1 white linen top 3 ways for summer fun

A basic white linen top can be the foundation for great summer outfits, bumping up the polish from a knit tee and keeping you cool at the same time.

Everything I’m wearing – with the exception of the tassel necklace (a travel purchase), the belt (made in the USA), and the polka dot scarf (a gift) – was purchased new-to-me, including the shoes. Right now is a great time to shop consignment – the summer sales are on! #secondhandfirst

with cropped jeans

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Cropped jeans (with a contemporary raw hem – mine are DIY!) and comfy neutral wedge sandals make a simple, polished outfit for knocking around or casual going out. A long skinny silk scarf as a belt adds a pop of fun.

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white on white

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White on white is bright and fresh for summer, and the gold metallic strappy flat sandals (Stuart Weitzman, unworn, and a steal at consignment prices) complement the monochromatic look. Tie a small silk square scarf into a bracelet for a fashion-forward splash of color and head to your favorite patio for cocktails and dining al fresco.

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with bright shorts

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Feel put together for daytime fun with bright shorts and sandals good for walking. I love the embroidered anchor print on these shorts – I’m a sucker for preppy, throwback styles!  Partial-tuck the top (notice I did this in all three looks for body definition) and add a belt for further polish. Casual, but intentional.

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Stay cool!

 

#secondhandfirst

The new normal for weather patterns everywhere is volatility. Here we swing from 90s to 50s and back and have dramatic thunderstorms and droughts thrown in. My previous career included work dedicated to improving water quality: 1-inch rainfall events used to be the standard used for managing stormwater – now the standard is 4-inch rainfall events.

This is climate change in action.

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What does this have to do with the clothing we wear? A lot. The growth and manufacture of the textile fibers used, how garments are created, the transport of them around the globe, and their disposal all have environmental impact and contribute to climate change in varying degrees. And the fashion industry only continues to expand, with American spending on clothing and footwear up 14% in 2016, according to a recent article in the New York Times that grapples with this issue.

It’s grim to think about the long-term impact our consumer actions have. But there is a way to lessen our impact, and boy is it sweet.

#secondhandfirst

This hashtag has been cropping up here and there with more frequency on social media, and I. LOVE. IT. It’s been around for bit – check out #secondhandfirst on Instagram and on Twitter – and lately thredUP has been using it specifically in their marketing.

I love it, because it is the perfect way to remember how to practice sustainable consumerism – my ndwc mission. Buy second-hand (what I like to call new-to-you) clothing first. You can also call it resale. Whatever phrase works for you, just do it!

There are so many fabulous clothing resale options in the Twin Cities as well as online. It makes so much sense to shop new-to-you – both environmentally and economically. And now is the perfect time to check it out; summer sales at consignment shops begin in July – items that are typically priced 1/3 of retail cost are 50-75% off those prices.

“The environmental problems from textiles will continue to compound if we can’t get rid of that mind-set that clothing is disposable.”  ~ Frances Kozen

Clothing is not disposable. #Secondhandfirst means keeping high quality clothing that will last in the use stream – reducing demand for the manufacture of new clothing and lessening solid-waste issues around the world. It means each of us taking a simple action to reduce our impact on the environment. (Added bonus: it reduces impact on our pocketbooks too!)

If enough of us practice sustainable consumerism, together we can make positive change. Let’s do it!

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what to pack: a week of upper-90s in Washington, DC

Last week my family traveled to Washington, DC, because my daughter Grace was competing in National History Day (NHD). She won First Place in the Junior Research Paper category at the Minnesota State Competition in April, which earned her a spot in the national competition – super exciting, and we were over the moon!

The weather forecast was for upper-90s all week, and – for once – it was completely accurate. What to pack when it’s going to be blistering hot for a week, and you know you will be touring outside for much of the time?

beat the heat

I almost always travel with only a carry-on roller bag, and this time was no exception. Since I knew that I needed to focus on staying cool, I packed several summer dresses, a pair of shorts, one skirt, one sleeveless blouse, one t-shirt, 3 pairs of sandals, and two pairs of sneakers. (I know – a lot of shoes, but these are what give you choices for dressing up or down and comfort for a lot of walking.) I also added a lightweight scarf to throw on in case I got cold in air-conditioned museums, which came in very handy.

