During a recent playdate, my neighbor and I went through our normal mini rants about what life had doled out that week. As always, it was filled with a bit of lament about one topic or another. As most mothers will agree, you love your kids but the job can be beyond tough! As cranky kids signaled the end of our get together and conversation, we started to do the blitz of final thoughts and good-byes before all hell broke loose with the kids. As my friend Heather picked up her son to head home she caught a glimpse of her shirt. She just laughed and shook her head. Her shirt showed the scars of "A day in the life of a mother". Paint, peanut butter, pen marks and a few yet-to-be identified substances were all visible to the naked eye. The sad reality is neither of us registered the shirt stains or our unwashed hair during our playdate. She groaned and said that it might be time to update the wardrobe. Heather shared that her uniform of lifeless L.L. Bean t-shirts had worn out their welcome. I laughed at the sentiment and agreed as I suffered from the same dilemma. What to do? What to do?
I thought for a long moment and decided that I needed some help from a fashion expert. Who better than the DC Metro Mommy fashion blogger, Joyce Neave from http://www.bethatmom.com/? After one call Joyce graciously agreed to do a mommy makeover with my neighbor Heather as her muse. Heather was totally open for the experience and I was beyond excited! While Heather was getting the star treatment, I had a front row seat for all the action and inspiration.
We met at Nordstrom's Café to begin our morning makeover. I must admit, I lingered over my closet for an hour deciding what to wear to meet a stylist. Totally unnecessary, Joyce immediately put us at ease. She made it clear that she is there to assist, not judge and she means it. Joyce has an effortless self-confidence that comes through in her attitude and appearance. Her cool permeates the initial meeting.
Before heading to Nordstrom's, I fire back a litany of questions. I am anxious to learn everything I can about her profession. I mean seriously...how fun would it be to dress people for a living? I quickly learn that it is more than clothes. Joyce considers her clients to be friends. She has an eclectic group of customers whose needs run the gamut. You can find her heading to Neiman Marcus in search of the perfect dress for a high-end DC function or scouring the racks of Loehmann's for a client in need of casual everyday wear. She has also been known to hit Target. If you have read Joyce's blog, you will quickly see that she can scout out the perfect little "anything" at almost any store.
Clients needs come in all shapes and sizes. Joyce has a broad range of services. Some clients will need her for their entire wardrobe, some need assistance for a special event, some clients opt for twice annual seasonal assistance with their buying needs. Still other clients just need a one-time jump start to aid their closet and fashion savvy. A closet consult typically costs $300.00. The goal of a closet consult is to go through your entire clothing line-up to see what works, what outfits can be created with your own stash and what just needs to go somewhere else. I truly believe that this closet consult is akin to therapy. It is on my 2009 Christmas list!
To meet and shop with Joyce will run about $100/hour. Admittedly, I almost chocked on my coffee when I heard the price but I absolutely became a believer when I saw Joyce in action. Joyce's famous line is "I am the cost of one bad sweater". The thought being that for the price of one bad article of clothing, you could have opted for a stylist instead. She was right! I suddenly started looking around my closet after the interview. I could EASILY add up $300.00 worth of clothes that I never should have purchased. I took a hard look at the carnage: dresses that never fit properly, pants that were never going to make a showing and bargain sweaters and shirts that were hopeless after a few washes. What was I thinking? I digress. Let's get started with the makeover.
Heather and I quickly learned that putting together a successful look requires a solid foundation. Off we went to Nordstrom's Lingerie Department. Joyce guided us toward some of her trusted brands: Chantelle, On Gossamer, Cosabella, Natori and Wacoal. Joyce was fun to watch. Without one stitch of clothing off of Heather's back, Joyce immediately zeroed in on her bra size. When we both bemoaned that we never seem to find a bra that fits, Joyce noted that you should beware of helpful sales assistants that outfit you in bras that can cause your breathing to stop and, shudder, show back fat. That is NOT a good fit. Try on different bras to see what works for you. One trick, go up a back size (34 to a 36) and down a cup size (C cup to a B cup). Play around until you find the perfect recipe. For women who have felt the aftermath of breastfeeding, you will want to use a bra that has a lift pad built in. Also, you should buy new bras every six months, depending on how often you wear and alternate your bras.
