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PostHeaderIcon Style TIps

PostHeaderIcon Closet Essentials for Guys

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When it comes to clothing, a man’s life is usually less complicated and their fashion doesn't change as quickly as women's.  I was surprised, though, that from over 10 lists I studied, I didn’t find two that cite exactly the same items.  Furthermore, I haven't found one that I completely agree with, so I came out with my own.
 
Dark denim jeans.  Most, if not all men love jeans, and most own more than one pair. Based on my experience in working with men, I realized that not every man knows that dark denim jeans are the most versatile and easily go from casual to dressy, depending on what shirts and shoes are worn with them. Not every man knows his best cut:  straight leg, boot cut, relaxed fit, or skinny (only for young guys), or the brand that fits him best. Prices of jeans range from $50 to $300, and the quality of work and fabric differs immensely, but I'm still not convinced that for $300 you get the absolute best.  Good fit is more important than price and finding a pair that is not too baggy or too short is more important.  If unsure about the fit or brand,  talk to a wardrobe consultant.

Suits.  Black, brown,  navy or gray?  Charcoal gray is my favorite.  It looks good on  most men,  its softer and more original than black, and more versatile than brown.  If you have ever watched “Mad Men," you could not help but notice, the slimmer fit shows men have bodies, too.  For more inspiration visit Rome.  Italians look impeccable in suits even in sizzling summer heat.  Look for natural fibers, the fabric that are breathable, and you won't have to worry about perspiration.  And, never ever compromise on the quality.   A good suit will serve you well, and you won't regret spending time and money on the one that fits great and is crafted  well.  On a tight budget?  Go to Nordstroms and have their  consultants find the best brand, style and size for you.  Then, go to Nordstrom's Rack and find the same brand for a discounted price.

Dress shirt.  Many say white fits all but I'm not that convinced.  White does not always go with your skin, especially if you are pale skinned.  It may be that another solid color  compliments your skin better.  Match it to the suit. Lighter colors are more versatile.  Pale blue, for example, is a nice addition to a  charcoal gray suit.  Fabrics should be crisp and tightly woven, to create a well polished effect.

Casual shirt. There are many options to choose from here: stripes, plaids or prints; pockets or other embellishments and varieties of textures and styles.  Knowing what's fashionable for the season will help you to look more current.  Plaids and military styles have been popular for the last couple of seasons and still are.

Slacks. Look for  well made, in a fabric that is not too thin, with enough room in the waist to accommodate a tucked-in shirt and undershirt.  Dark or muted colors are best for professional wear.

Sport coats.  Less formal than a suit blazer, made from silk, linen, cotton, or wool, a sport coat must be in a men's wardrobe.  Such a versatile piece, it can be worn with slacks for a more professional look, or with jeans for a casual, but still polished aprearence. 

Leather belts.  Having at least two, one dressy and one more casual, is a bare minimum for every man.  The dress belt is slimmer and has a more polished and refined look.  Black is the easiest color to match.

Black lace-up shoes.  Lace-ups always look dressier than slip-ons, and black shines up the best and goes with practically anything..

Ties. This is a great accessory to finish up the outfit and add flair and uniqueness. Traditionally used as a more formal look, ties are quickly becoming a popular accessory for casual looks as well, especially among more style conscious guys.  Muted colors or quiet patterns are more versatile.  The width varies.

Classic watch.  All the sources I checked talk about a classic luxury watch such as Rolex, as a must have for a confident modern man.  I think every man needs a watch as a great accessory but having a watch from a brand that screams expensive is absolutely unnecessary.  There are many good quality classic watches, Skagen being one of my favorites.

I haven't talked about khakis and polo shirts, commonly known as the ultimate American staple for business casual.  This has always been a mystery for me, because that combination rarely looks good on an average men's body.  There's nothing about it that says modern and I'm pretty sure a new staple is long overdue.

