Fashion, Travel, Lifestyle, and Opinions on Everything and Nothing.

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Oxford Shoes

I’m fixated on finding the perfect oxford shoe.

I had a beautiful pair, but they had NO padding for the ball of the foot. The two inch stack heel was a versatile height, the capped toe looked finished, the opening was perfect… not too high, not too low… sigh. I tried 3 different insoles, but they weren’t much help and with them in, the toe box was too small. So I let them go, as life is both too short, and too long, for uncomfortable shoes.

At any rate, now I’m on the hunt. I’m seeing a lot of oxford shoes out there, it is inevitable the perfect pair will turn up. I’ve learned from previous such obsessions that it is pointless to buy anything short of my ideal. If I do, I won’t love it, I won’t wear it, and I’ll have wasted my money. Never settle!

Here’s an assortment of oxfords available online right now:

What’s on your shopping list?

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SOAP BOX: How Women Talk About Other Women

I had a discussion with an acquaintance recently, that went completely pear shaped. I’ll call my companion “Sally.” She’s definitely further to the right than I both politically and socially; dressing very conservatively, eschewing makeup, talking frequently about her church. No biggie, we normally get along well together. Our chat took place a couple weeks ago, but I can’t shake it. So let’s discuss…

I was reading the following piece in The Week (my favorite news magazine):

The Big Breasts Ban


A high school senior in Washington state was denied entry to her prom because her breasts are too big. Central Kitsap High School’s dress code permits strapless dresses, but Brittany Minder says school officials told her she couldn’t enter unless she covered her abundant cleavage. Minder wrapped herself in a shawl, but left the prom after an hour. “It was tough being there after all that happened,” she said. “I was self-conscious.”

I was indignant for young Brittany, and read the article aloud. The response was (paraphrasing, it’s been a couple weeks), “Of course they did. Or they’d have had to deal with her having sex in the bathroom later.”

When I picked my jaw up off the floor, I asked Sally what in the world she meant. Her paraphrased response, “If girls dress like that they’re looking for a certain kind of attention, and they’ll act on it.”

At that point I began to have trouble hearing her over the sirens going off in my head. I stated that this was one very short step from the old “well if she hadn’t dressed that way… she has no one but herself to blame…” attitude toward rape victims. This Sally denied emphatically, while restating her belief that girls who wear low cut tops or short skirts, are “looking for a certain kind of attention,” and are going to be, or cause, trouble.

My, that slope looks awfully slippery!

I told Sally that she was wrong, I was extremely disappointed in her, and I changed the subject. Well handled? NOPE. In my defense I submit again, it was hard to concentrate with the claxons and flares going off.

Brittany Minder in her prom dress.

Brittany Minder in her prom dress.

The exchange distressed me. Are we still tearing down other women, rather than supporting them?

A few points:

  1. Brittany happens to be busty. Are we now stigmatizing women for their physical attributes? (Naive question, the answer is, and always has always been, yes). Would the same dress on a less well endowed classmate have been acceptable?
  2. Brittany is in high school. Research shows at this age cognitive development is not complete, there is a poor understanding of consequences. Reasoning and judgement are still being acquired through brain maturation, coupled with life experience. She’s still just growing up and trying to figure things out. Was this dress ridiculously revealing? I don’t thing so. But even if it was, she’s finding her boundaries and what’s comfortable for her. She’s a kid. No need to run out and buy her a red light.
  3. In my opinion, Brittany’s dress was both adorable and appropriate. Could we see cleavage? Yep. But this young lady probably has cleavage in a crew neck t-shirt! It’s how she’s built.
  4. Perhaps Sally simply lacks empathy, and is unable to understand, being smaller chested herself, how difficult it can be to dress a bodacious bod. To quote Brittany’s dad, “A girl like Brittany should not have to go to a dance in a burlap sack because she’s large busted. It’s ridiculous.”
  5. Say she WAS wearing something racy. Let’s think, for just a minute, what role models the media has for this generation of female children.
Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Rihanna

Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Rihanna

This topic may have struck home for me, in part, because I’ve been listening to coverage of the trial for the attackers of a young woman who was raped on her school campus  during a homecoming dance in Richmond, California. Regardless, It is not acceptable to condemn others because they make different choices than we do. It is contemptible to dismiss a person’s rights, or even their feelings, because they don’t look or act as we do. And it is appalling to imply that a girl is undeserving of respect, solely because her cleavage is visible.

So what do you guys think? Should Brittany have been singled out and made to cover up her “natural resources?” Was I out of line for calling Sally on her comments?

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I recently wrote about wardrobe essentials, the gist was that everyone’s needs and preferences differ.

So here’s my list. Much of it is common to the lists we have all seen. While what works for each of us is as individual as we all are, there are also commonalities (just as we all have as much in common as we are individuals). Contradictory? That’s humanity!

Monty Python's, Life of Brian

Monty Python’s, Life of Brian

I think I was just sidetracked by thoughts of U.S. culture and character, and the human condition.

