I think we all learned a little something about ourselves a few weeks ago when the exclusive Lilly Pulitzer for Target rollout began — and ended — in a matter of minutes.  Women. Love. A. Bargain.  I didn’t make it to the Lilly party, but I’ve done enough outlet mall shopping in my time to know the drill.

 


I used to love to spend a day bargain shopping the sale racks, finding discount upon discount until I convinced myself the stores were practically giving the clothes away.  At the end of the day, it was not unusual to have spent over $500.00 on my “good deals.”  Unfortunately, in my frenzy, I ended up buying poorly constructed merchandise that was ill-fitting and didn’t match anything else in my closet.  I never even wore some of the pieces, and they all eventually ended up going to Goodwill.  That’s when I decided to stop the madness.  I decided to focus on buying quality pieces that I would feel great wearing, and that would last me for years to come, even if that meant spending more for individual items.

 

 

THE COST PER WEAR ANALYSIS

In my outlet days I would spend upwards of $500.00 and wear the things I bought maybe only one time.  So the “cost per wear” was $500.00.  With the possible exception of a fancy ball gown or a bridesmaid’s dress, that is too much to spend on something I will only wear once.  Are you with me?  Here’s where the fun starts!  I can reduce “cost per wear” by purchasing items I know I will wear a lot.

 

This season, I invested in the KIKI skirt and jacket from Etcetera’s Spring collection.  My total investment was $520.00.  But, I have worn both pieces so much that the “cost per wear” is rapidly diminishing.  I’ve worn the suit together with black patent wedges for a sophisticated urban look.

 

 

I have also worn the skirt several times paired with more casual tops such as the PASSPORT tri-striped jacquard jersey knit and the MIMI azure blue sleeveless knit.

 

I have paired the jacket with white jeans such as HARLEY, but it also looks great with CHECKMATE, the windowpane check pant.

 

 

I have even worn it over sleeveless and cap-sleeved dresses like the white pique fit and flare BRAZIL dress.  So you see, that KIKI suit is really paying for itself!

 

 

QUALITY VS. QUANTITY

When it comes to those pieces you wear over and over, such as casual tees and cardigan sweaters, it might be tempting to run into a discount store and buy a stack of tops for what you think is a good price.  Sure, we’ve all done that.  But what I have found is that those pieces do not “wear” well.  Frequently the tops do not hold their shape or their color, and the cardigans stretch out and bag at the elbows.  The better option is to invest in some quality pieces that will last through several seasons.  Tops like the hibiscus-colored LOLLIPOP and the ivory BEE are head and shoulders above any other tees on the market.  The stretch modal jersey knit will hold its shape well and the interwoven crepe de chine trim at the shoulders gives so much visual interest and appeal.

 

 

Cardigans like the black NIGHTSKY and the papaya-colored APRICOT will stay vibrant and fashionable for years to come.  The jeweled button front closures allow the cardigans to be used for both dressy and casual occasions.

 

 

 

LOOKS THAT NEVER GO OUT OF FASHION

One of the best and easiest ways to look fresh and polished even when you are out and about running errands, is to sport what is known as the “runaround” skirt.   I have been investing in these for years and still have the very first Etcetera runaround skirt I bought in 2004.  This season featured several of these options, including TRIBE in shades of Cocoa, Ivory, Sand, and Rhubarb, and POISED, in an array of eye-catching colors such as Kiwi, Watermelon and Valencia.  Simply pair these skirts with one of Etcetera’s Necessities tees and a pair of sandals and you are ‘good to go.’

 

 

In fact, back in 2004, when I first bought the skirt I am wearing in this picture, I probably paid around $165 for it.  I am sure that in the past eleven years I have worn this skirt at least 15 times per year.   That is a cost of only $1 per wear!  And I feel great every time I wear it!   So I won’t be returning to the outlet mall and there will be no waiting in line at Target for me.  I am much more interested in creating looks that last.

