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Style after 40: dos and don’ts

Categories: basics

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Show of hands: How many of you are 40? 40-ish? 40-something? 39 and holding? I thought so.

I’m turning 45 in a few weeks (cupcakes for all!) and I’ve been thinking a lot about what the rules are for style after 40. Should I still be wearing shorts? A bikini? Hot pink?

Julia RobertsJulia Roberts says, “What UP, 46?”

Fashion is so confusing. Especially when you’re not the target demographic for most fashion editorials but still want to look fabulous. Because who doesn’t want to look fabulous?

I do. And I assume you do, too. Right?

So what are the rules for women over 40?

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Toss or keep? How to decide

Categories: basics

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I am constantly editing my closet, making decisions about what stays and what goes, based on what I’m wearing and what I’m wanting and what I’m loving. But every once in a while, I find myself staring at a piece — a blouse or skirt or dress — and thinking, hmm, maybe I should keep this … but maybe not.

I know you’ve been there. Right?

Bedroom-09

I hear from lots of women who say, “I would love to do a big closet purge and edit my wardrobe, but I’m afraid I will get rid of something and regret it later. How do I know what to keep and what to part with?”

The short answer: You don’t, always. Not helpful, I know. But let’s think this through.

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Peplums: yay or nay?

Categories: basics

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Last weekend, a curvy friend asked how I felt about peplums. My answer: Meh.

I am not entirely opposed to a peplum; properly deployed, that little overskirt can be kind of fun. For example, I’m loving this Alice + Olivia dress with the lace overlay. It’s simple and sleek and has a clean, minimalist line. Lovely.

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Alice + Olivia, $440

But that’s not really what we’re talking about when we talk about peplums, is it? Typically, a peplum is a little less minimalist and a little more … hippy.

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skinny jeans after 40

Categories: basics

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I recently found a pair of dark-wash Eileen Fisher skinny jeans on sale — for a ridiculous price — and I took the plunge. I’m pleasantly surprised by some of the looks I have been able to pull off, but other looks have bombed, and I look like I’m wearing my daughter’s outfit.

My experiences suggest that the length of the top is critical. I was wondering if you have any advice — what guidelines should I keep in mind while choosing tops to go with my skinny jeans? I’m 41 and I definitely don’t want to look like I’m dressing in clothes or styles that are too young for me.

~Savitha

Eilleen Fisher Skinny Ankle Jeans

I love skinny jeans. Love love LOVE them. The amazing thing about skinny jeans is how great they look on just about everyone, including 40-something moms with curves. But there are a few tricks to looking super fab — and age-appropriate — in your skinnies.

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What I packed for my family vacation

Categories: basics

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We’ve just come home from a week of family vacation, in the Colorado mountains. This was the first vacation we’ve taken with our kids where everyone was old enough — and interested enough — to do really big things. We went rafting and hiking and rock climbing and horseback riding.

It was awesome. And exhausting.

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Packing for a vacation with kids can be tricky; after all, you’ll essentially be doing exactly what you do at home (wrangling children) but in an unfamiliar place. Additionally, if you’re lucky, you’ll be doing some cool, out-of-the-ordinary things, stuff you wouldn’t do on a normal Tuesday. Like whitewater rafting, just for example.

So what do you pack? Here’s what I took with me.

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how to hand wash anything, in 5 simple steps

Categories: basics

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I love everything in my closet; I try to make a point of not buying anything I can’t see myself still wearing in a year. Or two. Or, in some cases, 15. (I have a cashmere twinset that I bought in 1997. Still wearing it! Go me.)

In order to make things last, I hand wash a majority of my wardrobe — everything from pricey pieces, like my cashmere sweaters and washable silk blouses to super cheap shorts and tees. Why bother? Because no matter what the price point of my clothes, I want them to last as long as possible, with no shrinking or fading or excessive wear and tear.

#getdressed
These shorts do not do in the washing machine. Ever.

Things I make a point of hand-washing: Cashmere sweaters, bras, anything I don’t want to accidentally shrink, anything that would need to be ironed if it went in the washing machine (hand washing leaves things less wrinkled).

Things I do not hand wash: Running clothes, underwear, basic workhorse tees, anything belonging to my husband and children (although my husband’s fancy pants cycling kit doesn’t go in the dryer and he sends his dress shirts to the laundry because they do a better job, of course). Swimsuits — mine and theirs — go in the washing machine, in a lingerie bag, but get line dried. My jeans also go in the machine, inside out, and are hung to dry. Everyone else’s jeans? In the dryer, baby. Always.

