Personal Color: Making the Best Choices

What Makes a Color “Yours”?

Personal color, when chosen wisely, has the potential to make your face appear brighter, healthier, and more vibrant. At the same time, unflattering hues hold equal power to drain the “life” right out of you! Short of having a professional colorist in your closet each morning, there are things you can do on your own to look fabulous every day.  Here’s some guidance.

First, some color basics. Three characteristics to look for in choosing personal color:

  1. Undertone (Temperature). Colors can be primarily cool (with a blue undertone), or they might be predominantly warm (yellow based).  Most people look better in one temperature than the other. When your clothing is in the same color temperature as your features, you achieve personal color harmony.
  2. Intensity. This is what might be thought of as the power of a color.  A color can be soft, with a muted or dusty finish.  Alternatively, clear colors are at the other end of the spectrum with strong saturation, or brightness.  For some skin tones  or hair/eye combinations, intensity is the most important quality in personal color.  Achieve color harmony by wearing colors in

    High Contrast

    the same temperature as your own features.

  3. Value. A color’s value can also be described by its depth (or darkness).  It may be light ordeep. This quality rela

    Low Contrast

    tes to the wearer’s personal color contrast level.  For example, dark hair against light skin represents “high contrast,” where skin and hair that are close to one another in depth are in “low contrast.”  When you wear clothing in color values that relate to your own contrast level, you allow the clothing to support you, rather than compete with your natural coloring.

(How well do you see color?  Take the Color IQ Test!)

    Simple strategies to make color-wise choices for your next knockout look:

    • Use your eyes and hair color as personal color neutrals.  Neutrals don’t have to be black, white, or navy.  Your own neutral colors might be deep olive, or brick red.  (Look closely when examining eye color – there’s more than one hue in there!  Check out all of the flecks and “spokes.”)
    • Let your Mother Nature-bestowed pearls guide you.  When you purchase your next basic white shirt, see that it relates to the color of your teeth or whites of your eyes for optimum flattery.  (If your teeth are a creamy version of white, you can bet they’ll look yellowed against the coolness of a bright, pure-white shirt.)
    • Determine whether your skin undertones are cool or warm, and choose garment hues accordingly.  DIY home test:  Take 4 sheets of construction paper, or fabric if you have it, in brown, black, white, and cream.  Alternately hold each up to your face In front of a mirror.  (Smile while you’re at it!)  If you’re cool based, the white and black will be the more-flattering set.  A warm-base is flattered more by the brown and cream.  Hint:  look for unevenness in skin tone; dulling of the eyes, or extra shadowing in facial creases as indicators when evaluating your own personal colors.

    What are your experiences with color?  Let me know or ask me a question in the comment box below.  (I read them all.)

    Watch for my next blog post where we’ll explore building a wardrobe around your personal color palette!

    Want to learn more?  Work with me.

    Patty Buccellato, is an image coach and founder of Refined Images. She brings extensive knowledge and expertise to her work with men and women individually, as well as with corporate employee groups.

    Patty established Refined Images in 1994, and while her studio is based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, you’ll find her serving clients throughout North America in their homes, offices — and, yes, even in shopping malls!   To get your FREE copy of Patty’s “How to Shop Like a Stylist,” visit or contact Patty.

    Go here to claim your FREE eBook!

    Connect with me! 


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    Personal Color – Are You Color Savvy?

    Your Best Personal Colors

    What’s the big deal about color?  “Not much,” some might say, but from the perspective of a color geek, it’s THE deal breaker in personal appearance.  And though I haven’t used the term before today (confession alert), “color geek” is exactly what I am…. and precisely what most of my clients are not. And that is where it begins….

    When you want to look your personal best, color* forms the foundation for all that follows.  Clothing colors that relate to your natural features (in skin, hair, and eyes), allow you to appear more vibrant and healthy.  Discordant hues often amplify the appearance of fine lines and can accentuate blemishes or unevenness in skin tone.

    * For the sake of accuracy, what many people call “color,” is properly named “hue.”  (Blue in it’s pure form is a hue; red is a hue,…).   Hues are altered with the addition of white and/or black to change value and intensity, creating the affected “color.”  Most people simply use the term “color” for all of these, and so I’ve generally done so in this blog post.

