Tag Archives: fashion

Championship Shopping

SHOPPING IS NOT A HOBBY,” read the pretentious bumper sticker.

up to 40% off

up to 40% off

That’s true. Shopping is not a hobby. It’s a sport.

Like the Olympics, there are many categories and events. Shoppers with higher incomes excel in Brands, Early Adoption (buy it before it hits the racks), Boutique, Custom, and Couture. Creative divas and penny pinchers make out like bandits in events like I-Got-This-At-Walmart-But-You-Can’t-Tell-Can-You?, DIY, Consignment, Thrift, and Yard Sale.

Me? I specialize in Bargain Hunting New Merchandise, with major wins in the Women’s and Children’s Clothing divisions.

Once I bought a floor-length Ralph Lauren evening gown for $9. Set a personal record. Wore it to my brother’s wedding. Alas, the victory was bittersweet since I got it at Lord & Taylor’s closing sale.

that's me in the $9 evening gown

that’s me in the $9 evening gown

Then there was the time I paid $5 for a wool pea coat for my son. A darling post-season triumph he wore with panache the next winter.

Before the big snow fell this year in Wichitawesome, I snagged a pair of leather and calf-hair, zebra-print gloves at Ann Taylor for $12.

Anything animal print counts as Big Game and earns extra points.

My aptitude is genetic, geographic, and circumstantial. My mother was a Bargainista before Bargainista was cool. I grew up in a textile manufacturing town. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend on clothes. Trained by example, opportunity, and necessity, I have the makings of one of Gladwell’s Outliers.

store full of bargains

store full of bargains

Mom was a pro. At true factory outlets—the kind located in tiny, dimly-lit rooms inside actually factories—she fished out overstocked nightgowns from big cardboard boxes for pennies per pound. She bought me a pair of pants with a small tear at the ankle for $2. Roll up those preppy chinos and no one knows the difference. She waded through piles of Esprit and Liz Claiborne 80 percent off at Dillard’s Clearance.

Full-court bargain shopping may be beneath some women, but that’s where champions are made. Take the Smith & Hawken store in Chicago. Had to reach for it. Bottom of the box. Linen sundress. $16. Nothing but net.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. Impulse buys that were just not right. Like the time I bought a candy pink sweatshirt with “PRINCESS” emblazoned in large, white letters across the front. It cost me less than $10, but I was 34.

“My daughter would love your shirt!” said a neighbor as I pushed my son past her in the stroller on our way to the park. That Sunday I promptly wrapped the sweatshirt in a nondescript, brown paper bag and slipped it to a man at church between praise songs.

“It’s for your 15-year-old,” I whispered. “I hope she enjoys it.”

I brake for designer fashion

I brake for designer fashion

The older I get, the more likely I am to pay full-price for a basic wardrobe piece of superior quality, fit, style, and color. Do the math. A bargain is only a bargain if you wear it. A $100 dress worn 20 times costs less per wear than a $10 dress worn once.

My husband reminds me the cost of my time also needs to figure into the equation. Shopping for sport, especially Bargain Hunting, burns a lot of hours.

But it’s like I tell him, practice makes perfect.

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25 NLT

Madame Onassis got nothing on you.” You Wear It Well by Rod Stewart.

What’s your shopping story?

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Filed under humor, women's studies

Color Theory

Carole Jackson is my hero. She wrote Color Me Beautiful

Had I been born a decade earlier, odds are I’d have bounded into the 80s as a spry 20-something yuppie with color swatches tucked safely under my right elbow. I’d have been ready at a moment’s notice to whip out the swatches and illuminate women to their correct seasonal palette.

fuchsia

fuchsia

In case you don’t know, Color Me Beautiful is the most successful of all color typing books. First published in 1980, Color Me Beautiful is to color analysis what The Godfather is to mobster movies. All subsequent books advising women of their best colors owe their existence to Ms. Jackson’s four seasonal palettes. Depending on the combination of your hair and eye colors and your skin tone, you are either a Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall. The colors that make up your seasonal palette are the colors that look best on you.

