Posts filed under 'Women’s'

Q&A: Three Simple Ways to Wear a Scarf

Q: Since you mention scarves in a lot of your articles, I decided to buy three really cute scarves. But now I don’t know how to wear them. I mean, I can guess with what - but how exactly are scarves worn right now? Whenever I see celebrities wear scarves I wonder how they make it look so effortless.

by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Scarves are a versatile, inexpensive accessory that can add color, pattern and dimension to any wardrobe.  Here’s three super simple ways to wear them:

The Fold and Loop

Diamond Gingham Scarf
Diamond Gingham Scarf | $22.75 (approx) at Topshop

My favorite way to wear a scarf it to take a long one, fold it in half, and wrap it around your neck.  Take the side with the ends and pull it through the loop created by the other side.  I love to wear a long scarf on a windy day and have the breeze catch it and make it flutter.
Best For: Lightweight pashmina-type scarves.

The Basic Neck Wrap
AE Multi Check Scarf
AE Multicheck Scarf | $19.50 at American Eagle

Simply wrap the scarf around your neck once and then just let the ends drop where they will.  I think this method is appropriate for indoor wear, as it adds color without overwhelming the wearer or the outfit.  Keep in mind though that it does look pretentious to wear a big cashmere scarf wrapped once or twice around the neck when one is inside.
Best For: Long, narrow scarves.

The Square Tie
Buckle Satin Scarf
Buckle Satin Scarf | $7.80 at Forever 21

With a square scarf, you can place one pointed side down in front of your neck, and then take the ends and wrap once around your neck ending with a little tie. 
Best For: Small to medium sized square scarves.

Bonus scarf looks?  Try wrapping a scarf around your head à la Jackie O.  Very 60s chic.  Or tie a short scarf around a ponytail for a refreshingly youthful look.

How do you wear your scarves? Share your style with us in the comments!

14 comments November 25th, 2008

Q&A: How to Dress Up a Plain Button Down Shirt

Q: How do you dress up a plain black or white button-down shirt?

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Clemence Poesyby Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: While I appreciate the idea of dressing up a plain button-down shirt, the expression "you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear" comes to mind.  A plain cotton button down shirt is a workhouse garment; it’s not really meant for dressing up for going out at night.

For casual wear, however, I recommend emphasizing the sleek simplicity of the shirt by pairing it with a dark rinse jean and a pair of heeled boots.  Layer on a great looking jacket to keep the look long, lean, and simple.  Bonus points for topping off the outfit with a long scarf, like Clemence Poesy (pictured, left).

To make a plain button down shirt a little more dressed up for daytime, here’s a few ideas for standout accessories:
Necklace: Layer on a bold necklace—or two, or three.  Don’t hold back.  The bigger and bolder, the better!
Scarf: It’s amazing how a scarf can turn a simple outfit into one that’s simply stunning.  Give your plain shirt some personality with a patterned scarf.
Belt: To jazz up a plain shirt, take your belt to the extremes.  Either wear a belt that’s wide or one that’s super narrow.  If you go for the narrow option, consider wearing a two or three belts for a very downtown cool look.
Necktie: Do as men do and don a necktie.  Wear it loosely knotted for a casual menswear-as-womenswear look.

Last words?  However you choose to wear your shirt, do as Clemence Poesy does, and let your own individual beauty shine through.

Have a great tip about how to dress up a plain button down shirt? Share it with us in the comments!

2 comments November 13th, 2008

Q&A: How to Transform Your Wardrobe from Formal to Creative

Q: For the last two years I have worked in the legal profession where my wardrobe consists mostly of skirt and pant suits, business shirts and lots and lots of black. Next year, I am going back to study fashion design to pursue my dream of working in fashion publishing. Do you have any suggestions for transitioning my color deficient and overly formal wardrobe to match my new life?

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by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Congratulations!  I applaud you for having the courage to do what you love, and taking the first step towards your dream of working in fashion publishing.  Just as transitioning from a professional environment to an academic one will allow you much more freedom in scheduling your day, it will also give you much more freedom in what you choose to wear.

That said, I’d recommend placing your suits and blouses in a good storage place, as journalism will also require professional clothes until you reach the heights of Anna Wintour or Carine Roitfield, when designers will be begging you to wear their clothes!  Fashion journalism is no exception, though you’ll get to mix things up a bit more.

