Ol’ Four Eyes

Mia Farrow was in the news recently.  Seems in the November issue of Vanity Fair magazine she discloses that her son Ronan (once called Satchel) MAY be the child of Frank Sinatra and not Woody Allen as long presumed.  Huh?  Have you seen a picture of this guy?  He is the spit n’ image of Ol’ Blue Eyes and apparently he’s got a voice to go with.  There have been all kinds of denials and refutations from Allen and others.  But just take a look at him.  On the other hand, he’s a Yale grad and a Rhodes Scholar, so go figure.

Anyway, Ol’ Blues got me thinking about Ol’ Four Eyes which would be me, and practically everyone in my family.  (I know it’s a stretch of a segue but just go with me here.)  My father was an ophthalmologist and I often wondered if we were a reality advertisement for eye correction.  I might add that I was in high school before I was allowed to use pointed scissors. When I was initiated with my first prescription, shortly after my Bat Mitzvah, I was horrified to think I would have to wear glasses. GLASSES??  ON MY FACE??  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  At the time, the wire-rimmed aviators were popular so I had a pair of those.  Then I switched to contact lenses.  But as I got older I decided to embrace my myopia and now eyewear is a part of my whole look.

Now anyone who has had to buy a frame and fill it can tell you that glasses are not cheap.  At least, unless they’re cheap they’re not cheap.  But considering they sit on your nose I think it’s a worthwhile investment to get something great.  It’s funny but people who will spend hundreds on a hairdo or garment or other fashion item, get stingy when it comes to something they’ll be wearing every single day.  I’ve heard people say “I don’t want them to show.”  What?  Is there a way for them not to show?  Underwear doesn’t show. Glasses are in the front row seat, so why not make the most of them.

Here’s the thing, not all opticians are the same, and like any other retail business, they don’t all carry the same merchandise.   I look for a store that has a hip selection in the window and has someone who knows how to suggest the right shapes for my face.  A good eyewear place shouldn’t just let you pull stuff off the wall and try them on, hit or miss.  Don’t get me wrong, they should show you any frame you’re interested in. But they should have the expertise to guide you to the shapes and colors and sizes that will flatter your face. It’s like what dress buying use to be fifty years ago. A knowledgeable optician will save you time and frustration, and hopefully, looking like a weirdo.

One of my favorite brands is Anne et Valentin. They’re made in France and although somewhat pricey, their whole line is fabulously cool looking and really holds up to wear and tear.  When I was in Paris on my honeymoon all I wanted to do was see the Anne et Valentin flagship store, for me, the holy grail of eyewear. Interestingly, when I inquired about one particular frame, the lovely salesman, Phillipe, said, “Those are too big for you.”  Actually, it was “Zohs ahr too beeg fo yu.”  He was right. I bought another pair that he suggested instead.  I know there are many online eyeglass vendors out there, but buyer beware.  Poor quality plastic and weak hinges can mean broken glasses just when you need them the most (getting in the car to drive home from the airport?).   I also like to have someone local make the lenses. Did you know that you can purchase frames anywhere and take them to your local optician and they’ll fill the prescription, i.e. make the lenses for you. I did this with my Paris purchase.  And many places will regrind the lenses one time for free if you put on your new specs and it feels like you just got off a merry-go-round.

A reputable optician will also make sure your glasses fit properly, which is why I never let anyone try mine on. They’re made for my head.  To me it’s like asking someone to try on her wig.  But that’s just me. And if you take good care of them, glasses should last easily until your next prescription. You ARE getting your eyes examined every two years, right?  You only have one set of eyes.

And no running with those scissors!

IMG_5731

http://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2013/oct/05/mia-farrow-woody-allen-sinatra

http://www.anneetvalentin.com/

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Goody! Two Shoes

Now that September is over it’s time to put away the sandals (you with the Tevas, I’m hoping to see a burn pile in your backyard) and think about fall shoes.  I store my cold-weather footwear in plastic boxes in the attic.  But even after inspecting what I have, and I must say, a lot of it looks pretty good, there’s always room and a fashion need, for some new shoes.  If, like me, you live far from any decent shoe retailer, there are LOADS of options on line that provide free shipping and free returns.  I have a regular relationship with Zappos, but there are others as well, including the shoemakers themselves like Cole Haan and Stuart Weitzman, two of my faves. 

