Spring Fashion is Nothing to Sneeze At

Spring Fashion is Nothing to Sneeze At A fashionista I am not. I can barely tell the different between Tahari and Target. Yet a polished and professional appearance is important to me, as it is to most of my clients. This spring I have noticed a surprisingly large number of people trying to be polished and missing the mark. Here are some of the fashion faux pas I have seen so far this spring, and their quick fixes!

Lose the Label ~ If you have just purchased the suit, blazer or jacket, look down. If there is a large rectangle label near the cuff of your left sleeve, cut it off. That tag is for the shopper to easily figure out what the item is made of before buying. Once the suit, blazer, or jacket is yours, the label no longer serves a purpose. Yes, you may need a seam-ripper or small, sharp scissors to remove the label. But to leave it on does not enhance your image.

Ixnay on the X ~ To keep the garment in tip-top condition while on the rack, the manufacturer adds a darted X of thread where there are pleats or vents. Once the garment is yours, you should be checking front, back and sides for any loosely sewn Xs to remove before wearing the outfit out of your home. (Many image consultants recommend leaving sewn pockets sewn to maintain the line of the garment.)

Zip to Fit ~ Just because you are able to zip, button or shimmy into an item does not mean it fits you. The fabric should not be stretched to the maximum while covering the minimum. Pay no mind to the size numbers on the tags, and pay much homage to the image in the mirror. If it looks too tight or if you have to ask a fellow shopper if it is too tight, it is too tight.

Re-Use or Re-Cycle ~ Before hitting the stores (brick or cyber), take stock in your own closet. Items you have not worn for more than two years need to go. Items that do not fit and items that are too big or too small need to go. Items that were part of a "former-life," but no longer work for your current life-style need to go. Once you have your To-Go pile, sort into smaller piles - one should be donated to charity and the other to be cut into rags.

Up a Notch ~ A general truism is that it is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Of course, showing up in ball gown or tuxedo to a summer picnic is a bit much. Instead consider the appropriate attire and then go up a notch. If everyone is in jeans and t-shirts, you should be in pressed khakis and a polo shirt. Through your attire, it is better to tell people you thought too much of them instead of not enough.

Down a Notch ~ In our casual society, some heady individuals throw caution - and good sense - to the wind. Just because you can wear something does not mean you should wear it. Your individuality need not be swallowed by convention. The event may call for business professional attire. While you would never be caught in a navy pin-striped suit, this does not mean you can default to Tevas and sweats. Instead, find a fabulous 1940's suit and have it tailored to your frame, choose a tie with panache, or wear that navy pin-striped suit with artistic accessories such as red framed glasses or funky jewelry. Being underdressed silently states that you are under prepared, for the event and perhaps for life.

Devil is in the Details ~ We infer competence via accessories. Do not overlook the extras. Great suit and scuffed shoes, fabulous gown and no earrings, or even baseball uniform and no glove; all scream inability to follow through on details. For a complete polished persona, whether on the athletic field, in the ballroom or in the boardroom, your accessories should communicate that you are prepared and ready for the event.

Quality vs. Quantity ~ There are some image consultants who will manage your wardrobe down to 50 essential items. Whether or not you are a minimalist, there are times to invest in your attire and times to grab a bargain. Remember, you should calculate your clothing cost by the number of times you will wear an item. You may be splurging on a classic overcoat, but if you faithfully wear that item for a decade, it has more than paid for itself. Whereas buying bargains for fashion fads and trends makes sense if that particular color or style will look dated in a month or two.

What is Old is New ~ Since fashion is designed to keep consumers buying, the styles are every changing. What is old suddenly becomes new again. What was short becomes long, low becomes high, tight becomes loose... you get the idea. Eventually you will see a fad you remember from your past. As my dear friend and mentor Ginger Burr is fond of saying about fads, "if you wore it the first time, you are too smart to wear it this time around."

Get Thee to a Tailor ~ The biggest secret to looking polished and pulled together well is an amazing tailor. Even those of you who can purchase clothing off the rack will be amazed at the difference a nip, tuck and hem at the hands of an experienced tailor can make. Sometimes the cost of the tailoring is more than the initial cost of the clothing... and still alterations make all the difference. A good tailor is worth double their weight in gold.

So this spring, as you change over your closet to match the season, do keep these faux pas and their fixes in mind. If changing over your closet is too much of an overwhelming chore, seek professional help. Here in the Boston area, I highly recommend:

Outside the Boston area, both Ginger and Mary Lou have written books and offer e-mail newsletters. Details can be found on their websites. Or, for personal help, seek an image consultant in your area via: http://www.aici.org/memberdirectory/index.asp.

Happy Spring!