Civility in the Media

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In my forty years of broadcasting experience, I’ve fielded thousands of questions about my work; topics include covering news, anchoring programs, interviewing world leaders and celebrities, and yes, the glamor and excitement of it all. But I can’t remember anyone-whether on a street, in a classroom, or at a dinner party-ever questioning how news people behaved, or whether that behavior reflects our society.

In my earliest days behind a microphone, I worked at a small radio station while finishing high school. That’s where I began learning the very foundations of journalism-accuracy, truth and fairness. Those principles have always stayed with me, from serving as a news assistant for the legendary Walter Cronkite at CBS to the unique public responsibility of owning a group of radio stations.

From the moment that I walked into that newsroom at WKRO Radio in Boston, I knew I was in a different world-clearly, a strange place where all the stress of society found a home. As a kid from Nashua, New Hampshire, just out of college, I was about to get my first lesson in professional journalism. Newsrooms became my second home, and some of the characters in them were priceless mentors to me.

TV News & Decreasing Standards of Civility

The newsrooms where I have worked, for the most part, did not fit common definitions of civility. They’re generally loud, peppered with colorful language, and rarely well-organized; most are littered with used coffee cups, pizza boxes, and newspapers. It’s always been a wonder to me that somehow, this environment manages to lead to creativity and responsibility in communicating with a mass audience.

What a rich heritage we have in broadcasting, from Edward R. Murrow and Peter Jennings to Walter Cronkite, once voted the most trusted man in America. Remember Chet Huntley and David Brinkley? It was nice to hear them say, “goodnight, Chet,” and “goodnight, David.” They were our heroes, and we stand on their shoulders.

There were also rules in the early days of broadcasting – unwritten for the most part – that reflected the kind of society we were, and the standards we respected. To me, history and tradition are marvelous teachers. I wish young people heading into our business would spend as much time studying the events and personalities of the past as they do on technology and social media.

Why We Should Be Careful On Air

When we hit the air and go into millions of homes, it has to be with respect for those who watch and listen. We should be careful not to offend in any way and always aware of the trust placed in us. At times, however, politeness bumps up against the demands of reporting and the urgency to get the facts ahead of everyone else.

We all have seen instances where a reporter will stick a microphone in the face of a person in anguish who has just lost a friend or relative, to ask questions that violate their privacy and make viewers squirm. How can we balance civility and privacy with the aggressiveness of a reporter and the immediacy of television?

Sometimes, Attempts to be Civil Do Not Work

And yet, there are times when an attempt at civility doesn’t work at all on the air. A number of years ago, we began introducing reporters live at the scene of a story by saying, “good evening,” and they would reply the same. It was a nice touch, a display of politeness between the anchor and reporter. But you can imagine how awkward that is when the story is a fire, a murder, or any event that’s anything *but *good.

The same standards of civility don’t apply to every situation. While I believe positive stories should have a bigger presence on our screens and in our lives, it’s impossible to avoid tragic events altogether. When we do need to report on something that has disastrous repercussions for other living, breathing human beings, we must practice sensitivity. We must assume that a missing woman’s family is hearing our every word, or that our reports are being broadcast straight to the town affected by a natural disaster. When we cover a newsworthy event with many casualties, we should think less about the salacious details and more about the victims, who deserve our respect and whose loved ones need us to tell the truth, not to sensationalize or speculate or glorify.

Historic Events that Shifted the Tide

On the air, Edward R. Murrow often referred to members of his reporting staff as “Mister Collingwood” or “Mister Severeid.” This was civility with a touch of dignity. And there was more. For example, it was unthinkable for a journalist to interrupt a president while speaking. At that time it was considered rude, uncivil.

The media aside, other things were different too. Men tipped their hats to women; kids obeyed their parents and cops on the street. For our purposes, it would be foolish to attempt to pinpoint a time when the country changed. Historians might say we lurched from one traumatic event to another.

In television terms, it was the equivalent of a sharp, jolting cut from the Kennedy presidency to the years of civil rights demonstrations, from the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. to protests against the Vietnam War.

As these stories of anger and bloodshed were brought into America’s living rooms, lives were being turned upside down across the country. The civility we once had-however minute-was lost as a generation embraced a new culture on the streets and campuses, reflecting the turbulence of the era.

