Archive for June, 2011

June 29, 2011

Do It Yourself – Working It!

Sometimes I have in my minds eye what I want, but just can’t find it so in frustration I make it.  Sewing, beading, knitting, embroidery…I have tried it all.  Some of these frustration driven creations have been less than successful and never see the light of day.  But others work.  Or, in this case, go to work. 

Like many other folks, I work in a company that requires you carry an id badge when you are in the offices.  Adorned with a simply horrible picture of me that is now ten years old, I really hate this hunk of plastic.  As it is also a key card, allowing access in and out of secured areas and our parking lots, it has to be moved up to a lock with some frequency, so for many years I ended up carrying it rather than wearing it.  Yes, rather maddeningly, I did tend to misplace the darned thing, but I didn’t have to actually wear it. 

Until recently.  Now we have moved to a new building with added security and we must wear our badges.  We are provided with two ways to attach this albatross to our persons – with a clip or on a lanyard.  For men the clip is handy, it comes with a little spring loaded extension gadget so they clip it to their belt loop and then extend it to easily badge in and out.  Pretty nerdy, but these guys are mostly engineers so I suspect this actually ups the cool factor for them.  Now while the clip gadget is functional, I personally always struggle with where to clip it.  My wardrobe is a bit short on belt loops.  With a prominent chest to begin with, I am certainly not inclined to attach my badge anywhere above my waist – no point in further attracting attention with a big piece of white plastic.  And I find if I clip it to the hem of my jacket or top it tends to get knocked off and I don’t notice.  Leading me to find myself unable to get into the lab or to the indignity of someone finding it and the inevitable quip about how young I was, what color my hair was at the time, etc etc…blah blah blah.  The alternative lanyard is a wide nylon strap in bright blue or black  emblazoned with the company logo, or our latest company motto – uuuggggly.  But that isn’t the worst of it, no the worst part is that the length of the lanyard positions my badge so it appears to be hanging directly off the widest point of my chest.  Soooooo not fabulous.  No no no.    

Granted this is hardly an epic concern, but there are days when I have put some effort into a gorgeous ensemble and slapping this eyesore on over the top is deflating to say the least.  One day in frustration, I clipped my badge to a long necklace I happened to be wearing and tah dah! a fashionable alternative was born.  It worked like a charm and was far more aesthetically pleasing than a nylon strap.  Buoyed by this simple solution I evaluated what else my jewelry box had to offer.  Sadly, there weren’t as many possibilities as I had hoped.  Some trial and error and several broken necklaces later I determined that my desire for a lanyard that was somewhat narrow or low profile to complement or blend with an outfit was not lending itself to the level of sturdiness required.  A perusal of the costume jewelry section of some local shops showed that this would be a recurring theme. 

Well, if I couldn’t buy what I wanted then I would just have to make it.  Off I headed to the local craft emporium.  I bought some good quality glass beads that were relatively small and of a nice quality and then selected some heavy duty beading filament that looked, and has since proven to be, nearly indestructible.   I started with shiny black glass, and wanting it to have a bit of personality I picked two sizes of beads that I alternated, and ended with a single drop, creating a Y-shaped necklace.  My first attempt was not bad at all – the badge is positioned exactly where I need it, the black is basic so works with many outfits and the design resulted in a necklace I could tuck under collars or layer under other necklaces without it looking odd.  All in all, while the alternating beads and Y-shape made it look vaguely like a crucifix, it was otherwise not bad at all.

Finding the black didn’t work with every outfit I expanded on my first success.  Mining through my old costume jewelry (including some victims of the first necklace trials) I eventually cobbled together quite a collection of suitable beads ripe for repurposing.  A second visit to the bead shop filled in the bits and I now have a little wardrobe.  My go to basics are the black and a strand of silver and clear beads, but I also have made a deep purple and olive green that works with quite a few of my fall looks, and a white, aqua and green number for my spring looks. 