 

 

Margaret Cavin has been an Etcetera Sales Consultant for 8 exciting years.  She loves helping her customers create a closet full of clothes they love to wear; when she’s not reading InStyle or rearranging closets, she spends her time running and staying physically fit.  A native Floridian, Margaret also enjoys exploring National Parks and learning about different countries and cultures.

 

 

 

Polyvore graphics and layout: Barbara Bisel

 

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Style editors and designers have been telling us for quite a while that navy is the new black, but there are some of you black fanatics out there who have resisted believing it. I know, I know, you love your black because it’s flattering, goes with everything in your closet, and you know it won’t go out of style. Well, it’s time to put your ‘fad’ fears away, because navy is here to stay.

Navy is sophisticated, flattering, less harsh than black, and has been the predominant ‘basic’ color this spring and summer It has been showing up everywhere, including the Oscars’ red carpet…

 

 

… and posts by influential street-style bloggers.

 

 

Navy may seem like a natural to us for spring and summer, but get ready – navy is all over the Fall and Winter 2015 runways, even on eyelids at Chanel. Etcetera will remain on trend with plenty in the upcoming Fall Collection. Wait until you see the combinations with camel cashmere, not to mention (spoiler alert!) a fabulous navy leather skirt suit.

 

WHAT TO WEAR WITH NAVY?

 

Navy is a great worn head-to-toe; it exudes sophistication, reliability, and dependability – perfect for interviews, corporate meetings and work. But navy can also be the neutral backdrop for the season’s most vibrant colors – try this summer’s turquoise, watermelon, neon yellow or lime green. Shown here are the CLAMBAKE cardigan and sweater, BRIGHTON skirt, HILARY tee, and GULF skirt.

 

 

Of course, classic navy, white and red – especially when stripes are included – is a summer nautical tradition and just may become your favorite casual look. And simple navy and white, like the LACY jacket and GULF skirt, can be dressed up or down, office to evening.

 

 

 

ARE SHOES TRIPPING YOU UP? 

Are you afraid to invest in navy because you think you would have to buy new shoes, handbags, and accessories because everything you have goes with black? Have no fear! Black and navy are uber-chic together, and you can wear your black accessories with your navy outfits. But don’t stop there.

 

I happen to love a great neutral or metallic shoe with navy – year round – but you really could add any color shoe. Our NEPTUNE dress gets a makeover every time you change your shoes! Here are a few ideas.

 

Last, but not least, navy is a great investment. Because of its versatility, you can wear it lots of ways, thus upping your price-per-wear. Buy blue well, and it will last a long, long time.  Maybe start with a basic tee and a scarf, like CADET and AZULE with the white linen EXCURSION pants,  or a simple skirt and top.

 

 

You can’t go wrong.  Join me and join the navy!

 

Lynette Earley, Interim Area Manager

 

Lynette is one of Etcetera’s bloggers who will share her thoughts on trends, style, fashion and fun with her sunny, southern charm. When Lynette is not busy managing and recruiting as an ETCETERA ADM in central Florida, she is likely serving others in some way.  A self-proclaimed busy bee, Lynette is the consummate volunteer, teen-age boy mom, free-lance writer, pink freak and girly girl who loves traveling, reading, exercising, yoga, fashion, girlfriends and beach time!

 

 

 

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“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful;” this includes the items in your closet.  Author/stylist, George Brescia of Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life, addresses the serious business of closet cleaning, with the goal of loving everything in your closet.  In Part Two of this book review we’ll talk about purging your closet and purchasing to fill the wardrobe gaps, which will ultimately change your life.

 

 

In this season of life, a change that isn’t menopausal sounds adventurous, so I decided to attempt a closet purge.  I enlisted  my 21-year-old daughter to help get the job done — her eye-rolling quickly cued me in on what to purge.  Join me in this adventure by following Brescia’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective Closets beginning with sorting your clothes into three piles:  Yes = keep, No = donate or consign, Maybe = indecision.

