Dressing For Your Body Type: Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy looks polished and proportioned on the red carpet. The balance of the right neckline, length and texture of her necklace, hemlines and shoe shape project confidence and style.

Melissa McCarthy looks polished and proportioned on the red carpet. The balance of the right neckline, length and texture of her necklace, hemlines and shoe shape project confidence and style.

I’m frequently asked for tips on dressing different body types. The other day a childhood friend called. She’s an instructor at a posh, private, prep school in Georgetown and she’s a plus sized petite. Barely 5 feet tall, she struggles with proportion. I recommended she taper her pants, which she prefers to wear for work.  Tapering her pant legs, determining the place for the hem to hit her ankle, and the best shoe shape could shave pounds and add inches visually.

Here’s a perfect example of a pretty, plump and petite woman working her curves with the right formula of shape and lines to create a slimmer look. Popular actress, Melissa McCarthy wasn’t looking svelte at the Oscars, but she looks polished and proportioned on this red carpet. LA

How Abercrombie keeps customers thin: The retailer’s sizing system has a slimming effect

By Kelli B. Grant

Abercrombie & Fitch’s ANF +0.98%   aversion to more full-figured folks seems to be more in the marketing than the measurements.

The clothing chain is in the spotlight this week after comments CEO Mike Jeffries made in 2006 to Salon.com resurfaced. At that time, Jeffries said the retailer — whose sizes famously top out at large, and size 10 in women’s pants — was actively marketing to “cool, good-looking people.” He told Salon: “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” Or, as Salon.com summed it up: “As far as Jeffries is concerned, America’s unattractive, overweight or otherwise undesirable teens can shop elsewhere.” (A&F declined to comment for this story.)

But while the marketing may emphasize thin and good-looking, a comparison of A&F’s sizing chart against those of other retailers indicates the brand might not be as exclusionary as it claims. There’s a little vanity in the sizing. At brands including Abercrombie, Old Navy, Express and Uniqlo, a woman with a waist measuring 26 to 27 inches would be a size “small.” But Abercrombie describes its small as sizes 2 to 4; Old Navy, Express and Uniqlo call it sizes 4 to 6. A 2 to 4 at H&M, meanwhile, measures 24 to 25 inches at the waist and is considered “extra small.”

And at the top of A&F’s range, a “large” 30-inch waist is a size 10. That’s a size 12 at Uniqlo and, experts say, still within range to be considered a 12 at Old Navy and Express. Both J. Crew and Banana Republic call that same measurement a size 10, too, but classify it as a “medium” — and of course, go on to sell sizes ranging up to a size 16, which measure a 34.5-inch waist at J. Crew and a 33-inch at Banana Republic. (Abercrombie does list in its size chart a 31-inch size 12, but none of the pants, jeans or shorts currently on sale online are offered in that size.) “So much for truth in advertising,” says Robert Passikoff, founder and president of New York-based marketing firm Brand Keys.

What to buy before the online tax bill passes

The Senate just passed an online sales tax bill, which will impact online retailers. What should you buy before this bill is enacted? Kelli Grant reports. Photo: Getty Images.

Experts say such variable sizing is a common problem. Unlike men’s fashion, where sizing specifies waist, inseam and chest measurements, women’s sizes aren’t standardized, says Linda Arroz, a personal stylist and co-author of “Affordable Couture.” “Twelve, large — these sizes don’t mean anything to anybody,” she says. “Designers and retailers come up with their own systems, and there’s a long history of companies tweaking the number because there’s nobody looking over their shoulder.” Plus, stores’ online sizing guidelines don’t always translate to a perfect matchup with individual pieces. Depending on the fabric and cut, some pieces have more stretch or give than others, blurring the size lines further, Arroz says.

As a marketing tactic, it makes sense, says Passikoff. Shoppers have both rational and emotional needs, and vanity sizing plays into the desire not just to buy a new pair of pants, but a pair that makes them feel attractive. “People have their own sense of self image, and that’s going to come into play,” he says. “No one wants to think of themselves as overweight.”

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-abercrombies-story-is-thin-2013-05-10?link=MW_latest_news

Get more cash for your old clothes An abundance of new websites enables shoppers to sell their unwanted clothing.

Smart Spending

Get more cash for your old clothes

An abundance of new websites enables shoppers to sell their unwanted clothing.

By MSN Money partner Nov 6, 2012 11:48AM
This post comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site MarketWatch.

 MarketWatch logoThe seasonal closet clean-out – in with sweaters and boots, out with summer attire – is turning into a potential moneymaker for consumers.Web marketplaces for secondhand clothes have been multiplying, with recent entrants including Tradesy.com, 99Dresses, ThreadFlip, Material Wrld, The Cools and iPhone app-based Poshmark.

