Here's another great question we received!

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Q: Help! I have a funeral to attend but I don't want to wear black.  My sister passed away after a lifetime of battling illness.  Our family wants to celebrate her many victories, instead of mourning in dark clothes.  What in the world do I choose that will be appropriate?


A:  What a wonderful idea to celebrate her at an obviously difficult time.  I've never enjoyed black for funerals.  I guess I look for any small way to express joy for the person's life.  Sometimes dark clothing is the only appropriate option but in this case, where you've agreed as a family to strike out from the norm, I definitely see your dilemma.  Sticking with an overall conservative ensemble will still be the most respectful of the occasion but here are a couple of options to complete your look.

1. Something that was her favorite.  Is there a dress, blouse or skirt she always loved on you?  If it's conservative, pair it with a neutral piece and a piece of jewelry she gifted you.
2.  Something you bought together or matching.  We're not talking those matching Tweedle-Dee/Tweedle-Dum t-shirts here, but maybe there's a nice dress, etc. that you both loved so much you each bought one.
3.  Something in her favorite color or her favorite color on you.  Maybe she always loved it when you wore yellow, even though it was a big fashion step for you. 
4.  Something she made you.  Many people today make their own jewelry and other accessories nowadays.  Do you have a piece or two she did for you?  Choose a neutral ensemble that will really showcase that item.
5.  If all else fails, choose a conservative outfit that flatters you, and accessorize with her favorite flower.  And think outside the lapel!  Flowers will look beautiful and elegant in your hair or on a simple ribbon choker around your neck.  Even the retro wrist corsage is a chic option.

As a side note for those attending funerals but who aren't related to the deceased, take your cue for appropriate attire from the family.  Start by researching the religious and cultural systems of the bereaved family.  For example, Korean's wear white to funerals.  Buddhists frown on red.  Hindu's wear white if you're a member of the family, otherwise you should wear dark colors.  Many customs, including Jewish, require women, men or both to cover their heads so bring a conservative scarf, just in case.

Are you in a style conundrum?  Submit your question to Image Interpreters and let us help!

 
 
Q:  Yikes! I am turning 50! What is off limits for a 5'8" and rather slender and mature-- never mind the mature part, change it to immature lady?

Well, Happy Birthday!  50 is the new 40, you know.  And in your lucky case, probably the new 35!  You ask a great question that too many people don’t ask until they’re already looking frumpy and grumpy or even worse, are deep into trashy territory.  

Two things will age you faster than the sun – Mom Jeans and dumpy shoes.  If either of these style assassins currently resides in your closet then part of your 50th birthday present to yourself should be to replace them.  So with that said, let’s list the most important things to know.

Off Limits:

