Draw a hard line, softly

August 17th, 2014

Just as juxtaposition of hard and soft can be a beautiful way to express your style, using softness to convey an inflexible message can be hugely powerful as a communication tactic.

Many times people,  especially women, want to lead with softness or with hints.  And sometimes, your conversational partner does not pick up on these cues or they may not take your soft requests seriously.  This is the type of situation in which it is powerful and useful to be able to give someone the truth without upsetting them.

The ideas here are the same as those strategies in Aikido that help you redirect someone’s energy where you want.

1. Begin with empathy.

Exercise your ability to imagine what the world looks like from their eyes.   Do what you can to connect with their feelings.  Ask questions to help you understand what’s in their mind.

This can be challenging when you are dealing with behavior that is inappropriate or even threatening,  and the idea is to suspend judgement.  This will allow you to interact with your conversational  partner on a human level.

Furthermore, ask the person for what is really at the root of this issue.  Express concern that they are acting desperately in some way. This shows that you’re not willing to engage in the inappropriate interaction that they had in mind, and that you are willing to listen to what really matters to them.

Picture by Ryan McGuire

If they're not reading your signs, spell it out for them.

2. Come out with it.

If someone is acting inappropriately, disrespectfully, or even threateningly, it’s important to meet the challenge head on.  Therefore, come out and say “this conversation is inappropriate” or “this situation feels threatening.”  This out-in-the-open tactic has a few uses.

The first possible outcome is your conversational partner did not realize they were acting in an inappropriate manner.  In that case, you can inform them of what’s going on and they will likely stop the behavior.

The second outcome is that calling your conversational partner out for being  inappropriate we’ll be enough to get them to stop the behavior.

Finally, if your conversational partner is not willing to acknowledge that their behavior is out of line, or if they do acknowledge it but won’t stop,  you know it’s time to take further action, including ending the interaction or calling in reinforcements of some kind.

Picture by Ryan McGuire

Make the consequences clear while keeping distance from them. This prevents an adversarial feeling and brings you into the other person's corner.

3. Be clear with consequences, and apart from them.

Tell your conversational partner clearly what the consequences of continued bad behavior would be.  Disconnect yourself from this process.  Phrase this as requirements on you: “I am required to report…” or “if someone…, I need to…”.  This puts the responsibility on the person you’re speaking with to decide what end they would like.

4. End with empathy.

Let the person know that you’re not against them; you’re on their team.  Tell them that you want to help them when they are more ready to talk with you.

Overall, be very firm with what is expected of everyone in the situation, and approach these expectations with kindness, empathy, and concern.


Get meshy this summer

August 15th, 2014

what’s HOT this summer: mesh detail swimsuits


This swimwear trend fits right in with the recent trends of color blocking, cut-outs, and showing midriff.  If you like these looks but don’t want to go bare-skin, mesh is a sophisticated and grown-up way to do it.

What's hot this summer: Mesh

The Look

Most mesh detail suits are in black or white.  These will give you a really beautiful cosmopolitan look.  Pair a suit like this with a flowy, colorful wrap and some sleek sunglasses to polish the look.

Some of these suits are more young and funky in style, with a color blocked or neon color scheme.  Tone these down with a simple cover up and pair them with a statement shoe for a kick of interest.


Visit A Bikini A Day for more swimwear trends.


How not to trend

August 12th, 2014

Trends can be awesome, fun ways to show that you are paying attention to the world of fashion and that you know what’s cool.  Unfortunately, participating in trends can get us into trouble at times as well.

So how can you tell what is the right way and the wrong way to try a trend?  There are a few simple rules you can follow to keep you on the right track.

1.  A little at a time

When investigating a trend, it’s crucial you incorporate trendy items into your wardrobe a little at a time.  That is, don’t run out and buy a bunch of outfits in the one trend.

]First of all, don’t wear one trend from head to toe.  Start with one small trendy item (ex. a top) and pair it with classic pieces that won’t steal focus.

Secondly, don’t get a bunch of things of one trend all at once.  Try a piece or two and see how you like them.  If you love them, go for it.  On the other hand, the trend may be over by the time you get back to the stores.  You won’t have shopped yourself broke for something that’s so last season.

Picture by Ryan McGuire

Don't wear trends that don't match who you are...

