I just got back from the January apparel show in New York City. When I walk into the Javits Centre I am offered a smorgasbord of fashion choices and am reminded of the never ending retail cycle. This is the second round of Spring buying for my store. I am always behind! What I pick this week will end up on my racks for late Spring and Summer. What I find interesting is the subtle fashion changes offered to me, transitioning from show to show. Supposedly, a trending style takes three years to get out of the system. Sometimes, there will be a totally new idea that hits the floor and by the next show, if the trend really grabs hold, versions will proliferate throughout the entire trade show. It is like magic.
Or so it seems....
These ideas were seeded at least two years ago. All based on science. Not magic. Data procured by marketing companies is the foundation for the choices I offer you in my little store. Even if I am not a youthful trend driven boutique, these fashion offerings morph for every demographic, changing to fit the lifestyle and age of the customer. Last year, the trend was off the shoulder and open cut sleeves.This style even crept into the lines I offer in my small boutique. Altered for the wearability of elementary school age girls to the advanced age woman, this style was hanging on the manufacture’s racks for me to offer my clients. The next choice is up to you; what you want to put on your body, what you are comfortable wearing and how much money you want to spend.
Color is the other obvious seasonal change.
I am visually bombarded with the new color pallet. I love this part. What did the color gods pic for us this year? Aka Pantone. We all have our favorites, so it is very exciting when a choice pops up I haven’t seen in years. This is especially fun for this weeks January show. Our cold New York tundra landscaped is miraculously refitted with gorgeous spring designs and colors. Almost like virtual reality for the day. I will be surrounded by Pantone colors of Meadowlark, Cherry Tomato, Little Boy Blue and Chili Oil. Then I will step outside to the New York Landscape of cold and wind and winter gray. Maybe I should just stay inside.
Buying is hard work. I own a little boutique and I find it difficult. I imagine buying for a larger operation and I cringe. Buying is also exciting. For me, not necessarily the new trend of the year but the never-ending creativity that pops up. Every so often I discover a garment or product I think is incredible. Even if I can’t bring it in my store, I am amazed and thrilled to witness ingenuity presented right in front of me. This find makes the time walking the football field size tradeshow worth the effort, even if I really sore feet:)
So, this is my story. Many have heard it. Maybe even a few times.
Took over the family business. Very little business experience. Lost lease. Moved to East Village. Almost went out of business after the hurricane. Took a picture of .35 cents I had to my name. Co-oped space to make rent.
Three years later…..
The new year for me is full of promise and strong growth. (if there is no hurricane and-or pollical upheaval, or Acopalypse……whatever!
Funny, now I feel so responsible not to make a misstep. Taking in all I have learned, I want to apply it in the right places and allocate my time wisely. Surprisingly, I jumped out of bed this morning stressing about the new year and my business.
This is a happy stress! A revitalization stress! I have a shot stress! I guess it is not retail stress. It is retail hope.
I went to see Richard Branson this week. He was being interviewed at Time Talk, produced by Lincoln Center. We all know who he is. I know he owns Virgin Airlines. I know he has been working on his space travel project for the last few years. I forgot he owned Virgin Records. Years ago, this was a huge business. He now owns Virgin Group, I think a conglomerate of about 200 businesses. The night I saw him, he was asked what his first business was. He reminisces it was a newspaper. He wanted to protest the Vietnam War.
Honestly, I couldn’t put my finger on why I spent the money and time to hear him speak, but I really wanted to. I know now why. I was looking for inspiration, and from what a better source than he. I took away a few pointers that I already knew, but from his mouth, they sounded real. They sounded not like comfort words, He re-enforced them. He kept his advice simple.
1) Failing is good. Learn from it, regroup and keep going.
2) Keep morphing. Don’t stand still with your business. You won’t have one if you do
3) Passion keeps you sustained. Passion is what feeds the entrepreneur.
A dialog was brought up this week about senior discounts and discounts for customers with fixed incomes, low incomes etc…
This conversation reminds us of the retailers’ social card we all must deal with. It is the social conscious of our business.
