Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Behind the Scenes: Two New Before and Afters

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If you’ve been hanging around here for a while, you’ve likely seen the before/after pictures of my work. What you may not know, though, is that it’s quite challenging to get these pictures together, and the ones that I have posted only reflect a small portion of the results I’ve gotten with my clients. Many of them (understandably) are private and don’t want their pictures included.

For those clients who are open to being featured, getting an accurate before picture that’s also high enough quality for web use, is often difficult, not to mention planning a professional shoot for the after shot. But when it does all come together, and the client is up for it, the results are thrilling! I love being able to feature my clients and show off the hard work that they’ve done to overhaul their image. Even though I’m the image consultant, much of the work is done on the client’s part: showing up for appointments, trying on all the clothes, implementing my advice, etc. Image consulting is like a 12-step program: it works if you work it.

So now that you’ve gotten that behind the scenes, you can appreciate how big a deal it is when the stars align, and I’m able to pull together a before/after I can use. Below are two new before and afters I’m proud to be able to share.

Men's Image Consulting: Before and After

The first one is a tech CEO and father of 3 who lives in the midwest. We started working together in Spring of 2014 (when the before pic was taken), and we’ve been traveling back and forth to see one another several times a year since. At first it was a complete overhaul; now we’re in maintenance, where we touch things up seasonally and depending on what events, talks, etc., he needs to attend or present at. This client is an absolutely fantastic guy, and I’ve loved every second of working with him (and incidentally, I’ve now worked with his wife and niece too — it’s a family affair!).

The after shot was taken exactly 2 years after we started working together. The first three things we worked on that were the keys to our success off the bat were: 1) getting him into trimmer and better-fitting pants and jackets, 2) convincing him that tucking in his dress shirts would actually be more flattering to his build than wearing them out, and 3) getting him an improved haircut that would be more flattering to his face shape and hair type.

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Men's Image Consulting: Before and After

The second before and after is one that my awesome client Michael H. sent me out of the blue one day. Michael is a busy attorney and father of two from the west coast. We started working together in April of 2014, coincidentally about two years ago as well. Even though the pix weren’t professionally done, and I wasn’t there to style him for the after shot, I was thrilled to get the email from him with the images and thanking me for my help. I don’t get all the credit here though — as you can see, Michael has not only been hard at work transforming his image and style, but he’s also lost a ton of weight and gained muscle. He dropped 4 inches in waist size. Michael told me in his email that he laughs now recalling that he had told me his before picture was his best outfit.

The top three elements that paved the way for Michael’s success were: 1) demonstrating to him that he had been buying shirts and pants in sizes that were too large for him, 2) upgrading his haircut and showing him how to style it and with what product, and 3) teaching him how to dress in a way that was flattering to his height and newly trim build.

Getting results and feedback like this is a true rush for me, and it’s the exact reason why I fell in love with the work that I do. I’m a Fixer (with a capital “F”) through and through, and I love being able to use my skills to help my clients become their best selves. I always like to say, “it’s you, only better.”

Thanks so much for reading, and if you’re thinking about making a major (or even minor) transformation, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Cheers,

Julie

 


Pro Tips: Jean Tailoring FTW

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Men's Image Consultant: How to Tailor Your Jeans

There very few things like a perfectly-fitting pair of jeans on a man (the above British GQ spread of Matthew McConaughey-hey-hey is pretty good proof). And the way you have them tailored — or not — can make or break them. I recently did a jean overhaul with a client, and as we were having them tailored, I realized that even though I’ve already written about how to find a great-fitting pair of jeans, it’s also important to talk about the tailoring. 

1. When shortening jeans that have any kind of distressing or detailing along the hemline, ask the tailor to re-use the original hem. That means he or she will remove the hem that’s already there, cut the jeans shorter, and then reattach the hem higher up. And you get to avoid that my-mom-hemmed-my-jeans look that distressed jeans get when they’re just folded under and hemmed normally. If your tailor doesn’t know how to do this, find another tailor.