2.  Make it your own

When you follow a trend, you don’t want to be a follower, so make it your own.  First, wear a trendy piece with something that is uniquely you.  Figure a way to use the trendy piece in your everyday life.

Second, never buy a trend that is not flattering or that doesn’t fit you.  Any style will be a flop if it doesn’t help you look awesome.  Always look for trends that have the potential to be flattering to your body.  Give those priority when you’re shopping.

Third, don’t use a trendy piece to try to be someone you’re not.  Do celebrate aspects of your personality with your style.  The difference?  Make sure the feeling of the trend does not clash with who you are or where you are in life.

3.  Be bold

Don’t be afraid to try something new!  I’ve tried on tons of trendy items – even from trends I thought I would love – and gotten exactly nowhere for a long time.

For example, I’ve loved the look of peplums since they became trendy a few years ago.  Since then, I’ve tried on bunches of tops and dresses – and nothing worked for me.  I now have one peplum in my wardrobe – a black jacket.

Don’t be afraid to try things on, and when you love them, don’t be afraid to mix the piece into your outfits.  Taking fashion risks is one of the many things that makes style interesting!

Crochet at the beach

August 9th, 2014

what’s HOT this summer: crochet swimwear

Okay, so crochet may not be a typical beach or pool activity.  But crochet is a hot trend for swimwear this summer.

Crochet’s open stitch makes it particularly alluring for swimwear.  What’s nice is that it’s versatile enough to cover when it needs to, and be sheer and suggestive when you want it to.

Crochet swimwear comes in all shapes and sizes.  There are tons of neutrals, colors, and patterns available, and crochet suits come in bikinis, one pieces, and monokini styles.

If you’re not sure about this trend, try a cover-up.  The open stitch provides comfortable coverage with a fun and flattering see-through (but obstructed) look.

What's hot this summer: crochet swimwear


Fit is key with any swimsuit, and crochet is no different.  While the fiber itself may not have much stretch to it, crochet’s weave does, so the material overall is well suited to swimwear.  Crochet stitch does expand and contract with moisture, so make sure the fit is snug in the fitting room to ensure there are no pool-side mishaps.

The look

Crochet is relevant and funky right now.  Go for bright color or pattern, and match it with more subdued supporting pieces.  Keep your other pieces simple, as crochet has a lot of cool texture and interest in itself.


Pair a crochet suit or cover-up with a cut-out sandal or colorful wedge.   Go for natural materials in a bag or hat, like linen and straw.  Keep jewelry and make-up simple and clean – remember, if you’re getting in the water, you don’t want to come out looking like you’ve melted.

Keep up with swim trends at A Bikini A Day, and enjoy your summer!


What’s outside counts too

July 9th, 2014

It’s what’s inside that counts.

That’s true, and what’s outside counts too.  In fact, your image is the only way strangers can make decisions about you.  And when you consistently present a certain image, the people around you will take that as part of your personality.

Is your style a little rusty? Remember, image counts too.

For instance, if you dress professionally, the people around you, including your colleagues, clients, and supervisor, will view you as a professional person.

And if you dress like a slob, the people around you will view you as a lazy, messy, or careless person.

That means people extend how you look to who you are.

The good news is that you have complete control over how you present yourself – so you have control over who people think you are.

Dress for the job you want

Especially when you’re looking to make a move, it’s critical to examine and optimize your image.  When you start dressing and grooming yourself to the next level, those around you see that you’re ready to move to the next level.

Show them what you’re made of

When you dress professionally, neatly, and with some interest, you show those around you that you respect yourself, you respect them, and you respect what you’re doing.  By showing that you care about your appearance, you show that what you do and the people you do it with are important to you.

A book cover can tell you a lot.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”

Yes, well, people do.  Regardless of what your mom told you about the way things should be, people will judge you based on your presentation.  The fact is, it’s human nature.  The brain cannot process every single piece of information it receives.  It therefore must take shortcuts by making assumptions based on a few salient pieces of evidence, otherwise it would be overwhelmed.  That means making assumptions and jumping to conclusions.

“It’s not who I am”

We all wear different hats.  Knowing that your presentation matters means realizing that you can be different at home and at work.  You can be different in your big meeting and a more everyday work situation.  If you want something, you have the capacity to dress for it.

