The Little Black Dress of Tanks

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I recently blogged about Peach, a local start-up that has revolutionized the bra fitting process, and I wanted to follow up about the lounge wear. Because their tanks and layering pieces are so, so, so nice. Buttery soft, flattering and useful. When I had visited the Peach headquarters, I had the pleasure of perusing everything the company carries and try on whatever appealed to me. I know, I know, DRUDGERY. My job really is too much. Well, when I tried on the Simply Soft Wrap Tank, I had what I call a “stylist’s swoon” moment. I LOVE must-haves. I am by nature a minimalist, so I tend to be stingy with the things I label as must-have’s. This tank is a must have. First of all, as I put it on and looked in the mirror, I felt instantly slimmer and sexier. Second of all, it will pair well with a skirt, jeans, shorts or under a blazer. Third of all, I just can’t imagine any one body type that will not be flattered by this tank.

Buy this tank, and next time you have nothing to wear for a night out, wear it with your favorite jeans or skirt and throw on some statement earrings or a delicate necklace. I am willing to put money on it becoming a favorite and a go-to. All the Simply Soft garments feel amazing on, and the quality justifies the price.

— Maria

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Branded Tee Success

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I have long wanted to design a cute, sexy tee to promote Stilista, but 2 things were keeping me from completing the task:
1. Always being a good 50 emails behind the eight ball
2. The concern that said tee would be cheesy, cheap-looking and generally unappealing
Still, the thought was always on my mind. Should I design tote bag to give out at our seminar events? Cute tees with a cheeky message for our hard-working stylist team? Something for clients? When Idakoos, (http:// www.idakoos.com), a site that allows you to design merchandise with your logo / brand / messaging offered me a chance to try out designing any one piece, and I jumped at the chance. I chose a baseball tee, cap sleeve in black and white. As a fashion stylist, I know that logo / branded items have to be just right to be considered fashionable, and the subtle details and fabric quality make all the difference. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
My tee arrived in about a week. It had our logo on the front, the colors of which were a good compliment to the black and white contrast of the tee style. On the back was a message that I came up with: “Because STYLE is for Everyone”. When designing it, I thought to myself “what one message would I want to share with all the people walking behind my treadmill that represents Stilista?” and that seemed like a good one. The quality of the tee was great: a thicker knit than your usually run-of-the-mill printed tee, but still exceptionally soft. It had a feminine fit that nipped in at the waist (super important flattering element for almost any women’s tee), and was not too tight or clingy. I think that if I did order a bunch more for our loyal clients, it would make a cute tee for the gym, running a race, or other casual activities.

— Maria

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How Your Body Image Issues Are REALLY Cramping Your Style!

bodyimageAs a stylist, I have the front row seat to body image issues. If I had a dollar for every time I am being told by a client that something is bulging, sagging or sticking out, when I literally see NOTHING, I would be one rich lady! I ask all my clients what they like about their appearance and what they dislike when I first meet them and do our Basic Style Eval consult with them, and about 97.88888 percent of all my female clients do not like their midsections. Guys are also not immune, though they tend to be more self conscious about their height, or off things like neck length. I get it, I truly do, we all want things we can’t have and clothes are generally marketed by the skinny. While true body acceptance is a deep, psychological process that this image consultant doesn’t want to touch with a 10 foot pole, I can tell you how these issues are affecting your style:

1. You may not be wearing clothes that fit you properly, and that results in looking bigger than you are. A lot of my personal shopping clients have to be coaxed into the right size because they are used to wearing things a size or two too big! That results in unattractive slouchiness, like pants that hang off your butt instead of hugging your curves. Here is a blog I wrote a while back about how pants should fit you, inspired by EVERYONE wearing pants that were at least a little too big!

2. Your body language clearly shows that you are uncomfortable in your skin, and that results in the clothes wearing you, not the other way around! Confidence always makes everything you wear look better, so try pulling your shoulders back and down, smiling and caring just a tad less about looking perfect and embracing your uniqueness! (If you have to, fake it, no one will know the difference!)

3. You choose bland colors, and ho-hum silhouettes that hide your shape instead of celebrating it. Chances are, you are having very little fun with your look, and you’re so busy hiding, that you have no idea what YOUR unique style really is.

If the above sounds like you, I would encourage you to choose one thing you like about your appearance: your eye color, your hair texture, your long legs, your graceful neck, or anything else you like, and choose one garment or accessory that calls attention to that area. Observe how you feel wearing that piece. Absorb compliments that come your way. Build on this experience by identifying more areas you like, and finding different ways of accentuating them. Need a little help / Stilista pep talk? Book an appointment – even a short consult can give you lots of great ideas!

