyeshadow look are: 1) a mid-tone color on your lid, 2) a darker color in your crease, and 3) a lighter color on your brow bone.

It’s all in the technique: The most important part of achieving the smoky eye is blending. You need to use a blending brush in quick, upward and outward motions that blur the lines between the different eyeshadow colors to create the fading effect you see in ads.

Turn up the heat: The most intense smoky eyes use one very dark color (black, charcoal gray, or deep brown) on the lid and the crease, eliminating the mid-tone. The dark color is applied along the bottom lash line, and the eye is lined all the way around. Line before applying the shadow if you don’t want to worry about blending the liner.

The brow bone color, if any, closely matches the skin tone, giving the brow the appearance of a lift. A cat-eye shape at the outer corner with the liner or shadow creates extra drama.

For a more colorful look, break away from just blacks, browns and grays and add any color you want, including in liners! You might even find ways to use more than three colors – like a fourth color on your bottom lashes. If you’re afraid of color, just use one on your lid and crease, and you don’t have to have a different one on your brow bone.

Trendy-schmendy: There’s definitely something to be said for choosing trendy looks or colors to match the season, but you can also break the rules and wear bright pinks and vibrant golds in the winter.

Toning it down: You can create less intense smoky eyes by using lighter shades of black, grey or brown on the lid and on the crease and a lighter liner, if any. You might forgo color on the bottom lash line. You don’t have to apply the dark color to the entire crease – you can just apply it to the outer corner in a small, quick circular motion for less intensity.

You can bring back the mid-tone and even put the mid-tone shade in the crease. To take attention away from the mid-tone and dark colors around the eye, the highlighting color on the brow bone (if you choose to have one) can still approximate the skin tone but be more visible – for instance, a silver on white skin or a bronze on brown skin.

Here, I’ve chosen to match my outfit, and wear a shimmery, medium-to-dark silver (which shows up as a lighter silver on my brown skin) on my lids and blended up to the outer corner of my eyes for a mild smoky eye.

For beginners: If you are not ready to incorporate the smoky eye look into your repertoire, just swipe your favorite shadow on your lids or a shimmery, skin-toned color from lashline to brow bone. You can even use your ring finger! This simple look might get you more comfortable with eyeshadow and pique your interest in trying something more involved.

India K. Autry is a makeup artist and author of the blog www.lipstickandstyle.com.  She lives in New York City and graduated from NYU School of Law.

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Jan 25, 2012

How to Wear Spring’s Sheer Trend to Work

Sheer fabrics are gearing up to be one of Spring’s biggest trends.

Is there a safe way to make it work for work if you catch the gutsy bug?

Professional ladies, listen up.  If you work in a conservative environment, such as a financial institution or law firm, you can’t follow everything the fashion magazines say flies for work! Their “work” style suggestions are geared towards working in a creative office such as, say, a fashion magazine. So tone it down a bit (or a lot) and follow my advice instead. (I worked in a formal environment for several years.)

Here is an example of what the magazines advise could fly for work but would NEVER fly in a conservative work environment:

So what WOULD work for work?

Let me show you how to channel the trend 1) without bearing too much and 2) without spending too much money.

1.  The Sheer Collar:  Here is an example of an outfit you actually COULD wear to work in a conservative environment.  The collar is black with a sheer blouse peeking through, but you’re not revealing any more than you would with a V-neck sweater. Yet, switching a plain white open collar for a buttoned-up black collar polishes up your look and sets you apart from the suits crowd.  For an affordable version of the sheer collared shirt, try American Apparel.  If you feel like splurging, try Christian Dior (below).

 2. Sheer Black Nylons: Yes, they’re back! For a long time they were banned to the land of old-lady-wear and wearing them in your 20s or 30s would have earned you some bizarre looks. But now they have been blessed by Kate Middleton, Katie Holmes and on the runway, and, magically, look cool again. So stock up at your drugstore with a few pairs under $10 for instant glam-ification.

Takeaway point: Get inspired by the magazines but never take it literally!  Always look around your own office to see the tone of the dress code, and think creatively about how to subtly express yourself.  (And maybe keep a change of clothes in your office in case you have a change of heart when you arrive).

