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Q: "Most of my week I'm an exhausted mom but my husband and I renewed our commitment to regular date nights a little while ago.  The problem is, I'm wearing essentially the same things I wear the rest of the week! All my clothes are mom-friendly, modest, and (I hate to admit it) pretty frumpy.  I'm not sure how I got to this point but what should I do about it now? I have limited funds to put toward a solution and want to spend it wisely.
Sincerely - K.,  


A:  I think we've all been there, K! One day you're cute, glowing and pregnant, the next you haven't worn much besides yoga pants and a t-shirt for weeks on end. Here are my best tips for reclaiming the sexy factor of your wardrobe.  I'm going to assume you have a pair of well-fitting jeans.  If not, those are an A #1 priority.  And make sure they're not these Mom Jeans!
I've listed the other items in order of "investment importance" - meaning if you don't already have it, this is where I'd spend your money first.  And the key style tip?  Do the opposite!  I'll explain in a moment...
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Nordstrom

1.  A Fancy Heel
I suggest a metallic heel in gold or silver, depending on your preference and skin tone. 
A metallic is a neutral so it pairs with anything! Jeans and a black top, a spring dress, fun skirt and cardigan - a metallic heel elevates them all to sexy date-wear.

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White House/Black Market - $34

2.  Chandelier/Statement Earrings
I like crystal and metallic because, again, it goes with anything and everything.  A metallic heel, jeans, black tee, and earrings like these?  Do you see the sexy sneaking back?

FYI - White House/Black Market is having a jewelry sale right now.  Click through from our Shopping Section.  WH/BM has great neutral options.

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Liberty of London for Target
3.  A little shot of boudoir.
Raid your lingerie collection for items with just a hint of sheerness or (if not sheer) a high enough neckline that you don't have to wear a coverage tee underneath it.  Try adjusting the straps to raise the neckline.  Doesn't matter if it's normally a thigh-grazing chemise - slip that baby on over jeans and under a fitted jacket and it's a very sexy tunic top!  Let something sparkly or satiny peek out from under a cardigan or blazer (buttoned for coverage if you need).  Your hubby will know what it is... and will love it.
I recently scored this little wrap number from the Liberty of London for Target intimates collection. It looks great with jeans or my dark gray skirt and heels.


Remember that "opposite" tip I gave you?  Here's what I meant.  One of the easiest styling tips to scoring a sexy look is to do the opposite of what you do during the day or week.  As outlined below...

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4.  Update your Mom Do

If your husband normally sees you with your hair down, wear it up for date night.  Normally up in a pony?  Wear it sleek and flowing with a deep side part.  Normally straight? Stun him with a head full romantic curls.

And consider whether it's time to update your style completely.  A razor-sharp bob can be easy with kids, and styles up very sexy.  Layers can lift a longer style out of sagging and dragging.

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5.  Learn Sexy Makeup
Another opposite?  Your makeup!  If you normally don't wear any makeup, your biggest bang for the buck will be to learn how to do a smoky eye.  It's sexy and does NOT have be done with black makeup, which can look harsh the older you get. I love a smoky eye in purples or browns.  A simple Google or YouTube search will produce hundreds of options for tutorials.  If you're near a Sephora or Nordstrom makeup department - pop in and have a makeup artist show you for free.
If you often wear heavier eye makeup, then go with a neutral eye (maybe just a little liner and mascara) paired with a bold lip.  It's the shake-up of your routine that brings the sexy here.

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6.  Dye a New Outfit
Here's a final tip - dye some of your items to score a "new" date outfit. If you have plenty of "mom-friendly" tops but are in desperate need of some date wear, don't be afraid of dying!  How about updating that stained white tee to a gorgeous deep turquoise?  New clothes - for about $2.  Gotta love that!

I hope this helps rev up your date nights!  It doesn't take a lot to turn simple into sexy.  And above all - it's HOW you wear what you wear that counts the most.  Make sure you put on that smile, which I'm sure is easy when you think of going out with your honey.
 
 
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! 

 
 
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"Shop for an evening gown when you don't need one.  That way you'll get one you love!"
- Isaac Mizrahi

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

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

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


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

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Those sleeves are beaded, not see through!

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

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Nordstrom


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

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Don't forget the shoes!!

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Nordstrom

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

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


 
 
Welcome to the first of our Fall/Winter Style Series! Since we figure the cycling of trends is here to stay (as discussed here) we might as well cover what's current, how to make it work and what to run from screaming! First...