  1. Mom Jeans.  It bears repeating!  Please refer to the Mom Jeans post for why and what to replace them with. 
  2. Dumpy shoes. I worked with a woman a few years ago who we all thought “looked good for almost 60” and she was actually 43!!  Her frumpy clothes and hairstyle added about 10 years but the real nail in her coffin was her shoes.  She wore black granny shoes with Velcro straps! You know the ones – laces for nurses, Velcro straps for grannies but otherwise the same.   At the Christmas party, I saw her in a lovely pair of pumps and excitedly declared that she should wear them more often.  Her answer was that her “comfy shoes are just so hard to give up.”  Too that I say, “Then don’t start!” Until your feet declare war on every other type of shoe avoid anything remotely granny or nurse-like.  Keep the heels as long as you possibly can!  At 5’8” they don’t have to be super high to have impact.  Incorporate flats in fun colors.  Modern sleek sneakers (think Puma!) in fantastic colors.  If ever there was a time to choose sleek, fun, statement-making shoes, it’s now!
  3. Holiday sweaters.  Strictly verboten for everyone over the age of 10.  Revisit these when you’re 80!  (I’ll still say no, but we can revisit them!)
  4. Too-long hemlines.  Too short is probably not an issue.  For most modest dressers, the hemlines are too long.  And especially as we get older, those hemlines should hit that knee!!  It’s elegant, ageless, and extremely leg flattering.  Don’t worry about buying all new skirts.  Most long ones can be hemmed up to the better length. 
  5. Anything baggy.  From here on out it’s all about shape!  Get it, create it, fake it.  Whatever it takes.  For some odd reason, the older people get, the more shapeless their clothes become.  So, no oversize blazers, boxy tops, shapeless sweaters and dresses, etc.
  6. Anything with shoulder pads.  If the pads can be removed without the garment losing shape, fine.  If not – consider the item donated.
  7. Overly tweezed eyebrows.  Pencil thin or drawn on eyebrows are detrimental to looking fresh.  Fuller, well-shaped brows are much more youthful.  There are about a million tutorials out there on how to shape and tweeze your eyebrows but it’s not rocket science.  Click here for a general step-by-step. Another tip for filling them in – use powder!!  I like Stila Brow Sets myself (check them out here).  Powder is by far easier to apply and looks much more natural than pencil.  Stila makes super easy to use sets and they last forever!!
  8. Retro trends from your childhood.  This is a tricky area.  It can look great because you have original pieces or it can look like you never grew up.  If I’d grown up in the 40’s and 50’s say, I’d absolutely want to pull out my full skirts and nip-waisted shirt dresses and join the current trend, upstaging the newbies on the street with my originals.  But I might look a little silly.  My formative fashion years, however, were the 80’s, so I’ll never know the joy or trauma of fashion revisited.  Peg leg jeans and parachute pants didn’t look good the first time and never will.  There is merit to the adage, “If you wore it the first time around, you can’t when it comes around again.” 
  9. Dark lipstick.  It can so easily draw attention to the fine lines around the mouth.  Pale pinks and peaches (NOT lighter than your natural lip color) with some gloss will always look youthful.
  10. Old lady swimsuits.  That would be anything with a skirt attached! A classic one piece with bust shaping and support is the only way to go.
  11. No flannel nightgowns!  Not that the rest of us are going to see it – but your husband will.  And you will.  PJ’s are the last thing you see at night and the first thing you see in the morning.  Bookending your days like that leaves an impression.  Even Victoria’s Secret makes cute pj sets with short-sleeved t’s and fun printed bottoms.  And whip out the sexy lingerie every once in a while!  
Must Haves:
  1. Really great bras!  No matter how large or small the cup size – gravity will do a number on those girls!  Lift ‘em and love ‘em!  Find a nice, shape-enhancing bra with underwire and BUY SEVERAL!
  2. A great pair of dark wash trouser jeans.  Have I made the point yet?  At your height, watch out for short jeans.  When standing barefoot the jeans should just touch the ground.  That length lets you wear them with flats as well as heels.
  3. A splash of current trends. Wearing 20-year old clothes when you’re 50… makes you look 60.  And trashy.  As a slender woman you still have the figure to wear anything you want so keep up with the trends – just a bit. Never updating your wardrobe or incorporating anything new will backfire on you as well.
  4. Keep what you love – tweak how you wear it. Don’t lose the things that are unique to your personality.  For example, if your whole life you loved leopard print – just don’t wear it all over.  Refine it to shoes or a scarf.  If your signature color is pink – ditch the track suit from earlier years and get a nice, sleek, v-neck tee in that color instead.
  5. Break up the structured suit occasionally.  You probably have one.  It’s more timeless to pair the jacket with jeans and the skirt with a twinset or more casual top.  You want to keep folks guessing about your age.
  6. Don’t be afraid of brights!  Senior-citizen pastels (you know the shades when you see them!) start to creep into wardrobes at about this age.  Brighter colors will provide more contrast for your skin and hair, keeping you fresh and bringing out your eyes.

For more tips and tricks, there are two books on this subject that get quoted all the time; Charla Krupp’s anti-aging bible, How Not To Look Old and Style Evolution: How to Create Ageless Personal Style in your 40’s and Beyond by Kendall Farr.  Kendall’s I haven’t read yet but Charla’s is great. It’s chock full of pictures clearly illustrating the points she’s making and it’s a fun read.  Your library should have both.

You know what will probably keep you young the longest – that “immature” streak you mentioned. Saucy and sassy are key elements to style. If only everyone could stay fun as they age.  It would keep us all so vibrant.  Never lose that part of you and you’ll be in great shape.

 
 


“Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.”

- Coco Chanel


One factor that often derails our summertime fashion is the lack of proportion.  Because modest dressers are covering more skin from neck to knee, our outfits can look heavy and dowdy.  Here are 4 tips to keep you looking and feeling cool!

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  1. Think Teeter-Totter!  It’s all about balance and avoiding all-over volume that adds visual pounds and frumpiness.  If you’re going voluminous on the bottom, such as a maxi skirt – pair it with a trim, fitted top.  Teeter – Totter!  Maybe you choose a tunic length top with fuller sleeves – stick to slim and trim on the bottom, like a denim pencil skirt, straight cut jeans or walking shorts.
  2. Always Chic and Shape Check! While I'm sure this sign maker was attempting to create a foreground/background image, it obviously didn't work.  However, they successfully managed to portray exactly what can happen when your outfit is out of balance - you'll look much heavier than you actually are. Always take at least a quick glance in a mirror.  If you can't decipher your shape for all the clothes it's time to call a do over!  
  3. Don't assume a belt will solve it.  While a belt around the waist normally does create a nice shape where there might not have been one a moment ago, if voluminous fabric is spilling out over the top of it and flowing from under it, it "ain't done ya a lick o' good, lady!"
  4. When in doubt - cut it out!  It may be the old mantra of a surgeon but it applies to fashion as well.  If you're looking in the mirror and thinking, "I might look just a bit like a bag lady in this." - Do over!  Cut one of the voluminous pieces from the outfit and replace with something more trim.

