The Gift of Style

December 17th, 2014

“Fashion fades; Style is eternal”

- Yves St. Laurent


When it comes to style and fashion, the holiday season always brings out every girl’s very best — whether it is with sparkle and shine, leather and sequins, or glitz and glam. Even the gals who don’t have to suit up or look glamourous in their daily or business lives get to showcase their best style during this time of year.  For some, effortless style just happens. For others, it takes meticulous planning to get the perfect outfit just right.


No matter whether you are getting decked out for a party, or you are simply having lunch with a friend, your style can be easy — and work for you. That’s what I love about shopping ETCETERA. It makes having style effortless; there is always something chic, classic or that makes a statement hanging in my closet.


Seriously, it is wonderful to work with a client who gets it! She is no longer stressed out about shopping or what she is going to wear to a certain event. She either buys with purpose and a plan — or she buys because she really loves something. And you know what? It sets her free — it’s a Gift!  She no longer worries about spending time, energy and money on a wardrobe that is frivolous. (Although that can be fun every now and then, too.) I love when the transformation happens, and a client really gives herself the GIFT of STYLE! She can make a decision, and keep an open mind. She knows what she likes, but is eager to be challenged by something new.


You see, setting yourself up in style is practical — it’s not necessarily what your look is, but what your lifestyle is. When you have learned to dress the part AND do it effortlessly, you have arrived!  And doesn’t it feel good when the doors of opportunity open, and you are ready to sail right through?


ETCETERA gives you the opportunity to navigate through anything with confidence. Our clothing line offers a very up-to-date, chic way of staying on trend, while giving you choices. You can keep it simple, or dress unconventionally with a touch of flare!


If you haven’t had the experience, give yourself that gift, either for the Holidays or the New Year. Give yourself the opportunity to be styled, to learn your own style, and to set yourself up in style. One hour (or however long it takes) and you’re set: effortless, beautiful style.


Opportunity will be knocking, and I want you to be able to open that door and say, “YES!” to STYLE!



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!




December 9th, 2014

As much as we want time to just slow down, here we are firmly into December, and the season of holiday events has arrived. Whatever your style — feminine, elegant, classic, dramatic, creative, sporty, or alluring — turn up the luxe over the holidays with sumptuous fabrics, sparkle, and rich color. Whether you’re heading to a neighborhood brunch or off to the city for New Year’s Eve, celebrate each day this month in something festive! Now, for a few ideas…



Chances are, your book club pals are long-time friends; but you all enjoy exchanging new ideas, and thinking ‘outside the box,’ right? For this special night, why not play with mixing interesting textures with a bit more glitz than you normally would, such as our INDULGE cardigan, MEDALLION blouse, and ANISE black legging featuring faux leather piping.




My girlfriends and I love our occasional (or not so occasional!) treat of going out for cocktails and appetizers after yoga class. Yes, I know that is somewhat defeating the purpose of yoga — please don’t judge. We duck into the changing area, whip off our Lulu’s, and throw on something edgy and eye-catching. The CARMEN sweater with its strategically cut back slit, TAR black jean with lace trim, and PITCH jacket would be a great choice!





My daughters, Grace and Olivia, and I have a blast decorating gingerbread boys and girls every year. We get pretty carried away creating their outfits, of course!. Last year, we invited the next-door neighbor kids — and a new tradition has begun. Etcetera’s HOTHOUSE top would be the perfect thing to hide any frosting mishaps, shown here with our corduroy TEXAS pant and MASQUERADE vest.




Our friends have a fun tradition of gathering friends in our little downtown square and singing carols. It started when our kids were teens singing in the school choir, but now that the “kids” have gone off to college and careers, they especially look forward to coming back and singing with old friends. Bundling up in our ESCHER jacket, KISSES turtleneck, and DIVA gloves is in order!




Sugarplums fairies, waltzing flowers, snowflakes dancing — Olivia is my ballerina, and we have a longstanding tradition of seeing the San Francisco Nutcracker ballet. What better occasion to indulge your soft, romantic side than with our lacy PARIS dress and pearls? Be sure to add a warm red (IGNITE) jacket for the walk to dinner before or after the ballet.




No matter your position at work, no matter how bored you are with your everyday work “uniform,” resist the temptation to dabble in anything too alluring for the office party. Keep it refined and stately, and you’ll have the admiration of women and men alike. If you want to stand out in a sea of LBDs, an elegant “LWD” (Little White Dress) such as our winter white, mixed texture DECADENT dress will set you apart from the pack!




