Perfect Packing for Business and Pleasure

When it comes to air travel, anything more than a carry-on is counter productive. It’s not just the lost-luggage-factor that has most women wheeling, not carrying, a single bag onboard. The hassle, the time lost, and often our travel partners, with little or no patience for hanging around carousels, have conditioned even the most passionate clothes horse to cut back and pack light.

It’s one thing to over pack and cram the car for a cottage weekend but come fall, both business trips and holiday getaways require a new, minimalist mindset. As a professional wardrobe problem-solver, I’m on constant alert for what seems to be the unfindable: great, packable clothes. Simple to maintain, uncreasable fabrics are usually contrary to quality, fashion and style. When I learned that Ottawa retailer Marlene Shepherd had developed a “Packably Perfect” concept, a week’s wardrobe (or even two!) all packed in a carry-on, I knew help was at hand.

So last month, during my Ottawa trip, I arranged to meet with Marlene, my friend, colleague and collaborator, for a hands-on session. My mission? Problem solving for a very diverse group of clients – many shapes, sizes and careers but having in common hectic travel schedules. Marlene knows her way around the international fashion marketplace and she has a special skill when it comes to discovering hidden gems within our own borders. True to form, she pulled out all the stops and shared her latest treasures, with travel in mind. We spent the morning fine-tuning; here’s our short list.

1. Trousers, the core component of every travel wardrobe, for work and play. Start with black, charcoal or dark brown and build from this base.

Tailored boot-cut trousers with an impeccable pedigree: a hip-gliding fit in a modern stretch fabric. Cambio, $210.00

Trim, slim-leg pants in dressed-up microfibre. Perfect for arriving crease-free. Margaret M, $98.00

2. A knit cardigan or vest instead of a traditional jacket. The point I want to make here is that professional dressing doesn’t need to be structured. As Marlene says, “Once a woman discovers comfort, there’s no turning back.”

We focused on three very different collections: Nic + Zoe, Pure & Co., Curio. I was truly intrigued to see some of Marlene’s picks could be worn back-to-front or even upside down! No kidding. Slip into a sweater-vest “bottoms-up” and suddenly it’s a cropped version with a generous collar. Obviously, these are specially designed pieces, so please don’t try this at home!

3. Crisp 100 percent cotton shirts and NO ironing, ever. A dream come true. White and colours. Foxcroft, $95.00

4. Simpli – sensational! This collection of seasonless jersey knitwear by Vancouver’s Simpli, has more components than a jigsaw puzzle, a zillion colours and endless combinations. Enough variations to go from boardroom to cruise ship. There’s only one fabrication so it’s easy to add components from year to year. Everything is sized but there are also two different fits, snug or relaxed. A perfect 3-piece career look, we agreed, is a pant and matching vest with a contrast underpiece. Some of the combos we came up with:

Base colour         Contrast 
Navy                    Peacock 
Charcoal              Aubergine 
Black                    Wine

5. Clean lines, simple shapes and sensual fabrics form the Eileen Fisher philosophy. Every piece is perfectly designed to skim the body with flattering shape-enhancing style. Although Marlene, a self-avowed Size 16 loves this collection, my friend Kim, a yogini and perfect Size 8, is just as enthusiastic.

6. The icing on the cake – accessories. Marlene’s start in business was with jewellery so it’s not surprising she continues to have innovative ideas. “Wardrobe pieces,” as Marlene calls them, are semi-precious, multi-strand necklaces that detach into single or double strands, often with an optional pendant, providing real versatility – every traveler’s dream. She’s proud of the group of young Canadian jewellery designers providing Shepherd’s with these one-of-a-kind bijoux.

What a morning! Client checklist completed and with time to spare for personal shopping. My own “wheelie” is now perfectly packed and ready to go. I can’t wait.

How to Start a Clothing Business

One of the most important aspects to start considering while you’re doing your research into opening a clothing store is what your demographic is. For example, if you’re in a college town and intend to open a small to medium sized clothing business, you would mainly cater to a younger audience. One of the things to also take into account is the season of the state you’re living in. For example, Colorado has warm summers but winter is freezing cold. So you would have to be able to change your stock out so that you can meet the demand.

