I want to wear pretty things that feel like summertime. I’m ready to be in flip flops, flouncy dresses, big hats, and sunglasses.
So today, I’m featuring a dress from Express that I got at a consignment store–in perfect condition. There’s a lot to be said for quality consignment stores. I pop into our local shop a couple of times a month just to see what great finds may be waiting just for me.
I shop everywhere, though. Nordstrom. Ann Taylor Loft. Kohl’s. Target. Macy’s. Boden. Sundance. I’m all over the place, because I like to try different things.
So here’s one of two maxi dresses I’ve picked up so far this season–I’ll be wearing them both all summer and on our two vacations.
I remember saving my money as a kid for Willowbrook Mall in New Jersey, where there was no sales tax on clothing, and my mother and grandmother would patiently take me shopping—for hours. I’d pile up some things to bring back to Maryland, and it was one of the highlights of our regular trips (besides seeing family, of course!)
The habit started then, and it hasn’t stopped all these years later.
Twelve years ago, I decided I wanted to be Stacy London of What Not To Wear and became a certified fashion consultant. A part-time job I did for a few years until I became a full-time professor, I helped women shop for clothes and dissected their closets. We built new wardrobes or altered existing ones. One particular woman had just given birth to twins and was re-entering the workforce, and her size had changed. In one morning and with $500, we built her a new business wardrobe. She hugged and kissed me, thrilled that she had the beginnings of a brand new collection that took into account her adjusted size. She looked fantastic. And I was thrilled to have helped her.
Finding your own sort of style is important, and wearing clothes that make you feel good should be the priority when shopping, while also trying to find clothes that suit your body type.
In fashion workshops I developed, I talked about body type a lot, because the cut of the clothes can definitely help your body type, build, and height. As a petite person, I have to watch that clothes don’t overwhelm me, that prints are not too large, that ruffles are in proportion, and that I pay attention to my curves and work with them, not against them. (I curse them sometimes, too, but I have to remember, they can be my friends).
Be patient with yourself—love yourself—and believe that you can look smashing with a little effort. I know this to be true having shopped with many women over the years and having helped people who thought they were hopeless or distraught about their weight or shape realize, in fact, that they were downright gorgeous, and that perhaps they were just not wearing the right colors or cut of clothes.
It’s all about proportion in the end; and remember, all shapes and sizes are beautiful.
And that’s what’s kicking off this first installment of The Petite Professor. I hope you will enjoy this weekly segment.
Navy Blue Dress: Ann Taylor Loft; Boots: Nine West; Briefcase: Lulu’s.
On Wednesdays, I will host a few feature on the blog…a bit about fashion…at any age.
I’ll share outfits, things I purchase, oldies and goodies, and accessories for petite women as well as women of all sizes. As a former fashion consultant, I’ll share what I learned, and it’s meant for us regular folk who are not models or actors, but rather real working people who happen to share a love of fashion.
The feature will start this Wednesday under the heading “The Petite Professor” on Steph’s Scribe.
Looking forward to something new…and old. And just for fun.
It’s kind of difficult to get happy today with the news coming out of Las Vegas. I’m so saddened by the reports of all the victims of the mass shooting and those who are injured. Prayers go to all of those who have been affected by this horrible, senseless, and heinous tragedy.
However, FROCKTOBER must carry on, because we are doing some good here by raising awareness for ovarian cancer. As I mentioned yesterday, my colleague and stylish lady friend, Chris Noya, has been battling this disease since January. If you wish to donate, you can do so by giving to the American Cancer Society or to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (click the organization names to go to the sites). Much research is being done to try to end this disease.
My new color this year is white. I know it’s not that radical or anything, but white is a great color for most skin types, and paired the right way, it can give you that classic look, no matter what the occasion. A versatile white dress in summertime looks clean and cool; a white coat in winter beats the doldrums of winter and reminds us of snow.
Think about adding a little more white to your wardrobe if you assess your closet and notice you have a lack of white mixed in among your other colors.
On Saturday night at an Orioles Reunion at Camden Yards in Baltimore a collection of former Orioles front office employees and full-time friends got together (and had a ball). My friend, Michelle, mentioned how much she loved the “Frocktober” fashion thing I did last October. She said she enjoyed it — and so did I. Her comment inspired me and got me thinking that while there are lots and lots of gorgeous photos of women on Instagram in gorgeous clothing, I’m a real girl. I’m not a model, nor will I ever be one. I’m middle-aged, not skinny, and I’ve got curves, but I do possess one thing that I’ve learned over the years as a fashion consultant: I know how to dress my body type. I also love to stay current with fashion and have fun with it.
