While we are temporarily living in New Hampshire, aka L.L. Bean Land, aka Land of Performance Fleece, I find myself further away from current fashion than I think I've ever been before.  I've never lived in such a small town (we don't even have a stop light!) and the nearest slightly-large city is about 90 minutes away.  Not a drive I need to make often.

But living in the woods here sure doesn't stop me from perusing the latest fun styles so lets take a look at this autumn's trends according to InStyle magazine.  Those we might want to embrace and those we should evade.

(All images in this post from Instyle.com unless otherwise noted.)

The Lovelies

PictureL.K. Bennet navy coat
Elegant Minimalism

An obvious yes. 

Clean, simple lines and solid colors never go out of style.

They are the basis of every good wardrobe.

PictureQ Mack plaid shirt
Plaid

Definite thumbs up.  It's also timeless.

I'm a huge fan of plaid BUT make sure you don't turn lumberjack.  A shirt should be on the slim fitted side, not baggy flannel.

A lightweight plaid shirt is good all year round and a great layering piece.

If you're eager but nervous to incorporate some plaid, I suggest starting with the shoes. Search for something along the gorgeous lines of these Manolos. Sigh...
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Manolo Blahnik plaid pumps
PictureAsos Skirt
Rich Opulence

As Stacy and Clinton always advise, when you're building an outfit think, "Color. Pattern. Texture. Shine."

These embroidered, jeweled, textured, patterned pieces do a lot of the work for you. And, once again, timeless. 

Just avoid head to toe or you'll look like a Russian mafia queen.

PictureTorn peplum sweater
Ladylike Curves

Fit-and-Flare is always flattering on women and shouldn't be considered a trend.

Since designers might swing to straight-and-streamlined at some point, I suggest stocking up while these feminine pieces are easy to find.


Sweaters

This probably seems like a "well, duh" addition, but InStyle felt that sweaters in autumn are trendy.  More particularly, sweaters with interesting details, patterns or shapes. 

We're not talking Cosby sweaters, here, think along the lines of the lovely Tommy Hilfiger houndstooth sweater I included in the first image collage.
PictureDiane Von Furstenberg shirtdress
Animal Print

Definite two thumbs up! Simultaneously timeless and fun. 

Even the smallest hint of animal print livens up an outfit.  I love this shirt dress and would pair it with a black or red coat and black leather dress boots.  In summer - red sandals!

If animal print scares you - be brave! Start small, like the flats below.



Picture
VC Signature zebra flats
PictureAlexa dress - from Bodenusa.com
Cobalt Blue

This color is having a major moment right now.  And why not?

It's bright without being obnoxious, extremely versatile and flattering on everyone.

InStyle showcased some nice pieces but I like this dress better.  And the adorable peplum top below.  With a cardigan? So great!


Picture
Anthropologie keyhole peplum top
That's it for now.  We'll check out the rest next time!

 
 
Many modest dressers tell me their worst battles are with formal/evening wear.  And yes - this is definitely one of the most difficult areas to find something fashionable, current, modest, and yet timeless (so that you don't have to buy something new in a few years.)
I offered a few tips here and here.  Today, I have more visual examples for you.  On the Ideeli sample sale site was an evening wear section.  These were two of the featured dresses.
Left Dress = blah, bland, boring color and a terribly frumpy, unflattering length! (Remember, if you're going longer than your knee take it all the way to the tops of your feet!)
Right Dress = standard boring mother-of-the-bride dress that frequently gets passed off as evening wear. 
But further down on the same page was this PATRA beaded kimono sleeve dress.
The beading is a definite step up from the standard satin of the two previous dresses. It's a timeless, flattering shape. The kimono sleeves are interesting and at the same time, very forgiving on less-than-toned upper arms. 

As I mentioned in previous modest formal wear tips, neckline and "kneeline" are of utmost importance.  Two thumbs up here! At 40.25" it's long enough for nearly everyone. (If it's too long, have a tailor take it up at the waist to avoid ruining that beaded border.)  So it's just the shoulders we need to tweak and this dress would be incredibly easy in that regard.  Just a little addition to the underlining that any tailor could pull off in their sleep. Any reasonable sewer as well.
Do NOT try to fill in the full sleeve.  That would make you look like a crazy bat.
While black is a safe and solid choice, I personally love the navy above.  It also comes in a stunning royal blue and lovely blush.
At only $89 (down from $260!) this dress is a steal.  This dress may not be your personal style, but I hope this post gives you an idea of what to look for when searching for evening wear that can be easily made modest.
 
