Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Just a Little Story About How Cool My Husband Can Be

Google says that to make the 101.6 mile trip from my driveway to the Target parking lot in Rogers, Arkansas it takes 1 hour and 37 minutes. But below this information, at the very bottom of the page, in teeny, tiny print, Google added a disclaimer stating that there are lots of variables that may affect the accuracy of this estimate (and blah, blah, blah ...) Well, they were right about that part, anyway.


Sunday morning, September 27th at 8:00 AM, the Adam Lippes for Target collection (or just a tease, a mere taste of the collection; the few sad pieces we get here in Mid-Nowhere) would be available for me to see and buy. I'd kept a small chunk of change aside just for this purpose and was ready to buy.

We got up at 4:45 on Sunday morning to get on the road by about 6:15. Experience told me that the very early start on Sunday morning would make for almost zero traffic and a faster trip. We'd both worked a fairly busy Saturday night, both had head-colds and neither of us had slept much or were feeling particularly perky. But we managed morning animal chores, coffee, baths and showers, and all the stuff one does to get out the door on time.

Still, in spite of our best efforts, we found ourselves running just a few minutes behind and we arrived at about 5 minutes past 8:00. Only three other cars were in the lot ahead of us, but I bailed out of our car and made for the Target entrance at kind of a wheezy trot, with Dan following behind, lugging my purse for me. (What a guy. How nice is that?)

It took only seconds to find the Adam Lippes display; the pitiful, two little racks holding 10 pieces allotted to us out of over 50 pieces from the collection, and then the rack holding the only dress I really wanted.

As is their stupid habit for smaller stores, Target allowed this store only one each for each size of every item. One XS, one S, one M, one L, one XL and that was that. At about 8:07, I realized that there was no Medium where there was supposed to be a Medium. My size. I looked around for the woman who aced me out and there was no one in sight.

Dan is such a good guy. He stayed close and made sweet, sympathetic sounds as I stupidly checked and re-checked the tags on the XS, S, L and XL, hoping one of them was the M and had just been put on the wrong hanger. Nope.

After raging a little and huffing and sighing and blowing my nose, I decided to try on the Large. I was pretty sure it would swamp me, but decided I was at least going to get to try one piece on after hauling my sleepy, congested old self all the way to a far flung Target for this stupid non-event. Dan reminded me to look for the shoes I wanted, and true to Target form, there was one pair in each size. At least Ms. Earlybird McDressGrabber, my arch-nemesis for today, didn't wear a 6.5 and want MY shoes as well as MY dress.

Dan took the L, my 6.5s and the cart toward the dressing room, while I ambled behind, pouting and snuffling as I scanned the rest of the Women's department for other pieces that I might like enough to keep the trip from being a total loss.

When I caught up with him waiting out the dressing rooms, he said, "You know, I just saw somebody head in there, and I think she had your dress."

"Oh, that's just swell," I groused as I grabbed the dress and shoes to try on. "Goody for her."

Just for good measure, I checked each open dressing room in hopes that my M might be a reject and hanging still in one of the empty rooms. No such luck. I chose the open dressing room next to the only other occupied room, and tried on the L. I was swamped by it, like I knew I would be, and decided then and there not to bother with the massive alterations it would take to make it fit. All the while, I could hear the woman who had my M moving around in the room next door, and the rustle of fabric as she tried on her selections. Sad Jan.

I also decided to put the adorable shoes back, because I couldn't be a truly pitiful martyr if I bought them without the dress to go with. No matter that I could instantly think of at least five outfits that would look better with these sweet little shoes.

Dan was patiently waiting for me, and was respectfully quiet as I tossed the L and the shoes back into the cart to return to the racks so some other woman would not suffer the same disappointment. It didn't escape him that I was wearing my Ultra-Mean face, and here I have to hand it to him. It took courage for him to put a hand on my shoulder and say, "Just hang on a minute, Sweetheart."

"WHAT?" Sweetheart snapped.

"The woman who has your dress is still in there, and I don't think that medium is going to fit her. Just wait until she comes out."

