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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Real Simple Magazine September 2012

Day 242

 Sometimes I wonder ... is there some secret fashion panel that meets each season to decree which looks will be on trend? Do they spin a giant color wheel, cheering, "good color, good color!" to choose our fall palette? Do they seek out large quantities of leftovers that need to be sold? Do they snicker and wryly ask, "What bizarre thing can we get them to wear? Ten bucks we can get them to wear that bubble skirt."

We will now resume the Fashion Fashion critiques of my favorite magazines! Real Simple isn't strictly fashion but they are on the Fall Fashion bandwagon as well. The spin in this mag is "fall fashion trends for $100 or less."

Someone is really trying to push hunter green shoes. As in People Style Watch, the hunter green pump is on the first page. I just don't get it. I enjoy a splash of color in footwear but this green looks sickly, moldy, icky, reminding me once again, just because magazines say something is stylish doesn't make it so.

Tweed is a featured look. Most us us can scrounge up something tweed in our closet. pair with gold jewelry and a patterned bag on you can consider yourself right on trend!

The next featured look is Art Deco. It's really cool for a party but I don't see it working into the everyday wardrobe. Should you give this look a whirl for a night out- beware! You don't want to look like you are sporting a flapper costume (or maybe you do).

The peplum, revived from the 70s and 80s, shows up in Real Simple. They suggest pairing a peplum top with slim pants and pumps. I am intrigued ...

Cobalt blue is featured as it was in People Style Watch. This hue is lovely as long as it doesn't scream 1980s. I wish I had somewhere to wear the cobalt textured skirt on page 80, it's gorgeous.
Here's an interesting suggestion: richly colored velvets. I absolutely love this dress and I would absolutely run, not walk (and push people out of the way), to T.J. Maxx to get it. Add tights and boots and WOW!!!

Next, Real Simple suggests lace. Blah, blah, blah.

And, again with the bubble skirt!!! 

Next is the ever-popular style, "men's wear." As if we don't hear this one every fall.

And finally, some brainiac is suggesting that we wear slim pants with a metallic sheen. For daytime. If you are considering this, PLEASE see a rear-view mirror first! There are few things less flattering to mortal women than a shimmering butt. 

To sum up Real Simple's take of Fall Fashion, I'd say you probably have most of it already. I would get the velvet tunic and maybe a cobalt sweater. But I can't. And that's O.K.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Airlines: You Can't Wear That ... Flight Fashion Police

Day 240
I generally limit this blog to my own personal saga but occasionally I just have to comment on something in the news. This article titled Airlines Can Say: You Can't Wear That touched a nerve with me.

I am all about personal rights. So long as you don't harm anyone, wear what you choose, look how you choose, live how you choose. Yay First Amendment, and all that. I am more about common courtesy. And there are few circumstances where this is more important than in an airborne sardine can where hours can be spent in quarters closer than any ordinary situation. 

The article recounted some situations in which airlines, which are private companies, objected to passengers clothing. Objectors claim there is no published dress code, therefore the airline has no right to interfere with wardrobe choices. Perhaps we need a new division for the FAA, the FFP, or Flight Fashion Police, so there is something official in place.

The offense: T-shirt with "funny" message about terrorists.
The verdict: Sorry- post-9/11, there is nothing funny about it. Have a personal issue? Take it up with the FAA. Don't delay the rest of us and take up the time with airline personnel to make a statement. 
The punishment: Lose the shirt or drive.

The offense: Low hanging pants.
The verdict: I am almost positive I speak for 99.9% of Americans when I say, "We don't want to see your underpants or butt." Not on an airplane, not on the street, not ever.
The punishment: We all sing the famous "Pants on the Ground" song from American Idol.

The offense: Scantily clad passengers.
The verdict: This is largely subjective and should be based on the opinion of those traveling with said passengers.
The punishment: We live in a Democratic society so we should just vote. "Passengers on this flight--this woman is showing cleavage. By a show of hands, is it OK?" I am pretty sure we would get at least a 50% yes vote. "Passengers on this flight--this man is dressed in little more than women's underwear. Is it OK?" I'm thinking a "no" vote will win.

