Looking good is linked to eating well, having a healthy weight, being active and feeling good.
”I have nothing to wear.” Do you say that every morning when you look into your closet? And yet your closet is full of clothes.
Whatever the problem is, it’s a common one. Your over-stuffed wardrobe contains clothes that are too small, too large, don’t match, are out-of-date or need repairs. So naturally, you have nothing to wear. What can you do? You try to put together different shirts and suits, jeans and tops, trying on, taking off, getting unhappier each time, until you find a match that’s okay. Not fabulous, just okay. But that’s not good enough!
You want to feel marvelous when you get dressed in the morning, or any time of the day. You want to look amazing every day. You want to dress to look successful because that is what you are. Your outfit must match your new self-confidence, that incredible self-confidence you now exude.
So for an overall new and updated look, decide where you need improvement. Start by using the following checklist to determine your priorities:
• update wardrobe
• wear stylish clothes
• choose interesting accessories
• find a hairstyle that’s easy to control
• display an up-to-date, exciting image
As a child, I didn’t consider myself attractive and never paid much attention to my appearance. When I was 16 years old, a friend of my mother’s offered me a course at a charm school. Years later, I would transfer those etiquette, poise and walking classes to my own image-consulting business, with my daughter’s assistance.
Being well groomed is of the utmost importance when promoting a business and being available to the media. I’m going to pass on to you the tips that I have learned through many years of public speaking. Some of the ideas are mine, and some are from professionals who help me and many other men and women look their best. I like to think that I’m growing older gracefully - a tip I learned that from my mother, a gracious lady, even in her eighties.
If you have someone whose appearance you rate highly - either they dress well or accessorize well - consider adapting that person’s style ideas. From there, you can develop your own style. In the meantime, consider the following tips.
WARDROBE TIPS (FOR MEN AND WOMEN)
Look at your wardrobe and ask yourself these questions: Does your wardrobe suit your lifestyle? What clothes do you have that make you feel wonderful? Do all your clothes fit you? What "look" do you want to portray? Then begin to sort your wardrobe as follows:
Initial Sorting - Open your closet and scan your clothes. Are you excited to wear them or do you feel that you have nothing to wear? Take out all your clothes and put them on the bed. Start sorting and weeding out any you haven’t worn in years.
Ugly Clothes - Put all your clothes that make you feel ugly in a large plastic bag and give them away to a charity or shelter.
Repairs - Put aside the clothes that need repairing. Maybe a button is missing, a seam open or a hem loose - you were going to get to it sometime but whenever you want to wear these clothes, you remember they need repairing. So you leave them and decide to repair them some time in the future. Now is that time. Put them next to your sewing kit. Every time you’re bored, take out these clothes and start mending them. Or take them to a tailor. You’ll soon have some of your favorite clothes to wear again.
Tight Fits - Decide which clothes are too tight. Put these clothes in the back of the closet, out of sight. Every ten pounds you lose (one size smaller), try them on. Give away the garments that have gone out of fashion.
Too Big for You? - You’ve lost weight but you’re still wearing large-size clothes. Alter them if they’re worth it, give them away if not.
A Tad Tatty? - Do some of your clothes look tatty? You can’t afford to look sloppy on the job or at a function. Don’t even let your underwear be tatty. It affects your self-esteem severely. Keep some of these clothes to cut into rags for cleaning your car and get rid of the rest.
Rearranging - Once sorted, rearrange in your closet by either color or type. Women - Divide your wardrobe into skirts, pants, jeans, blouses, jackets and dresses. Men - Divide your wardrobe into suits, shirts, pants, jeans, jackets and ties. Don’t hang sweaters - always fold neatly and place on shelves.
Hangers - Return wire hangers to the dry cleaners. Hangers should all face the same way for easy reach and a neater look. Hang pants from the bottom hem; don’t fold over hanger.
