Archive for the ‘fashion’ Category

Le manicure

Posted: September 11, 2012 in beauty, fashion, style
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I usually choose a demure, ladylike pink, but I was feelin’ a little bad*ss today. Kind of a mud shade, not red or brown.

Hey, it’s still a neutral! (OPI “You Don’t Know Jackie,” to be exact.) The toes are a more conventional “cathouse red.”

 

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My life in shoes

Posted: August 28, 2012 in fashion, shoes
Tags: ,

Ermahgerd. Unefemme has a post today on shoes that has totally sidetracked me. I WANT these:

The color! The little stacked heel! The possibilities! But I don’t have THREE HUNDRED FREAKIN’ DOLLARS to spend!

(Le grande sigh…) I guess I’ll poke around on eBay and see what I can find. I’ll keep you posted.

Update: Not quite the same color, but they have the cute stacked heel. Twenty bucks.

HagRags: All mixed up

Posted: August 16, 2012 in beauty, fashion

When I was six or seven, I had a cherry red sleeveless polka dot top that I delighted in wearing with a pair of red-and-white plaid shorts. I remember looking at myself in the big round mirror of Mother’s 30s-era dressing table (the one that came with its little matching stool) and thinking that I was all that and a side of fries.

My delight, alas, was to be short-lived.

“You can’t wear that,” said The Older Brother, who, at 11, already considered himself the absolute Last Word on what was fashionable or cool. “That looks dumb.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “I think it looks good.”

“You can’t wear two patterns together,” he said. “Gosh, you are so STUPID.”

I was crushed. I had no sisters to consult (and Mother was no help), so I swallowed his opinion whole and never wore that lovely little ensemble again.

(Fast forward about, oh, 50 years…)

AHA! I AM VINDICATED! One CAN wear two patterns together! Even plaids and polka dots! ESPECIALLY plaids and polka dots!

Actually, pattern-mixing has been around for a long time. I remember reading a biography of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that scandalous pair, and the author mentioned that it was the Duke’s penchant for wearing paisley ties and striped shirts with his discretely plaid suits that ramped up pattern mixing, at least in menswear. Also, those wonderful ladies at over at Advanced Style seemed to have no qualms about mixing things up, and they appear pretty practiced at it.

While it’s  taken a few extra years for the trend to catch up to me, or me to it, I think the past six months on the street fashion sites and fashion blogs have been a particularly delightful time.  I may not be as brave as the fashionistas on Everybody Everywhere when it sponsored a pattern-mixing day, but I’ve been dabbling in combining this scarf with that top, or that dress with this jacket. And it’s been FUN. Isn’t that the whole point of fashion?

If you’re still not quite convinced, let me offer some of the best advice I’ve gleaned about mixing things up (with examples from my own closet):

Start with stripes.

This is the safest and easiest route I’ve found, and it helps that I already have lots of striped pieces to work with. Polka dots also work well as a more “neutral” print.

Use accessories. Hey, you already wear jewelry, don’t you? Layered necklaces and bracelets can be viewed as a pattern, and a cute patterned scarf or pair of shoes can be a low-risk way of bumping up the volume. (And, when your children make fun of your outfit, you can always take a shoe off and beat them soundly with it or strangle them with the scarf.)

Mix a large pattern with a smaller print.

This tones down any competition, and helps avoid making you look like you got dressed in the dark.

Stay in the same color family.

This is my most daring combo so far — and it completely breaks with the previous suggestion, which probably should tell you something about following rules in the fashion game. To make it a little less jarring, I used the next suggestion —

Cool down the combination with a block of color or a neutral shade. This is a trick I discovered on my own, and it makes me a little more comfortable with my combos.

A little separation, a little blank space can often quiet any sartorial noise. I mostly use black, because I have so much of it in my closet, but I’m trying to use other shades.

And lastly: Have fun, but don’t push it.

I remember driving by the ESL (English language) instruction labs on campus last year and watching the  Asian chicks stroll to class in their random mixed-pattern outfits, which looked strange to me but that (as demonstrated by their body language) clearly made them feel fabulous. I can’t quite carry that off, and I probably shouldn’t try. (This photo is from StreetPeeper, a fun global street fashion site.)

So now, I’ve opened up a host of new combos from my closet, and I can finally reassure my seven-year-old self that I was right all along. Just file this one under Finished Fashion Business.

And to Older Brothers (and fashion critics) everywhere: PFFFFFFFFFT!

