Cindy Weber-Cleary

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Dear Friends, This is my final post on InStyle.com. Writing this online column has been a real passion project for me. After decades as a fashion editor, I still get a thrill out of finding great clothes and accessories and sharing them with my readers, along with tips about how to keep your wardrobe current and exciting, how to make the most of your assets, and how to express your personality through what you wear. Style matters! It can give you confidence, help you get hired, attract a mate, make friends, communicate who you are to the world … Working at InStyle has been the highlight of my long career in magazines. My 15 years as fashion director were a wild ride. Such a great team and such a responsive audience! I loved learning what makes you tick—and to tickle you with the fun side of fashion. I hope I also helped you organize your closet, try some new styles you may not have considered, and made the process of shopping more pleasurable. If my “Age-Wise Style” posts have resonated with you, please check out my new digital shopping site, apprecier.com. (“Apprecier” is a French word, which means “to enjoy” and “to grow in value over time.” Isn’t that the essence of having a great wardrobe?) So, here, for my last InStyle story, I would like to share some of my closet “all-stars”—nine key items that have really delivered for me, time and time again. I hope they will for you as well!
There are few items as useful, flattering, and comfortable as a shirtdress. Currently, I have three: 1) a casual, blue-and-white striped cotton one, 2) an olive cotton-canvas safari style, and 3) a slinky, wine silk crepe-de-chine.  I wear them to death! And a classic shirtdress never goes out of style. Mine are slightly loose-fitting, which makes them great options to wear right now while the weather is still hot.  I often throw the striped one over a swimsuit, but it's also a great everyday option for work when paired with a printed silk scarf, a shoulder bag, and a block-heel sandal. Later on, I can belt it to tunic-length and wear it with jeans and leggings, or layered under a sleeveless jacket or long cardigan sweater. The safari number is in a dirt-defying color and does double-duty: belted, as a dress, or, unbelted, as a light-weight coat over separates. It has a sash made of the same fabric, but I like to change it up by adding a chunky brown leather belt with a gold buckle and grommets. The burgundy silk one is a bit dressier and looks polished for day with sling-backs and a structured shoulder bag—but it also dresses up beautifully for evening, when worn, collar open, with a fine gold lariat necklace, a strappy sandal, and a small-ish clutch. In the fall months, I sometimes pair it with knee-high boots and a fur vest for a slightly '70s vibe. This is the perfect time of year to shop for a shirtdress. Some from spring/summer collections are on sale at a deep discount and new ones are arriving for early fall deliveries. They are currently available in an array of colors and patterns and at a wide range of prices. So do yourself a favor and grab one while you can—and check back with me in a couple of years when you calculate the cost-per-wear ratio. I guarantee you, it's money well spent.
A well-rounded wardrobe is the fashion equivalent of a financial portfolio: There's a few “blue chip investments"—pricier designs you can count on and wear for the long haul—and less expensive seasonal updates. So where should you be putting the most money? I'd start with a tailored blazer, a classic coat, and everyday bag made from luxe materials. Unlike other essential items, such as LBDs, white shirts, and pencil skirts, these are long-lasting pieces that, when made from high quality material, will stay in your closet for years. Although buying these sorts of heavier styles might feel counterintuitive right now, when heat and humidity are through the roof, this is actually an ideal time to look; with new pre-fall and fall merchandise tricking into stores, you'll get the very best selection. Below, a break down of what to look for—and some foolproof picks to jumpstart your shopping. The blazer: A single-breasted, precisely cut wool blazer in black can be worn for day or evening, and works with everything from a slim pant, to a cocktail dress, to jeans. Slightly-padded shoulders provide structure and streamline your entire silhouette—totally worth the extra cash. The coat: Although the exact fabric weight depends on where you live and like to travel, a cashmere or wool bathrobe style is the best option in terms of comfort, versatility, and timelessness. Keep it knee-length or longer (so that you can wear it over all your daywear), and stick to a neutral color. Black is a no-brainer, of course, but camel, ivory, charcoal, navy, and blush are solid alternatives. The bag: There's nothing wrong with buying a statement bag every so often, but first you need one medium-sized leather satchel that goes with everything. Opt for something subtle (aka, minimal hardware and few fancy details) in a neutral shade; it should be big enough to hold your wallet, eyewear, phone, and a small makeup kit, but not oversized. This in-the-middle proportion makes it suitable for almost any occasion.
I love summer. It's my favorite time of year. But let me tell you, there is nothing as hellish as waiting for the subway in New York City on a sweltering weekday in July or August. By 9 a.m., it often feels like a sauna. I've learned to plan ahead for those times when I have important meetings and need to appear both fresh and professional. For more of Cindy's age-wise style advice, visit Apprécier.com. My go-to choice is a loose cotton or linen dress. No shapewear required! It can be a shift, a shirtdress, or a tunic-style, but nothing that restricts your movement. Belted styles are fine as long as they aren't tightly cinched. Another great option is a shirt-and-skirt or -pants combo. Again, cotton, linen, or cotton-linen blend tops are much cooler than silk or polyester.  Look for A-line, pleated, or flowy skirts to the knee or below—or pants that aren't too skinny or tight. If you have to wear a suit jacket to work, a linen or cotton blazer works, but be sure to wear it over something lightweight. Uniqlo's "AIRism" collection is a great resource for moisture-wicking tanks with built-in bras and tees. Gap also has a line of underpinnings (including tanks, T-shirts, bras, and panties) called "Breathe" with dry-wicking fabric technology. Should you still feel the need for just a little control underneath, Spanx makes a line of perforated shorts and panties that are intended for warm weather. Hope this helps you to focus on the work at hand, without sweating the small stuff!
