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Fashion Shopping for my Sons at Christmas

I always love this time of year but hate the crowds.  It has become a yearly tradition to buy clothes for my 3 sons who are now 20, 18 and 15.  They’ve grown up to see me transition from frumpy to functional to fashionable.  They take pride in representing themselves with their attire as they’ve grown.  I work in the technical industry where for most of the engineers, daily attire consists of a graphic T-shirt, jeans and athletic shoes.  In some cases the graphic t-shirts are just that, graphic and what I would consider not appropriate for work, or to be worn in public. I’ll save my rant on the attire of the 24% women in the office for another day.

These days my Man Children, as I like to refer to them, prefer good fitting jeans or khakis.  My high schooler still prefers basket ball shorts even when it snows but at least he’s styling a good looking Nike shirt and sweatshirt to top it off.  When better attire is required, he steps up.  Their shirt preference is now v-neck T’s, henleys and they look best in sweaters.  My oldest likes to wear his beanie and for some reason, he handsomely pulls it off.  The other two not so much and I look like a 12 year old when I try any hat.

I still recall the first time I took my oldest shopping for clothes to pick out himself.  He was in middle school.  He painfully came to the realization during a melt down in the middle of Target that the variety in Men’s shirt is pretty small:  Polos, v-necks, turtlenecks, t-shirts, button up, hoodies…. Unlike the vast variety for women, it’s just not the same.  Thankfully shortly there after I found the DC outlet and as they grew out of thrashing their clothes, Tillys.  Now with knowing their likes and dislikes, I can take care purchasing their Christmas presents in about 30 minutes.  In, find sizes, colors, boom, done.  If I could make real money shopping, I would do it.  I don’t know many people who can leave work and within less than 45 minutes be back in the office with everyone on the list taken care of.  Maybe some day!

So who do you shop for at Christmas time?  Any yearly traditions for the ones you love?  For those of you with sons or men in your life, what looks best on them and where do you find it?

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Are you a Monogamous or Hunt and Gather shopper?

Are you a Monogamous or Hunt and Gather shopper?.

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Are you a Monogamous or Hunt and Gather shopper?

I love clothes, I love shoes.  My love for accessories comes and goes.  Clothes can be a way to represent yourself at work, in public, when meeting new people, to family and friends.  Clothing provides a glimpse into who you are.  I often get asked where I get my outfits.  This got me wondering about shopping loyalty and habits.  When my boys were young, my shopping usually came out of desperation (like none of my pants fit or were ruined) or by chance when I was out and about and ran across a sale.  I had a hard time investing in clothes that may or may not fit and would definitely get some mileage wear that comes with motherhood.  Having a few unique body characteristics wasn’t always conducive to quickly buying off of just any shelf and online shopping was usually not successful and the extra time required to ship back items was unthinkable.

I stumbled on Victoria,s Secret catalogs.  Once I paged past the lingerie, I found they had jeans with long inseams and fell in love with London Jeans.  Finally I had pants long enough for my 34′ inseam as well as professional office wear.  Express also carried long lengths (back then VS and Express were owned by the same company) and if you got past their young adult fad looks, they had great professional wear.  Some of my best classic blazers are from Express.  Then the WHBM (White House Black Market) catalog magically appeared and I bought a few tops.  Then visited the store which was an hour drive, and now a few years later, I am a dedicated Premier member.  The excellent staff knows me by name.  Calls me when there are sales or things come in they know I will love.  My favorite stylist knows what I already have so doesn’t push items on me when I come in every few months for just a few items or to stock up for a new season.  I now thoughtfully plan out what I need to supplement my wardrobe and pick a few fashion forward items to splurge on before I head out for a day of shopping.  I have a very versatile wardrobe where I can mix things up with “vintage” as the WHBM staff calls anything that came from a previous season, with new items.  The clothing is quality and lasts.  Their colors also transcend time which allows new pieces to work with previous years.  The versatility their clothing provides is well worth the investment.  I still mix fashion forward pieces once in a while from Express, Tillys (where I shop for my sons) and of course some of my staple favorites from Victorias Secret.  I mostly shop at DSW for shoes 2-3 times a year as the weather changes.

