July 24 OOTD: Daytime Wedding

I love daytime weddings because I’m an 80-year-old woman in a 20-something’s body – I’m not really one of those party-until-2 am wedding types (at least, not anymore). Daytime weddings? MY DREAM.

Seriously, guys, invite me for a luncheon all day, erryday.

FOR A WEDDING IN THE MORNING OR AFTERNOON

DRESS: Gal Meets Glam Collection Yvonne Dream Crepe One-Shoulder Dress – on sale for $94.80

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Although polyester is a pet peeve of mine, this is an affordable and well-constructed dress that really drapes beautifully. Plus, I love the color. (P.S. I can’t believe I have to tell anyone this, but it’s poor taste to wear white to a wedding if you’re not the bride. Also, do not wear club wear to a wedding at any time of day or night. I’ve seen way too much of this shit recently– you can look cute at a wedding without overshadowing the bride’s special day, or giving other guests things to talk about that will overshadow the day’s festivities)

SHOES: Badgley Mischka Teri Embellished Caged Sandals – $209, but frequently on 40% sale – $125.40

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These are shoes that basically look like jewelry to me – unbelievably cute. If the wedding is outdoors, though, prepare your shoes to protect them from mud and grass stains. Generally, you might want to look into an upholstery protectant and/or waterproofing spray, but hairspray will do in a pinch. Also, these heel protecters are godsend – you can get ones with a smaller base, but the stiletto will still sink somewhat into soft dirt, so the broader the heel base, the better. You don’t want your pretty new shoes to get ruined by an inch of mud.

CLUTCH: Jessica McClintock Sparkle Minaudier in Champagne – $34.70

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As someone who’s been to a lot of weddings at which attire becomes a great way to display wealth and impress other wedding guests, I frankly think it’s stupid to spend a lot of money on a clutch. Most of us aren’t hitting cocktail parties every night, nor are we going to the opera on a regular basis. A simple clutch that goes with any outfit is great, and this champagne color can lean toward either gold or silver jewelry choices. Clean and classic and not overly embellished while still being a bit glitzy.

OTHER ODDS AND ENDS TO FINISH THE LOOK:

Note: I don’t recommend wearing a necklace with a one-shoulder dress with such a big featured bow – that should be the focal point of the neckline, not additional bling.

Now go celebrate some love!

A Girl Can Dream: Luxury Nightwear

This actually is something a little more attainable in my “girl can dream” series of luxury items. Personally, silk nightwear has always been an indulgent fantasy of mine, but I still haven’t copped because I’m just a gross, disgusting sleeper who sweats through everything, and I imagine I’d ruin anything that wasn’t a plain cotton t-shirt quicker than you can say “deodorant.”

However, if you were going to cop, Lunya does washable silk sleepwear that’s super cute. They have silk kits and slips, as well as short pj sets, but I personally have already put these two items on my Christmas wish list with my husband:

WASHABLE SILK PANT SET – $238

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WASHABLE SILK ROBE – $248

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Not quite as out-of-reach, but more out of budget than strictly necessary. But this segment is all about indulgence, right?

July 23 OOTD: The Not-Outdated Powersuit

I think I’ve made my feelings on suits relatively clear – the time of the old-school power suit has passed. Women’s suiting has a long and illustrious history of an attempt to level the playing field between the genders.

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The 80s power suit in particular, with its gigantic padded shoulders mimicking the broad structured shoulders of Wall Street suits, did a fair amount to visually achieve that goal… and then didn’t progress all that much for 20-30 years. These “modern silhouettes” attempted to liken the genders by, in my opinion, reframing traditional femininity within the outlines of what was perceived to be masculine.*

Unless, of course, they were fetishized.

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*Note that the trend toward androgyny in attire is, at least to my mind, a completely different and intention in fashion, something to reclaim pieces and fashion as “neither-nor”  as a concept when gendering attire, rather than “either-or” and forcing women to choose the latter in order to play with the boys. Own that androgynous style – just recognize the difference and nuance between the motivations of why these styles are worn.

The reality is that we don’t live in a world anymore that sees being womanly or feminine as a weakness – we don’t need to necessarily have to have linebacker shoulders to be taken as seriously as men. Being female is a power in and of itself, and not one that’s sexualized or fetishized – it’s about perfect comfort in ones own skin, in one’s own clothing, and accounting for the sexism behind the office thermostat.

That said, we’re hitting summer sale season. It’s a good time to stock up on your transitional suiting pieces.