African-American woman shopping online © Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images

Each site differs in its fashion vision. Some accept only pieces from big-name designers, and a few open their doors to let consignment shops and other retailers sell, too. But the underlying premise is the same. Users snap a picture of their unwanted item and create a simple listing, and then ship the item when it sells. Payment follows.

“Your closet becomes your store,” says Linda Arroz, a co-author of “Affordable Couture.” But there are limits: Sites only want items in good condition. Moth-eaten blazers, pilled sweaters and the like won’t be accepted.

Experts say the proliferation of these sites is a reflection of the still-struggling economy. “Apparel spending has been topsy-turvy. One month it’s up, the next month it’s down,” says Pam Danziger, the president of Unity Marketing, a luxury-market research firm. Clothing marketplaces can help consumers monetize the things they’re no longer wearing, she says.

They can be a boon for bargain hunters, too. The idea of “shopping your closet” for outfits instead of hitting the store is popular when money is tight, and the social setup lets people effectively shop other users’ closets at a steep discount, says Michelle Madhok, the founder of fashion sale-tracker SheFinds.com.

At first glance, the sites can seem like a smart option for consumers looking to sell items from higher-end brands. Most boast that they’re easier than eBay, with a simple fee structure and a fast listing process that takes just a minute or two and can often be done via smartphone. They’re also cheaper than in-store consignment, where the store’s cut can be 40% to 60%, says Arroz.

Material Wrld and The Cools, for example, both charge sellers a 15% commission, while Poshmark takes 20%. Listing an item is free. Most sites also cover shipping charges. Plus, unlike consignment, sites usually let you hang on to items (and continue wearing them) until they sell, Arroz says.

Or, rather, if they sell. With so many new sites in competition, it can be tough to gauge how active their user base actually is – and in any case, it’s definitely smaller than eBay. “You want to make sure they have enough audience to sell your clothes,” Madhok says. She suggests would-be sellers review the site for a few days to see what’s listed and how much inventory changes from visit to visit. Turnover indicates people are actually using the site.

It’s also worth assessing which marketplace has other users with similar taste in brands and styles, which increases the chances an item will sell. Some sites also clean up user-submitted photos, which can help showcase an item’s appeal, Arroz says.

On the buying side, shoppers searching secondhand sites for bargains should look at policies on returns before buying. In addition to concerns about items that don’t fit or are damaged, counterfeits could be a problem, says Alina Halloran, a vice president of online brand protection for security firm OpSec. “If an item is in demand and there’s a reasonable value attached to it, it’s absolutely targeted,” she says.

Halloran suggests perusing the seller’s other listings. The risk of fakes is higher if the seller is hawking a wide range of items and sizes, indicating they didn’t all come from his or her closet. If there’s feedback available from previous buyers, check that, too.

The sites say that their return policies are generous and that they aim to keep counterfeits off the sale rack through staff reviews of items. “In 99% of cases, we’re able to prevent those items from ever making it on the site,” says Tracy DiNunzio, the chief executive of Tradesy. The site accepts returns from buyers for any reason, offering either store credit (say, if the buyer just changed her mind) or cash (if the seller misrepresented an item).

Article Source http://money.msn.com/saving-money-tips/post.aspx?post=861a0f34-266d-4521-a5e9-abce432ba472

Smart Money: Moths Got Your Clothes? by Kelli B.Grant

SmartMoney Logo Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 1.11.13 PMBy Kelli B. Grant

It’s a seasonal tradition many consumers could do without — unpacking winter garb only to discover some has been rendered holey.

Guy J. Sagi / Shutterstock.com

The usual suspects for the damage, the two species of clothes moths that menace innocent garments worldwide. Experts say infestations become more or less common as natural fibers like wool, down and silk — the bugs’ preferred snacks — go in and out of favor with manufacturers of clothing and home furnishings. “As long as we’re using natural fibers, it’ll be a problem,” says Jason Dombroskie, coordinator of the Insect Diagnostic Lab at Cornell University. (Moths are less active in the cold, but if your home is heated, they can wreak havoc year-round.)

Consumers are likely to find there’s little hope for salvaging damaged duds. The odd hole may be fixable, but the moth larvae doing the actual eating tend to leave wide trails of damage, which are in many cases impossible to repair, says James Kirby, chief analyst at the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute.

Protecting one’s wardrobe, however, is possible. Preventing the expensive damage comes down to good cleaning and storage habits. Moths are attracted to small stains from food, sweat and perfume, so regularly washing or dry-cleaning clothing can make garment’s less appealing to the pests, says Linda Arroz, co-author of “Affordable Couture.” Be sure to similarly clean any clothing bought secondhand before transferring to your wardrobe. (Freezing items helps in a pinch as well, Dombroskie says.) Damage is more likely to be incurred while garments are in out-of-season storage. Clean clothing before packing it away in airtight bags or plastic containers when possible, and consider tucking in cedar or lavender sachets — moths don’t like those scents, and will usually stay away, she says.

