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Finally! Heels are LOWER! More on Shoes for Spring-Summer 2014

10 Mar
My local DSW on a Friday afternoon...

My local DSW on a Friday afternoon…

Steve Madden Ireney D'orsay Flat in gold.  comes in black too

Steve Madden Ireney D’orsay Flat in gold. comes in black too

Took a trip to my local DSW the other day, and while I didn’t find much color on the shelves just yet, I found a plethora of kitten heels, flats, and heels hovering around the 3 to 3.5 inch height.  Not to mention that there were hardly any humungous platforms or sky high stilettos that have had women hobbling around for the past couple of years.

The shapes of shoes have changed slightly, too.  I saw a bunch of round-toe pumps reminiscent of the court shoes of the 1980s.  Now, I’m not impressed with those, especially since most of the lower heels pictured on celebs and in fashion mags are all pointy-toe.  Maybe they’re waiting to roll out the pointy-toe ones until a bit later in the season.  There were plenty of D’Orsay style, in medium height, kitten, and flat heels. Some of the flats also had cute ankle straps and pointy toes.

Nine West Selena D'Orsay Pump with Kitten heel

Nine West Selena D’Orsay Pump with Kitten heel

The best selection right now is in patent leather and neutral, skin tone shoes.  The skin tone shoes will be great to wear from early spring all the way through till Fall, and are amazingly flattering on just about everyone.  Shop around and find a pair that is a close match–or even exact match– to your own skin tone for a sleek look.  A lot of gorgeous pointy-toe black patent leather shoes are out there right now, some with contrasting white or beige trim or with a cap toe (I have super fond memories of black patent leather Mary Janes when I was a kid.  The classic “Easter shoe.”)

Bandolino Intimate Pump $49.95  Black and white patent!

Bandolino Intimate Pump $49.95 Black and white patent!

Now’s not the time to buy a pair of sandals, unless you’re traveling to a warmer climate and really need a pair.  Gladiator styles, especially high, boot-style gladiators, will be showing up for the summer, as will platform sandals with fabric, sculpted, or woven-texture wedges.  Stick to pumps and flats and you’ll find some beautiful styles and great buys!

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Fashion Trend Spring-Summer 2014: ORANGE

28 Feb

It wasn’t just when I was leafing through my March fashion mags that I noticed the surfeit of orange.  It was also when I was shopping the other day.  Orange, orange everywhere!  and I’m not talking shades like tangerine or coral.  I’m talking serious ORANGE.  Like Florida fruit orange.  Like Syracuse University Orangemen ORANGE.  It’s bad enough that there are no words to rhyme with orange, let alone have to try to incorporate this color into one’s spring-summer wardrobe.  That is, unless you keep it pretty simple with a lot of navy, white, and chambray shirts.  Then, orange to your heart’s content!
However, for those of us whom orange would be an imprudent fashion choice, I’d suggest the following:

1. Go for the footwear.  Shoes are always a great primary accessory to have in a fashion color.   I’m really fond of

The Stacey flat available at Shoemint.com $69.98.

The Stacey flat available at Shoemint.com $69.98.

Shoemint’s Stacey flat.  But if you want something more summer-y, I’d wait till more of the spring-summer goods roll out.  There should be a good selection at most stores.

2.  Scarves, purses and other accessories.  I’m going to crochet a nice, but not too big, purse that I can use as a clutch or shoulder bag.  Yes, my skills are *that* good :)

3.  Go for the lipstick.  I purchased the NP Set “Noosa” lipstick that I featured in this post.  I’ve been playing with it–changing up the lip liner and gloss to get the right look for me.  For the most part, I like it.  In a couple of days I’ll have a tutorial on how I apply it and make it work for me.

Swimwear is also another place to display orange (but I haven’t even considered looking at swimwear yet.  Not when it’s -1 degree outside.)  So, don’t think that you have to have that orange skirt or dress or anything that won’t work for you, because you can find an accessory that will update your look pretty easily.

 

**Note:  Pantone said the “it” color this year is “Radiant Orchid”–but I haven’t seen it much anywhere.  Not even in home decorating.  Pantone may have missed the mark with this one.