Something crazy happens to me every summer. Sartorially, I go from black and white to technicolor! From October through May, I wear neutral shades almost exclusively. To be honest, I mostly wear black. Many fashion professionals do. It's slimming, it doesn't need to be cleaned that often, it's easy to accessorize, and transitions well from day to night. Please bear in mind, that a lot of us live in New York, London, Milan, and Paris—dark, urban environments where the weather is usually chilly—and we spend a lot of time working. Where you live and how you spend your time has a lot to do with the colors you choose to wear. We're like birds that way. Why do you think the most colorful ones live in tropical climates and pigeons dominate New York? For more of Cindy's age-wise style advice, visit Apprécier.com. Even though I still have to commute from New Jersey to New York most days, when June rolls around my heart and mind are elsewhere. Color is ultimately an expression of one's emotions and I associate the summer months with oceans, blue skies, green lawns, hydrangeas, sunflowers, watermelons, peaches, butterflies—and that joy seeps into my wardrobe, especially on the weekends. RELATED: Check Out Summer's Hottest Trends The fact that summer is short is all the more reason to celebrate it! So embrace your inner peacock, toucan, or hummingbird, and live in color for the next few months!
Hooray! It's finally here! Memorial Day unofficially kicks off summer and conjures up so many happy childhood memories: watching parades, running through sprinklers, hearing the approaching jingle of an ice cream truck, setting up a lemonade stand, capturing fireflies, riding boogie boards, slurping watermelon, building sandcastles, toasting marshmallows over a campfire, and more. For more of Cindy's age-wise style advice, visit Apprécier.com. And, then, there are the adult summer pleasures: lying in a hammock, going sailing, traveling abroad, aimlessly, stopping by farm stands, sipping cocktails on the deck, perusing yard sales and flea markets, dining al fresco, reading silly novels under a beach umbrella, going to outdoor concerts, tending to a garden, attending all kinds of reunions, driving with the top down. Ahhh… While the grown-up activities are certainly fun, there is no better time to tap your inner child by wearing something whimsical. How about a skirt covered with pink flamingos, a handbag that looks like a picnic basket, lemon-drop earrings or sandals decorated with colorful pompoms and charms? Starting now, you have 15 weekends to enjoy before Labor Day. So here are 15 finds to put a smile on your face and get your summer started.
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For many women, a wedding is the dressiest occasion they will attend, but figuring out what to wear can be challenging. Ahead, five different types of celebrations ranging from a black-tie ballroom event to a destination wedding at the beach, and the perfect outfit for each. For more of Cindy's age-wise style advice, visit Apprécier.com.
Hooray! It's finally here! Memorial Day unofficially kicks off summer and conjures up so many happy childhood memories: watching parades, running through sprinklers, hearing the approaching jingle of an ice cream truck, setting up a lemonade stand, capturing fireflies, riding boogie boards, slurping watermelon, building sandcastles, toasting marshmallows over a campfire, and more. For more of Cindy's age-wise style advice, visit Apprécier.com. And, then, there are the adult summer pleasures: lying in a hammock, going sailing, traveling abroad, aimlessly, stopping by farm stands, sipping cocktails on the deck, perusing yard sales and flea markets, dining al fresco, reading silly novels under a beach umbrella, going to outdoor concerts, tending to a garden, attending all kinds of reunions, driving with the top down. Ahhh… While the grown-up activities are certainly fun, there is no better time to tap your inner child by wearing something whimsical. How about a skirt covered with pink flamingos, a handbag that looks like a picnic basket, lemon-drop earrings or sandals decorated with colorful pompoms and charms? Starting now, you have 15 weekends to enjoy before Labor Day. So here are 15 finds to put a smile on your face and get your summer started.
For many women, a wedding is the dressiest occasion they will attend, but figuring out what to wear can be challenging. Ahead, five different types of celebrations ranging from a black-tie ballroom event to a destination wedding at the beach, and the perfect outfit for each. For more of Cindy's age-wise style advice, visit Apprécier.com.
Get ready to sashay! Nothing says spring like a long, breezy pleated or gathered skirt. This utterly feminine shape practically invites you to go outside and get moving. Play up the hourglass effect by pairing it with a fitted top or tucked-in shirt. If the weather calls for a jacket, choose a boxy cropped shape or a belted topper—you always want to keep the focus on your waist! Concerned that pleats may add volume to your hips? Then, go for fluid fabrics and gentle folds rather than stiff knife-pleats. The pleats themselves can create a slimming vertical effect and an all-over print can keep the eye moving. For more of Cindy's age-wise style advice, visit Apprécier.com. I love the idea of adding an oversized earring, whether it's a chandelier, a hoop or a drop. It's in keeping with the dolce vita vibe. Knee-length versions work with almost any shoe shape, ranging from a high-heeled pump to a platform sandal to a pointy-toed flat. Longer lengths work best with a kitten heel, a wedge, an espadrille or a strappy flat sandal. But, I suggest keeping your footwear fancy-free, just in case you feel like twirling…or skipping! RELATED: 9 Must-Have Pieces to Weather the Transitional Spring Temperatures
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