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Fashion vs style

One of the things I’ve struggled with over this last break was this idea of “my style”.  You see, it’s very easy to get caught up in fashion – the latest, the greatest, whatever is trendy at the time.  Lately it’s been crop tops, last summer it was fatkini’s, and so on.  And for a while I felt like if I was going to blog, I had to try each and every one of those trends.

The thing is, the results weren’t always good.  Getting ready to restart the blog, I went back through the posts.  With some distance it was easier to see where I had made mistakes or which outfits didn’t quite work.  I wore colors that weren’t flattering (mustard yellow), styles that didn’t do me any favors, and spent money I shouldn’t have in order to get the latest and greatest things, many of which were only worn once.  That’s a mistake.

Your 40s allows you to kick the trends to the curb, or at the least the ones that don’t fit your personal style.  Oxblood was a trend a couple years ago, but it will ALWAYS be part of my wardrobe (whether it’s the current thing or completely out of vogue) because the color is a great one for me.   Neon, not so much.  Color blocking is good, florals are not.  Fit-and-flare dresses are a win, crop tops are not happening.

Imogen Lamport at puts it really well (although this is somewhat paraphrased):

Fashion is what they sell at the store. 

Style is how you put it together. 

Call it a prerogative of age, but I no longer feel the need to go along with what is in fashion at any given moment.  I am going to focus on the colors I know I look good in, regardless of whether they are “in” at the moment.  I choose to have my own style, even if it seems dull, updated with new, trendy elements ONLY when they fit my overall look.

The next step, of course, is refining what that style actually is…

Burgundy for Fall

Burgundy for Fall

H&M marled cardigan, $65 / H&M white top, $24 / Current/Elliott jeans / ECCO mid heel platform pumps / Coach crossbody / Accessorize silver hinged bracelet

Fall shopping list

I am trying to be more careful about what I buy, focusing on quality over quantity.  However the season is changing and we are entering the best time of year for me to get the types of things I love.  So here are the items on my fall shopping list.

Duo Olson BootsA) Duo Olson Boots.  These are the A#1 item on my list.  At a list price of $315, they are not inexpensive, but there are a few reasons why they are worth it.

  1. They come in custom calf measurements, 2CM at a time.  This means that I can measure my calves, pick a size and KNOW they will fit properly.
  2. They are real leather and high quality construction, meaning they will last a long time.
  3. They are the perfect heel height – high enough to wear with a skirt, low enough to not hurt myself in.
  4. They are unique and different.  Yes, I know the true classic is an equestrian style riding boot, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I like a little something extra.  The military styling and vertical line created by the buttons fit the bill perfectly.

image1xlB) The Perfect Oxblood Bag:  I haven’t decided precisely what bag this will be yet.  The current leading contender is The Cambridge Satchel Company’s Oxblood satchel.  I love the color, the structure, etc.  Asos has the 14 inch for $196, and Cambridge Satchel Company has either the same basic price on the 14 inch or the slightly smaller 13 inch for $5 less.  However, again, these are not inexpensive bags.  The key to finding something else that works will be finding a structured bag; I just don’t like slouchy these days.  And of course finding the right color; there are a lot of wine’s, burgundies, maroons, and such that aren’t quite right.

C) Oxblood Clothing:  Oxblood happens to be a color that looks amazing on me, so one of the goals will be to find clothing in this color while it is in style and in season.  The good news is that, unlike with leather, the other shades of wine, burgundy, maroon and dark red are all acceptable.  The bad news is that I’m finding far too little of it anyway.  I’m still looking.

What I am NOT buying any more of this fall:

  • 397b4754cc989335893c3a2bdcc639fbStripes or polka dots.  I am well-supplied.
  • Purses in colors I already have.  I have too many bags as it is.
  • Greens.  I look OK in the dark greens that show up this time of year, but I don’t look fantastic.  I am going to stick to colors in which I look fantastic.
  • Most prints.  I am rapidly concluding that the most flexible, attractive and sophisticated wardrobe for me uses unembellished pieces in rich colors, combined with terrific jewelry and patterned scarves.  There may be exceptions for certain specific types of geometric and/or abstract prints, such as this Vince Camuto top, but not many.  (Luckily for me this is already sold out in my size.)
  • Colored Jeans/Pants.  Not because I don’t love them, but because I have quite a lot of them already, in pretty much every color I can picture myself wearing.  I don’t need anymore unless I need to replace something.
  • Corduroy.  I live in Arizona.  I can wear it for about 2 weeks out of the year.  It’s just not a good choice for me.