Now I’m certainly all about savvy shopping and finding the bargains, but there is one area I never compromise.  It’s the feet.  The agony of de feet.  If a sweater or a tee shirt or a dress has some little flaw, it scarcely makes a difference, and that’s if I can even discover what it is.  But a shoe that isn’t right can make me miserable.  All it takes is one little scratchy thing digging into my foot to make my day hellish.  So I may save big on an outfit, but I never scrimp on the shoes.  Good shoes last longer, generally look better and, most importantly, are way more comfortable.  Way more.

Many years ago when I was in retail, I shared an office with the shoe buyer.  This was an eye opener and a fantastic education in what makes a good shoe.  I learned that price isn’t the only barometer.  There are basically three things I look for. 

The inside lining is called the sock by those in the biz, and I always make sure it’s leather.  Sometimes it looks like leather but it’s actually pleather.  Ballet flats from J. Crew that they say are made in Italy?  The sock is pleather.  Look carefully and smell it if you have to.  I know, holding a shoe up to your nose in a store is a little weird, but quality control is a dirty business.  Leather on the inside breathes and molds to your foot.  Would you rather wear leather or rubber gloves?  Same concept.

Next is the sole.  A better shoe has a leather, not plastic, sole.  If you turn the shoe over and it says “Man Made,” drop it.  The difference is in the walking.  Just like with the inside, leather gives and molds to your foot and it will feel better than plastic.  It just will.  They’ll also be safer on the pavement.  Michael Kors charges a lot for his shoes, but the ones I’ve seen have “man made” soles.  A rubber sole is a whole different matter.  Nothing wrong with a rubber sole.  Love ‘em.  What I’m talking about is that beige, slippery business that, when you walk, sounds like a spatula clapping on a marble floor.

Finally, I look for the quarter panels (that’s the side of the shoe that runs from the heel to the toe) to be one piece.  No seam in the middle.  I paid a lot of money for a pair of Brian Atwood high heels and I was astonished to see a big ol’ seam on the inside quarter panel.  I returned them.  Even some Jimmy Choos have it.  Look carefully at the side of the shoe that faces in.  It should be one piece.  I have gotten really good shoes that have a seam.  Aquatalia, a brand I swear by, occasionally does this.  But generally no seam equals a better shoe.  And if there is a seam it should be sewn, not glued.  Check it out. 

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Fortunately sites like Zappos, Shoebuy.com, Piperlime and many others give descriptions of these components.  I look for terms like “leather upper,” “leather lining,” and “padded footbed.”  And I watch the video if there is one.  That can show you a lot about a shoe.

Oh…Wait a minute.  Someone’s at the door…  It’s the UPS guy!  Gotta run.  My shoes are here!  Goody!!!

www.zappos.com

www.shoebuy.com

www.piperlime.com

www.stuartweitzman.com

www.colehaan.com

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Pajama Game

215px-ThePajamaGame1954

I just got back from Bella Italia and I think, in the not too distant future, the airlines will have to pull up right into passengers’ driveways, the way the Super Shuttle does when it picks you up to go to the airport for your flight.  Have you seen how people come dressed to the airport?  Clearly they’ve just rolled directly out of bed and into the “Departures” area.  Is it too much to expect that they change out of their pajamas and put on some shoes?

I realize, as well as anyone, that travel has become a hassle; the delays, the screening, the endless lines.  There’s no question that it pays to be comfortable.  But comfort doesn’t mean treating everyone to a glimpse of your usual Sunday morning pancakes-and-reading-the-paper look.  I’ve seen people waiting to board who must not own a comb or a toothbrush and don’t feel it necessary to put on underwear.  I’M NOT KIDDING!  Have we lost all sense of pride and discretion?  Has the effort to be comfortable completely superseded basic human dignity?  Am I on a rant here?

