Suffering for Fashion

While I love everything about fashion, there are some limitations to what I accept. I appreciate designs, texture, color patterning, and fit; but when styles become too farfetched, I draw the line. Right now, I am on a rant about the latest shoes with five-inch spike heels. It seems that the old four-inch standard has been cast aside. What ever happened to three? You don’t see them at all anymore. I simply do not think the higher version of stilettos look that great on most people. Even when there is a one-inch platform, they look absurd and feel even worse I am told. I never wear them for any occasion. Young girls who are slaves to fashion and want to look hot wear them with pride. Why does looking sexy dominate the entire field. What about cut and innovation. Everything is in the interest of attracting the opposite sex. Why else would someone wear shoes that destroy your feet? I have a lot to say about suffering for fashion whether when wearing it or making it.

It isn’t just the harm done to feet that bothers me. You can alleviate this with a good foot massage – by a professional or with a portable home machine. It is as you wish since both work wonders. Massage also takes care of another fashion problem. I have an image of sweat shop workers in third world countries hunched over a sewing machine all day without a break. And for a very low wage! It is time to protest, and not just on Facebook. I sew my own clothing as a designer and textile specialist so I know how much harm it does. I can’t stop doing this as it is a key to my successful career, so I resort to a typical solution. I go for massages as needed, at least once a week, and supplement them with a hand massage unit at home. It works best on feet because you can reach them with ease.

So, I have a fantasy of recommending manufacturers to provide a chair massage at the end of each work day. This will never happen but I believe it is a good idea for those aching shoulders and stiff backs. I also think that it would be worth the investment as it would boost productivity for sure. Workers should also be able to borrow foot massagers that would be available during break time. Ah, I can feel it now. I love mine as it saves the day after standing on my feet too long. In sweat shops, there is the constant repetitive motion of foot pedals that run the old-fashioned sewing machines.

If fashion were more profitable, these sweat shops would go out of business in favor of automated factories. I regret the loss of jobs, but I also abhor ancient practices. Listen up readers and let others in fashion know about the evils of the industry. Maybe some of you fashionistas will feel guilty enough to join me in my protest.

Unique Accessories

Women are invading the male space in all areas, including the field of construction. Not that the men mind! They were surprised at first and it took some getting used to. Now they make good cronies. There are women police officers, firepersons, judges, CEOs, and all sorts of positions hithertofore only offered to men. I like the way the world has changed over many decades. Women are pilots, neurosurgeons, astronauts, and more. Don’t tell a female that she can’t be anything she wants. In any job, she will lead the way.

I enjoy seeing the ladies on construction sites with jackhammers and welders. They are wearing the same hardhats, heavy boots, and gloves as the men. It is a unified environment for sure. Let’s make sure they get paid the same wage! I am a bit of an advocate for women in any business or enterprise since I met someone who is a professional welder herself. She had been an apprentice for years and her father, a welder, was her teacher and mentor. She has many a tale about her life on the job. She was so skilled that she was called upon to instruct newbies in the art of welding and even wrote for a popular blog on welding at https://www.ratemywelder.com. She rose in the ranks and worked many years before retiring to take up her second love: jewelry making.

As you can imagine, she used metal as her primary material and learned to weld on a small scale. She showed me a selection and I paged through her extensive photo portfolio. She attends many expos and trade shows, follows lots of groups and pages on Facebook on the topic and even demonstrates mini welding on site. She can fabricate a custom item upon request. This was a whole new world to me. Welding to me is the hallmark of ironworking—fusing those huge beams on a high-rise, for example.

I attended an open-air jewelry fair with her on a date and learned quite a lot about her craft. She was conscientious, controlled, detailed, and skilled. As a designer, I could appreciate her manipulation of forms and gemstones. She could make anything from earrings to a ring to a necklace. She sold a lot of her inventory and said she makes a good living at what she loves. Don’t we all want to be able to say that!

When I needed a birthday gift for my mother, I knew just where to go. I had never given her anything as fancy as jewelry and she was elated. She wanted to meet the “artist” and invited the two of us to dinner. My mother wore her new necklace and was delighted that my friend brought a matching ring. What a lovely hostess gift, and certainly more than the casual dinner warranted. Nonetheless, my mom and she have bonded and I am getting more involved myself. I can be seen wearing a masculine link bracelet that is beautifully fashioned just for my taste.

