Top 10 Wardrobe Essentials for Women: The Sexy Chic Mom

I’ve been asked a lot recently about my opinion regarding the wardrobe essentials or “staples” that I feel every woman should have. I received the first request last week when my cousin who is a 20 something new mother sent me a message via Facebook frantically requesting my advice. The other request came from Jennifer Keitt of Kiss 104.1 in Atlanta. Tune in this Sunday between 7:00-8:00 p.m to find out what we discussed about the importance of image in the workplace and the top 5 essential for women and men.

I’ll discuss my relatives dilemma today. Like many new moms and working women in general she had reached a crossroads and felt like nothing worked anymore and frustration was setting in. She was even contemplating throwing out her entire wardrobe and starting over. If I had a nickle for everytime my clients expressed these sentiments to me this blog would be titled “The Fashion Savy Nicklenairre”. Be it new motherhood, holiday weight gain, mid-life change, recent divorce or just a flat out rut, women and men often find themselves at this place and BEYOND.

Well, after I talked my cousin out of throwing everything away I suggested the following:

1. KNOW that this feeling too, shall pass. Having a new baby is a wonderful accomplishment and you must give mother nature time to let things fall back into place mentally and physically. Not to mention she’s a bombshell and actually has a great fashion sense. Sometimes you just need a little motivation and guidance in the right direction.

2. TRUST that you have made some good fashion decisions in the past and we can find some staple pieces to add to your new wardrobe.

3. CONSIDER  your personality and body type.

4. BUY  pieces that can easily be integrated for different occasions and worn several different ways (clusters/capsules). When you buy “outfits” they tend to get clumped together and become useless. Everything should be functional and interchangeable.

Given the fact that I already know her personally I then suggested 10 essential based upon her age, body type, color analysis, and lifestyle. I feel a detailed assessment is always the best starting place even when suggesting essentials. Everything is NOT for everyone nor every body type. For example, the peplum is going to be huge next season, but if you’re familiar you know this style can easily add 2-3 inches to your hips.

Michelle’s Top 10 Essentials

Age: Late 20’s

Body Type: Full Hourglass (36-24-36) aka: Boomkack 🙂

Style: Sexy Chic

Color Analysis: Cool/deep (looks good in most colors various seasons)

Personality/Lifestyle: Sexy young mom, wife, Texas chic, foody and occasional socialite

1.Riding boot (Tory Burch, Coach, Frye, Sam Edelman, etc.). I don’t normally prefer a 3″ heel on my comfy boot, but again this was customized for Michelle who is shorter than I am, loves heels, and is a southern Texas gal who loves cowboy boots. The second riding boot is more my speed, but I actually love both for her. The first one will give Michelle a hint of cowgirl without being ridiculous and apparent. The second gives her a slightly sleeker edge along with comfort and style that’s less casual. They are both winners.

Knee High Casual Boot: Dolce Vita

Tall riding boot: Tory Burch

2. Ankle boot with nice heel and a little edge

Suede Ankle Boot: Dolce Vita

3. Classic pump: The peep toe pump is a classic and mesh is trending in 2012. Both of these would be great lasting additions to her wardrobe while staying current and fresh.

Peep Toe Sling Back Pump: Giuseppe Zanotti

Pump with Mesh Trim

4. Premium denim and jeggings (hourglass): Michelle is a fit hourglass and can wear a variety of styles without many issues. She is voluptuous and therefore gaping in the waist at the back is often an issue. J Brand is known for hugging the hips and curves in the right way (sister friendly). The flare has a higher rise and Michelle has a small waist therefore these may actually have to be tailored. If you love everything about a piece of clothing except for that one little thing I say invest in a great tailor and make it yours.

Skinny Jean: J Brand

Wide Leg Flare: 7 For All Mankind

I wouldn’t suggest this style for everyone, but they are great if you have a smaller waist and larger bust. The optical illusion of width on the lower half balances out the top portion. Michelle is curvy on top and bottom, but can pull these off because of her small waist and medium height. I woud not suggest this style for a woman under 5’5″ unless they were tailored, her trunk was longer than her torso, or the heels were 4″ or higher. Flares dragging the ground is not cute when you’r e 5’2″ tall.

