Tips for Buying Quality Clothes for Your Wardrobe

Ever wonder why some clothes are so expensive?

Well, of course the answer is quality.  But, you already knew that, right?

When you go shopping do you pay attention to the prices, the quality of the garment or are you an impulse shopper?  If it looks cute and it fits, buy it, right?  Well, let’s think about that.  Have you ever bought a winter scarf, just to find that you’re purchasing another scarf the following year?  Why?  Is it out of style?  Does it just look old?  – And it’s only been one year.  Did you check the quality?

Quality checking while you are shopping will actually save you money on your wardrobe in the long run.  Although you may spend more money, the old adage that you get what you pay for is very true with clothing.  So this year when you search for a new scarf, because last year’s shrunk after one wash, or the dye faded, or it just didn’t store well, try this quality check:

Cashmere Scarves

Cashmere Scarves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Find two scarves in the same department store.  For example, two cashmere scarves.

Be sure one is a moderate price, let’s say $25.  And the other is about $100 or higher.

Hold each scarf in separate hands and feel the fibers in the material.

The more expensive scarf will feel softer and denser with consistent thread hairs.  This label probably states 100% cashmere.

The cheaper scarf will most likely feel like coarser hairs.  This is because the cheaper scarf; although labeled cashmere, is most likely blended with other fibers.  The label could say 100% cashmere blend.  The key word here is blend.  Because this scarf is blended with other fibers, it is cheaper.

Let’s look at one more final reason that one cashmere scarf is more expensive than the other. The best cashmere items are made from the finest hairs handpicked from Mongolian goats in the Spring.[1]  You’re paying more for finer quality hairs in the expensive scarf.  On the other hand, we may never know where the coarser hairs in the cheaper scarf came from.  They may even be synthetic.

So this year, if you go out to buy a scarf and want a good quality that will last several years, consider purchasing the more expensive scarf.

Want a few more tips for checking the quality of clothing while you shop:  Try these additional tips:

  1. When buying a wool jacket or sweater, squeeze the wool tightly with your hands for several seconds, like you are trying to squish it all together.  If the material is smooth when released, then the quality is expensive and will last longer.  If the material remains bunched up and wrinkly, then you might be getting another jacket next year too.
  2. If a pocket is fake, or super skimpy, the manufacturer may have cut corners to save money on material.  If you don’t have a place for your cell phone, or perhaps car keys, this item may end up just hanging around your closet and not get much use.  You would be better off purchasing an item with useful pockets.
  3. Most clothing that is fully lined is a better quality.  If a lining does not completely cover the inside of a garment, then by the same time next year, you will most likely see the lining ends showing through the front of the garment and you’ll probably be buying another one of these items next year too.
  4. The width of the material left around the seams is a telltale sign of a quality garment.  If the seams lie flat on the inside and there is enough material left for alterations, you have a quality garment.
  5. Hem stitching should not been seen from the outside of the garment, unless it is intentional in the design.
  6. If you pull the seams, the threads should not be loose, or see through.  If they are, then perhaps the garment will not hold up in the washing machine too many times.  Also, weak seams can become crooked over time.
  7. For trousers, is there at least two inches left in the hem for alterations?  If so, then this may be a quality item worth custom fitting.

So with these tips, and your next shopping trip, you just may start transforming your closet into a custom wardrobe of your own.

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Must Haves for Your 2012 Boot Collection

This season I cannot help but think of the song lyrics: “Apple Bottom Jeans, Boots with the Fur.” There are so many styles with faux fur accents this year.

Perhaps you already have boots with faux fur stashed away in your closet.  Pull out those fur lined boots, fold the tops down and show them off.

Of course, if you do not already have something like that, I have put together a list of my top ten favorite boots for Winter 2012 to help you update your boot stash.  Your signature style boot this year can be determined by three factors – boot height, heel height, and heel style. Your preference of these three factors determines your signature style.

