Archive for June, 2009

Response to “Looking Your Age”

rr is right, I can’t seem to post pictures into the comments section so here are my comments.

In general, I think that some people can wear spaghetti straps, but most shouldn’t.  Here is a good example of why not to wear spaghetti straps, needing a bra that fits, and not showing your bra straps (among other things she should be dinged for).


Also, minis on younger kids can be “cute” but really only in theory.  What happens if a gust of wind blows by?  And when you sit down, do you sit down on your underwear? These are important questions to ask yourself.



Comment added by raisa:

Maybe you should ask Jennifer Aniston what she sits on. I think she has a great body and usually shows it well, but I don’t think she can pull off a mini like someone 20 years younger can:

Yes she looks great, but seriously, a little more skirt length would have gone a long way

Yes she looks "great," but seriously, a little more skirt length would have gone a long way


And I think this DOES work: skirt is sheer but the overlay gives good thigh coverage.  It’s balanced out by thicker straps and more coverage on top.  Heels are crazy but crazy cool, and isn’t that part of her character?

Mary Louise Parker on Weeds, looking great.

Mary Louise Parker on Weeds, looking great.


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Trying to look young can backfire

Trying to look young can backfire

Growing older is great. You start to command authority from young people.  You can run for Senate without being mocked for your youth.  You did not die young.  So I’m not down on age, but I do want to look “good for my age” – and that means “not older than.” The right clothes can keep you from looking frumpy and even take about five years off. But be careful aiming lower than that, because trying too hard backfires.  It’s easy to spot when other women make this mistake, but it’s a trap any of us can fall into. It’s the same trap that seduced Ponce de Leon to his death by the poisoned arrow of the Calusa  in his search for the Fountain of Youth.  And it can seduce any of us into looking desperate and . . . middle-aged.

This is a reason for anyone over 30 to avoid the Juniors Department, or any stores for teens (you can tell by the odd-number sizing).*  I am often tempted: the clothes are cheaper. They look cute on the hanger and they carry an imprimatur of “current fashion” (teenagers wear them!)  It’s a risky shortcut: the clothes are cheaply made and too trendy to stay in style for long.  They’re cut for young women with immature hips, so the pants don’t fit and the skirts end up short in back.  The tops tend to be tight or don’t have room for real bra straps, you will be annoyed because the XL is too small for you, and you risk showing too much boob.  Not in a cute way.  In a Blanche Devereaux kind of way. 

And don’t think you’re better off shopping in the men’s department.  A Tomboy Teen look (baggy jeans, old tennies, logo T’s) doesn’t do a woman any favors, either.

If you gravitate toward teen clothes, figure out why and go find those elements in age-appropriate fashions.   If you crave a bargain, do some research and wait for a sale.  It’s actually easier to focus on shopping when you’re not distracted by the nagging thought that the Fountain of Youth is right around the corner in the Brass Plum.

I’m sure not everyone agrees, but I will argue for avoiding these if you are over 35 (this includes “Looking good for 36 = 36-5= 31”)

Troiing too hard

Troi'ing too hard


  • Mini-skirts
  • Spaghetti straps and tube tops (you probably need a supportive bra)
  • Slogans on your shirts
  • Words on the seat of your pants
  • Actually NO ONE should wear words on the seat of their pants
  • Ripped jeans
  • Pants with a rise so low in front that you must give specific waxing instructions
  • Your boyfriend’s sweater on purpose (not just if you get stuck somewhere cold — I won’t deny the timeless romance of that).
  • Platform shoes
  • Cleavage that exposes actual sides of actual breast


After thirty, it’s time for classy, it’s time for chic (yes even in jeans and yes even on a budget).  It’s time for elegant and confident.   It is time to find your personal style.  It is not time for what dmama calls “hootchie cougar.”

*And I can only quote from Nora Ephron: “If anyone young is reading this, go right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.”  Also, never show your bra straps.  Also, Sunscreen!

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Raglan-sleeve machine washable modal top from Banana Republic, on sale now!

Raglan-sleeve machine washable modal top from Banana Republic, on sale now!

Funny thing about the Solstice:  We celebrate the beginning of summer and the days immediately get shorter.  As soon as it’s “here,” it’s already on its way out.   As a sure sign of this, summer clothing inventories are clearing out to make way for fall lines.   This is a bummer, because it’s impossible to find a swimsuit and who feels like looking at a autumn palette of corduroy and suede when it’s 80 degrees out? 

But it makes for good sales.  There are lots of deals on cute shorts and t-shirts right now.  As always, there’s more selection if you are open-minded about color. Never compromise about fit, at any price.

Aki and jools: raglan sleeves!

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look of the day

Today I was coming home from a walk and noticed a striking lady.  As I got closer I realized that it was my friend S!  Well done, well done.  I think she is totally rocking the working mom on the go look.  Great color, cute skirt, accessories, everything.


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Mixed prints

I tried to do this as a comment to dmama’s post below but I couldn’t get the picture to work.  Scroll down to read her posts and check out Mixed Prints below. Some prints I think work together:

Mixed prints looking great at the Zoo!

Mixed prints looking great at the Zoo!

I think this comes out cute (including the print handbags) in a fun, casual way.  The prints are all hip and current with good energy.  Not trying to matchy-match but doesn’t clash, either.  Left to right:

  • C in purple applique top, pink leggings, and pink camo Converse
  • Me in purple print shirt and blue/green/white Fossil purse
  • E in geometric green floral and white leggings
  • M in pink Velociraptor T and navy knit shorts
  • K looking fabulous in coral top, print skirt, and green print bag

I wouldn’t wear my Fossil purse as a skirt with that top. It’s definitely a different mood and color scheme — so it says “Hey I’m carrying a cute purse” not “wow I’m pulling it ALL together.” There is a common kind of blue in them both though, so I think it’s great for a day at the Zoo.

