Category Archives: Uncategorized

Photographic Proof You’re Gorgeous

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I recently discovered the most wonderful business just a short walk from where I live. It’s called Shameless and their name connects to their mission, which is what first caught my attention when I read about them.  Tell me if you aren’t utterly captivated after reading this:

“In a world full of fantasy images of models and movie stars, Shameless is working to create a space for women to feel safe, beautiful, and empowered. The tools of makeup, lighting, and photography can create images that are part fantasy, part reality.  It is a powerful thing to enter the realm of fantasy, and to know that you can do so whenever you choose.  No model or movie star owns the realm of fantasy — we all do.  In some small way, we hope that  our business can help women to feel more empowered and embodied — and to see femininity as a space of play and possibility rather than shame.

We’re in this to prove that YOU can be a bombshell, no matter what shape, size, age, color, or ability. We’re here to help every step of the way — from wardrobe to makeup to hairstyling to pose & expression coaching — so that you can see your own beauty more clearly.”  (Words from their website,  bold emphasis my own.)

I  went to look at their photos on their site and was BLOWN AWAY. They were doing exactly what they set out to do over and over again, shot after shot. Yes!!! What a celebration of the female form!  I had to meet the women who made this happen. They capture a woman’s beauty; they make her a star; and, then, they present proof in photo after photo, so that she is sure to see it too.

Sophie Swinelle, founder and photographer of Shameless NY and SF,  opened the first Shameless studio in NY in 2009 and two quick years later expanded to SF. Corey Lynn is the principal photographer for the SF studio.

Sophie and Carrie of Shameless - Edited

They showed me how they make women beautiful and I showed them my methods with personal colors.  Sophie is on the left, and Carey, on the right.

Both are women with poise and grace, and completely approachable, too (perfect for those who want to do this but who are also camera shy).  Their studio is neatly organized with clothes (vintage and vintage inspired recreations), jewelry and props on one side. Clothes are pinned to fit: shoes they have in all sizes.

Finished Mini Palettes incorporating hair, eye, blush and lipstick type colors:

Shameless Flirts

Perhaps even more fabulous than the clothes to choose from at the start and the photos to see at the end, is the depth of the process.  When a new client calls (or a repeat client calls back), the Shameless staff work with the client to come up with an idea to execute. Sophie asks women about secret dreams because, after all, this is part make believe!  Why not make it all real, briefly, and then photograph it to cherish for ever?  She gives, as an example, someone who always wanted to sing but stage fright kept her back. They’ll get her a vintage microphone and shine a spotlight on her!  The shoot they were just about to do when I was there involved a science lab theme and they’ve even done Outer Space.  They can magic anything up!

Go like them on Facebook, here. They post photos frequently and have awesome competitions, like writing a love letter to your body – to win a photo shoot (as well as increasing your own self appreciation!).  And check out their galleries (Classic Pin up, Old Hollywood and Retro Boudoir) on their site, here.

With studios on both coasts and packages starting at $495, they are very reasonably priced and accessible.  So, I hope that some of you will continue your ‘studies’ (shall we say) in looking great and go get your beautiful selves photographed  by these whizzes.  Maybe you’ll even share the photographic results?  No worries, if not.  It’s for you to find and KNOW your beauty.  I just wanted to show you another path – one that commemorates your beauty in the most fantastic way.

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Their NY photographer, who I did not meet is Maxine Neinow.  And, if you want to see/read more, this is a great interview with Sophie, here.

 

15 Tips for Buying Clothes on eBay

This list is updated from a post I had in a previous blog.  (For folks that read my last list, new points have an * by them!)

1) Search for brands/designers you know and love, whose sizes you are familiar with and consistent in.

2) Sort by lowest price first (the same garment may be listed by more than one seller and prices – as well as conditions – can vary a lot.)

3) Know your measurements (bust, waist, hips, *from shoulder seam to shoulder seam for jackets) AND the lengths you like garments to be (sweaters, skirts, the inseam on jeans, sleeves, dresses, etc.)