 
Fight The Frump blog has been long overdue for a little freshen up.  Much like our styles, you have to breathe in some new life occasionally.  I've been grabbing a few minutes to work on it here and there. (Luckily, Weebly makes it super easy!) And the majority of updates are now live.  A few more still to come. What do you think?

Something to ponder.  Travel + Leisure magazine recently ranked Salt Lake City Utah as the second worst-dressed city in America.  That's right.  SECOND WORST!

The only city worse? Anchorage.  Where they pretty much have to live 11 months of the year in puffy coats and ski masks.

This site wouldn't exist if I didn't at least partially agree with Travel + Leisure.  Believe me, there are oodles of trends that I am very glad we Utahns don't follow, but we also have a dearth of mom jeans and other sad styles.  According to Travel + Leisure, SLC achieved the less-than flattering ranking because "...there are only so many ways to rock a polo shirt."  Personally, I think it's because of these:
And these...
I climb my coverage-tee soapbox in several posts, if you'd like to rant along.  Starting with How NOT to Wear Coverage Tees.

Let's get off this list, folks!  Can't we all step it up a notch when we're stepping out?
 
 
No, I'm not AWOL.  Merely missing-in-action, since there's been a ton of action on another front.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Mr. Darcy and I are launching a product that we think is seriously cool.  We hope you will as well and since we're now only 4 weeks from the launch date, it's been Crunch Time for a while.

The project is something my husband has been marinating for about 20 years.  When he first told me about it while we were dating, I got excited as well.  The right time to pursue it finally came last year and we both committed to making it happen, which meant that several other things (including much loved hobby blogs) had to take a back seat.  That won't always be the case, but bear with me if posts in the coming weeks are still a bit sporadic.

Today, I thought I'd start showcasing my skinny wardrobe.  Since I had to replace almost my entire wardrobe, many folks have asked about what I bought and how I went about it. So here are the nuts and bolts of it all.
Picture
L: a.n.a Popover top (I got the coral/pink striped one, but there wasn't a picture) R: Anthropologie Jump Seat shirt
  1. Purge vs Tailor: As I dropped sizes (many sizes!) I pulled from my closet those clothes that didn't fit anymore. I was NOT keeping them in the back "in case I got fat again." I sorted the vast majority of them into the Purge pile. Since I'm a health coach for the program I used to lose weight, I sent all those clothes to various clients who needed those sizes. A little gift to help them on their own weight loss journeys.  I kept only irreplaceable favorites in the Tailor pile.  I also kept a few skirts that I knew would be possible to take in 4 to 6 sizes.
  2. Shopping Lists: I keep two lists: a) missing wardrobe staples that need finding, such as "dark jeans, black pants, fitted navy blazer, cocktail dress, etc." and b) wardrobe items I already have, such as "coral dress, black cardigan, black dress, etc." The second list helps me not to repeat buy and also has notes of things I'm looking for to accessorize.  Thanks to my smartphone technology, when I find an item on the first list, I can easily move it to the second and make quick notes as necessary.
  3. Hunt, don't Hurry: I love the thrill of the chase AND I don't like paying full price if I don't have too. I find great satisfaction in finding a fantastic pair of jeans on sale, or stalking sample sale sites for those awesome won't-find-it-anywhere-else deals & steals.  I hate buying something in a rush and regretting it later.
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L: Boden Jersey Top (so flattering!) R: Ann Taylor Loft Cowl Neck top
As I showcase my items I'm grouping them by style, not in the order of how I purchased them.
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L & R: LL Bean Double L elbow sleeve rib knit tees
One of my greatest shopping challenges is deprogramming my brain from the dressing-a-large-body rules I had to follow for so many years.  One of the first steps I took was to purchase a couple of things with horizontal stripes.  It was scary! But I love them.  Hadn't worn horizontal stripes in a good 20 years. I pair the above navy stripe tee with a great white wrap skirt I got at a market in Park City. Love it.
 
