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This week’s secret to “Dressing Like a European” is….drumroll please…… LESS IS MORE. What does that mean exactly in relation to your wardrobe? Well, if the phrase “a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear” rings any bells, read on…..

As we mentioned last week, due to much smaller closet space, Europeans tend to have a lot less clothing than their North American friends. In contrast, most of us stateside have turned shopping into an Olympic event where our “over-fed” closets fight the battle of the bulge every day, bursting with clothing we never wear. You know which pieces we’re talking about. The ones taking up not only physical space in your closet, but huge amounts of emotional space as well. Those “unchosen” items  practically speak to you as you decide what to wear each morning. “I’m your skinny jeans which you definitely WON’T be wearing after last nights binge!”, “You’ve spent a lot of money on me but you never wear me!”, “Why do I still have my tags on?”, “Someday I’ll fit so you can’t give me away”, and on and on.

By the time we find our daily uniform- which might not be the most stylin’ thing in our wardrobe, we’re just happy to close the door on the whole thing and get the heck out of fashion dodge- that is, until tomorrow when we’ll have to face the music once again. Of course tomorrow we will start our diet and everything will miraculously look like its “supposed” to. All those unruly pieces will straighten up and start acting like the perfect outfits you always intended them to be…..maybe. And we hear Arnold Schwarzenegger is being considered as a possible presidential candidate….

Of course, one would think that having more clothing in your closet would make life easier by giving you a lot more options, but paradoxically the opposite is true. Getting dressed can be completely overwhelming when you have  10 jackets, 25 tops, 15 pants,12 belts and 30 pairs of shoes to choose from. This is where those savvy girls from the old sod can teach us a thing or two. While we take great joy in collecting masses of stuff, well-dressed Europeans do not.

European gals tend to spend more money on quality, timeless pieces on a shopping trip and aren’t simply looking to fill up their carts with piles of average clothing that will be here today and gone tomorrow. They know that one great jacket is far better than four so-so blazers. Try the following exercise: add up what you’ve spent on every single item of clothing in your closet you don’t wear.  You will probably be amazed at the dollar amount.  Even if Costco or Target are your fashion boutiques of choice, most women will find that for the same money they spent on their unworn discount impulse buys, they could have gone to a high end department store and instead gotten one or two great pieces that would have taken them out of park and put them into fashion drive. Don’t get us wrong, every woman loves a fashion bargain -but the well heeled European woman makes sure it’s not just a great deal, but a valuable addition to her wardrobe as well.

This is exactly what our chic friends from the Old World do- they go straight to a good store selling quality products and pick ONE item they LOVE and use it in their wardrobe for years. Some might think this doesn’t sound like a very exciting way to shop (without the adrenaline high one gets in ripping thru racks and racks of sales) but they know that there is simply no substitute for the thrill they get from walking to their closet, easily picking out a great outfit and effortlessly looking like a million bucks.– And no matter which side of the pond you live on, isn’t that all that any of us wants when getting dressed each morning?

xoxo, Ruth

More and more, fashion is being designed for the thin, rich, tall and young. That’s great news for about 1% of the population. However what about the other 99% of us? The average American gal is now a size 14 and 5’4″ tall, and with the economy in the skids -no wonder it’s so hard to find a decent outfit at the store.

Consider this…Who is modeling all the latest styles- whether it’s a magazine model, a store mannequin or your favorite supermodel? It’s those who belong to the ultra thin and tall club. When’s the last time you saw an overweight or even regular weight model – not to mention one who’s under 6 feet tall! It seems that in order to emulate the fashion styles we see plastered across our favorite magazines there’s some pretty steep hurdles to clear first…

The first two genetic “must-haves” are found so rarely that you’d have a better chance of winning the lotto than being born with these attributes. Quite simply, you must be super tall and very thin. Anyone having problems keeping weight on or having vertigo at this dizzying height? Thought so.

Ok, so maybe most of us didn’t clear those first 2 obstacles to looking great in the latest fashions. Perhaps you’ll have better luck with this next one…

Do you happen to be an heiress with a trust fund, daughter to a mega mogul and under 20 years of age? Then winning the fashion lottery will be a breeze. Not that you would need to win the lottery -if you’re already a trust fund baby … But as they say, you can never be too rich or too thin- especially with the ever-increasing array of extremely difficult to wear fashion.

What? Not a regular cast member of the Tall And Rich,Thin club? (aka T.A.R.T.s). Crashed and burned on all those style hurdles? Feeling like the rest of us, who have fallen off the radar of most designers because you can’t wear anything under a size 2?

