Friday, April 29, 2011

Who's Afraid of Big Bad . . . Color?

I absolutely love color in my home, a vintage cottage that we've painted and decorated in warm colors:

I love our gardens too:

I am a sucker for a colorful purse and I adore pretty earrings, bracelets and pendants. I have red shoes, olive shoes and even checked flats. My signature lipstick is Rose Velvet, not Nude.

But when I posted  that I was chicken to wear a pretty turquoise blouse, Terri and Paula pointed out that we don't need to fear colors in our clothing! Thank you, ladies, you got me thinking.

For certain, I like fairly muted/neutral bottoms. For me that means skirts or jeans, as I don't often wear trousers. I have skirts in black, black, black, navy, dark brown, grey and my favorite, dark denim. Outerwear and toppers are almost all neutrals: denim jacket, work blazers in ivory, navy, black and grey. Cardis in ivory, navy, grey.

I like to mix up the cuts and fabrics of all the above; trust me you'll never mistake me for a Brooks Brothers catalog! For example, I love my long knit black skirt and I love my crisp brown corduroy skirt. I have a soft navy velvet blazer that I adore.

Sooooo not me, even though I love my neutrals!

Next to my face, I have preferred subtle neutrals. I'm very pale-skinned, with light hair (enhanced by modern science), and light eyes. I think I look washed out in brights, and I don't care for pastels. Pastel tops on me look too juvenile or (gasp!) aging. Busy prints near my face are definitely too distracting, although in a low neckline I think they look OK. The only colors I wear close to my face are olive and a shade of purple, as both seem to complement my green eyes nicely.

I had my "seasons" done about 25 years(!) ago, and the consultant couldn't decide if I was a "summer" or a "winter". Definitely a "cool" they said. I'm still a little skeptical about the whole seasons thing though, because olive is truly one of my best colors and it's allegedly warm. I also look good in black, which is not supposed to work on pale blonds. Anyway!

I am not so sure about this . . .

I am mostly content with my existing wardrobe colors, and at the same time I have committed to stretch myself. So I think I'll add some color to my tops, starting with inexpensive tees this summer. It will be a fun experiment, and whatever I don't love can go to the Humane Society thrift. Because the only firm wardrobe rule for me is : Wear (Only) What You Love!

I'd like to hear how you have experimented with adding color, or if you (like Paula) already rely on brights to help make your fashion statements. Did you stick your toes in the water or plunge right in?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What Makes It Work, Redux

There are a lot of basics in my wardrobe, a lot of neutral pieces that go together just fine, and make dressing easy. But, as I wrote about in a previous post, the basics-only outfit can definitely lack ooomph. To  keep my wardrobe economical and still interesting, I ask myself in the groggy weekday morning, "what would make this outfit sing a happier tune?" My previous example was of an ultra-casual tee-and-denim-skirt look. Here is a Polyvore I put together for a work outfit. My workplace is fairly casual:

What Makes It Work II

I started with a slim khaki skirt and a feminine top. I cheated a little for visual puposes: I would probably wear a navy or ivory top instead of this pretty turquoise one. OK, I am a color-coward, at least when it comes to my main pieces. Oh, and this top is not in my budget either!

For the office, I need a little cover up, but instead of a blazer, like this, I chose a soft knit. Either would be fine, and definitely adds some polish. The bag is (forgive the cliche) To Die For, but I could better afford the one below. I like a light or printed bag for summer, even though they don't hold up to heavy use as well as the winter bags.

The jewelry is the easiest and most creative part for me. I love the earrings and cuff shown. They are "investment pieces" but I could just as happily do these:


I wouldn't do my trademark pendant with this ruffled blouse but with a more plain tee, I might call in Mr. Owl:

The booties really make this outfit special, IMHO. Since I sit most of the day, they would probably be OK comfort wise. But on a walking day I would probably switch out to a nice wedge sandal. I'd better spring for that pedicure stat!

How do you pump up your basics for your work looks? Do you love color?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Working With (And Loving) What You Have

By midlife, we have learned to accept and love our individual beauty . . right? As a teen, I used to page through Seventeen Magazine and pick the girls I'd rather look like. Naturally they were quite my opposites: long, straight hair, slim hips, perfect smiles. I had curly/unruly brown hair, was a bit chubby and had a crooked smile.

Now, though I still thumb through fashion magazines, I don't find myself wanting to trade places with the beauties. Ironic, because though I am past prime beauty age, as defined by our culture, I am so much more content. This is easier! I not only accept my fine, curly hair, I love it. When it's hot and humid (frequently, here), my hair gets bigger and crazier. Let it rain!

This isn't me!!