 
For very fun reasons that will hopefully be revealed very soon... I blitzed to Chicago over the weekend to attend the International Home + Housewares Show.
In my pre-married.with.kids life, I attended trade shows and conventions regularly but this was by far the largest I've ever visited.  More than 2000 exhibitors and over 60,000 attendees. It was massive.  Much like when Mr. Darcy and I were in Seoul, I walked by hip flexors into oblivion. It was worth it though.
At one point I came around the corner and ran into the Star Fiber booth.  I walked over and proclaimed my love for their mops and asked if they had any of the new scrubbing mop pad heads to give away.  The very nice man running their exhibit told me that if I came back on Monday, they'd have samples. So I did. But my flight home left early and their give-aways hadn't arrived yet. He took my name and address and truthfully, I didn't expect much.  I assumed it would get lost in the shuffle of the mountain of information he undoubtedly collected during the nearly 4-day convention.

Boy, was I wrong!

A big box arrived yesterday afternoon (mind you, I talked with him on Sunday) and it contained NOT the one scrubbing mop pad I was hoping for, but...
  • a new mop handle
  • a new mop head
  • TWO scrubbing mop pads
  • a heavy duty mop pad
  • 4 miracle cleaning cloths
  • 4 donut scrubbies

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Kidlets always love being in the picture. Aren't they so cute?
Below is the mop head and pads.  See the blue stiff on the white pads? Those are stiff and will whisk away anything stuck to the floor.  The yellow pad is the heavy duty pad. I use it wet or dry and it's amazing. It grabs everything. My perfect cleaning solution is a mix of vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

I also learned something new about this mop I have loved for almost 6 years. See the round "buttons" on the mop head? They look like orange slices. If you come across a spot that needs more action than your basic mop stroke to remove - you step on that button and it adds the perfect amount of pressure to get it up. I missed that in the original instructions somewhere. But it makes sense that the buttons weren't just for decoration.
Below are the donut scrubbies.  These are awesome little sponges with the super duper microfiber on one side, and rougher material on the other. You can kind of see the shiny scrubbing material.  These will be well used. Oh my!
Now, you can't swing a toilet brush around without hitting some company hawking their microfiber cleaning products. I've received the odd sample now and then in the mail or at home shows. I've used them. And the only ones that remain in my house are Star Fiber.  The others lose their ability to clean after just a few washes. (And yes, I launder them properly. I don't even buy fabric softener.) They streak badly or fray at the edges or start to stink. Star Fiber never does! I bought my first mop and cloth set at the Salt Lake City home show almost 6 years ago and they are still perfect. 

This is obviously not a paid review.  Star Fiber has absolutely no idea who I am.  They are just a seriously studly company for sending me this awesome package when all I was hoping to score was a sample of the scrubbing mop pad.

Hats off to Star Fiber.  They've got class.
 
 
The random winner of the spring trench jacket is... D'Rae!
Please email me your address. (click the little email button at the top of the side bar)
I hope you love it!

If I don't hear from D'Rae within a week, I'll choose a different winner.
 
 
I'm not sure we're ever going to have a real winter here in Utah.  My Kidlets are bummed because there's not enough snow to play in.  We've only been able to sled twice and build one rather sad-looking, leaf encrusted snowman. 
I still think we'll probably get 40 feet or so in March but since spring fashions are wafting into the stores, I'm going to have a giveaway! 
Hey... I think this is my first EVER giveaway. Fun times!

It's not new, but it sure is special.
It's a delightful, delicious, polka dot pink trench coat from Gallery, size XL. Perfect for size 14/16 and could be tailored down to a 12.

It's very light weight, fully lined, water repellent and machine washable. There isn't a single sign of wear.  It has side pockets and a back vent. Ever so slight padding in the shoulders to keep a nice crisp shape there.  Princess seamed and incredibly flattering. It has a trim fit and the darts and seaming make you look so sleek. 

I shrunk out of this size and planned on having it taken in. But after speaking to a tailor, it wouldn't work.  Can't take it in that far.  I would be crying about giving it away because I utterly love it, but LUCKILY, my mom had also given my smaller sister the same jacket that now fits me fabulously. (Polka dots aren't her style.) So she happily passed it on to me at Christmas and I'm giving this to one of you lucky ladies.

So how do you get it?
1. Leave a comment.
2. Like Image Interpreters on Facebook.
(There's a little Like button on the side bar.)

You'll get one entry for each option and I'll run the giveaway through the weekend then randomly draw a winner.

Please don't enter if you, or someone you want to win it for, is not this size.  It's too good to languish in the back of a closet.

Happy Thursday!

