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Archive for the ‘Fit’ Category

Die Caprihose

What would you wear if you were standing right here?

It’s summer! What are you going to wear? Ready to talk Capri Pants?

I figured that Capri Pants are named after the island of Capri (left).  But I didn’t know much more than that, so I did some research. The best article I could find was in German, titled “Die Caprihose.”   It’s too good to paraphrase, so I will quote it directly:

What is a Capri pants?

In English they are called Capri Pants, in German they are called fisherman pants. This medium-length pants are actually designated by the way according to the Italian island of Capri and should probably give a relaxed and casual ambiance.  Invented it, otherwise read as often, the German designer Sonja de Lennart, and not the Italian Emilio Pucci. The designer was selling only pants he imitated de Lennart. Probably the misunderstanding arose about the origin of Capri pants, because Pucci Capri 1949 opened his first boutique, and there’s also sold counterfeit pants.

Modehit of the 50s

 The fashion hits of the 50s of course include the petticoat and skirt, silk stockings with seams, cocktail dresses, the controversial bikini and just the Capri pants. You are probably wondering you if you hear that it was almost revolutionary at the time. The tight, short pants fueled endless debates on morality and decency of their carriers and the morale of the youth in general to. Today we, the Capri seems far more provocative, but at that time, only the bravest dare to trend-setters on the street. Many mothers forbade their daughters to appear in the Capri pants on the road. Sunbathe on the beach but it was in the 50’s a fashion must.

Well, there you go.  Any case anyone needs more info, here are my Capri Pant tips. Actually it’s one tip:

  • Try on the capri pants.  Only buy them if they look great on you.

Last year I started cuffing my capris, made them a little shorter and more current. Or not.

Do not buy capri pants because it’s hot and you need something to wear. Do not buy them because they are in style, or because everyone else has them, or because they or on sale.

If you are tall, make sure your capri pants are not too short (well-below the knee) or they will make you look gangly.  If you are short, maybe slim-jean capris will look good on you. Maybe not. If you have wide hips, be sure the leg isn’t too tapered, or it will make you look like an ice cream cone. A little flowly flare-calf action can look good.  If you think you have ugly ankles, take an honest friend shopping with you to see if she nixes the Capri Pants.  If she doesn’t, you have a hang-up about your ankles.  Get over it.

Avoid: Capri-pant suits, Capri pants in prints, tight white capri pants that show your underwear.  Evening capri pants?  I say no.  Unless you LOVE how you look and feel like a million bucks, don’t wear capri pants (especially not black ones — gah!!) when you’re dressed up. You’re a grown woman, go wear a dress.

More reading:

 Are Capri Pants as Ugly as Some Men Say?

 Blog Her: Tim Gunn Says no to Capri Pants

 Capri Pant Checklist — hazards and tricks

 Style List: 4 Rules for Wearing Capri Pants

Boden Straightleg Crop Pant in Crocus, $78. Does this look good on its own, or just because the Boden model is so damn skinny?

This looks great. It would not look better cropped. J. Crew Heritage Fit Chino, $39.99
If you are too hot for pants, wear shorts: Piece-dyed Bermudas in gray pearl, $39.50 at The Gap
What do you think? Woodrush Green, Banana Republic Crinkle Pant, $98
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Backy[c]ardigans

Perfect cardigan from Autumn Cashmere, $385.

  

Part of my winterizing plan is “cardigans over cute summer tops.”  I tried this today without much success.  The sweater I want is slightly long, textured but not bulky, warm and nicely cut.  I saw the perfect one in the January InStyle (Instant Style “Everyday denim,” page 66, photo at right).     

Since I’m not spending any money on clothes right now, and no amount of ingenuity can pretend that $385 is “not any” money, I’m trying to improvise. What I’ve got to work with:    

Jewel-neck cashmere cardigan, Macy's Charter Club 2004

  

Rib cuff and waist v-neck cardigan from hanna anderssen. Nice shoulder shirring. Light color is difficult to layer and it's too fitted to wear over some things.

  

Gray sweater that I like a lot. Not with this. The a-line works best with a very narrow bottom.