Put appropriateness first, then supplement appropriate attire with interesting pieces that are more uniquely you.

Remember, you have the power!


Buckle Down

July 1st, 2014

Totally Wearable Trend: buckles

It’s sandal season!  Every summer, the sandals come out.  And every year, there are new trends for embellishment on a sandal.

This year, the big trend is strappy sandals embellished with buckles.  These buckles can be functional or strictly ornamental.

Totally Wearable Trends: buckles

The look: Pair these buckled sandals with a fresh, light sundress or with your favorite shorts and a bright, fun shirt.

Shopping: The key with any shoe is always try them on.  Don’t settle for ‘good enough,’ because it never is.  Only purchase if you’re sure you’ll wear them.  That being said, leather will stretch with you.  It’s okay to buy leather that fits a little snugly, just give it time and a few wears for it to stretch with you.

Remember to rock it your style!


Jewelry on vacation

June 23rd, 2014

If you’re lucky, you have a vacation planned this summer.  One question that need to be considered, regardless of the type of vacation you’re taking, is what jewelry to take with you.

Vacation Jewelry

When you’re planning your jewelry, keep these things in mind:

  1. Consider the event(s) you’re attending. If you’re traveling for a wedding or plan to attend the captain’s dinner on your cruise, you will want some nice jewelry.  Plan to bring one or two nice things along with some everyday items. 
  2. Be careful packing. Pack your fine jewelry in the boxes it came in, if you still have them.  If you’re flying or going on a cruise, pack your fine jewelry in a carry-on or your personal item.  This will both prevent your jewelry from being knocked around and prevent it from being stolen.
  3. Consider the location(s) you’ll visit. Keep the type of place you’re visiting in mind when you pack jewelry.  For example, I have specific jewelry I love to bring to a beach vacation.  For daytime, I wear colorful cloth bracelets and a beaded anklet.  These are inexpensive and aren’t damaged by water, so I can wear them in the pool, playing volleyball, and on the beach. 
  4. DON’T bring your whole jewelry wardrobe. There are times when you want some choices, but only bring the items you will use most.  Don’t overload on jewelry.  Just imagine – what if your luggage gets lost?  You don’t want to lose your entire jewelry wardrobe.
  5. DO bring your favorite items. If there is one or two things in your jewelry collection that makes you feel amazing, bring it.  You want those pieces with you when you’re taking pictures, going to dinner, and enjoying your time. 

When possible, bring jewelry that is customizable.  That way, you can bring just a few pieces with several sets of accent pieces.  You can change your accents to suit your outfit and the occasion.

For example, the Whimsy interchangeable bead necklace is a sterling silver piece with 5 spaces for beads.  You can put any of the Whimsy Glimmer beads in, or substitute any standard sized bead from the major bead brands or from glass artisans.  Whimsy is as versatile as you are creative!


Way to Glow

June 16th, 2014

what’s HOT this summer: Beautiful, glowing skin

There is something unmistakably summer about beautifully glowing skin.  What’s not hot is looking fake, overdone, or like you’ve burned yourself to a crisp.  Luckily, there are many different ways to achieve a beautiful, glowing complexion!

What's hot this summer: beautiful glowing skin

Try these methods for developing and accenting a beautiful glow:

  1. Sun Worship – You can, of course, do it the natural way.  If you want a lovely glow caused by exposure to the sun, always go the slow and steady route.  Think roasting a marshmallow: try to do it all at once and you get a black, crispy mess.  Go slow and steady, and you get a golden, gooey treat.  Always wear sunscreen (SPF 30 on your face, at least), prevent burns, and keep your skin looking great for years to come.
  2. Self-Tanner – Create the look of gradual sun exposure with self-tanning lotion.  Again, take the gradual approach.  Check out a lotion that adds shades little by little so you don’t end up looking orange.  Choose a color that is only a few shades darker than your skin currently is – don’t go all the way to Tahitian level tan.  Also, be very careful to read and follow the directions carefully.  Some things, like washing your hands right away after using lotions like these, are critical to your results.
  3. Makeup – As always, cosmetics come to the rescue.  If you don’t have time to sit in the sun and you don’t want to go the chemical route, you can always choose cosmetics.  They can provide instant color, life, and brightness to your face.