Meeting the demand of your clients is very important and remember, variety is the spice of life. People enjoy options, not only in styles, but remember everybody is shaped differently, so you’ll also need to provide different size options. Some people prefer tight clothing and some people prefer looser fitting clothes. Both the positive and the negative is that fashion is forever changing. So on the one hand, this will allow you to buy last year’s seasons, relatively cheap and they will still be pretty much in style, but it also means keeping the most up to date styles will require extra capital. Once again both these options have advantages as some people prefer to pay for the extra style, while others are happy just to look good.

Once you start your profitable clothing store try to use a variety of distributors or suppliers. This way you can help spread the risk and the cost. If anything was to happen to one supplier, you wouldn’t be left high and dry, and it also helps to be on a personal level with your clothing distributors. This could help you secure extra sales that they have or they might just think of you first, whenever they have excess stock they want to get rid of at rock-bottom prices. Owning your own clothing business has many advantages. You might also choose to not only buy clothes in from national suppliers, but also from local distributors. Always look at issues from a client perspective in buying clothing stock. Knowing your demographic is important. Is this piece of clothing something that they would want to buy, is this something you would actually like to sell in your store. Your budget and running capital is something to be considered too.

While you are doing research into your demographic and potential store locations you should also pay to have somebody draw out a business plan for you. This will give you a clear and precise indication of where you are going and a backup plan should you need to secure funding to open up your store. You will need a business plan to present to potential investors, whether they are private or through a bank. Never underestimate the importance of the business plan. Even if you’ve raised all the capital yourself, a business plan will help give you clear guidelines on what your goals are. How long you expect to accomplish them, who will supply your needs. What your demographic is and give you a general outlay of the next three to five years in business.

Men’s Fashion – 5 Steps to Painless Shopping for Business Attire

Are you a guy who loves to shop? Or would you rather do anything than spend an afternoon buying business clothing?

If you avoid the mall like the plague, this article gives you 5 steps to shopping for a smart looking business wardrobe.

1. Survey your closet. Instead of making haphazard purchases, go through your closet to see what you need. If you are like most men, you hate the thought of doing this. Here’s how to do it quickly and easily. Enlist the help of a sympathetic female – your girlfriend, wife, friend, sister or cousin. Make sure this woman has a good eye for fashion, and can help you decide what looks good on you, and what is detracting from a professional business image.

2. Make a plan. Decide what items are highest on your priority list. These may be items you don’t currently have, such as a suit or dress shirt for a job interview. Or they may be items that are outdated, that don’t fit you well, or that don’t meet your work needs. For example, if you’ve changed jobs and now work in a more conservative environment, you may need a new jacket or two. But if your company has a new business casual policy, a few sweaters or polo shirts can update your business wardrobe.

3. Do your market research. Scout out a few stores to find out what kind of men’s wear they carry. It is mainly suits? More casual wear? What is the price range? Do they accept all the major credit cards, or only their store cards? If you are on a budget, it’s important to find this out before you fall in love with a designer suit that’s way out of your range.

4. Know your finances. Decide on your priorities, and how much money you can spend before you go shopping. Even if money is not a problem, when you buy clothes, especially suits, the price can rise quickly when you add the shirts, ties and accessories to match. Deciding ahead of time what you are looking for can help you resist sales pressure once you’re in the store.

5. Know your body type. If you aren’t sure, ask a good sales person, or your female shopping companion, to help you discover what looks good on you. Even small changes in style can make a huge difference in how the clothes fit you, and the impression you make.

Business Attire for Women on the Move

From zipping around the city from client meeting to partner lunch, to traveling cross-country or cross continent on a regular basis, business often requires women to be on the move. For women who need to look their professional best and want to maintain comfort through long hours and distances, this can pose a challenge. Not to worry: You can still look chic after spending days on the road or hours on the go, with a few extra wardrobe considerations.

Treat your feet

In choosing shoes that will take many steps, make sure you have support – with a proper insole. These can be bought separately and inserted into any shoe, but some are already made with excellent support.

