Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Trends of 2011

Sequins

Each season, a million new trends are thrown at consumers.  It's important to be able to sort out the trends that truly work for you and your lifestyle, and leave the rest.  Drop-crotch trousers and high-heeled loafers can safely be left behind in 2011.  However, there were some great trends this year that will still hold up and look great next year.  Also, now is the best time to get in on last year's trends- because they are all on sale!  Here are the trends of 2011 that will take you through 2012 looking gorgeous.  Here's to a fabulous and stylish New Year!!

Lace
*On sale today 12/29/11 for $39.75 with TAKE50 promo code at Loft.com

Jewel Tones

Velvet

Animal Prints
*On sale today 12/29/11 for $50 with the WINTER50 offer code at Ann Taylor.com

Brights

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Eve- Dress Alternatives


Reader question:
I want to look nice for New Year's Eve but I don't want to wear a dress.  What are other cute options?!  I'm on a student budget, so affordable looks would be helpful!


If you don't want to wear a dress, but still want to look fabulous and festive for New Year's Eve, a tuxedo-inspired look is a great way to go.  Make sure to incorporate some sparkle and shine into your look so you still feel flirty and party-ready.  A tuxedo-inspired jacket would look great with a sparkly tank top or even a corset top of your choice if you're feeling daring.  You can dress this combination up with a black, satiny pant, or dress it down with slim-cut jeans.  Add a super-sexy pair of pumps and you'll be ready to go!  I would recommend a shoe with a little sparkle in it too to dress up the look even more.  Here are some nice options that maintain the party look without wearing a dress:





*On sale today 12/29/11 for $31.99 with additional 20% discount offer at Express.com

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sweaters - Part 2: Minimizing Pilling

Bella says, "I hate when my sweaters pill!"

Reader question:  
Dear Emily,
I love to wear sweaters this time of year, however I often find they pill way too quickly and end up looking sloppy.  Do you have any suggestions of what kinds of sweaters to buy in the first place and how do I keep them looking great for more than a few days of wear?

There are various products on the market that claim to treat sweater pills- electric shavers, combs, and pumice stone-like versions also.  In my experience, these just don't do the trick, and who really wants to shave their sweater before every wear?  There are two tricks I use to address this issue that I have found to work avoiding pilling and extending the life of the sweater:

1.  Check the fabric: Examine the fabric very carefully before purchasing a knit sweater.  In the store, look closely at the sweater to see if you can already see pills beginning to form.  Check out the sale section of the store- many times you will see knits there that are already pilling, just from being out on the floor for a couple months and rubbing against the other clothes!  If the sweater you're about to purchase is made of the same material, you can be sure that this will be its fate too.  I have a trick where I look down the front of the sweater from above in bright lighting to see if it looks like pills are already forming.  It takes a little practice, but works better than trying to guess whether the sweater's particular ratio of rayon/cotton/spandex/acrylic will pill.

2.  Hand washing: To keep sweaters looking like new, hand wash them and lay flat to dry (don't hang-dry because the weight of the water in the sweater can stretch it out.)  The washing machine creates a lot of friction against the fabric that causes pills, and the dryer can also shrink sweaters.  Hand washing is a pain, but it's what you have to do to extend the life of your sweaters.

In the end, almost all sweaters pill to a certain degree.  Though the tips above help, I have generally resigned myself to the fact that most knit sweaters are a one-season only item.   Because they don't hold up well, it's usually better to buy inexpensive sweaters and refresh them every year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sexy Sweaters


Reader question:
Now that it's getting cold, I want to be able to stay warm when I go out but still look nice.  How can I wear sweaters out to a bar or on a date and still look hot?


The key to dressing up sweaters is to be mindful of fit and proportion.  If you're going to do a slouchy, or chunky-knit sweater, keep it slim on the bottom with a skinny jean and tall boots.  Another fun option is an oversized sweater with a short skirt and tall boots.  To dress up a sweater for evening it's also good to incorporate a little fun, like a sparkled knit, animal print, playful cutout, or a super-soft fabric like angora.

And last but not least- in my opinion by far the easiest way to dress up a sweater is to opt for a sweaterdress and tall boots.  Sweaterdresses are warm but still attractive, and worn with tights and a tall boot are perfect for any cute-casual nighttime destination.  Here are some of my favorite sweaters this season that will have you feeling cozy, comfortable, and looking fabulous!

