How To Shop Smarter Right Now

How To Shop Smarter Right Now

You need to shop for clothes. You may love it, you may hate it, but unless you are living full-time in a nudist colony you need to buy clothes. And whether you love it or hate it the end goal is to come home with purchases that you love and will wear. So why do you have stuff in your closet with tags on it?

Yes, I know you do. I know you do because everybody does. Now instead of asking yourself why you are NOT wearing it ask yourself this:

Why did I buy it?

The are many possible answers to this questions. Examples include:

“I liked it.”

“It was on sale.”

“I thought I needed it.”

“In case I needed it.”

We all have TOO MUCH STUFF, and specifically I mean TOO MUCH STUFF IN OUR CLOSETS. 

The simple truth is that we are regular people. We are not celebrities who cannot be photographed in the same thing. There is no paparazzi following us around while we go grab our coffee and our dry cleaning. Our lives are not structured that we get to wear everything we own.

Now I am not suggesting you stop shopping and give up. What I am telling you is to curate carefully.

How do we curate carefully?

Much like a museum curator you can’t take it all. It won’t all fit in our closets and too much stuff leads to chaos. When we have too many choices we can’t see the forest from the trees. It gets overwhelming. Then we give up. We reach for the same old thing.  To come up with a wardrobe filled with only stuff you love and will actually wear you need to edit out the items that are not working (see my previous post for help). Then you need to shop with the eye of a curator. This sounds harder than it really is. There is one question that can make this process super easy.

Where are you wearing it?

I ask my clients this question all the time when we are editing their closets. You can ask yourself the same thing when you are out shopping. It is a simple question but you have to be honest with yourself if you want to answer it truthfully. You should be able to think of at least 3 ways/places/occasions that you can wear an item to before you select it as an addition to your wardrobe. Some people shop in a state of almost unconsciousness, the throw things into our cart because they like them. Other people are results oriented shoppers. They went out to the store to buy something so they settle for whatever it is that is there in order to fulfill their initial objective of going out to go shopping. Still others, usually those who dislike shopping, go out of necessity. They have an event or a specific occasion. So they pick the first thing that fulfills that immediate need, without thought to how they will, or even if they will, use it in the future.

Lola’s lament.

Take for example a fictional shopper named Lola. Lola is a busy mom of 3 but on Friday is planning to go out with several other women from her neighborhood. They are going to a wine bar to celebrate someone’s birthday so her first thought is “I need something fun.” So Lola runs out to her nearby shopping center. She is limited on time and needs to pick up her youngest from pre-school at noon. She is quickly scanning the racks looking for something that says “fun.” She spots a black tank with silver sequins, it looks “fun.”  She grabs it and races off to her next errand. Friday night comes around and she puts on the tank but doesn’t feel like herself. The tank may look fun but she doesn’t feel fun in it. Back on the hanger it goes, getting hung up in dark recesses of the closet. She will plan on returning it but will never get there. She will throw on another top that she has had and already feels comfortable in. She doesn’t love it but is running late and it will do. She will then look at her other friends while she is out and think “why couldn’t I wear something like that?”

Where did Lola go wrong?

First, she tried to go too far out of her comfort zone. It’s great to go for something a little different but don’t buy something just because you think you are “supposed” to. Lola already is fun, she doesn’t need a top to make that statement for her.

Second, she should have stopped herself right there and asked where she was going to wear that top again. If it seemed like a one time wear she should have moved on.

Third, she should have looked for an item that will go with things she will already have, that way it is guaranteed to work into her wardrobe. If she looked through her closet and noticed she has lots of solid tanks and t’s in black and white, she could have opted to buy a pair of red jeans instead. The red jeans would be “fun”
for the Friday night if she puts them with one of  her t-shirts, cute necklace and heels. She can also wear them with converse sneakers and a gray t-shirt to a baseball game, as well as a cute button down for a volunteer day at the kid’s school.

Clothes sell a fantasy.

The hardest part about conscious shopping is coming to terms with our reality. I have long wanted to cream cable knit wool fisherman sweater. I want to wear it with my Hunter wellie boots and Barbour rain jacket while I am walking with my Foxhound named Chester on the grounds of Madonna’s country estate in England. Madonna herself will come by on her horse and tell me that it is time for high tea. I will then go in to my guest house and change into  the perfect Chanel suit to have tea with Madonna and Victoria Beckham.

