Time for Reflection, Creativity and Joy

It is my tradition at the end of every year to post images that provide visual delight in the exquisite work of designers and artists who create beauty.

During this most difficult year of 2020, we have each individually found ways to combat the boredom of isolation and the restlessness due to Covid-restricted activities. Channeling our energy into the creation of beauty is a wonderful way to achieve this.

I am blessed to have friends and acquaintances who have been able to create and to donate masks or meals to assist front line workers. These works of creativity and charity are beautiful indeed.

Clearing out the clutter and finding ways to repurpose items that someone else might find to be more useful or lovely is also a worthwhile use of one’s time.

Learning how to maximize and appreciate what we have in our wardrobes and possessions is another valuable endeavor, as we reflect upon what is truly flattering and what gives us joy.

With that in mind, I am closing for my year-end post this year an eye-catching montage of looks from the December 2020/January 2021 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, which suggests:  “Put a Bow on It:  Add some flare to your socially distanced holidays with lipstick-hued blouses and bejeweled necklaces.” The combinations of bow blouses with necklaces and surprising uses of earrings and brooches as accents to the blouses makes for delightful and surprisingly creative results.

As the year ends, let us find time for reflection, creativity and always, joy. Wishing all my readers much beauty and a happy, healthy 2021.

The Eyes Have It in the Era of Covid Masks

The September 2020 issue of Vogue stated the new reality succinctly:  “The defining accessory of our era is not, as it turns out, an It bag or a chic new shoe. It’s something far more essential:  the face mask.”

Without further comment, Vogue presented a fashion spread that coordinated face masks with fashions. Here are two examples of the featured looks:

What is also part of the new reality is that the eyes are the focus of the face more than ever. Forget about tooth whitening and flattering lipstick colors: the mouth is not seen. It’s time to focus on the eyes.

Mascara and eye shadow can draw attention to the eyes, but there is something further that doesn’t require makeup.  Nonverbal facial expressions are what will allow one to make a statement. Fashion supermodel, actress and business mogul Tyra Banks introduced the concept of “smizing,” or smiling with one’s eyes, during the run of her reality television series America’s Next Top Model. We can communicate much in the way of kindness, friendship and joy through the smile in our eyes.

The masks themselves present fashion opportunities, to be sure. Find masks in colors and prints that are flattering if you are going the fabric mask route in lieu of medical grade masks in that go-with-everything light blue and/or clear face shields.

Don’t forget jewelry. Earrings, necklaces and brooches can draw attention to the face in a most flattering way. (Tips on jewelry wearing are beyond the scope of this short post.)  However, be mindful of earrings that can caught in the ear loops of masks. Stud earrings may be a good choice in lieu of the large hoops seen in the Vogue fashion spread.

Whatever your fashion preferences, one fashion rule applies to us all right now:  It is essential to wear a mask whenever we are out in public to help combat the spread of the coronavirus. Protect yourselves and your loved ones and everyone with whom you come into contact.

Burnt Orange Is Not the New Turquoise

It’s Halloween – the one day of the year when putting orange and black together is a tradition. Orange is not a color that is easy to wear, and charring the citrus, if you will, to produce burnt orange doesn’t make it any easier.

Thus I’m having an “Oh, No!” moment with a bit of fashion advice given in the October 2020 issue of O, the Oprah Magazine. On the cover, Oprah “gives a warm welcome to chilly air” in “relaxed yet refined seasonal classics” consisting of “a comfy sweater in rich burnt orange” plus slim pants, tall boots and golden double hoop dangling earrings. She looks great in the hue. The fashion editor opines that burnt orange is “a color that works with all skin tones.”

No, no, no. Burnt orange is a decidedly warm hue, and works beautifully on many skin tones that have warm undertones. Yet there are even exceptions to that, as burnt orange is an assertive intense hue. Someone with very pale warm skin may find the color too strong and overwhelming to wear; a soft “Creamsicle” orange or coral may be much more flattering.

And anyone with cool toned skin is likely to find that burnt orange makes her or him looked washed out, as seen in this example of an item offered by a major retailer. If pink is one of your preferred colors, chances are that orange is not going to be flattering.  As the character Elle Woods proclaimed in Legally Blonde:  “Whoever said orange is the new pink was seriously disturbed.”

Pink also won’t work for everyone, of course, although it’s likely to be a great choice for a pale blonde. If you’re looking for a color that truly works on all skin tones, think turquoise. It has the right mix of cool and warm and a medium intensity that works beautifully for just about everyone.