Colors - Look at the colors in your wardrobe. Hang the matching colors together and experiment with mixing. Sometimes you’ll try a new combination and everyone will remark on how good you look, other times you’ll be less successful. But at least you’re trying and are confident enough to handle and learn from a poor choice.
New Items - Do keep current by occasionally consulting fashion magazines. It may be that a new belt or pair of shoes will be the only item you need to transform your look.
Old Shoes - Nothing looks worse than scuffed, dirty shoes with the heels worn down. It is to your advantage to have fewer shoes, but polished and stylish ones.
New Shoes - Treat yourself to a new pair of shoes. Make sure they’re practical and will suit a few of your outfits. Remember, fit them properly. One word of advice: always buy shoes after you have been on your feet for at least an hour, because your feet swell during the day. Also, feet expand with age. I know, I have been stubbornly denying this and suffered for it. I now wear larger, more comfortable shoes - a half size bigger than two years ago.
Handbags - Handbags are another accessory that can make you look shabby or sophisticated. Choose a quality handbag that goes with everything and gradually build up a few good ones. This is preferable to a large variety of cheap- looking bags.
Budget - Stick to your budget. Remember that quantity is not important, quality is. Shopping at sales is a great way to pick up quality items at reduced prices, just don’t load up on cheap junk. Learn to spoil yourself with one good item and don't feel guilty. It’s better to be seen in one good outfit three times, than in three different cheap ones. Please note that I don't want you to be a “fashion victim.” High-fashion items last only one season. Rather, choose something classic that will last a few years.
Use an Expert - You’ve bought clothes in the last year that you don’t wear because you don’t have time to shop and don’t like shopping. If you’ve wasted $200 on clothes you won’t wear then spend that money on an expert instead. Experts are well worth the investment. Wardrobe consultants come to your home, sort out your clothes, and take you shopping to update your look. You give them a budget, and they find clothes that you can afford that suit your lifestyle. Their rates are approximately $100 per hour. Add up the clothes you don’t like wearing - I’m sure it’s more than $200 worth. The best way to find a wardrobe consultant is through word-of-mouth. Or ask a friend who you think dresses well to help you.
Wardrobe Ideas, Especially for Women
On many occasions, Julia Perry, international fashion stylist based in Toronto and Italy, has helped me choose the right outfit and accessories. This saves me precious time and energy. According to Julia, “High-quality leather goods are the best way to add mileage to existing clothing pieces and add polish to your image. Nothing spells a well-dressed women like a good leather handbag, quality shoes and great belts.” Have you ever wanted to know which is the most important item of clothing in your wardrobe? If you have a limited wardrobe budget, Julia suggests your first purchase must be “a great blazer or jacket. This will add richness and elegance to your existing pieces and give you a presence that a shirt and skirt cannot give.”
Wardrobe Ideas, Especially for Men
Women love to see a well-dressed man, whether in a suit or tuxedo or casual in casual wear. My male clients notice that with weight loss the first thing to change is their belt size. After they’ve lost five pounds, I ask them “How does your belt feel?” And they proudly show me that it’s gone down one notch. The next super achievement is their suit jacket button can close. Again they proudly demonstrate this fact to me. Twenty to 30 pounds lower and they start looking like they’ve borrowed their dad’s suit. Some men have a “thinner” wardrobe they can wear again but many have thrown out their small suits thinking that keeping them in their closets was hopeless optimism.
“Downsizing” in business is a dirty word; in your wardrobe, “downsizing” is a very good word. Depending on the weight you want to lose, I suggest the following:
• 10 pounds down: you should be fitting into your former tight pants, your shirt collars are less constricting and your jacket can be fastened.
• Invest in a new belt and new shoes.
• 20 pounds down: try your “thinner” suits, pants and shirts. If they’re still in good condition, start wearing them again. Have your best suits altered to fit you.
• 30 pounds down: with this weight loss you’ll have to invest in one new outfit. If this is not your goal weight, then don’t buy expensive clothing, just something inexpensive to tide you over for two to three months. With a new, proper fitting outfit, you’ll feel more comfortable and look better.