    Where harmonious colors allow the eyes to sparkle and teeth to look brighter, colors that don’t relate to your own coloring can cast a harsh appearance.   (That’s okay when we’re 25; not so much when we’re 35 and beyond.)  And naturally, choices in makeup, accessories, and eyewear are guided by clothing colors.

    So how do you know where to start?

    It’s all about you.

    There are “hot” colors for every fashion season.  There are “wow” colors for every person.  Sometimes the two intersect and, well,  sometimes ya just gotta be an individual and go with what suits you.

    Personal Color Qualities

    Three key characteristics determine color harmony: undertone (or, temperature), value,and intensity. These variables combine in different ways for each of us, resulting in our own color palette.  If you’ve had a personal color analysis, you’ve seen just how it all comes together.  If your color sensitivities are acute, you may notice the base color in the veins beneath your skin, or you might notice how you brighten or “glow” when you wear a sweater or blouse of a particular hue.  (See more about personal color.)  The first step, though, is boosting your understanding of color.

    Test Your IQ 

    Find your Color IQ with the Munsell Color Test

    Are you color astute?  As individuals, we perceive color at different levels.  Before attempting to assess your personal colors, do some color play.  Can you tell warm from cool?  Do you quickly recognize the clarity of a color?  Want to know just how color perceptive you are?  Take this Color IQ Test to find out how much you “see” color.

    Let me know your score, or ask me a question, in the comment box below.  (I read them all.)

    Read my next blog post where we explore the Personal Color Qualities!

    Want to learn more?  Work with me.

    Patty Buccellato, is an image coach and founder of Refined Images. She brings extensive knowledge and expertise to her work with men and women individually, as well as with corporate employee groups.

    Patty established Refined Images in 1994, and while her studio is based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, you’ll find her serving clients throughout North America in their homes, offices — and, yes, even in shopping malls!   To get your FREE copy of Patty’s “How to Shop Like a Stylist,” visit or contact Patty.

    Visit here for your FREE eBook!

    Connect with me! 

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    Enduring Cold Weather in Style: Three Essential Pieces

    Getting Dressed, Cold-Weather Style

    It’s 8 °F as I write this, yet another single-digit temperature day in Michigan.  As details of the 2014 Winter Olympics Opening Day in Sochi unfolded, I wondered just how on earth spectators would keep comfortable in the cold.  I was empathizing with the discomfort of frigid temp’s, only to learn that Sochi is the warmest city ever to host the Winter Olympics according to NASA.   Despite the commonly-held image of a subarctic Russia, daily average temperatures in the coastal city don’t drop below freezing at any time during the year.  That is an easy winter to dress for.  For the rest of us tolerating persistently cold days, the art of merging comfort and style on a continual basis calls for some creativity.  Here are three tools to keep you in the game without looking like you’re bundled like a mountain man on hunt day.

    Essential #1:  The Underlayer. When even the heavy weight of jeans aren’t enough to keep your legs warm, you know you’ve got to get smart about fabrics.  It’s all about layering when it comes to cold-weather dressing, and that begins with long underwear.  But that’s not the waffle-knit thermal underwear your mom dressed you in when you went out to make snow angels. 

    Silk is your best bet for warm layering, minus the bulk.  Get a low-rise version like this one, and it works under jeans or low-riding business casual bottoms.  Silk serves as an insulator with the added benefit of moisture-wicking properties.  That means, whether your legs get drenched walking in knee-deep snow, or you break out in a sweat dashing for the nearest doorway to shelter, your legs stay dry. 


    Essential #2:  A Hood. If you don’t like the hairstyle that wearing a hat leaves behind, a hooded coat is your best buddy on  -30° “real feel” days.

    Cold weather trivia“You Lose 75 Percent of Your Body Heat Through Your Head.” True?  or False?   Possibly true for an infant, NOT true for an adult says results of  a Wilderness Medicine experiment.

    Hypothermia aside, you don’t want your precious ear tips frostbitten, do you?  Not to mention having the efforts of your morning hair styling regimen blown to smithereens.   Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow last week forecasting six more weeks of winter.  Cold weather clothes are now on SALE.  Timing is everything. (Read this post to make sure you’re choosing wisely.)


