Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Outta Sight Summer Sunnies

Already two long-weekends in and another shortly on the way (for Ontario folks anyway!), it's in the dog days of summer that most of us lose at least one pair of sunglasses. Unlike replacing summer clothes mid-season when you might wonder if it's worthwhile, sunglasses are an investment that will far outlast the sunny season both in style and in vision health.
For readers who know me, you'll know that I wear my sunnies nearly every day, all year long. I consider them amongst my primary accessories. My Optometrist, Dr. Shirley Blanc, gave me more perspective on why sun-specs are key throughout the year. Her tips:
  1. Price, colour, or lens darkness aren't guaranteed indicators of how much UV protection a pair of sunglasses will provide.
  2. Generally, the tint should be dark enough to reduce glare and improve visual comfort, grey or brown tints are generally recommended to prevent colour distortion,
  3. While plastic lenses are lighter than glass, make sure there's scratch-resistant coating on plastic lenses as even small nicks can decrease UV protection.
But are all sunglasses appropriate for all occasions? Turns out, the type of protection from different lenses might be best for different activities. The Canadian Standards association complies with guidelines known as ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards for sunglass protection.
  1. Cosmetic sunglasses: Block at least 70% UVB and up to 60% UVA. They provide only mild UV protection and aren't usually recommended for daylight driving. They're perfect for an after-work patio though.
  2. General-purpose sunglasses: Block 95%-99% UVB and 60%-92% UVA. Good for driving, and are recommended whenever sunlight is harsh enough to make you squint. Going out for lunch with the gang? Planned an afternoon in the sun? This is the sort of protection you'll need.
  3. Special-purpose sunglasses: Block at least 99% UVB and up to 98.5% UVA. Suitable for extended periods of sun exposure - not recommended for driving. Since these lenses also block up to 97% of visible light, they are very dark. They'd be great for outdoor sports, a day at the beach or on the water.
AH HA! So THAT'S why you should have different pairs for different occasions. To help you decide, here are my favourite top trends this season.
Gucci Web Frames. Oversized rounded square frames are perennially chic and ideal for 9 -5.
Dolce & Gabbana two-tone frames. Cat's Eye are the next big retro trend. Watch and see!
Karen Walker Eyewear Helter Skelter frames. An ideal combination of sporty and urbane. A little 'Wayfarer' and a little 'John Lennon', very unisex.

Super People frames. The classic Wayfarer with a twist. Sporty and sophisticated, for men and women.
Carrera City Folding frames. This Aviator Visor folds up! Perfect for busy days and travel.

All photos courtesy of Polyvore.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hats ON to Headgear!

What's the single easiest way to:
  1. Beat summer heat
  2. Avoid burnt noses, cheeks and scalps
  3. Prevent crow's feet and
  4. Amp up style?
With a hat! They are a key trend this summer for both men and women, but it can be tough to find one that suits. Knowing the trends is one way, but using your face shape as a guide can also help you narrow down what will work for you in any season.

Trademark Tips:

Round: Choose a hat with sharper lines, and medium - high crown height with a slight taper. Medium brims that are turned up or that can be angled are great, especially if the hat is positioned forward or asymmetrically to lengthen your face.
Try This: Fedoras, Panamas, Stetsons, or Sunhats (for my ladies).
Square: This shape needs curvier lines to offset its angular strength. Look for a medium - high crown height that appear full and round. A turned up brim helps soften features, especially if worn with a side tilt or high on your head to break up 'squariness.'
Try This: Homburgs (like a Fedora with permanently turned up sides), Fedoras, Berets or Newsboys worn high and slanted and big floppy Sunhats (for my ladies).

Long: Sharp, straight styles with a lower crown and a medium - wide brim are best. Wear it straight or forward with the brim kept straight to balance out the length of your face beautifully.
Try This: Western/Stetson styles, Fedoras, Baseball & Newsboy caps
Heart/Diamond: Look for a medium height crown in a square or round shape, and give it a tilt to one side. Small brims and curved brims will soften the point of your chin.
Try This: Fedoras, Cloches and Profile brim hats (for my ladies)
Oval: Considered the 'ideal' face shape, an oval face can wear almost any style of hat well! (Lucky!)
The Fedora fits so nicely into just about every category.It's not only a versatile pick but it also happens to be The Hat of the season for both guys and girls.

Want to try a hat but not sure it's for you? I love the reasonable prices and variety of styles at Big It Up. For a custom look, there's no better gem than Lilliput Hats. See what kind of personality a hat can add to your accessories wardrobe!

Hot, Hazy + Humid: Summer's Triple Threat

I'm always a fan of special occasion days or weeks and this week has been National Sun Awareness Week! You know the dangers of overexposure to UV rays, and you know your supposed to protect yourself from them, but finding practical, effective ways to protect yourself from intensified UV rays while still enjoying the spontaneity of summer can be a bit of a challenge.

