Oh boy, have I ever had lazy days. I'm sure we all have. When they come, I hope we all turn them into a springboard for looking extra great the next day.
Whew! It's been a whirlwind of a week. Visiting family, reunion, etc. Lots of fun. While I unpack and wash all our camping clothes, here's the latest inspiration from Piperlime to dress well. As I mentioned in this post covering all the previous Piperlime ads, I adore these ads. Sometimes we just need a little weekly wake-up call to present our best selves to the world.
"BE THE GIRL YOU WERE TOO LAZY TO BE YESTERDAY."
Oh boy, have I ever had lazy days. I'm sure we all have. When they come, I hope we all turn them into a springboard for looking extra great the next day.
Yesterday was simply a day I need to share with you. It showcases the real meaning of class and style. It was a day that started out great but deteriorated quickly into one of those days. Then turned into one of THOSE days.
I do some consulting for the company I worked for before I had the girls. Yesterday morning I had a conference call. Now, these conference calls are few and far between. When they pop up, I schedule them after breakfast and before lunch, during the first play time of the day. Normally, the girls are totally oblivious to the fact that I'm on the phone.
Yesterday it was mass whining, wanting everything they can't have, wanting to be on my computer, etc. I blame the full moon. The call wasn't going to be long and I got testy, snapping a few times to "JUST PLEASE GO PLAY!"
After the call I suggested we head to the mall, where they love to explore. It was gorgeous out, I had a couple quick errands to run and wanted to check out a cardigan at the Banana Republic Power Lunch sale. Then the next bout of chaos ensued.
My almost-4-year old, Angle Face, has outgrown her sandals and I pulled out a larger pair waiting in the wings. She devolved into a demon, throwing the mother of all tantrums of her young life. And I didn't give in. I hate giving in to tantrums AND she has to come to terms with the fact that for the next many years, she will regularly outgrow clothes and shoes. Wishful thinking led me to believe if I had the big battle once, I'd avoid future battles over too-small items.
I dug in my heels. So did she. I cajoled, I reasoned, I ordered. She screamed, cried, and flopped around. I yelled. There were swats and time-outs. The twins joined in the fray, getting frustrated that we weren't leaving and this was all taking so long.
Two hours later we were finally loaded up. Correct-size sandals still on the feet but hard feelings all around. After those crazy episodes quiet down, the reflecting moments always come. You think about how you could have handled it better, what you did wrong, what you'll hope to remember to do the next time. To regain a happy atmosphere, I suggested we get suckers at the mall. They love going to Kara's Chocolates and choosing a sucker from their big glass jars. It was so much fun hearing each girl ask the other girls what flavor they were going to choose.
"I want Woot Beer!"
"I want pink-lellow-lellow!"
"I want geen and balana!"
We all chose about 8 different flavors during the discussion, laughing and happy again. We skipped into the mall in our long, hand-holding line. We hit the Banana Republic right next to where we entered, 5 minutes before the end of the Power Lunch 40%-off sale. On the first table by the door was the cardigan I wanted to evaluate. Right on top was my size! I grabbed it and headed straight back to the dressing rooms. We didn't even shut the door. I just dropped the diaper bag, slipped the sweater on over my shirt, "Looks great! Let's go!", and headed for the registers, not checking out anything else.
Already at the register was a woman, maybe 40-something, with her teenage daughter. They were working with the salesgirl on what sounded like the transfer of some items from the larger Banana Republic north of us. Being on hold with the other store, the girl waved me forward. We were on a roll! I plopped down the cardigan and zipped open my bag for my wallet. The wallet that wasn't there. The wallet, I realized in a sickening flash, that was sitting at home by my computer. And no cash for the suckers. My hands flew to my face in shock and I told the girl I'd forgotten my wallet. She said, "Oh don't worry! We'll save it for you and honor the sale price." I didn't care about the sweater. I cared about those suckers. The woman next to me said, "Dang that is SO frustrating! I hate when that happens." I laughed and answered, "I know! And I almost never carry cash anymore and promised the girls suckers. It's going to be a fun fight when we walk out this door." And we both laughed, mother's who've been there, done that.
As if on cue, all three girls started asking about their suckers. I leaned over and told them, "We have to go get some money first. Mommy forgot her wallet but we'll get a treat." Now, I live a solid chunk of miles from this mall. We weren't coming back that day.
I then turned back around to find the woman holding a bundle of $1's. "I'd love to get your suckers for you. How much are they?" I resisted. (My girls would survive just fine.) She insisted. (She's a mom. She knows the value of promised treats.)
So I accepted the dollars and, very teary eyed, led my girls out.