I did get my teeth straightened in my 20's, but they are not perfect, just mine. I have a long neck but short legs, so what? I like to wear jewelry that shows off my neck, and skirts rather than trousers (you don't know where my legs begin!) My skin is palest-pale, so I don't try to tan, and enjoy wearing ivory mineral makeup.

I am working with what I have, in a spirit of more contentment than my 30 year-old self would have predicted. Not dead yet, and not trying to be something I can never be. One of my favorite quotes from Oscar Wilde sums it up: "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken."

I love Albert's hair too!
Can you share any ways you are Loving What You've Got?

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Little or A Lot (Of Clothing)?

This is a post from the archives, as I am at the fabulous Vancouver Blogger Meet-up today. Hope you don't mind a re-run from 2011. 
Neither of these is my own closet. I am somewhere in between.

I have read many books, articles and blogs about simplifying one's wardrobe, minimalism, de-cluttering and "pruning" the closet. And I've done quite a bit of this, especially when we've moved house. It always feels good, and I love the feeling of a cleaned-out space with fewer, better options.

So why does it seem so difficult to stick to the pared down wardrobe? I truly enjoy having "just a few well-loved items", and a "closet of gems". Getting dressed is easy, the family budget is relieved. But I am still adding to my wardrobe, albeit at a far slower rate than in my 30's and 40's. Here are some of my theories:
  • "Dithering" purchases: these are the quick stops into Ross, Marshalls and TJ Maxx on my way home from work, or tacked on to another errand. I see an attractive blouse or scarf, it's (always) less than $25 and suddenly it's mine. Did I need it? Certainly not. I wanted it, it looked good, I can afford it, and wardrobe philosophy be cursed.
  • Thrifting. A blessing and a millstone. Like many fashion-lovers I enjoy the hunt, the hope of a score, the "OMG this is a real Marc Jacobs!" moment. And it's a social time too, when I chat with other women and we trade stories, advise each other. But sometimes I come home with STUFF that now needs: cleaning, pressing, arranging and justifying.
  • The mythology of "this one will be perfect." For example, I have four pairs of great jeans. That's enough for my lifestyle, by far. I have dark and medium denim, two straights and two bootcuts. If I wore jeans every day, and at three wears each, that would be twelve days before laundry was due. PLENTY. But I still long for what magazines call the "perfect pair of dark denims". Well, at age 60, I think I would have found them by now.
Of course there are good reasons to add to my wardrobe: those great jeans will wear out and need replacing. All my favorites (shoes, boots, bras) will need to be replaced over time. And I like to add a bunch of fresh tee shirts every spring, new tights, a few new necklaces, a new belt and a nightshirt. The challenge is to be wise in my purchases, and keep the pleasure of the simple closet in the front of my mind.

What about you? I think all approaches are good, if they give you joy. Do you like to have a little or a lot?

Stay fabulous,

There's always room for a great pair of jeans, cute flats or a yummy nightgown:
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Essentials

It's great fun reading other bloggers' lists (e.g. here and here) of their ten or five essential wardrobe items. I'm a bit list-compulsive myself: it keeps part of my brain quiet so my creative side can wander  : >  Like most women, my essentials change from time to time as my style is re-defined, my body changes and time marches on. For the last year or so my essentials have included:

  1. A fitted denim skirt. I have three now, a midi by Ralph Lauren that I love love love, a slightly stretchy pencil from Coldwater Creek (similar) that is conservative and great for tucking in my button-down shirts, and believe-it-or-not, a pencil skirt by Lucky that is not too young for me! (I think!) It's to the knee, and has very few embellishments, but hugs the curves just right (similar).
  2. Black, gray and white knit tops from Gap. I collect them and wear them first to work, while they're fresh, then for casual. I love how soft and fitted they are, and the solids are great for my muted coloring. I do have to add something to my tees:
  3. Fun PendantsFun pendant necklaces, like these:  
    I wear one almost every day, to elevate the tee-shirt look to a more feminine polished one.
  4. Shoes or boots with a little attitude. I refuse to wear gym sneakers or Crocs (no offense to those who love them!). I just bought these wedges for work, and they are my new favorites.
  5. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Rose Velvet #130. It's my signature shade, a deep mauve that brightens my face without screaming "LIPS!", or fading away to nude. Please Revlon, don't stop making it.

I'd love to hear about your Essentials, and how they may have evolved.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Summer Handbags, and a Dress?

Don't you love switching to a summer purse? I get all excited about shelving my heavy black or dark brown shoulder bag and slipping into something pretty. I know, in the southern climates we COULD wear canvas or floral bags all year, but it just feels wrong. Plus, I'm from New Jersey.

