Save Time in the Dressing Room

How to read a garment while still on the hanger: saving time in the dressing room.

We know how to read our food labels. We know that high fat can equal flavor, and that a long list of ingredients is usually a sign of poor quality nutrition. You can apply the same quick overview techniques to reading an item on a hanger. I start shopping with my eyes, looking at color, basic shape – tunic length or crop tops are pretty easy to discern but fabric properties go well beyond color.


The way a garment feels on you is first determined by its make up. The friction between skin and cloth can make or break a design. Once you have discovered silk and cashmere, it’s hard to go back to acrylic and polyester. The most deceiving weaves of fabric are knits. While fabric technology is improving, nothing beats nature when it comes to breathability and longevity.

After all, it was designed to last a lifetime in its natural form.

Take the time to analyze the feel of each garment. Then go the extra mile and read the label. A knit made of more-natural-fibers-than-not will feel amazing against your skin. The synthetic materials that can be blended with natural fiber will provide stretch and bounce back to help the knit maintain its form. Remember that knits require maintenance. Certain yarns will naturally pill faster than others: rabbit fur that is woven into yarn will pill quickly, but I feel that the luxury of having soft fur against your skin is worth the seasonal maintenance of shaving that particular knit.

pexels-photo-461035Once you learn what material you love to wear, it’s time to focus on the tailoring that flatters you best. Having an understanding of shoulder seams, darts, and hem lines will help you read the garment before you even put it on your body. Clothes are designed to flatter you, but not all in the same way. Playing with proportions and accent lines can help to achieve that ideal hour glass figure. Great tailoring and design helps us highlight our best features and fake the ones we wish we had.

Lastly, be smarter than your label. The size number on the tag does not determine your true size or self-worth. I repeat: the size number on the tag does not determine your true size or self-worth! I admire designers and labels that shun vanity sizing. Clothes that truly fit and flatter will always make you look and feel better than the tag that you know is lying.

“Vanity sizing works because, deep down, we’re all a little vain.”  – Elaina Dockterman  “Inside the fight to take back the fitting room”

As you learn to practice each of these lessons, you will waste less and less time with “No’s” in the dressing room. It you put it on and you LOVE it, you should buy it. If not, don’t waste your time or money. If you put it on and it needs tailoring, factor that into your total cost and be promise yourself that you wont wear it till it has been altered.

My clients have learned to channel their “Inner Kathryn”, love it or leave it right there in the dressing the room.


Small Business Saturday Offer

5 Ways to Shop Like A Stylist

Are you Black Friday Shopping? Read up on how to hit the sales floor like a pro.

1. Do your research.
Know when new items hit the floor – also when the sale items get discounted.
Know your clients’ (or your’s) favorite designers and why they are their favorites.
2. Look for inspiration.
Keep your eyes open and take notes. If you see an outfit you like, ask yourself why. Find a style icon to follow on Instagram.
3. Shop with a list.
Know what you already own.
What are your wants vs. needs – and how to tell the difference?
4. Find the unexpected piece.
Take risks! We are only talking about clothes. Start small with mixing prints, cuffing your skinny jeans, or mixing styles: flannel and sparkling jewelry!
5. Make friends with the staff.
They know the floor better than any stylist could. Ask for help finding pieces, recommending a local tailor, and grabbing different sizes.

Meet June

A tailor is your closet’s best friend; that is, of course, second to a professional stylist. Clothes off-the-rack are designed to fit each label’s ideal market. Let’s ignore, for just a moment, the insulting practice of vanity sizing and talk about proper fit.

Proper fit is a rare off-the-rack experience. For example, I get 99% of my pants tailored. (I leave my gym tights alone, usually.) I have the common female issue of having wider hips than my waist, causing my pants to fall down all the time. This is a simple fix of having the waist taken in at the back. On average, this costs $12-$15 at a skilled tailor. Because you are dealing with denim and matching thread and stitch weight, I would caution using a dry cleaner as your tailor.

Recently, I had to find a new tailor. My previous one lost her location due to a large renovation. After reading reviews, I decide to try out June’s Alterations in Cornelius. Boy, am I glad I did!

June has been sewing here in the North Carolina for the past 23 years. She was born in Korea and immigrated to the States with her husband and children.

I took her my usual jeans alteration. I also decided to have her cut the length and add a “stay stitch” to the bottom of the leg so the fringe would have a nice stopping point.

