Neobantu – Something Different

IMG_0443Years ago when perming one’s hair was “the thing,” my little brother Marsh told a hair stylist he wanted “something different.” Two hours later, he emerged from the salon with freshly permed hair, and those simple words have never made me laugh so hard since that day. Oh, as we like to say in the South, bless his heart. I’m certain he wishes he had hair to perm now!

If I had a dollar for every time a client told me she does not want to look like everyone else, I could have retired by now. Okay, dear client, let me introduce you to Neobantu, your “something different.” Tendai Tawonezvi, a pharmacist by trade who grew up in Zimbabwe, founded Neobantu in 2013 with the desire to bring the vibrancy of Africa into our lives. I thank my lucky stars she did! I am the fortunate owner of one of Tendai’s creations, and I turn heads and I feel fabulous every time I wear it.

Neobantu is a fusion of vibrant African print and modern feminine styles. While this line may not at first appear to be for you (if you shy from color or from print – or both), I think every woman can find a way to make it work for her life. One of her printed tops with a classic pant is a simple approach, while a printed dress under a cropped blazer is a more forward tactic. At the very least, a t-shirt depicting of one of her designs with jeans makes for a cool, conversation-starting look.

IMG_0432I personally feel the tunic dress with sandals is the way to go in the heat of summer. Who doesn’t want to throw on a show-stopping piece that glides easily over one’s figure, hiding a multitude of sins? Sign me up!

I am hosting a sip and shop at Tendai’s studio in Dallas on Thursday, June 30 from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. If you wish to come, please message me via my Facebook business page with your e-mail address. An investment in Neobantu is the best thing you could do for your summer wardrobe. Go ahead and do something different! Hope to see you there!—Bethany

Tory Burch “In Color”

ToryJessicaTory Burch, known as much for her love of the color orange as for her sporty flats and dreamy caftans, has released a gorgeous coffee table book today, “Tory Burch: In  Color” about her 11 favorite colors: orange, blue, green, purple, pink, red, yellow, white, black, natural and gold.  I was blessed to meet Tory last week and have her sign the book, which is being released today.  Last Friday afternoon at the Nasher Sculpture Center in downtown Dallas, Tory was joined by her friend Jessica Alba (actress and founder of The Honest Company) to discuss the book and other topics of interest including how she balances motherhood and a career, and the roundabout path she took in starting her namesake company.

Tory considers herself a late bloomer having only started her wildly successful company 10 years ago.  Tory departed a career on the rise with LVMH to stay at home with her three young boys.  Four years later, she started her company because she felt there was a need for high-quality, affordable clothing and accessories.  She certainly hit the mark!  However, she said she was not an overnight success, spending many of her first two years on the phone with her Hong Kong operations until 3:00 a.m. her time.

Tory was raised on a farm in Pennsylvania with three brothers.  Her parents Buddy and Reva (for whom Tory named her first flat) who would leave Tory and her brothers with family to take six-week worldly vacations, returning with various exotic souvenirs.  In addition, Tory’s childhood home entertained many “overnight” guests who invariably would stay long past their expected departure dates.  As as result of this unique upbringing, Tory’s aesthetic reflects an appreciation for diversity, one that is decidedly multicultural.

I greatly enjoyed the event, hosted by American Express, and I am very appreciative to my dear friend Peg Baird for allowing me to be her plus one!  Pick up a copy of the book, even if you are not familiar with Tory or her company.  I think you will find the content, including many beautiful photographs, to be highly inspiring and a lovely addition to your library.  Tory sees the world in color, and I think we all should!

How To Create a Wardrobe Shopping List

HangersSizesThere are at least two approaches to creating a smart wardrobe shopping list. One way is to assess your wardrobe for basics versus personality pieces.

Why do you need a shopping list? For starters, most purchases are impulse buys. And let’s face it, it is difficult to have a wardrobe that works for you if it is full of impulse buys. Any guilty parties out there? Tags still on oodles of items in your closet? Yep, that’s what I thought. Stop it. Make a list and stick to it.

First, assess your wardrobe for basics. These are the foundational building blocks of your wardrobe. You might also think of wardrobe basics as classic pieces, the items which are always available (in some version) year after year.

