Tag Archives: fashion

Pajama Game


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  Has the effort to be comfortable completely superseded basic human dignity?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.


September 25, 2013 · 5:09 pm


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.










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…”



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Through the Looking Glass

I’m just putting away my power drill after installing a full length mirror inside the closet door of my guest room.  It occurred to me that when someone stays with us the only mirror is over the sink in the bathroom which makes it near impossible to check one’s total look.  And let’s face it; the world sees you from head to toe, not just waist up.  Whenever I go out of town to direct a production, one of the first things I do, if the place I’m staying in doesn’t already provide it, is to run down to the local Target and buy a long mirror.  They’re usually only about six dollars and then I just leave it for the next occupant.  I find this is essential, not just from a fashion standpoint but from a practical one as well.  It’s pretty difficult to see what’s hanging down in the back without a full length mirror.  Any singer or director who has arrived at a corporate apartment and seen a long mirror propped up against the wall very likely has gotten a little gift from yours truly.

I’m reminded of the time, many years ago, when I was in an awful production of “Antigone.”  I was playing the role of the Queen Eurydice and, unbeknownst to me, I made my entrance on stage with a bra hooked onto the back of my gown.  You heard me.  Clearly I had neglected to look in the full length mirror before going on.  The only positive thing I can say about this experience is that it provided my colleagues with plenty of backstage hysterics in an otherwise tedious and regrettable show.  Moral of that story; not only GET a look but TAKE a look.  Yikes.

I was incredulous to learn the other day that one of my better dressed friends only installed a full length mirror in her home for the first time this week!  “How the heck do you see the full view,” I asked her.

“I stand on the edge of the tub and then I crouch to see myself in the little mirror over the sink.”

Are you kidding me?  This would be dangerous under any circumstances but forget about being dressed up and in high heels.  Good lord, that’s a disaster waiting to happen.  Not to mention the fact that all your clothes look like they were tailored for Quasimodo.

You get my point.

I find I need to see the whole outfit.  Many times I’ve taken off an unneeded bracelet, snipped a thread hanging from a hem, changed my underwear (visible panty line, you know—I could write a whole column on undergarments) or simply decided something was too short/young/dated/worn out/out of season, just by taking that last look in the full length.  Think of the long mirror as your cheerleader, your rescuer from embarrassment, your editor, your friend.

It can be an eye opener.


“My Queen, why are you crying?”
“I didn’t look in the long mirror and I have a bra hanging off the back of my dress!!!!”


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Wedding Bell Blues, Greens and Other Colors

On a lovely dinner cruise down the Connecticut River last night I was talking with a friend about her son’s upcoming wedding.  Naturally, my first question was “What are you wearing?”

“Well, that’s tricky,” she said “because I can’t wear the same color as the bridesmaids.”  Huh??!!  Wait a second.  Rewind.  Have I been to so few weddings in the past twenty years that I don’t know what’s going on?  Where have I been?  When did this happen?  It used to be that the whole point was to find a dress that was the same color AS the bridesmaids.  To find something in the color scheme of the wedding party, as it is known (at least last I heard).  I can remember vividly my mother shopping for dresses for each of my brothers’ weddings.  The first was a shade of light blue.  All the bridesmaids wore the same dress and the mother of the bride, as well as the mother of the groom wore the same color.  By the time my second brother got married I thought it was ingenious that the bride decided that each bridesmaid could wear a dress of her own choosing, as long as it was yellow.  This was particularly good planning since I was only fourteen at the time, and the oldest attendant was a married woman well into her twenties.  But still the mothers wore yellow.  At my own son’s wedding the color was ivory (my suggestion, btw) and the bridesmaids, the mothers and, yes, the bride all wore the same shade.  It was quite stunning.  Truly.

Of course this can backfire, as when my niece was married and the groom’s grandmother was instructed to wear green.  Now I grant you if there is one color that has a broad range it’s green, but indeed Bubbie showed up in a green dress, green hat, green hose, green shoes, green bag.  Get the picture?  As Kermit once said, “It’s not easy being green.”  When she walked down the aisle it might as well have been the Yellow Brick Road.

And I’m so glad the wedding-party-in-black thing is finally over.  Nothing like starting a marriage off on the bright side.

