Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fashion Q&A with an expert

Sorry for the delay - blogger is having issues today and lost my post this morning. Ugh!

In case you missed it, or you are looking for the challenge to learn about prayer through 27 instances of Jesus praying, it is 2 posts below. Jump in and do one!

Last week I asked professional image consultant Shari Braendel to look over our comments on the clothing posts and address some of our issues. She agreed - and also agreed to give away one of her books here! So without further delay, here is what Shari had to say.

1) One reader comments, “I've always been into fashion, and I still struggle with what is "appropriate" … should I dress to cover up my figure?” Shari, what guidelines can you offer us gals for what is appropriate to wear? And does “what’s appropriate” change depending on things like your age, the time of day, or the people you are with?

Dressing age-appropriate means you take your age into consideration when you choose clothes to wear and try not too look younger (or older) than you are. How do you do this? Well, there are many ways to do so, but first you must shop in the correct “department” of the store you are shopping in. After the age of 30, please don’t venture into the Junior dept. again…that is a major no-no. If you are a woman over 30, buy labels that you know and trust, like Liz Claiborne, Jones of New York and Ralph Lauren. Classic pieces will go a long way in your wardrobe and then add trendy accessories to update your look.

Find your personal style and be comfortable in what makes you happy…and what makes you look good! I don’t recommend you dress for the people you’re with…dress for you!

2) It was recently Valentine’s Day, and lots of couples went out to eat. Many a woman donned something low-cut, sexy and red for that dinner – which is great for their husbands. But what about all the other men they passed by, or sat across from in that restaurant? When a gal has a hubby that likes for her to “look sexy” for him (or she likes to), how should she handle that?

As Christian women, we are held to a higher standard. It is our responsibility to not cause our brothers-in-Christ to sin, whether it be in their thoughts or actions. If you like to dress sexy, I would first examine “why” you do this. Do you want attention? Do you think this is the only way to get noticed? If so, you’re asking for the wrong kind of attention.

There is a time and place for sexy, and honestly, it’s for a quiet, romantic evening at home with your husband. If he wants you to dress sexy for a night out, then make sure you have a wrap or dressy coat to wear in and out of the restaurant and ask him to make reservations for you to sit in a romantic spot in the restaurant, which is usually near a corner. When seated, you should take your seat so you’re not facing many people. Be discreet, and remember it’s your husband you’re trying to excite, not someone else’s husband or boyfriend.

3) Sometimes we buy something that seemed appropriate in the store dressing room, but once we got it home, cut the tags and wore it, we realized it looks awful, or it doesn’t stay put, or it’s too short when we reach up, or it emphasizes all the cellulite in our thighs when we sit down. Any tips for what we can do to avoid such fashion flops and find a good fit?

We all make fashion flops, even I do. Don’t impulse shop. When you go shopping, take a good friend with you who has some fashion sense and ask her to look at you from all angles. Also, when you try something on, turn your back from the mirror until you get the whole outfit on, then turn around and see yourself at once…first impression! What did you think as soon as you saw yourself? Make sure you look at yourself in a 3 way mirror and go shopping with the proper undergarments you’ll need for the particular items you’ll be purchasing.

Finally, when you arrive home, DON’T remove the tags right away. When you wear the outfit for the first time, ask your family first what they think … my husband and teenage son are my best mirrors …they tell me like it is, and they’re usually right!

4) Another reader said, “Having been blessed with a "curvy" body, I have always been self-conscious of walking into a room and people looking right at my chest. For so many years, I wore bigger, looser clothes to cover up myself. But I felt frumpy, and not good about myself.” Any tips for the curvy among us – short of buying a pup tent?

A pup tent? Girlfriend, no! Most importantly, get fitted for a proper support bra. If you haven’t been fitted for a new bra this year, it’s time to do that. Every year our body changes so this should be an annual event for us.

(BTW, don't rush out and buy a new one just like your old one. Shari taught me this. Go to a store like Dillards and get fitted by the employee for the right type of bra for you in the right size. Most of us wear the wrong size and it affects how we look.)

Prints will always make a bust appear smaller. So find prints that are compatible with your frame size. You may have to layer some pieces, too, so you don’t show cleavage. And finally, go up one size in your blouses and sweaters. They will hang better but won’t be so loose. Refrain from wearing too tight clothes, which can also make you look bigger than you are.

5) Shari, one commenter said she dresses for her most fashionable friends. I think the team at P31 dresses for you! ;) We always want Shari’s input, and we jump at a chance to go shopping with her. (I live 4 hours away from her so I rarely get to do that – just letting you know in case you ever see me and I don’t look so fashionable – its not Shari’s fault.) So, what are a couple of ways we can be “fashion-forward” this spring, without breaking the bank or inviting the men around us to leer?

