Monday, December 20, 2010

A Gift for Everyone That Will Last A Lifetime



Michele Benza, Image Consulting & Posture

Many have not completed their Holiday shopping yet!

Good news, I am here to help.

Order your Image Consulting gift certificate today for a guaranteed Christmas delivery.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Michele Benza: An Unusual Gift that Will Match Your Holiday Budge...

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An Unusual Gift that Will Match Your Holiday Budget


Michele Benza, Image Consulting & Posture

Looking for an Unusual Holiday Gift?

A Gift that Will Match Your Holiday Budget.

       Don’t Panic. Don’t Think. Do.      


Michele Benza’s Gift Certificates.
Image Consulting
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Personal Shopping

Guys like gifts too!


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Camel,The Color of the Season - Plus Camel Gift Ideas

Stretchy slim/legging type pants 
+ turtleneck
+ camel coat
+ pair of boots or booties
= Your look for this winter.

Change your closet quickly…

Unless you live in a cloistered monastery, you’re likely seeing already the color camel -- the strongest color trend of this season.  

More than a color, the camel is a nuance: but beware! Too light, camel becomes beige; too dark, camel becomes tobacco. It is fair to say that camel is in-between.

With this sweet seventies revival, the color camel is turning into a neo-bourgeois trend. An attitude that dares you to be as glamorous as a Chloe ad.

No need to ‘camel’ from head to toe. Only one garment or accessory suffices.

And should camel not be your best color (near the face), not to worry -- any camel accessory will be a ‘trendy’ addition to your holiday wish list.

Now make your pick... will it be a;

Coat - Against blizzards and frosts opt for a coat that will keep you warm while interpreting the trend perfectly.

Boots – Ankle high or way high, I love them with a passion. With skinny jeans, pants or skirts and tights, a pair of boots is your best investment to keep you protected for the intempéries (bad weather).
Jacket – Scream freedom by adopting a masculine-feminine camel cloak over pants.

Skirt - Wear it with boots or heels, the important thing is the feminine style.

Shirt - What's better than red to match the camel trend?

Belt – If your figure is close to an hourglass, let yourself be seduced by a belt. Make note, this year narrow belts are leading the trend.

Gloves - Against chills, nothing beats a pair of gloves. Camel gloves will make a delicious complement to your coats, cashmere and wool jacket.

Dress - Perfect for showing off to work, a little dress in camel makes us in the trend. Perfect for strolling through this winter (and maybe even the one after). A dress is an outfit that will push you into the firmament of the queens of fashion.

Cardigan -This is the part you need. To change from week to weekend over trousers, skirts or dresses. They are easy to find at all prices, don’t be afraid to take it with you wherever you go.

Bag - Get inspired. Opt for a bag that is functional in camel leather for you to compose a trendy look.

Pumps - Look great in camel leather pumps.
As the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season is just around the corner, I know that finding the time to fulfill all your many gift giving needs can be a challenge.  It would be my pleasure to offer you a private holiday shopping appointment including:

o   Image Consulting
o   Personal Wardrobe Consultation
o   Gift-Giving Assistance and Corporate Gift Services
o   Gift-wrapping

Whether you are searching for the perfect holiday outfit, buying for the person who has everything, or if you are simply short on time; my exclusive shopping experience is the perfect choice.  

Please contact me to schedule an appointment.  If your schedule is already full, I am more than happy to accommodate your needs via phone and/or email. 

A bientôt,

Your Image Coach

Wednesday, October 13, 2010



                                                                       Damman Freres                                                                            
This year’s Fall shopping trip in Paris took place the last week of September. I rented an apartment in le quartier du Marais, and it was wonderful to not feel like a tourist. I work in Paris with clients the same way as from San Francisco.  A new client met me at my apartment where we did the image assessment and shopping. With the second client (a long time customer), we did mostly shopping.

I concentrated shopping in ‘neighborhood’ boutiques this time, instead of the traditional department and designer stores. It was simply wonderful, and both my clients enjoyed discovering the French neighborhoods.

The shopping trip in Paris was so wonderful and such a success that I am already preparing the spring Paris shopping trip.