Keeping the rest of one’s home clean helps too. Rugs and couches are other common sources of moth infestations, Dombroskie says, but even a few dust bunnies under the couch or a rodent nest in the attic could provide enough food to keep a moth population alive for years. “Regular vacuuming will cut down on the amount of debris and dust that they can feed on,” he says. Apartment dwellers may be at greater risk, since their neighbors’ cleanliness matters, too. If you suspect a specific piece of furniture in your home is the source of the infestation, you’re probably better off throwing it out, since typical solutions like freezing or dry-cleaning are less feasible.

Already infested? An exterminator might be your best recourse — but even that could be iffy. As a columnist for The Guardian recently put it: “It is possible to defeat moths. You could, for instance, burn your house down.” Experts concur. “Once they’re in there, they’re hard to get rid of,” says Dombroskie. (One of his clients has a home infestation of moths that are typically found in poultry barns, and inspections have failed to find the source of the problem.) Moth traps are only helpful in determining whether moths are really the culprits of noted damage — other pests, like carpet beetles and silverfish, also eat holes in clothing, and require different treatments, Kirby says. Many anti-moth insecticide products are meant for use only in unlived-in areas of your home, like an attic. Mothballs can kill them, but the chemicals can also be damaging for clothes and irritating to your skin. Other products containing cedar and lavendar only repel them. Plus, even if you successfully eliminate the pests from clothing or get a whole new wardrobe, as noted above, there are usually plenty of other things in your home that they can go after.

http://blogs.smartmoney.com/paydirt/2012/11/08/moths-got-your-clothes/

Bras for the Cause: What You Need to Know About Breast Reconstruction When You’ve Been Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

Bras for the Cause: What You Need to Know About Breast Reconstruction When You’ve Been Diagnosed With Breast Cancer.

Smart Money: Going To An Outlet Mall? Wear A Thinking Cap by Kelli Grant

Smart Money Linda Arroz
Smart Money: Going to an outlet mall? Wear a thinking cap.

Going To An Outlet Mall? Wear A Thinking Cap.

by Kelli Grant

Outlet malls have a reputation for big-name brands and low prices. Now, shoppers can add Bloomingdale s to their list of potential bargains.

Parent company Macy s announced last week that it will open four Bloomingdale s outlet stores before fall, in Paramus, N.J.; Miami; Sunrise, Fla.; and Woodbridge, Va., with more locations planned for 2011. The outlets will sell clearance items from the mainstream Bloomingdale s stores.

Considering that competitors Saks, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom already have booming outlet divisions (Off 5th, Last Call and Nordstrom Rack, respectively), Bloomingdale s move is more about opportunity than desperation, says Kim Picciola, a senior analyst for Morningstar who covers the retail sector. They can really use outlet locations to unload excess inventory, she says. Bloomingdale s outlets will also expand the brand s customer base, because outlet malls tend to draw more value-oriented crowds.

But in the struggling economy, the eye-popping deals shoppers have come to expect don t always materialize, says Howard Davidowitz, the chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, a national retail consulting firm and investment bank based in New York. Retailers and designers have scaled back inventory amid slumping sales, which leaves less overstock. Some of that may go instead to discount stores such as TJ Maxxsample sales and even charity. Many brands — including Coach, Ann Taylor (ANN: 26.23, 1.21, 4.84%) and Brooks Brothers — fill the gaps with outlet-only lines that they sell at full price. You bought a Coach bag for $200; well, OK, but is that the same bag that s in stores for $600? he says. You have to be sure you re getting a comparative value.

Use these six tips to make sure you re getting the best deal:

Dig for discounts

A few minutes at the outlet mall s web site can yield savings of 30% or more. For example, outlet mall developer Chelsea Premium Outlets offers a free VIP Club with coupon booklets, exclusive online coupons and sale notifications. On an impromptu outlet mall visit, stop by the visitor s center or office first. That s where you ll find coupon booklets and details about current sales and discounts.

Forbes: How To Dress Like The Boss by Meghan Casserly – Girl Friday

Link to original article on Forbes Woman 

At the age of 35, Linda Arroz made a major career change: from a working on the assembly line at a General Motors plant as a spot-welder to an image consultant in the corporate and fashion worlds. After a stint as a spokesmodel for women’s fashion company Spiegel, her new job was to assist business women hone their fashion sense.

Sound unlikely? Well Arroz, 50, the author of the soon-to-be-published If You Can Wear That, You Can Be That, recognizes that a major part of her personal success came from dressing the part.

“I took leaves of absence from my job [at the plant] and went to New York and Los Angeles and networked my way into an image consulting certificate and a new career, based not only on talent, but the credibility that I looked the part.” Since then, and throughout the decades of experience Arroz has since enjoyed in dressing women and speaking to audiences about image and self esteem, where she proselytizes the value of dressing for your audience.

