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Pajama Game

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  Has the effort to be comfortable completely superseded basic human dignity?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

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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The New Math: +30=-10

Remember new math?  Don’t ask me how it was any different from old math.  2+2 still equaled 4.  Of course those were the days when the only calculator you carried to school was between your ears.  I think it had more to do with language than numbers.  Phrases like “take away” and “carry over to the…” fell out of fashion.  If you are old enough to remember New Math then I’m proposing a simple equation. And if you are not old enough to remember New Math you can keep reading and save this article because in twenty years you’ll thank me.

I’m finding that two things that age me quicker than you can say “Fallout Shelter” are my eyebrows and teeth.  You thought I was going to say those flappy pieces of skin under the arms.  No.  It’s my eyebrows and teeth.  But I’m finding that in thirty minutes it’s possible to look ten years younger.  All right, maybe not ten.  But at least three.

You may have noticed that as we age our teeth start to yellow.  Take a look at your kids’ teeth.  Unless they haven’t been brushing properly their teeth probably look pretty white and the brightness of their teeth really contributes to that youthful glow.  Now if you’re not smiling you don’t have to bother but at this stage of the game I’d rather keep the laughs coming, wouldn’t you?

And while my teeth are getting yellowish, my eyebrows are getting thinner.  I can remember a time when I looked like a direct descendant of Groucho.  No more.  They’ve definitely thinned out and somehow the tail ends have all but disappeared.  Eyebrows can really make a difference in how your eyes look.  Even more than mascara or eyeliner.  Really.

So with a box of tooth whitening strips and an eyebrow pencil I’ve been brightening my face bing bang boom.  You don’t have to go to the dentist to whiten your teeth.  I love my dentist, but I got just as good results from the drugstore-variety strips.  Crest makes several; “Premium,” “Vivid,” “Advanced Vivid,” “Professional,” “Sensitive.”  I buy the least expensive set of strips, usually 14 in a pack.  Target carries their own brand “Up & Up” and it’s just as good and cheaper.  I stay away from the ones that promise to lighten your teeth in just two days.  The potency in those can be harsh on sensitive teeth and if you’re like me, more than a few days at regular strength and your teeth have more edge than an episode of “The Killing.”  Just thirty minutes for a couple of days can make a difference.  The key is to be sure teeth are dry before putting on the strips.  I take a bath towel and run it over the surface (backside too) and apply.

Then while I’m waiting for the magic to happen, with my handy dandy eyebrow pencil, looking in a magnifying mirror of course, I gently fill in the scribbles on my forehead that used to be eyebrows.  The trick here is to choose a pencil a shade lighter than your actual brows.  MAC makes a really nice self-sharpening one that lasts all day, and for a less expensive option, to keep in my travel kit, I use Maybelline’s Define-A-Brow.  A light touch.  Gentle, gentle feathery strokes will do it and voila!  Hair where there was bare!

By the time the teeth are cooked and my brows are on, I swipe on a little lipstick and I’m good to go.  Easiest math homework ever.

http://www.amazon.com/Crest-Premium-White-Strips-Count/dp/B0001WXTPA

http://www.maccosmetics.com/product/shaded/149/263/Products/Eyes/Brow/Eye-Brows/index.tmpl

*New Math was a brief, dramatic change in the way mathematics was taught in American grade schools, and to a lesser extent in European countries, during the 1960s. The name is commonly given to a set of teaching practices introduced in the U.S. shortly after the Sputnik crisis in order to boost science education and mathematical skill in the population so that the perceived intellectual threat of Soviet engineers, reputedly highly skilled mathematicians, could be met.  -Wikipedia

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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!

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

Links:

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!

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Merona Scoop Neck Tee from Target

http://www.target.com/p/merona-women-s-ultimate-scoop-neck-tee-assorted-colors/-/A-14363791#prodSlot=medium_1_54

http://www.target.com/p/mossimo-supply-co-juniors-v-neck-tee-assorted-colors/-/A-14563875#prodSlot=medium_1_2

http://www.target.com/p/mossimo-supply-co-juniors-scoop-neck-tee-assorted-colors/-/A-14347765#prodSlot=medium_1_3

http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?vid=3&pid=678563102

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Working It Out

I’m often asked if I work out.  “Do you work out?”  “Where do you work out?”  “What do you do to work out?”  To me “work out” is something you do with a math problem.  I just don’t like to exercise.  In fact I hate it.  I’ve tried the treadmill, the stationary bike, the machines, Jazzercise, step class, yoga, Pilates, you-name-it.  I’ve tried them all and I’ve never enjoyed any of it.  I’ve never even liked any of it.  In fact, I’ve hated it.  That’s not to say keeping in shape isn’t important to me.  It’s VERY important to me and I would even have to say a bit of an obsession.  Quite a number of years ago when I was living in Washington, D.C. I looked in the mirror, and seeing the downward mobility that was reflected back at me (I swear those scars used to be up here) I decided it was time to do something.  But since I’m a stage director and often must travel to direct a show I was in a quandary how to address the problem.  When you’re on the road for weeks at a time it’s tough to get a routine going and much easier to let things slide.  Frankly, it’s pretty easy to let ‘em slide at home too.  When you’re on the road there are usually fitness rooms available or gyms nearby of course, but for the reason I’ve already stated I hate to go to them.  What to do? 

My friend Merrill recommended a personal trainer that she said was totally on board with the exercise minimalist so I made an appointment.  Here’s what I said:  “I’m a director, I’m on the road, sometimes for several weeks, I need a fitness routine I can do in my hotel room or apartment that doesn’t take too long and, oh yeah, I hate to exercise.”

“No problem,” says she, “this routine will take you 5 minutes.”

“Wow,” I said, “that sounds perfecto.”  And she proceeded to show me six exercises comprised of squats, lunges, bounces in a lunge, push-ups (did you know that you don’t need to go all the way to the floor to reap the full benefit of a push-up?  Me neither), the plank, and crunches (hands behind the head, elbow to opposite knee).  She told me that these are all a woman needs to do to address every important part of her body.  She was totally validated when I saw an article in the New York Times Magazine in May about a seven minute routine that author Gretchen Reynolds says is all you need to do to stay fit.  There are skeptics out there, I know, but I do see results when I do it consistently and more importantly, I FEEL BETTER.

Now I’m not saying that if you do more you won’t see more results in different areas.  But if you’re like me and the countdown of each exercise is one second less of torture, this is the plan for you.  Mind you, it doesn’t include aerobic exercise which is important for one’s heart and for burning those calories, but I walk in the morning for thirty minutes, briskly to my iPod Shuffle (I find Harry Belafonte singing “Man Smart, Woman Smarter” is great for getting me out of the gate) and the scenery and fresh air are so wonderful here in Vermont it’s not even like exercise.  So it all works out.

p.s.  Someone commented on my last post “Going Undercover” that in my discussion of slips I made no mention of the silk, bias-cut variety or silk charmeuse as it may be called.  Indeed, this is the most luxurious and can be expected to hang well, look great, and feel wonderful.  However, a slip of this sort, though it can be machine washed on the delicate cycle, will require some ironing to maintain its shape.  And I don’t have the time.  I have to do my five minute workout!

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-scientific-7-minute-workout/

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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.

Image

Dress by Rachel Kurland of Foxglove, slip by Helena Binder

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

http://shop.nordstrom.com/sr?origin=keywordsearch&contextualcategoryid=2375500&keyword=farr+west

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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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