EILEEN FISHER loves the world

Courtesy: EILEEN FISHER, INC.

Photo Courtesy – EILEEN FISHER, INC. “When you see the ampersand symbol it means we have a story to tell about our sustainability efforts.” EILEEN FISHER, INC.

In the front section of today’s New York Times, there is a sleek advertisement for an EILEEN FISHER black jacket and white silk tunic that catches your eye. Not just because the outfit is quintessentially simple and stylish; it is also green. As part of the #THISISECO campaign, the jacket gets 38% of its fiber from recycled water bottles and the tunic is dyed without using hazardous chemicals.

Since its inception in 1984, EILEEN FISHER, INC. has taken a human interest in the design and production of its clothes. Eileen Fisher, the woman and founder, has made it her mission to support not only the environment through its holistic approach of honoring the earth, but also supporting women with its Business Grant Program for Women Entrepreneurs and Leadership Grant Program for Women and Girls. These are the reasons that the brand EILEEN FISHER loves the world and the world loves EILEEN FISHER right back!

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Five Days of Dressing for Success: Tamara’s dream to be free

Tamara T, speaking at The Dress for Success Transforming Lives Gala

Tamara Trotz, speaking at The Dress for Success Morris County Transforming Lives Gala

The minute I slipped that dress on, it brought the entire equation together. I thought: ‘maybe people can see my ambition now.’ I felt that people had no choice but to take me seriously. You see, I never felt that I was being taken seriously. And to know that the clothes were a gift to me, made me feel worthy in a new way. Dress for Success did that for me. ” ~ Tamara Trotz

Tamara Trotz is a remarkable young woman. She is a poet. At age 24, she is designing her life and her future with the grace and maturity of a woman much older than her years. Everything she is, everything she values and holds dear, Tamara received from her mother, whom Tamara lost last year to cancer. Her mother had just turned 50. When you meet Tamara you feel the love she has for her mother and you know that she is growing up with the same courage, strength, faith and hope that her mother had. This is Tamara’s remarkable story in her own words: how she grew up with 3 siblings and a single mother who was a victim of domestic violence, how she found her ambition at 15, graduated from high school and college, and learned to appreciate her outer self when she found Dress for Success Morris County. I only hope that I do Tamara justice …

I never really understood the difficulties my mom had endured until later in my life. Growing up was isolating and I was forced to grow up long before my years. I am the oldest of three girls (my brother is a few months older than I am) and I became the caretaker. I was six years old when I understood that my mother was being battered by my father. That was the point when I started to feel the need to protect my mother. She was an amazing, strong and capable woman and mother. She gave her children everything she had and took such good care of us; her life’s dream was to give to us. And I wanted nothing more than to protect her – always … Continue reading

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Five days of Dressing for Success: It starts with the mission

Stefanie L. Conley, Executive Director of Dress for Success Morris County, holding a Nanette Lepore jacket

Stefanie L. Conley, Executive Director of Dress for Success Morris County, holding a Nanette Lepore jacket

Let’s start the New Year right by focusing on the connection between fashion and wellness and self esteem. That has always been my intention for Turning Fashion Inside Out. There is no better service that recognizes this connection than the international organization, Dress for Success. For the next five days, TFIO will focus on the beautiful work that Dress for Success Morris County (New Jersey) is doing to help empower women in need.

For 7.5 years, Stefanie L. Conley has been the Executive Director of Dress for Success Morris County.  She says that the Dress for Success program is to “be there for women on their entire professional journey. It’s about helping women to regain their confidence. When they walk into the boutique they don’t see what we see – that they have so much to offer.”

Tune in tomorrow to see the how the journey works and the three-step process begins… Continue reading

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When fashion design becomes designing your life

Danielle Kort

Danielle Kort

Meeting Danielle Kort is like smiling from the inside out. She is young and vivacious for sure, but there is depth in her being and a purpose to her life. These are the qualities that are pushing her forward from a career in fashion design to one as a life coach. And aren’t we lucky because those who work with her will be able to tap into the wonderful energy that transformed her own life. Here is my conversation with Danielle …

MKG: You grew up in Nebraska. Did you always want to be a fashion designer? Did you picture yourself in New York City?

Danielle: When I was about 10, I started to think about being a fashion designer. It was all I wanted to do. My mom told me I was good with design and when I was 12, she supported me by buying me my first sewing machine. From that moment on, I didn’t stop making outfits. My entire family lives in Nebraska, but I always knew that I wanted to live in New York. Always.

MKG: The story of your move to New York is remarkable. How did it unfold?

