There is a little sunshine peeking out from the economic gloom of the past year: The U.S. personal savings rate has gone up while our personal consumer debt has gone down. While that can hardly be considered a bad thing, it is the result of a deepening recession, a weakening economy and persistent unemployment.
On that happy note, let's talk about Christmas. It's going to be a lot harder to part with cash and even more difficult--if not impossible--to rely on credit. To that I say, rejoice! Getting creative with what you have could easily make this your best Christmas ever.
So, how much money do you have to spend? Be honest, and write it down. Divide by the number of people on your list. There, you have a budget. Now you need a plan. There are so many ways to cut the cost of gift-giving, without sacrificing the joy.
Gifts that are (almost) free
Even if you'll be cash-poor this holiday season, that does not mean you cannot give gifts to friends, family and co-workers without going into debt. What it means is that you need to get creative. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:
1. Give what you do. A gift from the heart is a gift of time and talent. What do you do well? Cook, clean, babysit, garden, sew, drive, shop? Whatever it is, create a unique gift certificate and make what you do the gift that you give. A weekend of babysitting, a day of housecleaning, six hours of errand running--you get the idea. Follow up within just a few days to set the exact time your certificate will be redeemed. Your recipient may be too embarrassed to remind you to make good on the gift.
2. A treasure. Years ago my mother-in-law wrapped up the beautiful crystal water pitcher she received as a wedding gift. She knew how much I loved it, so she gave it to me for Christmas. For many years she enjoyed the pleasure of me owning it. That was a special gift that cost her nothing, but means the world to me. The only rule here is that you only give a treasure to someone who has expressed a true fondness for it. Otherwise, you'll both be disappointed.
3. Play dough. Here's a gift you can make from stuff you have already for all the young kids on your list. Combine 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup salt, 2 tablespoons Cream of Tartar and 2 packages unsweetened flavored drink mix like Kool-Aid, in an appropriate container that has a lid. Seal, decorate and attach this tag:
Microwave Play Dough: Pour contents into a large microwavable bowl. Add 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons baby oil, mix well and microwave on high for 4 minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Stir until a ball forms, leaving in microwave to complete the 4 minutes. Cool. Play. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Caution: It smells good enough to eat, but please don't!
4. Organize a swap. This is particularly fabulous if you and your circle of friends have small children. Everyone gathers up toys that are in excellent condition that their kids have outgrown or grown tired of. Clean and sanitize them well. Now, without the kids present, get together and trade. The kids will be none the wiser and thrilled with all their new toys. Imagine all the ways you can adapt a swap like this.
5. Favorites that don't cost a lot
Anyone can make Christmas gifts that require only some assembly, no skateboard wood sunglasses particular artistic skill or talent. Here are some of my biggest hits over the years that cost about $5 per gift, or less.
6. Home roasted coffee beans. It's so simple, yet hardly anyone thinks to roast their own coffee beans. Simply purchase green beans online or locally, then follow the instructions to roast them in the oven, in a popcorn popper or on an outdoor stovetop. Beans vary in price, but start at about $5 per pound. Home roasted gourmet coffee makes a fabulous gift, packaged in any kind of container and labeled as your signature blend. Resources for beans and instructions can be found online at SweetMarias.com.
7. Blooming bulbs. Forcing flower bulbs to bloom in winter couldn't be easier, and they make a wonderful gift. Paperwhite narcissus are about the easiest to grow. You'll need a glass jar vase or bowl without drainage holes, rocks, marbles or sea glass. What a perfect gift for co-workers, teachers and service providers. Depending on your choice of container, a complete gift should cost no more than $5. Find instructions with detailed pictures when you type "paperwhite" in the search bar at ContainerGardening.about.com. Find bulbs at your local nursery, garden center or online at Amazon.com in Home & Garden.
8. Signature lotion. Your own signature body and hand lotion will definitely put you on the map. Pour the following items into a large bowl: one tube any Bath & Body Works Body Cream (get it on sale skateboard wooden sunglasses for about $6), one jar Vitamin E Cream, one tube Creamy Vaseline, one large bottle baby lotion, one large bottle of any hand lotion like Jergens. Whip together until blended. Divide among your choice of small containers or jars. LeAnn Sullivan, Idaho, buys all of these ingredients for about $17.50, which makes six generous gifts--at a cost of about $2.90 each.