I also haven't talked about outerwear, t-shirts, knits, or socks, the last one being an extensive topic by itself. And, as I mentioned at the beginning, there is no one, absolutely right list that everyone agrees on, and which works for everybody.

But, if you think you have one, I'd be happy to hear.  -DP

To contact Diana, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  You can also find her through www.linkedin.com/in/dianaplaciakiene, www.facebook.com/pages/ispeakstyle/17026118958 or twitter.com/dianaPlaciak.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 16 March 2011 21:52)

 

PostHeaderIcon Intelligent Shopping (or Guilt-Free Spending)

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December is about gift shopping and we get busy with giving to others. This is also the time of big sales when all retailers become generous and offer good deals to boost their sales before the year ends. So, this is a good time to reward ourselves, too.

Here are some guidelines on how to navigate the maze of sales so you can make better shopping decisions and avoid the unnecessary guilt of spending too much.

1. Know what you have and what you want to add to your wardrobe. Take a look at your closet and see if you have all the essentials I wrote about in my October story. In case you missed it, here it is again: http://www.allnewsnoblues.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=45&Itemid=65 .

2. You should have a solid foundation and only  then add some extras. Go through every piece you have, (It's time consuming, but it's absolutely worth it.) and see if it's in a good condition and/ or current. Maybe your favorite pair of jeans look tired and are screaming for an update, or your beloved pencil skirt looks passe now. Make a list of the items you're missing or that need to be replaced.

3.  Know what's in. If you're happy with your essentials and want to add few trendy pieces, learn what's fashionable now.  You might  have been observing street fashionistas, following the trends on TV, the web or in fashion magazines and have a clear idea about the hot items. If not, stop at a bookstore, treat yourself a coffee or tea and skim through the fashion magazines, such as In Style, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar,  Lucky, and many others. Or, grab some store catalogs from Nordstrom, J. Crew, Ann Taylor, or Anthropologie on your way home and spend  some quite time browsing them while enjoying a glass of wine.

4. Buying trendy pieces in the middle or toward the end of the season can be risky, because not all the trends will carry on to the next season. For example, fur is the big hit this winter season, but we're not sure if it will be popular next winter. If you still want something furry, look for the best bargains so you don't regret spending too much. Other popular items, such a military- style jackets and stripped tops will most likely  transfer to the next season, so it's not too late to add them to your closet.

5. Know your stores and your brands. Do you know what store and brand has the bottoms that perfectly fit your body or where you always find the best fitting shoes? If you're not sure, ask a wardrobe consultant. All brands make their clothes for a specific type of body that might be quite different than yours, so knowing what firms design for your body type helps to avoid frustration and saves a lot of time. If you're not sure, hire a wardrobe consultant.  Many companies change their fits from time to time, so if you haven't shopped for a while,  you might be unpleasantly surprised to discover that  usual styles don't  work for your body anymore.

6. Do your online homework. Check the websites of your favorite stores to get familiar with their collections, and then compare to other sites to make sure you know what has the best deals. All retailers offer free shipping until the end of the year, so if you see something that will fit you for sure, order online. Once you know what  to look for, the whole shopping experience will be much more enjoyable.

7. Know the return policy. We like America for it's flexibility with the returns, but be careful with the holiday return policies and especially the final sale items. Many stores have recently changed their policies to protect themselves from the shoppers that overdose on using and then returning worn pieces. Nordstrom is still the most generous one with the returns, but if you order a sale item from J.Crew online, this won't be returnable.

After you're done with this tremendous homework, treat yourself with one special piece for your New Year's party. You want to feel festive, unique and happy, so add some bling: sparkly shoes, a jeweled top,  a piece of glittery  jewelry, or a clutch.  Enjoy the end of this year and the beginning of the new one to the fullest.

