I have a passion for scoring beauty and fashion on a budget. It’s not always out of necessity but rather the principle of it. Ever since I was a teenager, my picks from the clearance racks and drugstore sales bin were most often the ones that garnered the biggest compliments and demands to know “WHERE DID YOU GET THAT???”
One time I even had a customer literally buy the shirt off my back while I was working retail at Gadzooks. At the time I was 17-years-old and making $5.35/hr. I had purchased it a couple of months earlier for about $5 off the Gadzooks final sale rack, and this woman offered me $50 and was so desperate that I probably could have asked her for even more. Instead I sold it to her for $20, and used the money to buy myself a replacement shirt (once again off our sale rack) and an Arby’s chicken bacon swiss sandwich for lunch.
Anyhow, I mention this because there’s a Sex and the City quote circulating on the web that goes something like this:
I like my money right where I can see it… hanging in my closet. – Carrie Bradshaw
This is actually a terrible philosophy. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sex and the City and Carrie Bradshaw is a beloved fictional character for me. Despite the sheer suspension of reality needed to believe that you could ever score a rent-controlled apartment like that in Manhattan, Carrie was nothing short of a bumbling fool when it came to money management. She possessed relationship wisdom and wit in spades, but her money management left a lot to be desired and she had the financial acumen of a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes.
So unless you’ve got a wealthy girlfriend who is willing to pawn her engagement ring to help you pay off your $40K worth of designer shoe debt, have a book deal about to drop into your lap, and feel confident you’ll be marrying your own version of Mr. Big… well, I think you get the picture. Carrie Bradshaw is fabulously and flamboyantly fictional, and statistically you’re in for a world of disappointment if you model your spending habits after her.
When it comes to money and fashion, I can recommend a much better role model by the name of Catherine Cassidy. I had the pleasure of meeting Catherine at a networking event this summer, and was immediately charmed by her friendly personality and entrepreneurial spirit. She is the CEO of U*Styled and specializes in helping women build efficient and stylish wardrobes. Lucky for us, Catherine was kind enough to put together some pro tips and tricks for looking like a million bucks without spending a million bucks.
P.S. If you or someone you know is a Sex and the City fan, you can purchase an architectural sketch of Carrie’s iconic apartment on Etsy. The artist, Iñaki Aliste Lizarralde, also sells sketches of Holly Golightly’s apartment from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Monica and Rachel’s apartment from Friends, and other well known dwellings from film and tv.
Three P’s of Dressing for Success
by Catherine Cassidy
Have an important meeting with a new client or work opportunity coming up? Then you’d better be sure to have your perfect outfit prepped well in advance!
Whether you like it or not, your outward appearance is just as important as your intelligence. According to Albert Mehrabian, a professor emeritus at UCLA who has done extensive research in communication and psychology, your communication is 55% visual, 38% tone of voice/energy and only 7% verbal.
Put another way, your physical/non-verbal presence accounts for 93% of your communication and the first, second, and third impression you make on others. This is what you’re wearing, your body language and the energy you have behind the words you choose.
So, how can you ensure that you’re sending the right message with your presence (energy) and style (presence)?
. . .
1. Pay Attention to the Details
This means your clothes are in good condition — shine your shoes, de-pill your sweaters, iron your suit and make sure there are no stains. The little details are usually the first thing that people notice, especially in high stake situations like presentations and interviews.
Take the extra time to add a bit of polish to your look as well. Style your hair so it isn’t distracting, but looks polished and YOU. You don’t need a lot of makeup, but a little mascara, powder and lip gloss can go a long way. Be honest with yourself about what you need to feel CONFIDENT in this setting. If it means you invest the $35 in a blowout, do that for yourself. Your confidence will thank you!
(I used to have unruly curly hair before my hair changed again, so believe me, I get it!)
2. Proper Fit is Key
This goes back to the details a bit, but it’s so important that it warrants its own section.
The #1 fix that I make with clients is FIT. You want your clothes to be tailored, not tight. If it’s bunching or bulging, it’s not right.
You also do want to show your shape. Finding clothes that work for your body type and flatter are key. I know that this can be challenging for women as we come in all shapes and size and women of ALL shapes and sizes have their own challenges, so if you feel frustrated on a consistent basis, it may be worthwhile to invest in some expert support.
A safe rule of thumb for showing your shape is that you should be able to define or create your waist. This doesn’t mean it has to be tight; it can skim. But if you wear something too oversized, you run the risk of looking BIGGER than you are as well as sloppy.
3. Personality Still Matters!
Here’s where we can have fun! (while being mindful of the audience)
How much fun we can have will depend on who you’re speaking with and the environment of this very important opportunity. BUT, even if it’s a really conservative environment, you have to add some of your personal style to your presentation/image.Even with your basic black suit, you can add personality with the color and accessories you choose.
It’s not rocket science, but the second most important thing I focus on with clients is accessorizing and adding color. The challenge is doing it in a way that is true to your own personal style and also appropriate for your work environment/setting. I’m a big fan of the subtle statement for accessories that work in any situation. A few of my favorites include pieces by Cayetano, Tiffany Kunz, and Alexis Bittar.
Do YOU as the best version of you. Presenting yourself with a power outfit that is truly “you” gives you what you need to access your Style Power.
What is Style Power? It’s the confidence a powerful woman exudes with her presence and style. Keywords: confidence, style and power.
A little more about Catherine…
After working in the Fashion Industry for Nordstrom, Robinsons May (which you would now know as Macy’s) and BCBG, Catherine Cassidy founded U*styled in 2008 to give professional women the tools to live their lives in style by curating a wardrobe they love that makes getting dressed each morning easy and effortless.
Now, with Boutique Box, she has created a streamlined and efficient process that makes working with a personal stylist cost efficient, time effective and FUN!
Catherine has a long list of very happy clients and she can work with new clients both nationally and internationally via Skype and Google HangOut, so don’t worry if you aren’t based here in Los Angeles, California.
Interested in getting hooked up with great style at an affordable price? Sign up at Ustyled.com to learn how to build a wardrobe you love.