17 In Getting Dressed/ Shopping Tips

A case for shopping your closet for the latest trends

Styling outfit with leopard print

Styling the “trendy” leopard print for fall


Today, my friends, we’re going to talk about trendy fashion. You may be saying, Yuck, I hate trends. I’m not a trendy person.

I say, Groovy. You don’t have to be. But that doesn’t mean trends don’t already live in your closet.


J. Crew leopard print blouse

Leopard print blouses currently for sale at J. Crew

Trends are our friends

I love when fashion isolates a few colors, prints, silhouettes, and themes and says, “Hey Everyone, let’s focus on these fashion trend flavors this season.” There’s something about engaging in trends—even just a little bit—that makes getting dressed a new adventure, something to look forward to, a way to connect with people and be part of this very moment in time. It presses refresh on the way we express ourselves. It gives us new toys to play with as we get dressed.

I always make a point to know what the current trends are so I can inform my clients. I reinforce trend information by wearing the ones that look good on me. I want to be an example of how to stay current.

I don’t have any clients who choose to be on the cutting edge of fashion. But they love to hear what’s “in” and they especially love it when I look into their closet, spot on-trend pieces and pull them out. I’ll say, “Let’s get you into current trends by refreshing how you’ll wear this (fill-in-the-blank) this year.”

On-trend items I might pull out this season would be lace, fur, red, violet, leopard print, zebra print, shades of green, velvet, brocade, leather, denim, satin, plaid, ruffles, polka dots, patchwork, pleated skirts, suits, sweater dresses, moto jackets, cowboy boots—you get the picture. Without giving you the full list, you can see that odds are great that everyone’s got current trends residing in their closets.

Which leads me to this: Let’s shop your closet first for trends!


leopard print dress

Leopard print dress at J. Crew right now


Why shop your closet first?

It makes simple dollars and sense. I love the idea of using the shopping speed bump that is shopping your closet before spending money. I call this Slow Shopping. Your fashion senses get stimulated by catalogs, magazines, store windows, displays or emails directly from retailers telling you to buy this, and this, and this! It’s so easy to go to your nearest device, find those items online and press “add to cart.” It’s instant gratification.

Now, if you shop your closet first, it looks like this: You pause before pressing purchase and say, ‘What a minute! Do I own a version of that already?’ It means leaving the search bar on the computer, going to your closet and searching for it there first.


Shopping my clients’ closets

I’m always shopping my clients’ closets. Let’s use leopard print as an example of a current trend. When I see runway images of a leopard jacket, I think about the leopard print jacket that’s in M.’s closet. I say to myself, ‘When I see her this week, I want to pull that out and create five new outfits using it.’


Leopard print jacket

Shop your closet first for leopard print


I see a leopard print skirt and think of D.’s closet. I don’t remember making recent outfits out of the leopard print skirt we bought together twelve years ago at Neiman Marcus in San Francisco. I know it still fits her. I want to make at least three new outfits with that skirt. Maybe I’ll use boots for one outfit, black tights and a heeled bootie for another one, and I think I’ll try mixing leopard print in the same outfit. I know she has those leopard print suede ankle wrap shoes that we bought together two years ago. I bet they’ll go together!


Leopard print skirt

Do you have a leopard print skirt in your closet?


I look at thin leopard print belts and I can picture a wider version wrapped up in a coil in a plastic bin of belts one of my clients has. I can’t wait to get my hands on that when I see her next week. Maybe it would be cute with her chiffon skirt, her black Tippi sweater, and her dark denim jacket. She loves when I mix fancy with casual. It’s perfect for her Mill Valley lifestyle.


Leopard print belt

Leopard print thin belt gets closer attention this season


Last year I suggested V. retire her Tippi leopard print sweater. (What you should know about Tippi sweaters here.) Well, we didn’t actually retire it. We just dropped it down the fashion food chain. Now she wears it around the house. However, leopard print looks so good on her that in this case, I’m going to suggest we purchase a fresh one so we can make outside-the-house outfits with it. She has red hair like this model does and leopard print looks incredible on her.