As a freelance wardrobe consultant, Diana Placiakiene, AICI, MBA, works with men and women who are looking to advance their professional and personal image.  Most of her clients are professionals who want to take their business to the next level ,or people who are going through  various life transitions. In her practice, Diana combines her business skiills, understanding of human psychology, natural visual talents and passion for fashion to help people have more ease, fun and success.

To contact Diana, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  You can also find her through www.linkedin.com/in/dianaplaciakiene, www.facebook.com/pages/ispeakstyle/17026118958 or twitter.com/dianaPlaciak.

Last Updated (Saturday, 08 January 2011 23:12)

 

PostHeaderIcon Ten Closet Essentials

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We’ve all been there.  A closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. Why does this happen?

We all have clothes, but do we have the essential pieces that keep us covered from season to season and get through difficult situations.  Practical pieces around which we can build a functional and flattering wardrobe.

What constitues the 10 essential wardrobe pieces has been discussed by experts and fashionista from L.A. to New York to Paris.  Everyone presents a slightly different list but I don't think there's one, absolute truth because everyone’s lifestyle varies. 

Still, from everything I've seen so far, Tim Gunn, the well known figure from Project Runaway, presents a balanced, thoughtful list that should work for most professional women.

1.Little Black Dress - The concept of the LBD has been around since Chanel. I bow to this revolutionary idea, but I'm not convinced it has to be black.  Let's call it LMD - Little Magic Dress. A dress in a solid color that complements your natural coloring, fits you perfectly and you feel fabulous in. The design itself should be fairly simple so you can dress it up or down using different accessories and shoes, and wear it many different ways. A shorter dress is more versatile than a longer one but length is very important. The hem should hit at the sweet spot where your legs look the best. Also, make sure to choose fabric that has some stretch so it gives you flexibility when needed.

2.Trench coat - This depends on where you live.  You might need something warmer in the winter if you don't live in California, but this piece basically never goes out of style. As with the dress, go with simple, classic style in black, navy, or especially the hot neutrals of this season- camel and gray. Here's an example:  http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/3076497

3.Dressy Pants- Wide leg, slim leg, straight leg, or boot cut, it's completely your choice, but they should fit nicely and feel right.  I risk being boring but black is still the most versatile color for pants, and goes with everything. This season Gap offers a nice range of styles at very affordable prices, about $50 and up. 

4.Classic shirt - The white button-down shirt is always classic and can be worn by itself or under a jacket or cardigan. Here are some examples: http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=407843&PseudoCat=se-xx-xx-xx.esn_results.  It doesn't have to be white, though. Any solid color that looks great on you will do.  Make sure it fits right and emphasize your strenghts and downplay your weaknesess.  For example, if you have broad shoulders, don't wear a big collar. If you have a slim waist, go with a nicely fitted style that accentuates it.

Different companies make their clothing with different bodies in mind.  Find the company that suites your body type.  Look for firm, crisp fabrics that will give you a more polished look and will last longer.  Many stores, such as Banana Republic and Nordstrom, carry wrinkle- free shirts. 

5.Jeans - Everybody should have at least one pair of jeans, but it's all about the fit.  They should feel like your second skin and make your body look even better that it really does. To find a pair that fits is not an easy job and might take a while, but you'll know once you find it.  Ideally, you want  to have 2 pairs - one more casual and shorter to go with flats and one dressier pair to wear with high heels. You'll  never miss with dark wash jeans, darker colors  are slimming.  And pay a higher price if you find the right pair instead of buying 3 very average looking pairs of jeans.
Jeans last long er if they're made properly. Here are some examples: http://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/denim/matchstick/PRDOVR~18191/18191.jsp

6 Any occasion top - Look for a top that fits nicely under a jacket or cardigan but serves as a fun and flattering piece  for after- work events. I'm absolutely crazy about polka dot blouses this season.