This undated photo supplied by Vogue, shows Madonna on her horse beside husband Guy Richie at the English country estate.
image via Pinterest

 

Except I don’t know these people. I have no plans to go to England. My dog is a beagle who likes to sleep, not go for walks. This is why the only piece of this fantasy I own is the Hunter wellies. And I wear them all the time. In the slushy sleet to drive the kids to school, when it is pouring rain and I am at the grocery store, on the beaches in New Jersey. It is my real life.

I have other fantasy purchases. Rock star girlfriend on tour, screen star in St. Tropez yacht, I could go on and on. The key is not give up on the things you love but to find ways to incorporate them into more of your everyday wardrobe. Then you can live out a piece of the fantasy every day.

*Insider Tip – Don’t be afraid to repeat.

I know in the age of Facebook and Instagram it seems like a great outfit is a one and done. It doesn’t have to be. Most people can’t remember what they wore last week let alone what you were wearing. Kate Middleton is the perfect example, and EVERYONE is looking at everything she is wearing. Yet she has repeated some of her best dresses a few times. I’d say if she can do it we all definitely can do it.

Now and Then: Kate Middleton Re-Works her Favourite Roksanda Ilincic Dress
via Pinterest

The black lace dress from Temperly has been to 3 separate events.

Temperly amoret lace dress, worn January 8, 2012 & November 8, 2012 & December 11, 2013
via Pinterest

Actress Keira Knightly wore her favorite Chanel dress 3 times. First on the red carpet, then to her own wedding and most recently adding a beaded mesh top underneath the dress for a completely different look.

Did Keira Knightley Just Wear Her Wedding Dress for the Third Time? | People.com
image via Pinterest

 

*Insider Tip – Don’t be afraid to remix.

One of my favorite things to do is to help clients shop their own closets. I take the pieces you already own and remix them into new outfit combinations. We all get in the habit of labeling certain items. This skirt is “dressy”, this jacket is “preppy”. I can help you take away the labels and remix them into more options. Model  Miranda Kerr wears her leather pants sleek with all black, casual with denim and sneaks and funky with a hat and tweed.

GENETIC PANTS photo | Miranda Kerr

 

Here is a simple stripe dress I re-mixed for a client. First I made casual and then remixed the accessories for an evening look.

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So the next time you go shopping don’t forget to bring with you the one question you will need. Now get out there and get some fabulous pieces for spring, and make sure you WEAR them!

 

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Thanks for reading!

Suzie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Much Of A Good Thing

Nothing makes my head swivel faster than a shiny sequin. It can become quite the problem because I am easily distracted by anything sparkly. Then the distraction is followed by this “I HAVE TO HAVE IT” mentality. It’s as if I fear a shortage of glitter and the need to stockpile it in my wardrobe.

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Too much bling is NOT a good thing.

Like many of my own clients, I don’t like to admit I have a problem. Many people don’t realize they are hoarding a certain type of style. That is until we complete the wardrobe audit. Only then does it become obvious what the addiction is. For some people it is the color black. When faced with an assortment of sweaters the safe choice always feels like black. The problem is when you get it home and you have 8 other black sweaters.

So what to do?

First, identify the problem.

The best way to do this is to remove the contents of your closet and sort by type and color. This is at the very heart of a wardrobe audit. I take it all out and regroup. It isn’t always as obvious as sequins, or an animal print addiction. The common theme could be an over abundance of long sleeve v-necks, all plain. Sometimes, it is an obvious lack of an item, like all pants but not one dress.

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That’s A LOT of t-shirts.

Second, ask why?

Having too much of the same thing usually means one of two things is going on. Either you keep buying the same item because you have yet to find the one you really love, or, you are stuck in with a style habit, where it is easiest to keep buying and wearing what you are used to. With regard to a lack of a certain style, maybe it’s time to rethink your thinking. Women have a tendency to label themselves and say things like “Oh, my legs are horrible, I could never wear a skirt.” But ask yourself when was the last time you tried one. Today there are limitless styles and options. Is it is because you are petite, and the off the rack skirts always seem too long? What about asking a tailor to nip the skirt up an inch or two, to get a custom look fit for your shape and height. Human beings are creatures of habit. We are drawn toward the things we already know we love. For me that would be things of the shiny and sparkly variety.

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Where’s the color?

The Solution? It’s this week’s *Insider Tip –  Follow the One in One out rule.

