Style-wonkette notes about fashion and personal style from Fort Smith, Arkansas, deep in rural America. For mature women, beldames, women of a certain age, matriarchs and fully grown-up females. Age is not nearly as important as your eye for style.
I'm always inspired by my sister
bloggers. I recently wrote about a Really Good Hair Day and some choice
compliments that resulted, and I was particularly inspired by a
comment from the lovely Alice at Happiness at Midlife .
Besides the nice things she wrote about
hair and outfits, she wisely noted:
"This is a good reminder to
compliment strangers when you mean it - it could really make their
day and who knows what kind of day they are having."
Alice is one of my Top-Ten Nice Person
Role Models, and you can see why by the thoughtful observation.
She's also freaking fabulous dresser, but that's another subject for
another post. She also knows what she's talking about. What she
suggests is something I've always done because it's a nice thing to
do; we all know how good it feels to hear that your best is noted by
someone. I also do it to keep my worst nature at bay. It's easy to
become judgmental and less than constructively critical when you're
looking around you to see what other women are wearing. (Especially when you're not feeling up to snuff yourself.) To curb my
natural inclination toward snarky mental comments, I began to discipline
myself by trying to find at least a couple of things that I like
about what I see other people wear. Finding one thing is easy.
Finding additional elements is sometimes a challenge, but it really makes
a difference in how I perceive other people in my limited little
Particularly older women. You have to
mean it, as Alice points out, because you can get yourself in
trouble if you don't. It hasn't been that long since I saw a very
elderly woman pacing along in her walker, looking very spiffy in the
red wool fedora and red leather gloves she'd chosen to go with her
tan coat and shoes. I caught her eye and, as I was about to sail
past her, I said, "Love your hat."
She said " Oh, thank you. What is
it you like about it?"
Nobody does that.
And, from her tone and a surprisingly
suspicious look in her eyes, I got the feeling she was taking me on.
She might have just been feeling chatty, but I'm pretty sure she
wondered if I was just being glib or condescending.
I replied, "Well, I like that
particular deep red. And I like it with your matching gloves. You
look very polished and put-together. I don't see that often here. "
"Hmmph," she said. "Glad
you like it. It was nice of you to say so."
If this was a test, I'm glad I passed
it. Clearly she had her BS meter fully charged and operational, like
so many of us little old ladies so often do. Yes. But I was glad that
I'd actually taken a second or two to take in the elements of her
outfit and appreciate it more fully. And I'm glad I said something,
because I think she was pleased. But it's always better to mean it,
and to leave them thinking that you know what you're talking about.
That makes it even better!
Another of my Sweetheart Bloggers List
toppers is the delightful Sue at A Colourful Canvas .
Sue is a consummate co-inspirator who
has cheerfully showed us all how sewing your own wardrobe can be an art form. At least when the needle is in Sue's facile fingers.
She's inspired me to quit griping about not finding any of the
spring midi skirts I want, and just get off my butt and make some.
So I did. Make one. An easy beginner pattern wasn't as easy as it might have been, and it's still too big in the waist. I've
already removed at least 5" off the finished skirt
circumference, so how much "ease" does anyone really need,
I ask. I'm disappointed that the gorgeous, rosy-metallic fabric
reads more like leather, but you get the idea.
Yeaaay! Spring finally happened on
Thursday, March 20 at 11:57 CDT.
I've been compiling the spring version
of my Seasonal Fashion Fixation List since
mid-February. It's magical how the official change of season
transforms it from just a sad little wish list to an actual to-do
list. The Quest is on. It's Go Time.
I keep the list in a permanent file
that I modify seasonally on Evernote. I'm a big Evernote fan. (Not a
commercial ... I really just like it.) It's a fancy (and free
version!) app that makes it easy to digitally keep and organize all the stuff one jots down
on scraps of paper and in notebooks or journals. Best of all, it
automatically synchronizes my laptop version with the mobile version
I carry around with me on my tablet, so it's great for keeping the
Seasonal Fashion Fixation List accessible. I get an especially big
kick out thestrikethroughfunction that lets me cross off found items once they're
actually in my clutches.
I know. I need to get a life.
Here's the SFFL, subtitled
keep some reminders that apply to every season
above the list proper.)