On the travel days, I wore cropped jeans, because I always freeze on the plane. I used my scarf on the way there – I would have been shivering in the sleeveless blouse without it.

To see photo captions, hover over the bottom of the photo or click on it to enlarge.

 

keepin’ it real

I often hear from my clients that they chose me and enjoy working with me because I am a “real” person, not super trendy or focused on being a fashionista. And that makes me really happy, because what I do is to help people feel authentic in expressing their personal style and feel great while they’re at it.

As you can see from the photos, I’m definitely keeping it real. When it’s over 90 degrees by 10 AM, the level of dishevelment progresses quickly! I have an appreciation for all those fashion/travel bloggers who curate their photos to perfection – we would have had to spend the entire week working on just that, but that’s not why we were there. So, here’s to living real life!

So, it was hot. SO. HOT. You can see the flush on our faces and, yes, the heat was radiating off the pavement in full force! Dresses were the way to go – cool and breezy.

awkward turtle

I’m a reluctant photographic subject. I LOVE being the photographer, but put me in front of the camera, and I go stiff as a board. Grace was my trusty “outfit of the day” photographer on this trip, and for some reason all the photos for this day’s shoot were looking really, really awkward (it was me, not the photographer). Grace’s teacher had just taught us the awkward turtle the day before, so I did it to try to relax – it was the only photo that worked! Again, keepin’ it real, people.

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Awkward Turtle and the US Capitol

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Grace, much less awkward, conferring with Minnesota’s Mr. History before her interview with the NHD judges. Her paper is “Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: Standing Up for Women, Science, and the Environment.”

 

nevertheless, she persisted

Grace and I got these shirts before our trip, and we thought the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial was an appropriate place for the message. This memorial was really powerful – the artist captured the significance of Dr. King’s place in history in a moving way.

A really big bonus – we saw Senator Elizabeth Warren in one of the Senate Buildings the following day! Both Grace’s teacher and I were starstruck and speechless!

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Love my girl.

 

 

 

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US Capitol from a tunnel used by our representatives.

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Grace won second place in her category for the national competition!! It was so exciting to see our daughter recognized in such a way for her hard work, determination, and you better believe it, persistence!

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National History Day Parade of States – the large gaggle of students wearing maroon is Minnesota!

 

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And she was tired.

 

 

2 steps forward, 1 step back – the positive body image dance

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Friend and fellow entrepreneur Christina Boyd-Smith passed on this graphic illustrating the progress of entrepreneurship. It has a few swear words in it. Words I have NEVER uttered. I swear.

Positive body image is just like entrepreneurship – two steps forward, and one step back. Sometimes it’s three steps back. Sometimes you trip. Sometimes you fall spectacularly. But you pick yourself up and keep going.

I have been struggling with maintaining positive body image lately, and I figured it’s time I write about it. News flash – I don’t have it all figured out! Not by a long shot. But I’m still trying. 

When I started thinking about this post, this graphic popped right into my mind. The “WTF happened?” part in particular. Things with body image can be all “champagne!” and then BOOM, they’re not. It might even be the champagne that contributes to that. (Or maybe it’s the chocolate. Or both.) It can start by catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror, or seeing a photo of yourself.

I could write a long list of things I don’t like about my body. At the top of that list right now would be that I’ve gained enough weight that a lot of my pants are feeling really snug. I’m also in the midst of finally letting my hair go grey. Sigh.

But why does there need to be a list? Or if there is a list, why isn’t it all the amazing things about my body? And why aren’t gaining some weight and grey hair amazing? Thinking about all of this makes me want to eat more chocolate. Which then makes me feel like a failure. And so it continues…

Does this spiral of negative thinking sound familiar to you? Yours might have a different spin to it, but the black hole of negative body image is powerful for so many of us. Throw in a peri-menopausal mood swing or twelve and it’s a supernova.

breaking the spiral

I can get to a pretty dark, negative place in my feelings about myself – I spent a lot of years hating and hiding my body, and I got really good at it. Learning to like my body has been a slow process, and it is a path I have to take consciously. It isn’t second nature or effortless, and it very likely never will be.

