Looks Speak Blog


Belts, Never Take for Granted!

The Belt, ah, the beauty of a well made, interestingly shaped Belt!! A simple belt can change an outfit in seconds flat. Okay, admittedly, maybe a minute or two if it’s a complicated belt. But really folks, the belt should never be taken for granted. When I was pregnant, albeit decades ago, I still remember longing to be able to wear a belt again!!

There are endless opportunities for the belt. The most obvious is with men’s trousers. A man should always check that his belt is impeccable if he is wearing it in combination with a suit or sports coat. On those occasions, a worn belt looks sloppy and screams middle manager. Not as offensive as a short sleeve shirt and tie, but close since the short sleeve shirt and tie is pretty much extinct.

Women have a number of ways to adorn a belt. A large belt worn on an angle can hide, camouflage and most importantly, balance a look. I really love to wear belts this way! Another favorite trick is to wear a long scarf draped around the neck. I will cinch the belt around my waist and draw the scarf in next to my body. You can then blouse the belt some, still having your top peek through in the middle and/or pull the scarf closed like a curtain and wear it completely covering the chest and it gives a vest like effect. When traveling a belt and a couple of scarves can take an outfit and multiply it a couple of times over! If you need to justify the cost of a belt, just think of it as an entire outfit and if you travel, think about the money you save on luggage fee’s since the belt allows you to pack less! (If you need more ways to justify, see me, I have been known to stretch an excuse for a purchase a length equivalent to the distance between NY to California!).

To tie a belt around this blog entry, let me wrap things up by saying this, as you get dressed everyday this week, ask yourself, could a belt change the look of this outfit? Maybe it’s a blazer with a belt around it, an opportunity to wear the blazer in a new way. My most recent new belt trick is around my puffy winter jacket. Wow! My coat that looked like most puffy coats and could have been purchased off the rack is now an original, a one of a kind! Smashing!!

I end where I started, ah, The Belt! Now, it’s a wrap!

Call me Crazy……

May 2015, Mother’s day, I was driving from Ft Lauderdale airport to my parent’s home in Del Ray Beach. It was an impromptu trip, I had hopped on a plane because I suspected it would be the last time I would see my dad alive. As I drove a random thought popped in my head, “I wish it was 1970”. When I reached his bedside I held his hand, kissed his forehead and again thought, “I wish it was 1970.” I realized this was not so random, in 1970 I was a little girl and Donnie, my dad, was crazy, fun and vibrant!

In May as I held my dads hand 45 years had passed since 1970, the year Love Story arrived in the theaters and I won a trophy for Simon Says at the El Caribe. (My one and only trophy, of course it was for following instructions perfectly!!! The competition didn’t stand a chance against a rule follower like me!!!!). Now it is January 2016 and I am reading a magazine and see Bohemia is back, it is 1970! That is one of the many things I love about fashion, life gets to be a do over and the memories can flood back via tops, shoes and dresses!!!! Of course given the price tag for some of todays Bohemia, no real Bohemian back in 1970 could afford! It’s like makeup, it takes a lot of makeup to look like you are not wearing any makeup. To look Bohemian, it’s going to cost you these days!!

Here is a fashion rule I once heard (heard it in the 70’s in fact!) The rule, so it goes, if you wore a style the first time it came around, you are too old to wear it the second time it comes around! Well, I already told you how much a rule follower I am. But heck, that was in 1970! I’m too old to follow every rule these days!!! Good fashion sense, Fran’s Rule, tells me I should not be dressed head to toe everyday like a Bohemian, but a top or two, now that sounds perfectly fine! Besides, I am not breaking a rule, so much as I am making a rule!! Donnie did a lot of making up his own rules!!!

You heard it here (hear!)!!! A Bohemian blouse is in order this spring. Go for sheer and billowy! The 1970’s (1977 actually, so I take poetic license), gave us Star Wars, and if Lucas can bring that storyline back I can certainly recycle a blouse style!

I will end with this thought, 1970 also brought us Catch 22. Call me crazy? Perfect ending to a story that began with my dad!!! Donnie was crazy in the best of ways. And in the end, Alzheimer’s got him, the ultimate crazy. Donnie’s death taught me many things. Not the least of which I pass along here, go for it…..we never know how long we have.

Closet Shape!

Its cold here in DC, the kind of cold that makes me want to bundle up and stay inside, drink hot tea with honey, and dream of summer. As you count down the months until spring, why not use your free stay at home evenings to get in shape? Closet shape that is!