– Maria

 

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Summer Must-Have’s – Ladies Edition

The snow melts, the sun comes out and we all tend to do the same thing: rush out for a pedi, and buy everything that screams summer. Flip-flops with palm trees? Sure! Skimpy floral sun dresses? Yes, please! The issue is that these fun, impulse purchases are often not useful and not relevant to our daily lives. So here is my run-down of endlessly useful, versatile items that will serve you well this season, and, if you play your cards right, next year as well!

Birkenstocks Madrid Sandals – this season, Birkenstocks are at once hip and trendy and classic! A longtime go-to for active walkers and people in need of arch support, Birkenstocks have faced one bog challenge – being too clunky. This style changes that by having just one horizontal strap, and still offering great arch support and a classic look. Great for active moms, city walkers, and people irritated by thong flip-flops!

Leith Strappy Maxi Dress – a maxi dress should be simple and flattering. I love a great solid color, a cute back detail (click into the link to see the back – so pretty!) and a fitted, straight down style. A simpler style is also easier to dress up for a dinner or shower that sneaks up on you – add heels, a statement necklace and throw your hair up! Why are maxi dresses so great? They are feminine, comfy and do not require you to shave your legs!

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Paige Vermont Denim Jacket

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The ultimate in useful layering pieces, a denim jacket should be fitted, cropped, and a darker denim color for ultimate versatility. This Paige jacket is perfect, and currently 40% off! Add it as a topper to a summer dress, wear with a pencil skirt to work or throw it in your car for a summer weekend away – I guarantee you’ll reach for it!

Sleeveless White Top by Derek Lam

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With it’s cooling properties, you really can’t go wrong with a crisp white top this summer!  I chose this Derek Lam number from Neiman Marcus Last Call because it’s an outstanding deal, and it hugs the waist, making it flattering for all. It’s great for work (try on top of skinny fit trousers), it’s great for a weekend day trip with fitted bermuda shorts and it’s likely the piece you’ll try with many other bottoms that are hard to pair.

Small n’ Stylish Cross-Body Bag – Going on a trip this summer? Concert? Outdoor festival? Simply want to be comfy and cool? Ditch that monster shoulder bag for a small cross body that only fits the barest essentials! This Cole Haan number is a great deal for leather, and the right shade of brown to make it truly season-less!

Hope this helps guide you to some great summer purchases!

— Maria

 

 

 

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Invisible Genius

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How did I find out about the Sloane invisible undershirt for men? Well, it was brought to my attention by a good friend (and former business partner) via email, in a sort of “look how random of an item this is” kind of way. I often get emails like that from her and we definitely share a silly, giggly sense of humor, but my immediate response was: “wait… that’s actually a really good idea!” I have seen some terrible uses of conventional undershirts. The crew neck that’s peeking out of a formal button-down collar that’s slightly unbuttoned. The glaringly obvious sleeve outline that makes stocky guys look even bigger. The outline of the a-line tank (better known by the classy moniker “wife beater”). The Sloane option is a close match to skin tone, creating an almost invisible layer. The fabric is developed to be smoother, softer and more breathable than the standard undershirt and to have a snugger fit, without compression.

Let’s talk for a moment about why undershirts are important:

– They protect the dress shirt from sweat stains

– They hide things like hair and nipples (best sentence EVER!)

– They make guys feel more physically comfortable when they are dressed up

There was some grumbling from commenters about the price… Yes, this is in a whole different category than your 3-pack of Fruit of the Loom undershirts. It feels, looks and functions differently. As someone who shops for men and women of all budgets all the time, I have to say the price is fair. I have women clients that can spend as much as $80 on a good layering camisole, and brands like SPANX are thriving in spite of being in a higher price point. I recommend you try one, and if you love it, add 1-2 more. Then, and this is the important part, you take REALLY good care of it by washing it in the delicate cycle and laying flat to dry. Dry time should be quick based on the fabric. Let me know if this becomes a go-to for you, and in the meantime, I am going to grab one for my husband and see if it passes the test at home!

— Maria

 

 

 

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Finally! Finally!