9. Journal in a jar. Or a box or another container of your choice. The idea is to give everything a person needs to write the story of their life including appropriate questions such as: Why was your name chosen for you? What was happening in the world when you were born? What was your favorite hiding place as a child? Include a blank notebook or journal, a nice pen and markers or crayons if this is for a child. Click here for hundreds of questions you can print out to include with your gift, for all ages from 5 to 105.
10. Recipe book. Create a recipe booklet containing a collection of your favorite holiday recipes and then include a small assortment of samples. What a nice way to pass on your culinary traditions to your friends and family.
11. Family Calendar. Create a calendar that includes your family's important dates like birthdays and anniversaries. Include family pictures, then make a copy for each person or family. Websites like BigHugeLabs.com have tools and templates you can use to create all kinds of wonderful things.
Memories to Last a Lifetime
What would you do this holiday season if you had absolutely no money to spend and no available credit, either?
That's the question I've been asking recently and the responses have been all over the map from all-out panic to excitement at the thought of taking on such a challenge.
I'm not suggesting this should be the case for anyone. I'm simply posing the question in the same way I might ask what you would do if you noticed your kitchen on fire or your child choking on a chicken bone. Knowing to call 911 is good, but so is having a fully-charged fire extinguisher handy and a working knowledge of the Heimlich maneuver.
So, let me ask you, could you do it? Could you find ways to celebrate Christmas that would fill your heart with joy and create warm and lasting memories, even if you had no money and no credit?
You know, when you come right down to it, isn't that what we really want for Christmas? Isn't that why we work so hard and often spend so much--to find joy and make memories that will last for a lifetime?
Based on the many positive responses to my question, I have no doubt that we can discover what our hearts long for most, without overspending and without going into debt. What's required is a willingness to think creatively and courage to put a freeze on the credit cards.
Traditions we have. Christmas rituals are like anchors in our lives. Doing the same things together, year after year, assures us that even in a changing world, some things never change.
I love the story of one of our DPL families, a story that I tell often when I address audiences on how to debt-proof their holidays.
Every year since the kids were little, this family has made the same trek every night the week before Christmas. They drive around after dark, searching for beautiful light displays in their area.
On Christmas Eve, the family votes to determine their favorite light display and award the winner with their family's "Annual Best in Lights Award." In their final act, they deliver homemade cookies to the lucky winners, who I'm sure are as surprised as they are delighted to learn that such an award exists. It's become a tradition--a family ritual that goes on year after year.
Things we make. Whether it's something from your kitchen, your craft room, woodworking shop or computer, there's just nothing like a homemade gift. A tree ornament, plate of cookies, box of fudge, note cards--these are just some of the kinds of homemade gifts with universal appeal.
What we do best. A "gift from the heart" is the gift of time and talent. What do you do well??Cook, clean, babysit, garden, sew, drive, shop? Whatever that is, create a unique gift certificate for a weekend of babysitting, a day of housecleaning, six hours of errand running--you get the idea. Hint: Follow up within just a few days to set the exact time your certificate will be redeemed. Your recipient may be too embarrassed to remind you to make good on the gift.
Our passions. Do you want your gift to say how much you care? Then find a way to show you care about what matters most to that person. Is he passionate about medical research? Become a bone marrow donor. Is she an environmentalist? Donate to an organization that reforests and plant a tree in her name. Do something this person will find meaningful and do it in their honor. Then, wrap it up as your gift to them.
Our hearts. Worried that your gifts--homemade or otherwise--are too cheap or not just exactly right? All of your doubts will vanish when you write a short note that you attach to each of your gifts. Tell your recipient what he or she means to you and the value they bring to your life.
The best gift is one that delivers a message of love and joy that remains with the recipient long after the gift has been consumed, used or put away.
The best times are the ones that linger on in our memories--the things that neither money nor credit can buy.
Mary Hunt is a syndicated personal finance columnist and author of Debt-Proof Your Christmas: Celebrating the Holidays without Breaking the Bank. Mary is the also founder of Debt-Proof Living.