THREE SALE SUITING SUGGESTIONS TO HOP ON RIGHT NOW:

#1- THE PRICEY: Theory Sculpted Chevron Jacket and Theory Adbell K Chevron Stretch Pants – Nordstrom Anniversary Sale total: $514.80

Yes, I know this is pricey. This viscose and wool set is the highest end of the price spectrum I’ll suggest today. The chevron print is both timeless and youthful, and these pieces can liven up an outfit when worn either together or separately – plus, I love a good mandarin-style collar. Good suits, with fine cut, cost money, but they should last years. Consider the amortized costs to decide if this is worth it for you.

#2- THE MODERATE: WHBM All-Season Peplum Jacket ($150) and Essential Slim-Crop Pants ($89)

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Super tailored to accentuate the positive, with some unusual detailing to draw away from the strictly-classic structure. The crops would be good for transitional seasons.

#3- THE ULTRA AFFORDABLE: Zara Cape Jacket ($99.90) and Flared Pants ($69.90)

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I love capes! Zara is pretty fast fashion, but with an item as on-trend as a cape, it’s tough to beat the price… plus, no uncomfortable shoulder-pulling from your sleeves, and an easy piece to use/transition into evening wear!

#4- ULTRA AFFORDABLE AND PRONE TO SALES: Nine West Kiss-Front Blazer and Flare-Hem Skirt – $168

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With some added frill detail on the skirt and a notched collar / kiss-front closure, the set pictured here is such a dressed up version of a classic. And Macy’s frequently has sales (48 hour, etc.), and offers up to 12% cash back via Ebates.

Happy suiting!

Shopping Therapy: The Psychology of Stuff – Part 2

All opinions are my own, and I’m not at all a psychologist or any sort of expert — in fact, I’m wholly unqualified to express this opinion (but express it, I will). This piece is simply a very unofficial exploration of an idea.

The first part of this opinion piece laid out the issues with compulsive shopping and the psychological motivation and impact of our relationship  to owning things, and my teensy-weensy hypocrisy in telling you to shop less on a blog essentially about shopping.

I love shopping. It’s a joy and it makes me feel good. I like having enviable pieces and seeming well put-together (well, on days that I put on makeup, at least). I’m guilty of being a bit of a self-indulgent fashionista.

But I strongly believe that there is a way to shop without being problematic, psychologically or spatially.

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Let’s avoid hoarding, please.

To avoid the psychological and other trappings of too much stuff, shop with strategy. It’s important to take inventory of what you have, how many items you can match each item with, and really ascertain what you need. Sale shopping is great and all, but if you’re buying things simply because it’s on sale instead of shopping for what you’d always intended on getting, you are spending too much. End stop.

That means items  in your closet will probably lean more toward classic than super trendy. Said items tend to be in more universal, earth-toned, neutral, or dark colors, since brights by nature tend to be a bit more limited in how they can be used in outfits. That means that you have to commit to the care of your pieces and select items with good stitching and durable, quality fibers (and yes, this is a time and energy investment).

I have a few tips I use when shopping:

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Realistically, this logo is owned by the producers and studio affiliated with The Purge Franchise. But it’s so appropriate to #4’s timeline. Consider this appropriate credit.

