Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Booties ... Who Knew?

Some of you may know that I can often be found lurking around the JCP shoe department, and that I really love my footwear. All summer I've been delighted with the pretty, less chunky shoe silhouette that I find more flattering for my short-stockiness than the sky-high, thick platform sandals that past seasons have offered. I've crushed especially hard on very delicate, strappy, single-sole heels, that are about as minimal a shoe can be and still function as a shoe.

But, for the last couple of summers, I've also been fascinated by women and girls of all ages sporting lots of what I think of as cold, wet-weather footwear with their tissuey dresses and summer pants of all lengths. Docs, moto-boots, hiking boots, western style ankle booties, and sleeker, cropped dress-booties ... all kinds. And they look really good a lot of the time. I haven't been able to make it work because it's just sooooo hot, and I couldn't think about my feet shod in darker, heavier shoes or boots, no matter how cute they might look.

Those of us who pay attention to such things began seeing ads in the glossy magazines a couple of years ago, featuring lovely windblown models in long, sheer dresses standing romantically alone in wild and rocky settings, often in the craggy landscape of the American southwest. They also featured footwear much more traditionally appropriate for hiking or heavy construction than accessories for a chiffon maxi. Who IS this woman who has apparently chosen this outfit and what is she doing out there?

Did she parachute out of a plane after stealing a pair of work boots in her size? (Presumably the abandoned parachute is just off camera.)

Did her car break down and she wandered into the desert looking for help instead of staying with her vehicle? (She had her Docs in the trunk.)

Or is she just such a serious fashionista that she really needs to dress up to go hiking on the weekends?

It's never clear. But I'm pretty sure not one woman I know is ever going to find herself alone in the wilderness in a floaty evening frock and rock climbing boots. Then why would anyone encase their steaming, sweaty little tootsies in footwear whose shape and functionality are designed to keep them warm and promote more sweatiness? Our boots and booties are often well broken-in and go-to footwear during the cold weather months, but not so comfortable during summer, so the answer is clearly not in comfort alone.

I think we just love our boots. Fashion footwear designers love their boots, too. Part of the reason for all of the above phenomena has to be that we all just hate to put them away in the spring. And I think we love them because they speak to us about adventure, and power, and aspiration.

For those of us who care about how we attach meaning to what we wear, boots have special fashion-narrative potential.
Tell me honestly that when you see thigh-high boots you don't think of Jack Sparrow or Inigo Montoya ( as played by Mandy Patinkin in the Princess Bride ..."Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." )

Cowboy boots, tall or booties? Think of any cowboy or cowgirl hero you ever had. Too many to name. And the smell of horses or a cute ranch-hand, or both, depending on your age.

Doc Martins or any of their ubiquitous knock-offs? The street-wise cool of any Punk, Grunge or New Wave band or associated celebrity. They always make me think of art school.

Tight, knee high Go-Go boots from 60s and their modern stiletto-heeled descendants? Mucklucks and Uggs? Motorcycle boots? Victorian style Granny boots? Equestrian boots and Wellies? They all have their own referential stuff - fantasy food going for them.

Even the recent shooties, stiletto booties and oxfords with high heels would have been right at home in the 1930s and 1940s. I instantly think of evolved versions of Ginger Roger's dance shoes or Betty Grable's shoes she wore on stage while singing for the troops with the USO .

Whether we are conscious or unconscious of the narrative, there's so much glamour and so many potential adventures! No wonder we love our boots and booties and don't want to give them up even in warm weather.

 Remember I mentioned my habit of haunting the JCP shoe department? Since the start of this spring-summer season, a dark and elegant little pair of booties nestled quietly among the perky sandals and rainbow-neon pointy-toe pumps. At first I just assumed they were a leftover from winter, or that JCP was doing some serious gun-jumping to the coming fall season. Nope. They were meant to be some of the summer stock. And I noticed the little boots every time I shopped the department, but was focused on more traditionally summery items. I just couldn't imagine needing them for summer.

Last week, I finally gave in as they called out to me and would not shut up. (Shoes don't talk to you sometimes? Seriously? Huh. ) They finally got to me with a nasty comment. " Ahhh, never mind. Go on. You're not cool enough to wear us anyway!"

Best buy of the summer. Their attitude immediately changed the minute I bought them. I wore them home and got a gushy compliment on them from a saleswoman in another department before I even got out of the store. They have generous padding in the insole, are well vented and are soft as a house slipper. They also only weigh 7.5 ounces (each shoe, of course) as opposed to my similar but more substantial and completely enclosed winter booties at 11.5 ounces each.  I love 'um.

If the print in this shirt looks familiar, I have one from the
same Prabal Gurung for Target collaboration collection ... 
same print, different design!