 

 

ASSESS EVERY SINGLE PIECE in your closet by either trying it on or holding it up to your face:

 

1. It fits.  Brescia does not believe in ‘fat’ and ‘skinny’ clothes.  Love and dress the body you’re in.

 

 

 

2. It flatters.  It must do at least one great thing for your body and your face.  Is it the right color and does it show off your best asset?

 

 

3. It’s in good shape.  Brescia states, “A piece of clothing that is past its prime sends the same signal as a two-inch display of faded roots… a lack of self-care that tells people you don’t want to be looked at.” (page 189)  Harsh, but true — purge the worn, faded, stained items from your closet. White blouses and white pants especially fall victim to staining, and need to be replaced annually. Etcetera has several fabulous options, all unique versions of the essential white blouse.

 

4. It’s not dated.  Your clothes don’t have to be straight from the runway.  You can be conservative and look current at the same time by wearing a fashion-forward accessory, top, or shoe that freshens up your whole look. Our MELLOW yellow trench is about as classic as it gets, and can be tossed over many other neutrals. However, the silky fabric and high voltage color make it eye-catching and on-trend.

 

5. You’ve worn it recently.  If an item is in season, but hasn’t been on your back in a month or longer (or ever!), you need to ask yourself why.  Most likely it needs to join the “No” pile.

 

6. Wearing it makes you feel good.  Pay attention to your body language when you put on an item of clothing.  Do you shrink up, or instinctively slip into a power pose?  Have you received compliments when wearing that piece?

 

7. What does it say?  “Does your clothing communicate success, happiness, hopefulness, and confidence, or does it betray insecurity, bashfulness, confusion, and fear?” (page 15). Our CIRCLE white lace dress below is not your grandmother’s lace dress — it’s the essence of confident, modern style.

 

 

Before we continue, you must deal with indecision — the ‘Maybe’ pile.  Go through this pile again, piece by piece, and pay attention to how you feel when you have each item on.  If your attachment is due to nostalgia, picture yourself passing it in a store today.  Would it catch your eye or would you buy it now?  Your answer to those questions will define the correct ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ pile placement.

 

 

Now that your closet is properly purged, organize it by category and color so that all of the dresses, skirts, pants, blouses, and jackets are hung together in a rainbow of hues progressing from dark to light.  “An organized closet should act like a toolbox—everything in its place, ready to serve its specific function.”   (page 204)

 

 

With the hard work out of the way, let the shopping begin by enlisting your Etcetera Sales Consultant (SC).  Schedule an hour to see the latest collection and come prepared with your list of wants and needs.  Wear your best fitting undergarments and bring a pair or two of shoes to accurately assess what you try on.  Your SC is trained to ask questions regarding your needs, struggles, budget, and fears, and has the same goal as you: that you love and wear what you buy.  It does not benefit either the you or the SC to have unworn clothes with tags hanging your closet.  After all, when you wear your Etcetera clothes, you are her best form of marketing.

 

SHOPPING STEPS: Know What to Pull

 

1. Let Color Be Your Guide.  Scan the collection for items in your palette.  Pull anything that interests you or that your consultant recommends.  Remember, clothes always look better on the body than the hanger.

 

2. Think In Outfits.  Don’t just pull pants; pull a top or two to go with those pants and a jacket to complete the look, as with our REVOLUTION pant, paired below with our PROSECCO top, FLAIR white tunic blouse, and DARK black sweater.

 

 

3. Seek Out Luxurious Fabrics.  “You get what you pay for” is especially true when it comes to fabrics.  Soft silks, lush cashmeres, and expensive-feeling linens may have the price tags to go with them,  but are actually great values when you consider their cost per wear versus the ‘bargain’ items that you never wear. The sumptuous silk in our PERENNIAL skirt incorporates so many shades, it goes with almost any t-shirt or tank top; we love it with the CHERRY red criss-cross back sweater.

