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Archive for December, 2009

Sedate, serious, modest, graceful, lovely (and comfortable).

While WGD has been left to the capable hands of Aki (and our substantial Hugh Jackman lurker traffic), I’ve been busy with the less-sartorial side of life.  Those times where clothes are the last thing we worry about. Like funerals.

I’m not giving a funeralwear report to make light of a serious time.  I want to discuss an important question: how do our clothes represent ourselves to the outside world?  Even when we don’t “care about our appearance,” and the last thing we want is to attract attention, our clothes talk.  At a funeral, we have to be careful what we say.  Our clothes should say “I’m sad and I respect that you all are, too.  We are bringing our very best today to commemorate our loved one.”  It’s a sad thing to say, but saying it well is much appreciated. My guidelines:

1. Black is overrated.  It’s not wrong to wear black, but don’t fixate on it.  If you already have a modest dark dress or suit, wear it.  If you shop for a new black dress, you’ll find that most of them are too embellished or sexy.  Don’t grab something too short, too ugly, or ill-fitting just because it’s black.  Gray, brown and (especially) navy blue are just as good.  Subdued light colors are also fine, especially for young people and in warm weather.

2. Cover it up.  No thighs or cleavage, period.  Skirts come to the knee and blouses are buttoned.  In all but the most informal warm-weather situations, cover your shoulders and toes, too.  This might make you feel matronly. That’s good.  Your clothes are now saying “I’m a grownup.  I know it’s more important to be respectful than sexy right now.”

 

Conservative blouse, suit jacket and skirt.

3. Clothes must fit.

If you are pulling an old dress or trousers from the back of your closet, be honest about whether it might have “shrunk.”  Don’t wear anything too tight.  Baggy isn’t much better.  Aim for tops that fit through the shoulders and pants that don’t sag.  A pretty, well-cut line says, “I am elegant and dressing well because this is a classy memorial service.” That’s nice.

4. Tone it down. This is not the time for colorful, flamboyant shoes or jewelry.  This was an obstacle for me (all my shoes are fabulously colorful or textured these days). I overcame it by (what do you know) buying new shoes — the black Sofft pumps above.  These looked particularly elegant with a knee-length suit skirt. For jewelry I wore a little cross on a chain — obviously not everyone’s style, but we’re Catholic and it belonged to my Great-Grandmother.  I think a little conservative necklace like a chain or string of pearls is great. Going without is also fine, too.

5. Wear your best.  If you have a suit, that’s probably what you’ll wear. If you don’t (or if your only suit has a red seersucker miniskirt), wear your nicest (modest) dress.  If you don’t have a good dress, wear slacks and a blouse or sweater.  Around here, people who work for a living sometimes don’t have much other than jeans;  okay, wear clean jeans with your best shirt tucked in.  Don’t worry, and don’t stay away just because you feel like your clothes aren’t nice enough.

Why Get Dressed? Because clothes matter and it’s nice to look nice.  Having a well-fitting dress or suit in your closet is worth it, because you can wear it at times like this.  Of course good clothes don’t make everything okay, but they can help you feel good about yourself.  Which helps. 

In Memory of my Great-Aunt Mary Ann, who was fabulous.

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I’ve been away and I have a lot to report. Reports about what to wear to funerals and to the hospital. Reports on Business Casual, 8 degrees (F) . But my first priority is that I have to tell you to mix dark neutrals together. 

Many of us come from a tradition that divides dark neutrals into two categories: Gray/black on one side of the line, and brown (maybe with black) on another.  I had a hard time getting over this, myself. Now I have a hard time explaining why.  Black is the darkest shade of both brown and gray. Brown is generally more red in hue, while gray is more blue or green.  So what?  This is the same tradition that always matches a black leather belt to a black leather shoe, and if one is wealthy enough, one also matches one’s handbag each day.  If you are thinking, “yes, but I fell into this habit before the War,” then fine, I’m not talking to you. You can also wear Chanel No. 5 as your signature fragrance.  If you do not want to be mistaken for your own mother (no matter how beautiful and classy she may be), step one is to stop being all matchy-match. Especially with dark neutrals.

