collaboration – not competition

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WATCH: [VIDEO] Fashion Is Brewing by Emerald Rue

gratitude

November is a month for practicing gratitude. Many in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving, and for me personally, practicing gratitude is a way to be mindful as the fever pitch of the holiday season kicks in.

I have a lot to be thankful for this November. It marks the 5-year anniversary of Nancy Dilts Wardrobe Consulting, which in the world of entrepreneurship is something to celebrate. It also marks a year of exponential growth for both my business and myself. It feels good. My hard work is paying off – I’m proud, and I’m grateful.

I couldn’t be celebrating these successes without acknowledging the support and collaboration of others, however. In our society today, it’s so easy to fall into competition and feeling the need to appear as “the best” or “the winner” or “having all the answers.” It’s a false construct – no one is the best at everything, no one wins everything, and no one knows everything. Certainly not me. Really, not anyone.

In our society today, it’s so easy to fall into competition and feeling the need to appear as “the best” or “the winner” or “having all the answers.”

competition or collaboration

This fall I had an opportunity to collaborate with some other women-owned businesses to support the non-profit Dress For Success – Twin Cities, an organization that helps women to gain the tools and skills needed to enter and advance in the workforce. It’s an amazing organization known for literally dressing women for success, and they are also doing so much more in their professional development programs.

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Jill, Jess, Nancy, and Missy | Photo Credit: Emerald Rue

I partnered with Missy Auran of Elite Repeat Consignment and Boutique, Jess Burke of Well Layered, and Jill Pavlak of Urban Growler Brewing Company to co-host the event – Fashion Is Brewing. Jen Martodam of Emerald Rue – Family Films and Lifestyle Photographs captured the event in photos and an amazing video, which I’m thrilled to share here. We all gave our time and expertise at no charge for this event – it truly was women supporting women. Working together to lift up each other and to lift up the women of Dress For Success.

Jess is another wardrobe consultant/personal stylist. The competition, right? Yes and no. We have different target demographics – with some overlap – and different approaches. Even if we were more directly “in competition,” I would have partnered with her anyway. Sally McGraw, whose blog Already Pretty and philosophy around body image and personal style I highly value, said it best when I was just starting out and seeking her advice: “There’s room for everyone in this work!”

Indeed, the abundance mentality – collaboration, not competition. Sally could have seen me as a threat to her styling work and not only chose not to, but also has been a staunch supporter of my business. It’s an example I aim to follow. As with Jess, to collaborate rather than see each other as competition will only help both of us. Personal styling is just that – personal. Our clients select the consultant that resonates most with them. Jess and I have different niches and appeal to different people – sharing the love supports each other rather than harms.

Fashion Is Brewing was a smashing success. So much so that we plan to do it again next spring. It was, and is, a powerful reminder that collaboration takes you so much farther than competition. We all win.

we are more powerful when we empower each other

 

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what the HYGGE?! [VIDEO]

Hyg-hey what now? Hige? Hig? How do you even say it, much less what is it? It’s awesome is what it is!

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Pronounced “heuoo-guh,” it is a Danish concept of coziness – spending time with friends and family, drinking hot drinks and sharing treats, and snuggling up in front a warm fire. It’s the perfect way to beat the winter blues, so no surprise that it is an integral part of Danish culture. Scandinavia is very dark and cold in the winter!

I practice hygge with a small group of neighbors – we gather monthly for a glass of wine or cup of tea or hot buttered rum, treats, knitting, and good conversation. It really does help the winter in Minnesota feel not so dreary and long.

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what the hygge-wear?

When the weather is cold and snowy (as I write this, we’ve gotten 8 inches of snow in the past 5 hours today, and it’s still coming down hard), it’s tempting to put on your old sweatshirt and sweatpants and park on the couch until May.

I hear you. I have to fight this urge all winter long.

Being intentional about what you are wearing, even if it is to binge-watch your favorite TV show, helps you feel better. So does hygge! Choose some comfy, cute lounge wear intentionally – it makes all the difference. You don’t have to be fancy, just intentional. Then grab a friend or loved one and settle in.

Watch this video I made with Missy at Elite Repeat for some ideas for intentional fun, comfy hygge-wear. Cozy up and enjoy!

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WATCH: [VIDEO] What the HYGGE?

 

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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!”