 

 

4. Remember Your Shapes.  Does it have a waist?  Does it show off your shoulders?  Prefer sleeves to sleeveless?  If a piece has fit features that are problematic for you, move on to the next item.

 

 

5. Look For Interest.  Every piece that you pull should have something going for it.  The beauty of Etcetera is every item truly has some quality that makes it stand out. SC’s love to point out the value-added details in the collection that make Etcetera unique. Below, our VERANDA blouse, with it’s twisted neckline, draws attention to the face.

 

 

6. While trying on your pulled items, pay attention to how you feel and how your posture is affected by what you have on.  You don’t want anything less than a 10 going into your newly purged closet.  A few last thoughts to consider before purchasing:

 

Are there two or three ways to wear the item, as with our POISED skirt (below)?

 

 

What is the opinion of your SC or friend?

 

Do you already have that item’s equivalent in your closet?

 

Does it fit, or can it be altered to fit properly?

 

With a change to your wardrobe and closet, and new signature pieces, you are on your way to a transformed lifestyle.  It is a lifelong process of continually refreshing your wardrobe over the years.  As only Brescia could say it, “Don’t feel guilty about the time or money or care you expend on your clothing.  You can’t go naked—it’s against the law.  You are legally bound to buy and wear clothes, and they might as well be great, just like you.” (page 278)

 

JoEllyn Slott has been with Etcetera since 2001 as a Sales Consultant, Trainer, and most recently as a Sales Associate in Memphis, TN. Her goal is to create compliments for her customers, and Etcetera makes that easy!  JoEllyn enjoys traveling with her husband, following fashion trends, running, volunteering, and mothering her son and daughter.

 

Photo Credits: CPBlog, Meetville.com, Color Me Beautiful, Ariana Bell, Strictly Bridal

 

Layout and polyvore graphics, Barbara Bisel 

 

 

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I recall, as a college student, yearning for the end of the year to have time for leisure reading.  With college summer breaks decades behind me, I still view summer as a time of self-indulgent reading time and have a stack of books and a multitude of downloads on my I-pad, waiting to be cracked open.  You, too, may be loading up on books for the beach.  One easy read I would recommend is, Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life by George Brescia*.

 

 

George Brescia is an image consultant based in New York.  He has worked with fashion leaders including Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, and Tommy Hilfiger, and the fashion directors of Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, and Lord & Taylor.  Brescia states in his introduction that this book is not about fashion, style, shopping or rules, it is a book about communication; discovery; saving time, money, and energy; and freedom.

 

 

Wow, in just 278 pages, my life is going to be changed?  I have to admit, I picked this book up not to change my life, but because of its bright, inviting jacket.  (George does know his colors, even when it comes to dressing a book.)  Join me as we discover part one of this two-part book review/summary blog to evaluate yourself, your wardrobe, and your needs.

 

I have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear!

 

I need to lose weight before I buy any new clothes.

 

I only buy black; I really need to add color to my wardrobe.

 

Do you identify with one or more of these remarks?  Let’s begin by honestly evaluating YOU!

 

 

WHAT DOES IT SAY?  This is the golden question to ask of every single outfit you put on your body.  “Does your clothing communicate success, happiness, hopefulness, and confidence, or does it betray insecurity, bashfulness, confusion, and fear?” (pg.15)  To begin your self-evaluation, consider the following:

 

What are your assets: what instantly stands out about you and makes you you — your eyes, your smile, your coloring, your curves?

 

What compliments do you regularly receive?

 

What are your liabilities, areas you’d prefer to downplay?

 

 

BAD HAIR DAY….HOW ABOUT BAD OUTFIT DAY?  In a hurry and no time to change?  The feeling of walking out the door, knowing you haven’t put your best foot forward, can affect your day.  According to Brescia, you should try to look great every day.  What does it take to have great style?

