Five Essentials for A Stylish Cold Weather Wardrobe


I like to say I am a true Canadian, enjoying all the seasons to the fullest, but if I had to choose one season to live in year round…it would be autumn. The crisp cool nights, warm sunny days, the sound of leaves crunching underfoot and the beauty of the fall colours – magnificent.

The season of pumpkin spice everything!

It’s also my favourite time of year for dressing. And shopping for perfect pieces to update my wardrobe to feel fresh and current.

For many, it’s launching into the season of overwhelm, you’ve survived back to school. That still leaves Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, New Years and anything in between such as a conference, birthday, wedding or anniversary celebrations to plan for.

Which usually means 1 of 2 things happen when it comes to planning/shopping for fall.

A – You do nothing, feeling closet paralysis. Wearing the same outfit over and over because it works.

or

B – You buy impulsively, a handful of gorgeous new items (the latest and greatest) yet are unsure of how to incorporate into your current fall wardrobe.

Recently, a client told me she now thinks of her wardrobe as a secret weapon – an army knife. One tool many ways to use it!

That analogy completely sums up how I like to create a functional and fashionable wardrobe. A collection of pieces that can be used in multiple ways – it’s sexier than it sounds, especially when infused with the latest trends.

 

 

Here are my picks as essentials for a

stylish cold weather wardrobe.

 

  1. Dark denim jeans. What I like about dark denim is that it can take you almost anywhere. Dressed up with pumps, blouse, and blazer on a weekday to rolled up and paired with a sweater (or tee!) and sneakers on the weekend. While I happen to be thrilled about the return of straight cut and wide legged jeans, the high waisted skinny will give you more mileage and versatility. Opt for a pair that allows a bit of breathing room from the start. Gone are the days where we need to be doing lunges to break in our denim to wear. Currently, I am a huge fan of Cabi denim, skinny but not too skinny.
  2. Classic white shirt. Maybe you have one already in your closet and are bored with wearing it the same way with a blazer for work, 9-5. Shake things up. Try tying at the waist, paired with your jeans or a leather skirt, add a statement piece of jewelry and booties for a night on the town. It makes the perfect foundation for adding a plaid poncho or your favourite chunky crew neck sweater.
  3. Tall boots. Over the knee boots have been popular the last couple years, as have booties. A boot that sits just below the knee tends to be the most flattering for all body shapes. Choosing the style and heel will depend on you and how they will be worn. A simple tall black riding boot can be paired with leggings, denim and skirts/dresses for a more casual look. The skinnier the heel the dressier your outfit becomes. Keep in mind kitten and stiletto heels don’t fare as well with gravel type surfaces. Be sure to protect your leather accordingly. A good pair of boots can last years when cared for properly.
  4. A Great Coat. The finishing pieces make all the difference in feeling put together in any season. Living in a climate that can be unpredictable from fall into winter puts us in a pickle. We want warmth and style. A long wool coat will do just that. Worn buttoned up when the weather is cold or open with a more relaxed feel with just a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers for a weekend street style look on a pleasant day.
  5. Blanket Scarf. Don’t be shy about size, blanket scarves are supposed to be BIG; the word ‘blanket’ in its name says it all. Wear as a scarf or use as a wrap instead of a jacket and it’s a stylish alternative compared to a sloppy cardigan to have on hand if your office gets chilly.

Without a doubt, these five pieces will create a great foundation within your closet to be worn over and over and in different ways.

 


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How I took my dress from drab to fab – without a trip to the mall!

As I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day, I noticed a sale rack of summer items. My eye was instantly drawn to a chambray shift dress. I like to have a few easy dresses for hot summer days, Saturday running errands or throwing over my bikini to hit the beach.

I kept picking it up and putting it down, picking it up and putting it down, until it was finally my turn to put my groceries on the belt. I asked the cashier what the return policy was on these dresses, it was a good policy, so I yet again picked the dress up, paid and proceeded home.

One of the reasons I asked about the return policy was because I didn’t try it on – I wanted to know if I didn’t like it or if it didn’t fit properly, could I get my money back.

It fit just fine; it is super comfy, good length: coming a touch above the knees and has pockets. Got to love a dress with pockets!

But there was one issue.

 

I looked like I was wearing a hospital gown!

 

 

Regardless of the fact this was a casual ‘Saturday’ dress, it needed a little something-something to snazz it up. I would not be seen in a hospital gown running around town.

My creative genius was alive and excited to see what would become of this drab dress or was I destined to get my cash back?

I knew, for starters, I needed to create angles and interest but nothing over the top.
I thought about where I would potentially be wearing it; outdoor concerts, running errands, meeting friends for an iced tea on a hot summer day to name a few.

In my own closet I began by grabbing shoes without any heel or wedge, a handful of necklaces and handbags, scarves and hats to play. The scarves and hat were eliminated quickly, they brought the eye upwards but looked a little top-heavy and then still boxy from neck down.

