A zillion people are blogging about the royal wedding, and doing it better than me. But I do want to give it a mention because here's the thing... the sleeves!
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Prince William and Princess Catherine exiting the abbey
Kate's gown was absolutely beautiful, very Grace Kelly but less poufy. By design, she makes very conservative clothing choices which I think is brilliant. She's not out to have everyone gawking over her wacky or overtly sexy clothes.
The dress was designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen who also designed her sister Philippa's dress below.
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Pippa and flower girls
My gorgeous niece Paige wore a wedding gown nearly identical to Philippa's dress, but with a higher v-neckline and covered in beautiful lace and beading.

One review I loved, by the usually spot-on Tom and Lorenzo, said, "It fits her like a glove. Love the neckline and the little sleeves. Sleeves, ladies! Today's wedding was all about sleeves! We didn't know this until we started writing about them, but apparently the brides of today are all crying for sleeves in the face of the constant onslaught of strapless wedding gowns thrown at them by the bridal industry. If there's one thing the Middleton gals might manage to pull off in terms of influence, it's that we'll likely be seeing way more sleeve options in next year's bridal collections."

Hear! Hear! All hail sleeves!!
In my world of modesty this is not a "new silhouette," as some reviews called it. We've always done sleeves. But we often have to resort to designers who only work within the realm of modest dresses, or alter sleeveless gowns, which can end up looking not so great. The selection is often a little meager. So the nice thing about having sleeves showcased so prominently on the world stage is hopefully other designers will be inspired. Which will make finding gowns with sleeves much easier and the options broader.
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Kate evening gown
Kate also chose sleeves for her evening gown for the private reception that night. I love that she wore another long dress.  Today was her day to be the world's most famous bride and she lived the day well. It bugs me when women wear lovely gowns for the ceremony but then change into street-walker-worthy mini dresses to "party hard into the night."
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I want to close with the above lovely smile between the two and a few excerpts from Dr. Richard Chartres', Bishop of London, sermon.  This man is obviously used to speaking in front of people, he was utterly charming and comfortable up there.  But he had the world's stage for a few minutes and he chose his words very well.  You can find the whole thing by clicking his name, it's not long, but here are my favorite parts.

Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” So said St Catherine of Siena whose festival day it is today. Marriage is intended to be a way in which man and woman help each other to become what God meant each one to be.

In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and the groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life can flow through them into the future.

The more we go beyond ourselves in love, the more we become our true selves and our spiritual beauty is more fully revealed. It is of course very hard to wean ourselves away from self-centredness. And people can dream of doing such a thing but should the hope be fulfilled it is necessary a solemn decision is made that, whatever the difficulties, we are committed to the way of generous love.

Marriage should transform, as husband and wife make one another their work of art.

As the reality of God has faded from so many lives in the West, there has been a corresponding inflation of expectations that personal relations alone will supply meaning and happiness in life. This is to load our partner with too great a burden. We are all incomplete: we all need the love which is secure, rather than oppressive, we need mutual forgiveness, to thrive.

All the best to William and Kate. 
I hope their wedding was the first day of a long and very happy life together.
 
 
A few housekeeping items:
1. I'm still hoping the perfect buyer(s) comes along for the wedding dress and crib bedding (see previous post).
2. My L.L. Bean items arrived and are great! I'll profile them later this week.

Before I launch into a study of more spring styles, I'd like to start this week with a little inspiration to dress better. The main goal of this site, as evidenced by it's name, is to interpret what is out there by way of fashion and translate it into real style for real women, most specifically modest dressers.  But I subtitled the blog section "Fight The Frump" to serve as a reminder that frumpy is never stylish.
As further inspiration this lovely Monday, I am showcasing one of my favorite ad campaigns: Piperlime's "Let's Get Dressed" series. Enjoy!
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I believe the sweats ad above and "OK, IT'S TIME" ad below were the first to hit the streets. Apparently some women were not happy about being called out, publishing blog posts along the lines of, "Forget you. I love my sweats!" I for one, sat up and took notice.  These ads hit at a time that I was getting really tired of my really casual baby-mommy wardrobe. 
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As with the Dockers ad for the men, this ad really resonated with me. It IS time to dress like we respect ourselves and our fellow humans. To embrace the joy that is looking chic; whether you're dressed to the 9's or simply dressed for the park. To remember we're worth the effort and it is absolutely true "you get what you dress for."
I so love the line, "It's time to give up lazy dressing altogether because it's time to LOOK FABULOUS again." Hear! Hear!
And I'd like to make one small edit.  "Let's put Saturday-night effort into Sunday Best!"
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How about, "Let's try harder than modesty t-shirts!"
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I own a hoodie. It's packed in my 72-hour emergency kit with our camping gear.
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I told you! Shoes make the outfit!
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Review this post if your actual heels & feet need help.
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I hope you heed all this good advice.
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I often hear the excuse, "It takes too much effort to create actual outfits."
Baloney! It takes less actual physical effort to put on a dress than to pull on sweat pants and a t-shirt. And it takes the same effort to pull on a skirt and shirt. 10 seconds to grab a couple accessories and put them on. Next excuse?

