Monday, November 10, 2008

Set The Tone With Color

Colors are emotional. They can express, reflect and affect your moods. You can use color to express how you feel, change your disposition, or influence the way others feel in your presence.

Color can embolden a shy person, calm an anxious person, or excite a quite crowd. Here are some general themes associated with each color so you can choose colors to help yourself and others navigate sticky situations or enjoy experiences more fully. Tips for incorporating color into your outfits are included at the end.

The Colors

Red increases heart and respiration rate. It’s aggressive, grabs attention, intensifies emotions and stimulates conflict. Wearing red with black or white intensifies the harshness of the color and makes it more aggressive, dominant, and demanding (this combination is great for sports). To make red friendlier, pair it with brown or gray or wear it in a feminine fabric and style.

Burgundy embodies security, safety and gives the impression of richness, elegance, and luxury. The color itself is very safe, so traditional combinations such as black, gold, or cream, can easily become boring. To keep your look fresh, choose updated styles or pair it with brown, gray or white.

Rosy Pink feels innocent and dreamy and stimulates trust and acceptance. The color itself is soft, so pairing it with cream and gray or choosing feminine prints and ruffly styles will make it feel even more delicate. To maintain strength in the look, pair it with black or brown, choose tailored styles, or choose high-tech fabrics.

Coral embodies vitality and stimulates exuberance and courage. The color is bright, so mixing it with high-contrast colors like white, black, brown or other bright colors will intensify the exuberant quality. To calm it down, mix it with cream, beige, gray, or olive or choose feminine fabrics and styles.

Orange literally says rescue and safety and stimulates optimism, confidence, and tolerance. Wearing it with brown or black turns it into a Halloween costume. Pairing it with white, gray, tan, navy or denim makes it work for real life.

Peach feels peaceful and inviting and stimulates relaxation. Maintain the soothing feeling by pairing it with tan, gray or other soft colors. To toughen it up, wear it with brown, black, or choose tailored or masculine styles. Make peach luxurious by mixing it with gold and choosing sensuous fabrics.

Yellow is welcoming and energizing and stimulates communication, wisdom, and intellectual clarity. Wearing it with black can turn it into a bumble bee costume. Pairing it with white makes it crisp while gray, tan, brown or denim calm it down.

Green is the easiest color for the eye to see. It feels restful and renewing and stimulates harmony and healing. Bring out the natural feeling by pairing it with brown, beige, or gray. Bright colors and white bring out green’s renewing qualities.

Forest Green is conventional and evokes prudence and traditional values. Traditional pairings such as black, gold, or cream, can easily make you vanish into the background. To keep your look modern and visible, choose updated styles or pair it with brown, gray or white.

Teal is refreshing and effervescent and stimulates rejuvenation. Mixing it with white or bright colors or choosing high-tech fabrics magnifies teal’s ebullient qualities. Pairing it with softer colors brings out its exotic, care-free and soothing character.

Dark Blue is dignified and strong and inspires reliability, trust, and faith. Classic pairings like white or cream or masculine styles feel authoritative. Unexpected pairs such as brown, gray, or other colors and feminine styles feel lighter and more spiritual.

Light Blue reduces blood pressure and is soothing and steadfast. It encourages integrity, patience and contentment. Light blue is a neutral and can be mixed with any color. Pairing it with black, brown or other dark colors encourages a feeling of integrity. Mixing it with gray, tan, or other light colors brings out it’s restful and cooling qualities.

Purple is magical, joyful, and regal and stimulates intuition and loyalty. Mixing it with neutral colors brings out the strength while mixing it with other colors brings out the joyful and magical nature of the color.

Magenta is energetic and daring and stimulates action. Mix it with brown, tan, or gray to mellow the impact, mix it with black, white, or other bright colors to pump up the intensity.

A Note About Neutrals

Brown is a warm and friendly alternative to black. Use brown to create a modern, natural, or relaxed look.

