Fashion Fridays: The Basics, Fit

I am having the darndest time this spring writing.  I write all these posts in my head, but when it comes time to put them down on the blog with links and formatting, well, I just go to bed instead.

So sorry ladies.

Generally, when I’m stuck, a series helps.  Today, I’m launching a four part Fashion Friday series on The Fashion Basics!  I am so excited.  It will also really help me as I need to edit what’s in my closet.  I’ll photograph it soon (one of my friends has offered to come help), but having the basics in mind will guide you both as you shop and as you pair down your closet.

Here they are, the Four Fs: Fit, Feel, Fresh and Fad.  Fit may be the most obvious, yet overlooked, basic – your clothes should fit you well.  Feel has to do with the quality of the clothes that you buy with “quality over quantity” as its cornerstone.  Fresh relates to how you bring a unique and distinct perspective to fashion.  And fad, the logical counterpoint to fresh, addresses when not to embrace a trend just because it’s considered fashionable.

Today we start with the most basic element:  FIT.

Your clothes should fit you.

This does not mean they are capable of being zipped or buttoned.

This does not mean that the numbers on the tag comport with the number you carry around in your head as “your size.”

Start with your undergarments.  Your body changes shapes and sizes and so should your underwear and bra.  Your daily clothes won’t hang well unless you start from a good base.  Go get fitted for a bra.  Buy panties in three sizes to see what fits.  In addition to having “pretty” undergarments for your spouse, invest in a few basic pieces which help clothes lay smoothly like t-shirt bras and underwear with anti-ride “tape” at the bottom.  You’ll immediately see a difference.

Next, experiment with different brands.  I am a notorious on-line shopper because time is short, but on-line shopping has contributed to mass ill-fitting clothes.  You think, oh, this is okay, it will work, because you don’t want to mess with returning it, but you wouldn’t have settled on it in store.

Go to a department store.  Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Dillard’s, whatever you have in your area, and try clothes on.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a range of sizes.  Take a size smaller and larger size in addition to the one you normally wear to the fitting room.  You often won’t realize something is too big or too small until you see the alterative.  Sit down in it.  Move in it.

Does it cause pinch points?  Is the dress too short?  Does the shirt gap?  Can you see your panty line?  Does the fabric pull or balloon?  Look at belts, buttons, snaps, zips, and see how they hang and where they fall.  Do the trousers fall above your ankle or drag on the ground when you pair them with your shoes?  Do all blazer buttons button?  Where do the sleeves fall – too high or low?

If you have some atypical features like a super narrow waist or short arms, then find a good tailor.  Take recommendations from friends and neighbors.  Take a piece in and see if he does a good job.  If not, try the next one.  Tailoring is an inexpensive way to make sure your professional wardrobe looks custom.

Here’s some great examples of perfect fit in action:

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Experiment!  Have fun!  And find something you feel beautiful AND comfortable in.  Hope to see you next week.

Persistence, A Swim Team Story

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The triplets started swim team two weeks ago.

They are finally age eligible and have talked about it for months.

I forked over the money for the registration, team swimsuits, and goggles, and finally the day arrived.  We knew the water would be cold and had done some refresher swimming the weekend before in our own chilly pool.  Several neighbors we knew would be on our team and the kids couldn’t be more excited.

Until their first 25 meters.

Those are long laps for adults, so they are particularly challenging for five year olds.  We’ve taken lessons periodically over the years in our own pool, but more for survival than form.  Little bit seemed to be rocking it.  She was faster than both the boys and had a buddy swimming just before her who encouraged her.  The boys struggled.  The baby particularly – because of his history with asthma he’s never been able to hold his breath as long as the other two.  The eldest can hold his breath all day long, in fact he must have gills, but he’s very slow.  This is not just in swimming mind you, this is in life.  He moves to his own pace; a pace akin to an elderly turtle or molasses.

