In case you own a holiday sweater (or heaven forbid, MULTIPLE holiday sweaters), this is your wake up call!  Your call to repent.  Your call to action. 

Please raise your right hand and repeat after me:
Picture


"I will not wear holiday sweaters this or any future year.

Picture



I will not voluntarily assassinate my own style.

Picture



I realize I am over the age of 5 and will not attempt to dress like my toddler.

Picture



I will not offend the eyes of my fellow joyous citizens who I may pass by.

Picture



Should I be lucky enough to reach an old age when I am dressed by someone else,

Picture



and that someone attempts to dress me in a holiday sweater,

Picture



I will protest to my last breath.
And whack them with my cane."

These are the only folks allowed to wear holiday sweaters.  If you don't fit into one of these two groups, put the sweater down.
Picture
Picture
With one possible exception... The Ugly Holiday Sweater Party.  These little shindigs have been gaining in popularity in recent years and frankly, I think it's worth keeping around one of these monstrosities.  If you don't see one of these parties on the horizon - throw your own!  It'll be worth it to see these things come out of the woodwork on your friends and neighbors.  Where else are you going to get to cherish moments like this one...
Picture
just one of the many party images to be found
My family used to carol on Christmas Eve in snowman motif sweaters.  Many of us got married, leaving too few sweaters on hand, and so they were mercifully replaced with matching scarves. 

By the way, if you want to have a little fun, check out virtual holiday sweaters.  Spread some joy with a little competition to see who can come up with the ugliest design!
 
 
Picture
"Shop for an evening gown when you don't need one.  That way you'll get one you love!"
- Isaac Mizrahi

I fear I've failed you, readers.  I wanted to share this quote before it was too late.  Too late as in, the week before your Christmas party when you're frantically racing through stores trying to find something to wear.  Frantically buying something you'll probably never wear again!  I should have posted this in June but what can I say.  I have kids.  But onward and upward, right?

The details for my husband's company Christmas party (the largest party we attend each year) were sent out this week and this year it will be a casual affair held at Costco of all places!  I've never heard of a Costco party but since it's one of the places I frequent the most (out of necessity and enjoyment) I'm looking forward to it.  I'm a little bummed there won't be a reason to get all decked out, but that's alright..  There will be other events and other times.

Your assignment this weekend is...
  1. Take a look at your calendar.  Do you have any fancy dress festivals on the horizon?  Do you know the details?  Venue, time of day, dress code.  If not, make the calls to gather those details!
  2. Go to your closet.  Yes, right after you're done reading this post.  Do you have anything suitable?  Sparkly? Shiny? Shimmery? A fabulous color? (Simple designs can merit fancy dress status if the color is right!) Does the occasion call for an evening gown or will black dress pants and a sparkly top be more suitable?
  3. Try your outfit on.  You probably haven't worn it in a while.  Does it look as good as you want it to?  Pick the shoes and accessories you're going to wear with it.  Put the whole thing on.  If you're happy then rest easy knowing you're set for the party season.  And yes, it is perfectly ok to wear the same outfit to different events.
  4. No outfit or not happy?  Before you start shopping for one - SECURE A BACKUP! It could be a dress you borrow from your sister or black jeans and your fanciest shoes and shirt.  Making sure you have a default outfit to fall back on will go a long way toward helping you avoid a pointless purchase.  You should have an LBD (Little Black Dress) in your wardrobe and an LBD can almost always be made appropriate for any party.
  5. Browse before buying.  Or maybe better put, "Surf before shopping."  Browsing the internet helps save wasted hours on the road and in the malls.  Look at what's out there right now, narrow down a style, then hit the shops with a plan.  If you don't have an LBD, I would suggest dedicating this shopping time to invest in one.  You'll get millions of miles out of it and now is the perfect season to find one that suits you. 
  6. Do not buy something you don't love.  There's no point in wasting the dollars.  Keep looking.  And avoid expensive, overly trendy items.  This is already an outfit you won't wear very often (most of us aren't hitting the fancy party circuit every month).  Your dollars will be best spent on something timeless that still fits your style.             
Picture
Nordstrom


I hit Nordstrom to find a few quick pics to spark your creativity.

Picture
Nordstrom


Those sleeves are beaded, not see through!

Picture
Nordstrom



Sparkly jackets, blazers, boleros, and shrugs can instantly pop a basic outfit into party territory!  The same can be said for sparkly shirts and tanks under more basic jackets.

Picture
Nordstrom


I just can't pass up a retro silhouette! 
And this color is gorgeous!

Picture
Nordstrom
Don't forget the shoes!!

