Q. Hello! I saw you on “The View” providing fashion advice. You seem young and full of experience. I am mailing you in hopes that you can help my daughter and me.
My problem is that I am approaching 50 years old and I have to this day, NO FASHION SENSE. I feel badly because I have a daughter who is in high school and I so badly want her to be current on the latest fashions and look put together. I also want that for myself, but can’t seem to find anyone in the area that is willing to assist me with these concerns. Can you help me or at least help my daughter become fashion conscious?
A. There are so many ways to find and develop your style and have fun spending time with your daughter while doing it.
1-Start picking up the latest fashion magazines, the big Fall issues will be jam packed with all the latest trends for Fall. Our favorites are Lucky (realistic choices and price picks), Marie Claire (famous for their splurge vs. steal pages), InStyle and Elle. Sit down at your kitchen table over an afternoon snack or a “just girls” dinner and peruse the pages of the magazines. Tear out the pages with your favorite photos, whether it be the whole outfit, or even just one piece or accessory, and start building a style file. Ignore the prices of the garments when making your choices. This is just the start.
2-Reguarly visit sites like ours (of course), since we choose realistic options from websites, and check out others like style.com and instyle.com where you can watch fashion shows and see photos from the runway shows from all over world.
3-Spend a day or more walking through your local mall and just visiting shops you don’t normally walk into. You may discover a designer that peaks your interest. Take a look at the mannequins in the stores and see how the stores dress them in various designers.
4-Good department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales have personal shoppers. Don’t hesitate to meet with one, they’re free! In fact, go ahead and choose more than one store. When you meet with the personal shopper, explain your concerns, talk about your budget, your size and shape and your daily lifestyle, and add in any upcoming events. Ask her for an assessment and advice. She can direct you to specific designers that fit within your budget and fit for your and your daughter’s body shape and size. She can also take you around the store and make wardrobe suggestions. And when new items come into the store that she believes will be right for you or your daughter, she can contact you and sometimes hold the items until you can get to the store. This same advice can work with a small boutique in your town as well.
5-Other places to shop to help build a stylish wardrobe beyond the well known stores are web sites - I’m a fan of shopbop.com and couturecandy.com. Also try visiting good consignment stores and vintage shops where gently worn clothes are resold. I have snagged some great finds like Gucci sling backs and a Carolina Herrera bag at a deep discount at a consignment store just outside New York.
6-Start building a style by purchasing and wearing classic, simple cut pieces. Don’t purchase trendy items right away unless they’re inexpensive. Find a way to be stylish with a white button down shirt and dark denim jeans by wearing a printed scarf or beaded necklace and a bold belt. Pair it with peep toe wedges or knee high boots. Accessories can have a huge influence on a wardrobe of basic, but good quality pieces. A black sweater with a black pencil skirt can look stylish when worn belted with a patent leather belt and worn with patterned tights and suede pumps in a rich color like teal or burgundy.
7-Don’t be daunted. Fashion is meant to be fun! Dare to make some mistakes. Take an afternoon and go through each other’s closet. Keep what you love and give away those that you don’t, whether to a thrift store for Good Will or into the garbage. Make sure your closets are organized and that you can see what you actually own.
8-And look around to friends, family and even acquaintances to see whose style you admire. Ask them about which designers they prefer, where they shop and where they find the best deals. We adore the Back Room at Loehmanns and the Italian leather bags are great buys at TJ Maxx and Marshalls.
9-Try on all the clothes you buy and find a good tailor or seamstress to fit clothes to your body. Usually a good dry cleaner has a tailor on the premises. The simplest top or jacket can look flawless when it’s fit to your body. I see mine on a regular basis - I won’t settle for clothes that don’t fit right. It’s worth it to settle when you feel more confident in clothes that look good on your body.
10-If you feel you have some body flaws - a bit of tummy or thighs that don’t seem as firm as they were in your 20s - don’t hesitate to wear shapewear under your clothes. We love Spanx, Bali and Donna Karan pieces. Intimate shapewear can instantly smooth out lumps and bumps and nobody but you has to know.
NOW go have some fun, keep an open mind, laugh loud and often and think of this as a chance to bond with your daughter.
shown here, some looks from jcrew.com - a great resource for classic pieces with a modern spin that can be creatively combined to reflect your personal style