Nov 212013
 

Is it safe to say I do not consider myself athletic?  In both high school and college, I employed every possible strategy to avoid taking P.E. Eventually my options ran out and I discovered, in a community college class, that working the upper body and stretching accelerated the improvement chiropractic and massage were bringing about in the neck, back, and shoulder. (Some of you may remember that after a few years of posting almost daily, sometimes more than once, and reading other blogs, I had to take a big break from spending time on the computer.)

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Recently I had the opportunity to return to my community college for a class with the same teacher as before.  Because it was summer, I would just show up in my shorts and tank top, work out, and go home.  On the rare occasion I had to go somewhere after, I would throw a dress or skirt over and go.

The problem arose when the seasons changed.  This is the wardrobe challenge I have mentioned several times: I felt ridiculous wearing a wool coat, shorts, and bare legs. For various reasons, change room at the gym was not a good option. So I created a new template – which will be the topic of a separate post – and burned alot of time shopping for things I failed to find.

I know some of my friends are thinking about looking for better stuff to wear to the gym. Any suggestions? 

Nov 112013
 

In Myers-Briggs “code”, the T stands for thinking and the P for perceiving. I will leave it up to you to investigate, if those terms are not familiar. As I have been ruminating on the connections to style for a good long time now, I figured it was time to start throwing my thoughts out there.

TP = Tidy + Practical

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Characterized by simple pieces and established silhouettes, the TP style is, in my mind, best illustrated by what the hero wears.

Leisure: t-shirts and lots o’ pockets
Business casual: long-sleeved button-downs and twill pants

That’s about it. (Allow me to, parenthetically, express a pet peeve here: button-down is a specific COLLAR style, not “buttons down the front”.) While women’s clothing is always more complicated, I don’t think there is anything wrong with simplifying.
A TP woman could:

  • Stick closely to favorite classics and let someone else shop for her
  • Buy multiples
  • Spend more for perfect; it will get worn out!

A TP could also neglect to throw things with holes or stains away and wind up with a bulging drawer full of painting clothes and nothing respectable to wear. 😉

Do you have any favorite feminine translations of this style? IMO, the female detective on TV’s Psych wears it well.

Oct 292013
 

You know that sticking point in your sit-up?  The one where you think you are not going to make it?  That is the point in the fashion cycle at which I find myself: feeling frumpy, not wanting to wear what is in my closet OR what is in the stores.

While I realize I need to do some organizing, and probably some styling, within my wardrobe, I also wonder whether I can just buy one item that would somehow neutralize that frumpy feeling.

What would it be?

Some possible candidates:image1.jpg a great pair of jeans,an amazing pair of boots,or a new coat.

Or how about a new haircut?

For me, I don’t think that is it. I don’t think my hair is frumpy. I need a whole new uniform template.

Suggestions?

Oct 162013
 

For that next step up from jeans and a sweater, what I call “casual”, a dress is always in option. A dress with flats, IMI ( that’s “in my idiom”, as opposed to “in my opinion”). So, whether you need a casual dress or cocktail, today only:

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Recently my sister commented that she didn’t wear jeans and heels. I rarely do. (I wonder if that has to do with not preferring to wear heels; perhaps women who wear heels all the time wear jeans and heels when I would wear a dress and flats?) I also don’t care much for “nice pants”, with the exception of wool trousers instead of a dress when the snow flies.

What’s your go-to casual template?

Oct 112013
 

If there has been one constant peer pressure in my life, it has been the ubiquity of jeans. I remember the buzz it created the first time a teacher wore jeans to school.  And the multitude of times, when I asked what to wear to an event, I was told, “you can just wear your jeans”.   Somehow, growing up, denim made its way into my “neutrals” category, and everyone knows that a neutral is something that goes with anything, right?

But, wait!  Perhaps there is a better way.

Within an individual wardrobe, at least my own, I find limits to be liberating.  Less is more. My daughters resemble me in that regard.  When discussing the limits she was considering for colors to wear, my daughter stumbled on the following brilliant principle:

The type of tops you like to wear with jeans should all be in the colors you like to wear with blue.

Now, feel free to reject that principle or defer it to a later time if you, like me, are wearing jeans in various colors this season.  Still, it seems so obvious for those many blue denim seasons.

For us, because we both like using blue in analogous color schemes, it means our flannels and sweatshirts will be purple and/or green: vivid violet and OD for me; grape, lime, and emerald for her.  What colors do you like to wear with denim?

Jun 132011
 

At one time or another, most of us encounter a wardrobe crisis:  a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.  Perhaps you’ve changed sizes or lifestyles.  Or perhaps you haven’t; perhaps you have simply stayed the same size and worn the same things until your everyday clothes have all worn out, leaving you with a closet full of decades-old L.B.D.s and nothing to wear.  No matter how we get there, with a day dedicated to shopping and $100, most of us can be on the road to Wardrobe Recovery.

Your wardrobe needs variety; you can add that later.  Your first priority is to be able to get dressed. 

First decide what you want to wear every day:  a business suit?  shorts and tee shirt?  khakis and a button-down?  Think next about where you are most likely to find those needed items for a reasonable price.  Then go buy some.  Do not allow yourself to be distracted by whatever is easy for you; buy what you need.