Gray a soft alternative to black. Use gray to create a modern or soothing atmosphere.
Tan works well in warmer seasons. Use tan to soften a color or make an outfit more casual or classic.

White is crisp and clean. Wear white to intensify a color or make an outfit more exuberant.

Cream is soft and classic. Wear cream to make an outfit more feminine or conservative.

Black is the most common neutral color. Wear it to intensify an emotion or create a formal, harsh or judgmental impression. Black can be softened by feminine styles or soft fabrics.

Wearing & Mixing Color

The colors you wear will affect you and the people around you. When you wear big blocks of color, such as a suit or dress, you will have a major effect on your mood and dominate the mood of your group. Small accents of color, like accessories or jewelry, will have a more subtle effect.
Here are some other ways to intensify or soften the effect of a color:

- Soften a color by wearing it with gray, tan, or brown.
- Strengthen a color by wearing it with black, white, or cream.
- For a creative and spontaneous impression, mix several colors with several neutrals. Bright or contrasting colors will intensify the impression.
- For a safe and traditional impression, wear one color with one neutral.
- For a warm and friendly feel, wear fabrics with a texture that feel good to the touch.
- For a gentle and laid-back feel, wear feminine styles and flowy fabrics
- For a severe and formal feel, wear tailored styles or shiny fabrics

Let me know what you tried and what worked for you! Contact Sarah at (713) 686-8587 or

© Sarah Shah, Imagine Unlimited 2008, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tattoos - Taboo And Evolution

Tattoos - Taboo and Evolution

Tattoos are as varied as the people who wear them - private and deeply personal or a public declaration to everyone we encounter. More and more, tattoos are aaccepted as artforms, appreciated for their beauty and as a form of creative expression for the artist and the wearer.

"Ink" has been part of human culture for thousands of years. Tattoos commemorate rites of passage, mark the achievement of milestones, indicate membership in a group, express individuality and values, and decorate the body. Today, tattoos are also used as permanent cosmetics and for medical markings.

Body art isn’t good or bad, right or wrong. But there are some logistical challenges associated with tattoos and some cool "no commitment" options. Some are familiar and some are more unexpected.

Cosmetic Tattoos
Makeup styles keep changing, but the tattoos don’t (well, not that way anyway). Since "permanent makeup" or cosmetic tattoos are permanent, we loose the ability to keep up with trends and can appear out-dated and old-fashioned as makeup styles change and evolve over our lifetime. Exaggerated cat-eyes, white eyeliner on the top lid, and harsh black liner on the bottom lid were once the height of fashion and have since faded into history.

As we age, our skin sags and moves. Permanent eyeliner, eyebrows, and lipliner can move to locations we didn’t expect – they can sag and droop or even worse, move to totally unexpected places after "a little work" on the forehead, eye area, or lips.

Like all tattoos, permanent makeup will fade to olive greens and blues over time. These tattoos require constant touch-ups to correct the color or you’ll have to cover or just tolerate the unusual colors when they develop.

Physical Changes
Tattoos on the torso, upper arms, and upper legs can stretch and deform during pregnancy or significant fluctuations in body weight and skin tightness.

Business Environments
Traditional tattoos that are visible on the extremities, face, or neck are not typically accepted in formal business environments. If our tattoos can be seen in these environments, we may not be viewed as professional, trustworthy, hard-working, or reliable. In these environments, visible body art can be a career killer.

Personal Evolution
Tattoos are permanent. As we develop and evolve overtime, the tattoos we chose 10 or 20 years ago may not resonate with or be practical for the latest version of ourselves. Our choices are to tolerate, cover, remove, or change our tattoos in some way to make them work for us as we grow and change.

The Next Generation Of Tattoos

Our fascination with and appreciation of tattoos has inspired a whole industry of temporary tattoos and tattoo-inspired accessories and apparel. If you love and appreciate tattoos, but aren’t ready for a permanent commitment, check out these cool options!