The offense: Odor
The verdict: Whether body odor or too much cologne, unacceptable.
The punishment: Let's get double use out of the full body scanner-thing. With a push of a button, there should be a vacuum air flow to suck all the stink off. Please proceed to the deodorant desk.

The offense: T-shirts with bad words.
The verdict: C'mon. It's just not nice.
The punishment: Puffy paints at the gate to transform words on t-shirts into friendly statements.

The offense: The over-fashioned passenger.
The verdict: We get it, you want to look good. But--this is a situation in which there is a chance you may be asked to move quickly,  exit on a slide or negotiate a narrow walkway during turbulence.
The punishment: Should you choose to teeter in 4 inch heels or sport a micro-mini or painted-on jeans, you must first pass through an obstacle course to prove you are agile and will not get in anyone else's way. If you can successfully navigate the course, welcome aboard.

The offense: The Pack Mule.
The verdict: There are some who stretch the carry-on limit to the centimeter or ounce. This puts fellow passengers at risk of being beaned by a bag.
The punishment: The aisle of the plane should be like an Operation game. If at any time down the aisle your belongings touch another passenger, a loud buzzer sounds and you are forced to forfeit the bag. 

I think these guidelines are quite reasonable. Perhaps some less conscientious passengers would think twice before boarding. Avoiding these hassles, I think more flights would stay on schedule and flight attendants and passengers would be less cranky. Perhaps we just need to nudge some folks towards common courtesy. So what do you think, I vote for me for president of the FFP!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

People Magazine Style Watch Fall 2012

Day 235

First of all, I want to apologize to our mail carrier. He's really nice, super-efficient and gives our dog treats. Unfortunately, I have probably contributed to a bad back for him thanks to the incoming fall magazines. That's right, fashionistas-- it's Fall Fashion time. And this year, the magazines are bigger that ever!

Any other year I love this time. Curling up with a thick magazine, post-it notes at the ready, I fantasize about my ultimate fall wardrobe. I'm not sure what it is about the fall, the sweaters and boots, the deep colors or soft layers but fall fashion is intoxicating. Not this year, though.

Still, I have to look so I've decided to study each one. I'll outline the supposed upcoming trends and must-haves to save you a little research. An opinion from me is likely as well. We begin with:
People Magazine Style Watch September 2012 (if you don't want to buy it, grab it in the grocery store line and go to these pages)
Let's look over their list of 10 Fall Must-haves (pages 268-281):
1. Hunter Green: They show head-to-toe looks which resemble the Jolly Green Giant. Proceed with caution!!! Small amounts of hunter green go far. Pass on the hunter green pumps, they will be in the donation bag, I can practically guarantee it!
2. Ankle Strap Heels:  Yes, yes yes. They look amazing and stay on your feet better than pumps (especially for dancing). Beware the giant ankle strap unless your ankles are super thin and your legs are SUPER long. Top pick: the Sigerson Morrison "Bachelor" model, gorgeous.
3. Military Details: This look definitely shows up on these lists every two or three seasons. Ho-hum, except Victoria Beckham's "Officer Collar Fitted" dress on page 271, fierce!!!
4. Trumpet Hems: A "trumpet hem" flares out at the bottom for a flouncy, peplum effect. Not new, but great on a knee length skirt, very flirty. If you are over 25, the mini version screams "rah, rah, rah!" Add pom poms and you've got a look.
5. Dome Bags: Read: bowling bag purse. Then forget it and keep going ...
6. Brocade: Another look that reappears every few seasons. Yes, but moderation please.
7. Jeweled Necklaces: Personally, I am beyond tired of the gargantuan statement necklace. Almost everything on this must-have page looks like it's trying wayyy too hard. I think they are scary.
8. Shift Dresses: YES! And if you don't have, get at least two, they are as comfortable as a nightgown ans look fabulous on any figure.
9. Voluminous Coats: I think a winter coat is one of the most under-rated (in terms of importance) parts of your wardrobe. It's worn so often, yet how many of you wallow through winter in a basic black coat? These coats on page 277 are beautiful bit don't overlook a more fitted version.
10. Patent Leather:  Pumps? Maybe one pair. A dress? not so much ...