That said, nothing can erode your tailored image quite like accidental sun burns and reverse raccoon eyes. Something about them subconsciously screams 'PAAARTYYY!' Don't let summer's Hot, Hazy, Humid triple threat put a damper on your summer style. Here are our Trademark Tips for staying protected and image savvy every day:
  1. Daily SPF for Body: Using an unscented lighter formula or a body lotion that has an SPF of 15 or higher built in makes it easy to apply right out of the shower when you're moisturizing anyway. It doesn't have to be fancy. A product as simple as Vaseline® Daily Sun Shield does it. Because it's a daily moisturizer formula, it won't conflict with your fragrance or lead your co-workers to break out the margaritas when you walk by. Have a travel size with you to re-apply pre-patio.
  2. Daily SPF for Faces: Because faces, necks, and chests are more often exposed to sun and capture lots of rays, I prefer a high SPF in a super lightweight, non-greasy lotion. Neutrogena® Healthy Defence SPF 30 is my current choice. Great on it's own, under your moisturizer and/or under make-up.
  3. Reapply: This has always been a thorn in my side: how do you reapply without messing up your make-up, or greasing up your skin as the hours go by? Then: EUREKA! New mineral SPF powder like Bare Escentuals provide natural SPF protection, keep skin matte AND keep make-up in tact (YAY!). Guys, this is great for you too, to ward off the greasiness of repeat lotion application.
  4. Headgear: The scalp can be highly sensitive to sun's rays and needs special protection. While it's been a trend to incorporate UV protection into hair care products to protect hair colour, until now I haven't come across a combination product for hair control and scalp protection. Axe Buzzed Look Cream for men that not only provides control for short hair, but also provides the benefit of SPF for the scalp itself. No more burnt scalps guys!

Sunscreen isn't the only way to find refuge from the sun's rays while keeping your image in tact this summer. Stay tuned for two more upcoming posts in this Summer Series for more tips.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Give Meaning to Spring Cleaning

Tackling an unruly wardrobe is so satisfying! (OK, that's why I do what I do!)

As hard as it is to decide to let go of some of clothing you've had around for a while, if it's not satisfying these three things, it's better to move on.

All of your clothes should:

1. Fit your body, today
2. Fit your lifestyle needs/goals
3. Make you HAPPY!

Even two out of three may not be good enough. That's ok, it just means that you've evolved, and so has your idea of image and style. We will find new things that are perfect! But what to do with the things that you've piled up as a 'cast away' pile? Very, very rarely would I suggest that clothing should be tossed out. The only times are when the items that you're moving away from are either intimate wear or are beyond any reasonable use to another person.
You can Give Meaning to Spring Cleaning by selling or donating your old clothing items to give them the opportunity to make someone as happy as you have been when you wore them.

Trademark Spring Cleaning Tactics:

1. Consignment: Got items that are 2 years old or less, high quality vintage (think about this one carefully), and are in excellent condition? Sell them! I particularly like Ex Toggery, Off The Cuff and Second Nature Boutique. Not only will someone be able to enjoy them as much as you did, but you can use the reclaimed funds as part of your 'Clothing Budget' for the coming season. How smart! (You might also find some really great pieces there yourself)

2. Success Program Donations: Consider donating good condition business appropriate items, between 2 - 5 years old to Dress for Success or Dress Your Best. Both organizations assist economically disadvantaged individuals prepare for success in their professional pursuits. You may also be eligible for tax receipts for your donations.

3. Drop-Box Donations: The remainder of your items will likely be very welcome to the recipients of donations from Goodwill, Salvation Army, Value Village, or a program affiliated with your house of worship.

No matter which combination of options you choose, you will know that your spring cleaning has had extra meaning this year.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

When One Closet Closes...

Transitioning your closet from one season to another - especially the big ones: Winter to Spring and Summer to Fall - isn't just about packing everything up into garment bags and bins and stuffing them into the basement. Noooo!

It's really the opportunity you have to give a final once over to the beloved clothing that has joined you for the ride over the past few months before you store them away for another year.

So, before you stuff them away (and please don't really 'stuff' any of them away) here are FOUR tips for clothing storage:

Top 2 Toe Tactics:
1. Where's the Wear? Check linings, collars, cuffs, hems, ESK (elbows, seats, knees) of all clothing and outerwear items for soiling, tears/wear, stains, and discolouration. Launder or dry clean all pieces prior to storing for the season. Even if it looks clean, body oil and perspiration are two of the most common stain/wear culprits - and pests, like moths, love them both. Even if you don't think you have pests, if any have laid eggs, they'll be impossible to find until they've eaten their way through your garments.