About that same time in broadcasting, the peacefulness of Sunday morning- usually reserved for religious broadcasts-slowly disappeared. Some may still remember “The Eternal Light”, “Lamp Unto My Feet”, and other award-winning broadcasts. Now, of course, we have non-stop political shouting programs and other talk shows on the networks and on cable. The programming has changed.

And through the years-through tough economic times, wars, national upheavals, and natural disasters-Americans have suffered, but we’ve always bounced back. So, as the pendulum of our lives went from one extreme to another, so did our civility.

The State of Media Today

It is easy to paint a negative picture of civil life right now. Gridlock in Washington, guns on the streets, terrorism, unemployment, and foreclosures are just a few of the challenges we face as a nation. And we’ve managed to keep some degree of civility, but we can do better.

In order to consider the overall picture of civility in today’s media, it’s inevitable that we’ll have to spend a few minutes on reality shows, as well as the unrelenting bombardment of instant information and entertainment from cable TV and the Internet.

From the Kardashians to Jersey Shore, when we turn on the TV, our children are mesmerized by lifestyles that encourage drinking, bad behavior, unhealthy habits and a lack of respect for family values. And that’s just early in the day. Evening programming, aimed at a more mature age group, brings us such “memorable” shows as the Real Housewives installments, Mob Wives, Dance Moms, Repo Men, and Bridezillas, all of which encourage conflict, drama, disrespect, and even crime. And then there are channels devoted to just about any kind of hobby or strange occupation.

Then there’s YouTube, an outlet for video from the sublime to the ridiculous. It’s always on, and there are always people watching from every part of the world. Unfortunately, I must add, too many of the videos on YouTube also find their way onto news programs, just because of how bizarre-and usually uncivil-they are.

Well, like anything, there’s good and bad. Cable and satellite technology do have a positive side. There are many quality channels that are educational and carry excellent, inspirational programs. We also have channels that provide community access and allow us to watch local government in action.

At home, we are taught at an early age how to behave in speech and in manners. But media and technology have changed our culture. The violence we see in movies has be
en carried out inside movie theaters too, hit music fills the radio waves with demeaning lyrics, tabloid magazines and TV devote more time to celebrities’ bizarre choices, and all of this contributes in some way to a breakdown in society.

And now, another factor has become part of the equation. A survey of 1,000 American adults, taken by the public relations firm Weber Shandwick, found the level of civility has suffered further because of our country’s ongoing financial troubles. 49% of those questioned consider American CEOs uncivil. Given the Madoff scandal and the low level of trust in Wall Street, they certainly have a point. At the same time, the survey showed 81% of Americans hold the news media responsible for improving the way we treat each other. And so, in these early years of the 21st century, we are faced with a serious challenge.

Civility & Truth

Now, a few words about the blogosphere and social media. As someone who has spent his entire life in journalism, I strongly defend freedom of speech. But I believe that civility and truth go hand in hand. So at this point, I want to raise a red flag. When it comes to news, the key question is: what’s your source? Who *told *you this information? If the reply is a common one-“I saw it online”-then beware. The Internet is not necessarily the ultimate source for truth.

And with the incredible speed and universal access of social media sites such as Twitter, news reporters have to be more careful than ever to sort out the truth, to get to the facts. More often these days, civility and truth disappear when the Internet is used as a playground for rumor mongers, hateful bloggers, and cyber-bullies. We’ve all witnessed the dangers attached to social media, mainly the horror of teenagers committing suicide because of cyber-bullying that followed them home on their smartphones and laptops.

A survey conducted by Consumer Reports last year showed that 1 million American children were harassed, threatened, or targeted by hurtful comments and rumors. Teenage girls were more likely than boys to suffer this unimaginable experience. Social media is relatively young and has a role to play in society, but it has shown that it must be watched carefully. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker put it this way: “The greatest threat to civility is the pandering to ignorance, the elevation of nonsense and the distribution of false information.”

Ernie and the Big Newz: the Book’s Message

We must find ways to turn down the volume of our national discourse and stop rewarding bad behavior, especially that of celebrities who fail as role models for our children. Those of us in the media-especially in the news business-have an obligation to society to clear the air. Adults want that. Even kids look for it.