  

From the Gap. This is what I wore today to Target. Instead of pajamas.

 

 So, not great.  Maybe I will give up on this idea and stick with my brown turtleneck? Although I love this top underneath, love to layer this time of year to be sure I can stay comfortable.

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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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Brown knit Maggie London dress, orange textured tights, brown shoes, gold chain necklace

. . . .in the cold November rain

~Axl Rose

pjd writes:

Hey, Robin. We need some winter posts. Casual cute weekend coats to wear in winter, for one thing. Shoes. Are you still wearing all those high heels or have you switched to boots and tights for winter? Boots. If one doesn’t like all those buckles and things on their boots, what are the options? What about colors for your wardrobe? Have you changed in the winter? Summer’s formula was a pretty top and a nice pair of shoes with dress pants. What is winter’s formula? Thank you.

Thanks for asking, pjd!  I agree with Axl Rose, who I know you hate, but it is so true: It’s hard to hold a candle in the cold November Rain.  This means it is freezing and wet out there, so who really wants to wear anything but their jammies? Much less care about whether we look GOOD?

Well, I care.  I’m on “max conserve” these days, which means spending no money.  So I need to get creative with winterizing the wardrobe I already have.   Lots of mixed dark neutrals, vivid color where I can fit them in.  Not so many light colors, although I like the look of “blush” or nude/pink with charcoal gray.  I’ll start with shoes today:

Long skirt, boots, jacket

Long skirts with boots.  I’m wearing some of the same long dresses I wore in summer, now with knee-high boots.  Underneath, comfy warm tights or even black silk long underwear.  I think I’m going to experiment with silk long underwear tops under short-sleeved dresses. Has anyone done this successfully?

Cute tights.  I’m wearing my knee-length skirts with cute tights and boots (in the rain) or other heels (if it’s dry).  I used to boycott all nylons and tights (what Malcolm calls “Tatching Socks,” because they attach at the top), I hated them so much I never wore skirts in the winter.  Finally one day, I had to find something to wear for a funeral right after I had a baby, and a black skirt was my only somber/postpartum option.  And maternity tights were pretty comfortable!  So hey, maybe I just need tights that FIT BETTER.   Good quality tights are stretchy and come in all sizes.  They should not give you a stomachache.  Or an anywhere-elseache.  They should be snug but not dig in. They should be nice and warm.

Don’t restrict yourself to “black goes with black, brown goes with brown” rules for tights.  There are lots of ways to color-coordinate your tights: Monochrome, color-contrast, or texture.  Mix dark neutrals! Brown tights with a black skirt can work if you also do brown/black mixed on top.  I like to wear dramatic tights for work, but I don’t like to show off a lot of leg when I do that. 

Sofft glossy croc-print, $108

Slacks and sturdy heels.

I park my car a five minute walk in the rain from the front door of my office.  I’ve got a few pairs of sturdy, walkable heels that aren’t too delicate.  Resilient patent leather or vinyl, nothing strappy or suede, solid heels.  Sofft and Circa Joan & David are both good for this. I wear thick taupe or black knee-high nylons, a bit thinner than a full trouser sock.

Open-toe tortoiseshell pump over black socks. I think it is a confident "I love my shoes" look. I also like how it echos the print-over-black of the top. These are Semantiks tweed trousers and an Eddie Bauer jean jacket.

Open-toed shoes with socks.  Yes, I went there.  I love my Cole Haan Air Carmas too much to put them away until spring.  I will admit it looks goofy at first, but it is a Style with its own class and tradition; you can see it in old 1940’s photos of open-toed shoes with seamed stockings.   They key is to look like you’re doing it on purpose: “Yep, see my socks?” not “eek, don’t look at my socks.” No nude hose, and contrast is good. 

Boots and Pants. I haven’t mastered this yet.  I probably need mid-heel ankle boots. I just can’t get over them though, they look so lame in the store, all stumpy like that.  I don’t like the way tall boots bump against the pant leg.  I fear pants with boots will make me look like a bad real estate agent.  But I need to work on this, because the top of my socks are starting to get wet. 

