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Hallie Abrams

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J crew cashmere star sweater and pleated silk midi skirt

J Crew, Classics with a Twist

A couple of weeks ago our local J Crew asked me to come in and do some styling on the spot.  As a J Crew junkie that fell out of love during the last few years, I was excited about it for a few reasons…

1. I love meeting all of you guys IRL (in real life)

2. I’m in my zone when I’m styling someone or there’s a fashion challenge that needs to be fixed (like what do I wear with this?? or what do I wear to my high school reunion, a funeral, a work presentation, my kids’ soccer game – you get the idea)

3. And, I was able to get all up close and personal with J Crew’s latest collection – it’s the first collection with new head designer, Chris Benz (who originally worked at J Crew under Jenna Lyons back in the day). 

Like J Crew Back in its Heyday

I’m happy to say this new collection gives me all of the classic J Crew feels, but updated for 2020. For a while, after Jenna Lyons left, it was like J Crew lost its identity, and quite frankly the quality seemed to plummet as well. But, this collection is back on track. Yay for us all!

Vince floral midi skirt set

The Midi Skirt Length is EVERYWHERE This Season

Back in our grandmother’s day, there was yearly fodder about the skirt length of the season. Miniskirt, knee-length,  tea-length or midi skirt, floor-length. Hemlines went up and down year to year. In fact, there’s even an economic “theory” from the 1930s called the “The Skirt Length Index”. It basically correlates highs and lows in the stock market to the hemlines that were in style at the time.

In recent years skirt lengths have been more varied. Perhaps even more personalized. There wasn’t one style or length that was totally in or totally out. It depended more on how it looked on the wearer and the appropriateness for where it was being worn.  This year, however, the midi length for both skirts and dresses has been gaining a huge following.

Kind of like the name suggests a midi skirt is a length that falls in between a mini skirt (short) and a maxi skirt (long). Falling midway down your calf between your knee and ankle.

What body shape does the midi skirt look good on?

Happily, this style flatters every body shape, size, style and age making it universally flattering. Why? Because the midi skirt visually makes your waist appear slimmer and hugs the curves on your lower half in a good way.

For us ladies of a certain age, this style gets bonus points because it hides pasty white legs, varicose veins, and droopy knees too.

Even though it looks good on everyone, making an outfit that flatters with a midi skirt can be a challenge. Finding the right top or shoe to pair can be hard. It can look frumpy or little girly if you’re not careful. Here are some helpful rules to assist in making it work.

sam edelman ankle bootie

What shoes do you wear when it’s October, 55 degrees and sunny? Sandals? Boots?
Transitional Fall Shoes.

Over and over this question comes up… WHAT SHOES AM I SUPPOSED TO WEAR WHEN the calendar says Fall and IT’S 40, OR 50 OR 60 DEGREES OUTSIDE? Like today? Tomorrow? Last week? Next week? When it’s not sandal weather, but it’s not time to break out the winter boots yet either. TRANSITIONAL SHOES, that’s the answer.

I hear you, the struggle is real! (BTW, the same challenge will happen in March, April and May, so bookmark this page:-) So this week we’re talkin’ transitional footwear and how to fill the shoe gap between sandals and boots.

Right now, September thru November, is what’s affectionately called shoe purgatory, but it doesn’t have to be hell (ha-ha, get what I did there?!?)

How to Fill The Shoe Gap in Your Wardrobe

There are a few transitional shoe styles that fill the shoe gap and easily transition between sandals and boots.

They all have one key thing in common, they show skin, like ankle skin or top of foot skin, BUT NOT TOE. And that, there, is precisely what makes them feel “right” when it’s warm-ish but fall-ish too.

So, for those of you with a closet full of sandals and boots, but nothing in-between, this one is for you! Oh yea, and know, these styles come at all price points – so I’ve tried to give you at least a few options for each.

