Don’t Match Your Denim

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These mannequins in our window demonstrate pairing chambray denim tops with darker denim jeans.  The Vera Bradley handbags add yet another blue into the mix as well as a punch of print to complete the whole look.

Do you remember the days when your denim needed to match?  I do.  I can recall spending inordinate amounts of time with a customer trying to find the jean that would match her denim jacket.  Pull your hair out frustrating, it was.  Thank goodness we are in a denim trend now when the coolest ladies have denim that doesn’t match.

So here is my fashion advice for the season.  First, get yourself a denim shirt or dress!  It is a must have item this season.  Next, pair that puppy with the opposite flavor of denim.  For example, pair dark denim with chambray.  Also try heavily stone washed denim paired with a clean denim with no stone washing or whiskering.  One of my favorite looks this season is to combine white denim with blue denim.  I’m fond of chambray with white for a washed out look or dark denim with white for a strong contrast; the choice is yours.  Wear your jeans cropped to ankle length and your shirt out.  Add a pair of Chuck Taylors, a great handbag and a cute hat, and oh mama – fabulous summer style!

Store Owner’s Product Review of Vera Bradley Travel

S16_Instagram_Escape the Ordinary 1As a store owner, I always try out the products that I sell.  If I tell you it works great, you can bet I have experienced the benefits of the product.  I can’t sell something I don’t believe in.  So this past weekend, I had the opportunity to take a long weekend away with my husband to Las Vegas, and I decided to give my Vera Bradley travel gear a try.

I purchased The Grand Traveler which is a large quilted duffel bag with handles, a shoulder strap, and a pass through pocket to slide over your suit case handle.  To this I added the matching Hanging Organizer and a coordinating Signature Vera Bradley Small Trimmed Tote Bag and matching wallet.  Lastly I threw in my black Mini Hipster.  Here is what I discovered.

When packing my Grand Traveler, what I figured out very quickly is that the four interior pockets are just the right size for shoes and are organized along both sides of the bag so you can fit four pairs of shoes nicely.  They are kept up and away from your clothing which I really appreciated.  I packed three outfits, including two with jackets as well as a dressy Sympli skirt and top for our nice dinner at Le Circe.  All my clothing and two pairs of shoes fit in the bag easily with plenty of extra room.   I used the extra interior pockets to hold my Mini Hipster purse and my brush and hair dryer.

The Hanging Organizer is a toiletry bag and has several zippered compartments that are clear plastic so you can easily see what is in them.  It also has a large zippered compartment at the bottom that holds all your large items like shampoo and deodorant.   Additionally, The Hanging Organizer has an organization pocket at the top with several interior pockets within it.  I used one of the clear plastic zippered pockets for makeup and another for my toothbrush and toothpaste.  I kept all my travel sized items in the larger bottom pocket and kept the other miscellaneous things like medicine, band aids and hair bands in the top compartment.  Of course I had to travel with all my liquids and gels in a baggie, but they could be organized into The Hanging Organizer once I got to my hotel and hung up on the bathroom door with the heavy duty hanger.  It fit easily on top of my clothing.  The only knock I had on The Hanging Organizer is there was not enough room for my straightening brush by the time I fit everything else in.

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When the Grand Traveler was all zipped with my Hanging Organizer, it was not too heavy and easy to carry with the padded shoulder strap.  I did not have to constantly adjust it or struggle with a too heavy bag.  When I got to the plane, it fit easily into the over head compartment and I had no trouble lifting it over my head to get it there.  Compared to my suitcase, I found The Grand Traveler much easier to handle.  I also liked that when I got to my hotel, I could unpack it and fold it neatly up so it did not take up unnecessary room in my closet.

I used my tote bag to hold my iPad, charging cables, head phones, magazine, iPhone, and wallet.  It had interior pockets lining both sides as well as an outside zippered pocket and an outside open pocket.  I really liked all the interior pockets because I was able to avoid the black hole syndrome of a typical tote where everything falls to the bottom and you have to dig through everything to find anything.  The pockets kept all my gadgets handy and easy to find.  The zippered outside pocket worked well for my iPhone and kept it within reach but secure.  The open pocket worked great for a place to temporarily store my driver’s license and jewelry in the frenzy to get everything stored without annoying the passengers behind me in the security line.  The tote again did not become too heavy when all of these things were added to it, and it fit easily under the seat in front of me while still leaving room for my feet.  I found the fact that my tote zipped closed an essential feature because I didn’t have to worry about it tipping over if I accidentally kicked it.