Now you know what you have too much of, and hopefully why. This does not mean you have to give up your style, or what you love. I will never stop loving, and buying, garments that look like they have their own party going on. But given the fact that I am not a 20-year-old rock star, I have to consider the wearability of sequins, versus my investment cost. In order to keep my habit in check I follow a strict ONE IN ONE OUT rule. If I bring home a new item that fits my pattern addiction, I have to get rid of one that it’s in my closet. Sounds harsh, because I may love them all, but you don’t want to overdose. Sometimes you may find that you keep buying black jackets because you really don’t love any of the ones that you already own. If that’s the case DO NOT settle. Wait to buy one that you ABSOLUTELY LOVE. Then bring it home and get rid of the all the so-so options in your closet.  If you finally buy a skirt, give up a pair of pants that has been well-loved but has seen their time. A well diversified closet will reflect a certain amount of signature style, while remaining versatile and uncluttered. Sometimes going a little bit out of our comfort zones can lead to big changes in our style.  Remember, with regards to stuff, less is ALWAYS more. 

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A well-rounded collection.

May Mashup

A FEW FAVORITES…

This month has been really busy for me with clients. Some old and some new. We have been busy styling, cleaning, sorting, and packing!  I am looking forward to sharing some of these projects with all of you soon. May  always feels crazy.   I am trying to get everything I can done at home and work,  before I turn into a full-time concierge to my children and their summer plans.  In the meantime here are a few of my favorite things for May…

This Shoe.

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image via suziegaffney.com

This shoe is business up front and party at the back, a mullet shoe.  If I could marry a shoe then we’d be on our honeymoon right now. I splurged on these from Ashley Austin. They go with everything. Seriously, everything. Did I mention there is glitter?

This Book.

Buy Now
image via http://www.bobbie.com

Last year I had the amazing opportunity to attend a presentation by Bobbie Thomas, a fashion and style expert. Even better I got to meet her afterwards and she is a total girls’ girl.  Super nice, funny, and willing to share all her tips and tricks. She has put all her know-how into a guide aimed at helping you find and express the best version of you. I ordered the book last week and absolutely love it. You can read more about Bobbie on her website, www.bobbie.com, and on my post from last year, A Happy Closet.

This Bathing Suit.

image via http://www.hm.com

I know, I hate swim suit shopping too. But I stumbled upon this amazing bikini top at the H&M store. It is fabulous for mulitiple reasons. The tops can be purchased separately from the bottoms, just in case you weren’t created from a perfectly symmetrical mold.  The top uses bra sizing, from 32A from 36D, much more accurate that the xs – xl system. There is underwire support and padding, for those of us who may or may not resemble a tribal woman in a National Geographic photo shoot. The very best part? The top is $14.95. Hallelujah.

This Ice Cream.

Blueberry Vanilla Graham Greek Frozen Yogurt
image via http://www.benjerry.com

Ben and Jerry’s blueberry yogurt graham cracker ice cream.  I’m totally addicted. I keep eating this at an alarming rate. I will have to post the above pic of the bikini on my freezer to keep my cravings at bay. But you have to try it!

*Insider Tip – 

If your May is feeling crazy too, make sure to take some time for yourself. Treat yourself to something that makes you feel better about how you look. Maybe a new nail polish color? A new white pair of jeans? Maybe a fabulous summer sandal! It’s a great way to get in the mood for summer. It sounds indulgent but when you feel good about how you look it transforms your whole mood.

What are your favorites for the month of May? Anything on your mush-have list? Share with me your own insider tips for May! I’d love to hear it!

Spring Things

Spring is a time of renewal…especially for your wardrobe!

There is no better time than RIGHT NOW to replenish and refresh. Trust me, if you wait until summer, you won’t be able to find what you are looking for. And if you live locally? You won’t want to miss the Spring Shopping event at Ashley Austin and Chantilly Blue.

Two stores, one night, and multiple fabulous sales and specials. I stopped in today for a quick preview and here are the items on my wish list!

This outfit from Chantilly Blue. White eyelet is always fresh for spring and summer. I love it back to a perfectly faded blue jean.

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Pair it with these shoes from Ashley Austin for a daytime look…

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Then take it into a casual date night outfit with these heels!

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There is chevron on the heels!! Stop! Every girl loves chevron. Just pick up one of these fun cocktail rings to transition your look and you are all set! They are conveniently right by the sales counter so you can grab one while they are ringing up shoes 🙂

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The next outfit I am crushing on  starts with this dress.

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What is not to love? Black and white is always so chic!

And  I am dreaming of it with these amazing wedges…

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Don’t forget to add the perfect bag!

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I am drooling. It is gold. And sparkling. And BIG.

Need help on putting the complete outfit together? From head to toe I can help you get the look you want for Spring! Come see me at Chantilly Blue and Ashley Austin. I will be happy to help!

*Insider Tip –

Lisa at Chantilly Blue gave me the heads up that there will be denim on sale, some bootcuts will be 25% off!!

