Category Archives: Fashion

Fashion Bloggers’ Envy

I’ve got a serious case of blogging envy. Serious. And I think it’s getting worse. Why is that? Oh, you can be sure I’ll tell you. In full detail. Here goes.

I’ve talked before about following fashion blogs. Some of them have really let me down recently, because the looks are either a) completely weather-inappropriate for H-town, b) not my style at all – hell0, pleated skirts and clutch handbags? and most recently c) rippin’ expensive.

And my biggest beef with fashion blogs? They keep showing me things and trying to convince me that I need to buy them. Really! And that’s a huge problem when these items are way out of my budget. So that started me on a little detective quest…

How in the world do these bloggers afford all of this stuff??

Simple. Their status as fashion bloggers gets them ‘gifted’ stuff from companies who want them to promote it, use it or review it.

Ok, I’m in. I wanna be a fashion blogger. I mean, one of the women I’ve recently started following has a kick-ass LinkedIn page. Let’s see what it says:

Current position: professional blogger

Past positions: co-founder, content creator, freelance fashion and arts journalism, online editorial intern, communications coordinator, public relations intern.

And she’s got a sweet little apartment, with one of those double-door-opening-out balconies that look over a treelined urban street. That’s her OFFICE, y’all!! She’s been featured in other blogs and online articles. Sounds a lot like My Dream Life! Well, admittedly I’m not sure I would like being tied into writing about fashion 24/7. But if it was a choice between that and NOT writing for a living, I’d take it in a heartbeat!

The kicker? The real throat-punch to this story?

SHE’S 25 YEARS OLD!! 25! AT 25 I WAS STILL IN COLLEGE LEARNING HOW TO BE A TEACHER!!! And most all of the pieces she uses in her posts to put together her ‘looks’ are WAY out of my budget. SO not fair. Maybe I need to reread Outliers to find out where my opportunities went wrong. Or where hers went right.

Sigh. It’s not the stuff I envy, folks. Really. It’s the opportunity and the lifestyle. Guess I need to work on my five year plan!

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Filed under Bloggers, Blogging, Fashion, writing

Suffering for Fashion

Why do I do this? Every stinkin’ time I swear that I won’t do it again, and every single time I fall back into the trap. Honestly, it must be an addiction. Maybe I need an intervention. What is this stupid mistake I keep making, you ask?

I suffer for fashion.

I can’t help it. Maybe I’m a victim of those subliminal media campaigns against women that the conspiracy theorists and feminists always decry. Maybe I’m just a glutton for punishment. Maybe I subconsciously have some weird addiction to pain. (Ok, that’s a stretch. I hate paper cuts. Much less anything that would cause me really serious physical pain.)

Whatever it is, I’m miserable today. And I’ve got no one to blame but myself. And Anthropologie. See, it’s their fault for advertising the skirt I bought put together as a cute little work outfit with gray tights and booties. It was something I would NEVER have put together on my own, but I had to do it. The new brown suede boots I found over Thanksgiving were just clamoring to get out of the box, you know.

My feet are killing me. My feet were killing me before I left the house. But I was too stubborn to give up and to lazy to change. (After all, it’s easier to grin and bear it than try an on-the-spot change on my way out the door, right?) I spent most of my commute rationalizing that I’d be OK now that I have this desk job. I mean, most of my day is spent sitting, right?

Not today. Of course not. Two new guys starting today (one a complete surprise) and a major graphic design project mean that I’m spending my time running around the office. Yes, running. The deadlines are that tight. At this rate I’ll be lucky not to end up with a stress fracture by noon. And why? Because I was so danged determined to be just a bit fashionable. Wonder if I could claim Worker’s Comp on that one? Somehow I doubt it.

For a person who likes to think that appearances don’t matter all that much, I’m embarrassed that I fell into the trap. I’d rather think that my actions and performance are more important. But I’m also enough of a girl to drool over InStyle every month too. But really – women should unite and protest the platform shoe epidemic before someone loses a limb.

