This series of 8 easy-to-follow mini workshops takes you on a journey from discovering your personal style to building a wardrobe of flattering clothes that can be mixed and matched to create outfits for any situation.

What’s hanging in your Fantasy Closet?

By IN How-To Tuesdays, Personal Style

What's hanging in your Fantasy Closet? The answers will give you clues about your personal style and the clothes that make you happy.

One fun way to play around with ideas about your personal style is to imagine what it would be if money (and space) were no object.

What are the clothes you dream of wearing? What are the items that catch your eye when you flip through a magazine or skim a website? (Fab blogger Une Femme calls this your Fantasy Wardrobe.)

And while Fantasy Clothes are often a fantasy for a reason, thinking about them can be more than an enjoyable daydream with a cup of coffee.

So start by noticing. What do you notice when you look at clothes, whether they’re the clothes you see on other women or in the store or online?

Pull them together on a Pinterest board, in a Polyvore outfit college, in a binder or whatever way is fun for you.

As you look through your Fantasy Closet, here are some questions to ask yourself about what’s “hanging” inside.

  • Do your selections surprise you?
  • Are they the opposite of what you’re wearing now?
  • When you imagine dressing that way, is the idea exciting? Scary? Both?
  • What are some characteristics these clothes have in common?
  • Is it a color, a shape, a designer, a cut or even a feeling?

You may never be able to fill your real closet with your Fantasy Clothes, but the things you learn about what you like when you answer these questions will help guide your choices the next time you look for something new to buy, or put an outfit together.

In my Fantasy Closet: lots of classic / chic and touch of modern. Black, red, bolds and patterns (OK, this is already in my real closet!). Marni, Armani, Chanel, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors. Impeccable cuts. Fluid fabrics. And because this is a fantasy, I could wear high heels without hurting my feet!

It’s your turn to go Fantasy Shopping. What are you buying?

Get step-by-step help editing your closet of the clothes you no longer need and filling it with style for the way you live. Say goodbye to “I have nothing to wear”! It’s all included in your instant download of the “No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” style makeover workshop

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Working mom outfit idea: Outdoors in autumn

By IN Personal Style, Style, Try This Thursdays

What to wear outdoors in the fall
Calvin Klein puffer vest /
Joseph Long Sleeve Sailor Tee
/ patterned scarf / Citizens of Humanity cargo khakis / MiH Jeans the Tomboy narrow cords / TOMS suede desert booties / Vans Authentic Lo Pro shoes

Autumn is such a great time of year for outdoor activities: crisp, clear, moderate. This weekend casual outfit will suit you for a range of activities, from the neighborhood block party to an apple-picking day trip.

Start with a ¾-length T-shirt, longer-sleeved if you’re in colder climes. I love a classic mariniere, like this one, but any pattern or solid color will do.

You could always wear a pair of jeans, but why not mix it up with slim fit cords, or cargo khakis? The pockets on the latter come in handy for stashing extra Kleenex, binkies or anything else a mama-on-the-go might need.

If it’s a cooler day, or you’re outside for a while and the temperatures start to drop, wrap a scarf around your neck and toss a puffer vest on top. If it’s later in the fall, keep adding layers, like this or this.

Leave the running shoes at home and try something equally comfortable but with a bit more flair. Desert boots, or chukkas, have been around for decades, but are making a bit of a trend resurgence. Speaking of long-time classics, lace-up Vans or Keds like these are a great choice, too.

Accessorize with a cross-body bag (hands free!) and an insulated mug of your favorite warm beverage.

What’s your favorite outdoor fall activity?

Learn more about how to dress for your figure, clean out your closet and create outfits in the Frantic But Fabulous style workshop—including a checklist of closet essentials.

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The Little (Non) Black Dress

By IN Advice, Style Q&A

The Little (Non) Black Dress
[Little Red Dress, Anne Klein // Little Royal Blue Dress, Tahari // Little Bright Blue Dress, Calvin Klein]

A reader writes to ask:

If I get a non-black LBD, what colors/cut/fabrics would be a best bet for nearly year-around use?

While the non-black Little Black Dress may seem like a contradiction in terms, it’s not if you think of the LBD as being Your Wardrobe Staple Dress. Keep the “little” and the “dress,” but toss the “black” if it’s not your style (or if you want to mix it up with a second option).

For a year-’round fabric, you really can’t go wrong with a natural fiber. Wool crepe is often suggested because it has a nice drape, and I think it could work in summer, too, since you will probably be wearing an L(N)BD in the evening and/or inside and there’s not much fabric to one, anyway. (That would be the “little” part!)