 

 

choosing a handbag

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reader request

A client recently asked me to write a post on handbags. She said, “How do you choose a handbag? Write a post on that! I never know what is the best thing to carry.” That’s because there are so. many. choices. And you have to find the one that is right for you.

Handbags, like accessories, are very personal choices. You can follow trends, but what works for one person may be disastrous for another. When choosing a handbag, think carefully about both style and function.

Here are some guidelines to help you select something you will love.

match your activities

What kind of handbag you carry says a lot about who you are. Back in my college days, I prided myself in not being a “purse girl.” I had a leather book satchel that I loved, and if I wasn’t going to class, I grabbed my wallet and headed out. If my college self could see me now…

There are so many choices for handbags. Being intentional about what you carry not only meets your needs, but also expresses your personal style, which feels great.

I have a 2-3 different handbags for the warm season and for the cold season. I also have a couple of small dressy handbags, one a deep purple and one black, for the rare occasion that I really dress up, and one formal clutch. Each of these are classic in design so that they won’t go out of style, since I use them so infrequently.

For the everyday handbags, I like to have slightly different sizes for different needs. As I said, I tend to fill up my handbags – I like to be prepared for whatever might come up, like weather (small umbrella and sunglasses), stopping for groceries (fold-up reusable bag), minor injuries (I once was without Bandaids when my then 3-year old daughter had a major crash and required many of them – I’ve carried a little first aid kit ever since! Mom guilt.). I have to be careful not to get a handbag that is too large, or I will fill it up and be lugging around too much weight all the time!

I like multiple pockets on the inside and outside of the bag, so I can put my phone and keys in a handy place, zip my wallet into a safe place, store my sundries without them making a mess. Pockets are a high priority for me, so I make sure any bag I select has them. I hate rootling around in the bottom of the bag to find something.

I’m currently looking for a high quality crossbody bag that isn’t too sporty or too small to use when I’m working with clients. During personal shopping sessions, carrying a handbag along with the clothing we collect for try-ons can become cumbersome.

Different bags serve different needs – embrace your lifestyle and find something that fits it well.

When choosing your own handbag, really think about what its purpose will be. Is it something you’d like to use as a work satchel/tote? A larger, structured leather tote is a great choice for you. Something to throw on while you’re out and about with the kids? A crossbody or hobo-style shoulder bag could work well. Something for traveling frequently? Again a crossbody or a large tote with a smaller handbag for once you arrive. Or something to make a bold style statement? The sky’s the limit!

Different bags serve different needs – embrace your lifestyle and find something that fits it well. Otherwise, you will feel frustrated. Choose a color or pattern that appeals to you (it does not have to be black or brown!) and make sure it feels comfortable to carry it. I’ve had purses that constantly slid off my shoulder – talk about feeling frustrated! I rarely choose shoulder bags because of this.

Sources: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3

pay attention to size

In terms of function, make sure the bag is large enough to hold everything you must carry, but not too large. A bag that is over- or under-filled can look wonky. If it is a crossbody or shoulder bag, make sure the strap or handles are the right length to fit your body comfortably.

If you are a petite person, you want to select a bag that does not overpower you. Choosing a smaller bag will look more balanced and be easier on your back.

invest in quality

It is worth it to spend more on a handbag that will last. I can be kind of hard on my handbags. I take care of them, but I’m always accidentally banging them into things, I tend to carry a lot in them, and they get regular use. I don’t like to change bags with every outfit, so I tend to use the same one for weeks at a time, which can lead to faster wear and tear. Higher quality construction holds up better to my clumsiness and to regular use.

don’t be afraid to have fun

Black and brown are very functional colors, but don’t be afraid to branch out! Handbags do not need to match your shoes, and a statement color can add polish to your outfit. Red is a gorgeous statement color that goes with almost everything. Burgundy and rich jewel tones are great for fall, and summer brights add a lot of fun to outfits in the warm seasons. There are also so many beautiful shapes, prints, patchwork, appliqués, embroidery or embellishments that make handbags true works of art. Choose something that speaks to you, and carry it with confidence.

shop new-to-you

I buy all of my handbags new-to-you. That way I can buy higher quality without blowing my budget as well as know I am practicing sustainable consumerism. I find amazing handbags at consignment stores – there is always a great selection, varying from mall brands to high-end designers, that are barely used – if at all.

New-to-you online shopping venues thredUP and the RealReal have a great selection of good quality handbags. Both websites provide photos, dimensions, and item specifics and are very accurate in reporting the level of wear of their products. Handbags are final sale on both sites.