 
 
I could have also titled this post - Always Check The Measurements!
On the ideeli sample sale site last week were some wrap dresses.  This is the teaser dress that was pictured, the one dress shown before you clicked into the details to see the other patterns and colors available. (The front was shown, I've included the back image.)
Being a modest dresser who wants dresses at least to the knee, if I believed this image to be true to size, I wouldn't have clicked further.  It's far too short. 
But I did click in for details. Observe.
Check out the knees! 
I clipped a smidgeon of the white below the actual image to show you how much of her legs were shown.
A tremendous difference from the original teaser image.  The shoulder-to-hem measurement is actually 41 inches! Much longer than the, oh, 30" shown in the teaser shot.  I also confirmed the measurements with customer service.  For me, I would actually have this dressed hemmed up about 3 to 4 inches, depending on how it hangs, to the middle or top of my knee.

Just a reminder to the wise.  When you're shopping online, ALWAYS check the actual measurements.  I couldn't begin to tell you why they would shorten the polka dot dress so much.  Probably the sexy factor, even though the longer length is more appealing to a much wider clientele.
 
 
Carmen asked how I would style my circle skirt besides the black cardigan I pictured it with in the last post. In fact, I don't wear the skirt with the cardigan I pictured anymore. I have a much more fitted, v-neck sweater in a thin, sleek knit that goes perfect with it. The cardigan is too big on me and a little too slouchy.
As I talked about in this Fashion Architecture post about proportion, I need to teeter-totter all the fullness on the bottom. 
  • Fitted tops - I love it with a slim white button down! The perfect showcase for bright necklaces and brooches. (And I'll always roll up the sleeves.) The black and white pattern make it ideal for nearly any solid colored top. Tops with a little whimsy (like the pink top with the bow) are also a nice compliment.
  • Jewelry with some pop - the boldness and volume of the skirt call for the same in the accessories. Delicate necklaces or bracelets would get lost. But nothing too overwhelming either, I myself don't want to get lost in a noisy ensemble.
  • Structured bags - I didn't picture any here, but I'll pair it with structured bags. Slouchy hobo bags with a bohemian feel just don't complement the style.
  • When I make a circle skirt in a solid color, I'll follow these same fit guidelines but add pattern to the top. 
Carmen also asked if I thought it would look good on a short-waisted body type.  I myself am pretty short-waisted, and I have read in various style books that skirts like this won't flatter us but I think they're wrong. I feel it depends more on the thickness of your waist rather than it's height in relation to the ribs.  Pairing a circle skirt with a similarly colored top will keep the line long, as opposed to cutting you in half.
Hope that helps! Thanks for the great question, Carmen!
 
 
Hello friends, fans, lurkers and looky-loos!
It's been... well, it's been a little while since my Thanksgiving post.  I hope everyone had a wonderfully Merry Christmas (We did! Traveled to AZ and the girls did pretty well.), a happy and fun New Year celebration (Thanks to good friends of ours we rocked a living room strobe light dance party!), and is enjoying the new year so far.

I took a little break from blogging so my husband and I could concentrate on a project we've been working on.  I'm so excited to announce it soon! Pins & needles, people. It's seriously awesome.  Until then, however, I have a lot to catch up on.  I went back through my zillion nearly-finished blog posts, and decided to just start somewhere. 

In October I posted about the Circle Skirt Sew-along I participated in.  But I never got around to sharing the actual shots of my skirt.  So that's where my post-holiday return to blogging begins.

Behold - my first circle skirt!

I have adored the retro silhouette of a circle skirt for as long as I can remember. But it wasn't until I lost some serious girth that I could pull it off.  Above, I'm showing it with my red patent leather Brian Atwood peep toes that were my -20 pound reward.

I wanted a winter weight skirt, since it was turning into chilly fall when I made the skirt. I chose a wool-blend houndstooth and it is SERIOUSLY hefty.  It was easy to sew though, because it's not a dense weave, just heavy material, if that makes sense.

As you can see below, the material is reversible, so I used the white "teeth" for the waistband and the black "teeth" for the body of the skirt.
It's perfect with my black dress boots.
It spins and swishes so lover-ly!
All these photos were taken without the petticoat underneath, because it wasn't complete.
If you want to make your own, you can follow the tutorial I linked to above.  I used several techniques I never had before; a lapped zipper, (my first zipper at all!), an overlapping waistband, and horsehair braid to shape the hem.
I already have material for several more spring/summer skirts. I foresee that lighter material being loads easier to work with but this was still totally worth it.