I must have been 13. A relative was in the hospital. I wanted to visit but the hospital had rules. No one under 16 was permitted to visit.
It wasn’t just a relative. It was my mother.
My father offered some advice. Let me share it with you. “Look like you belong.”
So I got dressed in my finery (it wasn’t such finery) and walked into the hospital with my father. I made sure my posture was perfect. I exuded confidence. I got to see my mother.
Maybe that’s why I take such pleasure putting on my finery (now it’s finery), throwing on the accessories, making sure there are no coffee spots on my white shirts.
I never question if I belong.
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A recent article in the New York Times spotlighted Dawnn Karen. Dawnn Karen is a fashion psychologist and therapist. She teaches at The Fashion Institute of New York.
Karen says the way you dress impacts the way you feel. The way you present yourself through the lens of style has an affect on your social relationships, your professional success, and most importantly, your psyche.
Years ago I sought advice from a psychoanalyst. We discussed the success and failure rate of people in analysis. The doctor said “sometimes I just want tell a patient who is lonely to look fabulous” instead of talk therapy.
Miz Karen is on to something.
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Now that the AARP magazine is arriving in the mail with its upbeat stories about fulfillment and mindfulness (along with ads for anti-depressants), I’ve created my personal plan to appear hip.
#1. Keys are to be placed in my pocket and not my handbag. I become my mother when I say “I can’t find my keys.”
#2. I must never discuss the different types of fiber powder.
#3. I must try to use both hands to text.
#4. I must never ask the waiter if he’s sure it’s decaf.
It’s time to go shopping. Thankfully too because I’m bored with my down coat although down coats are now called puffers in case you care. I think they renamed them puffers because people are pretty down these days and manufacturers don’t want to make buyers sad. Anyway, that’s my theory.
I’m not ready to buy anything as I haven’t done any sleuthing. Do you sleuth? Sleuth is when you walk into a store and you’re approached by a salesperson and in the nicest possible way you say “thank you but I’m just sleuthing.” Hopefully they get it and leave you alone. You finish the sleuthing and if you’re curious about something then you engage with the salesperson.
When I’m ready to pull out the A/E, I’ve done plenty of sleuthing and decided on the one piece I plan to buy. You got that? Just one piece. It could be shoes. A jacket. A handbag. Maybe a hat. It must be fabulous and incredibly stylish so you will dance in the streets when you wear it.
That’s also my theory. Bye.
Apologies to everyone I bored with my pathetic lamentations that my favorite store in Santa Monica was closing and my sensational saleswoman Barbara H. was leaving for a new venture. It’s not like I took to my bed for a few days but it was close.
My relationship with Barbara was conducted virtually but with such glee. She had a brilliant eye for quirky and timeless pieces. I trusted her taste completely. I gave her the go-ahead to challenge me to evolve my style so I would feel confident and modern. She wanted me to look and feel fantastic. Thank god we never discussed anti-aging as I wasn’t interested. Of course I’m aging but I want to do it with imagination and wit. Barbara got that.
Find a store that carries beautiful pieces and develop a relationship with a salesperson who, like Barbara, is inventive, creative and passionate about helping you look fabulous. It’s not an indulgence. It’s just a very clever way to evolve.
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About 15 years ago I had the “brilliant” idea to become a personal shopper. It was not a brilliant idea. I do love to shop, that is true, but not for other people.
I would meet with a client and review their wardrobe. Did they have a pair of fantastic black pants? White shirts? A pair of loafers? Once they realized they needed everything off we would go. I’ll tell you this: People cannot make up their minds. It was very hard on my nerves.
Looking back I now realize that when I took inventory of their closets I forgot to take inventory of their attitudes. Nothing looks good if you’re mopey, sullen or feel the need to apologize for being you.
Feeling confident, upbeat, and positive is how you look fabulous. And those feelings are the foundation for a timeless style.
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“Guaranteed Good Chat” or GCC. GGC is shorthand when I’m making an introduction by email or text. A GGC is bright and delightful. Well-informed but not haughty.
It takes work to be a GGC. You have to be a talented listener and conversationalist. You have to brim with high and positive energy. You have to be emotionally accessible so we feel as if we’re being heard.
There are many ways to describe someone extraordinary but GGC does just fine.
I was just about to do it, too.
I’m talking about buying something on sale. Don’t get me wrong — I love a bargain. But buying on sale is tricky. It’s easy to fall into “but it was on sale” rationalization.
There’s only one question to ask yourself when you’re about to grab that shirt that’s 30% off. Would you have purchased it when it was full price?
If “yes” it’s a true score. Otherwise…well, you know what to do.
I consider myself direct or rather clear.
A friend had called. She was a research assistant for a network television anchor. The job had cachet but there was no room for growth. She started a job hunt and was hired to teach journalism at a university in Boston. She went to her “board of directors” (i.e. wisest friends) for advice.
They waffled. “It sounds interesting.” “Are you sure you’ll be happy in Boston?”
She asked me if she should take the job. After hearing the backstory of the lack of opportunities at ABC News I told her “why not try it.”
“Thank you,” she said. “I needed that.” She took the job and I never heard from her again. (Unfortunately, she forgot to close the loop.)
Moral of story: When someone wants your input, give it to them straight. And if they don’t want your input, just listen.
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…enclosed with a check. Why? Isn’t a payment for services enough?
I don’t think so.
I rack my brain looking for ideas to project fabulous and enclosing a personal note along with a check is perfect. It tells someone you’re appreciative of their work and you don’t operate from the vantage point that everything is all business. Everything is not all business.
The check minus the personal note sums up all the other things we’re missing — relationships, good manners, and making people feel good about themselves. It also says “I see you.”
“I see you.” I love it.
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