Also, I really don’t like tucked boots into pants (Meg asked about this).  If you’ve got any kind of hips, the bottom of the pant leg needs to somewhat balance out the top to avoid an “ice cream cone” effect.   Like skinny jeans, this look works best on very young or very narrow women. Which is good, because it’s the skinny jeans that tuck in, anyway. So how about “if you already rock skinny jeans, go ahead and tuck them into the boots” for a rule?

As far as boot embellishment.  Try stuff on and post examples, and see what works.  Post ideas if you can and we’ll talk about it.  Some buckles look silly until you walk around in them and get used to the idea.  I used to hate ALL embellishment on shoes, but “plain” isn’t necessary better.  But there are lots of great “plain” options — both boots in my pictures (Brown Cole Haan and Black Aerosole) just have hidden zippers.

Circa Joan & David, wine patent buckle pump, $48 at 6pm.com

Sweater dress, print tights, black boots

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What I suck in

Ahem.

Ahem. I'm not actually sticking it out. I'm just not sucking it in.

Aki posted her honest profile shot here, so I will too.  I’m doing this for a few reasons: First, to demonstrate the power of a good bra, Second, to think critically about t-shirts, which are NOT all made equal.  Third, I’m having a glamorous evening out Thursday night, at which I plan to look amazingly put-together and hope to post some fabulous pics.  So consider this my Don’t Hate Me  Because I’m Beautiful ™ Before picture.

 

Same, t-shirt, better bra, still not great

Same, t-shirt, better bra, still not great

Same bra, better t-shirt.  This is a long-sleeved scoopneck lightweight jersey from the Gap.

Same bra, better t-shirt. This is a long-sleeved scoopneck lightweight jersey from the Gap.

 

BCBG T-shsirt with nice seam under the bust. Pretty flattering.

BCBG T-shsirt with nice seam under the bust. Pretty flattering.

 

Anthropologie: Nice scoopneck, ruffle helps shape the shoulders, tummy is disguised.

Anthropologie: Nice scoopneck, ruffle helps shape the shoulders, tummy is disguised.

 

Bedtime: Men's 1998 Padres NLCS Championship tee (with cartoon faces of the entire team!) This is the good bra, but because of the oversized fit I look much bigger than I am

Only for sleeping: Men's 1998 Padres NLCS Championship tee (with cartoon faces of the entire team!) This is the good bra, but because of the oversized fit it adds a lot of bulk.

 

Can I use them as an excuse for my waistline? They are distractingly cute. Like Aki's boobs.

Can I use them as an excuse for my waistline? They are distractingly cute. Like Aki's boobs.

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Most shapeless, boring, oversized coat imaginable. Ordered online because it looked warm; too lazy/cold to return it. For eight years.

Most shapeless, boring, oversized coat imaginable. Ordered online because it looked warm; too lazy/cold to return it. For eight years.

Coats.  It might be a West Coat thing.  We tend to use coats as gear, just to keep us warm.  Instead of choosing a beautiful coat to enhance our look, we throw Whatever on over our “real” clothes, just to stay dry before we start the day for “real.”   When you wear a coat like that, you are wrapped.  You might even think of yourself as invisible. You are sending yourself the message that you don’t count for the moment.  You are not Dressed.

Good shape, fit and detail: Anne Klein II

Good shape, fit and detail: Anne Klein II

From the time we walk out the front door, each moment is an opportunity to be at our best in the world.  Of course certain moments “don’t count,” like if you are escaping from a house fire. But I’d say, it’s better to expect moments to count — really, make them count — instead of discounting each moment.  Including moments when you have to wear a coat.

Because, you never know when a Moment might hit.  Like a chilly August afternoon in 2006:  I was hurrying through downtown Seattle on my way back from lunch when suddenly, the first squad for the Real Madrid football club* came striding down the block.  Surrounded by fans taking pictures.  I am not kidding.  They were in town for an exhibition game and they had apparently decided to sight-see right past my office.  A herd of internationally beautiful and athletic men right there in front of me.  I gaped, blushed, grinned . . . and found myself wondering, “what might they see when they look . . . .at me?