4) Search eBay for your favorite designers/brands and your size, adding any additional info you like, eg. “skirt.”  As you browse, look for styles and colors that you know work on you.  I generally play it safe with color choices on eBay, sticking to colors that are not easily misrepresented.  You’re aiming for a purchase you’re going to love, so stick to what you love.  (Note: save your searches in eBay, eg  Brand, size, by lowest price first.) *I also save searches on eBay for items I’ve tried on in consignment store that were nice but one size too big or small to see if I can find them in the right size. It’s worked!  I am sure to take a photo of the garment I like while in the consignment store to be sure I recognize it on eBay and I photograph any details on the inside tags too that might be helpful in identifying the garment online.

5) If, generally, you struggle to find a certain type of garment that fits really well, don’t buy it on eBay.  For example, I do not generally shop for pants on eBay.

6)  My exception about buying pants is that I have bought duplicates of jeans I adore.  If you have an item in your wardrobe you love, and want it in other colors or simply a back up for when your beloved garment bites the dust, search for it on eBay.  Bear in mind no two garments are ever truly identical.  Chances are the cut will be ever so slightly different, in the tiniest of ways.  Sadly this is true even for higher end garments.  *If you are buying a garment that is pre-owned THAT YOU ALREADY OWN you STILL want to know the size AND the measurements because the garment may have been altered (and the seller is unaware of such alterations) or incorrectly laundered if wool and the fit/size will be different from what you expect!  It’s better to be ask/double check than to make a foolish purchase!

7) Compare photos from different sources/sellers of the same item to get the best sense of color and style.  *If you save the item in your Watch List, you can then click on it and choose to ‘View Similar items”.  If the same item comes up in the same size, then as well as comparing prices, you’ll want to compare measurements supplied.  If it is or isn’t the same size as your original find,  compare colors, the general look of the item, and how it’s styled to get the best sense of the garment you’re considering bidding on/buying.  You can also google or google image the item and see if you can find it elsewhere online to gain a better sense of what the garment truly looks like.  Ask the seller questions if you need clarification.  For instance, “Is this a dark red or more like a stop sign red?” or “These boots say knee high in the description but they look midcalf in the photos. Can you measure them for me? Thanks!”

8) Read descriptions carefully.   The condition of the garment should be clearly stated.  Is it NWT/new with tags? Is it in EUC/excellent used condition?  If there is a flaw, what is it?  I’ve purposely bought a top that had a few stitches coming out from a seam because I knew it’d be an easy fix and it was a great deal. *If the item is pre-owned but the condition is not stated, ask if the garment has any stains, holes, pilling or odors.  If the condition is stated as “good” but there are no problems listed and you love the item, write and ask why it’s not described as “excellent”!

9) Read the seller’s return policy and consider what you would do if the item doesn’t make you happy.  For instance, could you resell it?  Alter it?  Dye it?  Give it as a gift?  Or would you be fine with paying return shipping charges, if the seller accepts returns?  Think this through before any purchases.

10) Check the seller’s feedback too.  If it’s a new seller, ask them a question and see how responsive they are.

11)  Sellers are generally savvy about how to best list an item. For example, a blouse might be listed by brand, then “blouse/top” and the size and color/details.  But if the seller writes only “blouse”and you search for “top” you’ll  miss seeing their item(s).  So, you need to be savvy in your search too.  Use different words to describe the same item, enter the numerical and letter size for clothing, and try both European and American sizing for shoes.

12)  Sometimes you can read reviews of clothing items elsewhere. For example many shoes are reviewed on Zappos  and many of Anthropologie‘s items are reviewed on their site and personal blogs.  Read reviews to see if items are actually true to size, if reviewers consistently say good things or if, conversely, they mention design flaws.

13)  If something you receive is not up to par, write to the seller immediately and politely: assume the error was an oversight.  Generally, sellers want you to be happy and to write a positive review for them. *Ebay will reimburse you for items that do not arrive or if you receive a garment not as described, but the onus is on you to contact Ebay and then to follow through with Ebay’s procedures.

14) “Buy it now” is most like real shopping.  I started ebay shopping using items listed in that way only.   *Note that using the browser on my phone, I cannot see if an item is “Buy it Now Or Best Offer,” I just see “Buy it Now” sales prices.  Ensure that however you are searching ebay that you are seeing when sellers are saying “Or Best Offer” if you want to get the best prices. (Why would sellers state that unless they’re open to negotiation, right?)