Danielle: I knew that I would major in fashion design and the big question for me was where I should attend school. Continue reading

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DVF: “Fear is not an option”

The glorious Diane von Furstenberg

The glorious Diane von Furstenberg  – Image credit: Wikipedia, at the 2009 Metropolitan Opera premiere

Last night I had an intimate conversation with Diane von Furstenberg. It felt that way as I watched “Shop the Hangout with Diane von Furstenberg,” a new online shopping experience with Google+, in partnership with The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). This was the first of what will be several future ‘Shop the Hangouts‘ with designers. Interviewed by Eva Chen, Editor-in-Chief of Lucky Magazine, the conversation became a global hangout as special guest, beauty expert and entrepreneur Michelle Phan and five women from around the world had questions for Diane. It was 40 minutes of pure magic. That’s because Diane von Furstenberg is wise and witty and wonderful. Here are some DVF thoughts, life advice and uplifting inspirations:

On the wrap dress: “A good thing is good forever … So many people have wrap stories … I decided that to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the wrap dress we are collecting stories and photographs. Continue reading

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Cindy Joseph

Cindy Joseph

Cindy Joseph

Isn’t it heartening when you meet someone you know is special? That is how I felt the moment I met Cindy Joseph. She was so inspiring that I knew I must stay in touch with her and her positive energy. Cindy is the kind of person who helps redirect lives. As CEO and Founder of BOOM! by Cindy Joseph, Cindy is a one-woman cheerleader spearheading what she titles the Pro-Age Revolution. Our conversation in its entirety will be aired tomorrow in my weekly podcast. But here are a few BOOM! by Cindy Joseph updates to whet your appetite until then … Continue reading

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Happy Birthday Joan Rivers!

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers

I enjoy life when things are happening. I don’t care if it’s good things or bad things. That means you’re alive.” ~ Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers turned 80 years old last Saturday and boy is she alive! Tonight her show “Fashion Police” on the E Channel is throwing her a birthday bash at 10:00 p.m. (EDT). Joan Rivers has remarkable energy for 80, or any age. She doesn’t stop moving. She is an entrepreneur and a survivor and re-inventor and frequent flier. I found the 2010 documentary, “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” to be incredibly honest and touching. She makes it appealing to love to work and work to love.

 

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Considered online swimsuit shopping??

My Lisa Curran Swim One-Piece - "Clare"

My Lisa Curran Swim Clare One-Piece

Shopping for a swimsuit is a tricky business. The thought of stripping down and exposing yourself to the harsh lights that laugh at your every dimple is daunting, to say the least. Perhaps that’s why I have hung on to my tried-and-true swimsuits for a few years, even when they are clearly past their prime, preserving them and treating them with great care so that I can avoid the process just one more year. But all the gentle care in the world can’t change the fact that I need a new swimsuit – and fast, because the weather is warming up quickly. Isn’t there another way to shop? …

The answer is: yes! You can shop for a swimsuit online. I have never considered online swimsuit shopping; like many other women I simply braved those harsh fluorescent department store lights and small, cramped dressing rooms – hoping for the best. But this time I wanted to try something different and the thought of shopping in the comfort of my own home was enticing. I also wanted something specific: a swimsuit from the Lisa Curran Swim collection. I met Lisa last fall when I interviewed her and was inspired not only by her personal story but also by her desire to design the highest quality swimwear for women of all shapes and sizes … Continue reading

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Cindy Joseph!

Cindy Joseph - a guest on Hallmark Channel's Home & Family

Cindy Joseph on Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family Show (here with hosts Mark Steines and Cristina Ferrare)

I was pleasantly surprised this morning to see Cindy Joseph (featured here on Speaking of Fashion) on Hallmark Channel’s Home & Family Show, highlighting her fascinating story and inspiring mature women everywhere!

Lovely to see you, Cindy!

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Cindy’s style story …

Cindy and Stacy when they launched Style for Hire

Cindy and Stacy, launching Style for Hire

One remarkable day five years ago, Cindy McLaughlin and her friend, well-known stylist Stacy London, realized they had a great idea: to help regular people on regular budgets feel good about their clothes, their bodies and themselves. That was the day that Style for Hire, a network of top personal stylists handpicked by Stacy, was born. Cindy is not only the Co-founder of Style for Hire, but she is also its original client. I asked Cindy about her own style story …

MKG: Have you always been in the fashion industry?

CMI’ve been in the industry since 2000 – which, by now feels a bit like ‘always.’ Prior, I worked at a consulting firm doing banking technology research + consulting, and before that I was in the Peace Corps digging latrines and wells in Congo. Either of those jobs is as far as you can get from fashion, really.

MKG: Tell me where you were emotionally in 2008 when you called Stacy London to help you with your wardrobe?