On the other extreme of monogamous shoppers like myself, I have friends who are devoted to TJ Max and Marshalls.  The stores are just too busy for me and I have a hard time rummaging through racks filled with mixed, colors, sizes, styles.  It gives me a panic attack to try to find a hidden gem!  But they come out with fabulous finds they are very proud of and declare their savings over the cost.  I also have friends who love to shop online anywhere and who use sites that search for the items they are looking for without discerning what retailer or designer the items comes from (aka my Amazon girls).

What kind of shopper are you?  Monogamous?  Dedicated to a few stores where you know things will fit and don’t need to go elsewhere.  Or love to Hunt and Gather to find treasures from all ends of the earth?  How did you find your treasure spots and what do you look for that keeps you coming back?

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Confession of a Shoe Lover – How do you shoe?

I wasn’t always a Shoe Lover.  When my boys were small, popping into the local Payless Shoe Source when I had to was as good as it got – $20 max.  After having my 3 boys, I wasn’t thrilled with my post-baby weight so I found shoes were a great way to update my look instead of clothing and shoes gave me that happy “Shopping” feeling especially when I found the Nine West outlet store near work.  I would visit 2-3 times a year for the season change or I needed to replace one of my few existing pairs – $50 max.

As I moved up the ranks of the tech company I work for, I fell in love with heels.  There is just something about being 5’7″ in a company of enginerds and adding 3-4 inches of height in a cubicle environment.  You know the perks of being able to see over the walls, being able to see a speaker in a room full of employees from the back of the room, easily finding people in a crowd.  Although being the awkwardly tall one isn’t the best thing to see on film – especially when the average height of my “tall” female co-workers was 5’4″ –  it works when cameras are void.  

Up until we remodeled and I was able to design my own closet, my family of males never really knew how many shoes I had.  Sharing a small closet with my husband required rotating shoes and storing the out of season sandals or boots in bins.  When I finally designed a room that was bigger than my boys bedrooms to fit my needs, my husband couldn’t figure out why I designed soooo many shelves until he saw the filled closet with 100+ pairs of sandals, shoes and boots.  There are many fashionistas out there where 100 is a minuscule number of shoes but in a family where I’m the only girl, anything over 4 pairs is a lot.

Up until I sprained my ankle last October, my favorite heel height was 3″ for any shoe.  Flats were underrepresented.  Sandals that go between the big toe and the rest of the toes, not a fan until I broke my toe in June.  The injuries you ask? – that’s for another blog… both from karate (brown belt after 12 years in American Kenpo) and I skipped the “gracefulness gene line”.  I do tend to lean towards sandals and boots.  

Even with my love for shoes, I have found that before I wander into DSW, Nordstrom, Nike or any shoe store, I have to have purpose.  If I am not looking for something specific, I walk out empty handed.  Blasphemy, right?  Especially when you get points and gift certificates to keep you in the endless loop of wanting more shoes!  Here’s the list of my must haves:

  • Boots:  flat, 2 inch, 3 inch, slouchy, tall, short.  Black, brown, beige, gray.  Some seasons it’s hard to find the right color.  But pick a style that works for your personality:  western, mod, motto, classic.  I haven’t decided if I can rock the peep toe boot yet or the cut outs.  Is it practical with rain, can I find a comfortable pair, do they look right….
  • Sandals (options are endless):  flats, 2 in, 3 -4 inch, strappy, gladiator, wedges, any color but definitely white, beige, black, brown, khaki, blue.
  • “Shoes” as my husband calls them – that aren’t sandals or boots.  Pumps, oxfords, ballet flats.  This is the style I find the most difficult to find.

So if you aren’t a shoe lover yet, find the outfits that need something besides what’s in your closet and shop with purpose.  Example:  Today I am going to DSW to find a pair of black short boots with a 2″ heel – in leather.  And then I’ll find the perfect match and 2 additional pairs just because they are fabulous!

 Happy shopping!  What is your favorite style, shoe, store? 