As you prepare to enter the world of fashion, make sure you have your foundation pieces in place.  These 10 pieces will provide you a foundation from which to grow your wardrobe—and evolve your sense of style.  Since you’re going back to school, I’d add jeans to this foundation wardrobe as well.  In addition to your standard issue dark rinse blue jeans, try a pair of trouser jeans and a pair of grey jeans. 

Moving beyond the foundations, I encourage you to play with silhouettes and color.  Now is the time for experimentation. Layer!  Take what’s in your wardrobe and try to create new and interesting combinations. 

Once you’ve started to exhaust the possibilities with your current wardrobe, make a shopping trip to add pieces that you may not already have.  Things like layered tops, asymmetrical dresses, cute boots, and an oversized, slouchy bag (which should hold your school books nicely).  But don’t be too anxious to fill out your wardrobe too quickly. You’ll start to develop a more critical eye as you study fashion.  And you’ll no doubt be influenced by the designers you study—not to mention your fellow students. 

Developing your own fashion point of view is a very personal process, and it’s not one to be rushed.  This advice can help guide you along the path, but in the end, it’s you who’s making the journey.  Bon voyage, and good luck!

Have a great tip about how to transform your wardrobe from formal to creative? Share it with us in the comments!

4 comments October 28th, 2008

Q&A: How to Dress to Look Older

Q: I’m 22 years old and only 5 feet tall. I also have a very young looking face, so whenever I go out, people ask me how old I am.  It’s an odd request, but how can I dress to look older when I go out without trying too hard?

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by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: It’s an odd request, but it’s a valid one.  Looking more mature will not only reduce the "how old are you?" questioning, but it’ll also help you to be taken more seriously at work.  We have a few quick tricks to add age to your look:

Balance out your Round Face:
  I’m guessing that the youthfulness in your face comes from a round shape; the rounder your face, the younger your look.  To counterbalance the roundness, look for geometric shaped earrings, pointed collars, and more angular clothing.

Wear Structured Clothes:
  The more structure in your clothes, the more mature the look.  I’d recommend building your wardrobe around tailored garments and accessories - double breasted coats, belts, blazers, and other fitted items.

Drape Yourself in Jewel Tones:  Bright primary colors are youthful looking, but deeper jewel tones like emerald or turquoise are more refined.  Neutral colors will also add to the maturity of your outfits.

Wear Makeup:  The key here is to wear makeup that’s not too heavy.  Try makeup that’s sophisticated, like a soft smoky eye for evening.

Slip on a Pair of Heels:  Since you’re only 5 feet tall, you’ll also benefit from a couple of inches of extra height.  Height will help you add years to your look, especially if the shoe is in a sophisticated style.

Last but not least, exude confidence through your posture and smile - act as though you absolutely belong where you are (which you do!).  Carriage reflects maturity, and this will take you further than anything you’re wearing.

Have a great tip about how to dress to look older? Share it with us in the comments!

4 comments October 21st, 2008

How to Wear Horizontal Stripes Without Looking Wide

Q:  I’ve noticed that a lot of your postings have striped shirts, which I think look so chic.  When I wear mine, I feel like they don’t really flatter me. (I’m a bit broad-shouldered.) Are there some style rules about wearing stripes?

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The eye is drawn in the direction of the stripe - that is, if you’re wearing horizontal stripes, the eye is drawn from side to side, and if you’re wearing vertical stripes, the eye tends to go up and down.  The effect?  Horizontal stripes tend to make you look wider, and vertical stripes tend to be more slimming.

Since you’re a bit broad shouldered, I would avoid thick horizontal stripes at your shoulder line.  The stripes will only visually widen your shoulders.  Since you love these horizontal striped shirts, you could try three things that will lessen the widening effect of horizontal stripes:

Thin Horizontal Stripes:  The widening effect is a lot less pronounced with thin, widely spaced stripes than it would be for thicker stripes.

Stripes with Low Contrast: Horizontal stripes are less likely to widen your figure if they’re in colors without a lot of contrast.  Instead of high-contrast black and white stripes, for instance, try lower-contrast grey and white stripes.

Strategic Stripe Placement: If you can find a shirt that has horizontal stripes on your torso - but not on your shoulder, this can also work for your figure.

How do you wear horizontal stripes? Share your style with us in the comments!

3 comments October 14th, 2008

Q&A: Adding Personality to a Wardrobe of Basics

Q: I’m really not that stylish at all, but I want to learn to be. I want to expand my wardrobe, but I don’t want to fill it with fashion trends that are short lived. How do I go about building a wardrobe that’s young (I’m 23), eclectic, but not typical looking? I do have some basic necessities such as a good white shirt, good black trousers, skinny jeans, and a little black dress.

