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.

Keeper of the Keys

Today my work key ring broke.  I have two sets of keys: home keys and work keys (which I keep in my car with my ID lanyard).  Choosing the appropriate key ring has become a bit of a chore, because the criteria is extensive.  My work keys include keys to my classroom, my classroom storage room, the copy room and administrative wing; they’re too heavy to keep on my lanyard.  I need them at various times throughout the day, and I also have student workers who use them to go make copies.   One of my workers in particular tends to put my keys into his pocket and forget they’re there.  He’s almost left for the day with my keys in his pocket.  Plus, I am not the most organized of teachers, so I misplace my keys regularly.  So, therefore and thus, my main criteria are durable, visible, and big.

I’ve decided to replace my key ring with the same type that I had before (after all, it lasted for a year and a half of heavy use, and one I bought for my home keys didn’t last more than 3 days). It’s Areaware’s Reality Key Chain by Harry Allen.  It’s thick and rubber, with no movable pieces, but it has some heft and is easy to see.  I think I’ve also decided I will get the matching skeleton key key chain from Areaware as well.

I like the bright rainbow colors and the tactile appeal of these key chains.  Plus, they’re really hard to lose!

Anyone have a good suggestion for another key chain that meet all my criteria?  I’d love to know.  Put it in the comments.

In Praise of Cheap Sunglasses

I love the packaging for expensive glasses. The hard case, with the satin lining, and the soft bag containing the fancy, branded glasses. I remember once incident when a gentleman of my acquaintance, whom one might consider frugal (to put it kindly), bought a pair of Wayfarers. They were the most expensive sunglasses he had ever purchased, and he packed them away with such reverence after every wearing.

As much as I like the packaging, I don’t need Wayfarers. I’d rather buy a Forever 21 cheap knockoff in a floral print. I don’t know about everyone else, but my sunglasses rarely end up in their bag, in the case, carefully put away without a scratch after every wearing. Mine are more likely to end up in the bottom of my purse, in my passenger’s seat, or on top of my head for hours. I cannot guarantee the safety of my sunglasses. If I bought expensive ones, I would surely end up crying.

Certainly, there’s name brand recognition with the expensive brands; I know who you’re wearing when it’s on the arms of the glasses, but I don’t really care about brands. Sorry. I still get plenty of people admiring my style, even when it’s cheap. I’ve only had one person express disappointment when I told her that the boots she had admired on me were inexpensive, and I happened to be window shopping in an expensive boutique at the time.

Lastly, with cheap sunglasses I can have a variety. I can match my sunglasses to my outfit or my mood. I can try crazy styles and not worry if they don’t work on me. If they break, I can have a moment of sadness, but also have a backup pair on hand.

I just found a goldmine in GoJane.com, where all the sunglasses are around $5 apiece, so I bought four pairs. Even though it’s two posts about eyewear in one week, I couldn’t wait to share some of my recent finds! Time for a mid-summer sunglasses wardrobe refresh?

Cheap Sunglasses

Girls in Glasses

Marilyn Monroe: “Well, you know what they say about girls who wear glasses.”
Man: “What are you talking about?”
Monroe: “Men aren’t attentive to girls who wear glasses.”
–How to Marry a Millionaire

I can guarantee that statement wouldn’t have been true if I had gone out in my old glasses, but for all the wrong reasons. My glasses had a very slim rose-gold wire rim that looked very dowdy on me, and were cracked across both lenses. I only wore them in bed, after the contacts came out for the day. They had a rough life, but insurance being what it is, the only thing covered was a year’s supply of contact lenses, so I put off buying new glasses.

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Last Christmas, one of my presents was a gift card to the fabulous Warby Parker, online spectacles retailer extraordinaire. They have a great selection of fashionable frames, and are super easy to work with. Plus, for every pair purchased, they give one away to someone in need.

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I was a little nervous about ordering online, but Warby Parker has a great system where you can borrow five frames at a time to try out. Pick them out online, and they will mail them to you with a postage-paid return label. I actually did that twice, trying on ten frames total. It was so helpful, because the pairs I thought I really wanted didn’t necessarily look good on me.