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Let’s talk Jeans

I work for a high tech company where dress is very casual.  There are islands (or as I like to say aisles) of fashionistas and we nod to each other as we pass down the hallway since the site of a fabulous outfit is rare.  There is this instant unspoken admiration and respect  when you find someone in your industry who loves a great outfit and definitely fabulous shoes.  I make sure to get to know these fellow techies since they dress that way every day and there’s nothing more enjoyable than having a morning chat about fashion in a sea of enginerds.  At least since I moved to a new group awhile back, I no longer get asked if I’m “interviewing” if I wear a nice dress to work.  But occasionally when I get a surprised “you’re wearing a dress?” comment, I reply, “uh yeah, girl”.  I get that at home too but I expect it in my household of male teenagers, also referred to as my man children.

I still remember going to lunch with some colleagues one day and when we met up, they said, “wow, you look so formal for a Friday.  Are you comfortable?”  Comfortable?  I was wearing the same thing they were:  jeans and a t-shirt.  I just happened to be wearing clothing from WHBM and heels.  Why would I wear something uncomfortable?  I think that’s one of the biggest myths from those who shy away from fashion is that fashion is uncomfortable.  The clothing is made from the same fabrics and if you love fashion, you love fashion that fits and feels good.

Many companies outside the tech industry only do “casual Friday”.  Whether it’s your casual Friday or your daily attire, we’ve all seen articles on how to rock a pair of jeans in the office.  Glamour Magazine had a great article in their August edition on the right fit jeans.  A dark wash is better than a faded, lighter or acid wash.  I save my ripped jean look for the weekend.  You can rock a pair of skinny jeans, straight leg or flared (which looks to be a great trend this fall).  To make jeans office appropriate, leave the sports shoes at home and pair it with great heels, sandals or boots.  I always wear either a blazer or sweater at work.  I love feminine tanks and camisoles but when the office is 68 degrees, freezing takes away from the comfort of a fashionable outfit.

So why most of my co-workers both male and female wear casual t-shirts, jeans, tennis shoes, my preference is a nice pair of dress pants and occasionally the work dress but also love wearing a great pair of jeans with great shoes and fashion at the top.  For some great ideas on work appropriate Jean outfits, checkout the Best Fashion Fit Work Jeans page.  Here are some retail and designer suggestions based on your unique fit:

From Glamour Magazine:

Bigger Butt

NYDJ, Hudson Jeans, Lands End

Straight up and down (Boyish figure)

American Eagle Outfitters, Bebe, AG

The muffin or tummy

DKNY, New York and Company, Old Navy

Wide Hips

Armani, Lee, Calvin

I have long legs (34″ inseam) and with many jeans, I end up with a gap in the back because I have a small waist but not small thighs or butt.  I do get the “it must be so hard being tall”… It’s much easier to shorten a pair of pants since adding an extra inch or two probably wouldn’t be the latest new fad.  My favorites that consistently fit with no gaps and I can wear with flats or high heels:

Victoria Secret London Blue (34″ inseam)

WHBM – Amazingly both their Long fit and regular fit work well.

Levi’s 512 Long

What’s your favorite pair of jeans and why do you love them?

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Let’s talk Customer Service

My blog was going to be about finding the right pants but my shopping experiences this last week have customer service top of mind.  I’ll save the pants discussion until next week.  I worked retail in high school, college and then went into retail management.   In the stores I worked in, our customers expected the best service.  I worked in a high end boutique during my college years where a two-piece outfit would run around $500 which is still pricey today.  When I managed my own store, even though we were always short staffed, service was everything.   I have carried that philosophy with me into my technology career.  Even though my “customers” are fellow employees, delivering an exceptional and delightful experience is job one, no matter how difficult.

Today I expect good customer service whether I am shopping online or in a physical store.  Those retailers who don’t put the customer first as a key to success are ones I do not go back to unless I just can’t find what I need anywhere else which with today’s online options is getting very rare.