My flight home was eight hours.  Not short, but definitely not an extended sentence, and one guy, I’d say around sixty-five years old, was attired in a pair of short shorts (mid-thigh) and a baby blue tee shirt stretched over a huge belly that said, “best papa evah.”  Just like that.  All lower case as if some Bostonian child had written it.  With this ensemble he chose Teva sandals which he removed before even the safety doors had been latched.  No socks, of course.  Now, okay.  We’re on a closed aircraft, he’s in his seat.  Who’s going to care?  But is this how the grandchild, who is now in college, because the shirt was at LEAST ten years old, wants his Papa to be seen out in public?  Evah?

So what constitutes appropriate travel wear?  I know it may not seem egalitarian but travelers who are dressed a little nicer are more likely to be upgraded, to be taken care of faster, to receive help at the ticket counter, to get a better seat.  It’s true.  Provided, of course, it isn’t coupled with a hostile attitude. I know this directly from a ticket agent to whom I was once related.  And if you’ve been reading my blog thus far you know that I don’t equate “nicer” with dropping a wad of Euros.  And honestly, isn’t it worthwhile to consider safety?

Just take footwear, for example.  Flip flops are probably the worst shoes (if you can call them that) for travel.  They provide no support for all that standing around on hard airport floors, it can be cold on the plane, particularly near the floor, and here’s what really gets me, when someone crosses their legs in the seat next to you, do you really want to be staring directly at his or her feet?  You get my point.  Not to mention that if, heaven forbid, one has to make a speedy exit, how fast can you run in those things?  JMO.

I like a pair of slip-ons—ballet flats or clogs or something of that ilk, that I can get off and into my plastic screening bin easily.  Then, when I get on the plane, if it’s a long flight, I stow them in the overhead bin and put on a little pair of slippers or socks that I’ve brought in my carryon.  Very cozy.

As far as the rest of my outfit, I find knits work the best.  Leggings and a tunic (covering the butt, of course because you KNOW that leggings are not pants!) or knit pants and a cardigan.  When I shift around in the two by two area of my seat the knits move with me, and they’re easy to layer since I find the cabin temperature alternates between blow furnace and arctic.  And, quite frankly, knit pants are easier to get up and down in that coffin they call a lavatory.  Personally, I’ve never found jeans to be a good option for air travel.  Somehow, about an hour into the flight, the creases at the top of the legs start to dig into my thighs like a machete.  And if I spill some of my meal on them (which I ALWAYS do) I can’t just rinse it out the way I can with a stretchy pant.

Not fond of knit pants?  How about a long dress?  It hides a multitude of sins, covers the legs and looks chic.  A nice soft pashmina shawl over it that can double as a blanket and it’s a look.  A pair of sunglasses and you’re very Anna Magnani!

I’m saving my p.j.’s for Mad Men reruns.

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September 25, 2013 · 5:09 pm

Business in the Front, Party’s Over in the Back

What’s the deal with the long hair, men? The ponytail is OVER.  Yeah, I’m talking to you, Mr. I-Was-At-Woodstock!  Why are you hanging on to that thing, especially those of you who have lost some on the top?  Here I must digress to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with baldness.  In fact, lots of women find bald men sexy.  Remember Douglas Brackman on L.A. Law?  The assistant principal at my high school was bald on top and he couldn’t have been more than 35.  Mr. Dietz.  He was very sexy.  Believe me, everybody was trying to get detention.  But dude, if you’re trying to hang on to your youth, or youthful appearance I’m here to tell you that you will look, and perhaps feel, years younger without the Grateful Dead tribute down your back.  Is the wife telling you to keep it?  Wait till she sees you looking like the handsome, modern guy who knows where it’s at and then see how much she misses Mullet City.

For us in the over 50 crowd, the whole long hair, dirty jeans thing went out around the time we were learning the Hustle.  I’m referring to the disco dance, not Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, neither of which has survived very well.  So it’s time for a fresh look.  And the dirty jeans are just not that edgy.  We all love the great outdoors but who needs the great unwashed?

I know that face, that look.  You’re admitting to yourself that perhaps you could use a little update.  You can still keep your own style, be age appropriate and not look like you’re ready to line up for the early-bird special.  Lee and Levi both have a huge selection of jeans, very fairly priced, and not too “trendy” and you can get a pair that will actually fit (did you know that the butt sags later in life?).  There’s a fit for every bod, practically.  Regular Fit, Premium Select, Vintage Slim, Modern Slim.  The list is endless.  And if you go to the official Lee web site, many are on sale right now.  Kohls also carries a huge variety of styles and cuts and I don’t know about you but I must get a promotion in the mail from them every week.

