Top 5 Items To Ban From Your Closet

One night during this Thanksgiving break, my husband and I were snuggled in bed unwinding from the day.  An L.L. Bean catalog had mysteriously arrived and so we decided to flip through it and play the "you have to pick one thing from every page" game. You know that game?  If it's a good catalog, picking one thing can be a hard decision. With other catalogs it's a question of the lesser of many evils and you start cracking up about having to actually have/wear the items.

As we were flipping, I was appalled at the barrage of unflattering pants I was seeing on the pages.  The stores I shop and recommend rarely carry these wretched styles so I've often asked, "Where are people still finding these?"  I now know at least one. L.L. Bean. 

There were some nice winter-wear options sprinkled around but always interspersed by these sorry excuses for pants.
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L.L. Bean

Take one glance at this photo and just try and tell me she looks good.  This is obviously a skinny model and that high waist and tapered leg are so unflattering!  Her legs look stubby and from crotch to waistband is frighteningly long!

Just imagine how much worse it is on an average shaped body.

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An elasticized waist, people!  What in the name of all that's fashionable!?!?  What designer is so out of touch that they actually continue to make these?  And who are the half-wit buyers who keep stocking them?

This was a Christmas catalog with free shipping and special sale prices.  They're trying to incentivize you to buy these pants!  Oy.  It started me thinking that many people are going to get new clothes for Christmas.  Hopefully not these pants!  And if you are one of the lucky receivers of new clothes, it might be a great opportunity to replace some of the less flattering items still lurking in your wardrobe.  I researched various lists that style and fashion experts have compiled of items that are unattractive and unflattering and should be banned from your wardrobe.

Here are the Top 5 -
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1.  Cropped Pants

Tim Gunn is especially outspoken against crop pants, particularly the kind with wide leg openings.  He points out that they make your legs look short and that's never a good thing.  If you do want to sport a cropped pant (and I think they can be cute if the style is right) choose a more tailored fit with slim leg openings.  And opt for high heels to keep the leg line long and counterpoint the cropped style.

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2.  Baggy Shorts

Shorts can be cute and I definitely appreciate them in the summer but the longer the leg inseam, the more tailored the fit needs to be.  Like the pair below, choose a slim fit (no pleats!) to keep the waist, hips, and legs long and lean.

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Nordstrom


Here's a much more flattering shorts option.

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3.  High-waisted Jeans

Thought I'd show you the picture again, in case the first one didn't scare you straight.  For a tutorial on how to avoid looking like this, visit the Mom Jeans post.  And please, if these are your only jeans... write a letter to Santa.  Leave him gourmet cookies. 

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4.  Oversized Sweatshirts

While compiling this list I realized that I had not one but two very oversized sweatshirts in my closet.  They were the perfect additions to our 72 hour kits.  (reduce-reuse-recycle!)  Swap these figure squashers for the more flattering layered look.  A cozy cardigan over a slim t-shirt is infinitely more stylish and won't add visual pounds.  

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5.  Ill-fitting Bras

Oh, stay-tuned, my stylish friends.  I have a whole fabulous tutorial on bras coming your way.  For now I'll just say, if you look like the left half of this picture, something is wrong with your bra, not your boobs.

 
 
While Jillian or Bob or your plastic surgeon have the answers for preventing your actual knees from getting baggy, this little tip is for your pants. 
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It's winter, most of us are wearing pants more often than we were a month or two ago.

Lots of sitting causes the fabric around the knees to stretch.  Doesn't matter if it's wide-leg suit pants or super lycra enhanced jeans.  Sit in them long enough and often enough and that area will stretch.

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Nordstrom


Once that happens, they won't hang nicely while you're standing.  Like this.

You'll lose your crease, if there is one, and it'll be oddly voluminous around your knees.

Luckily, there's a simple fix.  Right before you sit down, hike your pants up just a bit. 
Not so much that you have handfuls of fabric sitting in your lap.  Just let your arms hang down, grab the fabric at your thigh, and turn your fingers under. 
This will be enough to keep your pants from pulling at your knees while you're sitting.

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As for this... I know of no such easy fix. 
A million lunges, perhaps?

 
 
As I was brushing my teeth last night I was thinking about yesterday's post.  I suddenly remembered an article in a recent InStyle magazine about boudoir style for every day and how it translated to a comfortable outfit if you are the hostess. 