A warm, vivid shade of red is the clear choice for Christmas services, and the style should be communicate both the specialness of the holiday as well as the joy. Deep rose pink would also work well as in the hues of our ADORNED jacket and LOLITA silk skirt; or if you prefer a more understated approach, luxurious black highlighted with sparkly metallics.




One of my favorite parties is our annual Boxing Day open house, which includes a big dinner buffet and music by friends who bring guitars or play the piano. The busy-ness of Christmas prep is behind us, and we can fully enjoy the spirit of the season with friends and neighbors. This year, I’m thinking it would be fun to celebrate the day with something dramatic such as our HYBRID white cardigan/blouse and our BLACKROSE rose-patterned flocked velveteen jean.




As Oprah says, “Another chance to cheer, another chance to get it right!” What better way to start 2015 than in fresh cream and bronzy gold? Our silk chiffon BACCARAT blouse and SOLARIS jacquard pant are topped here with the GOLDRUSH jacket. Bring along your MARZIPAN cream wrap, to throw over your shoulders during dinner.


May you close your year in style, and enjoy a healthy, happy 2015!


Barbara Bisel, Sales Consultant

Barbara is an almost-native Californian living in the San Francisco East Bay. Prior to joining Etcetera she was active in apparel design and construction, marketing, and philanthropic work primarily in the Arts and education. After having been Area Development Manager and Social Media Manager for Etcetera, she joined forces with the ultimate authority on successfully mixing unexpected combinations, Etcetera sales consultant Linda Zappala. Together they delight in providing personal wardrobing service and helping their clients to attain “Compliments and Confidence.”



December 2nd, 2014


As the weather gets colder, stylish women everywhere are asking themselves the same questions.  Can I stay warm and cozy but still look effortlessly put together?  What do I do when it’s below freezing outside but my office feels like a sauna?  Is there a way to be fashionable and sensible at the same time?   With a little planning, you will survive the winter and look fantastic doing so.   The secret to this can be summed up in one word: layering!





Let’s cover a few basics first.  One key to staying warm is to keep your extremities warm.  So keep your head, hands, and feet warm to increase your body temperature; we don’t want any of that warmth to escape.  Starting from the ground up, if you are wearing boots, be sure to wear warm wool socks.  Wool has really come a long way from its thick and scratchy origins.  There are many thin, soft versions on the market which will keep your tootsies warm and still fit comfortably under your boots.   (Cashmere and wool socks below: Garnet Hill)



As far as your head is concerned, on many days you will need to cover it to keep warm.  There are many cute stocking caps on the market at all price levels.  The most important thing is to be sure the cap can be pulled down to cover your ears.   Try a variety of styles with this guideline in mind.


Next, it is absolutely imperative to have a warm pair of gloves.  I love the elegant look of elbow length leather gloves and – bonus — they will keep your arms warm, too!  It’s particularly smart to pair elbow length gloves with a shorter sleeve sweater.  You’ll be warm while exposed to the elements, and once you get inside you can simply remove your coat and gloves, and comfortably go about your day.  Try pairing Etcetera’s VICUNA hand knit cropped cardigan with the EXCLUSIVE espresso brown suede gloves and the VELVETEEN skirt.



Another fun combination is the STYLISH dress with the black elbow length SHRUG and the black leather DIVA gloves.





Vests are stylish and practical layering pieces.  With no sleeves to worry about, they can easily fit under a coat without bunching.   I have also found that they can camouflage a midsection nicely, if that is an area of concern!   Etcetera’s cozy chic Red Label collection included two “must have” vests: MASQUERADE in black, and INVESTED in ivory.  MASQUERADE makes a particularly useful topper since it can be zipped all the way up to create a turtleneck for warmth and unzipped to create a collar — shown here over jeans with our KISSES turtleneck and booties by Freda Salvador. Mistletoe, anyone?


INVESTED can be worn as a sporty quilted vest over a casual pair of jeans or it can be part of a sophisticated “column” with the RAPTURE pants and the BASIC jersey turtleneck.


And who can resist the statement a fur vest makes?!   Try putting the BEATNIK rabbit fur vest with the charcoal ZINC pants and the Prussian blue TRULY top to take your outfit to a whole new level.   A fur vest also makes a great dress topper.  Combine Beatnik with the SKIPPER or TRANSITION dresses as a way of really warming up your look.





Scarves are the ultimate way to stay warm and stylish.  Many times a scarf can be used instead of a coat for warmth and is so much easier to stash away in your purse or briefcase rather than having to find a cloakroom or hook.   Combine the paprika colored FLING scarf with the paisley printed ARABESQUE dress to stay warm going to and from your destination, and then simply fold the scarf up and store it away once you are inside.