I regularly speak at local schools, and while the feedback and reaction is terrific, it is also eye-opening. Many young children tell me that they feel the only way they can become part of a news broadcast is to do something wrong, something bad.

It is really no surprise, because it’s what they see when they watch the news. We mostly reward bad behavior. I believe that kind of thinking has to stop. I am deeply concerned about the unfortunate news events we cannot control and must report, which impacts everyone, especially children.

So in response to hundreds of comments from adults and young people about the shortage of positive news stories, I wrote an upbeat children’s book called Ernie and the Big Newz: the Adventures of a TV Reporter. The book is about making career choices and believing in yourself, and it’s filled with news stories that all have positive endings.

My respected fellow colleagues and I know it’s a tough job covering a very fast moving and traumatic world. Today, my message is clear: not all news is negative, and living by the golden rule is not old-fashioned.

When it comes to civility in society, and particularly in the media, I’m uneasy about the kind of world we will leave our children. Are we on the wrong path when it comes to civility in the media? From what I’ve heard and seen, the answer is yes.

Well, then, can we turn things around and improve the situation? Again, the answer is yes. So, what do we need to do?

Steps We Can Take to Make a Difference

In this media-driven society, we have to take the lead by producing more high-quality local programs. And we have to exercise good editorial judgment when it comes to news stories for our daily broadcasts.

How many times have you tuned into a broadcast that started immediately with crime? A child was shot, or a teenager’s bright future was canceled by drugs, or an elderly person was mugged. The old tabloid saying goes, “if it bleeds, it leads.” In my opinion, that’s the wrong approach. It exists only because there’s a long-held belief in our industry that it will increase ratings-but many of us believe it doesn’t work anymore.

After anchoring close to 15,000 newscasts, I’ve come to the conclusion – people want information that impacts *their *lives. Is my job in jeopardy? Are food prices going up? Are my children healthy? Are the schools safe? The audience is changing because their world is changing, and we must change with it. That’s something we can do.

Throughout my career, I’ve also played the role of a TV news anchor in a few Hollywood movies. So a few words are in order about the big studios and production companies. With all the glitz and glamor of the silver screen, we’re still getting more than our share of films that can leave moviegoers with the wrong ideas.

After that horrible mass-shooting in Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, studio giant Harvey Weinstein of Miramax called for a summit meeting of producers to discuss movie content. We thank him for that; I fully support this kind of discussion, and hopefully, action.

On a grassroots level, I urge educators throughout the country to recognize the importance of this issue. For example, schools could require students to take a course in media studies, to better understand our culture and choose wisely. They could include social media etiquette and media exploitation in their studies of ethics and manners.

I don’t want this to become a one-person crusade. So I’m respectfully asking my colleagues in TV news, at local stations everywhere, to join me. Together we can make this a national effort to improve the balance of positive stories on TV.

My personal efforts go one step further. I have recently created a new series of TV specials called “Positively Ernie.” We feature refreshing segments on health, education, philanthropy, technology, media, and a wide range of subjects that are making our community, our country, and even the world, a better place. The feedback has been great.

Finally, we must start at home by focusing on family life. Communication is at the center, and we need to talk with our children – and really listen to them in return. We also have to connect and strengthen ties with many reputable organizations to do whatever we can to help parents guide children in their use of the internet, social media, and TV. Kids are growing up in a much different culture than their parents did, and it’s our responsibility to bring parents up to date, so that they have some context in which to understand, relate, and make a difference.

But make no mistake. We have a long way to go. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. However, I’m confident that by working together, we can successfully spread the message that civility is the foundation of our lives-and of our media as well.

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Classic T-Shirts Re-Live the Past

Classic T-shirts, be it retro or contemporary has always been a message board for many youngsters to share their thoughts, aguish, style, or slogan to the world at large. From Brando to Dean, tie-dye to silkscreen, the T-shirt was never just a tee: it has always been a banner for self-expression, with or without actual text. Brought home from Europe by U.S. soldiers after World War I, the “T-shirt” entered Merriam-Webster’s dictionary in 1949 and gradually evolved from under- to outerwear, making it ideal for rolling out of bed, off the plane, and around the world. T-shirts are those, which have classic or retro messages, look, designs, feel, slogans etc. The most popular among the classic t-shirts are the retro designs of rock bands, punk designs etc.