    Essential #3:  Stylish Tech Gloves. Not long ago, using a mobile device with your hands covered meant those knit gloves with little patches sewn on the finger tips.  They’re great.  But if you’re a leather-glove gal, you no longer have to sacrifice your style for cold-temperature coverage.  With lined gloves like these,  you get protection from the elements in your perfect color.  So, text, tweet, and dial away in cozy comfort.  If you’re lucky, you’ll snag a bargain on these, too!  

    Related:  What’s Your “Boot Personality”? Find Your Boot Type


    Patty Buccellato, is image coach and founder of Refined Images. She brings extensive knowledge and expertise to her work with men and women individually, as well as with corporate employee groups.

    Patty established Refined Images in 1994, and while her studio is based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, you’ll find her serving clients throughout North America in their homes, offices — and, yes, even in shopping malls!   To get your FREE copy of Patty’s “How to Shop Like a Stylist,” visit or contact Patty.

    Visit here for your FREE eBook!

    Connect with me! 

    Posted in Personal Image, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    You Are What You Wear — 5 Boot Style Personalities

    What’s Your Boot Type?

    Think your boot style goes unnoticed?  An interesting study crossed my desk computer screen recently, proving a connection between what we wear on our feet, and our personalities. “Surprisingly minimal appearance cues lead perceivers to accurately judge others’ personality, status, or politics,” the study (Shoes as a Source of First Impressions) tells us.  

    “You can get an amazing amount of information from a person in just a fraction of a second,” said Christian Crandall, lead author in the University of Kansas study. So it seemed appropriate to offer some clues to help you find the message you’re sending about yourself through your cold-weather footwear choices.

    Identify your favorite boot style below for insight into your own Boot Type Personality.*

    “Fur” Trimmed Laceup. If this is your boot style, you’re a practical gal, but you refuse to give up style for protection. You’re the boss of you now, and you see no reason why you can’t have it all. Enter: the best of both worlds. Sorel’s Joan of Arctic laceups are stylish enough for celebrities, but with the perks of keeping your feet warm, comfy and dry. Your inner tree-hugger does a happy dance over the recycled felt liner.

    Sky-High Thigh Boot.  It’s new, it’s hot — the height of fashion has your name all over it. High style simply fits you well. You’ve never been one to follow the crowd, and besides, comfort is overrated. You’ve worked hard to earn your place in the world, and luxury feels sooooo good.




    Classic Ugg. You love a good book snuggled by the fireplace with a mug of hot cocoa. You’re an agreeable person, but no fool. You go with the flow — If venturing out in the winter elements shows up in your day, you have no intention of doing so without taking your indoor comfort with you. In the cozy Ugg you feel like you’re still wearing your favorite snuggly slippers, and in down-to-earth tan, coordinating outfits is a snap.



    Broken in. Your boot style is well worn.  You’re comfortable in your relationships, and don’t need to impress.  You could buy new shoes, but they just wouldn’t have that loved-in-lived-in, homey feel.  You’re an extrovert, a liberal thinker, and well-worn shoes suit your days like lemonade on a summer day.  Besides, you and your boots have history.



    Anything in Color. You’re emotionally grounded and know your own mind. You love color where it counts — where your soles connect to Mother Earth — and you prefer to keep them there, by the way. Not the extrovert some mistake you to be, you’ll leave the jumping-out-of-airplane adventures to your globetrotting college roommate. You’re happiest in deep conversation around a table of good food, shared with dear friends.

    “Sometimes fancy, sometimes functional, shoes are the ‘sole’ of an outfit,” said Crandall.  Whatever your style, ROCK those soles and let your personality shine!

    Not sure if you should spend on that new boot you’ve had your eyes on, read more here.

    * Boot style personality types loosely based on University of Kansas study, and presented for entertainment purposes only. No stereotypes are asserted (or believed).

    Patty Buccellato, is image coach and founder of Refined Images. She brings extensive knowledge and expertise to her work with men and women individually, as well as with corporate employee groups.