First, you should decide if you want up to the knee, over the knee, mid calf or ankle height boots.  Second, you decide on the heel style.  The styles that I find to be hot this year are: a wedge, stiletto, flat, or a little bit wider than a stiletto.   And third, you choose the height of the heel.  This should be a height that you are comfortable walking in and could negotiate snowy sidewalks if necessary.

Next, you can combine your preferences with my top ten list and determine your signature boot style for this year. My top ten list is based on my research of the many fashion magazines one can refer to as well as my personal opinion of what I, as a consumer, would wear. Here’s my list:

  1. Wedge lace up ankle boot
  2. Platform lace up bootie with a stiletto heel
  3. Riding boots
  4. Shrug
  5. Shearling boots
  6. Snow shoe style boots
  7. Shearling ankle boots
  8. Boots with fur accents
  9. Stiletto boots
  10. Wellington boots

The above photo shows a picture of faux fur stiletto ankle shrug booties I just had to add to my wardrobe this year.  However, I have chosen a wedge as my signature style for the comfort and height.  A black lace up wedge bootie and some of my additional finds are shown below.

In addition to faux fur accents, buckles are on the rise this year. The below photo shows a tan buckle shrug bootie that can compliment your wardrobe.

The next photo is a pair of black stiletto booties that entice most skinny jean lovers.  Notice the fur lining and buckles.

Colourful PVC Wellingtons

Image via Wikipedia

My 1 pair calf- and 2 pair sheepskin boots

Image via Wikipedia

The Little Black Dress

Audrey Hepburn £7

Image by drinksmachine via Flickr

Have you seen the 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffanys”?  Did you notice the “Little Black Dress”?  Do you have a little black dress in your closet?  Why a little black dress?  The little black dress is a staple item from which you can build a wardrobe.

Where did the term little black dress originate?  Coco Chanel was the creator of the little black dress (LBD).  In 1926, Coco Chanel came out with the first little black dress.[1]  Prior to this time, black was typically only worn at funerals, but Coco Chanel introduced her modern fresh ideas as women grew in society.  Women began to shed the full heavy layered dress of the early 1900’s and quite frankly get more comfortable.  As said by Coco Chanel “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.[2]

The uses for a basic black dress are endless; therefore, we all need one.  One can leave work and go out to dinner and cocktails in a little black dress.  One can wear their little black dress with a black jacket and go on an interview, wear a cardigan for a casual look, add a scarf and attend a funeral, dress it up with jewelry and dance all night at a wedding or throw on a wrap and enjoy the theater.  One can wear their little black dress in a pinch for any occasion that comes up last minute; however, you must be sure you own the right style black dress.

The style of your little black dress should be right for your body.  All body shapes look great in a black dress, as long as your little black dress complements your body shape.  Your little black dress should not be tight as it will be used for many types of occasions. The basic style of the little black dress is made up of straight clean lines free from embellishments.  This is a tank style dress with at least one inch wide straps.  The neckline of your little black dress should complement your upper body.  For example, a bustier woman may choose a scoop neck or a boat type neckline.  A smaller female should choose a V neck style.  The V neck should be high as plunging necklines are not appropriate for all occasions.  The length of your little black dress should be just above the knee.  The style of the skirt portion of your dress should complement your lower body.  A pencil skirt style may be right for thin women, and a heavier woman may go with a looser flowing A-line.  As you customize your little black dress, you are also customizing your signature style for future dress purchases.

The waist line of your little black dress should also complement your body.  You may choose a straight dress, an empire waist or a true waist.  Whichever you choose, be sure this is not a belted dress, as that is an embellishment.  The little black dress is meant to show you at your best.  Wear your basic black dress with basic black pumps for a clean look.  Basic black pumps are the next staple item you should have in your closet.

The little black dress you choose should not be trendy or a fad.  As your little black dress is meant to be a staple item in your wardrobe and never go out of style.

Your little black dress will not let you down.  Your little black dress is a part of your signature style and will always be waiting for you in your closet at a moment’s notice.  The little black dress is a simple classic look.