Swim team practice is from 4 to 4:45, and by 4:30 both the baby and little bit were out.  I mean adamantly voicing their desire to quit swim team.  Little bit caught me off guard because she was so good, but I realized after a few minutes that she was protesting because it was HARD.  Things come easy to her.  She’s the most athletic and she’s normally fairly well-behaved, so things tend to be easier for her than the boys.  The idea of struggling to go back and forth after a few laps primed her to quit.  The baby on the other hand had actually struggled, and he burst into tears when I informed him we weren’t quitting.  They both refused to swim the last lap.

The eldest, on the other hand, got out after next to last lap and moved to the FRONT of the line to power through the final lap.  He was unstoppable.  Slowly, deliberately, he got himself to the other side and beamed at me as he climbed out.  He was NOT quitting.  He was coming back.

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I admire this child’s tenacity.

The reality is, right now, he’s the least athletically inclined.  He’s tall and lanky and hasn’t figured out how to get his limbs to all work together.  But he pursues athletics, as far as I can tell, so he can improve.  He took soccer this spring, the only one of the three, even though he’s not as fast or coordinated as the other two.  He’s begging to take gymnastics with little bit in the fall even though he can’t flip to save his life and she tumbles circles around him.

He keeps going TO GET BETTER.  He fiercely clutches with both fists when it gets hard.  He doesn’t quit.

When we received his mid season soccer progress report, the coach praised him for being a role model for his friends and for showing good sportsmanship.

He’s the only one of the three who encourages other players when playing board games and doesn’t storm off if he loses a few in a row.  Even in the face of criticism, he holds his head up and keeps going.

He LOVES the game.  He loves playing.  Even in the face of hard.

He’s not impenetrable, mind you.  He comes home sad because he was the slowest, or remarks in our pool when he doesn’t win the races.  He notices when he’s not the best.  But it doesn’t stop him from persisting.

He is a living role model in our home of how we should tackle life.  Life is hard sometimes.  We may be completely exhausted or the last one to cross the finish line.  But we must keep at it, get better, and enjoy playing.

I have no doubt that one of these days my sweet, strong, persistent boy will be the strongest athlete in the bunch just because of his tenacity.

I don’t know what “swim team” you have facing you this week, but if my eldest could give you a tip, he’d say, Keep Playing.

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P.S.  Remarkably, in barely 24 hours, swim team turned around.  They’re all enthusiastic now and have already dramatically improved in their swim strength and style.  (It pays to hang in there.  Thanks buddy for the life lesson.)

Fashion Fridays: When It Doesn’t Matter

I love fashion.

I love talking to so many of you and helping solve fashion conundrums.

I also know I’ve been in and out here on Fashion Fridays this past month because of travel, but I’m coming back with a bunch of new ideas including a beginner series.

HOWEVER…

I’m also finding places and times not to worry one lick about fashion. 

When it comes to career, I believe that dressing professionally and smartly gives you an edge.

When it comes to date night with your love, I believe it’s important to show your man you love him enough to make an effort.

But sometimes we need to unplug from all the muss and fuss.

Sometimes we need to say it’s not important to impress anyone.

That was a lesson I learned this weekend.

We spent the weekend, mostly, poolside, and then had group dinners in the evening with the board and their families.  I had a fun conversation with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages as our daughters played.  As we got ready to head back to our rooms to get ready, conversation turned to attire.  I found myself saying, I’m not even washing my hair – I’m hopping in the shower, throwing my hair in a ponytail, and throwing on shorts.  I’m not trying to impress anyone. 

Can we discuss how liberating that statement is?

All too often, we’re really just trying to impress each other.

Maybe we could call a time out?  Especially on Saturdays?  A group of women at brunch is some of the fiercest fashion and make up I have ever experienced.  That doesn’t have anything to do with our job or our relationship.  The brunch fashion race is just about keeping up.

Now, I’m human.  And I was definitely one of the frumpiest looking chicks at dinner this weekend.  And I noticed.  Maybe even felt a little twinge of insecurity.  But then the kids bounded up with Mother’s Day art and messy kisses, and I remembered what really mattered.  Remembered my lack of make up or accessories never registered with these prizes.

