Dress, Accessories Empower Women


Looking good can be about feeling better on the inside. And vice versa.

"I think our outward presentation is very often a message of our inner self and how we feel about ourselves," said counselor Penny Navis-Schmidt.


Cheryl Aschbrenner, of Fashions Now, exhibits a peasant skirt and a long necklace. Both are among today's popular wardrobe items.

The time one spends dressing and grooming makes a difference, both visually and in the kind of energy people pick up on and respond to, according to her.

"Being dressed nicely is definitely one way a woman can boost her self esteem," said Cheryl Aschbrenner, owner of local clothing store, Fashions Now. "It helps your confidence. It makes you feel secure about yourself. It makes you feel womanly and makes you feel good and empowered."

Aschbrenner said she thinks both men and women (but especially men) pay more attention to the person speaking when that person is dressed neatly and appropriately rather than sloppily.

"Fashion definitely goes around -- styles go out and come back in. Maybe every 10 or 20 years you'll see some of the same things.

"Clothes and accessories don't really go out of season unless they are just plain old-fashioned," she said. "But even old-fashioned stuff you can bring back in with the right accessories (usually shoes and/or jewelry."

Long necklaces are in right now, yet they are just beginning to fade out, Aschbrenner opined. Look for chokers next.

Long scarves are an easy accessory piece in one color or multiple colors. They are in for the winter, made of heavy looking, but not necessarily weighty, knits.

Button-down, vertically striped shirts are another popular "in" fashion.

According to Aschbrenner, dark jeans are a wardrobe must because they can be mixed and matched for business casual and fun. "Not so much the lighter blue jeans, but the dark stonewashed jeans, you can always dress up or down, depending on the blouse and the shoes and the jewelry," she said.

A heel dresses it up

If a woman chooses to wear make-up, learning techniques that work for her individual style are important.

At least as important, if not more so than style, is bone structure, because that is how you are going to apply your make-up, according to Mary Kay cosmetics consultant and massage therapist Shannon James.

"Less is more," she said. "A natural healthy glow is what you want to achieve, I think."

She has clients who wear make-up every day, some who wear just lip-gloss and mascara, and those who prefer au natural, except for special occasions.

"For special occasions, they want that little extra," said James, who has been a consultant for five years.

"When you dress up in nice clothes and put your make-up on, it is empowering," James said. "Just watching the reaction of people and how they treat you is different," she said.

"In terms of self-esteem, I think one can do a ‘fake it until you make it' kind of thing with dress. Oftentimes when I am working with someone with low self-esteem issues, one of the first things I look at is presentation."

Navis-Schmidt said she sometimes asks clients with low self-esteem issues to spend a few extra minutes on themselves.

Looking good and feeling good are a kind of "self-perpetuating circle," she said.

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