*On sale today 12/22/11 for $52.85 using the 30% off code DRESSY30

*On sale today 12/22/11 for $34.99 using the 30% off code DRESSY30

*On sale today 12/22/11 for $61.60 using the 30% off code DRESSY30




H&M has a LOT of cute, sparkly sweaters and sweaterdresses in stores right now.  For the price, their options are great bets for fun going out looks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dressing for a Job Interview


If you're planning to climb the corporate ladder in 2012, this article is for you!  

The most important thing to consider when dressing for a job interview is this: you want the interviewer to see you and your skills, and nothing else!  The goal is to look serious, polished and professional.  An interview is a weighty occasion and you want to dress the part.  

I'm often asked about "what is appropriate" for the office.  When preparing for an interview, the answer is to stay on the conservative and dressy side.  If you are questioning whether something is appropriate, it probably isn't.  Keep in mind that your interviewer will likely be older and more conservative than you.

Your objective is to get the job, so show up looking impeccably groomed, with a pressed suit in a dark color.  When the interviewer is talking to you, all they should notice is your polished demeanor.  They shouldn't be looking at large jewelry, bright colors, heavy makeup, sloppy clothing, or anything else that could distract from your experience and professionalism.  You should look powerful, competent and ready to work- this means leaving the trends at home.

Grooming Tips:  For women, wear a closed toe shoe with a small heel, unobtrusive jewelry, and keep makeup clean and minimal.  For men and women, nails and hair should be neatly trimmed and clean.  You should smell clean and fresh only- many people are allergic or sensitive to fragrances, so leave out strong perfumes and colognes.



*Super Saver Tip:  The Limited regularly offers 30-40% off full and reduced price merchandise.  Sign up for their email list to receive discounts directly to your inbox daily.  Today 12/21/11 The Limited is offering 50% off all merchandise.  That means the jacket above will be on sale for $79.00, the skirt for $29.95, and the pants for $22.47!  If you're in the market for a good, classic suit, don't walk- run!  Suiting doesn't often go on sale, so it's an ideal item to buy when generous holiday sales come around.

Jacket: $228.00* (Express)
Suit Pant: $98.00* (Express)

*Super Saver Tip:  Express regularly offers discounts of 30-40% off its full priced items.  If you sign up for their email list you will receive discounts delivered almost daily straight to your inbox.  For example, at the beginning of this month, you could have purchased the jacket for $136.00 and the pants for $58.80 (40% off each piece) if you set up an Express credit card.  These will become go-to pieces in your wardrobe that you will use frequently, so it is well worth the investment!

Instant Style- Great Work Dresses


It's Tuesday, and if you ran out the door this morning feeling less than pulled-together, I have a great tip for you: work dresses!  With the style and sophistication of a suit, a classic work dress can take you from 9-5 and beyond looking fabulous and feeling COMFORTABLE!  They are also the easiest thing to throw on in the morning when you're in a rush.  Keep in mind that although the dresses I've selected are a bit pricey, they are a complete outfit and take the place of a top and bottom.  I recommend work dresses with sleeves, which create an entire work-appropriate look without the need for a jacket or cardigan.

*Super Saver Tip: There are some amazing dresses to be found at discount stores like Ross, T.J. Maxx and Marshalls.  I have literally found beautiful, in-season Calvin Klein dresses in my local Ross that are 1/4 the price of the exact same dress selling in department stores.

*This dress is on sale today 12/20/11 for $64.00 using the code WINTER50 at AnnTaylor.com



My pick:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dancing Shoes!


I have searched high and low for the BEST strappy sandals of the season.  Nothing complements a cocktail dress better than the perfect pair of heels with a hint of sparkle.  This season, I found the best options at Endless.com - a site that's new to me but that I am really growing to love!  They have a wonderful selection and reasonable prices.  And best of all, you can have these shipped to you free of charge so you can try them out with your dress before NYE.  Happy shopping!


May I introduce the perfect NYE shoe- Endless.com has it in 4 different colors so it will work with your outfit no matter what!




Style secret- complete the look!  See this post for ideas for a coordinating purse to go with these sandals.

New Year's Eve Stunners


New Year's Eve is all about sparkle and shine.  You want to feel your absolute best, so you can bring the New Year in with style!  Here are my picks for the best New Year's Eve dresses.  All you need is a glass of champagne and you will be party-ready!  If you haven't already planned what you're wearing to your NYE celebration this year, make sure to think about it now and save yourself that frantic dash around the mall at 8:30 p.m. on December 31st.  Last-minute shopping is the worst- 9 times out of 10 you won't find what you need an you will end up overpaying for something you don't like that much.  Take my advice- plan ahead now, and you'll be so happy you did come New Year's Eve!  