Modern fashion advisors (Stacy and Clinton) try to buck the system and deviate from Ms. Jackson’s palettes. They say you can wear any color you want as long as you choose the right shade. This is America; you can wear any color you want. Some colors that aren’t in your seasonal palette may even look good on you. But you and I and Ms. Jackson aren’t interested in good; we want best.

We want to wear the colors that look best on us.

As Paula Reed writes in Style Clinic, “Find out what colors light up your face, bring out the color of your eyes, and flatter your hair and wear them—all the time.” Touché!

Ollie Jean Owen

Ollie Jean Owen

Ms. Jackson and I have been together now for years. My mom picked up a first edition Color Me Beautiful book at a garage sale. Mom was a Bargainista before Bargainistas were cool, but that is another post. Prior to my mom, the book belonged to Ollie Jean Owen. I know this because Ollie signed the inside cover. I wonder if she read the book. Maybe color theory didn’t stick with her or she thought she’d mastered it. For whatever reason, Ollie’s copy landed in the garage sale pile. Little did she know she sold a diamond for a dollar that day. If she’s still around, I hope she’s wearing her palette.

Mom color analyzed me, a teenager, as soon as she acquired the book. I was and still am a Winter. Mine is the only palette that includes pure black and white. Orange is dead to me. My yellow is lemon. My browns are limited to chocolate so dark it looks black (also my favorite flavor at Baskin-Robbins).

Although I’ve known for close to three decades what colors I’m supposed to wear, staying within my palette has been a process. Four short years ago my closet was an overflowing mess. Nothing to Wear? by Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo initiated the detox. It remains my favorite closet purging book. It’s So You! by Mary Sheehan Warren was a godsend, as was I Don’t Have a Thing to Wear by Julie Taggart and Jackie Walker.

paint swatches

pick your palette

Sheehan Warren offered an updated color chart based on Ms. Jackson’s palettes. So did Garza and Lupo in their 2008 book Life in Color. But you know there ain’t nothing like the real thing.

For wardrobe color correction, I returned to Ms. Jackson’s pages.

Today I love and wear every item in my closet, and every one is in my palette. Well, almost every one. I keep a favorite mistake, purchased on a shopping trip to Chicago with my BFF. She’s a Spring. The blouse spoke to me from the rack with its vibrant reddish-orange, stained-glass design. I HAD to have it. So while my fair-faced friend bought two black dresses meant for a Winter like me, I bought a shirt that should be worn by a Spring like her.

With the exception of that blouse, the rest of my closet sings of navy, true red, fuchsia, blue, indigo, emerald, black, and white. It’s been a good year for jewel tones. Ms. Jackson would be proud, and so would my mom.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet. Proverbs 31:21 NIV

My Yellow is also Coldplay with their strange, mesmerizing song.

What’s your best color to wear?
What’s your favorite mistake?

This post marks our 300th. Thank you for reading!

 

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Filed under family & friends, humor, life, women's studies, writing & reading

Swim Noodle Boot Stuffers

winter lace up boots

swim noodle + tall boots = genius

This is Monday, and I said I would be back around mid-week. Monday is not mid-week, but some things are too important to wait to share. Like this quick Pinterest success story. An idea so simple, so ingenious, so must-do.

Swim noodles cut to size and used to stand tall boots at attention! 

Less than five minutes with a bread knife and two worn-out swim noodles resulted in four pairs of boots set upright and ready for winter weather. If only all things in life could be this easy and common sense. Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Pinterest logo

Pinterest success!

This idea came from a Boutique Narelle pin. The author measured the swim noodles, cut with a saw, and vacuumed the edges of her boot stuffers, none of which I had to do because of two magic words: bread knife.

She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth. Proverbs 31:19a The Message

These Boots are Made for Walkin’ by Nancy Sinatra.

What are your Pinterest success stories?
Please include links to your pins!