But what do they "say'? What's their narrative? They say that I may be a little country mouse here in the middle of nowhere in the midst of southern summer-hell season, but part of me is a skinnier, cooler city mouse, and my heart and mind are already in an urban winter somewhere in the year ahead.

That's what they say.

I'm joining the Always Cool Patti at her Visible Monday Party ... join us.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

All In My Head, or Why We Shouldn't Ignore our Ages in Considering Style

“Women want to wear what they do because of 
what goes on in their heads.
 Their size and shape have practically nothing to do with it.”
― Elizabeth Hawes

That is so the case for me. Elizabeth Hawes had it right. (If you're unfamiliar with this prolific American designer and writer - as I was - look HERE for a brief biography.) I've always admired a style that is best suited to a much taller, thinner woman. But I've also always been aware that along with the rest of my other unattainable ideals, all my realistic style aspirations and choices start with something I'm thinking about. Whether its a yearning to be tall and cool, or being taken with a color, or a referential bit of narrative, or a silhouette, it is really all starts in my head and in my mind's eye.

Riffing on Hawes' quote, I'd say that "What I wear shows what's on my mind." My ideas and world view have changed as I grow older, and they also have and do influence my style choices. Clearly and happily, I'm not alone in that, as all the style blog-world attests.

If Hawes was writing today she might have added age to "size and shape". We are all learning to dress to flatter our shapes rather than consider age-appropriateness first. But it's still on our minds.

Of late, I've seen a lot of stuff about age-appropriate dressing in the corners of the Blogosphere where I graze. And some of it is about resistance to the idea of rules about what is or what is not age appropriate. Over at her blog, Vix, the always fascinating and ever colorful Vintage Vixen , recently gave vent to a concise and sensible rant HERE about being inundated with rules for dressing, and particularly dressing specifically for one's age.

One of the world's best over-40 bloggers, the amazing Bella of The Citizen Rosebud has, in a thoughtful and touching post HERE , challenged older women to remember to value their bodies and sexuality by posting their own pin-up style photos of themselves. She featured a professional nude pin-up, aged 66, as an example of her point ( but I'm pretty sure she didn't expect any of us to turn up nude on our own blogs.) Bella rose to the occasion and posted a lovely (clothed!) pin-up of herself. That's a brave thing to do, and I see the value in the challenge. I strongly recommend a trip over to read the post, but please don't skip reading the comments. What you'll find is a huge diversity of really well considered opinion on what is sexy and how we all deal with the presentation of ourselves as we age.

For women especially, aging and sexuality are intertwined issues and we've been talking about it publicly for decades. There are massive libraries full of material written about the objectification of women as sexual objects, and probably similar numbers of articles and books written about freedom to express sexuality through style and self-presentation at any (legal!) age. But those ideas are still changing and it appears that there's more to be said.

Over the last half century or so, we've become comfortable with the idea that the desire for love, sex and self-understanding is not just the province of the young. Most of us no longer view sexuality and sensuality as restricted to child-bearing years. And we've also learned that "being sexy" has less to do with dressing in overtly provocative ways as it does with what's going on in the old noggin. Ideas about all this are evolving still, affecting what we think, do and wear, and we seem to still need to talk about it.

And as the aging population increases, and we continue to speak and think about sex, changing bodies and style, there are issues we haven't even addressed much yet. One of those things is the freedom that age brings for a lot of women. I personally am reveling in being way beyond an age where I give any thought to being seen as nubile, or fertile or even youthful. We no longer need those qualities to feel valuable and still vital and attractive as a woman. 

This has nothing to do, by the way, with being happily married, unattached or somewhere in between. To a large degree, this has to do with an appreciation of no longer being either consciously or subconsciously driven by the biologically hard-wired imperative to mate for reproduction purposes. I'm especially happy to be beyond menopause; that transitional time of life when biology and social pressures send the body and mind into a hormonal tizzy, firmly and dramatically signaling the end of the reproductive time of a woman's life.

This freedom is bound to change your attitude, one way or another, and it will affect what we think about and wear. Frankly, I think that's going to be one of the most interesting age-related conversations ever!

And as an aged woman who lives in a particularly restrictive shopping environment that is focused on a much younger demographic, I have my own issues with age-appropriate dressing. I really do care if I appear to be "dressing as lamb." The reason that I care is because I really don't particularly need to be seen as younger than I am, nor do I wish to be seen as stogy and out of touch with what's happening out in the world beyond my little patch. But I especially don't want to be seen as hanging on to youth with both hands in what is already a battle lost. Too late. I'm already old. But that doesn't mean that I want to be completely defined by my age, either.

What I want to do is to dress so that my age is irrelevant. That even seems a tall order to me, and probably requires some serious thought and consideration. Some supporting information seems in order. And I'm most likely to get it from my peers.