While I was in Las Vegas, I used my tote during the day and stored my light jacket inside it during the times when it was sunny and warm.  It was nice not to have to carry my coat all the time but still have it available when it cooled down.  I used my Mini Hipster purse when we headed out for the night and I didn’t want to have to worry about setting my purse next to me on the floor.  It worked great and had a pocket for my phone and a wallet organizer that held my license and credit cards with a cross body strap to keep everything within reach.

I added a matching Vera Bradley scarf in the same print as my Grand Traveler Bag and felt very stylish as I walked through the airport.  I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but I coordinated quite nicely!  I loved how my Vera Bradley travel gear performed on my trip. It is a well thought out product line that is loaded with features and style.

You Really Are More Than A Number

You know those commercials that make you cry?  I was really touched by the new Kellogg Special K commercial.  In it, women go shopping in a jean store and discover there are no sizes.  The sales clerks offer to measure them with a tape measure that replaces numbers with words like “charismatic”  Just about every woman I know can relate to how it feels to get depressed in a dressing room.  It is something I see every week.

Last week I helped a young woman looking for a new pair of Silver Jeans.  She told me her waist size, and we found several pair in the style she liked.  With a little trying on, she discovered, to her dismay, that she needed a bigger size.  When she came out of the dressing room, her countenance had completely changed.  She had wilted right in front of my eyes.  I tried to encourage by talking about how each style and fabric will fit a bit differently.  I argued that she shouldn’t focus on the number and instead focus on the fit.  Sadly, she just couldn’t get past the fact that she needed a bigger size.  She left empty handed and depressed.


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Oh how I hate that!  Ladies, hear me when I say this.  I dress women of all different body types every day.  I deal with over 200 brands on a regular basis.  I go to market and purchase these brands and talk to their designers four times a year.  I can’t tell you how often I have a designer tell me, “We’ve changed the fit a bit.  Your customers will notice these are a little bigger (or smaller) than before.”  Over the years I have come to the inescapable conclusion that size means nothing.  Truly, all a size means is that in this particular brand and in this particular style, you are this particular size, for now.  That quite possible will change next season.  Any woman who is honest will admit to having a range of sizes in her closet from smaller than she thinks she is to bigger than she wants to be.

It really is time that we stop letting a number define us.  It is most definitely time that we STOP getting depressed when we go into a store and have to take a bigger size.  If you’ve gained weight, okay.  Get motivated and take off a few pounds.  Stay on top of it before it becomes 20 or 3o pounds.  But, if you were feeling good about yourself when you walked into the store, DO NOT let the sizes in the dressing room make you feel sad.   It is a completely arbitrary number.

Just in case you missed the commercial, copy this address into your browser:

Don’t Put Too Much Stock in Your Friend’s Fashion Advice.

I know that shopping is more fun with friends!  It is for me too, but choose your shopping friends carefully.  I can't tell you how many times I have seen a customer not get something that she really liked and looked good in because her "friend" told her not to buy it.  Worst of all, I have often suspected that the reason behind the friend's advice was more about her than what was really good for the friend she was advising.  Here's the thing – clothing is extremely personal.  It is an expression of who we are as people – our personalities, our jobs, our lifestyles.  What you need is often times not what your friend needs.  What styles and colors that look good on you may not be the same styles and colors your friend likes.  What you are willing to spend on clothing may be more or less than what your friend is willing to spend. 

I know it's scary to trust a sales person's opinion; there is always a fear that he or she will tell you it looks good just to make the sale.  I'm sure there are those who do that.  However, if you find a great store with a great sales person that will give you an honest opinion, in many ways they are better able to be objective than a friend might be.  This is because they have no pre-conceived opinion of you.  They will likely suggest things that might get you outside of your box because they aren't automatically rejecting things based upon what you usually wear.  If they are worth their salt as a sales person, they will realize that it is far more important to help you pick fabulous things and have you come back than to make a one time sale. 

If you find you just can't put your faith in a stranger, then take my advice and choose your shopping partner wisely.  Will they be able to tell you what looks good on you and leave their personal tastes out of it?  Will they not judge you if you spend more or less than they do on clothing?  Is their motivation truely to be a help to you or do they enjoy feeling like "the expert?"  When you listen to them, do you get compliments from others on how you look?  These are just some of the questions you might consider asking yourself before you go on your next shopping date with your friends.  Happy shopping!