Brick and motor retail have an open window to the pulse of its’ community, wherever that may be. Like the old home goods store in a dusty small town, the retail store becomes an expert in what is happening its’ neighborhood, socially and financially. We feel it through our pours of our business.
I constantly give price breaks, and many times without the customer even knowing. I struggle offering discounts to customers because of the adage,
“Don’t judge a book by its cover”.
My brick and motor is in the middle of a few levels of income demographics. I am half a block away from Park ave, on the border of Harlem and the Upper East Side. I am surrounded by upscale doctor offices and the giant Mt. Sinai. Most neighborhoods in New York City can be like this. Just one block away can house a population with a totally different income level. Our customer net is full of financial disparities.
I bought a necklace from a very elderly woman a month ago. She said she needed the income to buy food. Yesterday I had a woman spend $800 to have clothing to take on her vacation. I have low-income women who work in the neighborhood and professionals who can afford my prices without a second thought. This can be a daily occurrence, for me and for many other retailers out in the world.
Obviously, we, as retailers find visually gauging our customers gives us data we can then use to help us sell to them. I try so hard not to do this. I try so hard not to pre-determine. I have made a fool of myself on more than one occasion. I do believe over the years I have become smoother helping people on limited budgets find a purchase in my store they can afford. I usually head straight to the sale rack if they have discussed their price range. Sometimes, I ask their price range in advance so I know what to offer them without guessing and miss guessing.
My sale rack can help with the issue of affordability. I always have a few items I hope most can afford. I know I am in business to make money, but making everyone comfortable, even if all they can do is browse and enjoy the experience to me is important.
Many larger retailers donate to charities, and they receive tax breaks or write-offs in doing so. Small retailers give price breaks to customers face-to-face. It is not a marketing ploy, it is part of our daily community activism.
Is the top portion of your figure smaller than your bottom portion of your figure?
Do you have small shoulders and toned arms?
Do you have a defined but longer waist?
Do you have saddlebags (is the top of your thighs the widest part of your body)?
Do you have somewhat heavy thighs with thick calves?
These are the basic questions to ask yourself if you have a Pear-Shaped Figure. If you have answered yes to most of these questions, you are probably a pear shape. I know defining yourself as a piece of fruit is a little obnoxious. Some name this shape a Triangle Shaped Figure. Feel free to send me your idea of a new and improved name for your Pear-Shaped Figure! I would love to get your input!
We are all born with a certain body structure, genetically passed on from our family. Obviously, you can improve on it, but no matter how many times you workout, your basic structure is here to stay. Sometimes, we are so thankful for Aunt Dolly’s beautiful thick black hair and long lean legs and sometimes we curse our father’s side of the family for saddlebags that just won’t go away…. ever!
You are standing in front of your mirror with your aunt’s gorgeous thick, shiny black hair and a body frame from Gramma Mary that resembles a pear. Look at yourself. You are narrow shouldered, a nicely defined waist and your weight is primarily setting up shop out on the lower part of your body.
Generally, you have shorter legs that can lean to the heavier. Sometimes when we get frustrated with parts of our anatomy, hiding our entire figure is the simplest and easiest solution. I am here to say it really is NOT!
DONT HIDE UNDER BAGGY CLOTHING!
Look at yourself like a Picasso painting. All the parts are there but some readjustments are needed; some visual realignment.
When you finish your styling, your lines will make more sense and your silhouette will be amazingly balanced! You have become your own illusionist.
Look in a full-length mirror and ask yourself how can you distract your eye from focusing on lower body? Well, the answer is making your eye focus on the top part of your body by deemphasizing your Gramma Mary’s saddlebags.