Things I am on the lookout for but don’t absolutely require include fun jewelry, scarves, and cardigans.  I have LOTS of each of those, so I need to be more careful about what I buy and take the time to do an inventory.  However those items form the basis of my wardobe; they are very hard for me to walk away from.

So what are you shopping for this fall?

Picture-taking fail

I’ve put together a number of adorable outfits of late.  And failed to take pictures of ANY of them.  The reasons are many, but often boil down to just not feeling especially good about myself right now.  I’m working on that, but I’ve been working on it since I was a teenager and I don’t expect to be done anytime soon.  Just hopefully in a better place.

In the meantime, my goal will be to post regularly and, if it’s not pictures of me than to include pictures of the things I am shopping for or admiring or polyvore versions of my outfits.  Something to get back into a regular posting habit.

Happy colors

IMG_3130There are days when you want happy colors, but not necessarily BOLD colors. Today was one of those.  It was rainy this morning and generally not as warm as usual, but I felt the need for colors that would make me smile.  Purple invariably makes me style.

This is an older top you’ve seen before from Kiyonna, with a black tank (YummieTummie, which is shapewear to pull in my middle) and black skinny trousers (coldwater creek).  The explosion of colors, big floral print and soft fabric allow this top to hide a multitude of sins, while the basic colors meant that I could throw a black cardigan over it at work when I got chilly.

The bag is an older design from Melie Bianco, purchased off ebay, and obviously not closed in the picture.  You can see it better below.  The shoes are black patent slides from Dansko that I picked up on sale.

Photo on 9-10-13 at 10.16 AMJewelry is a bit of a mish-mash.  The multi-layer necklace came from the little boutique across the street that doesn’t do online sales, while the bracelet is from LittleBlackBag.

I’ve also been experimenting lately with Carmindy’s “5 minute face”, minus the layer of foundation.  It’s actually quite quick and easy, although I haven’t decided yet whether it is actually doing me any good or not.


PHILOSOPHICAL MUSINGS (You’ve been warned):

I struggle with the idea of makeup.   My husband would say that I spent too much time in academia (and a liberal school of education to boot) but there is an extent to which makeup rankles my feminist side.  Much like stilettos, makeup implies that a woman in her natural state is not sufficiently attractive and that we must change ourselves to conform to external definitions of beauty.  Moreover, it suggests that everything we do, including our professional life, is judged based upon the standards of beauty set to ensure that we find a mate.

At the same time, the vast majority of women don’t think about it that way; they think of makeup either as “fun” or as “making them feel better about themselves”.  They fail to recognize where those standards come from or how they imply that we aren’t good enough as is.  And since most women don’t think about the implications, the result is that a woman who chooses NOT to wear makeup or conform to those expectations is outcast by WOMEN as well.  In effect, we enforce compliance in all these extra steps on other women.  Most men don’t actually care (although they generally appreciate the effect).

For years I have colored my hair, and for the last decade that has been as much about covering grey as about changing my look.  In general, I cover grey because I am conscious of the fact that a small amount of grey on a women tends to look sloppy and as though she doesn’t care for her appearance.  (On a man, we perceive grey as wisdom and a positive addition to their appearance.) I have mostly complied with that particular pressure because, well, it’s relatively easy.  An hour every 3-4 weeks and I don’t have to think about it.

But makeup has to be done every day.  Actually MORE than once per day if you live somewhere like AZ, where much of it will melt off when I head out to lunch.  At a minimum of, say 45 minutes per week, it is more consistently time consuming than coloring my hair or painting my nails.

For now, I am experimenting.  No foundation (mostly because I hate the way it feels on my skin).  Concealer, eyeliner/mascara (top lid only), a bit of highlighter, a touch of blush and some lip color.  (I’m still undecided on the blush; I have a lot of pink in my cheeks to start with, and since I’m not removing it with foundation, I don’t know for sure that I need to put it back.)

What do you think?  Do you wear makeup?  How much?  Why?


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