Tippi sweater from J.Crew

Tippi sweater in leopard print


I can think of clients who don’t wear leopard print in clothes but they love it in accessories. A little bit adds a lot of flavor. I’ll look through their scarf drawer for leopard print and pull it out.


Leopard print scarf

Search your scarf bin for leopard print


I have a client who has a vintage leopard print clutch that I lust for. I like to tease her about it. I’ve always told her right where to look if it goes missing one day. Wink-wink. It’s time to bring that bag out and play with it some more.


Leopard print foldover clutch

Maybe you have a vintage leopard print bag you can pull out


I’m working the leopard print this year too

Do you want to see something funny? I took this picture yesterday of an outfit I’ve styled this year with my “trendy” leopard print pleated skirt. I’m wearing black fishnets and my AGL patent leather flats with velvet bows.



Do you see the top I’m wearing? Okay, that’s a Coldwater Creek crossover top with three-quarter sleeves.


simple, stylish outfit

Styling my on-trend leopard print skirt


It’s the same top I’m wearing with the same Carlisle silk leopard print skirt ten years ago. I may have had both pieces for longer than ten years; I just can’t remember. I do remember teaching in this outfit. I taught an all-day course for other image consultants ten years ago in London. Unforgettable.

Take a look at the patent leather shoes I was wearing back then with the skirt. I LOVED those shoes. Unfortunately, they hurt like you know what!


wearing patent leather heels

These killer heels came home with me from London but went bye bye soon after


Both times I’m wearing fishnet stockings—nude in London, black here in Sonoma. I’m wearing finer, more delicate jewelry this time, which I enjoy very much. I’m wearing my bee necklace and you know how crazy I am about wearing the bee symbol!

The outrageous trends are worth ignoring. With those out of the picture, there are very few truly new trends out there. They just call them new and we get all excited about them. I’m happy to play along. It’s fun to focus on specific elements of fashion for a bit. But it doesn’t mean you have to shopping all the time. You may already own pieces that are just right.

Are you a closet shopper? Can you imagine shopping your closet for trend pieces? Do you have some ideas already? Ooh, can’t wait to hear all about it!





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  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    October 3, 2018 at 6:02 am

    It just goes to show how trends come back all the time. At least that’s what my mom (the 80+ model on my blog) says and why she won’t throw anything out…ha ha!!
    And I do think there is an importance of looking contemporary and so keeping abreast of the trends….we don’t want to look like we still live in the 1950’s because then you are considered outdated. And who wants that??
    I love how you show this skirt from then and now, Brenda!!

    • Reply
      October 3, 2018 at 7:28 am

      Yes, you have a wealth of trend knowledge going back a ways with your mom! Mom’s are right, right? I probably should say that not all versions of trends from the different decades will work in the present one. But with my leopard print skirt, I wanted to show that it is possible to be on-trend ten years out. Always love your comments, Jodie. (Hey, everyone, read Jodie’s blog. It’s really fun!)

  • Reply
    October 3, 2018 at 6:36 am

    Woo-hoo!! Your posting sent me straight to one of my scarf bins in search of a silk chiffon scarf purchased over 25 years ago when I was living in Japan. I have always loved that scarf and hung on to it through two house moves, a downsizing, and several wardrobe purges.
    I see now that it has two current trends combined: leopard and red. The actual print is leopards (the whole animal, not just the spots), green eyes glowing subtly, peering out from a background of red and rust palmetto leaves. Love it, and love that you have inspired me to bring it out of retirement.
    Thanks, as always, Brenda, for showing us how to be on trend with much-loved pieces we already have.

    • Reply
      October 3, 2018 at 7:26 am

      Brilliant! I love it! I especially love to know I’ve helped release an item from a wardrobe that wasn’t getting used. Now it has a chance to shine all season long!

  • Reply
    Betty (SC)
    October 3, 2018 at 6:55 am

    I just dipped my toe in the leopard print craze a few years ago, so my closet has these “new trends” there just waiting for me! Love the post Barbara! I, too, have clothes 10-plus years old…hubby can’t understand why the closet is bursting at the seams! ha!

    • Reply
      October 3, 2018 at 7:25 am

      Yay, Betty! We’re so in style and we hardly knew it. I’m sure your husband is impressed by that, right? He-he!