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Alert the media. This is big. I have been on the hunt for an aluminum free deodorant for years. You see, regular deodorant is TERRIBLE for you! And the health and beauty industry is completely unregulated, so all the salves we are layering on and allowing our pores to absorb often contain chemicals that are bad news. While the beauty industry has been rapidly expanding their less-toxic offerings through companies like Burt’s Bees, The Honest Company, some of the brands offered at Whole Foods and others, the deodorant market has been slow to offer a more natural but still effective alternative. I know, because I have tried A LOT of different ones. I tried the one natural brand carried at CVS. I tried an expensive natural one from an international direct sale skin and make-up giant. I tried layering a gel-like lotion over a natural deodorant and spraying perfume on the armpits. I never felt fully “protected” and they all felt gummy and wet.
Last Friday, before a family road trip, I ran into Sephora to check out what they had and discovered this baby. I grabbed it in the classic vanilla fragrance and took it with me, my heart full of cautious hope. The results were not perfect (when are they, really?) but still pretty darn good: a much drier feel, pleasant fragrance, and a good 6-hour window of reliable protection. We spent the weekend with friends, doing all sorts of kid-friendly activities where I had to chase and lift a stubborn 3-year old, so we can definitely say it was “active”. My friends were particularly understanding and free of judgment as I sniffed my arm pits and expressed endless enthusiasm for the results. The line comes in other fragrances, though when you sniff the testers, you can barely pick up on any scent. This changes when you actually apply it, I promise! Due to needing to re-apply it halfway through the day, I recommend buying it in a twin pack of mini’s, so you can stash one in your purse or gym bag and keep one at home. Hope this works as well for you as it did for me, and if you have a miracle non-toxic deodorant you swear by, please email me at maria@stilistaboston.com.

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How many dress shirts does every guy need?

We are delighted to welcome back Maria Pope Rowley of J. Hilburn as a guest blogger: 

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In short: 14. I know, I know….  Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Yes, at least fourteen! Six are at the dry cleaner being laundered, and five are on their way into the laundry pile, so that leaves only three at the ready, clean, in your closet.
If you are wearing tees to work, I beg you to reconsider! You deserve a more polished look, even in ultra-casual workplaces. If you can’t get on board the button-down wagon, keep in mind that J. Hilburn has a lot of casual details / styles for button-downs, as well as outstanding polos, in regular and slim fits.
You’ve got to have three solid colors along with two solid blue and three solid white (face it, whites can get yellow fast, but you’ve got to have them!) and the rest are seasonal selections of plaids, checks and stripes.
Keep an eye on the collar and cuffs. Don’t wait between washes! Fabrics like linen or linen blends look awesome with their wrinkles and can easily be laundered at home, along with the rest of your shirts. If your dry cleaner offers the option of pressing only, see if that won’t save you a little money and launder yourself! After all, they are an investment and should always be there to make you look – and feel – your very best.

 

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A Peach-y Bra Experience!

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Stylist + Bra = Very Important Partnership. Why, you wonder? Well, the right bra can make tops and blouses drape better, as well make it’s wearer look up to 10 lbs lighter. The right bra can stay put under a slinky evening tank and help the woman wearing it have better posture. Bras that are too tight can create back fat pockets, bras that are too loose can slide around uncomfortably, causing the wearer to fidget and readjust it throughout the day. Our clients often voice their bra challenges, and the ones with more ample bosoms often have the most trouble.

I was recently introduced to Peach (https://www.peach.company/t/categories/bras), a new concept in undergarments and layering pieces, and their bra-fitting process really kind of blew me away! Now, I have been fitted before at various lingerie shops. There was a tape measure and trying on various sizes and bra styles, and the results were about 50/50 – some that were “my size” I ended up loving, and some lay in my underwear drawer, dejected and forgotten. Peach is a different concept: their measuring process included 10 points of measurement (!!), including seldom-considered dimensions, like distance between the breasts or distance from the shoulder to bottom of breast. They also recommend bras using a 50% quantitative and 50% qualitative factors – the latter taking into account personal habits and preferences like shape, coverage amount, feel, etc. That 50% qualitative piece makes SO MUCH sense to me, since this is very much how we at Stilista approach how we shop for every client. We have to learn about their personal preferences and style sensibilities before we can ever recommend styles for them, because no matter how smashing they look in a new piece, if they do not connect with it and feel that it’s their style, they simply will not wear it.

From my fitting I learned so much: that thinner women often have breasts that are further apart, that women with smaller busts tend to prefer a less snug band, and that I personally really do not like the shape of most full-coverage bras or bras with a lot of padding. Much like I see clients benefit from taking time to think about their style during Stilista consults, I felt the benefit of taking the time to chat with a bra expect one-on-one about my intimate apparel needs. In other words, I felt the Peach approach was a lot more individualized and mindful than a department or lingerie store experience.