  1. Have a shopping buddy. When I see something I like, I send my best friend a screenshot, photo, or a link to the product and ask her opinion. Her first question almost always is, “Do you need that?” or “Will you wear that?” (e.g. today she saved me from a moderately awful pair of leather Cole Haan loafers that were on sale for $25 during Amazon Prime Day… but they were silver. Some women can own that shit- on me, silver shoes, if they’re not formal sandals, make me look like a geriatric disco dancer, and frankly wouldn’t fit into the scope of what I feel comfortable styling for myself to wear. I wouldn’t know how to make these look good.
  2. I rarely, if ever, purchase items I intend to keep forever. I have a few legacy items – a couple of specific coats, a few luxury handbags that I know won’t depreciate, some jewelry. But, many of the pieces I select I look at with an eye for resale, which helps me amortize costs over the estimated length of time I think I’ll keep the piece, and also forces me to be much more selective about what I’m willing to spend.
  3. I try to be patient and wait for the pieces I’m eyeballing to go on sale. I know this is super problematic for the longevity of brick and mortar stores, but if Macy’s is going to give me 12% cash back on Ebates and multiple coupon codes, as well as a flash sale on that sweater that’s been on my wish list, you can bet I will refuse to pay full price in store (hey, stores- can you offer those 15-20% discounts for first time shoppers in store, too, instead of just on the online email registry?).
  4. Seasonal purges: get rid of items in your closed every three months.
    • If you haven’t worn it in a year or more, let it go.
    • If you have multiple versions of an item, let all but one go. For example, I recently kept my husband from going buck wild at a Hugo Boss outlet and trying to buy two gray-striped dress shirts. We recently purged his closet at my insistence — because he has the whole master bedroom closet, and how is that fair? — and I discovered he legitimately has 4 different gray-striped dress shirts in excellent condition. On the flip side, he called me out for having way too many beige sweaters about five minutes before I received a delivery of yet another beige sweater. That went back to the store really fast.
    • If you have name-brand items, consider selling clothing via Poshmark and handbags via eBay or through consignment services. Cash is a soothing balm to the hurt of letting your closet babies go. OR…
    • …If you have good-quality in good condition, please consider donating seasonally-appropriate items to the less fortunate. Research the best non-profit in your area for the donations and support a cause that’s important to you. This, too, is a balm for letting your closet babies into the world.
  5. When shopping in person, I try not to enter a store just to “look.” This is what I call my Target dilemma – going in for toothpaste and deodorant and coming out with a full cart of stuff that I suddenly am sure I need as I see it. No, instead I go in with a specific idea of what shopping need I am trying to fulfill when looking for clothes. It’s a mental grocery list.
  6. Beware of fake “sales.” It’s a well-known retail strategy used to promote urgency in the buyer… and frankly, as much as I love HauteLook, this is largely their flash sale strategy (with a few notable exceptions, mostly for beauty products). I haven’t really found much that I can’t find statically on the Nordstrom Rack site (and the NR Clear the Rack events sometimes reduce these further).
  7. Don’t rely on your credit cards, even if you’re getting a pricier item. This is just general life advice – don’t put anything on your card that you can’t pay in full at the end of each month. Save for those items you’ve been eyeballing, instead. And having said item sell out before you get to buy it is actually a blessing in disguise, as it forces you to be more frugal in creative in finding an item of similar quality and worth of use. FOMO is all in your head – missing out on these is more money in your pocket, money you didn’t need to spend.
  8. Learn how to care for various types of fibers and fabrics. Cashmere, silk, leather, suede, rayon, cotton, polyester, etc. all require different, specialized care. You’re aiming for quality, classically inclined pieces that aren’t likely to go out of fashion soon, so it’s important to treat your investment pieces with care and respect for two reasons- 1) so you don’t look grubby, and 2) in case you elect to resell and/or donate items from your closet. Shave the pilling from your sweaters. Figure out how to treat that oil spill on your silk cami from dinner the other night. Get rid of the period leakage from your premium denim. There are tips and tricks to all of these things – they just require a bit of time and commitment.
    • Fringe benefit? This helps psychologically reset your disposable “fast fashion” mentality that if something is no longer good, you have to replace it. You don’t – sometimes a half hour repair project will get another year or more of use out of an item.
  9. Don’t exceed your budget. Seriously – be honest with yourself about what you can afford and don’t exceed it. Once you go down a slippery slope of “well, I will just spend less next month,” it’s seriously unlikely you’ll actually balance your accounts the following month. Most of the time, it just means you make yourself more and more comfortable with passing off the deficit in your budget to the following month, which can cause a balance to grow.
  10. Outlet shop on holidays. Go early in the morning, beat the rush, sign up for VIP coupons, and try to take advantage of specials (but don’t spend money on what you don’t need, even if it doesn’t cost money).
  11. Get comfortable with thrifting. I’ll fully admit that I am squeamish and a little prissy about used clothing and shoes, especially after reading this article about that oh-so-familiar thrift store smell that I’m especially sensitive to. But there are some good/well curated consignment stores in Southern California that don’t have that Goodwill-smell and specialize in higher-end attire. I’ve had some great successes doing this. Once again, don’t buy what you don’t need (with one small exception – if you see an exceptional item that you think can easily be resold for a profit, take the chance. Just be realistic about resale value).

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To my mind, a lot of the psychology about compulsive shopping can be combatted by associating pleasure triggers/relief from letting go of these items, as well. This can be done through rewards (altruistic or monetary), but it also means that those rewards can reshape your perspective on the purchasing side, as well.

Clothing is something you should try to use regularly, for as long as is reasonable, in my opinion… but it’s not something you should remain committed to if the passion’s faded. This isn’t a marriage. If a hotter young thing, a sensible choice comes along to replace your existing piece, REPLACE IT. No piece of clothing likes being stuck in the depths of your closet forever.

July 20 OOTD: Brunch with Friends (under $150)

Look cute and stay cool for a mimosa brunch out with your girls this summer! Better yet, all these pieces are super affordable and effortless.