5. Structured Pencil skirt: When you are a curvier woman structured fabrics such as wool are often more forgiving than cottons or jersey matte. Loose fabricks tend to lack shape and lets face it, they aren’t very flattering. Clinging and laying close to cellulite is NOT hot. At the knee is also a great length because it adds sophistication without loosing height by hiding too much of your lower half.

Wool Pencil Skirt: Marc Jacobs

The Abstract pencil skirt: Sachin+Bobby

Side bar: Quick case study

I’m sure you’re all familiar with these two characters from Love and Hip Hop. This is an example of two petite (probably under 5″4′) women who are wearing pencil styled skirts in the wrong and right ways. The key to rocking a pencil skirt properly is fit, length, and the shoe style.

-Fit must hug your curves while flattering the rear and legs.

-Length must be at the knee or sligthly above to show that you are sexy, but still a lady

-Shoe should be chosen according to the style of the skirt but mainly because of it’s ability to flatter the little bit of leg that you have showing. Case in point: If you are wearing a skirt that comes to your knee and you’re petite chances are you only have a small bit of leg left showing. If you put a shoe boot or ankle boot on with this look it could go wrong really quick and create the appearance of you standing in a bucket.

Let’s observe:

Yes!

Chrissy is clearly several inches shorter than Olivia, but her choice in Louboutin pump (that $6000 pair Jimmy was complaining about) with a hidden platform and just above the knee skirt length gives the illusion that she is actually taller and therefore her look is much more figure flattering and stylish.  Overall I love Chrissy’s style sense. She knows who she is and can walk in a pair of 6″ heels with ease. That Lavender Herve Leger dress with the unflattering breast spillage is the only item that I absolutely disagreed with this season. A flattering FIT is more important than expensive brand name.

***Style Secret: Wearing a nude pump with a hidden platform  actually can give the illusion of a lengthened leg, tighter stomach and overall slimmer body shape.***

Lord NO!

This is just WRONG, and normally I agree with a majority of Olivia’s style choices. The skirt length is well below her knee cutting off much of her upper and lower half. Adding insult to injury “they” (whoever helped shop/co-sign for this look) have thrown a pair of HIGH-top ankle boots with an old LouBou (circa 2007) buckle details and modest heel on her feet. This all puts her deeper into a BUCKET of shame. I’m not going to address the OVER-accesorizing that is taking place up top. That’s for another post. Just remember LESS is more sometimes.

6. Cool accessories (bangles,necklaces, oversized men’s watch, etc)

Gold Bangles: Tory Burch

Blue Leather Strap Bracelet: Tory Burch

The oversized man's watch

Personally I like to mix things up and layer, but some people prefer one style or the other for a more refined look. It’s all about doing what you FEEL best represents your style in a unique yet sensible manner. Michelle can easily transition these from day to night. You could add more metals, beads, or straps.

7. A great handbag: I really love Kate Spades line of handbags this year. They are affordable yet well crafted, classic and chic. These are just a few examples of classic and statement bags that can transition from work to play. The statement bags are often splurge items and should be purchased after the classic staples are acquired because they are sometimes trendier and may give you less value from a cost-per- wear perspective (another post topic).

Kate Spade Bowling Bag

Kate Spade: Portola Valley Blaine bag in ostrich embossed cowhide

All hail the Queen: Alexander McQueen studded tote

Alexander Wang large tote

8. Leather jacket with a slim cut: Jackets should flatter your curves or lack thereof by cinching the waist and creating feminine lines. Stay away from the boxy boy cuts unless that is your goal….to look like a boxy boy. Feel free to add a slim colorful belt of your own if your jacket has belt loops!

Andrew Marc waxed motorcycle jacket: I'd buy black first then brown.

Elizabeth & James Green Leather Jacket with belt accent. This is another splurge item because of the color and price.

