Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Will Wonders Never Cease?

If you live long enough, you'll see it all.

Lots of you know I love me some glossy fashion magazines. They've been a part of my life since I was a little girl (with a decade or so of feminist fervor diluting my devotion just a little and some student and non-student years when I couldn't afford them.) And I have a process for reading them. In the same way some people ritually twist apart the halves of an Oreo cookie, then eat the filling first and chomp the cookie last, I have a similar technique that allows me to really savor magazine contents. I do what is technically called a flip through wherein I rarely stop to read, but just let the visual feast tease the palate. I'll put the magazine aside, and when I next pick it up, the actual reading begins. In that process, I'll sometimes make a note or two on what I've seen for my personal use or inspiration for blog commentary.

I was in a happy flip-through of the July issue of Lucky, when I thought I saw the words "Embrace high waisted: It makes curvy/petite proportions work." ( Imagine the sound of screeching automotive breaks here for effect.)

Surely I misread.

I stopped and flipped back. There it was. In the "Dear Lucky" style advice column by Jean Godfrey-June, she featured an interview with the insightful and delicately beautiful young blogger, Wendy Nguyen ( http://www.wendyslookbook.com/.) Ms. Nguyen addressed the advantageous wearing of flared or pencil skirts and offered the above advice, word for word. I wasn't hallucinating.

Well, I'll be.

All of my life, one of my worst figure flaws challenges has been my short waist. So many years with so many suggestions and artifices to hide my short waist and make my torso look longer! But now, I'm advised as a petite with a surplus of curves to "embrace high waisted!" I can do that!

I do understand that "high waisted" now means what we've all understood as at our natural waist, perhaps at the top of that range, but I'm suddenly IN THE BALL PARK. I'm almost NORMAL!
After a lifetime of fretting about my high waist, I'm actually OKAY. What do ya' know about that?! (Yes, it's important to be proud of one's personal idiosyncrasies, but sometimes, it's just neat to fit in. )

Same afternoon, at JC Pennys: I found a Nicole Miller crop top and pencil skirt that I've longed for but dismissed as unworkable, and they were deeply discounted, on clearance, and sort-of in my size. Both pieces look easily alterable, and I remember another piece of advice from Ms. Nguyen about crop tops and the petite woman; "Where it's cropped is the important thing: It can't be right below your bust, but it also can't end too low. The tops should start a few inches above the smallest part of your waist."

I took home a skirt one size too large, and with two quick seams, nipped in the width and the waist so it fit very high. The pretty design at the hem would have been ruined if I had taken it up from the bottom. The top was my size, but longer than was flattering. So, with one seam, I raised the hem to a more flattering spot as well. Ta-Da!

I think it works well, and with a black cami under, there is no possibility of exposed midriff, keeping it at least closer to age appropriate.

Thank you, Wendy Nguyen.

Soon, we might well be seeing magazine cover headlines advising us to "How to Rock Your Droopy Boobs!" and maybe "Pancake Backside is The Shape for Fall ! "

You laugh, but it could happen. I now know anything is possible.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Liked It So Much I Did It Again!

I just had to go back and get this second shirt-dress, just like the one you just saw last week, except in a black, gray and white print.

Lots of mini-style forays for me in this one little look. No pop of color this time ... staying clean-lined and minimal and monochromatic.

Python ... I don't wear a lot of animal prints. I've known and liked some very nice real-live pythons, and loved one particularly charming ball python (or royal ... python regius) who was pretty adorable with a very nice temperament. Even for members of her species, who are generally fairly docile, she was a peach of a python. They get their name because, when freaked, they roll up into a ball. She was good company, and liked to hang out, draped over my shoulders when I would watch television or read.
Haven't decided if wearing an obvious print in a very un-snake-like fabric encourages the use of real skins, or discourages it and takes the pressure off the market. I very much hope it's the latter.
Consequently, wearing this print makes me a little self-conscious, but the fabric is so cool and light I get over it fairly quickly. Just a fashion victim, conscience be damned.

Skinnies ... this cut is new for me; Old Navy "Rock Star" with a side zip. Great skinnies to go under long tunics with flat front. Not quite leggings, not traditional jeans but with back pockets. I love the fit.

I'm getting a great deal more wear from this watch with a white leather strap than I imagined. Like white shoes, it feels fresh with things I'd never imagine it with.

I haven't so much suddenly started carrying a clutch as remembering to photograph them. This one holds the Kindle Fire and the other necessities easily. As with this dress, I liked this clutch so much I did it again, except in creamy white.

Speaking of my Kindle Fire ...