A couple of new T-shirts would make a big difference too.  One or two in a dark blue or black that don’t say “Jack Daniels,” and a couple new white ones because the white get pretty dingy after a year of wearing and goodness knows if you have any kind of beard, after a while the neck looks like the cat chewed it.  Kohls’ “Croft and Barrow” tees wash well, are REALLY reasonable and come in just the right classy colors.   My man has a slew of them and loves them.   Pick up a dark sport coat and throw that over the whole thing and you’re a rock star.

And as Dad said when he handed you the car keys, “Get a haircut!”

Tees:  http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-926718/croft-barrow-easy-care-ribbed-tee-men.jsp?color=New%20White

http://www.target.com/p/merona-men-s-short-sleeve-ultimate-crew-neck-tee-assorted-colors/-/A-14387735#prodSlot=medium_1_12

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Oy-Cashmere

I’m going to apologize right up front here for any misspellings, grammatical errors or general goof-ups. I’m writing this on my iPad and being a student of the old-fashioned touch typing that Mrs. Bilecki taught us in high school, this hunt and peck nonsense is a kind of torture. BUT…I’m in Italy and it turns out that the remote little countryside inn in which we are staying is not that remote. It’s right near an Italian cashmere outlet!  Bravisimo!!  Can you believe it?  Not only am I eating great food, drinking fabulous  wine and looking at exquisite scenery, I’m in sweater-heaven!  And cashmere is something I know about.

Gilda Radner, rest her soul, once said that her fashion sense was based on what doesn’t itch. I can totally relate to this because I’m one of those people for whom the word “angora” is a threat.  Mohair, forget it. Even “virgin” wool can mean a day of endless scratching. So I have found that cashmere tends to be the best bet for me when it comes to winter warmth and style. However, not all cashmere is alike and it can be expensive.   Just because the label has the C-word it doesn’t guarantee that it will be itch-free.   The country of origin is often a good clue.  China makes some inexpensive cashmere that can be quite nice. I actually bought a bunch of cardigans that Isaac Mizrahi did for Target a few years back that were lovely and very soft and unbelievably reasonable, but it varies.  Sometimes you get what you pay for. That said, many large department stores, because of their size, are able to supply cashmere sweaters from China under their private labels for less than you’d pay for a regular old Merino from Banana Republic.  Nordstrom’s “Halogen” is just such a brand.  Likewise “C by Bloomingdale’s.”.  They work just fine for a season or two or even three if you store them with mothballs.  But don’t expect the sweater of a lifetime.

Scotland is a good bet for cashmere (think of all those sheep on the heathered hillsides) but you’ll pay for hip style.  Pringle, the best known Scottish knitwear vendor, tends to be fairly conservative style-wise, but the quality of the knit is indisputable.  It’s always best to let your fingers do the walking. And your neck. I hold a garment up to my neck for several minutes to judge the itch factor.  I’ve had very good luck with a British company called Pure Collection. They frequently have sales through their catalogue and the quality is very nice.  The same with Boden, which may even be the same company.  Again, watch their website as they always have promotions.  I like to stock up on bright colors. With a white tee and black pants, it’s basically my winter uniform.

In the meantime, I’m on my way to the Italian cashmere outlet.  Can’t travel without bringing home a souvenir, si?

Ciao bella!

http://www.purecollection.com

http://www.bodenusa.com

http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/halogen-v-neck-cashmere-sweater-regular-petite/3603647?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=2375500&fashionColor=Blue+Mazarine&resultback=1314&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-searchresults-_-1_4_C

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It’s in the Bag

My first trip abroad was at age 18 months.  In those days there were no jumbo jets.  No wide bodied behemoths equipped with movies, phones and internet.  Those were the days of plain ol’ planes with the propeller going round.  My brother, ever sensitive to loud noises, asked the flight attendant (then known as a stewardess) if the noise would continue “all the way across” meaning, to the other side of the Atlantic.