Sad Times for the World of Fashion in Print

If you have followed my various jewelry and style-related columns over the years, you know that I am a devoted reader of fashion magazines. These days there is an overwhelming amount of social media coverage of actual and would-be fashion influencers, to be sure. Yet fashion magazines provide inspiration in showcasing fashion in a permanent, readily accessible archive utilizing the fashion savvy of editors, writers, photographers, and all the many other members of the magazine staff who create something memorable and extraordinary in every issue.

I noticed that some of the magazines went to seasonal issues early this year, as the effect of the coronavirus grew. It was only this month that I became aware that several of my favorite fashion magazines may be or are being shut down entirely.

It has been surprisingly difficult to obtain information about the closures, and I’m still not entirely clear as to whether the closures affect worldwide editions of these publications, but I understand that the venerable Harper’s Bazaar – in print since 1867 – along with Elle magazine and InStyle – three of my favorites – have been affected. I will report further in future posts.

Brooches – A Surprising Bit of Personality for Your Athleisurewear

In these times of Zoom meetings and staying at home, wearing jewelry may seem like more of an afterthought than ever before, especially when the default mode of dressing is athleisurewear. A delicate pendant necklace and stud earrings may be part of one’s regular look, even when the clothing is super casual, but statement jewelry seems out of place.

Let me suggest a way to inject a bit of personality into athleisurewear dressing. As an impressionable young girl, I was influenced by the fashion selections of my slightly older and more world-wise relatives. I distinctly recall that one of my cousins wore a sweater with the most charming addition – a small brooch pinned to the side near her face. I don’t recall the motif of the brooch, but I recall that it fascinated me because it was so unexpectedly, sassy, stylish. A simple addition but one with great visual impact.

Image:  A Trifari ice cream bar lapel pin I’m wearing during these dog days of summer.

Add a pretty poodle or ice cream cone, a fleur de lis or garden fairy, a vibrantly colored piece of fruit, a convertible car, maybe a sprinkling of mismatched starbursts – and take a basic tee shirt or sweater to a pretty, playful or poignant place. And let your brooch inspire smiles.

Clothing Options Decrease Due to Coronavirus

These days, as many of us shelter in place, our wardrobe needs have become limited. Without the opportunity to socialize and to dine out, let alone to work in offices and to get together for celebrations or religious services, there is not much need for an extensive selection of clothes.

Many of us find a uniform of sorts, in which comfort is key. The top or tee shirt and pants or shorts that fit perfectly and feel comfy cannot be beat. The number of pieces in regular rotation between wearing and laundry dwindles.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the cumulative effect of decreasing consumer clothing needs is one factor bringing about a change in what retailers will have in store:  “Thanks to a global pandemic on top of a trade war, American shoppers are finding their once-endless array of apparel choices are quickly disappearing. There’s disruption everywhere – from manufacturing and shipping delays to store closings and plummeting consumer demand – and merchants are desperate to avoid accumulating piles of hard-to-sell items.”

We’ll find less merchandise in stores with a shrinking assortment of sizes and styles. And the list of retailers filing bankruptcy seems to grow weekly.

If you are financially able to do so, please support your favorite retailers with your continuing purchases. This is especially critical for the survival of small businesses like specialty boutiques.

If you can no longer find a particular style in your favorite store, or if your favorite store is no more, remember that there are additional small businesses on web sites like eBay that may be able to provide exactly what you are seeking.

Above all, please stay well.

Reviewing Shoes & Handbags Plus a Style Hack: Riches of eBay: Purse Straps

One worthwhile project to tackle during these days of isolating due to the coronavirus is a review of one’s wardrobe. It’s difficult to know when it will be time to break out the fancy duds again, but the most frequently used items in the wardrobe certainly merit time and attention.

Now’s the time to check on the condition of shoes and handbags, to polish them and give them a good cleaning, and to assess what needs more significant attention and what needs to be culled from the wardrobe.

SHOES:  While shoes can be polished at home, repairs and upgrading of worn heels and the like require the attention of a shoe repair professional. Most shoe-related maintenance projects may need to wait until the economy reopens.

Now is a good time to look over your shoe wardrobe and to determine if any shoes will need to be replaced, such as much-used athletic shoes or go-to styles of shoes for work. Putting together a wish list can be helpful. Online shopping may provide an option, albeit limited, for filling the gaps in the wardrobe, since there is no substitute for trying on a pair of shoes to determine how comfortable they are. Liberal return policies are of great help.

