Archive for the ‘Tips & Tricks Tuesday’ Category

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…

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.

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!

July 15th, 2014

The Long and Short of It

I gave a talk this week about necklaces and necklines.  It’s a typical question we get here at DC Style Factory: Go long? Go choker? Go statement?

The easiest necklaces to wear with just about any neckline is a longer one. The length of the necklace clears any v, scoop, drape or boat neckline. Whether you decide to go longer or shorter, you don’t want your necklace bumping up against your neckline. So either select one that is about an ½ an inch to an inch above your neckline or one that drops under your neckline at least several inches.

Longer necklaces, much like v-neck tops, lengthen your neckline, which in general is more flattering. Chokers shorten your neckline, which sometimes can sometimes be a more challenging style to wear. If you are petite, pay attention to how long the long necklace goes. Right below the bustline is good – grazing your bellybutton is too long.

Here is quick, easy guide for selecting which necklaces go best with which necklines.


Vneck  top

Wear with…


Smaller drop/pendant necklace that flows into v of the top


Longer non-pendant necklace that clears the v of the top and flows with the draping.

Pass on…

Wearing with a choker, which shortens your neckline and counteracts to the lengthening effect of the v shape.


Wear with…

 A statement necklace that mimics the curved shape of the neckline and covers expose neck/chest surface area.

Pass on…

A choker that will leave too much empty surface area and not cover enough neck/chest area.


Boatneck Top

Wear with…

A longer necklace,  which draws attention up and down, and balances the high, horizontal neckline.

Pass on…

A choker/collar necklace that will bump up against with the neckline.

A statement necklace higher up on the neck that will grab and pull at the horizontal neckline.


Collared Buttondown Shirt

Wear with…

A statement necklace under the collar for a “brooch” effect.


A statement under the shirt with some color peaking out.

Pass on…

A long necklace that will compete with the verticle button placket on the shirt.



Wear with…

A longer necklace that lengthens your neckline since the high neckline of the crewneck top shortens it.

A statement necklace that “creates” a new, longer neckline. Select a statement necklace that covers the top of the crewneck.

Pass on…

A collar necklace; it just further shortens your neckline.



Wear with…

-  A shorter statement necklace that leaves about 1/2 an inch of space between the necklace and the neckline.

- A longer necklace that clears the neckline.

- The two together as pictured!

Another fun option is to wear with a collar necklace.

There are a multitude of other necklines and variations on necklines, but just remember, you simply want the necklace you choose to make sense with the neckline of the top. If you are fussing with it too much or it just doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. But selecting the right necklace can really make a difference in adding polish, personality and finish to your look. Happy accessorizing!

June 17th, 2014

The Khaki Suit: Warm Weather Work Staple for Men

Temperatures are rising so time for guys to break out their warm-weather suit staple: the khaki suit. Here are three ways to wear that same suit.

Some tips to keep in mind:
- Embrace the wrinkle — it is not a wool suit. The fabric will wrinkle more so after you wear, you will need to let your suit “rest” and iron/steam a bit.
- In case of sweating through your khakis, try Under Armour’s Boxerjock.
- The khaki suit pops more than a grey suit, obviously so you will make a statement even if you pair with a classic white buttondown shirt.

Dressy Work

Business Casual

Sunday Brunch

May 3rd, 2014

Shop-Your-Closet: Black Pants Reboot

We had a client this week who had lots of black pants.Lots and lots and lots and lots of black pants. Like as in she pretty much never wore anything BUT black pants. The goal eventually is to give her more options and break her out of that black-pants-only rut, but in the meantime (and since this was a Shop-Your-Closet appointment) we wanted to see if we could reinvigorate those dark trousers using what she already owned.

When we arrived


As a busy attorney, wife, and mother of two teens, she needed looks that remained classic but that had more style and felt more current. We used three techniques to do liven up her black trousers for work.


Pattern and Texture

We paired a striped cardigan with a black lace top.  The look is simple and clean, but the texture of the lace with the stripes adds depth and interest to her look.



Our client had color in her wardrobe, but was used to wearing only one color paired with all neutrals. We wanted to have some fun with color-blocking and give her something slightly unexpected but still very wearable and office-appropriate.



For our last look, we paired the black pants with a boxy, swingy jacket, which is very on-trend right now (she was happy to find out). The purple blouse underneath adds just a pop of color that draws your eye up and lets the jacket shape really stand out against the rest of the outfit.


*Note: Our client loves simple, simple (or no) accessories so we had her add a beautiful gold chain with a small coin pendant to each look.

What ways have you breathed new life into a basic?




April 17th, 2013

My Closet

There are some questions I get pretty much with every new client.

Like…do you have a lot of clothes? Yes. BUT … that does not mean I believe you need a lot of clothing to have a versatile, colorful and interesting wardrobe with a multitude of options. I just like clothes. A lot.

Or…do you have a big closet? No. Not even close. Thems the breaks when you live in a nearly 100-year-old tudor. People back then didn’t have, um, shoe collections.

And my personal favorite?

How do you organize your closet so you can put together outfits easily?  By type and color. So all my blouses are together, light to dark. All my blazers together, light to dark. All my skirts together, light to dark…you get the picture.

You know how I know I’m doing it the right way? Because Rachel told me so. And because once I decide what top I want to wear, I can easily hold it up and “scan” it across my jackets to see what it can go with. Easy. Peasy.

Additionally, I have my shoes on shoe racks and in clear see-through Container Store containers. The shoes I wear most often, I have out on the floor of my closet for easy access.

Dresses go on a separate rolling rack outside of my closet in the corner of our bedroom, also organized by color.

Sweaters and tees folded in dresser.

And denim? It’s so anal-geeky, I can’t believe I am sharing this, but here goes…I put them in these fabric bins on the back shelving of my oddly shaped closet. I label the bins  by denim type - skinny, flare, boyfriend/rolled, bootcut. So basically I have a wall of denim. No. Joke. But it works. I know what bin to go to based on the shoe I’ve chosen because that is where I always start — from the bottom up — depending on if I am going to be on my feet all day with clients, running around at the playground with kids or going out on a date with my very tall husband.

What all this does is it makes things easy to find and match and put together. Getting dressed  is a 5-10 minute endeavor instead of a 20-minute one.

Well, most of the time…