They added "5 more things we love" and all are awful, particularly "Animal Motif." As a rule, I repel from anything called "motif."

Bottom line: There is very little listed that we haven't seen before. Check your closets. If these "must-haves" are there, you are ahead of the game. If they aren't, it's probably a style that you don't look good in, stay away. Most of us have a pretty good idea of what looks and feel best on ourselves. Look through the magazines, but please, don't turn away from you own style sense to try a "loafer pump." Please.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Parisian Shoe Sale ... ugh

Day 233

I've been working on a potential product customizing flip flops. I do most of my research online but sometimes I just have to feel the products. This gave me the perfect excuse to visit one of my favorite shoes departments, the one at the Parisian department store. I love this shoe department because it has a great mix of inexpensive brands up to the $200+ variety (I rarely partake of this end of the spectrum, but it's nice to look at and try on in a comfortable and non-intimidating environment). And the sales are AMAZING.

It took a total of 5 minutes to discover that they no longer had any flip flops in stock but I spent 30+ minutes looking through the "yellow tag clearance" shoe selection. I have purchased several yellow tag pairs in the past with mixed results. This sale is 70% of the lowest clearance price. 
For example: This cute pair of yellow platform sandals from Korks was originally $99. They mark them down for clearance slightly then add additional discounts as the season progresses. The price today? $22. Can you see where I would have a problem here?
Another example: These fun Steve Madden sandals were originally $89. Today: $19.80. When you can find a cute style in a good brand, and in your size, well it's something like winning a game, solving a puzzle or finding treasure. It is way more than just buying a pair of shoes.

I examined every yellow-tagged pair in my size without actually trying any on (there's pain, and then there's torture). I am pretty sure there are two pairs I would have bought for sure (unless I was having a particularly good or bad day, in which case it would have been 3 or 4 pairs). 

I tried hard to remember how many pairs of shoes I have taken out of my collection after trying them all on. Strange color, weird fit, odd style, some reason I wore them only once or twice. I noted that these tended to be clearance shoes, yellow tag clearance shoes. I sincerely hope that even if I could, I would have considered these purchases carefully ... but I am not really sure.

If you, on the other hand, are in the market for summer shoes, be sure to stop in Parisian. I can shoe-shop vicariously through you!

 P.S. Ed recovered and "flew the coop!"

Friday, August 17, 2012

Back to School Shopping 2/2

Day 230

Earlier in the week I shared my own back to school shopping memories. When my kids reached school age, I rolled all of my pent-up, fit-in, you are what you wear feelings right on to them. Subtly, of course.

My daughter was up first and to be once again thrust into the back to school shopping frenzy made me giddy. Even as a preschooler, she had a wardrobe most women would envy. Not necessarily designer names, but carefully thought out styles, trendy not gaudy, flattering to her tiny self. Additionally, school could NOT begin without new shoes (3, 4 pairs?), all new school supplies (I loved that teacher supply list!), a new lunchbox and new backpack. No matter that the one from last year was perfectly fine. She went right along with the program, it all became very normal. I recall as a kindergartner, she had a fabulous navy wool coat from Neiman Marcus with matching navy felt hat. It cost far more than any coat I had ever owned. Didn't matter that the recess playground was muddy or that any number of crafty scraps from a kindergarten classroom clung to the coat daily, she looks fabulous. It was like having a real live dress up doll. Years later, she started cosmetology school with a brand new, bright yellow book bag filled with fun supplies and new outfits for school courtesy of mom.