Anyway, here’s MY top 10 list:

  1. Classic Trench. I could not agree with this list staple more. As Tim Gunn says, “You can wear it to the grocery store or the opera.” I feel so strongly about this that I have a beige one AND a black one. If you’re wardrobe building, I think a light tan is probably the most versatile.

    Trenches, image found here.

    Trenches, image found here.

  2. Black and Nude Pumps. Between the two, you have a heel to wear with anything. And remember never to settle for uncomfortable shoes, regardless how beautiful they are. There are swoon worthy shoes that also feel good on your feet. If you don’t believe me, check out Corso Como.
  3. Equestrian boots. Yes they are very popular at the moment. That happens every few years. They’re classics and never out of style. I agree with Wendy‘s recommendation, here, that the best option for this staple is a very simple clean boot without a heel or embellishments like buckles and straps.
  4. Flip Flops. My old favorites were a muted silver pair from J. Crew and the sole is almost completely worn through. The new favs are a Roxy black and white chevron pair from Ross for 9 dollars. I live in flips in hot weather. I know, some of you wouldn’t be caught dead in them. That’s why we all have to make our own lists!

    Boots, Flips, and Pumps. All available on Zappos.

    Boots, Flips, and Pumps. All available on Zappos.

  5. T-shirts. I like to have three specific kinds, as they work in layers differently and give me more options. V-necks- American Eagle’s are good. Crew necks- can’t go wrong with the ones from Gap. And Boat necks- J. Crew’s are great, and the elbow length sleeve gives them a grown up feel and makes it easy to dress them up. All of them go on sale semi-regularly so no need to break the bank.
  6. Tank Tops. I am the queen of the cami. And since I’m cheap, most of mine are from H&M. I have a dozen colors and layer them almost daily.
  7. Denim. There’s so much to say about the ubiquitous jean. It’s great to have a solid dark wash since they can often work as trousers. And I believe we should all have a comfy relaxed weekend pair too. More on shopping for denim here.Screen Shot 2013-01-18 at 3.07.04 PM
  8. Skirt or Slacks. This is a personal one. Are you a skirt person? Never? Either way is okay. I have both. I have a skimming but swingy tropical print skirt that has accompanied me to many and island, and the dependable pencil skirt serves all other purposes. For slacks I have a great pair of Kenneth Cole’s that have been a stand by for about 8 years now. I bought them long enough to wear with tall heels and they never let me down.
  9. Cardigan. They say “cotton is rotten” when it comes to running gear, and I have adopted this for sweaters as well. Maybe it’s just me, but my cotton sweaters stretch out of shape after one wearing, fade more quickly, and tend to show wear earlier than some other materials. I’m a big fan of wool: merino, cashmere, whatever. Wool/silk blends have worked well for me in the past, maybe with a little nylon or spandex thrown in. They’re perfect for layering, toning down a saucy top, or adding a pop of color to a work dress.

    The wonderful world of cardis. The above are all available at Nordstrom.

    The wonderful world of cardis. The above are all available at Nordstrom.

  10. LBD. There are innumerable Little Black Dress options out there, and the price ranges vary wildly. I have a few. One is more conservative and would be appropriate for a business setting or funeral (gotta be real, we’ll all attend these at one point or another and I think it’s only respectful to look presentable). Another is, well, saucy. Enough said.
A range of LBDs, all available at piperlime.

A range of LBDs, all available at piperlime.

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BASICS: Different for Everyone

Clearly it’s important to build your wardrobe foundation. We hear about it all the time, right? Everyone and their dog has a list of “Must Have Wardrobe Basics.” It seems obvious. Having simple pieces that are neutral (versatile) and can be dressed up or down, well that’s just common sense.

Surely we all need black and nude pumps. Don't we?

Surely we all need a pair of black pumps and nude pumps. Don’t we?

But I firmly believe everyone’s necessary basics differ. I did some research when I started thinking about this topic and one list I found recommended a 3 piece suit. I have never in my life had occasion to wear a 3 piece suit. Not once. Some women wear them every day. And almost every list I found also recommended a “crisp white blouse.” I’ve been reading that one for years, so a few years ago I bought one. I’ve worn it twice. It’s just not me, I’m not comfortable in it–I wasted my money. I used to read these lists like they were instruction manuals… now I read them critically and have fun deciding which pieces fit my needs and style. I’m sure everyone realizes that ALL advice should be taken with a grain of salt. This is especially true for fashion advice (including this post). One size does NOT fit all. And breaking the rules is just as important as knowing what they are.

I absolutely love Michelle Obama’s style, but I’m pretty sure her wardrobe requirements differ from mine!

When thinking about what you need, logic dictates starting by evaluating what you have. Pull it all out. ALL of it. Empty the drawers!  While you’re in there, cull out the weak pieces. If it’s worn past “cool” and more on the “decaying” end of the spectrum, let it go. If you have clothes that you pull at all day because you don’t like the fit, get rid of them. Life is both too short and too long to spend time feeling ill at ease because what you’re wearing isn’t flattering. There IS clothing out there that will flatter you, regardless of your body type. I’m not saying it’s easy to find great things if you’re 4’10” or 6’3”, but it can be done (we should all have a line on a great tailor), and it’s imperative that we not settle for less than a really comfortable fit. One of my sisters calls this “spiritual shopping” and swears she never buys anything unless, when she tries it on, she looks in the fitting room mirror and thinks she looks fantastic. Pure genius.