I suppose it was only natural that conformity in a wedding would fall by the wayside.  There are so many possibilities out there now.  The fact that a national retailer like J.Crew can supply bridesmaids with attire in a multitude of colors and styles with just a click of the mouse is mind boggling for those of us who can remember being a bridesmaid and suffering through the fittings and discomfort of the custom made gown that in no way belonged on a human body.  Not to mention the expense.  But where does that leave the mothers?  I guess the best policy is to honor the wishes of the bride.  Some prefer everything to match.  Others do not.  But don’t fret, moms, and sisters, for that matter.  There is an amazing array of wedding clothes available on line.  Nordstrom’s, as well as Neiman Marcus have on line departments devoted just to wedding attire, and although some of the Mother-of-the-Bride styles look like, well…MOB, it’s a good place to start for selection and color.  They also carry dresses suitable for bridesmaids and best of all, a wide range of wedding dresses, from high end to very moderate, short and long.  And with their return policy it’s a boon to those of us in the boonies without ready access to Saks Fifth Avenue Bridal Salon (this is to a bride what a spa day is to the body) or the like.  Speaking of which, Saks and Neiman Marcus on line regularly have dresses on sale and if you go to their “Cocktail,” “Evening Gown,” “Mother of the Bride” or “Date Night” or even just their “Sale” links you’d be surprised at how reasonably you can find a beautiful and classy dress.

But whatever you get, make sure it’s comfortable and fits well.   The last thing you want to be doing on the big day is worrying about what’s riding up, falling down, itching, binding, chafing, wrinkling, because believe me, it’ll show on your face when you get the pictures back.

And Mazel Tov (that means “Good Luck”) to you and the happy couple!


The happy (and comfortable) Mother-of-the-Groom


Nordstrom’s  http://shop.nordstrom.com/c/wedding-shop?origin=leftnav

Neiman Marcus http://www.neimanmarcus.com/category.jsp?itemId=cat10040734&parentId=cat42300744&masterId=cat000001&fromDrawer=true

J.Crew  http://www.jcrew.com/wedding.jsp

Saks  http://www.saksfifthavenue.com/Women-s-Apparel/Dresses/shop/_/N-52flor/Ne-6lvnb5?FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=2534374306418048&bmUID=k2wesR7&SECSLOT=LN-Dresses

p.s. I’ve been asked by some readers to supply the links to some of the vendors and sites I mention, so I’ve gone back and done so on previous posts.

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To A Tee

Are you, like me, on a constant quest for the perfect white tee shirt?  I swear that if I had a dollar for every minute I’ve spent on line shopping for white tees I could open a factory and make my own.  Not that there is a dearth of white tee shirts available.  There are thousands.  Every retailer has several on offer so what’s the big deal?  I’ll tell you.  There is something about a tee shirt that has to be just so.  The fit, the length of the sleeve, the neck, the fiber content, the denier (that’s the weight of the fiber content) the cut, the length.  Am I right?  If it’s too short it looks like a box.  If it’s too long it looks like your daddy’s undershirt and forget about tucking it into a skirt (notice I didn’t say anything about tucking it into your pants.  Don’t.).  If it’s too baggy it’s unattractive.  If it’s too tight it’s uncomfortable and not too classy, I might add. Then there is the question of whether it’s a tee shirt to wear by itself (thicker) or under a sweater (a little thinner), short sleeve, ¾ sleeve, long sleeve, V-neck, crewneck, ballet neck, scoop neck… This is an ongoing search because a white tee doesn’t last more than a season or two at most.  They stretch out, they lose their shape, the armpits turn yellowish, but mostly they get that dingy look and that’s when you know it’s time to polish your furniture with it.

Lately, when I find a tee shirt I really like, I’ve gotten into the practice of buying in bulk and stock piling them in the attic.  I dole the precious garments out to myself two at a time—one to wear, one to wash—keeping the others for reserve.  I personally prefer 100% cotton and I’ve found that price point isn’t always a measure of quality.  There’s a wide range out there; some pricey, others very reasonable.  On the high end, Michael Stars makes lovely shirts in different denier weights and amazingly, his one-size-fits-most actually does.   I don’t get it, and maybe larger sizes would not find his shirts as accommodating, but I find they fit very well.  On the other hand, Target, my go-to store for practically everything, has very good quality tee shirts under their “Mossimo Supply Co.” and their “Merona” brands.  They wash well, last a long time and are usually under $10, sometimes on sale for as little as $5.  And the best part, they have no label inside to irritate the back of your neck and drive you nuts.  Buy a bunch and fuggedaboutit.  Banana Republic has a nice one they call their “Timeless Tee” that runs about $22.50, but don’t pay full retail.  They regularly have promos that will give you a percentage off.   J.Crew also has some nice basic tees in their catalogue but I find these tend to look best on me when I’m skinnier.  ‘Nuff said.

So what do you do if you’ve spilled chocolate gelato or coffee down the front, or worse yet, worn it to an Italian restaurant and ordered the spaghetti and meat balls.  You know what I’m talking about.  That one stray strand of spaghetti goes “Thhhwwap” and you have an orange stain on the front that will never come out.  AAARRRGGGHHH.  As soon as I can, I blot it with some hot, hot water, and then shoot it with some Oxi Clean Max Force Laundry Stain Remover spray.  Wash it on the gentle cycle with some Ivory Snow and usually it’ll be good as new.  And as an extra precaution, Shout Pre-wash comes in little individual tear-open packets.  I always carry a couple in my handbag.

