Monday, October 31, 2011

Working Overtime

The fashion articles I enjoy the most are the ones that talk about a piece of clothing that "multi-tasks". I love this concept because when you buy something that you really, really love to wear, you want to wear it often to recapture that good feeling you get every time you have it on. Also, it makes sense financially to purchase pieces that can be used in many outfits, thus reducing the 'cost-per-wear' of expensive items.

One of my current favorite multi-taskers is a black long sleeved semi-sheer T, originally purchased to go under an elbow length grey sweater with stunning faux leather patches on the shoulders. The sweater is medium heavy in weight and the idea of wearing it without an underpinning seems "undone" to me. I absolutely avoid turtlenecks (a personal fetish), but that would have been a likely substitute as well.

But this lacy T has improved the look and extended the wear of summer thin v-neck shirts and looks awesome under a partially unbuttoned denim shirt as well. And wonder of wonders, the grey and black knit dress with the cap sleeves is also benefiting from this light but sexy underlayer.
That's a lot of  use for a shirt I got for only $7.99 at Marshalls. The thing is, I also have one in cream that I bought specifically to wear under a sleeveless tunic with  cream lace at the shoulders. It blends together and makes the tunic cool weather appropriate. But now that my black T is becoming so useful, I'll have to try the cream one with some of my other blouses and/or sweaters.  (Hint: this is like shopping your own, refer back to post titled Shopping My Closet to see how it looks under the LBD.)

I can only think of one other item in my wardrobe that is as useful as these two tops other than my trusty favorite pashmina scarf/shawl. I first saw one years ago on my sister Mari while she was still living in Indiana. It is a green print (green is my fave color) and it seemed to not only suit her personality, but also her wardrobe. Despite being a print, she wore it with other prints and it just seemed, well, right.

I bought my first one 3 years ago and I have to say, it was an excellent choice. (See photo.) As well as being my very favorite print - paisley - the coloring goes with just about everything I own. And it looks right with so many outfits. As a final flourish (infinity scarf over a T or jacket) or as an additional layer of warmth (think tossed around your shoulders on a chilly September evening), this pashmina elevates an outfit from good enough to great. And I always always get compliments when I wear it.

I actually own 5 pashminas now but I've only photographed the favorite for this post. Far from being an 'old lady' accoutrement, it is a timely and stylish addition to the wardrobe of any woman of any age. I have a lovely bright yellow one that my daughter Amanda brought back from NYC for me last year, and my step-daughter Kate gave me a gorgeous kelly green one for Christmas a few years ago. The other two are a blue/green/teal combo in paisley (yay!) and another tan based one with autumnal accent colors. Love them all.

Do you have a wardrobe workhorse? 
The Twins
Nosy Kitty     

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fashion What?

What, exactly, is fashion? "Umm, what do mean?, you ask"....Fair enough; what does fashion mean to you - yes YOU - personally? Is it something you read about in magazines, or is it something you experience in your life as a means of self-expression? Clearly, I side with the latter.

Fashion can be more than just the clothes on your back if you'll just take the time to personalize it. Think about this: people who see you/meet you for the first time/already know you make a snap judgement about who you are and what you're all about in the first few seconds of laying eyes on you. (You do the same to everybody else, whether you know it or not.) That's why, for example, most people dress so carefully for an important job interview, or meeting the the In-Laws to-be, or even (gasp!) the 'ladies who lunch'!

                                                                Is This You??!!
 Yeah, I thought that is just frumpy at any age!  She looks that makes me sad....Maybe okay for cleaning the garage, but could you please consider not wearing it to the grocery store?

All it takes is knowing who you are and what you are. Okay, I'll be the guinea pig for this exercise.  I am a 56 year old average gal. I'm so average that even my name is Gail. Here's what I know about myself: I love being a Grandma, which totally surprises me; until I was in my late 40's that was, trust me, the last thing I wanted to be. Then all my friends started beaming and showing around photos of their little grandbabies and I lusted for my own. The day (Christmas, 2006) my daughter told me she was expecting, I broke down in tears of joy, and have never looked back.