Jeffrey Campbell snakeskin booties and plaid pants

Snakeskin for the WIN

Snakeskin is one of those things that never really went out of style. Kind of like animal print, it’s classic and a neutral… But right now it’s extra “in”.  Like you’re probably seeing it everywhere and at all price points too. And adding a touch to an outfit can make your old stuff feel NEW – even if the snakeskin stuff is the old stuff, like a bag, belt or shoes, it’s time to break them out again!!

Don’t Worry, It’s Not Over the Top

Some folks, especially my more classic style gals, tend to shy away from snakeskin thinking it’s too over the top. But just like a good leopard print, a snake accessory or even a snake print can work as a neutral with interest to make your outfit pop. Imagine an all-black outfit, classic but could borderline boring. Adding a snakeskin shoe or boot gives it just enough pizazz to make it feel interesting without being too much. The devil is in the details people and this season the detail to add is snakeskin.

How to Wear Snakeskin Right NOW

Depending on your personal style, you can wear a lot or just a touch of this print, and make it your own. Think of it like buildable makeup. You can layer more on if you want a bolder look (dress, skirt or pants), or conversely, apply just a touch (shoes, bag or belt) for a more natural look.

All that being said, there are a few rules to keep in mind when wearing snakeskin…

puffed sleeve sweatshirt the great

Making the Case for Ruffle and Puffed Sleeve Tops

After my army green pants post a few months back, I received a lot of client requests about what to wear with said pants. My favorite pairing is a ruffle or puffed sleeve top. But I’ve found there’s a lot of hesitation surrounding this style.  In fact, it was the text conversation with a long-time client that prompted me to write this post… I’ve included excerpts at the bottom of this post.

Why am I’m a huge fan of tops with ruffles and/or puffed sleeves? Well, a few reasons…

1. The ruffles and puffs add a feminine flair that counterbalances the workwear (like manual work, not 9-5 work), vibe of the pants.
2. Sleeve and shoulder details were all over the runways and it’s an easy way to add interest to an outfit and make it feel current
3. A shoulder detail is much easier to wear than a bell sleeve detail. i.e. the puffed sleeve won’t get stuck in your soup when out for dinner.
4. Adding ruffles or a puffed sleeve visually balances your top and bottom when wearing a slouchy or wider bottom pant.

It’s NOT Too Cute

Some women, especially the over 40 crowd, have expressed concern that the ruffle/ puffed sleeve look is just too cutesie. And they feel they’ve aged out of the look. Let me start by saying I LOVE when a woman is aware of age-appropriate dressing. It’s refreshing and the self-awareness is applauded. We’ve all seen the mom with the rocking bod swapping clothes with her teenage daughter, and frankly, it’s kind of uncomfortable for everyone. Just because you can wear it, does not mean you should… But I digress.

On the flip side, I encounter many women that unnecessarily age themselves with their clothing because they don’t want to look like that mom in the crop top and ripped jeans. A ruffled top is one of those pieces that can skew young or sophisticated and feminine depending on how you style it.

Light wash jeans and lavender TiBi blouse

Light Wash Jeans are VERY “In”…

Consider this post another page from the chronicles of The Wardrobe Consultant private clients… Lately, light wash jeans have been showing up on the shopping list of many of our clients. It’s mostly newer clients because we started sprinkling lighter washes into the wardrobes of our on-going clientele back in 2018. However, when we first make the suggestion, the questions are often the same. Maybe you’ll relate…

But, is light wash in?
Does light wash match? I think it’s hard to wear.
But will light wash make my, you fill in the blank (butt, thighs, stomach, calves) look big?
Can I wear a light wash in the winter?

The answers are YES, YES, NO and YES! In that order.

Light wash denim is an easy update

It doesn’t matter what style jean you favor, straight, skinny, boyfriend, paper bag, wedgie – they all come in a light wash option. And adding that lighter color to your jean repertoire is a quick and easy wardrobe update. And who doesn’t like quick and easy, right??