Hmmmm... an intriguing option, to say the least.  Items usually reserved for the bedroom taking a turn on the catwalk of your kitchen?  Could easily go wrong but done right, could be quite cool.   
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Now, we're not talking your terry cloth bathrobe here. 

And nothing longer than knee length, either. 

Here are 6 key points to make it a success:
  • Use just one piece.  The boudoir element can be either top or bottom and should be paired with a distinctly non-lounge wear item.
  • Avoid anything too sheer.  Yes, you could put a completely see-through top over a t-shirt but you'll lose the elegance of the outfit. Think silk, satin, lace, ruffles, cashmere and just a hint of sexy or cozy.
  • Avoid cutesy "pajama prints" and colors.  You know... strawberries and kisses, lipstick pink, "Victoria's Secret" writing, animals, feathers, snowflakes, etc. Choose solid colors or menswear prints like pinstripes and plaid.
  • Keep hair and makeup simple.  Smoky eyes and bedroom-tousled hair will take this look from elegant to "What were you doing before we arrived?"  Not quite the vibe you're wanting to put out there.
  • Watch your proportions!  Team up silky pajama pants with a trim top.  A ruffled cardigan with jeans or khakis.  Teeter-totter!
  • Don't restrict it to home.  This romantic style works great for date night!
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I naturally went straight to Victoria's Secret for some examples. Took about a nanosecond to find inspiration.

I have a red wrap cardigan almost exactly like this that would work great!

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The pants are the great piece here!  Paired with a black fitted t-shirt and casual ponytail.

I have a golden brown pair of bottoms just like this that would be perfect with my cream colored tee.  Thinking... thinking...

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As long as the fabric is no more than slightly sheer, one of these would be lovely over a t-shirt and jeans.

I had a silky short kimono robe like this that sadly didn't survive one of my moves several years ago.  Now I'm really missing it!

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This one?  This is my favorite.  So lovely!!  Perfect sleeve length.  Perfect gathers.  Perfect wrap style. 

I can see it with my denim skirt and camel colored boots... or jeans and some fun heels... or my cream colored pinstriped pencil skirt for date night... 
Oh the possibilities! 

 
 
My husband and I are hosting a few people for Thanksgiving this year and the question, "What should I wear?" flashed through my mind today while finishing my to-do list.  Don't want to forget anything come Thursday!  It was a happy little thought that evolved into ruminations about the different styles of Thanksgiving's out there.
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Are you the kind of hostess who is perfectly coiffed and presents a perfect meal in a perfectly clean house?

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Or maybe your cooking skills leave something to be desired but dang it, at least you're going to look great!

Does your family do Thanksgiving in their pj's or is it Sunday Best and nothing less?  I don't know about future years but this year, with a toddler and twin babies, I'm definitely having to prioritize.  I'll be happy that the house is clean and comfortable, spotless will have to wait.  The food will hopefully be delicious, especially since we've split the cooking duties so no one person is overwhelmed.  I admire Martha Stewart-style decorated tables, but I'm more than satisfied that I have an unstained set of cloth napkins that match the tablecloth.  And maybe some little candles for sparkle.

I've always been a fan of "dressing for dinner."  I think that would have been such a neat era to live in.  But more than anything I want our guests to feel welcome and comfortable in our home.  I don't want to LOOK like I'm frazzled and the hosting duties have left me on edge.  Even if something goes wrong with the cranberry sauce, I want the "clean and comfortable" theme to continue with my appearance.  Hakuna-Matata and pass the gravy!

I think dark jeans and a comfortable blouse or sweater will be just the ticket. Anything too over the top and guests might feel out of place.  Too underdressed and they might feel uncomfortable. I'm not a fan of shoes in the house so satiny slippers help me look polished and don't slow me down.  A sleek ponytail, light makeup, and a fun necklace or earrings should top the look off nicely.  I'll let you know how it goes. 

I'd love to hear about your Thanksgiving style, whether as hostess or guest.  Do you dress to the nine's or relax in your flannels?  Either way, I'm thankful to have the choice.  Thankful for so many blessings despite the struggles so many are facing. 

Happy Thanksgiving!
 
 
 
Another Monday.  Another inspiration.
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Rachel McAdams
This is Rachel McAdams in a Philip Lim dress.  And while that front slit would need a tweak, I loved the knotted neckline, swingy front ruffle and perky sleeves.  It's a stunning curve-hugging silhouette, not skin tight, and makes her look so feminine. 

You could completely do away with that front slit, or make it a small key-hole, and this dress would still be gorgeous.