9. Fitted black blazer: This piece can be worn with leggings, jeans, slacks or the pencil skirt. Tuxedo blazers are a cool way to stay current yet timeless. BCBG always has a great selection.

BCBG black blazer with leather sleeve

BCBG blazer with cut out detail

10. Black wide leg slacks (4 season fabric):

Ann Taylor black Fem Curvy trouser: Fitted in waist with more room in hip and thighs

I chose this style specifically for Michelle’s profile. Depending on your body type you may find that other styles are more flattering. In general you can’t go wrong with an all seasons straight leg slack. Michelle is curvy so I chose a style that would hug her curves and accent them in the right areas.

I hope you all enjoy this style analysis teaser which is similar to the one that I give my clients. I’ve always approached styling in a holistic yet light hearted manner because it’s not just about the clothes, its about how you feel, having fun, being educated and being who you are. Until next time!

XOXO

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2012 Not-Hot List: The top 10 trends that should NOT have been

One of my resolutions for 2012 is to be more personally active with blog post while showing a bit of my personality as well (hope you’re ready). I have a tendency to be a bit passionate when it comes to hideous trends therefore this post is not for everyone (sensitive ones/violators).

****Disclaimer #1: If you are a violator of any of these unfortunate “winning” trends put the remote control down and back away from the “wives”. There is still time for an intervention and a new year means new beginnings! I love you ALL and know that it’s JUST my opinion and desire to help. May the following style insults R.I.P (doves released).****

Let It Go!

1. Color Contact Lenses: You can’t put these in and take yourself seriously at the same time. Do I really need to expound upon the reasons why this is a MUST NOT? A picture is worth……..yeah. I’ll move on.

2. The Macrame Beaded Bracelets: The simple fact that I can google “hip hop beaded bracelets” and these pop up in large abundance speaks volumes. I absolutely adore beaded bracelets. I wear anywhere from 2-7 each day, BUT they all have significance and meaning. They either contain a good luck charms (evil eye of protection, hand of God, wishbone, etc.), or are made of gemstones (tourmaline, malachite, quartz, etc.) that embody positive meaning. I’m not sure of what the meaning behind the “hip hop” bracelet is but i’m sure it’s profound. Until I find out, it shall remain at the top of this list.

***blank stare***

Moss Agate: Represents balance

Rose Quartz: Represents Love

Tigers Eye: Represents luck, protection, and healing

3. Lace Front Wigs: From singers, to reality stars, to the West End Mall of Atlanta. This was a beautiful thing when it surfaced and I have two in my closet as well (bought in 2008). I use them exclusively during Halloween and costume parties now. If you enjoy strong chemical smells of glue on your forehead and edges along with the constant worry that a strong wind or confrontation may expose your wig cap or Allen Iverson braids, then do move on to number 4 expeditiously. This one does not apply to you.

This is just wrong and probably illegal, BUT a great application technique.

Case closed

I like them this much (opens arms)

4. These Earrings: I don’t know what they are called exactly, but I’ve seen them on various flea market tables and reality “star” lobes. Aside from appearing common with extra long ear lobes and a hamster wheel above your shoulders……I simply don’t see the appeal. They just make me want a Pina Colada and vacation somewhere sunny.

Not Hot

So many variations to choose from!

These can go too.

4 1/2. A combination of 3-4 violations at once (we can’t see the shoes but i’ll assume…)

Trendsetter?

5. These Pumps: I don’t know if they have a real name. I do know we should let them rest in peace. I love sparkly things, and adore foot candy but this is all kinds of wrong. I also think my neighbor sells them out of his condo/trunk/boutique as a side trade. When questioned about their authenticity, he said they were ordered in Vegas at Magic (the trade show) and they’re “legit”. Yes, i’m sure they are.

Maloof Hoof??

6. Shatter Nail Polish: This trend was introduced with OPI’s Katy Perry collection earlier in 2011. Since its debut you could find it everywhere from elementary schools to Old National Boulevard. I think the idea was great, it was unique (when the first 100 trillion people did it), but now it’s just BASIC. Anytime you’re told by a salesperson, “It sells out every week.” Move on to something less “popular”.