Now, let’s take each question/hesitation and address them one by one…

Black homecoming dress with sleeves

The Homecoming Dress Dilemma

My daughter, Maggie, is taking over the blog this week. It’s all about homecoming dresses and she, just like most high school girls has a very strong opinion about what they want to wear for homecoming.
This year, happily, we found a homecoming dress we both could agree on. Not an easy task btw… As we were going through the process, or a better descriptor might be the negotiation, Maggie voiced a distinct opinion on the subject. I thought her take on it was an interesting insight from the POV of the teen, the person that actually needs to wear said homecoming dress…

So without further adieu…Here’s Maggie

The Teen’s Point of View

Last year my mom did a blog post on what to wear to homecoming from a mother’s perspective. And while YES, a parents’ perspective is super-duper important, I think the perspective of a teenage girl is too. As a high school girl in 2019, I can tell you…

Baublebar Baroque pearl earrings styled by The Wardrobe Consultant

Just Add Pearls

I’ve always loved pearls. The Audrey Hepburn kind. The Grace Kelly kind. The Jackie O kind. Honestly, I don’t even hate the Barbara Bush kind. They’re total classics and never have truly gone out of fashion. My personal style is somewhat classic and pearls, even the prim, and proper kind work for me.

Right now, however, they’re having a major fashion moment. So even if you’re not the type that typically likes wearing pearls you might want to take a second look, because there is a NEW WAY TO WEAR PEARLS, and it’s super cool! I’d dare say even edgy.

These Ain’t Your Grandma’s Pearls

What makes the pearls you’re seeing on social media and in magazines and at Fashion Week different than their predecessors is this…

Rag and Bone slip dress Nordstrom The Wardrobe Consultant

$5000 to Spend at Nordstrom?? YES!!!

This was a really fun post to write (and research). When asked by the folks at the Bag Lady Luncheon, to pretend I won the “FILL YOUR CLOSET” raffle, i.e. a $5,000 Nordstrom gift card. I’m pretty sure I barely paused before saying yes. Because it meant I got to go on a big ‘ol, shopping spree. A hypothetical one, but still… Hypothetical or not, I found great stuff!

How to get your hands on a REAL $5k Nordstrom gift card.

I’m partnering with The Bag Lady Lunch to promote both the luncheon (September 12, 2019) AND the “Fill Your Closet” Raffle, sponsored by California Closets.

They’ll be drawing TWO NAMES and each winner will receive a $5,000 Nordstrom gift card! You do not need to be present to win! Raffle tickets are on sale now, through the BidPal website.

1 ticket for $50 // 5 tickets for $100 // 15 tickets for $200 // 30 tickets for $300   

I’d recommend stocking up. The odds are good, the prize is fab (TWO $5000 Nordstrom gift cards) and the cause it supports,  College Now is solid.

What I’d Buy With that $5K.

On my pretend shopping spree I created mini capsules for the various life roles so many of us have. Work, Play, Evening’s Out and Off Duty Time.  Most everything here mixes and matches for even more outfit combinations. Depending on your particular life roles you might choose to buy less in the workwear arena and more in the jeans and athleisure department. But any way you slice it, these items can do double or triple duty and really take you thru your day.

And I followed my own advice…

Are Fanny Packs In Again?? YES!

From looking at my reader analytics I’d say more than half of you have already lived thru the whole fanny pack thing once, and like me, it was a few decades ago.

And maybe also like me, you had a LeSportSac fanny pack, that you really should have given away, but you kept it for those practical times… like hiking or traveling. You knew in your heart of hearts the moment of the fanny pack being a cool fashion statement was over. But the practical you had a hard time giving it up. Loud, audible sigh… and cue Weird Al Yankovic’s White and Nerdy

Rejoice, The Bum Bag/Fanny Pack/Belt Bag IS once again in fashion!

These past few seasons, fanny packs have become more than just mainstream, I’d even say they’ve become chic! The practical and the fashionable have intersected, and I for one could not be happier! Let’s call this a throwback accessory!

No matter your age, style aesthetic or price range there’s a fanny pack that can work for you. They can look very ladylike and they can feel very sporty spice as well. It’s all about the bag you pick and how you put it together.

How to Wear A Fanny Pack

So many cool ways to style this – here are a few of my favorites for inspiration…