Fashion Fridays: The Finishing Touches

Have you ever seen a woman with the perfect outfit and there was just one thing awry that threw it off?

I have.  Heck, I’ve been that woman.  (I won’t even start with panty lines because when my pants got too tight, I know I had that!)

But there are few things you should consider when putting together an outfit to polish it off:

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1.  Manicures/Pedicures.  Honestly, I have little budget or time for these, so I keep my fingernails trimmed, filed, and bare.  But I do try to get a pedicure every month, a necessity in Houston spring and summer, in case I decide to wear a peep toe shoe.  If you do not have well groomed feet, keep them in heels or loafers.  Don’t wear open toe shoes with chipped polish.  Also be mindful of the polish you select.  Kelly green may be a lot of fun, but it won’t blend in at a financial institution or law firm and makes it harder to take you seriously.  (And it should go without saying but don’t wear sandals to the office.)

2.  Undergarments, particularly your bra.  Get fitted for a bra.  Every other year, if your size has changed.  Find undergarments that fit you well and stay put.  I’m the world’s worst on bra straps, constantly losing one no matter how much adjusting I do, so often I resort to a well-fitted strapless bra to keep from fidgeting when I’m speaking or in a big meeting.  Of course, make sure your bra straps do not show!

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3.  Hair color/roots.  This is another hard one if you have a lot of premature gray like I do (seriously, I was going gray in law school at 22).  I have budgeted a visit to the salon every eight weeks and by week six it’s getting hard.  However, I get highlights in an attempt to blend the growth.  If you are a solid color at your roots, and there’s a dramatic difference from your color, make your appointments more frequently.  Bold changes in colors from root to growth take away from what you’re wearing.  This photo is a lovely example of muted growth so it can be done.  (If you have any solid tips on what to do in those interim weeks, post in the comments for the good of the order.)

What is a small thing that takes away from the polish of an outfit?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Fashion Fridays: What Up With The Ankle Strap?

It. Is. Everywhere.

Y’all, what up with the ankle strap?

Theoretically, they are cute.  I even look at those rows of ankle-strap pumps, SOME of them, and think, “ooooh, super cute.”  I thought this when I took a turn down the DSW aisles this past week.  They are everywhere.  Not just at shoe stores.  EVERYWHERE.

Go look at Ann Taylor’s suit section (oh, they’re running a sale on their suits, FYI).  Go on, I’ll wait – http://www.anntaylor.com/suits/cata000013?trail=&pageSize=14&gridSize=md&catid=cata000013&goToPage=2&fRequest=true

Every single skirt suit is featured with big thick ankle straps.

The cover photo for “white hot” on DSW’s home page this week showed four kinds of shoes, and guess what?  They ALL had ankle straps.  There are 136 options for ankle strap pumps on their website right now.

So today is just going to be my public service announcement for the return of the ankle strap, and it’s not good news:

Virtually no one looks good in these shoes!  Well, let me rephrase.  Virtually no one looks good in these while wearing skirts or dresses.  If you want to wear them with pants, go knock yourself out.  (And I assume everyone has the sense not to pair them with a short.)

Because folks, a lot of these are thick ankle straps.  But once you have an ankle strap, of any size, cutting your leg where you are supposed to be slim, well, it’s no good.

Here are women that struggle pulling off an ankle strap of nearly any size:

1.  Me;

2.  Several of my friends who wholeheartedly concur;

3.  Anyone that is short to middle height;

4.  Anyone who has thick calves or ankles;

5.  Anyone who is carrying more weight than they are comfortable with.

Here is who looks good in an ankle strap:

Women over 5’10 who wear smaller than a size 8.  Yep.  I don’t know about the girls you hang with, but in my circle, that’s a pretty small subset of folks.

So who is buying all of these ANKLE STRAPPED SHOES?  Surely we all have full length mirrors.  (If you do not own a full length mirror, buy one this weekend.  You can pick one up for about $10 at Wal-Mart.)

Here is a potpourri with commentary just for you on the shapes and sizes of ankle strapped pumps circling the shoe markets this spring.  Hopefully, this will be on a loop in your head as you venture out shoe shopping:

ankle4 I may be in love with this shoe.  You remember my obsession with gray shoes?  And paired with camel, sigh.  But there is no possible way this shoe is going to work for me.  Unless I promise, in writing, to never ever wear these with anything but trousers.

ankle1Y’all, this is an adorable striped summer wedge.  But you pair that thick strap with that thick base and you’re going to look like a platypus.  Cut the strap off I beg you and let the wedge (and your leg) shine.

ankleBecause the big thick strap wasn’t going to do enough favors for you, let’s shorten the heel and color it salmon.  Nope.

ankle2This peep toe stiletto ankle-strapped bootie is lace.  Lace.  None of the words in that sentence should ever be written again.

ankle5One strap was not enough.  Two straps were not enough.  Three straps?!?!  Someone, stop the madness!

ankle3This shoe should never be worn out of the bedroom.  Period.

