A light hearted episode of Style DIRECTION for men, including tips, tricks and inside stories.
Working from home today? So what are you going to wear?
Style Doesn't Have Seasons, But A Parka Looks Silly In Summer
Our Style Icons, or People We Think Crush Their Style
Orange You Glad You Asked About Wearing Black
Things That Make Us Go Hmmm
A Kennedy & A Kardasian Walked into a Kloset
No More Wire Hangers and Other Hangups
Today’s episode is brought to you by the letters A, B, C and the color Orange.
What is it we say? Your hair is your best accessory, have some fun with it!
Well I have really had some fun with my hair over the last sixteen month, in fact most of my adult life I have been changing things up. How did this all start I hear you ask, well!
Once Upon A Time there was a young girl with long perfectly straight golden hair, the girl never gave much thought to her hair other than which side to part her fringe on (that’s bangs to my American friends), until the late 80’s rolled around and the rats tail hair style gained mainstream popularity for a brief period. She was so excited, She wanted to be the cool kid with the trendy hair, so when hair cut time presented itself, she made the request to her parents as did her younger sister! Soooo little sis got the rats tail and blondie was told NO, say what!! She had to keep her long very straight boring hair. Obviously she was not thrilled, but what could she do, She wasn’t ready to rebel at that point.
She got over it, and along came the BIG permed hair look, now this one her parents were on board with, she sat in the bathroom while her Mum haphazardly put rollers in her hair and covered it with the noxious chemicals. She loved it, all that body and hair spray, couple that with a few bottles on sun in over the course of the next year or two, and she was a happy if not crunchy haired young lady. Yes that young lady was me.
I eventually rebelled where it came to my hair, I started small, high lights at first, then I went all in, and cut my long hair short, Then, I foolishly started to play with hair color at home. Let me tell you this did not go so well. Picture, purple hair (I think it was called Victorian Plum), then dyed back to blond, but ended up orange. I learned a few things over the years.
I get bored easily with my hair, I love the idea of shaking things up and not conforming to the norm, I want to be creative, but I do not want to stick out like a sore thumb. I want to be edgy, its my style, its my personality, but I also want to be age appropriate and maintain my air of sophistication. So I don’t mess with my own hair any more, I find a hairstylists that gets me, understands my quirks, my hair type and what I want to achieve, but someone who isn’t afraid so say no to me when I want to skirt with disaster (thank you Nathan).
My hair has been, warm brown, Black, Navy, Pink, Blue, Platinum and wait for it grey (yes my husband finds that one amusing, he has been heard to say, everyone else pays to cover the grey you paid to have it out in!!). I have loved every color and cut, and I will keep doing it my way, that’s just who I am.
I’m not for a second saying you should all run out and dye your, or cut it all off, it’s not for the faint hearted. But, If you have always wanted to try something different, do it. If you feel your current hair style doesn’t represents your style, take baby steps to change that, always been curious about trying a different color? explore the possibility. But do it with a great and trusted hairstylist at your back.
One recurring question we get is about how to pack for a trip. The clients I’ve worked with know my mantra: I’ll go anywhere with anybody. Seriously, I travel as often as I can. My travel habit is a close second behind my shoe habit. But the way I’ve learned to do this as stress free as possible is simple: I pack light.
If I’m running for a train, I don’t want a big bumpy suitcase slowing me down. And when I get on said train, I want to keep my bag on the roof rack above my head where I can keep an eye on it, not in the luggage compartment next to the door where anyone could escort it right off the train if my head is turned. And yes, I know that some airlines have a 20-minute bag guarantee. The problem in, they don’t always fly everywhere I go, and other airlines don’t have that guarantee. So, carrying-on is always my first choice.
Who wants to give up even a half hour of beach time waiting for the luggage carousel to go around for the 657th time?
I’ve also found that when traveling, people don’t notice you as much as you think they do. I go to Europe every fall for 10 days. I bring 2 pairs of pants and three sweaters. That’s it. And one year, I even only wore one of those pairs of pants. The point is, I’m a tourist. I’m not going to be at the height of fashion when I’m walking 10 miles a day. Sometimes the shoes that are the cutest are definitely not the ones that are most practical. Finding purposeful, stylish comfortable shoes trumps all for me. And, I want to have some room in that suitcase for the treasures I find when I’m there. However, even in a carry-on, there are a few things I always have with me:
Sink packets of Tide. Because I’m not above washing out my unmentionables in the sink. But I am above lugging around a bigger suitcase than I need just to carry extra socks. You can find them in the travel section of most pharmacies, and they come three to a packet. They also don’t take up much space so it’s easy to throw a few in your suitcase.
A great pashmina wrap. On the plane, it has doubled as both a blanket and a pillow. If I’m cold when I get where I’m going, I use it as a warm scarf. And I went all out and got a cash mere version. It has held up well and I feel more dressed up even with more casual outfits because of the luxe fabrication.
TSA Ready Toiletries. I actually carry two kits for my toiletries. One for "dry" things, and one for the liquid stuff that’s TSA approved. That way, it’s easier to grab the liquids pouch and throw it in a security bin, especially because foreign airports don’t have TSA pre-check. I also always restock my liquids when I get home from a trip, rather than before I go. That way, it’s easier to remember what I’ve used up, and then it’s just one less thing I have to think about before I get ready for a trip. The container I have for my "dry" things- toothbrush, hairbrush, Q-tips- has a hook on it so in smaller bathrooms I can hang it up and it will take up less space.