2. Check the waist — if it gaps when you put a belt on but fits well through the seat and thighs, the waist needs to be taken in. Ideally, though, your jeans should fit well everywhere, so I’d only suggest this for jeans you already own or that are on super sale. 

3. During tailoring, wear the shoes you plan on wearing most often with the jeans. That way, you and the tailor can choose the length based on that. Keep in mind that once you’ve chosen a length based on heel height, you’ll be limited to shoes with the same or similar heel height. If you have a broad range of shoe types (which hopefully you do — if not, here’s my post on the 6 essential shoes every guy should have in his closet), then not every pair of jeans is going to work with every shoe — i.e, you’ll have some that will work with flip flops and flat loafers but not with your dress shoes. So it makes sense to think ahead when having your jeans hemmed as to which shoes you’ll be wearing them most frequently with. And once you’ve decided, make sure you actually bring those shoes to the tailor when you go.

Men's Image Consultant: How to Tailor Your Jeans

4. Taper jeans that are excessively wide-legged. Elephant leg, as we’ve discussed, is not a good look. It can make your legs look short and stumpy — not recommended! This often happens unintentionally when jeans get shortened — the tailor brings them up without realizing that the new bottom of the jeans is unflatteringly wide. So take a good look at the width of the jeans around the new hemline to see if it needs tapering. Some jeans only need a slight taper to just above the ankles, and others need it almost as high as the knee.

Do you have any tips or tricks for how you get your jeans tailored perfectly? Please share in the comments!

Cheers,

Julie


The One Shoe Type That Works with Almost Any Outfit

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Men's Style Consulting: What Shoes to Wear

What would you say if I told you there was one shoe you could wear with just about anything on a daily basis? You’d be all over that, right? It’s true. A medium brown lace-up dress shoe can be worn with any outfit except for a tuxedo, a black suit (which you shouldn’t be wearing anyway), and shorts. Wear them with jeans, chinos, suits and dress pants.

One of the places I always recommend investing in wardrobe-wise is shoes — you’re better off buying one pair of quality shoes and replacing them as needed every 5 years or so, than a crappy quality shoe that you have to replace every year. When it comes to making the most of your footwear investment, another key to keep in mind is not to wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. If you rotate your shoes, they’ll last a whole lot longer.

So if you’re going to make an investment shoe purchase, I highly recommend a medium-brown lace-up. They can have a cap toe, no cap toe (see above), or you can do a wingtip (see below).

Men's Style Consulting: What Shoes to Wear

Cheers,

Julie


How to Wear Man Jewelry

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Men's Image Consulting: How to Wear Man Jewelry

Man jewelry is one of those things that a lot of guys are curious about but are not sure how to (or if they even can) pull off. I get it — it’s so easy to do it wrong, that it’s almost too intimidating to try. Take my long-time client “A,” for example, who works for a management consulting firm. When we first started working together several years ago, every Friday when he came home from the office, he’d put on a colorful beaded necklace. This was his way of marking that the weekend had begun and he was transitioning into hip and relaxed dad mode. Only issue was the necklace looked like one of those candy necklaces kids wear (that’s actually what I thought it was the first time I saw it — oops). Not exactly cool dad material. Even though A didn’t quite execute, I give him props for trying. Fortunately this problem had an easy solution — we ditched the necklace in favor of a more masculine-feeling and subdued combination of bracelets that he looked forward to putting on every weekend and that didn’t make him look like he shopped for accessories at the candy store.

How can you avoid looking like a casualty when it comes to wearing man jewelry? I’ve put together the following 8 basic rules for you to follow so you can get it right the first time, plus a few pix from around the web for inspiration. [Note: for the purposes of this post, I’ll only be addressing casual jewelry — necklaces, bracelets and non-wedding band rings — as that’s what I see guys struggling the most with].