Though the music sales are ever coming down, the sales of these funky t-shirts with designs used by rock bands like Mettalica, Pink Floyd sell like hot cakes. They have the feel of a retro period, which create nostalgia and yet very much liked by the people of twentieth century. The eighties and seventies were the hot bed for these punk movements apart from the famous ‘Hare Ram hare Krishna’ cult. The t-shirts with the messages of such movements are a bit hit even today and are sold by many T-shirt companies.

The big classic rock bands of the past- Rolling Stones t-shirts still sell steadily; new designs and old. Lynyrd Skynyrd classic t-shirt merchandise continues to feature the popular steer bones character on all of their clothing, the mega hit Beatles clothing, and merchandise is selling stronger than ever. This shows an apparent liking for all things classy especially T-shirts.

Older music fans also steadily continue to support their favorite classic rock artists of the past. While some people think classic shirts and music merchandise is somewhat juvenile, wearing a band t-shirt or band hooded top help people relive their youth. Music is something that stirs memories of a past time or place. Representing the bands that a person is into through classic rock clothing and band merchandise makes a statement about who a person is and what they represent. They find it to be cool and coordinated with their image of themselves.

Major portions of consumers are teenage classic rock music fans. Teenagers make a statement with the bands that they like and the classic t-shirts that they wear. High school has become a major fashion show. Showing up to school in a new The Who, The Doors, or Allman Brothers shirt makes a statement to the rest of their school. It almost tells everyone what kind of personality he or she has. It lets peers know whom they can be cool with.

The t-shirts will always be in fashion and they seem to be in spite of 20-30 years after the time of these rock bands, and there are many takers as you can see in a school, college, university or any other young people’s hangouts.

The Classic Fashion Personality

The classic dresser has a linear approach to fashion. She is one dimensional, conservative and her wardrobe is sturdy and reliable. When it comes to clothes, the classic dresser invests for the long haul. She goes for the timeless wardrobe and this includes her fashion accessories. She likes tailored clothes in classic durable fabrics such as tweed, wool blends, cashmere, silk and good quality cotton.

Neutral Palette and lots of navy
She is conservative when it comes to colours sticking to neutrals or monochromatic colours i.e. one colour in several shades. She loves navy. She dresses elegantly and so her fashion accessories reflect her fashion personality and are just as tailored and elegant as her clothes. As such she will spend money on handmade accessories like a handmade leather bag, handmade leather purse, handcrafted shoes and sandals etc.

Handcrafted jewelry
Her jewelry is as timeless as her clothes and would include pearl necklaces, antique jewelry and handcrafted jewelry. Chunky necklaces are not her style as they may be a bit too flamboyant for her style. Instead she will wear pearl necklaces, choker necklaces and handmade necklaces. Statement jewelry for her would be wearable art like art deco designs as opposed to bold coloured necklaces.

Sustainable fashion …smart investment choices
For the classicist, fashion trends come and fashion trends go. She is not perturbed as fashion trends do not dictate the way she dresses. She prefers to spend more on a single quality item of clothing than spend loads on throw away fashion accessories.. So in a sense she supports sustainable fashion by making smart investment choices in her wardrobe. She has peace of mind in knowing that she can rely on her neutral colours and dark suits for years to come.

She is comfortable in designs by Pringle of Scotland, one of the oldest luxury label in the world, and by American fashion designer Ralph Lauren whose fashion exudes grace, elegance and understatement; qualities traditionally associated with fashion icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Princess Diana and more recently Michelle Obama. So the classic dresser is in good company.

Unique Children’s Clothing: The Trends of Today

There is a difference between fashion trends among adults and among children. For adults, fashion trends are sometimes a short-lived craze over an item such as designer jeans or something of the same sort but for the kids, a fashion trend usually means finding unique children’s clothing that follows a more general trend. Now let us look at some of the recent trends for unique children’s clothing.

Personalized clothes and accessories

What best way to represent unique children’s clothing than personalized items such as clothes and accessories. In the past, monogrammed shirts and sweaters were a big hit but as of today, a bold initial is the trend. Fashion people call it the “letter sweater”, and it has become the ultimate in unique children’s clothing. Some clothing shops manufacture on an order basis while some stock them in variety of initials. For accessories on the other hand, you have winter hats, scarves, and mittens with their initials as well.