Monday September 27, 2010
Our first excursion began on Monday afternoon. We met at my apartment on Boulevard Beaumarchais and after a couple of hours of image assessment, we walked one block to discover the beautiful Place des Vosges and the renowned Rue des Francs Bourgeois. It is one of the most impressive streets in le quartier du Marais. The street is filled with stores that are overflowing with everything a woman desires; clothes, jewelry, accessories, skin care and I could go on.... and to make the experience even more enjoyable, everywhere the store’s staff was courteous and welcoming. We were enchanted. We found lovely clothes and accessories for my client at:
Babylone at #11, Et vous and Pablo at #6, Arizda Bross at #7, Guerlain at #10, BGN at #21.

Tuesday September 28, 2010
The highlight on the Place des Vosges for me is Dammann Freres the paradise for tea lovers. I love that store so much that I visited it five times on this trip. Damman Freres’ store on Place des Vosges is unique. This is the only company store in the world and well worth a visit. Faithful to the tradition of the great origins of tea, Dammann Freres’ experts consistently offer the best tea blends and subtle flavors, plus exquisite packaging and gift boxes. 

Wednesday September 29, 2010
Only about one year old,  Merci was a lovely discovery on this trip. This new store is located on Boulevard Beaumarchais a few blocks from Place des Vosges.  The store has an interesting simple concept. How to give back? How to offer solidarity? How to generate funds without having to ask for donations or charity? It is the idea that one can give his expertise, his time, talent, and energy while creating success. That's why some designers are producing unique pieces for Merci and agreeing to give up their margins.The founders of Merci are totally volunteer, and donate the profits of the business to endowments such as helping poor children, especially in Madagascar. Merci, meaning “Thank You” in French, sells only natural/organic products…clothing, accessories, fabrics, furniture, and household items.

My client had a great time here as she enjoys supporting good causes. Three great cafes at this locations as well.

On that same day, another destination of ours was Le Palais Royal with all its beautiful boutiques. Paris Fashion Week was only a few days away and a large part of Le Palais Royal was under wraps as preparations for the fashion week was underway. 

 Les Salons de Serge Lutens are not only located in one of the most gorgeous places in Paris, but the boutique itself is without doubt, one of the most pleasant relaxing space around the square. What a pretty store it is! I did got in trouble however - “Madame, pas de photos s’il vous plait!” (No photography please!)
                                           Les Salons Serge Lutens, Le Palais Royal

The store is a real pleasure for the eyes, and for the nose. We admired Serge Lutens makeup especially the new nail laquer #2 ‘Sang Bleu.’

We had fun walking around the courtyard of le Palais Royal. Children were at play in the park and I was thinking: Do these children realize that they are playing in one of the most prestigious and beautiful places in the world? 

A few stores retain our attention at Le Palais Royal.

I once again visited la Maison Fabre. Only in Paris, one can find a ‘ganterie’ such as this. This is where you will find the most beautiful gloves in amazing leathers and colors.

The Little Black Dress store carries only vintage black dresses still at affordable prices. Didier Ludot is also an excellent place to find vintage clothes and accessories such as Hermes bags but I have to say...this is one place where we did not feel welcome. It felt like we were intruders taking Didier away from his computer. No ‘Bonjour’, no ‘Puis-je vous aider? No Aurevoir!

I took my client to Chez Colette as she was dying to see the store. She was disappointed and like her I don't understand the big buzz about Chez Colette. But if you are interested or amused by the lasted 'bling bling' and a fun restaurant in the basement that is neither good or bad, Chez Colette may be your thing.

That evening we had dinner at Le Bar a Huitres. If you like crustaceans, this is a place you do not want to miss. They have four locations in Paris.

Thursday September 30, 2010
Ile-Saint-Louis was our next expedition and I took my client of the day to ISL-Antiquites. This store is ‘vintage’ everything and they often have a nice selection of leather goods. This time I saw a Hermes Kelly for 1100 Euros (about $1500 USD). A few steps away is Eve Baz-Art a funky store where one can spend a lot of time looking around and buying fun gifts.

From there down we go in the metro and made a lovely stop at Saint Germain des Pres, one of my favorite places. We had to stop at Brasserie Lipp  (a must) for lunch, then we shop until we dropped for dinner at Le Relais de L’Entrecote. The perfect spot for a dinner where there is only one item on the menu. The restaurant serves only entrecote (red meat) with the house’s secret sauce. 