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Filed under life

For the Love of a Scrunchie

Scrunchie. Fabric covered rubber band. Vintage hair accessory. Friend of the weary and downtrodden, color-treated and conditioned Gen X tresses.

scrunchie leopard print 100 percent silk

scrunchie fierce

“Do they still make those?” said my stylist when I mentioned tying my hair up in a scrunchie for yoga class.

“I don’t know if they still make them,” I said. “But they’re magical.”

My hair stylist is in her twenties. She doesn’t know the power of the scrunchie.

In my hair history, I’ve owned sponge rollers, velcro rollers, hot rollers, steam rollers, curling irons, crimping irons, banana clips, bobby pins, barrettes, crab claws, and an ocean of ponytail elastics. I have not owned a Flowbee, and I’m resisting the urge to buy a flat iron, though my BFF swears by hers. Her flat iron, that is. Not her Flowbee.

scrunchie close up

pair of scrunchies

The scrunchie has staying power.

I’ve saved two from the 90s. I keep them safely stashed behind my collection of plastic, hotel shower caps. Secret weapons of my hair care arsenal.

Scrunchie A is a cotton calico gem from 1992. It boasts a saturated red that glows like rubies. Bought it on clearance at the Gap for $3. (I remember all my significant fashion purchases the way I remember song lyrics.)

I wear it to the pool. The cotton dries fast, and the bright bathing suit colors of this past summer breathed new life into the 20-year-old accessory.

Scrunchie B, my favorite, is a silk-covered leopard print. It’s fierce.

My sister gave it to me in 1995. Little did we know animal prints would become the new neutrals. Thank you, Ballard Designs. Ordinary scrunchies may fall by the wayside along the runway of trends. The leopard scrunchie goes to yoga class.

Don’t get me wrong. I still care about my appearance. I want to be presentable, respectable, approachable. You and I, we have to wear clothes in public, so we might as well put some effort into it. And we need to do something with our crowning glory while it clings to our heads.

But I find, as the decades roll by, there are compromises to be made on the personal catwalk of life. 

good-bye glamour

good-bye glamour

Comfortable shoes instead of stilettos, so the plantar fasciitis doesn’t anger the wicked sciatica. Untucked shirts and higher rise jeans, so I can belly laugh with abandon rather than sucking in my tummy or perpetually donning Spanx to squash the muffin top. Sweat pants worn occasionally even though fashion experts rage against them and the flip-flops.

Best regards, Vogue, GlamourElle, Stacy and Clinton. I’ll keep my scrunchies and wear them when I must. Because to me, they’re the epitome of style: comfortable, confident, magical, fierce.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30 NIV

From 1990, Groove is in the Heart by Deee Lite. Unless you’re wearing a scrunchie. In that case, groove is in the hair.

Do you own a scrunchie or other outdated fashion item you just can’t let go of yet?

 

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Filed under humor, women's studies

Summer Collection: J Crew, a Dress, and a Dog

Desiree, a salesperson at my go-to store, once said of the J Crew design team, “They don’t disappoint.”

Ella dress in porcelain paisley, jcrew.com

She’s spot-on. I mean, look at this dress.

Yes, I borrowed the photo from the J Crew site without asking permission. It’s fair use since I’m commenting on it. But please, Jenna Lyons, charge me with piracy.

Throw me in J Crew jail where I’ll be forced to wear navy blue and white reverse sailor stripes and work in exotic locales like Tanzania, Bali, and New Zealand.

Sentence me to a lifetime of schoolboy blazers, cotton capris with a hint of stretch, and vintage V-neck tees in Byzantine blue, heather graphite, and the perfect shade of bright plum circa spring 2010.

Now about this dress named Ella. Exquisite. Prettiest thing I’ve seen since last month’s J Crew catalog. Oozes summertime when the living is easy.

If you read this blog, you know my dog’s name is Ella. Perhaps Jenna Lyons has been reading this blog, too, and she’s been inspired.

“See that little dog Ella?” I can hear her telling the crew at the Crew. “Who owns a creature of such intelligence, taste, and style? Feel the epistle. Inhabit the epistle. Express the epistle!”