    Patty established Refined Images in 1994, and while her studio is based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, you’ll find her serving clients throughout North America in their homes, offices — and, yes, even in shopping malls!   To get your FREE copy of Patty’s “How to Shop Like a Stylist,” visit or contact Patty.

    Visit here for your FREE eBook!

    Connect with me! 

    Posted in Personal Image, Women's fashion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Holiday Office Party: 5 Survival Tips (Edition 2)

    The Work-Hours Office Party

    So, your employer is catering in lunch for the company holiday celebration.  How do you maintain your professional stature while lending a merry tone at the office party?  It’s easy if you keep the word “appropriate” at the top of your mind.

    1)   Be a participant. The first step is to physically show up. It might be tempting to take advantage of quiet time at your desk to get a jump on a deadline.  Resist.  Your presence at the event demonstrates an ability to maintain balance:  work when it’s time to work; play when it’s time to relax a little.  Attendance at the office party also shows you’re a team player, willing to get acquainted with your coworkers on a less formal basis than usual work projects require.

    2)  Remember your organization’s dress policy. If exposed cleavage and thigh-high skirts are frowned upon on a general note, revealing party attire is not likely to be seen as a good display of judgment.  Ninety-two percent of executives surveyed by The Creative Group said office party behavior can impact a worker’s career prospects.  Suggestive dress can be just as damaging as over-drinking.  An after-hours party may offer more leeway (still not a good place to flash skin), but the office environment calls for more subtle party dress.  Better played safe than sorry.

    3)  Anticipate the unexpected. Consider the possibility of an unintended encounter with a prospective client on your morning coffee run.  Do you really want to waste the opportunity explaining your Rudolph sweatshirt?  On the other extreme, over-the-top evening attire is inappropriate at the office party when held in the company cafeteria.  A sequined cocktail dress will appear out of place (because it is).  If your party takes place during business hours or in the business environment, take care so you’ll be taken seriously when a business matter arises.

    4) Get Colorful. Off-color jokes won’t be welcome, but some vibrance in your clothing will.  It adds to the merry spirit without overstepping any lines.  Incorporate more festive colors and fabrics than you would normally wear to the office.  If you’re a woman who generally wears a suit to work, consider pairing it with a jewel-toned satin blouse or beaded/sequin-neck sweater in place of you typical beige silk shirt.  In a business casual environment, trade your everyday cardigan for a piece with some bling — just one piece suffices.  Head-to-toe glitz is for after-hours.

    Guys, you might swap out the standard-issue necktie for one in a tasteful holiday hue or motif.  Unless you’re in a very casual and creative work environment, however, avoid the tie with flashing illumination or audible “ho-ho-ho’s.”  You’ll want to avoid wearing anything that might embarrass you if making your first introduction to the company CEO.

    5)  Discretion is golden. When it comes to your career, diplomacy will save the day, over and over again.  Don’t let the less-formal gathering of colleagues fool you into thinking it’s a good time to tell a co-worker you think he’s “hot.”  You’re on company grounds, and appropriate office manner prevails. 

    A cheery disposition and light-hearted engagement with coworkers will leave you remembered as the consummate professional, image & reputation intact.

    Read about After-Hours Work Party style.

    Posted in Dressing for Success, Men's Image, Professional Image, Women's Image | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Holiday Office Party: 5 Survival Tips (Edition 1)

    The After-Hours Office Party

    It’s that time of year when business and social mix more than any other season.  If the venue of your office party is a restaurant or catering hall for an after-business-hours gathering, standard work attire generally won’t make the cut.  An-amped up appearance meets the more-formal challenge.  Some tips for dressing (and behaving):

    1)  Pay respect to invitation details and the occasion’s dress code. If it’s “Black Tie,” then only a tux or formal, dark-colored suit will do for men, and an evening gown or short, but elegant, cocktail dress is in order for women.  “Cocktail attire” is more lenient and allows for a variety of dressed up clothing.  Tasteful clothing (as you might wear to a wedding service), but with stepped-up glam fits the bill for a festive, holiday mood.  “Business attire” means just that – a suit or other professional attire.  Business Casual clothing won’t suffice unless an invitation reads “casual.”