If your lifestyle is mostly leisure, try to get two pairs of jeans and three of your favorite tee shirts (nice-fitting solid or print tees, not sloppy message tees).  Starting with $100, if you go to Old Navy or JCPenney or somewhere similar, you should have money left over for something fun. Pictured pieces available today at Old Navy’s online store for a total of less than $50, click on picture to go to the website.
Old Navy Womens The Flirt Skinny JeansOld Navy Womens The Sweetheart Jeans Vintage Classic Rise Boot-CutOld Navy Womens Scoop-Neck TeesOld Navy Womens Ruched V-Neck TeesOld Navy Womens Perfect Tees

Feb 042011
 

The quintessential business casual uniform template for men:

khakis + leather shoes +  polo shirt

If only it were so easy for women!  Consider the following insightful comment made (several years ago) by Mella DP:

My job: engineering consulting. That often means having to demonstrate credibility in the executive conference room and on the plant floor on the same day. Dressing in a way that works for both situations is tricky. It’s easier for the guys – most men can wear chinos and a polo shirt and and sturdy shoes and look decent and functional (if a little dull). Most women in a similar outfit would look like an Applebees hostess.   (Emphasis added.)

Indeed!

The other primary reason, IMO, polos don’t work for women’s business casual is this:  historically the polo is athletic wear, making it fall into the leisure category.   Although I’m not entirely certain why it is otherwise for men.

My advice?  When you hear the word “polo” substitute “sweater”.

Sep 142010
 

Along with what seems like record numbers of my peers (and children!), I am formally a college student.  Classes begin next week.

This past spring, in my single quarter as student at a local community college, I studiously dressed as myself-as-student.  My goal was social.  For the first three to four weeks of classes, I carefully put together outfits from the leisure lifestyle segment which reflected my personality.  After that, I eased up only a little, occasionally throwing in a blazer or a heel with trouser jeans.  Ultimately, I found this strategy to be very effective:  I was received as well as I have ever been.  Somehow the other students picked up quickly and accurately what kind of a person I was and interacted with me accordingly.

My uniform template for Fall 2010, at least in theory:

dark skinny jeans + cotton tee + structured sweatshirt or leather jacket + 3 mile shoes

A word about book bags:  most people my age use a rolling backpack; my daughter has forbidden me from doing so.  No worries.  I picked up a decent-looking, light gray backpack (for $19.99 at the Eddie Outlet).  I will not be hauling a computer in it.

Happy Back to School!

Jan 082010
 

When Duchesse mentioned cashmere sweaters + wool trousers as her winter go-to formula (a formula I love!), the concept lodged in my mind, in the vicinity of a collection of thoughts about architects, engineers, and other technical professionals.  Professions Mella DP describes as follows:

That often means having to demonstrate credibility in the executive conference room and on the plant floor on the same day. Dressing in a way that works for both situations is tricky. It’s easier for the guys – most men can wear chinos and a polo shirt and and sturdy shoes and look decent and functional (if a little dull). Most women in a similar outfit would look like an Applebees hostess.

But most women dressed in a cashmere sweater and wool trousers would look conventional and context-appropriate, Mella DP’s words, my opinion.  (Hey, I realize not everyone can wear wool.  I figure if you’re reading this, you’re smart enough to figure out a wool alternative that works for you.  If that’s something you’d like to discuss, we certainly can.)  Perhaps it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, any ensemble worn in a business context should be decipherable by both men and women.  Much of what is popular for women is simply not understood by the men they work with.

Since we haven’t had any illustrations around here for a long time:

iconiconiconiconiconicon(Ugh!  Now I remember why we haven’t had illustrations for so long!  This took me all afternoon!) 

Jan 062010
 

Undoubtedly many of you, like me, grew up in the era of “mix and match”, subject to the ubiquitous idea that the more combinations possible with a few components, the better. 

But it’s not the only way to go.  Throughout most of history, women wore dresses.  No mixing and matching there.  A person able to make dresses work for them on an everyday basis has a very simple uniform template indeed.  (Alternatively, an outfit which always stays together works much the same, albeit in the building stage is much more complicated.)

In the summer, nothing could be easier than a dress!  To be practical in the winter, however, additional thought needs to be given to the “prepositional pieces”; that is, what goes under, over and with.  Both casual and career looks can be built on dresses.  Here are some random thoughts I’ve been having:

  • Tights, for casual.  Recently I was given a pair of brown bamboo tights and a pair of charcoal heather Australian wool footless tights.  I’m rich!
  • Warm socks under boots.  Personally I like the look of the sock cuff showing at the top.
  • Leg-warmers are fun for casual and can be practical for commuting career ladies, like a muffler for the leg.  Obviously, when wearing formal business attire, the mufflers come off when you arrive at work.
  • Speaking of mufflers, scarves of various styles can add warmth to a dress without complicating the silhouette like a blazer would.
  • Somewhere recently I read about layering stockings for color, and then I tried it for warmth.  Actually, what I did (with boots and a skirt) was wear my silk long underwear pants underneath a pair of tights.  Yes, it worked.

I’m going to stop there and leave room for input. How do you wear the day dress in winter?