Archive for May, 2009

The Little Green Jacket

05/31/2009

(Lizzi/Daughter) Mom (Erika, whatever you want to call her) has been in New York City all weekend at a book expo. Friday morning, before she left, she called me upstairs into her closet. She wanted me to help her with a jacket she had gotten in Paris several years ago. She never really wore it because of a couple of reasons. 1. She thought it looked bad on her. 2. It looked bad on her because she didn’t know what else to pair it with except for the hideous green skirt that came with it.

 

the jacket

the jacket

It’s actually a pretty cute jacket. I love the different fabrics, especially the polka-dot lining:

the lining of the green jacketI knew the shade of green the jacket had would look good with tan and cream colors, so I skipped every other color while looking through my mom’s clothes. I pulled out a lace Cabi top, but couldn’t find any bottoms. Mom helped me and when I told her to look for something on the lines of a tan color, she took out a knee-length silk skirt. We took out some heels, and she was good to go.

the outfit w/ the little green jacketHer second outfit, which she needed no help on whatsoever since it already had it’s chic-ness:

the second outfit for the book expoI hope everyone had a nice weekend!

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Simple + Sophisticated = Fab

05/27/2009

(Lizzi/Daughter) When you hear “tank top”, do you immediately think…

-comfy

-jeans

-sweatshirt

-flip flops

… or when you hear “black pencil skirt”, you think…

-business

-matching blazer

-white button-down

-black mid-heels

Well, it’s time for a change, my fellow fashionistas!

My mom and I were at the mall and we browsed through Macy’s admiring each mannequin whether it was wearing a floral maxi-dress or a summer blouse and denim shorts. We passed by an outfit that amazed us for some odd reason. I’ve seen it before, but I never really thought about how trendy such a simple, classic thing was.

Picture 35I have no idea if your eyes bugged out of your head either, but mine sure did.

So, leave it up to me to show you how to dress like this chic little mannequin.

Outfit 1 * Outfit 2 * Outfit 3

Outfit 1 * Outfit 2 * Outfit 3

(From left to right)

Outfit 1:

From your closet: a black tank top

From the store: Bright red mini skirt with detail

From your friend: Classy black pumps

A trendy piece: Gold chain necklace

Tip: Tuck in the tank top and make sure to keep the skirt right below the belly-button.

Wear to: a cocktail party

Outfit 2:

From your closet: solid or graphic tee-shirt & thin black belt

From the store:  leather boots

From your friend: silver rhinestone rings

A trendy piece: Pleated pencil skirt

Tip: Keep the t-shirt over the skirt and wrap the belt around your t-shirt, waist level.

Wear to: work or school or even just walking around in town

Outfit 3:

From your closet: white chiffon blouse

From the store: small clutch with hearts

From your friend: classic navy blue skirt

A trendy piece: Oxford heels

Tip: Wear the blouse tucked in and  the skirt MAY be above the knees.

Wear to: a luncheon or any semi-fancy restaurant

Mom, take it away!

(Erika/Mom) Uh, how do you know about cocktail parties? Sorry, shake it off.

Using the old Stevie Nix/Don Henley theme of “Leather and Lace,” there’s something wonderful about pairing formal and casual. I wouldn’t advocate going back to the Brooks Brothers skirt with running shoes that we did in NYC in the 80s. The good news is that there are so many camisoles, tanks, tees, and tunics that are soft and comfortable–AND that look smashing with your best skirt or slacks. Sometimes an old piece in your closet that you are about to throw away can get a new life with the right new piece.

classic skirt paired with floral tank; rugged cutoffs and bow-tied tank

classic skirt paired with floral tank; rugged cutoffs and bow-tied tank

These are small and hard to see. I’m still figuring out Polyvore. If I figured it out any more, I might as well kiss any productivity goodbye.

Thinking of the old days, when nothing was casual, or comfortable.

Oooh, it's all about formal and fabulous with this doll.

Oooh, it's all about formal and fabulous with this doll.

Lookin’ good, but feeling trapped. Not wishin’ I lived in the 19th century.

So, the lesson here is using one piece as an anchor point–tailored, impeccable, well-fitting–and pairing it with the fun, the unexpected. With the ultimate goal of making it all look intentional. It’s a goal I strive for every day. I’ll end on a fine note–sleek black hoodie dress and a puffy, roomy, slouchy leather bag. Mmmm….like peanut butter and chocolate.

St. Tropez combo from Flickr; sleek black dress with slouchy bag

St. Tropez combo from Flickr; sleek black dress with slouchy bag

Sneaky Friday

05/23/2009

I'm a sucker for ruffles, even on shorts.

I'm a sucker for ruffles, even on shorts.

(Erika/Mom) It’s a hot spring Friday. Time of year when I start blowing the dust off my shorts and notice how sad they look. Yuk. They’re either too short and wrinkle at the crossroads, or resemble something an over-the-hill hiphop mom would wear when, to quote Violet in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” she “doesn’t care HOW she looks!”