Men's Image Consulting: How to Wear Man Jewelry

  1. The less shiny the better. Shiny jewelry can come off as cheesy, so if you’re thinking of incorporating metal into your jewelry repertoire, go for darker tones and matte finish. Texture within a piece can also reduce shine and make it more wearable. Bottega Veneta and David Yurman make great textured metal pieces (woven, grooved, etc.).
  2. Man jewelry doesn’t have to be metal. Consider pieces made of materials like rope, leather, wood and beads for a durable, earthy look. Think masculine shapes — things like bars, nail heads, hooks, spikes, arrows, anchors, shapes with strong lines and hard angles, and antlers all give off a manly vibe that works well in jewelry.
  3. Bracelets > necklaces. If you’re just dipping your toes in, I highly recommend starting with a bracelet or two, as opposed to a necklace. It’s a more subdued statement that won’t completely take over your look the way a necklace does. You can wear one bracelet next to your watch, or a few on their own. And don’t be afraid to mix a couple colors or textures, while keeping the overall look tasteful. Once you’re wearing it, try not to fiddle. Put it on, then forget about it.
  4. But if you’re already a style renegade, go ahead and jump in with a necklace. A good length is somewhere between your collarbone and the middle of your chest. And one or two at a time is your max.
  5. If you’re going to try rings, the most in my opinion a man can safely pull off is 2 or sometimes 3 per hand, and keep in mind the masculine shape element in #2 above.
  6. Try vintage. Vintage pieces often have a patina that give wonderful character to man jewelry. Bonus: they can also be good conversation starters. Things that are interesting and look like they have a story to them pique peoples’ interest.
  7. Keep your build in mind. If you’re smaller-boned, go for smaller-scale pieces. Similarly, if you’re a big guy, you don’t want to dwarf overly-delicate pieces.
  8. Don’t match…complement. If your watch is black leather with silver-tone metal, then don’t pick a black and silver bracelet to wear with it. Try a royal blue instead, something that will work with the cool tones. In general, warm tones (gold, mustard yellow, forest green, eggplant, maroon) work together, and cool tones (purple, royal blue, blue-based red) work together. If you’re curious about how to combine colors for the best possible effect, you may want to check out my online style course, Next Level Style, which has a full section on color.
images via GQ, Giles and Brother Instagram

Do the front tuck

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Men's Image Consulting: Half Tuck Shirt

Have you tried the front-tuck yet? It’s one of the best (and easiest) ways to create that undone-done look that makes it look like you’re not trying too hard.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Pick a t-shirt or button-up shirt that fits you well and that hits about halfway down the fly of your pants.
  2. Button your shirt all the way to the bottom. (Even though the front will be tucked in, it’s easier to control if it’s buttoned).
  3. Tuck the front of your shirt into your jeans or chinos (again, these should fit well).
  4. Don’t think too hard about what you’re about to do next.
  5. Pull the front out so that it’s blousing over your pant waistband as in the image above. The front/center 3/4 of the shirt should stay inside your pants.
  6. Go on with your day! The less you fuss around with this look, the better.

Note: this does not work with baggy shirts (it just looks sloppy), so make sure you don’t skip step 1!

image via people.com


Body Language Hacks to Improve Your People Skills

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Men's Image Consulting: Body Language

“There are two kinds of people in this life: those who walk into a room and say, “Well, here I am!” And those who walk in and say, “Ahh, there you are.”

-Leil Lowndes, How to Talk to Anyone

Even the smallest gestures can reveal insights into character and shape perceptions about people. While most of my client work is focused on the clothing and grooming elements of image, I do at times work on enhancing clients’ body language.

The cool thing about putting intention into how you carry your body is that you can actually improve where you stand socially and in your relationships just by how you move your body in the world. Below is a roundup of some of my favorite body language hacks and where to get more info about them.