Picture
Nordstrom
Picture
Nordstrom

Enjoy your homework this weekend!  I hope it gets you excited for all the fun to be had in the coming months! 

Even if it's just you and your husband all cozy at home on New Year's Eve.  Dress up for each other and make that midnight kiss a little more fun!


 
 
"You just don't see fashionable people dressing modestly anymore!"

A little quip I heard from someone the other day.  And since I disagree (partly) I'm adding a new regular feature to Fight The Frump  - Modest Moments!  Pics of people most of the world considers stylish displaying a brilliant flash of modesty!

Here's today's moment...
Picture
Cameron Diaz
Do up another one or two of those buttons and she's good to go!  I love this dress - the color and the stand-up collar especially. 

One of the things about the beginning statement that I disagree with is that you actually DO see fashionable people modestly dressed all the time.  Trust me, they're out there.  I see them and you will too.  They stand out especially nicely against all the frumpily dressed modest folks!

But I also get where this sentiment is coming from.  Most people consider movie stars the style icons we're all supposed to follow.  Yes, they wear and discard the latest styles before the stores the rest of us shop have even stocked them.  Yes, we are bombarded with pictures of them making it nigh on impossible NOT to follow their fashion footsteps.  But so often the modus operandi in Hollywood is how much thigh, shoulder, back and boobage they can expose!  They just never seem to cover up their cutlets! 

This new section is dedicated to those modest moments when we see something we can translate into our daily lives.  I like looking at fashion photos, modest or not. Sometimes I learn what not to do.  Mostly I enjoy seeing how people whose style I like interpret certain trends and looks.  It inspires me and gives me ideas that I tweak. 

The biggest challenge for these posts will be fancy dress events.  Many undeniably gorgeous gowns parade down the red carpet every year.  It always stands out when someone takes a risk and actually covers up a little.  How rebellious of them NOT to have a slit up to their hip!  How sexy they look in that pantsuit with more than just a bra underneath!  Those will be the moments I'll have the most difficult time hunting down.
Feel free to help!  If you come across a Modest Moment click the Email Me button and send it on over!  With that one simple act you'll convert millions of women to the modest side of style.  Right?  We can get millions dressing this way, can't we?  Have hope!
 
 
I've said before that fall is a great time to find modest items that work for spring and I was recently asked for a few examples.  So here are just a very few examples of what you can find.  And remember, these clothes appeal to our frugal sides as well since you can wear them any season!


Picture
Banana Republic
Sheath dresses - with sleeves!!

Sheath dresses are universally flattering.  But shop for one in spring or summer and nearly all the styles have straps instead of sleeves. 
  • Wear it now: with boots, fun patterned tights, sweaters, even a thin long-sleeved turtleneck underneath.
  • Wear it later: without the hosiery and layers, add cute jewelry and a bright bag.


Picture
Gap
White shirts - that you can't see through!!

A white button-down shirt that fits you great is a wardrobe essential.  Spring and summer options tend to be very thin "summer weight" cotton.  Shop for one now and you'll score thicker material.
  • Wear it now: with anything!  Use it to showcase a great scarf or sweater.
  • Wear it later: with anything!  It's the perfect counterpoint to summer skirts and bright accessories.


Picture
Gap
Lightweight tops - with sleeves!!

Fall isn't all about heavier fabrics and thicker knits.  You can find lightweight items and more styles with sleeves.
  • Wear it now: as a nice thin layer to thicker sweaters and coats.
  • Wear it later: as the perfect, floaty spring and summer top.



Picture
Victoria's Secret
Dresses - with longer hemlines!!

Fall is the perfect time to find dresses that hit at the knee.  This is a great wrap dress in a color that works with boots in fall and sandals in summer.  Personally, I would shorten those sleeves to elbow length.  Easy to do and more appropriate for all seasons.
  • Wear it now: with boots, a cute hat and scarf.
  • Wear it later: with statement making sandals and a ponytail.


Picture
Victoria's Secret
Another good dress option.  All it needs is a camisole!


Picture
Victoria's Secret
And one more for good measure.  Especially nice for showing off (or creating!) a small waist. 

Again, just add a camisole.  I'd also shorten the sleeves to just above the elbow.

 
 
Welcome to the second installment of the Fall Style Series. To check out the Fall trends we translated in Series 1 click here.  (jackets and boots and neon, oh my!)  Today we have more great things for you to consider working into your wardrobe.  And more things to avoid like the Swine Flu!

The Lovelies -

Picture
Ralph Lauren
Metallic for day!
Absolutely!  This is a great way to defrump a modest wardrobe but can easily wander into costume territory if not done right.  So make sure you do it right.  Here are a couple good options for you.