Okay, I’m done.  You can have your Friday back.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Fashion Fridays: The Closet Massacre

I have a wonderful, brave, friend.  She and my other brave friend have allowed me to shop for them (which you may remember from past posts) and have allowed me to give them total closet makeovers.  My friend Brandy, whose closet I invaded last week, called it the Closet Massacre of 2014.  Well, it wasn’t really a massacre.  It was a closet editing.  My friend Julie’s closet makeover is still referred to by her husband as the great purge of 2013.

Here’s where we started – pulling everything from her quite impressive walk in closet.

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In her bedroom we set up three boxes:  the biggest box for Goodwill, the next box for tailoring, and the final box for trash for items too far gone to donate.  And of course, being the fabulous hostess, Brandy had wine and cheese and a couple of our best girlfriends over for the closet review.  She’s got a super roomy bedroom so they stretched out on the sofa while we got to work.

Here were a few of the misses and why:

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1.  Worn out clothes – Brandy found a pair of MATERNITY pants because she hadn’t edited her closet since the birth of her son 8 years ago.  So this pink blazer wasn’t on it’s own problematic (although the color isn’t ideal for her), but it was worn and faded and certainly not worthy of a professional wardrobe.

2.  Dated items – the next two items show that the closet hadn’t been modernized.  Plaid pants or calf length skirts are outmoded items quickly culled into an oversized giveaway box.  She hadn’t worn them recently, but having them take up space in her closet kept her from quickly identifying the pieces she could pull on any given morning.

3.  Pinstripes – I found every single type and size of pinstripes in her closet.  Now my favorite suit of all time is a classic navy pinstripe, but you have to be careful about the kind and style of pinstripe.  This black blazer had matching pants with red pinstripes - it felt dated and failed the executive polish test.  The khaki pants had oversized pinstripes that could look cartoonish if not careful and were the wrong scale for her small figure.

Here were a few of our hits that had been underutilized or that surprised us (from top to bottom):

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1.  Blazers – Brandy had kept several blazers paired with dated skirt suits.  This blazer looked lovely on her, a brown tweed that nipped in at the waist with velvet ribbon, but it had been partnered with an overlong skirt.  By breaking it up and wearing it with a neutral pant, and boxing up the skirt, she has a new business blazer for any of her “business casual” days of the week.

2.  Crazy dresses – Mercy.  Brandy had several dresses that I scrunched up my nose at until I saw them on her!  This yellow and black wrap dress she calls her taxi cab dress and pairs with a black blazer.  It looked pretty sad on the hanger, but on Brandy it looked amazing.  I would never have even picked it up at the store.  Same for a couple of other bright dresses with big prints that looked fabulous on.  Just goes to show you – good or bad, you’ve got to try it on.

3.  Neutrals – While she is fan of color, we found some promising neutrals with fun patterns in her closet.  This gray animal print sweater is perfect for a Saturday with her son at the museum or paired with a dark denim jean and nice blouse for casual Friday.  This gray floral print dressed looked incredible on, with the ribbon lines falling just where they should, and it could be a Sunday brunch dress or paired with a very structured buttoned-up jacket as a work outfit.

So if you’re going through a closet massacre, ahem, I mean makeover, here’s some do’s and don’ts:  (1) don’t hold on to something strictly for emotional value, (2) don’t hold on to something if you haven’t seen anyone wear that style in years, (3) don’t hold on to something if it will never fit you again, BUT (4) do take things to a tailor to repurpose them (we found two blazers that could be shortened and modernized and used again), (5) do hold on to it if you fluctuate in sizes (I have three sizes in my closet that I could vary depending on the year), (6) do take care of classic pieces and high end wardrobe items as they retain their value and can truly be worn for years to come.

Brave Brandy has done a cool experiment called Snake A Day where she finds a creative outlet in every day.  You can’t miss her Snake A Day post from the closet massacre – it will crack you up.

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Here are Brandy and I at the end of the night and some closing thoughts from my victim, I mean my friend – go forth and clean your closets friends:

PART 1 - I am really glad I did this.  Now I know everything in my closet is “safe,” and I can mix and match.  So while we took tons OUT of my closet, I actually have more to wear, because I know what is left is okay.  I’m not afraid to wear things I had been avoiding because I wasn’t sure.  And with the mix and match/ok to break up a suit or a set idea (as in, I don’t have to wear the gray pants with a gray shoe with dark top) , that opens up a tons of possibilities, as I think I was way too matchy matchy.

PART 2 – (When she realized she’d learned more!)  I learned I can wear more of what I have instead of wearing the same few things over and over. I can break apart a suit! {Oh my wow I had a maternity skirt in my closet!! My son is eight.}  I was reminded that in my current job, which is pretty high level, I need to look the part.  Even our casual Fridays policy shouldn’t give me an excuse to look too ratty. And pale jeans are bad even on Friday.  Also stripy pants bad!! I had several pairs. And scarves good for concealing things!!

Fashion Fridays: The Cheapest Way to Upgrade a Spring Wardrobe

Are you ready for it?

A SCARF!!!!

I think we’ve covered this topic in passing, but I have fallen in love with the scarf.

Y’all, they are so versatile.