Have you counted the shoes in your closet lately?

English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm ...

Image via Wikipedia

If you have been following the hit series Weeds on Showtime, you may have noticed that the leading lady, Nancy Botwin was quite angry when she found her sister wearing her shoes.   Or perhaps you’ve noticed the array of shoes Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City owns, only to wish you had a friend who bought you shoes while you were away on vacation.  Shoes seem to be very precious to us.  Since when have women been so obsessed about shoes?

When did we start wearing shoes anyways?  We may never get an accurate answer to this question, but shoes have been traced back to as early as the Paleolithic times about 40,000 years ago. [1]  Ancient shoes began as sandals.  There were no differences in the shapes of the left foot and the right foot.[2]  Neanderthals and men wore these sandal type shoes to protect their feet from sharp objects, perhaps while they were hunting.  Egyptians began to make improvements to these archaic sandals approximately 5,000 years ago, making Egyptians the first shoemakers.[3]

Eventually shoes became a fashion statement – and still are today.  There are so many styles to choose from.  So many designers.  So many colors.  So many materials.

At one time, I owned 72 pairs of shoes.  There was a different style and color for every occasion.  Do we really need that many?  Yes, of course, and here’s why?  There are so many occasions to wear them.  We no longer hunt and live with basic Neanderthal needs.  We go to work, go shopping, go to the gym, go on dates, go to clubs, attend weddings, graduations, first communions, and all sorts of parties and occasions.  So yes, we do need many shoes for these occasions.  The Egyptians started the change for us with their lifestyle and here we are today still in need of many styles.

What kind of styles are there?  Here’s a basic list.

Ballerina flat

Clog

Espadrille

Flip flop

Gladiator sandal

Jelly shoes

Loafer

Mary Jane

Moccasin

Mule

Oxford

Peep toe

Platform

Pump

Sandal

Slide

Sneaker

Stiletto

T-strap

Wedge

Now that you know the styles that are out there you can pick which ones you like to wear the best.  Wear that style often and it will,  of course, become your signature style shoe.  Just like “Carrie Bradshaw” who wears stilettos all the time, you can have your own signature style shoe.

The average woman owns approximately 19 pairs of shoes at one time and purchases over 450 pairs of shoes in a lifetime. (These numbers were taken from: http://www.quora.com/How-many-pairs-of-shoes-does-the-average-woman-own).

Please share with my readers how many pairs of shoes you own?

As always, thank you for reading. Please check back often for new articles on shoes and visit my fashion library as it develops.

What are the Fall Fashion Must Haves for 2011?

As we transition into the colder months, our wardrobe also makes a transition.  We begin adding warmer items such as scarves, boots, and jackets to our wardrobe.  But what are the must have items for Fall 2011?  Do you already have them stashed away in your closet?

I have put together a list of my top ten essentials for Fall 2011.  My top ten list is based on my research of the many fashion magazines one can refer to as well as my personal opinion of what I, as a consumer would wear.

Since Fall is the best time of year to shop and clean out your closet, take this list to your closet and see what you already have.  Perhaps you only need a few items, or venture out to buy everything on this list.   For fun, let me know what you agree with on my list by telling me about the magazine articles you find this Fall that mention the items on my list.  Do you think there is something missing on this top ten list?

Here’s my top ten 2011 Fashion Must Haves List:

  1. Faux fur purse or jacket
  2. Color block graphic design sweater
  3. Animal print boots or handbag
  4. Glossy top
  5. Cape (or blanket coat)
  6. Pea coat (classic look)
  7. Dress with lace
  8. Chunky bracelets and necklaces
  9. Penny loafer high heels
  10. Lace up booties

Here are some of my finds this year.  Happy shopping.

Do you know how to choose your Signature Handbag

Did you know that men were actually the first to carry handbags?   Hieroglyphics of ancient times show men with a handbag.  Men of these times would carry flint and money.   King Tut, of course, had a great deal of money in his handbag.  In Egyptian times, the more money you had the more elaborate and jeweled your handbag would be…..sounding familiar to current times.  It wasn’t until the 14th century that the term handbag was used and women began carrying their daily needs as well.

