Monday, March 31, 2014

Co-Inspirator Women Bloggers

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 world.

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.


 I've got this pose down, don't I?
And look, new shoes!


I'm linking up with three more co-inspirators, the Divine Jill at Everything Just So and the Lovely Adrienne at The Rich Life on a Budget at their How I Wear My project ... this month's subject is The Skirt.  
And, last but not least, the always thoughtful
Seeker at Tres Chic Style Bits linky party!
All kinds of fun up in here!

Late Breaking Link ... 4/7/14
I'm at Patti's Visible Monday, catching up
with all the glamorati there!  Join us to see what's up!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Spring 2014 Lust List

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 the strikethrough function 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 
My Spring 2014 Lust List.

(I 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 ...
(Did you 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
Spring 2014 Considerations 
(some 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 every item.

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.

Pastel pumps

Cute mules

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 substantial size.

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, Short-stuff!

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 seasons.)

More Cabernet undies! $12.00 at Dillards.

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.


Linking up with 
The Cat Wearing Patti at Visible Monday
and The Very Good Blogger Seeker at 
Tres Chic Style Bits

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Really Good Hair Day ... (which you won't get to see)

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 difference.

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.
Shallow? Definitely.
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!


Linking up (late and with apologies) with the Multi-Lingual Seeker at  Tres Chic Style Bits

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Short Rules

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 year. Yikes.)

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 women.

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, damn it.

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 wardrobes.

So, as 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.

I'm 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.

This outfit demonstrates my current resistance to some current short-girl discrimination.

For 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?

We are 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.

No 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.

I'm going to have some fun this season.


I'm linking up late with the Balletic Yet Work Appropriate Patti at Visible Monday
and the Detail Conscious Seeker at Tres Chic Style Bits

Come see what all the fuss is about!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ice Storm Outfit and a Blazer Becomes a Vest

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!