Style Tips…Courtesy of Mom
It’s the month where we (officially) celebrate our mothers and all of the other fabulous female nurturers in our lives. As I reflect on my own mom, I treasure the memories of our time together and all of her pearls of wisdom. I’m not sure how she knew so much about so much, but she did. Truth be told, the best wardrobe advice I ever received did not come from a magazine…it came from my mother.
I loved to shop with her. She could spot the word ‘sale’ across a selling floor, knew whether an item would work (or not) without trying it on and understood that you can be both comfortable and stylish. Whether in my personal wardrobe or my professional consultations, I find that her wise words often come out of my mouth. Read on for some of her tips and wisdom.
Have the right outfit and the occasion will follow. My mom was a tough fit so when she found something that fit right off the rack and looked great, she never concerned herself with where/when she would wear it. She trusted that the right occasion would present itself…and it always did. (This pairs nicely with my mantra that it is always easier to say ‘yes’ to an invitation when you have something to wear!)
When you love something and it works, buy two. Mom felt that there was nothing worse than finding a clothing item that was really great and then not being able to find it again. So our home was like a mini-boutique with things that we wore hanging in our closets, plus a “back stock” of items at the ready should something wear out. Today I find this works very well for the classic wardrobe stapes: a shaped cardigan, crisp white blouse, great looking flats, and so on.
Pay retail only when necessary. My mom believed in only paying full price on an ‘investment’ item like a winter coat or suit. For the other items she believed that you should shop on sale or discount. I keep this sage advice in mind when I advise clients that they should shop twice a season, at the beginning for the items they must have to complete their wardrobe and at the end for the items that are not critical, but rather nice-to-have.
Don’t settle for less than great. I learned at a fairly young age that “good enough” rarely was when it came to my wardrobe. If the item wasn’t a winner (color, fit, style, etc.) and I didn’t love it (or at least really like it), then the item stayed in the store. (I grew up on Long Island – the land of the shopping malls, so there were always other options!) Growing up my mom taught me to be discerning and I still am today…both for myself and my clients.
Carry a bag that’s big enough to hold life’s essentials. More often than not, my mom carried a bag big enough to qualify as a carry-on by airline standards today (smile). While the size of her bag may have been questionable, the contents were not… aspirin, band aids, breath mints, an emery board, hand lotion, safety pins and so on. Call it the “nurturer” in me, but I like the idea of having whatever I – or those around me – might need at any given time.
If you have to ask, don’t wear it. This was my mom’s party line, whether the question centered around the length of a skirt, if something went with something else, if the outfit was appropriate for _____ (fill in the blank) and so on. This taught me that if I had even the slightest hesitation, I probably shouldn’t be wearing the clothing item/accessory/outfit in question. Ironically enough, I deliver this same message every time I speak to corporate groups about image and professionalism.
Finally, mom believed that there was no day more special than today and that one’s best clothing should be worn and enjoyed, not saved for some ‘important’ occasion. So with that I encourage you to go into your closet, take out at outfit you’ve been saving, cut off the tags and wear it immediately (and repeatedly).
After all, clothing can bring us such great joy…and you deserve it!
(If you’re not experiencing the great joy your wardrobe can bring, I can help. Mention the 3T’s for 10% off of any color, closet or shopping session. Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or 646.237.4193.)