No midriffs for me

Rodarte Spring 2014 Photography by Peter Stigter

NY Fashion Week – Rodarte Spring 2014
Photography by Peter Stigter

One of the big trends we saw for Spring 2014 at NY Fashion Week was exposed midriffs and crop tops. It’s nice in theory, but trending for me? I don’t think so.

One of the strangest things about aging is the realization that your body is morphing; sometimes the change is gradual and sometimes it completely shocks you to your core taking you by surprise. Continue reading

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Ingrid Talks Punk

Elizabeth Hurley (with Hugh Grant) in her famous safety-pin dress by Versace - Photo credit: Getty Images

Elizabeth Hurley (with Hugh Grant) in her famous safety-pin dress by Versace –                       Photo credit: Getty Images

“Safety pins and spray paint and vulgar slogans, oh my! The punks of New York and London in the 1970s were out to upset the status quo and shock the bourgeois sensibility of the establishment–and if they horrified their parents, too, I’m sure that was just icing on the cake.

So what does it mean that within a decade or so, the couture fashion houses of Versace and Yves Saint Laurent–and lots more–co-opted the signature elements of punk fashion and made high-end designs out of them?

That’s the theme of “Punk: Chaos to Couture,” the show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which ran from May 9 and just closed this week. As an art historian with a love of fashion, I wanted to be sure to catch the show before it closed. Continue reading

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Age-appropriate dressing

More Magazine, March 2013, with Connie Britton (What to wear at 30, 40, 50)

More Magazine, March 2013, with Connie Britton (What to wear at 30, 40, 50)

Dressing appropriate to our age is an ever-present battle. It is something we think about or perhaps we should think about more often. I’m at an age when the things I used to wear may no longer work for me but that doesn’t mean that I’ve lost all sense of style or the need to look relevant and fun. And what about others – all age groups – teens, 20s, 30s, and beyond? It would be great if there were a guide book to help us. As it is, we have our inner guide and our friends to help us navigate. And there is More … Continue reading

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Ashley at Anna Sui

 

Ashley

Ashley

Ashley kept her promise: to meet me and share her experience as a summer intern in the pattern-making department for designer Anna Sui. She works Tuesdays through Fridays now through mid-August. It’s hard work but she is learning a lot and having a great time. She says that her job as an intern is to organize and prepare ‘the fit’ for Anna Sui every Thursday. A typical week looks like this: Tuesday – find the patterns; Wednesday – measure the garments (usually 20-35 minutes per garment), pin the sheets to each garment and add the garments to the rack; Thursday is fitting day, including the morning preparation and organization and an afternoon fitting with the model and all of the players from production, the showroom, Anna Sui’s assistant designer and Anna Sui herself. Friday winds down the process until the next week. It sounds like a well-orchestrated symphony of activity. Continue reading

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Karie

Lisa Curran Bond One-Piece with cutouts Sexy!

Karie, with Lisa Curran Bond One-Piece with cutouts. Sexy!

Lisa Curran Swim - Classic Tank - Voted #1 fitting one-piece three years in a row by The New York Times. Women love this swimsuit because it is clean and simple and a great fit.

Karie with Lisa Curran Swim Classic Tank – Voted #1 fitting one-piece three years in a row by The New York Times. Women of every age love this swimsuit because of the colors and because it is clean and simple and a great fit.

Karie is an Account Manager and Sales Assistant with Lisa Curran Swim and the hero who helped me when I shopped online for a swimsuit. We had a chance to meet during a Lisa Curran Swim trunk show and I asked her why it’s so hard for women (oh, I mean me!) to find their way past the panic of buying a swimsuit (again, I mean me!). The good news? If you push a little out of your comfort zone there is a swimsuit with your name on it! Here is a part of our discussion:

MKG: How can women feel less panicked when they start the process of buying a swimsuit?

Karie: “It’s a mindset. You can’t have a negative mindset. It’s better to keep an open mind and remember that there is something for every body type. I suggest working with someone who will first answer questions and make recommendations, and then bring the swimsuit(s) home to try on in the comfort of your own environment. Continue reading

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Trend spotting: lace

Photo courtesy of Bill Cunnigham, The New York Times - "Just a peek" May 24, 2013

Photos courtesy of Bill Cunningham, The New York Times – “Just a peek” May 24, 2013

New York Times photographer, Bill Cunningham, is a fashion favorite. He recently captured an on-the-street style trend in his May 24th New York Times video feature called, Just a Peek. The warm-weather preview? Splashes of lace: “The strongest story had to do … with lace … this was young people taking bits and pieces of lace and mixing them in with tops made of other material … It’s so unusual to have a trend appear so quickly.” ~ Bill Cunningham

What do you think? Ready for lace?

 

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Styling petite

Clothes from my closet - a floral print a-line skirt with neutral pumps

Clothes from my closet – a floral print a-line skirt with neutral pumps

I’m 5/4.5. There was a short period when I reached my full height at thirteen and I thought that I wouldn’t stop growing. But I did. Bottom line: I’m petite. It’s taken me a long time to figure out what I can and cannot wear and what trends will never work for me. In general terms, I think I do best when I keep it simple and uncluttered.

Some tips that work for me:

– keep pants fitted and flat. When Kim came for my closet audit, she recommended that I have a tailor remove the inner pockets of several of my pants and sew them up. It created a more fitted and flattering leg.

– choose a-line dresses and skirts. Skirts with tucked-in shirts and sweaters is a flattering shape and most often I look for knee-length or just above-the-knee. Skirts for petite women are better if they hit at your natural waist … Continue reading

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Kentucky Woman

Rene Dailey, Wilmington NC at the 2013 Kentucky Derby  Photo Credit, David Goldman - AP Photos

Rene Dailey, from Wilmington NC,  at the 2013 Kentucky Derby                                                            Photo Credit: David Goldman – AP Photos

Kentucky woman she shines with her own kind of light – She’d look at you once and a day that’s all wrong looks all right – And I love her – God knows I love her – Kentucky Woman …”  song and lyrics by Neil Diamond

The Kentucky Derby is an American tradition and one of the few times that we collectively dress with pomp and circumstance. Splendid hats rule the day and we get to be like our British friends across the pond. This particular chapeau caught my eye!

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A real boyfriend?

Photo courtesy of Google images

Photo courtesy of Google images

I must be on Bebe’s mailing list because I get updates on their new arrivals from time to time. Today’s news struck me as funny: the introduction of Bebe’s new skinny boyfriend jeans with all the detail of classic boyfriend jeans all wrapped up in a skinny jean. Huh? What’s wrong with this picture? The big sell? Boyfriend jeans that actually flatter! But doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of wearing boyfriend jeans? Those over-sized, comfy jeans that are one size too big for you and are actually meant to look like your boyfriend’s jeans. A skinny jean is just a skinny jean. If you’ll excuse the pun, I don’t think Bebe’s idea has legs!

Is this a fashion crisis? No. Is it life-altering? No. Am I freaking out about it? No. Because the truth is that I won’t be wearing boyfriend jeans of any kind – skinny or traditional non-skinny – now or ever. They’re not flattering for my body type. But I do mind that they’re calling them something they’re not. Boyfriend jeans are the opposite of skinny jeans. Let’s remember – a real boyfriend is authentic and can be elusive.

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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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