Three rainbow-stripe watermelon suckers later, we were motoring back to the Banana Republic. Luckily, she was still there. I handed her the change and each of my three girls very sweetly said, "Thank you for my sucker!" I also thanked her profusely and she said, "I hope you have a better day." We definitely did. She saved it and we ended it great. I was so glad I'd let her help us. It was the most valuable $2.56 that woman has spent in ages.
The minute we got home I found five dollars and tucked them into a pocket in my diaper bag. I'm now on the hunt for the next mom in need of her own Sucker Moment.
When I find you, please let me pay this forward.
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!
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.
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.
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."
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!
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.
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!"
How about, "Let's try harder than modesty t-shirts!"
I own a hoodie. It's packed in my 72-hour emergency kit with our camping gear.
I told you! Shoes make the outfit!
Review this post if your actual heels & feet need help.
I hope you heed all this good advice.
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!
I'm a firm believer in doling out kudos when they're deserved. And the following round of applause and thank you is VERY well deserved.
It's no secret I'm a Shoeholic. As I've said before, 1 dress + 14 pairs of shoes = 14 outfits. A month or so ago I spotted these shoes on the White House Black Market site-
"What adorable new shoes!" I thought. But new they were not. I'd somehow missed them in my regular perusing of that site and they were now nearing the dreaded "Sold Out" status. The site only had a size 10 available. But it was love at first sight (they're slingbacks with a hidden platform!) and I wanted them as my reward for the next 10 pounds I had just lost. A nationwide manhunt ensued. I naturally tried the Utah stores first. Nothing. Then, based on the salesperson's recommendations, I started calling certain other stores, arching up through Idaho, Washington, and Oregon before finally hitting pay dirt with a store in California.
Now - WH/BM does deserve a teensy thumbs down for not having integrated inventory so that the style # of the shoe could have been searched, telling me exactly where it was (or wasn't) and saving me significant phone time.
But they get a HUGE thumbs up and standing ovation for having some of the nicest, most helpful, supremely courteous staff of any store. And that's saying a lot.
Every. Single. Employee bent over backwards to help me find these shoes; whether it was simply suggesting the best stores to target or actually taking my number, calling the other stores in their state THEMSELVES, and calling me back. One outlet location in Oregon or Washington called me almost 4 weeks later to say they'd found a pair in my size, just in case I hadn't had any luck yet. The store has style, and not just on the racks.
A funny twist to the story - the first store I found who sent me the shoes actually sent me the wrong shoes. They'd misunderstood what I was looking for and sent me these -
Delightful in their own right and I kept them as my reward for the first 10 pounds I'd lost and hadn't yet rewarded myself for. How could I not considering both shoes were on final sale and... drum roll please... cost only $29 each. That's right! More than $100 less than their original price. I love a good sale. And the price made the heroic actions of the WH/BM folks even more commendable, considering they weren't trying to score a large ticket sale. It was a chump-change $29 sale. I'm guessing the company puts a lot of stock in training their employees to understand the value of creating happy, lifelong customers. And considering I have a whole new wardrobe to buy this year... it was a very smart move.
Party season is upon us! And where there are parties -
there are cocktails! But first...
I am starting this post with a VERY clear disclaimer. The following information is NOT intended to sound like you should LOOK like you're drinking alcohol. I don't drink alcohol. Never have, never will. I hope that you'll see the intention of this post is to:
a) help you have more fun at parties where cocktails are being served
b) NOT be the frumpy person wandering around with the can of Diet Coke in her hand and c) be an influence for good.
In my many years as a business road warrior I was subjected to a lot of happy hours.
A lot. There were many, many, many client dinners and conference parties. I don't drink but a lot of business is done over drinks so I had to come up with a strategy to deal with all these social drinking moments and I found one that worked very well. When it was suggested to meet over drinks and discuss whatever project we were working on, I'd always offer to buy the first round. (A corporate credit card is a thing of beauty!) It put me in a sort of power-position right from the start and allowed me to join in, even though I wasn't "joining in." I was the leader at the beginning, instead of the girl hanging back from the bar (and the business!) with the can of Diet Coke.
I rarely ran into a client or colleague who was drinking just to get drunk. They always ordered savvy, sophisticated drinks and I would ask why they chose that particular libation. They knew I wasn't drinking and they had a good time sharing their knowledge and preferences. Let me just tell you, the world of fine liqueurs is fascinating!
The scotch's and whiskey's alone are mind boggling.
For a long time I was stuck in the Shirley Temple rut. I love how a Shirley Temple tastes, but it got boring pretty quickly. I added Club Soda with a Twist, but still... pretty boring. So I started hunting down new virgin cocktails to order and this post is to introduce those favorites to you. I've also given you the recipes so you can make them at home.