So 40's!  So lovely!  And you know I love a retro style.  I expect you can't wear this dress and not have a wiggle in your walk and giggle in your talk.
 
 
On November 4 The Sartorialist posted this photo of two women in Milan.
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The Sartorialist - Via Verri Milano
I was awestruck.  Just look at them!  Click on the photo to make it larger and look at them some more.  These women are fabulous incarnate.  The antithesis of matronly.  The embodiment of sophisticated style and confidence.  They're clearly beyond their 40's.  I'd guess the one on the left is in her 60's and the one on the right in her 50's.  Considering how timeless they look, and judging only by their wonderful faces, they could be respectively in their 70's and 60's for all I know!

I want to look like this when I'm their age!  I absolutely adore this photo.  It's such an inspiration and it makes me smile. 
I can perfectly picture the withering look these two would give if you tried to convince them to wear a holiday sweater.  Or Mom Jeans. Or those high waisted pleated polyester pants that you never see in stores until you're over 70. 

Part of looking like this obviously means I'll have to visit Italy many more times.  Soaking up style works better on-location.  That's why I have my sister who speaks fluent Italian.  Britt- pack your bags!  We're going shopping!
 
 
Yesterday I came across a list from Allure Magazine of 12 or so fashion "must-haves" that everyone apparently needs for winter.  Number 1 on their list? 
This hat.
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That's right, folks.  Someone at Allure thinks that if you don't have a giant fur trapper hat this winter you just won't be fit to be seen in public.  I can think of a few people who would need a hat like this.  Professional ice fishers.  Arctic expeditionists.  Ice road truckers.  (If they frequently get flats or the heater in the cab breaks.)  Anyone hunting in the Siberian wilderness. For the rest of us I'm just going to go ahead and call this overkill.

Other than this hat, I really haven't seen any frozen tundra/Davy Crockett influences on fashion this winter.  The 1940's however, are a different story.  A lovely, classy, adorable story.  Grab yourself one of these and live happily, timelessly, stylishly forever.
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Dillards
  I don't often find things I like at Dillards, but this one is adorable and only $35!

A cloche hat is universally flattering.  It can be edgy or cute, sleek or wildly adorned.  I found fabulous options ranging from $15 at Avon to $300 plus at specialty boutiques.  Simply google "cloche hat" and let the fun begin!

This one is delicious...
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Bloomingdales - $58
Red is fantastic...
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Kate Spade - $175
A little pricey but I found another adorable red cloche for $21 at Kohl's.

Slip one of these on and you'll defy any drabness this winter. 
You'll be ravishing and radiant.  And not the least bit furry.
 
 
Hey gang... it's a Friday.  I'm sick.  My kids are sick.  What happened in Texas is sick.  But it's still a Friday so here's something to bring a little joy to the day.  A giveaway!
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The super cute Elaine you see here is a modest dresser and showcases her outfits on her clothed much blog.  (The Image Inspiration page has been linking to her for a while now.) 

She's "a poor, married college student" with little cash for new clothes so she tries to be creative and stylish with what she has.  And she does a great job! 

She's having a giveaway today of a lovely Stella and Dot Pave Bracelet.  Go check it out and sign up!  And good luck!

May your Friday be blessed with some of the nice weather we're enjoying here right now.  And may you find a reason to dress up this weekend.  Even if it's just going to the post office.  That's my excuse tomorrow!

 
 
As I mentioned in my last post, here are the other two dresses I did for the Shabby Apple design contest.  One thing I certainly learned during this process - fashion drawing is HARD!  Putting on paper what you have in your head is NOT easy.  And while I like the more artistic drawings (like my first one) I foundd myself more inclined to try and draw the dress on a realistic figure to show how it might truly look.  Seriously, I need practice!

Presenting my second dress design for Shabby Apple dresses -
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Details:  A sheath dress for all seasons!  Form fitting but not tight.  Slips on thanks to a side zipper.  Features a mandarin stand-up collar and front walking pleat, both with contrasting lining. The walking pleat is a true pleat, not a slit, which is why it begins higher on the dress.  It has enough lining to allow easy walking and a nice splash of color! Sleeves end above the elbow, hemline ends just below the knee.  A double row of topstitching down both sides (a shade or two darker than the dress) would provide a nice visual detail.  Some ever so slight ruching along the torso would give the dress nice shape. 