You can still go for monogram as well, while considering the item you want it on and its use. Monogramming produces a classic look so it may be more appropriate on a dress shirt or blouse rather than a backpack or some other accessories. You can also have iron-appliqués to have that unique children’s clothing. Just remember not to overdo the initials and monograms on every item your child has, moderation is still the key. Use one trendy and unique children’s clothing at a time.

Outer wear

Lasting trends for outer wear are the “lumberjack” look, which is a two-tone buffalo plaid, the “snowboarder” look which is of nylon jackets with a longer tail in back and the classic “pea coat”.

For warmer climates, it is best to go for shirt-jackets made out of cotton flannel and when winter comes, wool or polyester fleece jacket would do. All these have become part of the unique children’s clothing collection that you might want to have your little one to have in his or her closet. Word of advice: Look for unique children’s clothing in classic combinations of colors like red and black, navy and black, and orange and dark brown, because you can never go wrong in them.

The snowboarding-inspired jackets may cost a bit much but they have properties such as its breathability and water-repellency. These items you can find in outdoors outfitter to prepare for the winter season. The pea coats on the other hand have been a favorite for many years. They may not seem as though they are unique children’s clothing but they come in a dazzling variety of fabrics and colors so you can easily mix and match. You can use wool pea coats when you dress your kids up for fancier occasions as well.

Footwear

An outfit isn’t complete without the footwear. UGGs has been an all-time favorite because of its distinctive look that comes in a wide array of shades and styles that you can match with even the most unique children’s clothing. They are comfortable, durable and very easy to pull on and off that is why parents love them for the kids. They can survive being handed down a lot of times so you are sure to get your money’s worth. For gender specific footwear, you have “mary janes” for girls and “hiking boots” as a great addition to the boys’ wardrobe.

Baby Fashion – Learn About Contemporary And Classic Day Styles

When you look at baby clothes, there are many styles in their clothing as there are babies in the world. Those who wish to get modern clothing can find those clothes at Wal-mart. Sometimes finding the right outfit can be a bit harder than some may think.

For those looking for that unique outfit, it cannot be found at those local retail stores. Yet those who do want alternative forms of clothing can find them online, make it by hand which means cutting the cloth and sewing all the designs together. Choices behind what kind of design and colors are limitless.

Baby clothes are like the rest of the fashion world. Styles go in, styles go out, styles come back in and back out. This all depends on the population and in the case of parents what parents want or do not want. Oddly enough, parents want the retro clothing styles for their babies.

Retro can mean any kinds of things but refers a lot to pop culture. 1970s and 1980s styles are very popular but there is another movement that is out there, leaning toward the classic or old world clothing. Designs from close to 70 years ago are gaining momentum with parents.

Billowing rompers are made for boys and are selling in scores of specialty shops and websites worldwide. The clientèle is mostly focused on Americans. They also like buying two piece shorts and shirt sets as well as the classic style of coveralls. For girls, the classic style of flowing dresses is the counterpart to the boys’ billowing rompers.

Americans who want these styles must find them on the Internet because they cannot be found in most American stores. They can also be bought through mail orders.

A classic British website called “Baby Classics” offers the styles mentioned as well as much more to their clients. Many of their client is of American origin. The website owners added their prices in dollars along with pounds. The clothing can be and is rather expensive by baby clothing standards. Yet, they found a customer based on the outfits’ cuteness appearance by infants and toddlers wearing them.

These looks may not be for everyone and for every baby but there are unique for the style of today. They also can be very costly. Yet some parents are still jumping at the opportunity to get these designs. Some parents think it is neat dressing their kids up in the old fashion days clothing.

Yet for the cost, these probably will not be showing up in your local retail store anytime soon or on the playground at the park. Do not be surprised if you see the a little girl wearing designs at church or on a special occasion. You may see a baby wearing 1920 clothing.

3 Classic Pieces to Achieve Ageless Style

Young women can basically wear anything and look good in it. But to women beyond 40, it’s a different story. To them, it’s time to cover up and choose dull clothes to hide their true age and let the younger generation have fun with fashion. But that is so 1930s, back in the days when women are only good at home, in school, or in a hospital.