My son, on the other hand, was simply not interested in wardrobe choices. He wouldn't even wear denim for a certain 3 year period. Just give him comfort and the occasional superhero emblazoned on something and he was good to go. "I don't need an new backpack." What??? "I have pencils left from last year." I don't understand. By fifth grade, I thought we were turning this crazy thinking around when he wanted to back-to-school shop with his best friend. Finally! We could be on to a more stylish boy. But he and his friend choose matching outfits. In red. Shorts and shirt, in red, matching. This was not what I had in mind.

My obsession with their clothes lasts today, only finally, I can not act on it. I felt real twinges when I took my back-to-college son to Target for supplies and had to face the back-to-school store displays, as festive and as many as any big holiday. He still opts for comfort and an occasional interesting graphic. My daughter has learned how much it actually costs to maintain this habit and has scaled back her purchases considerably. I can see her getting a little carried away with her son, though. I have a feeling that this cycle is not completely broken yet.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sanctuary for Ed

Day 228

This is Ed. After a run-in with a neighborhood cat, Ed needed a place to hang out. The neighbor gals felt that my garden, with it fence and locked gate (and awesome color scheme?), may be a good sanctuary. They took this lovely bird to the Michigan Humane Society where it was confirmed that Ed is not injured, he just needs rest and to perhaps grow a little. I did not give him the name, by the way, my friend Sydney did.

My garden is having limited success. Lots of tomatoes, green onions, kale, peppers and squash, but there is plenty of room for a bird and it's crate/infirmary. I added a few decorative touches so he feels comfortable in his surroundings. 

Strange how I couldn't get Ed out of my head last night. I must have gone out 5 times just be sure he was still O.K. and no intruders breached the fence (my cats, if they ever caught on, would be very curious). He was in the crate, out of the crate, on the edge of the crate. I couldn't sleep until the door of his crate was securely closed for the night. This morning, I ran out and found Ed nestled in the towel provided for his comfort. My husband seems doubtful that Ed will thrive. I, on the other hand, know that Ed is tough. He is a fighter. I can see it in those glossy black eyes. There are great things in store for Ed. If my garden provides a place of respite, then it's a complete success!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back to School Shopping 1/2

Day 227

You would have to be living in a cave to escape the advertising blitz announcing to one and all: It's Back to School Time! You must buy everything!!! From a retail sales perspective, this has to be one of the most profitable times of the year. Who wants to go back to school looking anything less than fabulous?

(groovy flashback music) I never really fit in at school. Plain, chubby and smart, I wasn't a cool girl, ever.I wanted to be and the best I could do was wear the same clothes (maybe in a bigger size) than the cool girls. Fortunately, my mom was great about it. I don't think it was easy, but she made sure I had the Levi's jeans (please don't pull off my orange Levi tag!), Adidas three-stripe sneakers, Elton John t-shirt, sizzler dress (with matching panties), palazzo pants, knickers, mini, maxi and midi. I had elephant bell jeans, the denim jacket, a three-piece suit, disco leotard and skirt, jumpsuits and high-waisted pants. There was the fancy ski jacket (White Stag, with the tiny stag zipper pull), platform shoes and a real Gunne Sax dress. Yep, I had it all.

But I still never fit in. So, as a junior in high school, I finally decided to take my own fashion direction. It was a complete departure from my fighting-to-fit-in looks. My look ranged from 1940's style pencil skirts and padded shoulder jackets (not the typical high school wardrobe, and I probably looked more like a teacher), to floral skirts with ruffled ankle socks and high-heeled shoes. I was the first to sport the "Bad Sandy" Grease look. I think I even mixed in the occasional "Good Sandy." No real style, no point of view or particular aesthetic, just whatever I thought was cool that day. 

