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 Thank you, thank you, thank you for my WONDERFUL Christmas/Birthday Gift. I was moved to tears with your generosity. Dianne, thanks for hatching the idea… you’re such a fashionista and I love that you thot to do this. Thanks to each of you for your “donations” to help this creative friend of yours find some creative flair when it comes to what I wear. I had SO MUCH FUN with you, Barbara King. Truly, you are a master at what you do, Barbara. Three hours flew by. We laughed and I got some great fashion intro lessons.

 Here’s what I learned from Barbara King:

- I have never figured out a style for me because I don’t like clothes shopping and I’m hard to fit. What do I want my style to be? Classic trendy with a bit of edge added in from time to time. That kind of style takes time and money. But, the good news is that given the care I take of my wardrobe, I can buy fewer clothes at better quality.

- Given my current lifestyle, I likely only need 5-6 ensembles for work, 5-6 ensembles for night and weekend wear, 5-6 ensembles for active and fitness wear. Think Garanimals for grown-ups. By the way, cutting out ensembles from magazines and pinning them up in your closet helps (even a fashionista like Dianne does that).

- I have short arms. Wear ¾-length sleeves or overly long ones that hit below my wrist.

- I am short waisted so longer length tops are more flattering.

- Figure out what my best feature is and look to accentuate that. Mine is my waist so styles that are a bit more fitted and tailored work well on me. For example, to accentuate my waist when wearing the jean vest I got below, button only the fourth button down.

- I have a short neck so crew necklines and certain scoop necklines do not look good on me. A V neckline and lower scooped necklines work well for me. Otherwise, I look a bit squatty.

- I can wear just about any color of gray. And, black is a great color on me.

- Since my shoulders are so small, look for tops that give the appearance that they are broader than they look but be careful as too heavy or bulky a fabric and I begin to look weighted down.

- Don’t always wear tops with straight hemlines. It makes me look too boyish. Add a feminine touch with curved hemlines.

- While I’ve owned shoe boots, I’ve never bought a pair of regular boots as an adult. Barbara says that needs to change… and soon.

- Layering is a great approach for me given my creative flair and my age. Plus, it’s a great way to create multiple looks (or ensembles) with the same pieces.

- The new-to-me fur jacket my Aunt Lani gave to me for Christmas got the Barbara King Styling approval. Lani bought it more than 30 years ago at Robinson’s Fashion Island. It’s off white and just enough retro to be trendy. I can dress it up or dress it down. Truly, it is yummy – something I would never buy for myself but absolutely LOVE because it belonged to Lani. It’s even monogrammed with her initials inside, which I guess is the standard thing to do with any fur.

- Even before today, I had slowly been moving my wardrobe away from a “busy” look. But, how do I keep the pendulum from swinging all the way to boring? Two key things:

- Look for one unique detail in each item I buy.

- ACCESSORIZE… go from boring to contemporary or even trendy with just a touch of “bling.” (By the way, remember the outfit I wore the night of my birthday at Greenleaf – loose gray top with jeans? That’s what I wore yesterday. And, it was Barbara King Styling approved from head to toe. I didn’t have on the same necklace but rather a tiny, delicate one. Barbara showed me how to go from boring to bling by adding the right necklace. She held one up to me in the mirror. It worked.)

    • Speaking of accessories:

- I need to give serious consideration to wearing gold jewelry, not simply silver.

- Be mindful of the length of my necklaces. Too long and I look weighted down.

- Wear bracelets in three’s.

- Matching and non-matching accessories are both OK.

- Hats may be a good way for me to add a bit of creative flair to outfits. That is, if I can find any large enough for my XL head.

    • Want to make Barbara laugh? When she asks you what brand of black leggings you have, tell her you don’t recall the brand but you bought them at Bed, Bath & Beyond. (Barbara has now heard everything during a consultation. She plans to quote me often – nameless until I have made a complete fashion transformation. Given her reaction, I ventured out on my own after she left South Coast Plaza and bought the Tag black leggings below. You can’t see in the photo but they have some cool seams. I know Barbara approves because that’s what she was wearing today.

  I can’t even tell you what this fashion first step did for me to help jumpstart my year. I came home and got rid of as many pieces in my closet as I had purchased. I wasn’t overwhelmed and Barbara said it was great I wasn’t a desperate shopper, i.e., I need it NOW. I have time. Honestly, that would have likely happened had she come to my closet first and purged it. It may have been more like the emperor’s new clothes for me – literally, nothing to wear.

 Now I have some new insights and items to help inspire me to continue purging my closet. And, Barbara said she’s done closet consultations for clients remotely via Skype or the likes so that’s an option I will likely explore.

It was interesting when Barbara asked me all kinds of questions about my wants and needs, my lifestyle, etc. I told her I’ve never dressed as creative as I think I am. She said my answers were helpful for her to determine why I see things the way I do when it comes to fashion. Insightful, she said. But, she’s a master at this. How do you do it, Barbara?

Anyway, I told her that for 20+ months now I have not focused a bit on what I wear – I’ve not had anyone to dress for and I wear Crossfit workout clothes most of the time and have focused on surviving. That said, even the pastor I’ve been meeting with every month for some time now said that my Crossfit has truly been my sanity (a phrase I coined early on), my sacred endurance – that the physicality of overcoming, training, staying committed – has been a stress and­­ spiritual release for me. It’s kept me healthy and strong. Wanting to lose a certain amount of weight by the time I turned 50, I have focused more on what I put IN my body, not ON it. Good news is that in 26 days I turn 51 and I have maintained my weight nearly 10 pounds below what I thought would be my original goal.

So, once again, thank you beyond words for loving on me again in such a generous way for my birthday – twice in one calendar year – and for Christmas, too. Time with Barbara was worth every penny and then some. She has such an amazing way of making it fun without breaking the bank and doing so in less time than it would take me to find a single item on my own.

At different times, in various ways, you each have clothed me with strength and dignity, compassion and courage as I have walked the daunting and unexpected path of the last 20 months. And with this generous gesture, you have now clothed me with some new confidence for the New Year. I cry just thinking about it. I feel (and know) I am so loved. You have (and are) Jesus with skin on to me.

Next time I see each of you, I’ll do my best to be wearing one of the pieces you got me or at least point out some fashion tip with what I’m wearing.

 Grateful beyond words…­­­­

Lorraine O. - Los Angeles

 

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