Faux Tattoos – They Look Like The Real Thing

Artist to the stars, Christien Tinsley, has created a line of reusable tattoos. Full torsos and "sleeves" are printed on transparent nylon mesh fabric so you can just slip them on and off at your pleasure. You get the look of full body art without the commitment. Get "tattooed up" for the evening or weekend and then you’re back to the Boy Scout look for the office during the day. Click this link to see how they work. Here are some more options

Tinsley has also created realistic temporary tattoos for special events or weekends. They are more sophisticated than the Cracker Jack Box version, but they work the same way. These individual tattoos come in different styles (tribal, vintage, military, etc.) and sizes and can last up to a week. Check them out at Here are application instructions

If you want a unique or one-of-a kind tattoo, most tattoo shops also apply temporary tattoos. Mehndi tattoos, Indian body art made with henna, are also an option. Henna designs last one to four weeks. All the art without the pain!

Tattoo Inspired Jewelry
Jewelry can give the impression of a tattoo either literally or figuratively. Look for pendants or bands (cuffs, collars, anklets, rings) with intricate metal work, laser-cut filigree, or colorful enamel. Here are some examples.

Tattoo Art Apparel and Accessories
If you love tattoo art, but are looking for a more sophisticated way to wear it, try some of the tattoo-inspired clothing and accessories. Here are some examples. For more, put "ed hardy ____ (shoes, handbags, scarves, bikins, etc.)" in your search engine and look out for the flood of options.

Don’t let anyone convince you that your love of tattoos or any trend is an image liability. It’s always possible to make what you love work for your image. Send us your burning image question. It might just inspire our next article!
© Sarah Shah, Imagine Unlimited 2008, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Seven Deadly Underwear Sins

The Seven Deadly Underwear Sins*

Wearing underwear that actually fits is the single most powerful thing you can do to improve your wardrobe and your body image. The correct underwear can literally create the body of your dreams! Here are the seven most common things women do that kill a great outfit and solutions to keep you looking your best.

1. Cups Running Over
Most of us are wearing a bra that is too large in the band and too small in the cups. When the cups are too small, breast tissue “voluptuously” spills over the top and out the sides of the cups. You will actually feel thinner when the breasts are fully contained in the cups and the band is snug enough to lift the girls up above your waist. Try a bra one size smaller in the band and one or two sizes bigger in the cups. You might need to take a trip deeper into the alphabet than you ever imagined, but it's worth it.

2. Wrinkles and Dents
We tend to wear our bras long after their intended lifetime is over. When a bra gets old, the cups get dented, stretched, skewed and wrinkled. A new bra will give you a new lease on life. Extend the life of your bra by hand-washing it. The easiest way is to wear it right into the shower. Wash it along with the rest of you, then lay it flat on the bathroom counter (or on top of the dryer) to air dry.

3. Unintended Visibility
Plunging necklines, tank tops, camisoles, and halter-tops can expose bra straps, bands, and cups. All bras aren’t for all outfits. New technology and materials have made it even easier to find a bra that stays concealed under the most revealing tops. Look for styles with plunging necklines (i.e. U-Plunge Bra), transparent straps (i.e. Invisible Options Demi Bra from Maidenform), straps that cross in the back or connect across the back of the neck, or bras without any straps or band at all (i.e Nu-Bra).

4. White Bras With White Tops
White bras practically glow under white tops and distract from your overall beauty. Nude underwear (i.e. the same color as your skin tone) is the best choice. It will be virtually invisible under white and light-colored clothing.

5. Bulges And Rolls
Underwear or clothing that is too tight causes more bulges at the site of the squeeze (aka muffin tops, back cleavage, visible panty lines). Clothing made from clingy fabrics make these bulges even more noticeable. Choose underwear that lays flat against your skin and smooths imperfections. Hanky Panky stretch lace thongs and boy shorts are the best invisible panty out there. If you want a full coverage brief, Soma Intimates High Leg Vanishing Edge Brief is a great choice.