The first designer label on a handbag was not until 1896.  By guess who…..that’s right Louis Vuitton Malletier.  Louis Vuitton started as a trunk maker placing his famous LV on all his luggage.  Men and women began to travel in the early 1900’s and needed a place for their belongings.  The rich began to travel the world and purchased Louis Vuitton trunks and bags.  Hmmm…..sounding like times have not changed?  I’ll let you Google the history of handbags to read more own your own, but the fun facts I have shared with you can be found at these links:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/44182/louis_vuitton_the_history_behind_the.html?cat=46

http://www.articlesbase.com/fashion-articles/the-history-of-handbags-545077.html

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/44182/louis_vuitton_the_history_behind_the.html?cat=46

Now that history has developed the handbag over centuries, how do you pick a signature handbag that is just right for you?   A handbag, like perfume, is also a part of your personality.  The size, color and shape of your handbag display your style preference.  If you like bold colors, then perhaps that says something about your personality, for example, a pink bag might show that you are fun.   If you always choose blacks and browns, perhaps your personality is all business.

There a several preferences to choose from when selecting a handbag.  Some of the elements for the style of your handbag are listed below.  Please feel free to post comments for blog readers if you have elements to add. Also, if you would like to share your great deals, you may post the website where you find your handbags for a great deal, or even a photo to brag.  I will get into online shopping sites in a future blog.

When you are able to decide what your preferences are for each of the below elements, you can start perusing the designers’ collections that feature your preferences.  Here is a list of handbag elements to get you started:

  • Shape
  • Size
  • Material
  • Soft sided or Framed
  • Handle styles
  • color

Once you have selected specifics for the above elements, you have defined your style.  Next, of course, it’s time to go shopping.  As you browse the stores for your personal style, you may find that there are designers that make specifically what is on your list of preferences.  Once you find the bag that has all your preferences, take note of the designer.  Perhaps you have found your signature designer and bag.

There are so many different styles to choose from so you might need a little more help with the above list.  Let’s start with talking about shapes.   Here are a few specific shapes you may wish to consider:

  • hobo
  • bucket
  • clutch
  • messenger
  • satchel

These are only a few of the multitude of shapes that are out there, however, these shapes seem to be the most common.

Once you’ve selected a shape, the size of your handbag depends on your personality and lifestyle.  If you prefer to only carry your keys and wallet, then a small size bag is great for you.  However, if  you are running around with the kids all day and in goes the bottle, in goes the gameboy, out comes the lollipop, then you may need a large handbag.  The size is your lifestyle preference.

Some of you ask, what do you mean soft side?  Well, I mean nothing that has a frame that holds the handbag in a perfect shape.  A lot of the new Christian Dior handbags in current fashion magazines are showing framed bags.

Christian Dior brings me to the next element, which is material.  I say Christian Dior because the 2011 Dior ads featured a quilted look, which reminds me of materials.  Here are some materials you might consider:

  • leather
  • plastic
  • polyurethane
  • crocodile,
  • canvas
  • nylon
  • suede

Of course, here you must pick what you like the best also; hence, you signature bag is being developed by your preferences and lifestyle.  Your lifestyle comes in to play when picking your materials.  Are you rough with your handbags, do you change them often?  Do you plop it on the floor all the time?  Do you dry off your bag as soon as you come in from the rain? When you decide the type of material you should have, keep in mind what you want your handbag to be able to do.

The last preference, other than color, would be handles.  What type of handles do you like?  Do you want a single handle, double handle, or chained accent handles.  Do you want your handbag to go over your shoulder Consider the length of the handles.

Once you have decided on these elements, you can narrow down your style bag and designer, and then begin your collection of colors.  Colors, well, you can probably figure that one out on your own.  But, please post your questions if you have any.