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Another great thing about Warby Parker is they do a lot of collaborations with designers and others, so their inventory is always changing. I ended up with a pair of glasses that I really like, the Finch frame in Violet Magnolia. In retrospect, I should have bought them in Grenadine. I had hoped they would be a little more violet, but they’re much more magnolia.

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Ordering from Warby Parker was fast and easy, and I would love to buy frames from them again. Who knows, it might inspire me to not wait ten years to trade out my glasses!

Comeback + FauxCo Chanel

If you’re reading this, THANK YOU. You are far more patient than I deserve.

So, what have I been doing in this long time since I posted new content? Well, let’s SUM UP.

1. Started the Bedeck blog, focused only on accessories.

2. Abandoned the selfsame blog.

3. Started a master’s degree–an MFA in Creative Writing, to be exact.

4. Worked my butt off teaching full time and working on my MFA full time. Two full time gigs = complete and utter exhaustion and life stoppage.

5. Became addicted to Korean Dramas.

6. Wrote a novel about artists in the 1920′s for the aforementioned MFA.

7. GRADUATED! (This happened last weekend.)

So, now I have my life back, post-studies, and want to start blogging again. LO AND BEHOLD, YOU HAVEN’T ALL ABANDONED ME! My tears of joy are real.

Some things will be startlingly familiar–there will be fashion inspirations and icons, comparison shopping so you can find fabulous stuff on the cheap, some fug, and some snark. It’s all coming back. Plus, now that I am obsessed with all things Korean (as opposed to when I left off, when the British were all the rage in my head), I’m going to bring you into my little Korean world, with KPop, KDramas, and a skincare industry that’s light years ahead. (Teaser: I just started an 8-step [sometimes more] Korean skincare ritual. Video to come…) I promise I’ll try to restrain myself.

To celebrate my comeback and set the tone, I shall recreate what I am wearing on this sunny Saturday, and call it my FauxCo Chanel look. A little restrained, a little sexy.

FauxCo Chanel

The key to this look is the ribbed white tank. It must cling, just a little bit, and dip down in the front, just a little bit. It’s got to be a little sexy, or else the outfit goes wrong. The point here is juxtaposition. Add linen or cotton shorts and a sheer or lightweight cardigan (I have a slightly nubby one with a loose weave which reminded me of Chanel tweeds). A pair of metallic wedges are comfortable, yet stretch out the legs visually and make them very sexy. Then pile on the pearl necklaces. They should be very long, like the flapper necklaces of yore. I have two; one vintage 1920′s faux pearls, and one long freshwater strand that my brother and future sister-in-law gave me.

A note about fake flower pins: wear them in multiples. They’re cheap and obviously fake; that’s their nature, so wear them for impact, not for verisimilitude. One flower is a cop-out. Buy them in threes, so you can make giant topiaries. I lined my three flowers up on the left side of my cardigan, slightly offset, starting from mid-shoulder down; you can also align them in a triangle shape.

I recommend a neutral pink lip and some cat eyeliner (cat eyeliner = winged victory).

Classic meets a faker, and you get FauxCo Chanel.

Thanks for coming back and reading this post! I hope to offer up many more in the days to come!

ASOS Sale

I knew this would happen, but it’s still sad. I don’t have so much time to blog now that I’m working full-time and taking my MFA in Creative Writing full-time. But I still want to check in from time to time.

Right now, I should be writing, but I’m shopping on ASOS instead. I know I’ll have to winnow down my cart, but just now this is what I’m contemplating. Sharp flats for work (I’m on my feet all day), and some winter accessories, and a maxi just because.

Asos Sale

Catch the ASOS Last Chance sale HERE.

Olympics Past

I just made a grand discovery!

The Beauxbatons Academy of Magic is REAL! They went to the Olympics in 1976!

Amazing! Where is Madame Maxine?

Mind…BLOWN.

And in the Rest of the World…

Last night I threw together an outfit idea that I think is an upgrade to the US Opening Ceremonies preppy French beret look, but honestly, America was not the worst-dressed country at the ceremonies yesterday. I wanted to address some of the rest of the world’s fashion choices. Now, I know that some of the outfits were cultural, so I’m not going to pick on the men in skirts (which were kind of awesome, to be honest), or the island shirts. I’m sticking to the more Western style outfits.