Mixing gray and brown together instantly updates your look. It doubles your outfit possibilities. Most importantly, it frees you from a useless fashion “rule” that is doing nothing but holding you back.  If you have been wanting to jazz up your style but you’re stuck on a few favorite pieces that fit you well? Mix dark neutrals. If you are on a spending moratorium and won’t buy new clothes until after you pay off your Christmas Visa Bill (ahem, me)? Mix dark neutrals. If you are in love with a pair of brown boots, but conflicted on whether to get them because your clothes are all back and gray? Lucky you if that’s your only problem. Mixing dark neutrals is your answer.

Denim is also a neutral, so mix it up. Like all neutrals, worry more about how dark it is and less about the hue.  Very dark denim probably won’t look as good with light dove gray. But if all the colors are saturated and dusky (chocolate, charcoal, midnight blue), they will most likely work.
 
Black is an indispensable companion but some days it is a false friend.  Too much black weighs you down. Black is more difficult to mix with color — charcoal and gold might be awesome but black and gold is a bumble bee waiting to happen. Black is like dairy: When you hear about people giving it up, you might think they are crazy and you could never live like that, but maybe that means you are addicted or at least lazy, and you should maybe try to dial back a bit on the Rocky Road.
Speaking of that, I’m cranky, my clothes don’t fit, it’s been a terrible fall, and I have no idea why I’ve got those stupid wide margins on the narrow pictures.  I will straighten this all out soon. I will also post a hilarious picture of me falling over trying to demonstrate my boots. 
. . . And I know that you can’t totally tell the colors apart in these pictures, because the flash makes the light weird. That is the point! No one studies the color difference in the real world, either.  We’re all just walking around in the dark, trying to find socks that match, hoping for a little flash of light.

Gray dress with black boots. Black velvet jacket contrasts severely; brown textured linen is more muted. Yes that is a bandaid on my knee instead of hosiery.

Brown BCBG knit dress, black tights, black boots.

Brown dress, black tights, black boots. I do like this one better with brown boots. . .

. . . but add in the gray sweater and I prefer gray/brown/black to gray/brown/brown.

Brown turtleneck (my favorite winter clo for the past 20 years), denim skirt, black tights, black boots.

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Gray Matter

Doh! I just realized the other day that I’ve been trying to blame the water and hormones for my hair change but could it possibly be due to the fact that half my hair is now gray? I don’t know, doesn’t it make sense? Young healthy shiny hair = silky smooth; old dead husk = rough and bendy. Anyway. I think part of it is definitely that.

Most of it is hidden in the under layer. It's sneaky like that. I have TONS.

I like the guy that’s sticking straight up in the middle.

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It doesn’t sock to be me

One pair looks like the one on the right, the other the left.

What, another sock post? Yes, because I bought these two pairs at REI today. I even paid full price for them and I didn’t even mind. Why, you ask?

HAHAHA

BECAUSE I GOT A PAIR OF KEEN BOOTS FOR HALF OFF. Hahahahahahahaha. Ha!

You know what, it's size 7 but I'm not complaining. It fits just fine.

OMG check it out. they have them in different colors!!!

purty!!

gaw!

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Soxy

If these stayed up they would be cooler.

A reader asked how my socks were doing. Thanks, reader.

My over the knee striped socks from Target are doing well, but I did notice that one of them started to pill right away. I’ve been wearing the 3 pairs in pretty heavy rotation, at least once a week (and lots of laundry). I find that it stays up pretty well when I’m wearing my boots but if I’m just using it as a leg warmer and wearing them with regular shoes they tend to sag down. I’ll stick to wearing them with my boots.