Friday October 1, 2010

How could I leave Paris without visiting my old neighborhood Passy? 

Rue de Passy in the XVI arrondissement is crowded with stores for the budget conscientious buyers. 

Frank & Fils - is s small local department store where you will find big names like Chloe, Fendi etc, Although the outside of the store is not inviting, once you walk in you notice the well-selected merchandise, which far overcomes the shop’s cold exterior.

As my trip reached its end, I walked to the Place des Vosges for a last time, bought a fantastic ring at Laurent Guillot and visited Guerlain as I had to finish en beaute with a delightful facial.

Have I mentioned that the shopping trip in Paris was a big success that I am already organizing the spring Paris shopping trip? It will take place the first week of May 2011. Make a note of it. Feel free to contact me if you wish to find out more about shopping in Paris accompanied by a francophone image consultant/stylist.

A la prochaine,


Friday, October 1, 2010

Paris-Last Day

A lovely visit to my 'old' neighborhood that is Passy. Rue de Passy located in the XVI arrondissement is crowded with stores for the budget conscientious buyers.

Discovery of the day:

Frank et Fils-located on 91 rue Paul Dumer is part of Le Bon Marche group. Here you will find big names in a small department store. Be aware, the store exterior is uninviting but once you are inside the store you will notice well selected merchandise.

Laurent Guillot-jewelry designer located in Le Marais 48, rue de Terenne in the 3rd arrondissement. Laurent's creations are unique and at petits prix.

Flying back to New York tomorrow morming :(

Aurevoir, a la prochaine.


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Paris-Day Four

Paris Day Four - Discoveries:

Ile Saint Louis-vintage leather goods at Antiques de l'Ile Saint Louis www.isl-antiquites.com
Where I discovered quite a large selection of designer handbags Hermes, Chanel and the likes.

A block further a 'fun' store called Eve Baz'Art.

Restaurant of the day: Le Relais de l'Entrecote, rue Saint Benoit around the corner from Les Deux Magots.

Another great day, more tomorrow.

A demain,


Paris-day three

Discoveries of the day:

Merci-great place to shop, great place to shop. I love the concept too.
111 Boulevard Beaumarchsis in the 3rd arrondissement.

Le Bar a huitres-if you like fish and crustaces, this place should not be missed. Four locations in Paris. Www.lebarahuitres.fr

I also had fun to visit the shops in the Palais Royal, Serge Lutens, La Petite Robe Noire and Didier Ludot.

Grand disappointment: Colette Rue Saint Honore.

More tonight, a ce soir.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Paris - Day Two

Bonjour a tous,

After an adventurous morning in an 'exotic' neighorhood (quartier St Dennis) where I had to have my suitcase repaired, I continued my discovery of Le Marais. So many stores, art galeries, cafes and restaurants. One of the best discovery today is Marchand de thes Dammann. A Beautiful store and extraordinary teas at 15 place des Vosges.

Next I fell in love with...... a beautiful green leather that I acquired. Can't stop looking at it, it is that gorgious.

Tomorrow Le Louvre and l'ile Saint Louis.

Stay tuned....

A demain,


Monday, September 27, 2010

Paris - Discoveries In Le Marais

Paris Day One - rue des Francs Bourgeois, Le Marais quartier near place des Vosges.

Babylone at #11
Et vous and Pablo at #6
Arizda Bross at #7
BGN at #21 is my favorite with elegant yet contemporary pret-a-porter.
Guerlain at #10 where a facial is a must!

More tomorrow.....

A demain


Sunday, September 26, 2010

On My Way to Paris

On my way to Paris with a stop over in New York for a couple of days. It was 90 degrees in New York last Friday, it was hot and humid. My very first impression was:  'how sad everyone is wearing dark colors in such warm weather'. It seems that 'do not wear white' after Labor Day is still a fact of life here and the white color has been already replaced by black.

Now at JFK and my flight is delayed...by 2.5 hours!!