There are times in a marriage when the benefits knowing each other really well and all the years of teamwork really pays off. I am sometimes truly in awe of Dan's powers of observation, and just how savvy a shopping strategist he can be. We waited about five minutes, and finally Ms.Earlybird McDressGrabber emerged from the dressing room carrying several items, my M among them. I pounced.

I pasted on my most ingratiating grin, pointed to my M and asked her, "Did that dress fit you?"

"No ..." she said, surprisingly non-startled by a short, grinning stranger with a big red nose, accosting her with personal questions outside the Target dressing rooms.

"Can I have it?" I asked.

"Sure!" she said with a nice smile, and handed over my M. What an adorable lady she was, not at all the sleazy Ms. Earlybird McDressGrabber I imagined her to be.

I gave her my thanks and dashed back into the dressing room to try on the M.  Excellent. Too long (of course) but an easy alteration and a good fit in shoulders, hip and bust. The little shoes came home with us as well, and that is how Dan's sharp eye and good instincts helped me score my dress.

I never knew he had such finely honed set of competitive shopping skills. I'm a lucky girl.


I admit, this little dress all by itself doesn't inspire. However, this styling example from the collection look-book is right up my alley.

In fact, I can think of a couple of other combinations using pieces I already own. My long sleeveless blazer would work, as well as the shorter sleeveless vest. Absolutely worth the trip and all the angst. Success snatched from the jaws of defeat, and all is now well.

Thanks to you, Dan!  You always rock my world and come through when it really counts.


Joining the Polka-Dotty Patti, hostess of her wonderful linky party, Visible Monday .  Come see what we're all up to this fall!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rocking the Pre-Shop

That first cool morning sets me yearning to begin making my fall wardrobe purchases. But, the minute I start itching to get out the door, inching toward it so I can start spending some of what I've been fiercely saving since July, I manage to put on the mental brakes.

"Hold off," says I, sagely. "The best stuff isn't out yet. "

"True," I reply to myself. "All I saw last week was the dregs of summer sales and a few, sad looking, fall-ish separates."

"First, we gotta go through last year's stuff ..."

I resist my smarter and better-self with muttering, moaning and complaining.

Ignoring myself, I continue, "And figure out what we'll wear again this year."

"Awww! Nice to see old friends again!" I add, perking up a bit.

"Then see how we can freshen it all up with some new pieces!"

"Excellent," I reply, congratulating myself on my wisdom and restraint.

"But right now, we can go PRE-Shopping !"

"The BEST ! " I shriek, running for my cash and keys.

It stays hot here so long that over the years I've adopted the technique of pre-shopping to keep me feeling like I'm doing something other than just window-shopping for fall things. I wrote a little about this last year, but I've got it down to a science now. I mostly just prowl my usual haunts, seeing what's starting to come in for the new season.

But to make it more fun, I make a contract with myself containing the understanding that if I find something spectacular that I can easily afford without breaking the bank, I can bring it home if it's 1) True Love 2) tried on in-store, 3) an item that will help me transition from hot summer to the slightly cooler fall temps with stuff I already have. And finally, 4) it must possess enough utility to go with me deeper into winter.

(The exception to the wait-and-see part is footwear. I've written about my creative rationalization for fall shoe shopping in previous posts. I buy early if I possibly can because I have a common shoe size and they go fast. Really.)

This DIY-brainwashing cuts out all of the impulse shopping, allows some few but intelligent purchases and lets me feel like I'm doing something proactive. It keeps me from spending too much ahead of the arrival of the best stuff when fall weather really gets into full swing. I've even found I can begin thinking of Pre-Winter-Shopping and retain a bit of cash to spend on myself when the grooviest holiday items appear.