Fabric & Color:  I would love this dress in a super lightweight stretch wool.  Just a hint of stretch for comfort and shape.  For all my dresses I consulted the official Pantone Spring 2010 Color Guide.  I wanted this dress in a neutral color and loved the dark, taupy Tuscany.  I think the tiny pinstripe in Pink Champagne would be perfect.  Silk lining in Dried Herb would give the perfect pop of color for the inside of the collar and walking pleat.

Design Inspiration:  I adore a retro silhouette!  Too many sheath dresses today are sleeveless, which for me makes them unwearable so I definitely wanted to conjure up a dress solving that problem. Like many designers right now, I was inspired by the style on Mad Men.  Buttoned up with a touch of sexy.  I also love Asian styles so I incorporated the Mandarin collar but made it more curvy and opened the neckline to be more flattering.  I wanted a neutral dress that could become a canvas for any woman to accessorize and still have enough detail and savvy to stand on its own.  I think this would look great with a thick or thin belt, boots or sandals, layered necklaces or simple earrings. 

Presenting my third dress design for Shabby Apple Dresses...
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Details:  A supremely comfortable maxi dress - with sleeves!!  Slips on with an elasticized empire waist.  Features kimono-style sleeves with an armhole closed enough to prevent underarm peek.  The deep V-neckline features a built in contrasting panel with delicate embroidery that is echoed in a line of detail stitching that follows the neckline over the shoulders to the back, which ends in a higher V.  Gentle gathering under the empire waist provides a lovely drape down to the ankles. 

Fabric & Color:  Perfect for a soft, lightweight, cotton/rayon/spandex blend.  This dress would work great in neutral colors but for the design contest I really liked the vibrancy of  Violet and Turquoise in the Pantone Official Spring 2010 color guide.  They're just so perfect for spring!   

Design Inspiration:  My main inspiration was the site of so many sleeveless, strapless, and halter-necked maxi dresses I saw running around this summer, with t-shirts underneath them to provide coverage.  Not a good look, in my humble opinion.  I found a maxi dress similar to this one but had to tweak the sleeves and always wear a camisole to provide coverage.  I wanted something you wouldn't have to layer or modify and with more details to help dress it up.  It can be thrown on with sandals and be comfortable all day but also take you out at night, depending on the accessories.   
 
 
I mean really, folks, how could I not?  I know I have no time, but this was a very energizing project.  Chosen or not, win or not - it was so much fun!

I've talked about Shabby Apple before, as a great place to score fashionable modest dresses, and they are featured in our Shopping Section.  In September they launched Dare to Design, a contest for any and all who wanted to submit a spring dress design.  We the shoppers get to vote and the winning dress will be featured in Shabby Apples Spring 2010 collection!

Presenting my first Dress design for Shabby Apple dresses.
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Details:  An easy piece to slip on any time!  A cutaway-style dress with matching removable tie and contrasting lining.  The banded sleeves end about half-way between the shoulder and elbow and have a delicate triangular cutout on the front.  Not the outside of the arm, but at the front.  A unique little detail that I love. Piping holds the cutout in shape.  A lettuce edge along the neckline and hemline provide a soft ruffle.  The sash belt has the dress color on one side and the lining color on the other.  Ideally it would be tied in the one-loop method, not a bow.  Much cooler, in my opinion!

Fabric & Color:  This dress is designed for a gorgeous matte jersey, just heavy enough to drape nicely, pack perfectly and wear forever.  I downloaded the official Pantone Spring 2010 Color Guide and really liked the pairing of Amparo blue and Turquoise.

Design Inspiration:  Two factors played into the design of this dress, my years traveling the country for my job and my wedding dress.  A dress with soft lines that can easily be packed is unmatched in versatility.  You can dress it up or down and be appropriate almost anywhere you go.  I love the styling and convenience of jersey wrap dresses.  They flatter every figure and as Diane von Furstenberg has proven, are timeless additions to any wardrobe.  But I wanted to merge the details I like best of a wrap dress (v-neckline and waist tie) with another style I've always liked - the cut-away.  My wedding dress was a simple white gown under a gorgeous, long, cut-away lace "coat."  I absolutely loved it and incorporated that design element into this dress to reveal the pretty underlayer.  And you don't need to pack a camisole! 


The top 15 designs will be displayed November 10th on Shabby Apples website.  Whether I'm there or not I encourage you to go vote for your favorite and then buy it next year!  And come back tomorrow when I'll post the other two designs I did for the contest.