August 18th, 2014

Inside DC Style Factory: A Wider Circle

Where does the clothing go after a closet audit?

So we’ve gone through your entire wardrobe and pulled out items that don’t fit or no longer work for you. We take them away in bags and you are left feeling lighter…freer. Where  exactly do we bring those bags filled with clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.?

Right here:

 

 

This is the professional arm of A Wider Circle — a nonprofit organization in Silver Spring, Md.  with a  “mission of helping children and adults lift themselves out of poverty.” The organization addresses the “whole person” with programs that not only meet people’s tangible needs, but also what founder, Dr. Mark Bergel, calls “inner needs.”

One way A Wider Circle addresses these “inner needs” is through educational programming for job preparedness that includes resume-writing, interview skills, career path identification, among other topics. Job coaches are provided to every participant. Access to computers for resume-writing and job searching is also provided.

A Wider Circle’s Center for Professional Development also includes a well-stocked showroom of professional attire and accessories, which is where DC Style Factory donates clients’ clothing.

My daughter and I toured the showroom last month nd I was impressed with the wide array of clothing, knowledgeable and friendly staff, and impeccably organized floor.  It was such an wonderful moment seeing all  those racks of clothing and knowing that pieces my clients no longer can use are going to people who need the right look to make those strides in life we all want.

My daughter even picked out her favorite dress:

 

I want to thank all my clients for their generosity. That suit that no longer fits? Well, it may just be getting someone their dream job.

This article is part of the Inside DC Style Factory series,  highlighting how we work and some of our most popular services.  

August 11th, 2014

Inside DC Style Factory: What is a Closet Audit?

 

“Recently Rosana assisted me in purging and auditing  my closet.  She organized it with precision and now makes going there a pleasant experience,” 

- Cindy, 61

I may have worked with Stacy London in the past, but our DC Style Factory Closet Audit service is not exactly the same as what you may have  see on What Not to Wear.  There is no garbage can. There are no snarky comments. What you are likely to hear  from me is that I think we could do better if I do in fact, think we can do better.

When we start working with a new client, 9 times out of 10 we start with his/her closet. A  DC Style Factory Closet Audit is a way to go through all your existing clothing with the guidance and know-how of a professional who can impartially access what is and is not working for you.

The criteria we use to determine what stays and goes are:

- Your body type/silhouette

- Your lifestyle

- Your personal style

And sometimes something is just getting old/worn and needs replacing.

We make recommendations on pant length, skirt length, sleeve length, what to highlight and more. We will pin clothing for any tailoring and will recommend our favorite tailors in the area. We also will organize your closet in a way that will help you create outfits each day with more ease.

Once the closet audit is complete, we will bag any clothing to be donated and we take it away to A Wider Circle in Silver Spring, Md. Everything left in your closet are truly items that work for you.

Following your closet audit, you will receive a Style Memo from us that summarizes any key style points discussed during the appointment, a shopping list of missing wardrobe essentials (budgeted and prioritized), and next steps to reach your wardrobe/style goals.

Clients who have had a DC Style Factory Closet Audit have described the experience as “liberating,” “educational,” and “way more fun than cleaning out your closet should be.” I guarantee you will laugh during our session and  surprise yourself with what you thought you could and could not wear.

This blog post is part of the “Inside DC Style Factory” series that gives readers a peek into some of more popular personal styling services.

 

 

 

August 4th, 2014

Throw Yourself an Arm Party

Women have been stacking on bangles since Cleopatra   sported an armful (or two) of gold snake bracelets .  And recently, bloggers and fashionistas have put this adornment idea on steroids, combining string bracelets, chunky watches and multiple bangles. Leandra Medine of Man Repeller regularly throws herself what she dubs an arm party (#armparty), and there are countless Pinterest hits on wrist bling overload.

The bracelet pile up can be particularly dramatic — and joyfully noisy — in warm months, when you’re more likely to flash a bit of wrist. But what’s the key to wearing a glut of bracelets without coming across like a fortune teller or fashion victim?