“I hope so,” was her response.

Back then no one carried actual luggage on board and the overhead bins were merely mesh netting like a hammock, suitable for coats and handbags, and apparently babies, as, according to family lore, that is where my mother stowed me.  I slept aloft the entire trip and no one chided her for child abuse.  My early bonding with the overhead bin must account for my need to travel light and as I pack for two weeks in Italy, I’m determined to take one twenty inch bag.

My scheme is this: I stick to one color story, usually black and white, with a dash (notice I did not say “pop” because, really, aren’t you just sick to death of that phrase?) of color.  This is a great way to pack for anywhere in Europe if you want to be chic, feel great and not look like you just got off the Greyhound.  And since I’m going to Italy, “bella figura”* is most important.  See note below.

In Italy, as in a lot of Europe, women are more commonly seen in skirts in the summertime and early fall.  Only the American tourists are sporting shorts and as the saying goes, when in Rome…  All you really need to look chic is black, black or black so I’m taking two black skirts; one a swingy, cotton knit and the other a simple, woven A-line.  Both machine washable.  One pair of black slacks (also washable) and a pair of black Capri leggings.  Several white and black tees of varying styles; sleeveless for warmer days, regular short sleeve crewnecks, and a couple of longer tunic-types to wear with the leggings for lounging around.  For a little color I take a coral tee and a black and tan stripe.  Two cardigans, one black and one coral and a lightweight anorak for warmth and/or rain (mine happens to be purple), my swimsuit (also black) and a cover-up that can double as a tunic with the leggings.  For a night out I can dress up the black skirts and tees with a gold chain belt or a statement necklace.

Now I suppose if you are doing some heavy duty hiking or biking you need some more durable casual wear.  But I have found that for general sightseeing, eating and drinking in the local culture, I fit in like a sponge.  I’ll travel in the leggings, one of the cotton tunics and the anorak, and I pack a bright red pashmina in the outer pocket of my bag because I’m always freezing on the plane and, call me neurotic (you wouldn’t be the first), but if I’m not breaking the seal on a fresh airplane blankie I prefer to leave it in the bin from whence it came.  Know what I mean?

Footwear consists of a pair of Tod’s flats that are really comfortable for walking and look good with pants or skirts and a VERY comfortable pair of black patent ballet flats.  Born makes some that look really great and are SO easy on the feet they can double as slippers.  A second pair in gold for evenings out, if I’ll be walking, and a pair of very low heeled black pumps if I’ll be dancing.  For serious schlepping around, I take a pair of sneaks, and flip flops for the pool.

I love a small cross body bag I picked up at the Coach outlet.  The strap comes off so I can wear it as a clutch for evening and, stuffed with underwear and packed in my suitcase, I can board with just one big carry-on as my handbag.  Voila!

Scuzzi.  “Ecco la! La bella figura!”

*La bella figura, literally “the beautiful figure”, is an essential philosophy that rules the lives of gli Italiani.  Bella figura can mean many things, but at its core is presentation…how one looks, how one comports oneself, how one makes the best possible impression in all things. Beauty is revered in Italy, whether expressed grandly through art and architecture, or more simply by the perfect cut of a suit.  Bella figura goes well beyond image, visual beauty and presentation…it also is defined by behavior: knowing how to properly and graciously interact with others in any social or public situation. Exhibiting good manners, tact and gentility is an essential component of “cutting a beautiful figure”.  –EyeItalia

Shoes:  http://www.dsw.com/shoe/tod%27s+metallic+leather+ballet+flat?prodId=279976&category=dsw12cat2010006&activeCats=dsw10cat130006,dsw12cat810002,dsw12cat2010006

http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/tods-bow-ballet-flat/3543110?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=0&fashionColor=&resultback=90&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-searchresults-_-1_2_B

http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/born-riley-flat/3297875?origin=PredictiveSearch-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=2375500&fashionColor=Black+Patent&resultback=545&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-searchresults-_-1_2_Bj

Anorak:  http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/rainforest-packable-roll-sleeve-anorak/3544208?origin=category-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=0&fashionColor=Flame&resultback=3545&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-browseresults-_-1_10_A

http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/ali-ro-short-sleeve-anorak-regular-petite/3274455?origin=category-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=0&fashionColor=Grenada&resultback=4000&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-browseresults-_-1_11_A

