A good shop assistant is a ninja: she is trained to overpower you and take your money before you have time to feel a thing.
She knows exactly how long to give you before she makes eye contact, and starts flirting (about five seconds after you enter). She knows exactly when to ask you how it's going while you're in the change room. When I worked in retail, I was trained to peek under the door: when the customer's feet turned to the side, it meant she was looking at herself in the mirror, and that would be the perfect time to knock and ask "How does that look?" A sneaky technique, but it works.
Your well-trained sales assistant ninja even knows how to run around like crazy while you're in the fitting room to find you something "that will go with those pants", because she gets more commission on multiple sales than on single ones.
So, if the sales lady is so well trained, how do we, as shoppers without any training in the martial-shopping-arts, defend ourselves?
Read on, and learn the art of Defensive Shopping...
Rule 2: Get your Ninja on
The first thing we need to learn in defending ourselves from the shop assistant ninja, is to fight like she does. Being rude is not going to get you the dress you really want, so you have to play the game.
Firstly, to avoid being caught in the ninja-net five seconds after you have entered the shop, do the Stop-in-the-Doorway Block. If you stand in the doorway of the shop (unless it's a large department store), you should be able to see most of the clothes. Have your colour swatch in one hand, and your Hit List in the other, and compare the colours in that shop with your colour swatch. If you can't see at least four or five colours from your swatch, and there is no item that "calls" to you very loudly (as in "Look, I'm your colour and shape AND I'm on your list AND I'm just fabulous!"), then turn around and leave. The sales lady will not have had a chance to greet you yet, therefore no relationship will have been established, and you won't have to feel that you're rude if you just walk out again.
DO NOT set foot in a shop that doesn't OBVIOUSLY have what you're looking for. You will only set yourself up for failure.
If you do find a shop that looks promising, go in and be prepared to speak to the sales assistant. Never mumble "Oh, I'm just browsing." This is, of course, a thinly disguised way of saying "Leave me alone," but it's not going to get you those white pants you came in for.
Jane Fonda does it again! Honestly, the woman is Benjamin Button - she just gets younger and more fabulous. I wonder if she uses Arbonne?
Brilliant use of the fringed gold choker to add focus and age-appropriate modesty to the outfit, and kudos to her hairdresser, who knows how to
balance her long face.
I don't know the name of the bright young Star Trooper on the right, but I want to repeat what I said earlier: if any part of your body appears obviously larger than your head, it is time to reconsider your outfit. In this
case, it's the chest. Too much and too little, in my opinion.
There is one simple rule for knowing which necklines suit you.
If a neckline follows the shape of your chin, it will suit you, and draw the attention to your eyes.
If it goes against the shape of your chin, it will not suit, and the attention will fall on your neck or your chin instead of your eyes.
Getting the attention to your eyes makes you look more awake and alive, more interesting and more powerful.
Blake Lively is so beautiful, she would look good in anything.
Yet, incredibly, in some colours she looks even better than in others.
See how radiant and regal she is in the light blue dress. The cool, bright colours of the Refined palette bring out her natural beauty, and allow us to focus our gaze on her face, and drown in her beautiful blue eyes. Also, with her hair up, we see the ash tones of her natural hair colour, which flatter her face even more. And yes, she is highly pregnant in this photo.
In the butternut dress on the left, however, she pales by comparison. The colour seems to be speaking louder than Blake's personality, and my eyes get drawn to her cleavage (however admirable) or to her hair (too golden-blonde), rather than to her face, which means the colour is wrong for her.
She also looks tired in the photo on the left, compared with the one on the right, in which she looks SO much more -dare I say it?- "lively"!
How I styled the same skirt differently for these four celebrities, and why.
1. Emma Stone
Emma has warm, clear colouring with medium depth, and suits the green of the peacock print very well. It also suits her eye colouring. I have teamed her skirt with a warm, bright camel/tan top to balance the warmth in her hair.
2. Zooey Deschanel
Zooey has cool, clear, deep colouring, and needs the coolest, clearest colours from the peacock print to shine. As black is a cool, deep, clear colour, it suits her beautifully, too.
3. Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth's colouring is warm, light and soft, and the peacock skirt is a bit overwhelming on her. She does, however, have some colour contrast, and can get away with it if she wears soft, warm colours near her face. The nude/gold shoes match her hair and completes her look.
4. Amanda Seyfried
Amanda's cool and light colouring means pastel blue suits her skin very well, and it also matches her eyes. She will look better with silver jewellery than gold.
HOW TO MIX PRINTS PART 3
Rule#3 adds on to Rule#1, which call for at least one common colour.
Apart from the common colour, there should be at least one other design element that link the two garments, This can be a colour, a shape, fabric type, a style personality, an era or a print element or theme.
In the example above, the main linking colours are black, red and yellow, but there are also a few common design elements: the man's red hat and fluffy yellow hair is reflected by the red in the skirt and the yellow feather fringing, as well as in the strawberry and banana combo in the shoes. The fluffy tassel earrings take this element further, and of course, the "avant garde" style personality rounds it all off.
In this example, here are only two common colours: the pink and rusty brown of the roses, but the roses themselves serve as a linking theme. This rose theme is repeated in the shoes, and the shapes of both the rings and the bag. The other linking element is the era: all the items in this set have a 70s retro feeling, from the rusty brown colour to the platform shoes and the fringe bag.
In this set, there is only one common colour - orange - but the texture and sheen and drape of the silk fabrics link the two items. The scale of print is similar, and help to enhance the harmony. There is also a "jewel-like" element to both the colours and the fabric, which is repeated in the accessories.
HOW TO MIX PRINTS PART 2
In this series, we are looking at the rules for mixing print and pattern.
The first rule was to find a common colour (or two or three!) in both garments.
Now for rule #2
Rule 2: Don't lose the Hero
Remember the song by Tina Turner, that went: "We don't need another hero"?
Well, in an outfit, it often becomes confusing if we have more than one "hero".
Your "hero" is a special, eye-catching garment that becomes the focus of the outfit.
If two heroes are vying for our attention, the outfit becomes "noisy" instead of a symphony of colour and shape. This can easily happen when we are mixing prints. Don't lose your hero!
In this outfit, the skirt is definitely the hero, whilst the striped blouse makes for an excellent supporting cast. The shoes, bag and accessories are the "extras" that provide context for the story.
HOW TO MIX PRINTS PART 1
Mixing prints can look amazing if done right. Ever tried to do this and given up?
Here are the rules (bearing in mind that rules are made to be broken!).
Rule 1: Match at least one colour
In the example above, I have matched the blue in the top and skirt.
The rule says to match at least one colour, but I like to match two, or even three, for a really eye-catching outfit.
Note that the handbag has the cobalt blue of the top and skirt, but also the blush pink and white, which ties the whole outfit together very well.
TIP: florals and stripes almost always make for a good yin-yang match
One of the strongest trends in fashion right now, is the colour pink.
Choose your shade, whether it be warm or cool, light or dark, bright or muted, and wear it from head to toe!
Warm Zesty Pink
Soft (muted) pink: how romantique!
Dark fuchsia: not for the faint-hearted
If you have attended one of my Capsule Wardrobe Workshops, you will have learnt that you can base a Capsule around a Top, a Bottom or a Scarf, provided that the item contains at least three of your best colours. Here's a capsule based on a handbag!