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Mixing Prints

We all know the rules.  Bold prints if your frame can handle it, daintier prints if you’re petite.  You can mix them if one is subtler than the other (Or not, if you’re 3 years old).

I’m not a fan of prints on myself.  I’ll admit I just keep away from them altogether.  On the few occasions I tried, I ended up wearing it only once and feeling self-conscious all day or not wearing them at all.  All of my printed shirts end up at my sister’s, which is fine because she looks great in them!  I love the look of horizontal stripes but I know the perils so my toddler ends up wearing almost exclusively stripes.

Prints are great on others, just not on me… that is, unless it’s camo or animal.  This is tricky since I’m 36 and I don’t want to look like a teenager or a hootchie cougar lady.  I tend to stay away from actual animal or camo colors and I confine it to an accent piece.  Since I’m mostly an all neutral solids girl I can pull it off fine.  On occasion I will accidentally wear some leopard print socks with my giraffe print dankso clogs but fortunately no one sees them.  Sometimes I also put on an animal print top forgetting that my purse is snakeskin print. Most of the time I can get away with it because my purse is hanging from the baby stroller.

So what do you do if you have a favorite printed purse?  Most people don’t have time to unload and reload the contents of their purses every time there’s an outfit change let alone think about whether they clash.  I know I certainly don’t.  So where do you draw the line between “Oops oh well haha!” and ugly?


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Finding Clothes that Fit

Clothes must fit.

All of them. If your clothes don’t fit your body well, it doesn’t matter if the color looks great on you — or what an amazing bargain you got.  No one looks cute if their clothes don’t fit. There is no good reason to compromise on this.

Clothes that are baggy make you look larger.  Clothes that are tight make you look larger.  Also, they embarrass other people by subjecting them to your pantyline. Also, what if you are driving with your pants unzipped because they are too tight, and you get out thinking you can zip your fly real quick in the parking lot because you parked behind a van, and then you realize that the van is full of teenage boys? This happened to someone I know recently.* Do not leave the house in anything that doesn’t fit you.  If you’re not looking in the mirror because you don’t care, it might look worse from the back than you think. 

If your clothes fit in three critical ways, everything else starts falling into place:

Shoulder Fit.  Since women’s clothing is sized by bust/waist/hips, it’s important to try things on to find the right shoulder fit.  Shoulder seams should line up with your actual shoulders: The sleeve should connect where it’s still pointing to the sky, not out to the side. This is the problem with wearing “boyfriend sweaters” that belong to your actual boyfriend: with any luck, he’s got broader shoulders than you. Clothes that are too wide in the shoulder do not make you look petite. They make you look like you are slouching.  Proper shoulder fit ensures good sleeve placement and the correct alignment of the side seams — critical if you don’t want to look wider than you are in the torso.  If you are broad-shouldered you know that it’s hard to find a fit, but it’s worth it.  It’s worth shopping around (Lands End has started carrying three “cuts” of women’s tops, each of different width). For more permanent pieces, buy to fit the shoulders and alter the sleeves and side seams.

Boyfriend sweater with properly fitting seams (left)

Left: Boyfriend sweater with properly fitting seams; Right: Person who would look cuter if their sweater fit

Bra fit.  You are not the same bra size as you were 15 years ago.**  Especially if you have had a change in weight and/or children recently, you need to go get measured for a bra. Give yourself time to do it right. Do not bring anyone under the age of 16 in the dressing room with you. Wear a “difficult” shirt and try it on over each bra you think of buying .  Some bras look okay by themselves, but under a t-shirt they cut the bosom in half (“bifocal boob”) or cling to the back straps and give them impression of fat rolls when really it’s just pinched skin.  Buy bras to fit you on the loosest hook setting; that gives you room to tighten them over time as the band stretches out.  If your straps tend to fall off your shoulders, try a smaller band size.  If the middle of your bra does not lay flat over your breastbone, try a larger cup size.  Check the quality by looking at the stitching along the wires: the more stitching between and along the seams, the longer it will last.  I love to find bargains on department store sale racks -(Macy’s has additional discounts for their Saturday morning One-Day Sales — sometimes up to 70% off just for being an old color).  Without the right bra fit, none of your clothes can look their best.

Bottoms fit.  You need to pants that fit in the “seat” (as my Grandma used to say, while I stood mortified in the dressing room as she pointed at the crack of my jeans).  “Petite” trousers usually have a shorter rise and less hip room; if you shop in the petite department simply to save yourself the effort of hemming, they might be too small and ride up the crack of your seat.     

If you are apple-shaped (wear a bigger size around the waist), lower-rise pants might fit better in the hips without giving you a “Tweedle-Dee” shape.  If you are pear-shaped (bigger around the hips), a longer rise might emphasize that smaller waist of yours (do I sound jealous? I hate my waist).  Sit down in pants before you buy them. If the waistband gaps in the back when you sit in the floor, you need to either not have children (so you never sit on the floor) or get the waist taken in.  This is simple and usually costs under $20 (if there’s not a tailor in-store, you can find one at most drycleaners). Hem pants so that they barely touch the ground in the back when you have your shoes on; they should break (fold in at the ankle) over your instep. If you can see your socks when you are standing up, your pants are TOO SHORT.  If your pants drag on the ground when you walk, they are TOO LONG.

When your clothes fit well, it becomes hard to look truly bad.  This is true no matter how dressy you want to be, or whether you care what you look like.   If your current favorite clothes “break” the fit rules, be happy! You are about to lose 15 pounds (visually) as soon as they fit. 

Any other fit tips?


**I risk generalization because, if only one person gets fitted just to prove me wrong, that is one more bra fitting in furtherance of the greater good.

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