I’ve been mulling over a rant about body image and cultural expectations, but ohmygoodnessheavensforsakes Tish at Une femme d’un certain age has a post up today that articulates many of my own feelings. (It’s part of a larger discussion with the Duchesse at Passage des Perles.) Tish espouses the more relaxed attitude taken by the French toward body image, and posted some rather remarkable images of full-figured models from French Elle. But what a dust-up she created in the comments! While many agree with her relaxing the so-called rules for what size can be considered fashion-forward, several of her readers (who are also of a certain age) seem to cling fiercely to the thin-is-in ethos and reject the models as being far too zaftig to be stylish.

(Le grande sigh…) I’m 60 freakin’ years old, and I have worried (and dieted and then overeaten) myself to death since I was, oh, NINE, about the terrible state of my thighs (and stomach and arms, etc. etc. ad nauseum). It’s always lurking somewhere on the edge of my consciousness, this sense that I am not acceptable.

I’m not advocating stocking the freezer with ice cream and throwing away the treadmill. But isn’t it time to give it all a rest? After all, as Tish mentions, Frenchwomen would agree that after a certain age, women have to choose between their faces and their butts figures, and I think I’d prefer to put my best face forward.

I’m considering stitching her last paragraph into a sampler:

Life is short.  Eat real food, move around whenever you can in ways that you enjoy, and re-evaluate your beliefs and values periodically to be sure they’re serving you.  Question and discard those that aren’t.  In the end, a little roll of fat around the middle doesn’t say anything about the kind of person you are or how much you loved and were loved.

Where do you stand in the ongoing battle?

I haven’t yet had to put on a swimsuit. So far, so good…

Hope your summer is going “swimmingly!”

(This post shamelessly ripped off inspired by Fern at The Fur Flies.)

I don’t intend to make any New Year’s resolutions this year — really — because I just want to BE: Be who I am, where I am, the size I am, the age I am. However, the stylish Jessica Quirk of What I Wore has a blogpost today on clearing out your closet that somehow appealed to me. She breaks things down into basic pieces, core colors, secondary colors, and add-ons, and it is all very sensible.

Frankly,  I’ve lost track of what’s in my closet, so we need to spend a little quality time together.  (I actually bought two pair of the same sandals last summer at Ross — I forgot I’d bought the first pair, I guess, but at least they were cheap…) So, next week, when I’m not watching movies or pretending to work, you can find me rummaging through my closets, which are scattered throughout the house. (HEY! MAYBE THAT’S MY PROBLEM! YA THINK?)

Any self-improvement plans at your house?

I can’t decide if this is good news or bad news: Hormones linked to regain of weight lost by dieting

According to the Associated Press, “Dieters who have regained weight are not just slipping back into old habits, but are struggling against a persistent biological urge.”

The study doesn’t sound like junk science, and it was published in The New England Journal of Medicine, which adds to its credibility. And it was pretty rigorous:

Weight regain is a common problem for dieters. To study what drives it, [researchers] enrolled 50 overweight or obese patients in a 10-week diet program in Australia. They wanted to see what would happen in people who lost at least 10 percent of their body weight. Ultimately, only 34 people lost that much and stuck with the study long enough for analysis.

The program was intense. On average, the participants lost almost 30 pounds during the 10 weeks, faster than the standard advice of losing 1 or 2 pounds a week. They took in 500 to 550 calories a day, using a meal replacement called Optifast plus vegetables for eight weeks. Then for two weeks they were gradually reintroduced to ordinary foods.

Not surprisingly, once off the program and despite counseling, most gained some weight back in less than a year.

The scientists checked the blood levels of nine hormones that influence appetite. The key finding came from comparing the hormone levels from before the weight-loss program to one year after it was over. Six hormones were still out of whack in a direction that would boost hunger.

The dieters also rated themselves as feeling hungrier after meals at the one-year mark, compared to what they reported before the diet program began.

As a chronic dieter — and weight gainer — this has been my entire experience. I’m convinced I would be a lot thinner — and would have saved myself a lot of mental anguish — if I’d never started dieting, especially some of the extreme dieting I forced myself through. (Oh, to be as “thin” as I was in high school, when I thought I was a whale…)

At least the timing for this tidbit was fortunate. I had another one of my epiphanies last night: I decided that I was not going to SPEND ONE MORE MINUTE hating or rejecting myself because of how I look. I have wasted too much time and energy (and too many tears) for nothing.

Someone shocked me recently with this question (and answer): Did you know you can make yourself instantly much happier by doing just one thing? Lower your expectations. I think it surprised me because because I’d always bought into the old hang-onto-your-ideals-no-matter-what mindset. But some ideals must be questioned, especially if they come from society and not from within ourselves. I can’t and won’t hold myself up to a societal standard of beauty that I cannot attain.

I have to redefine beauty for myself. And that definition is going to include style, and integrity, and good health, and joy, and mindfulness, and a lot of other good things.

Absolutely Essential Update: