Sunday, October 16, 2011

Style Plan Part 2

Case Study:  "Mary"

In my last post, I started a case-study on a client whom I'll refer to as Mary.  Mary is an attractive and intelligent woman of about fifty.  She came to me for a Style Evaluation and Style Plan in order to build a fashionable, but not too trendy wardrobe that works for her.  After learning about her tastes, physical appearance, lifestyle and needs, I've put together two wardrobe options with interchangeable pieces.  You can see Group A in my previous post.  Today we'll take a look at Group B, the more casual of the plans.

Mary's lifestyle places her in a variety of activities ranging from an informal dinner and a movie to church attendance to concerts to an occasional dress-up event.  Mary spent several years in the medical profession but was forced to take an early retirement due to a health condition and  resulting disability.  Her plans for the future include giving lectures on the disease which affects her and a possible return to college to study journalism.
One of the many wardrobe ensembles in Group B
Photo courtesy of
Mary is on a tight budget and needs a compact and versatile wardrobe to take her out of the sweats that she's been wearing and back into the world. Here are the nine pieces that comprise the second wardrobe option that I've created for her.
Belted Skirt
(espresso combo)
Tweed Riding Jacket
Croft and Barrow
Cable-Knit Sweater
$44.00 $24.99

Flare Twill Pants
$54.00 $24.99
Stein Mart
Ribbed Turtleneck
H & M
Equestrian Look Blazer
Long Casual Skirt
212 Collection
Sateen Shirt
$44.00 $19.80
INC International Concepts
L/S Marled Knit Ruffle Cardigan

As with before, this nine piece wardrobe, totaling $421.26, gives Mary numerous "how to wear" options.  The white shirt along with the brown turtleneck and rust pullover work with all three bottom pieces in this group.   Additionally, the white shirt can be worn  under the rust sweater to change things a bit more.  Both blazers can be worn over any of the shirt/top combos with any of the three of the bottom pieces in this collection as well as with jeans to create a number of looks.  The marled cardigan from Macy's can be worn with either the turtleneck or white shirt and any of the bottoms for yet more combinations.  When your wardrobe works this well together, getting dressed is as simple as closing your eyes, grabbing a top, a bottom and a jacket or cardi if desired and you're dressed and polished!  Of course, the right footwear and handbags are needed to complete the look.

Nine West
Austin Pump
heel height2 ½”
MSRP $75.00 $45.00
Stuart Weitzman
Snookie Pump
(tan snakeskin)
heel height1 ½”
MSRP $298.00 $149.00
Berry Pump
heel height 2”
MSRP $60.00 $42.00

One of the best leg-lengthening tricks in the world is a neutral or nude colored shoe.  This is a trick that dancer's often use to create that "leggy" look.  If you don't believe me, check out
Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough
any episode of Dancing with the Stars and you'll see what I mean!  Match your shoes most closely to your leg color and then choose hosiery of the same shade for the best legs you've ever had!  A nude pump will work with any color of clothing as long as you stay with hosiery (or when appropriate - bare legs) in the same shade as the shoes.  Of course, with the neutral colors in this wardrobe option, the obvious choice for shoes is, of course, neutral.
Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough on ABC's Dancing with the Stars Season 11
Photo courtesy of ABC
Here's a quick stylist tip:  Avoid dark "suntan" hosiery unless you are actually tan.  Try to stay with the shade closest to your own skin color to avoid a splotchy and disjointed appearance.  And, of course, strive to match your neutral shoes to that shade.  If you're pale in the winter and tan in the summer, you may need two pair of neutral shoes to approximate both skin tones.  Enough sidetracking for now -- back to the Style Plan.

In addition to the pumps, I've also recommended that Mary add a pair of booties to her wardrobe.
Cusus Bootie
heel height 2½”
MSRP $129.95 $77.97
Vermont Sherpa Hiker Bootie
heel height 3½”
Call it Spring
Kara Bootie
heel height 2½”
MSRP $84.00 $42.00
Any of these booties would be a great fit for this wardrobe option. I suggested the "Call it Spring" style if she plans to wear the bootie with skirts more often than pants. Or if she want's to go the trendier path this time, the bootie from Maurice's. It has a 3 1/2 inch heel which in many cases may be too high for her, but it is chunky enough that it just might provide the stability she needs.

I love the handbag selections that I've put together for this group. There are a lot of different styles and colors here, but any will work beautifully with the clothing choices.