This WAS cute...... 1 trillion bottles ago.

7. The accent nail: I just realized that I could devote an entire post to nail trends that need retirement homes, but since I started this topic I’ll see it through. Soooooo, this trend has been around for a few years now. According to the statue of fashion limitations on foolishness this is probably illegal in several states. I must say I NEVER considered this one simply because my heart didn’t beat in this direction……. AT ALL. I think it’s cute on 12 year olds and poodles, but it has run it’s course. There are many other creative nail designs and ideas that could easily replace this very basic (Oooops, I accidentally painted one finger another color) one. Let’s move on. I did find several beautiful accents for those of you who simply can’t stop this cold turkey.

**yawns**

This is what I consider a less basic accent

Another awesome option which serves as an elegant little accessory as well.

8. Whatever you think is important followed by (.COM). First, let me just say I had to throw this one around a few times simply because I thought it was funny, and I haven’t watched T.V consistently in over a year so I wasn’t aware of its source. I just thought it was clever and fun (for 10 minutes). I now have Netflix (upgraded, don’t judge me) and recently came across Season 1 of Braxton Family Values. It was there that I realized Miss Tamar  coined this term. As much as I love her and the fabulous foolishness that she partakes in, I want everyone to again be a bit more creative and do something ELSE. Maybe even try throwing the .org, .net or .tv around until you have weaned yourself off completely. Tamar is a blast so I totally understand why this one stuck. We must letitgo.net.

Stop using my material dot com!

8 1/2. The term LEGGO, Let’s go, LeGo: Please do just that. It’s tired and should be handed back to the kids. And Trey Songz doesn’t even use it anymore.

I'm a toy.....thanks

9. The Cassie cut: Cassie shaved her head in 2009 causing a storm of young girls and “impressionable” celebs to do the same. I think Cassie is absolutely gorgeous and she pulled it off. I don’t think this style is for everyone though. This trend has reached its expiration date and everyone should face forward, then put the Gillette and shaving cream down. It’s not hot…..anymore.

Follow me ladies!

O.k........Here I come

Hold on a bloody minute.....I'm coming

Shot gun Cassie! Shot Gun!

10. The 4, 5, or 6 button Zoot Suit: Gentlemen, you haven’t escaped that easily. I saved the best advice for last. If you own a suit that has more than 3 buttons, extra wide legs, wide cuffs , an extra long tail, or the tag still attached to the sleeve please turn around and walk/run out of the Men’s Warehouse 3 for 1 sale. Unless your name is Detroit Red, you’re one of the founding fathers of the Harlem Renaissance, or you’re the class of 1942’s Jitterbug champ this is not the move.

FUBU Four Button Suit: Overstock.com $77.99 *****Releasing Crate of White Doves*****

Pack of doves reserved especially for Zoot suite ceremony

The number 10 is said to be the number of completion and closure so I’ll end here. Again, I apologize if this touches home/closet/cabinets for some of you, but it REALLY isn’t that serious. I mean honestly, I’ve considered at least three of the trends above, and even tried one or two…..only to change my mind shortly after feeling like someone had rained on a Gremlin farm.

I’d like to encourage everyone to get out of the passenger’s seat in 2012 be it fashion, personal life, or in business. Set your own trends and lean not towards thy reality T.V personalities understanding. In the words of Tamar Braxton “Get yo Life”.
******This has been a Kris Cole Style Blog Wild Card moment. This is not normal. I promise********

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Haute Holiday Makeup

For this 2011 holiday season, go above and beyond the smoky eye look.

It is finally time to go above and beyond the smoky eye look and rock your haute holiday makeup- shimmery eyes, lavish lips, glowing skin, and bold lashes. To get your magical makeup look, follow these tips:

1. Moisture and conceal- Always apply a lightweight moisturizer, such as Oil of Olay Complete ($4 at most drug stores). After moisturizing, apply concealer. Beautiful skin begins with a concealer that hides your dark spots and redness.