How do I break the spiral?

When the negative body image thoughts get going, the first step is to say, “Stop.” Say it in your head or out loud if you need to, but definitely say it. Disrupting the pattern of thinking is key.

It’s really important not to be hard on yourself for the negative thoughts – acknowledge that you are feeling them. What helps to change them is to move through them to a different place. Saying “Stop” is a way to acknowledge them and begin a new trajectory.

Then ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend if she were saying these things about herself and her body?” Then SAY THOSE THINGS. To yourself. Out loud if you need to! Say them again. And if you find yourself arguing with the kind – and true – things, say “Stop,” and try again.

As for the too-tight pants. This could be a trigger of negative body image every. single. morning. Here’s the thing – they are just pants. And the number on the scale is just a number. To be honest, I haven’t weighed myself – I don’t need to – I know the number is higher because of the too-tight pants! No need to feed the shame cycle with seeing the higher number on the scale. Here’s what I do instead:

I put on bigger pants.

Ones that fit my body right now, today, this week, or however long I’m at this current weight. Another news flash – weight can fluctuate or change as much as your mood during peri-menopause. Wearing too-tight pants just makes you feel bad. So don’t do it! Heck, maybe I’ll wear a skirt or dress today!

And then I tell myself: Which pants I’m wearing, the number on the scale, the number of grey hairs on my head – these things do not determine my self-worth. How I treat myself, how I let others treat me, how I treat others; these are the stuff of self-worth. How I show up in my life is what makes me ME. Not the too-tight pants.

How I treat myself, how I let others treat me, how I treat others; these are the stuff of self-worth. How I show up in my life is what makes me ME. Not the too-tight pants.

two steps forward

My two steps forward for positive body image are taking care of myself and dressing in an intentional way. Making an effort to keep my body healthy and strong with good food, exercise, mindfulness, sleep (another peri-menopause rollercoaster), and permission to indulge sometimes keeps me in touch with my physical well-being.

Embracing my body as it is right now and dressing intentionally to feel my best keeps me in touch with my psychological well-being. Feeling good about what you are wearing helps you to feel good about your whole self. Dressing intentionally is a way to say “Stop” to the cycle of negativity in a tangible, visible way that also helps you bring your best self to the world. It’s called “enclothed cognition” – your clothing affects your confidence levels and overall psychological state.

I will always have the one step back in the positive body image dance, but I’m still moving forward. With each setback, I use the practices I’ve learned to treat myself with the compassion and kindness that I deserve. I want that for you too. Every person – particularly us women – deserves that.

5 trends for spring 2017 (and a couple of ‘no way!’s)

Minnesota is finally (FINALLY!) starting to feel like spring. Here are some trends for the season to help you dress intentionally to feel contemporary and confident. Choose trends that resonate with you to express your personal style and authentic, awesome self!

spring 2017

1. black and white polka dots

Black and white polka dots are classic and so fresh for spring! Gorgeous for both work and play. Add a pop of spring color like the fabulous Pink Yarrow belt and purse above for polish and style.

2. bold stripes

As y’all know, I love my stripes! Bold, geometric, and multi-colored stripes are hot for this spring and summer. Have fun with statement pieces and color to brighten your day and boost your confidence.

3. garden party floral prints

Feminine florals – a spring mainstay – in all styles of dresses are an easy way to look put together for work or going out. Choose the sheath or shift cut for work and the maxi-dress or full-skirt for play. Add an ankle-strap sandal (low block or high heel) and you are all set!

4. striped oxford cloth shirt dresses

A more subtle look is the menswear-riffing shirt dress in classic oxford stripes. Pair it with cropped skinny- or straight-leg jeans for spring and wear it on its own in the hotter summer months. Belt it with a matching belt like above, or use a leather belt in a bright color to add structure and definition. If it’s really hot out, skip the belt for a breezy-cool stylish look. Mules, low-heeled slingbacks, flat sandals, and classic white sneakers all work well with the shirt dress.