Classic RMX Shopper
$58.00 $34.80
Big Buddha
Amanda Dome Satchel
Big Buddah
Arlene Bag
MSRP $89.95 $53.97
Primrose Clamshell Shopper
(legion blue)
$99.00 $68.99
Jennifer Lopez
Loretta Hobo
$109.00 $76.30
Dana Buchman
Sasha Hobo
$109.00 $65.40
Jennifer Lopez
Kim Pleated Satchel
$109.00 $76.30
Windsor Satchel
$58.00 $40.60
Pickings Handbag
MSRP $80.00 $39.50

Though the handbag styles here are varied, any one of them will compliment the Option B wardrobe. Four of the twelve bags are of a light neutral color that will work well with all components of the wardrobe.  The two most casual bags are camel tan, which will also work nicely.  I've also chosen two bags of color and one metallic.  I really like how the green or the blue handbags contrast the apparel, and add a splash of color to a mostly neutral palatte.  The metallic bag is of a pewter tone with tends to work nicely with any other metal while adding a touch of shimmer to the outfit.  You might also note that the purses I've selected to harmonize with this clothing group are softer and less structured, than in the previous group, bringing an extra touch of femininity to the mix.
Pulling it All Together...

Now you've seen both options that I've given to my client, Mary. I think the most exciting thing about these choices, however is how well they will work together, despite having a very different look. Mary has chosen Group A, as outlined in my previous post as her core wardrobe, but she likes Group B as well. As her budget allows her to expand, I've given her some different looks that can be achieved by combining elements of Group B with the Group A wardrobe.

In the photo at left, I've added the Halogen skirt to the mix, and combined it with the white ruffled blouse, black pencil skirt and leather jacket from Group A.  I selected the tall boots from Nine West and Marc Echo handbag to complete the look.  Should Mary wish to add some jewelry pieces, I suggested going with topaz and brown or smokey quartz to complement her wardrobe.
An alternate look could be achieved by changing out the white blouse for the black mock-neck, and swapping the tall boots for black booties and matching tights. The taupe lace top could would also work and provide yet another look. When a softer look is desired, the black
cardigan will work with this skirt and any of these tops with a pair of pumps subsititued for the boots. Mary's prize pearls with an amber or brown toned brooch/pendant would be the perfect finishing touch for these ensembles. Remove the cardigan or jacket and wear the skirt with one of these blouses and you've added 9 more outfits with the addition of one skirt! 
Another pretty combination results when pairing this skirt with the chiffon tie-neck blouse in olive.    The booties or pumps will work well here along with some amber toned jewelry. 
The next piece I'd recommend adding is the white shirt.  This is another element that you'll get a great deal of mileage from.  The white shirt can be worn with every bottom in Group A to create a fresh, no nonsense approach to dressing. 
The addition of the brown turtleneck to Group A's pieces will add several more outfits as it works quite well with all of the bottoms in Group A. Solo or embellished with the jacket or cardigan, a variety of new outfits can be created by adding this piece.
Another of my favorite combinations is shown on the right.  This time I brought the white shirt into the mix.  It looks tailored and stylish when paired with the black cardigan and taupe pants from Group A.  Pearls are the natural complement to this lady-like look.  You could also wear the shirt with the black pants or skirt and top it with the jacket or cardigan.

Adding the tweed riding jacket presents even more options.  It would be lovely mated with the leopard print tie-neck blouse or olive chiffon blouse.  Either of the top combinations would work beautifully with either pair of pants in the group, or with jeans for a more casual style.

The rust sweater (or a tee shirt of the same color) would work nicely with any of the bottoms in Group A,  and if the
sweater is chosen, would look stunning with or without the white shirt underneath. It would also look great with the leather jacket (sans white shirt) and either pair of pants or the skirt.
The tan twill pants or longer mushroom-color skirt will each work with every blouse and shirt in Group A and these looks can easily be paired with either the sweater or jacket for more fashion mileage.

The marled ruffle sweater from Group B would also work with every single blouse, top, pant, and skirt in Group A, as well as the previous carry-overs from Group B.

The combinations that can be created from these pieces could conceivably give you an entire season’s worth of looks without having to repeat the same one twice!
I also recommended to my client that she invest in a classic trench coat as soon as her budget allows. I feel that's one item that should be in just about every womans closet.

The Classic Trench Coat
The classic trench never goes out of style, and therefore can be worn for a lifetime! I can remember wearing my mother's classic London Fog as an adult, nearly 20 years after she bought the coat.  The style was just as current when I wore as it was when she purchased it.  A neutral trench coat goes with nearly every style and color, and as such will work with every outfit in Groups A and B except for the pairings with the faux-leather jacket which already have a coat.