Today, women are becoming more and more empowered, especially when it comes to fashion. What is believed to be inappropriate to matured women in the past is now becoming a fashion statement to them. The old dressing guidelines are now outdated and replaced with the belief that everyone looks good in any style regardless of age-and figure. After all, true style (and beauty) is timeless and ageless.

Here are some timeless pieces that would look great when worn at any age:

Ageless tunic

This sundress is a perennial classic that continuously pops in and out of style. Ever since the Romans started wearing it decades ago, this outfit has been a staple in every woman’s wardrobe. When cover up is needed, the tunic is the best piece of clothing to turn to. It is easy to wear and will flatter almost all body types. Not only is the tunic pretty, it is also chic and practical.

Tailored skirt

This piece of clothing is a classic. It has been in almost all generations, proving to be a worthy investment in every woman’s closet. Styles vary-A-line, straight cut, or pleated, any style will look good when paired with the right top. Skirts come in various colors. Choose neutral colors for easy mix and match, printed designs for a cheerful feel, or pattered styles for great work to evening attire. Department stores, boutiques, and wholesale apparel stores are great places to shop for tailored skirts.

Classic jacket

Another ageless wardrobe must-have is a jacket. Whether going for a casual lunch or evening party, a stylish jacket will easily fit your style and figure. It can be worn with jeans, skirt, and wholesale dresses. A single breasted jacket is always an excellent choice. It softly hugs the body without overemphasizing your figure. For a timeless, classic look, choose jackets in neutral or pastel colors.

So, who says fashion is only for the younger generation? The trick is to learn what styles fit your age. Get it right and you’ll easily look young, beautiful, fashionable, and fun.

Contemporary Menswear and Folk Clothing

There is always a constant demand for stylish yet practical menswear that is worth the expense. The outlet for high quality contemporary menswear was established at the turn of the century in Brighton. The idea is to incorporate leading folk clothing from high-quality designers. With an aim to establish a unique sense of style and direction for men only the classical designs are selected and housed in the exclusive outlet.

Rather than focusing on the labels of designers inspiration lies behind choosing classic items that are timeless in every wardrobe. The exclusive retail store that houses leading designers in the heart of historic city of Brighton in England is home to some of the best contemporary menswear and folk clothing.

Leading Brands for Contemporary Menswear

As a style icon focusing on high-quality fabric and stitching the label 6876 was established by Kenneth Mackenzie in 1995. Since then the label has been short limited distribution and selects stockiest on the basis of their image and clientele.

The aim is to split the availability between masses with a different brand. Since this brand does not mass produced its outfits they are able to retain high quality for each piece that is shipped out of the manufacturing unit. Since its establishment the leading retail outlet for contemporary menswear and folk clothing has been a selected stockiest of the label 6876.

Inspiration from Punk and Military Wear

The detailing on the outfits is framed well with the technical fabrics and high quality classic tailored cuts. The clothing line is inspired by the initial stages of Punk from the late 70s as well as the Parisian student riots in the late 60s.

Alife NYC falls in the category of folk accessories and this brand for super cool kicks and sneakers have been developed in New York City. The understated design is resplendent with unique crafting and focus on comfort and detailing.

The Australian eyewear brand AM is known for the quality of its lenses. Instructed out of scratch resistant apx nylons which are military grade, each of the eyepieces are individually crafted by hand in Italy and then tested for 45,000 uses.

For high-quality outerwear men can select Berghaus’s range of vintage style classic outerwear. The stylish yet for and serious looking jackets can move from the highest mountain peak and then back into the high street of the city.

Comfort and style come together in retaining a contemporary look with this folk clothing item that helps you stay protected against the elements.

Military clothing has long been part of folk clothing and eventually made its way into contemporary menswear. High fashion takes inspiration from the historical pursuit of the military wear. The quintessential flight jacket is crafted of materials that were utilized for original military jackets. The style and specification is engineered to meet the exact configuration of the original flight jacket and they look like authentic replica of the military wear.