Not to worry. If you are neither tall nor thin, rich nor planning your high school graduation party, this blog is for you. Read on to see what the uber-amazon, ultra-slim, mega rich teenagers will all be wearing this season and what the rest of us should definitely be steering clear of…

#1- Wide Leg Pants. Guess the sugar high wore off and consumers got tired of looking like human lollipops in their skinny jeans. Now its all come full circle and we are moving on to the wide leg pant. The billowous new shape has been touted as making your legs actually look thinner. Thinner than what? – two mature tree stumps? Wide leg pants will ALWAYS make you legs look larger than life. Check out the difference in our models legs when she skipped this fattening trend and opted for a pair of great boot leg pants that fit her body instead.

Before and After The Fashion Code

#2- Black Leather (PLEATED!) Mini-Skirts : Cheerleader style no less. Since ANY pleated mini-skirt is difficult to wear for most gals say over the age of 12, this “trend” should require a permission slip. We are especially worried about the leather which will unforgivingly jut out over the thighs. Could work if, like our model, you’re a size 0 Barbie look-a-like. But if you’ve got an ounce of extra padding on your hips, you could unwittingly make your bottom half look like a lampshade at a fire sale.

#3 -Psychedelic Prints. Could definitely make a statement- depending on your line of work. Not sure it would go over well in a law firm but if you work for… say a head shop (which of course is the average couture house’s target buyer) you could earn points with your boss and customer’s alike by enhancing their drug induced buying experience.

#4 -Draping, Grecian Style :

For all aspiring Greek demi-goddesses use caution when using draping. Remember that draping is one of the most difficult things for a couture designer or tailor to master. So its a fair bet that a T-shirt factory in China will not do your figure or your wardrobe justice with their mass produced designs. Also, ALWAYS remember our Fashion Code mantra “Extra fabric= extra girth”. This is never more true than when swathing excess fabric across your figure. So use draping, if you must, but always with the restraint of a Venus de Milo.

And last, but DEFINITELY not least. Our favorite…

#5 – Thigh High Leg Warmers (worn with a short skirt)

Oy, we’re having junior high school flash backs. Not that we had the long legs needed to wear them then. We could just claim prepubescent fashion ignorance, cold legs, or grandma made me….

But unless you are too young to vote or drink (legally) and are thinner than May-Kate Olson, our advice is to leave the legwarmers back in the 80’s with Jane Fonda where they belong. Your friends, family and even complete strangers with no fashion knowledge will thank you.

So, before wasting any more time and money on trends that only look good on paper, remember to ask yourself this essential question… “Do I share the same body proportions as the model, mannequin or movie star I’m trying to emulate?” If not, there’s more than a fair chance that the style they have on won’t look the same on you. Learning what looks good on your unique figure is the secret to riding out the fashion industry’s storm of marketing madness, and knowing when to give them the boot (especially if it’s an ugly, expensive, trendy one).

6 Fall Trends That Pack on The Pounds…


Maybe you saw The Fashion Code on NBC this month helping our client shed 20 virtual pounds – in a matter of minutes and without leaving her closet… (If not, check out this video below)…

The Fashion Code on NBC
Check out The Fashion Code on NBC!

Of course, everyone wants to know what the secret is behind looking like they subsist on celery sticks and they go to the gym 3 hours a day  – even if  in reality the most exercise they get is going through the McDonalds drive-thru. Surprisingly, A HUGE  part of looking thin has as much to do with what you put ON your body as what you put in it. Unfortunately, there is a whole lot of misinformation as to which clothing makes us look our best and which clothing makes us look “fat”. Through no fault of our own, a lot of us are still living in the dark ages when it comes to something as simple as knowing which clothes make us look sleek and stylish and which clothes make us look corn-fed.  Its enough to make a grown woman lose all reason and consult the fashion magazines for help  – which is where things can really go amiss…

Don’t get us wrong, magazines can be fun to look at.  Yeah…sure, its all fun and games until someone innocently starts following the trends and comes out of their closet looking like a super-sized version of themselves. But seriously,  WHY DO SOME CLOTHES MAKE US LOOK SIZES BIGGER AND ANYTHING BUT STYLISH – even though the models wearing these styles look like new and improved versions of Kate Moss?

This may come as a surprise to many women, but unless you are 6 feet tall and a poster child for anorexia you should avoid most trends like non-sale days at Bloomies.

Those of you who follow us might say,  “Hey, the twins are all about proportion and style, not trend-bashing”. But unless you share a model’s figure, many trends can skew your proportions so badly – the end result is a virtual weight gain to make even those who know and love you wonder where you’ve been hiding the Oreos.