15) The best deals are usually  by “auction.”   Bidding right near the end of the auction reduces the chances of the price going up in an early bidding war.  Bid as late as you can!

It’s a different shopping experience than going out shopping certainly.  But now that I’ve figured out my strategy,  I’m having a lot of success.  I hope my tips help, and lead you to some great, inexpensive, additions to your wardrobe!

PS If you like buying second hand rather than new and are interested in Slow Fashion, come join our facebook Slow Fashion Movers and Shakers group here.)

The Suzanne Caygill Legacy Event, San Francisco, CA Aug 31,2013

This past Saturday, I was lucky enough to attend the Suzanne Caygill Legacy Event to celebrate what would have been Suzanne’s 102nd birthday.  I met so many wonderful people and delighted in all that was shared.  For any readers who wished they could have been present, this post is for you!  (And, if you’re reading this and wondering who on earth Suzanne Caygill is, she was the first person to create custom palettes for clients.  She related the palettes produced to seasons, as well as to personalities and style.)

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The palette above, created in 1977, is an example of a Vital Spring.  

Rochele Hirsch, one of the graduates of the Suzanne Caygill Academy,  masterminded this event and brought it to fruition.  (Thank you, again, Rochele!)

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A hand-painted-to-match-a-palette silk scarf!  I thought the idea so lovely I wanted to show you. 

  • Coralynn Lundell of CDI,whose Caygill palette is at the top of this post, brought so many items to put on display I could not believe my eyes.  There was such charm to Suzanne’s promotional materials and in her letters to her students that  I went snap happy in my giddy state. (Click on any item to enlarge to read it.)

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 Suzanne produced a Seasonal (of course) newspaper 

It advertised her services and amused:

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I knew nothing of Suzanne’s classes before this event.  Coralyn said that Suzanne was not a teacher – that she didn’t know what a lesson plan was – but she was an INSPIRATION and everyone agreed.  Who else would have a Code of Elegance for their students to abide by?  Have a read.

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We also heard about Suzanne’s Master Class open to those students who had completed her other courses.  In this class, students put together outfits for different occasions and learned things such as how to walk, sit, eat, and write thank you notes -“Finishing school!” as Carla Mathis put it so succinctly.

masterclassSC  A completed form for one outfit.  Note the space to write which gloves would be worn and how the hair would be styled.

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Suzanne also organized evening theater performances!  She would have loved to have been an opera star and music was included in these theatrical events.   Students performed, bringing their Seasons to life!

  • Jennifer Butler spoke about a person’s essence. Suzanne had said to her – before Jennifer studied with her, “I see you’re highly trained, but can you really see who someone is?”  Jennifer related how she has taken Suzanne’s work regarding essence and expanded on it.  Whereas Suzanne had five phrases for each client regarding their essence, Jennifer uses eleven – having added six themes or aspects relating to personal growth. The words or phrases selected are used along with the palette colors in the creation of a client’s vision board.  A handful of the vision boards were shown to us, explaining the process.
  •  Rochele Hirsch paints palettes which allows her to travel and work easily!  She explained, furthermore, that how she mixes the paints tells her which season a client belongs in.  If she’s painting colors as they are, the client is Spring; if she needs to add the complement they are Summer; if she’s adding raw or burnt sienna, they are Autumn; and payne’s gray goes into Winter palettes. (Logical once you hear it, isn’t it?  Well, if you paint!)   Rochele’s healing work has expanded from color analysis to include other health related therapeutics such as something she calls relationship energies.  (See her site for more info / to buy her book.)   At the end of the day, when we chatted  briefly, she was spot-on classifying the dynamics in my family and she deducted it all through intuition!  Eye opening.

(As an aside, I was really surprised how many of the attendees had a connection past or present to complementary medicine and healing:  I felt right at home!)