By the end of senior year, I was decidedly odd. I did, however, have a date to senior prom. My time to really pull out all stops and go wild? No, I weenied out and completely reverted to trying to fit in. It was the prom, after all. I wore a very safe, aqua floral Gunne Sax. Booorrrrring. 
And guess what? I was in the Ladies Room that evening, admiring my ho-hum look, when a group of cool girls approached. Really cool girls. They must love my Gunne Sax. Yes, it's real. Instead, one said, "I'm surprised. We were really looking forward to seeing what you'd wear."

Here's the fashion lesson: Don't dress for others. If you have to change your look to fit in, it's probably not a place you really want to fit in. Trying too hard never works. Embrace and develop your own look, your own personal style. Then OWN it.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Day 223

I am not one to fish for compliments. As an "ugly duckling" growing up, I learned that what's inside is so much more important. Even still, I do everything I can to look my best and care a lot about what I wear.

And, although I don't fish for compliments, like anyone, I cringe at criticism. Recently, I was handed a whopper. Twice, actually, in the last couple months, I was given the grand-daddy of slaps---the dreaded, "You look fine." I am not even kidding, I was told this twice. Not by my husband (he would never ...) or kids (they have said much worse, for example as I was getting ready to go out my daughter said, "I thought we said no to that outfit.") I was told I look fine by a kind, well-meaning friend. And it was not in the "girl, you look fine" tone.

What does "fine" mean? I'll tell you what "fine" means. "Fine" sucks. Fine is mediocre. Fine is for bland food, a dull outfit, boring hair, no mood. Fine is for a nondescript day, an uninspiring project and the color gray. Fine is not trying and it's evident but not entirely offensive. Fine, in the end, means that little effort was involved.

I don't do FINE. But, a look in the mirror shows that some slacking on my part is starting to read as fine. I've been fooling myself a bit about doing the best I can with upkeep, dressing and fitness. It's true. I may not be a monster, but I am soft and tired. Perhaps, I am fine

But I will not remain fine. Nor sir. I am sure I can do better than fine. I must formulate a plan of attack. It may take a few months but I'll be back. Fine. Hunh. My friend, "you have awoken a sleeping giant" (that IS a fat joke).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Project Runway Season 10, Episode 3--Poor Anya!!!

Day 220

Because of the Olympic coverage, I watched Project Runway OnDemand this week. It had much of the excitement that the Olympics deliver! This week, the new crop of designers were assigned a former designer and had to create their Emmy Award red carpet look. The twist was that the new designers had to work in pairs which generates lots of drama. I was super-excited that one of the returning former designers was my fav-- Season 9 winner, Anya!

Dressing Anya would be a dream. She is beautiful, stylish and true to her Caribbean roots. This is what the two current designers (Andrea and Christopher) created to send Anya to the red carpet:
 You can see the details of it here ... if you have the stomach for it. Poorly constructed, completely unflattering, a miserable design of a gown. Poor Anya!!! I acknowledge the time constraints, small budget and stressful conditions, but still!!!

Part of my no-buy odyssey has been really coming to terms with what is a good look and what qualifies as an impulsive, unwearable garment. Anya's dress is something I would equate to a final clearance, purchased "as is", designer second, not returnable dress. In other words, RUN!!!! 

P.S. I wouldn't be caught dead in Andrea's outfit either! I thought she would represent us "wise women" with class but I can't relate to her taste at all!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mid-summer Slump

Day 218

I spent most of Saturday tending to my yard. It's a sad state of affairs. Like me, the plants have been basking in the sun, dancing in the breeze and taking too little care of themselves. We are all a bit wilted. One area of my backyard is a particular problem. It's turned into a hostile environment over the years and even the hostas have a tough time out there. Worst part is, it has a view to my backyard neighbor's yard.

I spend a lot of time in the spring planting, weeding and grooming my yard. I'm not really educated about horticulture so I basically wing it. Much like my wardrobe, I focus on the frivolous, fun things and nifty planters rather than the staples of landscaping. True to my habit, "if one is good, five is better," I have more than 15 varieties of herbs. I think I use about 6. I killed at least 3. My neighbor, on the other hand, tends to her yard daily. It is lovely. There are pockets of luxury throughout her yard: pillows on a wooden bench, upholstered cafe chairs, a chandelier with solar lights. There's a pond, an ivy covered trellis and their grilled food always smells good.