Case in point, our client, who is an interior designer, wanted to “update her look” so she embraced six of the hottest trends this Fall. As you can see in the “Before” photo below, her outfit didn’t exactly sizzle. Her basic look wasn’t bad, and we understood what she was going for.  So we simply showed her the error of her trendy ways and how she could save herself a trip to the store (and the subsequent bill) and instead look like she spent a month at the spa.

The Fashion Code


TRANSFORMING  6  FRUMPIFYING FALL TRENDS INTO ONE FABULOUS OUTFIT…

1.  COWL NECKS:

 A cowl is not just a turtle neck style reject from the 80’s. It was originally associated with the large loose hood of a monk’s habit or a cloak worn by members of Benedictine orders. Now, while we’re sure that the monks were some happening dudes back in their day, they probably weren’t known for their fashion savvy. But interestingly, whether they were worn in the middle ages, the 1980’s, or in the new millenium, one thing remains the same – cowl necks have the almost magical ability to swallow the wearer’s neck and make their upper bodies look positively box-like. Great look for a chaste monk, but definitely not a sexy look for the modern day woman. Notice instead how the deeper cut neckline in the “After” photo turns our client’s body from a beer can (or a mug of ale-for the monks) into a shapely wine glass? A woman needs to have an uber-long neck and body as well as a chest as flat as a board (like the figure you’d find on say – a model) to pull off this over-sized medieval neckline gone wrong.

2.  CHUNKY JEWELRY:

Chunky jewelry has the same neck-swallowing upper body box-making qualities of a cowl neck. Instead, wearing a beautiful pendant necklace in proportion to both you and your outfit, V’s in the upper body – creating the same flattering effect as a deep neckline.

3.  OVERSIZED JACKETS:

 OVERSIZED ANYTHING = OVERSIZED YOU. Covering up in oversized garments is probably one of the biggest mistakes women make in an attempt to look thinner or more chic. The eye registers all that extra fabric as a lot of extra you – and not simply as an innocuous “boyfriend” or “box” jacket. The models who make these styles look great are extremely thin and actually need that extra fabric to look curvy and proportionate. (Hmmm, anyone noticing a pattern here?….)

4.  HOBO BAGS:

 Last we checked looking like a hobo wasn’t a real stylish thing. What’s next? Hobo perfume inspired by the enticing smell of unwashed clothes and half empty whiskey bottles? Hobo bags give added girth thru the middle of the body– filling in whatever waistline you have. Then again, if you are extremely thin a hobo bag could be a great look to get grandma off your back to eat more.

5.  OVERSIZED, WIDE-LEG PANTS:

As with oversized jackets, oversized pants = oversized legs. ALWAYS.

6.  SHOE BOOTIES:

The name alone brings to mind one of Santa’s helper’s. Believe us when we say- they will make your legs look like you’ve got something in common with his elves when you team them up with skirts or capris.  Notice how their high vamp gobbles up any spare skin and gives our client cankles (a deadly fashion condition where calves and ankles merge …) Low vamp shoes, as shown in the “After” photo, are always the way to go when wearing capris, skirts or dresses as they draw the eye down the full length of the leg. This elongates the leg – and a long leg is always a thinner, more stylish leg.)

Remember, styles and trends aren’t created in a designer’s atelier anymore. They are created in the boardroom. And the guy standing at the head of that boardroom table has to sell more clothing this season than he did the season before or he’s destined for Wallstreet’s version of Fashion Hell.  That’s not bad news, its just a heads up for the smart new fashionista on the block – YOU.  So, the next time you are perusing the fashion magazines and they tell you about the next must have trend, be sure to use your new-found fashion savvy before heading to the store. Your reflection in the mirror – and your pocketbook will thank you.

 

Jessica Simpson is arguably one of the most beautiful women in the world. So when she got blasted by the media for gaining weight we felt for her! The saddest part about this supposed “weight gain” is that she was a size 6-8 at her “heaviest”. Thatʼs most women’s goal size!  What a lot of people, including Jessica, donʼt realize is that though she’s gained a few pounds, itʼs the clothing styles she is choosing that are making her look so much heavier- not her dress size.

”YES – some clothing does make us look larger than life – otherwise we wouldnʼt torture our significant others with the age-old question, “Honey, does this make me look fat?

Weʼve all been there… we put on some trendy outfit thinking we look awesome… only to see a picture of ourselves later that left us saying, “What the heck was I thinking?”  Unlike Jessica, we arenʼt slammed in the tabloids for our innocent mistakes.

Most clothing is made for anorectic models and mannequins whose proportions donʼt resemble the average gal in any way shape or form. So what looks good on them (i.e. the green caftan to the left) wonʼt be what looks good on the rest of us. One of our Fashion Code mantras is “Extra Fabric = Extra Girth” ALWAYS!

