Tag Archive | smart dressing tips

Combining Spots and Stripes

Combining spots and stripesYes. You Can Combine Spots & Stripes

Can you wear spots and stripes together? Yes you can.

Here is the way that you, a modern Baby Boomer woman, can wear them stylishly so that you look ‘Wow’.

Basic Rule 1 – Black & white is easier to do than any other colour combination

Basic Rule 2 – Spotted skirt, solid colour in the middle, striped top

Basic Rule 3 – The middle solid colour is always the same colour as the background colour of the spotted skirt

Basic Rule 4 – Small to medium spots and stripes are more slimming and look better than larger ones

Combining spots and stripes - from Trend Report catalogueEASY WAY – The model on the right from the Westfield Trend Report catalogue is wearing a spotted skirt teamed with a white blazer and a striped top. A white blazer has been chosen because her skirt has more a white background. Her striped top has an equal amount of black & white. The secret is in only seeing a small amount of the stripes so that the combinations are in unequal proportions. With no matching colour in-between, spots & stripes together can look ‘clownish’.  You can wear matching black an white accessories. A spot of colour in your accessories eg her yellow ballet flats modernises the look and keeps it from being too old-school classic.

Striped Black CardiIf your spotted skirt has more black than white in it and you have darkish hair, wear black as the middle colour. I once had this black cardigan which has a small amount of black & white stripes at the round neckline. This had the same effect over a dominant black skirt with small white spots as the white blazer and striped top on the right.

Basque design Spot skirt & striped top from MyersHARDER WAY – The model on the left and in the title graphic is wearing Myer’s signature brand (Basque) clothes. Her skirt is a diamond pattern (same effect as spots) and the diamonds get smaller near her waist. The skirt has a medium-width black waistband which matches the dominant black background of the skirt colour and the greater concentration of black at her waist. A medium-width black belt would do the same job. Her striped top graduates from wider to smaller equal colour stripes at the neckline. The pleated neckline breaks up the stripes into an interesting pattern. Note the block colour black & white handbag. This is a harder look to pull off. Buy that total outfit or keep the picture as your guide.

Now, should you choose, you can combine spots and stripes with confidence.

 (Don’t miss out on upcoming articles for Baby Boomer Women. Click here to sign up for ‘The Baby Boomer Personal Stylist’ eZine and get your weekly fashion advice every Thursday from Margaret, the Baby Boomer Personal Stylist.)


How to Wear Accessory Sets the Modern Way

Today I am writing about how to make your accessories give you a modern and ‘with it’ edge.

The old rule of wearing matching accessory sets has gone. It will date you as old and old-fashioned. Wearing each piece separately with other similarly-coloured pieces will modernise your look and expand your accessory options.

But you can break the matching accessory rule.

Here’s how – wear your matching 2-piece set or any two pieces of matching accessories with a third smaller piece that highlights one of the colours.

Imagine your three accessories as a ‘mother, daughter & son’. One piece is the stand-out or larger focus and this represents the mother. This can be a necklace, belt, bright-coloured or patterned shoes, scarf, large earrings or a beautiful brooch. The two other pieces you add are the children. Think of the daughter as matching the colour, design and pattern of the mother but smaller. Think of the son as different and small but still related to the family.

Fuchsia, Black and white necklace & earrings & fuchsia ringFuchsia handbag and ring and olive & purple necklaceHere’s my family set. – On the left, my necklace & earrings are matching (mother & daughter) and my fuchsia ring (the son) is in the same pink family but a deeper colour. A coloured or patterned handbag only counts if you wear it the whole time and you want it to be a ‘mother’ focus. So, on the right, I have paired my fuchsia handbag with a fuchsia ring (daughter) and an olive & purple necklace (son).

Animal print belt and bracelet + black bracelet & gold earrings - from 'Weight Watchers magazine. Aug 2013The photo (from Weight Watchers magazine, Aug 2013) has a lady in a navy dress with an animal print belt (mother), hard-to-see in this photo narrow animal print bracelet (daughter) and a black bracelet & almost hidden gold earrings (sons). Two sons are acceptable if they follow the family colour theme.