Which leads me to this: I’ve decided revamp my blog a little and include a weekly fashion segment for REGULAR WOMEN. You know, keep it real (and with a budget in mind). I’ll be sharing what I wear on Instagram and where I bought the items, and then I’ll do a weekly recap on WEDNESDAYS here on the blog.
As for more restructuring on Steph’s Scribe, on MONDAYS it will be like POTPOURRI, and I will get to write about whatever I want; on FRIDAYS, I’ll continue to feature FICTION FRIDAY and write about all things pertaining to writing.
My husband always tells me that my blog is too vague, that it doesn’t have a set niche. Well, now I’ve got one. I’m structured (he’ll love that, as I tend to be a bit of a creative type and not be too structured).
Fashion, to me, is creative–sort of like writing your own book every day. You get to pick out what you want to wear and make it yours. It’s an outward expression of yourself. The only rules are that (1) you should love the pieces you buy, and (2) you should feel good in them.
That’s it. That’s the blog restructuring for the summer. I hope you will enjoy my new setup.
When I used to work as a fashion consultant, one of the biggest rules I preached was to ignore trends—to not get sucked into a fad just because it was hot, especially if it didn’t work for your body type. But that rule becomes rather difficult to adhere to when fashion changes and certain styles of clothing become appealing. For example, the straight-legged jean was something I thought I would avoid at all costs because of its tendency to make hips look larger than they are, especially for those of us who have undeniable curves. I look better in a boot cut jean that is fitted properly. All my years of hoping that the straight-legged jean would not come back in fashion was wasted, as it (a) became fashionable and trendy, and (2) because I ditched my own advice and now wear them, curves and all. The trick is to outsmart the straight-legged jean and find some balance with it…in order to keep your body in check and in proportion. I tend to wear mind tucked into tall boots, or with the right style of shoe.
I think we tend to believe that as we age, we have to let go of some trends simply because we are aging. There is definitely some truth to that. However, there is also truth in this statement: it’s your life—wear whatever the hell you want if it makes you feel good about yourself. When I go into Anthropologie, I know I’m not going to be able to sport all the different kinds of clothes that are in there, but I LOVE that store, so I search for pieces that will suit me now, at my age, in order to remain trendy and stylish. I’m not trying to dress like my students, mind you (I couldn’t pull that off), but there are certainly some things I still have the gumption to try and wear. I do like to stay current.
Nevertheless, the true trick to dressing well after a certain age it to always consider proportion of the clothing. Just as you must consider proportion when you are decorating your home, the same holds true when decorating your own body. It’s all about proportion.
Colors also play a huge factor in how clothing looks on you. Be sure to know if you are better in warmer tones (earthy tones such as browns, beiges, greens, yellows, oranges, etc.) or in cooler tones (often referred to as jewel tones, such as emerald green, sapphire blue, true red, black, and deep purple). If you are a cooler-toned person, you may not want to wear severe colors around your face, or, if you are a cooler-toned person and you love orange, you can wear it, but it would probably be best served on your lower half. The color of your hair, skin tone, and eyes play into what colors generally look best on you.
But all that is just a bunch of hogwash unless you feel good in the clothes you wear. If you need help finding out what is best for you, hire a consultant to take you shopping and do your colors. Once you learn what works best both proportionally and color-wise, you’ll never wonder again.
That’s not to say we don’t break the rules now and then. We all do. But you’ll find confidence and stay fashionable all your life if you remember this one thing:
Style is truly what you make of it; it’s about how you wear the pieces you choose, not the pieces themselves.
Several people have come up to me recently and told me they enjoyed the #FROCKTOBER feature I posted over the course of the month. A few others have told me I inspired their style. These kind of comments thrill me–I am so glad I could inspire you or give you some ideas for your own style.
But here’s the thing: you are you—you are not me, I am not someone else, and so on—and so we should let our own personalities shape our own fashion. We should experiment and have fun with it. I remember reading a piece about “Things Not to Wear After 40” and the bottom line was that you should wear whatever the hell you want. If you want to try some new trends, purchase a new type of shoe, add some bling to your accessories and handbags, I say GO FOR IT. You only live once. Why live vicariously through someone else when you can do it for yourself?
Fashion comes and goes, but style is how you make it your own. I’m not going to be posting fashion as a regular blog item, but I will keep my eyes on fashion and post as I have in the past about interesting things that come along. And who knows…maybe I’ll give #FROCKTOBER another try next year.
In the meantime, I’ve got a novel to finish.
Below are the outfits I wore for the rest of the last week of #FROCKTOBER. I post on Instagram a lot more than I do here on the blog or on Facebook, so if you want to follow along on my next journey, you can find me on Instagram @stephverni.