Option 1 - Tone-on-Tone.  I love this silver metallic dress with the gray coat.  If this were all black it would be perfect for a fancy night out but the light colors are appropriate for day.


Picture
Derek Lam
Option 2 - Paired with casual.  A sparkly skirt like this one with a basic white tee is just the ticket to get you through a long Wednesday.  If the metallic is on top, try trousers or jeans on the bottom.  A little sparkle with a menswear tweed looks fabulous!

Teeter-totter the metallic item with neutral, muted pieces to do the look right.
  •   Looking to invest?  Buy the best quality you can afford.  A poorly constructed metallic garment will show it's flaws loudly and won't last long.


Picture
White House Black Market
Ruffles!
Contrary to the opinion of one of this season's Project Runway designers, I like ruffles.  They're feminine and sweet and can enhance or conceal depending on the design.
  •   Have something?  Ruffled items pair equally well with menswear inspired trousers and a sexy pencil skirt.
  • Looking to invest? Avoid ruffles on chunky knits.  It'll add way too much bulk.


Picture
Jason Wu
Chartreuse or Sunny Yellow!
So often fall gets bogged down in the burgundies, forest greens, grays, and blacks but pulling out a nice sunny color will brighten those shorter days.  AND, lighter cuts like this dress work year round!
  • Already have this color?  Make it work in winter months with opaque tights or knee high boots and accessories in neutral colors that don't compete for attention.
  • Looking to invest?  Think sunny lime and avoid neon.
 


Picture
Vera Wang
Layering gray and black!
This seems like a no-brainer since layering to keep warm in fall and winter happens anyway but I wanted to include it because the look that's cropping up is specifically monochromatic chic.
  • Already have something?  Make sure to incorporate both black and grays.  We're going for a balanced look, not head to toe in one color.  I think this also looks fabulous with various shades of white/cream and tan/brown. Keep the ensemble sleek and watch the makeup!  Against this pallet, your normal “berry kiss” lipstick could look clown-like.
  • Looking to invest?  You probably don't need much.  Shop your closet and you'll probably find all the pieces you need.  If not, get the best quality you can afford.  These colors never go out of style.

The Maybies -

Picture
Slit-, Slashed-, or Cut out Shoulders
I apologize for the harsh picture.  It was the best I could find showing this trend and how we're talking only exposed shoulders.  The top still needs to have actual sleeves.  I include this trend only because I saw it layered over a brightly colored piece making it appropriate for modest dressers.
  •  Have one?  Do NOT layer it over a flesh-colored item.  You want deliberate contrast.
  • Looking to invest?  Don't bother.  It's a problematic trend and assuredly a tiny flash in the pan.  If you really love the look it would be very easy to DIY with one of your existing tops you don't mind altering.


Picture
Banana Republic
Leggings
It's so rare to see leggings done right.  Every year I find myself questioning what I think about them.  They're much more feminine than sweatpants for around the house but once you go out?? This year, like almost every fall, they're popping up under mini-skirts and long tunic tops.  You truly have to have a trim figure to pull off leggings in any sort of flattering way.  They show every lump and bump.  No, they are not slimming and for many people the fact that leggings are skin-tight goes against their definition of modesty.
  •  Have some?  Layer them under your shorter, summery skirts and dresses that you want to keep wearing.  If you have the figure, you can show more legging compared to top, but keep the crotch and buns covered, otherwise we'll have to start calling you Lindsey Lohan (the reigning queen of leggings).  And that's not a fashion compliment.
  • Looking to invest?  You don't need to spend big bucks on a pair of leggings.  Just make sure they fit snugly and don't sag.  Oy, that's brings a scary picture to mind!


The Nevers -

Picture
Matthew Williamson
Cocoon coat
Oh what a shapeless mess.  As with any item of clothing, from size 8 to 18, concealing your shape under a bulky mass is NOT flattering.  
Even where outerwear is concerned.  Bulky shapes like this don't mean more warmth.  It's all just a little too "Snuggie walking down the street."
  • Have one?  Donate it or relegate it to your emergency kit.  Maybe the material will be good to deconstruct for a DIY project.
  • Looking to invest?  Don't.  If you're in need of a new coat look for a nicely tailored wool topper you'll look good wearing for years upon years to come.


