Archive | July 2012

Keep your A Game After 50

As I come up on another birthday, I look back at what changes occurred in the past few years.  The biggest change was my body – what happened to my waist?  What is this bulge in my abdomen?  My hips and my stomach, they all grew. Handling “the change” has boiled down to exercising more and eating less.  No fun.  But how do you dress now with your new curvy body?  Here are some tips that will help you hide what you feel are liabilities and accentuate your assets.

  • Buy what fits your body and not by size.  The worse thing is to see someone in pants that are about to bust at the front or size zipper or in the back seam.
  • No gaps up front.  Buy blouses that fit your bust area.
  • For your protruding abdomen chose A-line skirts, sewn down pleats and side-slash pockets
  • Consider gathers at the sides of the skirt front or pleats.  Make sure that the pleats don’t pull.
  • Consider also empire waist dresses.
  • Avoid clingy fabrics, dirndl skirts, loose pleats, straight skirts, snug waistbands and tight belts.
  • For wide hips consider box style jackets that hit at the waist or those that hit below the hips.
  • Avoid straight skirts and pants, unless the top covers the rear.
  • Avoid pocket detail, back pockets, big plaids, horizontal patterns and bias-cut skirts.
  • If you are petite and have wide hips avoid the long jackets and go for the box style instead.
  • If you have a flat rear-end consider two-piece outfits with overlapping tops.
  • Also alter trousers to fit and consider gathered skirts.
  • As well, make sure that pants fit smoothly.
  • If you just have gained weight all over make sure that you clothing fits well.  If it doesn’t it draws attention to the problem.
  • Choose well-tailored dark suits, and clothing that accents the face such as scarves and jewelry.
  • Consider smooth fabrics with tops worn outside the skirt.
  • Take narrow belts and wear them slightly below the waist
  • Avoid skintight or very loose garments
  • As well, choose patterns that are in proportion to your size but veer away from the bold patterns.
  • Additionally, avoid bulky sweaters, unstructured jackets, and colors that change at the waist
  • Finally avoid wide belts and choose those that are lighter than your pants.

 

Look Polished Over Lunch!

Most of us were raised on MacDonald’s, Burger King or Pizza Hut so we’re lost when it comes to a sit down lunch with a client, dinner with the boss or at a formal banquet. Knowing which fork to use and what to do with the napkin will help you feel confident in these unfamiliar situations.  Many executives read up on this topic or are coached so they can give off a polished image that says that they are comfortable and confident in any situation like formal dinners.   Here are some tips so that you can feel confident in any dining situation:

  • Don’t talk with your mouth full, chew with your mouth full or smack when eating.
  • Sit at the table in a comfortably erect posture, not like the naval academy!
  • Place your napkin in your lap when you sit down.  Please don’t tuck it in your shirt or blouse.
  • Don’t stack your dishes when you’re done.  On a side note, I would also wish that waiters would not stack them in front of me – it’s gross!
  • At a small party wait until the host or guest of honor start eating before you do. If at a large banquet, if seated at a table, wait until the table is served before eating.
  • Don’t reach across the table for the salt, pepper, sugar or cream.  Ask that it be passed to you.
  • Initiate passing of the salt and pepper, or when it is passed to you, use it and than pass it to the person next to you.
  • Regarding the table setting, your glasses will be on your right side and your bread plate will be on your left.  The salad fork is left of the entrée fork.  The large spoon on your right is for a soup course.  Don’t slurp this course!  The dessert fork and coffee spoon are usually place at the top of the entrée plate.  Usually, when there are a lot of utensils the rule of thumb is to work from the outside in.
  • When eating American style you hold the fork in your right hand (if right handed) when bringing the food to the mouth.  Do not lean toward the plate so you’re inches above it.  The problem I see most often among men and women of my age and younger is when they are trying to cut something.  It’s rather barbaric.  Instead, put the fork in your left hand (if right handed) and the knife in your right, cut the food (one to three pieces at a time) place the knife horizontally at the top of the plate, and switch the fork (with the food on it) to your right hand and bring it to your mouth.  Learn how to hold your knife correctly rather than looking as though you are stabbing your food.
  • If you are allergic to a certain food just don’t eat it.  If you are vegetarian, fill up before you go if you know that the main course is not and there are not any vegetarian options.  This is particularly true for home parties.  If the host asks just say that you were full on all the delicious food that was offered.
  • When you have finished eating, place your fork, knife and other utensils used at the clock position of ten minutes to four ( If you are right handed), 20 minutes to 2 is a good position for left-handers.

Being Polite is Never Out of Fashion

What has happened to simple politeness and respect for one another?  Gosh if someone opened the door for me I would be grateful and let them know it.  However, some people feel that being polite is an act.  Sorry, but you are confusing being polite and brown nosing (otherwise known as sucking up to the boss).  Being polite is sincere and it is the very foundation of respect for yourself and others.  Politeness is part of the delivery process – delivery of your image.

In my experience, I have found that people have to be right ALL OF THE TIME, or have the last word.  Sometimes you can be DEAD RIGHT and having the last word is not necessarily in anyone’s interest since it probably goes through one ear and out the other.  Rather than flipping someone off or making crude remarks, try as the cliche says, “kill with kindness.”  That will throw off more people than you can imagine and it’s easier said than done.