2. Threadbare? Don't You Dare! Aw! This must have been a favourite piece of yours. We may be able to replace it (in the case of basic sweaters, jackets, jeans) or it might be worthwhile to have a seamstress use it as a pattern to recreate a new piece to love. Either way, it's time to say goodbye to this piece. If it's a lining that's torn, you might consider replacing it! But only if it's a piece you can't live without. Lining repair cost and labour intensive work.

3. Bare Your Sole: Shoe vamps stretched out? Pointed toes turning up like the Wicked Witch of the West? It's time for a new pair. Salt stains, scuffs or worn through heel taps? Take them to a trusted shoe repair and ask them to: 1. Clean and Protect 2. Replace the heel or the heel taps 3. Resole the ball of the foot with a thin rubber tread in a colour that matches the sole of the shoe. You'll get more seasons out of those shoes than you expected and you'll look fresh and well-heeled (pardon the pun!)

4. Protect What You Love: Store your off-season clothing, hung or folded, in closed containers with cedar blocks, in a temperature controlled environment away from direct light to prevent fading. Avoid mothballs! They are not only made of nasty chemical that can harm humans and animals, but they also impart a distinctive and nose-wrinkling odor to your clothes.

Follow these tactics and your favourite clothes will be ready for another season's worth of adventures just when you need them!

To Everything There is a Season

When that first day of warm-ish weather hits, when the breeze is just right and the sky is a bright, clear blue, I'm always compelled by thoughts

Yes, I should be outside relishing the weather, but somehow it's opening up all the windows, turning up my favourite cleaning music, and getting knee-deep in the process that feels most satisfying that first day.

I know not everyone has the same rabid, 'Monica Geller-esque' desire to break out the cleaning fluids, and even I've had a few anti-cleaning excuses run through my head before, I wonder if they sound familiar to you?

'But it's SO much work!'
'It might snow again in two weeks, why bother?'
'Is gets SO much WORSE before it gets better....better leave well enough alone'

Half way through June you're wondering why you can't find your shorts amid your winter sweaters....Seasonal Closet Clean-Ups are a big job! Like anything, it's easier to accomplish if you break it into steps.

Trademark Tactics:

1. Start with your Fall/Winter clothes: Organizing and storing these items will help you mentally prepare for the new season.
2. Move on to Spring/Summer, and ask yourself:
Have you loved/worn it in the past two years?
Does it still still fit?
Is it worth altering?
Do they still fit your Style Words and goals?

You know my motto...
Clothes should do 3 things:
1. Fit your body, today
2.Fit your lifestyle needs/goals
3.Make you HAPPY!

In this case, even two out of three may not be good enough. If they don't - let them go.

3. Of the things you decide to let go of, decide what to do with them. I have lots of suggestions on how to Give Meaning to Spring Cleaning.

4. Divide your newly edited items into three categories: Reshelve, Revive, Revamp!

5. The final step - once your Fall/Winter items have been tucked away, and your Spring/Summer items fill up your closet happily, create your shopping list for the season based on what needs to be replaced and what new items you'd like to build into your style.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Don't Sweat It: You CAN Look Hot at the Gym!

So how is that resolution to get in shape coming along? I've noticed a distinct change in the traffic flow to my favourite gyms in the past couple of weeks as enthusiasm wanes and the 'February blahs' take hold. I think it's just about time for new riff on that commitment to fitness. After all, it's only 4 weeks until the official start of Spring!

People often tell me they don't think they need to up their image at the gym and then say what a drag it is putting on their schleppy old clothes to go work out. There are A LOT of mirrors at the gym. While last thing you may want to do is look into gigantic mirrors with fluorescent lights beaming down from above creating unflattering shadows, it's necessary in order to maintain proper form, prevent injury, and witness our own improvement. Wouldn't you love to look great AND perform well at the gym?

Old grey Tshirts, faded black sweats, ratty sneakers and a pair of sponges to protect your hand when you hold weights? Definitely more utilitarian than inspiring.

All you need to create a working workout wardrobe is:

2 pairs of flattering tech-fabric pants in a neutral colour like black or grey - choose a boot cut or a wide cut for a flattering long leg
2 - 4 mix 'n match athletic tops in two coordinating colours
1 - 2 layering tops like jackets or zip-up sweatshirts in your coordinating palette
a fun pair of trainers that fit well and look good
1 sport watch
1 pair of weight lifting gloves
1 gym bag

Trademark Trick: Your trainers will be the most critical part of your workout gear, so choose a couple of pairs of them first and let the accent colours on them guide your colour choices in your other workout gear for an overall coordinated look.

Here are two options for women:

The motivation of having a great selection of fun workout gear can really help you look forward to this part of your routine, so don't shy away from wanting to look your best when you're burning calories!

Not sure you can pull this together? Give me a call, I would love to help you get ready to get sweaty!