The Lovelies -
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Motorcycle Jacket!  Leather jackets never really go out of style and the main point of this trend is that it's fitted and hip length.  A nice simple blazer-style leather jacket fitting that description will work great.  Do not pair with heavy leather boots.  The jacket should be the only biker item in the ensemble.
  • Have one?  Pair it with your ultra feminine pieces to tone down the more sugary sweetness of spring & summer and carry those items through fall & winter.
  • Looking to invest?  The biker jacket is miles more versatile then a long Matrix-style coat.  Look for a close-fitting jacket without too many bells and whistles; i.e. avoid multiple heavy zippers and tons of superfluous seaming. 

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Bright Coats!  Fall and winter coats are NOT something most people want to replace often.  That's why we buy black, brown or tan.  Neutral colors that will stand the test of time.  But a bright coat will do the same - as long as it's cut in a very classic style.  A brightly colored trench brings much needed vibrancy to fall and winter clothes and carries effortlessly through to spring. 
  • Have one?  Don't be afraid to pull it out and wear it as long as the weather will allow.  Pair it with neutral scarves, gloves and hats so as not to compete with the coat.
  • Looking to invest?  Keep the style classic.  Don't be afraid of pattern.  I have a bright pink trench with tiny white polka-dots that garners tons of compliments year after year. Consider a water resistant trench instead of wool.  It will be easier to keep the lighter color clean.

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Long Gloves!  Around my neck of the woods cooler temps can come early but nothing so frigid as to warrant carrying a coat around all day.  A definite do is pairing long gloves and scarves with short-sleeved items.  It's elegant and unexpected and they're easy to carry with you. 
  • Have some? Pair with simple, more sophisticated tops, avoiding graphic tees and active wear.  
  • Looking to invest?  Leather gloves wear for decades.  Look for gloves and scarves in complementary tones but not necessarily matchy-matchy.  (click here for info on coordinating vs matching)

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Nordstrom
Fun winter accessories!  Have a black coat?  Add color around your face with a bright scarf and hat.  Dark coats beg for fun colors and patterns.
  • Have some?  Keep a lint roller in your car.  That lighter, brighter lint will show up fast on a dark coat.
  • Looking to invest?  Dots, stripes, plaids, and animal prints are timeless.  Choose the best material you can afford (ideally cashmere) so they will resist pilling and look great for years to come.

The "Maybies" -
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Tough call, these over-the-knee-boots.  Personally, I think they look cool but you have to get skinny jeans that tuck into them easily.  And I'm not a fan of skinny jeans.  Thick leggings might also work, but that's a big might, and only with a longer tunic top.  Tricky... very tricky.
  • Have some? Nobody with any taste is wearing them with mini skirts and dresses (too tarty!).  Keep everything above the boots short and nicely covered up, like a cute short trench coat.
  • Looking to invest?  Only if you're in love with the style and are certain you'll wear it more than one year.  These boots don't come cheap (and if they do - double check the construction!)  Look for a simple cut that will more easily stand the test of time.

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Essie
Neon.  I'm an 80's child.  We did neon like never before and I agree with the sartorial mantra that if you were around the first time the trend hit, you can't wear it the same way the second time. Do a quick search for neon clothing and accessories  and many tacky results will suddenly glare from your screen.
  • Have something?  Make it an accent to neutrals.  The brights will look great with whites, tans, and denim.  Pull out those long lost bangles and pop 'em on your wrists.  Or let the neon grace the tip of a shoe or the straps on a sandal. 
  • Looking to invest?  Don't.  It's practically a guarantee you won't pull out that neon dress next year.  Instead, dip a toe in the trend, literally.  Neon nailpolish is a cheap way to have fun.  Me?  I'll be enjoying my bright orange toenail polish.  Later, when you don't want a full set of neon feet, it can become polka-dot or flower accents for a fun summer look.

The Nevers -
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Zappos
Harem Pants. DO NOT bother with the "boxy pant"/harem pant/baggy pant trend.  It's unflattering on everyone and will be gone in the blink of an eye.  Even if I have to gather every pair and bonfire them myself.  Who wants their hips to look huge, their legs to look short, and their crotch to hang down to their knees?  Run away from this one.  Far away.
  • Have some?  Turn them into cleaning rags.  Show the kids how cloth burns slower than paper, and how to dispose of the ashes.