Friday, September 10, 2010

Michele Benza: Fall Winter 2010/2011 - Trends and Little Gems

Michele Benza: Fall Winter 2010/2011 - Trends and Little Gems

Fall Winter 2010/2011 - Trends and Little Gems

Fall Winter 2010/2011 – Trends and Little Gems
Michele Benza

The “Mad Men” styles have invaded Banana Republic’s windows here at its flagship store in San Francisco -- and with good reasons! The nostalgia of sixties and seventies glamour! This was the era when Brigitte Bardot was the star of the moment, and the Beatles arrived as part of the “British Invasion!”

This season, feminine women are at the top of the podium. Hurrah!

Influenced by the voluptuous actresses in the series "Mad Men," some designers have borrowed the ladylike looks, bringing back feminine and sexy fashions for fall.
·      Miuccia Prada changed her style for this fall collection and showed pieces highlighting bosoms and hips. (Gasp! Models with breasts!)
·      Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton offers a tribute to Brigitte Bardot, flattering the bodice and accentuating the twirl of the skirts.
·      At Chloe, wide-leg pants and turtleneck sweaters accentuate the simplicity of beautiful sportswear and the female figure. Add to that a classic color like camel, and you get the flagship fashion for the season.
·      Meanwhile, Gucci borrows from 70's savvy elegance. Perfectly cut pants, thin belt and shirt, the best Gucci uniform of the emancipated woman. The return of classic chic will cross the years without a wrinkle!

As we are looking for a timeless ‘chic’ look, we, the women of winter 2010/2011, will be seduced by the essentials and classics of style. Indeed, after years of extravagance, fantasy and "fast fashion," the trend reverses itself, favoring the classics. The result: Real women without disguise.

Given the turmoil of the economy, the collections vary depending on the sensitivity of the designer. Thus, for winter 2010/2011, while some choose to recycle the executive woman’s pant suits adding feminine details to the menswear’s cut, others adorn fur (real or faux) as the trim of a statement piece.

There is nothing like a well-cut suit to elevate one’s confidence and ambitions. The wardrobe of the working female executive exhales a fascinating sexiness.

What about colors?
Long shunned for their lack of glamour, camel and its derivatives (green, khaki, tan, etc.) are now coming to the forefront. Classic of the classics, these colors prove in fact, to be the winner of this autumn/winter 2010-2011.

The softer side
On the soft side, needlework. Knitted and embroidered garments, both retro and chic are making a comeback on the catwalks.

The question on many minds this autumn is how to wear the trendy sweater dress without seeming to have gained in body mass or age.

A word of caution on sweater dresses. Most of us would do best to stay away from them as the sweater dress is perhaps the most universally unflattering garment in fashion today.  Only an especially slender person can wear a sweater dress combined with lightweight tights, a thin leather belt and stilettos for a marvelous chic look.

To create a glamorous effect use accessories in an intuitive and impulsive manner, there is no law here. Affirm yourself and break the fashion mold.
A bientot,


Work with Michele
You will be thrilled with the results
Face-to-face or Remotely for far-away clients
Michele@mbenza.com  415-956-3025

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Michele's 10 Delightful Discoveries

1. A three-in-one bra that rescues your breasts!
Restore the firm, round breasts of your twenties
with the help of DIM’s fabulous new bra, “Osmose.” It reshapes, recenters and holds your breasts up the way they looked when you were young!


2. Nude Sunglasses
With nudes and neutrals playing a huge role in this season's color palette, a great way to follow the trend is through your sunglasses. While oversized round, black sunglasses are a great addition to your eyewear collection, I must say I think adding a pair of nude frames would add a touch of élan to your look!

3. Toe Covers
My mother-in-law introduced toe covers to me several years ago. What a gift that was! They’ve saved me, or rather my toes, from painful blisters. Toe covers also keep the inside of your shoes clean and dry. And best of all, they are also made for open-toe shoes.

4. Panty by Post – How fun!
Can you imagine being surprised each month by a delightfully feminine and sexy package delivered to your mailbox? Panty by Post, a Canadian website, offers a monthly subscription so good for your morale that it should be reimbursed by your health insurance! Sign up, select your size, and voila, you can begin stalking your mailbox in anticipation.
You already know the euphoric effect of buying beautiful lingerie, so you can just imagine the thrill of unpacking your little package each month and discovering the soft, sexy shapes and textures wrapped inside. (You can choose to be surprised or select the styles and colors you want.)

What a fun way to surprise your man too!