The second piece I took her was a dress I scored while visiting Alberta, Canada this past summer for a family wedding. It was on sale, and the US dollar was still beating the pants off the CAD so everything was 20%. The final price of this dress was about $30 USD. It was a steal. I knew when I bought it that is was too wide. The material has some stretch, so I knew I could have it taken in on the sides and still be able to put it over my shoulders.

I am very pleased with June’s work and excited to have a new tailor in pocket. When you need a tailor, please go see June and tell her Kathryn set you.

Fashion Terms and Styles

I came across this illustrated guide, “Fashion Terms and Styles for Women’s Garments,” published in 1991, while searching for the specific terms for the varying lengths of women’s blazers. Fascinatingly enough, the terms are unisex – here’s one for gender equality!  I love learning the etymology of fashion terms; some are entertainingly descriptive: a leg-of-mutton sleeve, Queen Ann neck line, or a smoking jacket.

The terminology of tailoring is a historical and political lesson. Hem lines, waists, and shoulders change from one influencing power to the next, leaving along the way visual guides to societal restrictions and freedoms. Think pre-suffrage movement – hems were all the way to floor so as not to temp wicked men with the sights of ankles. Gasp! Fashion pushed those norms as women gained more power. Hello flapper dress! Good bye corsets!

Today’s political power struggle is swinging back in the other direction. A decade ago, street fashion was embracing the 1970’s free love, flare bottomed pants and tonal colors of nature in greens and browns. Today, watching the ever-looping revival of decades past, street fashion is sampling the late 80’s and early 90’s. Runway shows are mixing the 40’s and 70’s. Today, we have gone from large multi-tiered bubble statement necklaces to the slim lines of single pendant necklace. Less is more, all over again. But that is the joy and pain of fashion. It is ever-changing and evolving!


Doncaster Fall/Winter 2017

Luxury fabrics, contemporary classics, and superior garment construction all describe Doncaster clothing.

Like its contemporaries, Etcetera and Carlisle, Doncaster has had great success in the elite fashion market by staying out of the dying brick and mortar retail market. Doncaster is only sold through truck shows and consultants. You can view the items in person four times a year, when each truck is released. I had the joy of taking a sneak peek at their Fall Winter 2017 line last week.

Marguerite Rupar  has been selling Doncaster for 23 years. She knows her brand and her clients well. We chatted about the rich local history of Doncaster and its humble beginnings making and selling men’s shirts for A&P grocery stores. They first dipped their toes in the dress market after the industrious women of the Junior League approached them to do a fundraiser, morphing the quality design of their men’s shirts into the classically that we still wear today: the fabulous shirtwaist dress. Thank you Junior League!

Fun Fact: Doncaster was lovingly named after a quaint town in England that the founder, S.B. (Bobo) Tanner Jr. and his wife, Millie, visited on their honeymoon.

I have had the privilege of putting my hands on many Doncaster garments over the years. My most discerning clients have Doncaster in their closets. Some pieces are several years old and still in beautiful condition and classically stylish. Doncaster clients know that the brand prides itself on high quality fabrics that feel amazing on and last decades with proper care. Which, for most other labels, that is a standard that has fallen so low today that having a garment for more than a couple of seasons without falling apart is seen as an accomplishment.

As a wardrobe consultant, I differ from other stylists. My visions and my clients’ visions don't always follow the trends.

Trends can be fun and exciting, but what I instill in my clients is that a wardrobe with quality foundations pieces- pieces that fit perfectly and compliment their style and colors- is more fashionable than the latest trend.

I find beauty in confidence. My clients find that confidence in clothes that feel fantastic on, rather than the never-ending race to stay on trend.

I took so many pictures of their Fall/Winter 2017 collection, it was hard to choose my favorites.

Please contact Marguerite if you are interested in finding out more about this beautiful collection. She is a lovely person that knows more about Doncaster than anyone in Charlotte. In a world of fast fashion, Doncaster stands out not only because of their high-end market but also because of the quality and ability to maintain superior standards of design and construction. 

What’s In My Purse

I am on the hunt again. What I am looking for is not difficult to find: supple yet sturdy leather, just the right amount of storage and organizing compartments, and the prefect handle length so it can rest in the crook of my arm or slip over my shoulder. You guessed it. I am looking for The Perfect Purse.

Changing purses to coordinate with your outfit is a must. No, it doesn’t have to match but it can. Toting along your canvas floppy, beach bag while impeccably dressed for work is like wearing a t-strap sports bra with a strapless dress. It ruins the finished product.