A scarf can also become an integral part of an outfit.  The FRILLS triangle scarf with its handknitted fringe looks great with the velveteen camel colored ELK pants and a crisp white blouse such as GARDENIA.  I’d add turquoise jewelry for a fun western vibe!



The internet abounds with videos showing how to tie scarves.  I like to keep it simple with a double loop for a long rectangular scarf like the dip-dyed ombre GOSSAMER (below).  For a square scarf such as SIGNATURE (shown above with the winter white ensemble), I fold the scarf on the diagonal several times to create a “rectangularish” shape and then double loop it.  The important thing is to keep your neck warm.  If you decide to take your scarf off once you are inside, simply tie it around your purse strap for a fun accent.


I hope these tips will help you plan to stay warm, cozy AND fashionable this winter season!


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.






It could be said that one of the best tourist attractions is people-watching in the airport.  If you find this to be true, have you ever noticed how a flight attendant’s roller-bag is practically concave — or conversely, witnessed a fellow traveler sweat out the weight of her checked bag?  Ever wonder how some travelers ease through the airport like a trained marathon runner while others look like a loaded down, exhausted Santa?  Isn’t flying supposed to be a convenience and the skies supposed to be friendly?  Maybe tweaking the way you travel could ease the pain… a bit.


There is much to be learned from the professional traveler to avoid the luggage struggle.  I consulted with two veteran flight attendants (total of 70 years of flying!) and several frequent flyers to discover their travel habits.





Your goal is to pack in one bag, preferably a carry-on. (The Victorinox below was one of Fodor’s 10 Best Carry-on Bags 2014.)



Know your itinerary and what type of clothes you will need.  Don’t be a procrastinator and start packing at midnight for your 7am flight.  Layout your clothes ahead of time.  Start by choosing one color group or neutrals.  Black was the color of choice from my focus group.  Two pair of black pants to mix with three tops and a sweater will give you versatility and the ability to layer if the temperatures dip.  Our “road-map” (coordinates with multiple of colors) top, PEBBLED, made of wrinkle-free polyspandex or BELLEFLEUR vest are fun ways to add color to your travel wardrobe without compromising space.  Avoid big bulky clothing, and be sure everything mixes or matches to ensure more outfits with fewer pieces.


Don’t kill the messenger… now “edit down” your choices to half of the items you think you need.  Packing light doesn’t have to mean going without; just be sure every piece has multiple uses like our OBLIVION trench coat that can double as your LBD.


Accessories are your friend.  Scarves were the #1 must-have travel item.  They hit all the criteria; compact, provide a new look to your column of color, and add warmth.  Our GOSSAMER scarf is the perfect choice if you’re packing neutrals or the SIGNATURE scarf for black and denim.  Necklaces are another easy accessory to enhance your look.  Have two sets of jewelry, one silver and one gold, to slip in your carry-on tote.  After a day of sight-seeing, you may be ready for a little dress-up.

My professional travelers unanimously stated they travel with workout gear.  The lightweight tennies are popular for their, uh, weight and the added bonus for travelers, “squishability”!  Dry fit clothing is a practical choice that could easily be rinsed out for another wear; just choose your treadmill wisely.



Shoes – what woman can travel with two pairs?  They are a space hog, so limiting to two will keep you in the “carry-on club”.  A pair of black heels or boots are a good choice and the must-have tennies account for the second. Don’t forget to use the inside of the shoes to store socks and under garments. (We found the monogrammed shoe bags below on Etsy — a thoughtful holiday gift idea for women or men who travel a lot.)

How much can one fit in a one-quart ziploc bag?  Use hotel toiletries for bathing and moisturizing, and bring your hair and make-up products.  Leave the hair-dryer at home.  It’s another space hog that is not worth its weight. (Pouch below is from FallnDesign, another fun gift/stocking stuffer idea.)



After the gathering, comes the packing.  Begin by rolling your clothes.  Line the bottom of your bag with the heaviest pieces.  Place your shoes in large ziploc bags, and fill-in the gaps with your scarves and exercise wear, topped with your finer articles, folded in dry cleaner bags.



Travel day attire – most planes are cold, so travel wearing layers.  Try the comfortable, pull-on TRAVELER pant with the light-weight FLARE jacket, or, the URBAN leggings with the warm and cozy PITCH jacket; top either outfit with the winter-white MARZIPAN scarf for contrast.  Choose between flats or boots, making sure they are comfortable for walking…. or running, as the case may be.