    2)  Attention to detail and meticulous grooming says you have good sense and judgment. Can you comfortably adapt when circumstances take you outside of your familiar everyday work environment?  The holiday office party is an opportunity for colleagues and business leadership to get to know one another on a new level.  Be sure not to disappoint with poor or inappropriate choices.

    For women, a holiday look in a festive evening environment calls for heavier makeup to compensate for the low-lighting of p.m. events; interesting accessories in dressed-up materials (unique evening bag, etc.); and a hairstyle adjusted to the formality of the event and attire (the everyday ‘do generally won’t cut it.).  Guys will want to take the time for a shoe polish, clean shave, and groomed hands that match the occasion’s dressed-up mood and attire.

    3) Avoid overtly sexual or revealing attire (i.e. excess display of cleavage). While the environment feels “social,” the occasion is a business event and the impression you make carries over to your workplace reputation (or that of your partner when you’re the guest at their work party).  Show-stealing bling and drama translates as a scream for attention and a lack of regard for others — not at all the spirit of a team player.

    4)  Go easy when libations are flowing.  “Eat, drink and be merry” the saying goes.  So it’s party-time, right?  Not so fast,… consider the consequences before wearing the lampshade on your head.  Keep in mind the word “office” in “office party.”

    A positive reputation in the minds of your supervisor or colleagues can be unraveled in a second with poor party behavior.  Moderation is key in the “eating and drinking” arena.  It’ll be difficult to make a good impression if you’re feeling poorly or lose your equilibrium.  As for merriment, avoid off-color (politically incorrect) jokes or exclusive conversation.  Sensitivity to your fellow party-goers goes a long way in positively reflecting your strength of character.

    I said what?!?

    5) Practice damage control now to save regret later.  The worst thing for your workplace image?  Becoming intoxicated.  This is hands-down the behavior most damaging to a professional image.  From a practical perspective, if your judgment is impaired, you won’t be in the position to appropriately edit comments to your boss, the colleague who threw you under the bus last week, or the co-worker you dated last year.  Keep your wits about you to avoid office party indiscretions and day-after regrets. Your professional reputation will thank you.

    Coming up Next:  When your office party is at the office.

    More about style and occasion.


    Posted in Men's Image, Professional Image, Women's Image | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

    Thanksgiving Fashion — How to Dress in Style and Comfort

    Thanksgiving and fashion.  Feels like an oxymoron, right?  Let’s face it, the holiday’s tradition — at its very core — is about eating.  A full table, celebrating the fall harvest’s abundance, is the leading feature.  The result, naturally, is a full tummy.  It’s inevitable, yet no reason to look less than fabulous.  It’s just one day, so go ahead and indulge with a clear conscience and a rockin’ style, because you can!

    No matter who or where, there’s an outfit to meet the occasion and boost your style and comfort.  Follow this guide to find the turkey-day fashion that has your name on it.

    Ann Taylor Flounce Dress

    Meeting the Family. Great first impressions can be comfortable.  We have no control over the conversation, or if Uncle Henry over-imbibes and ends the evening with a turkey carcass on his head, but the outfit, now that’s another story!

    Make a statement that’s tasteful, yet feminine; conservative, without being bashful (how can you be shy in red?)  This is your perfect first-impression dress.  The fit-and-flare eases over your mid-section so you won’t think twice about a dollop of whipped cream to top your pumpkin pie.



    Michael Kors at Nordstrom

    Holiday with Friends. An easy potluck followed by a club stroll calls for stepped-up Thanksgiving fashion.   Consider a bit of glitz to kick off the holiday season, but still allow for culinary indulgence.

    This dress eases through the tummy zone without compromising style.  The look is simple, but the statement is clear.  And accessories are no worry when you’ve got a built-in necklace and an all-over metallic fabric.

    Gucci at Saks Fifth Avenue


    Dinner for Eight. The cooking’s been offloaded and cocktails are served to order — you’re eating out! Without concern of even carrying a plate to the kitchen, you can opt for elegance and luxe.

    Loose fit and a fabric that moves when your body does, give you every right to a a second helping.  Not your mother’s “jogging” outfit, a number like this one’s party-friendly, but still shows up easy and comfortable.