Your Top Half
It is simple. You are mostly small busted with a small waist; therefore, you can wear very feminine, wispy tops with ruffles and prints. You need to add a bit of bulk to the top half of your body. Wide necklines like a boat neck are great for adding the illusion of width to your shoulders. Ruffles and bows add fullness and balance your lower body. Horizontal stripes on top balance your lower half. Crop tops, strapless and halter tops create a wider shoulder for you. Jackets with upper detail, i.e. wider lapels, and structured sleeves. You can have lots of fun with color, pattern, and texture on your upper body. All of this will add emphasize on your top half and de-emphasize your bottom half.
PLAY WITH YOUR CLOTHING
Play around with sleeve lengths. Broaden your shoulders with a short sleeve or cap sleeve.
Use scarves, necklaces around your neck and shoulders. Crop jackets with wider lapels, and shrugs.
Any kind of layering will add balance to the top half of your figure. Higher cut tops look good on you.
A little short sleeve tee with a cropped vest and a scarf thrown around your neck works wonders on you!
No problem cinching the waist. With the addition of pretty ruffles and broader necklines on top of your figure, you can now accentuate your waist. Look in the mirror. Your figure is already becoming more balanced.
Your Bottom Half
Below your waist is where you deemphasize your assets.
Minimizing your lower half either by slimming or elongating. Pants must be either a straight leg or a wide leg. The wider bottom creates a clean straight-line skimming from your hip. Stay away from skinny pants, unless you wear a tunic ending exactly at the widest part of your hip and adding a boot ending just under your knee. Oh, and avoid big pockets. Beware of any extra that will add bulk. Flat front pants are your friend. Keep your below the waist garb darker in color than your tops. Stay away from bright colors, obvious textures, and bold patterns.
A Line skirts work very well fory you. This shape skims over your hips and hides your heavier legs. You can do a straight skirt with a cinched waist. Just stay away from clinging skirts.
Dresses can be strapless, with a fitted waist and A Line flared bottom. The strapless style will visually emphases your shoulders, the fitted waist will emphasize your nice little waist and the flared A Line shirt will hide your hips. Put it all together and you look great! A straight dress with a cinched waist can work as well. Again, no clingy anything on the bottom half
Shoes should not be too high. Heels will help lengthen your lower limbs and elongate your shape. Boots should cover your thicker calves and end just under your knee.
We never question why a piece of clothing looks great. We are just so happy it does! We do question why it does not, and sometimes it takes a keen eye to understand why.
I help so many women find clothing that fit and looks great. I am sometimes overzealous, passing on my learned wisdom to my captive audience in my store.
Yesterday, a customer, I will name her Cathy, picked out a perfectly nice button-down shirt. It almost worked for her, but why almost? We both saw she could wear the blouse, but would she pull it out of her closet time and time again? Any investment in clothing is not a casual activity anymore. Women want to know they look great in a piece of clothing and will get value from their purchase. It is important to love how it looks on your body so it won’t become a piece you pass over in your closet.
When Cathy came out of the dressing room wearing the shirt, right away I saw the problem. Although the shirt fit, it is short sleeved and she is busty. The sleeve hemline drew the eye straight across her bustline, accentuating her endowment and distorting her shape.
Cathy should not wear a short sleeve.
She could try a ¾ sleeve, cap or tank for the summer weather. Walking out the store with a cut on the bias tank and a pair of crop pants, Cathy looked great. Her figure was balanced and I was so pleased she had a great outfit for the summer she would love to wear.
At the end of the day, I had a lot of fun with another woman trying on dresses. I will call Mary. Even though the dress fit, Mary tried on another size. A look of a garment can be perfect, but a change in size can surprisingly be a better choice.
There are women that know their bodies and grab off the rack and into a bag without a word of concern.
This confidence has nothing to do with her dress size.
It must do with what she likes, what she is comfortable wearing and knowing how to specifically dress her body shape.
Mary found a winning dress and looked great wearing it in the dressing room. This was the end of the day and the end of the week. With the lack of fresh styling vocabulary on my part, I tried to explain one size larger may help with her shape. So, does fit come down to semantics? The dress was ‘resting’ on her tush, not ‘pulling’, just ‘resting’. Was just ‘resting’ fine? Should it be ‘skirting’ ( styling lingo for grazing) the tush? ‘Pulling’ is a major no-no since it red flags the garment isn’t fitting correctly. ‘Resting’ can be perfectly fine whereas ‘skirting’ is better than ‘resting’.