Bringing You The Very Best Leggings and Leg Fashion
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Leggings are one of those pieces of clothing that women either love or hate. But those of you who love them will know that they are extremely versatile and add great value to an ensemble by providing a finishing touch to an outfit that appears incomplete. If worn right, leggings can beautifully bring out the fashion diva in you. The problem is that not many women are not sure about how to wear them. On the other hand, some women consider their age inappropriate to wear leggings. However, these can be worn by anyone as long as they can pull them off by putting together the right clothing items to create a gorgeous ensemble.
The Legging Stylebook
Keep these basics in mind while choosing outfits with leggings.Your figure is an important deciding factor when it comes to wearing leggings. If you are too curvy and not too tall, leggings may not be for you.
Along with your figure, your height also matters. If you are on the shorter side, try to wear leggings with tops of similar colors to make you appear taller. On the other hand, taller women may take a little more liberty in experimenting with color when pairing leggings with different tops.
While choosing the color of leggings, try to choose a shade that complements the outfit rather than blatantly contrasting it. Steer clear of fluorescent shades, no matter what your age, height or figure is.
Tight tops with leggings look great on the runway, but pairing the two in daily life may not be a very good idea. The ideal look is to pair a large top with a small bottom to balance your figure.
Wear Leggings with Long Tops and Jackets
A lot of women are under the assumption that leggings can replace jeans and be worn as pants with any kind of top. But leggings are skin-hugging, and if worn with anything that ends above the thighs, can look downright tacky. Having said that, there are more elegant ways of wearing leggings as pants. Worn with a tunic top or a roomy kaftan blouse that ends mid-thigh, leggings can actually flatter your curves. Pair up leggings with a long knit sweater, and hold it all together with an eye-catching yet subtle belt. Long belted shirts and jackets are also ideal tops for leggings. Do remember not to let any top you wear with leggings end above the hips. Complete the entire look with a pair of ballerina shoes or gladiator sandals, and a large handbag to go with them.
Pair Leggings with a Dress
Leggings go great with different types of dresses. While some of you can opt for a dress with a straight cut if you want to wear it with leggings, others may choose a flowing dress with an empire cut will look great. Again, a belt holding together the entire outfit is an interesting addition. Take your height into consideration when wearing a belt. Belts provide breaks to a long frame, so if you are on the shorter side, you may avoid the belt and accessorize with jewelry, shoes or scarves to add a burst of color. Do not allow the length of the dress to go beyond your knees. Pair up the look with interesting boots with a small heel. Even solid colored pumps look simply gorgeous when paired with this outfit.
Wear Leggings with a Skirt
The best purpose served by leggings is that they help you flaunt your legs without having to show skin. As such, women who are uncomfortable with short skirts can find leggings to their rescue. Also, no matter how short the skirt is, the leggings will cover up for them, but don't go to extremes. Ideally, a skirt worn with leggings should end at least mid-thigh and on the longer side, a little above the knee. Anything longer or shorter will look distasteful. A denim skirt is the perfect choice for leggings, though you may try other options too.
Shoes for Leggings
Boots and leggings look simply divine. The best way to wear leggings with boots is to tuck them into the boots. Also, don't go too high on the boot length. This will leave no purpose for the leggings. Ankle length boots (and calf length boots at the maximum), with a small heel are the best way to combine boots and leggings together. Other shoes that make for great choices with leggings are peep-toe pumps. Flats are great only if you are very tall. Otherwise ensure that you wear at least a slight heeled shoe with your outfit with leggings.
Wearing certain types of clothing just capri leggings because they are in style was and never is a good idea. You have to be comfortable with what you wear so that you look good in it. So to look good in leggings, you have to carry an attitude that reflects your comfort in them. Once you put together all these elements, there's no way you can't look good in leggings!
Turkey strikes Kurds in Iraq, Syria, drawing condemnation
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkish warplanes struck suspected Kurdish rebel positions in Iraq and Syria on Tuesday, drawing condemnation from Baghdad and criticism from the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, which is allied with Kurdish factions in both countries.
The Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, said 20 of its fighters were killed and 18 wounded. The YPG is a close U.S. ally against IS but is seen by Ankara as a short leggings terrorist group because of its ties to Turkey's Kurdish rebels.