Here are just a couple of outfits with proper proportion.  Now go keep enjoying your summer and look better too!
 
 

Ah, summertime.  Undeniably the most difficult shopping and dressing time for the Modern Mormon Woman.  Stores and streets abound with tank tops, mini skirts, short shorts, strappy dresses and bikinis.  How do we find our place in this season?
I did a little research recently that may or may not surprise you. 

I looked at the easiest option for summer style – the dress!  Throw it on with a pair of sandals and you’re good to go errand running; with a pair of heels and you’re set for church; keep the heels, switch up the accessories and you’re ready for date night!  One good dress is practically a weeks worth of outfits so I searched all the offerings on several different popular store websites.   I counted as appropriate only those dresses needing no more alteration than perhaps a camisole for a too-low neckline.  The dreaded “Under-T-under-straps” combo shown below was NOT an option.

What did I find?
Ann Taylor:  8 out of 71 dresses would be appropriate
Ann Taylor Loft:  4 of 50
J. Crew: 3 of 89
(and that was excluding the wedding dress options, which, by the way were 0 of 32)
Banana Republic: 8 of 41
Gap: 0 of 30 (that’s right – zero!)
Anthropologie: 0 of 107
Brooks Brothers: 5 of 15
White House/Black Market: 0 of 50
Nordstrom had far too many dresses to count but a cursory search of the first few pages yielded many excellent options!  I even searched Victoria’s Secret.  26 of 255 would be appropriate.
Many of these stores are standard shopping suggestions from Image Interpreters.  Goes to show the season’s aren’t all created equal!  It certainly won’t be an easy search, but appropriate, summer weight dresses are out there.  My personal favorite is the lightweight jersey wrap dress.  Seasonless, with the addition of hosiery and boots, and one of the most flattering and smart wardrobe investments any woman can make.

But what if you already have strappy or strapless items in your closet that you really want to keep wearing?  The key is striking a more deliberate contrast! 

I’m a big fan of the new fitted undershirts that have hit the market in recent years.  They lend a very helpful hand to anyone wanting to maintain modesty and avoid frumpy.  But the look can be taken too far.  (Am I bursting bubbles here?)  I don’t believe they were ever meant to allow us to wear ANY dress or top out there.  (Any undertee maker who says otherwise is just trying to sell more!)  Are they perfect under slightly sheer tops and dresses?  Absolutely! The best for covering gaping under-arm holes? You bet!  Excellent for filling in low necklines and covering "flesh belts"?  Sure thing! Good looking under tank or halter style tops? Um... negatory. 
 
So how does this translate? 
  • Try a longer sleeve T instead of the cap sleeve option.
  • Try more than 2 layers.  The other day I saw this combo: cap-sleeve underT, sheer, fitted, short-sleeve shirt (worn quite open to reveal the color contrasting underT), very low scoop neck, floaty, tunic-length ruffle tank (spaghetti straps, not thick) on top.  All with jeans and sandals.  It was more funky than my personal style but I loved that it was clever and creative!
  • Work your button-downs instead! A light weight button-down shirt is much more unexpected under strappy or strapless items.  It says, "I meant to put together this brilliant combo."  Instead of, "Please look at the halter dress and ignore the flesh-colored undershirt glaring out from under it."  Check out some of the outfit options below.
  • As for those strappy maxi dresses?  Take a cue from decades ago and employ a version of the shirt-as-jacket option.  Slip a light button-down shirt OVER your dress, roll up the sleeves if they're long, do up just a few buttons at your breastbone (unless more are needed for cleavage coverage) and then knot the shirt just under your rib cage.  Adorable, sexy and innocent all at the same time!  It'll create very slimming lines as well, with the knot high at the narrowest part of your torso.
 
 
If your browser is a little slow - you can link directly to the video by clicking here.

Let’s briefly analyze what we’ve seen and accept some hard truths.

  1. These jeans are out there, walking around every day, maybe even on you or someone you love!  And yes, they look this bad on everyone.
  2. Clearly – denim is not appropriate for every occasion, as evidenced by the poor husband’s face when he sees what his wife is wearing for Date Night.
  3. If you’re still wondering, “Flat front or pleats?” watch the video again!
  4. The question of the craft vest has also been answered.