For business casual attire or when on the road, a classic-yet-contemporary loafer will go best with cropped pants and is a comfortable choice. This Johnston & Murphy pewter loafer has a supporting insole, and the pewter adds shine to an otherwise simple look. This season’s Coach Nicola penny loafer also has a plush insole and adds a pop of colour to a spring outfit in coral or mint shades. Both are made of soft leather, which adds both comfort and class to the look.

For outfits where high heels are a must, turn to Canadian designer Ron White, whose design combines comfort and style in high heel shoes. Ron White’s All Day Heels are just that – a heel you can wear all day! Don’t believe it? The designer incorporates NASA-developed material into the shoe to create a long-lasting comfortable fit, while his unique design makes for a beautiful heel.

We’ve also gotten great advice from Lisa Ferguson, the founder of Decor Mentor, on the six essential elements of a perfect trade show shoe. Watch the video on to hear Lisa elaborate on these six qualities:

  1. Rubber soles to absorb the impact of hard surfaces and decrease back fatigue
  2. Platforms keep your sole farther away from the ground, lessening the impact of hard surfaces. Look for about.5″
  3. Wedge or chunk heels for stability
  4. Supple real leather uppers with openings or perforations to allow your fee to breathe (no manmade materials!)
  5. Minimal stitching across the width of the shoe to allow for stretching
  6. Cushiony suede in soles are like shock absorbers, feel like slippers and allow your feet to breathe!

A crisp look

After hours moving between work and meetings with more to go, a shirt can begin to look rumpled. Want to look sharp until the last appointment of the day is over? Try a wrinkle-free blouse, like these non-iron women’s dress shirts from Brooks Brothers. Not only will these shirts hold their crisp look for the day, they also travel well for those on the road without time to spare for ironing. Also, stow one of these shirts in a drawer or closet at the office, for those times when you need to refresh with a quick change or take a last-minute flight for a meeting.

Freshen up

Few and far between can look their very best after hours of work or travel without freshening up every so often. There are a few tricks and techniques to keep you looking like you did at 9:00 am – and luckily, they all fit into your purse or briefcase!

In choosing a perfume, find a scent that has a complementary travel sized roll-on or mini-bottle format. Spritz your fragrance in the morning when you get ready, then refresh later in the day with a quick swipe from your purse-sized perfume. Most fragrances offer packages that include both regular and travel sized formats.

Business Attire for Women

Most women often wonder what would be the right attire for the workplace. It depends on several things, including your line of work, your corporate culture, and your audience. There are a lot of options for you if you want to look stylish and professional at the same time. It is all about knowing how to get the right look and more so with outfits that are budget friendly. Women’s business clothing can very easily incorporate the latest fashion trends. There are different types of business attire that can be used at the workplace.

The main types of dress codes are Professional Dress and Business Casual. The former type is conservative whereas the second category is nothing but a more relaxed version of the business dress. The main factors that you should focus on while shopping for business clothes are whether they are comfortable and presentable. Your dress should always be in line with the work atmosphere. Most of the workplaces today allow employees to wear anything that they are comfortable in. It is always better if you can manage to dress according to the work culture as it helps you to make yourself a part of the team. One of the best ways to form an idea about the company dress codes is to follow what your boss wears.

The colors that you choose play a major role in shaping your professional image. Traditional colors include red, navy, gray and black. You can use these basic colors and mix them with softer feminine shades that are appropriate like ice blue, lilac, soft pink and ivory. The use of accessories is of course a great idea but you should use simple ones that project an organized image. Whether you wear a pant or skirt, the right fit is very important. The fit should be comfortable and loose enough to let you sit and work at ease.

It is a misnomer that you can’t follow fashion look stylish or develop a personalized style when you are dressing up for your office. Manicured nails, run-free hose, clean polished shoes and styled hair are some of the finer points that most women overlook. The kind of handbags you carry also has a great impact. Slouchy handbags look unprofessional and sloppy. Something too flashy and trendy is not the perfect fit for your workplace. You need to always try striking a fair balance between looking good stylish and also looking competent, organized and ready for business.