 A good to great experience:

  1. I feel welcomed when I enter
  2. The staff checks back with me even if I said I was just browsing
  3. Start a dressing room, take the items to the register or offer a cart/basket.
  4. Make additional recommendations to compliment what I’ve already found whether it’s clothing or wrapping paper for a gift
  5. Stay engaged during checkout
  6. Thank me for my purchase

This seems like a no brainer but there are retailers who don’t provide this experience.  You know the ones where the employees feel bothered that you’ve interrupted their work of stocking items, gossiping with a fellow employee or already have a customer so don’t take a brief moment to say hello or “I’ll be right with you”.

I made the mistake this week of heading to the mall.  I know, I know but I needed to try on Victoria’s Secret’s new style before purchasing.  It didn’t dawn on me that there would be a bazillion teenagers school shopping.  I love the VS online experience and have been a loyal customer for years.  I tend to forget that the in store experience isn’t the same.  I did get greeted when I came in and the person told me her name, but then I realized when I finally got to checkout that it was for “credit of sales” purposes rather than service.  I wandered the store looking for a certain item and even though at least 5 salespeople passed me, I could not get anyone’s attention for help and as you can imagine, I am neither quiet or shy.  I had to wait 20 minutes at the fitting rooms before I could try on.  A simple acknowledgement that there were 6 of us waiting, all rooms were full and they would get us in as soon as possible would have sufficed.  One of the Mom’s finally told the fitting room attendant that several rooms were empty.  When I checked out, the salesperson was friendly and asked who helped me (ahh, yes the only one who told me her name…) and if I found everything, well “No” but was she really going to leave the register to help me find what the other 10 salespeople could have, I think not.  So reminder to self, shop VS online.  At least now I know I love their new style, sigh.

The one store I frequent often is White House Black Market.  The sales staff is exceptional.  They make me feel like we’re having a clothing party with close friends.  My favorite salesperson, Lynn, knows what I already have, is great at showing me things I wouldn’t normally try on but look fab and I always walk out of the store feeling like I just had the best experience.

That same week of venturing to the mall I had to take my youngest to get his school supplies so we went to Target at 8am.  We aren’t really near Target so I’m not a frequent shopper but we were nearby after his 7am orthodontist appointment and I thought I could get groceries and have one less stop.  It would be painful but hey, 30 minutes would be tolerable.  I was pleasantly surprised.  At least 4 salespeople helped me in different parts of the store to find school supplies and groceries.  And the teenager at checkout, even though quite chatty for a senior in high school, was incredibly friendly and fast.  So my feeling when I walked out of Target of all places, “why don’t I shop here more often?”.

As I blog weekly, not only do I care about things that will fit your unique body type and make you feel beautiful, but I also will also have the experience top of mind.  After all, finding the right item to purchase should be just as fabulous of an experience as wearing it!

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Welcome to the Best Fashion Fit Blog

I’m so glad you’re here!  Welcome.  Today is the official launch of BestFashionFit.com. For years I thought the reason I couldn’t find clothes that fit was because I had body issues.  Once in a while I could find a pair of pants that was actually long enough for my 34″ inseam and I would wear them until they were no longer wearable in public.  I would then go back to the retailer and the brand or the style no longer existed.

I tried online retailers and would have some luck but returning things was a pain and a hassle with my busy work schedule and family.   I tried altering but finding a good alterations place (busy schedule again) and then having them come out right only added cost to my clothing budget.

Over the years as my BFF network grew, I realized I wasn’t the only woman who wanted clothes to fit well but struggled in the right find.

I finally found a retailer where almost everything fits but I just happened to stumble on them when checking out a new shopping center across the street from the mall.  Their clothes are a little higher priced than I would have previously purchased but I find the quality is excellent and things match season to season.

So how do we help you find the retailer or design for you?  The purpose of this site is to share retailers you have found or I have researched that work for certain body types.  Once a week I will pick a topic (long inseam, large bust, small waste, big calves…).  Please jump into the conversation, that’s how this will work!  If you have the same issues, SHARE!  If you have the same body type and have found a retailer or designer that works for you, SHARE!  If you have a unique fit that is not on the website or we haven’t discussed yet, SHARE!

There’s a theme here, right?  SHARE.  Let’s help each other end the clothing or settling issue and find the fit, make you feel great and get back to loving fashion!  Are you in?