Category Archives: Fashion

How I learned to purge my clothes closet

Now that the fall season is upon us and winter is at our heels, I finally got down to business yesterday cleaning my clothes closets. I do this periodically, in season or not, only because I can’t stand a messy closet. My motto: Clean closet, restful soul. The same goes for what’s under my bed.

But after a morning spent purging, folding, hanging and sorting, I barely made a dent. Oh sure, I dumped the obvious – a stained blouse, shoes that are painful to wear (no matter how many Dr. Scholl pads I put in them), boxy, unfitted jackets and forest green trousers that make my ass look twice its size (what was I thinking?)

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The purple boots get tossed

But I held onto items – a pair of purple tweed boots with stiletto heels and a green quilted suede jacket, for example, things I had not worn in years. I had no compelling reason to keep it or to toss it. I was in organizational limbo.

As a result, I still had a closet full of clothes and shoes and handbags taking up precious space. And to be honest, the excuse for holding on to these things has nothing to do with sentimental attachment  (like when it’s time to let go of your daughters’ baby clothes). Nope. It’s because, you never know when you’ll need a pair of purple ankle boots. Right.  Everybody knows that defense would never hold up in the Stacy and Clinton court of law.

This morning I worked on a client’s SWOT analysis, a method used to evaluate a business project based on its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. When I was a kid, my dad called this “The Ben Franklin Method.” Probably, Ben used this method to determine that a volunteer fire department was a good idea or that this country needed a post office.

Indeed, a SWOT analysis can be highly effective in determining whether an organization keeps or nixes a project . So I was thinking: could it work for deciding whether to toss a pair of shoes?  

As it turns out, it can.

Although a SWOT analysis can be complex, delving into such issues as budget constraints, local and global competition, market saturation and user acceptance, I used the basic analysis methodology – the grid – and it looks like this:

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunities

Threats

My first item: the purple tweed boots

Strengths

Very sassy looking

Moderately comfortable

Jazzes up a pair of black pants

Could wear with Halloween witch costume

Weaknesses

Style is dated

Could wear with a witch costume

Heels are high and difficult to walk on

Can only wear with black

The zipper gets stuck

Haven’t worn them in three years

Have lost their initial Wow! Those are sassy appeal

Opportunities

Could come back in style

I might dress up as a witch for Halloween and need them

Might be a conversation starter

Could consign them to Linda’s and maybe someone, looking for shoes to wear with a witch costume will buy them. Could make a couple of bucks.

Threats

Could twist an ankle trying to walk in them

Break a nail trying to pull up the zipper

Become a forgotten item taking up space in my closet

Be seen wearing them with a witch’s costume

I tossed the purple tweed boots.

Next item: Green suede jacket.

Strengths

It’s a great “in between” seasons jacket

Stand out color

Suede is soft

Weaknesses

Boxy shape

Stiff

Slightly oversized

Color is odd

Wore it only one season

Haven’t worn it in two years

Opportunities

Could keep it in the back of my car just in case I needed a light weight green suede jacket

All it needs is the right scarf to complete the look

Threats

It’s expensive to clean

Could be mistaken for a Coldwater Creek model while wearing it.

Bye-bye green suede jacket.

So it went on like this for a few more items, but once I got into the groove it wasn’t necessary to actually fill out the grid. I did the rest in my head, which then became a mental exercise in getting a grip. Toss, toss, toss became my motto. I culled 33 items (in under two hours) – four pairs of pants, two cocktail dresses, five skirts, six shirts, six sweaters, a pair of boots, three jackets and six belts.  I didn’t do the analysis for every item, just the ones I had a hard time pitching. And as it turned out, there wasn’t one item that I was on the fence on that I kept – go figure.

Using the SWOT analysis to clean my closet was frankly, brilliant and I highly recommend it to anyone staring into their closets at this moment wondering what to wear tomorrow.  

Now, open my closet and it’s lined with only my favorites, my white T-shirts with bright white collars organized by sleeve length, long dresses and trousers hung just so they skim the closet floor, knee length skirts lounge in a wide palette of color and texture and every pair of shoes has a box. It makes me giddy.

My closet is no longer a dark and mysterious jungle. My closet is neat. My soul is restful. Let’s go shopping.

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Filed under Economy, Fashion, Humor

Why I still wear pantyhose (oh, the horror!)

If there is one fashion rule that has me utterly perplexed it is the current opinion of popular stylists that wearing pantyhose is a big no-no. 

Uh, oh. 

I recently gave advice on wearing pantyhose to a friend of mine that obviously dates me. Big time. 

Sue, who lives in Las Vegas and is my age, emailed me the other day with this Fashion Question: 

“I have an evening wedding to go to in Massachusetts in October. Question is: what do you wear on your legs? I haven’t worn “stockings” in years, tights seem too heavy, boots don’t seem dressy enough?” 

Here was my answer:

 “I’d wear stockings, unless of course the shoes are open toe. But then again, I probably wouldn’t wear an open toe in October because then I wouldn’t know what to do about the stockings.  Jobst ultrasheer 20-30 pantyhose

“The only time I WOULDN’T wear stockings to a formal occasion is if it were a warm weather affair or if I was wearing a floor length dress with open toes. Now, having said that, you will most likely see young girls wearing dresses with open toes and NO stockings. It could be the dead of winter and I’ve seen girls go bare legged. 

“So, clearly the rules have changed dramatically on the stockings thing and if you chose not to wear stockings it would be perfectly acceptable, of course. Still, I prefer to wear stockings in the cooler months for more sensible reasons: 1. I don’t like the way my legs look without them when I’m wearing a cocktail dress and 2. because it’s probably not warm enough to go outside without something on my legs. 