The airstrikes also killed five members of the Iraqi Kurdish militia known as the peshmerga, which is also battling the extremist group with help from the U.S.-led coalition.
YPG spokesman Redur Khalil said the Turkish aircraft struck the group's headquarters in Karachok, in Syria's northeastern Hassakeh province, causing extensive damage to the headquarters as well as nearby civilian property.
The YPG is among the most effective ground forces battling IS, but Turkey says it is an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and that PKK fighters are finding sanctuaries in neighboring Iraq and Syria.
A Turkish military statement said the pre-dawn strikes hit targets on Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq and a mountainous region in Syria. It said the operations were conducted to prevent infiltration of Kurdish rebels, weapons, ammunition and explosives from those areas into Turkey.
The military said in a later statement that the air strikes hit shelters, ammunition depots and key control centers, adding that some 40 militants in Sinjar and some 30 others in northern Syria were "neutralized."
In an emailed statement to The Associated Press, the U.S.-led coalition said Iraq's neighbors need to respect Iraqi sovereignty.
"We encourage all forces to ... concentrate their efforts on ISIS and not toward objectives that may cause the Coalition to divert energy and resources away from the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria," it said, using another acronym for IS.
Iraq's Foreign Ministry denounced the strikes as a "violation" of its sovereignty and called on the international community to put an end to such "interference" by Turkey.
"Any operation that is carried out by the Turkish government without any coordination with the Iraqi government is totally rejected," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Jamal told The Associated Press.
He cautioned against a broader Turkish military operation, saying it would "complicate the issue and destabilize northern Iraq."
Although Turkey regularly carries out airstrikes against PKK targets in northern Iraq, this was the first time it has struck the Sinjar region. Turkey has long claimed that the area was becoming a hotbed for PKK rebels.
Sinjar Mayor Mahma Khalil said the strikes started at around 2:30 a.m., killing five members of the peshmerga and wounding nine. Khalil said he was not aware of any casualties among PKK rebels.
The peshmerga command called on the PKK to withdraw from the Sinjar region, saying the "PKK must stop destabilizing and escalating tensions in the area."
The PKK has led an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984, and is considered a terror organization by Turkey and its allies.
Last year, Turkey sent troops into Syria to back Syrian opposition fighters in the battle against IS and curb the expansion of the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces.
The Syrian Kurdish forces denounced Tuesday's strikes on their positions as "treacherous," accusing Turkey of undermining the anti-terrorism fight. The Syrian Kurds have cropped leggings driven IS from large parts of Syria and are currently closing in on Raqqa, the de facto capital of the extremists' self-styled caliphate.
"By this attack, Turkey is trying to undermine Raqqa operation, give (IS) time to reorganize and put in danger lives of thousands of" displaced, the YPG said on its Twitter account.
In Damascus, meanwhile, officials denounced new U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump administration on 271 people linked to the Syrian agency said to be responsible for producing non-conventional weapons. The move was part of an ongoing U.S. crackdown in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons.
Khaled Abboud, a member of parliament, said the center is "purely a research center, mostly for agricultural studies."
"The sanctions are new attempts by the U.S. administration to put pressure on the Syrian state," he told The Associated Press, adding that the center is a "peaceful research center."
The U.S. has blamed Assad for a chemical weapons attack earlier this month that killed more than 80 civilians in the rebel-held northern Idlib province. Syrian officials strongly deny the charges.
An airstrike in Idlib on Tuesday killed at least 12 people, including civilians, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The area is controlled by hard-line rebel factions, some associated with al-Qaida. The Observatory, which relies on contacts inside Syria, said it suspected a Russian jet was behind the strike.
Associated Press writers Sarah El Deeb and Philip Issa in Beirut, Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Baghdad and Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, contributed to this report.
Story highlightsSome fashion rules get the boot while others are here to stayWearing an all-black ensemble isn't just for funerals anymoreIt's always better to be overdressed than underdressed
Were Mom's fashion rules made to be broken? A panel of fashion designers style experts weighs in on what to wear, and what to leave in the past.
"When you have a choice between wearing pants or a skirt, carefully weigh your options...and choose the skirt."