Also useful is being able to obtain exactly the same style of shoes that have worked perfectly for you. Sadly, few shoe lines produce identical designs over the years. Be very cautious if a shoe line introduces a shoe that looks to be identical to one you purchased before if the shoe suddenly has a new style name – chances are the specifications for the shoes are not the same, and the fit of the shoes may be very different.  

HANDBAGS:  With regard to purses, along with basic cleaning and polishing, there may be an additional repair or upgrade project possible to bring new life to a favorite bag. If a handbag includes a strap to allow for hands-free use, the strap almost always can easily be replaced.

Finding an exact replacement for your purse strap may be possible on eBay at a remarkably low price. Search by the name of the designer or manufacturer of your purse to find the identical or similar styles of bags. Measure the strap you wish to replace to ensure you are finding a match, and you may be all set. If the strap is sewn on, of course, you’re back to waiting for that shoe repair shoe to open to make the switch, but if the strap clips on, you’re good to go.

Don’t forget that an annoying short strap can be replaced with a longer one; a new color strap may add pizzazz. There are literally thousands of purse straps available on eBay. Have fun discovering a whole world of style possibilities available from the comfort of your own home.

The Nostalgic Charm of Charm Bracelets

During these days of extended home stays, the impetus to sort through one’s belongings is irresistible. For many Baby Boomers and other jewelry lovers, one or more charm bracelets may hold a place in their jewelry collections. Rediscovering these bracelets brings on the nostalgia.

The 1960s were the heyday of the style, and what fun it was to add charms to a bracelet, whether that bracelet was sterling silver, costume jewelry, or real gold. Travel bracelets were a frequent choice, collecting a charm from each state or country visited. Coming into contact with someone’s charm bracelet, it seemed de rigueur to ask to look through that collection of charms.

My favorite grammar school teacher was known for her jangly gold bracelets that announced her arrival. My mother and I both had cherished charm bracelets, adding charms to mark special occasions (anniversaries, graduations, piano recitals).

The May 2020 issue of InStyle magazine features new versions of charm bracelets available for purchase, perhaps interesting new generations in the style. You can also find pre-owned charm bracelets on eBay and other resale sites. These bracelets may supply charms you might want to add to your own new collection. They may make you wonder about the women who owned those bracelets – what stories those bracelets tell.

Quarantine Makeovers

As the quarantine continues, it can be amusing and even instructive to check in on individuals who make it a point to stay in the public eye, as well as those who have been inspired to share their coronavirus quarantine tips.  

Finding inspiration to exercise, meditate, bake or read may be just the encouragement needed to see the silver lining in unexpected free time. Comedy can provide relief from boredom or, at the other extreme, from the compulsion to take on too many organizing and home improvement projects.  

Without the benefit of our hair stylists and other beauty service providers during these strange times, it can be worthwhile to tap into unused products and samples we have accumulated. Now is a great time to experiment with makeup. What a great time to play!

This montage of quarantine makeovers from the May 4, 2020 issue of People may also inspire. I’m tying to talk my husband out of growing a Fu Manchu mustache, and please may he never consider a Mohawk. I’m thinking a man bun might be more appealing. As for me, my hair is getting long enough to do all manner of up dos and braids. I’m reminded of some particularly bad looks from high school. I will not be posting any photos.

Be well. Have some fun.

Coronavirus Closet Review

As we all shelter in place in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, now is the perfect time to take on a review of our resources. Checking the kitchen pantry, cleaning supplies and paper goods are top priority projects in assessing what we have and what we might need, to be sure.

With those tasks under control, it is worthwhile to take on a review of the resources in our closets. It’s the perfect time to go through our wardrobes and determine what works and what doesn’t – what is flattering and useful; which pieces only take up space. Whether or not you think every item should spark joy, you can assess what pieces don’t merit closet or drawer space.

In a closet review, you may come across garments that are tried and true but which have become the tired workhorses of your wardrobes and might be ready to be replaced when the time is right. You may find shoes or handbags that can use a good cleaning or minor repairs. Some items may be ready to be retired immediately.

Assembling donations for your favorite charity can provide a sense of connection to others. And in these trying times, that connection can help us not only to survive, but also to thrive. 

Be well and stay connected.