  1. If you want to come across as 100% credible to everyone, according to the book How to Talk to Anyone, by Leil Lowndes, avoid fidgeting at all costs. It’s especially important to squelch any motions around your face (wiping beads of perspiration, scratching an itch, loosening a collar, etc.), which can be read as deceitful.
  2. If you want to intrigue people, use the technique Lowndes calls “Sticky Eyes.” This is where you “pretend your eyes are glued to your conversation partner’s with sticky, warm taffy. Don’t break eye contact even after he or she has finished speaking. When you must look away, do it ever so slowly, reluctantly, stretching the gooey taffy until the tiny string finally breaks.” Lowndes says men should do this in particular when talking to women. It can also be done man-to-man, but just want to make your eyes a little “less sticky” when discussing personal matters so that your intentions don’t get misinterpreted.
  3. In Harvard professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s Ted talk, she shares how just two minutes of “power posing” can affect how you feel about yourself, and in turn, how others perceive you. Power posing actually changes your body chemistry, thereby affecting your behavior and interactions with others. One pose that’s easy to remember is standing with your legs wide, chest puffed out and your arms in a wide V above your head or your hands on your hips. What’s interesting about this pose is that it’s innate — people who were born blind do it when they are victorious in events, even when they’ve never been taught to do so. Cuddy suggests doing this high-power pose in private before important meetings like job interviews in order to improve your confidence and presence during the meeting. I’ve actually used this technique myself before going into high stakes meetings and found it to be very effective.

 

Have you tried any of the techniques above? Or found any others that work? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers,

Julie


The 5 Worst Style Offenses of 2015

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People ask me if when I’m out in public I mentally critique what other people are wearing. While unflattering outfits do register on a subconscious level, I’m actually not always scoping folks out. But every now and then I come across a particularly egregious style snafu that makes me stop and scratch my head.

Below are 5 of the worst style offenses I came across in 2015, and because I like to keep things positive around here, I also put together 5 easy actions you can take to improve your image in 2016.

The Worst of 2015

1. Pants so tight we can see the full curvature of your rear end. Let’s keep some of that badonkadonk a mystery, shall we?

Men's Image Consultant: Tie Length

Tie length is just right. Image via GQ.com.

2. Tie point hitting in the middle of your belly. When this happens, because the tie point often lands on the widest part of your stomach, this can actually make you look like you have more of a belly than you actually do. The bottom of your tie should instead hit at the top or center of your belt buckle, so tie your knot accordingly.

3. a) Poorly-fitting rented tuxedos.

b) Known associate of offender #3a: tuxedo vests.

4. Excessive amounts of cologne and/or aftershave. If your smell stays in the elevator for more than 5 seconds after you exit, I implore you to tone it down. And I know I said this last year and the year before that, but my nasal passages are still being assaulted more often than they should be by awful-smelling aftershaves. If the kind you use rhymes with Schmold Schpice, find something less offensive to wear.

 

Men's Image Consultant: how jeans should fit

Even just an extra inch of fabric around the ankle makes a big difference. Images via nordstrom.com.

5. Jean pant legs that run like a straight column from knee to ankle (above, left). I call this “elephant leg.” Some tapering above and around your ankle will make you look longer and leaner (above, right).

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Style Do’s for 2016

Men's Image Consultant: Undershirts

I’m a fan of Tommy John undershirts. Image via tommyjohn.com.

1. Get undershirts that fit trimly. This will make a world of difference in terms of how your dress shirts look on you.

2. Replace your worn-out jeans. I get it, they’ve been with you through all your ups and downs. But trust me when I say the holes and shredded bottoms are not cute.

Men's Image Consultant: Boots

A Chelsea boot is one type of boot to consider.

3. Incorporate a great pair of boots into your wardrobe. If boots aren’t a regular in your casual wardrobe routine, it’s time to change that. Get yourself a go-to pair of leather or suede boots, and your wardrobe will be elevated instantly.

