Archive for October, 2009

I Hate My Wardrobe


dreary closet

(Erika/Mom) A few mornings back, I shivered into my attic closet and couldn’t find anything I wanted to wear. All of a sudden I hated everything. This is not characteristic of me; normally I am cheerful and optimistic about my chances of wearing something that looks decent without labeling me as a “mom in mom pants” or worse yet, a slob.

The all-too-familiar patterns of all-too-well-worn shirts and blouses hung tiredly in their places. Limp cable-knit sweaters melted together with blended-fiber turtlenecks and miscellaneous cardigans. Two pairs of jeans folded neatly among some decidedly high-waisted mom pants that Lizzi begs me not to wear. So I wear my jeans a lot. I spent months looking for slim black pants that didn’t give me a muffin-top belly; never found ’em. Most of my dresses are from the mid- to late 1990s–classics or has-beens, depending on your mood.

So we all get the problem–or do we? I’ve been thinking about this quite deeply, and decided that in my case, it’s not about having anything decent to wear. It’s more about laziness and under-utilizing observation and experimentation. Most of us evaluate our wardrobe in the morning, which isn’t always the best time for creativity. Rows of clothes are scanned quickly and our eye picks up the same things over and over again. Anyone who shops like this is bound to leave the store disappointed. My mother shops like this and it drives me nuts. How can you find something unless you really look for it? Clothing will not come out and curtsy to you. You gotta dig, man.

Same thing with our own closets. Digging a little deeper, I discovered (or re-discovered) a few things that have great potential, worn right. Take this blouse, for example:

I've had this lacy blouse for longer than I care to admit. It's from The Limited and is still in great shape.

I've had this lacy blouse for longer than I care to admit. It's from The Limited and is still in great shape.

By itself, it’s pretty blah. But if I take the time to pair it up with another shirt and some interesting accessories, it really takes on a new life. The first set is the blouse over a Macys v-neck tank and a long necklace doubled over:

This combo is much better, I think. With some acid-washed jeans and shoes other than mom-clogs I could hold my head up.

This combo is much better, I think. With some acid-washed jeans and shoes other than mom-clogs I could hold my head up.

Going one step further, I fished out an old Cabi belt that I bought in 2005. I never wear it, but it’s actually really pretty. (Lizzi, tell me if I’m delusional here.) Anyway, adding the sparkling belt with a really soft scarf in an incredible shade of blue, I came up with this:

It's possible...for a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage...a Cinderella transformation of my old blouse.

It's possible...for a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage...a Cinderella transformation of my old blouse.

So what do you think Lizzi?

(Lizzi/Daughter) Mom, I think you should stop wearing your clogs and start wearing your awesome belts!

I do agree that a lot of your clothes are a little bit old, but if you dress things up like you did to that blouse, you’ll be the most fashionable mom on the block (even though you already are…). Even though it’s easier for me to always have new things because I’m still growing, on most days, I’ll look at my clothes and totally hate what I see. I think we all have those days.

A better way for me to pick out my clothes is to do it the night before, when I’m not so groggy. I also like to ask Mom for help because she always thinks of things to pair together that I would never think of.

The other day, I really hated how small my wardrobe was compared to my friends’ and asked my mom for help. She told me to pair a gray sweater vest with a striped sweater, which I thought would look really odd, but it ended up being my favorite outfit of the week.

A great accessory to add to your wardrobe is a belt. Belts can either accessorize your pants or your top. The best place to put your belt is at your waist, like mom did. You can belt anything from cardigans to loose tunics (think medieval!)

Like this:
belted cardigan and tunic

Mom and I are going to try and feature more “reality” posts with our own clothes, so excuse us while we go tidy up our closets.


Sneaky Friday: Lizzi’s Look of the Day


Lizzi Look of the Day Oct 23 2009

This was actually yesterday. The NJ weather has been very fine this week so Lizzi is wearing skirts while the sun shines. Her outfit is a Forever 21 skirt that I love–full, in a B/W pattern. Top is a basic magenta T-shirt from Target. Tights in eggplant, shoes bought in Paris :), and a long necklace (borrowed from me) complete the look.