OOTD WHEN YOU’RE DRESSING TO EFFORTLESSLY IMPRESS YOUR GIRLS AT BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH:

TOP: Laundry by Shelli Segal Ruffled V-Neck Blouse – $29.99

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Easy and not fussy, the slight lace ruffle detail on this gives it some added panache and takes it out of simple t-shirt territory.

BOTTOMS: Tahari ASL Flora Striped Tiered Shorts – $27.50 (with last call’s 50% sale)

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Confession: I’ve always loved skorts. And this piece isn’t quite a skort, but it’s close. Gives a little oomph to an otherwise simple stay-cool outfit. Plus, it’s slightly naval-themed and beachy, perfect for sipping some champ at a beachside venue in Malibu. Side note: get Ebates. At the time I’m writing this, LastCall has 9% cash back!

SHOES: Ugg Elena Platform Wedge Sandals – $79.97

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Classic UGGs might be hideous (albeit comfy) but they really do craft a great shoe – every pair of heels, booties, and such that I’ve bought from UGG have been excellent and lasted me quite a long time. These wedges in particular are super cute – with a gentle slope, you won’t lose your step after a bottomless Sunday.

OTHER (NONESSENTIAL) ODDS AND ENDS TO FINISH THE LOOK:

Happy brunching!

Shopping Therapy: The Psychology of Stuff – Part 1

All opinions are my own, and I’m not at all a psychologist or any sort of expert — in fact, I’m wholly unqualified to express this opinion (but express it, I will). This piece is simply a very unofficial exploration of an idea.

“Our relationship with stuff starts early,” says Christian Jarrett in an August 2013 edition of The Psychologist, a publication of The British Psychological Society. “The idea we can own something something… is one that children grasp by the age of two. And by six, they exhibit the ‘endowment effect,’ placing extra value on an object simply by virtue of it being, or having been, theirs.” Moreover, this fosters the beginning of what appears to be cyclical mentality: children place extra value on what is there, but “With ownership comes envy. When youngsters play with friends, they soon discover other people’s toys they’d like to get their hands on.”

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Women’s (and Men’s) fashion and lifestyle magazines carefully nurture and cultivate this mindset of envy that has been fostered from youth. You need to get this new Prada bag. You need to find the latest floral trend. Fanny packs are out, but belt bags (a wholly different product altogether) are the next big thing – so get your Gucci one now before the trend is done.

All of these things are geared to make you feel as though you’re not good enough, not stylish enough, not cool enough unless you have the next big thing that your neighbor can, in turn, envy. I’m guilty of this too, of course– I begged my husband for years for a Burberry trench, and asked for a Louis Vuitton Keepall for our first wedding anniversary. I have eagerly devoured subscriptions to Elle and Vogue that I don’t even remember signing up for (nor do I think I pay for- it might be magic). One of my greatest pleasures is pulling out one of the 49 initial pages of ads and sketching new colored frocks and imagining purchasing a $4,500 skirt for no reason whatsoever and wondering why Kendall Jenner is so popular.

But the reality is… this is just stuff. As an affirmed shopping lover, I also am well aware that my love of things is both a sense of expression and a lodestone. The more you collect, the more options you have to mix and match your style, but… the more room you have taken up in your home. If you’re a luxury buyer, you can probably walk into your closet and realize you’re sitting on the mortgage for your house. And slowly, as our closets grow and we outgrow our space because we don’t let go, we begin to verge dangerously on a hoarding mentality.

Jarrett argues that this is correlated to self-esteem: “our things embody our sense of self-hood and identity.” He suggests that “how much we see our things as extensions of ourselves may depend in part in how confident we feel about who we are.”

More than that, for some, acquiring things goes beyond simple self-esteem. We’ve heard of shopping addiction, also known as compulsive buying disorder. This is a repetitive behavioral addiction characterized by a circuit of behaviors: a feeling of anxiety or arousal when thinking about shopping, an urge to shop/buy, relief when purchasing, and subsequent guilt. These behaviors mimic a drug addiction, causing the sufferer to spiral into cravings, disregarding the adverse effects of giving in to these urges.

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Per Addiction.com, “someone who is a compulsive shopper becomes psychologically dependent on thoughts of shopping, the process of shopping, and the euphoric (or trance-like) feeling that comes from buying. For some, spending sprees temporarily quell difficult feelings of inadequacy, poor self-esteem, anxiety and/or stress.” As someone who admits to liking shopping too much, I get it. I truly understand how easy it is to try to fill a hole, emotionally or spiritually, with stuff in an attempt to keep up with the Joneses and feel better about oneself.