Basics/Classics include:
a white cotton shirtClassic Dresser
a blazer (or cardigans)
quality, well-fitting t-shirts
a few skirts (in lengths & shapes that flatter)
dark wash, straight leg jeans
flat-front pants
a few blouses
a day dress
a cocktail dress
a leather handbag
a leather pump
flats
quality bras (in the correct size) and
good underwear

How did you do? Write the missing classic pieces on your shopping list. Next, list them in order of priority. You cannot build a home with no foundation. The same is true for your wardrobe. These foundational pieces help to create well-balanced outfits. However, you may not need every item on this list. If you never attend cocktail events, skip the cocktail dress. If you are a skirt girl, skip the pants or vice versa. Tailor this list to your taste and your needs/lifestyle.

Of the classics/basics you own, are they in good condition, do they fit and are they representative of your taste and style? If not, toss them and purchase new ones.

Second, assess your wardrobe for personality pieces. Do you have any? What are personality pieces? Perhaps they are pieces you gravitate towards in the store that you are not sure you can pull off. Of course you can! Go for it! Often a personality piece is a twist on a basic or a classic. It has a slightly different design, color, texture or pattern to it.

Personality pieces may include drop earrings, cocktail rings, printed scarves, patterned tights, colorful handbags, over-sized sunglasses and so on. These pieces show others who you are. Personality pieces are mixed with classics to make interesting, well-balanced outfits.

WardrobeSpiceIf personality pieces are sorely lacking in your closet, write “personality pieces” at the top of your shopping list. The next time you shop, if you gravitate towards a basic/classic, but you know your highest priority is to find personality pieces, step away from the classic.

Some of us are classic girls, and some of us are personality piece girls. And some of us are both (guilty)! Too many classics makes for a lackluster wardrobe, but too many personality pieces make it difficult to create well-balanced outfits.

Happy Weekend, everyone, and thanks for reading. Make a smart wardrobe shopping list and stick to it!  Most of all, stay fabulous.

Fall Trends 2014

OrangeDoorAt the end of each summer I produce a card of fall trends, a reference of the biggest trends of the season, in anticipation of fall fashions which begin hitting the stores at about that time.  I simply love fall fashion, the rich colors, the textured fabrics and the beautiful leather goods.  To me, fall fashion is worthy of investment.  Trends come and go, but if you purchase wisely (read: not too trendy) and you take care of your things (yes, pay attention to care instructions), your investments will last you several years (at the least!). 

If you love something but cannot afford it, look for the best version of the knock off or scour vintage stores for something similar.  As you know in fashion, everything old is new again, so it is quite possible what you love has been done before in a previous decade.  One fall I really wanted a moto jacket, but I did not have the budget for a leather jacket.  So, I purchased a pleather version and wore the heck out of it.  A few years later, I got the real thing.

My fall 2014 trends card does not cover all the trends, so below is an extensive list .  If you would like a trends card and a couple of extras for friends, message me.  I would be delighted to send them to you!

Colors:  cobalt, steel, dark red, moss green, pastels, orange and jewel tones

To see a list of the Pantone fall 2014, click here.

Fabrics: shearling, leather, tweed, knits, fur, metallic and velvet

Prints/Patterns: plaid, abstract, color blocking, patchwork and diagonal lines

Oversized: coats, collars on coats, dresses, sweaters (including turtlenecks) and pants

Office:  midi skirts, pant suits, sharp blazers, pin stripes, menswear and neck tie blouses

Details: feathers, accordion pleats, fringe, sequins, western and puffy sleeves

Top layer: ponchos, capes, varsity jackets, bombers, blanket coats and fur-trimmed parkas

Bags: bucket, totes, jeweled clutches and fur top-handle handbags

Shoes: sneakers, flats, ankle boots, brogues and ankle-strap heels

Beauty: ponytails, braids, oversized buns, colorful cat eyes, nude and berry lips and nude and Bordeaux nails

Whew, I probably missed a few, but not many.  If you need assistance finding what suits you, call me.  I love making the shopping experience quick and easy.  I especially enjoy helping people find pieces they would have never considered if they had shopped on their own!  Happy Shopping!

Amp Up Your Career Style

womanstrongmakeupI was recently asked by Polish Dallas, an organization that connects young professional women to discuss career and faith, to write a blog post.  Since my subscribers may not have seen it, I wanted to share the post with you here on my blog.  Enjoy!

It has probably happened to you on countless mornings. You drag yourself to your closet, and you stare blankly into the abyss of clothes, uninspired and uncertain what to wear. Chances are when you started your career, you purchased the basic work wardrobe required for your job. The trouble is, that basic wardrobe does nothing to excite you, and it most certainly does not communicate your personal style.

There is hope!  Here are my top 5 tips for adding pizzazz to your hum-drum work look.