Ella dog in wheaten fur

Voilà. Out comes the Ella dress in porcelain paisley. Named after my dog. And a steal at only… $298?!

Why do you do this to me, Jenna?

How could you design a dress for me at the end of the traditional spring-summer shopping season when my clothing budget is as dry as the sun-scorched earth of Al Gore’s inconvenient truth?

How could you introduce it in May—the month of Mother’s Day gifts, graduations, and summer camp deposits? How could you name it after my dog then price it oh so high above me?

This is one reason J Crew is successful. Besides quality, design, color, and hipness factor, J Crew appeals to those of us in the masses as attainable and out of reach at the same time.

That, and they steal writers’ dogs’ names for their dresses.

A girl’s gotta dream.

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:14 NIV

Tempted by Squeeze.

How do you keep your idols at bay?

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Filed under humor, women's studies

Going Cowgirl Couture

Celeste Settrini

Today I’m honored that an everyday epistle post is being featured on The Couture Cowgirl.

Celeste Settrini, the site’s creator, is blessed with a positive outlook and energy for life.

She is the founder and president of Couture Cowgirl Communications and fashion editor of Equestre Magazine.

You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @couturecowgirl7. Or catch her on Rural Route Radio with Trent Loos hosting Fashion Friday.

Or speaking to school children in San Francisco and business people in Sacramento about farming. Or leading the charge as a past president of California Women for Agriculture. Or working on her family ranch in Salinas.

She’s a busy bee. And I’ll bet she wouldn’t have it any other way.

I hope someday when I meet Celeste in person she’ll show me the ropes of being a real cowgirl. But first I need her advice on a good pair of gorgeous cowgirl boots!

Now mosey on over to The Couture Cowgirl, meet my friend Celeste, and read about my favorite fashion strategy in Many Happy Returns.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT

Speaking of fashion, have a slice of Cake with a Short Skirt and a Long Jacket.

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Filed under blogging, family & friends, women's studies

Many Happy Returns

Returns. The ability to take things back. Don’t know how I would shop otherwise.

Sperry cute

The crazy town that is Macy’s during a shoe sale is no place to make a decision. It’s grab and go. Four pairs snagged at the pre-sale this past Saturday should be on their way to me from Kansas City as you read this.

Will I keep all four? Probably not. I don’t need them all. But I couldn’t decide in the store.

They all fit. All comfortable. All on sale. All gorgeous. If I left them in Macy’s unspoken for, I risked losing them to another suitor.

Remember The Limited’s old return policy? No sale is ever final. Those were the days.

Now you have to watch and make sure you don’t overstay the time limit. Sixty days are standard for generous stores and online orders. Thirty at the trendsetters. And always, always, keep your receipts.

put me in, Coach

My method is three-pronged. Try on once I get home. Make a decision as soon as possible. Return upon deciding. Not a moment to lose. While there is still time for the credit to hit my charge card’s current billing cycle.

From the pages of their books and blogs, wardrobe consultants urge me to go in with a list. Shop the list. Buy only what’s on the list.

I had a list this past Saturday. Silver sandals, black sandals, other comfortable shoes.

Macy’s, however, did not get a copy of my list when they sent their buyers a-purchasing for spring 2012. Maybe it’s too early in the season for sandals. Maybe comfort is out this year.

Nothing was a perfect fit for my list. Nothing except for the four pairs that fell into the catch-all category other comfortable shoes.

Sam Edelman stripes done right

Buying and returning is not an efficient way to shop. Yet I think the wardrobe consultants would side against efficiency in this case.

They consistently tell me dressing stylishly and within your means takes an effort. It takes time. And it’s worth the investment.

As image consultant Brenda Kinsel writes in Brenda’s Bible: Escape Fashion Hell and Experience Heaven Every Time You Get Dressed, “You’re allowed to change your mind. It’s one of the redemptions you have in life… (p. 42)”

Redemption in shopping and returns.

Sold to the lady wearing the gorgeous shoes.

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to Me,
for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 44:22 NIV

Nu Shooz? I Can’t Wait.

6 days left

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Filed under humor, women's studies