5. Beautiful ‘green’ nails
It’s all about green! No, I'm not recommending you paint your nails green—but rather that you buy a nail polish that lasts and that is ecologically friendly to your nails and the environment. Zoya Nail Polish has been acclaimed as the longest-wearing natural nail polish by an independent panel in Women’s Health Magazine. Zoya offers over 300 colors as well as a base, topcoat and a mild acetone formula nail polish remover.

6. A Delicious Bakery in Paris!
Bread and Roses, a restaurant-bakery, a few steps away form rue Saint-Honoré in the sixth arrondissement, is one of the finest epicurean sites in Paris. The décor is a bit cold but quickly forgotten because of the warm reception received by the elegantly dressed staff. The organic breads are to die for, as is everything else on the menu. Yummy! A place to visit the next time you are in Paris that will satisfy all the senses.
Bread & Roses
7 rue de Fleurus
75006 Paris

7. Top Models’ Secrets
When we see those gorgeous gals with their flawless faces, it is easy to imagine that they follow a strict regimen. Not a chance! The supermodels are just like us! They don’t only drink tisanes. They like to go out and party and make the most of Parisian nightlife. The difference between them and us? They’re experts at dealing with the morning after!
• Swollen eyes: This is when you need chamomile tea. Infuse two chamomile bags for three minutes, place one bag on each eye for 10 minutes. Then drink the remaining infusion et voilà!
• Dull Hair: Treat “poison” with “poison.” After shampooing and rinsing, give a final rinse with a little vodka. Yes, really! Vodka closes the scales of the hair and adds shine. But if that doesn’t do it for you, rinse with three tablespoons of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, diluted in a bowl of water.
• Muddy complexion: Apply honey on the face, rinse off after 10 minutes. Instant radiance guaranteed.

8. iPhone owners
I’m always frustrated when I have to remove my gloves to use my iPhone. Remedy? Fingerless gloves. They come in many colors and will add a little je ne sais quoi to your outfit.

9. Don’t let them get under your skin
How many times has unwanted hair spoiled an impromptu swim on a hot summer’s day? And how many countless minutes have we spent tracking pesky hairs with tweezers or played chemists in our bathrooms with wax and hair removal creams? Enough already! Thanks to Lumea Philips, a French company that has launched a handheld device that uses intense pulse light technology (IPL) to inhibit hair growth, those times are all over. By repeating the operation every two weeks, regrowth is eventually safely prevented
(Unfortunately, it is not recommended for those of us with red, gray, or naturally light blond hair or who have very dark skin.)

10. Touche Éclat, the best concealer!
Another one of my favorites, Touche Éclat, is the best ambassador for Yves Saint Laurent’s make-up line. This product has revolutionized the ritual of make-up on the go¬–whether it be on film sets, the backstage of fashion shows, or out on the town at night. Touche Éclat can be applied any time of the day or night thanks to the texture of the product. It is as an essential handbag item as your cell phone, lipstick and keys. It truly is the star of make-up stars!

A bientôt,


Work with Michele
You can work with Michele on-line or face-to-face.
Call or email for an appointment.
You’ll be thrilled with the results.
415.956.3025 mailto:michele@mbenza.com

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cherchez La Femme!

Bonjour à toutes!

Listen up everyone! We are all beautiful! I ask you to always remember this even if you take nothing else on board from this column.

We all have some great features as well as having a few not-so-great features. And as you’ve heard from me before, there are as many ways to accent the areas you love and as there are to mask the ones you are not so fond of.

If you’re a model, putting on two pounds is a definite no-no.  In real life, however, our weight fluctuates within a couple of pounds and that is just a reality. That said, there is a plateau that we should strive to never cross. It’s your choice and thus your responsibility to set the bar to a realistic level that is easy to attain and maintain.

Of course we must eat healthily and exercise daily but we can also let our wardrobe do a little of the hard work for us. We already know that colors and fit can accentuate our best features and/or help conceal our flaws. Since dark colors are slimming, why not use navy, black, brown and charcoal to camouflage our not-so-great features?

Fortunately, slimming undergarments today are not what they used to be. Slimmers and shapers now are comfortable to wear and will mask our pesky bumps and bulges. There are even tops and dresses lined with hidden power-mesh control panels that instantly smooth and sculpt the body.