In the last few years, I've discovered another particularly satisfying and handy use for the process. There are occasions when I want to ride the escalator up to the Better Floors in our one upscale-ish department store. When I'm feeling particularly hedonistic, I treat myself to a trip through the racks where there are items by designers I see in the glossies, the names we all recognize, but that I rarely can afford. In Pre-Shopping Mode, I can easily make the trip a fact-finding tour to see what the local 1% types will be wearing, how a good cut looks, what I might wish to find in a more affordable version, and so on. Invariably, a sales woman will come and offer assistance. Instead of ducking my head and replying "just looking" and getting the side-eye and tight smile reserved for lookie-lous, I smile confidently and say, "No, thank you. I'm just Pre-Shopping the season." You'd be amazed at the response you'll get. "Ah!" she'll softly exclaim, and smile knowingly as she drifts respectfully away. Complete pony-poo, but fun and effective. You should try it.

Some Items From My Fall 2015 Pre-Shopping List :

I'm pretty well set up with ankle booties from an obsession I indulged last winter, but I'm looking for a pair of nude or blush or warm beige booties. (Google "nude blush bootie," then click on Images and see what you come up with. I dare you.)

Excellent with winter white jeans, yes?

        Or maybe something more dressy like these pretties?

And I'm sort of pining for a pair of rougher, strap laden ankle boots to toughen up the look of some feminine silhouettes I have in mind.

These are a little sleek, a little tough ...

but these are closer to what I'd really like.

I loved seeing all the well structured, tailored, long sleeveless coats and blazers last year, but none appeared here until this month. I've actually already found and nabbed a long one and a shorter version, both in black, that met all the standards listed above for Pre-Shopping purchase. I'm glad I did, 'cause they went out of the store fast. Satisfaction is sweet. I've begun wearing them with some summer tops for the transition, but see them with tees and long sleeved tops and tunics and weightier shirt dresses for winter. She shoots ... she scores.

         Similar to mine, and a bit shorter,
but I'd love one in this navy!

Again, similar ... and I only aspire to 
bring this much attitude.

Speaking of long and shorter tunic tops, asymmetrical hem sweaters and blouses, and traditional button-down shirts and shirt dresses, see the following candidates:

We're finally seeing some of these faux layered sweaters/shirts and they are becoming yet 
another minor fixation of mine.

This brings us to the sub-category of plaid shirts.  They're everywhere, and I didn't do them when they were grunge basic in sturdy fabrics.  The current iterations, though, include some gauzy styles that work niftily for the transitional weeks now upon us.  I have these two already.

This one actually has more drape and shape 
than shows here, and the colors are richer!

This Mossimo for Target dress I wear differently; open all the way, minus the belt like a duster-vest. Over a black leather-ish, high-neck tank and black skinnies, ankle boots or with  black heels.  Loved wearing it to work recently ... swirled elegantly as I sashayed around.

I'm declaring a moratorium on any more plaid shirts for the moment. I suddenly love what I can do with them ... but stay tuned.  I can turn on a dime.

Another idea that I'm allowing myself to obsess over more than just a little is the completely attainable and surprisingly cool looking skinny scarf ! I can get swallowed easily in traditional winter scarves, and often forgo wearing them at all as I get too warm to keep them on after coming in from the cold. I've left them behind to be lost permanently.

Enter the new kids in scarf-town; they can lend a cool androgynous edge, and function as much like a necklace as a scarf. A skinny scarf can become that illusive third piece without a bit of bulk or fuss and prettily hide a neck-ring wrinkle or two. They can work as well in summer as in winter. They can be easily made at home without looking home-made (a major virtue here in rural Mid-Nowhere, the absolute dead-end of the fashion supply chain) and I stand a pretty good chance of keeping the long ends out of my dinner plate when we go out!

Not with shorts for me,  
but the rest is doable and fresh to my eye!

I'm sure more ideas will take me as the season wears on, but this is my current Early Fall Pre-Shopping List for F/W 2015. Stay tuned, 'cause I know I'll want to show off some results soon ... Autumn always takes her sweet, slow, southern time transitioning into fall, y'all. 

Please don't hesitate to tell me about your own Pre-Shopping adventures, if you have them!


Flying late and low, trying to get to the
Color-Happy Patti's
Visible Monday link-party.  Join us!