Seven Simple Steps to Get Rid of the “Back Fat” Look

24 Feb

“ugh! I’ve got the worst back fat.…”

It takes more than being skinny to not have back fat. Try tailoring a garment or wearing a slip.

It takes more than being skinny to not have back fat. Try tailoring a garment or wearing a slip.

“I can’t wear those.  I have too much back fat.”

“Sometimes I can get my bra to cover my back fat….”

Yeah, you know you’ve said all of these, or a variation of one, at some time or another.  You’ve heard your friends say this too.  No matter how hard we work out, or how many diets we try, that pesky back fat never goes away!  WTHeck is it with back fat?  And why does it always become sooo obvious underneath our clothes??

There are a lot of reasons for what we call “back fat.”  Oprah’s buddy Dr. Oz explains the reason for back fat, yet it seems like the only way to get rid of it is to do some sort of medical procedure.  The idea of simply exercising off the back fat ain’t gonna work.  And even if you build up the muscle underneath (as I did years ago) you could end up with bulgy muscle rather than bulgy fat.  Shapewear is a great solution, and often works…

HOWEVER…..

One of the biggest reasons for our back fat problem/embarrassment happens to be our poorly-made clothes rendered in cheap, stretchy materials.  Think about this:  a lot of what we wear these days is some sort of stretch jersey or ponte knit(what we used to call “polyester knit.”)  These are both soft and often amazingly stretchy and unforgiving materials.  The cheaper the jersey or knit, the more it’s going to cling to every bump and bulge you have or think you have.  The cheap stuff can cling in such horrid ways that you can actually think you have more fat than you really have!  Buying a cheap jersey or cheap knit in a larger size in hopes that it will “float” over the fat ain’t gonna work either.  What more material will do is bunch up and potentially create an even bigger back fat roll

Another reason for the look of “back fat” is that most of our clothing isn’t tailored to our bodies.  Because most of what is offered to us and what we buy is this stretchy stuff, it supposedly doesn’t need tailoring. But if you happen to be not the height of the average fit model (which is about 5 ft 7in.) you will have excess material that, depending on your body type, might bunch up.  That bunching isn’t your fault.  It’s that there’s too much material.  If you or someone you know is able to make a dart or alter the back of your dress to fit your back configuration, you may have less or no back fat at all.

A slip can sometimes help disguise the back fat problem.  One would be quite surprised at the numbers of women who don’t know about slips–not to mention that they may be not only hard to find in stores but also terribly made of cheap materials.

Too tight foundation garments or a too tight waistband on jeans will also give you a “back fat” look.  A bra band that is too tight will certainly cut in and create a roll of fat above and below the bra line.  Simple solution here: buy the correct bra size.  As for jeans, go for a mid-rise rather than a low-rise waist.  Even if you buy jeans that are low in the front with a slightly higher back, you will end up with some kind of a roll–this time in the front, over your waistband, like a pot belly instead of a muffin top.  Also, do not cinch your  belt so tight that it creates a roll.  If your jeans are so loose that you feel the need to cinch them so tightly, it might be time for a new, smaller size.  Be glad you’re smaller and don’t give yourself a “roll” where you don’t have one. :)

So,  what can be done about “back fat”?  Here are a few simple steps to take

1.  Do not buy clothing that clings too much.  This is often not possible, esp. if you’re on a budget, so….

2.  Purchase a slip or two,  and a camisole or two, in good materials or

3.  Purchase good foundation garments (I prefer the Flexees brand.  Cost effective and great control.)

4.  Make sure your bra fits correctly, and do not cinch belts too tight to create “rolls.”

5.  Get the garment tailored-OR

6.  Learn to make simple alterations (like back darts) in a sewing class.

7.  If you can, avoid cheap materials by purchasing better quality clothing in your correct size.  If a garment is too big or too small it will accentuate whatever “back fat” you have.

These simple steps will go a long way to getting rid of that pesky “back fat” without surgery or excessive exercise.  Give it a try!