There are always exceptions. If, for instance, you’re going to a wedding that has scheduled events and you need an outfit change for each one of them, you’re going to need a bigger bag. But for a family vacation to warmer climates, really, who even changes out of their bathing suit all day? Lightening up your load can help you lighten up your stress.
Often in our presentations we show this slide, weirdly, it’s my favorite which is why I’m always called upon to speak to its’ relevance. It resonates with me deeply. With it, I revisit every self-imposed style “rule” since childhood:
Redheads can’t wear yellow, orange or red.
In Elementary school I wore a red shirt and was called “Fire Face” (my hair was REALLY bright orange-red as a child). I didn’t wear any shade of a sunrise /sunset for the next 35 years.
Your big toe is too big.
I wore closed toe shoes until I was 40 because my big toe is REALLY big and was a source of amusement for friends all through school. I now wear sandals, but not peep-toed shoes and I always feel compelled to mention my big toe.
Too much makeup makes you look cheap.
I experimented with makeup as a pre-teen and was told I looked cheap by my older brothers. I probably did at 10, but that stuck with me and rather than learn how to properly apply it, I still feel overwhelmed with more than a slick of lipstick and brows filled in, fearing it’s too much.
Accessories must be “right” or appropriate.
My parents (per my mother’s directive), gave me mabe pearl earrings to wear on my wedding day. I wore them instead of the diamond and sapphire earrings my soon-to-be husband gave me as a wedding gift because they matched better. The mabe pearl earrings sit in my jewelry box unworn. The earrings from my husband are now part of my redesigned wedding ring as I rarely wear earrings to this day.
Men don’t like it when their partners are taller than them.
For years I wore flats instead of any kind of heel in deference to my height challenged husband. I had never asked him if he cares, I just assumed. It turns out he doesn’t care. I wear heels now; not too high, but that’ because they hurt after a while.
If your chest is larger, be demure, not overt.
I have always worn layers of clothing, from sweaters to jackets and dusters in order to minimize and draw attention away from my large bust. I still do this.
Upper arms must be toned if you’re going to show them off.
I once wore a bridesmaid dress as a toned and fit, probably size 4 or 6, 18-year-old. It was mock neck, slate grey/blue, taffeta and sleeveless; the bride had us pair it with over-the-elbow white gloves. It was August in upstate New York. I still won’t show my upper arms.
Clothes and accessories shouldn’t be “costume-y”.
Almost twenty years ago, I bought very on-trend, tall, black suede boots. I wore them for a Girl’s Night Out one weekend, later that night when Pete came to bed, he commented, “Hey is Gene Simmons and Kiss in town?” They were donated the next day.
The list goes on and on. Sometimes when I’m shopping or in my closet, it scrolls through it my head like a ticker in Times Square, spitting out censure instead of stock market updates. Working with Bruce, Bec and Pamela, I’ve learned tricks to erase the inner critic and elevate the reality that is in front of me when I look in a mirror. Working with clients and hearing their insecurities play out in their closets, on their shop or in their negative self-talk when we send them pictures, reminds me how damaging our baggage can be – internally and externally. I look at these women and envy their upper arms, smaller chests and ability with a makeup brush. Likely they look at me and think, “Wow, she’s confident in her style!” This constant tug-of-war further underscores my mission to create a new dialog for myself and for our clients. What makes Michael Bruce Image Consulting different is we don’t pretend to know it all; we don’t always remember to practice what we preach, but we do try every day to live authentically with style and grace.
As professional Stylists/Image Consultants it’s our goal to help clients find the answer to this question. I have realized that it’s a question that most people haven’t given much thought. When we ask clients, we often get answers that relate to personal wardrobe choices, as in “I like to wear denim” or “I’m the most comfortable in sweaters.” One of my favorite answers is, “I only wear flats.” These are good answers to other questions, but they have nothing to do with determining your personal style. Your personal style has more to do with who you are and who you want to rest of the world to see, and maybe even what you want people to know about you. So I’ll ask you again, What does your personal style say about you? Do you want them to see you as Confident? Sophisticated? Successful? Comfortable? Casual? Lackadaisical?
I posed this question to my niece on a recent trip back home. She’s a College Professor at two prestigious universities in the Philadelphia area. At first, she began telling me about the clothing that she preferred to wear until she thought about my question more. Maybe it was the look on my face that caused her to rethink her answer. She came up with “Function and Fashion,” so I asked her why. As a thirty something single professor she says that above all she wants to look cute, and secondly her clothing needs to have a good range of motion and reflect her metaphorical and physical flexibility. As an adjunct Professor, the nature of the job is to be flexible, so she needs her clothing choices to be able to adapt accordingly. Instead of a blazer, she opts for cardigans, because she’s constantly moving when she teaches. Also, you never know where there’s going to be a tech issue that needs to be addressed – a la roll up sleeves and get it done. Also, when running between buildings and campuses, she needs her footwear choices to be functional. As a young, single professional she needs to look cute because you never know when the right person will appear!
Your personal style can also evolve, and not always for the good. A few years back, my niece was walking by a mirror and noticed that function and fashion was being taken over by “Function and Frumpy.” She was wearing clothing that was shapeless with no style or personality. She realized that was not what she wanted to reflect to the world. She’s on a new personal style journey to find herself again and I couldn’t be more proud of her. Personal Style has nothing to do with your size or age, but more to do with making a decision to own who you are and reflect that to the rest of the world. My niece is a smart, beautiful, and accomplished young lady that’s finally embracing her true self. She’s my hero!