Monthly Archives: August 2008

Fashion Lesson # 20: First Impression in 1/10 of a Second


For today’s Fashion Lesson, I wanted to share with you a fascinating and eyebrow raising book that I have been reading, The Power of Body Language by Tonya Reiman.  Ms. Reiman is a renowned body language expert, consultant, motivational speaker and appears weekly on The O’Reilly Factor. 

In her book, she explains the power of our body language in social relationships (romantic or otherwise) and business interactions along with the silent power they hold over our success and happiness.

While I found some of her supporting research to be somewhat controversial, it certainly grabs your attention and provokes you to think twice about what sort of messages you may be sending out unexpectedly.

First Impressions


According to Ms. Reiman, others make their judgments of us within 1/10 of a second upon meeting usOne tenth of a second?  That’s less than the time we can bat an eye lash or flash a smile!

Which brings me to the focus of our Fashion Lesson for today.  If others make judgements of us this quickly, we have some preparation to do before, we have a chance to make our first impression.

The Top Ten Things That Turn Them Off Immediately 

(There are seventeen in the book, but I don’t want to infringe on her book rights, so I’ll let you get the book to see them all.)

  1. Scratching your head
  2. Nervously biting your lips
  3. Raising your eyebrows incredulously
  4. Shifting in your seat
  5. Crossing arms or otherwise displaying superior, conceited, or overbearing body signals
  6. Looking distracted and losing concentration or attention
  7. Looking down or avoiding eye contact
  8. Standing rigidly in place
  9. Keeping your hands in your pockets
  10. Not using any hand gestures

The Secrets To A Favorable “Snap Judgement”

Gather Information

Before an interview or social engagement, do a little legwork.  Find out what the dress code is for the company you are interviewing with.  If you can, try to find any personal bias’ the interviewer may have.  As we saw with The Great Debate: Wear or Go Bare, some managers still expect women to wear hose.  You wouldn’t want that to get between you and your dream job.



Also, if you are going to a social engagement, find out what the dress code will be.  You want people to notice you, not to be distracted by your inappropriate wardrobe choice.  Reiman also suggests women wear an outfit that exposes the “Suprasteral Notch” which is the area between your collar bones. 

If you want to flirt with someone, she recommends lightly touch this area to express your openness, not to mention call attention to your attractiveness. 

(Be sure to check out her Body Signal suggestions for further information on successful techniques in flirting.)

Lose Weight


Unfortunately there is a very strong cultural bias toward our appearance and weight, especially that of women.  Tonya encourages us to reduce that bias and lose the weight once and for all. 

She backs that assertion with the following statistics:

“In 1993, a landmark Harvard study found that overweight women earn an average of $6,710 less a year than women who are not overweight-and that was 15 years ago!  Newer research has found that larger women earn at least 12 percent less than thinner women who have the same qualifications.

The Harvard study also found that obese women are 20 percent less likely and obese men are 11 percent less likely to get married than thinner people.”

(Easier said than done.  Even after having my mouth wired shut for weeks, I have yet to lose that last 10 pounds. But I’ll keep trying!)

Baby Got Back


In her book, Reiman encourages women to wear clothing that calls attention to their bottom.  Most of us may be thinking that this is one of the last places that I want to show off, and I would agree with you.  I have one of the flattest bottoms on earth.  Who wants to see that?

But, in an equally surprising and interesting assertion Reiman notes that, “A round derriere is a powerful subconscious reminder of the rear-entry sex preferred by most primates.”

Shocking?! Yes.

Is this why your male colleagues seemed to take you seriously when you wore you latest tailored suit?  Maybe. 

Honestly, this is all too much for me to think about.

I think Reiman’s point is “show off your best assets”, but in a very subtle way.

She goes on to say that “overt sexual overtones are likely to damage your credibility in all situations other than a bar.”

So what is her fashion advice? 

To wear impeccable suits tailored to your proportions in blue, black or gray and wear a button-down shirt to once again show off the neck dimple (the open area gives an appearance of vulnerability, warmth and an air of openness minus the heaving bosoms.)