5. classic trench coats

The trench coat is the quintessential spring jacket – it goes with everything and is timelessly stylish. Go classic with khaki, or have fun with a bright color or print. When cinching the belt, skip the buckle and tie a knot – easier and fabulous! Add a silk scarf for polished style.

just can’t do it

80s revival

Sigh. Oversized power shoulders – think massive shoulder pads and “puffball” shoulders from the 80s – are back. I was all over them then; not so much now. If it speaks to you, go for it!

underwear as outerwear

Bras, bustiers, and corsets worn on their own, on the outside of your shirt, or showing through a transparent blouse. Again – you do you – but it’s not for me!

what do you think?

Which trends resonate with you? Or don’t? Most importantly, wear clothes that make you feel great! Dressing intentionally will help that happen.

Happy Spring!

 

i ♥ resale: Elite Repeat

In honor of Earth Day last year, I posted a roundup of consignment and resale clothing shops in the Twin Cities. We are fortunate to have a broad selection of choices – each having its own niche in the market.

As we mark Earth Day tomorrow, I’m celebrating practicing sustainable consumerism with the first in a periodic series, I ♥ Resale, featuring local consignment shops.

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elite repeat

Elite Repeat is a gem. Located on Randolph Avenue at Hamline in St. Paul, the shop celebrated its 40th Anniversary last fall. After 18 years as an employee, Melissa “Missy” Auran took ownership of Elite Repeat in 2014, and she has brought a fresh eye, tone, and energy in her new role.

Elite Repeat features “designer and on-trend clothing and accessories.” The consignment portion of the shop has recently been augmented with an increased selection of new jewelry, scarves, and “giftables,” many of which are Minnesota-made.

Elite Repeat’s selection is appealing to women of all ages and styles – classic, contemporary, trendy, and couture. You will find higher-end mall brands like JCrew, Talbots, and Banana Republic, all the way up to Burberry, Prada, Chanel, and St. John. They also have a nice selection of outerwear, athletic wear (think Athleta, Lululemon, and more), accessories and handbags, and shoes.

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Melissa Auran

“Customer service is really important to us – it’s how we distinguish ourselves. We want Elite Repeat to feel like a boutique – and we want people to feel good when they are here, whether they buy something or not.”  ~Missy Auran

Elite Repeat is very selective in what it accepts for consignment: “Items need to be in excellent condition and current [3 or less years old, unless a timeless designer piece],” according to Missy. “We have a very large and loyal consigner base, and we are always looking for new consigners – from teens to grandparents.”

This makes shopping easier – I know when I do a personal shopping session with a client at Elite Repeat that the clothing will be like brand new. And the staff is careful about not overcrowding the racks, which can get overwhelming and frustrating. If you are looking for a particular item, they will bring out any extra stock for you.

The staff regularly refreshes displays and creates an appealing, relaxing environment to shop in while featuring their offerings.

Once a customer told Missy, “This is the one store where I can shop together with my mom. At the mall we have to shop in separate stores to find what each of us likes.”

Elite Repeat has a fabulous selection of dresses, workwear, and casual pieces.

Elite Repeat reliably has gorgeous shoes – from casual, like these on trend for summer espadrilles, to drool-worthy high end designer brands.

Handbags range from good quality mall brands to designer, like the Kate Spade one on the left. They are always in excellent condition and reflect contemporary styles.

A portion of the shop features “giftables,” many Minnesota-made. You will find lotions, house decor, accessories, and more.

Missy’s first job in retail was at Dayton’s! Elite Repeat just started carrying Bygone Brand Apparel’s homage to the historic department store’s iconic logo. You can find memories of Elite Repeat’s original concept of couture consignment in decor like these vintage department store hatboxes.

giving back

For a second year, Elite Repeat is celebrating Earth Day (tomorrow, Saturday, April 22!) by giving a portion of the day’s sales to plant trees in the community through Friends Of The Parks And Trails Of St Paul And Ramsey County.

The shop also holds a food drive two times a year in conjunction with their seasonal clearance sales in July and February. Shoppers receive 75% (instead of 50%) off all items with a food or cash donation to The Food Group.

And Elite Repeat supports organizations like Dress for Success, the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota, and Operation Glass Slipper by donating all unsold merchandise at the end of the season, and consigners receive the tax donation slips for their items. Consigners can also donate their earnings to an organization of their choice.

when you go

You will receive a warm welcome and a great selection of new-to-you clothing at Elite Repeat. As Missy says – and I couldn’t agree more, “We want people to wear what makes them feel good!”

