Christine Koh

Hello!

I'm Christine Koh, a music and brain neuroscientist turned multimedia creative. I'm the founder + editor of Boston Mamas, co-author of Minimalist Parenting, co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, and creative director at Women Online. Drop me a line; I'd love to chat about how we can work together!

How To Get Out Of A Style Rut (In 2 Hours Or Less!)

How To Get Out Of A Style Rut (In 2 Hours Or Less!)

Simon Malls and I have been looking for a creative way to work together for a while now, and a perfect and super fun intersection came to pass in anticipation of my trip to Mom 2.0 Summit. I had a lot planned for Mom 2.0 (notably, a speaking engagement, professional responsibilities for Responsibility.org, a photo shoot for a book, and attendance at the Iris Awards, where I was nominated for a couple of things). I didn’t mind shopping my closet for the trip, but for a while now I’ve been pondering working with a stylist because though I feel that I have a pretty strong sense of style, I also tend to get stuck in my white, black, and gold box! And I’ve learned from my experience working with my interior designer friend Paige Lewin that some people simply have a gift with visioning (be it clothing or home décor) and can help you know yourself even better. So, the week before Mom 2.0, Laurel and I headed to Lord & Taylor at the Burlington Mall, where Lord & Taylor manager Rose Meade (who is 8,000% lovely by the way) brought in image consultant Doreen Dove to work her magic with me.

Now before I get started on the rut-busting experience, I want to share two things. First, I definitely experienced a little nostalgia walking into Lord & Taylor with Laurel. Lord & Taylor was where I bought my first “grown up” coat. It’s where my Mom took me shopping to get suits when I was a White House intern in college. Laurel is for sure more of a fashionista than I was at her age and seeing her light up as we walked through the store was so sweet! She was the best buddy for this trip! Second -- and this is very, very humbling and I’m almost a little embarrassed to admit this -- when I first met Doreen Dove over e-mail I went to her website and experienced a moment of pause. Doreen's work empowering women is totally up my alley but I wondered whether -- given her experience working with corporate people and the fact that she is older than me -- she would get me and my style and vibe.

The answer was a resounding YES and Doreen put any of my whispering doubts to shame! Subsequently, I wanted to share 9 reasons why the experience with Doreen and Lord & Taylor basically blew my mind, and why I recommend you do the same if you're in a style rut and want to get out in a timely fashion:

1. The benefit of fashion options

It’s common to have a love/hate relationship with department stores. On the one hand, they have ALL THE THINGS. On the other hand, they have ALL THE THINGS. But the thing is, it’s mostly overwhelming if you’re just wandering around without a mission and don’t understand that the store is laid out in distinct sections (meaning, you can rule out entire chunks of the store depending on what you’re looking for). They key is to narrow in on the type of things you need (e.g., shoes, dresses, separates) and your favorite designers (the latter of which someone like Doreen can help you identify).

2. A range of prices

One thing I conveyed straight up to Doreen was that I like to look well put together but I like it even more when I can do that at affordable prices. I do believe in the occasional investment piece splurge, but the reality is that: 1) I don’t have an unlimited budget, and 2) I need to have clothes that make sense given the likelihood that a small person will grind graham crackers into my pants or accidentally swipe paint across my sleeve. Quite frankly, Lord & Taylor has it all – you can get your expensive designer looks (notably, the Burlington store offers an exclusive collection of luxury vintage items by LXR & CO), but also super affordable pieces. Like seriously, can you believe this incredible blush BB Dakota faux leather jacket is $92 (and actually, OMG I just checked and it is on sale for $34.50!)? I never would have picked blush for myself and it looks AMAZING. I wore this jacket to a speaking engagement a few hours after Doreen helped me pick it out and received a slew of compliments on it!

Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: BB Dakota jacket + Vince Camuto top. (Pre-owned: J. Crew necklace, Banana Republic pants)

Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: BB Dakota jacket + Vince Camuto top. (Pre-owned: J. Crew necklace, Banana Republic pants)

3. A range of designers, including some really cool partnerships

As I mentioned, you can get all of your favorite designers at Lord & Taylor but I was especially interested to learn that Nic & Zoe is based in Natick (scroll down a few images to see the the most incredibly comfortable pair of trim white pants from Nic & Zoe) and Design Lab is Lord & Taylor’s exclusive line and I gravitated toward a lot of their pieces, including this amazing dress I wore for the cabana party. It's crazy comfortable, made me look 10 feet tall, and I received approximately 722 compliments on it! Seriously, it was like wearing pajamas and it was awesome.