Lloyd Boston, author of "Before You Put That On": Truer than ever. Why not go for the skirt? In this age of metrosexual men, sometimes the only thing that separates you from the guys is the power to put on a skirt.
Stacy London, cohost of "What Not to Wear" and a New York City-based style expert: Amen to that, Mom. It's much easier to find a skirt that's flattering. With pants, you have to consider the rise, the width of the hips, the legs, and how they fall on the tush.
Malia Mills, designer of Malia Mills Swimwear: Carefully weigh your options... and then choose what will make you stride into a room like you own it.
"Wear socks that match your pants."
Jenna Lyons, head women's designer for J.Crew: This is so outdated. It's better to give a nod to your pants. If you're wearing gray slacks, try argyle socks with a touch of white leggings gray in them.
Deborah Lloyd, co-president and creative director of Kate Spade New York: When it comes to socks, tights, and leggings, the new rule is there are no rules. Personal style is all about mixing it up and playing with color and texture.
Dana Buchman, designer: Who wears socks? It's hosiery or, better yet, nothing at all.
"Always wear shoes that are close in color to your pants, especially if you have big feet."
London: Wearing shoes that are exactly the same color as your pants is about as exciting as watching paint dry.
Buchman: Oh, my goodness. That really dates from 1910. With all that's going on with shoe design, doing that would leave you out of a lot of the excitement of getting dressed.
Lyons: That's crazy. There's nothing better than a bright shoe. As long as it doesn't make your foot look like a boat, you're fine.
"Ignore size -- go with what fits you and looks good. Don't get fixated on the numbers."
Boston: Moms who know this are geniuses. Remember: The tag is not on the outside of the garment, so no one is going to know. If it makes you feel better, cut the tag out.
Buchman: Bless this. It should be taught in schools.
Lloyd: This is great advice from a good mother. In a world filled with number-obsessed shoppers, we should keep in mind that clothes that fit properly just look better.
"Just because it looks good on the hanger doesn't mean it will look good on you."
London: Never judge an item of clothing on the hanger. Clothes are presented that way only because hangers make it easier to store them. You must try them on to know whether the clothes fit and look good on you.
Laura Bennett, designer, architect, and former "Project Runway" finalist: If a pencil skirt doesn't work with your body type, I don't care how many pencil skirts you see in stores -- just don't go there.
Buchman: I would tell everybody to try something on. It's all about the mirror, not the hanger. That's why there are dressing rooms.
"Never buy something on sale you wouldn't buy at full price."
Lyons: Brilliant! Everyone should live by that. It's ironic: The thrill in finding something cheap is that it feels like a deal that no one else is getting. But there's a reason no one else bought it-that's why it's still sitting there.
Buchman: Absolutely. Sometimes moms are so right. If you don't want it, you don't want it-period. It will just take up time and space.
Nanette Lepore, designer: Actually, a sale is a perfect time to try out a new trend.
"When you don't have time for a shower, pearls and ponytails are the next best thing."
Boston: Yes to the ponytail, even make it a chignon. But scratch the pearls and instead spray a little Febreeze on your outfit. Coming across as fresh is important.
Bennett: I live in a ponytail. But as for the pearls, they can make you look like a politician's wife if you're not careful. I like putting on a really long strand that makes a statement.
Mills: Pearls, a ponytail...and hot pink underwear. Never underestimate the power of a fabulous set of Skivvies.
"Buy quality, not quantity."
Boston: Good one, Mom! The woman who has one beautiful, quality tailored black suit can wear it a million times and still look better than the woman who has 17 different pastel suits with threads hanging out of the sleeves.
Mills: I prefer to see my closet as a well-mixed drink: two parts quality to one part quantity. I have $325 wedges sitting alongside $19 faux-lizard heels.
Lyons: Definitely. There's a reason why most of your favorite things are probably the ones that you splurged on. You can go back to them time and time again, and they'll still look great.
"Wearing all black should be reserved for funerals."
Boston: If that were the case, then the most stylish women in Manhattan would be one long funeral procession. Head-to-toe black is universally accepted as chic.
Bennett: Unless you're wearing a big hat with a net on it, all black isn't going to make you look like you're going to a funeral. It's a flattering uniform that can be worn every day.