I’ve chosen some selections from a rather unexpected place, but an excellent stop for great values – Any of the coats on the left would be a hardworking element of Mary's wardrobe, or yours, for years to come. My top pick from this group – the Belted Trench from Spiegel.

If you'd like to make your trench coat an investment piece, choose something in a neutral shade such as the coats on the left.  Avoid the temptation to buy anything too trendy, and seek out a good quality coat.  As you can see, there are great deals that certainly won't break the bank out there to be snatched up.  Later on, if you want something a little different, you might want to consider a second coat in basic black, a fun color, or even a metallic! 
Funnel Neck Trench Coat
(desert beige)
$229.50 $119.70
Belted Trench Coat
$119.00 $99.00
Tommy Hilfiger
Double-Breasted Trench
$199.00 $139.30
Tommy Hilfiger
Single Breasted Trench
$179.99 $129.99
London Fog
Long single-Breasted Trench
$220.00 $124.32
London Fog
Double-Breasted Trench
$110.00 $84.25

To further broaden and expand Mary's wardrobe options, I presented a few pieces that didn't make the final cut when assembling Groups A & B, but were choices that I felt would good additions to her wardrobe or pieces that she'd have a lot of fun with. The first group I'll show you is a selection of tops
You'll notice a recurring theme here – Fun Tops
shades of rust and blue – colors I feel will be outstanding for Mary. The first top is a great bargain from Forever 21. I like it because of the rich, rust color and the simple lines. It could be interchanged with the rust sweater from Group B, as it is a lighter weight and can, of course be worn in all of the great combinations that the Group B sweater works with. The turquoise color of the middle top is really going to bring out color of Mary's eyes while the rows of ruffles tend to camouflage mid-section figure flaws. The third choice, upper right, is a ruched top in orange. At least that’s what the write-up calls the color. To me it looks more like a muted sienna, which I feel is one of Mary's best colors. The design of this top is very slenderizing with the ruched bodice which tends to hide  “puffiness” around the middle while the empire waistline draws attention upward toward  the bust.

The tops in the second row were chosen in order to bring more blue into Mary's wardrobe.  They are primarily for spring and summer, but the one in the center could span the fall and winter seasons quite nicely with the addition of a jacket such as the tweed in Group B.  All three of these pieces feature a similar, flattering cut that is effective in camouflaging problems in the midsection and drawing attention upward.  The V-necklines tend to lengthen the neck, also contributing to a longer, more slenderizing effect.

The two end selections in the third row bring in more of that beautiful rust color.  The cowl neck top on the left is a loosely structured style that is quite easy to wear.  It could be exchanged for the rust sweater in Group B for most of the ensembles including that piece.  It’s slightly less versatile, however, in that the cowl neckline does not permit layering, so I’d recommend it as an addition rather than a replacement for the sweater.  Although you can’t really see it in the picture, the “speckles” in this top are navy blue - a very subtle way of bringing  more blue into the wardrobe. The tiered knit top on the 3rd row, right could likewise be swapped out with most of the looks that the Group B sweater works in, but
Forever21Goodysbody c
Forever 21
Long-Line Lightweight Sweater (rust)
Ruffle Top
Body Central
Ruched Hacci Top
Boston ProperBoston ProperBoston Proper
Boston Proper
Modern Sleeveless Knot Top
Boston Proper
Ikat Print Ruched Top
$79.00 $69.00
Boston Proper
Rosette Baby-Doll Top
(bay blue)
Forever21Boston ProperForever21
Forever 21
Speckled Cowl Neck Top
Boston Proper
Ruched Long-Sleeve Knit Top
Forever 21
Tiered Knit Top
Boston ProperNNMV
Boston Proper
Baby-Doll Knit Top
Newport News
Hi-Lo Jersey Swing Tunic
$39.00 $19.00
Scoop Inset Top
$54.95 $49.95
like its sister on the left, is not designed to be layered. The ruffles are unbelievably flattering, though, so considering the extra low price tag, Mary might want to snatch it up as an addition. The cut and color of this top will also complement Group A selections very attractively.  The black top in the center of the 3rd row is another one that features a body-friendly cut plus an attractive, bust enhancing sweetheart neckline.