But before I do, let me share with you a fascinating thing that happened on these occasions. Since I was often the first one ordering the drinks, I made it "ok" for others in the party to order non-alcoholic drinks. It was always a pleasant surprise when I'd order a virgin-whatever and others would say, "That sounds good. I'm not in the mood to drink tonight." It's pretty easy for us non-drinkers to refuse alcohol. Not so easy for drinkers in front of their peers who know they drink. Just one person doing it first made it "acceptable" for others to do the same. (hence the "influence for good.") It was nice.
And now... on to the fun stuff!
6 ounces ginger ale
1 1/2 tsp. grenadine
Garnish: orange slice and/or maraschino cherry
Ginger ale + Lemon juice + Orange juice + Pineapple juice + Grenadine syrup
You can tell the bartender "Heavy on the (whatever flavor you like best)." I prefer heavy on the pineapple.
A few tips for ordering:
Virgin Mary (Virgin Bloody Mary)
Ideal if you're not in the mood for a sweet fruity drink.
3 ounces tomato juice or V-8
3 ounces cranberry juice
1/2 tsp. Tabasco (more to taste)
1 tsp. lime juice
Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
Garnish: cilantro sprig, celery stick, lime wedge, or pickle!
Pour all ingredients over crushed ice. Stir, garnish, and serve.
If you're an iced tea drinker you'll enjoy this one. I make a killer version with cherry vanilla herbal tea and raspberry lemonade.
1 part iced tea
1 part lemonade
Sugar, to taste
Garnish: lemon, mint, or a slice of kiwi
Pour iced tea (sweetened or not) and lemonade over ice; stir and garnish. To make it with the fancy layers, pour the lemonade over ice first, then slowly add the iced tea.
3 parts pear nectar
1 part cranberry juice
A big squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Garnish: lemon and cinnamon stick
Pour the pear nectar, cranberry juice, and dash of lemon juice over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a glass. Pierce a perfect round lemon slice with a cinnamon stick and add to the glass.
Faux Kir or Virgin Kir Royale
(pronounced k-ear. I've been pronouncing it wrong!)
1 tsp. raspberry syrup or grenadine
6 oz. sparkling cider, chilled
Garnish: fresh raspberries
Put a teaspoon of syrup in a champagne flute, add the sparkling cider, and float several raspberries on top.
Mock Mojito Fizz without the fog
4 or 5 sprigs of fresh mint
1 oz. simple syrup
6 to 8 oz. soda water
Garnish: lime wedges and mint sprigs
Muddle* the mint (reserve one sprig for garnish) with the simple syrup in the bottom of a tall glass. Add ice cubes. Squeeze half of one lime into the glass, reserving the other half for garnish (slice it into three or four wedges). Top with soda water. Stir, drop in lime wedges, and decorate with the last sprig of mint. *"Muddle" means smash it up with the back of a spoon.
6 half-inch slices of peeled cucumber
dash of salt
6 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. simple syrup
Juice squeezed from half a lime
Garnish: salt and sugar, cucumber slice
Mix a teaspoon each of salt and sugar in a saucer or shallow bowl. Moisten the rim of a wine or martini glass and press the rim into the salt-sugar mix. Add ice to the glass. In a separate glass or bowl, muddle the cucumber with a sprinkle of salt. Add that to a shaker of ice, along with the cranberry juice, simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake well and pour into the prepared glass.
2 oz peach nectar
chilled sparkling cider
Pour the peach nectar into a champagne flute. Slowly add the sparkling cider to fill glass.
I skipped the frozen drinks because those aren't often served at a cocktail party and they're pretty self-explanatory. Most everybody knows they can order a virgin version of a daiquiri, pina colada, or margarita. I also skipped the near-beer because... ewwww.
And when I say it'll help you have more fun, it's because you'll get to enjoy and sample things you normally wouldn't. You can get a Diet Coke any old time but few non-drinkers keep the fixings for a fun cocktail on hand. After this, however, maybe you'll keep Rose's Grenadine or Sweetened Lime Juice stocked in your pantry. Makes any dinner party or simple dinner with your hubby much more unique! It'll kick your traditional spaghetti up to a whole new level. It's something about sipping sweet drinks from pretty glasses. You'll wind up toasting each other, you'll play footsie under the table, you'll let the dishes wait...
Drum roll, please. For the first time in my adult life... I can zip boots. Behold!
They're normal boots. Not even "extra wide calves". They're the Miz Mooz Solis boots, scored at the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale and I have enjoyed a few stolen moments here and there admiring them from the above vantage point.
Admiring them and the fact that THEY ZIP!
I've marveled at them in my mirror.
Definitely did some happy dancing as well, though I restrained myself during the shopping. Not that Nordstrom doesn't love a good happy dance.