So, I'm interested in discussions of what may or may not be appropriate concerning the age-appropriate. I read that stuff, to increase my understanding of how age and style work together. I'd like to be confidently aware of what works only for the young and what is merely youthful and can be more widely used. But more than that, I want to decide for myself if an age-issue dictum is valid or just what some twenty-something editor happened to pull out from where the sun never shines.

 Case in point: I don't believe in the current style myth that if you were old enough to have worn a style the first time around, you shouldn't attempt it in revival. That's the biggest steaming crock of ageism that I ever saw presented in print. What complete nonsense! Who can do it better than someone who already knows first-hand how it was done originally? And who says that we elders don't have the taste and style to keep it relevant and adapt it contemporarily the second time around?

So, I'd hope that along with the other kinds of ageism that is applied to those of us who are no longer young or even youthful, that we shouldn't be discouraged to address these concerns among ourselves.  If there's one thing the Over 40- 50- 60-70-80 Plus Bloggers are good at, it's accepting diversity within how we display our personal style, and providing support for each other in the doing of it. The discussion of age, aging, and age-appropriateness and how they affect our personal styles is something I want to hear more of rather than less.

Just without making up a bunch of rules around it. 'Cause that's how we old lady bloggers roll.

This is a more or less obligatory outfit photo, and you've seen the bottom half before.  Both top and bottom are pieces from a junior department, though, and I think they work anyway.  ( I just love this little top!)


I'm sashaying over to join the In-The-Pink Patti's Lovely Ladies at  Visible Monday .  
Come over and see what we're up to!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gray, Pink and Disqus-Discuss

Hello! You saw these floral jeans HERE  in an avatar drawing from this spring. I haven't worn them much because I didn't have a top for them that worked particularly well. But now I do with this silky and simple gray tunic. And I found a necklace in my tiny collection that suddenly worked in a way I really like. I don't wear necklaces often, but I don't think this combination works nearly as well without it. (Note to self ... try necklaces more often.)

Nothing innovative here for anyone but me ... just a new combination of items that I feel very happy to wear.

An Important Change: Disqus Comments

On any style blog, I like the ideas at least as well as the outfits. When I read a blog that has interesting content, I try to leave a relevant comment. When I don't have anything to add, I don't. And I assume that bloggers like to get comments about and encouragement on what they work so hard to post. Of course they/we/you/I do. But perhaps some don't.

How bloggers respond to comments left on their blog varies a lot. Many bloggers don't respond to comments at all. I know there are a lot of reasons for this; the high volume of comments on high-traffic blogs, just having a busy life, or just a lack of interest. I certainly understand that. Lots of bloggers that I know may not respond with direct replies to comments left on their blogs, but make an effort to reciprocate by leaving comments for those who drop by to say hello. This seems like a particularly fair and civilized approach to me. Providing there is time and one cares about such things.

But I love comments, making and receiving. My personal goal is to try to respond to every comment within three or four days of receipt.  Sooner is better than later, and late is better than never, I hope. (And this is a good place to admit that I don't reply to nearly all the blogs I follow.  I have way more blogs that interest me than I ever get to read. Please forgive if you expect comments from me and I miss.  And let me know.)

The platform that I have been using has some drawbacks, though. I have missed some on older posts because of the notification process, and that bothers me. I also wonder if anyone ever comes back to my blog to read my replies to them. And I often see the potential for useful continued discussion with some comments, particularly those that include questions.

Kim and Chloe over at Popcosmo recently posted a really useful and astute piece about the fine points of offering and receiving comments HERE. They and a lot of bloggers whom I admire and follow use Disqus, because it promotes conversations and discussions, while allowing the simple, courteous check-ins and reciprocal notes. So I made the change to Disqus, too. I hope it's a good thing for all and an inconvenience for none.

Thanks in advance for letting me know that you read what I have to offer.

I'm linking up with The Lovely Lady in White, Patti at her linky-party, 

Join us to see how the Extreme Citizenesses do it!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Inspired by New Shoes and Old Perfume

Last week I went on about my really great bargains from the JCP shoe department sales. This week I want you to see the pièce de résistance of my efforts: pointy-toe magenta pumps on FINAL clearance for $7.00. I admit that I might not have considered these at full price, but I'm glad I was able to give them a good home. I wore them with the outfit below to Sunday dinner with the huz, and a very nice stranger stopped to tell me my outfit looked "fabulous".  So worth it.

More peplum love and another pencil skirt from JCP:

(I have got to get some tanning stuff on my legs!)


If You Hate Perfume or Are Allergic to It, 
Stop Reading Here ...