Picture
Marc Jacobs
Ultra-broad Shoulders
This wasn't a good look in the 80's and it will never be a good look. What do we call this?  Glitzy Linebacker?  What woman worth her femininity wants to look like a linebacker? This look goes beyond simply shoulder-pads to massive poufy shoulders. 
  • Have something?  Yes, strongly tailored shoulders slim hips, but this isn't it. Put it in the dress-up box for when your daughters need to channel the 80's. 
  • Looking to invest?  Avoid anything Dynasty-esque.  Look for TAILORED shoulders.  Tailored just enough so they’re not slouchy.


 
 
Picture
I think into every life a little fantasy must fall!  Some fell into mine today as I had a second to peruse the 2009 Neiman Marcus Christmas Book.
(Click the book at left to see the catalog.)





I look forward to it every year because you just NEVER know what they're going to come up with for the fantasy gifts.  This year, among things like wine tastings, exclusive dinner parties and bug art you can also get...


Picture
His and Hers airplanes.
Picture
And customized Cupcake Cars!
Picture
But fantasy must always be tempered with reality - so if you're not going to grab the $25,000 customizable Cupcake Car then hop over to Gomatta Girls and take a look at this jacket from Tulle for only $39.00 (was $105).  I love the portrait collar and waist tie.  Comes in black, royal blue and cream.

If you don't have your Invite to Gomatta Girls yet just click here and grab it!

Picture
Or there's this super cute wool number also from Tulle for $39.  In black, cream, or crimson.  Such savvy style for so little dough.  I love it!

But I had you at "customizable", didn't I?  You're probably going to get a Red Velvet Cupcake Car with matching Cream Cheese Frosting and Sprinkles hat, aren't you?  Or would that just be my first choice?

 
 
Christmas is just around the corner and many women like to give their better halves a wardrobe refresher or two as gifts.  I was chatting with a friend a few days ago on this very subject.  Her husband is in "desperate need" of some new clothes and she wasn't sure what to get him.  Just like our own wardrobe's, men can also easily find themselves in a fashion rut, wearing the same unflattering pieces day in and day out.  Luckily, there are also great style tips and tricks for men so I rounded up some of the best current advice and hope this will help you with gift giving or simply giving a confident answer the next time your hubby says he's not sure what to wear.
Picture
Jos. A. Bank
A single-breasted two or three button suit is better than a double-breasted suit. 
Double-breasted suits can make your man look wider and shorter than he actually is.  While I prefer the look of a three-button suit for dressier occasions, GQ touts the benefits a two-button suit - it'll give you a slimmer, more streamlined look and will better show off your shirt and tie.

Picture
Cox of Malvern
Suits should fit snuggly, not baggy. Tailoring is as important for men as it is for women.  Just like most women are wearing the wrong bra size, most men are wearing the wrong suit size, choosing a suit that's too large. 
  • The suit coat should closely skim the body without pulling at the buttons, shoulders or back slit.  Suit coat shoulders should hug your man's shoulders, not stick out or bag around them.  Suit coat sleeves should never be longer than his thumb joint.  The best look is when the sleeve stops where the wrist meets the hand. 
  • The suit pants should hang trimly, without bunching like a paper bag when he puts on a belt.  And they should never bag at the ankles.  No more than two breaks (preferably one) before the top of the shoe.  "Breaks" are the little bends that occur in the front crease of the pant leg when standing still.

Picture
Nordstrom
Jackets and coats shouldn't be baggy either. 
Slim fitting, tailored coats - from your basic leather jacket to a long rain trench or winter wool - will make him look trimmer and younger. 
Avoid too many "manly" details, like heavy buckles or thick zippers.

Picture
A sport coat will instantly elevate your man's style. 
So much more stylish and versatile than the ubiquitous fleece jacket, it'll take him through fall, into spring and any event where a suit would be too dressy.

Add a winter scarf and he can avoid a bulky parka, looking instead dashing and debonair. (The scarf at right is worn continental style.  You can also wear it open and hanging straight.  Or any other number of ways!)

Picture
Nordstrom
A gray v-neck sweater adds miles to wardrobe basics. 
GQ says it goes great with a dark suit and fall colors as well as jeans and lighter colors in spring.  Buy the best one you can afford and try to pamper your man with a cashmere blend.

Picture
Johnston Murphy
Men's dress shoes are investment items. 
A nice pair can last a lifetime, literally!  Some mainstream brands offer lifetime repair and resoling, a luxury almost nonexistent in the female shoe universe.  A classic, quality pair will dress up any outfit and remain timeless.     

Picture
Tateossian - cufflinks.com
Cuff links are crucial. 
If your man doesn't own a pair, get him a set to match his style and a proper white shirt to go with them. 
And don't reserve them for the times he dresses up with a tie.  GQ says wearing them without a tie will give your man a "rakish yet elegant flair."  How sexy is that!

Picture