Summer Clothes for Cold Weather


Warm tights make summer shorts work for fall. If you're Kate Moss or a teen, that is.

Warm tights make summer shorts work for fall. If you're Kate Moss or a teen, that is.

(Erika/Mom) Perhaps we’re taking this “economy-is-bad-use-everything-you-have” business a little too far. Still, Lizzi and I agree that keeping a few of your favorite warm weather pieces in circulation through fall and winter is a good thing. They extend your wardrobe, and they remind you while your fingers are freezing off that the cold weather will pass and warm, sunny days are ahead. So now let’s see what Lizzi has in mind for the younger set, then I’ll chime in on what pieces might work for us boomer moms.

(Lizzi/Daughter) Well, fall has finally arrived after a long summer vacation and winter is not far behind. After all the summer shopping trips you took these past few months, you probably don’t feel like spending any more money on clothes. So, don’t let those denim shorts and colorful frocks go to waste; wear them in the cold weather, too!

I know all you moms who are reading this right now are thinking, “What?! I can’t let my delicate child wear shorts in the cold weather! She’ll freeze to death!” You need to chill out–or should I say warm up–to these stylish layering ideas that pair summer favorites with winter insulation. (Mom’s right behind me on this one… no, literally, she’s sitting right behind me!)

A good place to start is with your tank tops and camisoles. From plain white to neon pink to patterned, anything works as long as you have the right clothing items to pair with your tank.

Let’s start with something simple, like this white cotton tank. I’m sure most people have a white tank somewhere in their closet. To make it work in winter, pair it with a simple black blazer, acid wash jeans, and motorcycle boots. If you want a softer look, try a pair of legging jeans in a neutral color like black or gray with a pair of over-the-knee boots and a cozy cardigan.


Look 1
Splendid tank
Blazer from
Topshop acid wash jeans
Giuseppe Zanotti motorcycle boots
Necklace from

Look 2
Splendid tank
DKNY wrap cardigan
Current/Elliot legging jeans
Chloe over-the-knee boots
Christopher Kane fingerless gloves

Pair a more colorful or exciting tank with a high-waisted skirt, black leggings, a black cardigan, and some black flats (or any other neutral color)
tiger tank top fall look

This Look
Tiger tank from
H&M skirt
Vince shrug cardigan
Sass & Bide leggings
Black flats from
Knit beret from

The next summer piece you should save for fall is a pair of denim shorts. They’re super easy to wear with some tights or leggings underneath.

Katie Holmes, Lily Allen, and Kate Moss rock the tights-and-shorts look:
tights and shorts celebs

For a tougher look, wear distressed (not too distressed… just enough to make it look edgy) denim shorts, black tights, motorcycle boots, and either a leather jacket or boyfriend blazer. For a softer, cuter look try a pair of more tailored and clean denim shorts with a pair of bright tights (for instance, red or purple), black flats, and a long-sleeved top like this:

Helmut Lang Wool Sweater
Helmut Lang Wool Sweater


Rebecca Taylor Ruffle Blouse
Rebecca Taylor Ruffle Blouse

Finally, don’t even think about packing up those cute dresses from the summer! Dresses are easy to pair with both tights and leggings, so try looks like these….



American Eagle dress
H&M tights
Charlotte Russe Lace Shrug
Oxford flats (going clockwise) from,, and Christian Louboutin
Monica Vinader earrings

Dress from
Sass & Bide silver leggings
Flats from
Forever21 shrug
Jessica Simpson Belt (
Bangle from

Mom, how would you wear your summer items in fall and winter?

(Erika/Mom) It’s me again. And let me start by saying there ain’t no way I’d leave the house in shorts and tights. I’m laughing just thinking about it. I also won’t touch anything white–memories of white flats worn well past the east coast deadline in the 80s, and the mortification that ensued, prevent me from pushing the envelope on that one.