Like so many things in life that you don't miss till they're gone, I don't think about perfume except when I run out of it. And because I don't think about it often, beyond the occasional cautious sniff at an imbued magazine ad, I don't really know much about what's available or how to shop for it. All last year, I slowly spritzed away my little store of scent that I like, and now it's gone.

I'm not easily intimidated by shopping and am usually the woman with the plan. But the vast array of choices available at the average perfume counter just freezes me into immobility. Too many brands and way too little information. It's a given that the brands I like are unavailable, because I usually need a bargain and much of what I like is old news and out of production when I discover it at TJ Maxx. Or ... I've found a bit of overstock there to love, and when I want it again, it's out of my budget at full price.

I have my opinions, though, uninformed as they are. I'm pretty sure I don't want to smell like Britney, JLo, Paris Hilton, Lady Gaga or even Elizabeth Taylor. Additionally, I'm long over smelling like fruit salad or green salad veggies, cotton candy or bacon. Designers are okay, though, even though I know that it's just the same celebrity fascination as with Britny fans. Not that I want to smell like Marc Jacobs or Michael Kors, but at least I can imagine that there may be a little more sophisticated inspiration from their designers than I can expect from the tastes of Paris Hilton.

And I'm ready to try something new (at least new for me), but how to go about it without sniffing every bottle? Internet shopping is great for finding good deals on familiar brands, but it's much more difficult to find new scents you know you'll like.  So, after about five minutes snooping around via Google, I found what turned out to be a seriously interesting, inexpensive and easy solution to my problem.

There's this great site called Fragrantica .   The name correctly implies encyclopedic information about fragrances. There, you can plug in your favorite perfume or scent and you will learn everything you want to know about it. I read about my three favorite fragrances (plus a couple that I like but can't afford) and found out that I am all about these kinds of scents in various combinations; white florals generally (freesia, magnolia, gardenia, peony, Chinese osmanthus and tuberose specifically,) as well as ginger, bergamot cedar, orris root and Tahitian vetiver. Once you know the specifics of what your nose loves, then it's a quick plug in to get matches and lots of other options are available. I checked that information against the brands currently available at my local TJ Maxx, and, bingo! Two new fragrances that I love at the price I could afford. No stress, no returns, and no disappointment.

I also learned much more about the geeky-nerdy side of my favorites. Fragrantia  details the history of design and process of manufacture for each fragrance, as well as a ton of subjective stuff.   I learned about sillage (the degree to which a fragrance trails behind, or is left in the air around the wearer ... subjective, but the cognoscenti claim to be able to measure it in inches and feet!) and longevity (how long a spritz is discernible) and about top, middle and base notes.

But what I found most interesting is that there is massive ageism among perfume enthusiasts. Each page invites commentary and critique, and boy-howdy, do these women (and more than a few men) have comments! I found that a lot of the perfumes I really like have been around for decades and that I like "old lady" scents. I also found that a lot of old ladies like me resent that classification and there's a lot of heated discussion about the subject. Fun, really!

What I loved best, though, about this whole experience is that on the way home from the Big City, I was crowing over my success to my husband Dan, making him sniff my wrist yet again. After declaring that he, too, liked my new perfumes, he proudly said " You're pretty resourceful, ya know?"

Yeah. I know.


I'm linking up with Sassy Blue Patti and all the Glamazons at Visible Monday.
Come see what the buzz is all about!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Winter Shoes, A Summer Dress .......... and A Stupid Week

The best thing that's happened all week was a great pair of shoes on sale for exactly the price I wanted to pay for them. Otherwise, it's been one of those weeks when I've tripped over stuff, missed deadlines, forgotten appointments, dealt with internet trolls, gained weight instead of lost, and discovered that I'd run out of milk for my coffee immediately before I realized we were also out of coffee.

One makes tea and goes on.

So, back to the shoes. JCP has been selling off last season's display models, and they usually use size 6.5 for display. My size! I bought this pair of cap-toe pumps in black and pewter, took them home and put them in the closet to wait for fall.

Sometimes, though, you just can't wait to wear something new, and lately I've noted some women I admire wearing suede and wintry-looking shoes with their summery ensembles. ( Beverly at her blog Beverly Like Hills, did it really well HERE ... second outfit, in a combination I particularly admire with these adorable shoes.)  Seeing the first glimmer of inspiration of the week, I called off my self-pity party and put together some summer-winter combinations. 

And ...

Finally, and in keeping with the rest of my week ...

Take the picture.
Take the picture!
No ... WAIT ...
Oh, crap.

Lessons learned: you can wear wintry elements with summery elements if you want to, and a stupid week can get lots better with new shoes on sale.

Linking up with Patti, The Lady Who Wears the Pants at Visible Monday !  Be sure to stop by and see what everyone else has done with their week.