Personally, I organize and reorganize everyday. In clinical terms, I’m obsessive. I’m not suggesting you take on an OCD outlook to life, if that were the case you wouldn’t need me to organize your wears! However, once a month or at least once a season, either invite me in to rearrange and edit your closet or tackle it alone. I was telling a friend this morning, a closet clearing is like a life clearing, signaling to the universe you are open to more! And more can mean more of anything; clothes, fun, confidence, new friends, new positions, etc.

So many of us are searching, we meditate, exercise, have personal trainers and nutritionists to keep us physically fit, business coaches and advisors to keep us fiscally fit, but often forget that our clothes and wardrobe planning is an equally important component of personal and professional development. Closet clearing is the first step of Wardrobe Planning and a giant step toward creating portals to more of life’s riches.

Guidelines for Successful Closet Clearing:

  1. Do you have a lot, is this the first crack at the clearing, start by season and spend no more than 2 hours at a time.
  2. Take everything out and lay it on the floor or bed.
  3. Decide best way to categorize based on your lifestyle. Examples-by color, by item type (pants, dress, suit, blazer. Etc.). Or by activity (work, play, sports, cocktail, presentation. Etc.). There are tricks and tips to the categories if you are stumped watch for future posts or call.
  4. Before putting anything back, check for stains, tears, proper size. Set aside those that need cleaning; toss those that are not proper size, in need of a lot of repair and especially the things that no consignment shop will accept. Exceptions of course include those items with high sentimental value. Maybe frame those or some other creative use.
  5. Have items that are perfectly good, don’t feel like consigning? Have a clothing swap! One mans garbage is another mans great find!!!


  1. If you use clear boxes for storage, line sides with photos and then it also serves as photo album. I have my shelves stacked with storage boxes and my photos are taped around inside edges, thus it’s like an open photo album. How can it not be a good day when it starts with me choosing what to wear and as I peruse the closet I see a photo of my son as a baby, or us on a great vacation?!
  2. Do the stare test. Close your eyes and open. The minute your eyes are open do you get a good feeling? Yes, eureka! NO, what is out of place, fix it. I do this everyday and see new possibilities each time, as I rearrange, hang things better, adjust hangers, etc., it’s a form of meditation for me!


SWAY. How is yours?!

I just finished reading and in process of re-reading Ori and Rom Brafman’s book, Sway, The irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior.

Have you ever had difficulty ending a doomed relationship? Have you ever held on to a plummeting stock? The Brafman’s reveal forces that skew behavior and derail thinking. We are all susceptible and subject to sway.

“Staying the course”, Brafman’s write, “simply because of a past commitment hurts us in the long run”. What does all of this have to do with image? Everything!!!

Many of us have enjoyed tremendous success in our life. Sometimes however, we do not stop to reevaluate. What worked one day, may in fact need updating the next. If we do not continually tend to our style we become victims of our own success. We overlook the need for change because we are committed to doing things, keeping things looking like they always did.

I recommend reading this book. It is highly insightful. One of the examples cited as “sway” was a medical misdiagnosis. A team of highly trained physicians made a decision that contradicted their years of training and ultimately resulted in the death of a child. “The moment the physicians labeled Amy’s mom a ‘frequent flyer’, they fell under the spell of an irrational force we call the diagnosis bias-in other words, the moment we label a person or a situation, we put on blinders to all evidence that contradicts our diagnosis.”

The minute we walk in a room, sway is in place. The “diagnosis bias” begins before we utter a word, those first 7 seconds I always harp on!!! If you are diagnosed as competent, smart, leadership material, then, your audience will see nothing else! Obviously, the contrary is also true.

Our personal image needs attention so that we continually offer the world a correct picture of our true talents. Sway in the intended direction, the direction of truth. How is your sway?????

New Finds!



