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.

Korean Skincare Part II: Put It On

I wanted to do this post yesterday, but Vimeo wanted to make me wait a little longer before it would let me upload.  But now I’m finishing off my video post on Korean skincare.

This video went by so fast I hardly had the time to say what I wanted to about my routine.  So, a couple of side notes:

  • In the still picture at the beginning of the video, I’m using the Smile Folds Care Hydrogel Patch by My Beauty Diary.  In the still picture at the end of my Part I video I’m using the Too Cool for School Glam Rock Abracadabra Eye Gel Mask.
  • Generally when you use a sheet mask, you leave it on for 20-30 minutes.  Even if you can’t read the Korean on the back of the package, usually the numbers are there to help you out.  Sheet masks are like a concentrated form of essence.
  • The Black Caviar essence I’m using also has gold as a main ingredient.  Fancy!  It’s also currently on sale at Pretty and Cute for $23.80.
  • Facial mists can be used any time.  They set your makeup, and don’t wash it off, so you can use it to rehydrate in the middle of the day or just as part of your nighttime regime.  
  • You  may notice the markedly improved quality of my video compared to my old videos on my Vimeo channel.  I shot and edited the video on my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone.  After my iPhone took an unexpected bath last Christmas, I got the Note 3 and I love it so much.  Next time I’ll shoot in landscape mode, though.

Put It On: Korean Skincare Part II from Furnished Souls on Vimeo.

Again, I’ve put together a Polyvore set of the products I used in this video.  

Put It Back On: Part II of my Skincare Regime

I have plans to write more posts on Korean beauty, like what’s the big deal about BB Creams and CC Creams, more on sheet masks, and even a demo of a pudding mask. Should be fun. Any questions or comments, please put them below!

Korean Skincare: Part I

I have been battling my internet.  I went to upgrade it last week, and have had connection problems ever since.  This is not what I wanted!  Anyway, that’s the explanation for the delay of this ever-so-important video post about my skincare regime.  (If I had known I was going to have so much trouble, I would have waited until today to film the video, because I don’t have the blemishes on the bridge of my nose anymore!)

Taking It Off.mp4 from Furnished Souls on Vimeo.

I put together a collection of the products used in this video.  I recommend them all, but my skin type isn’t the same as everyone else’s.  My skin is sensitive and not too dry.  I get a bit of oil in my t-zone.

Take it Off: Korean Skincare Regimen

I’ve had great success shopping at Pretty and Cute.  I also recommend Kollection K and Wishtrend.

Questions and comments below, please!

Brand It!

I know enough about this whole blogging thing to know that eventually the word “branding” will pop up. As in, “what’s your blog’s branding strategy?” I started thinking about this while in my car running errands this afternoon. What is the “brand” of Furnished Souls?

Let’s start with the name. For branding, the blog’s name should set its goals and effectively communicate the brand. Umm…nope. Not happening here.

My blog name actually comes from an e.e. cummings poem, and is intended ironically, as the women he writes about are stuck in an “acceptable” routine where they are busy, but create nothing of consequence. (Read the whole poem at Poetry Foundation.org.) It’s exactly the kind of woman I don’t want to be. The women I write for (for I always picture my friends reading) are thoughtful, interesting, funny, clever, sarcastic, beautiful and imperfectly quirky.

Ironic obscure poetic reference for a blog name = Branding FAIL.

Choose your look, sayeth the gurus of branding.

The color palette of this blog varies between some colors and lots of colors. I get bored. I try to do the starkly minimalist backgrounds, but always go back to things that are colorful and over the top. And then I start designing blog banners on Photoshop…

Sorry, faithful readers. I have no colors. Wait, I just adopted colors for the blog in my head. The blog’s colors are now BLUSH and BASHFUL. (Name that movie reference!)

At least I should know the purpose of the blog, right? That’s the heart of branding!

It’s a fashion blog! But it’s not, really. I’ll never be the Man Repeller or The Sartorialist. I can’t even bring a great OOTD on a daily basis. Guaranteed you will never see a full-body picture of me in a romper and high-heeled clogs with a sun-dappled tree in the background. Sorry. Plus my style is kind of quirky–sometimes vintage, sometimes conservative, sometimes a little rocker or alternative. And when I recommend for other people, I try to take their personal style and body type into consideration.

Maybe it’s a budget blog? But that’s more out of necessity, because I’m a teacher in my real life, which means I am economically ground in the gears of the system of THE MAN *rant rant*. I show people how I shop and how I utilize the internet to get greater bargains on the things you want but can’t afford. But it’s not really about that, either.

Technically, I guess Furnished Souls would be considered a lifestyle blog. I am so uncomfortable with that term, though! I automatically think of Gwyneth Paltrow, the guru of GOOP, or Martha Stewart, with all her good things.

Things Martha Stewart and I have in common: we could both rock this outfit.
Things Martha Stewart and I have in common: we could both rock this outfit.

To me, “lifestyle” means that you have it all together–or at least act like it. It’s those ladies on Facebook who post pictures of their fresh-baked loaves of bread on their immaculately clean tables, who talk about their adorable precious children and thoughtful husbands. Lifestyle bloggers are people who seem to never make a misstep, and if they do, it’s adorable and anecdote-worthy. I do not fit that description. I am actually pondering having a recurring feature here entitled “Where It All Went Wrong”, chronicling my own fashion failures and how I might have fixed them.