I bought another pair of socks at Target last week, this time thigh highs. This sags more than the over the knee because it has longer to sag. I’m not crazy about the lump it creates in my pants. I love the colors though. I’ll stick to their over the knee socks even though it’s not perfect because it does get the job done. Why did I buy these again? At least they are cute.

Keep the questions coming, everyone!

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Caveat Emptor: SRSLY

Dude wow, totally cute colors.

Some of you may be wondering, “Say, what ever happened to that whole eBay thing with Aki?” Well, wonder no more. I thought long and hard about whether to and how much I should disclose about this whole process, how much I should gloss over or downplay. On the one hand it’s sort of really embarrassing to lay it out as it is but on the other, it might actually help some of you. Or at the very least it will make for some good entertainment. So here it is. And yes, you’re welcome.

So one night I just decided to jump right into the whole eBay thing that I’d been “neuharthing (avoiding doing something that is hyped up even though you think/know you might actually enjoy it)” for a long time. I’ve been thrifting and bragging about it a lot lately so everyone started telling me I should just start eBaying instead. Finally, I gave in and logged on (yes, I already had an account so I’m not really completely new to this, just not a regular at it). I didn’t know where to start so I entered “Ella Moss,” a brand I know and love and have owned in the past. If you’ve been paying attention you know I’m a sucker for stripes. Immediately a cute purple striped shirt popped up and there were only a few minutes left on the auction and no one had bid on it. Well what the heck, right? I put in an amount and waited a few minutes. Then pow! I got an email saying I won the item. Wee. Easy breezy. Fun times. Good times. Dude. Wahoo. Somewhere in the back of my mind though, I was reminding myself that I had a “no V-neck” rule. But whatevs, it’s only $10.

Cute. Hello!

I was feeling kind of high so a couple days later I went surfing again and found this cute little dress/tunic thing by Ella Moss. That is super duper cute. One other person had bid on it but it was still pretty low. And it was about to end in a few hours. I putzed around the house doing chores and lazying about thinking about it and checking up if anyone else had bid on it. Finally when the time came I found myself being drawn back to my computer and plonking in an amount. A few moments later I got an email again: You won! Weee. I am unstoppable. This is too easy muwahahaha. Lalalala (Again, in the back of my mind I am thinking hmm that is a V-neck Aki. Also, am pretty sure I’m NOT a size small).

Sometime after I bid for my third item, my first two prizes came in. Now that it was REAL real, I was feeling kind of scared and anxious about it because what if it turned out really stupid? So believe it or not I didn’t open the packages for a day or so. And even when I finally opened them I did it in secret and put it on the dresser to rest for another couple of days. Finally, when I was feeling brave enough I tried them on, alone.

Even though this is a size S, it still fit me. There was nothing wrong with the fit.

This first shirt was actually the right size. And the V-neck part turned out surprisingly to not be a problem. Even the empire waist and the ties on the sides which I thought might be stupid didn’t bother me so much. But what did bum me out were the sleeves. They were slit up top so that it flared out at the shoulders. I don’t like ANY fussiness with short sleeves. I like my shoulders and upper arm sufficiently covered, it’s just a thing. I’m not asking whether you think I look ok or not, I just don’t feel comfortable in it. So I feel like it was a miss. So then I tried on the next item.

Actually cute, no?

Um.. I was thinking it was more of a tunic shirt type top but it ended up being more like a dress. I paired it with black leggings and boots here because a pair of jeans made the shirt bumpy and bulky. This was also a size S and I’m pretty sure that it would have looked and felt much better as a M. I am undecided on this. I love it. But would I really ever wear this? I know myself. I am thinking probably not.

So I’m beginning to think that eBay is really dangerous and a big gamble and that you’re paying basically only for the privilege of trying on the clothes. If you don’t like it, too bad (as most sellers do not take items back and you really are bidding at your own risk). And in their defense, there’s nothing wrong with either of these pieces. In fact both were in great condition and I couldn’t even tell that they had been previously worn.

James Jeans in size 27. It really looks good on this person, doesn't it.