Understanding the difference between Fashion and Style

20 Feb

Fashion Is

Saw this the other day on xoJane.  Love it.  I don’t know who said it, and it’s a good place to start when it comes to understanding the difference between fashion and style.  There are, though, a few more subtle ideas in the whole “fashion vs. style” distinction that a whole lot of us either don’t learn or have a hard time understanding.  Here’s how I’ve come to understand the difference between the two….

Fashion is the mode of dress associated with particular time periods.  The 20th century, the one most of us understand, had amazing fashion decades–not just fashion time periods that lasted oh, 20 or 50 years or so, but crazy 10 year increments.  Hemlines were up, then down, then up, then bolstered by huge crinolines.  Then way, way up where your underwear could be seen.  Then down, then somewhere in between.  But then shoulders got so big that one’s earrings could easily rest on them.

In the 60's it was mini-skirts for all.

In the 60′s it was mini-skirts for all.

The funny thing, though, is that not much in fashion has changed since sometime in the late 1990′s.  Oh, sure, young women aren’t walking around in Doc Martens, and I gave up my long, tiny floral print dresses for “body conscious” graphic prints, but our casual wear–or what most people wear on a daily basis–remains jeans and tee-shirts. As a friend recently said on Facebook, a picture from a bunch of people in a bar sometime in the 80′s looks pretty much like a picture of people in a bar today.  Except maybe no mullets.

Perhaps the two things that will be remembered about the early days of the 20th century are monster high heels for women–the kind only strippers used to wear– and beards on men–the kind that only lumberjacks used to wear.  If you’ve been a young adult person during this time, these are the two things that you’ll probably most remember, the same way you’ll remember how much Katy Perry annoyed a whole lot of people and why on earth you bought that Hot Chelle Ray CD (sorry Hot Chelle Ray…)

Steve Madden "Deeny" platform pumps, which you can buy right now at Macy's.com  (where you can't buy health insurance in case you break an ankle with these.)

Steve Madden “Deeny” platform pumps, which you can buy right now at Macy’s.com (where you can’t buy health insurance in case you break an ankle with these.)

Fashion is essentially what ties our memories to a particular time in our lives. That “time” is mostly when we are young adults, when we can wear just about anything that anyone dishes up can be bought super-cheap in “fast fashion” stores like Forever 21 and Zara (they used to be called “knockoff shops.”)

This is also the period in our lives when we begin to form an image of ourselves and begin to understand who we are and who we might be in the adult world. Sometime, our identities get caught up in The Times, and when The Times move on–when Hippies are no longer hip, or New Wave becomes Grunge, or whatever–we essentially “lose” our style. What really happens is we have confused Fashion with Style.

So, what, then is style (and what , too, are those ways we used to dress?)

Style is the way in which you “mash up” fashion–be it past, present, jeans or dresses or suits–with your own personality and aesthetic (or artistic) sense.  It’s where some women will wear A-line skirts because that cut is both “in” fashion right now, looks good on them,  may be in a color they happen to like, and goes along with how they feel about themselves.  It’s also how some women will wear very short skirts that barely cover their butts because the skirts are “in” fashion, and perhaps say something about how they feel about themselves.  Same way a guy with a beer belly may walk around the beach in a Speedo….that’s just his style (much to the chagrin and visual horror to the rest of us.)

Ok, some folks don’t have an “artistic” sense–nor do they have a sense of what fits best on their bodies.  And yes, we can see that in the way they dress.  They may love their “style,” but it might not be much of a style.  Most of us though  have a sense of how we want others to see and perceive us, and we use our clothing to express that as much as we use clothes to express ourselves.  Sometimes our “style” gets dictated by where we end up working, or the role we take in our family lives.  There is a “mommy” style (most noted by “mom jeans” for a particular “mom” age group) as much as there’s a  corporate “look” or a “look” associated with tech geeks, etc.  People will wear a “look” because it lets others in the group know that they, too, belong in that group.

