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.

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.

The Plus-Size Model’s Coat That Doesn’t Fit, on So Many Levels

How does one explain the photo below of the well-respected plus-size model Paloma Elsesser in the October, 2019 issue of InStyle magazine?

Elsesser is often described as an outspoken voice for plus-size models and has a vast Instagram following. She was honored earlier this year by being selected by the CFDA to join the selection committee for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award.

Her beauty shines in numerous photos you can find on the Web, even if you aren’t an Instagram follower (and I put myself in the latter category).  One lovely example is above.

Compare that with the photo chosen by InStyle, above, on a page devoted to “Cheap thrills to fast-track your style.” Elsesser is pictured in a trench coat that is wrong on so many levels that I find it entirely inexplicable. Consider:

  • The coat is far too small, and doesn’t fit around her.
  • The sleeves are too long, and one sleeve is turned up more than the other.
  • The tight belt looks terribly uncomfortable, like a desperate attempt to keep the coat in place.
  • The coat is shown over a dress and some kind of additional layer that hangs out from the bottom of the coat irregularly, which looks sloppy.
  • The high neckline isn’t especially flattering – it makes her look very much “closed off.”
  • The white shoes are trendy but draw the eye downward to the irregular hems and detract from the rest of her look.
  • The red purse is small and sloppy with all its straps and doesn’t go with anything else she is wearing.

Is this genuinely meant to inspire InStyle readers?

Interesting . . . Note that the month was left off the bottom of the page, which shows the place holder “MONTH” rather than the word “OCTOBER” as seen on the back of the page. I have to wonder if this page had a tentative photo intended to be replaced. Please tell me it was.

Tie One On: Nora Ephron Would Approve

For some of us over 40 (or well over 40!), one issue of personal appearance that arises as we age is the appearance of our necks. Nora Ephron wrote a book famously titled I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.

This season, designers appear to have taken note. Oscar de la Renta and Ralph Lauren are among the designers whose creations include a strip of fabric that encircles the neck and puts it out of sight. The September 9, 2019 issue of People spotlights a number of celebrities, both over and under 40, who have been photographed in the look. Note that many of the designs include an otherwise plunging neckline, but some attach the strip to a more modestly covered bodice (except in the case of Priyanka Chopra, where it appears to be sheer).

Another big trend for Fall 2019 is the return of the silk scarf, which of course can also serve the same purpose of encircling and hiding the neck. If you feel bad about your neck, you have some excellent on-trend fashion choices this season.

Orthotics for Pool Shoes

A quick post this month, sharing what may be useful information. After developing plantar fasciitis, almost certainly due to walking about in less than completely supportive pool shoes too often after pool exercises and swimming, I needed to find a solution.

I searched for water shoes with that would provide arch support yet have all the features I require. Flat pool socks and other types of water shoes with flat soles are out of the question. Sneaker-type shoes are too heavy to keep on while swimming. Ditto bulky protective water sandals. Slip-ons, sadly, tend to slip right off.

My preferred style of pool shoe has a rubber sole that provides traction, along with a cord that can be tightened to keep the shoes securely in place while I kick and dance my way around in the deep end of the pool. I found a style with those features and removable insoles.

I next searched for orthotic inserts for pool shoes to replace the removable insoles. At the time I initially did this search, I found nothing whatsoever online. Most or many orthotics have a fabric covering and other elements that would not be appropriate for use in the pool. I made inquiries to orthopedic doctors and physical therapists to see if I could obtain a recommendation. No luck.

I purchased a pair of Doctor Scholl’s gel inserts, not quite sure what the non-gel side of the inserts looked like, as the packaging provides no sneak peek and no description. Eureka! The gel inserts work perfectly, providing the additional foot support I require. After swimming, I remove the insoles and let them dry next to the mesh top pool shoes. My plantar fasciitis quickly resolved itself.

I’m not sure how to describe the non-gel side of the gel inserts, but they have been fine in the pool over many months now.

Before writing this post, I did another online search for water shoe orthotics, and have discovered that is possible to purchase customized waterproof orthotics, albeit at a price tag nearing $200. It’s nice to have a back-up plan. In the meantime, that $200 will buy me more than eight pairs of new pool shoes plus new gel inserts. I’ll be doing a lot of swimming!

Bring Attention to Your Eyes by What Your Wear on Your Feet

It’s true – you can bring attention to your eyes by what you wear on your feet. Indeed, you can bring attention to your eyes or lips or hair – those features as far away as can be from your shoes. This is possible through the strategic use of color.

Pops of color have been a thing for several years now (I wrote a blog post about the phenomenon back in August 2012). I approached the issue from finding an irresistible accessory in a vibrant hue and considering how to make the pop of color work.

Illustration:  Tempting vibrant hues of accessories pictured in the Summer 2019 issue of C California magazine.