4. Update your loungewear. Just because you’re hanging out at home doesn’t mean you need to be sitting around in a pair of old mesh shorts or your boxers. Get a few pairs of shorts and t-shirts that are specifically for just chilling (bonus: if there’s a fire alarm and you have to run outside, you’re set). James Perse and Derek Rose are two brands in particular that I like for this.

5. Dress situationally. One of the secrets to refined style is to dress in line with whatever situation you find yourself in. This means if you go out at night, you don’t wear the same thing you did to work that day. You take it up a notch. Similarly, you wear different colors and fabrics in Fall and Winter than you do in Spring and Summer. Think darker tones and more texture. Once you start learning how to dress situationally, you’ll actually radiate a sense of effortlessness through your look.

Wishing you a dashing and delightful 2016.

Cheers,

Julie


The 2016 Rath & Co. Holiday Gift Guide

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Welcome to the 6th annual Rath & Co. holiday gift guide! This list is one of my favorite posts to create for you. And if your inbox over the past week has been anything like mine, it’s filled with a frenzy of sales and offers, some better than others. It’s a little overwhelming, even for me. There is so much stuff to weed through. And let’s be real, much of what’s being touted as good holiday gifts is uninspired and trite. Kind of like just going through the motions of giving someone a gift without putting much thought into it. What’s the point of that?

What I’ve done with this year’s gift guide is scouted for Rath-approved items that not everyone else will be getting — interesting and unique gifts that show some thought was put into choosing them. The list is divided up into ideas for men and ideas for women and cover a range of budgets. The ideas for men may cover the guys on your list — or maybe they’re things you’ll ask for yourself.

FOR HIM

Executive Image Consulting: Men's Holiday Gift Ideas

Cause and Effect bracelet ($50) – This is for a guy who’s somewhat advanced in the style dept. Man jewelry is not the easiest thing to pull off (post coming soon on that, I promise), but I love the raw feel of this painted copper cuff. It can be worn alone or in combination with a watch or other bracelets for a full-on arm party.

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Men's Image Consulting: Gift Ideas for Men

Nike + Undercover Court Force High-Top Sneakers ($150) – OK, so he’s got a basic non-workout sneaker (hopefully). Now it’s time to take it up a notch with something more stylish. This high-top from Nike is a great option for a guy who wants to step up his style but doesn’t want to get involved in wacky colors or over-the-top patterns.

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Executive Image Consulting: Men's Holiday Gift Ideas

Felisi jeans belt ($175) – If you or the guy on your list doesn’t have a solid jeans belt (no, the reversible black to brown one does not count), it’s time to remedy that. I like this one from Felisi because each buckle hole is embossed with numbers for a subtle twist on the classic. 

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Executive Image Consulting: Men's Holiday Gift Ideas

Wooly Mammoth Tusk Kershaw Knife ($270) – I can’t think of many gifts more manly than a badass knife like this one. The handle is made from the tusks of wooly mammoths that lived around 15,000 years ago. 

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Image Consulting for Executives: Men's Holiday Gift Ideas

Kingsman + Deakin & Francis rose gold chevron money clip ($395) – Many of my clients use money clips, so I’m always on the lookout for extra cool and different ones. This rose gold chevron one is a great find — totally unique and eye-catching.

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FOR HER

Image Consulting for Executives: Men's Holiday Gift Ideas

D.L. & Co snake journal ($35) – There’s something so luxurious about pulling a gorgeous journal out of your bag to write in, and this glitter snake journal does not disappoint. If snakes aren’t her thing, D.L. & Co. has a number of other lovely options including feathers and butterflies. 

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Image Consulting for Executives: Men's Holiday Gift Ideas

Eberjey pajama set ($102) – Nice pajamas are the kind of thing women rarely buy for themselves but make them feel totally pampered when slipping into them at night (I will admit though that I inspired myself with this post and picked up a couple pairs of these for myself). 