They’re a staple of every wardrobe but are jeans about as difficult to shop for as bathing suits?  Sometimes.  The latest jeans employ miraculous tools to camouflage, enhance, sculpt, shrink, and lift your lower half; everything from forward-twisted slimming seams to hidden butt-lifting panels. 

Jeans are the first step to a less dowdy, more youthful, and more versatile wardrobe.  Let me correct that.  The RIGHT jeans are the first step to all that.  Here are some tips to help you find that anti-frumpy, flattering, figure enhancing perfect pair.

  1. Choose a mid-rise jean, also known as regular or medium rise.  (The rise is the distance from the bottom of the crotch, up the zipper, to the top of the waistband.) A mid-rise jean will end just below your navel and is usually the most flattering.  High-rise jeans are the latest trend and can make your legs look miles long. Thankfully, the ultra-low rise trend is fading.
  2. The most versatile jean will be a dark wash trouser jean.  A dark wash is flattering on all figures, and the trouser cut is the most easily dressed up or down.
  3. Avoid cross-hatching, whiskering, and other detailing that draws all eyes to your crotch and adds visual weight to the widest part of your thighs. Check out the fine examples of dark wash trouser jeans below!
  4. Fit your hips - everything else can be tailored.  Waistbands can easily be taken in, legs hemmed and narrowed.  Making sure the jeans fit your hips, without being too tight, will also help you avoid the dreaded muffin top! 
  5. Great denim doesn’t have to come at great cost.  If you find that your jeans soul mate costs a cool couple hundred, then so be it; wear them as much as possible to get your money’s worth.  But start your search at the low end and work your way up.  You’ll probably find that perfect pair at a price point that lets you buy several. 
  6. “Stretch Denim” should never mean “elastic in the waistband!”  It means stretch material woven into the denim itself.  If your waistband has elastic in it, and you’re not pregnant, the jeans are a NO!
  7. Never, ever wear tapered leg jeans.  In fact, never ever wear tapered leg anything!  Do you really want to look like an ice cream cone?  Tapered leg pants create this picture – V – really wide hips and thighs, skinny ankles.  Not a good look. 
  8. Don’t fear buying online.  If, like me, you don’t have time to hit the stores and try on 20 pair, check out the denim search options at your favorite stores.  You can search a combination of rise, wash, cut, inseam length, etc.  And ignore the designer size!  Have your hip measurement handy so that you can accurately find the pair that will fit you best.  The detailed size chart will give the size relative to the hip measurement.

No matter your age or shape, the right jean can be your wardrobe’s best friend.  And once you’ve braved the denim jungle and found a great pair, recycle all your other unflattering ones.  Denim is a long-wearing material with many uses.  Stuff them in your 72-hour kits, repurpose the material, donate them, etc.  Happy hunting!

 

Welcome!

06/09/2009

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What would you be wearing if you were living your perfect life? Maybe you are living that life, but your clothes don’t fit in with the rest of the picture.
Is there a particular goal you’ve been avoiding?  Could better style now help you take the first step toward meeting it?

Fashion and Style are really just your answers to the questions you’re asked every minute of every day.  What am I doing this morning? Afternoon? Evening?  Who am I doing it with? What is/will be the weather?  What is appropriate for the occasion?  How much time do I have to change outfits during the day?  What do I want to project?  What message do I want this outfit to send? What language are my clothes speaking?  Let’s not ever kid ourselves, everything we wear says something, from the underpinnings the public doesn’t see to the smallest of accessories.  Our clothing speaks volumes.  It talks about who we are, how we’re feeling, and what we believe.

Who is the Modern Modest Woman?  She’s trying to look appropriate and up-to-date while setting an example of modesty.  Not content to wander drably with The Frumpy, she is keenly aware that more and more, the world is looking at her not only as an example but also to answer questions about our unique lifestyle.  If what they see looks weird (and weird is the bad side of peculiar) or off-putting, they may consider their questions already answered.  And you can bet it won’t be the most flattering answer.  

I have always loved fashion but it took an embarrassing first business trip at my first real job, when I tried too hard to look “executive” (and failed miserably!), for me to start learning about real style.  Imogen Lamport, a great image consultant from Australia says, “Style is a learning experience, and one that I never stop learning, and my style never stops changing (and that makes it interesting too).”  Image Interpreters is about bringing together the best style and fashion tips and tricks and applying them to our unique lifestyle.

Whether we want to or not, everybody makes a fashion statement - this site is mine.