PS – Black shoes and handbags are neutral and don’t get included in the formula. A coloured or patterned handbag only counts if you wear it the whole time and you want it to be a ‘mother’ focus.

NEW MODERN RULE – For accessories, think ‘mother, daughter & son’ ie large, small, small with two matching and one co-ordinated. It will always work and you will look stylish and modern.

 (Don’t miss out on upcoming articles for Baby Boomer Women. Click here to sign up for ‘The Baby Boomer Personal Stylist’ eZine and get your weekly fashion advice every Thursday from Margaret, the Baby Boomer Personal Stylist.)

How to Confidently Wear Black and Royal Blue Together

Some colours are the in colour of the season and then out of fashion for many more seasons at the whim of the fashion world. royal blue is one of those colours. Depending on when you are reading this article, it could be in or out.

Combined with black, royal blue makes a smart combination that you can wear for many years and it will always look great whether or not it is the colour of the season. Do not confuse it with navy. Royal blue is a brighter colour and at its deepest, is the blue colour used on many flags. Navy is made up of royal blue and black: so it is a much darker colour. Some shades of navy can be very close to black in colour.

Read on for some smart dressing tips for business and professional women over 40 so that you learn a few insider secrets to making this colour combination work for you.

Why it Works
Black and royal blue work as a combination when you can clearly see the difference between the two colours from a distance. Royal Blue is a classic colour: so combines well with classic black. The combination is unusual enough to always look smart in whatever situation you wear it. The challenge is to make it modern rather than staid and old-fashioned.

Royal Blue over Black
I think this is the best and smartest way to wear this colour combination. Wear the royal blue on the top half of your body and keep it in a modern style that is open at your neckline. The simplest way is to wear a royal blue jacket over a black dress or black top with black skirt or pants. Make sure you leave space at your neckline to add jewellery or a scarf.

A more unusual way to wear these colours is to wear a royal blue modern-style top over black pants or black skirt. Accessories again will be the key to looking modern and stylish when you combine two solid colours.


An easier and safer option is to wear a print top that combines the two colours and maybe, adds a touch of white or grey. When wearing a print top, add a royal blue modern style jacket with or without a collar. Wear the jacket unbuttoned to show the top underneath.

Royal Blue and black are cool colours and best suit those with that colouring. For you, add silver or black accessories. If you have a warm colouring or if you want to be more approachable, add gold or rose gold accessories or a scarf or necklace with warm colours and a touch of royal blue. This will soften the cool colours and blend more with your neck and facial skin.


Black over Royal Blue
This combination requires more care to make it look smart rather than dull or dowdy. I suggest sticking to a black jacket rather than a black top. Wear the jacket in a soft style which can be worn open and well away from that magic area below your neck. Experiment with a royal blue skirt or pants, a black, open drapey jacket and underneath it, a print top with those two colours plus some warmer colours.





Another idea from Burda patterns is to wear a royal blue skirt, black cardigan and a chambray blue shirt and a blue-grey scarf.

You can find examples of all these ways of combining black and royal blue in the pattern books or on their websites.






Black and Navy
Keep this combination only to black accessories worn with a navy dress. Add some white, grey or pale blue in the necklace or scarf. Make sure you can see the difference between the two colours from a distance or you will just look mismatched.

Last Words
Now you have learnt some creative ideas for combining these two colour, go and play. Translate royal blue and black into your individual style and create combinations that make you feel modern and more alive.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’ on 11 August  2011. Click here to sign up for The Fashion Translator eZine.)

Does My Tummy Look Big in This?

‘Are you pregnant?’No, that’s just my expanding tummy.’

Oh dear! Where did that trim figure of your younger days go? Probably hidden under layers of the good life – chocolate, good food, alcohol, working too hard, stress, age and anything else you can come up with.

Yes, exercise, strength training and less food will all decrease your tummy or size. In the meantime, here are some smart modern dressing tips for business women over 40 to minimise or flatten your tummy and look slimmer.

Go Diagonal or Uneven

While vertical lines are slimming, diagonal lines are your smartest dressing tip. Diagonals – either in the pattern or the design shape – go across your body at an angle so your tummy appears less noticeable. Skinny or medium-sized diagonal patterned fabrics are best. Softly merging diagonal colours give the effect without being obvious. Crossover tops, jackets and dresses are a very modern way to add slimming diagonal lines.