Do we all get it?
By the end of the day, at end of the week, this all can sound like gobble-de-goo! Honestly, it does make a huge difference!
Do you know how to dress your body shape? The language of fitting can be confusing and even funny at times. Once you start to familiarize yourself with your silhouette and understand why one dress looks great and another doesn’t, you’re one your way to styling yourself. You just have to let those words roll off your tongue….‘pulling’ and ‘skirting’ and ‘resting’……
The longer I operate my store, the more educated I become concerning ethics in retail. For me, I think it has been a slow start, but now, I am really absorbing the ramifications of what I buy for resale in my store effects global humanity.
Obviously, I am a tiny store with a tiny footprint in this industry, but I don’t care. My choices add to others and as a collective, we make a difference and hoping a huge difference in people’s lives.
As a buyer, it is very tricky to work with honest companies from outside countries. There are now many labels that they proudly display in their booths. “Fair Trade” is a big one and has been around for years.
I have learned to sniff around a bit, ask a lot of questions, play detective. Sometimes I can read the company as they skirt questions and are too aggressive with their rote answers. Sometimes I fall into a treasure of a small business and stick with them forever and ever because of their values.
I am always sourcing new products, both weighings supporting Fair Trade Organizations with the costs of the products. Obviously, companies manufacturing in the bowels of China are impossible to trail. Any company producing in Bangladesh is off my list. Inexpensive products can help a small retail store like mine with better profit margins, but I keep asking myself, at what cost?
So just a heads up with this global market of retail. If you buy a disposable garment for $5.00, ask yourself who made this and under what conditions? Stop bragging about how cheap you found something. Your purchases are hurting many people and businesses at home and globally. If you must limit your spending, buy less. I must do the same when I buy for my store. As I go out on my buying walkabouts, I ask myself, “Who am I helping and who am I hurting?”
I am going to mention one of my favorite companies, A People United. This company supports SantiSchool.org. Their mission “of educating children, building classrooms, and improving the quality of public school teaching in Nepal”. They literally just finished rebuilding all the schools that were destroyed in the earthquake 2 years ago. Your purchase of A People United clothing from Marjory Warren Boutique has helped raise money for this huge project. Congratulations! I thought my customers should know this. You have helped! Just wanted to thank you 😊
You can follow their progress: http://www.santischool.org/our-work/blog/
Dressing an Apple Shape The apple shape is the most common shape of women after menopause. Tummy fat keeps thickening our waists as we get older because of hormone change, and it is extremely difficult to keep it at bay.
The apple shape woman generally has an average bust, her tummy is larger than her boobs, her butt is flat and her legs are average, and can be longer and thinner.
The Top Half
Because an Apple Shape figure is full around her middle, focus on the top half, away from your tummy. Look for shirts with an open front. A button down that can open the neckline, just above the cleavage. An empire waist is fitted underneath the boobs and is very flattering. This is the smallest measurement of her torso. Invest in a good bra and lift those girls up and away from the tummy. All tops should be loose enough to skim the tummy, cap sleeves loosely cupping the top of your arms, if you are comfortable with exposing them, and a wider v neck with a ruched waist
Avoid oversized or tight tees.
Look for jackets with an open neck and a tie at the waist creates camouflage and breaks up your torso. Jackets with open fronts look great on you too!
The Bottom Half
Again, the Apple figure needs balance and linear lines running vertically to visually break up the solid round torso.
Look in the mirror again. Start understanding your silhouette.
Your torso is solid and round, with all of your mass distributed center stage. If you throw on a pair of leggings, what do you think you would see in the mirror? So many women make this mistake. They try to put their thinnest feature forward but in doing so, their thick middle is over emphasized.
Balance, balance, balance is the answer!