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by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: Smart move.  You’re never too young to start building a wardrobe that has style and staying power.  Sounds like you’re off to a good start with your wardrobe foundations, but that it’s time to add some personality.

Adding personality to an outfit can be done in two main ways: (1) what you wear, and (2) how you choose to wear it.

With regards to what you wear, you can easily add personality with color and pattern.  Maybe it’s adding a bright green tunic, maybe it’s adding a skirt in a dramatic oversized print.  Or adding classics-with-a-twist: the clothes that you reach for over and over again in your closet, but with an extra special touch.  Items like a perfectly cut polka dotted pencil skirt, a great peacoat with 3/4 sleeves, or a bright yellow pair of heels.

But even a pop of color from a set of bracelets, a cascading set of necklaces, or a statement handbag adds interest to the basics without overwhelming you.

How you choose to wear your clothes is where it gets more interesting.  You mention that you want to build a wardrobe that’s not typical looking.  You can do this, even building on the basics that you already have.  Your good white shirt, for example, can be transformed from a wardrobe basic to something special simply by how you wear it.  Try artfully rolling up the sleeves for a relaxed-yet-polished look.  Or leaving an extra button unbuttoned and layering it over a lacy undershirt for a playful after-work look.  Or go glamorous and add a statement brooch (think Carrie Bradshaw from SATC) – or a gorgeous set of layered necklaces. 

Pictured is an example of an outfit that is composed of basics with a twist.  The sleek black pencil skirt is a pure basic, but the boatneck top features sailor stripes, the peacoat in bright green has 3/4 sleeves, the cardigan sweater sports two small front pockets, the herringbone scarf is a bright yellow, the heels are not only yellow but also feature a ladylike rosette, and the black handbag is purposely strappy.  If you push up the sleeves on the cardigan, you’ll allow the sailor stripes to peek out from under the shorter jacket sleeves.  And the bright scarf picks up the yellow in the shoes, adding a touch of lightness to a very city chic outfit.

By building outfits like this, you’ll save your closet from being filled with short lived fashion trends – and you’ll be building a wardrobe that you can count on for years to come.

In the end, dressing is the art of expressing yourself.  I encourage you to be playful with your clothes.  Go out to the mall and try on a bunch of clothes, even ones that you think that you’d never wear.  The results may very well surprise you.

Have a great tip about how to add personality to your wardrobe? Share it with us in the comments!

3 comments October 9th, 2008

Q&A: How to Wear Summer Clothes for Fall and Winter

Q: I love wearing scoopneck shirts in the summer–they show my collarbones (my favorite parts of my body), and the rounded neckline really complements my curvier body. Is there any way to get a similar effect with warm, winter clothes? I feel like everything I try on for fall/winter makes me look gigantic.

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by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: When you find what works for you, our best advice is to stick with it.  Since you find that scoopneck tops flatter your figure, we encourage you to wear them all year round.  Here’s how to wear this summer weather top during fall and winter.

Instead of summer’s plain cotton scoopnecks, look for winter varieties in thin, warm insulating fabrics.  We’d recommend against chunky, bulky fabrics, as the volume on these tops will erase the figure flattery gains you’re getting with the scoopneck shirts.  Instead opt for fabrics that are natural insulators, such as silk.

But of course, thin fabrics aren’t naturally as warm as thicker fabrics.  To get the warming effect of a thick fabric with the look off thinner fabrics, dress in layers.  You can layer two (or more) thin shirts together to get the warming power of a thicker shirt or sweater. When you wear two thin shirts, you get the warmth of each of the individual shirts, plus the heating power of the warm air trapped in between the shirts.  Two are really better than one, especially if your undershirt is made of silk.

If layered shirts are still not warm enough for you, add a cozy sweater or cardigan.  You don’t need bulk for warmth if you’re layering - merino wool and cashmere are warm without necessarily being bulky.

And if you feel a chill, throw on a pretty scarf.  There’s no excuse for not wearing your favorite neckline!

Have a great tip about how to wear summer clothes during fall and winter? Share it with us in the comments!

Add comment October 3rd, 2008

Q&A: Modest Fashion for Tall Women

Q:  I’m 19 years old, 6′2", and have a skinny body. I love fashion, but for religious reasons I’m supposed to wear modest clothes, like long skirts or dresses, but they always make me look even taller and not very attractive.  I hope you have some advice for me on how I can look chic, shorten my height, and still dress modestly.