I have been very active in helping to raise my granddaughter Abby, but does it mean I dress like the above sad, sad chick? No!!! I even bought special clothing to wear to play with Abbykins on the days I babysat with her, and I DO NOT mean sweatshirts with little teddies on them or ugly Christmas sweaters. And if you ever catch me in anything with Precious Moments on it you should assume I've succumbed to Alzheimer's.
                                                           Now that's more like it!
That was easy. So what else do I know about myself that I can reflect back in my personal style? Well, crazy as it sounds, I'm in a rock and roll band. I sing the oldies, yes I do. And I love the attention when I'm on stage. But given my age I am not going to garb myself in all black; that's so NYC socialite.
                                                        Beautiful color, beautiful details.

I'm going to wear something that shows me as the confident female that I am deep inside. Clothing that doesn't scream, but invites a glance, or two. Because I'm not really a screamer, so why would I wear this:

She looks a little demented. And even though I enjoy the occasional monotone outfit, that color would probably be my last choice...

One final thing I know about myself and am willing to share here, is that I love color. But that is a concept that can easily be taken to clown proportions if you're not editing yourself. Okay, myself. Key to using color effectively is learning what colors look good on you. This is so serious that there is a "Color Institute" and back in the 80's/90's people were having color experts 'do their colors'. Remember? Where you an Autumn or a Summer?

It's seems silly in retrospect, but knowing what shades suit your skin tone, hair color and personality can make dressing like your best self  a snap. My favorite color is green, always has been. But it's a cold day in Dubai when you see me wear it. That's because green makes me look jaundiced and just a little bit 'deer-in-the-headlights'. But turquoise! (which I also love) makes me look like Venus on the half shell.

That's one of the universally flattering colors, by the way. Turquoise or teal, soft pink, red and eggplant-y purple are practically guaranteed to work with every skin tone and hair color. Bonus: they all go equally well when mixed with black, navy or grey.

                                          Vivienne Westwood dress. Gorgeous on any gal.

So who is your neighbor/the folks at the DMV/the ticket taker at "The King & I" going to see when you show up? Somebody or YOU?

                                                       Now that's what I'm talking about!

Till next time, keep it classy ladies! XO

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A New and Continuing Feature....

HelloHello! Today is the first of a new type of article that I'll repeat on various topics and occasions: Don't Wear That - Wear This!

With the coming Fall/Winter chill in many parts of this USA and the world, hats will be showing up on our heads. But what hat is right for you; for your age, for your style, for your needs? The warmest hat is not always the right hat for you. Let me show you:

                                                                      Don't Wear That Hat!
That's a warm hat! And it will certainly look cute on the 8 to 18 year olds that it is aimed towards. Oh, and the Spin Doctors (a music group from the early 2000's). Now, here's a warm hat for us:

                                                                 Do Wear This Hat!
A classic Tam o'Shanter, or Tam looks nice on a woman of any age. Because the styling is classic.  That's what it means....goes with anything/anybody. Now let's try a few more; what is a good casual hat for we women of a certain age?

                                                              Don't Wear That Hat!
Wow, she looks cute! But included in her cute look is the absence of a sagging jawline and thinning hair. C'mon, put one on and look in the mirror...really look. Not so cute. But what about this one?

                                                                   Wear This Hat!
Note how nice the hat looks on different aged gals. A fun not-overly floppy hat is the right hat for us!

Here are some other hats in the usual department store....
  Bucket hat; yep, looks like a bucket on her head!
I call this one the Dynasty Dowager look!
              Pseudo western caballero hat. Too many words in the description to wear it!
                                    Newsboy cap, or newsgirl. I haven't been "news" for awhile.
One more hat in our exploration of appropriate headgear; the on trend hat. What does that mean? Well, everything in the world of fashion has it's moment in the spotlight, or is currently on trend. Hats are no exception.

What's on trend in hats this Fall are Fedoras, that masculine topper that ladies adopted sometime around the Annie Hall movie debut (1977). Coincidentally, the "Annie Hall Look", or a masculine tempered with feminine look is back again. It never really goes out of style in my opinion, and is quite suitable for women like us (recall the lovely Katherine Hepburn).

Back to the Fedora:

               Wear This Hat!