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And don’t forget she has Smashbox makeup and a makeup artist on hand for you to get glowing.

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*Insider Tip –

Mother’s Day, graduations, they are all coming up quickly! With special sale promotions this is the perfect time to grab a gift. Or one for you and one for them…

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And my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE MUST HAVE SANDAL

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These go with everything and anything. They are super comfy. And they are priced very reasonable. So you can buy two 🙂 Again, I’ll let you decide if you want to share.

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image via Pinterest

I also want to send some extra special thoughts and prayers for all those affected by yet another horrible tragedy.Everyday is a gift…enjoy the present.”

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Why You Need a White Oxford Shirt

NEED. THIS. OUTFIT. Ralph Lauren and seersucker shorts plus pearls. TheOriginalPrep

Preppy Palms

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We just got back from our annual vacation to Florida and I am pissed. It is cold here. Too cold for March. I want to go back to live in the sunshine. And I want a palm tree. Just a little one that I can raise as my own.   I know how lucky we are to be able to get away and I appreciated every second of it.

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The kids played. Together. Without fighting. Well not too much. The town we visit is on a little island and is very sleepy. We had no agenda, just the beach and the pool. There’s not much to do and that is exactly how I like it.

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There are no gas stations on island. But there is a pink jeep.

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And plenty of beautiful boats.

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And lots of golf carts. And dogs on golf carts. It’s pretty much my idea of heaven.

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The overall vibe of the island has a very old school southern preppy vibe to it. There are not many stores but there is a Lily Pulitzer store, which I happen to love. One of the best things about being a girl is getting to play dress-up. It’s great to find Y.O.P.S., (Your Own Personal Style), but I also don’t like anyone to be limited by labeling themselves.  Preppy style, and Lily Pulitzer can get a bad rap by some. I love things that are punk inspired, and I love things that are preppy inspired. I think we are free to try it all.

via yapstores.com

And oh my gosh I will keep bribing my daughter into those dresses as long as I can. They are too precious.

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So do you do the preppy thing in your style? I am so Northern but so jealous of those Southern girls that make it look so effortless. I get so excited over monogrammed things I don’t know where to stop. Pillows, bags, jewelry!  And sometimes I just think I don’t look good in a really preppy style. But my tried and true piece, that I think everyone can wear, is the Ralph Lauren Polo Oxford shirt. I like it even better than the classic white blouse, because, let’s face it, those only look good when you first buy them, or if they are freshly drycleaned. The Oxford shirt just requires much less maintenance.

I think it belongs in everyone’s wardrobe. It’s preppy and classic, but I can look sexy or sophisticated. It provides the perfect balance to the colored skinny denim that you might feel are too trendy for you.

Lindex Modern Preppy

And, at the opposite end, I like to keep the shirt from being too preppy by pairing it with a distressed pair of boyfriend jeans.

White shirt and jeans - via LifeStyled

Pair either look with cute loafers for day, or heels to kick it up a notch. I also love the classic polo for layered under a sweater, back to shorts, or even over a bathing suit.  The shirt doesn’t have to always play the star. It can also be the best supporting actor in your outfit. The key is to make the look yours. Pop the collar for an extra flair, knot it at the waist, wear it open like a cardigan, or just roll up the sleeves. If it feels to stuffy wash it a few extra times to give it that broken-in feel and look. Pair it with your chunkiest, funkiest necklace for a look that is just your style.   They make multiple types of fits and styles but I love the traditional 100% cotton slim fit white. The  classic white Oxford transcends all ages and styles, and it is and always will be in fashion.  Plus it works into your wardrobe 12 months out of the year. It’s an investment that is worth every penny. All images below via pinterest.

Paris Fall 2012 Street Style .. skirt love!Glamorous at 71!love itSubtle Pastel Brights.preppy style-loveI… have no fashion sense. I am a jeans and a t-shirt kinda girl. …Sweat pants and a hoodie.Field experience next month means I need to update my wardrobe.Thank god for Pinterest. Hello shopping spree.Source: http://pinterest.com/pin/108367934754788828/

*INSIDER TIP –

Buy it in a fit that is versatile for you. When I was pregnant I would buy the men’s smaller sizes to wear to cover up my hideous maternity band on my pants. Then it fit more like a tunic because it ran longer. If you are really petite check out the boys section in sizes 14 and 16.

The reason we are so lucky to visit Florida every year is because of my husband’s parent’s that have a house there. We have such a great time staying with them. My mother-in-law raised 6 kids and has 14 grandchildren. I don’t know how she did it.

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These magnets on her fridge might give me a clue…

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Thanks for reading!

Suzie