"Why bother? I just stay home with the kids."
Bother for YOU.  Bother for your kids who will remember what you were like growing up.  Bother for your husband who will come home at some point that afternoon and see you. You're worth the effort. You're worth the fun that clothing and accessories can be.

"My friends will think I'm weird."
Why? You're not naked at the park. What will most likely happen is half of them will think and acknowledge that you look great. The other half will be jealous. Either way, you'll inspire someone to dress better. Good style, just like a smile and happiness, is contagious. Infect everyone you know!
 
 
This week's "Frumpless Friday" tip is unbelievably simple -
kick your earrings up a notch to defrump your whole outfit. 

Let's say this is your outfit...
It's going to be a jeans & t-shirt kind of day, which for many women I know is every day. That's fine.  And if you have a T and jeans that flatter you, it's a perfect basic outfit that, depending on how you accessorize it, can go from cleaning the house to date night in a blink. 
But let's say we're spending the day mostly at home, maybe running a couple of errands.  To defrump your jeans and t-shirt simply add a great pair of earrings!
Either colorful, ornate or both.
With the earrings you're instantly defrumped! You've stepped straight into stylish.  And who knows, the earrings my inspire you to add some bracelets and a cool pair of shoes.  But if not, you're still in the land of "I look simple but great." instead of the land of, "yes, I've been cleaning and mothering all day. What of it?"

I know so many women who say, "I just don't wear jewelry around the house." Or "I save my jewelry for special occasions."  To which I ask, "Why??"  You're missing out on so much fun!  The earrings don't have to be heavy (I hate heavy earrings and don't own any that pull at my earlobes.)  Accessorizing is truly the exclusive playground of women and we should enjoy it.  It's your opportunity to personalize your ensembles.  I understand saving the super delicate diamond necklace but I'm betting everybody has a great pair of earrings they aren't using nearly enough.  And if you don't - you have my permission to shop!

Click here if you'd like to view the tip about defrumping with an apron.  And stay tuned - there's a delicious post coming up about defrumping your drink, as well as mixing leather and lace.  And I've hit another milestone! I'm excited to tell you all about it.
 
 
The next installation in the Bosom Series will be out later but I wanted to take a moment to post this. Alexander McQueen died this week.  No details have been released yet as to how but it's certain the fashion world lost one of its most innovative designers. I posted here about some of his amazing creations.  
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Drew Barrymore wore the above dress to a premier and while she dip dyed the ends of her hair black, completely detracting from the overall look, it still didn't kill the utterly amazing craftsmanship of that gossamer, lacy overlay.  Incredible.

He could be wild and crazy.
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And then bam - there'd be something I would love to wear.
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His Fall 2008 RTW will remain as one of the most romantic and incredible collections I've ever seen.  What a tragedy.  He'll be missed.
 
 
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! 

 
 
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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.     

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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!

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Elaine's comment on my previous post reminded me that I hadn't yet posted a picture of the FANTABULOUS dress I won through a contest she had on her blog.  She's an adorable college student whose blog is great for image inspiration! Find her HERE and on our Image Inspiration page.  I like how she makes simple pieces not boring.
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A few months ago she ran a contest to give away this dress from Shabby Apple.  I had never heard of Shabby Apple but I immediately loved the dress and scrambled to complete all the various options she had for entering.  And I won! 

Isn't this dress delicious!?  It's so... Mad Men.  So... 60's Sexy Secretary.  Just the right mix of sweet with a wink, you know?  And depending on how edgy or dressy I want to take the dress, I have 3 pair of shoes that will work perfectly.  