First up: Sweden.

As someone in my Twitter feed said last night “The Swedish Olympic Team: Sponsored by IKEA.”

Now, when you’re as good looking as a Swede, tall and blonde and athletic, you should be able to pull off anything. And they look as good as they possibly could. But rugby shirts with horizontal stripes and shorts? Really? Plus, they have a flag that is NOT red, white and blue. They could use those colors in such fun, creative ways, and instead they go with sloppy rugby shirts.

River Island peplum top, $44 / Vivienne Westwood Red Label fitted blazer, $265 / Lauren Ralph Lauren pencil skirt, $69 / J.Crew high heel shoes

Next up: Czech Republic. They tried a spin on dressing for Britain’s famed rainy days, but their wellies and shorts and umbrellas were kind of silly. Plus, the bicycle shorts on the women? The sloppy blazers? No.

I decided instead to give them blazers with a take on the classic trenchcoat and a fantastic Marni print top. The royal blue works to stand out from the crowd, so we hang on to that.

Czech Republic Opening Ceremonies

Marni floral top / A.F. VANDEVORST long jacket, $400 / Mango crochet pants, $55 / Steve Madden flat shoes

I think everybody had to shake their heads and wonder what was happening with the Spanish team. They had a Russian designer, and to be honest, I haven’t seen much great fashion coming out of Russia. Their outfits were a dowdy ketchup-and-mustard-and-print extravaganza. And the fan-shaped bags? Really? They are, without a doubt, my least favorite outfits.

I decided a more sporty, modern look would be a refreshing change for the Spanish team. I am quite in love with this top, a dip-dyed use of yellow and red that is not overwhelming, especially on the crisp white. Very sexy-sporty-Spain.

Spain Opening Ceremony

Vivienne Westwood Red Label crop top, $175 / NIKE racerback tank, $55 / Blumarine white pencil skirt / Vince Camuto shoes

And then there was Mexico. I just…I can’t…I don’t…

There are no words. And I can offer no help here.

The great thing, regardless of fashion, was to see the looks on the athletes faces as they paraded in. Even the worst outfit is helped along by shining faces and excitement.

BONUS: the most kickass “team” at the Opening Ceremonies were the Independent Olympic Athletes. I think they were having the most fun of anyone there.

USA! USA! USA!

I’m watching the Olympics Opening Ceremonies wrap up just at this moment. The great fun of watching the parade of nations is to see what everyone wears. And there is no lack of interesting–both good and bad–uniforms.

The US outfits have been controversial this year because Ralph Lauren, the designer, had them made in China. Whoopsie. I think that they’re an embarrassment just because we look like we’re A. French or B. Martha’s Vineyard-style twats.

Historically thinking, it’s not our worst look. After all, we did rock a stetson and a sheepskin once upon a time.

We also, way back when, looked like we were coming in to take over the place by force.

However, I have to say, not my favorite look. Here’s what I would have done for the Olympians.

Olympics Opening Ceremonies

For the men, a piped blazer, navy pants, a subtle blue and red tie, and awesome details in the oxford shoes with red laces and the red white and blue cuff links.

Olympics Opening Ceremonies

Alberta Ferretti navy blue dress / Blonde + Blonde stripe blazer, $47 / Hobbs peep toe wedge, $125 / Pin brooch

For the ladies, a simple sheath dress (which looks good on athletic women’s bodies), and a great striped jacket with a nipped in waist. I gave them a wedge in bright red, because heels are too dangerous for these ladies. Sorry, ladies, I love ya. No athletic injuries needed while walking in, though.

Can’t wait to watch the games! GO USA!

Key to My Heart

Here’s a controversial little boot:

A little lace boot is cool, but a little lace boot with a heel in the shape of a key? Definitely not for everyone.

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for this. A little bit steampunk, a little bit crazy, a little bit staid Victorian. A close-up of the heel:

I would wear these. The only thing I don’t like about it, to be quite honest, is the top. Seems very run-of-the-mill. Even some piping might not go amiss.

What do you think? Wear or beware?