Local Talent

A random orbital sander is an odd-looking tool, but it comes in handy for a multitude of sanding jobs. It comes with a front handle and a hoop and loop pad. The pads vary in hardness so know what you need in advance of your purchase. I am not out to sell these devices and I bring it up because I was fascinated that a fellow design is making jewelry with her gadget, among other tools. It takes a variety of implements to fashion wooden necklaces and earrings. It also takes the requisite skill to handle the sander. I wouldn’t try it out the first time on any special wood pieces you have selected for your wares. It is a learning process but one that will yield great results. I am attuned to shape and form, surface and texture as a designer and stylist myself. Color comes with wood stains and such handmade jewelry can be exotic or modern. I love the work of my friend and colleague and have asked for a few tips. I think that gemstone jewelry has run its course and it is time for a new material to add spice to one’s fashion.

I love to explore the work of local talent in my state and there is plenty of it. I am often seen at regional fairs that exhibit clothing, hats, jewelry, and toiletries—all made at home. There is something very special about owning a hand-made item. If you are lucky and can interview the artist, you are in luck. You get the inside story about their craft including what tools of the trade they have mastered. I am not surprised that more than one artisan uses a random orbital sander. I went home and looked at https://www.woodworknation.com and learnt that you can make wooden boxes, closet accessories, wall art, and more. If you have the instinct for it and are a budding artist dying to try your hand at something new, woodworking is definitely one way to go. It is satisfying and rewarding. The results are so unique. Read the sander reviews and find one suitable for multiple needs. It doesn’t have to be the top grade for a professional construction worker. Even the occasional do-it-yourself amateur can find use for a random orbital sander. I am intrigued by the fact that it can be used to fabricate fine art.

I noticed when surveying the sanders for sale on line that some are quite compact, fitting nicely in a zippered tote. I like the idea of an anti-slip top pad and a comfortable body grip for easy handling. The descriptions also mention a controlled finishing system that helps minimize surface gouging during startup. That seems important to me. These are the kinds of things that are relevant when selecting your own personal sander. You kinda have to learn what it all means. Ask someone if you are a novice. I am tempted since I am so impressed by the wood jewelry I have seen. You can really get creative with this versatile natural material.

Never Too Many Collars

This post is dedicated to my great and enduring love for collared button downs (or button ups, if you call them that!). I will never be able to own enough of them. Here’s why I’m obsessed! They add a preppy, polished look to nearly any outfit. Seriously! Even an old, grungy t-shirt can now look acceptable at a business-casual function. I try to buy a combination of long-sleeve and sleeveless collared button downs so that I can get the perfect look every time. All of my favorite outfits apply this one, simple method: wear a collared shirt underneath it.

For example, one of my favorite ensembles is my mustard yellow sleeves shift dress with my sleeveless black button-down underneath it. The black adds some definition to the simple line of the dress. It makes the dress look less boring and more punkerella. I like to then pair the look with a thin, glossy black belt and clunky black boots (for play) or heels or stylish flats (for work).

Another great way to put your collared shirts to extra use is to wear them under plain old t-shirts. That plaid, long-sleeve button down you always wear over your clothes, try wearing it under. It could even look good under a shift dress, such as the one I have, for a distinctly fall, back-to-school look.

Really what it comes down to is – layers. This look, even in the heat of summer, can add layers to your outfits. You don’t have to wear cardigans and vests year-round to make outfits that look complex and well put together, you just have to invest in some light and airy sleeveless button down blouses.

This look is great for everyone too because it can add everything from edge (my favorite way is to use collared shirts with studs or a metallic sheen to them) to class to any outfit.

 

The Magic of a Square Scarf: 5 Uses for the Cute Scarf

Everyone loves a good scarf. But I have to say that I am a little underwhelmed with the current infinity scarf craze, mainly because, they really only look good one way. I understand that they are great for when you’re on the go and they always look good no matter what, but my favorite scarf has always been the square scarf.

Square scarfs get their name due to the fact that when they are spread out flat, they take the shape of a square. A lot of people may not know that because we are so used to seeing them being worn. The square scarf is so versatile – wear it in your hair, wear it around your neck (obviously, ha!), tie it around your purse, around your wrist, even use it as a funky, bohemian belt! I’m counting down the 5 uses for a cute scarf, and here they are:

  • Retro Headscarf

One of my favorite ways to wear my square scarves is in my hair. When folded in half, corner-to-corner to create a large triangle, they can then be rolled up and tied at the front of your head in a bow. It’s important to get the right length for this – a square scarf that’s too large will make an obnoxiously big bow, one that’s too small may not fit around the head at all. I love this look because it takes any old, average outfit to a whole other level of trendiness. Even with just jeans and a simple tee, I can use a colorful scarf in my hair with an up-do or even down, to make my outfit less average and give it a cute, vintage vibe.

