Bad Design on Repeat: Spring’s Loosely Woven Bags

No doubt we all see fashions from time to time that we simply cannot appreciate. Whether the design constitutes a reminder of personal bad choices with which we dabbled in the past, or combines pieces or colors in ways that jar and repel us, there’s likely something presented as new each season by designers that doesn’t meet our personal aesthetic.

Some design ideas are bad for quite another reason – they are entirely impractical. This spring one style that has seen a resurgence is that of woven handbags. I’m not talking about tightly woven designs, such as the beautiful traditional Italian leathers of design houses like Bottega Veneta or summertime rigid wicker bags. I’m talking about loose weave, macramé-like designs. While these designs may have some eye appeal, they are remarkably impractical and can be downright dangerous to carry.

From the Spring 2021 issue of C California magazine, examples of tightly woven bags by Kate Spade New York and Maje M, plus a net “Filet Le Pliage bag from Longchamp and a macramé-embellished leather tote from Tod’s.

From the Spring 2021 issue of DuJour  magazine, a wicker bag from Celine by Hedi Slimane and a macramé bag from Fendi.

Consider you have one of these loosely woven bags slung over a shoulder or carried on your arm, and the weave catches as you walk by a store display, a door handle, the arm of a chair. . . . and suddenly you feel the tug and then the horror of knowing that your designer bag may cause damage to property if not bodily harm!  (Do I sound like a lawyer?)

The only thing worse than a loosely woven bag is a loosely woven skirt . . . . as pictured in the Spring 2021 issue of C California magazine. The look is great so long as you don’t sit down anywhere any part of the skirt might catch. When the look provides so little coverage, at least you won’t be exposing more if and when the inevitable rip occurs.

Jewelry Inspiration

This month, I will keep my post brief, finding inspiration from a recent host of “Saturday Night Live” – the actor Regé-Jean Page, whose role in “Bridgerton” has made him the heartthrob of countless women. 

In the opening monologue, Page delighted us with his presence, and reacquainted the audience with the charming look of a cluster of brooches pinned to a jacket. The brooches appear to be studded with diamonds and pearls – an unexpected and elegant choice.

What a delightful expression of creativity!  I am newly inspired to put together small groupings of my brooches and urge my readers to consider the potential in their own collections. The brooches just might encourage hearts to go all aflutter.

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.

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!