So I’ll stick with layering, using a favorite sheer top. Think of a top that has some volume to it, so you can layer from below. For example, look at this beautiful sheer blouse I found on Flickr:
BCBG Maxazria blouse

Wouldn’t it look great paired with a very sleek black stretchy top underneath? I’m almost thinking ballet leotard:
black long-sleeved leotard women's

Find a nice-fitting pair of black jeans:
gap black jeans women's

And you’re in business! This doesn’t work well with all summer tops, so experiment. And trust me, don’t experiment 15 minutes before you have to be somewhere. If you have a style-conscious 12-year-old in the house, so much the better. She won’t be shy to tell you just how right on (or far off) the fashion mark you are.

Lizzi’s Look of the Day


Lizzi's Look of the Day-October 13, 2009(Erika/Mom) Lizzi is very diligent about lining up her clothes the night before. I used to do that, and probably should again. I helped her put this outfit together and we were both pleased with the result. The Club Monaco jacket was something I bought for her last year in NYC. It was a great deal but we had to get it altered. She’s paired this jacket with a fine-knit sweater from Urban Outfitters. Lizzi rolled the cuffs into the jacket for more of a “boyfriend” look.

The Guess jeans from Macys are one of her favorite back-to-school purchases. The color is really beautiful. Paired with studded boots from Target, they complete the look.

Is Medieval Back in Fashion?


Medieval woman

(Lizzi/Daughter) This marking period we are studying the Middle Ages in Social Studies. Even though some of the things we are learning about are weird and gross (um, they didn’t clean themselves regularly?!), I’ve noticed that a lot of what we wear today was inspired by what both women and men wore back in the 13th to 15th centuries!

I wouldn’t have noticed this if my teachers hadn’t told me, “Your outfit is very Medieval-looking! Very cool!” For example, when I wore an orange chiffon tunic with leggings and fringe ankle boots. Of course, the boots were more Native American-like, but the tunic and leggings, I realized, were very similar to something a man would wear in the Middle Ages. Or when I wore a pair of slouchy suede boots (Robin Hood style), I also got a similar comment… or compliment.

I found some medieval clothing sketches that look similar to what we wear today:

medieval clothing sketches

This tunic is very Medieval-like, especially the colors and the shape.

antik batik tunic

… here are some more….

tory burch tunic

Tory Burch Linen Split-neck Tunic

delia's tunic
Delia’s Lisette Empire

Flowing, belted dresses were trendy way back when AND now….

anna sui dress
One of my favorite designers, Anna Sui, incorporated a lot of Medieval-looking fabrics and styles into her Fall 2009 collection. This dress happens to be one of my favorites.

And this dress is really lovely also:
etro dress

Now, for shoes. Men in the Middle Ages wore flat leather or suede boots and lace-up flats.
medieval shoes mens boots

black medieval shoes mens

Wet Seal has a lot of nice boots this Fall like this pair:
wet seal boots

And these:
red boots

Women wore embroidered flats like these:
medieval flats

… and Kadam shoes has a wonderful pair that I think grasp the look very well:
kadam flats

Now, put the whole look together:

Medieval Inspiration
Medieval Inspiration by ChicLizzi featuring Etro

And voila! You have a Medieval Masterpiece!

Mom, what do you think of the Medieval trend?

(Erika/Mom) Great history lesson, my daughter! What abundance of gray matter resides in thy head! Hmmm, sorry, I’ll drop the Medieval speak. Lizzi is right–it is remarkable to see how strong the fashion connection is with silhouettes, colors, and fabrics worn 800 years ago. After so many years of jeans and T-shirts this is a welcome transition. I was driving out of Blockbuster the other day and slowed down to let a woman cross the parking lot. She had on a darling plaid tunic and black leggings. Something along the lines of this:

plaid tunic

Paired with either cuffed boots a la Robin Hood or embellished ballet flats, this would look great on just about any 40-something figure. If that figure is on the heavier side, ditch the leggings for black pants, either denim or a really nice fabric blend, like viscose and cotton. If the tunic is long enough, or your legs are skinny but your middle is hefty, a longer tunic and great boots along with nice-quality leggings will make a most comely combination:

Macys tunic plus size
Macys leggings plus size

For us middle-aged women, the Middle Ages is a fantastic fashion era. Fantastic hygiene era? Not so much.