The “Monty Hall” tote bag is an essential travel piece.  Smaller planes require you to gate check your roller-bag, so pack your must-have in-flight travel items in your tote.  I-Pad or e-reader (as one flight attendant stated, “very popular with travelers…but also frequently left behind” — been there, done that!) make-up, your quart ziploc bag of liquids, gloves (our black elbow-length leather DIVA or brown suede EXLUSIVE provide dual roles of warmth and “wow”)  hat, snacks, sunglasses, jewelry and compact cross-body bag to use in lieu of the tote once you arrive.

According to the US Department of Travel, the holiday seasons are the busiest long-distance travel times of the year.  Over-booked flights combined with potential winter weather delays can cause havoc on travel plans.  Efficient packing with a roller-bag and tote will ease the pain and provide you with your necessities if you have an unexpected overnight lay/stay-over.  Speaking of packing, being the procrastinator I am, it’s almost midnight and yes, I have a 7am flight.  Time to pack…


JoEllyn Slott, Etcetera Sales Consultant

JoEllyn and business partner, Carolyn Crawford, have owned their own Etcetera agency in Germantown, TN, since 2001. They say their goal is to create compliments for their customers, and Etcetera makes that easy!  JoEllyn is a trainer for new sales consultants, and says she is honored to be a guest blogger, having not been published since her high school newspaper.




Let’s talk turkey. (Err, sorry, no pun intended.  I forget that Thanksgiving is right around the corner.)  When you invest in quality merchandise, you expect it to last, and you should.  With a proactive approach, you can help make that happen.  Without proper care, though, you’ll jettison items from your closest way before their time.


So, what’s a girl to do?  Taking care of your clothing doesn’t mean hours and hours of meticulous maintenance and cleaning.  It does, however, mean you need to put a little effort into it.



Rotate, rotate, rotate.  Don’t wear anything two days in a row.  Yes, that means your bras, shoes, and handbags, too!  Even if you don’t think you have sweaty feet, your shoes need a chance to breathe. Try this: after wearing a garment, hang it at the end of the rod.  Wear something from the front next time, and so on and so forth.  This way, not only will you give your items a change to rest, you’ll really wear everything you own!



  • Do you remember Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest?  Well, Joan was right.  Discard any wire hangers you get from the cleaners.  Wire hangers will stretch the shoulders of your garment.  Invest in quality hangers – you will be so glad you did.  (Personally, I love eco-friendly bamboo.)




  • Fold your knits.  Knit fabrics will stretch when hung just from the sheer weight of the garment.


  • Empty your handbags before storing.  With the holidays approaching, you may want to take the opportunity to go through all your handbags.  There’s probably enough loose change in the bottom of your bags to buy yourself a little something special.


  • Clean your garments before you store them.  This is a must, especially for out-of-season clothes.  To keep the dust bunnies away, purchase inexpensive canvas bags to store out-of-season clothes.



  • Discard dry cleaning plastic bags.  Those bags are only intended to protect your clothes until you get them home. Leaving your clothes in the bags might trap humidity or make it hard to lose any residual odor from the chemicals.  Storing clothes in plastic bags can allow stains to oxidize and make the clothes harder to clean.



  • Never iron stained or soiled clothes trying to eek out one more wear.  Ironing dirty clothes sets stains and drives dirt deeper into the fabric.


  • Don’t cram your closet –  you want air to circulate around your garments. What’s the point of ironing a garment before you put it away, if it gets wrinkled crammed into too tight a space?  And, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t iron things before putting them away.  You want a working closet that lets you dress in a flash.





  • Wash with Care.  If you are going to put things in the washing machine, use the delicate cycle.  If you are not out digging ditches, the delicate cycle will be more than enough to clean your clothes.  Always use cold water, the minimum amount of detergent (less is more), and turn things inside out to protect the fabric from abrasion in the washing machine and to minimize fading.  We all know we should wash similar colors together, but wash compatible fabrics as well.  Wash your jeans separately so rough denim doesn’t rub more delicate items.


  • Lingerie should always be hand washed.   Fill a sink with lukewarm water and a mild detergent.  I love Nordstrom’s Delicate Fabric Wash and Stain Remover.  It comes in purple (lavender) or pink (exclusive scent).  You do NOT need a lot of detergent – one capful will do the job.  Add your bras and panties and let them soak 10-15 minutes.  While submerged, press on each one to release any trapped oils and dirt.  I rinse by removing the lingerie and refilling the sink with clean water, re-submerge the lingerie and swish it around.  I repeat this a second time.  To dry, squeeze (don’t wring) out as much water as you can.  Reshape your lingerie and lay it out on a clean, dry white towel or on a drying rack.