 

Here are 3 looks that came together fairly quickly,

in about 20 minutes.

 

 

How I took my dress from drab to fab.

  1. Using a full-length mirror is essential for dressing and creating outfits, it helped me evaluate and identify how to snazz this dress up
  2. I tried a few different necklaces to add length, angles and interest. Creating a balanced look meant the necklace should not be too chunky or too subtle. I personally don’t have many long necklaces so I will be keeping my eyes open for another one!
  3. Experimented with handbags. I bet you won’t believe me when I tell you in my thirties, I would only have 1 handbag per season. Shocking! These days I have a collection, many bought at thrift stores and I use them all as I finish off an outfit.
  4. Choose footwear for casual comfort and a balanced look keeping in mind my outings in this dress.

 

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4 Ways I’m Combating “The Middle-Age Spread”

The first time I knew something was up was back in March. I was doing up my favourite red cocktail dress while getting ready for a fundraising event.

Thankfully, it’s a beautiful sheath dress, draped with an overlay, so only I could notice the difference.

Then, 2 weeks ago, while I was planning out which dresses to wear for some upcoming speaking events, it happened again and again. Four times, to be exact.

When my husband came home for lunch, I greeted him with:

“I need to go shopping! None of my dresses fit!!!”

Well, truth be told, yes I can do them up, but it’s not pretty, appropriate, or comfortable. And my audience certainly doesn’t need to see that I have a bellybutton ring poking through my clothes! (Although, I guess that cat is now out of the bag!)

I did not panic. I have not freaked out. Nor have I felt frumpy.

Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified that I might blow out a seam in that gorgeous red dress (it’s my all-time favourite!) whenever I sat down.

But I did not.

(Sidebar: sucking in my gut with all my power didn’t help)

The middle age spread.

It happens. In fact, it seems to have happened to me overnight, despite my activity level and eating habits.

I turn 48 this September and my metabolism is clearly slowing down – not that it was ever fast to begin with! My hormones are shifting and my body is preparing for the next stage in my life.

Yet, every morning when I wake up, I still feel like a young woman inside my heart and my head.

I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, but my years of training and experience in my industry have taught me some ways to tackle it that not all women are aware of.

So what can you do if, like me, the next phase of your life is barreling through the front door instead of knocking politely and patiently waiting until you’re ready for it? Here are 4 things I did (and am still doing!) that you may find helpful:

Step 1: Most important of all, I didn’t have a meltdown. Long gone are the days where I identify the woman I am by my dress size or the number on the scale.

Instead, I listed and gave thanks to my body for all the great things I feel about it, from head to toe. Things like my strong legs and lungs that allow me to cycle all summer long, for example.

Step 2: I did go shopping. I replaced a couple of key dresses that I wear to networking events and speaking engagements. I feel comfortable and confident in my new outfits and I didn’t break the bank, even though I hadn’t budgeted for this dilemma.

Step 3: I reached out to my friend, Heather, a Holistic Nutritionist who also owns the gym where I work out, and asked her to assess my diet in relation to the maturing woman I am today.

I weighed in 5lbs heavier than I was exactly a year ago, which was another 5lbs heaver than the year before. (Note: I don’t actually own a scale. The only reason I know these weights is because this time a year ago, I weighed in for a tug-of-war competition.)

No wonder my clothes “fit” but are super-crazy-uncomfortably tight!!

Ideally, I want to lean out 5-10 lbs so I can fit into the clothing I love, but I am not willing to be drastic. I enjoy my life, entertaining, drinking wine and late night pizza every couple of weeks. I am fit, active, happy and healthy.

After reviewing my food diary and workout plan, Heather and I talked about a few little tweaks in both my eating and workout habits for this stage in my life. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Step 4: Acceptance. It isn’t “do or die” for me to lean out. I love who I am and who I have become. I love my body and I choose to honour it as a sacred temple that enjoys a glass of Sauvignon Blanc or piece of home baked strawberry rhubarb pie on occasion. Life is too short not to!

Do you have questions about navigating this new stage in your life? I’d love to talk to you about it and perhaps give you some suggestions. Just click here to book a complimentary Style Success Session with me.


2 Simple Steps to a More Balanced Life

My clients tell me all the time how they desire more balance in their lives:

“I only have work clothes and sweatpants.”

“I have nothing in my closet that works for just a movie night or a nice dinner out.”

Actually, just the other day, I had a conversation with a client whose business has evolved so much that she has nothing to wear this fall but what she calls “convention clothes” – and she is not spending all of October in conventions!

Can you relate?

I have a great trick up my sleeve to help you figure out whether your life balance is out of whack!

I’m talking about your Lifestyle vs Wardrobe balance – sorry, no meditation or time management tips here! Today, we’re going to go to the root of the cause and find out if your lifestyle and wardrobe match up in the closet.

Ready? Ok, old-school people like me, grab a pen and paper… millennials, open an app.