When choosing what size I wanted the dress in, the Shabby Apple website said that the dress was sized "generously", and as I've mentioned before, I'm on a quest to get in shape so I sized down.  It's a little small as yet, but rather than exchange it (they have a great exchange policy!) I kept this size.  It's my Reward Dress.  I love it so much I want to be able to wear it for a long time.  And I like having it smiling at me in the front of my closet.  Cheering me on. 

So stay tuned!  I will soon post a picture of me wearing it instead of the dress rack! Please visit Shabby Apple.  You can find them HERE on The Shopping Section.  They have wonderful, modest dresses without the frumpy shapes that so often disguise themselves as modest.

 
 
All right, let's talk about Style Files!!  If you already keep one, this post will hopefully offer a few ideas about ways to expand or organize it.  Or motivate you to share your great ideas with us!  If you don't keep one, or don't know what I'm talking about, allow me to explain. 

A Style File is a collection of inspirations to help you express your own style, dress better or more creatively, and use your wardrobe more efficiently.  These little pictures and notes help us avoid wardrobe ruts and "Closet Blindness" moments that occur.  You know those times; when you're standing in front of your clothes but can't come up with anything to wear.  A Style File is the miracle cure.
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Here's a pic of one of my own Style Files and one of the empty folders waiting to be filled.  I use the Briefcase Files from Levengers.  Bought them years ago for work and despite all the use and abuse I've put them through, they still look brand new.  I LOVE that they're see-through and double sided!  At a glance I can instantly see what types of things are tucked in there.  While rummaging through my office supplies for a better Style File option than a manila envelope, I found them tucked into a tote and literally shouted for joy that I'd kept them.  They're perfection. 

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I checked out Levenger to see if they still had them.  And they do!  Currently they're offered in these lovely soft shades. Click here to check them out. 

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They also have these on sale, though from the picture they don't look nearly as durable.  Check them out here for yourself.

So - what do you put in a Style File?
  • Any image you find inspiring and would like to incorporate into your style!
  • Expand beyond fashion magazines.  While pictures of complete outfits are the basis of a style file, inspiration can come from anywhere.  Fast Company recently profiled a Dutch architect and the photos of how he used black and white texture in one of his buildings translated very well to fashion.  I also posted a week or so ago (here) about a thank you card I received with fantastic color pairings.  Into the file it went!
  • Add images for both items you own as well as those on your wish list.  I recently added a picture of a great outfit with a floral skirt.  My skirt has different colors but the outfit will still work. 
  • Add items for their details alone.  Sometimes you might only like the accessories in a picture.  Tear it out, circle what you like, make yourself a little note, "With blue blouse = date night!" and add it to your file.
  • Use your modern technology.  You can take quick pictures with your cell phone that you probably always have handy.  Print them out and add them to your file. Make notes to yourself on your PDA of choice (iPhone, Palm, etc.)  I love taking screen shots when I'm browsing the internet and I've been known to call and leave myself a message with an outfit idea when I have no other means of recording it at that moment.
How do you organize your Style File?  The options are virtually endless but here are a few tips:
  • By season.  You can have your Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter folders.  If you live in a relatively season-less state (I grew up in AZ) you could try the following.
  • By Occasion.  A Work folder, Sunday folder, Casual folder, Date Night/Party folder.
  • By Type of Inspiration.  Right now I have a folder strictly for color inspiration.  Different pairings and combinations that I use to inspire an outfit for any occasion.  You could also have a folder for "Full Outfits", Denim, Pants, Skirts, or Suits.  Each folder would contain inspiration for how to wear each of those pieces.
  • Don't forget to spring clean every once in a while.  Ditch images you no longer like and have fun reorganizing into a new method.  It'll help you see your Style File in a whole new light.  *A note about cleaning out your Style File - if, like me, you have young children, consider storing away the pictures to show them later.  They'll probably love seeing how you dressed "back then." 
If you're still skeptical of the benefits of a Style File, just try it out for a while.  I guarantee you'll find new outfits in your closet you never knew were there.  You'll take a few healthy steps out of your style rut and start wearing the same pieces in new ways.  Which pretty much equates to new clothes!  It'll help you define your personal style if you aren't sure what it is.  As you collect things for your file you'll start to see patterns emerging.  It also helps you when shopping.  If you have pictures or notes of things you need or want in your wardrobe, you can better target your search.  So start printing, snapping, snipping and ripping (out of your own magazines, of course!) And discover a whole new wardrobe world through your Style File!
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SHARE YOUR STYLE FILE TIPS!  How do you organize it?  What do you keep it in?  Where do you find the inspirations to put in it?  Leave a comment and help spread good style.