First, don’t be too timid — one skinny bracelet (think those 1990s diamond tennis numbers) says, “style wimp” while “wearing multiple bracelets allows you show your personal style,” says Kelli Wilson, buying director for the local boutique chain Lou Lou , which sells dozens of examples from princess-y gems to are-we-in-Ibiza? beaded varieties. The shops even hawk Hipanema’s Brazilian-style, multi-strand bracelets that mimic a heap of jewelry in one piece.

Then, think outside the jewelry box. “You can do a mash-up of all one type of bracelets, say tribal or beaded, but I prefer an unexpected contrast like a chunky horn bracelet with a dainty vintage charm bracelet,” says Anna Kahoe, co-owner of U Street’s GoodWood , a vintage furniture emporium that also sells romantic, retro-looking bracelets and cuffs by brands like Alkemie  and Extasia. Kahoe also likes merging vintage finds — maybe a few of her dozens of Bakelite bangles — with new pieces. “It’s like what you’d do in your home,” she says.

“The fun thing about wearing multiple bracelets is that there are no rules,” says Wilson. Still, she recommends you “pick pieces that reflect your style, whether that’s boho chic or classy and simple.” In other words, if you’re a corporate lawyer, you might want to skip the forearm full of studs and leather until after you make partner.

Me, I heap on seven or eight bangles most summer days — three ebony wood and brass beauties I scored in a Moroccan marketplace, plus several colorful, recycled plastic ones from Burkina Faso . The combo nearly always sparks a conversation or draws a compliment, especially if my manicure isn’t chipping.

And no wonder: “Bracelets draw the eye to really pretty parts of a woman’s body, the wrists and hands,” says Kahoe. “They’re having a moment.”

 Post by Jennifer Barger (www.jennbarger.com, @dcjnell)     

 

 

July 28th, 2014

Inside DC Style Factory: Shopping Your Closet

Our  Shop Your Closet service is one of my personal favorites. It really gets my creative juices flowing. Plus, the excitement a client feels when she sees her “same old clothes” reinvented? Priceless.

When I do a Shop Your Closet session with a client, I am not going to find everything I need to make an outfit I have pictured in my head for that person. But you improvise. You make it work.  There is always something in your closet that can be transformed or reinvented.

Recently, I met with a client who had  no layering pieces OR jewelry OR really any accessories for that matter. As a nurse, her workwear was scrubs. She wanted to have outfits for semi- dressy happy hours hosted by her husband’s law firm. But all she had was a closet full of tops, bottoms and dresses.  She would be fine wearing a dress and shoes, but we wanted something just a bit more. 

If you have worked with me, you have heard my “think of three” mantra where you look at your outfit as more than just a top and a bottom, but one more piece to pull it  all together. That could be a great necklace, earrings, a blazer, a cardigan, a scarf…anything that makes what you are putting on a look.

Well,  what do you do when you have absolutely no “threes?”

This is what we did:

We took one of her light, drapey, cream buttondown tops that she always wore as a blouse…and made it a jacket (if you have worked with me you also know I love my white jackets). It transformed 75 percent of  her looks.

 

We made it work! And she worked it. Needless to say, I am still sending her out shopping for a new white blazer ;)

This post is part of the Inside DC Style Factory series, which highlights how we work and some of most popular services.

July 21st, 2014

Summer Vacation Packing Tips

By the time you read this, I will be cruising at 30,000 feet on my way to Thailand by way of Tokyo, Japan. I am off for a month (a month!) visiting my family in Thailand, and I am so excited I could cry. But I couldn’t go on a trip without doing a post on packing. This month I have been busy creating outfits and packing clients for trips out West, down South, Italy, and more. I have clients who will not wear clothing twice during a trip and I have clients who want to pack as little as possible. We always make it work.

I did a packing blog post way back when — for Disney World. My packing strategy generally stays the same, though.

The questions I ask myself are:
- Any dressy events? (I do those first.)
- Can I do laundry?
- What is weather like and can I wear the same thing twice (non-sweaty climate where clothing will get soiled easily)?
- Will I be walking a lot (and related, what is the terrain like)?
- Will I be swimming?