I’m pretty sure my legs aren’t this long and the description even said the inseam was 32 (I think my inseam is something like 16 inches). I was a bit nervous about this third item but I do own a pair of James Jeans in a size 27 so I was feeling pretty confident about it. Then it arrived. It fits. There is nothing visibly wrong with it.

These were not the pants you are looking for.

But it turned out that the fly wasn’t button but rather one of those metal hooks. And the pockets weren’t normal and they are the kind that flaps out when you bend or sit down. It’s not totally terrible. But I wasn’t looking for “not totally terrible.” So… again, even though there is nothing really wrong with this one I feel like it failed the “Would I really wear this?” test.

Most people would be learning at this point, right? You would have probably stopped here. But no, not me. Maybe the first 3 items not being perfect was just a fluke! So Miss Denial spent a couple of more hours surfing and looking and poking around. Then… voila!

Super cute colors and design.

Ella Moss again, but this time in a size L so it’s got to be comfortable. Also, long enough to wear with black leggings and boots again. And I love love looooove the collar. I love cowl neck. It looks totally cute and adorable right? I pounce on this. I’m ok to spend a little more this time. It was worth the rush I felt when I received the win confirmation email. And this time, in the back of my mind I was thinking “Hmm, wonder what the heck a ‘kimono sleeve’ is… oh well, whatevs!”

You want to know what a kimono sleeve is? I thought it was just flared droopy sleeves. No. It’s like an actual kimono sleeve. Like you can store stuff in them. FOR REALS.

Who needs a purse when you can store your wallet and iphone in your sleeves!

Arghh crappola! I love everything else about this shirt. Well, except for the fact that there is a slit in the shoulders again so there’s the bared shoulders thing I hate. Oh but I love the stripes and the colors. And the collar! DAMNIT. So as a consolation I did wear this out once, but with a black cardigan over it so only the really cool parts were showing.

Sigh. I’m too exhausted now to continue at this point. No, I’m talking about this blog entry, not eBay. Even though I had some failures I think I will try again. But next time I will probably ask a lot more questions and be much more careful. None of this was eBay’s fault. I just need to be thinking more next time. I’d list out all the lessons I learned during this process but I’m too tired tonight. What do you think the lessons were? And have you had failures? I only hear good things about people’s experiences. C’mon. I can’t be the only one accidentally buying weird shit. Fess up!

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What the Hair!?

10 points off of Gryffindor!!

Hello readers. Are there days that you look in the mirror in the morning and find yourself muttering curses under your breath at a certain boy wizard?

Most days, my hair looks fine. I sleep on it and I wake up with fashionably flippy curls on the end and look kind of sassy. Effortless casual. Bedhead. Don’t even have to brush it. There are days though, that I’m really channeling Snape. Heavy, greasy and weirdly peanut shaped. I think we all have that. Bad hair days and good hair days, just in varying degrees.

This is what I wake up with on most days.

HOWEVER. My friend J and I have been discussing another kind of bad hair phenomenon for a couple of years now and I thought I would reach out and ask our readers if we are going crazy or if there really is something going on. For a long time my hair was shiny, smooth, clean and fresh, all the time. About two years ago I started noticing that it’s often tangly and mangly and not very smooth. I wondered if it was just aging and the effect it has on one’s hair because I’ve heard of that. I also wondered if it was due to pregnancy hormones because I got pregnant in 2007. Then I talked to my friend J and she told me she has been experiencing something similar. Sometimes, I visit my parents in Oregon and come back with great hair. Once I traveled to Phoenix and experienced awesome hair there as well. I considered that it was the shampoo I was using. I’ve switched to what my parents were using, gone salon, drugstore, high end, low end. It doesn’t matter. Locally, my hair is blah. We started wondering if it had something to do with the water supply. Are they messing with our hair water? Are we just paranoid? Does anyone else have this experience? I haven’t had very nice hair in Seattle for about two years now. Seriously, am i CRAZY?

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