Avoid shiny and highly textured fabrics, as they make one look bulky. Also avoid tight clothes. As I have preached many times before, clothes must fit properly. Unfortunately women panic about the number on their garments. Would you buy shoes a size smaller just to suit your vanity? Of course not! If you are a bit round, the good news is that plus-size clothing has become chic and trendy as the average American woman now wears a size 14.  The bad news is that haute couture houses like Chanel don’t design clothes over size 12. But if you can afford the price tag of such high-flying designers, then why not consider custom-made pieces that would be unique, flattering and suit your body perfectly?
If you are a little wide in the thighs, don’t worry. Just balance your silhouette by accentuating your shoulders. Go for a dress that is fitted through the waist while skimming over your less loved lower half. If your shoulders are narrower than your hips opt for a boat-neck top as this will balance out the shoulders and the hips.  A small shoulder pad would not hurt either.

If you are among the women who have broad shoulders, I consider you very fortunate, as I believe they are extremely attractive. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise! Focus on those beautiful shoulders by wearing asymmetrical necklines. However, you must stay away from shoulder pads or puffy sleeves. And if you also have great firm upper arms, halter-tops should be at the top of your list for summer, as well as V-necks or wrap-style dresses.
If you have a smaller bust, chances are that most trends look great on you already. But there are those of us who could use a little extra volume in that area. There are many ways to enhance un petit buste by cheating just a little. Visit a lingerie specialist in any department store or better yet, support your local lingerie retailer. Embellishments, pleats or ruffles in the bust area are your best friends. Accentuate your waist by wearing a belt. This will not only emphasize a small waist but also highlight the added details at the top of the garment. And if you are long-waisted, wear wide belts.

Even with a daily regimen of biceps and triceps toning, beautiful youthful upper arms are rare once we get older. The good thing is that we can at least hide those floppy upper arms–one of my clients calls them “Kimono Arms” which I find very funny and descriptive–unlike our hands or face that we can’t exactly cover up. I can hear you say: “But Michele, look at those gorgeous sleeveless dresses all around us.” You’re right. But my answer to this is, “Wear them with a lovely light cardigan or a cropped jacket. And when in the privacy of your own space flaunt the sleeveless dress, but remember to grab that cardigan when in company.” Don’t think you can’t be sexy if you cover your upper arms. Look for ballet tops with three-quarter sleeves and a low décolleté in the back.
A la prochaine!


*Work with Michèle*

You can work with Michèle on-line or face-to-face. 

Call or email for an appointment. 

You’ll be thrilled with the results.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring 2010! BLUE. NUDE. TRIBAL. BANGLES and More!

I confess. I have a serious crush on spring.  A minute past midnight December 21, when the long dark nights begin to shrink, I start getting tingles. And when the first daffodils begin to bloom and I can fill all the vases I can put my hands on with their cheerful sunny color, spring fever hits in full force.

And of course, best of all, is shedding the heavy layers of winter clothing. When I slip into that first spring dress and sling on a pair of heeled sandals, I immediately feel transformed within and without and my spirits soar.  As I said, I have a very serious crush on spring!

I’m happy to report that April is shaping up in the stores with many fresh-looking spring and summer collections and they’re all about color and femininity.

Almost weightless, transparent fabrics are being worn in layers with visible lingerie underneath. It is a misconception to believe that layers are only applicable during the fall and winter months. On the contrary, fashion has given us many ways to overlay our apparel at any time of the year. How often do we complain of freezing from the air conditioning blowing on our shoulders inside only to be hit by a blast of warm air and bright sunshine when we go outside? Isn’t this then the perfect time to layer ourselves with lightweight scarves, vests and cropped jackets?
Just as designers turned their spring/summer shows into playful fairytales we should do the same with our wardrobes.  Spring is a time to be lighthearted and have fun! I urge you to play with the many hues of blue, tribal fabrics, bangles and bracelets and heeled sandals.
Blue, inspired by sky and water is this season's most important color. Just a single item will suffice to update previous seasons’ outfits.

Nude and Pale Pastels are all on this spring’s color chart as well. Barely-there tones were very present on the red carpets and runways. Be warned though--those light shades are not for everyone as they may not enhance your skin tone. If that is the case for you, avoid the washed-out look by choosing to wear nude accessories instead. Nude shoes in particular are fantastic, as they help elongate the leg beautifully.

