BASICS

1.  Highlight the Best, Camouflage the Rest!
Every woman has a area of her body she likes- if you don't know what that is, think about something you always get complemented on.  Here are some suggestions for general areas  and a way to highlight it- Your face, (earrings or scarf) legs (skirts, shoes) neck, (statement necklace) arms or shoulders (loose tee or sweater).  Highlighting your favorite part of you not only looks great, but gives you the confidence to enjoy yourself and be fully present in any activity you are pursuing.  Planning ahead and experimenting will make this a fun experience- get creative.  If it doesn't work, learn from it and move on- Remember what works by taking a photo on your smart phone if you felt particularly confident or received lots of complements on an outfit.     
                     
2.  Never Pay Full Price!
The only exceptions to this rule is if it's a classic piece you will have for years, you are going to an event and only have a limited amount of time to find an outfit, or if you are shopping at Forever 21, Uniqlo or H & M.  Most retailers have a three to four week turn-out of new items; which means that the piece you wanted will probably be on sale if you wait.  Since we all can access the internet, even if your size isn't available locally, you can order it on-line.  Sign up to be on the email list for your favorite stores.  You can make a separate email account for this to keep it from filling up your in-box.  You will receive special offers and advanced notice of sales.  I loved J. Crew clothing so much that I work there a few hours a week to receive their generous employee discount.  Find out what day your favorite store does mark-downs and follow-up that day if you are waiting for something to go on sale. If you can build a relationship with a salesperson, they can hold an item for you when it goes on sale if you are a regular customer.  Don't buy anything if you don't absolutely love it- no matter what price it is!

3. What is Your Style?
The point of fashion is to inspire, have fun and be creative. Take chances and don't take yourself too seriously.  Over the years I have discovered that I love jackets.  Even over a tee shirt and jeans it can totally elevate any look.  I always feel confident and polished with a jacket on.  Another item I love is bracelets.  My husband says that I do not need any more, but I can think of worse obsessions! Try to resist anything too extreme, whether it's too much hair, too much bling or too much skin.  Women in general look better without too much skin showing, a hint here and there is much more flattering than over exposure. Just because something is trendy and "in" doesn't mean it's for you.  Stick to classic shapes and colors that you feel good in.  You can always add a current piece of jewelry, a scarf or shoes that are more "of the moment." If you don't feel comfortable, no matter the price tag or style, you can do better.

4. Jeans
One of the biggest fashion challenges for most women!  There are so many styles, washes and embellishments that it can be confusing.  First, find the best silhouette for your figure. Yes, pegged, skinny jeans are very popular, but if that is not a flattering look for your body, don't go there.  Trouser or stove pipe jeans also flatter a number of different types of figures. Totally forget sizes or numbers when trying on jeans.  The people who see you won't know what size you are wearing, but you can bet they will remember if they see rolls above the waist line, underwear peaking out the back, or other unmentionable anatomical anomalies that too-tight jeans can reveal!  A long length looks great on almost anyone, high-waisted jeans help with those of us who have had children for the support they offer through the lower abdomen.  "Not Your Daughter's Jeans" offers a good selection of jeans with a higher rise and some stretch in the fabric.  My favorite jeans all have some lycra in them; it helps the fabric to hold it's shape and give at the same time.  Price point doesn't always mean a better fit.  My Old Navy "flirt" jeans fit my shape really well, I also love my "Rich and Skinny" jeans- they are super soft and have a lot of stretch.  The point of all this is: try on different styles and types to see what you like best.  Put brands, size and cost aside--it's what looks fantastic on you that matters!

5.  Shoes
Shoes can be an obsession for some of us.  I do love a pair of beautiful shoes! But if you are watching your budget, you can have five types of shoes and be completely covered. 
1. A pair of neutral pumps- these can go with everything from jeans to dresses.  They elongate the legs by not visually breaking up the line from the leg to the foot.  For this pair, buy the highest quality that you can afford.  With proper care you should be able to have these for years- a pointed toe has a longer style life that a rounded toe.
2. A pair of flats- Audrey Hepburn was the style icon for flats; she always looked fabulous--like ballerina.  A black or neutral pair is a good choice, although I have been wearing my animal print flats with everything in my wardrobe, and it adds a little extra something!  These are a necessity if you are running errands or walking--so much better than tennis shoes.  They are also great if you are going to an event and have to do any walking to get there.  Bring a extra bag that you can check with your coat and change your shoes when you arrive.
3. Work-out shoes- Of course you need these for the gym, and athletic activities, but try to confine your use of these to the appropriate activity.  This year some of the designer's have paired a sleek athletic shoe with dressier pants or leggings.  Just keep in mind your body type and what you feel comfortable in.
4. Two pairs of boots- I think boots are here to stay, they have been growing in popularity and design.  I remember in the 80's when I bought my first pair of boots, the only choices I found were a western style, or something that resembled a snow boot.  Now there are hundreds of choices and styles.  The two types that could see you through anything are a low heel bootie and a dressier style with a higher heel.  For my wardrobe, I would choose the low heel in grey or brown and the dressier one in black.  When I'm dressed up, I'm usually in some form of black, and black goes with everything.
5. Metallic Sandal- Of course we can't forget the warm weather.  Gold and silver, or a more neutral metallic (bronze) will match with any item in your closet.  Don't be afraid to mix metal colors- if you are wearing silver sandals you can still incorporate gold of bronze pieces with your accessories.
               
6.  Bags
Of course I would love the latest Louis Vuitton creation- or Celine or Prada- I could go on and on!  But they don't fit my budget. When I was single, a bag seemed more important to me.  After children, I definitely needed a fairly large purse, I refused to carry a diaper bag!  Now I need my glasses and sunglasses, so smaller bags are for date nights, events and special occasions. If a designer purse is your style trademark, then go for it!  Something classic like the Louis Vuitton "speedy" bag, will never go out of style. 
If you are on a smaller budget, four high quality purses can be functional for a long time.  Purses are one item for which cheaper is not better.  When you invest in a higher quality bag, it will last longer and make your whole outfit look expensive.  Here are four essential bags-- of course we'd like a few more!

This black coach bag will last for many seasons.  The full leather bag is a better purchase than the fabric versions- leather is easier to clean and with wear can become more supple.
I love having a colored bag- I have this version of the Emma Fox bag and love it!  You can use the handles for the longer silhouette, or fold it over and put on your shoulder- or fold it over and use it as a cross-body bag.  Great for shopping or sight seeing, or holding on to little ones because your hands are free.



A brown bag is another must.  I have a Perlina bag that I really like--the quality is fabulous.  I try to keep each of my bags stocked with lipstick, mints, lotion and a pair of glasses, so when I need to change bags all I am switching is my wallet and phone. To round everything out, a clutch is a place you can choose something less basic for events- this metallic color is a great choice.



               

     
 

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