I cannot stress to you enough, that the point here is not to dress sexy.  Tonya suggests one aims for a suit or blouse and skirt that gives the illusion of a hip-waist ratio of 0.7.  According to Reiman, this will project an image of health and confidence which will translate into a strong work ethic for a prospective company.

Try to look taller.


If you’re short wear heels.  According to research, every inch translates into 1-2 percent of higher income.

Choose your accessories sparingly.


You want the focus on you and your personality if meeting someone socially for the first time.  Likewise when interviewing, you want the interviewer focusing on your ideas, not your twenty bangles clanging away each time you make a point using hand gestures.

In another bit of controversial advice, Reiman suggests that engaged women leave the ring at home.  She feels that a female interviewer may feel threatened because of it. 

(As a side note, I once had a interview with a woman who told me that she would still hire me even though I was involved in a serious relationship and of childbearing age.)

Groom as if you care, but not as if you’re obsessed.


The point here is to pay attention to the details; clean hands, fingernails (no chipped polish) and clean teeth.  Also, pay attention to any strange facial hair that may arise.  That includes nose hair.  You know who you are. 

Use neutral makeup, even on your lips.


You may love to look like one of those Merle Norman makeup models, but hold off for that first meeting.  Better yet, go in for a make up consultation and learn how to get it right.

Are you ready for her research on this one?

She cites a study of 136 people who felt that women whose makeup was “invisible” to be more qualified for a position and recommended a higher salary than those with the painted on faces.

Here’s where the research gets juicy.

Reiman warns against wearing red lipstick to an interview because according to anthropological studies, men equate it with that certain lady part during arousal.  (Where does she get this stuff?)  She goes on to say that you can get the same enticing effect with more subtleties by wearing colored lip gloss (re: glistening) without being so overt.

Perfume and cologne should be applied very lightly if at all.


According to research, your natural smell elicits a more positive response (assuming you shower each day) from both men and women at a first meeting, rather than a strong dose of Obsession cologne.

Reiman also brought up an interesting point involving memory recall in association to certain scents.  Let’s say you decided to wear that Obsession to the interview.  When you walk in to said interview the scent recalls a painful memory of a bad breakup with the interviewer.  This may not occur to the person consciously, but may impact the way this person perceives you nonetheless.

Be conservative with your hair.


Today is not the day to show off your new hairstyle.  Keep it neat, conservative or up.

(By the way, that was the most conservative looking woman that I could think of.)

I hope you found this information interesting and useful.  I highly encourage you to stop in to your local bookstore or library to check this book out for yourself.

Reiman provides some other very interesting and useful information pertaining to body language that I think anyone would find beneficial.

Be sure to also check out her website for more information and tips.

Photo Sources: Click on each image

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Filed under books, Business, controversial, dating, Fashion, fashion blogger, Fashion Lesson, Fashion Sensei, fit, Hair, Love

Fashion Lesson #19 :Tim Gunn Touts Tailors


In honor of tonight’s Project Runway, I thought I would offer a Fashion Lesson from Tim Gunn concerning the need for a good tailor. 

Here are the tips Tim wishes us to aspire to.


Gunn, “Project Runway” mentor and currently fashion’s favorite father figure, is an evangelist for the wonders a tailor can work when it comes to making clothing more flattering.

Tailors and seamstresses have long been relied upon to fix formalwear. But even though they’re an extra step and an extra expense, don’t discount them for your everyday wardrobe, too.

Here are 10 things you need to know before you walk into a tailor shop.

1. If you plan to have a garment tailored, buy the size that is too large, because taking in a garment is easier than letting it out. Also, look for the size that fits your largest body part.

2. When choosing a tailor, ask for referrals. A well-established tailor will have customers who can provide references.

3. When having jeans hemmed, ask the tailor to “keep original.” This means they’ll shorten the legs but keep the original hem. Otherwise, the tailor might simply turn the jeans under and hem them like a pair of slacks, which looks dated.

4. Tell the tailor about any variations in your body, such as a curve in the spine or different leg lengths.

5. Communicate clearly and precisely. Finding a tailor who will learn your likes and dislikes, and appreciate your personal style, is paramount.