  • French Gal Swag

This is a fun one! Try using a smaller square scarf to achieve this stylish look. Fold the scarf just as you did for the headscarf but this time tie it at the front (right or left) side of your neck. You’ll look and feel like a 1960’s glam French woman on her way to the cafe with her tiny dog. I get so many compliments when I wear my scarves like this! And I always feel fabulous.

  • Classic, Americana Bandanna

This is the easiest and most common way to wear a square scarf, but it doesn’t make it any less gorgeous. Fold the square into a triangle also for this style, and then simply place it around your neck as if it is a bib. You can tie it in the back, playing with its length, or (if it’s long enough) bring both ends back to the front and let them hang. This style can add a little edge to any ensemble. So look out world, here you come!

  • Flirty Bag Accessory

I gather this little tip from the style icon, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. And indeed, be bold and feel rock ‘n’ roll when you try this one! If you have a neutral toned purse, this is a really simple way to give it some flavor that is only temporary. And the best thing about it is, if you end up needing a scarf throughout the business of your day, you’ll have it right there with you! Simply fold into a triangle, and tie around the handle or strap of your bag. You can tie it in a bow for a more feminine look, or even let it hang (as long as it isn’t too long!) for something more boho-chic.

  • Boho Belt

This look is paired perfectly for the beach or a maxi dress. Otherwise, I wouldn’t really recommend it, personally. Tied at the hip with a long, black maxi dress, a colorful scarf can make you look cool, confident, and interesting. As a belt alternative, scarfs aren’t mean to hold up pants or skirts but tied around the simplicity of a silhouette, it can give you a defined waistline as well as a fun sense of style.

Which do I Prefer? – Booties vs. Boots

So today we are discussing: boots and booties. Booties are the latest trend for every woman’s feet these days and you can’t seem to find a fall outfit complete without either a pair of them or boots. I understand why. They’re both perfect for fall! Close-toed, warm, comfy, and semi-rain proof – plus they’re cute! One of you asked me last week which I prefer. Personally, in my own closet, I own three pairs of booties and only one pair of boots (unless you count my hiking boots, ha!), but that doesn’t necessarily mean I dislike boots. I prefer booties because they add a little height, lengthen the leg, and have a distinctly more feminine look than boots. At least, I feel prettier and more feminine trotting around in booties more so than I do when I stomp around in boots. It’s all personal preference.

I do believe, however, that booties are on the rise. I think this is due not only to the obvious fact that they are in style, but that they give you a little height that heels usually manage, but are more protective than heels are. Plus, how can we not love their adorable name?

I own three pairs of booties so that I have the potential to wear them with virtually any outfit. I have a black pair, a camel-brown pair, and a deep red pair. My black and brown ones are neutrals so I’ll often wear them with an outfit that’s a little on the brighter or more colorful side, whereas my red ones are great with a simple, black dress, or white top and dark, fitted jeans. The boots that I own are a lovely, cool mushroom gray – they almost have a little hint of periwinkle to them – and they are my favorite when worn with nice stockings and a short skirt or dress. I almost never wear them with jeans. This is simply because I am beginning to get bored with the whole skinny jeans, riding boots, infinity scarf ensemble. I think it’s overplayed. If I wear jeans in the fall, you best believe it’s either with sneakers and I’m running errands or with booties and I’m out to work or play.

Again, this is all personal preference. As a stylist, I never want to tell clients what to wear, how to wear it, but rather help them move in a direction where they feel comfortable, look great, and find inner confidence. If your go-to look is the typical fall ensemble, that’s great, but I always strive to help people get a little out of their comfort zone. A look I’ve been craving to see is riding boots with a fall-color-scheme floral midi-dress. I think this look is positively magical. It makes me think of gardening in a more simple time. I recently tried it out on a Sunday morning trip to the Farmer’s Market and then to brunch with my family. I felt romantic, a little whimsical, and feminine, like the heroine in a novel well on her way to meeting Mr. Right. And, lord, knows I need that in my life right now!

I later thought about that same plum and yellow floral dress paired with booties, and I will tell you, it just didn’t have quite the same effect. So I guess to summarize today’s post, when it comes to booties and boots it’s about personal preference and how it interacts with your outfit.

The Bold Lip

Women are becoming more comfortable with lathering up their lips with bold, bright colors. Ever since Gwen Stefani went from camo pants and pink hair to glossy, platinum locks and Marilyn-inspired make-up, we have been trying out red lipstick. It’s been a long road, coming from the late 1990’s when women were wearing frosty, pink lip gloss that nearly made their lips disappear to saying, “Hello, World! Here are my lips!” with the vibrant hues of red.