 

 

from ‘meh’ to ‘fab!’ in a single step

Here is a trick I share with all my clients because it is so stinkin’ easy to remember and to do. It’s all over the fashion blogs, and it is the primary reason stylish people look so, well, stylish.

Are you ready?

the third piece rule

Add a third piece to what you are wearing. That’s it.

You have to put on a top (1) and a bottom (2) for coverage. Add a distinctive belt, scarf, jacket, colorful or interesting sweater, or statement necklace (3) – instant ensemble! You can even feel daring and add a 4th and 5th element, like a hat, bracelet, or fun shoes to further express your personal style.

meh

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My stripey Breton shirt is kind of fun and is a favorite. I LOVE stripes. See my logo up there? I really love stripes. But even with the fun stripes, this outfit is kind of blah. With the high boatneck cut and long length, the shirt looks like a sea of stripes, which throws off the balance of visual lines for the outfit. (Another thing I talk about with my clients all. the. time.)

baby bear steps

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Lookey there. I added my third piece, a chunky jeans belt, and partial-tucked my shirt to highlight it. The sea of stripes is now balanced by the belt, and the partial tuck adds definition to the overall lines of the outfit, while maintaining an easy style with softer lines than a shirt tucked in completely.

mama bear

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Even though the belt acts as a third piece, let’s take it a step further. For me, I consider the partial-tuck and belt part of the basic ensemble, since I almost always use them when I wear jeans (and often other pants) to create balanced lines for my body.

Look at what the polka-dot scarf paired with the stripes does for the outfit! This is still a really simple, casual ensemble – great for knocking around on a gorgeous spring day. Adding the scarf shows I thought about my outfit. It also creates more balance by adding vertical flow to the visual lines. And pattern mixing shows even more intentionality and polish.

papa bear

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The structure of a jacket instantly adds polish to any outfit. A jacket particularly ramps up style when paired with jeans. It can be a blazer, military-style, denim, knit, leather, you name it. Jackets should fit well in the shoulders, provide definition, and full-length sleeves should hit at the base of thumb.

I’m going for a French-inspired look with my Breton stripes peeking out from a belted navy blazer. I did tuck the shirt in fully to maintain the clean lines of the jacket.

I love this blazer. It fits perfectly and will be so much fun to wear this spring.

goldilocks!

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To fully embrace the French look, you need a silk scarf. This one is Emilio Pucci, and I really love the vibrancy of the blue geometrical design. See how it pulls the whole outfit together with a pop of color and polish? Casual, but intentional. And this outfit makes me feel great. That’s what it’s all about.

Outfit details:

Breton-stripe shirt – JJill – old (I will be so sad when it dies – it’s been a great staple); jeans – JCrew – old; belt – SO old, but another great staple

Blazer – Sharagano Suits; polka-dot scarf – JCrew; silk scarf – Emilio Pucci; loafers – Cole Haan. All are from Nu Look Consignment in Minneapolis! I had great success during their winter clearance sale a couple of months back.

 

3 myths about wardrobe consulting

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Saint Paul Magazine recently published a feature article about nancy dilts wardrobe consulting (fabulous article – super exciting!!), and for the last few weeks I’ve been getting the question, “Have you had tons of phone calls since the article?” The honest answer? No.

It makes me a little queasy to say that here. But it’s true, and frankly, I didn’t expect to get a huge increase in calls right after the article. Not because the article isn’t amazing or I don’t think my work is important or worthy – I KNOW it is.

Being in this business for several years, I also know that my clients don’t engage in my services impulsively. And that’s ok. In fact, for my work with clients to have the most impact, they need to be ready – ready to embrace feeling good and open to stepping outside of their comfort zones to accomplish that.

Some things that hold people back, though, are just plain myths.

myth 1: it’s too expensive

My tagline is “style for everyday: new to you – true to you.” New-to-you refers to my focus on practicing sustainable consumerism.

A lot of my clients have never shopped consignment before working with me. They are floored when they realize the quality of clothing they can get at 1/3 or less than retail prices. Even when you factor my fees into the overall investment, you are still spending less than you would on fewer items of retail clothing, and without the guidance, support, efficiency, and success you gain when working with me.