Every-Season Revealed Wisdom
"Love it or Leave it!"
"Try it on!"
"Move buttons, shorten sleeves
and adjust hems. Otherwise, if it's a big alteration job, leave it."
Keep 'till Memorized for Target Brands
know this? I didn't, and the info helps. If you don't shop Target,
then never mind.)
Xhileration: Junior ... very Junior
Mossimo: Red tag is for Juniors
Black is for Misses
Marona: sensible, basic Misses
season specific admonitions ...)
Don't panic or get too caught up too
early* and buy a bunch of stuff ... do what you can and really
shop your closet for silhouettes.
Do the purge and put away the winter
stuff! (Not done yet. 'Weather too iffy' is my current excuse.)
Minimal thinking; If you don't haz it,
cultivatez it. Simple outfits will take few but good accessories.
Neutrals on neutrals with cool
accessories look fresh. Tight tops are not good, and fit is key for
New this spring? Long silhouettes.
Consider muted pastels ... tertiary?
Consider darks tones. Black and white
feels really doable.
...and then categories of wished for stuff and a few rationalizations
for why I need the stuff )
...are the exception for early
shopping. Your size goes fast, so make up your mind on the basics.
Embrace the mid heel!
(Shoe Carnival has some decent heels
this year for around $40)
You also NEED a pair of simple,
plain leather, classic black pump!!!! Give the old ones a decent
burial, 'cause they've been good friends, but they're dead.
D' Orsay pump, mid heel ... with ankle straps?
(Think hard about these! Trendy, but so wonderful. )
Strappy white sandal?LI or LI!( means Love It or
Leave It) No nurse shoes.
If new ones try to seduce, hold out
for True Love.
Any clutches must fit the Kindle Fire!
Bright colored clutches? These can work ... kindle+wallet
+phone+mini-keys, and in the bigger bag with all other necessaries
for your long day trips.
(Just found this one ... It's cork! Much cuter and larger than it looks.
From Francesca's Collections.)
Good black clutches of
After review, you need:
Black and white striped tee ...
boat-neck, decent quality
Crop tops and silky camis to go under
... NO REALLY, GET SOME!!!! Try ON for length.
Black, white, gray or
colors Tissue Tees, Layering Tees ... crew, boat-neck ... light
weight, should skim not hug.
Art print tops ... these are really
appealing, especially structured shells. Be picky about print ... not
all "art" is created equal.
Shirts: You need some.
Longer fitted silky tunics ...
sleeveless, solid colors ... you could LIVE in these this summer with
the right cut pants.
Joe Fresh (at
JCP) has some pretty blouses, but they look huge! Try
on. These can look madame if you're not careful.
Another creamy white shirt for hot
weather ... light weight with sleeves? No pockets on boobs.
Don't buy a lot of jeans. Really,
you're in pretty good shape.
Find ankle length, good fitting black
twill-ish pants ... sleek ones, please. At least one pair.
And printed ankle pants ... you now
know how to easily slim them from the knee, so find some you like. Try on for waist
and fit before you buy ... then alter. Small pattern, please,
Skirts:Dig around, see what
you already have.
Midis ... pleated or circle much better
than gathered! Make some, if necessary. Drop the waist for tucking. Crop tops
will work with these if carefully fit.
Wear old sheaths with updated accessories.
Pink. I want a pale pink dress.
If you ever remember to do it, keep
looking for that perfect molded-cup minimizer bra that you can buy
without taking out a second mortgage. (This
is the unicorn of my list .. has been sitting here for at least 3
More Cabernet undies! $12.00 at
It is unlikely that I will buy all of
the things on this list. They are the ideas that interest me for this
spring. And it's high time to look ahead. The photo below is a
reminder to me that there is a point where it's time to stop farting
around with last season's closet orphans, send them on to a home
where they'll be loved and get on with the change. Spring is a mean
season that way.