Ruching across the tummy, gathers at the side seams, lots of vertical pintucks or angled or uneven hems at the bottom of tops or jackets all break up the horizontal line across your tummy. All of these features give the impression that your tummy looks smaller than it is.

Wear Flat-front Pants and Skirts

This style of pants or skirt means that the eyes have nothing to stop and focus on. Flat-front pants with no pockets encourage people to look down the line of your body rather than across it. Add a centre back zip rather than a front or side zip and you have another smart dressing tip to disguise your tummy.

Look for a flat front skirt with a bit of stretch in it for comfort and no centre or front seams or pockets. Other people do not notice your tummy as much when you wear styles like this. If you like pleats, have them start from the hips not the waist.

Both these styles are more effective in darker colours or subtle pin stripes.

Leave Only a Small Space in Your Middle for People to Look At

Your tummy cannot look big if people cannot see all of it. Wear a cardigan with the buttons undone below your waist. This creates a small A shape that draws attention upward away from your tummy. Undo the top button or two if you like, to draw attention even further upward.

Wear a soft top or jacket that has no buttons or if it has buttons, undo them so only a small vertical section of your dress, blouse or cami shows down the middle of your body. Viola! Tummy shrunk. Add a belt under a cardigan or jacket and people will see only the belt or the whole outfit not your tummy. Belts are a sign of confidence and women usually assume that a woman wearing a belt has a small waist and a flat tummy, even if they cannot see the entire belt.

If all else fails, wear shapewear especially shapewear that go higher than your waist and cover your midriff. A slim midriff makes your bust look larger and your tummy look smaller.

Remember that most business women over 40 are too busy thinking about their own body faults to actually notice the size of your tummy. These hints are only to help you feel good about yourself.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’ on 24 March 2011. Click here to sign up for The Fashion Translator eZine.)

A Smart Male’s Perspective on the LBD

Smart male's perspective on the LBDAt a networking event this morning, a male gave me a compliment on my appearance. He not only said I looked lovely but added a short explanation as to why, what I was wearing was very effective. I replied with a simple ‘thank you’. A minute or two later, I realised that I had been given a wonderful insight that I would now like to share with you.

I was wearing the LBD – the little black dress.

LBD – from a Woman’s Perspective Every woman knows that the little black dress is our fall-back option for any business networking event, conducting business and for formal and semi-formal occasions. The theory is that ‘you can’t go wrong wearing a black dress’. We are taught from an early age that black will suit every women (more on that later). Black is often our safe choice when we can’t find anything to buy in a colour that we like and that suits us. As a result, we wear the little black dress and think nothing more of it.

LBD – from Paul’s Perspective Paul is very smart. He has learnt from his daughters a secret benefit of wearing the little black dress. Paul is in marketing. This may have helped him remember what his daughters told him. Either way, it’s now your secret.

The LBDPaul complemented me on wearing a simple, modern classic style black dress and commented that because nothing stood out on it, his attention was immediately drawn up to my face where I had added colour. I was wearing a simple dramatic necklace in colours that complimented my hair colours and thus, drew attention to my face (as in this Mc Calls pattern 5890 on the right).

Smart Dressing Tips to Make the LBD work for You

Here are four modern dressing tips for business women over 40 to make you shine in your little black dress.

The first tip is to choose black or a colour close to an all-black colour. A solid black dress is not the most flattering colour for every woman. It can be harsh and draining on many women, especially as you age and your skin colour lightens. There are alternatives. Grape which is a black/purple, rich dark chocolate brown, red/black, dark deep grey, french navy which is a black/navy, dark green or a dark teal green are colours that may be more flattering for you. These colours are not always easy to find but when you do notice one, try it on.

The second tip is to choose a simple, modern classic style that suits your body shape and personality and that leaves some skin space below your neckline. You want your face to shine rather than be drained by a very dark colour.

The third tip is to choose your little black or dark dress in a matt fabric and with minimum distractions. Pleats, frills, lace, buttons etc take attention away from your face.