Fashion Theory – How To Calculate Your Clothing Budget

I suggested to Aisha, a recent client, that she invest in a durable leather handbag. Aisha argued that she simply couldn’t afford to spend upwards of $300. The remarkable thing about this was that once we analyzed her recent clothing purchases we realized that she was spending about $300 monthly on clothing! Aisha was actually suffering from sticker shock and had kind of become accustomed to buying quantity instead of quality. The end result was that her closet was essentially bursting at the seams with discount and poorly constructed clothing. In the end, Aisha was in effect spending $3,600 annually (nearly 10% of her $37,000 salary) on a wardrobe that lacked both function and style.

Establishing a budget is a very difficult question to answer from a general perspective because everyone’s financial and clothing situation is different. If you have a job that allows you to work in a casual environment where some of your everyday clothing can be incorporated into you daily work outfits, I would estimate the overall clothing allowance to be somewhere around 7%. For those that work in a more professional office environment where you are expected to dress the part and dressing the part may overall affect your promotion-ability factor; I would estimate around 10% of your salary. Keep in mind, this budget should include the costs of alterations and professional cleaning services. It is also important to note that if you are maintaining a household on this salary, i.e. you have children or a spouse you must allocate a portion of this amount to their clothing allowance as well.

Example 1: Aisha works in a business casual environment. Her salary is $37,000. Her clothing allowance is: $2,590.

Example 2: Elaine works in a professional business environment. Her salary is $85,000. Her clothing allowance is: $8,500.

1. Invest in Investment Pieces: Investment pieces are just that – “investment” pieces! So, don’t be afraid to spend a little more money on the classics which are required to create a functional wardrobe. Discount stores such as Marshalls, Century 21, and DSW could produce some very valuable finds, however it is important that you don’t become distracted and divert from the standard classics when shopping at these stores. For classics, I recommend shopping at a formula store. A formula store is typically a specialty retail store that stocks key basics. Some great formula stores are Gap, Ann Taylor LOFT and The Limited. The great thing about a formula store is that once you find the sizes and styles that suit you best, you can shop there season to season with little difficulty. These are great stores for purchasing a classic a-line skirt, trousers, jeans, button-ups, and tees, tanks and camis of variety.

2. Don’t Be a Label Whore: When it comes to beautiful dresses, handbags, shoes and scarves there are some designers that are simply ahead of the par, however to simply focus all of your efforts into collecting clothing that has a designer label tag regardless of how flattering or well-fitting the item is – is simply not a good option.

3. Do Apply The Cost-Per-Wear Concept: To get back to the example I gave previously of Aisha spending $300 on a leather handbag. The leather handbag is an investment piece which can be carried for months or possibly years to come. If Aisha carried this handbag for just six months her cost per wear would be $50. I discuss the Cost per Wear Concept in more detail in a recent post.

4. Don’t Charge: I know to some people this may seem unthinkable; however I think whenever you shop with credit cards you are always tempted to get caught up in the emotional buzz of said item and go well over your budget. If you’re carrying a lot of debt (particularly from past shopping activities) you really need to think long and hard about plunking 7-10% of your income towards clothing. A simple rule of thumb I often use is “Don’t buy it unless you can afford to buy two.” No, I’m not saying that you should buy two of everything; rather what I am suggesting is that every time you buy something, you take that same dollar amount and apply it towards paying off debt or towards savings. So in effect, that $300 handbag will now cost you $600; $300 to purchase and another $300 in savings or debt payment. The amount of your clothing budget should match or exceed the amount you are saving or applying towards debt repayment.

5. Make It Automatic: Now that you have established your clothing budget, the only sure fire way to stick to it is to make it automatic. Here are two great ideas for actually staying on budget.
Low Tech Option: If your budget allows for $200 to be spent a month on clothing. Place this amount of cash in an envelope. When shopping for clothing only spend what is in the envelope. Once this amount is gone you have exhausted your clothing budget for the month.
High Tech Option: Set up a separate checking account (I suggest an ING Orange account) and have a specific amount deposited into your account periodically; for example $50 a week. When shopping for clothing only use the debit card associated with this checking account. The nice thing about this option is that if you are not someone who shops on a weekly or monthly basis the money continues to grow towards your much anticipated shopping spree.

6. Maximize Your Budget: A pair of Jimmy Choo shoes is no longer $500. It’s $500 minus the $165 you will get for selling them on EBay the following year. EBay and consignment stores are a great source for stretching your clothing allowance. If you don’t have a lot of designer clothing in your closet you can still receive some financial benefit from making a tax-deductible donation to your local goodwill or charity.