 
 
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Is this:
a) Matching
b) Coordinating







Correct answer: a

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That first one was really hard.  This is Coordinating.











Tough to tell any difference. I know.  This is tricky.  Let's try another one.

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Is this:
a) Matchy-Matchy
b) Coordinating
c) Matching


Correct answer: a, Matchy-Matchy.  Otherwise known as Matching Gone Wrong!

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Coordinated.

One of the most difficult parts about getting dressed is choosing which colors and patterns to put together.  There are the simple options; monochromatic, two tone, or my favorite, the dress (all you have to choose are shoes and accessories!).  But looking stylish entails being able to coordinate more than two colors or patterns.  So here are a few tips.
  1. Look for inspiration rather than relying on your imagination.  Sometimes, if you're standing in front of your wardrobe, and you're TRYING to create an outfit with colors or patterns you wouldn't normally wear, you're going to end up looking exactly that way.  Like you were trying too hard.  So look outside your wardrobe for color pairings that speak to you.  It could be anything!  I recently received a lovely thank you card from a friend.  On the front were 12 circles, each made up of 3 color-coordinated rings.  They were fabulous pairings of various oranges, limes, tans, khaki's, and turquoise.  The card immediately found its way into my Style File!  I could have never put those together in such a perfect way and now I'll just glance at the card for inspiration.  It might be an outfit you see in a magazine, an ad for something wholly unrelated to fashion, or even one of your husband's neckties!  If the colors coordinate in a way that inspires you, take note!
  2. When pairing different patterns in the same outfit, one should be dominant and all others recessive.  If you have a bold pinstripe, choose a subtle floral.  Bright polka-dot top?  Quiet herringbone trouser.  And remember, bold patterns in neutral colors still act as a neutral.  Don't be afraid to add color with your other pieces, shoes, and accessories.
  3. Walk your wardrobe.  Grab the piece you're wanting to wear.  Let's say a tan skirt.  Now, walk along the rest of your wardrobe holding that piece up against your other clothes.  When something jumps out at you, go with it!  As long as it's not the exact same color, of course.  (See photo #1.)  Maybe you found a pale green shirt.  Now take both pieces and do the walk again.  When you find a third, your outfit is done!  That light blue fitted jacket will be perfect!
  4. Take baby steps.  If you always choose black pants and your cream colored twinset, choose a different colored layer to go under the cardigan.  The next time, choose a pant other than black.  Or start by adding color with your accessories or shoes; such as a bright beaded necklace or scarf.  It's ok to go slow and build your confidence.  Before you know it, you'll be whipping up beautifully coordinated outfits and making it look effortless.
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To make sure you got it - let's try it again.

Is this:
a) Matching to the extreme
b) Coordinating 


Correct answer: do I really have to spell it out?

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Coordinated.





Just kidding!

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THIS is Coordinated.


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Bonus Question for extra credit!


Is this:
a) Coordinating
b) Matching




Correct answer - TRICK QUESTION!  It's neither.  I don't know WHAT this is!

 
 
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I love my evening shadow.  My evening shadow has long, lean legs.  I can look at my evening shadow stems and imagine they got that way from all the hours of running and working out I've done. 

My evening shadow has delicate ankles, around which my ankle bracelets float perfectly.

My evening shadow has a trim waist and narrow hips.  I'll take a size 6, please.  My evening shadow makes anything I'm wearing look cool and I'm always wearing the custom wardrobe my favorite designers made just for me.

My evening shadow always stands up straight and confident.  Never questioning how she looks.  Feeling her best.

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And while I'm looking at my evening shadow, I remember that it's just me.  This body right now is casting that shadow.  Somewhere in me are those long, lean legs, trim waist and narrow hips.  Sometimes when I, or anybody, talks enough about fashion the imperfections can start to take front and center.  Annoying us that the size 6 isn't going to happen right now.  And might not ever.  That perfect dress just didn't transform us the way we were hoping it would.  But beating ourselves up isn't truly stylish, is it?  A stylish woman is timeless, sizeless, ageless.  She carries herself confidently.  Happily.   

And so I'll keep enjoying my evening shadow and I'll remind myself that it will never be able to show my fabulous feet that look good in any and all shoes.  (Thank you feet!)  My evening shadow will never show my smile that gets my babies grinning.  My evening shadow will never show my eyes that my husband loves. My evening shadow is simply reflecting just a little bit of the best I can be.  And that's an inspiration I can always use.