The first product to look at is bronzer.  Applied incorrectly (all-over coverage like a foundation), bronzer can be a disaster.  But applied in places the sun would naturally hit you, bronzer can look amazing.  Apply bronzer with a big, fluffy brush.  Sweep the bronzer in a “C” motion from your brow to the lower edge of your cheek bone on each side of your face.  This adds color and dimension to your face.

The second product to look at is highlighter.  For this, you can use any light and light-reflecting powder, from something with a light golden or bronze hue to a simple shimmering ivory.  Highlighter picks up the planes of your face, bounces light, and attracts the eye.  Apply highlighter with a fan brush underneath your eyebrows and the corners of your eye, then to the sides of your brow and upper edge of your cheek bones.

Get a beautiful glow this summer and remember to take care of your skin, so you can stay beautiful through the years.


Sexy Beach Hair

June 7th, 2014

what’s HOT this summer: Sexy Beach Hair with dry shampoo

Dry shampoo is not new to the market.  It’s a handy, powdery product that allows you to extend your time between washing your hair.  It’s a lifesaver to people whose hair looks greasy too quickly.

But its use in styling is getting significant buzz this summer.

If your hair is fine or flat, you probably have trouble getting the volume and texture of a day at the beach, especially if you’re spending your time land-locked.  The good news is, you don’t have to just accept it.  You can create a beachy, tousled look just with the help of dry shampoo, hair spray, and a hair dryer.

You can pick up spray shampoo at most drug stores, super markets, beauty supplies, and salons.  Start with your favorite brand.  They probably have a dry shampoo you can try.

What's hot this summer: sexy beach hair with dry shampoo

How to create the look:

  1. Spray your hair with dry shampoo.  Concentrate it at the roots and give the shafts a light coat.  This will give your hair some uplift and texture and separate the individual hairs.
  2. Spray your hair lightly with hairspray.  This will take some of the powderiness out of the spray shampoo and help your hair hold its shape.
  3. Hit your hair with some heat from your blow dryer.  Blow in some body, and don’t be afraid to make it a little big.

The end result?  Big, wavy, hair that looks like you’ve been at the beach all day – beautiful.


Shhh… listen

June 5th, 2014

Listening is the #1 most valuable skill in relationships.  Listening to yourself is the #1 most valuable skill in self-improvement and in style.

When you listen to anyone, first don’t judge.  Just hear and understand the message.  Then, you can respond in a way that is much more thoughtful and geared toward the truth.

One way to respond to your inner voice is through your style. Wear things that flatter your body (rational) and give you joy (subconscious). Put things together your way and be brave enough to try things that tickle you. It’s true, it might not work, but it just may end up being your favorite outfit!

I know far too many people who say things like “I love that but I could never pull it off” or who try something on, love it, but don’t get it because they don’t think they could wear it.  Or worse, they do get it, but then it stays in their closet forever.

When you’re shopping, buy things that either

  1. You know you’ll use (useful)
  2. You adore (joyful)

If it’s both, no question, get it.  And if it’s one or the other and you’re not sure, see if you can modify it some (add a cardigan or belt, add jewelry, etc.) to make it both.

Be brave.

Try things on that you’re not sure about.  At worst, it won’t work and you’ll take it off.  At best, you may have a new signature item that everyone compliments.

Walk out the door with things you’re not sure about.  See how they go over.  If it doesn’t work, you can go with something else tomorrow.  Just give yourself a chance!

Be you.

Don’t just wear what you think someone else wants you to wear.  Experiment within the boundaries of what’s appropriate.  Play with color, pattern, texture, and shine until it feels like you.  When you get a wild idea, entertain it and nurture it.  Try it out, if only to run to the grocery store.  Be honest with yourself about the result and just do you!

Wear what makes you happy.  Style is an opportunity to show people at first glance who you are.  Take the opportunity to show them who you really are.

Listen to the voice inside your head pushing you to try new things.  Listen to yourself when discovering what you’re comfortable in and what your style really is.  Then listen to the compliments pouring in.

For more on how to listen to yourself and others, visit the blog at CharismaU.com.


Leave a comment: Have you ever tried on or bought something and then chickened out?