*Express has a special offer today for $30 off a $120 purchase so this is on sale today 12/15/11 for $118.00

Style secret- make sure to complete the look!  Need a bag to go with your dress?  See this post

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Best Holiday Gifts 2011


I'm no gifting expert, but I am a shopping expert- and in my experience the best gifts are the ones you would want yourself.  Chances are, if you absolutely love something, your best friend/ mother/ aunt would like it too.  I also believe in one amazing gift, rather than a lot of small ones.  Here are a few ideas for someone on your list that has been *extra* good- or for yourself:)


Rollerball Duo perfumes make great gifts.  It's nice to be able to try a new perfume without committing to a whole bottle.  They're also the perfect size to put in your purse for a midday pick-me-up.



*This is currently unavailable on the Michael Kors site, but I just saw it in the Michael Kors Georgetown store so it does appear to be in stores.


Things you want but wouldn't normally treat yourself to also make reliably good gifts.  I don't know many women who would turn down a gift card for a manicure, massage, spa treatment or gift certificate for their favorite lingerie store.  Even better, buy two spa treatments and you can go together- quality time with someone you love is always the best gift.

OK, I didn't completely forget about the guys!  Here's my pick for the special man in your life:


Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Party on a Budget - Part 2!


One of the easiest ways to spice up your holiday party look on a budget is with a fun holiday nail polish.  I went in search of the best holiday nail polishes and to my complete surprise found that the Muppets Holiday Collection was by far the best!  And for $8.50, this is an unbeatable way to create a fabulous holiday look on a budget.  You will feel festive and new while spending less than a cab ride, and without a doubt your manicure will be a great conversation starter at your next holiday party.  These polishes would also make a nice gift for any fashionista on your list. 



My pick:

I tried Meep-Meep-Meep and it's a beautiful, dark, sparkly red.  However, I am looking forward to trying Warm & Fozzie soon- it is a stunning, multi-dimensional, golden bronze color unlike anything I've seen before.  For more ideas for looking great at your next holiday party on a budget see this post.    

How to Look Polished Without Really Trying


One of the most common requests I get from my clients is to help them look more polished and "put-together."  In today's world of fast-fashion, monthly trends, and emotional shopping, many women find themselves staring at a closet full of clothes and thinking, "I have nothing to wear."  The cause is simply buying clothes without considering what exactly they will be worn with.  This results in a disjointed wardrobe that yields few amazing outfits that achieve the look you're aiming for.

The solution in three easy steps:
1. Define a style - What do you want to look like?  Take 15 minutes to flip through a fashion magazine and rip out the looks that speak to you.  When you're done, look at your selections and see if there is a defining style that emerges.  Don't worry- it will happen!  Here are three examples from Ann Taylor:




2. Choose a go-to silhouette.  Think about what flatters your body.  I know there are two or three outfits in your wardrobe that you go to constantly when you want to look your best.  These cuts flatter your figure and make you feel confident- don't fight it, go with what works!
3. Pick a color scheme.  What colors do you really love?  Think about one or two colors that make you feel your best (for example, I like red- you may have noticed here and here.)  Then pick a supporting cast of neutral colors to complement the colored pieces and make a complete outfit (because a red shirt, red pants, red shoes and a red purse are a bit much.)  Black white, tan and gray are great neutrals.  For maximum efficiency, it's good to pick either black or brown tones as your go-to neutral.

Now that you've picked a style- stick to it!  It's not going to do you any good to buy that brown fringe hobo bag or brown shearling vest if your style is classic, tailored pieces in a palette of black, white and red. You simply won't have anything to wear it with, and it will sit in your closet unworn and unused.  Be very strict with yourself and only buy pieces that match your style, favorite cuts, and color scheme.  (For me that's classic, elegant pieces that can transition from work to weekend; figure-flattering dresses+pumps or blouses+pencil skirts; and this season: black, white, red and blush.)  

Fair warning- with all of the cute things you see in stores, it's not easy to do this!  But if you do, you will steadily build a wardrobe of pieces that all work together and all work on you. When all of your clothes are the same style, cut and color scheme, they will all "go" together, and no matter what you pair together it will all result in polished looks that will consistently achieve that "put together" look we all want.