7. Jacket - It doesn't have to be a suit jacket, but choose one that can be worn with your dressy pants or skirt in a professional environment and can also work with jeans.  It should flatter your body, bring out your best features and disguise some trouble spots.  Go for solid colors in your best neutrals. Something to consider: http://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/blazers/woolblazers/PRDOVR~29762/29762.jsp

8. Classic skirt - Even if you have dressy pants, you need a skirt, too. The black pencil skirt is definitely classic, but if an A-line skirt looks better on you, go for it.  is your choice, too.  Be careful about the length.  Know the magic length that makes your legs look fabulous.  At the knee length is always safe. You can go a bit shorter if you're proud of your legs, or longer, accordingly. Below the knee length is very popular this season. If you're petite, avoid long skirts, they will make you look shorter. Here's a gret classic skirt http://www.zappos.com/michael-michael-kors-ponte-pencil-skirt-2-black

9.Sweat suit alternative - I haven't met a woman who doesn't like to be comfortable, but some of them have taken casual to the extreme, baggy sweatsuits and rubber flip- flops. Think cords, khakis, cotton dresses, or skirts as a comfortable, still stylish alternative. This is a good look: http://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/pants/chinoutility/PRDOVR~29468/29468.jsp

10. Pumps - Tim Gunn didn't put shoes on his list,  but I don't know how  a woman can survive without a pair of comfortable yet stylish pumps. Whether peep-toe or classic, kitten heel,  stiletto or chunky heel, a  pump in a neutral color (black, brown, navy or gray) will work well with all of your other wardrobe essentials. A pair of ballet flats is a nice option for weekend or casual, but for a professional woman pumps come first.

Bonus - something trendy _ Military jacket, lacey top, shiny belt, or fur vest for a sweet indulgence. 
http://www.shopstyle.com/product/bebe-tops-2b-faux-fur-sash-vest/185605184

Life doesn't have to be complicated when it comes to your wardrobe.  It takes time to find good essential pieces, but once you have them, you'll be spending no more than 5 minutes every morning picking an outfit . And once you have the basics, it's easy (and inexpensive) to jazz your wardrobe up with a few trendy accessories. Happy shopping! --DP


As a freelance wardrobe consultant, Diana Placiakiene, AICI, MBA, works with men and women who are looking to advance their professional and personal image.  Most of her clients are professionals who want to take their business to the next level ,or people who are going through  various life transitions. In her practice, Diana combines her business skiills, understanding of human psychology, natural visual talents and passion for fashion to help people have more ease, fun and success.

To contact Diana, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  You can also find her through www.linkedin.com/in/dianaplaciakiene, www.facebook.com/pages/ispeakstyle/17026118958 or twitter.com/dianaPlaciak.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 26 March 2014 22:26)

 

PostHeaderIcon Smart Shopping: A Clothing Swap

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“I love America, and I love American women. But there is one thing that deeply shocks me-- American closets. I cannot believe one can dress well when you have so much,”  ~ Andree Putnam, French interior designer.


We have all seen them --Hollywood celebrity closets the size of a small apartment or the perfectly organized closet of Carrie Bradshaw from television’s “Sex in the City.”

Real people's closets aren’t as perfect unless they hire a professional to keep things neat and organized. And since American closets are big and often filled with way too many clothes, finding what you want to wear can often be a challenge.

Statistics show that 80 percent of the time, we wear 20 percent of what we have. So, what happens to the other 80 percent of what we have?

Closets usually tell stories of the past or hopes for the future: the sweater with the happy reindeer, a gift from the dear aunt Sally, a high school's graduation dress that shouts – “Hi world, I'm young and beautiful,” pre-pregnancy sexy tops that you hope might fit someday, and those perfect bargains that were too good to pass up, but still have the price tags on.

It’s easy to get attached to items from the past or those “ just in case”  clothing pieces. So even though we're not wearing 80 percent of what we have, many of us are struggling to part with unnecessary things, unless there’s s a good reason. 