How will I be satisfying my trend craving without blowing my budget?  By playing up sheer items that are ALREADY in my closet.

Like the red feather skirt by Rag & Bone sported by Blake Lively:

And this sheer dotted dress by H&M that I scored in Dusseldorf, Germany:

If I were to splurge, I would buy a date-night blouse like this one:

Or a sexy dress like this one:

P.S. Men are not left out of this trend! But it might take a special kind of guy to pull this off.

 

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Jan 17, 2012

3 Tricks We Give Our Petite Clients

When we edit the closets of petite women, we often encounter 3 recurring problems.  We list them below with the solutions.

1.  PROBLEM:  Tops without definition.  

FIX:  Add a structured blazer.  

One of our recent clients had flowy, oversized tops that she rightfully disliked because they hid her toned frame.  A quick fix that was right in her closet was swapping the baggy sweaters she layered on top for fitted structured blazers.  They instantly cleaned up her look, made her look more sophisticated and still revealed the pretty patterns of the tops she once liked while tucking them in at the waist.

 

 

2.  PROBLEM:  Cutting yourself off.  

FIX:  Draw attention near your face.  

Instead of having the interesting colorful patterns on the bottom or near your middle, bring them up close to your face with an accessory like a scarf or a blouse with great detail in the neckline.

 

 

 

 

 

3.  PROBLEM:  Too-loose pants or jeans add more weight to a small frame.  

FIX:  Opt for skinny pants and jeans that elongate the figure.  

Bell-bottom jeans or other wide-leg pants are better left for taller women.  Petites, especially those with thinner figures shine in skinny or cigarette pants that show off their small frame and visually elongate their bodies.  For extra length opt for darker washes of denim.

 

Petite fashion icon Rachel Bilson often uses all of our 3 tricks in her outfits:

   

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Jan 16, 2012

7 Things You Can Do Right Now To Get More Organized

Was getting organized one of your new resolutions?  If you’re not making much headway, here are 7 things you can do this week to bring some order to the chaos.

1.  Round up all those t-shirts:  You know, the ones you got as souvenirs from a trip to the beach or from your sorority or from a baseball game.  The ones you keep around for exercise, or to wear around the house or to sleep.  Make a decision as to which 3 you will keep.  What to do with the rest of them?  You can donate them to a charity for the homeless like Salvation Army, or to a recycling collection like Grow NYC.  You can also make a quilt out of the t-shirts if they hold sentimental value or simply take pictures of them and make a photo album.

2.  Pare down your underwear:  Anything too worn, like socks with holes, should go to the trash.  You’ve gotten plenty of use out of it — you can guiltlessly chuck it at this point.  Anything uncomfortable or that you cringe when you get down to it being the only thing left clean to wear can also go to the bin.

 

3.  Prune your books:  Any books you have already read and have no desire to read again, give to a friend or donate to a local library.  Any that you bought with the intention to read but are no longer interested in reading can also go to a new home.  Organize the remaining ones by subject (fiction, nonfiction) or specific topics of interest.

 

4.  Throw out old newspapers and magazines:  Anything older than the last 3 issues of newspapers or magazines should go to a new home.  If an article interested you, rip it out and stick it into a labeled file folder for future reference.  Papers collect and create dust very easily — don’t let these stack up.

 

5.  Separate makeup into two bags:  Your daily makeup should be in one easy-to-reach spot and your special occasion or variety makeup should be in a separate bag or box further away from reach.  If you have doubles of items, create a travel bag.  The point is you don’t need to have three mascara tubes in your daily bag.

 

6.  Separate toiletries into current and backup:  Some people, including me, like to have backup toiletries at hand — extra shampoo, another tube of toothpaste, etc.  You don’t need to have all of it on display, however.  Instead of having three bottles on your bathtub, pick the one that is closest to being finished and stock the rest in a linen closet until their time comes.

 

7.  Get real about your jeans:  My clients often have way too many pairs of jeans, most of which don’t fit or don’t look good anymore.  Try on each pair and honestly answer whether or not you still like them, whether or not they are still in style and whether or not they fit you or will fit you in the next 3 months.  Regardless, you do not need more than 5 pairs of jeans, unless they are your daily clothing item and then you can budget up to 10 pairs in your wardrobe.

 

 

 

 

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