These are the looks that don’t make it into Fashion Friday posts: NICU feedings and early morning baseball games and ponytailed late nights with friends and playing on the farm and laughing with coffee stains.

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Now I’m always going to love me some fashion.  I believe it serves a very real professional purpose.  But let’s not let it hold us hostage.  Let’s not be scared of looking real and messy and going au naturale (this summer especially!) on occasion too.

Planting of Splendor

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The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me…
   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins

    and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
    that have been devastated for generations.

Isaiah 61

No matter where you are today, what your life circumstance, how large the obstacle feels, He will use even this and you will be planted for the display of His splendor.  Even in this.  Because of this.  Splendor will come.

Weekend Update

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We lucked into a weekend away at the Horseshoe Bay Resort in the Texas Hill Country.

While I was exhausted going up on Friday (my 5 am flight in from Minneapolis was killer), Saturday was perfect.

I’m only now learning something about traveling with my kids.  I think I’m late to the game because we rarely take the kids anywhere besides the farm and the ranch.  It takes 24 hours to get to bliss. 

Have you parents found this?  The travel is painful.  The adjustment can be brutal as well.

We drove four hours straight and arrived at the resort for a late lunch.  The kids were bouncing off the walls after being cooped up.  And they’re past naps but still get tired, so they were cranky.  By the time we arrived for the group dinner, Bray and I were both rethinking our summer vacation plans.  If we can’t survive 24 hours away with the trio, then how will we survive a week?

But Saturday morning arrived!  Everyone slept well Friday night and awoke ready to explore and swim.  Despite the gloomy forecast, it never did rain, and the sun even beamed its lovely rays all Saturday afternoon.

Saturday was bliss.

After a big breakfast, we all five settled in down at the pool which was empty at such an early hour (they are EARLY risers).  They ran from big pool to splash pool to hot tub without taking a breath.  The boys decided to head down to the marina and rent a jet ski while little bit and I hung out with a girlfriend of mine for a few more hours until it was time to eat yet again…

The boys bounded into lunch with tall tales of speeding jet skis and near misses, and everyone’s words and laughter jumbled over each other’s.  Then miracles of miracles, all FIVE of us napped.  I am nap resistant.  Naps theoretically sound amazing, but I never can sleep in daylight.  And the kids have long passed naps.  But we were all sundrained and found an early afternoon two hours to recharge.  Ahhhhhhhh.  (When was the last time you napped?  It IS all it’s cracked up to be.)

Then little bit and I went down to the beach where we met up with a newfound friend of hers, the seven year old daughter of a friend of mine.  Then of course more swimming.  Oh yes we did live at the pool Saturday.  The boys, on the other hand, couldn’t resist another hour on the jet skis.  This time the lake was more crowded and Bray was a little more nervous, but all survived in one piece and ready to join us swimming.

In the evening, the event planner brought in “kid care center” workers and activities for dinner which meant the kids were all occupied with lots of fun projects while the grown ups actually got to sit down, have a drink, and catch up with one another.

The five of us wandered down to the beach after dinner to take in the water at twilight.

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By bedtime, I’d completely unwound from the manic week.  Little bit came in and crinkled up her cute nose to tell me she loved me and to have me help her spell out some words.  When I went to get up to grab a pen, she held me at bay and whispered, “they’re writing on your mother’s day card, you can’t go in!!!”  Once I made it in to the living area, the baby said, “you’ll never guess what I’m sitting on.”  All of them looked like the cat that ate the canary because they were being so stealth in hiding my Mother’s Day card :)

This is the best gift ever.  Their joy in writing me messages of love and keeping everything hidden for this morning.  Our full day together of fun and sun and nowhere to be but with one another.  Moments together and apart with no agenda and unexpected sunshine.  A wonderful Mother’s Day away.