As for colors, any jewel tone, such as an emerald green, royal blue or rich red, will work in the same universal way that black does. To get ideas, think about the colors you see celebrities wearing on the red carpet. My favorite L(N)BD is turquoise—but you could even opt for a Little White Dress in summer.

The cut is whatever works best for your shape. Alternatively, there are some universally flattering options: look for a style that fits across the smallest part of your torso, and a you can’t go wrong with a v-neck. (This is why the fit ‘n’ flare style works so well for most bodies.) The simpler the silhouette, the more likely it will be to stay in style—and in your closet—for a long time to come.

Learn more about how to dress for your figure, clean out your closet and create outfits that are fab, not drab, in No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style, the Frantic But Fabulous style workshop. This easy-to-follow system includes how-to guides, worksheets and a checklist of wardrobe essentials. Get started today!

Bargain shopping tips roundup: More ways to save

By IN Advice

Bargain shopping tips: More ways to save on style, in the stores or online

More ways to save when shopping: Coupon codes, cash back and sales alerts.

One of the subscribers to the Frantic But Fabulous email newsletter, The Style List, had a succinct request: “More bargain shopping tips, please.”

I’m always on the hunt for ways to get a deal, too, so this is the perfect opportunity to round up some of the best advice from the penny pinching experts.

Best bargain shopping tips

  • Know what’s really a deal. Mark Ellwood, the author of “Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World,” says anything lower than 30% off isn’t a deal. (Another one of his tips: interact with the sales staff; they will often get you the best deals.)
  • Let the internet find the deals. RetailMeNot is the go-to source for online coupons; before you shop online, search for discount codes for that site. ShopItToMe will send you alerts when what you’re looking for is on sale. Sign up for the email newsletters of your favorite brands to get alerted to insider sales. If you’re on Twitter, follow bargain-focused accounts like @slickdeals and @couponcabin.
  • Don’t be fooled by the coupon. If a coupon requires you spend a minimum amount in order to get a discount, be careful. You may wind up spending more than you’d planned, and going over budget is never a bargain. And speaking of coupons, remember to stack them.
  • All low prices aren’t created equal. A pair of shoes priced at $29.99 full retail will never be of as high quality as a pair of shoes that cost $29.99 after they’ve been marked down 60% from $100. Your goal is to get a great price and a great value. Think “deal,” not “cheap.”
  • Never stop looking for savings. Follow Pinterest boards devoted to deals, or periodically search for tags like “coupons,” “deals,” and “savings.” New tips for bargain hunting will pop up all the time.

And if you find a really great deal on those wardrobe staples you know you’ll wear again and again, consider whether it makes sense to pick up not just one steal, but two.

Get more tips on shopping smarter for clothes that fit you and the way you live. Say goodbye to “I have nothing to wear”! It’s all included in your instant download of the “No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” style makeover workshop.

[Affiliate links disclosure]

Don’t be daunted by statement necklaces!

By IN Advice, Personal Style, Work It Wednesdays

Don't be afraid of statement necklaces: Here are some ways to wear them

Chunky, blingy, colorful, big, cascading or bright. Sometimes all of those things at once. Statement necklaces live up to their name, and they can seem a little intimidating. You can’t hide behind your outfit when you’re wearing one.

Paradoxically, I became a fan of the statement necklace because jewelry is my weak spot. I have a good set of basic pieces, but tended to rotate through a handful of simple, and nearly identical, silver necklaces with the occasional pair of earrings to match. Jewelry was always a bit of an afterthought, and you could tell.

But put on a big dramatic necklace and bam! Deliberate jewelry.

So fear not the statement necklace, mamas. They can be a fun addition to your accessory wardrobe. Here are some ways to wear them fearlessly.

How to wear a statement necklace

  • Dress up a casual outfit. Put on a multi-strand beaded necklace and suddenly no-one will realize you’re just wearing jeans and a T-shirt. Instant glamour.
  • Contrast a solid color. Make a solid color top or dress pop with a patterned statement necklace. (I’m fond of leopard print with red.)
  • Contrast a pattern. Do a little pattern mixing between your necklace and your outfit. Try contrasting two multicolored pieces.
  • Fill in a neckline. Want to wear a dress or top to work but the neckline is a little low? Fill it in with a big bad necklace.
  • Make it your power piece. Superheroes often have amulets; Wonder Woman has her bracelets. Find a bad-ass statement necklace and wear it when you want to feel (even more) powerful.

So which statement piece is right for you? Classic and Chic mamas, your statement necklace might be a bigger than usual multi-strand pearl necklace. Boho mamas, you might like an organic piece with oversized wooden beads mixed with stones. Modern mamas, anything big and bold and dramatic is right up your alley. Romantic mamas might like a choker style. And Sporty mamas might opt for a rope of thicker than usual metallic chain.