  • Naomi Tickle spoke of the work she now does…reading faces!  She gave us all quick tools to better understand the personality of anyone we see and gave us two tips regarding dressing clients. One was that clients with larger backs of their heads (from ear to back of head) will wear ethnic jewelry better than others and the other was that clients with wide faces will have better interactions with people wearing their less bold colors.  You can buy her books on her site if you’re interested to learn more about Personology!

Interspersed throughout the day were “Suzanne Stories.”   Roy Cook, one of the two gentlemen in attendance, shared that he asked Suzanne once, “When looking at a roomful of people, what percentage of their seasons do you know right away?”  Her answer, he says, was a credit to her integrity.  She had replied, “I can guess.  But only about 3% with certainty.”

  •  Carla Mathis of Body Beautiful talked of writing The Triumph of Individual Style/Timeless Beauty saying that despite having worked for Suzanne for 18 years, she has no language to explain what Suzanne actually did.  (Coralyn wasn’t kidding when she said Suzanne wasn’t a teacher, eh?)  Then one day, she went to a flower arranging class with a friend and the arrangements were going to be assessed by the teacher on line, movement, rhythm, balance, etc and lo and behold here was the language needed!  She also told us how she has clients use Pinterest to share with her images of things that they love that are not clothing.  From a discussion about these images, she is led to their true identity.  In other news, she has developed a line of paint and is working on a dating site!  Yes, you read that right.  Happy Home Lives courtesy of Carla coming to a city near you, soon!  (Oh, and that’s not her product name, that’s just me being playful.)
  • Bonnie Humiston assisted Suzanne for six years in NYC and spoke to us of the similarities between the Feldenkrais body work that she does and personal colors. Both increase an individual’s self awareness.  Feldenkrais  does this through movement, and she had us all do a seated exercise to demonstrate just how easily and quickly it works.  Bonnie had also worked as a psychotherapist and she said when she learned color analysis she wanted to tell people, ” Go get your colors done! It will save you five years of therapy!”  Colors balance our systems.  Earlier in the day, Carla had mentioned that Suzanne seemed to FEEL personal colors, that she could do people’s colors in poor lighting.  Bonnie talked of color as a vibration.  If she needs fabric in a particular color, she paints the desired color and takes that paint swatch to the fabric store.  She can then feel very quickly if the fabric she needs is for sale there or not, as if it is there then she feels the vibration of the color she has painted aligning with the color fabric she is wanting to buy!  (And to think friends think I have done a 180 and left energy work behind.  Ha!)
  • Beverley Cole from New Zealand spoke of her career path through makeup and color and now to Fashion Feng Shui, which helps people dress to attract the dreams of their life. She explained the five energies/elements/archetypes and how to you encompass more of the energy you want in your life, you must incorporate more of it in your dress/home to attract it.  Online workshops and certification training are available and if you’re ever in New Zealand she’s got an amazing B&B to fortify your soul!
  • Marilyn Allen, not a student but an admirer of Suzanne and a big believer in the healing that is done with color harmony, gave us the most wonderful pep talk (as only a former school principal/current director of marketing/ Spring-y type could)  to keep this profession going strong.  I’ll do nothing else, Marilyn!!!

Happy Birthday, Suzanne!  That was a beautiful event, held in your honor.

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The Most Important Clothing in Your Life

Don’t we all have a friend who, when you arrive at her place, always needs, “Just five minutes!” to be ready?  And the five minutes is never really five, but always ten?   “Love, Loss and What I Wore” by Ilene Beckerman is the book these friends need on their coffee table.  Guests waiting will actually enjoy their time with this little gem of a pictorial autobiography to read and, on future visits, re-read.

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I was wearing this yellow dress when I fell of a pier, age 2.

With cartoon illustrations on one side and text on the other, Beckerman takes us though her life, garment by garment.   At some point, you realize,  you’re not sure if Beckerman is chronicling the events in her life with her clothing or the clothing in her life with the events.

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My dad wore this same ‘travel suit’ for at least a decade, though he won’t admit it. We were in Greece where we’d gone to see a specialist about my eyes.  I wore clear pink glasses, briefly, with a Paddington bear sticker over one eye to strengthen the other. I had that red Canada bag for years, carrying little toys in it wherever I went. Funnily enough, my diaper bag for my daughter was similar: a dark red and ivory leather bowling bag.  