I had been coveting something colorful and cheery, and large enough for everyday wear. I chose this bag, from The Sak, and I'm enjoying it:

Here's some more that make me smile:

summer purses

I sometimes have trouble getting a summer dress just right. Being a woman of a certain age, I like to cover my upper arms, and I like my hemlines to my knees. I am actually loving the new casual maxi skirts and bought two for spring/summer, but a maxi dress seems too . . I don't know, YOUNG for me?? So I usually wear separates, but still long for a simple work-appropriate dress that skims the figure, covers the arms, doesn't overwhelm me with a loud print, and doesn't have to be dry cleaned. I like these, (but I haven't bought any yet, I admit):

summer work dresses

What do you think? The striped knit dress is my favorite, even though it does skew a bit young. I'd wear it with one of the more subdued nude sandals below, but I do love the long pendant; I think it's slimming! The upper left dress reminds me of hippie dresses I wore in the 70's but this one is much sleeker. I ought to take the plunge.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring/Summer 2011 Wish List, Part One

Even though it's warm in Florida most of the year, I still respond the change of seasons by changing my wardrobe. Solid black and gray tops have to move over for (me) ivory and navy, and my favorite, ivory/navy stripes. For you, maybe it's bright tops in turquoise or teal, yellow or coral. For skirts I still prefer black, navy, and denim with perhaps a wild-card print from Anthropologie to mix it up. I don't often wear trousers, but it's a lovely time for linen pants, with hems all the way to the shoe-line please. All the stores carry crops, but --- for my eye, nothing adds years quicker than "flood pants"!

striped tops
A couple of my favorite summer tops

Linen Trousers
These are YES! if you like to wear trousers . . .

But these are NO!

Summer work shoes are a fun challenge for me. My workplace is casual, but neither flip-flops nor leather thongs would be appropriate. I like a little heel and an open toe. As always the dynamic is stylish-while-comfortable, and the search goes on. I am liking the nude foot, and if I can't find that I think I'll go with a fun color. Here are some of my possibilities. 
work sandals

Next post: it'll be time to switch bags, and add a dress or two! When and where do you start to make the changes to your summer closet?

Monday, April 4, 2011

What Makes It Work?

I'm ready to head out, to lunch with my sister, to the bookstore or basketball game, in my trusty denim skirt and tee. A wee bit Blah. One of my style goals is to make every outfit "work", with moderate effort and a not-unlimited budget.

What Makes It Work?

It's pretty simple to take this everyday look up a level: Here I added a fun pendant like this or this and a chunky bracelet. My Summer 2011 resolution re: footwear is NO FLOPS except for gardening, so I upped the look to a flat leather sandal. Ahh, the bag, how I love this. But this one is pricey, so here is a similar, but still fun summer bag.

You could do a cotton scarf like this if you're a scarf woman. I like this look a lot if you have some length to your neck, and it's a sassy necklace substitute. If it's not terribly hot where you are, short boots would look very sharp too.

I'll be doing more posts on the topic "What Makes It Work?" and hope to hear from you. How do you elevate your go-to outfits for a bit more flair?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Summer Six-Piece Challenge

The blogging world has thoroughly covered the phenom of the "Six Pieces or Fewer" wardrobe challenge.  Quick recap: Can you survive on only six pieces of clothing, not counting shoes, undies and accessories, for a month? I tried it, and lots of laundry and a bit of boredom ensued. But who can resist a challenge?

Here's a polyvore I put together for a Summer Challenge. It's suitable for women in casual workplaces, and it's age-appropriate while, IMHO, retaining a stylish vibe. I could do this for a month, how about you?

Six Items for Summer

At any age, I've loved a knee-length denim skirt. At my current age, it's a wardrobe workhorse, with tights in the winter and pale legs sticking out in the summer! I also love a full skirt, but some of you will prefer a crisp A-line.

The black tank goes alone for play, or under any of the tops for casual workplace. Maybe over the striped tee if you feel wild and crazy. And now that I look at it more, I like a medium blue button down shirt instead of the red, so as not to be so memorable day to day.

I love the accessories of course! Those white oxford shoes are so fresh (and impractical, but we're having fun here). I don't do scarves very well, but if you do they would add lots of options. And the owl earrings are a must.

What do you think? Could you do it for a month? What would you switch out?


Women of a certain age, fabulous and fifty, second youth, anything but cougar! I don't care much about labels. If you come and join me we will trade talk about how to look authentic and beautiful in our middle-plus years.

You will love it here if you are shocked! that you're 50 because you have the spirit of a young goddess within you. You are sad that women of our age group are so often made invisible by the fashion and entertainment industries. You're not ready yet for pink pantsuits and puffy white sneakers. But stilettos and halter tops are sweet memories.You thoroughly enjoy spending time in your closet, cultivating the image you present.

Untitled by blindOpal
Untitled, a photo by blindOpal on Flickr.

Please come back for fun chat about our fantastic middle aged selves, and how we adorn our frames.