  • Reply
    Ann Werries
    October 3, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    I put aside my zebra jacket several years ago, and will definitely be bringing it back out this season (if it ever gets cool enough for a jacket in Arizona). Also, my leopard print pencil skirt, and a shell with a leopard spot “feel” ….Red is my favorite color so that never leaves my wardrobe….just updated my denim collection with a pair of straight ankle jeans that will benefit from some of the above mentioned trends. I love shopping my closet, before I add new…

  • Reply
    Gill Hall
    October 3, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Fabulous artical Brenda. It’s taken me 61 years to feel comfortable wearing leopard print but this season I have found the most amazing jacket, then came the scarf and patent leather flats with leopard skin insert on the top. They just feel so right. Maybe I needed to feel comfortable enough in my own skin first. Must add it was more about being me than trends, well I thought so before I read your piece. Thank you again.

  • Reply
    October 3, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    Wow, Brenda, perfect timing. I have leopard booties, skirts, sweaters, dresses and coats. Talk about a fav trend that I use all the time. Unfortunately this fall may not be so much fun, and I do love fall. Just got home from another nasty surgery and your post has me thinking maybe a new leopard night gown or pjs would be a great idea. Just need someone to go get.
    Most of my patterns are in the black and grey range which is harder to find, but fits my colouring. The shoes and boots are both and I love them. Thank you so much for cheering me up and you look Gorgeous in yours.

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    October 3, 2018 at 9:20 pm

    I definitely shop my own closet! In fact, my next two Fashion Friday blog posts will feature pieces that I’ve recently pulled from the depths of storage to wear again and one of them is leopard print. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 5:12 am

    Love this! I have a leopard print blouse that still fits perfectly and has been hanging out in the back of my closet for a few years. This will be the year it comes back out. 🙂 I’m a big fan of animal prints, so I’ll be sporting my scarves this fall, too.

    I love that you are wearing the same outfit over time and it still looks amazing. Cheers!

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 6:08 am

    I’ve steered away from leopard print but I think in small doses they are amazing. Can’t wait to show you a clutch I recently purchased at a thrift store that was closing. I think you may want to take it home with you :).

  • Reply
    Lesley A
    October 4, 2018 at 8:49 am

    I have that exact same CC top. I just ‘found’ it again in my closet and have it hanging on the door for style inspiration. Still fighting the animal print look, but confess to a couple scarfs in subtle animal prints. This post proves that what goes around comes around and what is old is new again. Thanks Brenda

  • Reply
    Katherine Cramer
    October 4, 2018 at 5:09 pm

    I’ll add that changing size can inspire closet shopping. I’ve found some Fall pieces that were a little too tight before and now they fit. The closet search has been successful. That Talbot’s velvety leopard print pencil skirt from years ago will come out now and the fuzzy leopard print beret you inspired me to buy (but never wore last year) will need some TLC to create an outfit now that my hair is thinning in the back in response to some medical stress (now over). Life situations can yield some positive fashion inspiration! Yes, another great piece, Brenda. Thank you.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Brenda, I love the elegant and whimsical look (is that possible?) to this outfit. I discovered your blog this past year and love your style guidance and personal observations. I noticed in your photo of 10 years ago that you had longer hair and different eye glass style, would you write a column about what your decision process was in cutting your hair, long to short, etc. I have noticed in your some of your columns you mention glass frames and I think they’ve been helpful and educational. I’m 58 and this age really feels undefined to me, especially, since my husband retired from the work force two years ago.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2018 at 6:07 pm

    I guess you could say I shop the closet when I clean it and organize it…………than pieces pop out.But over all I know what I have even if it dates back to CORTE MADERA NORDSTROM DAYS!!!!!I was employee number 48105-7
    How on earth do I recall that!!?Over 32 years ago!!!!!!!

  • Reply
    Nancy Nix-Rice
    October 18, 2018 at 6:52 am

    Oh Brenda – I love the pic with your shoes off mid-workshop. I can’t give up my hot-girl shoes, but I also can’t go all day on my feet in them. I try to remember to bring along a more comfy pair I can default to mid-day. But it’s a relief to find I’m not the only one occasionally resorting to barefoot.

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