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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Capri pant DON’Ts

Categories: bottoms

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Spring is here, which means that my Twitter feed is full of questions about alternatives to shorts. I love shorts, but as a former shorts boycotter, I understand the resistance many women have to them. The logical alternatives to shorts are skirts and capri pants — and for many moms, capri pants seem more practical and logical.

The danger of capri pants is that they can go from chic to frumpy so easily, and no one wants that. I’m assuming that the whole reason you’re not wanting to wear shorts is that you’re concerned about your legs, but keep in mind that the wrong capri pants can be even more unflattering than the right shorts.

Let’s start with a visual:

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There are a lot of things wrong with these pants — specifically, the length, the width, and the details. I’ll break it down for you:

Length
The pants in the photo are bad because they hit the model at the widest part of her calf, which makes her legs look wider. Avoid this by choosing a cropped pant that hits just above the slimmest part of your ankle (typically an inch or two above the ankle bone). Pants that stop just above your skinny bits draw attention to those bits, while pants that stop just above the wide parts make you look wider.

Width
The pants in the photo are super skinny; that, plus the awkward knee length, makes it look like the model is straining the fabric, which is not slimming. Instead, look for a capri that falls straight from the widest part of your hip. Steer clear of pants that taper at the ankle; this creates an ice cream cone shape that isn’t flattering on anyone.

Details
Keep your capris sleek and minimal; too many details just add bulk and draw attention to the parts you’re trying to camouflage. Slash pockets widen your hips, while an overstated front seam cuts your leg in half. Stick with a flat-front capri with minimal detailing; avoid flap pockets and cuffs, too, as they add bulk in the wrong places.

So what do the right capri pants look like? Like this:

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Are you a capri pants girl? What’s your strategy for styling your capris for the spring and summer?

Photos via LOFT

Sunscreen 101

Categories: beauty

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I am very, very fair skinned; I don’t really ever tan. Instead, I burn almost instantaneously, which means that I have resolved myself to a lifetime of looking like an extra from the “Twilight” saga. My goal every summer is to go to the pool as often as possible and never have tan lines.

With the right sunscreen, a big hat and a chair in the shade, that is totally doable, by the way.

Unfortunately, I’ve not always been quite so sun smart; as a child, I was burned more times than I can count. In particular, I remember entire summers where my nose would burn and peel, layer after layer of skin flaking off and turning pink and flaking off. Nobody thought anything of it; that’s just what happened when you played tennis and rode your bike and swam and spent every waking minute of every day outdoors.

As an adult, I have become a hard-core sunscreen advocate. I’ve been wearing sunscreen daily for nearly 25 years now, winter and summer, rain or shine. And it has paid off — recently, the aesthetician who tends to my eyelashes and eyebrows asked if I’d had Botox. No, I said, and she marveled at how few wrinkles I have.

Sunscreen FTW!

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my new favorite handbag (it will be your fave, too, I promise)

Categories: accessories

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Here’s a funny thing about being the mom of bigger kids: You get your handbag back. Once your kids are school-age (mine are in third and fifth grade this year), you’re no longer responsible for carrying all their junk around all day — that’s what school bags are for! Plus tweens just don’t seem to need so much junk; my kid who always, always had to take eleventy toys with him on the road when he was little (seriously, he carried a pile of I don’t know what all stuff with him every time we left the house, all the way through kindergarten, you all) now carries nothing. In fact, he doesn’t even wear a coat most of the time, which is a whole other thing that I am refusing to think about. I’m just glad it was warm here this winter.

But the point is, my bag is my bag these days. Not the bag I carry to hold all of the boys’ things. And it is delightful.

Because of this change, I find that a whole new world of handbags has opened up for me. I can carry a clutch for day, which I love to do because it’s easy and chic — but it also means that if I’m going any place where I want to bring my iPad, I have to lug that separately. And that’s a pain. But I’m also really over my huge tote bags, the ones that were big enough to carry extra diapers and sippy cups and changes of clothes and superhero action figures and LEGOs and … you know the drill. I don’t need that bag any more. I need the perfect Goldilocks in-between bag.

And you all, I have found it! And it is beautiful.

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How to style bright shoes

Categories: shoes

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Andrea has a fantastic dilemma: “I won a pair of free shoes on DSW and I picked these (I don’t have any colorful shoes so I thought these looked ‘fun’). I’m just at a complete loss on how to style them. Opinions?”

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First of all, hooray for free shoes! And those shoes really are fun. Love them. Great choice, Andrea.

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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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The everyday bag dilemma, or how to pack like a man

Categories: accessories

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Lori is having a bag dilemma.

I’m in grad school, so I regularly have books, notebooks, and papers to take to campus. For that, I bought the Ellington Eva Messenger bag. I have a more industrial messenger bag from LL Bean for days I have a lot of books to carry. I bring my lunch because I’m on campus all day. Lunch isn’t going to fit in my Eva bag. I also carry a purse because I generally need that smaller bag for running those inevitable errands and it transitions me from campus to off-campus. My purse has my wallet, on-the-go makeup-y things (chapstick, lipstick, mirror, handkerchief, nail file, spare hair ties and pins), mints, a small notebook, my planner, some pens. I’m one of those nerds who makes it a requirement that my purses can fit a book, so most of my purses are mid-sized, but not HUGE. Naturally, I feel ridiculous carrying a messenger bag, lunchbox, and a purse. Do you have any sort of suggestions?

I’m sure it’s a matter of reassessing and reorganizing, but everything feels vital to me. An outsider’s opinion would probably help.

This is a pretty common dilemma; when we leave the house, we feel like we need to take everything with us, all the time, because we never know what we might need, right? Here’s the thing: men manage to go all day without carrying six bags. What do they know that we don’t?

They know what to leave behind. Simple.

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A quick guide to tailoring

Categories: basics

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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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Oscars recap: Why so dowdy, Sandra Bullock???

Categories: beyond 9 to 5

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I went to a girls-only Oscars party last night; we got all dressed up and drank champagne and ate cupcakes and took pictures of ourselves. Best Sunday night ever.

My favorite part of awards season, of course, is not the awards (although yay for The Artist!) but the dresses. Because who doesn’t dream of putting on a couture gown and $50,000 worth of Fred Leighton diamonds and going to a party?

i mean, how fun would that be? So much fun. Especially the part where you bump into George Clooney on the red carpet or at the Vanity Fair after party and he tells you how pretty you are and gets you a drink and …

(Sigh.)

Ahem. Anyway — the dresses! There were some great dresses last night — and some really terrible dresses. In particular, I was disappointed by Sandra Bullock’s gown. For a girl who is typically so down-to-earth, this thing was just … bad.

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Even Sandra looks sad about her dress. Ugh.

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