Lyons: That is so dated. These days, even bridesmaids wear all black. Just remember that when you're wearing all black, you're creating a silhouette, so choose the shapes of your tops and bottoms carefully.
"If you can't breathe in it, you probably shouldn't leave in it."
London: Women have a tendency to squeeze into things and say, "If I buy this, there will be motivation for me to lose weight." Then, when that doesn't happen, the skirt hangs in the closet as a shameful reminder. Tugging at your clothes is never a good look.
Bennett: Good advice. Sometimes going up a size actually makes the fabric drape better. When something is pulling across the butt -- trust me -- that's what everyone notices.
Mills: Too tight is never right. Don't leave in it unless you can dance in it!
"Always wear a good bra -- it will make any outfit look better."
London: Keep the girls up and high! Take care of them and they'll take care of you.
Boston: Mom is 100 percent right. And you shouldn't be wearing the same bra in your 40s that you wore in your 20s. There is technology nowadays that can make women look trimmer, slimmer, and shapelier in an instant.
Lepore: Believe in that. You don't want your bosom hanging low. Different women have different needs -- but no matter what, if you have a bra you love, you'll feel and look better.
"Always wear a slip."
Boston: Absolutely not. A little mystery around the silhouette of a leg is not a bad thing. It's not like people don't know you have legs.
Buchman: Never wear a slip, unless you're 120 years old. And not even then. It adds bulk, it adds folds, and it looks tacky if it shows. Put that in the bank.
Lyons: Who wears a slip in this day and age? But women should take a good look at their undergarments and observe what they are doing to their backsides.
"Brown shoes? Wear a brown belt. Black shoes? Wear a black belt."
London: It may be kind of an antiquated rule, but it works. When it comes to shoes and belts, if you mix black and brown, it looks like you woke up and your lightbulb wasn't working.
Lyons: That is boring, boring, boring. Make your belt mean something to your outfit. It's not there just to hold your pants up. If you're wearing black shoes, put on a polka-dot or striped belt -- something with a little personality.
Boston: From a matching standpoint, it will never fail you. But it's better to mix up shades and finishes within the same color family, like cognac-colored heels in a faux-crocodile print with a cappuccino-colored ribbon belt.
"If you smile and make eye contact, no one will care -- or even notice -- what you are wearing."
Boston: No matter how big your smile and strong your eye contact, if you're wearing a bad blouse and a pair of pants that should have been donated to charity years ago, it's going to show.
Lyons: This is the most important rule. It is so much harder to be critical of what someone is wearing when she is lovely, connected, and interesting.
Lepore: That's easier said than done. Not everyone has this kind of confidence or personality, so don't dress like a clown.
"People can tell a lot about you by the shoes you're wearing."
Boston: Oh, yeah. Scuffed shoes, shoes with chewed-up heels, shoes that have never seen a shoe tree: They all say that you don't care as much as you should about life's overall details.
London: True. Shoes are a symbolic accessory -- much more so than jewelry or sunglasses.
Mills: Actually, people can tell more about you when they see how you treat a waitress.
"Always check your backside in the mirror before you head out."
Bennett: That's a good one. After all, your rear view is 50 percent of what people see. That's a large percentage!
Lyons: Absolutely. I wish more people did that. Women, check your panty lines.
Lloyd: Smart. Yes, I completely agree that it is wise to check what's going on back there. Everything that you care about showing or not showing from the front deserves the same amount of attention from the back.
"It's better to be overdressed than underdressed."
Bennett: No one has ever been asked to leave a party because of being overdressed. Everyone appreciates glamour.
Boston: I agree wholeheartedly. When you walk in underdressed, you have no wiggle room to change it. It's always easier to peel down if you are overdressed.
Buchman: It's better to look good than not. Dressing up or down is not the issue. When you're not sure how dressy an event is going to be, just wear the outfit you think you look best in.
"Don't mix high-end and low-end pieces."
Boston: Wrong. A serious $1,500 suit with a bright $5 tank top underneath it can look better than any other outfit in the room.
Lyons: I'm not a fan of this principle. Personal style could mean pairing sneakers with a ball gown. If that's what makes you different -- fine.
Mills: Ha! The more often you mix it up, the better. It's called style.