Now that you have started thinking about your signature handbag, I’m going to share mine with you as an example.   My signature handbag is a Michael Kors black leather satchel.  It is my favorite handbag in my collection and serves all my personal needs.

Here is my specific style:

Shape – satchel (everyday look)

Size – large and soft sided (so I can stuff a lot in it)

Material – leather (because it is rugged)

Handle – double straps (just long enough to go over my shoulders)

Color – black (for everyday use, and matches just about anything)

I look forward to your ideas and posts about your signature bag.  Please share your ideas and photos to help my readers select their signature bag.  Happy shopping! !

How to find your Signature Scent

Shelves of perfumes

Image via Wikipedia

“In 1989, Azria launched BCBGMAXAZRIA,[1]
named for the French phrase “bon chic, bon genre,” a
Parisian slang meaning “good style, good attitude”.[1] (Wikipedia)

Of all the many items one can find in the fashion world, a signature scent is a must have for all women.  What do I mean by signature? Simply, it is yours.  It is your style.  It is your favorite.  It makes you feel confident.  It is your personality.  A signature scent can help you create your good style and good attitude.

Women have worn perfumes as part of their personality for many years.  I do not mean since Coco Chanel came out with her famous perfume, I mean 4,000 years.  Women have worn perfume scents as early as the Mesopotamian times and ancient Egyptian times.  (http://www.perfumes.com/eng/history.htm).

The world’s first chemist was a woman – yes a woman, who else would you think.  Her name was Tapputi, (http://chemistry.about.com/od/historyofchemistry/f/first-chemist.htm).

Tapputi extracted oils out of flowers.   Archaeologists have found cuneiform tablets depicting the perfume maker.    Cleopatra scented the sails on her ship when she met Mark Antony.  King Tut was buried with fragrances  as were many Egyptians to maintain healthy skin in the afterlife. (http://www.perfumes.com/eng/history.htm)

In later years, Romans and Persians began to refine making perfumes and here we are today, still wearing perfumes.    However, today, our perfumes are sold by fashion designers, not chemists.  Hence, we choose our favorite scents by our favorite designers and call it our signature scent.

A signature scent is a perfume or cologne that one wears all the time.  People recognize you by your signature scent.  However, the right scent must be selected in order for it to be your signature scent.  Your personality is part of your signature scent.  For example, if you like the smell of flowers, a floral scent would fit your personality.  If you like the smell of fruits, then a perfume with a citrus smell would be for you.

There are so many different types of perfumes to choose from.  Below is a list of different types of scents to help you narrow down your search for a signature scent.

  1. Floral (flowers)
  2. Citrus (light and crisp)
  3. Oriental (spicy)
  4. Chypre (mossy)
  5. Gourmand (foods, sweet smells)
  6. Fougere (herbs)

Now that you know this list, you can go to your local department store and start smelling and collecting samples.    You’ll need to bring your cup of coffee shopping with you.  As you smell each scent in the type of fragrance that you might like, you will need to sniff your coffee in between each sample.  Each time you smell your coffee, you will clear your olfactory senses and be ready for the next scent.

Once you have tried different smells and selected the type of scent you like, you can further define your signature scent by wearing samples and keeping track of the compliments you receive.  If you choose floral as your favorite type of scent, then you should start wearing only floral scents.

As you wear these floral fragrance samples, take notice when someone comments on your fragrance.  Perhaps your spouse will tell you they like a certain scent on you.  Perhaps a friend tells you that you smell good.  When you have narrowed down the scent that you like and most people compliment you on, then you can say you have found your signature scent.  Start wearing this scent all the time.

Now, of course, you may choose a pricey scent as I have, Gucci, but keep in mind, the bottle is special too.  Here’s a little tid bit to help you feel better about the price.  “Glass first appeared in Egypt around 1558 BC, it was more precious than jewels.” (perfume.com)  Imagine . . . having an alabaster and gold bottle in Egyptian times was no big deal, but a glass bottle was a sign of wealth.  So check out the deal you are getting now for that glass bottle.

Enjoy your new signature perfume!