A special note to all those who sent their astonishing support and empathy for all my summer-time-bloggy blues: 
You've made me feek all better now.  I'm blown away by your efforts to perk me up ... it worked!  I'm still trying  to answer all your notes, and will finish them ASAP.  To all of you, especially to those of you who haven't heard fro me yet, I send my best thanks and massive affection.  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What I Did This Summer ... and Why I've Been Absent

Surprise!  Remember me? Wouldn't blame you if you didn't. I've spent almost a whole season hiding under my cyber-rock, but I've decided to crawl back out to check in with the bloggy world with hopes there's still somebody out there. Although I've been absent, I've still been out here playing dress-up, so before fall gets in full swing, I'll try to trot out some of the summery ideas that I've been mutilating and trying to bend to my will loving and adapting for my own use.

"Never say never in fashion, because you'll be wearing 'never' in two years' time."
      Alexa Chung

So true, at least for me.

A couple of years ago, when ripped, distressed and destroyed jeans were disinterred from the grunge-era graveyard and then reiterated and conceptually freshened up a bit, I squinched up my nose and said, "Ewww. Why would anybody want to wear ruined jeans?" But as so often happens, my eye trained itself and I'm got used to seeing them out and about on perfectly reasonable looking women, and even some of them like me in my advanced maturity! It's already a cliche classic, so that means it's my cue to try it out. Sad.

Paired with"nouvelle grunge" accouterments, rippy jeans still just look ... well... grungy. I didn't go there even way back when I lived in the Pacific NW epicenter of original grunge and it was hot and new. But contemporarily paired with a slightly snazzy top and a pair of ladylike (or especially unladylike pointy toe shoes with a vampy stiletto heel) they just delight me. 
I got a fabulous deal on these red lacquered cork Ralph Lauren pumps.
Neat with ripped jeans and a white shirt.
You'll see them eventually, I hope. 

 When I try for that unstudied look that is so appealing, I still come off looking sort of clenched and I've never once managed the effortless look. Worn jeans with spiffier pieces takes me much closer, and I've had all kinds of fun wearing them as a summer staple. Not quite a uniform, but worn often enough to function as one. The contrast has a sense of humor, and it's a look that just can't take itself too seriously, or at least not for very long.

"Where," you might well ask, "is your example? How do we know it works for you? Where are your outfit photos?"

And this leads to the reasons I've been incommunicada for the summer. 
In no particular order of importance:

1. I'm exhausted with making photos of myself. It's been noticed (ahem) and commented upon (nicely, though, and by more than one person) that I have about 1.7 poses that I use and that it's getting old. I know that. I'm tired of looking at it too. I'm as vain and insecure as anyone and I use that one pose with only the most minute mutations so I'll look as pretty as possible. That's the pose that makes me look less short and squat than the other possible positions, so I cling to it like a lichen.

Not sure what to do about this. No, Dan is less able than ever to help, although he tries heroically. There isn't anyone else around to play photographer. It's a challenge I have yet to overcome.

2. I just couldn't stand it that I couldn't join some of my favorite women in the whole bloggy world at the Vancouver blogger meet-up. I really, really, REALLY wanted to go. Just couldn't manage it financially (or in the style to which I aspire, at any rate) but the most daunting road block was that the meet-up was celebrated on our busiest, most exhausting weekend of the year for our little business. Dan and I both would rather take a beating than work this particular weekend, so I couldn't jump ship on him even if I'd opted to blow the bank. The upside of this is that I was so overwhelmed that I didn't have time to think about all the fun you all were having in BC.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I just couldn't bring myself to vicariously share in the Vancouver adventure via your blog reports of the event either. I don't for a minute begrudge any of you your wonderful time, but seeing you all together just felt bad all over again. I was being rude and childish to avoid the blogs of some of the women I admire most, I know, but it didn't seem right to visit anyone while avoiding some. I apologize to everyone, 'cause that's what I did and I'm sorry.