Why is this? Why are otherwise smart, independent women so willing to suffer for fashion’s sake? Why am I cringing at my throbbing feet just so I can feel stylish? Maybe it’s a midlife thing. I’ve been feeling old, I want to look reasonably young, so I’m gonna torture my poor feet? It sounds even more stupid as I’m rereading this. Seriously.

Whatever. I’m resigned to a day of sore feet. But is that going to make me think twice next time? Probably not. But hey – it will help the budget. I mean, with my dogs barking like this there’s no WAY I’m going out to run the errands I’d planned for lunch. Uh uh. Not. At. All.

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Filed under Fashion, Moms, Platforms, Women, working moms

Young and Dumb – With Knives

So my earlier blog today and comments about my Vaseline addiction in college got me thinking back to those days. How completely opposite the perception and expectation was among us Prospective Musicians. It’s funny to think about it now, because we were dead set – in our little Music Bubble – that your chances of Making It as a musician could be determined, at least partway, on appearance. I’ll explain what I mean.

Disclaimer: I’m talking about college back in the early 90’s here, so if you don’t get some of my references you’re probably not in my age group. Enjoy anyway. Please.
Okay, first of all, the true Musicians didn’t wear makeup. Usually not ever. At least, the female ones. Guys were another story. That was always a problem for me, since I was definitely NOT blessed with perfect skin and was pretty insecure about it. So I’d actually wear the makeup but spend a long time trying to make it look like I didn’t wear any. Except for my two-week Goth period. That lasted exactly two weeks, until my mom found the lighter I used to melt my eyeliner. She was already freaked enough about the cigarette paper I carried for musical reasons, but that sealed the deal. It was an awkward weekend home. But, now that I think about it, I must have done a passable job – because to this day the Spouse (who I met in college) mentions how great I look without makeup now and then. And he always brings up my ‘natural beauty’ from when we first met. Ha!
In fact, the chicks who didwear lots of makeup were usually the ones that were pegged as Not Going to Make It. Because, you know, a True Musician would have far loftier priorities than matching eye shadow to eyeliner and socks. (Hey, the 80s were still going out. Just watch a couple of early episodes of 90210.) I think I can count on both hands the times in four years that I actually wore noticeable makeup – other than for concerts.  A few first dates here and there, the rare occasion I went clubbing (remember – I had much loftier priorities), the time we had a girls’ night to Billy Bob’s for standing room at Alabama (it IS Texas after all), a wild night out in Stockholm while on tour, and the occasional double reed party.
Yes, you did read that right. Double reed parties. Don’t hate. And if you’re one of the few people reading this who knows exactly what I’m talking about – you were there at least once. Hey – get a bunch of people in one room who regularly use lots of knives on persnickety bamboo and it makes for quite a social experience.  Trust me. Brass parties may have been cooler and definitely more wild, but not as quirky as the double reed parties. Seriously. Man that sounds lame.
To my credit, I never went for the Birkenstock-and-poncho craze like everyone else seemed to. I mean, that would have been too conformist, right? Ha. Maybe that’s the reason I’m not a Successful Professional Musician today. Hmmm. Poncho rejection leads to career change. Definitely sounds like a New York Times headline. But it’s funny how Young and Dumb we were to think that appearance had anything to do as a forecast of future success. Huh.
And I still wonder what some of those characters are up to today. Either they’re anti-social media, I haven’t found them yet, or they’ve blocked me. I mean, who wouldn’t wonder about the guy who used to drive a hearse? Not for a job – it was his personal vehicle and he was darn proud of it. Or the guy from Philly who had a combo afro-mullet? Or the Spouse’s roommate who had a huge rat that was hung like a horse? Not that I was looking – it was so darned in-your-face that you couldn’t help but notice!
How about you?  Any college fashion do’s and don’t’s? I’d love to hear. And if you happen to see a bassoonist driving a hearse…

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Filed under 90210, College, Fashion, First impressions, Music majors, North Texas

The Scoop on Fashion Blogs

I apologize if this post is more editorial than anecdotal, but it is what it is. Guess I’m feeling opinionated today. And since this is my outlet, I’m just going to dive right in.