Lastly, add an accessory (necklace, scarf, brooch, flower or earrings) large enough to draw attention to your face. A fine gold or silver chain won’t do the job. Black or any of the dark colours above are a perfect neutral background to add a light or bright colour to give a medium or high contrast effect that draws people and compliments to you. Wear something in one or a combination of your best eye, hair or skin colours and you will shine and stand out from all those other women in their boring LBDs.

Final Words

Paul was smart enough to not only say ‘you look lovely’ but also to add an explanation. Those types of compliments are the best ones to either give or receive. They are a personal acknowledgment of the other person’s strengths and pride in themselves. Listen carefully to those compliments because it is more enjoyable to develop your strengths than be deflated by criticism.

Thank you Paul and Paul’s daughters. Wisdom does not always come at an older age.

We can all shine. You must want to do it and then seek those who can teach it to you.

(Article sent to subscribers of The Fashion Translator eZine’ on 5 April 2012. Click here to sign up for The Fashion Translator eZine.)

Feminine Without the Fussy Bits

After 40, most business and professional women want to cast off the girlish tendencies of their youth and show a stronger personality. Unless you have a very strong feminine element to your personality, you no longer want to wear the dainty floral patterns, frills galore or neckline or waistline bows. Most of us have passed the stage of experimenting with all of this.

In our desire to be seen as a strong and wise professional woman, it is easy to wear only classic styles and forget to be feminine. How do you tap into your femininity without being too fussy or too girlish?

Here are three smart dressing tips for you.

Feminine and Strong

Look for a business dress or suit in a strong or abstract floral pattern with a maximum of three to five colours. A strong pattern may be reflected in colour blocking that combines a floral pattern with a plain dark colour. An abstract may be a floral pattern where the flowers are large and have muted or blended edges. Choose this strong or abstract floral dress or suit in a simple modern classic style that fits or skims your body. This combination of pattern and style like this Vogue 1241 shows your womanly confidence and inner strength. Keep your accessories to a minimum and classically simple.

Another way to look feminine and strong is to wear a dramatic accessory in a strong feminine colour like medium pink.

Feminine and Classic

Here we balance your feminine floral pattern with a solid colour on one half of your body. This is a classic way of combining two separate pieces of clothing. The easiest way to do this and not be fussy is to wear a black or dark-neutral coloured skirt or pants with a top or jacket in a floral pattern that includes some of the dark in it.

A more interesting feminine and classic look is to add the solid colour to the top half of your body like fashion designer, Loena Edmiston. When dressing for a business or professional situation, look for a strong not dainty floral-patterned skirt that is in a modern, semi-fitted style. Wear your choice of skirt with a plain solid coloured top, a knit or a jacket.

A modern dressing tip for business women over 40 is to team an all-floral dress with a trench coat. Button it up or leave it open depending on how much femininity you want to express. A trench coat is a more modern look than the usual solid-coloured jacket worn over a floral dress. (See Autumn Trends 2012 – Trend 7.)

Again keep your accessories simple and classic.

A Little Femininity

This is for those who want to show their softer side without compromising their strength. Here we limit your feminine dressing to an accessory only.

Look for an accessory in a simple, stylised flower shape eg a gold or silver necklace incorporating a flower outline, a leather cream or camel-coloured flower brooch or a scarf with some muted flowers dotted throughout the pattern. If flowers are definitely not your style, you might consider using colour as your way of being feminine but not fussy. You might consider adding your choice of accessory in a soft pink or a salmon pink colour. If you want feminine but not near your face, look for a feminine style, colour, pattern or feature on the shoes you wear.

Do Not Go Here:  Avoid all floral, centre-buttoned, boxy, revere-collar blouses. Do not even consider even wearing them as an open jacket. This style will make you look old and feel dowdy.

The secret to all of feminine without the fussy bits is in keeping your feminine touches to a floral design or a feminine-coloured accessory and ignoring the fussy bows, frills, white lace etc.

If you are not sure if ‘feminine’ is one of your three major dressing personalities, book in for a Fashion Personality Session.
If it isn’t a big 3, I will still show you how to be subtly feminine.

(Article sent to subscribers of ‘The Fashion Translator’ on 28 July 2011. Click here to sign up for the eZine .)