Tag Archives: style

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  Has the effort to be comfortable completely superseded basic human dignity?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

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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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.

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“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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Twelve Steps

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“Hi, my name is Helena and I’m an online shopaholic.”

“Hi Helena.”

“It’s been fourteen hours since my last purchase.  I guess I’m not doing very well.  I’ve tried to quit but a catalogue or coupon will come in the mail and my hands start to shake.  I find I have to rush right to my iPad and before I even know what’s happening I’ve ordered a pair of shoes…”

This is my recurring nightmare.  That I’m up in front of a group of haggard looking people clutching Saks and Neiman Marcus bags and Zappos’ boxes, describing my need to find the next retail fix.  The thing is, I’m actually doing REALLY well.  I don’t want to quit!  I cannot believe some of the fabulous bargains I’ve snagged recently just by spending some time and energy trolling the internet.  I will have a complete and, dare I say, snappy look for fall without ever leaving the second floor of my house.  The world of online shopping has expanded to such an extent, there are few retailers you can’t access from the comfort of your lounge chair.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  This cannot ever replace the sheer pleasure of walking through a beautifully merchandised store.  Of seeing the new collections displayed on mannequins and in groupings while smelling the heady air of perfume samples and cosmetic counters.  My gosh, Nordstrom’s used to employ a pianist to play their Steinway in the middle of the selling floor just in case the fine merchandise and lovely restrooms weren’t enough to entice you to take a stroll around.  No, there is absolutely nothing like the experience of walking into a store, of touching the garments and seeing the array up close and in person.

BUT.  If you are like me and do not have ready access to good retail or are just too busy (who isn’t?) to devote several hours to shopping for great looks, then online is for you.  Plus, it allows you to take advantage of sale incentives that might not be available in a given store on a given day.

Here’s an example of how I work it:  There was a particular bracelet I had seen on the Banana Republic web site.  But I did not want to pay $45 plus $7 shipping for a fashion jewelry item.  Each day I checked in with the BR site, which, with an iPad or iPhone takes two seconds, and eventually there was an offer for 30% off all full price items.  Woo-hoo!  Here’s my big chance.  Now if you have a BR “Luxe” card you’re entitled to free shipping all the time and you earn back “rewards” points every time you shop, which in my case is regularly.  So let’s see; the bracelet was $45 plus $7 shipping, or $52.  With my Luxe card I get free shipping and with the 30% off that made it $31.50.   I had earned enough rewards points for a $30 rewards coupon.  That made the total for my order $1.50.  I paid a buck fifty for the bracelet!  HOW CAN YOU BEAT THAT??!

Sometimes it’s just a matter of paying attention.  Shopping on line for a dress for the opening of a new production, I scrolled through Saks.com until I found the perfect one.  Saks Fifth Avenue often offers free shipping so there was no harm in ordering it and trying it on at home where it fit perfectly!  It was a Pink Tartan (that’s the designer, not the fabric) on sale for 40% off because they only had one and it was a size 2.  But after a few days I started thinking that the sale price was still kind of high so I sent it back.  No sooner had I dropped the box off at my local post office when I was seized with remorse.  It was so perfect for me, fit so well, so nicely made, blah blah and blah.  So for the next couple of weeks everyday I searched the site for “Pink Tartan” until finally in the sale section it came back—my dress, size 2, now 70% off.  I bought it again, of course.  But for much less!

Okay, I know you’re tired of hearing my shopping exploits.  Let’s just say that with a little sleuthing, coupon saving and catalogue perusing you can put together a wardrobe without spending a fortune.  My main rules are:  1) don’t ever pay for shipping.  2) Don’t be afraid to return an item and try again for another size or color.   Most online retailers make it really easy to return with prepaid labels or labels you can print out.  3) If at all possible, buy from vendors who provide free returns or from those who have a brick and mortar store you can get to if you need to return an item, and 3) always wait until there’s an offer for some percentage off, because there always will be.

Meantime I suppose I can get on the wagon.  Does this one stop at the mall?

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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!

Image

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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