THE PERFECT OUTFIT:
Armed with the appropriate undergarments, we headed to the Fall 09 clothing offering. Yum! I must admit, it looked liked a crowded menu of delicious options. Coats, jeans, blouses, cardigans, tunics, pants and skirts...oh my! Joyce motored around the third floor of Nordstrom the way a racecar driver handles an Indy track. First she conquered the question of jeans. By looking at Heather she was able to recommend two different brands with two different size options. Joyce selected a pair of jeans that were within arms reach and then asked the sales associate for a pair of J Brand jeans. She knows her jeans. The sales associate smiled and indicated that J Brand jeans were on the 1st floor. Naturally Heather and I were ready to go trotting off to the nearest escalator and down to the 1st floor. Umm...wait a minute. Joyce smiled and graciously asked for the woman to assist us in getting the jeans from a sales associate in that department. Heather and I just laughed. It was official, Heather and I were high school freshmen and Joyce was the captain of the cheerleading squad. Joyce...you are my new hero. Did I mention that Heather found her perfect fit after trying on a mere 4 pairs of jeans? Joyce is a god!
We moved onto a beautiful Tory Burch Crepe De Chine tunic, a Vince cashmere tunic and gorgeous floral blouse. Joyce also grabbed a pair of leather Tory Burch ankle booties. Armed with all these goodies, Joyce worked her magic. With just a few pieces of clothing, Joyce showed Heather how you can create a number of different looks as well as dress up or down an outfit. The black Vince tunic, coupled with a beautiful belt, could be worn on top of a number of different blouse options. It could be paired with jeans for a casual look or a pencil skirt for a date or PTA meeting. The goal of the clothing was versatility. And there was the magic...
I think we all have an inner fashionista, but it can sometimes take a stylist or a really good sales associate to show you how to bring a look together. Joyce picked classic items that married well with one another. There were no one hit wonders. I dare say that is why the closet consult is worth $300.00. If she can show you 8 new outfits with clothing that you already have that is money well spent!
Before we move onto the shoe department, I wanted to make special mention of alterations. If you get your pants tailored at a store like Nordstrom, you know they will nail the alterations or you will get a new pair of jeans. Sometimes it is worth the extra money to stick with the store for your tailoring needs.
After snagging some gorgeous gear for Miss Heather, we moved onto shoes. Joyce gravitated to the über popular ankle bootie. The ankle booties are a big item for Fall 09. Joyce cautioned that you want to make sure that your everyday shoes work with a busy lifestyle. Some heels are simply not workable for a mother chasing after little ones. While Joyce indulged us with visions of Prada and Tory Burch, she was quick to give Heather other, less expensive, options that were just as beautiful. Some of her favorite brands are Aquatalia and La Canadienne. Both lines can be found at Nordstrom and http://www.zappos.com/. If you are looking for a perfect shoe for preschool and playdates you should consider the new Fall 09 line of Uggs.
The simple lesson was that you can get away just a few pairs of earrings. All you really need is one pair silver and one pair of gold medium size hoops as well as a pair of diamond and/or macasite studs. That's it. Another tidbit that Joyce mentioned, avoid the "matchy-match" phenomenon with jewelry. Retailers consistently market earrings with a matching bracelet and necklace, DON'T believe the hype. Matching items can often make the ensemble look inexpensive or garish. Instead select a new favorite necklace or bracelet and pair it with earrings you already have on hand. While gold and silver can be worn together, a beginner might want to stick with a single metal.
Joyce also rattled off a list of jewelry don'ts. Don't wear long earrings with a competing necklace. Women with long faces should stay clear of oval jewelry. If you have a small face, avoid XXL hoops. Again, this would be the time when it is helpful to have a stylist weigh in on options versus a sales associate who will be making a commission from your purchase.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER:
In the end, Heather and I had a wonderful morning. That was truly the best lesson in fashion I have ever received. Joyce tied together the whole outfit and process. It wasn't the drive-by styling that you get from a magazine. It was 100% personalized. Heather also came away with some sassy new additions to her closet.
As I recapped the day with my husband, I shared with him that "You really don't know what you don't know". Joyce was able to teach me things in two hours that I was unaware of...even with years of shopping savvy under my belt. I walked away with a true appreciation for her profession.
Joyce is providing people with a very unique service. Many clients walk away with a new sense of self-confidence, self-assurance and style! In an appearance conscious society, these are priceless gifts to share with a mother of young children. A mother who, often times, has given up her career, her body and herself for her family.
So when your husband asks "Is the cost too high?" just say no! You can always wait for a special occasion such as your birthday. Note, while we had a wonderful time at Nordstrom, Joyce can find an amazing outfit in any number of stores with various prices points. Don't be intimidated by a stylist's services because of high priced stores. Joyce can work within your budget. Besides...her fashionable life lessons are worth the price of admission!
NOTE: There simply was not enough room for all the wonderful pearls of wisdom that Joyce shared with me. Take a peak at What Your Mother Never Told You About Fashion.
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