Skirt:  http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=35288&vid=1&pid=428024002

http://www.bodenusa.com/en-US/Womens-Skirts/A-line-Full-Skirts/WG495/Womens-Ponte-Skater-Skirt.html?NavGroupID=13

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Go For the Gold

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Bracelets from Nordstrom

It was recently announced that Tokyo would be hosting the 2020 Olympic Games.  When I heard this on the news the other night I regarded it as my personal invitation to bypass the bronze and the silver and to go for the gold.

Gold is back.  I’ve actually been saying this for a while (ask my niece — I’ve been telling her on a daily basis), but no one seemed to want to take me seriously.  Now every catalogue, magazine and fashion story is showing gold.  There was a time when yellow gold was the metal of choice, considered to be the look of “real” jewelry.  Even men were wearing a lot of gold.  The chains, the bracelets, the rings until it became a parody of itself and nobody would go near it.  Then, with the nineties, white gold, platinum and silver seemed to take over with no letting go.  More restraint seemed appropriate and the showy, not-so-mellow yellow was out.

But big ol’ King Midas, Golden-Goose-gold is back and I’m amazed at how it’s giving a new oomph to some outfits I’ve had around for a while.  That’s not to say I’ve given up my silvery obsessions but I’m wearing both, sometimes at the same time!   Gold bangles, gold links, gold hardware on handbags, gold shoes; it’s the Gilded Age, for god sake.  While I usually feature one metal at a time, I also like to mix it up depending on what I’m wearing.  The simpler the ensemble the more opportunity for accessorizing.  And no being skimpy.  If I’m going for the gold I’m going to give it an Olympic effort.  Big, chunky gold is very retro-chic with black, or better yet, black and animal print, which is also big for fall.  I recently bought a gold link bracelet with black leather trim and I’ve been wearing it constantly.  As a side note, leather is showing up a lot in little double wrapped belt-like bracelets and as trim on garments like dresses, sweaters and pants.

As temperatures drop and the weather gets cooler, gold seems to provide a little warmth.  And for those of us past the midpoint of middle age, gold can bring a glow to the face that just can’t be achieved with silver.  Another big trend this fall is “rose gold” which is even better for us in the older crowd.  It’s to jewelry what a pink bulb is to a lamp.  In other words, an instant facelift.   I found a great little rose gold bracelet on line at Target that is such a bargain I won’t care if it’s a one-season statement.

So RUN right upstairs and dig out those old ball earrings, charm bracelets and bangles that have been languishing in your drawer with the expired gym membership card and the few leftover pesos from that trip to Mexico.  You’ve just started training for the gold!

Necklaces:  http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/nordstrom-curb-link-collar-necklace/3547964?origin=category-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=0&fashionColor=GOLD&resultback=818&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-browseresults-_-1_3_B

http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=33412&pid=685630&vid=1&scid=685630022

Bracelets: http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=33416&vid=1&pid=685627002

http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/tory-burch-double-wrap-logo-bracelet/3211107?origin=category-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=0&fashionColor=&resultback=3272&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-browseresults-_-1_9_C

http://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/jewelry/bracelets/PRDOVR~07355/07355.jsp

Bulbs:  http://www.lampsplus.com/products/ge-2-pack-100-watt-soft-pink-light-bulbs__91007.html

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Get Packing

Going on a trip?  I am.  And my packing routine borders on religious ritual.  I start about a week before my journey, laying out my outfits, deciding what to take.  I have a pretty religious observance for all that too but as far as getting it into the suitcase, that’s the easy part.

Many years ago I knew someone who trained to be a flight attendant.  In those days the airlines had plenty of time to teach the crew how to pack a suitcase because they weren’t spending time teaching them what to do when someone has a bomb in their underwear.  Having been carefully tutored in the airline-favored method of packing, I have used it ever since and found it to be, not only efficient, but practically guaranteed to allow my clothes to come out of the bag looking like they did before they went in, which is to say, ready to wear someplace other than to bed.  And by the by, this method works for women AND men.