With my lovely pal Audrey McClelland. Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: Design Lab dress, Steve Madden shoes. (Pre-owned: Live Fashionable necklace, Alex + Ani bracelets, Banana Republic clutch)

With my lovely pal Audrey McClelland. Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: Design Lab dress, Steve Madden shoes. (Pre-owned: Live Fashionable necklace, Alex + Ani bracelets, Banana Republic clutch)

4. Comfortable spaces

We had a large, private room for our styling session, which was pretty great. (My only recommendation would be better lighting – all of my photos from that room came out terrible!) There’s also a wonderful Ladies Lounge, which Laurel proclaimed to have the best bathrooms ever. (And a friend later shared that she spent many hours nursing her kids there!)

5. Staying true to your style

I loved that based on a short questionnaire, “looking me over,” and our first 5-10 minutes of conversation and trying things on, Doreen totally got my style; her amazing picks helped me stay true to what I love (for example, this amazing tuxedo lapel jacket I wore during travel to/from California) and integrate beautifully into what I already own. For example in the second photo, everything is stuff I already owned, except for the gorgeous top. I adore white tops and Doreen quickly identified that Vince Camuto was a very happy zone for me.

Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: Vince Camuto top + blazer. (Pre-owned: Banana Republic necklace)

Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: Vince Camuto top + blazer. (Pre-owned: Banana Republic necklace)

With my work wife Asha Dornfest. Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: Vince Camuto top. (Pre-owned: Ann Taylor necklace, J. Crew pants, Madewell tote, Alex + Ani bracelets)

With my work wife Asha Dornfest. Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: Vince Camuto top. (Pre-owned: Ann Taylor necklace, J. Crew pants, Madewell tote, Alex + Ani bracelets)

6. Helping me stretch

One thing I especially loved about working with Doreen is she inspired me to move toward color (which I typically only give presence via my lipstick!), and she picked colors that looked so, so good. Take, for example, this incredible Trina Turk blouse (I usually NEVER do patterns) and this unbelievable BCBG dress. On the latter, I walked into the appointment thinking that I was going to get a body con sequin number for the red carpet...this dress was a million times better -- so flowy and comfortable!

Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: Trina Turk top, Nic & Zoe pants, Steve Madden shoes. (Pre-owned: Alex + Ani bracelets, Banana Republic necklace)

Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: Trina Turk top, Nic & Zoe pants, Steve Madden shoes. (Pre-owned: Alex + Ani bracelets, Banana Republic necklace)

Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: BCBG dress, Robert Lee Morris necklace. I picked out the Vince Camuto shoes after our session. (Pre-owned: Banana Republic clutch)

Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: BCBG dress, Robert Lee Morris necklace. I picked out the Vince Camuto shoes after our session. (Pre-owned: Banana Republic clutch)

7. Breaking down my assumptions

The last time I went to Mom 2.0, I packed all dresses. In my head, dresses have always seemed like no-brainers. But Doreen helped me see the power of separates and my mind was basically blown when I said, “Hey, I need a boho look for one of the events, but I am totally not boho – is there such a thing as boho glam?” and instead of a dress (which is what I assumed we’d be on the hunt for) she picked these gorgeous crazy patterned, distressed pants and this flowy mint shirt (note: amazing color and another Vince Camuto winner). So fun and off-beat and I can't wait to wear these pants again just around town; likely paired with a unicorn t-shirt. 

Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: Design Lab pants,  Vince Camuto top. (Pre-owned: J. Crew necklace, Alex + Ani bracelets, Old Navy sandals)

Selected by Doreen Dove at Lord & Taylor Burlington: Design Lab pants,  Vince Camuto top. (Pre-owned: J. Crew necklace, Alex + Ani bracelets, Old Navy sandals)

8. Speed

So when I told Doreen I needed four specific looks and that I needed to walk out the door with all of them that day and that I didn't have time to get anything altered within the next few days, I thought I detected a raised eyebrow. But if that was an ambitious goal, she basically crushed it because in two hours she had figured out all four looks and then some. AMAZING.

9. Equipping you with the tools to move forward

After we finished with Doreen, Laurel and I headed to the shoe department, both because she was in desperate need of sandals (and OMG her feet are now big enough for women’s shoes!) and because I needed to find shoes to go with my red carpet dress. And guess what, I found a gorgeous pair in a matter of minutes both by staying true to my style (gold!) and making a bee line for my new friend Vince Camuto. And quite frankly, I’m excited to return to Lord & Taylor another time and see how well I do on my own now that I know what to look for and where!

BOTTOM LINE: If you’re looking for style help and favor efficiency, an affordable and wide range of options, and a creative, candid approach (I MEAN SERIOUSLY, WHO DOESN’T WANT ALL OF THESE THINGS?), I highly recommend you start with Doreen Dove and Lord & Taylor at the Burlington Mall. The experience was totally eye opening and the ability to get what I needed to do done so quickly, with Laurel in tow, and with so much fun (Laurel proclaimed the experience as THE MOST AWESOME THING EVER) was fantastic.

Disclosure: Lord & Taylor provided me with the clothing indicated in the captions, with the exception of pre-owned items and the red carpet dress + shoes, which I purchased.


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