While hardly ground-breaking fashion, my lanyards are certainly an improvement over the nylon thingy.  And yes, I am well aware this sort of OCD behavior is what takes me from the fashion-conscious, to the fashion-obsessed.  But they do look nice and I have received quite a few complements on them.  And by cleaning out my old jewelry I cleared space and recycled some stuff that would otherwise languish in my jewelry box or find its way to Goodwill.  Best of all, I haven’t lost my darned badge in months!   See, pretty AND practical, what’s not to like?!

June 18, 2011

The MOB Scene

Having gotten engaged recently, I am starting to take a more than passing interest in weddings, and I am getting quite an education.  For a few years in my late twenties and early thirties my calendar was completely full of wedding-related activities for my friends so I am by no means new to this, but things have definitely changed! There are complete websites and countless blogs dedicated to weddings and special concerns – maternity bridal gowns, dual-culture ceremonies, etc…  

Some of the changes and current trends aren’t all for the better, though.  Now admittedly, I am much older than the average first time bride so my point of view is decidedly different than a fresh-faced twenty-something girl; indeed I am now closer to the age my parents were when my sister and girlfriends got married.  But the wedding fashions have left me a bit flummoxed.  First of all, nearly every wedding gown is strapless.  As are bridesmaid dresses.  When did everyone start showing so much skin?  And presumably much of it will be shown in church? Really?!  But the biggest surprise of all is that mother-of-the-bride (MOB for the wedding cognoscenti) ensembles have gotten, well, a whole lot more sexy than I recall.  

This first caught my notice as I perused the wedding sections of my favorite sites (ah, the mighty “N’s” – Neiman’s, Nordstrom, Net-a-Porter).  I saw a more than generous sprinkling of very low cut necklines, very short skirts, body hugging numbers and quite a few strapless looks.  Wow!  While some of these outfits are gorgeous, I somehow can’t quite imagine a MOB of my acquaintance wearing ANY of those looks.  At least not to a wedding…Las Vegas, maybe…but definitely not a wedding…in a church…with family, children and clergy present… 

I can’t help but envision the gaping stares of an elderly pastor as he tries not to look down a plunging neckline or the embarrassed snickers of the groomsmen at the prominently displayed physical attributes of a woman the same age as *their* mothers.  Imagine the distasteful conjecture in some peoples’ minds about why a woman would wear something like that – insecurities, competition, midlife crisis?  All in all it would be, as my fiancé’s daughter would say, awkward.   

Now I am all for feeling and looking fabulous and even sexy at any age.  MOB’s certainly don’t need to be Queen Mum frumpy, but tasteful is always good and there is a level of appropriateness that should be in play.  I am pretty certain wearing something super revealing at your own child’s wedding pretty much crosses that line.  To me that seems about as creepy as those toddler pageants where the little girls look like television stars from the eighties.   

To be sure I hadn’t just forgotten, I looked at all of my friends’ wedding pics and checked back with my girl buddies on what *their* mothers wore to their weddings.  Here is what I found:

  •  Several jacket and dress suits – day and evening versions with knee and floor length skirts  – very Jackie-O, timeless and chic
  • A floaty pastel floral printed sleeveless dress with a matching chiffon jacket – pretty and tasteful
  • Several below the knee dresses in solids or prints that coordinated with the brides’ color schemes  – classic
  • A pink silky dress with lace overlay and long lace sleeves – sweet and traditional
  • A long silver sleeveless sheath dress with matching bolero – glamorous, but not overly racy
  • A St John knit suit with a long skirt, in navy and navy shot through with silver thread – absolutely stunning and my personal favorite
  • Lots and lots of pearls – necklaces, earrings and even bracelets – classic

No, my memory hadn’t failed me.  Even with all the varying moms’ ages, brides’ wedding styles and budgets, as well as the trends of the different times, there were no unfortunate surprises.  No strapless gowns.  No mini dresses.  And not a single plunging neckline.  Every mom looked lovely and special.  Every outfit was age and occasion appropriate.  There are no regrettable ensembles dotting my girlfriends’ wedding pictures leaving “what was your mother wearing?!” questions to be asked for years to come. 