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To make yourself look shorter, the key is to manage the visual length of your legs.  Basically, the shorter your legs look, the shorter you look.  So skip the high waisted pants, and instead opt for low rise styles.  Any garments that visually lower your waistline will help to create the illusion of a shorter you - drop waist coats and dresses, skirts with a lower waistline, and low rise pants. 

The other key way to manage your height is to choose garments with horizontal details.  The horizontal details draw the eye from side to side, which will help to visually shorten you.  Look for horizontal stripes, horizontal seamlines, and any other details that visually cut your body widthwise.

Layering is going to be your friend as you put your outfits together.  With your height (and your age), you have the opportunity to experiment more with layering.  Pictured is a simple fashion formula that you can play with: a drop waist coat, a long sweater that hits at the hip, a top with horizontal details, wide-leg jeans, and flats.  When the weather gets chillier, add a colorful scarf to the outfit for extra color and texture.

Last words - I know it may be hard now, but I hope that you’ll come to embrace your height in time.  I’m at the opposite end of the height scale, and I always wanted to be tall, if only for the fashion!  With your tall, slim physique, you can wear the styles that I can only dream of!.

What advice do you have for fashion-forward women who dress modestly? Share your style with us in the comments!

10 comments September 30th, 2008

Q&A: How to Work Pattern into your Wardrobe

Q: My wardrobe is mainly solids.  Any suggestions as to how to work patterns into your wardrobe both for work and for play?

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by Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: It’s common to be uncomfortable with pattern and color–it’s just so easy to fall back on the safety net of black or other monochromatic neutrals.  Though these neutrals are easy, they’re not always the most flattering.  Even neutrals can visually drain color from your face–and they leave you as a bit of a fashion wallflower. 

How to Choose a Pattern

Be sure the pattern is scale to your own proportions.  Petites should look for small patterns so as not to overwhelm the body.  Those with larger frames, however, would look frumpy in small, delicate prints. 

How to Choose Colors for your Patterns

Choose colors that enhance your own coloring.  How do you know what colors work for you?  Here’s a simple test: Hold two pieces of construction paper under your face: one orange the other pink.  Whichever color softens your features and lessens shadows on your face is the tone you should look for.  If orange works better for you, look for warm colors like reds and oranges.  If pink makes you look better, look for cool colors like greens and blues.

How to Wear Pattern
An easy way to ease pattern into your wardrobe is through accessories.  A scarf added to a solid dress or dark suit adds a pop of life.  Look also for patterned belts, tights, and handbags. Once comfortable with pattern on accessories, you can move on to blouses, skirts, and even dresses.

The easiest way to wear a pattern is to wear one single pattern against a backdrop of solid colors.  Pick a color from the pattern to wear as your primary solid color. For example, if your sweater is red, yellow, and pink, you can pair it with a skirt that’s red.  Note that the shade of red in the solid colored skirt doesn’t need to match the shade of red in the pattern.

If you’re really daring, you can try mixing and matching patterns.  If you’re matching the same type of pattern (e.g. stripes and stripes), mix up the size of the pattern - one big and one small.  If you’re matching different types of patterns (e.g. plaids and stripes), keep the scale of the pattern the same.

Have a great tip about how to work patterns into your wardrobe? Share it with us in the comments!

4 comments September 25th, 2008

Q&A: Great Tops for Wide Leg Jeans

Q:  I am loving the whole relaxed boyfriend jean or wide leg jeans but I feel I have very limited options when it comes to tops to wear with them.  What are my options for casual tops, and what tops can I wear for a more formal feel?

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Wide leg jeans can actually be pretty versatile–here’s how to wear them:

Start with a dark rinse jean.  The darker the wash of the jean, the more versatile it will be.  A dark rinse jean pairs well with fresh whites, bright colors, and even other dark colors. 

Wear a fitted top.  Create a classic small-over-big silhouette with a fitted top to balance out the volume of the wide leg jeans. 

Slip on a pair of heels.  The elegance of wide leg jeans comes from the long, clean leg line that they create.  Add to the illusion of mile-long legs with a pair of high heels.

The three tops shown here all straddle the border between casual and formal, and can be dressed up or down with the appropriate outerwear and accessories.  More casual options include sailor striped tees, tanks, henleys, and brightly colored sweaters. To give your wide leg jeans a more formal feel, choose drapey tops in sumptuous fabrics.

What do you wear with wide leg jeans? Share your style with us in the comments!

4 comments August 29th, 2008

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