Here are some numbers to make it real: during a 3-hour personal shopping session at a consignment store with a client, we found 28 high quality top brand/designer items to rebuild her wardrobe – including two pairs of boots, two pairs of shoes, and a belt – for $300. I looked up the retail prices of each item, which totaled at a whopping $1,900.

The client had selected my True To You Style service package, which includes a 3-hour Wardrobe Consult in your closet, personal Style Guidelines and a digital “lookbook,” and a 3-hour personal shopping session for $525.

By working with me, she invested $825 overall, less than half the retail cost of the clothing alone.

myth 2: i can do it myself

Sure, you can do it yourself. But this I know: it will take longer, it will be harder, and you won’t have the same results.

When I tell clients we will get through their (typically-sized) wardrobe in three hours, they are amazed. I know from personal experience that going through your own wardrobe by yourself takes at least twice that long. The emotional energy required and sheer number of decisions to be made make it much more difficult to do solo. I also help clients create new outfits with the clothes they already own, adding energy and increased function to their wardrobes.

Clients are also completely certain that we will never spend a full three hours at one store when personal shopping or find more than 2 or 3 items. Most of the time, clients find as many as 20-30 items in a 3-hour personal shopping session, unless they choose to purchase fewer. And those are items that fit well, reflect their personal style, go with other items being purchased or items at home, and – best of all – make them feel excited about how they look.

myth 3: i’m not worth it

Women often put themselves last. We are inculturated to feel like it is frivolous to spend money or time on ourselves. We feel our needs are not worth as much as others’ needs. Some of us simply don’t have very much time to spend on ourselves because of the demands of work and life. I often hear women say they won’t address their wardrobes until they have accomplished some other thing, like weight loss or getting in shape.

Here’s the kicker: being intentional about how you dress – right now, as is – helps you to accomplish your other goals. Scientific studies show that when you feel confident in how you are dressed, it has a positive psychological impact, allowing you to have greater success overall. We are all worth taking care of ourselves, no matter where we are in our journeys.

the myth-busting truth

I’m a busy girl on a budget too, so I know about making choices with my time and my dollars. I also know that taking care of yourself, including how you are dressed, is an essential part of your overall wellbeing.

When you work with me, this is what you gain:
  • Assistance in identifying your current personal style and embracing it
  • Objective and supportive guidance in making your existing wardrobe more functional through purging things that don’t work, reimagining ways to wear the items that do, and identifying gaps to be filled and items to be replaced
  • Effective and efficient shopping support for rebuilding your wardrobe to meet your current needs in an affordable way
  • A closet full of clothing that WORKS for your body and personal style, instead of an overwhelming clutter of items that cause frustration
  • A better understanding of how to put clothing together to make intentional, polished outfits that reflect your personal style and suit you
  • Positive, honest advice and feedback and open communication (And even some laughter!)
  • Countless hours of precious time and energy saved
  • Renewed confidence and joy in your appearance and feeling your best

Working with me is about so much more than the financial investment or feeling like you shouldn’t. It’s about taking care of your outer self, which is really about taking care of your inner self too. It’s about having someone who can help make daily dressing SO. MUCH. EASIER. Which allows you to live your life feeling good about how you look, right now, today.

Today is a perfect day to start the process of feeling great about how you look.

I always ask new clients how they learned about my services. I won’t be surprised at all if for the next year, and beyond, I hear, “I saw you in Saint Paul Magazine, and I’m finally contacting you!”

What’s stopping you from connecting with me today? Because really, today is a perfect day to start the process of feeling great about how you look.

 

2 transition outfits

We are having some wacky-weird weather. It changes overnight from 30 degrees to 60 and then back to 30 again the next day. The snow is gone, making it seem like spring, even though it’s not. Today we have 40 MPH winds – I’m not exaggerating. Clients and friends alike are asking me, “What the heck to do I wear?”

The transition to spring is HARD in Minnesota. This time of year you want to shift away from winter clothing, even if it is still cold. Here are two outfits ideas to ease the transition – one dress and one casual. Apply the elements of these outfits to others to stay warm and think spring at the same time.