Shorts are one of many things I cannot sneak out of Lizzi’s closet. She, of course, looks cute in any shorts she wears. My birthday is tomorrow and mom sent me $100. Maybe I should splurge on a couple of pairs of new shorts! Let’s see, fabric, length, wrinkle factor, pattern, compatibility with pale legs…lots of things to consider.

Love the scarf belt!

Love the scarf belt!

These shorts are very nice–classy, flattering, good length. Are they too boring? I’m not sure. Personally I think the silk scarf belt adds a lot of oomph.

Skort from Athleta

Skort from Athleta

We used to call these culottes, but no matter. Skorts are a great way to show off legs and camouflage other body flaws. I really like this colorful pair (set?) from Athleta. Actually for an athletic wear catalog, that company has lots of really great pieces.

Plaid still thrills me from my preppy days

Plaid still thrills me from my preppy days

I can see this pair of plaid shorts with a really pretty tank or soft T-shirt. I bet they are flattering and can go summer-dressy or backyard-margarita casual. My husband came home from a business trip with a similar pair–really strange coincidence. We have to make sure we don’t turn into a couple who wears matching clothes. Then it’s all over.

So Lizzi, what do you think?

(Lizzi/Daughter) Yes, Mom. I know you want something that’s not tight or too short or anything like that because you’re a mom… but seriously. The last two pairs are the worst and I wouldn’t even consider them if I were you.

The skort: Maybe for a tennis match, you can wear it. For everyday, though… you might look a bit like you are trying to be young. Not like 20 years old young. Let’s try more like… 5 years old.

thechildrensplace.com

thechildrensplace.com

Doesn’t this skort from The Children’s Place look a bit like the one above? From Athleta?

If you want an cute, flirty but inexpensive skirt… try something more like this:

gap.com

gap.com

This skirt from the Gap is $39.50 and also comes in Ruffle Pink, Bright Claret, Celestial Blue, Navy, Green, and True Black Knit. Unlike the skort from Athletica it is

-flattering

-simple

-versitile

-not-so-I’m-going-to-play-some-tennis

The plaid shorts: I’m not sure what they remind me of. A little 8 year old skater boy? Or a 60 year old hiker…? Sorry, mom… but let’s go for these:

jcrew.com

jcrew.com

These shorts from J.Crew are plaid… and bermuda just like the ones from Athleta, but they are actually feminine and good for any Spring/Summer occasion whether it is sports or having lunch with your friends. They are also pretty versatile and have much better and brighter colors than the others. Oh, and they are on sale for $49.99

But, I do have to say that the first pair of shorts (the khaki ones witht he pink belt) are a very good choice.

And for Sneaky Friday: I stole my mom’s earring (no picture available at the moment).

Oh and BTW, happy birthday, Mom!

Grandmother’s Buttons

05/19/2009

(Lizzi/Daughter) I just got off the phone with my best friend who said, “You like buttons?” like it was a bad thing. I laughed and explained to her that they can be really cute and made into something so chic. Sure, buttons are cute on sweaters, sometimes jeans, jackets, and more. But, they can look even more amazing made into accessories such as necklaces, brooches, bracelets, earrings, and watches.

Where can you find the best? Grandmother’s Buttons. Artisan-created antique button and beaded jewelry.

Plum Fancy $73.00

And if you’re in the mood for something button-less…

Key Earrings $24.00

Sneaky Weekend

05/17/2009
IMG00142-20090516-0819

Lizzi snuck this out of my closet on Friday

(Erika/Mom) Friday got away from us before we could sneak in a Sneaky Friday post. But it was a weekend full of lendings and borrowings. It started with a delicate silver necklace I picked up at PacSun last summer. I tend to forget I have it, but Lizzi pulled it out of my closet Friday morning and wore it with a very casual outfit of shorts and tank top. It looked good! I really like it against black, so that it is not overwhelmed by too much pattern or color. I photographed it on a houndstooth-covered chair (I LOVE houndstooth), but it sort of contradicts what I just said about too much pattern.

my charm bracelet from high school
my charm bracelet from high school

As for me, I borrowed something from my past. I’ve had this charm bracelet since high school. Some of the charms were given to me by my grandmother, who passed away many years ago. Lizzi’s eyes lit up when she saw that I was wearing it. “Where did you get that?” she said. She used to play with it in church years ago, but doesn’t remember. There are so many different variations on charm jewelry now–it’s a genre that keeps coming back, again and again. When you think about it, charm jewelry is like a snapshot of your personality. I’m not a songleader anymore of course, but it’s part of me, somewhere. And I love films and theatre, even if I don’t sing and dance in musicals anymore. Thus, the thespian comedy/tragedy masks. Sure brings me back.

Harem Pants

05/13/2009

(Mom/Erika) My earliest recollection of harem pants were the flowy little numbers that Barbara Eden wore in “I Dream of Jeannie,” one of my favorite childhood TV shows. I haven’t thought too much about them until recently, when they began bursting on the fashion scene like spring tulips.