6. Mis-Shapers
Some body shapers squeeze out more than they control. They can create more problems than they solve – boob-squeeze, thigh cilice, and muffin-tops. Look for a body smoother instead of a shaper. The Body Wrap high waist long leg panty makes your body smooth and firm through the torso, waist and hips.

7. Thongs & Skirts
If the skirt is loose, it can easily go where it doesn’t belong! A full coverage brief or boy-short is the best defense against booty-cleavage.

Who knew changing your underwear could change your life? To see "make unders" of real women, click here to watch the segment that appeared on Great Day Houston on May 30, 2008.

Sarah Shah is an Image Artist, Media Coach & Speaker. Contact her at (713) 686-8587, or

* This article was inspired by Good Housekeeping, British Edition, April 2007. The original sins were amended by Sarah Shah, May 2008.

© Sarah Shah, Imagine Unlimited LLC May 2008, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Image Dynamite

Panty Hose: Image Dynamite

Panty Hose. One pair can blow the whole look, the whole meeting, the whole negotiation, the whole opportunity. Can you believe something that costs so little can cost so much?

Have You Been Panty-Hosed?

Panty Hose. Two little words, so much passion. It’s the most emotionally charged image subject of our time. It even beats visible thongs.

There is no right or wrong. There’s just what is. If you want to survive, you better be able to navigate the minefields.

There Are Two Camps; The Believers And The Unwrapped

The Believers. They believe women can’t leave the house, go to work, attend an important event, or even wear shoes without pantyhose. To them, panty hose are a sign of respect, that you take yourself seriously, you mean business, and you’re “dressed.” If you aren’t wearing panty hose, then you are seen as a slacker, unkempt, crude, an amateur, and poor-mannered. In fact, the Believers are so distracted by the absence of panty hose that they are unable to hear what you are saying or recognize your accomplishments.

The Unwrapped. They believe there is never an excuse for pantyhose. Period. If you are wearing pantyhose, you are seen as uptight, antiquated, dull, unable to keep up physically and mentally, and unworthy of their time. The Unwrapped are so distracted by the presence of panty hose that they are unable to hear what you are saying or recognize your accomplishments.
Fashion Rules

The status of pantyhose is changing. We see signs of this in fashion magazines and in Corporate America. Fashion magazines have been telling us to stop wearing pantyhose for more than 5 years. In 2007, after 44 years, the conservative Mary Kay Corporation relaxed it’s dress code requirement to allow the sales force to go without panty hose. This event is equivalent to a 9.5 earthquake in the beauty and corporate worlds.

None of this means you necessarily have to stop wearing them. If you wear pantyhose here the rules –

  • Pantyhose should be the color of your skin. The sheerer and nuder, the better. Suntan panty hose are never an option.
  • Traditional pantyhose don’t work with open-toe shoes. Wear toe-less pantyhose anytime your toes show.
  • Control-top and shaping panty hose often squeeze more out the top than they control. Opt for “regular strength” to get the smoothing benefits without the abuse.
  • Opaque tights can be worn when it’s cold (temps below 65 degrees). They look best when they are solid, dark, and in a shade similar to your closed-toe shoes.
  • Very fine, sheer fishnet panty hose in a nude color are an updated alternative to traditional panty hose. No, not those fishnets. Check out the hosiery section of the department store and you’ll see nude, fine gauge, fishnet pantyhose with a grid-size of about 1/8-inch. Your legs will look smooth and pretty without the “old lady” look. Skip the seams so the Believers won’t think you’re “trashy.”
Tights and fishnets are a great compromise for both the believers and Unwrapped. To the Unwrapped, they imply that you are forward-thinking and open to new ideas. To the Believers they imply that you are professional and productive.

If you’re open to trying a bare leg, but you’re concerned about the look of your legs. Here are some pantyhose-free options:
  • Treat your legs as wells as your face. Exfoliating and using your facial skincare on your legs will go a long way towards maintaining or improving the look and feel of your legs.
  • Sunless-tanner and bronzing lotions smooth out skin-tone and tone-down blinding paleness. Be sure to exfoliate before using sunless-tanners so you get smooth and even application.
  • “Spray-on” pantyhose such as “air stockings” give lightweight coverage and can cover scars and spider veins.

Navigating The Minefield

In the world of Image, an effective image is comfortable for you and puts the person you are with at ease so they can get to know the “real you,” the person inside. A “bad’ image is one that distracts the person you are with so they can’t or don’t want to get to see the real you.
The key to surviving the pantyhose dilemma (especially in a business situation) is knowing who you are and who you are going to be with. If you are a Believer and meeting with an UnWrapped, it would be wise to rethink the pantyhose. If you are an Unwrapped meeting with a Believer, considering pantyhose may be key to your success.

You don’t have to like it, but now you know the truth. You can choose to act or not, it’s up to you. One last word of warning - beware, men are hide among the Believers and Unwrapped.
Sarah Shah is an Image Artist, Media Coach & Speaker. Contact her at (713) 686-8587,, and
© Sarah Shah, Imagine Unlimited 2008, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Spring Trends 2008

Navigating The Spring 2008 Fashion Trends

They’re here! The spring fashion magazines are on newsstands now. And they’re filled with spring trend reports and photographs from the hottest runway shows. But the pictures and styles tend to be extreme "Fashionista" versions, perfect for impact on the runway but not so practical for real life. To confuse the issue further, each magazine editor (and designer) has her own opinion about which trends are THE ones to wear this year.

Here’s some help sorting through all that information so you can figure out what’s wearable and works for you. Here are the practical colors and trends and advice for making them work.

The Color Palette

The Spring 2008 palette is straight out of the garden. The brights of spring bulbs – daffodil yellows, tulip reds and oranges, crocus purples, hyacinth blue, and crisp spring greens are tempered by the earthy shades of sweet cantaloupe, dogwood pink, fresh wheat, lichen green, and heather gray.
The earthy undertones of all the shades make wearing and matching them a snap. Pick any 2 or 3 colors, mix them with your favorite neutrals – and voilá, you’re instantly modern and chic. The look can be classic or eclectic depending on how you put them together.

The Trends

This season is all about mixing strength with femininity. The femininity of ruffles, florals, and sheer fabrics are tempered by updated menswear detailing and tailored silhouettes. The trends are bold, Bold, BOLD!!

The easiest way to incorporate this season’s bold trends - pick a couple key pieces (a dress, jacket, skirt, blouse, or shoe) and mix them with neutral clothes from your closet, simple accessories, and fresh makeup.

Soft & Tailored – Express your femininity with soft ruffles, sheer panels, eyelet details, flowy skirts, and gauzy layers. Look for styles with tailored silhouettes and delicate fabrics to keep the frills from overwhelming your body and adding bulk. A few accessories with a little sparkle or metallic shimmer are all you need to make the look oh so sophisticated. This trend works for the girly girl or for the tomboy who wants to soften the edges a little.

Off The Shoulder – After so many seasons of baring everything from mid-drifts to butt-cleavage, this season’s off the shoulder styles allow us to show a little skin and still leave a lot to the imagination. Asymmetrical dresses and tops with one sleeve or shoulder strap work for almost every age and body. They are perfect for weekends and evenings, and can work for day if you’re in a creative field.

Florals –This season, florals come in every possible color and print. They are soft or bright, bold or delicate, earthy or graphic. Choose the print that’s right for you. If you work in an office setting, add a floral blouse under a suit or with a tailored skirt. If you’re on the run with the kids, pair a floral skirt or shorts with a t-shirt and flats. Metallic, clear lucite or crystal accessories are the perfect compliment.

Brights – If you like classic tailored pieces, this is a great trend for you. Spring’s rich bright colors awaken even the simplest basic garments. Add a few bright pieces in a simple style to your classic wardrobe and you’ll be on trend without being trendy.