The Apple figure needs to balance her figure. Always wear a fuller trouser; fullness around bottom works wonders and with less is more hardware around the middle. Find pants with a deeper waistband to help rest on the belly. Side zippers and flat front pants are really helpful which de-bulking the middle.
Skirts should also have a flat front and side or back zipper.
An inverted pleated skirt works great on an Apple's figure.Make sure the front is flat and the pleats start below the belly.
No bulky pockets to add weight and business around her middle.
Using color, pattern, and texture to break up her solid middle is a key to dressing an Apple figure type.
Layering your top half, perhaps with a sweater of cardigan will refocus the eye on two elements instead of one. Add pattern or texture to one of these tricksters, and it is a
If you wear a solid color or print without breaking up the another layer, your torso can look larger than it is.
Another trick is vertical lines. Layer a top with an open jacket or cardigan with not closures
This will elongate your middle as this illusion helps break up your solid core and tricks the eye.
Accessories can be extremely helpful!
Remember, the Apple figure needs to keep her neckline open, with a V-neck or a deep scoop. When adding accessories, keep this in mind. Absolutely use a scarf to break up your middle, but keep it either very loose and open around your neck, showing a lot of skin below the neck or leave it draped down, paneling both sides of your chest.
Necklaces can be of great help. Use them the same way as scarves. Longer necklaces will break up your torso and, again, lengthen your line and trick the eye to a slimmer middle
Footwear for an Apple figure is simple. Don’t go clunky and don’t go over petite. You need a little weight on your feet for balance but too much just adds more bulk.
Good Ideas To Follow for an Apple Figure
👗Use Color and texture to break up your middle
👗Wear v necks and deep scoops
👗Layering pieces on top can break up solid middle
👗Empire waists and a good bra are your friends
👗Fuller trousers. Fuller on bottom works well
Bad ideas Not To Follow
🙋No bulky anything around your middle! No pockets, zippers, etc..
🙋Nothing fussy on your top half.
🙋No big lapels or no double breasted coats
(outfit put together with items in Marjory Warren Boutique)
Mostly, these women are young deer-like fawns with wide bright eyes and no hips…. We will pass on these thoroughbreds. They do not need my help.
Let’s Talk Fruit
Stylists keep calling you a piece of fruit! Are you an apple, a pear, maybe a dragon fruit? (Ha! Ha! Maybe when your hormones are jumping)! Usually, the first two are the main sweet luscious shapes we identify with. They are simple shapes and easily transferred to our own silhouettes.
Stand Tall Soldier
The first order of business is to look in a full-length mirror. Enjoy who you are and gaze at the wonderment of you! Ok, put the wine glass down and twirl around, front and back. Ok, now pick up the glass of wine and carry on.
We Are All Special
So, how special are you? Are you a special pear? A super special apple?
You may be neither, but we will start with these two tasty shapes. Both shapes take a little styling illusion and eye trickery using very specific clothing choices. Once you get the hang of it, dressing to look your best will become a lot easier.
....so, until next time, do your homework. Stand in front of a mirror and study your shape. Take some notes. Do it alone or with a friend! Have fun with this or cry in a corner....it's all up to you :)
Sitting outside and collecting my thoughts at a local restaurant last summer, I was upset with myself for chickening out! My intent on this Friday night was to head straight to my hair salon, get a pixie cut and grow it white. Instead, I was eating a cheeseburger and drinking a beer.
I am thinking of Katharine Hepburn all week and for a few reasons. Firstly, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.
Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy had a 26-year love affair and that is 26 years of Valentine celebration for the two of these love birds. Not ignoring the fact Tracy was a married man and laying down no judgments on my part, love is love according to cupid.
Katharine epitomized the modern woman of the 20th-century U.S.A. Unconventional, fiercely independent and possessing a spirited personality until the day she passed, she was a beauty I loved to watch in black and white as a young girl.
I always loved the way she dressed.
This leads me to Katharine popping up in my mind every time I see these springs full cut pant. As I was gazing in the window at Bloomingdales last night, there they were!