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Image Consulting for Executives: Men's Holiday Gift Ideas

$495 Dana Rebecca earrings – Every woman needs a pair of signature everyday earrings — ones she can wear to spin class and straight into the shower after — without having to remember to remove them (who has time for that, really?). Jewelry is also an awesome gift because it’s something she can wear but that you don’t have to worry about sizing for. Bonus is she’ll think of you whenever she looks in the mirror.

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Image Consulting for Executives: Men's Holiday Gift Ideas

Miscere weekender bag with zip on/off appliqués ($650) – I discovered these Miscere weekender bags on Instagram a while back and became obsessed immediately. With interchangeable fabrics/patterns to choose from for the center panel, she can adjust the look seasonally or just according to her mood or outfit. Such a smart idea in this era of “bespoke” everything.

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Image Consulting for Executives: Men's Holiday Gift Ideas

Lana Jewelry necklace ($980) – If you want to roll a little bigger on the jewelry front than the earrings above, then have at this black mother of pearl and quartz necklace. It has tons of different colors in it and will therefore work with a lot of different outfits. It’s unique, sexy, earthy and interesting — lots going on in one piece!

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Here’s to a hip and happy holiday season.

Cheers,

Julie


Boss Level Layering

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With Fall on the way, it’s time to get down to the important business of layering.

Layering is THE way to get through transition seasons like Fall and Spring where there can be dramatic fluctuations in temperature at different points in the day. To make Fall shopping easier for you, below I’ve shared 4 of my top picks to layer with for layering this season, within a range of budgets, so there’s something for everyone.

$0-100 Thin Sweater – This sweater is the perfect basic. You can wear it in place of a standard dress shirt under a sportcoat or suit jacket. It can go under a thick button-up shirt, and even under a chunky, textured cardigan sweater.

$100-150 Dressy Hoodie – Another versatile piece of knitwear, this hooded linen blend cardigan is perfect zipped up or left open in place of a jacket on a crisp day. For dressier occasions, you can wear it in place of or under a sportcoat/suit jacket (with or without neckwear).

$150-200 Lightweight Vest – Like the hoodie above, this vest can go beneath a sportcoat/suit jacket (the idea behind this look is that just a portion of the vest or hoodie peeks out on either side of the jacket opening, thereby creating visual interest. Unlike the sweater, however, the vest can also go on top of the jacket. For casual looks, try it as shown above right over a dress shirt and zip-neck sweater. The three collars work together nicely as they frame the face.

$200-250 Denim Overshirt – A.P.C. is a French brand known for high quality denim. A shirt like this will only get better with time. Wear it over a t-shirt, henley, or thin sweater like the first one listed above. Leave it unbuttoned or buttoned just to the bottom of your breastbone.


How to Shop on a Budget

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I know how it is. Your wardrobe is missing some key pieces, but you don’t have tons of cash to devote to the resolution. Don’t worry — I’ve got your back! Read on for some of my best budget shopping secrets.

  1. Get on the lists – There are some great flash sale and deal sites out there like Jack Threads and Gilt. These websites have daily drops of curated collections at excellent prices (and yes, you can typically return things that don’t work). Also, make sure to check out Dappered, which is a site that shares some of the best deals to be found on the web.
  2. Make friends with the salespeople – Salespeople (naturally) like to make sales. For that reason, a really good salesperson will go out of his or her way to let you know when certain items are going on sale, often in advance. If there’s a store with clothing you typically like, look for a friendly salesperson who will add you to their “book” and let you know when the items you’re interested in are going on sale before the sale gets announced to the general public. They may even be able to put things on hold for you so that you can snatch the items up before anyone else gets them.
  3. Set up alerts – If you find an item you like online that’s out of your budget, you can set up a sale alert so that you’re notified of when the price drops. ShoptagrNifti and Rack It Up are three sites that do this for you.
  4. Get the code – Most online stores will give you 10-20% off just for signing up for their list. That allows you to take a good amount right off the top. You can also try googling the store name plus the word “code” or “coupon,” and you may be able to get a discount that way too.

Happy Fall, and happy bargain-hunting!

Cheers,

Julie