Monday, March 22, 2010

My Dad's Belt

I’ve absolutely fallen in love with the Boho Chic look that’s currently all rage. I tend to lean a bit more classically when it comes to my wardrobe, but there’s something to be said for playing with new colors, discovering easier fabrics, and incorporating bolder patterns and accessories. Really, that’s what style is all about, in my humble opinion: knowing what works for you while not fearing the addition of new twists.

As I researched the Boho Chic trend, I visualized what I already had in my closet that might work for me. The first item that occured to me isn’t actually mine, though; it’s an old belt that belonged to my late father. It’s a tobacco-hued leather – nothing fancy or expensive – and bears a pewter buckle that reads Prairie Cattle Company, Tulia and features a little engraved prairie dog right in the center.

I only recall my dad wearing the belt a few times when I was a small child. He worked at the cattle company for a short while before becoming the grain lord of Castro County (that’s in the Texas Panhandle, by the way; it has nothing to do with Cuba). I’d actually forgotten all about the belt until after he passed. I discovered it while sorting through his things and grabbed it without giving it much thought – just a keepsake, something to have that was his. It never occurred to me that five years later I’d sport the darn thing as my ‘newest wardrobe acquisition’. Of course, I had to get it fitted, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it.

I wore it the other day as I assisted an older woman in putting together her spring wardrobe. We were inside a local boutique sorting through belts when she looked at mine and asked, “Where can I find one like the one you’re wearing?” I explained the story behind it. Tears welled up in her eyes as she proclaimed, “Honey, that’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard!”

I never considered that my wearing it would ever be ‘sweet’. ‘Cheap’ actually came to mind first because I didn’t want to go out and buy a new belt. ‘Unique’ crossed my thoughts because, after all, nobody else has a belt like this. ‘Comical’ also popped into my head because I know that my dad is somewhere getting quite a kick out of it, laughing and shaking his head, wondering why on earth I’d want to wear that old thing.

Well, Daddy, I wear it for three reasons: a) it’s cool and works smashingly well with the new boots I just got, b) it really falls into fashion right now, and c) it was yours. I appreciate you for not tossing it out on one of your rare tossing-out binges. It’s awesome beyond words – just like its original owner.

Beth Newman
Image Consultant/Life Coach
Look,feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Repainting the Barn

Several years ago, I witnessed a woman reapplying her lipstick. Her husband looked at her and said, “The barn sure does look better with a fresh coat of paint.” At the time, I thought it funny that he compared his wife to a barn. Looking back, it’s a little sad, but I think he meant well by it. And his phrase about the new coat of paint stuck with me….

Chalk it up to spring fever (particularly following a REAL winter down here in Houston), but this is the time of year in which I ‘repaint the barn’ by taking a very careful inventory of my current style. I’m discovering that certain outfits I bought just a year ago simply don’t work for me anymore, my winter skin-care regimen must be replaced, and it’s time to lighten up in certain areas (my hair), and darken others (hello, tan!) I’m also taking heed of new makeup tips thrown my way.

Evolving is part of life, and while it’s important to grow as humans, I think it’s equally important to grow in style. You haven’t changed a bit is not a phrase I want to hear.

Does that make me a vain person? Yes, of course it does – I’ll own up to the fact that I’m probably far too focused on how I present myself to others than I should be.

Trust me, though, on this: there’s a certain rush that comes from tweaking one’s look. An incredible excitement comes into play when we try a new lipstick, wear a color other than black, and go bold with a new haircut.

Of course, my outlook on style need not mirror your outlook on style. Your priorities may be far different than mine. I do, however, encourage you to utilize this wondrous time of year and at least reflect upon your current look and perhaps consider ‘repainting the barn’.

Beth Newman
Image Consultant/Life Coach
Newman Image
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Girls' Games

A friend of mine who manages an all-female staff recently shared soap-opera-worthy stories from her office: betrayals, lies, unfairness, whining, underhandedness, and such. “Well, when you’re dealing with women,” she said, “you’re bound to have drama.”

Excuse me?

I didn’t know whether to laugh or throw my drink in her face. Laughing would have been rude, and I hate to waste a good glass of wine, so I let it go.

As a woman who has always been a little worker bee, I found her proclamation absurd and highly offensive. It’s a myth that women can’t get along in the workplace simply because they are women. It’s a cop-out to merely chalk it up to ‘girls’ games’ rather than get to the root of the issue. (The issue in this case seems to be lack of teamwork, lack of respect for one’s colleagues, and lack of respect for oneself – how dare any woman run the risk of being categorized in such a way)

I have worked with women who’ll resort to certain tools to get their own way at work, but trust me: I’ve worked with just as many men who’ve done the same.

I’ve never liked gender stereotyping. I find it appalling when wives speak ill of their husbands and then wrap up their tirade with, “Well, that’s a man for you!” I found my friend’s observation (or lack thereof) regarding her female staff ignorant.

My first job was as a disc jockey at a radio station. I was twenty-years-old and the only female member of the staff. When he hired me, the program director of the station actually said, “Well, we need a girl. We may as well have a pretty one.” I vowed right then to work just as hard as the boys. As it turned out, I worked a lot harder than most of the boys. I was a team-player, hell-bent on doing what was best for the station. I was kind, never complained unless I had a solution to offer, and never allowed the stresses of the job or my personal life get in the way of doing my best each day. I was a kid, but I already knew what it meant to be a professional.

In my latter years of teaching middle school, a female colleague approached me with concerns about a male teacher whom she felt was not tending to his students properly. He never took lunch count in the morning, never monitored the kids at recess, and always – always was late in submitting paperwork and grades. “Well, it’s because he’s a man, I suppose,” she said. “No,” I responded, “it’s because he’s lazy and has no business teaching here.” That’s probably not the most professional thing I could have said, but it was true. We had several men on staff who actually took care of business beautifully. To describe this guy’s behavior as a ‘guy thing’ was a complete disservice to the other guys.