    Chico's Black Label Cardigan

    Look Who’s Cookin’! You’re the hostess, but that doesn’t mean you want to sacrifice style.  Look for spill-tolerant dark colors and machine-washable fabrics.

    A cardigan is good camouflage for a full tummy, should you have the chance to actually eat any of the yummy creations you serve.

    Whatever your holiday setting,  style and comfort can share the stage.  A little advance planning, and you can have it all!

    Posted in Personal Image, Uncategorized, Women's fashion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

    Pencil Sharp – 5 Ways to Wear a Pencil Skirt This Season

    A pencil skirt hasn’t been this hot since the “Mad Men” era was present tense.  Joan Harris makes a strong, provocative case for its classic interpretation, but your options this season are far from basic.  Re-mix, recreate, and reinvent — the options are all yours!

    Get Graphic.  Graphic prints have gotten quite interesting this season.  Combining conventionally “disjointed” colors in a print allows a whole new level of creativity in selecting your tops in solid or  complementary prints.  Just be sure the print doesn’t visually “point” at any body area you’d rather not emphasize.

    Try it Long. A mid-calf length begs a heel – flats won’t cut it.  The lower-body sleekness of a long pencil skirt amplifies the curves of an hourglass figure.  If you don’t have the shape to support it, go for just-below knee.

    Tip:  To maintain flattering proportion when wearing mid-calf, keep your top or jacket at waist-length.

    School-girl Plaid. It has a certain nostalgia quality for many women.  Innocent.  Fresh Start.  Classic.  Like the graphic print skirt, your top options vary — pick up one color in the plaid for a blouse, top it with a cardigan in yet another hue from the print.

    Tip:  Check that the scale of the plaid is in proportion for your body size.  This one works well on a petite frame.  Larger body?  Increase the dimension of the plaid pattern.

    Image courtesy

    Lay it On. For your next Girls Night Out or weekend sassy, layer your pencil skirt over comfy leggings.  (Caution:  this is not a career look unless a highly-creative work environment allows you greater liberties than most.)

    Tip:  Keep the fabrics light-medium weight to avoid adding bulk.  A heel keeps this edgy with the contrast of legging-casual.

    Mixed Media. Color-blocking was fun, but now we’re mixing fabrics.  Leather, prints, solids, textures — all combined into one neat little package.  Fabric blocking is where fashion meets art.   These can go to work at the office if you choose a mix on the more subtle end of the creative continuum.  Just as with the graphic prints, watch where the design takes you.

    This season’s pencils are anything but average.  Choose your mood and the right skirt awaits.

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    Go Ahead, Shoot Your Wad

    Clothes Worth Splurging On  (7 Good Reasons to Spend)

    You’ve been eyeing that emerald-green cashmere sweater at your neighborhood boutique for weeks.  You’ve created half a dozen outfits with it in your mind.  BUT — it’ll eat up half your season’s shopping budget.  Still, you can hardly resist the temptation.  Should you go for it?

    If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you’ve found something worthy of your investment:

    1)    You’ll wear it for years.  How do you know?  A classic style endures time, always looking fashionable.  Timeless pieces are not trends (trends come and go quickly), but you can wear them with trends.  A well-cut menswear-inspired trouser:  Classic.  Skinny jeans:  Not.  A hip-length, crew-neck cardigan:  Classic.  A peplum, shaped cardigan trimmed with oversized buttons:  Not.  (You get the picture.)

    2)    The quality is impeccable.  When a garment is constructed well and made of high-quality fabric and trims, it’ll hold up over time.  Choose well and your clothing will serve you, without signs of wear, season after season.

    3)    It fits like custom made. When a dress or suit hugs your curves where it should, and its length proportions mimic made-for-you-perfect, you’ve got a winner.  It doesn’t necessarily have to possess these qualities right off the rack, however.  Given the right potential, your local tailor can lend a garment this quality.  With everything else in order, ask your tailor if (s)he can make it  ”just right.”

    4)    You feel like a million bucks in it.  If you feel like a knock-out in it, it’s usually flattering.  How to tell for sure?  The jacket’s cut relates to your body’s silhouette; the sweater’s color enhances your features; and the dress’s fabric drapes your curves and supports your angles.