(The dryer actually does the most damage to your clothes. Where do you think all that lint comes from? It’s your clothes, slowly disintegrating! Which is just sad.)

I typically do my hand-wash laundry once a week, often early in the morning when no one else is awake yet. It takes me maybe 40 minutes to launder everything I wear during the week. Here’s how I hand wash, in five easy steps.

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The Do Not Wear list

Categories: basics

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Wednesday’s post on shorts after 40 generated some interesting discussion, about age and style and what counts as appropriate. Several of you declared ultimatums: Pam warned against the bandage dress, for one, and someone else (sorry!) cautioned against flowered headbands. And then there’s the gray area of rompers — I say no to the romper if you’re over 10, but not everyone agrees.

Which brings me to a larger question: Do you have a Do Not Wear list? Are there things that you just will not put on your body, no matter what your age or size or how cute they look on someone else? Or are you game for anything?

Here are my Do Not Wear pieces.

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Oh Gwyneth. Why???.

1. Jumpsuit. Yeah, that is not happening. Ever. I’m not wearing anything that requires me to undress to pee. Forget it. (See also: Romper.)

2. Strapless. I love a summery strapless dress, but it just does not work for me. Something about the combination of my wee tiny head and my wee tiny shoulders make me look … Off. Wrong. Weird. So not the look I’m going for. Ever.

3. Thongs.
We’ve discussed this before. No.

4. Cutoffs.
I love the idea of denim cutoffs, but I cannot make them work for me. And yet, every summer I think, “Ooh that would be cute!” And I try and it isn’t. So I’m making it a personal style rule — no cutoffs. Ever.

5. Printed maxi dress. I see them on other girls and think, “Cuuuuute!” But I cannot pull this off, for whatever reason. Frankly, I’ve got too much else going on to spend time figuring out why, so I’m just saying a blanket no to printed maxis in my closet. It’s that easy.

Your turn! Share in the comments. Inquiring minds want to know.

Photo via Zimbio.com.

How old is “too old?”

Categories: basics

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Summer’s here, and that means shorts — maybe not for every day, but at some point. I’m totally in love with my shorts this year, largely because it’s been hot here since March and I figured that I might as well get excited about summer clothes, since I will apparently be wearing them until Thanksgiving. Or something like that.

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I’ve always worn long shorts — the longer the better. Not because I love long shorts — I don’t really; they’re not particularly comfortable or practical or flattering. It was mostly because I felt like short shorts were for some other woman, someone in her 20s who hadn’t had two babies and whose thighs were smaller than mine.

Of course, I also wore long shorts in my 20s because my legs weren’t model-thin and short shorts were for girls who were prettier than I was. Which meant that in my 40s, when I realized that my 20-year-old body was gone forever, I spent a lot of warm weather days feeling like I had really missed the boat on shorts. And of course, I thought, I’m too old for those short shorts now.

Or maybe not.

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editing: my closet, my life

Categories: basics

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I’ve been cleaning my closet out for weeks now, slowly weeding out all the pieces I don’t wear. For the most part, I have no second thoughts about what I’ve put in the giveaway pile, but there’s one jacket — a navy and white striped jersey blazer — that I keep taking out and putting back in and taking out and …

You get the idea.

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I bought the jacket last summer, on a whim; I loved the idea of the striped blazer, and it’s super cute and fits really well. And I’ve never worn it because it doesn’t go with anything in my closet. I’m not sure why; the waist seems to be in the wrong place or something. All I know is that every time I put it on, it looks silly. But it’s cute and it’s in my closet and I am totally determined to make it work.

I’m like that about things — not just my clothes, either. Even when I can see that a project or a job isn’t going the way I had anticipated, I’m loath to quit, because I made the commitment and I’m always sure I can make it work. Even when I’m also pretty sure I can’t.

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A quick guide to tailoring

Categories: basics

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sewing-measuring-tape

I’m in the middle of a huge closet clean out; I want to be able to go into my closet and see only pieces I love. I also want to see only pieces that easily work together. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

Not at all.

Conventional closet cleaning advice recommends dividing everything into a keep pile, a giveaway pile and a pile that needs attention — either dry cleaning or tailoring. Dry cleaning is easy; you just have to commit to taking things to the cleaners. Tailoring can be more of a mystery — you know something doesn’t fit right, but how do you know if it can be fixed?

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