Urban Safari - In Paris, one color that invaded the ‘festival’ collections was khaki. This new trend was presented more like the new ‘black’ as seen in this Celine dress that is so urban and chic at the same time. 

Bangles - for centuries, in many cultures, they have been worn to define the wearer’s social status. In our society, bangles are a fun fashion accessory only. However, they can add stylish pizzazz to your look. Wrap your wrist with a dazzling cuff, or go for the eclectic and arm your forearms with colorful bangles and bracelets. Mix them all together, from skinny to wide.

Jeans – I love/hate them. It saddens me that they are worn all the time and at every occasion by young and not-so-young people alike--with tears and holes, discolorations in the wrong spots and details in the wrong areas. And what’s up with the back pockets? They’re now placed so low on the butt that no matter how great one’s butt is, it looks as if it’s sagging! Worst of all for me, is the denim-on-denim look. However, I must be fair and tell you that an allover denim look is in this spring, but I still hate it. There! I’ve said it.
I much prefer Stella McCartney’s overall dress that can be worn with colorful heels or gladiator sandals, with or without a tee underneath. (Layers again.)

Décolleté -  It must be worn plongeant (plunging), preferably in a V shape that elongates all silhouettes. Beware of a décolleté plongeant with a mini-skirt, as it could easily look vulgar! Please avoid!

Lingerie - ah yes, this is sure to please our Monsieur friends! Lingerie is no longer worn as undergarments only. I strongly discourage creating a total lingerie look. This very feminine tendance should be worn in a sensual manner, just enough to wake up the opposite sex’s attention, and not be a spectacle. Think more of pairing opposites such as a bustier under a boyfriend double-breast blazer, a jupon (slip or petticoat) with an army style jacket.

Perfect pieces have infinite possibilities. A common misconception in figuring out one's outfit is to think that we have to look like the model on a magazine cover. Wrong!  Don't forget that trends can be used to inspire your style.  They're not intended to be mimicked.
I wish you all a joyous, lighthearted spring!

A la prochaine!


Thursday, March 18, 2010



By Michèle Benza

We have a tradition in our family. We go to a movie every day during the holiday season from December 25th right through to New Year’s Day. It’s a fun tradition that I always look forward to.

Last December, one of my favorite movies was “Up in the Air.” George Clooney plays the main character, an executive, who travels around the country to fire people. He has no life to speak of. He carries all he needs in one wheel-away suitcase.

This movie provided an ah-ha moment for me. What if I were to empty my dressing room and throw all my clothes–accessories, coats et al– on my bed and contemplate their value? The first thing question that came to mind was, ‘do I really need all these clothes?’ Looking at the pile, I could not help but wonder how much money I’d spent for each item. Was it worth it? Was it a good investment? I started to add the numbers in my mind. Oh boy! How many hours had I worked to pay for all that? Scary? You bet!

I decided to create a spreadsheet and to calculate an approximate cost-per-wear (CPW) for each item. It gave me a good idea of how skilled I am at investing in clothes.

For those of you who are not familiar with CPW, it’s a concept that rationalizes the expense of a garment by dividing each time you wear it into the original cost. Cost-per-wear means spending money on a piece of clothing that you will wear continually, making it a good investment. The more you wear it, the better the returns on your initial purchase. It does not matter whether the item is an expensive pair of Christian Louboutin shoes or an H&M skirt or, whether you spent $2,000 or $100 on an item, just as long as you get your money’s worth.

According to some of my colleagues, the ideal CPW should be $2. I disagree with that number. Achieving that goal poses a real challenge for those who have ‘a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear’ don’t you think?

In my opinion, the CPW should certainly not exceed your hourly income. By the way, this applies for your lunches too. Have you ever calculated how much you have to work just to buy your daily lunch?

The worst CPW comes with items that result from impulse shopping. It's been a long time since I've shopped during a moment of weakness without any plan in mind. But believe me, I can attest that the very worst CPW results from those spontaneous purchases.

I am pleased to report that my average CPW on my entire wardrobe is less than $5.00.

Now, I challenge you to examine YOUR pile of clothes. Which items were your best investments?

A la prochaine

Friday, March 12, 2010

What's New With Michele Benza?