    5)    It has loads of wardrobe companions.   You bring that chocolate brown skirt home and, in the first five minutes at your closet, you’ve mixed six different outfits with it.  (This usually happens when you’ve gotten into the habit of making purchase choices based on the points in #4, consistently.  Mixes and matches come easy.)

    6)    The color flatters.  If, when you wear it, your eyes sparkle, your skin glows, and people ask what you’ve been doing lately to look so great, its worth it.  Every.  Penny.  You paid.

    7)    You love it. Really, really love it.  If your purchase meets the above criterion, and you can’t imagine tiring of it, you’ve got the item that’s worthy of your hard-earned cash.  The investment return comes in your self-confident presence.  Rock it!


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    Over-40 Dressing — How Not to Look Frumpy

    Photo: ©Lisa Young,

    One of the most-often asked questions I get as an image consultant relates to “age-appropriate” dressing.  Sometimes when a woman asks about this, it comes from a concern of coming off like she’s trying to appear too youthful.  Other times, though, it’s that she doesn’t want to look like she’s lost her sense of style just because she’s old enough to remember when nothing came between Brooke Shields and her “Calvin’s.”

    The Seven Sins of “Middle-Age” Dressing

    Well, maybe not “sins,” but here are surefire signs you’re out-of-the-loop when it comes to current fashion trends.  (Remember, out-of-the-loop quickly leads to a growing frump-factor.)

    1)  Knuckle-length sleeves.  Nothing says “I’m not paying attention to my appearance” like ill-fitting clothing.  Jacket sleeves that reach for the middle of your hand, dresses that fit when you were 20 lbs. heavier, and pant hems that drag the floor all leave the impression that you “Just. Don’t. Get it.”

    2)  Panty hose.  They’re as unfashionable as your grandfather in black socks and sandals.   (Oh, the groans.)  There was a glimmer of hope that Kate Middleton could revive pantyhose as a fashion “do” when, as new royalty, she was frequently photographed wearing hose with her stylish dresses.   Reality:  she’s a princess and the informal leaders of the kingdom simply didn’t embrace the look.

    Once the benchmark for conservative business dress, even members of the Big 4 accounting firms now support hosiery-free legs in the workplace.  Today’s look:  opaque tights (or versions with pattern or texture) in cold-weather months; leg bronzer in the summer months.

    3.  Incomplete Outfits.  The extra 90-seconds it takes to coordinate jewelry with your clothing takes you from getting dressed to being dressed.  Savvy dressers know the power of accessories:  jewelry, scarves, shoes and handbags — the icing on the cake — all take your outfit up a notch when chosen well.

    Don’t where to begin?  Visit your best-dressed friend’s favorite boutique and check out what well-dressed mannequins near you are wearing.

    4.  Your high school hairstyle (or no hairstyle).  If you’re wearing your tresses the same way you did beneath a cap and gown (high school, college, whatever), it’s well beyond time to upgrade.

    Consider your role in life:  if you’re a corporate gal, an understated, polished style communicates that you’re aware of what’s going on around you, yet you allow your work to speak for itself.  A freelance artist-type?  Let an edgier choice in hairstyle express your creative flair.

    5.  Long skirts & flats.  Don’t do it.  Unless you’re in a long wool skirt and riding boots, just don’t do it.  Maxi dresses excluded (they fully cover your legs), legs appear short and overwhelmed by the fabric of a long skirt.  A dress or skirt hem that lands anywhere between knees and ankles calls for heels.

    6.  Two long clothing pieces.  For a proportion-correct outfit, think:  long over short, or short over long.   If your  skirt is long, wear a cropped shirt, sweater, or jacket for balance.  If your jacket is long, pair it with a skirt at knee-length or higher to avoid the appearance of your body split in two equal parts.  (The unflattering visual result: short and squat.)

    7.  Quilted handbag.  Unless it’s Brighton, trimmed in leather, or adorned with silver hardware, it’s not a handbag.  You can carry it, but don’t be surprised if asked about your latest knitting project.  (Quilted bags make perfect knitting totes, by the way.) For a frump-free handbag, choose quality leather or one of today’s high-tech synthetic fabrics.

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