I'm such a Senior Citizen. One of the reasons I'm behind with my correspondence, blog visits and comments and responses and sewing is that I just discovered Bluetooth super-light headphones. Really, they're ear-buds attached to a StarTrekish,  almost weightless,collar-thing, sort of a space-age torc. And with it, I can not only talk on the phone ( imagine that!) I can connect to my Kindle Fire and listen to all the music I own. With astonishing sound quality. I know you all know about these things, but I'm a little behind in the tech department.

The really time-killing and insanely fun part of this is that a couple of days ago, Amazon announced the start of their Prime Music feature. With Amazon Prime, there are umpteen bazillion songs and albums you can get at no extra charge. Prime membership is now $99.00 a year, and at that it's a value for us, but I've had that much and more fun the last couple of days, downloading and play list building.

Picture me bopping all around the house (ALL around the house!) in my jammies, dancing with the dogs! I'm so happy. I have about 35 minutes of high energy work out plays that, if I dance my way through all of them, I need a hit on the inhaler. (We shall see how long that enthusiasm lasts.)

The currently playing list includes;
Raise Your Glass (Pink)
Brave (Sara Bareilles)
Carry On, Wayward Son (Kansas)
Go Your Own Way ( Fleetwood Mac)
Grenade (Bruno Mars)
I'm Alright (Kenny Loggins)
I Only Want to Be with You ( one by Dusty Springfield, another by Bay City Rollers)
Jump ( Van Halen )
Saturday Night (... yes, another BCR favorite ...)
Relax (Frankie Goes to Hollywood ) (...yikes...)
Glory Days ( Bruce Sprinsteen)
Kyrie (Mr. Mister)
She's So Mean (Matchbox Twenty)
Sharp Dressed Man (ZZ Tops)
... and I'm just getting started.

Gotta go ... the poodles want to tango. Tell me what songs make you dance like nobody's watching!

Linking up with Our Favorite Lion-Tamer, Patti at
Visible Monday .  Come see what we're all wearing and why we're wearing it!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dressing for Schizophrenia

I admit it. There are just some days when I have no idea how to dress. I can put on my clothes and shoes with no problem. I just mean I'm having trouble choosing outfits for this schizophrenic season and this weirdest of weather. Sunday, when this photo was taken, was one of several days in a row of steaming hot temperatures and sunny skies, suddenly morphing into noisy, windy, black thunderstorms that dumped rain and blew the world around, then stopping as suddenly as they started. Then sunny for a while, followed by more wild bluster.  And repeat.

I'm relieved to report that I'm not the only one who had trouble . It's my habit to cruise around TJ Maxx while Dan shops for the restaurant. When he dropped me off right at the front doors, the sun was shining and the rain was sprinkling big, sloppy drops. When I got inside, I saw a young woman in cutoffs and flip-flops, with her barefooted kids in bathing suits. I also saw some after-church outfits, a few yoga pants and racerback tops, but with everyone unprepared for any serious rain.

I particularly noticed a tall, graceful woman with a sleek salt and pepper LOB. It didn't take a psychic flash to know that she'd pulled out the perfectly new, spotless, olive-colored Wellies to wear them at least one time, as well as a very silky, and designer-ish anorak to sport with the boots. A black turtleneck peeped out from under her jacket, which could not have been comfortable in the warm store.

I get it, though. I've welcomed a stormy day in early spring so I could wear a winter piece that I had just got on clearance. Fun to wear it once before it was completely out of season. But in spite of the rain, she looked out of place in the heat, but no more so than the nearly barefooted flip-floppers splashing through the parking lot puddles under the now steely skies. I think the kids in the bathing suits probably were the most practically dressed.

I did okay, though. You can see how the wind bells out the silky little dress ... but it stayed cool (and decently dry in gusty wind) with my jeans underneath. The day I found it and tried it on in the dressing room, I was wearing the blue skinnies and these coral shoes. I loved the long-over-long look, and the blue, white and coral together, so I'm wearing a happy accident. I wore just enough shoe to keep my toes dry, and I no longer care very much if the wind blows my hair around.

Perhaps not what I think of as traditional play clothes for a rainy day, but it worked as well as anything. ( I remind you that I'm not shaped like that with a largish goiter just above my knee.  It was just windy. It's actually pretty when it falls normally. Please use your imagination in my favor.)

I got to see the kids in their bathing suits whooping it up in the largish parking lot puddles as their mom shepherded them toward their minivan. They were enjoying themselves.

The woman in her new wellies must have gotten a similar thrill when she glided elegantly back to her car, impervious to wet feet and shoulders.  She might have been too warm, but I'm pretty sure she was happy because she looked good and she knew it.