You always look great, Rachel! Remember to wear colors that flatter you, I’m obsessive about that for women. Too many women fall into the “wear all black” wardrobe category and it’s boring and aging.

Look at your closet and see what you need. I’d recommend adding a few pieces at a time to spruce up your wardrobe. If you have neutral colors, buy a few brights to add some color. Purchase a new handbag in one of the new bold colors for spring and add some fabulous new turquoise accessories! Find a pair of wedge sandals to give your outfits a lift and buy a fabulous pair of jeans in a vibrant hue. These will make you look very hip!

For lots more tips on the spring fashion trends, check out Shari's blog.
But before you do, leave a comment by midnight Thursday to be entered to win a copy of Shari's great book "If Clothes Could Talk." In it you can find all kinds of information from how to find the right bra and jeans for you, to what styles look best on your particular body type.

Hum, if my clothes could talk, what would they be saying about me ...


  1. Thank you, Shari for sharing your expertise with us! I appreciate your helpful tips. I also needed the reminder to go get re-fitted for a bra! It does make a difference and so many of us are wearing the wrong type/size!

    Thanks again, for your time!

  2. Great advice! It's good to be reminded that being fashionable does not have be to difficult!

  3. Thank you Shari and Rachel. All that advice was great. I think I needed all that because as for me, being a pastor's wife, I try to look fashionable and presentable at all times, and I especially want to look attractive for my husband.

    Thanks again!

  4. I could always use tips on being more in style I want to dress fashionably but not sure how.
    So I'm up for the book, thanks.

  5. The tips and input are great, Shari. Thank you. My body has changed a lot post kids and have never gotten comfortable again with dressing myself in anything more than sweats/jeans and tees (also a mark of being a stay at home mom?). I have been trying to get more intentional about buying color -- totally reinforced by your advice here! Thanks again.

  6. Thanks for the advice, i've just started back to work after having kids so its a nice reminder of what to look and buy.

  7. This topic is timely for me...my daughter will be getting married next year and I'm already worried about wearing something more fitted and dressy. If I'm not in my nurse scrubs for work, I'm in a tee shirt and jeans. Thanks Shari for the advice. Thanks to you too Rachel for bringing this topic to your blog!

  8. Thank you Shari and Rachel for all the great advice. I really needed to be reminded to get refitted for a bra. With my job I try to look professional without wearing anything to revealing. Sometimes it is really hard to find proper fitting appropriate clothing.

    Thanks again!

    Deb V

  9. Rachel and Shari,

    Great topic for discussion. I have been down this path with my daughter, she is having a really tough time with her body's changing shape as she's passing through her twenties, (is single and has not had children) but had brain tumor affected weight gain. She's very busty and we recently spent literally hours in one of the finer department stores in our area with the bra fitting specialist, all three of us nearly tearing our hair out, as we could just not find 'the perfect one.' We did feel a sense of triumph though when we finally found one that was very close. She is also rather tall, and leggy, so finding clothing that is modest (short skirts are just too short with too much leg revealed) is a challenge. I'd love to be able to pass Shari's book on to her.

    Thank you

  10. Thank you for your great advice. Sometimes we try to dress like someone we are not!

  11. Thanks for the tips.I saw this post a bit late as it is friday now in Malaysia.Anyways will try to follow what you have recommended.I like dressing well,my mum always instilled this in us.Nevertheless both my mum and sis are really fashionable.Sometimes i just love being simple.My fiancee is a simple person too.So i usually try to balance in being stylish and simple when needed.I am also educating my fiancee in this area.:)
    Just a quick question to ask..... a second opinion that i need.I am gonna be a bridesmaid soon for my friends wedding.My mum and I are debating on whether i should use a sandal or proper shoes.me for sandals and mom for proper shoes.Its a church wedding and then a dinner.Since you are the fashion expert... what is your advice..My dress is off white and its slightly below the knee.Thanks

    Sweet blessings
    Sheena Jeremiah

  12. Thank you both for this article. I am going to take some advice and look for someone to go with me to shop. I took my aunt with me once along time ago and she helped me a lot. I nearly forgot how great she was in buying clothes. She always looked good and she was a big woman. She has passed now and don't know anyone with clothes savvy. I live in Gresham, Oregon. Anyone out there want to go shopping with me? I am tired of Walmart and Target, or Kmart. Nothing fits right.

  13. Rachel! Thanks for your comments on my blog. Oh how wonderful a good book is, huh? Nothing better than a rainy fall afternoon, no plans, comfy clothes, a warm spot on the sofa and a book. Sigh, oh I can't wait for those days again when my kids are a little bigger.

    Also, I look forward to seeing you again this year at She Speaks! You are forever part of my faith journey after last year...this year maybe we can have a chance to talk and pray about happy things together!!


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