3. Because we don't go anywhere, or do much that varies from our tight schedule, I've been feeling cramped for blog subject matter. Time for a reassessment of why I bother with this at all and how/if I can proceed in some
useful/fun/satisfying way. One version of my personal truth is that I am a short, squat, elderly woman in the middle of nowhere struggling to look as pretty as I can while coping with the limitations of big-box stores, discounted fast fashion and my own shortcomings. (No stature jokes intended.) Since I'm fairly sure a lot of women find themselves in my situation, can I make this worth writing about, or is it just too much same-old-same-old?

4. At 65, It's been bugging me that I suddenly find I have about as much in common with the "over 40" set as they have in common with the 20-somethings. In terms of dressing challenges, anyway. Even you 50-plussers sometimes seem like carefree youth to me. Some of you late life beauties can carry on looking beautiful and chic forever, but I'm aware of a movement that relegates us ordinary elders to an ice-flow of brightly eccentric and wildly artistic dressing as our only final style statement option. I'm not ready for that, or drawn to the aesthetic for myself at all. I'm having a hard time finding living style icons. Bummer.

Because of the above, I find myself embarrassed at my own behavior and floundering creatively. Blogging should be fun, at least for the most part. Instead, I'm learning some unpleasant things about myself ... and that's the problem with even the shallowest "voyages of self discovery." There's always the danger that you'll discover some not so nice stuff.

So there we are. And here I am. As much angst as I'm whipping up for myself right now, I still miss the camaraderie of mature-woman style blogging, so I am still trying to figure this out. But there are no photos of me in my rippy jeans, or in any other kind of outfits today, okay? Good.

I return you now to our regularly scheduled programming ... and more of what I did this summer.

I've been cultivating my eyebrows and readjusting my bangs so the brows will show. Stay tuned for more on this fascinating subject.  The fun just never stops here.

A Burlington store is going in in the Big City and will open sometime this fall.  Dan and I have been watching the construction with excitement. (I could just weep that I wrote that and that sentence and that it's so TRUE. See what I mean?)   

Another idea from the "never say never" files: I've resisted mirrored sunglasses for a couple of seasons now. They used to remind me of mullets, Tom Selleck's big old mustache from back in the day, and institutionalized male chauvinism. However, I finally overrode my own good taste and fell hard for the modern version for women. Hot weather-floaty fabrics aren't really much support for the little bit of edge I try to sport during the summer, but classic aviators with hot pink mirrors just say something.

(Photo by Shade Traders.) 
I got a pair of these in pristine condition from
good old T.J.Maxx at a reduction so deep that even 
I felt like there must have been some mistake.
They were more a gift for my pink
winter coat, so you'll see these later in the fall, too.

I also have some icy blue classic aviators that are even better, and Dan has even found a similar pair he likes. We do our matchy-matchy, old-folks thing when we wear them to town, but with a soupçon of old-school swagger that I really need to throw right now. Yes we do.

Obviously not Dan and I, but if you squint 
and imagine this couple a lot older,
 it's sort of the same idea ... we are, in fact,
a little cooler than these two. 

Completely OFF-Topic weirdness: Do you remember wishing for a pony at any time in your early childhood? I do ... and am living proof that some wishes do eventually come true, but with completely inappropriate timing. A couple of weeks ago, I was sipping at that first cup of coffee of the morning, looking out at our messy pasture when our dogs went completely berserk. About that time I saw what looked like a big spotted dog trucking off across the pasture toward our remaining big old mares. It took me a minute to figure out that it was a very tiny pony who had broken in to our pasture. So little that he just sneeked right in under a missing wire in the fence. There was no doubt at all about his gender, clearly a stud horse and sporting the most optimistic erection as he headed toward my hefty old girls. First, they regarded him with curiosity, then disdain, then with aggressive annoyance. He ended the day hovering wistfully, unsuccessful but undaunted, at the edges of our little herdlet, and he remains with us still.

No one is claiming him, and I've notified the local authorities, and we do NOT need a pony. We'll find his family eventually and make them come and get him. I know Dan blames my 6 year-old-self for that long forgotten wish, 'cause he says he does.


Late as I always am, I'm happy to sneak in to the return of the always lovely Patti's Visible Monday  link up ... feels like homecoming!