But sometimes one’s style sends the wrong message to a group.  Here’s an example of my own bad style judgement:  when I worked in social media, I had the opportunity to speak to groups of local business executives.  I noticed that the men wore mostly charcoal or navy suits, white shirts, and a basic kind of tie.  What distinguished some from others was the cost or tailoring of their suits.  For the women, they wore either suits or dresses. Both clothing and shoes came from better stores, and outfits were also tailored.  The first time I spoke to a group like this, I made a gigantic faux pas and wore a kitschy tee shirt, jeans and cowboy boots.  I didn’t realize that, if one is going to speak to a group of business executives and business owners about something brand new in business, one would be best heard if he/she is dressed like the group.

Sure, the whole tee shirt and cowboy boots thing *was* my “style” at the time, but it wasn’t going to project the image I needed.  Nor did it adequately project who I am.  Thing is, that style at that time was a default–a choice because I didn’t quite know where I was, nor who the people in the group were and what they were about.

They say that clothes don’t mean anything–just be who you are and everything will go fine. Especially if you are wicked smart and on the “cutting edge.”  They are totally wrong.  Clothes mean a lot.  Clothes can make or break you, and perhaps your reputation, if you are an unknown quantity in a group–which was a big lesson for me.

Clothing really does indeed make the man (or, in my case, NOT make the woman….)

Others, however, learn the lessons of clothing earlier.  So, what happens is that we adapt what we see of fashion–of modern modes of dress–to fit the group that we are part of professionally or personally or both.  This can lead to having more than one wardrobe: causal for “down time” and professional for “work.”

For some folks this is fine, and it all kind of meshes with who they are, their lifestyle, etc. It’s the guy who wears a suit all week, then doesn’t wash his hair and wears tie-dyed tees on the weekend.  Or the woman who still wears “court shoes” with her business suits.   But this way of being, can also lead to massive wardrobe dissatisfaction and a sense of loss of identity for some others  Yeah, I know that’s a bit strong, that latter part there, but it happens. We settle for a  “serious” job that pays well, and immediately follow The Rules for how to dress for that job.  Or the “fashion” changes and we don’t quite know who we’ve become without that fashion.  Or some other life circumstance changes us in some way–sometimes it’s just that our body changes–and we’re not quite sure what looks right, or what fits right, or we are really REALLY disappointed in what we see in stores that is offered to our particular age demographic.  “That’s not ME,” we say.  Yet we don’t quite know who is ME beyond that man or woman that we were back before whatever it was changed us.

So, this may seem a far-flung way to get back around to the idea of style–and it all comes down to this: Style starts not with fashion, but with YOU.   If you are unhappy with how you are dressing at any time, if you are looking at yourself in a mirror and think “what happened to ME? where’s the ME in all these clothes?” you just might not know enough about who you are in your life, at any given time.  Or, you might be wildly dissatisfied with how your life’s been going.

Style is a whole lot more than clothing, and while people can help you figure out what looks good on you as far as colors and cuts of clothing, no one can give you a style out of a box or book that you will ever feel completely comfortable wearing every day.  All of that is up to you.

If you want to find out more about the whole fashion and style thing, I’d suggest reading 101 Things I learned in Fashion School.  I love this little book and have learned so much from it. Have Fun!101 Things I Learned in Fashion School_edited

What I learned about luxury designer clothing from an afternoon on Net-a-Porter.com

12 Feb

Net-a-Porter Continue reading

Three Spring 2014 Trends That Will Lift Your Spirits Now

10 Feb

I don’t know about the weather where you are, but the snow here in New England is driving me bonkers!  We’ve got more than a foot of the white stuff on the ground and we’re expecting a boatload more from a Nor’easter expected to hit on Thursday.  To say that I’ve got the “winter blahs” would be the understatement of the year.  I’m tired of wearing wool and long underwear, tired of snow boots and just tired of the same old same old that happens when the weather hovers between -5 and 20 F (and that’s on a good day.)  So, I combed through my collection of February and March mags and came up with three great Spring 2014 trends you can work into your wardrobe now to bring a little fun and cheer into your particular frozen wasteland….