This is where a clothing swap can come in handy. A clothing swap is a event where participants donate their unwanted clothing and are then given the opportunity to choose pieces brought by other attendees. Clothing swaps promise something new and fresh, so it's pretty good motivation to audit your closet and get rid of long- forgotten and lonely pieces that don't serve you anymore.

I especially love the de-cluttering aspect of the swap because it creates more space and a nice flow in the closet. Getting new pieces is always fun, too, and knowing that the clothing that doesn't serve you anymore might be a great find for others, feels equally good.

I hosted my first clothing swap a year ago, and then had some random ones, until I finally created a meetup group -- http://www.meetup.com/Viva-Clothing-Swap/ to host them once a month.  I also often come as a facilitator when people want to host at their homes.

Clothing swaps are easy to organize and so much fun to attend.  But, having a wardrobe consultant with a well-trained eye, who is going to assist you in making the right decisions, helps a lot.  The whole purpose of the clothing swap is to trade the clothing that doesn’t serve you anymore for pieces that fit your body, personality and lifestyle NOW.   

How does a clothing swap work? Invite your friends, co-workers, or/and relatives over—10 people is a good number to start with. Ask them to bring a certain number of items, such as 10, including accessories and shoes, and explain to them that the clothing has to be in good shape, currently in style, clean and pressed. A clothing swap should feel like a home-based boutique, not a flea market.

Decide on how you're going to display the clothing. I use commercial clothing rolling racks. Clothing should look nice and have an easy access-nobody wants do dig through the piles of clothing, like when you are at Ross at the end of  the day.

Have an agenda: a start and end time and things you want accomplish. I usually start with introductions, especially if there are new faces. Explain the process, tell people where the unwanted clothing will go, how you're going to solve the situation if there are two or more people who want the same item and so on.

If I have this situation, I ask for a vote and the desired piece goes to the one on whom it looks the best on. Before the swapping starts, I also ask the attendees to show off the pieces they brought and tell their story.  When the clothing is picked I ask everybody to model  their choices so we can all cheer the nice finds. Appetizers and wine always add a nice touch, too.

There are challenges to holding a swap. The most common concern I hear is, “ I won't find anything in my size.” Let's say most of the women who come are size 10 and up, and you're size 4. What always amazes me is that size 10 woman might have brought a size 4 classic-style dress that hasn't be worn in years but is still in perfect shape. I've have seen that happen many times.

Or, if you don't find a piece of clothing, you might get a pair of great shoes or a piece of jewelry. In the worst case scenario, coming to the clothing swap is a great opportunity to get rid of some clutter. Your closet will thank you.
There are also many ways to make clothing swaps really exciting. I invite guest speakers, jewelry designers, talk fashion trends, personal style and more, so there is an educational piece that goes with the excitement. I see people connecting, making new friendships, so it's definitely about more than just clothing.

And, it allows us to go towards less but better fitting clothes which in turn creates more ease in our life. According to Brenda Kinsel, image consultant extraordinaire, “ dressing well frees you to forget about your clothes and concentrate on living”.  --DP

 As a freelance wardrobe consultant, Diana Placiakiene, AICI, MBA, works with men and women who are looking to advance their professional and personal image.  Most of her clients are professionals who want to take their business to the next level.  In her practice, Diana combines her business skiills, understanding of human psychology, natural visual talents and passion for fashion to help people have more ease, fun and success.

To contact Diana, e-mail
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  You can also find her through www.linkedin.com/in/dianaplaciakiene, www.facebook.com/pages/ispeakstyle/17026118958 or twitter.com/dianaPlaciak.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 13 December 2011 04:26)

 

PostHeaderIcon Another World of Fashion

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Travel takes us out of our ordinary lives and reminds us there is a big world out there. Going to another country often throws us into a new dimension, where everything from the food to the driving rules (or lack there of) to the fashion is different.

Last month I went home, to Lithuania, and then to Italy, and since people-watching is one of my favorite things to do, I’ve been itching to share my observations.