Peach products can be ordered at trunk-show type events, or directly through knowledgeable reps: https://www.peach.company/connect. I plan on sharing more about the Peach line in the coming weeks, as their layering basics are soft as butter and well-priced!

– Maria

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Snip Snip

I recently took the plunge… with my hair. I had had long hair for the past 20 years, and while I tried to vary the style with layering, side bangs, blunt bangs, etc. I always identified as a long-haired lady, and felt attached to my tresses. I loved how feminine it made me feel. How my kids played with it when I read to them before bed. How it’s sheer weight helped to straighten and smooth it’s naturally coarse texture. And then there were some things I didn’t like: the way it was always in the way or shedding, how long it took to get it colored and mainly, how stale and boring I felt knowing that I was playing it safe with my choice of cut. After a particularly crazy year that was full of major changes, I decided to just do it. Some things that made the decision easier:
– The knowledge that it WILL grow back
– The possibility that it will be lower maintenance / easier to style
– Taking the time to look at lots of online images and discussing with a style-savvy friend what an ideal style would be
– Going to a stylist who “gets me”
– Encouraging myself to just not take the whole thing so seriously!
I decided on an angled, longer bob, and I specified that I still want to be able to pull my hair up into a pony tail or knot. The results have been wonderful – I’ve gotten lots of compliments and my hair feels much lighter. It’s been fun to style it straight or wavy, and the biggest surprise has been how anti-climactic this whole change ended up being. Many people didn’t notice (I do live in a house full of men of assorted sizes) and the ones that did were proud of me for being bold. Here is my before (1st pic on page): http://www.stilistaboston.com/team.html

And here is my after:

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Do’s and Don’t’s of taking your own hair plunge:

– Think about your lifestyle, including how long you can take to style your hair daily

– Talk to your stylist and ask what is doable, taking into account the shape of your face, your hair texture and your current hair style. Remember that your hair stylist is the expert!

– Look at lots of pictures and pull out the ones you like and the ones you do not like, and bring these to the salon.

– Book our “pampered and polished” package – one of our stylists will help you conceptualize your new look, and come with you to a salon and help explain what you are looking for, staying with you until the very end. We have a network of amazing hair stylists that take great care of Stilista clients!

– Email me for a hair stylist recommendation: maria@stilistaboston.com

– Maria

 

 

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Sick of it? Rebagg it!

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Though I am not a bag diva myself, I understand the appeal of designer bags: they are generally well-made, beautiful, and portray the carrier as one that has achieved a certain level of success. A few years ago, when I turned 30, my best friend insisted on buying me a supple, lipstick-red Ferragamo W bag, which I still love and use. When I carry it, I feel extra polished and sophisticated. So, P, if you are reading this, thank you.

One dilemma that arises when you tire of a designer handbag is what to do with it. It’s usually too valuable to donate, so people will attempt to sell them on ebay or consign them in brick-and-mortar consignment shops, or online consignment stores like The RealReal. These are all great options, but each poses it’s own challenges. With consignment, you have to wait until the bag sells, and when it does, you receive between 40 – 60% of the selling price, and the consignment store can decide to mark it down if it doesn’t sell within a certain period of time. Ebay is for sophisticated sellers that are not deterred by answering lots of questions and following the site’s strict seller guidelines.

Most of my clients are really busy, like most Americans today. They are often people that are seeking simplicity after being stuck in a cycle of bad style decisions. They do not want to wait 60 days or answer 12 questions to sell a bag. They want the bag gone today and get the check by the end of the week, so I was really excited to learn about New York-based REBAGG (www.rebagg.com). This style-savvy start-up is offering a speedier and easier way to unload designer bags. Simply go to http://www.rebagg.com/#sell-now and fill out your info, entering “stilista” in the “referral” field. You’ll need to upload one picture of your bag and you’ll receive a pre-paid shipping label and a quote for how much they will pay you. Once your bag is received, it is authenticated and checked for quality, and assuming everything checks out, you get paid within 2-3 business days. Now for bottom line – how does this compare financially to selling it yourself? Well, I ran a couple of hypotheticals on http://www.rebagg.com/#pricing and compared them with ebay listings and the ebay prices on average were roughly 60% more. This means that if you are consigning, you will make just about the same as on REBAGG after the consignment store takes their cut, but you’ll still be subjected to the wait. As far as Ebay, you would have to consider the time and effort it would take you and decide whether it’s worth it.

– Maria

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