• Downsizing: you are a smaller size, so give away your “big” clothes, which you’ll never need again.
• If you reach your goal, buy a new wardrobe. You can afford it with the savings you’ve made in grocery bills!
THE NEW CASUAL LOOK AT WORK - FOR MEN
Dave Lackie, a fashion writer for men, says the following about corporate casual dressing: “When large companies recently abolished their corporate dress codes, more than a few men were left in ‘fashion limbo,’ unsure if corporate casual meant a yellow tie or a pair of sweats. What used to mean ‘navy suit, white shirt, and red tie,’ was now a haze of T-shirts and khaki’s.
“The bottom line for corporate casual dressing is to remember that regardless of where you work, clients and peers expect you to dress in a particular way. Just as you wouldn’t put a lot of faith in a lawyer who showed up in court wearing a pair of jean cut-off’s and a T-shirt, clients still expect you to dress in an appropriate manner. Never wear sweats, ratty jeans or any other items that you’d wear if you were sprawled out on the couch watching “Roseanne”. Corporate casual means a sports coat over a knit top. In some offices, a crisp button-down oxford and a pair of khaki’s is perfectly acceptable. To be quite safe, wear a more casual tie such as knit style with a pair of dress pants and a relaxed shirt. The look says relaxed, not couch potato.”
SKINCARE FOR MEN
Dave Lackie offers the following advice on skincare for men: “No longer content to line department-store showcases with rows of lotions and potions of all sizes and shapes, cosmetic companies are muscling their way into locker rooms and gyms across the nation in an attempt to carve out a bigger share of the $3.5 billion Canadians spend annually on cosmetics and fragrances. Advertisers who regularly feature nearly naked men with perfect physiques are having a huge impact on how men perceive their bodies and their looks. The status quo is a muscular physique with flawless, youthful skin that oozes sex appeal, and cosmetic companies are jumping at the opportunity to sell products that promise eternal youth.
The latest craze in men’s skincare is alpha hydroxy acids or, as they are more commonly called “AHA’s.” A couple of years ago, scientists discovered that acids found in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, effectively dissolved dead skin cells revealing a younger, smoother complexion. Cosmetic companies racked up millions in profits from formulations for women and are repacking the products for men. There are products now that combine AHA’s, SPF’s (sunscreens), and moisturizers.”
The key to a skincare regime for men that works is KEEP IT SIMPLE. Forget the space-age eye creams and seaweed cleansing masks advertised on late-night TV, and find a simple system that works for you. Start with a good face soap that suits you: for normal skin or oily complexions. Wash your face thoroughly making sure you use lots of water to completely rinse away the oil and soapy residue. Then, reach for a toner. This is a liquid that you apply to a cotton ball and gently rub on your face. It removes the dead skin and remaining oil on your face leaving a smoother, cleaner complexion. Once you’ve used your toner, apply a light moisturizer. Men’s skin tends to be oilier than that of women, so go easy on the moisturizer. This last step protects the skin from the drying effects of sun and wind and often contains soothing properties such as aloe. That’s it. Three simple steps in three minutes. You’ll not only look younger, you’ll feel better!”
SKIN UNCARE - SETTING YOURSELF UP FOR SKIN CANCER
It always upsets me when my clients return from their holidays tanned. They think they look more attractive tanned; I only see how much harm they’ve inflicted on themselves. Baking in the sun damages skin, ensuring premature wrinkles. And skin cancer is linked to exposure to sunlight, particularly among people with light hair, fair skin and the tendency to burn easily. Always take the following precautions:
• avoid outdoor activities during peak times of sun exposure;
• seek shade during peak times of sun exposure;
• wear appropriate clothing - hats and long-sleeved shirts and pants whenever possible;
• use sunscreens;
• never use tanning beds; and
• never, never, lie in the sun in order to catch a tan.
