Thursday, November 6, 2014

Alison Lumbatis' Style Me Pretty Challenge Fall 2014 Review

First off, Alison Lumbatis is amazing!!!  I heard about Alison through the Bellaire Young Mothers' listserve.  One of the moms, Trish Taylor, posted about upgrading your fashion style for fall and mentioned Alison's unique service.  Trish stated that if you ever wanted a personal stylist, but couldn't afford one, this is seriously the next best thing.

I grew up with fashion magazines and although I always had an interest in fashion, I knew I did not really have an innate knack for it.  I would watch shows like "What Not to Wear" or "How Do I Look" and read books about style, but having a real fashion sense of my own remained elusive.  So my wardrobe consisted of fairly basic foolproof pieces along with impulse purchases.  I prefer classic over trendy.  Only in the last year did I realize that to make my outfits more interesting, I should add a pattern, color, or texture.  Yet, even then I would play it safe and made sure everything matched.  I should also mention that it would take me hours to pack for a trip.  I would be up at 3 am the night before trying on all the different outfit variations to make sure all the pieces I was packing worked together.

Once you sign up, Alison sends you a shopping list which you have 10 days to obtain the pieces.  You can shop your closet, buy her recommendations, or use them as guidelines to make your own selections.  After the 10 days, she releases an outfit everyday for 21 days.

I was intrigued and decided to give it a try.

Best idea ever!!!  I joined the Facebook group for the challenge and got to "meet" lots of genuinely warm, extremely supportive, plain funny, and awesome ladies.  I got so much inspiration, styling tricks, and shopping tips from the group!

Upon receiving the shopping list for the challenge, I was happy to see that I already owned about a third of the items listed.  Getting the other items was similar to a scavenger hunt.  It made shopping a lot easier and more efficient since I could just walk into a store knowing exactly what I was looking for.  Plus, everyone on the Facebook group was in the same boat and sharing shopping tips on their finds as well as pictures of their capsule wardrobes that they put together.

I had a trip to California and packed all the pieces I had off of the shopping list.  It cut my packing time down in no time!  I loved how convenient it was!  I could actually get some sleep the night before the trip without worrying that the pieces I packed wouldn't work.  Too easy!

Getting the outfits for the day was great too.  It was such a luxury to wake up and know exactly what I was going to wear that day without spending forever trying on outfit after outfit.  I didn't have to think about what would match what or whether it would work or not.  I loved knowing that what I put on would automatically be stylish and pretty.

The main lesson I learned from doing this challenge was to keep an open mind.  It's good to push yourself out of your comfort zone.  That's how we grow - when we stretch ourselves beyond the familiar.  After all, isn't that why it's called a challenge?  I noticed playing it safe such as matching black boots with black pants wasn't nearly as exciting as matching cognac boots with black pants, same goes for matching only silver or gold jewelry - why not both?

Here are 10 other notes regarding my experience with this challenge:

1. I learned how to wear a scarf using this incredible video Alison recommended called 25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes!  Wendy must have spent lots of time editing it.

2. Leopard prints are your friend.  They add instant pizazz to any outfit and yet, are surprisingly considered a neutral!  Imagine that!  A wild animal print that can go with anything!  I think I remember Oprah saying something like, "If it doesn't go with anything, it goes with everything!"  I had one leopard print cardigan that I used to only match with khaki and black pre-challenge.  Now, I have a scarf and flats that I can mix with teal, mustard, red, cobalt blue, blue jeans...everything!

3. Boyfriend jeans were the hardest part of this challenge for me.  During the 10 day shopping period, I tried on several pairs of boyfriend jeans and couldn't believe they could be considered stylish.  They just reminded me of the dreaded, frumpy "mom" jeans of the 1990's with the high rise and the bagginess in the thighs.  I realized during the challenge that these boyfriend jeans were unlike the old boyfriend jeans which had no shape from before.  This new version had tapered legs that you could roll up and after seeing it on other ladies, I decided to buy a pair at the end of the challenge.  I was surprised by how comfortable they are.  I even got them in a lighter wash other than my usual dark wash because I wanted to try something different.  Besides, they were on sale!  The best thing about these boyfriend jeans is that you don't have to worry about a muffin top because they are looser around the waist for a more relaxed fit.

4. Leggings are not pants.  I couldn't help laughing at this post.  Too funny!

5. Neutrals can be paired with other neutrals.  I don't know why,  but this combination as obvious as it seems never occurred to me as something you would pull together on purpose.  I always knew white and black would go with anything, but gray and taupe?  Brown and gray?  Navy and brown?  Leopard print and gray?  Why didn't I think of this before?  So chic!

6. Speaking of combinations, you can also pair patterns.  Stripes, leopard print, floral prints, and plaid can all be mixed together.

7. I discovered mustard yellow is an awesome fall color after seeing it on some of the challengers.  I got a long mustard yellow cardigan from Target that I love!  I would never have thought to wear such a color before.

8. Taking selfies are much harder than you think.  Trying to get the right angle, lighting, posing yourself in a flattering way, looking in the mirror the right way while pushing the camera phone soft button with one hand is a challenge in of itself!  However, it's amazing to be able to document your outfits this way and view yourself objectively.  It was so nice to see the other challengers post their outfits of the day or OOTD (a new abbreviation I learned on this challenge).  You realize this is what real women look like, not the Photoshopped models in the magazine, but working women and moms who have busy lives taking care of their loved ones.

9. Since getting dressed was such a breeze, I could spend more time on my hair or makeup.  Looking my best as I headed out the door gave me a feeling of renewed confidence.

10. Shoes are an investment.  I tried to go with a cheap pair of leopard flats and ended up with cuts on my heels.  They were so uncomfortable, I could barely walk and I ended up returning them.  Plus, it defeats the purpose when you're wearing something cute and you're grimacing the whole time because your feet hurt.  So when it comes to your feet, always opt for comfort!

This time, Alison is teaming up with Cyndi Spivey to bring us a Build Your Wardrobe Basics Challenge.  So why don't you join me and challenge yourself to another great fashion adventure?  Your wardrobe will thank you for it!