Just as I think I have run out of purchases and great new places to purchases these must haves, I am always amazed and delighted with new finds. It’s like being in the heat of summer and trying to imagine ever needing a winter coat again. Well, okay, it’s December and it’s been so warm I still cannot imagine needing a heavy down coat, heavy sweater, or heavy anything! But it’s coming, all of it, the cold, the need for a sharp winter coat, the next great find!!!!   Here are the new finds from 2015. And, as I continue to scour the planet for exciting ideas and pieces for every client, here are the Top 10 FINDS from 2015:

2015 Best NEW FINDS!

  1. Ted Baker-all things!
  2. Massimo Dutti, Zaras upscale sister
  3. Men’s coats that can be worn over suits as easily as it can over jeans
  4. Avocado green (not for everyone, autumn guys and gals mostly)
  5. Comfort One Shoes (really, I wondered in by accident, who new?????)
  6. Target for home furnishings (another “who knew?”-I should have known, I love shopping Barneys NY and mixing Target and TJ Maxx for clothes, so why not do the same for home furnishings?)
  7. Speaking of home furnishings (see this list #6), as I feather my new nest I am reminded and pass along these tips: use colors from your personal color palette to enhance your look, pink light bulbs and streamline, streamline, streamline!!! Did I say streamline?!)
  8. L’oreal foundation (although ONLY place in DC to have your makeup done and purchase the right makeup for your best image-Bill Whited!!!!! He has fabulous foundation, got some for my mom! I needed some in a pinch and was pleasantly surprised with L’oriel.)
  9. Planks (great for abs)
  10. ____________(LEAVING #10 Blank, there are still more hours in 2015, I want to remain open!)


2015 Worst

1-10 Platform sneakers.

Jazmin and I gave you this tip over two years ago, why are people still wearing and buying????


2016 Anticipating:

  1. Finds from Israel, India, Spain and South America
  2. Key Finders, Phone Finders and all things low cal, low fat, fat burning, great tasting!!!!!!!



Great Crib!

I promised to tell you more about my great crib, aka apartment! Now I use the word “crib” not to be all hip and cool (by 1960’s standards). Literally, my apartment is the size of a crib! And it’s in Washington, D.C., not NYC where at least in NYC many people live in a shoebox and its considered standard fare. I am a minimalist at heart so the size suits me. I am a big fan of zero waste!!! I literally have everything I need within arms reach and everything does triple duty with no duplication of efforts! If I see something I “must have”, I make certain I do not already have something serving the same purpose.

My choices are to forgo anything that serves the same function as the item I currently possess or donate the one I already have if the new one can serve more purposes, including if it is more aesthetically pleasing!!! It is very freeing and I highly recommend the lifestyle!

On Thanksgiving I cooked dinner for seven, in a miniscule oven. (Okay, mostly Whole Foods did the original cooking, but I did a fantastic reheat!). The oven only had room for the turkey. I cooked (reheated) the side dishes in beautiful pots on the stovetop. The pots went from stovetop to table. I opened up my folding table that typically resides in my hall closet, used recyclable and disposable plates, napkins and glasses and utilized my desk (which is on wheels, a grey feature for small spaces) for the appetizers. At night I opened the queen size blow up mattress and my niece and nephew slept over.

I love this place! There is a social room with a huge TV, a fitness room and a fantastic laundry room! And as if all this weren’t heaven enough, I am only steps from metro and within walking distance to everything!!!! Come visit, I will reheat something delicious!


First Impressions



What do first impressions and fitbit surge have in common? According to my fitbit surge, (have I not told you about the surge??? More on him on a separate post), Surg-e-o, tells me it take 17 seconds to walk my apartment end to end! Forget for a moment how ridiculously wonderfully small my apartment is if it only takes 17 seconds, to walk it end to end. I prefer the notion, NY chic, right here in Washington D.C.!!! (I do LOVE my apartment and everyone who works here, but, to spare you my non linear thoughts, I will blog about my fabulous crib on another post). The point is, do I have a point?17 seconds is more than twice as much time as it takes to form a first impression! Before we utter a word, first impressions are the impressions that last, so you better make it work for you! Surg-e-o tells me I do not even burn a single calorie in 17 seconds, yet you have already formed an opinion of me in seconds less!

And, get this, once someone forms that first impression, they consciously judge you, subconsciously seek evidence to support their judgment. So when you or I walk in a room and someone thinks “loser” “winner”, they go on looking for evidence to prove how smart they are support their initial criticism evaluation.

We spend endless hours preparing for a presentation and a nano second on what message our outer appearance communicates. O, we might think we are a great dresser or that what we wear is of little importance, and yet clothing sends signals, there are universal messages which color, fabric, lines and patterns, send.






Visual presence matters because credentials alone will not get you respect, confidence, command or that job, promotion or date, you really want.

Visual Presence + Credentials = Success.

Closet Fitness!

