I hate to admit that after my daughters grew and moved away, I slipped into a fashion coma. No longer was I able to ask Kristen whether my shoes matched my dress. Or whether my shirt should be tucked in or left loose.
Upon the gentle advice of a former manager, I sought the assistance of a 'fashion' consultant, a local expert who was willing to spend 3 hours with me, my wardrobe and my quirky sense of style. She defined it as 'sporty natural'. That was three years ago, and what's stuck with me is the importance of basics.
Case in point. On her first visit, she noticed I had a lot of items with embellishments. Jackets with brocade, slacks with stripes, and blue suede shoes with little turqoise beads. What I lacked were the basics to pull them together along with a mis-conception about what pieces might work. Stiff-collared blouses and silk were too fussy for me, but I didn't know that that bright cotton t-shirts were perfectly appropriate to wear under a jacket at work. I didn't dare wear heels, but later learned to buy flats with peep toes.
I also learned that saturated hues and boat neck collars tend to flatter my coloring and broad shoulders more than muted tones and v-necks. That first $240 was the best money I've ever spent, because over the next year, I saved hundreds by not buying more non-mixable fashion pieces, and instead investing in just a few carefully chosen layering pieces in comfortable fabrics.
I've also learned that all brands aren't the same and was reminded yet again this week while doing laundry. On the right you'll see a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt purchased three years ago at The Gap. It's laundered well, and I learned that the sleeves can be folded back if I'm wearing a 3/4 length jacket.
The shirt on the left was bought last week at Macy's in Chicago and didn't last one washing . . . while soft to the touch, notice the 'holes' that appeared when I pulled it from the dryer? Guess which top was more expensive??! The Macy's top is going back, along with the receipt . . . in the mail no less, since I've no intention to board a plane to make a return. And I could use your advice on where to find Ts in saturated colors, with soft fabrics that hold up well to laundering. Any suggestions? There's always The Gap.