Carmen asked how I would style my circle skirt besides the black cardigan I pictured it with in the last post. In fact, I don't wear the skirt with the cardigan I pictured anymore. I have a much more fitted, v-neck sweater in a thin, sleek knit that goes perfect with it. The cardigan is too big on me and a little too slouchy.
As I talked about in this Fashion Architecture post about proportion, I need to teeter-totter all the fullness on the bottom. 
  • Fitted tops - I love it with a slim white button down! The perfect showcase for bright necklaces and brooches. (And I'll always roll up the sleeves.) The black and white pattern make it ideal for nearly any solid colored top. Tops with a little whimsy (like the pink top with the bow) are also a nice compliment.
  • Jewelry with some pop - the boldness and volume of the skirt call for the same in the accessories. Delicate necklaces or bracelets would get lost. But nothing too overwhelming either, I myself don't want to get lost in a noisy ensemble.
  • Structured bags - I didn't picture any here, but I'll pair it with structured bags. Slouchy hobo bags with a bohemian feel just don't complement the style.
  • When I make a circle skirt in a solid color, I'll follow these same fit guidelines but add pattern to the top. 
Carmen also asked if I thought it would look good on a short-waisted body type.  I myself am pretty short-waisted, and I have read in various style books that skirts like this won't flatter us but I think they're wrong. I feel it depends more on the thickness of your waist rather than it's height in relation to the ribs.  Pairing a circle skirt with a similarly colored top will keep the line long, as opposed to cutting you in half.
Hope that helps! Thanks for the great question, Carmen!
 
 
I apologize for being MIA the last couple weeks. 
Much has been happening at Chez Frump Fighter.  Busy, busy, busy!
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A friend and I went to The Pioneer Woman's book signing for her adorable new novel "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels."  It's a happy book.  Get it and enjoy.

All my pictures turned out blurry! So bummed.

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Mr. Darcy's Valentine's Day gift was an event.  I kept it a secret until we were on our way to The Vienna Ball!
We had a delightful evening and are now intent on taking waltz lessons. Knowing how would have made the night even more fun, as you can see by all the couples behind us who really knew what they were doing.

We'll talk more about my new super cute cocktail dress in a follow-up post. My fantastic up-do (that you can barely see in this busy photo) is courtesy of my stylist extraordinaire - Oscar. Who we'll also talk more about soon.

And for the point of today's post.  I've been noticing that everyone, including myself, is more than ready for the winter weather to subside.  Folks keep pulling out lighter clothes but then freezing their butts off once they get out of the house. 
So while we're still powering through the final weeks of winter, here's a little challenge to refresh your winter wardrobe.

Pick three items in your closet and pair them with 3 other items you’ve never worn them with. 

While changing accessories can completely change a look – for this challenge, they don’t count. A fresh look at your accessories will happen after you’ve paired the pieces with other tops or bottoms as applicable.  Here are some suggestions to get you started: 
1. a pencil skirt paired with a fancy, fitted t-shirt and cardigan (instead of its matching jacket)
2.  khakis, ankle boots and a trench coat over a thin sweater & blouse (instead of the dark jeans and chunky knits you might have been resorting to)
3. a pale colored sheath dress you normally never wear in winter paired with dark tights, boots (knee or ankle) and coordinating cardigan or jacket. (the dark tights and "heavier" footwear will ground the look and keep you from freezing) 

If you find yourself struggling to find 3 new items for the pairing, try my Walk Your Wardrobe trick.  I discuss it here.

I'd love to see and share any photos of your revamped outfits. So send them on in! Together, we can make it to sandal weather.
 
 
It's a very gray and hazy winter morning which I figure is the perfect time to touch on the It color for the coming seasons.  A while back Pantone (the universal color gods) deemed Honeysuckle the Color of the Year for 2011.  And it's gorgeous.
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Why do we care?  Because the colors that Pantone chooses will show up everywhere.
From fashion to business marketing and design to paint and home furnishings.
There's a whole intricate system behind how the Pantone group chooses the popular colors and that gets organized and communicated out to the world.
Now, you can obviously wear any color you want, but I find it interesting the thought process behind the choices.  Definitely influenced by what's going on in the world.  Here's an excerpt of what Pantone has to say about Honeysuckle -
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A Color for All Seasons
Courageous. Confident. Vital. A brave new color, for a brave new world. Let the bold spirit of Honeysuckle infuse you, lift you and carry you through the year. It’s a color for every day – with nothing “everyday” about it.

While the 2010 color of the year, Turquoise, served as an escape for many, Honeysuckle emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. A dynamic reddish pink, Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.

“Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum. The intensity of this festive reddish pink allures and engages. In fact, this color, not the sweet fragrance of the flower blossoms for which it was named, is what attracts hummingbirds to nectar. Honeysuckle may also bring a wave of nostalgia for its associated delicious scent reminiscent of the carefree days of spring and summer.”
________________________________________________________________________________________
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I often choose what I'm going to wear based on color and how that color affects my mood.  Or the mood I WANT to have. And since it's a color I already like, I can get behind the "brave new color for a brave new world" mantra.

I don't know how the Honeysuckle color is translating to individual monitors, but it's a lovely reddish-pink. In all it's varying degrees of intensity it could flatter pretty much anybody.