 And it doesn’t matter, you conclude, because your own version of this book would be similar: some items or outfits that simply held great fascination for you would be included, and others that were tied to an emotional event.

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My mother sewed outfits for me and my twin brother. I was always eager for her to be done so that I could see how the cloth and trimming she had purchased had turned into something wearable.

Bits of fashion history are interspersed within the stories – each story spanning a decade from the 1940’s to the 1990’s.  More time is spent describing garments or hairstyles than any event in Beckerman’s life  – even a death.  The lack of detail serves to make the losses more poignant.

There is humor.

There is endurance.

There is a granddaughter.

balletdrawingIn reports from ballet school my hair was always mentioned – for it not being neat enough in buns.  My mother had no interest in bobby pins.  If it had been up to me I’d have just danced and drawn, but my brother always wanted to play games. (You won’t be surprised to hear that these rugs always became “The Gates of Hell” in our games, or that may parents also had matching orange leather couches.)

“Love, Loss and What I Wore” made me realize that while I spend much of my time thinking about which colors and which styles are going to bring a woman “to life”, I forget about her ACTUAL life.  I don’t mean the practicalities of the styles that I’m suggesting.  No, I bear that in mind.  Rather, I forget that I don’t really know this woman.  I feel like I do:  I feel like I’ve spent hours getting to know her skin, her eyes and her hair: I’ve spent time assessing styles that flatter and styles that don’t:  we’ve messaged or emailed a lot if we haven’t chatted face to face.  But there is a rich life behind each and every client and this book reminded me that I am looking at clothing in only one context:  what works best – what brings them into the most visible state of harmony.  I don’t know anything of the clothes that tell the stories of their life.

threewomenimporatntThese are three most important women in my life: my grandmother’s best friend, my grandmother, and my mother.  They taught me that comfort never goes out of style, even if designers forget it.

I love connecting with my clients – even if it’s primarily about the direction they will be going with their wardrobe.  So much of our world is depersonalized.  To share what makes us unique is amazing.

So tell me, what item or outfit first comes to mind when you think about the most important clothing in your life?  I’d love to know.

PS Nora and Delia Ephron have turned this book into a play.  I’d love to see it!

 

Never Before Discussed Reasons for Wanting a Custom Palette and Style Guidelines

Most women who desire my color/style services want to feel happier about what they’re wearing and how the world perceives them.  These folks are The Beautiful Communicators.

But ladies come, or are interested, for other reasons – or a mishmash of reasons.  Tell me if any of these other reasons/types ring true for you:

Miss Smarty Pants?  You don’t really care about visual beauty that much but you sure hate other people knowing more than you.  You’re sick of being told “what’s in/hot/on trend” when you shop.  Being wiser to what will make you look good than someone in the fashion and beauty industry makes the Know-it-All in you oh so smug.  You just need a little tutoring first. 

The Skeptic is secretly torn.  Does Color Analysis work the way some friends say or is it hogwash?  Either ways she wins.

The Eccentric has written in brown ink exclusively for years.  Except that these days no one hand writes very much at all,  thus new ways to express color individuality are required.

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The Self Improver meditates and does yoga, improving her inner self.  She’s smart enough to realize her outer self should not be neglected either.

The Personal Data Collector has her astrological chart mapped out, has traced her family tree back to 1583 and knows what kind of food to eat for her blood type.  Personal color and style is missing.  Clearly.

The (Quiet) Body Art Worshipper has always been impressed by folks that get tattoos, especially if they’re visible.  But she’s also a long term thinking.  The tattoo has to be something that she will love and be happy with forever.  When else could color and style matter more???

The Hoarder wants a custom palette to serve as a road map for how to purge her wardrobe.

The Snap Happy Gal loves taking selfies.  For an online analysis she has a reason to take more pics and someone to share them with – fun, fun, fun!

The Worst Case Scenario Thinker is worried she’s dressing ALL WRONG.  She needs peace of mind and/or help asap.

So…what combination of types are you?  Am I missing types?  And which never before discussed reason have I actually heard?!?  Guess.