In the Twin Cities, Fashion Avenue is a great place to find high-end designer bags at ~1/3 their original cost. Think Kate Spade and Coach on up to Chanel, Prada, and more. A personal shopping client recently found a gorgeous burgundy (a fall trend color) Longchamp shoulder clutch there.

Elite Repeat (St. Paul) and Nu Look (Minneapolis) consistently have lovely designer handbags, and Turn Style (multiple locations) has a wide range of more affordable to designer bags.

how to: jumpstart spring with silk scarves

Silk scarves – think Hermès and classic French style – continue to be on trend and are a perfect, easy way to help an outfit feel fresh and bright for Spring. Silk (or well-made faux-silk) instantly bumps up polish and style in a casual outfit and adds an element of dressy fun and interest to workwear.

And they are easy to come by. Most of us have vintage scarves from our grandmothers, mothers, and even ourselves hanging out in our dressers. You can also easily find them new-to-you at very affordable prices.

“How do I wear them without looking like an old lady?” you say.

First, don’t wear it this way. The Queen is allowed, but we aren’t, unless we are riding in a vintage convertible and channeling Grace Kelly.

The key is to make the scarf the statement piece and to go for simple, clean lines with the rest of the outfit. The French look fabulous with their scarves because they pair them with classic pieces like a blue blazer, a crisp white or striped collared shirt, or a simple shift dress. Going otherwise monochromatic with the outfit is a great contemporary way to wear them. Navy, black, white, and gray are good colors for highlighting the print of a silk scarf.

The scarf print is entirely up to you – I’m drawn to bold floral and geometric prints. You can go classic with paisley or more traditional florals or embrace signature designer styles. Do choose scarves that have saturated colors – you want it to pop, not wash out your complexion.

Check out these super simple ties and have fun!

the classic knot

Use a small square scarf folded in a triangle and then rolled with the points tucked inside. Take care to make a tidy knot, and wear it in front or off to the side. I’m wearing it with a boatneck tee here, and you can also pair it with a collared shirt or jacket.

the choker tie

choker tie

If you feel too much like a 1970s stewardess wearing the classic knot (you aren’t!), you can push the knot to the back for a choker tie. A collar or your hair can cover the knot, or you can sweep your hair up in a bun or ponytail to highlight the knot.

the French twist

french twist tie

This tie works best with a long, skinny scarf like the one I’m wearing, or you can triangle-fold and roll a large square. Start from the front of your neck and wrap the scarf around once or twice, depending on how long you want the tails of the scarf to be. Make a tidy knot off to the side.

the loose tie

loose knot

Triangle-fold and roll a large square and make a low, loose knot. This goes particularly well with a blazer or over a fitted, collared shirt. Aim for the knot hitting just above the bustline for balanced lines, and plump the scarf a little above the knot for a soft look.

the wrist tie

wrist tie

This is a colorful alternative to a bracelet and has oodles of style. I tied this one ALL BY MYSELF using the method in this tutorial with one tweak: I did the slipknot on the outside of my wrist and tied the final knot on the inside so I could use both hands to tie it and then slid it around. You can use a long skinny scarf as demonstrated in the tutorial, or a small square triangle-folded and rolled like I did.

the purse tie

purse tie

So easy. And so fun! Tie a small square in a classic knot around one purse handle. Fabulous. (Hint: No other scarves when one is on your purse – overkill.)

where to buy

My favorite places to buy new-to-you scarves in the Twin Cities are Second Debut in St. Louis Park and St. Paul, Elite Repeat in St. Paul, and Fashion Avenue in Edina.

Second Debut is owned by Goodwill and pulls designer and high quality items from their donations to sell there. They consistently have gorgeous vintage silk scarves – I purchased the skinny black and blue floral, the neutral circle print, and the orange and pink geometric print scarves there.

The long multi-colored swirl print scarf is from Elite Repeat, and I have found several other scarves there as well, including a long skinny silk Coach scarf in winter colors.

If you have a yen for designer scarves, Hermès included, Fashion Avenue is the place to go. I purchased a gorgeous textured plum winter scarf by Armani Collezioni for a fraction of its original price there last month. Their stock is just lovely.

your turn

What silk scarves do you have hiding in your wardrobe? Pull them out and give them a whirl for Spring! Often they have memories of loved ones attached to them as well – post a picture of your favorite and share a memory in the comments below.