David, wait! I have a cute dress on under this frumpy black rain jacket

David, wait! I have a cute dress on under this frumpy black rain jacket

I was having a perfectly cute Seattle Girl moment, wearing a nice little summer dress.  But it was cold, so I was totally covered by a dumpy, ill-fitting raincoat.   Like all of us, I can look kinda-awesome or I can look invisibly schlumpy.  And if David Effing Beckham comes walking down the street, which do you want to be? Do you want to be disguised in a bad windbreaker just because a workweek lunch alone “doesn’t count?” You will not get a second chance to be an extra in a Beckham movie.  Also, my sandals probably sucked.

Discount your coat and you discount real moments of real life.  Coats are not just wrapping. They don’t make you invisible. Coats count. SO:

target

Purple Satin Trench, $39.99, Target

 1. Coats must fit. We tend to wear coats big so we can snuggle down inside them and wear lots of layers under them.  Allow for a sweater underneath and have some arm movement.  But be sure your coat isn’t too big in the shoulders and sides, and don’t wear it bigger than necessary.  Rule of thumb: If you wore your coat when you were more than 6 months pregnant, it is TOO BIG for you when you are not pregnant.

2. A wardrobe needs more than one coat.  Your toughest play-in-the-rain coat, which will keep you dry for a winter beach hike in a storm, has a hood and fits over a heavy sweater.  This is not also your go-get-coffee-looking-cute coat, which should be more fitted and stylish.  Around here it’s good to have a “nicer rain” coat, a “storm” coat,  maybe a “very warm / no hood for cold dry days” coat, and a good “lightweight” (spring/fall and yes, summer) coat or two.  Even if you’re not a total clothes ho like some of us, it is really, really good to have a variety.  If you try to make the same coat work every time and place, it won’t work perfectly for anything. You will always be compromising.

3. Coats take the MOST time and money of any wardrobe item (Except maybe boots). Remember the $3 Rule .  A good coat lasts for years and will be worn a lot.  It needs to hold up to wear and weather. If it is wool or gortex, it’s going to cost money.  If it’s well-stitched and watertight, it’s going to cost more money.  Cute little jackets and raincoats can be cheap, but consider investing in your main coats.  Also invest the time to try coats on.  Figure out what looks best. Don’t guess. Don’t settle.  Don’t order from the catalog, give up, and wear it for years because you’re too discouraged to return it and keep looking (see photo, above).

Sherpa-lined Frost Free Jacket, $82 at Old Navy Women's Plus

Sherpa-lined Frost Free Jacket, $82 at Old Navy Women's Plus

4. Make shape and structure work for you.  If you’re going to cover yourself in a big huge garment, it needs to enhance your shape.  For a long coat, notice how it drapes or swings.  Watch where it hits your legs (and consider hemming if it’s length is out of proportion).  If you need more waist, wear a coat with a belt; If you need to balance out your shoulders and chest, wear a coat with cute pleats on the bottom.  If you are round in the middle, wear a coat with good shapely seams and interesting details around the face.  And when it comes to bulky, warm coats — we all need them sometimes — get a beautiful color or texture.  Use the bulk to balance your body (don’t add where you don’t need it).

Three from Boden.

Three from Boden.

Reid Jacket by Dolce Vita, wool lined with silk, $286

Reid Jacket by Dolce Vita, wool lined with silk, $286

 

 

*Yes, I totally had to look that all up — the team name, and the correct use of “First squad.” I did not think this at the time.

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Nice Rack

Robin experiments with "batwing" sleeves; Aki is meh on a beautiful blue-colored print she dismisses as "too loud."

Today is Aki’s birthday (not yesterday’s advance, Hugh Jackman-rationalizing  PRE-Birthday).  In the spirit of festivity, and to get a sneak peek of what 37 looks like (I have a few months left), I met up to hang out at the Olympus day spa and hit up the Nordstrom Rack. 