The first trick is I pack shoes first.  If you put socks and/or hose in the toes, shoes keep their shape and it saves valuable space later.  I always put my shoes in shoe bags, mostly to protect my clothes, but it also helps to keep them compact.  Many better-made shoes now come with their own cloth bag, but if you don’t have any of those, a small plastic will do.  I’ve used about a million from “Ricky’s” in New York after I’ve bought shampoo.  Then I fill in the gaps with other hard or odd shaped things like my cosmetics, my toiletries, a couple large bangle bracelets, my travel hairdryer.  No travel hairdryer?  For me this is a must.  Although most hotels now provide them, I generally take my own since I know it won’t blast my hair into a Don King do in ten seconds.  Brookstone has one that’s great.  The Travel Smart by Conair is also really good and less money.  Both are dual voltage for here or abroad.

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Then in the little spaces that are left I stuff in my underwear so that the result is a completely filled, and now level “shelf.”  Then it’s time for my clothes.  Forget the rolling up nonsense.  I’ve never found that to work unless you want to walk around looking like you’re wearing a sleeping bag.  I make a first layer with things like a lightweight, short bathrobe, a slip, swimsuit, maybe pajamas.  Then, if I have pants I lay them across the bag so they are unfolded and hanging over each side.

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I put my shirts and sweaters in on top and then fold the ends of the pants over them.  The tops make a cushion that the pants (or skirts for that matter) fold around to prevent wrinkles.

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If I have a dress to pack and there’s no removable suit bag or hanging system within the case, I keep it in the plastic bag minus the hanger and gently fold it on itself accordion style.  I left the plastic off in these pictures; the better to illustrate.

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Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom.

Needless to say, it’s smart to unpack at your destination as soon as you can.  I like to use drawers if they are available so I can see what I brought.

And what exactly am I packing for this trip?  Stay tuned!

Hairdryer:  http://www.brookstone.com/travel-hair-dryers-ionic-1875-watts?bkiid=SearchResults|CategoryProductList|360552p

http://www.amazon.com/Travel-Smart-Conair-1875-Watt-Voltage/dp/B002B8VE4U/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1378662466&sr=8-2&keywords=travel+hairdryer

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Seasoning

Ahhh, September.  With Labor Day come and gone early this year, the summer seems to be officially over.  Even though many of us are still experiencing warm weather, look-wise, it’s fall.  Oh I know every year the fashion industry tries to tell us that you can wear white after Labor Day.  They trot out the white jeans with the blue blazer or sweater, the white skirt topped with some horrible combination that looks like the model went to the Barney’s Warehouse Sale (if you haven’t been, there are no dressing rooms) and tried everything on all at once.  But the truth of the matter is, once you’ve roasted that last Labor Day marshmallow, white looks stupid.  It just seems out of place.  Maybe it’s an old habit but there’s a reason mom said to put away the white handbag.  (If I was also wearing white shoes at the time she told me to go upstairs and change IMMEDIATELY).  September is transition time, which can be tricky fashion-wise.  It’s too warm for winter sweaters but the blue and white stripes and little eyelet tops just seem too summery.  If you live in a place that’s warm all year round this is not such an issue for you, although even in Florida and California summer is still summer and let’s face it, if you Floridians are wearing the same thing every season why are there so many shopping malls down there?  ‘Nuff said.

Once September comes where I live, and a little color starts to show on the trees, I pack up my summery things and put them away in the attic.  Granted, I do it in stages.  First, all the white shorts and pants and summer prints.  Then the nautical stuff; the red-white and blue, the stripes, the sailor collar.  After that, the weather dictates a lot, but there are a few items that carry over and always work when I’m not exactly feeling the summer thing but I’m not ready to commit to fall.  A denim skirt makes the transition nicely and a jean jacket is a staple.  It goes with absolutely everything from black pants to a little dress or over a skirt and tee shirt.  Everything, of course, except jeans and the denim skirt.  Remember, one denim item to a customer.  Then there are the cotton cardigans I carry around all summer because invariably the air conditioning in restaurants is set on “meat locker.”  Several of those in olive, eggplant, navy and coral make the cut and transition easily to fall.   This year I bought a pair of Eileen Fisher slim ankle pants in a sort of crepe fabric (those of you who are her regular customers are probably familiar, but it was new to me).  It’s light enough for the warmer temperatures of September but in black they look chic and seasonal.  And of course there are the leggings I’ve talked so much about.  Throw those on with a long (repeat LONG) top or tunic and it isn’t summer, it isn’t fall, it’s sassy and September-y.

