Turning Towards Autumn

For the teacher, when school starts, summer is officially over. The calendar may still acknowledge additional days of summer, and the weather may still be balmy (I’m fanning myself on a humid evening as I write this), but it’s fall. That’s all there is to it.

When I shop for work clothes, I don’t shop for summer clothes. I have a much larger wardrobe for winter than for summer. The best pieces I have are transitional, and I find myself looking for pieces that will go from summer to fall with a few tweaks.

Skater/Fit and Flare dresses

Last year I bought a skater dress in grass green, and now I have one in teal as well. I’m kind of obsessed with this as a transition piece, since you can wear it on its own or with a small shrug in summertime, or with a sweater or blazer in fall. A bright solid is perfect for late summer and fall, as it doesn’t seem too frivolous or summer-y. You can wear this dress with sandals in summer, knee-high boots as the weather gets colder, or flats in a bright (not necessarily matching) color anytime.

When it comes to skater dresses (or fit and flare dresses, or a-line dresses–whatever you want to call them), you really can’t beat ModCloth for selection. I love that site so much.

Case Closed

Have you ever gone shopping for an item, and you weren’t sure exactly what you wanted, but once you saw it, your reaction was “that’s THE THING. I DON’T KNOW HOW I COULD WANT ANYTHING ELSE BUT THE THING NOW.”

That just happened to me.

I need a new iPad case, because mine is falling apart. The corners are pulling apart, and it slips and slides around. I generally have a hard time finding what I want because I like something practical and stylish. I went to Amazon.com, because it has a wide selection. And then I saw this:

Lego Case

And the search was over.

First of all, it’s LEGO. My brother and I were obsessed with Lego as a child. We are Danish-American, after all; we visited Legoland in Denmark, and let me tell you, there were Legos for girls in Europe. I had a set that was a tiny Bavarian cottage, complete with a lady with a tiny Lego rug beater. I wish I still had it, it was that awesome.

Pink Legos

The stand is called a “DIY” stand–you can move the pieces around and adjust it. I honestly don’t care that this is marketed as a kid’s iPad case. I like it!

One concern–I didn’t read the reviews until after I ordered it. The reviews are mixed. I’m hoping it won’t be flimsy, but I’m also not hard on my cases. I’m crossing my fingers that I didn’t make a mistake, because I really want this! I’ll keep you updated once I get it.

Be-ringed

I awkwardly Googled today. You know how sometimes you type something dumb into Google because you can’t think of the smart way to say it? Well, up until I decided to write this post, I never stopped to think about what you would call those rings that go above your knuckles. Not knuckle rings, because those are different dastardly jewelry pieces. Forefinger rings? That makes no sense. Top rings? I couldn’t figure it out. So I awkwardly Googled “those rings that go above your knuckle” and cringingly hit enter.

Turns out they’re called midi rings. I’ve been intrigued by them ever since I saw Gong Hyo Jin in The Master’s Sun drama wearing large bands around every finger; some below the knuckle and some above. I really like the look, but I don’t know if they would be comfortable or not. I own one ring that comes up above the knuckle, but it’s a sectioned armor ring that starts at the base of my finger and comes up to the nail. It bends with my finger, but it’s not very comfortable. I think they’d have to fit well, too, because I wouldn’t want my rings flying off during the day.

Midi Rings

I created a set for this, with some stand-alone midi rings and some sets. I personally wouldn’t spend a lot of money on a midi ring, because I do think that they won’t be around forever, fashion-wise, but it would be fun to have a set incorporating midi rings. The question mark is so alluring to me. I know most people would think of the Joker or some such person, but I think of George Emerson in A Room With A View, and Lucy Honeychurch’s coming across the giant question mark that he drew on the back of the painting in his room. One of my favorite literary couples. Who probably would never wear a midi ring, despite their progressiveness in the Edwardian age. (Also, who remembers Helena Bonham Carter before she was “quirky”? Nobody does it better, but please, she’s a gorgeous English rose here!)

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?