Purging is necessary since we buy clothes over years and years. Periodically, we have to take stock of how we’d like to present ourselves and how we are actually presenting ourselves. It’s a good time to evaluate your wardrobe from the perspective of work needs, social habits, and general lifestyle. Also consider the lifestyle you want. Integrate that with your budget, plan which items pack the biggest punch for your dollar, and which items can be added over time…

So once you’ve seen what you have, and thought about your priorities, it’s a good time to peruse a few essentials lists:

  • I really like Tim Gunn. He’s insightful and sweet, but can definitely break it down when necessary. This video discusses the importance of fit and proportion, and here is the simplest of his lists that I’ve found.
  • A Girl, A Style‘s list, here, is thoughtful and interesting.
  • I didn’t think Oprah’s list was especially inspired, but I did agree we need to toss the ratty sweatpants. There are soft cozy pjs out there that are also attractive. Loungewear can look as good as if feels. I really like these pjs from Victoria’s secret, and the Gap Pure Body collection.
  • This is a fun video, with a great perspective on basics and statement pieces. Don’t forget there are amazing deals to be had at TJ Maxx, Ross, and Marshalls. I have gorgeous bags and shoes from all 3 of them.
  • Glamour has a bunch of different essentials lists, it’s fun to check out the different angles they take.
  • Great ideas are often found in unexpected places. I am not a parent- but when researching basics and fashion advice, I found a GREAT posting on a site called Single Moms Ask Sara. I don’t agree with everything she wrote, but I agree with a lot of it, and loved how she talked about teaching her kids how to think of clothing. (Cliff Notes: If it doesn’t fit, it’s the fault of the clothing, not the person).
I've been dying for a fluffy tulle skirt for ages...

I’ve been dying for a fluffy tulle skirt for ages… if I wear it enough can I claim it’s essential?

Well, I had more to say about this topic than I realized! I’ll leave my Basics List for another day.

What 5 items do you think every woman should have (and by that I really mean what 5 items do you think YOU should have)?

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Spring Dresses

The spring dresses are in stores and it’s time to start thinking about warmer weather (OK, maybe I’m a little early, but I’m excited).

These would be appropriate for work, and would transition well to evening with just a little lipstick, jewelry, and some hot pumps:

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 4.07.22 PM

  1. Conference in Rio Dress. The white and orange make me smile! I can’t decide between gold or turquoise heels and accessories, what do you think?
  2. Cap Sleeve Stripe Mini Dress by Calvin Klein. Simple and classic, throw a blazer over it for work day, remove it for cocktail hour. And it pulls in the uber-popular nautical trend. Hello Sailor!
  3. Desert Dress by Nanette Lepore. The fine striping is difficult to see in this photo, but it’s got great seaming and contouring. I’m still not completely sold on the peplum trend though, how about you?
  4. Cora Dress by Kate Spade. I’m thinking black, gold, or red accessories… but you could easily take this in any direction. What a fantastically versatile piece.

These would be great summer beachy date dresses:

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 4.04.28 PM

  1. Stripe Maxi Dress  by Splendid. I’m not usually into stripes or hi-low, but these stripes are arranged in the MOST flattering way possible, and the whole thing just works.
  2. Maritza Print Shift Dress by Collective Concepts. This makes me think of warm breezes under shade trees with a glass of sangria in hand.
  3. Shirred Tee Dress by Monrow. Could this dress look any more comfortable? The length is perfect and it would be so easily dressed up or down. Great for travel!
  4. Tank Maxi Dress by LA Made. There’s a keyhole in the back too, and slits on both sides. Beach elegant.

Have you started shopping for spring?

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Breakfast at Tiffanys

A few years ago one of my besties declared she was forgoing all wardrobe colors except black, white, red, and leopard print. The bold move was an attempt to emulate Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys. It ended up being a little extreme and she reverted to the full spectrum, but I LOVE the idea of going for that amazing glamour. I grew up watching classic movies, and like most of us, adore the amazing fashion of Old Hollywood.

Here are some photos and pieces that I find glamorous, both red carpet looks and every day wear:

Milla Jovovich at the 2012 Oscars. Image via

Milla Jovovich. Image via

Emma Stone in London in 2011. Image via

Emma Stone. Image via

Katy Perry, image via

Katy Perry, image via

Bee, via her blog Atlantic-Pacific.

Bee, via her blog Atlantic-Pacific. I do believe that dress is Kate Spade. I have a Kate addiction. It’s a problem.

Wendy from Wendy's Lookbook (love her!).

Wendy from Wendy’s Lookbook (love her!).

I have to admit, when in doubt, the black/white/red/leopard scheme is a go to. While you’re at it, throw a trench cape with a fur snood over it. 

What’s glamorous to you?