(1) Start with color. Admit it, your wardrobe is a sea of black, brown, navy and gray, isn’t it? Make a concerted effort to look for colorful tops to wear under jackets. A raspberry heel, a cobalt blue handbag or a turquoise necklace would also do the trick. Wearing something colorful to work brings a smile to your face and it makes those around you happy, as well.

(2 Look for pattern. This one goes hand-in-hand with color. An outfit that lacks pattern is a real snooze. Stop playing it safe by purchasing only solid colored pieces for your closet. Patterned tops and shells look outstanding under basic work jackets and cardigans.

(3) Add eye-catching “third” pieces. A third piece is my word for blazers, jackets and cardigans. No work look is complete without one. You may not wear it all day, but at least you have it on hand for meetings, luncheons and events where you wish to look smart and credible. When buying a blazer, steer clear of the banker look. Look for shapely cuts, an intriguing texture or creative details.

(4) Seek out interesting shapes and details. In other words, look for classic pieces that go beyond the classic formula: pick a leopard pump over a basic black pump, try a printed sheath dress if all of your work dresses are solid colors, or experiment with a-line skirts if you principally own pencil shapes.

(5) Let your accessories do the talking. Accessories are the “soul” of your outfit, and they tell your story. This is where your creativity and personal style is best expressed at work. Even if your closet is full of wardrobe basics, your image takes on new life with fabulous shoes, handbags and jewelry. So even if you would rather play it safe with your clothing selections, you can still look like a woman with a strong sense of her own style with the right accessories.

So, get out there and start sprucing up your wardrobe.  If you need help, call me. I would love to assist you!

Alternative “Neutral” Colors

girlplaidI suppose one definition for a neutral color would be a color that pairs well with most other colors.  When we think of neutrals, our minds generally go to cream, black, white, gray, taupe and so on.  But what about mustard, periwinkle and royal blue as neutrals?  Hmmm…  Once you start to think about it, there are a wide variety of colors one could pair with the colors I just mentioned.

The problem is, most of our wardrobes lack color which makes it difficult to test-drive our theory of using colors as neutrals.  Frankly, well-designed pieces in dark and light neutrals are easier to find.  However, as we enter spring when well-designed colorful pieces are a bit easier to find, let’s make an effort to bring much-needed color to our mostly neutral wardrobes.

As I show you here, colorful pieces are not as difficult to work with as you may initially imagine.  I am using both forest green in the first set (created on Polyvore) and dark red in the second set to show you how they act as “neutral” and pair well with a variety of other colors.

ForestGreenBordeaux

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, look at your wardrobe a bit differently in the coming weeks.  Mix colors together, in ways you have not previously.  When you start to do this, you have a much greater variety of combinations in your closet, saving you lots of time and money.  If you need help seeing the possibilities, call me.  I’d be delighted to spend and hour or two in your closet showing you new combinations.  Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Banish The “Old Lady” From Your Style

I am often asked about age-appropriateness.  It is difficult to pinpoint because it varies from person to person.  What is appropriate for this 45-year old woman may not be appropriate for another.  However, I think I can tell you definitively what not to do in terms of looking old and out of touch.  After all, regardless of one’s age, we need NEVER look old.

Here are my top rules for keeping your look out of “Old Lady” territory:

(1) Break up sweater sets – never wear a sweater shell with its companion cardigan.  Try a patterned top under a solid colored cardigan.  Alternatively, a blazer over a shell looks smart.

(2) Stop doing matchy-matchy – for example, do not match your earrings to your necklace, bravely wear navy and black together and introduce a new color through your accessories.

(3) Wear the right size – over-sized clothes scream “retirement home.”  Know your size and buy it.  Have a garment tailored to fit precisely.  Baggy clothes are frumpy!

(4) Accessorize – modern shoes, bags and jewelry keep your image on-trend. Period.

(5) No long skirts – skirts that hit two inches below your knee and longer look matronly and dowdy.  Shed pounds and years by keeping your skirt length near your knee.

(6) Simplify – garments with a lot of volume, ruffles, bows and other fussy details are aging.  Garments which are sleek and simple, yet current, are slimming and age-appropriate.

(7) Mix trends and classics – wearing all classic head-to-toe looks “old lady.”  Toss in a few trends that suit your personal taste and style to keep your look fresh.

Here is a set I created on Polyvore to demonstrate my point:

ChicCurrentNow go to your closet and start mixing it up.  You have a wealth of outfit combinations in there.  Need help?  Call me.  Outfit-making is one of my favorite things to do with my clients!  Have a happy Friday and a fabulous weekend!