Of course, if that doesn’t work, it’s up to the attic for a new one from stock!


Merona Scoop Neck Tee from Target






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Going Undercover

Can I just say I’ve been seeing far too many bra straps lately.  Lingerie straps would be the correct terminology but let’s face it, most of them are bra, B-R-A, bra straps.  Who needs to see that?  I was standing in line at the post office yesterday and a lovely young woman, I’d say in her twenties, came in to mail a package.  She had on a black tank top and black athletic shorts, but that’s a whole other blog post.  Sticking out on both sides of her shoulders were white bra straps.  Now I know this was a look several years ago for about a minute.  But really?  To me this is the easiest way to go from classy to trashy in two seconds.  Or two straps, if you will.  There are so many bra/camisole options out there; racer-back, T-back, convertible strap, Y-back, there is no reason why anyone’s straps need to show.  No one wants to see that, except maybe a Significant Other and that’s private.  There is a reason they call it UNDERwear.

This brings me to the matter of the slip.  Yes, as in “Your slip is showing.”  Or more to the point, “Are you wearing a slip?”  This little garment can make such a difference in one’s look and it seems to have gone out of use lately.  Why?  Skirts and dresses all hang better with a slip.  Even those that are lined benefit from a slip.  It keeps garments cleaner, less wrinkled and protected from mishaps (use your imagination here).  But here’s the key.  If you’re thinking of those horrible tricot nylon deals that ride up in about two seconds so that you have a bunch of hot synthetic around your middle the minute you start walking, you can forget that.  I’m talking about a slip made of a non-cling fabric.  A satin or taffeta-like garment that hangs free, because if it’s going to wind up in a bunch around your middle what’s the point, no?  Such a free-wheeling item can be found.  Farr West makes one and it’s available through Nordstrom’s on line.  Free shipping and free returns so you can hardly go wrong.  And you only need one in a nude shade which I believe they call “Mink.”  If you want to splurge you could get one in Black as well.  They’re not cheap but trust me, these things last a life time.  And you don’t have to wash it after every wearing.  It’s underwear, but not THAT far under.


Dress by Rachel Kurland of Foxglove, slip by Helena Binder

This is your mission, should you choose to accept it.  Go undercover.


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Got A Look?

Welcome to my first blog post and gotalook.com! The great opera singer Maria Callas said that everyone needs to have a “look.”  Here I hope to explore, discuss, relate, vent and generally comment on all matters associated with one’s look.  But not just your look.  Your image.  Because as an image consultant that’s what I do best.  So what’s the difference between an image consultant and a stylist?  A stylist deals strictly with your look; clothes, make-up, hair.  Basically the outside.  An image consultant is called on to address not only how you look but how  you sound, behave, your speech patterns, mannerisms, language,  attire,  posture,  etiquette, interviewing skills and how you FEEL about the way you look.  In other words all things that affect the image you present to the world.  Want some help in this area?  Take a look at my web site http://www.gotalook.com and find out how I can help you feel better about yourself.

Do you have a look?  Get one!

In the meantime, Can I Just Say…

What is it with the cropped pants?  Two words I hate to hear in the same sentence are “cropped” and “pants.”  Really.  Is this a look that’s flattering?  Who came up with this?  No one who has calves, I can tell you that.  It must have been someone whose pants shrank in the wash and instead of sending them to Good Will said “I know.  I’ll wear them anyway and start a new trend that looks really hideous and unflattering.  Oh.  And then, I’ll pair them with some horrible, big round-toed sneakers so that even if I have thin enough legs to maybe pull this off, they’ll look like two toothpicks stuck into a couple of marshmallows.”

Six more inches of pant leg could do so much!  They don’t have to be sitting on the tops of your shoes.  How about stopping at the ankle, which in most cases (not all, unfortunately, but most) is the narrowest part of one’s leg.  Wouldn’t that look great?  Wouldn’t that look chic?  Yes!  Is it so hot out that having six more inches of bare leg is going to keep you cool?  Here’s an idea.  Wear shorts!  Or better yet, a skirt!  Then one has a clear shot of air conditioning all the way up to the hot seat.  And it feels good.  Granted, not everyone has the legs for shorts and it’s true  they won’t be able to stop at a moment’s notice and pull up the stray weeds in the garden, but guaranteed they’ll feel differently.   Walk differently.

And once we’ve ditched those cropped pants (ugh) we can still wear comfortable shoes.  Flats look great with a skirt.

We might even be motivated to put on a pair of…dare I say it…heels!  But that’s for another time.


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