10 Shopping & Style Tips


While I love my new life as editor of The E List, sometimes I miss my fashion roots. Last week I blabbed about shopping and trends at Ladies Night at the Old Lyme Country Club. (What a ball!) A few gals asked for a hard copy so here it is:

After 25 years in the fashion business, I finally got out—and now, for the first time in my life, I have to buy retail! Yikes. I don’t make a lot of shopping mistakes and here’s how to minimize yours:

1. Shop your closet before you go shopping. That gorgeous floral skirt that you never wear because nothing goes with it? Those tweed pants that you thought would be a cinch to match? Bring your sad and lonely separates with you and find partners for them.

2. Don’t let your mistakes taunt you. Who needs to be reminded about wasted money every time you open your closet door.? If you’ve never worn it, never will, and the price tag is still on it, organize a girl’s night to trade bad buys with friends or donate it, now.

3. Nobody is one size fits all. Expect to alter your garments. The fashion industry has led us to believe that women come in 8 sizes. Ridiculous. (Here’s my list of the best local tailors: Astrid Niemelaeinin in Killingworth, Angie Lu in Madison and Expert Tailoring in Old Saybrook.

4. If you happen to see the perfect party dress, buy it. Law of shopping: you will never find a dress for an event if you specifically set out to shop for one. I don’t know why this is true, but trust me on this one.

5. Big on top, fitted on bottom and vice versa. Even my 15 year old daughter knows this by heart. Baggy all over makes you look heavier and tight all over is just plain tacky. Oh, and forgo elastic waists. That’s a slippery slope.

6. Spend your money:  European cashmere: long staple yarns ensure that high quality (and yes, expensive) cashmere will last for years.  Lined, tailored blazers. Wool trousers or skirts. A good bag. Shoes that you’ll wear every day.

7. Save your money:  Anything trendy (shop H&M and  Zara for cheap and cheerful finds). Linen. White tee shirts. Party shoes (you might cry when your dancing partner steps on your feet, but you won’t fret about your indestructible $39.99 patent leather pumps from Nine West).

8. You’ve discovered the perfect cardigan, pair of jeans or tee shirt? Buy two. Planned obsolescence is the mantra of the fashion industry. If designers didn’t move on to the Next Big Thing, you’d never buy anything new. You will never find that favorite tee again, so buy two.

9. Never buy anything too small. You will NOT lose the weight. I’ll let you know when, if ever, I can squeeze into that HAD TO HAVE IT, marked down 50% then an additional 30%, Yves Saint Laurent dress. I gain weight just looking at it.

10. Don’t embrace every trend. Every couple of years, designers shove animal prints down our throats, yet again. Jeggings? Uh uh. And summer boots? Just say no.

And one more:

The key to always looking put together? Develop a uniform and stick to it. If you wear what looks good on you, you’ll feel comfortable in your getups and exude confidence. My security blanket is a fitted blazer and trousers or jeans. I’m hopeless and awkward in a skirt. If you don’t know what works for you, enlist the help of the best salesperson at your favorite boutique. Define your style with professional help and develop a small wardrobe of go-to basics. Have her (or him) keep you updated with new items (by email, with pictures) that work with your purchases. You’ll spend a lot less time shopping and eliminate expensive mistakes.

For information about the clothing collage above, click here.