Bonjour a tous!

I trust this email finds you well. Just want to give you an update on what’s happening at Michele Benza, Image Consulting & Posture.

Public Speaking - This year I decided to challenge myself even more by accepting speaking engagements. I found a formula that works great for me and that is fun and engaging for the audience. I was recently invited to participate in an Education Day for Interior Decorators. This Q&A presentation was followed by a one-on-one image consulting session for the participants. Attendees were very happy and I received many complimentary remarks. This one event has precipitated more invitations to speak at events.

Articles - My articles have received nice reviews and are now published on www.50fabulous.com, www.bawj.com, www.sfgate.com, and www.marin.com. More and more readers are signing up to receive my columns directly in their in-boxes. I am also proud to announce that I have co-authored an e-book about image and etiquette. As soon as it is released, which I expect to happen in about four weeks, I will send you an email.

Spring/summer – Right now I am busy exploring the stores and discovering the trends for spring and summer. I particularly like the ‘nude’ color that has appeared on the scene as well as the various shades of blue. Fabrics are all about structure and so is hair. Tribal has made its appearance with beautiful colored printed fabrics, and for those who shy away from bangles, I urge you to wear lots of them!

Paris! – A trip is in the prep stage. This May, I will be window shopping to bring you the latest trends as well as shopping with clients in my favorite fashion capital. If you would like to join me in Paris and spend some time shopping, let me know so I can reserve some time for you.

Lastly– Now that spring has made its entrance in most of the stores, I am working with clients to help them build their spring/summer wardrobe, so if you need assistance, remember I am just a phone call away.

Best wishes.
A bientôt!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Michele Benza

Wishing You All You Wish For Yourself

And Those You Love



2009 was a great year! Thanks to so many of you. I am so grateful that I had the privilege to meet with some of you online and even face-to-face.

If 2009 had some bumps in the road I saw those as positive experiences as they made me wiser and stronger and brought me back to reality. As my younger son, Greg, said to me one day: “Mom, when I have obstacles I think of a river full of boulders. The river flows around the rocks and just keeps going.”

During 2009, I addressed quite a few subjects in my columns – from “Style on a budget” to high heels and hats! And very importantly, “Beauty From The Inside Out”. I had a lot of fun writing these newsletters for you. The most fun was “Hats are Back, Hats are Hot!” The day I wrote that was very busy and I was late with my column. Between two clients, I ran to “Hats on Post” in San Francisco and told Peg Purcell, the owner, about the column. In fifteen minutes, with my cell phone as our only camera, we documented the article. It was fast and it was fun!

“Style on a Budget,” the newsletter published early 2009, especially received many positive comments. I was still in shock about the financial collapse and was wondering what would happen next. Naturally, I wondered if my small enterprise could survive. I’m happy to report, not only did it survive; it thrived! I’m especially happy to have helped so many men and women who came to see me because they did not know what to wear for a job interview, or because they were feeling lost or in a rut. With a little tweaking of their image, a reevaluation of their wardrobe, they felt refreshed, inspired and managed to regain their self-confidence. And thanks to technology I’ve been able to help many people in small towns across the USA and across the oceans east and west.

So what’s up for 2010? I’ll keep contributing to 50fabulous.com and Bay Area Women’s Journal. I’ll work hard to bring you relevant and interesting topics.

As I’ve said many times before, fashion happens on the sidewalks–no longer on the runways–for everyday people like you and me. As for the magazines, they’re fun to read but remember all those beautiful men and women perfectly coiffed and dressed, are there to seduce you into spending money. Those beautiful people on paper do not exist in our everyday workplaces and communities. Don’t let them bring down your self-esteem! These days’ photographs are altered so rapidly and so dramatically that the models always appear to be ‘perfect.’

Since January is a time when we often make New Year’s resolutions, I have a good suggestion for you: start your own style notebook. Be your own model and your own fashion reporter.

My wish for 2010 is that natural beauty prevails and becomes the new standard.

Bonne Année à tous,

P.S. If there are any topics you’d like me to write about, please let me know.

*Work with Michele*
You can work with Michele on-line or face-to-face.
Call or email for a private appointment with Michele
You’ll be thrilled with the results.
415.956.3025 michele@mbenza.com