 

 

1. Make sure it has harmony.  When we see an outfit that is confusing, our eyes register visual noise.  When your outfit enhances your assets and de-emphasizes your liabilities, you and your face are most visible.  Magazines illustrate this with, “who wears it better” and fashion do’s and don’ts.

 

 

2. Make sure it fits.  All your clothing should fit as though it were tailor-made for you.  The more we see of your shape, the better you will look.  The easiest way to lose 5-10 pounds is wearing clothes that fit properly.  Etcetera clothing has strategically placed seams with ample allowance so clothing can easily be altered to fit the client.

 

 

3. Make sure it flatters.  No matter what your body shape may be, some universal principles apply:  define your waist, choose a monochromatic outfit for slimming, elongate with heels, and create balance.  Great style has very little to do with size, and everything to do with the choices you make.

 

 

 

 

4. Make sure the color suits you.  Brescia uses a simple system based on hair color and includes a palette for blondes, brunettes, redheads, and silver/white hair.  When a color is right for you, you will look healthier, more vital, more alive and rested.  Own a closet full of black?  It may be time to purge and consider navy as a more flattering dark neutral.  Start integrating color into your wardrobe by using a pop of color to accent your neutral column.  “Begin using color as your accent in tops, shoes, and accessories, and work your way up to pants, dresses, and colorful pieces of outerwear as you become comfortable.” (pg.155)

 

 

CRITERIA FOR THE CLOSET CHECKLIST

Every single item in your closet should be a perfect 10.  Wait, what?  What about those comfy clothes for the weekend?  A 10 can be casual, or it can be formal.  “It fits and flatters you perfectly, highlighting your best features and downplaying your problem areas.  It includes one or more of the colors that make you look well rested and healthy, drawing out your eyes and complimenting your hair.  It is always in tip-top condition, with fabric that still looks fresh and new.  A 10 is that item on which you get the most compliments.”  (pg.102)

 

 

22 MUST HAVES – paired down to 12

LBD or LND (little navy dress)

The pencil skirt

An immaculate pair of black dress pants

The ultimate pair of jeans

The silk blouse

Perfect tees in a range of silhouettes (see Etcetera’s Necessities)

The cashmere sweater, including several cardigans

A fitted blazer (see Etcetera’s Eve blazer)

A classic fitted trench

A great winter coat or spring topper

The giant black wrap

A variety of colorful scarves

 

These 12 pieces are endlessly useful, providing a solid baseline on which to build a wardrobe that expresses your unique sense of style.  Seek out the ETCETERA Advantage from your ETC Sales Consultant and look like a million for less than $100 simply by taking 7+ key pieces and coordinating them into 18+ outfits.  We have a multitude of options, sure to fit into the closet must-haves and perfect 10 category.

 

With your self-evaluation underway, next week we’ll take a look at how to execute through purging your closet and purchasing to change your life…because, after all, “you can’t go naked.”

 

*George Brescia, Gallery Books, New York, 2014, 278 pages

JoEllyn Slott has been with Etcetera since 2001 as a Sales Consultant, Trainer, and most recently as a Sales Associate in Memphis, TN. Her goal is to create compliments for her customers, and Etcetera makes that easy!  JoEllyn enjoys traveling with her husband, following fashion trends, running, volunteering, and mothering her son and daughter.

 

Photo credits: thinkstock.com, fairfieldcountylook.com

Layout and polyvore graphics: Barbara Bisel

 

 

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It’s an obsession!  I can’t walk by a counter displaying beautiful scarves without stopping to touch and drink in the luxurious feel of a beautiful scarf.  I don’t remember when this love affair started, perhaps my first trip to Paris when I noticed the always fashionable Parisian women sitting in cafés, engaged in conversation, and looking oh so uber-chic.

 

 

Why did they look so good?  What separated them from me?   Not wanting to stick out like the dreaded typical American tourist, I had done my homework on how to dress like the French woman.  Simple was key – simple black dress, simple cashmere sweater and black pants, nothing too flashy, nothing too colorful, and  never, ever, athletic shoes.   So, why did I feel I had somehow missed the mark?