A 2001 study conducted by consumer research firm Yankelovich Partners, Inc., titled “Work Your Image: The Importance of Appearance on the Job” reported that 76% of respondents believe that a woman’s appearance affects whether she is taken seriously, asked to participate in meetings with upper management or is well regarded by colleagues and supervisors. Sixty four percent believe that her appearance will lead to consideration for raises or promotion.

“The old adage is true,” says Sheri Cole, executive director of The Career Wardrobe, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that helps women prepare for reentering the workforce, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Call it shallow or superficial, but the bottom line is that when it comes to fashion, if you’re looking to climb the corporate ladder–dress for the top rung.

“It’s important to understand the culture of the company you work for, especially any quirks and expectations the company has regarding wardrobe,” says Arroz. To succeed within the confines of any corporate culture, playing the part is a key to getting ahead, she says.

Why look to your boss and not the pages of Vogue? “Women in leadership roles exude confidence,” says Arroz. “Remember the film Working Girl?” she asks, in which Melanie Griffith takes over her boss’s position and makes deals far above her own position as a secretary. “She almost pulls it off,” says Arroz. How? “She wore her boss’s clothes.”

Michelle Smith, the fashion designer behind Milly, a contemporary line for women with workplace-friendly flare doesn’t suggest stealing the look of your female superiors, but says that when in doubt about workplace fashion, taking cues from them can be incredibly helpful. “Your boss and other high level women in your company can give great insight to what’s expected of women in your corporate culture, whether you work in a creative field like fashion or the legal profession where guidelines tend to be more conservative.”

It should go without saying that your boss’s Chanel is out of your entry-level budget. Bear in mind that her Birkin Bag was likely unattainable even for her at the start of her career, and shop accordingly. Read: do not max out credit card after credit card in order to dress like your boss. Instead, use her style for inspiration, and shop within your means to keep your savings in good shape. As your make your corporate climb, not only will it begin to grow, but your budget–and your style along with it.

Michelle Smith, the fashion designer behind Milly, a contemporary line for women with workplace-friendly flare doesn’t suggest stealing the look of your female superiors, but says that when in doubt about workplace fashion, taking cues from them can be incredibly helpful. “Your boss and other high level women in your company can give great insight to what’s expected of women in your corporate culture, whether you work in a creative field like fashion or the legal profession where guidelines tend to be more conservative.”

It should go without saying that your boss’s Chanel is out of your entry-level budget. Bear in mind that her Birkin Bag was likely unattainable even for her at the start of her career, and shop accordingly. Read: do not max out credit card after credit card in order to dress like your boss. Instead, use her style for inspiration, and shop within your means to keep your savings in good shape. As your make your corporate climb, not only will it begin to grow, but your budget –and your style along with it.

“Women should invest in basic pieces that can be mixed and matched,” says Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress For Success. No matter the career, building a professional wardrobe starts with the basics—but doesn’t have to break the bank.

“Splurge on the staples,” says Coles. “You want to buy the most expensive, conservative suit you can afford that will be timeless and get you through every interview, performance review and client meeting.”

“Black is the workhorse,” adds Arroz. “Avoid double-breasted jackets (which can make women look boxy, particularly if they’re busty), but don’t shy away from a jacket with an interesting collar or feature.”

The classic white blouse is a timeless piece and one that can be found at every price point. Smith recommends a feminine blouse, perhaps with a bow to offset a conservative suit, while Coles stresses that trendier pieces such as bows and ruffled tops should be “frugally fashionable.” “This season ruffles are a big trend but may be out by next winter, so don’t buy a $100 ruffled top from a chic boutique when you can spend $20 and have the same look that won’t leave your checking account sad!”

A good rule of thumb to follow with any on-trend wardrobe add-ons or finishing touches including jewelry, scarves and accessories. Take a look at the bag your boss is carrying and the shoes on her feet, our style advisors say. “Your shoes and bag complete your professional look as long as they don’t weigh you down,” says Coles, who notes that the perfect executive tote can fit everything from a portfolio to a water bottle to a granola bar to get you through your day.

“Shoes, handbags and accessories are the easiest pieces to find [on a budget],” she says. “You can update your wardrobe with a designer handbag from an outlet like TJ Maxx or consignment resale stores that are brand new or gently used for a fraction of the cost.”

Smith says that in designing a working wardrobe for Milly, or advising young women on dressing for work, the important thing is to incorporate a feminine feel without losing credibility. With that in mind, when shopping, be conscious of hemlines (not too high) and bust lines (not too low). Her top pick for a workplace purchase that gets the most wear in any season for any body type? A fitted sheath dress. “It works belted, with a fitted blazer, a boxy tweed jacket, a belted cardigan and on its own,” she says, “It’s really quite perfect.”

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