Thankfully our parents are well into elderly now, so there will be no hoochy mamma concerns at my own wedding.  Still, I can’t help but wonder and feel bad for those young brides out there as their mothers eye the options and try on those revealing outfits that no amount of bolero or wrap are going to mitigate.  Who wants their mom to look like one of the Housewives of Wherever at their own wedding?!   

Fortunately there are still many great options out there.  In fact our moms’ classics are all still good choices.   All of them are pretty, complimentary and special enough for a daughter or son’s wedding.  With the recent Royal Wedding sleeves are even making a comeback – hurrah for Kate! 

PS – Here is a special thanks to the girl-buddies – they shared not only what their moms wore, but some truly sweet and special memories, too.   As always women, you are simply the best.  And I will keep that in mind before I decide to make you all forty-something bridesmaids in turquoise satin strapless mini dresses.

June 12, 2011

Bah-gahge!

Bahghage...what I am loving right now
 
I have to confess to a slight, well, um, actually, quite a serious infatuation with handbags.  I simply LOVE them. Why? Oh, soooo many good reasons…. a great handbag makes even the most mundane outfit look chic, carrying a special bag will make you smile every time you look at it, handbags never make your behind look big and they never make your feet hurt.

My bags have become part of my signature look, along with my silver jewelry and fancy sunglasses. I even have the Tiffany silver purse charm on my charm bracelet. I don’t feel like I am “me” without a great bag. If I am having an “I don’t know what to wear” morning I just start with which purse I want to carry and take it from there! So you see I have, if you will, *baggage*.

This is not a fickle, on again off again sort of affection. No, this is a lasting relationship. From my first real purse – a tooled leather half moon purchased in a shop in Ensenada when I was nine years old – I have loved carrying a special bag.  In my early teens I obsessed until I had saved enough babysitting money to buy my first LeSport Sac. I still have my first Dooney and Bourke shoulder bag and still occasionally carry the matching briefcase, given to me when I graduated from college. (You can stop doing the math on that one…it was more than twenty years ago, let’s leave it at that.)

Unlike designer garments that really only last a few seasons at best and shoes that you may be able to keep going a little longer, carefully selected and well cared for handbags will last forever.  I met a woman once who still carries her Chanel 2.55 bag – purchased back in the fifties when that design was introduced! 

I have had a few great purse moments.  A little windfall blessed me in Las Vegas – too small for something crazy grand, too fortuitous not to splurge – I knew immediately what I needed to do and took myself to the Chanel boutique.  A gorgeous, always in style, perfect 2.55 bag was mine.  Ten years later, that bag is still perfection, and still one of my favorites.  My “I made it” promotion several years ago meant it was time for my “I made it” Louis Vuitton.  Another milestone was marked with Valentino’s classic rose bag in an impossibly soft leather.  And when Tiffany and Company partnered with Lambertson-Truex last year to introduce a line of handbags I nearly swooned.  My favorite jewelers doing handbags?! Nirvana! Soon after the announcements I became the proud owner of one of their first products – in silver and Tiffany blue, of course – Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Yes, through the years my tastes and budget have certainly evolved and the collection has grown.  However I do curate my collection with great care.  It isn’t always about the big designer names or the current trends.  For example, I bypassed the gigantic, hardware-covered bag trend completely – I had no desire to look like a heavily decorated pack mule.  Instead, my collection is about love, so each bag is selected for something I love about it – its shape, color, style, scale or feel.  Every bag needs to have some particular bit of whimsy that charms me.  Each bag needs to speak to me. 

Some seasons I hear nary a whisper and no new babies find their way into the closet. Others, like this one, are a veritable cacophony of “take me” calls!  This season some amazingly fun, brightly colored bags have been calling my name.  While the colors are right on trend, these lovelies will also be terrific for years to come. Here are the ones that are tempting me….oh so very much.