6. A good tailor should understand fit and be able to suggest design changes that will make clothes look better.

7. Buy the most expensive clothing you can and choose classic styles, especially with garments such as suits. Usually, more expensive clothing is easier to tailor because it has more fabric in the seam and the fabric is of higher quality. This often means the garment can be tailored or restyled more than once.

8. Consider using a tailor for thrift-store purchases. A classic, well-made garment can be updated for a better fit and more modern style. You might spend $200 altering a Chanel suit from the ’80s, but in the end, you still will have gotten a bargain.

9. Be realistic about what to take to the tailor. Can a tailor fix a pair of pants that is four sizes too big? Yes. Is it practical and cost-efficient? Probably not. Also: Fixing shoulders is one of the most expensive and time-consuming alterations.

10. Think about proportions. Yes, a tailor can shorten sleeves. But if the shirt hangs down to the knees, the shirt will require major reworking, even if fits around the collar.

To read more from the Fashion Sensei on fit go to Fashion Lesson #8: Fit.

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Filed under blogging, Fashion, Fashion Lesson, Fashion Sensei, fit, Metro Detroit, retail, Style

Fashion Sensei Says…


Visual DNA


A friend of mine sent me this link for an interactive test to discover your Visual DNA.  You are taken through a series of pictures where you are asked to click on the photo that most appeals to you in that category.

At the end of the visual questionnaire, you will have a profile that describes your visual personality.

I took a test like this once at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.  It was set up during a big social function for people to determine their dating personality.  The funny thing is, at the end of the test, you were assigned a color and a corresponding “match” color.  The idea was for everyone to wear their sticker and you would then be better able to identify your perfect mate.

Click here to determine your Visual DNA.

Get Ready to Laugh Out Loud


On a recent trip to the library, I was reviewing the New York Times Best Seller List, in hopes of finding an interesting new read.  I was immediately drawn to Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler.  Mainly because it was a take on my all time favorite book from adolescence, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume

I certainly wasn’t disappointed by this hysterically absurd memoir written by comedian Chelsea Handler.  My only disappointment, was not skipping my girls night out two weeks ago, and driving the 10 miles to Barnes and Nobel to meet her when she was in town.

Be aware though, she is very irreverent.  There were a few topics that I was a little bummed that she poked fun at, but I think that’s her shtick.

Irresponsible and Disturbing


MTV has initiated a casting call for young women from 17 and 24, five foot nine and six feet tall, and between 130 and 190 pounds to be a part of their new reality show Model Maker.

Here is an excerpt from their press release:

“Women come in all shapes and sizes, but models don’t. The term model conjures an image of stick-thin, towering beauties oozing confidence, glamour, poise and sexuality from every pore. “Skinny,” “no body fat,” and “size zero” are the words and phrases associated with models. “Chubby,” “well-fed,” and “big- boned” are not.”

It goes on to say, “With weekly eliminations looming, models must put their best foot forward at all times while staying focused on losing weight.”

The winner will receive $100,000, a modeling portfolio, a personal trainer for a year and “the chance to jumpstart the career of your dreams.”

Can you say disgusting?!

Source: amNewYork; theCut

From Buns to Bust


Have you ever dreamed of transplanting the extra junk in your trunk to your bust?  According to a recent report in the WSJ, the option may be on it’s way to the U.S. 

A procedure that couples a person’s own fat cells with stem cells is already being administered in Japan and Europe and may be a better alternative to saline and silicone.

With recent news from Christina Applegate’s courageous battle with breast cancer, and her subsequent election to have a double mastectomy, using the patients own fat cells, may be a welcome option for breast cancer survivors.

All I have to say is, I am more than willing to donate some of my belly fat to science.

