Monthly Archives: February 2011

My no-nonsense shopping day with Karen, 59

I shadowed Karen, a special ed teacher, (also, my mother) on a recent shopping trip to one of her favorite haunts–Nordstrom Rack. I was there not so much as an adviser, but more as a fly on the wall.

It’s always helpful to see how someone shops when left to their own devices–with no one there to bounce opinions off of. I wanted to get in the mind of Karen on the hunt for the perfect something.

This is a woman who knows her body well, and after a lot of practice–and some daughterly guidance–has come to know exactly what clothes look and feel good on her. I was hoping a little guided walk-through could help some readers with any shopping hang-ups they may deal with.

There was nothing in particular she was looking for that day, except a bargain. Karen is a self-proclaimed sucker for a steal. She said it’s the number one thing she looks for when shopping. And within five minutes, we found this…

A Hanna & Gracie pencil skirt for 60% off. This got us going into the whole skirt issue. She pointed out that she looks for well-tailored with a little bit of edge. The muted tweed was spiffed up by a cool zipper and black ribbon. She also noted the perfect length–always at or just below the knee.

Karen’s new favorite brand when it comes to skirts and pants is Atelier. It’s a lower-priced line that can be found at Nordstrom stores, but oddly enough not on their site. As far as I can tell.

Again with this skirt–tailored with a bit of edge.

Next we moved on to basic shirts, where she singled out two tees specifically for their necklines. The white long-sleeved tee boasted a deep scoop, while the putty one had an intriguing twisted V neck. These cuts show off just enough skin to elongate the neck, without dipping too low into unwanted cleave zone.

Blazers, according to both Karen and me, are one of the most important staples a woman could own. We happened upon this punchy one from Tahari, which, again, filled two of her requirements: well-tailored with edge. See the trend developing here?

Karen looks for blazers that fall a little longer, with a subtle flare at the hem. I couldn’t agree with her more. This creates the appearance of a waist, while not pulling at the hips. A straight or boxy cut can make a body look square.

“You can never have too many white shirts.”

I swear I didn’t pay her to say that, although I have been hawking this advice for what seems like an eternity. Karen zeroed in on a classic white button-down from Tahari, pointing out its longer length and looser fit. The second one (from Laundry by Shelli Segal) was a bit trendier, but she liked the neck and the length.

We covered shoes as well, but that’s posted in an update to my suggestions for attractive flat shoes. Check it out for Karen’s personal pics!

Oh and that zip skirt came out to a whopping 9 bucks. Gotta love the Rack.

Attractive flat shoes: they do exist

In honor of the end of Fashion Week, where women inflict relentless damage on their feet in the form of incomprehensibly high heels, I have compiled my picks for good-looking flat shoes. Because you can be chic without killing yourself.

Ballet Flats

GOOD SHAPES: An elongated toe. Oval, pointed, or a hint of a square at the tip. Avoid very round toes, as this looks stumpy and less sophisticated (a.k.a. girlish).

GOOD DETAILS: Animal prints can prove fun and surprisingly versatile, as can any metallic hue. For those fancy times, opt for some embellishment. Avoid big flowers or bows. Again, too girlish.

GOOD BRANDS: French Sole, Gentle Souls, and Corso Como all focus on comfort as well as appearance.

Loafers & Driving Shoes

GOOD SHAPES: True loafer style with a rubber sole. Classic and comfortable.

GOOD DETAILS: Candy colors and metallics give a fun, modern (yet tasteful) touch to muted outfits.

GOOD BRANDS: Tod’s, Peter Millar, Eddie Bauer, Aquatalia, Michael Kors


GOOD SHAPES: Old school canvas is back!

GOOD DETAILS: Clean, no-frills designs in solid colors. And unless you’re going to the gym, athletic sneaks are a no.

GOOD BRANDS: Keds and Converse

UPDATE: I’ve included some picks from my shopping day with Karen. Very swanky loafers she spotted at Nordstrom Rack:

Joan & David

Cole Haan

These aren’t available online, but you can take a look at the brands’ selections on Nordstrom’s site.