After I ask myself these questions, I then start putting together outfits in this order:

1. Color. Pick 1-3 color stories, depending on the length of your trip (1-2 “stories” for a week-long vacation; I am gone a month so I am doing four color stories). What the heck is a color story you ask? I could give you the long, fashion-y, mood-board answer, but for our purposes, a color story is a group of colors that work together and can be mixed and matched easily. So for example, for this trip, I picked red, white and blue (patriotic); olive, black and cream (safari); and grey, lavender and denim blue. Within each color story, I then mixed and matched several different outfits, which brings us to…
IMG_0293

2. Bottoms. I decide on bottoms first. I don’t typically pack bottoms for every single day I am going to be away. This trip I know I can do laundry so I am packing about 10 days worth of bottoms. I know I will re-use a pair of jeans or dark shorts and wear a new top. However, this is personal preference. If you are going to be doing activities that will get you hot, sweaty and dirty then you’d want to bring a bottom for each day you are away. If you can re-use, I suggest packing half the number of days you are going to be away (i.e., four bottoms for a week-long trip).

3. Tops. I do bring a top for each day, plus several extra in case of spills,etc. I usually have the bottom within that color story and then do several tops for the same bottom, plus one layering piece, just i case.
IMG_0291

4. One-pieces. I always throw in a couple casual dresses, rompers, etc. If  you have specific dressier events on your trip, though, I  recommend putting together and fully accessorizing those specific looks separately.

5. Shoes. I then put one pair of shoes for each color story. Sometimes the same shoes work for all color stories. I always struggle with wanting to bring LOTS of shoes, but I usually limit it to 4 pairs, particularly when I am dealing with cutting it close on luggage weight limits (50 lbs per bag for international) — shoes are heavy! I do always bring one random pair of fun, snazzy heels even if I don’t think I am going to wear them. It’s easy to throw on a pair of fun heels and big earrings with a very simple monochromatic outfit for an impromptu night out.

6. Jewelry. I don’t bring much. I always tell my clients it’s great to have that “signature” necklace that goes with everything. Nothing huge or fancy, but has unique character and is endlessly versatile. For me, it’s this Alexis Bittar horseshoe necklace. Goes with everything and is just the right mix of bling and everyday effortless. I always bring the basics/essentials like my Michael Kors watch, and maybe just a few added special pieces (sparkly big earrings just in case I end up going out at night). Again, if you have specific dressier events on your trip, though, I  recommend putting together and fully accessorizing those specific looks separately.

7. Layering pieces. Bring a neutral vneck cardigan or if you want color, melon, to throw on over any outfit if you get chilly. I also bring a lightweight anorak, just in case, and carry it on the plane.

8. Specialty pieces. You may need bathing suits, hats, etc. Packing hats kinda drives me nuts. I just get way to nervous about ruining them. But you’ll find a bazillion videos on You Tube on how to properly pack your hat.

9. Underwear. Pack enough to last you not just the entire trip but then a week more. You’ll thank me later.

Finally – the most important part of your packing is when you have all the stuff laid out and ready to go in the suitcase. Take a look and get real. As in with yourself. For example, flip-flops are what people wear everyday in Thailand. Am I truly going to wear those strappy wedge sandals that would be way too cute with my silk printed pants? Nope. Gentle cycle does not seem to exist with laundry machines in Thailand so do I want to bring that adorable hand-wash only silky top? Nope. Remove those extraneous items that you know you won’t wear.

Then fold or roll items in your suitcase. Honestly, I have done both and don’t find that either method strongly surpasses the other on saving space or remedying wrinkles.

Depending on where you are traveling sometimes it does make sense to pack more and then sometimes it makes more sense to pack less. Each trip is a different, but if you follow these general guidelines, promise you will get everything you need in your bag without busting the zipper.

Have a great rest of the summer everyone! If you want to keep up with my style and family adventures abroad, feel free to follow me on Instagram (@dcstylefactory). I look forward to seeing you this fall!