Ladies Golf Clothes – Guide to Ladies Knitwear

Think of golf clothes and a golf sweater, probably with an Argyle pattern, is most likely the first thing to spring to mind. Knitwear is synonymous with golf and as such there are a wide number of options to choose from. A great sweater is a much smarter option than a sporty fleece, it will last for years and styles are unlikely to date. They are also a great fashion item so if your golf outfit needs an instant fix why not update your look with one of this seasons on-trend colours?

Style option 1: Lined sweaters Lined sweaters fall into the practical category – generally they are designed to be worn as outerwear as they have a woven lining to help keep the wind out. If you are looking for a more elegant alternative to a fleece they are a good option as will keep you warm and snug whilst still looking smart. Often these styles have a turtle neck with a zip opening and some will have a Teflon coating to protect against drizzle too.

Style tip: Brighten up a practical lined sweater with a contrast coloured or patterned scarf. Zip neck styles work perfectly with scarves as you tuck them inside for a warm and on trend look.

Style option 2: The classic sweater You can’t beat a great mid weight sweater for versatility. This classic golfing item comes in patterned or plain versions and can be worn season after season. V-necks are more flattering if you have a larger bust and can be teamed with a polo shirt for a smarter look. A crew neck is more practical and warm and it’s a good idea to have a couple of each in your golfing wardrobe to suit all conditions and occasions. Also look out for sleeveless sweaters which are ideal for the summer months.

Patterns: The traditional Argyle pattern – made of diamonds in a diagonal checkerboard arrangement – is a golfing classic. Go for a smaller scale pattern if you are looking for a more elegant style or a bolder large scale if you like to make a statement. If the Argyle look is too bold for you then why not try a cable knit? This is a style that has a patterned stitch and adds texture to the surface of the sweater. Often these styles are one colour and are an easy way to add a subtle detail to your outfit. Stripes have a great sporty appeal. Again, horizontal stripes can make you look broader, so go for a softer tonal colourway if you want to avoid this. If you have small shoulders and want to add emphasis here then stripes are the perfect pattern for you. Spots and dots are a great choice for all body shapes and have a fun, feminine appeal, they do tend to be more trend lead though so you won’t find them every season. Style tip: Patterns that run in a vertical direction will elongate your figure, while those running horizontal or across the chest area can broaden it – so be careful that your selection will flatter your shape.

Style option 3: Cardigans Although cardigans are less popular than sweaters, they are still a good choice. Often golfing cardigans are zip through and have a sportier look rather than using buttons. They make a great choice in the spring and summer as you can easily layer up or down depending on the changeable weather.

Fabrics:

If you are looking for a season round option go for a wool, lambswool or wool mix style. If you are looking for luxury or a treat then cashmere or a cashmere blend can’t be beaten and can be worn all year round (perfect for chillier summer evenings). Wool has natural stretch and breathability and many performance wool items, often made from Merino wool, will move with your body for the ultimate comfort. They also help to keep you warm when it’s cold, and cool when it’s warm thanks to their thermo regulatory properties. For the spring and summer you may prefer a lighter cotton or merino wool fabrication. Many of these styles are now machine washable which is a great practical advancement.

Style tip: If you have a pear shaped figure and want to draw attention away from your hips, then team dark bottoms with an eye-catching or contrast colour sweater.

Technology Like with many sports garments seamless technology has also been incorporated into knitwear. This means that an item is produced in one entire piece rather than consisting of separate parts and then stitched together. The advantage of seamless knits is that of superior comfort. By eliminating often bulky seams at the shoulders and sides you get a much better fit and the natural elasticity of the knitwear is not interfered with.

Still can’t decide? With so much choice around it is often difficult to choose – especially if you are looking for a gift. If you are unsure then opt for a good quality plain style. If you have paler colouring then softer colours tend to be more flattering – darker skin tones can take bolder, brighter shades. This season’s top shades Golf is a sport known for its vibrant colours and bold looks, so don’t feel like you need to be a shrinking violet when making your choices. A classic palette of navy and black can easily be updated with vibrant shades to suit the season. This winter look for deep reds, strong blues, chocolate browns and light greys alongside the golf classics of pale blue and power pink.