I admit, I have yard envy. It's kind of like living next door to a super-model. Wait--I kind of do. The gal across the street is beautiful, tall and oh, so thin. And funny, smart and nice. It sucks. The gal next door has a waist so tiny, I have often wondered where her organs go. She's also hilarious. If I got carried away- I could have all sorts of envy and I really have to work to keep it in check. I am positive that at least some of my outfits are a result of some envy or another.

Also like my wardrobe, I have to keep reminding myself what I do have. I have a big open yard that my grandson loves to play in. My house wouldn't pass a white glove test right now, but we sure do laugh a lot. I'm a little behind on household tasks but I wouldn't trade one day on the lake, one dinner with friends or one hour of volleyball. I'm sure no super-model but with some effort, I don't clean up too bad.

My husband and I are celebrating 23 years of marriage. We've built a life, like a wardrobe, piece by piece. We add something, get rid of something else, looking for the balance that feels right. It may not be perfect, but I wouldn't trade our life (or my wardrobe) for anything.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Olympic Gray?

Day 215

I think that any time a theme can be implemented, well, "Just Do It." The Olympics has a pretty easy theme to follow- your own country's colors. Shouldn't be a problem for the good old U. S. of A! What could be more patriotic, more festive, easier than the tried and true red, white and blue? This is a picture of our United States Olympic Gold-Medal winning gymnastic team--the U.S. Fab 5-- sporting GRAY. Huh?

According to the St. Louis Post, Nike felt that the gray "glows on the medal stand and lets the audience see just how bright America's athletes can shine." I have looked and looked at this photo. I've squinted and covered one eye. I even tried blocking out the other teams. I see no glowing whatsoever. I see a sad, uninspired look. The Russian suits are really interesting. The Romanian suits are suitably Olympic. Yet here we are, the greatest country in the world, drab.

To make it to the Olympics it takes nearly unfathomable effort and dedication. To win a medal, nearly super-human. And we reward them by sending them to the medal stand looking booor-ing. It's not right. In the moment of their greatest glory, I think that we owe them a rockin', super-patriotic, amazing outfit. Well, at least that.

There is speculation that the true reason Nike supplied these ho-hum jackets is the potential sale-ability after the Olympics. While I'm sure the jacket technically cool, it will sell for $450. That's pretty darn steep for an ugly jacket. I say we band together and say NO! No, Nike! We will not buy your ugly warm-up jacket. Not even on sale. We demand style. We demand color. We demand patriotism. C'mon, Nike, Just Do It.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Day 214

By now it is no secret that I love clothes. I am a creative person and choosing and matching clothes can be a very creative process. Up until this year, shopping and seeking out outfits was my "creative outlet," thereby giving myself well deserved license to shop to my heart's content. I can't help it! Everyone needs an outlet.

It recently occurred to me that it takes little creativity to browse several stores filled to the brim with garment upon garment. There is little creativity involved in scavenging messy clearance racks. No creativity involved in seeing a dress in an ad and going to the store to buy it. I've been fooling myself.

Creativity is required, however, when there are (very) limited resources and a certain look is desired. Creating a country club-worthy golf outfit from summer basics takes creativity. Pulling together a look for a special night out, that takes creativity. Making your well-worn favorite summer dress seem fresh again with accessories--that takes creativity. When I face my closet now, knowing I can't just run out to the store, I am forced to deal with what I have and do everything I can to look as good as possible. Like a Survivor challenge.

In fact, it's lazy to run out and buy something when there is likely something just fine already in my closet. Fooling myself indeed. Shopping is not a creative outlet. I am starting to see that shopping can be the sissy way out--and I'm no sissy. I will (again, in the words of the great Tim Gunn) continue to "make it work!"