Please don’t judge me too hard for referencing Goop, but despite Gwyneth’s endorsement of “Jade Eggs for your Yoni” (NSFW) and her love of steaming her vagine, the site also has some really accessible and smart lifestyle tips that make the few sillier (and disproportionately newsworthy) suggestions worthwhile. There are a number of articles on Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method, and one post in particular that implements some of these lessons into minimizing your closet. “Very few of us,” it reads, “have the necessary hard heart to part with items that often have sentimental value– or worse, cost a lot of money, yet still carry their tags with the promise of a ‘some day’ outfit.”

Succinct and concise, I can’t think of a better way to put our emotional attachment to things, and specifically the things in our closet. The prospect of “what if” (What if I need this in the future? What if one day this style comes back? What if I want pass along this battered-to-hell Coach bag with no real value off to my children?) keeps capitalism hale and healthy and brings another generation into disposable fashion habits. Let me tell you a secret: you don’t need this stuff.

I know it seems a bit hypocritical that I’ve started a shopping and style advice blog, and am advising you not to buy too much. I’m hopeful that you’ll see repetition in my suggestions, and that you’ll take my advice on ways to shop for items as frugally as possible. I hope that you see the amortized value of a few quality pieces as more worthwhile than lost of fast fashion.

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Check out this sweet Canadian wartime propaganda poster! Still applies today.

I hope that waiting to finalize a purchase becomes a part of your process. I hope that the waiting period has the same intended effect as Brady Laws, that require gun buyers to wait to purchase a guns in hopes of avoiding more crimes of passion– consider this a time to avoid crimes of fashion. Sorry, was that tasteless? But seriously, think about everything before you compulsively buy.

So, how does one enjoy shopping without developing a dependence on stuff for self esteem or instant gratification? How does one avoid becoming a hoarder? What’s the smart way to shop?

…I’m totally the cliffhanging jerk that tells you that Part 2 of this post will be published this time tomorrow.

 

July 19 OOTD: Work-to-Date Double Duty

The Proposal was a solid rom com. I mean, I barely remember more than the initial premise (though I can’t suspend my disbelief about Ryan Reynolds being a secretly rich publishing assistant-slave, which, to be blunt is absurd– the only thing comparable to killing oneself as an entertainment assistant is being a publishing assistant, and I don’t recommend these career choices for anyone who’s not passionate. Live off the trust fund, Ry Bear, trust me).

Um, segue, sorry. I barely remember more than the premise, as I said, but god knows I remember Sandra Bullock owning the SHIT out of a tight black pencil skirt that hit just below her knees, with a blazer fitted to perfection. Oh my god and strutting around in those pencil thin stilettos- for some reason this outfit, with bitch-boss Bullock, struck me so hard as one of the sexiest outfits I’ve ever seen, and it jarred me.

I hadn’t previously ever thought of a power suit as sexy… just something to level the playing field with the men. But suddenly, power suit had a whole new meaning- it owned Bullock’s femininity in a way that, I felt, gave her an advantage. I never advocate dressing for a man (or woman or non-binary identifying partner- I love everyone here!), but I DO advocate wearing something that makes you feel gorgeous, powerful, and incapable in walking in any other way but a confident strut. And yes, that translates well to a hot date after work.

OUTFIT TO GO FROM DESK TO DRINKS

TOP: EVERLANE SILK V-NECK CAMI, WHITE – $65

A really utilitarian piece, the material adds a touch of luxury to your outfit and makes it appropriate for a nighttime rendezvous. Tuck this into your skirt, with a gentle overhang, if possible. It will control the flutter of the hem.

BOTTOM: WEEKEND MAX MARA APLINO PENCIL SKIRT – $165

This viscose skirt basically fulfills my Sandra fantasy. It’s a little pricey but this is another versatile piece that works just as well for court or Chinese food with the boo. Imagine this with virtually any button up, or with a silk one- shoulder blouse with a bow flourish for a cocktail party… you get the point. I usually wear mine a day or two after I do a squat circuit at the gym- my butt rarely looks different but I feel like flauntin’ after all that work.

SHOES: HALSTON HERITAGE RITA SUEDE STRAPPY PUMP – $95.40

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Love this shoe in either pink or black! Retails for $159 at LastCall.com, but pretty frequently discounted (like now) for 40% off, plus 9% cash back from Ebates. Sexy but office appropriate.

BLAZER: BCBGENERATION WOMEN’S TUXEDO BLAZER – $52 — $118

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Revisiting this blazer! Wonderfully versatile and the cut is unusual enough that it doesn’t look too plain. Pull it off and bare your shoulders for your date! I’d suggest the rose quartz color for this outfit.

OTHER (NONESSENTIAL) ODDS AND ENDS TO FINISH THE LOOK:

REMEMBER: Balm or gloss, not messy lipstick for that first kiss!