We can’t say much about the Olympus Spa, because it is all-women, and men read this blog , so we are sworn to secrecy. Let’s just say it is NOT about clothes and we could NOT take pictures.  But I will say this: Aren’t women beautiful, in all our varying and bumpy glory?   I don’t just mean the “cute” ones or the “young” ones (it’s hard to tell who’s who when everyone wears a shower cap and naught else).   All of us, apples and pears and lemons alike, have amazing bodies with some great features.  We sure come in all shapes and sizes, it is really something. Also you never know who could be sporting some particularly fabulous boobs.

From the spa, we went to the Nordstrom Rack.  I don’t much like the Rack, because like any discount scene, everything is crammed together and it overwhelms me.  But in the spirit of meeting halfway between the Nordstromexperience and the thrifting/ experience (okay maybe not exactly half) we gave it a shot.

What I learned:

1. It’s sad to see something at a steep discount  when you paid full price for it months ago. That beautiful lilac and mandarin print silk blouse by Bellatrix in my prints post ? Was $29, I probably paid $59 or so at the half-yearly sale in May.  I tried to console myself  by thinking of how many times I’ve wore it since then — I’m not about to buy a sleeveless springtimey silk floral top in September — but ouch, that price.

2. Bargains are a cruel temptress.  More than once, we found ourselves ambivalent about a $50-ish top until we realized it was originally $198. OMG A TWO HUNDRED dollar shirt! Look at it? Is it cute? Could I pull it off? No, no, no.  Value must measure worth.  Think about how you’d wear it and whether you’d really love it, not about whether you can impress everyone by saving $148 (that you would never have spent in the first place). I kept myself in check with my “half-again” rule: If it’s tempting at $50, would I pay $75? Don’t buy it just because it’s cheap (or “cheap.”)

3. [Lilac-and-tangerine silk Bellatrix top aside] most things end up at the Rack because something is a leeeetle bit weird about them.  The great stuff sells out at the regular Nordstrom.  Many things look tempting on the hanger but as you can see below, weren’t perfect enough to take home. Of the good/recent stuff, prices were around 40% off — maybe $5 less than the same items had been during the Anniversary Sale .  And virtually everything was out of season — and since I’m not going to Wear it Tomorrow if it’s peep-toe or sleeveless, I can rule it out.

Examples:

Ella Moss top: I loved the floral, Aki loves this brand. No love for the weirdly placed ruffles, though. And no, pervs, I'm not showing you my bra strap. I'm demonstrating how it looks like a Stegosaurus.

 

Randomly found a Cardinals shirt! Love the Cardinals, love vintage-look athletic motifs, love this super-soft thick cotton. Pleasantly surprised by the raglan sleeves. But I decided I wouldn't really wear it enough to be worth $17.95. Good thing, because I later discovered this was from the Boy's Department -- They also had the Tigers, White Sox and Mets.

 

Suzi Chin Maggy Boutique. Great bust ruching and offset waist, nice black-on-gray detail. Too much wtf in the sleeves and neckline for me, especially at $60.

 

Aki in a beautiful purple print from Sweet Pea. She said it was too low-cut and didn't like the floral.

I love this weird shade of blue but don't like the floral. Too granny. Aki rocks the clingy Calvin Klein paint-splatter print tee, but doesn't like the shoulder ruffles.

 

I love this color purple, but the Sweet Pea top is a little maternityish. Aki is GORGEOUS in this stripe, look how slimming the torso is! But she doesn't like the shoulders, and correctly notes that the pastel/neon palette is "too 80's."

Cute gray jeans (those are security tags, not a funky belt) that match my Cardinals tee. Wait, is this $90 worth of cool in one outfit? No. Put it back. Cheap is not free!

 

We checked out shoes, hoping to find the perfect boots for fall jeans/cords , but ACK do discount shoe racks make me dizzy! And they are not cheap enough to be worth it.  We also checked out the kids stuff — I was iimpressed with the great selection of cute-cute toddler girls’ items from the 2008 Pumpkin Patch line.  But in the end, we left with no purchases — we got burnt out, spas will dehydrate you like that, and bailed for cheesecake the Starbucks across the street.  Nothing to show for it this time but pictures.  And happy birthday, blogsister! For mine, we’re in Tacoma and the theme is “Christian Bale.”

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