Essential Autumn Skirt

This is it.

The one skirt you need for fall.

I’m obsessed with oxblood leather–have been for a while. I think my mother owned boots in oxblood leather when I was a child, so I’ve never gotten over the sentimental attachment. So of course when I saw an oxblood leather skirt, I swooned–HARD.

This is not your black leather biker pencil skirt. (Yes, I once owned one of those. The leather was like BUTTAH. But I wouldn’t wear it anymore, even if I still owned it.) The shape and the color make it fresh and work-appropriate.

Faux Leather

I envision this as a fall staple. Wear it with a button-up and a blazer or a soft cowl-neck sweater and boots. For my own styling suggestions, I would say keep it long-ish (I’ve seen some great midi versions) and avoid black. A nice camel color would work, too.

Now if you’ll pardon me–I found one of these on sale and must go buy it…

Summer’s Remains: Friday

Day two of Nashville shenanigans.  For running around the city today, I’m going to continue on with a day counterpart to last night’s vintage look.  A little nautical look, courtesy of Cherry Velvet (except I don’t have all the tattoos that the model has!).

Full Retro

Since I’m going retro with the dress, might as well go all the way.  Retro accessories like a pair of cat eye sunglasses as a charm bracelet or two help achieve the complete look.  A small shrug is a must for the transition into aggressively air-conditioned indoor spaces.  The orange sandals seem out-of-place until you actually see the dress; the parts that seem red in the pattern are actually orange.  The finishing touch is a striped canvas bag with a rope handle to tie everything together.  Retro enough to be original, but ordinary enough to not look like a costume while out and about.

Summer’s Remains: Thursday

I promised a better mood today, and a better mood I shall deliver! A practically ecstatic mood, actually, as I am road tripping today! I’m off on a last-of-summer fling to Nashville to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

The birthday celebration will be a progressive feast, with Southern charm and fine dining and vintage style. Therefore, I have chosen a style that suits me best: vintage glam. Red lips, fake eyelashes, crinoline under my skirt.

Birthday Bash

This is almost exactly what I will be wearing, with a few exceptions. I’ll probably wear a little more jewelry. My shoes are more awesome than this, as they also have a Sailor Jerry-style design on the wedge. My bag is less flashy than this, but it’s real ’40’s vintage patent leather, with a bakelite handle.

Party time!

Summer’s Remains: Wednesday

A bit of bitterness sneaks in on a Wednesday, as I prepare to go back to school. Despite my best efforts to keep my vacation mode mindset for this last week, I went to work for several hours yesterday, and got less done than I wanted. I’m trying to decide whether I go back in today or not.

How Do I Really Feel?

So today I’ve put an outfit together that is definitely not work-appropriate for Wednesday. Camouflage pants have been pinging on my fashion radar–I think they’re going to be very popular for fall. I rarely if ever wear message tees, but I find this one funny and perfectly expressive (much better than one that says “Love” or some message about how sexy the wearer is). Add jewelry (because every outfit is a little better with jewelry). I didn’t choose any shoes to go with this outfit, as an incentive to just stay at home.

Tomorrow I’ll be less cranky.

Summer’s Remains: Tuesday

The summer is dwindling away, and there’s still much to be done in my last week before I go back to work. Tuesday is a day for running those last summer errands: Post Office, donating things to Goodwill, selling books back to the used bookstore.

Working All The Angles

A sharp geometric day dress suits the errands of the day. I’m really taken with these Madewell bracelets and rings, with their simple geometric designs. A flat gladiator sandal is perfect for running around town, and a pair of unusual sunglasses finishes off the look. Now off into the day!

Summer’s Remains: Monday

As a teacher, summer isn’t counted as a season but as a vacation. When the last of the seniors are graduated and I’ve stowed everything away until next school year, summer begins; when the calendar indicates it’s time to report back to work, the summer is over. So, by the calendar, summer ends next week for me, and I’m trying to enjoy this remaining week of vacation without too much anxiety for the upcoming school year. To celebrate the last week of summer (for me) I wanted to do a series about what I will be wearing (or wish I could be wearing).

Casual Mondays

Today was a bum around the house doing laundry and dishes day, because having the house immaculate is priority one. When I go back to school, there won’t be as much time to clean everything spotless. So I put together a casual shorts and tank top look, with a chiffon jacket for running errands. Included are the requisite cheapie Old Navy flip flops, which I spend my life in during the summer, and then put away for ten months when school starts back up.