Obviously not for all woman’s body shapes, but many of use can make them work. If not, there are a plethora of choices this summer for all to choose from.
They remind me of pants I have on order from Iridium. The Alison pant is coming in March. It is a full cut pant with and elastic/ drawstring waist in sand dune-black stripe. A fun pant for the summer. So, to recap, Valentines Day with Katharine Hepburn and Big pants!
Happy Valentine's Day to all of you from me at Marjory Warren's Boutique.
I am reflecting on my youth. I am trying to recall female role models I admired as a young girl who inspired me to be better, stronger and more willful. Other than the determination of my mother and one female grade school teacher no one fills this vacancy. No one except female TV personalities I grew up with.
My early childhood was bombarded with 1960’s television shows. Like most households in my hometown, once settled indoors for the night. this was the entertainment of choice. Ice skating during the winter and swimming for the cost of a dime at Eddie's pool in the summer, my childhood was a constant outdoor adventure and I was incredibly fortunate to live beside a river. My indoor time, especially in the cold Canadian winters was my TV time! The weeks were ruled and planned by the arrival of the TV Guide. This small little magazine was taken very seriously in my household.
Other than my own mother and female teacher in my school, the female identifiers in my life were between the covers of the weekly T.V. Guide. If one of these actresses made it on the cover, I would stare at their flat shiny faces for the entire week. Firstly, when the Guide was virginal, still shining and smooth, and lastly, I would offer it my final gaze. The now puffy and coffee stained pages barely survived the week in our household, housing my grandfather, mom and dad, sister, myself and three younger brothers.
My television programming was filled with women comedians. Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, Marlo Thomas, Elizabeth Montgomery to name a few.
Lucy’s character in I Love Lucy was my first identifying role model. She was curious, silly, adventurous and brave. She never listened to her husband and always figured a way to pursue her goals. Although her character was dated, I loved how she always come away smarter than those around her. The show was aired between 1951-1957, but the wide eyes and full skirted dresses didn’t fool me. Wits in my book equated to female brain power.
That Girl with Marlo Thomas inspired character Ann Marie, boldly moving to Manhattan to pursue an acting career was another female inspiration. Ann Marie was the first woman character to move out of her parent’s home and live on her own without a husband. Marlo Thomas specifically chose this script for its feminist message. At the end run of the show, she chose to have Ann not marry her boyfriend Don, sending the message that finding a husband was not the ultimate goal. Women can be allowed to pursue their own dreams and aspirations. That Girl ran between 1960-1969.
Mary Tyler Moore Show, I think was the most influential for me. It ran straight through my teenage years, thus having a huge impact on my teenage view of women.
I did love Mary Tyler Moore’s character, Laura Petrie in the Dick Van Dyke Show. Some comedy mirrored from I Love Lucy, her person was brimming with her own stuff and her own identity. When she was given her own show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Laura Petrie was to be single. Originally, the writers wanted her to be the first divorced woman on TV but the network had a meltdown. Instead, to explain why a beautiful single 30 year old woman was living by herself in a big city was explained with the ending of a long term relationship. She now didn’t have to maneuver her way around a husband. She now had to maneuver her way around her boss and the exploding feminist identifiers of the seventies. The Mary Tyler Moore Show aired between 1970-1977.
I so Loved her, as did all of us. Thank you Mary for all of your talent, all of your honesty and all of your warmth.
Below, a fun article I found exploring how Mary Tyler Moore shaped working women's style and its resurgence in the upcoming 2017 fashion season.
Hope everyone had a wonderful New Year's and enjoying some down time before we all head forward to 2017. Some of us, including a few of my customers, are full of trepidation. I keep asking myself how bad can it be? I am for the most part a very positive person and I almost never go down that rabbit hole of uncertainty and insecurity. Sometimes I push the peddle really hard and just go!. Some of my customers and vendors are holding their breath. I actually have told them they have to keep functioning.I am nervous of the new politics. I am also challenged. More obstacles. This is life. Oh God!