I am not even in a relationship, but I have the feeling if I tried to “consciously uncouple” like Gwyneth, it would involve a lot of wailing, mascara panda eyes, and undignified snotting.

Upon reflection, I think I could best be branded as a “life” blog. It occurs to me that my trip to run errands and my blog are much alike. I had to do four things: take my diploma to the framer’s; pick up a package of Korean beauty products from the post office; go to Bed, Bath and Beyond; and get lunch. From my place, the framer’s and the post office require a left turn, BB&B requires a right turn, and lunch was in between. Yet, my route ended up being framers to BB&B to post office to lunch. Totally inefficient, yet I got it all done, and had more time in my car to listen to fun summer tunes and enjoy the sunshine. And isn’t that great sometimes?

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!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…

I know I’ve been AWOL from this blog for a while. I’m taking my master’s degree, and any spare time that I have to play around on the computer is no longer blogging time, but thesis writing time. Whoo-hoo!

I’m finally starting to get a handle on my thesis and paper writing, so I have been toying with the idea of coming back to blogging. I’ve decided, though, that I’m ready for a new project.

I have enjoyed Furnished Souls so much, but I realize that I’ve been all over the shop on this blog. Fashion, interior design, beauty, hair, travel–I’ve covered it all. I am ready to narrow my focus, so I’ve started an accessories blog! Please come and visit me at my new blog, Bedeck! I’m excited about this change, and hope you’ll visit me over there, as I’ll still be finding some great style options for your wardrobe.

Come on over and check me out at BedeckMe.wordpress.com!

Little Black Bag Unboxing

Check out what I got in my Little Black Bag! I had a little issue with my video recording, and then I had a little issue with my video, but I got the basics in there.

What I had to cut out was the advice on shopping Little Black Bag. Since I traded, and traded, and traded, I came up with a couple of guidelines:

1. Make decent offers. You waste people’s time when you offer a $14 pair of earrings for a $65 necklace. It’s annoying, and it doesn’t work, because for every $14 item you’re offering, someone is offering double or triple that value.

2. Handbags are impossible to trade for. Let one go, and likely it’s gone forever.

3. Patience is key. Your ideal trade might be right around the corner, but it might take a little longer. You have seven days–this particular bag took me six days to trade.

All in all, I’m partially satisfied with this bag. I’m returning the taupe necklace, and the wall decals, because they actually have the black frame printed on a cream background, which doesn’t match my wall color, so they don’t look good. The nail decals are great, though!

This Week Inspired By:

Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Oh, YA fiction. You are like a mistress I just keep coming back to. I try to only read YA that is highly recommended, and I saw a bunch of my friends on Twitter talking about these books a couple of months ago. It’s taken me a while to get around to it, but I managed to read both of these within 24 hours today. I slept little and snuck reading into my work day. And now I’m sad that it’s over. Signs of a good book! I think I like Lola a little more, because the characters are a little quirkier, (and Anna shows up there, too), but I love them both. Which brings me to…

Paris

City of Lights! The city I could/should/kind of do love. Allow me to explain.

In college (I was just a couple of years older than Anna!), I finally got to visit Paris. I went with one of my best besties, who I love. However, I discovered once we got there, that my friend did not like art. Or great food. Or history. Or culture. Or basically anything Paris had to offer. Except for architecture, but she got bored of that pretty fast. And we were poor; too poor to drink, too poor to eat well, to poor to take public transit, too poor to afford anything but a hostel, too poor to even go up the Eiffel Tower. And then I got sick mid-week, and we were locked out of our hostel in the rain. Needless to say, Paris is my do-over city.

I am ready to live la belle vie in Paris. I need my do-over.

Quote of the Week

My writing sample for my master’s application is not going well.

Song of the Week
Foux da Fa Fa by Flight of the Conchords

You know. To go with the Paris theme.

Who wants to plan a trip to Paris with me?

Chevron Skirt, Yellow Shoes=Whole Lotta Cute

Twitter is the best thing ever. I am convinced. (And just as I wrote this, Dwight Shrute said “I really ought to have a Tweeter account.” WIN.)

And it is also seriously helpful tool for ideas for the blog! My Twitter friend @KandNandB asked for a little advice on putting an outfit together with a skirt and shoes that she already owns. The shoes are yellow, the skirt is navy and white.

Look at the cute shoes!

The platforms and the jersey skirt (you’ll see in a moment!) are casual enough to pick a knit top, be it a t-shirt knit or a thin sweater. Also appropriate: chiffon. For a layered look, a casual blazer (in a shrunken shape) is fab. I stuck to the basic yellow/navy/white color palette, because the chevron is bold enough that you don’t have to do anything too crazy to offset it. (I also love the skirt and want it for myself.)

Yellow and Navy and White

And bonus: jewelry to complete the look! I stuck with casual, bold, and bright costume jewelry.

Yellow and Blue and White Jewelry

Thanks for the opportunity, @KandNandB! Hope you find something you like!