First up – two from my beloved Tiffany. This evening bag is simply adorable and after a year I still think it is the niftiest little bag for evening.  I will definitely own one of these sometime, I just haven’t decided on the perfect color for me.  The second Tiffany candidate is this darling wicker basket – I have been Jonesing for a light wicker basket bag for several years – this one is in tough competition with a Kate Spade wicker bag (she does a great wicker basket bag nearly every season and I have resisted but…). Kate Spade also produced another siren this season – this sensational yellow shoulder bag, a bright lemon that is “in” now but will still be great in three years or even ten. The snazzy Burberry clutch number is in my favorite shade of purple, and it comes in a really rocking lime, too. Last but not least, every season I look at the Cannage bags by Dior – this season’s temptress is in raspberry. Ooooohhhh.

They are all so beautiful; so perfect, each in its own way. I have been having such a tough time deciding on which one I want that some of them have started to go on sale. Which means I need to decide which of these coveted darlings gets to come home with me pretty soon or I will miss out! Or….since they *are* on sale…. maybe I can get more than one.  Hmmmm….exxxxccccelllent!

PS – Check out Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Neiman-Marcus – all are having terrific handbag sales right now on some really GOOD stuff like Valentino, Miu-Miu and Burberry. There are some fabulous finds!

June 5, 2011

Luminous!

This spring and summer it is all about color.  Yay!!!  Fashion is giving us all a much needed sartorial cheering-up with bright, bold, happy color. This is a great change of pace after several seasons of pale neutrals and muted, drab colors that seemed, well, frankly depressed.  Even the reds and purples were a bit muddied.  Sigh.

Not typically one to go for muted colors – I am a saturated color kind of girl –  I did find myself drawn into this depressing state with several long bouts of serious black and grey ensembles this past season.  This coincided with Southern California’s rainiest season in a very long while, resulting in an epic case of the sartorial blahs.  The cure?  Clear, crisp Spring colors along with big doses of white and silver.

I started my color therapy by leading off with a super new trench coat from my favorite posh plus size designer, Anna Scholz.   This frill-trimmed, leopard lined confection is in an ever so slightly greenish glowing light yellow called Lumo, that is truly luminous.  With a slight empire waist, flared sleeves and flared skirt the fit is divine,  and the details make this the most charming coat I have ever owned.  I wear it with work clothes, denim, you name it.  I am so in love with this darned coat that I will be sad to see the rainy days go and kind of miss living in my hometown in rainy Oregon…well, almost.   

Now I am a big fan of color generally, and I am always trying to incorporated more of it into my wardrobe in the chicest way possible, so Anna and I are a match made in heaven.  Along with the amazing coat, I nabbed her clever, long “drawstring” cardigan in a bold, saturated chartreusey lime.  This cardi is great because of its amazing versatility – you can draw up the strings ala Roman shades to make it varying lengths to suit your figure and outfit.  And yes, a bold hue like chartreuse can be versatile!  Depending on what you pair it with this piece looks dressy, it looks casual, it is, in a word, sensational.  The first sunny day we had I wore it with white jeans, a white tee, and some white sandals with kicky colored tassels.  I have also paired the white top and jeans with silver sandals and a silver bag for a more dressy look.  The cardi also cheered up another neutral palette when paired with chocolate brown trousers and a pair of awesome snakeskin platform sandals.    LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! 

On a roll, I also got Anna’s chic little cropped cardigan in a fabulous watermelon pink (more on that in an upcoming article) that I have gotten many many complements on.  The cut on this little darling is so great I am eyeing it in another color.  And if that isn’t enough, Anna Scholz has also come out with a grey tunic embroidered in lumo that WILL be in my closet just as soon as my shopping guilt subsides a bit.  I love pairing chartreuse or yellow with grey, the combination is so striking and chic, and it is a great way to get some warm season mileage out of those ubiquitous grey pieces.

In a big departure from my usual posts, I am bravely featuring myself as a model.  My photographer is none other than Mr. Commando, my gracious and patient fiancé – thank you, honey.  Frankly, I am not totally in love with myself as a model and I am far more comfortable styling photographs than actually being IN them.  At five feet tall and a size 24, my frame decidedly does not do these clothes full justice.  Somehow these pictures do not look as good as I *think* I look in the mirror, but props to Anna Scholz for her beautiful clothing, which definitely look great.

Now, it is your turn.  Find a gorgeous color that makes you happy and illuminates your days and then start wearing it!

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