As I wrote then, “The addition of a hue to an ensemble works best when it is repeated elsewhere in the ensemble, because repetition provides a pleasing sense of visual harmony. Reds, pinks and corals often coordinate with lipstick. Nail polish this season is all about bold color, and can easily repeat or approximate an accessory’s hue. Gemstones set in jewelry also can be selected to coordinate with the favored color.  This season is all about prints, and finding a print that repeats the color is easily accomplished.”

I continued: “If you are determined to utilize a single pop of color, consider its visual effect. Where does the pop of color draw the eye?  Shoes draw all eyes downward, so  if you’re thinking about a pop of color via your shoes, consider whether your feet is where you want people to be looking. If you have great legs and want the eye to sweep down over them, great. Otherwise, the effect suggests fashion victim rather than creative chic.”

Rather than starting with a random hue that catches your fancy for your footwear, consider focusing on colors that are part of your personal color palette. In particular, since it is always a good approach to have people focus on your face, look to the color of your eyes or your hair to determine what color shoes to wear.

Repeating your hair color is not difficult. Black shoes are perfect for someone with black hair, as are brown shoes for a brunette, reddish brown shoes for a redhead,  and camel color shoes for a blonde. Grey shoes are gorgeous for someone with silver hair. If you have gone creative in your hair color with streaks of blue or pink, wearing a matching hue on your feet will bring additional emphasis to your creative choice.

White shoes are back in fashion this season and present a bit of a challenge. Unless you have white hair, they can tend to draw the eyes down to your feet and stay there. The more white in your ensemble, the less this is likely to happen. If you have darker skin or a deep tan, white shoes can bring emphasis to the whites of your eyes and teeth.

Bringing attention to your mouth is as simple as repeating the color of your lipstick, or the natural hue of your lips, in your shoes. Lipstick red shoes call for red lipstick.

Repeating your eye color in your dressier footwear is easy to accomplish if you have dark eyes. With athletic footwear, you can readily find combinations of blue and green to compliment any color eyes.

I was intrigued to see actress Tilda Swinton in the June/July 2019 issue of Harper’s Bazaar pictured in a sunshine yellow dress that coordinates with her blonde hair, accessorized with baby blue pumps – shoes that match the color of her eyes. The effect is memorable. She is drawing attention to her eyes by what she is wearing on her feet.

It’s Not Dior, It’s Nature

I have been more than a bit amused at all the accolades given by the fashion press for the KaleiDiorscope or KaleiDiorscopic print featured on clothing and accessories introduced by the French design house Dior for summer 2019.

Image: Dior dress ($9,000.00), bodysuit ($1,650.00), bralette ($1,250.00) and bag ($3,450.00) as pictured in the May 2019 issue of C California magazine.

The name of the design is clever –a play on the word “kaleidoscope” referencing the toy containing mirrors in a tube that produces changing patterns when the tube is rotated. Indeed, there is something vaguely tie-dye about the patterns, something vaguely tropical….

Actually, something precisely tropical. Something natural. The natural tiger cowrie shell, to be precise.

Image:  Natural tiger cowrie shell earrings, available on eBay for $39.98.

Neither the American Dior web site nor any of the fashion press have noticed how beautifully the patterns coordinate, so I’ll do it here. And I’m offering a pair of earrings that will give you the look for less than one percent of the cost of the bag.

Image:  The earrings pictured with a Dior ad from the April 2019 issue of C California magazine.

Buy the earrings. Wear them. Enjoy the compliments. If someone asks, just tell them, “It’s not Dior, it’s nature.”

Square Necklines Are Not for Everyone

File this under “Oh, No!” The popular purewow.com web site posted a piece on April 2nd  declaring: “This Trending Neckline Is So Flattering, Everyone Needs to Buy It Immediately.”

A number of photos are included with the article, including this example of a square neckline that works beautifully for the wearer. More on why it works below.

The issue with a square neckline is that it brings horizontal emphasis to a place where one might not want it. For a large-busted woman with slender hips, a classic “inverted triangle,” the square neckline is likely to make her proportions look out of kilter.

For a curvy woman of any size, the straight line of a square neckline does not inherently relate to the lines of her body, which are curved, not straight. If her facial features are strongly horizontal, particularly her eyebrows and the line of her mouth, however, or if the wearer choose strongly geometric haircuts, a neckline that otherwise fits her physique correctly may be flattering.

In any case, be sure the square neckline you are considering is at least as wide as your face. A narrower neckline may make your face look out of proportion and your neck look relatively short.

Be sure the square neckline lies flat across your chest. If it does not, you are too curvy for that particular neckline. Seek another.

The photos above displays a square neckline that is wider than the wearer’s face. The neckline lies flat. The model appears to have an hourglass shape:  she has hips that are balanced by the neckline and puffy sleeves of her dress. Notice the center part and blunt cut hair, providing design elements that are complimented by the neckline. The model adds the finishing touch of a handbag that matches her hair and has a strong horizontal top line. The eye sweeps over the ensemble and finds a pleasing harmony.

Never ever listen to anyone selling something that purports to work for everyone.