1.  Try a bright orange lipstick.  I wasn’t sure about this one, but tafter seeing Leslie Stahl on 60 Minuets in a great shade of tangerine, I

NP Set Noosa lipstick available at Target

NP Set Noosa lipstick available at Target

realized that anyone can wear this lipstick.  There are so many shades and textures out there that I’m sure you can find one to work for your skin tone and age.  I”m thinking of trying an NP Set lipstick in Noosa (which is a “staff favorite) over there, and looks like it would compliment many skin tones nicely.  Oh, and if you’re worried about it seeping into the fine lines, use a nice neutral lip liner to create a barrier and keep it from smudging.

Love this crazy-bold rope print from Worthington at JC Penney.

Love this crazy-bold rope print from Worthington at JC Penney.

2. Wear a graphic print shift dress.   I already have a couple of these in my wardrobe but they are popping up in stores right now, in materials that are wearable in winter.  Wear with tights, wool socks and tall boots.  Also, wearing a nice shaping cami underneath will give you a nice shape, nice fit and add some extra warmth.  Paring with a solid cardigan works, too   Graphic print sheaths are so versatile you can team them with boots one day, and when spring finally hits, a pair of peep toe pumps.

3. Try a pastel.  Usually, I can’t stand pastels, but when I spotted a gorgeous seafoam green blouse in Target a couple of weeks ago,

Mini Square print blouse from Loft.com will easily go from winter to spring

Mini Square print blouse from Loft.com will easily go from winter to spring

and reviewed a pictorial in the February Harper’s Bazaar that featured mint green for spring, I started to re-think the whole pastel thing.  Pinks–all the various shades are out for me (I’m too fair) but mint and seafoam green will work.  Team a pastel with jeans and a navy blue, gray, or black cardigan (depending on the pastel shade) and you’ve brought a little bit of spring into your dead, dull winter wear.

So, even if you’ve never gone for any of these three trends before, give them a try now.  You might end up liking them and lifting your spirits just a bit. :)

Menswear Moment: Stylin’ men of the Grammys

28 Jan

Unlike many of the women, who, in some cases, would change their outfits a total of three times during the evening (one for the red carpet, one for presenting/accepting, and one for the after-party of choice,)  the men usually don’t do that kind of thing.  Once you have a suit on, it *stays* on, no matter where you go or what you do before, during, or afterward.  And, unlike the Oscars, or Golden Globes, which are big on boring tuxedos, the Grammys are chock full of creative and cool menswear moments.  Here are some of my faves….. Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis doing the velvet thing.  Guys, don’t try this one if you are over 40, no matter how hot you think you are…..

Not sure about the Hush Puppies on Macklemore, but, hey, what else do you wear with teal velvet?

Not sure about the Hush Puppies on Macklemore, but, hey, what else do you wear with teal velvet?

Old dudes be stylin’!  Smokey Robinson and Steven Tyler looking quite classy.  Tyler’s choice of white was fabulous for him–who always has a touch of the flamboyantly fabulous in himself…..

Smokey Robinson and Steve Tyler at Grammys 2014

These old guys had more style between the two of them than all the old ladies combined–considering all the old ladies showed up in black like it was one big, giant funeral.

Ozzy is as Ozzy does….but dig the purple lining on that jacket!  so cool! Ozzy at Grammys 2014 Lars Ulrich apparently believes he can accessorize with a much younger, much taller woman and no one will notice how kinda old and skinny he looks….not flattering either way…. Lars UlrichAs I mentioned in my note about the old guys–Smokey and Steven–so many of the “old ladies” at the show were decided downers, mostly in black pants outfits, some with oversized hats, looking like they’re all attending someone’s funeral.  Props for Gloria Estefan, who dared to be beautiful in red Gloria Estefan at Grammys 2014 When some of the older men look so much better than so many of the older women (and don’t get me started on Madonna! argh!) it makes me think that the women either have terrible stylists or certainly feel bad about themselves.  Or perhaps they’ve just lost that sense of fun.  Either way, it’s no wonder that Steven Tyler is a style “role model” for so many older women!  The guy may be as ugly as anything, but man! can he dress for the occasion!  Most certainly the best ensemble of the evening, even beating out Pharrell’s vintage Vivienne Westwood “Buffalo Gals” Smokey Bear hat! Pharrellthus proving that sometimes, even the hippest people can make very silly fashion choices–esp. when it comes to vintage!

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