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Filed under Advertising, Beauty, blogging, books, Comedy, controversial, Fashion, fashion blogger, Fashion Sensei, Metro Detroit, News, Photography, pop culture, runway, television

Web Poll: Don or Don’t

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Legal Price-Fixing Hurts Consumers

In 2007,  you would have thought I was a contestant in a year long sale snatching competition at Macy’s.  So much so, that I rose to the level of a platinum credit card holder by years end. 

prod Throughout that year, I reveled in my jaw dropping deals, especially in the children’s Ralph Lauren Polo department.  With my Macy’s 20% off coupons, I enjoyed in some instances, 80% off retail prices when I hit the right sale.  I bought my 3 and 5 year old son’s polo shirts for around $7.00 (reg. $35) and even a sweatshirt regularly priced at $75 for $18.25.  For prices like that, who wouldn’t outfit their kids in the ultra-preppy designer?

That all came to a screeching halt in 2008 and now I am beginning to understand why.  I have visited Macy’s several times over this past year with my 20% off coupons in hand ready to scoop up some more deals only to leave many times over empty handed.  It seems that my coupons no longer apply to any of the major brand name collections.

What happened?

Since 1980, manufacturers have been banned from placing a minimum price on their products.  You may have seen a MSRP price on products ranging from bread to cars, but that Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price wasn’t legally enforceable.  That is until last summer.

In June 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that certain minimum-pricing pacts between manufacturers and retailers are not necessarily illegal and such pacts should be judged on a case-by-case basis. 

What does that mean exactly?

The Supreme Court, specifically Justice Kennedy, feels that these pacts could encourage competition, resulting in higher potential profits to then promote certain brands or offer better services. 

I think I would prefer a discounted price.

So don’t be surprised if some of those brands that you have been accustomed to buying at rock bottom prices, especially on line, are no longer available. 

PG_NWHAMPTONESK_MEDPUSA_PD One such example is Nine West.  In May, the shoe company (I love because they are the only dependable brand that consistently carries size 10.5), was granted their petition to set minimum prices on their products.

Why are companies doing this?

Well aside from increasing profits, companies are afraid of tarnishing their brand’s image.  Their feeling is that the prestige of their product is reduced with each reduction below the threshold of their MSRP. 

This minimum pricing isn’t limited to just apparel and accessories.  It spans the whole of consumer goods and services.  According to the Wall Street Journal, “Consumer advocates say they are seeing the impact particularly in baby goods, consumer electronics, home furnishings and pet food.”

So now I am beginning to understand why my already over inflated favorite name brands are no longer available at such coveted prices.  I can only hope that the pendulum will swing back in the consumer’s direction. 

I’m interested to know if you have noticed this change in pricing.  Leave me a comment and let me know.

To read more about this story in today’s Wall Street Journal, click here.

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Filed under Business, Fashion, fashion blogger, Fashion Sensei, Metro Detroit, News, retail, sale, Shoes, Style

InStyle- New Style Rules

I keep hearing that there aren’t any “rules” when it comes to fashion by various writers.  So it piqued my interest when I received an e-mail from InStyle Magazine, sharing the “New Style Rules” for fall.

After reading their “Rules”, I decided to review them here on Fashion Sensei with my own viewpoints.  I welcome your comments and impressions on my opinion and InStyle’s. 

Let Your Roots Show

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InStyle encourages us to leave about one inch of our natural color, but with this caveat, they must be within a few shade of the dyed hue.  So no sporting black roots with blond hair.  That just looks a little too trashy.  Follow gal pals and trend setters, Madge and Gwyneth Paltrow instead.

Stay in Sandals


As with last year, it is still acceptable to wear open toe shoes and even sandals with opaque tights. 

I agree with this with one monition. If you live in a warmer climate in the winter months, you can sport this look all season long.  However, if you live in a cooler climate like Michigan, tuck away those sandals and open toe darlings until the thaw sets in. 

There is nothing sillier than salt stains on the tips of your tights.  This may be common sense for some, but inevitably I see some young fashionista making the aforementioned faux pas.

Grow Out Your Hair At 40


I advised this suggestion in Fashion Lesson #16  Forty and Fabulous.  I do not see any reason why a woman who takes good care of herself should limit herself to short tresses.  I will reiterate that if you have long hair at this age, keep your cut and color maintained and try to avoid the “frosted” or over highlighted look as you start to gray.  Your stylist can assist you in maintaining a natural look. 