CMI was schlubby. I was a restless stay-at-home mom of two young kids wishing I had something more intellectually fulfilling. I couldn’t muster the energy to apply for a job, though, because I didn’t fit into any one my work-appropriate clothes to wear for interviews (much less to the job if I got it.) One of the more inane reasons not to work, but if you’ve ever tried to navigate a day of shopping at Bloomingdale’s, exhausted and solo with a toddler and an infant, you’ll know what I mean.

MKG: What did you experience as you began to recapture yourself?

CM: Here’s what happened: Stacy took me shopping for a couple of hours. She made a bunch of clothing recommendations and they were spot on. Every single piece she helped me find was well within my (limited) budget and still lives in my closet 5 years later. And it was fun! I felt like I had a moment for myself that I hadn’t had in months. Then the result: I simply looked MUCH better. With that, I was inspired to make more incremental improvements. My posture improved, I bothered to brush my hair and put on a touch of makeup and I grew excited to get out there and be a part of the adult world again. That’s all the internal stuff, and then I started getting compliments from friends and family and noticed by strangers. It’s impossible not to feel more cheerful and open and even more powerful when people are smiling at you and telling you all day how great you are. Maybe years of psychotherapy could get you there too, but a couple of hours of intense retail therapy is more my speed.

MKG: Tell me about the moment when you and Stacy decided to start Style for Hire? What was your goal?

CM: We were having wine on my porch after the fact, talking about the unexpected psychological impact of feeling good about your style, and it hit us like a ton of bricks. The mission was – and remains – to help our clients look great, and save them time and money in the process. Of course, there’s only one Stacy and a whole world of clients, so we had to figure how to scale to include the best personal stylists in the country.

MKG: How is the company changing since you started?

CM: Nothing at all has changed about the mission; it’s still at the core of everything we do. Reading our client’s testimonials keeps us inspired and reminds us everyday that we’re still on the right track. Of course, some of the tactics have shifted over the years. We’re ramping up the frequency of our workshops (the vetting and training ground for all new stylists) to be able to extend the service to more people; we’re offering our stylists lots more in the way of ongoing information and training directly from Stacy and we’re helping to connect our stylists to each other. It’s exciting to watch our stylists become friends and bond as colleagues within a community rather than competitors. We’re always focusing on how technology can be used to help our stylists and clients interact more effectively.

MKG: Can you explain the role of a professional stylist? How do you select the stylists?

CM: A professional stylist earns a living by helping others build flexible, functional wardrobes. Generally speaking, this means the following:

1. Making sure the garments in the closet are all wearable, visible and clean/mended/tailored. Those that don’t work are sent to charity or consignment so that the client can milk the value of what s/he already owns.

2. Making sure that as many outfits as possible are made out of what’s already in the closet. This can save clients a tremendous amount of time and money as they look at old garments with fresh new eyes.

3. Making sure that any additions to the wardrobe make more outfits (so you’ll never have an ‘orphan’ garment that doesn’t go with anything else) and that money is invested wisely. All our stylists use ‘cost-per-wear’ as the metric for investment. It’s how a businessperson evaluates assets. It’s OK to spend more on something you’ll use everyday, but you’ll want to be careful for things that are only good for a few occasions/year or even a single wear (Bridesmaids – listen up!).

Stacy handpicks our stylists after a rigorous process in which we view their resume + portfolio, gather client testimonials, interview them 1:1, and spend two very intense days in a challenge-based workshop getting to know them. What’s great about the network is that our stylists help us find other top-tier stylists because they now trust that we’ve brought the best stylists out there. It’s a virtuous circle. We also take on newer stylists who have great talent but who lack experience, train them, and help mentor them through their career.

MKG: What is your favorite thing to hear from a client?

CM: I love variations on the phrases, ‘you’ve changed my life,’ and ‘I’m shocked at how powerful this was!’ I hear both all the time, I’ve felt them both myself, and I know them to be true. I get inspiring emails every day from clients – most recently a woman whose daughter got styled as part of a Make-a-Wish program. That reminded that what may on the surface to be a bit superfluous or indulgent can be incredibly deep and a source of great joy.

MKG: Finally, have your feelings about your personal style changed since starting Style for Hire? And … do you ever get a little closet touch-up from time to time?

CM: Yes on both counts! I see one of our stylists periodically and know a lot more about how to dress my own body. I’ve sat through a whole mess of Stacy’s workshops by now, so I know the theory of ‘science of styling’ cold. I also have more fun with fashion. I like to take more risks now and I’m more comfortable with my choices. Literally comfortable, too. This spring I love wearing sweatpants or leggings, a slouchy sweater and booties, as long as they’re flattering and kind of edgy. (It’s possible I’ll get a raised eyebrow from Stacy for this …).

 

 

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