This young gal can sport her fedora with a lacy dress/denim jacket combo but we'd be better off pairing it with a classic trench or a new-again poncho/ruana/cape. Making stylish choices in clothing and accessories is easy to do once you know the formula: classic equals classy.

Keep it classy, ladies! XO

Friday, September 30, 2011

Same Old, Same Old

Every season I end up reading half a dozen articles that contain something like this: "blah blah blah hemlines, blah blah blah patterns, blah blah blah THE know what I mean. The truth is, hemlines of varying lengths will always be available to suit our personal preferences, patterns of every stripe (little play on words) will always be around, and you should only wear colors that flatter you, regardless of whatever the IT color is that season.

Fall 2011 shows us retro 60's and 70's looks, mixing in menswear, ladylike, rocker chic, boho accents and some faux fur and leather for good measure. So much. Too much? What's not to like? Well, I'll tell you....

I read an article the other day where the writer, an actual fashion writer, was questioning "shooties". Apparently she had not heard the term before, a description of footwear that is shoe-ish yet boot-ish. "Honey, (my inner dialogue said) shooties have been around for at least 3 years, this time around." Two years ago I couldn't afford a pair; last year I bought an excellent suede and snakeskin pair, and you're questioning their existence just now??!!

                                  I am a shootie. I am peep-toed and ruffly. Aren't I pretty?

That's not my own personal shootie above, but you get the idea. So, this being the third year this type of shoe/boot hybrid is available, why is it that someone who should know better doesn't know. I don't like my fashion writers to be uniformed. (So that's why I read a lot of fashion blogs instead...)

Something else I don't like: the bringing back of ugly clothing. If it was ugly in 1987 or 1967, why bring it up again like a vurp? Case in point, 2009's 'strong shoulder' jacket was just a new way to say "I'll have some more of that dopey Dynasty look"....Let's just admit it here and now - the only women who ever looked, who will ever look decent in big fat overstuffed puffy shoulders are Linda Evans and Joan Collins. In fact, these two should be forced to wear that look forever. To remind the rest of us not to go there.

                                           See my shoulders! I am woman, see me catfight!

 What was ugly in 1967? Well, maybe Nicole Ritchie can wear a string around her forehead and look nutty, but that's not for me. The 'Hippie Look' was generated by those opposed to The Establishment (which people are now part of...) as a backlash against corporate greed. The 'Asian Look' was trying to become a part of our world, but let's face it, Asian clothing only looks good on Asian women. And ah yes! Russian Cossack styles were being shown on the Parisian runways. Just what a Cali gal needs: a nice full length maxi-coat with a huge blob of fur on her head.

What happened to the Cold War? And didn't we just blow up half of Japan a few decades before? And kick Korea's butt? Was this payback? I don't like it when fashion tries to force extreme and inappropriate styles down our throats.

                                                           Yum! Big dead animals on my head!

                  What a cute little cheongsam. Back away from the Asian dress, white woman.

So, I don't like writers that don't know what's going on, then and now, and I don't like stupid fashion. Is good fashion and good writing too much to ask?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Subject Was Shoes, Pt. 2

Back again to search for meaning in shoes....

As a confirmed shoe-aholic, I can't tell you to get rid of an old pair each time you buy a new pair, no matter what the evil closet organizers advise. You never know when that old bump toe pump will come back in style. One of my younger sisters, Carole, sings part-time in a retro 80's band ( and she has the choice of several pairs of authentic 80's era shoes to wear with her costumes, thanks to her careful hoarding of every piece of clothing she has ever owned.

Not that I do that myself. I have changed clothing and shoe size so many times in the last decade that I wouldn't have room for everything I've ever owned. But Carole has closets galore.

Our other sis, Mari, is more circumspect about shoes; comfort is key with her, but she still has a style all her own, that she wears with true fierceness. I think she owns two pair. Probably identical. But they get her where she's going. She's not a shoe freak, she's into artistic makeup. Check out her blog:

So this proves that not all women care deeply about shoes. But I do. Below, a few from my collection:

See how they all get along so well? Unlike kids, who argue about everything.