Mutton Dressed as Lamb

“Ewe mutton without garnish is a tough bite, to be sure; but methinks she’s dished herself off to day, lamb-fashion.” –Splendid Follies, 1810

At the request of a friend who is turning 40 this upcoming week, I have decided to address the topic of “age appropriate dressing”. Just thinking about this topic, however, makes my eyes go bloodshot with anger.

Let me explain. As women, we spend 30+ years of our lives trying to come to grips with ourselves and our place in society. We get over the objectification bullshit, recognize our own beauty, discover what we’re good at, embrace our brains and personalities, and make peace with some of our demons. (Mind you, this may require a few more years, but at least we get a good start on it.) And then society steps back in and says “Congratulations on being a grown up! Now here’s a list of things you should never do with your clothes and your body now that you’re here.” It is as if a cut-off date has been assigned to your attractiveness; once you are 40 you are no longer sexually desirable, therefore you need to get in line and stop acting like you are.

I think the cardinal rule for dressing over 40 is one you should have been following through your teens, twenties and thirties as well: Dress in a way that flatters you and makes you feel beautiful.

Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani: 44

Are there fashions you should avoid when you’re 40+? Probably. But you probably know this already. It’s likely that you need to give up on anything that shows your midriff. Take a miss on rhinestones and glitter and random sequins for daywear. Avoid mom jeans. Am I giving you anything new and revolutionary here?

But maybe you, like my friend, need a little guidance. So, even though I haven’t hit 40 yet (9 more months for me!), I’ll tell you how I see it.

First of all, take a careful assessment of the way you look. I will admit, sometimes I put something on and it’s like I truly see it for the first time. I have a pair of trousers that are 12 years old that I still wear, because they are quality pants in a classic style. I also have clothes that are less than five years old that went in the Goodwill donation bin because I realized they were really not doing me any justice. Our bodies change as we get older, and maybe you need to raise the neckline or lower the hem, not because a low neckline or a short hem is wrong, but because it draws attention to things that have adjusted unflatteringly with time. However, there is no need to have a kneejerk reaction and go polar opposite of what you’ve enjoyed in the past–like lowering all the hems to the floor and raising the necklines to the chin.

Naomi Watts
Naomi Watts: 45

Second, be comfortable–don’t look comfortable. I think the best piece of advice my maternal grandmother gave me was “wear heels as long as you can.” My paternal grandmother, at the age of 95, wore silk blouses and pleated wool skirts most days. Comfort wear can be a slippery slope. Yoga pants are for the gym, pajamas are for the bed, ratty tee shirts are for gardening. Keep your boundaries intact. If you can’t wear heels, try a wedge or a cute pair of flats. If you’ve made it through childbirth/kidney stones/a mammogram, you can certainly manage to wear a pair of trousers without an elastic waistband.

Mariska Hargitay
Mariska Hargitay: 50

Third, wear trends, but don’t worry about being trendy. Abandon clothing that declares its own name (your chest is not called “AE”, your butt is not named “Pink”). However, if you have your heart set on a novelty Dr. Who tee, buy it! Wear it with a dark pair of jeans and a corduroy blazer. Juxtapose classics with your trendy items. Every item you wear shouldn’t be a trend–keep it in moderation. Oh, also, if you’re going to wear a “trend” item, make sure it’s a trend NOW, not when you were young. Throw out your scrunchies and your claw hair clips. Even if stirrup pants make a comeback, leave them be.

Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore: 53

Lastly, work with the professionals. Every stylish woman, especially when she’s getting older, should have a tailor. Case in point: I fell in love with a perfect, high/low, military style coat, which had some unfortunate goth bondage-style straps on the back. I bought the coat, then took it to my tailor, who took the straps right off for a reasonable price. Just a touch of tailoring can make a cheap dress perfect or a slightly dowdy outfit flattering. I would add that it doesn’t hurt to have a good hairdresser (no Supercuts!), a nail salon where they know you, a massage therapist and a dermatologist. Oh, and a shoe repair place if you buy good shoes.

Iris Apfel
Iris Apfel: 92

I plan to not only age gracefully, but fashionably, saucily, jauntily, and even outrageously. And if I do it right, maybe someday I will be granted Iris Apfel status. If you’re shocked and don’t feel like your age, then let the world be shocked as well! Don’t believe the “rules” of the internet, but use the wisdom you have gained about what looks good on you, no matter what age you are.