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Pair a bright, fine-gauge knit sweater and silk scarf – Pantone’s Spring 2017 colors Pink Yarrow and Lapis Blue here – with gray full-length or cropped dress pants to hint at the spring to come. Add a bold print coat like houndstooth for a fresh look, and don’t be afraid to pattern mix with a texture or smaller plaid. Wear classic black or contemporary gray ankle boots for sloppy or cold weather and shift to stylish block-heel pumps as it warms up.

 

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Navy on white stripes always make me think spring. A client and I found a fabulous navy and white striped cardigan and green blouse during a personal shopping session last week that inspired the combination above. Greenery is Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year and is a fabulous, refreshing color that adds energy to any outfit.

Layer a lightweight pullover sweater with a long, lightweight cardigan and comfy jeans for a look that is warm but not too wintery. Add light brown or cognac booties or classic white sneakers, or throw on wellies for rain or that last, irritating March snowstorm.

new outfits without leaving the house – or spending money!

February is a great time to look at your closet intentionally. There’s still a good 6-8 weeks left before we can consider spring (bizarre, climate change driven 50-degree days in Minnesota aside). Taking a fresh look at ways to help your winter wardrobe feel more inspiring and prepping your wardrobe for spring are something you can do right now to fight off winter doldrums.

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A big part of my work in practicing sustainable consumerism is to help clients make their existing wardrobes more functional. Most people regularly wear only about 20% of the clothing they have in their closets. For real.

Two things you can do to help your wardrobe be more functional are to “shop” in your own closet and to purge. Clothes languish for a variety of reasons. These reasons fall into two categories – “unrealized potential” (shop) and “time to let go” (purge).

shop your closet

Clothes that have unrealized potential
  • items you aren’t sure how to wear, or have only one way of wearing
  • you got tired of it, so stopped wearing it
  • items that need repair
  • things you forgot were there

Approach your closet like you would shopping at a store. First, actually look at each item; our eyes tend to pass things by because we are so used to seeing them there. Look at your clothes like you are seeing them for the first time. Then think about how you could wear each item in different ways. Here are some ideas to get you started:

pair colors in new ways

Try putting colors together in ways you haven’t before. Combine neutrals with bold, saturated colors or pair two bolds. Wearing saturated colors near your face will give vibrancy to your complexion. Pantone’s colors for Spring 2017 are an appealing mélange – use them as a guide to brighten up winter outfits as we make the slow transition to spring.

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pattern mixing

When mixing prints, one should be smaller while the other is bold – two prints of the same size compete rather than complement each other. Finding prints that share a common colorway can help pull them together. Mixing textures with prints adds dimension as well.

mix it up with accessories

Intentionally change things up with your scarves, necklaces, belts, and other accessories. Take a look at all the different choices you have – it’s so easy to grab the same accessories day after day or ignore them altogether. Be deliberate about wearing different items, tying scarves in different ways, and adding polish to your outfit with accessories.

less clothes, more options

Clothing it is time to let go
  • impulse purchases that just don’t work
  • items that no longer (or never) fit well
  • things that are outdated, worn out, or damaged beyond repair
  • pieces you used to love, but don’t feel quite right anymore
  • items you like the idea of, but just don’t suit your personal style

Purging your closet can feel daunting before you begin, but the freedom and lightness it brings are completely worth the effort. Clearing your closet of items you are no longer wearing lifts a burden of guilt, allowing you to see – literally and figuratively – the potential of the items that do work.

Many of my Wardrobe Consult clients feel like they have a brand new wardrobe with less clothing in the closet and without buying a single item. When we work together, we have a running conversation: “When did you last wear this?” “Do you actually LIKE it?” “Does it make you happy to wear it?” “Why do you feel like you need to keep this?” Answering these questions honestly creates the ability to let go.

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Bonus: you can even earn money by consigning clothing that is five or less years old and in good condition. Consignment shops are accepting spring clothing now, and some will even store cold weather garments until the fall.

If your purged items are too old to consign but are still in decent condition, donate them. You will help someone in need with clothing that otherwise would be hanging unused in your closet. Items that are damaged or worn beyond repair or very outdated should be recycled.