Skirts & Dresses – Skirts and dresses abound in every possible shape and length. Choose the ones that fit your style, body, dress-code or mood. Shorter dresses can also be worn over pants if your legs aren’t ready for that much sunlight!

Safari – The new safari is slimmer and more flattering than ever before. It’s comfortable and tailored - great for business casual or a casual party. Earthy accessories made of natural materials are perfect compliments (espadrilles, sandals, and metallic and leather jewelry).

Ethnic & Tribal – African, Middle Eastern, and Asian fabrics and details influence fashion this season. Too many of these elements worn together can turn you into a National Geographic cover. Keep the hippie look at bay by wearing one global piece at a time. Pair it with comfortable classic pieces in natural fabrics like linen, cotton, or silk. Finish your outfit with one dramatic piece of jewelry made from natural materials.

Let me know what you tried and what worked for you! If you want to see these trends in action, tune into Great Day Houston on April 1 and I’ll show you how "in person." If you missed it, here's a link to the video

Sarah Shah is an Image Artist, Media Coach, & Speaker. Contact her at (713) 686-8587 or

© Sarah Shah, Imagine Unlimited 2008, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

10 Things To Consider Before Going On TV

Ten Things You Need To Know Before Going On TV

TV appearances, video marketing, and web-casting can be a huge boost for your business and reputation as an expert. Navigating the technical terrain of these media can make or break you. Here are some important things to consider when dressing for the camera.

The human eye is very forgiving. Television and video cameras are not. The technical elements of lighting, digitizing, high-definition, and translating the 3-dimensions of real life into the 2-dimensions of a screen effect the way we will ultimately appear on a TV or computer.

  1. Black and white are very difficult for the camera to "see." Black disappears and white reflects too much light into the camera lens. Nothing screams "I'm an amateur" louder than wearing black or white clothing.
  2. Fine patterns can appear to "crawl" across the screen when they are digitized. Avoid small-scale, high-contrast geometric patterns like pin dots, hounds-tooth, herringbone, and narrow stripes.
  3. Details such as lace, tone-on-tone embroidery, and delicate pleats are too fine to be "seen" by the camera. Clothing with these details will appear to be a solid color and can make you appear wider than you really are.
  4. Clothing in a color and shade similar to the studio set tends to disappear and can make your head appear to float without a body. Choose clothing that contrasts and compliments the set and background colors.
  5. Clothing that gapes, pulls, bunches, or rolls is distracting for you and the audience. Choose an outfit that feels comfortable and looks smooth and polished in standing and seated positions.
  6. Shiny fabrics will reflect too much light into the camera and create "hot spots" that are too bright. Avoid lustrous and sparkly materials such as satin, sequins, rhinestones, and polished metallic accessories.
  7. Jewelry and clothing can interfere with technical equipment in the studio making it difficult to focus on you or decipher your speech. Choose outfits that accommodate wireless microphones, auto-focus mechanisms, and other miscellaneous equipment.
  8. Shiny skin reflects a lot of light. Use adequate powder to conceal the shine on exposed skin of the face, throat, and scalp. Choose a shade that matches the color your skin will appear to be in the studio.
  9. Many popular makeup formulas contain ingredients that are highly reflective and can make your skin appear many shades lighter on camera than in real life. Choose a foundation makeup that will stay true to its color in all environments.
  10. High-definition cameras tend to "flatten" facial features and emphasize skin imperfections. Accentuate facial contours to counteract the "flattening effect." Choose make up with a texture that is fine enough to diffuse imperfections and make your skin appear smooth.
Many of these considerations also apply to public speaking and online broadcasts. Give me a call if you get stuck and I'll be happy to walk you through it.

Sarah Shah is an Image Artist & Media Coach. Contact her at (713) 686-8587 or
© Sarah Shah, Imagine Unlimited 2008, All Rights Reserved