Jessica did what most of us do when we’ve put on a few pounds – she covered it up with over-sized clothing. Through no fault of her own, she now looks like a small tent with pleating. Of course, doing an about face and wearing clothing which was way too tight for her (see photo on the right) and not sync with her body’s proportions made her look even heavier….

So whats a girl to do when she’s gained a few but doesn’t want the world to know?

Choosing clothing that fits your body’s shape is always the best bet.  Clothes that are too tight will make you look like a sausage casing and actually magnify any excess weight. In contrast, and as we stated above, oversized clothing creates extra bulk, and therefore the illusion, of extra pounds. So, if you are a few pounds over your goal weight, shoot for something that is neither too tight or too loose in a great mid weight fabric (not a flimsy t-shirt stretch) – with no added bulk to mess things up. That means, no pleating or big body-squishing belts, and no tent-like trendy oversized shirts. Also, run like the wind when a sales girl tells you high-waisted jeans are back – especially with patch pockets slapped across the front of the thigh and stomach. Placing extra fabric across what most women consider one of their “problem” areas makes all but the ultra-thin look sizes larger.

Let the paparazzi put their zoom lens on – Jessica got her figure back!  And it all happened with a change of clothes that were neither too tight or too loose but fit her figure perfectly.

That’s life, we gain a few, we lose a few – especially after 30. And when our metabolisms go looking for greener pastures its usually time to re-think our wardrobes so we can continue on being the beautiful woman we are- at any weight.  Happy be-lated birthday Jessica! You Rock!

Before the Fashion Code

Itʼs really no wonder that most of our closets are stuffed with a whole lot of “nothing to wear” when we realize that weʼve been basing our fashion purchases on what models are wearing in the magazines, store catalogs, and on TV. Consider this – the average American woman is a size 14 and only 5ʼ4”, and the average model is a size O and 6 feet tall!!

Thatʼs right, the average model is 7 sizes smaller and 8 inches taller than the average American gal….Yet we see things on a model and think it will look the same on us…but it just isnʼt so.

That doesn’t mean tall skinny girls get to have all the fashion fun.   The Fashion Code has cracked the code to looking sleek and chic for any woman – regardless of her size, shape or age.  Itʼs all about knowing how to play up your assets and camouflaging the rest using fashionʼs best kept secret.

What makes us different than every other fashion blog out there is that weʼre the first to use an actual “science” for beauty thatʼs been around since fig leaves were in fashion. In fact, itʼs been used by everyone from Da Vinci to Valentino and for good reason – Thereʼs an actual science behind what our minds recognize as “beautiful” – who knew?

If you’re starting to have flashbacks to your high school science class, don’t worry. This is not a blog about relativity. Itʼs all about making your butt look smaller – and thatʼs a class I definitely donʼt want to skip.

To show you how all this works check out the following photos…

Before and After The Fashion Code

Notice how just a few simple changes in our modelʼs accessories and the length of her cardigan make her look like sheʼs spent a month with her own private coach from “The Born Loser”? She also looks just as stylish as the model wearing the exact same outfit as her (in the photo at the beginning of this blog).  See, didnʼt we tell you there was light at the end of the tunnel? (and not that horrible fluorescent fitting room light either).

Sheʼs dropped 15 pounds and 15 years off her look by simply knowing the secret to dressing for her body and not a modelʼs in a magazine. Itʼs amazing how something as simple as an Ug-ly boot can really turn your legs into tree stumps or a family sized purse can make your thighs look like theyʼve doubled in size.

Everyday, millions of American women  fall prey to these unflattering trends when they head to the mall. They figure if its the latest, it must be the greatest. Hundreds or thousands of dollars later they still have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear!  So, we think itʼs high time to share some style tools and rules that allow us to look great regardless of what we ate last night or which gene pool we were born into.

We aren’t anti-fashion. In fact, weʼre the biggest fashionistas youʼll meet and we wonʼt hesitate to wrestle you to the floor for those sample sale Jimmy Choos to prove it. But as fashion stylists weʼve found that the biggest style killer is not dressing in your bodyʼs own unique proportions – so knowing which trends and styles to avoid is key to looking like the style maven we know you are.

Think of us as your own personal stylists who are here to help you start shopping smart and learn the simple science of style. Donʼt worry. No pen-pack required. Weʼve figured it all out so you donʼt have to. Which will leave you more time to ponder the more liberating “problem” of deciding which great outfit to choose from in your closet full of everything you love to wear.

We look forward to adding you to our exceptional group of “friends and fashionistas” at The Fashion Code blog – where youʼll discover whatʼs real in the world of fashion and how to make it all work for you.

xo, Ruth