I got to wear an outfit that I liked, so that was good.

There really can be no rules for dressing in weather like this.   The best you can do is just wear what makes you happy.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Trending Now: My Old Dress ...

In hearing range (in this case, field of vision) of any smart, thoughtful women who give sensible consideration to what they wear and how they wear it, the mention of the word "trend" is bound to bring all kinds of scoffing that can range from good-natured ribbing to downright nasty verbal lashing onto the head of the mentioner. It's a justifiable reaction, especially for the savvy woman beyond the first blush of youth.   Better always, I agree, to wear what suits you, thrills you, and make you feel and/or look amazing and shun popular trends that are problematic for your personal style.

Got it. So true.

But sometimes, a careful examination of a trend can teach you a thing or two about yourself. For those of you who have read here before, you'll remember that I make a deliberate practice of thinking of trends as just ideas. IMHO, one possible definition of a trend is just an idea that a lot of women are adopting, successfully or not. And I'm always interested in ideas about personal style!

One recent trend/idea for the last couple of warm seasons has been that we're seeing pastels again after a long winter's fascination with "jewel tones" and saturated colors, brights and neons. Pastels have been less frequently available in recent years, and I got the idea that pastels translated somehow into the girlish, or the trivial, or worst of all, the grandmotherly (yikes!) Perky pinks and baby-boy blue, and especially the gender-neutral nursery yellow were not my friends anyway, especially close to my face. But all this time, I've harbored an affection for pastels, and I've been delighted to see them around again. Feels like it's time.

(Not here, of course. Instead of the pastel pink coat that I so wanted this winter, I saw every color but. And my Spring Lust List included a pastel pink dress, but I'm seeing lots of brights, especially the corals and hot pinks that have been around for a while. I probably will not be able to shop without tripping over pale pink everything next summer, but not yet. Trends are, in fact, much of what I have to choose from, even if they are a year or two old. That's the stuff of Big Box Country, y'all.)

So I dove deep into my wardrobe archives and found this dress. I'd worn it exactly once, and I'd had trouble styling it but it avoided recycling because I just loved it. I'd bought it trying to make a tea-length dress work for me, and I'd never found shoes to make it look really good. In spite of the fact that I was no taller, thinner or any younger, I tried it on again to see if anything was miraculously different.

Yes. There was a lot different! All this spring, looking at the magazines, I had oohed and ahhed at the pale but dusty pinks and purples, muted blues and cool mint greens. TAA-DAAA! Here they all were with some deeper but still soft hues, right in this little old Simply Vera dress! They had looked a little subdued and poky when I bought it, but no longer. Because I'd seen the colors in a new context, my eye for them had changed and evolved.

Also different was my perception of what proportions work. Hoisting the hem from the top of the calf to the knee looked much better, especially with my newly cropped head changing the way so many of my older clothes look on me. I also jettisoned the self-belt, allowing the dress to fall into more of a column than into an awkwardly divided shape that my short waist created.

I'd worn it originally with plain, light beige court shoes. I decided to try it with newer shaped (and admittedly  trendier) blush sandals with ankle straps. And when it came to the delicate necklace and rings and watch I'd worn before, I just decided to go absolutely minimal ... trending right along .... and was completely happy with the result. (Dan is happier when I wear my wedding rings, and I agree that some jewelry is doable, but there's something liberating about not needing any! )

What was different was my perception of what this little dress could do for me based on newer ideas.  Newer for me, anyway.

From where I sit, it seems that the consideration of trends is just another tool to evaluate new ideas, new combinations, and strengthen a new "eye" based on the ideas presented by designers that please me and excite my imagination. Really, there's nothing new under the sun. EVERY season, there are retrospectives and reintroduction and re-imagining of old (often truly ancient!) ideas about how the body can be clothed. Which is why most vintage pieces can look wonderfully and uniquely contemporary. And most vintage pieces can be firmly placed in the era when they were a re-imagined trend from an earlier period, or a natural extension of a recent idea. The re-imagining is what makes "closet shopping" such a gratifying process, and what inspires our current designers and innovators to bring us "new" ideas.

So I've come to the conclusion that trends and new ideas are:
1) the same thing, and only good or bad depending on use. And ...
2) useful information for the evolution and education of my own taste.

I won't admit to the ignominy of being a "trend chaser" but plead guilty to using the ones I like to my advantage. Don't mind if I do, thank you.

"Trend aware, don't care!" That's me.


Linking up with the Every Fabulous and Floral Patti at 
Come see what a whole bunch of the glamourati are up to!