Step 1

Figure out what percentage of time you spend in the following categories

  • Work
  • Casual (movies, dinner out, bowling, shopping… get the drift?)
  • Active (exercising, walking dog, gardening)
  • Formal (weddings, graduations, galas)

Step 2

Go to your closet and do the same exercise with all your clothing. This can take a while, so it makes a great “rainy day” or weekend project. It’s also much easier if you’ve recently completed a wardrobe audit – to learn how to do that, check out this blog post.

Determine what percentage of clothing you have for the same 4 categories:

  • Work
  • Casual
  • Active
  • Formal

For example, you might have 50% Work, 20% Casual, 20% Active, and 10% Formal. There is no right or wrong amount here! All you’re doing is finding out whether your lifestyle and wardrobe are in sync.

Whenever I go through this exercise, I like to make a pie graph for each step and then compare them side-by-side to find out where I might need to add or take away from my existing wardrobe.

Here’s an example:

lifestyle-vs-wardrobe-comparison

It’s one of my absolute favourite tools – it keeps me focused on my shopping trips and has lessened the itch to impulse buy!

Do you have questions about this process? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute Style Success Session with me here and let’s talk!

 


3 Fun Ways to Update Your Style without Spending a Cent!

Do you wake up in the morning, stare into your closet and just feel blah because all you can think is ‘same old clothes, same old style?’

Nothing excites you about getting dressed for work anymore, and let’s not even talk about a night out on the town! Night after night, you watch those reality TV shows and wish you were one of those lucky women getting the complete makeover you crave and deserve. Top that off with having to pay for the kids’ extracurriculars, a broken down car, and the rising costs of just about everything – the mere idea of going on a shopping spree to freshen up your ‘look’ is out of the question.

Sound familiar?

Too often, women get lost in the everyday shuffle of family life and responsibilities, leaving their own needs for last. Are you guilty of delaying an already overdue haircut because your youngest has outgrown his soccer cleats?  Or eyeing that beautiful cocktail dress in your favourite store during the holidays, but opting to wear the same dress you’ve worn the last 2 years to the office party because, well… it’s the holidays and the bank account is depleting fast enough.

Don’t despair! I can help.

Here are some easy, fun tricks to update your style, and you don’t have to break the bank to do it!

1. There’s more than one way to wear your hair.

Unless your hair is super cropped (I’m talking Demi Moore in GI Jane or Britney Spears’ rage-induced buzz cut of 2007), you should be able to wear it a couple different ways.

Believe me! It’s possible.

During your next visit to the salon, ask your stylist to show you some easy ways to style your current cut differently. Sure, it may require a different styling product and feel awkward the first few tries, but don’t get caught up with trying to have every hair perfectly in place. If, for some reason, your stylist is unable to assist with this, it might be time to shop for a new stylist!

2. Play dress-up!

Remember as a child how fun it was to play dress-up? To sneak into your mother’s or your sister’s closet and having fun trying on their clothes and shoes, layering their jewels like you were the Queen of England? Embrace that inner child again!

Set the stage: don’t attempt play time when you’re on a time constraint. Give yourself at least a couple of hours to “play.”

Next, turn on some music – music that you love, music that makes you want to dance (and you might!). Have some fashion magazines or your favourite Pinterest boards handy for style inspiration. Also have a full-length mirror available and do your hair and make-up beforehand.

Now it’s time for the real fun to begin. Pull out everything from your closet! I’m talking clothes, shoes, purses, jewelry – and start playing.

Most often, we reach for the same outfits – thus creating those “style ruts” we find ourselves in – so begin with just one of your favourite pieces of clothing and start dressing it up with items you don’t wear as often. Look to your inspiration pictures and don’t be afraid to be silly and creative. Untuck, tuck, wrap, twist, layer, add a belt…I guarantee you that at least a couple new outfits will come from this experiment and, better yet, you don’t even have to open your wallet!

For a real-world example of this “playing dress-up” technique in action, check out these pictures of my client, Yvonne. Together, we created a whole new look for her from items already in her closet – no trip to the mall required!

Yvonne1 Yvonne2 Yvonne3 Yvonne4

3. Host a clothing swap party!

Personally, I like any night out that involves good friends, wine, and potluck appetizers.

Instead of spending any money, host a “swap party” where friends bring gently worn clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories that they would otherwise donate.

Try to set up in advance to display the items – think boutique second-hand store. Once ladies arrive, everyone can mingle, try things on, and have some fun.

Set a limit, though, to make sure things are fair. For example, if you bring 3 items you can shop for up to 3 items – unless by the end of the night there are still items left. If any items remain after everyone has gone home, these can easily be donated to your preferred charity.

I know what you’re thinking – everyone is different shapes and sizes. Don’t underestimate the value of coming away with some cool accessories! Often it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

If, after you’ve tried these 3 easy tricks, you’re still feeling like you have nothing to wear, it’s time to call in an expert for support. Book a complimentary Style Success Session with me here and let’s get you out of that rut!