The boots are my reward for losing 50 pounds. That "major milestone" I hinted at last week. I was a little trepidacious upon entering the shoe department. You see, the last time I was at this weight was 1995 and I was living in Arizona, where the weather just didn't inspire to buy knee-high leather boots. The last time I was "sort of in the vicinity of" this weight was when I met my future husband - and the boots didn't zip.
So imagine my utter and complete joy when I pulled a pair off the sale rack, slid them up under my jeans and zipped them right up. No tugging, no pinching.
Then imagine how giddy I was when - knowing I was pushing my luck - I folded my jeans around my leg and zipped the boots up WITH THE JEANS INSIDE!
It was a glorious afternoon.
It is an incontrovertible fact that style and weight are inextricably linked. Yes, one can find clothing that flatters at almost any weight. Almost. But it has been a long time since I was able to personally enjoy certain styles of clothing. Boots included!
A fantastic journey will soon begin for me. 2011 is the Year of the Wardrobe!
I've shrunk out of nearly everything in my closet and need to learn how to dress this new body. I hope you'll come along for the fun. I'll be tapping the style experts (Imogen! Reachel! Tim! Nina! Stacy & Clinton! Trinny & Susannah! and more!) through various books and blogs. Hopefully personally consulting with a few as well.
But this week I'm mainly reveling in this fact....
... the boots zip.
We're going to round out our masculinity series over the next few days with a look at some great ads that have come out recently. These definitely flout the metro-sexual trend, reinforcing the image of men being manly.
And some style vignette's from GQ. How delicious was Clint back then? I ask you!
"Style like that trumps fashion." I love that!
Coco made a similar sentiment and it always rings true.
I also love the line, "Eastwood's just been Eastwood." As women, we are a major style force in our men's lives, be they husbands, sons, fathers, brothers or boyfriends. I sometimes hear women joking about (belittling!) their husband's style when they think their man should dress differently. And yet if their man were to do the same to them - the punishment would be swift and severe. Don't even try to deny it.
Most men admit they don't follow fashion trends but DO want to look stylish in clothes that flatter them. He wants to look good for YOU! So sincere compliments when he looks great, paired with subtle and soft corrections when something isn't flattering or doesn't fit his personality, will quickly have your man looking his very best with his own style. Everything he owns will be a great option, as if he has always dressed this well- just Eastwood being Eastwood.
As I mentioned in my last post, before we dive into our series on spring trends and OD on fabulous femininity, I wanted to balance the equation with some masculinity. Taking a couple of posts to cover a very interesting wave that's been coming ashore. The real men who seem to be making a comeback. And it's fabulous. Real women need real men.
It all started when I saw this Dockers advertisement.
I hope this masculine wave that's resurging isn't a passing fancy. Some critics blasted this ad as sexist - which is, I think, exactly the problem the ad addresses. Nowhere in here did I feel slandered as a woman and there's nothing wrong with being a man.
Whether we know it (or admit it) or not, femininity is a huge part of a woman's style. It is enhanced when it has the contrast of masculinity to play off. Much like my clothing style, I really like the old-fashioned mixed with the new-fangled. A man doesn't need to sit in his chair in the living room waiting for wifey-poo to bring him his dinner (we've all had a long day!) but it's great if he makes sure to always take out the trash, open her door, and fill her car with gas. Or remember to walk into a dark theater first. Take her hand to help her exit when wearing heels so she doesn't have to grab the dirty car.
The little things make the man. And we women benefit.
I love dancing. Always have. I DVR the Ballroom/Latin Dance championships when they're broadcast and always remind Mr. Darcy that someday we WILL take lessons together so he can whirl me around the dance floor. And though I hate subjectively judged competitions (they're not "sports"), I like ice dancing in the Olympics for the dance factor.
And where there is competitive dancing... there are costumes.
Elegant costumes. Like these.
Authentic costumes. Like these.
And then there were these.
Most mind-boggling was this.
There's been a lot of hullabaloo about the offensiveness of the Russians' program. And while I have never seen an authentic Aboriginal dance, as a spectator, many of their expressions and moves were clearly demeaning. The whole caveman/hair pulling move? Seriously?
The above is a picture of their original costumes that they were forced to tone down. It obviously didn't help. The NBC commentator (Dick Button, I believe) made me laugh when he said they looked ridiculous. I say heavy points have to be awarded for good costumes and docked for bad costumes. If there's going to be judging, it should start the minute you step on the ice. Before the music even starts. The world is watching you - if you offend our eyes, your score should reflect that.
The thing that cemented the stupidity of subjectively judged competitions is that this...
...still ended up ahead of this! (3rd place vs 4th)
Appalling. Made me hope even more that one of the top Canadian or US contenders will win that gold and break the 50 year streak the Russians have in ice dancing.