I used to never understand them.  I didn’t know how to tie them.  I didn’t know how to wear them.  So I opted for the statement necklace.  And Lord knows I have plenty.

But just this past year I’ve started infusing my wardrobe with the fashion scarf.  They are particularly fabulous for spring because so many of them have such spring pops of color and pattern.  They are also the cheapest way to update your wardrobe with the latest trends.

So today I’m featuring me and my scarves on the blog.  These pictures were taken last night, at the VERY end of the night after a dinner outing with the family when my contacts were already so dried out I had donned glasses and a chip clip for my hair (oh, and I’m getting my roots done today so BOY should I have waited a week for this post….).  I was wearing cotton shorts and an old white tank top.  But that is sort of the point. I threw a denim jacket on over my tank and pulled out four of my scarves in rotation for this spring.  Every single one of them cost less than $25 and have been accrued over a few years.

You take any one of these top halves and you can make three outfits: paired with black pants and kitten heels for an office casual Friday; paired with an A-line cotton skirt and flats for movie night or a kid’s birthday party; or paired with a flat-front walking short and wedge or embellished sandal for a morning at the zoo or picnic at the park.  You own the tank and the jacket, all you need is a scarf in spring’s latest colors or patterns for a brand new look:

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This scarf, and method of tying is my favorite.  It’s got fun patterns and greens, blues, oranges, and reds thrown in.  Tie it high enough and hide your neck woes.  You just double a long scarf over, drape it around your neck, and pull the ends through where the scarf is halved.  Presto, an easy adjustable knot!  You can’t see but this scarf has fun fringe (I was not going to micromanage my husband’s photographs as The Good, The Bad, The Ugly was on in the den).

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I love this turquoise/melon color combo and the melon is pulled in around the edges and in big circles around the scarf.  This is the simplest tie.  I literally just knotted it mid way down.  Once through and off you go.  This also looks cute if you do the exact same thing but throw the knot and “streamers” down the back.  It’s just hard to photograph and wouldn’t work with this blazer (think sundress).

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I love the infinity scarf.  They are everywhere.  You can’t tell how super cute the left one is because I was showing another way to wear them, but it’s a lavender and teal-ish chevron print.  Crazy color combo but really pretty.  You can wear it hanging straight down, I should have rolled it so the shirt showed between it, but all you need to do with these is pop them over your head.  Or, as I generally wear them, you loop them twice so they don’t fall to your waist.  That’s what I did with the purple two-tone scarf on the right.  You wear it just as you would do a strand necklace – either with space in between or closer together so the shorter one nests just inside the slightly longer loop.  The nice thing about this neckline is it can conceal cleavage for the office if you are chesty or it can create a more robust upper half if you are not quite as endowed.  Literally the fix for whichever woe you have.

So as you set off – what should you be looking for this season?  According to Elle, the colors this spring are icy pastels, white, and pink.  Pantone’s report is a little bolder with some orange thrown in with the pinkish-reds as well as a full spectrum of blues from vibrant to icy.  Nordstrom is showing every imaginable pattern from patchwork to animal in their scarves.  The Banana Republic set of stores (includes Gap and Old Navy) support the fashion mag trends, with everything from the palest shades including the most fabulous tone-on-tone white they call cocoon that I SNAP UP if I could ever convince myself to spend $49 on a scarf, to a full spectrum of blue shades in solids and patterns.

So go grab one, two, or a few, and add them to almost any outfit from work to weekend wear to freshen up that spring outfit as the ground begins to thaw!

Fashion Fridays: What Were We Thinking?

Today, we’re looking at some crazy trends from the past that seem to be creeping their way back into women’s wardrobes.  What were we thinking and why are we revisiting it???

1.  Acid washed denim.

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(Photos by rollingout.com)

There is so much wrong with these photographs.  But let’s focus on the acid washed jean/sweat pant thing here Miley is sporting and what appears to be something akin to an acid washed capri with fashion maven SJP.  Why would anyone wear acid washed anything after seeing how much bad acid wash has wrought on the fashion industry???

2.  Crimped hair.

Anyone?  Bueller, bueller?  Crimped hair was a bad idea for lots of reasons including that it’s terrible for your hair.  But it also LOOKS terrible.  Please tell me this is not making a comeback.

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(Photo by rollingout.com)

3.  Shoulder pads.

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(Photo by dailytopfashions.blogspot.com and harpersbazaar.com)

Okay, so this first one is obviously wrong on a number of levels.  But this last one is from Harper’s Bazaar!  And yet it features the matching red pant suit paired with the oversized shoulder pads.  This must not be allowed.

I’m increasingly feeling dated, but all my Sunday dresses had shoulder pads in them.  They were an impressive lot.  Some might have even included a bubble skirt.  (Yes, there is photographic evidence somewhere.)  Is this in fashion again?  Do we believe that looking more like football players will improve our allure?

Okay, I have lots more: stirrup pants, the banana clip, one piece pants suits (and yes, I realize these are coming back too), matching outfits to shoes and handbags, and so forth and so on.  But it’s too painful to watch it happen again, and I realized these folks just have to learn the hard way!

What is your must not repeat fashion moment from the past?