One other tip,  bring in a picture of yourself as a child to illustrate your natural color.  It may have been decades since you have seen your original foundation, and a youthful picture can help in reduce the signs of aging.

Go Sleeveless


Ok, first lets look at InStyle’s poster girl Sara Jessica Parker.  If you have arms like SJP, then I say go for it.  But if you tend to have overly skinny, jiggly or heavy arms, ignore this style rule.  You can modify this rule with short sleeves that flatter your individual physique.

Don’t Match Your Stocking To Your Shoes


I consider this to be quite a precarious rule and to be followed with extreme caution.  It is very easy to look like a mismatched clown. 

I highly advise that the multi-colored look be left to ladies under 25.  Also, skip the crazy blue raccoon eyes.  Enjoy Fall’s gem tones in moderation.

Pick A Print That Makes You Look Slimmer


I love this tip!  With all the patterned blouses and dresses to choose from, this is an easy rule to follow.  Look for patterns that enhance your figure such as contrasting panels or prints that slim your waist and ruffles that add proportion.

Let Your Brows Grow Natural


Gone are the days when overly arched, drawn in eyebrows are acceptable.  When going for this look, be sure to only allow enough growth that your features can handle. 

Consider Brooke Shields, she is a tall woman with very strong features.  She has a face that can handle such dominant brows. 

Conversely, if you are petite and have fine features, work with your anesthetist to see how full of a brow your face can manage without looking too masculine.

This doesn’t mean that you should just let them grow wild.  Be sure to keep your brows neat and shaped if you are doing this on your own.

Swap Your Skinny Jeans For Pleated Trousers


This look has been captured in countless shots by the Sartorialist this past fall.  It also dominated the runway this past winter during fall Fashion Week. 

Here, you see Naomi Campbell donning the cropped pleated trousers.  InStyle claims that these pants have a lower waist, but I’m not seeing it. 

These pants are meant for skinny girls only.  Anything over size 4 or 6, may want to reconsider.  They are just not flattering for the masses.

Wear Horizontal Stripes On Top


When I see Mariah Carey as the poster girl for any trend, I run away screaming.  Come on, look at this picture of her!  She’s not even wearing pants. 

On the positive side, if you are a slim curvy girl, you can get away with this look.  Just please lower the hem of your dress or put on some pants.

To see more InStyle Rules click here for the full list.  Be sure to come back and weigh in on their advice!

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Filed under Accessories, Aging, Beauty, blogging, Fashion, fashion blogger, Fashion Sensei, Magazines, Metro Detroit, Photography, pop culture, retail, runway, Style, Trends

Fashion Of Olympic Proportion

If you had the opportunity to view the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics, I’m sure you shared my sense of awe and appreciation of this mesmerizing production.  I was dazzled by the electrifying color and the sensational movement the costumes contributed to this monumental production covering 5,000 years of Chinese history.

First up, is the graceful dancer pictured below in her brilliant costume, supported by countless men in an effort to symbolize the notion that one person cannot achieve greatness with out the support of many.



Photo Source:

In the next series of pictures, one may conclude that exquisite traditional dress was not limited to the female contingent of performers.  Here, you see a series of remarkably handsome ombre costumes and their respective movement. (*Note- Are those sneakers I see under their costumes?) 😀

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Photo Source: news agencies

In another example of the many creating the One, these green costumes embellished with brilliant lights, moved with awe inspiring precision to create the below dove.  One interesting aside, famed Chinese film maker Zhang Yimou, originally chose black for the performers and at the last minute decided on the green.


Photo Source: Images



Photo Source: AP Photo by David Guttenfelder

Finally, after many segments involving solely men, the ladies had their turn to shine in these gowns which seem to have a little western Colonial influence with the hoop skirt.



Photo Source: news agencies

I was so taken with the beauty of this show and the underlying symbolism.  Politics aside, this was one heck of a show.

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Filed under Art, Beauty, Diversity, Fashion, fashion blogger, Fashion Lesson, Fashion Sensei, Olympics, Photography, pop culture, Style, theater