I switch between four beautifully-crafted purses right now. My everyday purses (one black and one brown, of course) can hold everything I could possibly need – and used to hold everything my kids could possibly need: diapers, sippy cups, enough snacks for an insatiable toddler, and a full-size iPad for those never-ending waiting room stays. But now, all it holds is my wallet, my phone, and my “switch bag.”  With my youngest off to kindergarten this year, my purse, like my time, is mine again. The freedom is cause for celebration and making a change. Like an empty-nester, I am ready to downsize!


To help my clients, and myself, make changing bags easy as 1-2-3, I use a “switch bag.” What is a switch bag? It is genius. I am, for sure, not the first to think of this, but I have blown a few clients’ minds with its simplicity. A switch bag contains your must-haves, the items you never want to think, “Ugh. I left it in my other purse!”


Here is what is in my switch bag: ear buds, lipstick(s), powder, breathe mints, hair tie, ibuprofen, tampons, bandaids, a nail file, and my business cards. These are all my “just-in-case” items and a few essentials.

On my way out of the door each morning, I choose the bag that best suits and complete my 1-2-3 checklist:

1 – wallet

2 – phone

3 – switch bag

Ok, to be honest, I also grab a snack and a fizzy water too. My kids have taught me to never go anywhere without provisions!

If you make the act of changing your purse simple and accessible, you’ll be able to easily finish the look you are going for and not stress about what you forgot.

Purse Storage in Coat Closet

Stylist’s Coat Closet


Seeing red this season

My favorite color, well ok, one of my favorites, is taking center stage this fall. Bold reds were all over the runways and local retailers heard the siren call. Deep reds, bright reds, and burgundy reds were everywhere as I was doing some shopping, er… I mean research. Pantone’s color palette for New York leads with an eye popping Grenadine and a supple Tawny Port.

Elle magazine declares;

“Bright, Bold Red Is All You’ll Be Wearing Next Fall”

Do you know which is your best red? Understanding your base colors can help you steer away from shades that could be unflattering. Look for the undertone. It is more of a blue-red or an orange-red? Find your perfect shade of red in a cozy sweater or lush leather cross-body bag to update your fall wardrobe. Then when you really feelin’ it – try a bold red lip. Tis the season for it after all.



SbK’s 10 Closet Essentails for Fall 2017

It’s that time of year when us southern ladies dust off our denim and shake out our sweaters in hopes the temps finally travel below 70 degrees. Usually, we get over eager and end up sweating in our cute booties because fall weather doesn’t occur untill after the sun goes down, at least until October.

It is the perfect time of year to take stock of your fall wardrobe and fill in any missing pieces. Take a peek at the list below and add any missing items to your shopping list.

1. Your Perfect Denim – Depending on your lifestyle, denim can be the most worn item in your wardrobe. From the perfect skinny jeans to tailored trousers, well-fitted, dark wash denim is worth its weight in gold.

2. Booties – Booties are back. Make sure there is a bit of ankle or sock peaking out above. Try cuffing your pants or pairing with ankle length pants.

3.  Leather Purse – A quality leather purse will look better with age not worse. Simple lines and superior construction will always be on trend.

4. Quality Knitwear – Stay toasty this fall with a cozy sweater. Remember to read your labels – more natural fibers than synthetic will ensure comfort and durability.

5. LBD/LND – The little black dress doesn’t have to be black. Navy can go anywhere black can and maybe with just a bit more subtlety and style.

6. Leather Jacket – I call my favorite leather jacket my “Southern” winter coat. You can rock leather with a patterned t-shirt or layer it onto a cozy sweater or plaid blouse. Add a bit of edge to your dresses by ditching that boring old cardigan and tossing on a great leather jacket.

7. Evening Clutch – A night on the town when you only need your phone, ID and some lip stick is always a good time. Grab a purse that shows off your personality in a small package.

8. Classic Black Pumps – The work horse of your shoe collection should be well made, well fitted, and stylish. SbK #1 shoe rule: look for leather.

9. Well Cut T-shirt – A great t-shirt that fits perfectly can be an easy go-to in the fall. The “cold-shoulder” cut is a great way to incorporate trends inexpensively.

10. Favorite Metallic Necklace – Find your favorite finish in a slim line pendant or layer varying lengths of necklaces to add interest.

Download printable pdf version –10 Fall Closet Essentials