MAKEUP FOR WOMEN
Many women have a tendency to overdo their makeup. Try to do as I do and keep it light and as natural as possible. On weekends, I wear eyebrow liner (essential for me as my brows are blonde), mascara and a light-colored lipstick. It gives me a clean, fresh look. At work, I use foundation, blusher, eye shadow as well as lipstick. The makeup is always applied lightly to give a natural, unmade-up look.
Remember that too much makeup worn at the office can look tacky because of the unflattering lighting conditions that most offices have. In the evening, you can get away with heavier makeup, but be cautious. Elicit an honest opinion from someone you trust when you try a new makeup technique.
Let me share some ideas with you:
Cleansing - Start with a clean and moisturized face.
Concealer - A concealer for under the eyes and around the nostrils, lessens the dark shadows on your face.
Color - Make sure the foundation you use looks as close to your skin color as possible. Test the color on your jaw line, not on your hand.
Sponge On - Use a small makeup sponge to apply foundation and blend it well. Sponges can be bought in packets and are inexpensive.
Blend - Blend the foundation over the jaw line towards the neck in a circular fashion. You’ll look terrible if you can see the line where your foundation ends and your skin begins.
Powder Brush - Apply enough powder with a good quality powder brush to take the shine off your skin. The brush will ensure that you don’t apply too much and get a “powdery” look. You face should now look like a blank canvas before the artist starts to work.
Reapply - Reapply powder throughout the day to keep looking fresh and not greasy.
Weekends - On weekends, if my face is shiny, I apply powder without foundation for a more natural look, sometimes using baby powder. It takes away the shine but doesn’t give me a made-up look.
Blending - Make sure you use it sparingly. Don’t make a dark line in the hollow of the cheek going out to the hairline. It looks too obvious.
Shade - Pick a natural-looking shade - nothing too pink, red or otherwise dark.
Where? - Smile while you apply it. Dust only the part of your cheek that the sun would touch if you were outside.
Fashion - The fashion for eyebrows changes each season, from bushy to sleek to wide to narrow. Don’t fall victim to trendy styles. Instead, keep your eyebrows trim but natural. If you must reshape, have a salon professional do this for you.
Brush - A good eyebrow brush for application is important. A pencil can be too harsh and not shade properly. Only fill in the gaps of your own natural eyebrows.
Plucking - If you have bushy eyebrows or they meet in the center, have them professionally plucked, and then do them yourself subsequently. Instead, keep your brows neat but don’t over pluck. If you plucked yours in the sixties for that thin look, like I did, and they never grew back, eyebrows will have to be filled in lightly.
Color - If you use an eyebrow pencil, use one that looks natural.
Color - Avoid blue or green eye shadow and try a gentle brown or gray that suits you. Again, a professional can help you choose the shade that brings out the color of your eyes.
Shading - Use a brush to shade the color on your eyes. Depending on the shape of your eyes, use the shading to enhance your good features and hide others. I have small eyes so I shade in the crease and on the outer edge of the eye. This “opens up my eyes,” making them appear larger.
Purchase - Experiment with different kinds. Buy a new one every three months. And don't let your mascara get to the stage where it’s clumpy.
Application - Apply three thin coats and remove clumps with an eyelash comb.
Eyelash Curler - This is quite a luxury. If you have the time, hold your eyelashes in a curler for twenty seconds each, the effect is longer eyelashes, which also make your eyes appear bigger.
Dry Lips- Don’t ever let your lips get dry or chapped. Always have a lip sealer handy if you don’t wear lipstick. Put it on under your lipstick as well as at night after cleaning your face if you tend to bite your lips when they get dry.
Prevent Smearing - Before applying lipstick, powder your lips well so that your lipstick doesn’t smear.
Lip Liner - Outline your lips with a lip-liner pencil. It makes such a difference and gives your makeup a more finished look.