 

And, then it hit me.  What separated my “almost-there” outfit from the cool, Parisian woman – a SCARF!

Men started wearing scarves in Ancient Rome, Chinese Emperor Cheng used scarves to identify the rank of warriors, and throughout history, many soldiers have worn identifying scarves. But, ladies, when we started wearing scarves, they became a real fashion accessory by the early 19th century (although, both for men and women).

 

There is a scarf for everyone and a scarf for every season and occasion.  I always travel with a very large scarf on an airplane. I really don’t want to wrap myself up in a blanket when I don’t know who used it first.  And, let’s face it, sometimes you don’t want to chat with the person in the next seat. So, hide under your beautiful scarf and pretend you are sleeping.  Etcetera’s SPRINGTIME scarf in luxurious modal is a generous 43” wide x 80” long – perfect for travel, not only on the plane but at your ultimate destination as well.

 

 

How does the addition of a simple scarf change an outfit?  Think of the scarf as the cherry on top of the perfect ice cream sundae. I love the clean, crisp, white WHISPER stretch cotton sleeveless shirt with the perfect summer-weight ISLANDER garment washed Capri-length jean.  Add the AZULE scarf in white, azure, and navy and you have a winning combination.

 

 

Scarves come in all shapes and sizes – light and breezy silk, cotton, and modal for spring and summer, and chunky knits and textures for fall and winter.  A good rule of thumb:  If your outfit is made up of solid colors, choose a printed scarf.  If you outfit is a print, go for a solid color scarf.

 

The most versatile scarves are either square or rectangle.  A rectangle scarf is easier to tie, but with a little practice, you’ll find the more versatile square will give you more options.

 

 

 

I absolutely love how these beautiful ETCETERA scarves have added just the right touch of pizzazz!

 

There are as many ways to tie a scarf as there are days in the year.  Some time ago, I provided a video that showed 25 ways in 4.5 minutes.  For the most part, however, you’ll have your top four-to-five go to ways.  Play, have fun, and choose which works best for you:

 

1. Use a rectangle or square – just fold the square into a rectangle before you start and, presto-chango, you’ll look marvelous.

 

 

So far, we’ve look at scarves in the traditional method of wearing them around the neck, but let’s think outside the box.

 

2. A scarf tied into a top is not only beautiful, it’s quite practical, especially when packing. Adorable over jeans, stunning under a jacket, what more could a girl want.  Below is one of Etcetera’s designers, Patrick Sleem, tying the WHIMSY scarf as a blouse —  amazing!

 

 

 

 

Tie two JENNA scarves into a wonderful summer top, or take two large scarves like AZULE or XENA and tie them into a dress!

 

 

 

3. Turn your scarf into a dress or sarong.  The bigger the scarf, the longer the dress or skirt.  Talk about a great way to accessorize at the beach – a cover-up by day, a dress by night.

 

 

4.  How about a vest or kimono?

 

5. Consider adding a pop of color to your handbag, wear it as a belt, tie it around your head or onto your hat, or even tie it into a hobo-style handbag.

 

 

This short video shows how to tie four scarves into 16 unique looks, working with cashmere, oblong, square, and pareo.

 

Lastly, the ultimate scarf video – 25 scarves in 4.5 minutes.

 

 

I hope when you’re running around town, you’ll take note at the women sporting a scarf and begin to think of the endless possibilities.  They can easily and affordably take your look from ordinary to sensational.

 

 Claudia Phillips is an Etcetera Area Development Manager in the Tar Heel State of North Carolina. A Chicago transplant, Claudia is a born fashionista. While playing Barbie with her young girlfriends, Claudia loved helping the other “Barbies” get dressed for the big interview, courtroom case, or night on the town with Ken. A certified master stylist, Claudia loves sharing her expertise by training sales consultants to help in her mission to make America beautiful – one woman at a time.

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