It’s one of my favorite looks on a woman. Yes, all women. I don’t buy into the, “It just doesn’t look good on me.” I never let my clients say that in front of me because it’s such an awful thing to say. When you tell yourself it’s not for you or you don’t like it, that’s totally fine, but when it comes down to you thinking there isn’t an option for you, specifically, I don’t buy it. The fashion industry is a large and industrious world where many companies, thousands of companies, are catering to a specific woman every day – one of those women is bound to be you. There’s a red lip for everyone. Cool-toned reds to warm-toned reds all built to compliment any skin tone, eye color, and lip shape.

But I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about how we got from red lips to new and even more daring colors. Recently at Sephora, I found lip stains in every color – really, every color – red, orange, purple, black, maroon, blue, and even green. I was stunned and thrilled. I knew there was an awesome hipster chick somewhere out there, maybe in Tokyo, maybe even in Idaho, rocking green lips with a velvet, black choker, Doc Martens, and cigarette pants. I knew that I could rock green or blue lips too if I wanted to, but it wasn’t my style and I certainly couldn’t imagine anyone in North Carolina not staring at me like I was an alien if I walked around that way. I suddenly had a vision of myself in New York City with my best friend, Stace. Stace is turning 27 in April and we already have flights booked to go to NYC for a weekend together. How rad would I look with deep blue, velvety lips running around the midnight streets in the Big Apple with Stace?

You may have guessed my punch line…. Today, I bought blue lip stain. And I couldn’t be more excited to use it. I already know I am pairing it with my black mini dress, electric blue tights, and black booties. I will keep the rest of my make-up simple. Just a nice thin line of black liquid eyeliner, mascara, and some blush.

So, as I’ve said, it’s not always about something being for you and distinctly you – some beauty products can help you find a New You (or a New York You, ha!), and others will challenge you, get you out of your shell, or help you achieve a particular look. I will have to keep you all updated on how the trip in April goes and I will be sure to post pictures of me rocking the blue lips.

My Dream Shoe Collection

The title of this post is a little misleading, because, guess what? I already own my dream shoe collection! Also, here’s some good news – you can too! Shoes are usually the clothing item women have the least amount of trouble shopping for and loving to own. No matter what waistline we have or how many times our weight fluctuates, shoe sizes are always the same. It’s like going home for Christmas, after years of being away from family and finding that your grandmother’s house is still exactly the same, down to where you last left your stuffed bunny, Mr. Fizzle. It’s comforting and safe to go to a store and try on shoes. It doesn’t require you to get naked under horrible lighting in a dressing room that feels oddly a lot like a Box of Shame, it just requires you to walk up and down an aisle with one bar foot and the other dressed in a smart red wedge, stomping like it’s a runway, and you’re Beyoncé with a limp.

So here it is, my dream (and current) shoe collection:

  • Black Shoes: flats, gladiator sandals, booties, and high heels
  • Brown Shoes: kitten heels, woven flats, booties.
  • Colorful Shoes: mushroom gray riding boots, red booties, glitter-gold strappy heels, leopard flats, Kelly green wedges.

Just 12 pairs of shoes. Most women are pretty surprised when they learn this about me, and I understand why. “But you’re a stylist!” Yes, I know. I should have about 50 pairs of shoes, but it’s actually because I am a stylist that I don’t need too many options to make my closet work the best. More clothes don’t always mean more outfits, in fact, it can be incredibly overwhelming, not to mention expensive. I try to give my clients the best service by helping them learn how to get the most out of each item of clothing in their closet. That’s why it’s important to own some shoes (like my booties) in every color. Every woman, to achieve a “dream” shoe collection and closet, should have one pair of brown and one pair of black in nearly every style shoe.

Colored shoes are of less importance – although, I know, they’re so fun to buy and wear – they shouldn’t be overcrowding your closet. My Kelly green wedges are my favorite during the summer, paired with jeans and a sleeveless blouse, or with a fun summer dress, but I hardly get use out of them in the winter. It’s important for your shoe collection to be able to fade in and out with the seasons effortlessly. My leopard flats are probably one of my favorite pairs of shoes that I own because I wear them year-round (as long as it isn’t too cold!). They look great with fitted, dark wash jeans and with my mustard-yellow shift dress and added black details. I love owning the more “outrageous” styles, colors, and patterns of shoes because they give me the option to add quirkiness or a pop of color to any ensemble, but in order to achieve a dream closet, with a multitude of opportunities, I know I have to invest in the basics, like neutral-toned flats and boots.

Well, that’s all for now! Next week I will be talking about the perfect date night outfits, because, guess what! I’m going on a date this weekend! I will post pictures of the outfit I decided to wear and run through some tips and ideas with you on all the great, fun, flirty options you can try. What I won’t be giving tips on, however, is dating!