I put away some of my sandals this time of year too.  On a really hot day they’re fine, but ballet flats are still cool and…well, cool!  And they feel fresh, like it’s a new season, which it is.

Pants:

http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/eileen-fisher-straight-leg-crepe-pants/2829980?origin=PredictiveSearch-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=2375500&fashionColor=&resultback=363&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-searchresults-_-1_1_D

http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/eileen-fisher-slim-ankle-pants-regular-petite/3218722?origin=PredictiveSearch-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=2375500&fashionColor=Graphite&resultback=4545&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-searchresults-_-1_12_B

Jackets:

http://www.target.com/p/mossimo-supply-co-longsleeve-denim-jacket-assorted-colors/-/A-14603118#prodSlot=medium_1_7&term=denim+jacket

http://www.jcrew.com/womens_feature/NewArrivals/blazersouterwear/PRDOVR~04361/ENE~1+2+3+22+4294967294+20~~~0~15~all~mode+matchallany~~~~~denim%20jacket/04361.jsp?isSaleItem=false

Skirt:

http://www.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=5727&vid=1&pid=364622002

p.s.

She’s Got a Look…

Karen M. sent me this picture of her stylish leggings ensemble.  Even the dogs had to sit up and take notice.

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Pants Full of Skin

Way back a million years ago when I was in the rock n’ roll business, a friend of mine wrote a song on which I sang some backup.  It was called “Pants Full of Skin.”  “Ahhhhhh—vvvvvv gahhhhhht PANTS full of skinnnnnn…”  These days I believe I could write a follow up to this song called “Leggings Are Not Pants.”  I don’t know about you but I’m seeing WAY too many pants full of skin.  Not just full.  Bursting.  And it’s mostly because leggings are not pants!  I’m not talking about the little Capri leggings we wear under a tunic or dress that can slim the leg and keep you warm in the winter as well as provide nice transition attire in spring and fall, or the skinny pants that are narrow all the way down.  And of course I don’t mean the bicycle/yoga/exercise shorts one wears for bicycle/yoga/exercise.  I’m talking about leggings.  Worn as pants.  To me, unless a top falls to below the butt there is just too much of the backside showing.  And don’t even get me started about the front side.  Do we really need to see it in that much detail?

I like leggings.  I own quite a few pairs of them.  I think they look swell under a long sweater or jacket, tunic or shirt that comes to the top or middle of the thigh.  With a pair of boots it can be a great look and a comfortable way to travel, shop, lounge at home, what have you.  But what I don’t understand is leggings instead of pants.  Leggings are not pants.  Have I said that already?  Even on the young women out there, and may I just say that living near a college town I see a LOT of them, who are reed thin, model material.  It still looks like they forgot something.  Oh yeah.  Their pants.  To say nothing of those with more ample trunk space.  I don’t care how cute your loved one thinks your booty is, we don’t need to check your luggage.

Worse yet, leggings come in different thicknesses which means coverage can vary.  Have you ever put on a pair of tights or leggings and then gotten a surprise when you got outside in the sunshine?  They don’t always look as dark and opaque as they did in the bedroom at six a.m. with the light off.  I’m just sayin’.

Still want to wear leggings?  I’m all for it.  Get a pair of ballet flats or those uber-hip motorcycle boots they’re showing so much of everywhere lately.  Top them with a tunic, belted or un.  For a nice long, lean, look choose a top to match the leggings.  Black is always my favorite.  Comfy but chic.

Hey, what a great idea for a song.  “Comfy, comfy, but chic…”

http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/bp-essential-leggings-juniors/3230935?origin=keywordsearch-personalizedsort&contextualcategoryid=2375500&fashionColor=&resultback=2727&cm_sp=personalizedsort-_-searchresults-_-1_7_A

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