Change Your Lip Size - Although large lips are beautiful, if you feel yours are too large, outline your lips on the inside of the lip. As my lips are quite small, I outline my lips a little larger than they actually are.
Lip Brush - Fill in the center using a lip brush with a slightly lighter but matching lipstick. Lip brushes give your lips a richer look. Try it and you’ll be amazed at the difference.
The two C’s - the Cut and the Color of your hair - have to be perfect.
• Your cut is the most important part of your hairstyle.
• Make sure you go to a respectable hairdresser who knows what cut will suit you best.
• Buy a hair styling magazine and find your "new look.”
• Copy women who are sophisticated. Look at television newsreaders and high-fashion models. Take their pictures to your hairdresser and request a similar cut.
• Find a friend/colleague/associate whose hairstyle you have always admired. Ask who does his or her hair.
Steve Roy, a well-known fashion magazine cover hairstylist (and the hair and makeup artist for my cover picture) finds it frustrating when women “expect miracles from their hair. If your hair is naturally frizzy, even a good haircut will not take away the frizziness. You need to use products to calm your hair down. In Quebec, where I grew up, women were willing to spend time on their hair. You need to spend time giving your hair more attention if you want a finished look.”
“Nowadays grandmothers are more sophisticated and the look is so much better. Women over forty used to think that their hair needed to be short and curly to look good. Now you should choose the hair length that suits you. We associate short, curly hair with age. If younger girls want to look older, they should use that look. On the other end, dead-straight hair hanging down long at any age looks like hell.... I like softness with cuts and color.”
• If you are going to color your hair, have an expert help you. It’s expensive but worth it.
• Realize that it’s an ongoing expense and has to be done every three to six weeks.
• Streaks or highlights are another hair coloring option and only need to be touched up every two to three months.
• If you only need to cover up gray, experiment with color rinses.
Jeff Craig, hair colorist at the Oz Hair Salon in Toronto thinks that the worst heads of hair are on clients who “try to color their hair themselves. They use the wrong color and the cheap products on the market damage the hair. I try to repair it but it could take months to fix. Another problem I have to correct is henna treatment. People think it’s natural so assume it’s safe for the hair. At first it feels and looks good, but what it does is put a coating on the hair. The hair becomes dry and cannot be penetrated by colorants. When you start coloring henna treated hair, the color can turn out to be vibrant orange or green. I prefer not to color or perm over henna treated hair. It’s best to let it grow out. If you want to cover gray, henna won’t do it. The best way to hide gray hairs is to have it professionally done. It’s hit and miss if you try it yourself. Sometimes you can be lucky, but most often it’s a mess.”
• Be careful, perms can damage your hair. Healthy hair that shines and bounces is much more attractive and sophisticated.
Men and women should look after their nails better. A well-groomed man with dirty fingernails or nails that are uneven or chewed undermines his or her total image.
• Well-cared for nails are a sign of good grooming.
• If your nails are in a bad condition, treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure.
• Long fingernails or uneven lengths do not look good.
• Keep your hands well moisturized.
• Invest in good cuticle scissors to catch your hangnails. If you try to bite off a piece of loose skin, you could end up with an ugly bleeding spot or a sore finger.
• For women, use either a clear or natural polish, or don’t use one at all. If you like color, you’ll have to use a color that suits your outfit for that day, and don't let it chip.
• Don’t neglect your toenails and feet. Keep your toenails cut short and straight, and moisturize your feet after every bath. You never know when you’ll be caught barefoot!
One of my clients, who loved her work, was a casualty of budget cutting and was being laid off. I told her that there was not much she could do about it at the time, but not to let it get her down. She was to look good every day at work, and to keep her spirits up. She spent the last two weeks at work putting in a little extra time to dress well and apply makeup carefully. She also kept up her activity and her good eating habits. She said it really helped her handle this stressful situation better.
By taking care of our appearance, our self-esteem increases, which in turn encourages us to eat well, giving us the energy to pursue an active lifestyle.