My first stop was Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, which still feels like home. After spending 11 years in multicultural California, people in Lithuania look almost alike, sort of like cousins.

Recession or not, people there are still spending money on clothes and buying pretty fashionable outfits. If you sit down for a coffee in the old town, you're definitely going to see some playful color combinations, daring designs and always creative and unique accessories.

Every time I go to Vilnius, I can't resist getting new pair of eyeglasses because I always find something unique at my all- time favorite shop- Universiteto Optika. The quaint, cute boutiques that carry items by local designers aim for universal appeal yet manage to keep their personal touch, are always pleasure to visit. I never skip Ramune's Piekautaite's salon where simplicity, confidence and elegance of design match perfectly. Check out - www.ramunepiekautaite.com

Women are watching their waistlines and most of them are slim and fit. Yet, what was interesting to me is that pizza restaurants are now on every corner and I wonder if pizza is becoming the national dish of Lithuania? Watch those carbs, ladies!

You won't see lots of flip-flops in Vilnius but Crocks, the clog style sandals made of rubber and perfect as garden shoes, rule the town. Sometimes they're even worn with socks. I guess people don’t always look in the mirror before they leave the house.

We also went to Rome, where there were tons of tourists, heat, and chaos on the streets, colossal ruins and cathedrals, women on scooters in business attire, and men in dashing suits. I could talk and talk about the men in suits in Rome. It doesn't matter if they're walking on the street or riding a scooter in the heat, sitting in a cafe or on the train, young or older, they all look perfectly polished, sharp, and comfortable.

There's something more than the impeccably tailored suit and fine quality fabric. It’s the ease and sophistication of wearing the suit that seems perfectly natural to these guys.

We also went to Sorento, a cute and green beach town where people come to vacation, relax, eat good food and to have fun. Dining starts at 7 p.m. and restaurants get inundated with people up until 11:30 p.m. Many people are still on the streets at midnight.

The look: white fedora hats, halter summer dresses, lightweight jumpsuits, shorts, white pants, sandals and heels. The hottest hat this summer, the fedora, looks great on women and men, goes well with summer dresses as well as with pants. The most noticeable trend among men is the short sleeve polo shirt with the collar up. It doesn't matter if this a fashion-conscious guy walking down the street to meet his date, or a ferry boat crew member assisting the passengers on a boat- the style seems to fit all.

Naples, the third largest city in Italy, is almost non-European because it looks pretty gloomy, with lots of trash and few tourists. If you decide to take a walk on a Sunday, you might feel as though people have abandoned this strange big city with incredibly impressive (but forgotten) historical buildings. I can totally see Tim Burton of Alice Wonderland fame filming his movies there.

The city livens up after 5 p.m when you'll see locals filling up the streets, pizzerias, and stores. There is a modest shopping area with some bigger names, but fashion doesn't seem to play an important part there.  The city has a lot of strange charm though, and I can still see narrow streets with tall, old buildings and rows of fresh laundry hanging out to dry.

I can still picture a father with his two young daughters playing accordion on a street corner. I can still smell a freshly baked pizza Napoletana coming right out of the real brick oven with this incredible spongy crust, big slices of freshly picked tomatoes and rounds of mozzarella.

My trip brought back for me a quote from a great fashion designer:"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." ---Coco Chanel


As a freelance wardrobe consultant, Diana Placiakiene, AICI, MBA, works with men and women who are looking to advance their professional and personal image.  Most of her clients are professionals who want to take their business to the next level.  In her practice, Diana combines her business skiills, understanding of human psychology, natural visual talents and passion for fashion to help people have more ease, fun and success.

To contact Diana, e-mail
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  You can also find her through www.linkedin.com/in/dianaplaciakiene, www.facebook.com/pages/ispeakstyle/17026118958 or twitter.com/dianaPlaciak.

Last Updated (Wednesday, 28 November 2012 07:37)

 
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