Smashbox Camera Ready Concealer, $20

3. Glow like a goddess- You cannot help but adore Beyonce’s beautiful, luminous skin. Although it is getting cooler outside, bronzer adds warmth to your cool holiday makeup look. After brushing bronzer over your cheeks, apply a touch of color them. For tips on choosing the right bronze for your skin, click on this link.

4. Let your eyes shine- Glam up your eyes with a pearly or golden shimmer. You can also line your eyes with a felt-tip eyeliner. Felt-tip liners are easier to handle and adds drama with ease to your festive eyes. To add more drama, apply lavish lashes. Make sure that you curl them first, apply to your lash line with a thin strip of glue, and then apply mascara. It is also trendy to add a few rhinestones for a more dramatic look. For polished brows, fill them in with a pencil one shade lighter than your natural hair color.

Make your eyes shimmer with Milani Baked Eyeshadow, $8 at most drug stores.

5. Make your lips say something serious- For fair-skinned complexions, try bright reds with pink undertones. For dark complexions, use deeper shades like bordeaux or brown-red.

Bright eyes and bold lips always make a statement at holiday parties.

Have a safe and haute holiday!

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Social Responsibility:Maximizing Your Potential

Corporate Social Responsibility is the way an organization extends its hand

A few weeks ago, I attended a corporate social responsibility meeting sponsored by the Black Public Relations Society of Atlanta. The speaker was Ann Cramer, director of IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs. Ms.Cramer taught the attendees about the concept of social responsibility (CSR). Corporate Social Responsibility is the responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its decisions and activities on the society, the environment, and its own prosperity.

Corporate Social Responsibility is the way an organization extends its hand. There are five strategies an organization can use to extend its hand:

1. Ethics– Clients need to feel secure when they do business with you, so practice good ethics. Good ethics is good business, and companies that practice good ethics often have positive results.

2. Engagement– When employees are effectively and positively engaged with their organization, they form an emotional connection with the company. Engagement also involves clients.When your clients feel engaged with your company, they will refer others to your company.

3. Environmental Sustainability-Every organization should adopt sustainability strategies in order to protect the environment. In doing so, the company’s image is also enhanced.

4. Philanthropy– Bridge the gap by offering your product or service to people who cannot get it. This shows that your organization cares about others. It is best to partner with organizations that have a strong outreach background.

These approaches will help build your organization’s brand and reputation, and also strengthen your community and marketplace.  As a member of an organization, you have to understand your responsibility, know your beliefs, and realize where you stand. When you can do this, begin creating your strategic plan for social responsibility. Having a successful company is great, but giving back to your clients and community is much more greater.

For more information on CSR, please visit CSRWire.com.

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‘Tis the Season for a Little Cape Coat

As the temperature takes a more chilling and rather surprising toll on all of us, this is the time that we can appreciate the fashion world’s ability to predict its own version of a “forecast.” Much like you, I too have been scrambling to find my winter’s coat within the past few days, but unfortunately, last year’s leather jacket will not suffice. With much difficulty, I put my jacket away, and began to search for the must-have coat this fall. After lengthy research on my part, I found the perfect, up-to-trend coat: the cape.

I know what you’re thinking- a cape? But believe me, you too will be persuaded.

The cape coat, close sister of the “poncho” family, is an ideal solution for those who are looking for something versatile, unique, and functional. The up-to-date, stylish alternative to a coat has been trickling down from the runways of great labels, such as Lanvin and Chanel, and into the more affordable stores and boutiques, such as Nordstrom and J. Crew. You can dress it up and wear it on a Saturday night, or dress it down while you’re out and about the city.

The Sleek Cape

The Lanvin cape is so very sleek and chic. For a more moderate price, you can find an identical cape from Calvin Klein for about $160. This unique piece has a much more architectural silhouette that not only modernizes your wardrobe, but is also great to wear to the office. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly cape, try Tinley Road’s ladylike wool cape located on Piperlime.com for only $89.