Parachute harem pants from styleguru.org
Parachute harem pants from styleguru.org

They run a surprising gamut from low-key to outrageous. Could I, would I wear these?

low-waisted harem pants
low-waisted harem pants

Good Lord, no! Comments on another blog about harem pants voted strongly to keep them back in the 80s where they belong. Big feet, big thighs, short legs, pudgy tummy…you can’t have any of these and still pull off harem pants.

So, will wearing harem pants require a pre-ingested Valium to feel like we can pull them off (or better yet, keep them on). Maybe not. Here’s a very nice rendition of harem for the harried middle-aged mom. These have nice proportions, beautiful fabric, and of course get a great boost from the stilettos.

Pretty slick harem pants from Fashion My Only Love
Pretty slick harem pants from Fashion My Only Love

Harem pants are not for the timid. They don’t blend in. But for a touch of the exotic and the slight chance that if we cross our arms and nod our head, our figure flaws will vanish into the Arabian night, they’re worth a try.

(Lizzi) Harem pants: when I first saw a pair, I immediately thought… Aladin pants? They were baggy and sloppy looking. I kept looking around though and saw different ways  you could wear them to make them look classy, fun, casual, simple, exotic, and exciting.

I started liking them the way I started liking Doc Martens and jumpsuits. I saw them paired with different, more exciting things and learned to like them.

I started watching this new TV Series called “The Fashion Show” on Bravo. It’s really good and in their first episode, they featured “Must Have Items”. One group decided that harem pants were the way to go. I was quite excited with some of the looks.

You may not like harem pants yourself, but in my opinion, you should try them out… see how they fit you… find items to pair with them… just have fun and play around!

Sneaky Friday

05/09/2009

mother-daughter_Sneaky Friday_5.8.09

(Erika/Mom) Let’s face it, fashion is all about stealing. Call it what you want–inspiration, derivative, borrowing, “with a nod to”….it’s all bull cocky.  Stealing! It’s okay, we can admit it. The fashion industry would come to a screeching halt were it not for creative stealing of ideas. The important thing is what we do with those ideas that we steal.

In keeping with this time-honored tradition of stealing, Lizzi and I are starting “Sneaky Fridays.” This is the day we sneak into each other’s closet, or brazenly copy each other’s fashion decision or accessory for the week. This morning I wandered into Lizzi’s room and “borrowed” her beautiful orange silk LV scarf to spice up my dull gray sweater. It looked really good. I tried not to dwell on the fact that Lizzi’s bed was unmade and clothes were strewn about everywhere. Bedroom tidiness patrol is not part of the deal.

Obviously our sizes and tastes are very different so somtimes the “sneaky Friday” is about taking suggestions, asking advice, observing a trend in the other’s generational sphere. I won’t try to squeeze my fat foot into her size 5 shoe. She won’t try to make my size 8 pants fit.

And that’s fine. Because really, we are trying to make our own wardrobes work some magic. Some days it works, some days not so much. But Fridays, we steal and our horizons are the better for it.

Jumpsuits

05/04/2009

(Lizzi) Jumpsuits? Playsuits? Rompers?

It sounded odd at first when I first discovered them last fall. I thought they looked like something an acrobat would wear.

Or… maybe something like acrobat meets hippie?

Then, I started liking them… a lot! I couldn’t help drooling over each Yves Saint Laurent pant jumpsuit or the bright Adam rompers that stood out like a zit on prom night. I wanted one. So, when my mom took me shopping for my birthday in early April, I looked and looked and looked. Finally, when we visited American Apparel, there hung a cute halter romper. And it fit!

My perspective on jumpsuits/rompers/playsuits is pretty down to the point: fun things you can wear.

Some of my favorites are:

Stella McCartney Reversible jersey jumpsuit

Stella McCartney Reversible Jersey Jumpsuit $995 at net-a-porter.com

Ecote Striped Knit Onesie $58 at urbanoutfitters.com

(Erika/Mom) A few years ago I worked at a magazine with women mostly 15-20 years younger than me. One day I showed up wearing leggings with a silk skirt. I thought I looked pretty good. That afternoon one of the editors laughed and quoted something about “if you wore it the first time around, you’re too old to wear it again.” Now, I don’t recall wearing leggings before–leg WARMERS for sure–but her words stuck with me. I grieved for all the recycled fashion trends I’d be barred from; and if I chose to follow that rule, jumpsuits would certainly be taboo.

Ahhh, jumpsuits. Those roomy, lounge-y, belted numbers with bells so wide they got caught in the screen door. I know I had a couple, and am pretty sure I made one or two. This one looks verry familiar:

70s Jumpsuit Pattern

70s Jumpsuit Pattern

For my friend’s wedding in the early 90s, we bridesmaids wore pale yellow jumpsuits with crocheted edging around the dropped collar and a little elastic back clip. That was one bridesmaid outfit I actually did wear again and again.

So what now? Lizzi’s short  romper is darling and I wonder if I dare swath myself in a jumpsuit once again. I like these short versions from the UK:

Short jumpsuit styles

Short jumpsuit styles

But even here they warn us boomers that the 1771 maxim “mutton dressed as lamb” holds true today. So I wil proceed with caution back to the future. What I really want to come back is overalls! I’ll save that for another post.