A Good Hair Day is one of my favorite trivial but very
happy experiences. It isn't world peace, or enlightenment, or the practice of committing random acts of kindness, but it is a special event nonetheless. There
is definitely a shallow end to the pool that is my life, and I'm not
ashamed to admit I play there as often as I can. It's just nice to
be able to savor the sweet surprises that can make all the
On Saturday morning, I did my tired
husband a solid and drove to the big city to pick up some additional
important items we needed for our pre-St. Patrick's Day corned beef
and cabbage feast that we threw at the restaurant this weekend. If
we need to make an unscheduled trip, he usually goes in early before work
without me, because I hate Sam's Club on Saturday mornings. It's
Amateur Night, all day long on Saturdays. Recreational shoppers clog
the isles, and everywhere I need to be is occupied with a cart
dispensing food samples of heat-and-eat pizza bites or the newest
flavor of microwaveable chicken strips. These carts are usually
surrounded by large families who are feeding everyone lunch by
grazing from cart to cart to cart. Getting what I need to get done in
a short time without accidentally cart-crunching someone's errant
child or granny is my goal.
I'd colored my hair the day before and
didn't hate how my hair looked when I went out the door.
An hour later, as I maneuvered my cart
in a civil but politely determined way toward the frozen fish aisle,
an older couple about my age passed me going the other way. The
pleasant looking man caught my eye, pointed at my head and said "Beautiful hair!" as they passed. I stammered out a surprised
thanks. His wife shot him a filthy look and grabbed his arm
possessively. ( I'm pretty sure I would have done the same if Dan
had said that to a strange women.)
"Cool," I thought,
feeling a little more cheerful about the whole trip. I got the fish
and headed to the meat case to start digging through the big,uncut
ribeye pieces to get the best one. One of the regular meat cutters
popped out of his glassed-in work area, glamorous in his white shower
cap and lightly blood-stained apron to say hello.
"Have you cut your hair since the
last time you were in? It looks really good," said he.
"Thank you!" said I, grinning
from ear to ear.
I finished the shopping, feeling pretty
darned good about my trip to Sam's. I checked out, and at the door,
the dour-faced guy who checks shoppers receipts against the contents
of their cart gave me a chaste little hug, saying, " There's my
favorite red-head! You look really nice today." Very
non-mashy, but sweetly sincere.
Sadly, I didn't have the presence of
mind to even shoot a selfie. Might have been useful to try to
duplicate what was clearly a successful look. In the photo below,
taken the next day, I'm back to my ordinary old hair. No raves from
the masses, but Dan said he liked it. That's the only opinion
besides mine that really counts, of course.
Still, it was nice to be out in public
on what turned out to be one of those Really Good Hair Days.
Satisfying? Oh, yes.
This is me trying for a spring
transitional outfit, demonstrating the folly of trying to dress for
the weather you wish you had instead of the weather you have. It was
freaking cold, and I ended up with a coat thrown over the whole
thing. Me, being optimistic!
I'm a rule follower, most of the time.
Often, there are great reasons to have at least a few rules. I obey
the laws that keep us all stuck together as a culture. I'm a fan of
laws that keep us from accidentally or deliberately killing each
other and ourselves. I respect the basic social niceties. I try to
be kind to everyone's kids, at least cordial to other adults, and
respectful towards my elders (whose numbers are growing fewer every
But, as a child of my generation and
one influenced by an especially feisty political era or two, I
understand that civil or social disobedience can be justified. This
applies particularly to fashion rules that are applied
specifically and often arbitrarily to us petite flowers, the short
I've been thinking about proportions
for short figures quite a lot lately. And when I start thinking a
lot about something I begin reading a lot about it. If you are tall
and don't care about this subject, I won't mind a bit if you click
through to a more pertinent blog with issues that interest you. I wouldn't blame you a bit. Speaking of tall women, a lot of you are my favorite people, so
please don't think that I hold your height against you. Lucky you,
In reading about proportion and all the
rules regarding proportions, nowhere did I find a rule geared toward
making tall women look other than ... tall. I hear you tall ones
have your own style challenges, or so I'm told along with all the
other urban myths. (Oh, boo hoo.) But overall, TALL, it seems, is
good. Short must be bad, then, because there are all kinds of rules
devised to make us look not so short. Designers use models of
various shapes, colors, nationalities, creeds (and recently) cup size
and waist circumference. But I don't see any shorties stomping down
the professional runways. These days, a young girl can (and should!)