If you just can’t go the hand-washing route and insist on tossing your bras in the washing machine, make sure you fasten the bra clasps.  This will help prevent underwires from turning and hooks from ripping holes in your lace.


  • Never, Never, Never use the Dryer.  Think of the dryer as an invention of the Devil!  While dryers are great for cotton towels and sheets, heat is the worst enemy to your clothes. Instead, lay your garments on a clean, white towel and let Mother Nature do the work.


OOPS, I DID IT AGAIN (the dreaded spill)

Many factors contribute to stains -– the nature of the stain, the type of fabric, and the colorfastness.  Some stains, like ink and paint, can be impossible.  The problem with “miracle” stain removers is just, well, it’s pretty much a miracle if they get the job done.  When a spill happens, don’t wait.  Tackle the stain as soon as you can.  Never rub clothing, just blot the stained area.  Rubbing can permanently damage the fabric.  And, if you can’t get it out, take it to the drycleaner and tell them what you have already tried.  They may be able to help, but time is of the essence.  Don’t wait.



Even if you haven’t spilled anything on your clothes, there are culprits lurking in the dark!  Have you ever hung up a garment thinking it was clean and stain free, only to pull it out of the closet and see a dreaded stain, weakened fabric, or loss of color?  Perspiration, deodorant, antiperspirant, fruit juice, alcohol, perfume, toothpaste, soap, and hair products can cause stains, loss of color, and weaken the fabric.  You can help prevent some of this by dressing after you’ve put on your makeup, brushed your teeth, and coiffed your ‘do.


TO CLEAN OR NOT TO CLEAN (that is, Dry Clean)

That IS the question, isn’t it?  Are you familiar with these symbols?  They are quite helpful when it comes to understanding cleaning methods.



Be aware, manufacturers are required to list just one method of cleaning on their garments.  If the tag says DRY CLEAN ONLY, I would take the garment to the cleaners. However, if the tag says DRY CLEAN, that means it is the recommended method, not the only method.


Manufacturers attach dry cleaning labels to protect themselves and to protect you from you!  You can’t blame them, really.  They have no idea how you will clean the garment at home.  If you ruin it by throwing it in hot water with bleach and then blasting it in the dryer, it’s certainly not their fault.  By applying Dry Clean labels, manufacturers are recommending you take the garment to someone who knows what they are doing and giving themselves a little insurance policy.  Fair enough.



Laundering at home can save you a lot of money in dry cleaning bills, but not if you ruin your clothes.


These are the guidelines I use:


  • Is it colorfast?  Test to see if the garment is colorfast by dabbing a wet cotton swab on the garment in an inconspicuous area (inside seam, for example).  If the dye comes off, head to the drycleaners.
  • Does it have a lining?  Best not to risk it.  Anything with a lining goes to the drycleaners.
  • Don’t try this at home.  I have tried most of these fabrics and ended up with disastrous results.  Acetate, fur, suede, taffeta, intricate stitching, beadwork, sequins, leather, suede, feathers, detailed appliques – all go to the drycleaners.
  • Practice makes perfect.  Before trying your favorite silk blouse or wool sweater, practice on old, ready-for-the-trash garments.  I’ve had both good and poor result.
  • Probably a safe bet.  Acrylic, cotton, cashmere, linen, nylon, and polyester.  I have great luck with washing ETCETERA’s ponte leggings and jersey knits.  However, remember the Dry Clean label.  Enter at your own risk.



Leather, suede, and fur garments are investment pieces and should be treated as such.  They require special expertise for proper care, as cleaning leather, suede, and fur is quite different from a fabric garment.  Before turning your precious investment pieces to your local drycleaner, ask questions.  You ask for referrals for a haircut, well, a bad haircut will grow out.  A ruined leather, suede, or fur pieces is an entirely different matter.





For storing, leather and suede are subject to mildew.  Make sure your leather and suede pieces are thoroughly dry before putting them away for the season.  Always store in breathable garment bags.


Arrow Fabricare in Kansas City, Missouri, is the leather and suede guru in the country.  If you do not have a qualified leather/suede specialist in your area, you can ship your items to Arrow.  They are fantastic.


Also, for general information on maintenance of leather and suede, here’s a YouTube video by Bruce Gershon, owner and third generation of Arrow.  You’ll find other tips from Bruce on YouTube.


I love my ETCETERA pieces, and I want to wear them for a long, long time.  A little extra step here and there to make sure I’m doing all I can to keep them in tiptop shape is worth it!


 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.