The top on the bottom left from Boston Proper is another take on the ruched and/or gathered styles shown previously, this time in white. It can pair with any bottom piece from either group.  The blue top from Midnight Velvet on the bottom right is yet another variation of a similar effect; this time in a swing style. Note the pretty sleeve detailing that echos the swing style bodice. While this is one of the higher priced selections, a less expensive alternative may be found at one of the popular off-price stores if Mary's funds are low.  The bottom center top from Newport News would be stunning on Mary. Her haircolor and complexion are very similar to that of the model wearing the sweater, so you can see how beautiful this color will be for her. The hi-lo asymmetric hem of this top is very fashion forward, as is the ruffled neckline. This tunic will pair nicely with jeans or any bottom piece from either group, with the exception of the longer skirt in Group B. The longer lengths and flare of both pieces would shorten her body-lines too much, even though the colors are very compatible. All of the tops selected here will be great choices for her when she desires a casual jeans look.

The final group of clothing I'm going to show you if you're still with me at the end of this very long post, is an optional "fun" set that may or may not work for Mary.  They are pieces that, based on her taste I think she will like, and good values, so I'll leave it up to her as to if she'd like to add any of these pieces.
lace skirtLoubougtin knockoffslace pumps
Newport News
Lace Pencil Skirt
$49.00 $39.00
Christian Louboutin
Knotted Pump
(probable knock-off)
Jennifer Lopez
Peep-Toe Platform High Heels
(black lace)
$69.99 $48.99
The shoes here are really not practical for Mary but in her questionnaires she loved the high-heeled pumps and I loved the look of these lace slingbacks, and thought I’d include them in case she finds herself with an occasion where she won’t be doing a lot of standing or walking. One thing to keep in mind while considering these shoes is that the higher the platform, the more neutralized the heel height, thus the shoe is easier to walk in. I included the “Louboutins,” which I’m sure have to be knock-offs at this price, because they were her favorites in the questionnaire. I usually try to avoid knock-offs, but since the real thing is truly out of her price range, I really don't see any harm in having a little bit of fun if she'd like to get the look for a special night.  The lace skirt is a more practical choice for her.   It’s a beautiful skirt and there’s nothing more beautiful or feminine than lace! This skirt, with the black mock-neck or the mock-neck and cardigan from Group A, might be substitued for one of the dress selections should Mary prefer.
leather jacketvestcape
Dana Buchman
Leather Jacket
$270.00 $189.00
Say What?
Sleeveless Open-Stitch Ruffled Vest
$38.00 $24.99
AB Studio
Double-Breasted Cape
$68.00 $34.00
I included the Dana Buchman Leather Jacket in case Mary's not comfortable with faux leather. This jacket could be substituted for the jacket in Group A. The cut and lines are similar, although I really do prefer the style of the Faux leather coat to this one because of the peplum.  The “Say What?” vest is included here because the clothing style that Mary chose as her favorite in the Sportswear Questionnaire featured a very similar vest.  This vest would be a great addition to the Group A or B core wardrobes.  Pair it with the taupe pants and leopard tee in Group A, or wear it with the tee and a pair of jeans.  In Group B, it would work with the pants or longer skirt worn with the brown turtleneck.  The AB Studio Double-Breasted Cape would be a fabulous Addition to Group A, as it will be elegant paired with any of the bottoms and tops from that group.  Capes are major news for this fall, and this one is a classic style that will give her many years of enjoyment.  The reason it didn’t make the final cut – it doesn’t work all that well with most of the Group B pieces.

So there you have it.  Excerpts from a real Style Plan that I created based on my Style Analysis.  Not too shabby for the special rate I'm running right now of $37.50, don't you think?  Mary, or any client who purchases a Style Analysis, will, if she decides not to purchase my online picks, have a complete wardrobe map to take with her when she shops to guide her in making the best choices.  A plan such as this helps my clients to avoid impulse purchases and build a wardrobe that truly works for them.  I hope you've enjoyed seeing a little of what I do.  Comments and suggestions for future posts are always welcome.  Until next time....

Stylishly yours,

Halloween's coming!  Please send me your favorite costume photos, ideas, sources, and pretty much anything that has to do with Halloween, and look for them in a special Halloween post. You can email them to me at or submit them on my Facebook page.  I look forward to hearing from you.  Happy haunting!

Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's are also just around the corner, and I'll be doing special editions for these holidays as well. We'll broaden the scope a bit here and include decorations, recipes, and tips for keeping sane and polished during the holiday season.  I'll have a "featured in" button available on the blog for you to add to yours if your submissions are featured.  Can't wait to see all of your creativity!

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1 comment:

  1. I like "Mary's" style! Thanks for linking to Potpourri Friday. I appreciate your participation!