When someone cuts you off on the freeway, wave and smile.  Some people just want to get a reaction out of you, but by not reacting and being pleasant you have destroyed their strategy.  You probably know some of these people where you work.  My suggestion is to continue being polite and eventually when they know they can’t upset you they will quit.  Read the “Dance of Anger,” for some background on that.

Being polite will never be out of fashion.  When someone opens the door for you, say thank you.  If someone holds the elevator, say thank you.  When you ask for something, say please.  And if someone tells you that you look nice today, say THANK YOU rather than telling them “no, this ole’ thing?” or “I got it at Marshalls for $10.99.”  Here are some more reminders:

  • Bring a gift when invited to a party.  Call the next day or write an email about how great it was and thank them for the invitation.
  • Make sure to RSVP when you’re invited to an event.  This gives them the head count for food served.
  • If you can’t make an appointment whether in an office or a restaurant, call the person yourself to reschedule.
  • If your company has a function and alcohol is served, limit yourself.  If meeting with a client over lunch or dinner, avoid alcohol.
  • When you get a sale, thank your new client with a note.  It’s a great start to a new relationship.
  • At work, if a man chooses to open the door for you, a woman, take the opportunity and thank him.  Remember you can open the door for men as well.
  • When you meet someone for the first time and you are sitting down, stand up and extend your arm and say “It’s a pleasure to meet you . . .”, and finally,
  • Never, ever forget that when someone does a kind gesture for you to be grateful and thank them.

Look Like a Million on a Dime!

Most people feel that to look like a million bucks you have to buy expensive brands and, well, just spend a lot of money!  To be honest, just because someone spends a lot of money on something doesn’t guarantee that they will be perceived as being worth a million bucks.  The bottom line is that wearing quality apparel in classic styles will have everyone thinking you have a rich Uncle! Here are some tips to help you look like a million bucks for pennies on the dollar!

  • If fashion is important to you, look in the various fashion magazines to see what is “in fashion.”  Pick one or two new looks that will update your wardrobe.  Retailers at every level will have some interpretation of this new look.
  • Avoid “designer” labels.  These items have a higher average mark-up than a retailer’s private label merchandise.  Sometimes mark-ups can range from 50 percent to 1,000 percent depending on demand.  For example, jeans are extremely popular and many of your designer brands have mark-ups that can be up to 1,000 percent over cost. Rather shop the retailer’s private label merchandise and you’ll get great fashionable looks, good quality and an affordable price.
  • Understand what makes quality apparel.  It’s not just the label but how it’s made.  For example, do the strips and plaids match up at the side, back and shoulder seams?  As well, check the seam allowance to be sure that they are finished and will not unravel after the first wash.  Make sure the decorative stitching is straight and that the garment hangs straight.  Also make sure that the garment is free from stains or fabric flaws.  If something looks off don’t be the hero it will most likely end up being a poor investment.
  • Wear classic styles that have endured the fashion runways year in and year out.  Classic styles include blazers, A-line skirts, tailor-notched collar shirts, shirtwaist dresses, tailored trousers and trench coats.  Classic looks are always fashion forward and spell money.  Incorporate sweater sets for ease and comfort but a great look for work or play.  Also look to classic patterns such as houndstooth, herringbone, tweed, glen and tartan plaids that have been around forever and communicate affluence.
  • Accessorize with gold, silver or pearl jewelry.  These too are classics yet give sparkle around the face and create an air of affluence.  Avoid rings on every finger or noisy bangles since they are a distraction to what you are trying to create.  Make sure that the jewelry you wear is in proportion to your size.  For example, if you are large you CAN wear large necklaces and earrings whereas the same pieces would overwhelm someone that is 5’1”.
  • Create a wardrobe built around staple colors such as black, navy, olive, brown, charcoal and taupe.  These are considered neutrals and will add miles to an existing wardrobe making it appear you have tons of clothes with only a few pieces.
  • Build your wardrobe without much added expense by including accessories such as scarves, hosiery, belts and vests.  You can change up a look simply by adding a scarf and/or a belt.
  • Wear better quality close to your face as in jackets, tops and scarves.
  • Expand your horizons and include second hand stores such as Goodwill, factory outlets and deep discounters such as Burlington Coat Factory and Marshal’s for bargains.  Second hand stores such as Goodwill, Salvation Army and the American Cancer Society’s Discovery Shops carry upscale resale where a true bargain can be had.  Manufacturer and designer outlets are also viable options but realize that at those stores they are selling surplus merchandise, seconds and irregulars.
  • Part of looking like a million bucks is making sure that your wardrobe, including your shoes, are in great shape.  Clothing maintenance is ongoing.  Be wary of when colors become dull or fabrics begin to pill (little balls on the surface of the fabric).  Remove stains promptly without taking out the color.  Jeans over time get washed out and need to be replaced as well as white shirts and blouses.
  • Incorporate fabrics that have body such as cotton/poly blends and heavier knits that are opaque.
  • Create a slimmer appearance by wearing darker colors such as navy, burgundy, charcoal and black.
  • When buying online choose reputable retailers that have a history online or in brick and mortar form.  There are lots of web sites out there and some may be counterfeit and you won’t know until you’ve paid and never receive the merchandise. As well, be cautious if you see a great price on designer fragrances and bags, or anything in demand as they may be fakes. The counterfeit industry is huge and some big retailers have been caught with the merchandise too. As they say, if it’s too good to be true it probably is.