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Boyfriend Blazer/Boxy Blazer.  Ladies, anything that hides your shape is a don't!  This trend will make you look like... wait for it... A BOX!  Not good.  Check out this picture vs the one below it.  Even on this tiny little model - she looks shapeless and heavier than she is.
  • Have one?  Get thee to a tailor! (as discussed here)  It can most likely be taken up and in at all the right places to get you a flattering piece.  If not, stick it in the dress up box for your kids to be "daddy" and future hobo costumes.
  • Looking to invest?  Spend your pennies more wisely on a blazer like the one below.  You'll breathe sighs of relief for years to come. 

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Ahhhh.  Much better.  Nice shape.  Timeless, slimming, flattering.

Hope this has helped excite you for the coming months!  I love jacket season.  Not so much "I-have-to-shovel-my-way-out-the-front-door" season, but jacket season is great. 
Stay tuned for Fall Style Series 2!
 

 
 
A woman once told me, "I hate to shop.  It's like running the gauntlet and always getting destroyed."

She didn't have any real personal style and her daily outfits consisted of whatever she could cobble together from a very muddled wardrobe.  No real surprise, considering the wardrobe consisted of random pieces she'd grabbed when she or someone else had forced her to go shopping. 

A few days later I saw an episode of this hilarious Japanese show (highlighted below) and it struck me that for many women who hate shopping, it must feel just like running this gauntlet and coming out the other side feeling crushed!
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The woman called me her "Shopping Therapist" but I prefer something a little sexier.  Maybe continue the Asian theme with Style Samurai.

Ever since, it's been fun categorizing the skills of those I'm shopping for, or with,
in terms of karate ranks. 

Newbies with no idea what to buy or where? 
White Belts. 

Shoppers who've confidently shopped before but are stuck in a style rut? 
Green Belts.
 
Skilled shoppers looking for inspiration or to discover different stores/sites? 
Black Belts. 
 

While Image Interpreters is all about the WHOLE image of a modern modest woman, shopping is a huge factor.  So we're glad to announce our new shopping section is complete!

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The Shopping Section will highlight the best stores and sites we find. Simply click the little pink shopping bags in the sidebar!
We'll keep it fresh with tons of information about the stores/sites, what they offer, price range, what they're best for, what to avoid, etc.

 
 

I have a schizophrenic relationship with fall.  I'm a September baby so I get to celebrate, but it's also the season of Halloween, my least favorite holiday.  (I'm just not good at coming up with the creative costumes!) I love the fall leaves and cooler temperatures but it also signals the coming of winter, my arch nemesis of seasons.  But I also love fall for the fashions!  This is usually a very EASY style season for modest dressers.  And the fall fashions are here!

One of my favorite sales, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, starts today!  It's a totally unique event not duplicated anywhere else in the industry - it is a sale on NEW items and I have scored some great pieces in the past.  Click on the link above to check it out.  Now would be a great time to score that new pair of non-Mom Jeans!  And the sale covers men, kids, and accessories!  Here are a few pics of some great items. The sale ends Aug. 2.

Many of the clothes debuting now are considered "pre-fall."  When exactly is "pre" fall, you ask?  Good question.  I believe it falls somewhere between midnight and 8 am between August 31 and September 1.  But only in certain counties and time zones.  And only if the temperature is below 90 that day.  Point being, pre-fall and fall clothing can hold some great finds for you!  The clothes are lighter weight, very close to summer weight, but with longer sleeve and skirt lengths, higher necklines, etc.  Very wearable for spring & summer, and not heavy like true winter clothing.  Modest dressers get mileage out of fall clothing more than any other season.  Fall is the absolute best season to score those Investment Items - the perfect black trousers, skirt suits, wrap dresses, jeans, etc.

And remember!  It is infinitely easier to shorten than to lengthen, which is nigh on impossible.  That means, if you find a dress, shirt, skirt, etc. that would you would love for summer/spring if the sleeves were a little shorter, get it and run it over to a tailor!  It's very likely they can easily transform a long sleeve to a 3/4 or shorter and still keep the item looking great.  And hemlines are a cinch to shorten. 

Also hitting with the fall fashions are the start of the summer sales.  Still with plenty of time to wear the clothes this year, as well as many springs & summers to come.

Click on the sale links below to check out the offerings!

Ann Taylor - up to 60% off

Ann Taylor Loft - 20% off with code STYLE20
YOOX.COM
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So tell me - what is YOUR favorite season to shop?  And where?