aspire to be anything she desires, but should a she be a genetic
shortie, then she is is gently steered away as early as possible from
the naive and hopeless desire to be a fashion model. ( I admit there are myriad reasons to discourage a daughter from a career on the
catwalk but I'm talking the difference between "perhaps you
shouldn't count on it, sweetheart" and "no way, short-stuff, never happening, hahahahaha!" )
It's not that everyone (or anyone) should want to be a model, but
it's always seemed unfair that short womens' shoulders are not
considered worthy enough to hang couture upon at all when trying to
sell it to women who are sometimes short. Almost always shorter than the model. Nor is this a plea for more short models, but for the
understanding that short women live different lives with their
both a rule obeyer and a short woman, I've done way more than my
share of hemming up and taking in and considering how to make a
particular shape or silhouette work on my frame. But this year, I'm
going over the fence, running amok, and with premeditation and malice
aforethought I'm going to break some of the rules that are there for
my own good and designed to help poor little me look taller.
NEVER going to look taller. EV-ER. Maybe in a photo with teeny-tiny
props, but in real life everyone I meet is going to know I'm short no
matter how I dress. The concept of proportional dressing promotes
some great ideas about how to look good, and how to make your choices
work in that
mysterious way that only the wisest aesthetes can define, but nothing
is really going to make my legs look longer or give me an extra inch
in height. Except a good pair of honest high-heeled shoes, and I
have that wired.
outfit demonstrates my current resistance to some current short-girl
years, pants cut at the ankle or just above were unfashionable
because they made everyone's legs look short (see?) Now they're hot
again and, amazingly, no one minds that they still have that
truncating effect on legs generally. But we little 'uns must take great
care 'lest our already short
legs look that way. What?
encouraged to wear only shoes with tones that are similar to the
color of our legs if we don't want to look short, yet we just came
out of a season where flat-finished black leather was pushed hard for
the sake of minimalism. Nobody's legs are that color, so we wore
black tights. And to complicate things further, black leather shoes
are great for spring, only this year they are d'Orsay-delicate with
darling, daring and fresh-looking ankle straps. Which I shouldn't wear because ... well, you know.
long tunic shirts that "cut you in half visually"... I'm
sorry, but this shirt doesn't look bad. I love this shirt in all
it's hummingbird-print springy-ness. And I love these boyfriend
jeans that really need to be rolled up a bit to be fun and look like
something other than the dreaded Mom Jeans. Worse yet, I am in
complete, passionate love with these little ankle-strap shoes ...
they are navy and not black, and that makes me adore them even more.
You will be seeing more of these ankle straps making my legs look
short this season, 'cause it's True Love, and we get a pass because
we don't choose with whom we fall in love. Please don't faint when
I wear them with midi skirts. You know why I'm not supposed to wear
them, but get ready 'cause here I come in them. It'll be okay,
'cause I already know I'm short. I think they're pretty and that I
look nice in them. Or, if I am honest, that they look nice on me.
If anyone is mean enough or brave enough to tell me otherwise, I say
bring it on.
going to have some fun this season.
linking up late with the Balletic Yet Work Appropriate Patti at
This is what I wore to run into the Big
City on Sunday. We decided to go in spite of the ice storm that was
due later in the afternoon. It came in early, and was colder and
wetter than we thought, and we made it home just before the worst
hit. I wore a total of four layers (not counting unders) and
was glad I did. After a mild teaser for spring, we're back to some
serious blasts of late winter.
( I look like Carrot Top's Granny in these because of a color adjust fail with the very cold north light. Way cooler than usual! Just trying to get a little flesh color into my hands and face! Nope, haven't changed my hair color to "OMG ! Orange".
Just look at the clothes, okay? )
I haven't worn the camel colored wool
coat as it feels a little dull this year, but I was happy the way it
worked with the rest of the pieces. I was happier still that is was
perfectly warm and fairly light.
The sleeveless blazer vest is a
make-over of a too large but good quality blazer I had languishing in the closet. It
had survived a purge because I wanted to see if I could re-make the
piece by removing the sleeves. I cut the armholes deeper to fit my
shoulders and I used the fabric from the removed sleeve for new
facings. I'm very pleased with the fit, and although it could be a
bit slimmer, it works well with the sweater and tank underneath. It
also works well buttoned with a belt.
A day later than usual, I'm linking up
with the Ever Thoughtful Seeker at
Tres Chic Style Bits . Come visit at her always interesting site!