So, we tend to have big feet in my family. Sizes 9&1/2, 10, 11....perhaps that's why shoes are so important. When you're saddled with horse hooves, saddle shoes don't cut it. We always feel the need to prettify what we find unattractive; therefore, big feet deserve the distraction of gorgeous footwear. Good! I think I'm on my way to solving the riddle.

Then there are the clothes we need to complement with appropriate shoes. For instance, a very plain ensemble could stand a punch of color or style. Jewelry is too small a gesture. Try a knockout pair of shoes! Or juxtapose a pair of funky boots with a flowy dress for an edge. And this brings me to point number 2 - shoes can change your life! Think of it: you're walking along and someone notices your shoes. They complement you, yay! You feel good about yourself that day; smart, attractive, confident, a style maven.

Then again, shoes can be your excuse to splurge on yourself. Every woman has some aspect of her life where she takes just a little bit better care of herself than on other fronts.  For some it's skin care products, for others hair care. If you don't treat yourself well with something, then what are you doing all the hard work of living for? Shoes are your very foundation, so why not buy the best you can afford for your dear little feet?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Subject was Shoes

Back in, oh, say, the 2000's, shoes were a status symbol. Since replaced by handbags (more about that later), shoes continue to fascinate me. And most of the women I know. The question is: WHY? The answer is: I DON'T KNOW!  Maybe I'll discover it here....

I first became aware of shoes, that is to say, bothered/enamored/confused by shoe-ideology when I was in elementary school. For some reason, my Mom bought plaid adorned saddle shoes for me. My older sister Linda got the standard issue black & whites, and I got a red plaid version. Red. Plaid. Even at the tender ago of 7 I knew there was something wrong with that.

Not only was I creeped out by those shoes, I was fascinated by them. They were different...unique. Nobody else had a pair like them. It's like they were custom-made by the shoe elves. Evil shoe elves.

Then in the 6th grade, I was finally able to pick out my own pair of shoes. We got only two pair per year at that time; sneakers and dress shoes. Oh, and flip flops in the summer. Mine were yellow that year.

Anyway, the shoes I chose were a pointy-toed little black number with a bow and a tiny little heel. Not quite a kitten heel, but a heel nonetheless. My Mom campaigned against them, explaining the discomfort of heels and the impracticality of the bow, but *magically* she bought them for me. I wore them until the heel ran down cock-eyed and had to be shaved off. But I loved those shoes.

Just as I love a pair that's in my closet now: black, pointy-toed, with a kitten heel and a bow. Hmm.

Well,  I actually love all the shoes in my closet. And the ones on the bedroom floor, the ones in the living room by the front door, the ones in my secret cabinet....a shoe or boot for every occasion and mood. I love heels the most. Stiletto or chubby, stacked or tapered, wedge or platform, you get the picture.

More tomorrow....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shopping My Closet

Since I no longer work in the public sector, I don't have a lot of disposable cash for my fashion lust. I adore going to the thrift stores and searching out great items for my wardrobe, but shopping in my own closet is really the cheapest way to go!

I know you're supposed to go through your wardrobe every season, but that's BS! Who's got time (or energy) for that? I generally do it SpringSummer/FallWinter. Because let's face it ladies, where in the world do they have four seasons anymore anyway? Not in my neck of the woods, fer sher....

Anywho, I did this last week after shopping the thrift store with my also-thrifty sister Mari. We had a ton of fun and both got some excellent bargains. Of course I looked at several 5-lb. "Fall Fashion" magazines in the weeks before so I could get a handle on the upcoming trends. I do love to be 'in fashion'.

Closet organizer experts recommend that you use all the same hangers for everything in your closet for a uniform look; I say NAY. Where would I hang my slacks or skirts? Just silly, but I like the idea of having everything blending together, so I usually sort items by what it is (say, pants) and color.

Some of the treats I found when I tore out everything: a pink knit circle skirt - below the knee length and of-the-moment, 5 pairs of black pants (didn't know I had any), four hip-length blazers of different shades which happen to look great with my jeans....

I spent a few hours washing/ironing/matching things up and I feel like I just went on a shopping spree! Whee! It was so heady that I even put together some outfits to share here:
Velvet & Brocade

Dressed Up Denim
LBD Re-Styled

Autumn Hues
Western Influence