The Neutral Cape

The Lanvin fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection showcased a multitude of these fashionable capes, but also allowed for a variety of neutral colors which blend in superbly with anyone’s wardrobe. If you’re looking to steal Lanvin’s camel cape at a much more moderate price, look for Vince Camuto’s button neck cape located at Nordstrom for only $195. For an even more budget-friendly camel cape, you can find a similar style at JcPenney (Liz Claiborne’s collection) for only $75.

The Patterned Cape

Patterns are another great trend for fall 2011, and if you’re looking for a bold print cape, you know exactly who to go to- Thom Browne. To snatch one up at a more moderate price, the Tahari plaid cape is only $178. For a more budget-friendly cape, Liz Claiborne’s sweater cape still has that pop of pattern that Thom Browne introduced, but only $38. What a find!

The Elegant Cape

If you’re looking for a more elegant cape that you can place over that fabulous new dress you’ve been dying to wear, look to Jason Wu’s fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection. Capture the same silhouette, sparkle, and femininity from his line in this DKNY sequin cape blouse. It is a bit of a splurge at $345, but that glamorous cape is traffic-stopping, indeed.

Although many people find the cape to be very antiquated, I believe that the modern touch to this coat in the fall 2011 collections will persuade many to believe otherwise. Dress it up, dress it down, add some sparkle, or a little plaid and you’re set!

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Five Fast Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal relationships are formed in everyday social and cultural environments. These environments include family, friends, organizations, neighbors,employees, and co-workers. The following five tips can help you develop a more positive attitude when interacting with people you see everyday.

1.      Don’t condemn or criticize others  Instead of telling people they are doing something incorrect, say, “What direction were you taking with this?” Listen and then suggest solutions that can benefit the both of you.

2.      Admit when you are wrong  Refusing to admit that you are wrong can damage the trust that others have in you. If you made a mistake, admit it so that both parties involved can move on.

3.      Make others feel important  If someone is special to you, be sincere and let them know! You can do this by telling them personally or writing them a note of thanks. You can also make others feel important by being genuinely interested in them.

4.      Give people an infectious smile  Smiles make others feel good and more relaxed around you. You want others to feel comfortable around you.

5.      Be a good listener  Listen more than you talk, and encourage others to talk about themselves. You will quickly develop good interpersonal skills by practicing this.

Make others feel important around you by smiling, listening, and being sincere.

Positive interpersonal relations techniques will show others that you are supportive and genuine. When putting these techniques into effect, you allow personal growth and also gain positive feedback from others.

For more information and tips on improving interpersonal relations at work, please visit this link: http://humanresources.about.com/od/interpersonal-relationships/Interpersonal-Relationships-At-Work.htm

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Back to Basics: Networking

Networking is essential and easy once you know how to start

According to the knowledgable, anonymous editors at Wikipedia, business networking can be defined as a socioeconomic activity by which like-minded groups of business people recognize, create, or act upon business opportunities. At first glance business, or professional networking, can seem like a daunting task however at a time when most jobs and new clients are found through networking demystifying what it really is is essential to your professional growth and success.

Use the tips you picked up in the lunchroom to be a networking star

Professional networking, or building a professional network, is not unlike making new friends on the first day of school, you have to decide which people will make great lab partners, which people will be great to study with, and which people have the inside scoop on the latest industry gossip. You also have to figure out which upper-classmen you need in your corner to show you the ropes and keep the bullies at bay. Just like in high school, being authentic and honest about your intentions will carry you a long way when you make your initial contact with potential member or your network whether you are seeking new clients or a new job. Once you tell someone what you want from them or what are offering to them and come from a genuine place, most people will be open to helping you achieve your goals. However, since you aren’t in high school anymore, remember to steer clear of gossips, negative people, and peers who may feel threatened and decide to throw a wrench in your plans. While people ready to dish up the latest news on whose being hired, fired, and acquired can be a great help when it comes to keeping an eye out, people too eager to dish dirt should be kept at arms length much like the mean girls you avoided in school.

Since most of us have been making friends and using our connections to gain everything from the best spot in line for lunch to a new job from the moment we stepped out the front door, networking should be second nature. Its the doing it effectively part that needs work.

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