But I’ll let the boys worry about their own. Ladies, it’s you I want to address. How can we keep from being categorized as drama queens while at work? Here’s my Top Ten:
1. Don’t cry in front of anyone
2. Don’t pout, yell, scream, or curse
3. Don’t use your looks to get what you want
4. Treat each of your colleagues with the utmost respect
5. Take issues you have with someone to that someone confidentially
6. Show up on time and dress the part
7. Be honest and forgiving
8. Leave your problems at home at home.
9. Work hard and take pride in all that you do
10. Remember, unless you own the company, you are an employee - a team member, who must play the game fair or run the risk of being eliminated. Everyone is replaceable at work.

As women, I think we have to work a little harder – and a little smarter – in order to kill the idea that we as a group don’t play nice at the office.

Beth Newman
Image Consultant/Life Coach
Newman Image
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Seeds We Sow

We reap what we sow. This is something we hear as children, but of course it never registers completely until we reach a certain age and gain a little experience.

Unfortunately, some people, though aware of this concept, never really take it to heart.

Not too long ago, I encountered a man who, according to several reliable sources, throws a great deal of negativity into his world. He’s verbally abusive, quick to judge, and makes snap decisions based on “What’s in it for me?” rather than “How will this benefit everyone involved?” Needless to say, he’s not respected nor much liked by the majority of those who know him, which is unfortunate. Oddly enough, however, he thinks that he is, which is sad.

This poor man has no idea of who he really is and how he’s perceived. He’s yet to develop the tools for gaining true happiness and success. He claims to be enlightened, but he isn’t. He’s driven purely by his ego, and is genuinely surprised when things don’t go his way. He’s yet to make the connection that the unpleasantness and hostility he’s bestowed upon others comes directly back to him. When obstacles appear, he’s angered and plays the victim. It’s apparent to those of us in-the-know understand what’s happening, but this poor soul just doesn’t get it.

Happiness and success come when we tap into our authentic selves. This takes reflection, honesty, and time. We must check our ego at the door and let go of those negative thoughts that only weigh us down. With an understanding of our true self, we are free to pursue our passions, free to live happily, and free to sow those good seeds that will help others succeed.

Beth Newman
Image Consultant/Life Coach
Newman Image
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


In Emile Zola’s short story, Complements, we as readers get a tongue-in-cheek look at the price of beauty. In it, Parisian woman seek the services of old Durandeau, who owns an agency that rents out less attractive girls. The theory behind Durandeau’s scheme is simple, really: women will appear more beautiful if they’re accompanied by an unattractive companion. The business proves to be a smashing success for all, except, of course, the hired “complement”. At the end of the day she removes her finery, stares in the mirror located in her tiny apartment, and realizes she’s nothing more than a pawn in the game of attraction.

Though a work of fiction, Zola’s story sheds a light on the ugly business of beauty. Women and men spend thousands of dollars every year on creams, serums, and potions to battle the signs of aging and to conceal alleged imperfections. Botox is mainstream, and it’s quite easy these days to have something removed or inflated all in the quest for attractiveness.

How did we get here? And why are so many of us starting to look the same?

I love what Simon Doonan has to say about it all in his book, Eccentric Glamour. Doonan, the creative director for Barney’s New York, questions the current “Bleached, Botoxed, Booby” look that is so prevalent today. He encourages us to embrace our own style and to (gasp) have fun with it!

I guess what it boils down to is confidence.

Knowing oneself sure makes it easy to don something that others may view as unfashionable. That same self-awareness makes it okay to keep that bump on the nose, or to allow those wrinkles to form. Focusing inward certainly takes the pressure off what’s going on outside.

Too bad the ladies in Complements didn’t realize this. So sad that so many don’t realize it today.

Beth Newman
Image Consultant/Life Coach
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!

Monday, March 1, 2010

March's Good Buys!

If you’ve not already taken inventory of your spring/summer couture and accessories, now is the time to do so. Don’t you dare shop for new items until you’ve done this!

Once you’ve made your assessment, take note of items that you’ll most likely need:

Denims – I’ve recently fallen back in love with denim (after a long hiatus from wearing any, practically). There’s no denying its appeal. It truly is one of the most flexible fabrics out there. One could wear a pair of jeans with anything; dress them up or down depending on the occasion. Denim is in full swing now at the stores, so you’ll find a bigger selection.

We must be careful with fit, though. What works for one gal won’t work for another:

Waistband – A wider waistband can flatter a slightly fuller tummy.

Rise – Aim for a style that’s solidly below your belly button. Superlow styles wax and wane.

Hem – A slight flare is easiest for most body types. It balances wider hips.

Wash- The darker the wash, the better, but I’d avoid black jeans altogether. Dark navy is much more chic.

Pockets – Believe it or not, pocket size and placement are a big deal. Too-small pockets placed far apart will give the impression of a larger caboose, and none of us want that, do we? Be careful of side-pockets. Insure there’s no unflattering hip-widening gap (if so, just stitch up the pocket)

Length – longer is better, particularly if you wear heels.

March is also a good time to buy special occasion dresses for graduations, bridal showers, weddings, etc. Don’t forget the shoes!

You’ll also want to invest in a good pair of shades this month that will carry you through the end of summer.

Some of us may still feel the bitter cold of winter, but the spring and summer shopping is heating up now – take advantage of it! If you’re in the Houston area, I’d love to help you get your warm-weather look on – give me a shout! For those not in Houston, feel free to check out Newman Image All Access at

Beth Newman
Image Consultant/Life Coach
Look, feel, and LIVE your absolute best!