I really like this cardigan from Gap.  Might have to add it to the new wardrobe list.

What are your thoughts? Love it? Hate it? Jury still out?
 
 
Hi ho! Chief Frump Fighter here, reporting to you from the land of "CL" - as in My Closet! Back today with another scintillating piece on how I personally am styling the fall trends. Here's my report on the Camel-color Trend.   Today, we're talking about full skirts!
Isn't it interesting how financial difficulties always seem to turn the styles back to classic, feminine silhouettes?  It makes sense.  When people are really watching where their pennies are going they naturally want to invest in timeless pieces that they'll get a lot of use out of. 
That, and the fact that Mad Men has put every designer and every consumer in a retro mood!!  And while I was born in the correct technological era, I definitely missed the correct fashion era by about 50 years. I love me some 40's and 50's fashion.
So... bring on the skirts!! 
Full- and pencil skirts are ultra current right now, though for the modest dresser I don't think either ever goes out of style. 
Displayed in all their glory on my cushy chair-and-a-half I present - my skirts.
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Nearly all were bought ages ago.  Some are more full than others.  In the back from L-R is the more springy set, although I really like a white/pastel skirt with black boots in winter.
  • Talbots pink/white striped seersucker wrap with lovely floral embroidery
  • Ecolissimo wrap I scored at a street fair in Park City a month or two ago
  • Tribu floral
  • United Colors of Benetton with inverted pleats and beaded waistband. (This is the first white skirt I ever bought. I had been on the hunt for years for "the perfect white skirt" and finally found it in a Benetton in Poland while vacationing there with my family.)
In the middle L-R are -
  • Ann Taylor Loft floral. With the black accents around the flowers this looks great with my black boots and black fitted cardigan.
  • Max & Co.floral wrap skirt. It looks like a strapless dress in this pic but it has these really cool long laces that wrap around the waist numerous times. It's really full and I love the wide waistband.
  • Anne Klein polka-dot skirt that my mom shrunk out of and I quickly stole. It is super light cotton voile and has a black lining underneath.  I love pairing this with a black top and red heels or a red top and black heels.
In the foreground L-R are -
  • White House/Black Market embroidered and sequined. This skirt always makes me want to dance. I was wearing this skirt the first time my future-husband and I sat next to each other at church.
  • Carmen Marc Valvo STUNNING ivory pleated piece of beautiful. Another steal from my mom and she scored it Saks Off Fifth. She's a smart woman and bought two - one in a smaller size that she shrunk into. Heaven bless that store. I'm just a few more workouts away from fitting into this skirt and I'm drooling over the outfits to come!
  • Sunny Taylor black embroidered that is impossible to see in the picture. The applique is very "Eastern European" to me, which also makes it fit nicely with the "global" trend going on right now.  I think that's a stupid name for a trend but essentially it means incorporating some element of fashion from a different part of the world than you live.  I won't be sporting a full kimono but an obi belt is definitely on my list to buy or DIY.  Probably a version in leather. And I will be pulling out my gorgeous German Christmas dress again this year.  It weighs a ton but it's so fun!
  • And not pictured is the embroidered suede skirt from the last Styling the Fall Trends post.
I also plan on sewing a circle skirt or two. I have some fabric I love and am hoping it will be enough for one.  The extremely talented seamstress Casey put up a vintage pattern on on her site after making this skirt.  And the always talented Dana posted a modern version tutorial with an easy elastic waistband.  I'll be trying both! Maybe the vintage version in a heavier houndstooth for fall/winter and the elastic waist version in something light and swirly for spring/summer.
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Lest I forget - and speaking of retro - this little dilly of a dress found it's way to me a couple of weeks ago.  Sigh! How's that for a full skirt?  I won the Flour Clothing giveaway from Cardigan Empire and I don't think a faster order was ever placed. I just need to tweak my crinoline a bit, find the perfect yellow belt and I'm in business!
Although my navy blue wide military belt will also add a nice edge to such a dainty, girly dress.  We'll have to see!

We'll look at some designer takes on the full skirt tomorrow.  In the mean time, I'd love to know what you think of them?  Are they can't-live-without-ems in your wardrobe or can't-ever-see-myself-in-ems?
 
 
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I came across this photo and was about to immediately click past it when the caption caught my eye...
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New? Trendy?  I don't think so. 
Well-dressed Europeans have been combining navy and black for ages. (And as luck would have it, what was shown over at The Sartorialist today? A great shot of an Italian girl in... you guessed it, navy and black.)
One of the many style books I read mentioned it several years ago. And I like it.  It's a different twist on monochromatic since the colors are so similar. 


It also isn't anything you have to "dare to try."  It's actually quite safe without being boring.  It's unexpected and sophisticated.  So next time you're headed for that navy skirt and white shirt, grab the black shirt instead.  Or try the black stockings like Michelle did.  I also like a navy top and black jeans with some great accessories.  Just make sure your navy isn't too dark, or you'll lose the necessary contrast.
This is definitely a color combo you can put together year after year!

 
 
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!
 
 
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!


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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.


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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.


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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.



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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.


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


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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.

 
 
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.