Learn how to create outfits that fit your body, your budget—and your busy life. Get No More Yoga Pants: How To Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style, the only style makeover workshop you’ll ever need.

How to know when your wardrobe is “done”

By IN Advice, How-To Tuesdays, Personal Style, Style Q&A

How to tell when your wardrobe is done

This reader has an interesting question about the process of building a clothing wardrobe:

What are the signs that my wardrobe is basically “established” (as opposed to an overall in progress) and I can pat myself on the back? What can I expect in terms of phases, time/effort?

For anyone in the midst of fashion frustration, the idea of having a wardrobe that’s done can seem like a faraway, even impossible, destination.

But you can get there, mamas! Here’s how to do it, and what to expect.

Signs your wardrobe is established

First, let’s talk about what the destination looks like. What is an established wardrobe, anyway? For me, this means a closet full of figure-flattering fundamental pieces around which you can build any kind of outfit you need. To put it another way: you no longer have “nothing to wear.” I call these fundamental pieces The Core Wardrobe.

The phases of wardrobe building

Getting to this delightful place happens in three phases: editing your closet to remove the stuff you don’t like and don’t wear; identifying what you need to buy to fill in the gaps between what you have left and what you need; and acquiring those missing pieces, whether by shopping, thrifting or making them.

The amount of time and effort it takes

Those first two phases—the edit and the audit—can sound like a lot of work. And in a way, they are. It’s no small matter to decide to get rid of things that may have been hanging in your closet for years. The time required, however, is not as much as you might think. These phases are Steps 3 and 4 of “No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” the Frantic But Fabulous style makeover workshop, and I designed the activities to be achievable in a single weekend. Because if it takes you a lot longer, you’re just not going to do it, right?

As for the final phase, filling in your wardrobe with what you need, that can vary a lot for a number of reasons, beginning with how long your list is. But it’s also usually the most enjoyable; shopping is a lot less exhausting when you actually know what you’re looking for and how to know when you’ve found it.

Here’s one more way I think of a wardrobe as being established: when you get to go shopping for things you want, not just things you need.

Ready to start building your wardrobe foundation? It’s easier than you think! Get step-by-step help editing your closet of the clothes you no longer need and filling it with style for the way you live. It’s all included in your instant download of the Frantic But Fabulous style makeover workshop, “No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style.” Get it today!

It takes two: When it makes sense to buy multiples of the same clothing item

By IN Advice, Style Q&A

When to buy 2 (or more) of the same thing

A reader wants to know:

When should I buy multiples of the same thing in the same or different colors, and when should I pass?

This is a pretty common question, and a good one.

When it makes sense to double up on clothes

Style Q&A: Your personal style questions answeredHere are a few rules of thumb.

  • When it’s a wardrobe staple. Some wardrobe staples, like T-shirts, are worth getting in more than one color. And if you know you’ll wear the heck out of it, you could even get multiples of the same hue.
  • When it fits like a dream. Did you discover that elusive creature, the pair of jeans that truly fit you? Get two, in different washes if you can. Labels constantly retire styles, so if you love it now, get it now; it’s not going to be cheaper if you can only find it next year in the wilds of eBay. Or maybe you finally found shoes that are both comfortable and stylish: get two, in different colors if you want, or of the same one so you can have a backup when the first pair falls apart. (I wish I’d bought two of my favorite pair of Puma flats at the time; if only I’d known!)
  • When it’s one of a kind. OK, it’s not really “one of a kind” if there’s more than one of it, but if an item you fall in love with is so unusual you know you’ll never see it again, pick up its twin. Keep that one on reserve for the day when the original is finally worn to bits.

If you’re still not sure, the final tipping point can be price. If you know you’ll wear both and the second one is at a discount—or better yet, BOGO—take advantage of your good timing. And if you’re shopping online, remember to start at eBates first. (Just deposited another Big Fat Check today myself!)

The key overall is balance. If your closet is filled with nothing but multiples of a just a few things, you’re likely to get bored and feel like your style is in a rut. But if you know what your “me uniform” looks like, it makes sense to have more than one of those pieces on hand.

Or combine the two, like Steve Jobs, who famously had a wardrobe of nothing but the same black turtleneck, jeans and white tennis shoes. Now that’s style precision!

Learn more about how to dress for your figure, clean out your closet and create outfits that are fab, not drab, in No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style, the Frantic But Fabulous style workshop. This easy-to-follow system includes how-to guides, worksheets and a checklist of wardrobe essentials. Get started today!