FYI: It’s totally over if you’re over 50

The people over at Daily Mail UK sure do love those surveys, and according to a recent one, 8 out of 10 women think they stop being attractive after 50. And 7 out of those 10 “feel overlooked by the fashion industry.”

Um, yep.

With New York Fashion Week in full throttle, I can’t help but agree with them. Not only is every show riddled with prepubescent girls (with the exception of Adrienne Vittadini’s show on Wednesday), but the majority of the styles remain too difficult for most body types to pull off. No wonder a woman in her 50s and beyond feels passed over by designers. She is.

To be honest, I have no neat tie-up or one-line solution to offer at the end of this post.

All I can really say is, a.) there is some comfort in numbers, and knowing you’re not alone in feeling this way. And b.) this doesn’t have to be the case! We may not be able to change designers’ minds (yet) but you sure can change your own. Whether it’s with my help or someone else’s,  please take some time to realize you can change the way you feel through your wardrobe. It can do wonders.

Questions on how to start? Contact me and we can talk about it. (For free, I swear.)

Write in, ladies. I am here for you

I’ve received several topic suggestions from my lovely and amazing readers, and all I have to say about that is, KEEP ‘EM COMING.

A small sampling of what you’ve asked for:

The perfect jeans and the perfect purse.

Dresses for bodies that are wide from front to back.

Attractive flat shoes.

Bathing suits for giant boobs.

I’m on it! Keep an eye out for my brilliant style insight into all of the above.

And email me more concerns… either through my contact section or at Fashion-related issues only, please. For other inquiries, contact your therapist.

Michelle Obama on The Today Show… in those pops o’ color

Michelle Obama just miraculously appeared on my television wearing a black and white dress jazzed up with a red belt and yellow shoes. She must be taking my advice on how accents of color can spice up your closet.

Check out what other colorful accessories you can use with your winter wardrobe.

How to wear bright colors without scaring the children

Color is going to be a definite trend this spring, to which you’re probably thinking big whoop. Well, this is actually a semi-whoop for ladies who tend to stick to a muted closet, and want to brighten up a bit.


Less is more when it comes to bold things. Get your color from accessories.  Any of the above–jewelry, scarf, shoes, glove, belt–will do wonders to…

a palette of greys and blacks. Try a red belt with a dark grey dress, bright earrings or a scarf with a sweater and trousers, or a candy-colored clutch or gloves with your neutral winter coat.


What went on this week (in fashion, not the world):

1. Julianne Moore is the new face of Talbot’s, with pics that are elegant and sans furry animals (I’m talking to you, Bulgari).

2. The always dapper Tim Gunn offers up insider tips for MORE. Numbers 4,9, and 11 are my favorites.

3. Refinery29 pays fashion tribute to the late Maria Schneider.

News: Adrienne Vittadini casts models who can definitely drink legally

A resounding YAY to Adrienne Vittadini for casting more sophisticated, age-appropriate(!) models for her Fall 2011 show. Lineup includes Carmen Dell’Orefice, Pat Cleveland, and Carol Alt.

Hopefully this will start a very long-lasting trend of women (not 14-year-olds) showcasing the clothes that other real women buy and wear.

How to shop for full-skirted dresses

The NY Times ran a feature this week on the rising popularity of vintage-inspired dresses. These types of frocks, which have sparked quite the debate, are newly made to look like old styles.

The article sheds light on a type of dress silhouette that is ridiculously flattering on women with hips and butts: the full skirt! Why? Because by gradually moving downward and away from the body, the skirt creates the illusion of a smaller waist. Plus, it won’t cling or pull on your body. If you have some semblance of a lower half, this type of dress is a truly wise choice.

LOOK FOR: a seam, belt, or sash detail that cinches the waistline, a full skirt that falls away from the body in an A-line shape and ends at or just below the knee

GOOD FANCY BRANDS: Oscar de la Renta and Donna Karan (Kate Spade and Lily Pulitzer for smaller frames)

GOOD MODERATELY-PRICED BRANDS: Jones New York, Spiegel, and Suzi Chin

Obama moment

Red belted sweater, leggings, and furry snow boots, Dec. 17 2010