I made it through the month of #Frocktober, and I have to admit, I had a good time doing it! I posted my outfits daily on Instagram, begged folks to take my photo, and felt pressure to put an ensemble together worthy of documenting. I’m not a fashion blogger, but I am a blogger who loves to include fashion into her blog. As I mentioned in the last post, fashion is a passion, and it always has been for me. I often wish I weren’t 5’1″, but instead taller so I could wear even more daring, bold, and fun clothes. I have to be careful what I put on my small stature so I don’t become overwhelmed by clothing. Also, Coco Chanel was so right when she said, “Before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and take one accessory off.” It’s a good tip still—you don’t want your accessories to get noticed before you do.
I’m posting my last few photos from the month. Thanks again for following along with me on my month-long fashion journey. I’m sure it’s not quite over yet.
Also, special thanks to the following people for being lovely and patient enough to take my photographs:
Ellie Verni • Matt Verni • Anthony Verni • Leeanne Bell McManus • Emily Rosenthal • Kait Kirkwood • Leni Parrillo • Chip Rouse
We are nearing the end, my friends. For a little more than 30 days (and day number 31 remaining), I have documented what I’ve worn during the month of #FROCKTOBER. We all have vices; my vice happens to be clothes, shoes, and accessories. Ever since I was little, I’ve pretty much loved playing dress up…even now as an adult it’s something I love to do. I know there are far more important things to concern ourselves with, and besides writing, clothes and fashion and style happen to all be my favorite pastime. I enjoy playing mix and match, figuring out what my style mood is each day, and then trying to build something fun with what I’ve got in my closet…or perhaps purchasing something new I want to add to the ensemble.
A little purchasing tip I used to tell my clients was this: If you can’t wear a particular item with at least three things or in three different ways, don’t buy it. Adding versatility to a wardrobe is important, and being able to mix and match pieces is how you will get more value out of your items and extend your wardrobe.
I’ve had a lot of fun doing this month-long feature, and while I don’t think I’ll ever become a full-fledged fashion blogger, I will definitely continue to incorporate it into my blog. One thought I have is to rekindle the Fashion Fridays I used to do with features such as building a capsule wardrobe or showing how one piece can be worn six ways. I’m toying with some of this now. I’d also like to do a feature on business clothing and business casual dressing in the workplace, something I talk to my students about in the Internship Preparation course.
I’ve got one more day left, but I may just finish out the week before I hang up #FROCKTOBER. Thanks for letting me play dress up and for following along.
Some people my find this whole FROCKTOBER thing a little silly; after all, it is a bit materialistic and about clothing and what we wear; it’s not about saving the world or doing some good for others. However, that said, I do believe how we feel about ourselves reflects on the rest of the world and people in our lives. When we feel good about ourselves, it comes from the inside; the clothing is just a mere reflection of ourselves, our personalities, and our own personal taste. When we’re happy with ourselves, that happiness helps us in all aspects of our lives.
We all have different taste in clothing–and that’s why, luckily for us all–there are all different types of styles available to us. I classify myself as a romantic, classic dresser with a dash of trendiness and Boho thrown in for fun. I like clothes that make me feel like a lady: feminine and pretty. Others may prefer more preppy, classic clothing, while others may have a full-on Boho style, among many others. We see some trends we like, we wear some trends, and we leave some trends behind because we know they don’t work for us.
We’re meant to have fun with clothes, look professional in clothes, work in clothes, go out in clothes, exercise in clothes, and hang around the house in clothes. We have clothing that suits all our different settings — and the best part is, we get to choose those pieces that work especially for each of us.
FROCKTOBER is full steam ahead this week, with lots of variations and different brands. Also, I want to talk about NEUTRALS, as some people have questions, such as, “Can I wear brown and black together?” Yes, you can. They are two neutrals. Just as you can wear grey and black, or black and tan, or even brown and grey (which can look quite elegant, actually), so can you blend neutrals. Blue is a neutral (think about your blue jeans…you wear them with anything, right?); therefore, you can mix your neutrals. Don’t be afraid to do it. It can look quite lovely.
I’m a petite person, and as such, I stay away from big patterns, large stripes, and heaviness of clothing, especially on top or around the mid-section, which will only add more weight and bulk to my already short stature. I’m quite curvy, and so I must choose the right clothes to help balance my silhouette. Darker colors on the bottom typically help this, wearing the same color on top and bottom helps you appear taller, and too much bulk will just make you look bigger than you are.
Here are the looks from the week that were posted on my Instagram. See you next Sunday.
Just a little thing about hats…I love to wear them in the fall and winter. This one’s been around for a while, but it’s one of my favorites to throw on. I have this style in black, brown, and grey. Once again, these neutrals can go with just about anything.