Closet Fitness!!! Who knew? Closet editing, aka, shopping in my own closet, trying on articles of clothing, mixing and matching, trying on new combinations, making new outfits out of old with new pairings, getting dressed and undressed……………guess what I discovered???? According to my reliable fitbit surge, I burn more calories in an hour in my closet than I do walking at a brisk pace!!! My brother suggested I do a workout video. I could be the Jane Fonda of closet fitness!!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, closet editing not only provides a well organized joyful closet filled with new and exciting choices, it is also a way to stay fit. A double benefit, you are so fit, your clothes look even better!!! Now that is what I call a great workout!!!

Your closet is your best friend, next to the most fabulous shade of lip gloss or the power tie of course! A well thought out, strategic closet, where wardrobes are made and stored, make dressing simple and fun. Last minute party invite, no problem, I made three new outfits yesterday with items I already owned! Procrastinated until last minute to plan for that important presentation, no problem, I can wake up and choose from any number of combinations I created, photographed and catalogued for just such an occasion! I love it when a plan comes together!!!

I will give you my tip of the day for fun, effective closet fitness. Personal image stylists are like personal trainers, they spot and guide you, but they also teach you to work out on your own should you be that self motivated!. So if you are planning to dive in your closet today, try this, think winter. It is always most effective to start with the current season, this way, if you run out of time, at least you have next couple of months covered!! And don’t hesitate to call or send me a photo if you are stuck, sometimes a little help goes a long way! And, stay tuned to this Looks Speak blog, eventually I will discuss how to have virtually an entire wardrobe which can be worn regardless of the season.

Closet Fitness, whether you are a novice or pro, it is the foundation to all Looks that Speak your intended message!!!!

Perception Management on Capitol Hill

Strategic Solutions for Perception Management-

A Congressional Staffer wrote Roll Call’s, career advice column, Hill Navigator, asking if the negative comments regarding bright clothing was a hint to cease and desist wearing such colors. As a personal stylist, impression coach and color analyst with a long and accomplished career both as stylist and as former Publisher of a capitol hill newspaper quite familiar with Congressional offices, allow me to add some thoughts. Since the comments were overtly negative, I would have to say it was not a hint, it was as forward as they come. Secondly, since the Staffer admitted she has heard this from more than one person and was so moved to write Roll Call’s Rebecca Gale for advice, it requires strong consideration.

Here is my take. Capitol Hill may be the rule setting body of the land, however, when it comes to rules, clothing gives Congress a run for its money!!! There are some strong, definite rules about clothing! Now, for those of you who do not know me, I am by no means, pardon the pun, buttoned up! I love fashion, I love coloring outside the lines and I most definitely march to the beat of a different drummer! With that said, I understand and respect the effect colors, and clothing has on one’s potential, their leadership capabilities, ability to move agendas and the way others react to you in general. It’s a bit like abstract painting, you need to know what rules you are breaking and why, otherwise it’s just a hot mess on canvas versus a Jackson Pollack. The public may never notice when you are following all of the nuances of the rules, but they surely notice when you do not follow the rules!!

In addition to the rules, color itself is very very important. The right colors can make you look fresh, awake, alert. The wrong colors can make you look washed out, tired, old, disheveled, cheap. Every person’s personality, body type, fit and colors are unique. Colors send signals, there are the aforementioned personal best colors as well as the fact that certain colors convey universal meanings. It is worth having your colors evaluated by a trained color consultant. And for the Staffer who wrote in and others wanting to maximize potential, I highly recommend a color and wardrobe strategy evaluation. Having a dressing strategy saves time, money and you will find supports you in meeting objectives.

Your LOOKS SPEAK. Wouldn’t you want them to say something winning?????

Audrey Paudrey!

Audrey Paudrey is a beautiful, intelligent, kind, warm and all around lovely young woman!  She is proof we are never too experienced to learn from someone much younger. While teaching Miss Audrey how to perfect the art of applying make up, she taught me some things!  Next time you see me at a black tie, pay close attention to my makeup, I will be having Miss Audrey apply for me!!!

Last Sunday Miss Audrey shared some notes from a recent article she read.  I will share with you because they are valuable tips! And, watch this blog, I will regularly include Audrey Paudrey tips under the heading :  “AP SPEAK!”.  Ms. Audrey truly understands the power of how one’s looks, speak!!!

Here is todays AP SPEAK, retold by Miss Audrey from an article she read:

-Women who wear makeup make 11% more money than those who do not wear makeup

-Women should spend 15 minutes every morning applying makeup

-15 minutes applying makeup, the same amount of time a man takes to shave





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