“When I do wear stockings, they are most often nude. I rarely do shades anymore, not even black with a black cocktail dress. So something that looks bare, but you still have something on your legs to get a smoother look is what I’d recommend.” 

But after giving Sue what I thought was sound advice about this pantyhose conundrum, I happened upon a couple of fashion how-to books that mentioned several times that wearing pantyhose is dreadfully out of date. Wearing them makes you look “like an old lady.” Bare legs give us “over 40” that “young and hip” look. Oh, really? 

Obviously, they’ve never seen my bare legs. 

Fashion guru (and a designer for a line of Target brand fashions) Isaac Mizrahi in his book “How to Find Your Style” says he is adamant about NO PANTYHOSE (especially nude) EVER! While admittedly my confidence in giving sound pantyhose advice started to wan, I thought, OK, one man’s opinion. 

But then I read “How Not to Look Old” by Charla Krupp. Here’s what she says about wearing pantyhose: 

“My biggest legwear challenge is what to do when it’s freezing out and I’m all dressed up. I do try to go bare legged for evening whenever possible, but when heading out the door in subfreezing temperatures, bare legs simply won’t work. And since the only thing worse than wearing the wrong stockings is revealing frozen, goose-bumpy legs, it’s important to find a chic solution.   If you’re wearing a light-colored dress, try nude fishnet stocking (instead of nude sheer stockings). With a black dress, you can get away with very sheer black stocking or black fishnets. And if you dare, at least when wearing a short skirt or dress for evening, consider Isaac Mizrahi’s option: opaque black tights with peep-to pumps.” 

So, I’m thinking this woman is as confused about formal leg wear in the winter as anybody. But NO NUDE and wear FISHNETS OR TIGHTS?? They’re kidding, right? I get that hair that doesn’t move and “mom jeans” and ill-fitting bras make you look old. But nude pantyhose? I’m stumped. 

Although I’m sure this says VOLUMES about how shallow I am, the idea of pantyhose dating me without understanding why was driving me insane. And so my OCD kicked in. I went into my drawer and pulled out a pair of nude stockings and a pair of black tights. (Sorry, I don’t own, will NEVER own, a pair of fishnets) and tried them on with a couple of cocktail dresses. One dress was solid black, the other a black print, and one a light bronze with colored embroidery. First, the nude. The only way you could tell if I had on nude stockings was 1. by looking really close, and 2. that my legs looked smoother. Second, the black tights. 1. I looked like an Italian widow, and 2. my ankles looked thick with the pretty, sexy, pumps.   

Isaac and Charla you are nuts. Further, you’re not taking into consideration what standing on a pair of legs for 40 or 50 years and having babies does to our legs. And this other idea of leg spray? I don’t think so. For the life of me, I cannot see the problem with nude stockings in the colder months. Especially, since most of us are whiter than white in the fall and winter. If I went bare legged to a formal affair, I would look dreadful. So, I’ve decided that this is fashion advice I will not pay attention to. 

But it STILL begs the question: Why do nude pantyhose make you look “old?” If someone out there has a compelling argument, please let me know.  None of us wants Sue to show up at this wedding looking fashionably old, least of all Sue. 

So, in the meantime, I’ve altered my advice a bit. If you’re over 40 and you’ve got GREAT legs, go for it. Go bare legged. But if not, for goodness sake wear pantyhose.

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Filed under Aging, Fashion, Humor

My Mother’s Shoes

 

My mother was raised in a fashion era when handbags matched shoes and shoes matched outfits and outfits were haute couture.  The third eldest of eight children, my mother grew up poor in a house where food, not fashion, was the priority. She was not considered beautiful then. She was too tall, too big, too strong.

In the short time my mother was on her own before marrying my father, her fashion sense bust loose and her love of shoes emerged.

My mother at a wedding in April. She still has fabulous taste in shoes.

My mother at a wedding in April. She still has fabulous taste in shoes.

One minute there was an overweight gawky child with second hand clothes. The next, there was a stunningly beautiful woman with a made-to-fit outfit and dynamite shoes. I look back on photos of her then and she was the perfect mix of elegance, class and sex appeal.

 

The irony, of course, is that my mother never considered herself sexy. She was a wife and a mother and had a full-time job.   

But, oh, her shoes, they transformed her.

My mother had a ritual when dressing up to go out for a special occasion. I would bask in each step of the process: The bath. The powder under the breasts. The Tigress fragrance. The good bra and girdle, the good stockings, the fitted dress, the pearls. The red lipstick.

The shoes.

Black patent leather stiletto pumps with heels so sharp and lethal she should have had a license to wear them. They screamed sexy.

I would lie on her bed and watch as she pulled the shoebox off the shelf and fold aside the tissue paper to reveal its secret.  When she slipped on those shoes, it was the climax, the finale. My admiration and envy were the standing ovation.

On Saturday, my mother turns 80, which got me thinking about her when she was young and I was little and played with her shoes. She suffers from arthritis and has difficulty walking, now. She hasn’t put on a pair of stiletto pumps in 20, maybe 30 years. Still, she never fails to admire a well-designed, well made pump. I watch her as she walks by the shoes in the department store.  She’ll pick up a shoe, comment on the color or the quality of the leather and might say, “Now, I like that kind of heel.” Now, her shoes have soft, flat soles and are, for the most part, utilitarian. But every once in a while she’ll squeeze her swollen feet into a pair of classic black pumps with a more modest heel, but still, I sense a little bit of sexiness about to burst out. And I wonder if she longs for the days when shoes matched outfits and outfits were haute couture. I know I do.

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Filed under Aging, Fashion, Parenting