People who know me would tend to say I’m definitely not a slave to fashion. Friends of mine go all out. As in actually looking forward to, planning for, attending and spending lots of money at Fashion’s Night Out events. That’s not me. For one thing my budget won’t allow it. And for another, I’d rather do other things with my (rare) free time. Generally I avoid anything too trendy in favor of pieces that are more classic, relaxed and with the ability to be worn more than a few weeks out of one season. That being said, I do have an interest in fashion. I read Elle, Vogue, InStyle, etc. I do. Not gonna lie. And, while the piece on each page that I like is inevitably the most expensive (but just because I like it – I never look at price until afterwards) I really don’t shop by brand or designer. Well, except for handbags. That’s a whole other issue and one better addressed as a character defect.

Anyway, since I do enjoy reading about fashion, there are a few fashion blogs I follow on a pretty regular basis. But honestly, this is coming to a screeching halt due to a few factors that are really bugging me lately with said blogs.

·         One blog I follow, written by a chick in Vancouver, has started featuring cocktail dresses with stillettos and lightweight jackets. In Vancouver. In the winter. And apparently this is her regular work attire. She would fit right in down the hall. Of course, there is the random hair or skin care product review. These products never fit in with my Walgreens budget, so that doesn’t help me.

·         Another blog, from New York this time, has started featuring winter outfits that are both stylish and warm. Trouble is if I wore that many layers in H-town – even on a rare ‘cold’ day – I’d wind up with heat stroke in a matter of minutes. And even if I did live in a cold climate, if I wore a blouse, sweater, vest, blazer and coat, I’d look more like Randy from A Christmas Story than any kind of stylish. Wish she’d branch out a bit to include ‘warm climate’ winter ideas.

·         Still a third blog I check out, sadly, is totally out of my price range. Took me a week or so to realize that. So I’ve quit looking at that one. Budget restrictions aside, in my opinion it’s totally ridiculous to spend hundreds of dollars on a pair of shoes. I’m the kind of klutz that would scuff them on my way out of the store and get ticked. Really.

·         And finally, one of my favorites tends to feature classic pieces in black, white and shades of gray. Definitely my go-tos. Problem is, she only features clothing from her line, which is pretty limiting.

What does this have to do with anything? Nothing at all. Honestly, the women in my life I most admire are the ones who honestly don’t try to ‘put together’ a look – and always look fabulous. Natural hair, natural skin, livable clothes. I don’t have that gift. My natural look tends to come off as sloppy bedhead. Maybe it’s the attitude I’m missing. Hmmm.

And fashion don’ts? I’ve only got two that I live by stringently. Ready for my wisdom? (Insert sarcasm here – the combination of me and fashion wisdom in the same sentence is just funny.) But regardless, here they are:

1.       If you’re over the age of 25, you should not shop at – or look like you buy most of your clothes at – Hot Topic. It screams of a need to be noticed for some kind of anti-mainstream-society  rebellion. Believe me, the Goth black, skater boy beanie, Converse look was a fave of mine. In college. Not now. Same with the granola Birkenstocks and ponchos. Once you enter grownup land those things need to go.

2.       Hot pants. I think it was Brad Goreski who gave me my motto here: If you are old enough to remember when they were in style the last time, you shouldn’t be wearing them now. Agreed. But they were everywhere last month. They actually appeared at the office holiday party – in shiny black leather. Seriously. Granted, they were on someone’s date – who was within the approved age range, but still…

What are your fashion go-tos? Do’s and don’ts? Any ‘real women’ blogs I should check out? Ones that fall into my Target-Old Navy-Gap-occasional-splurge-at-Loft budget?? I’d love to hear!

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Filed under Blogging, Budget, Fashion, Mom Style, Trends

The Girls Down the Hall

I’m in a shopping moratorium. Yep, on a budget and sticking trying my darndest to stick to it. The holidays are coming, boys are getting older, house needs maintenance – you name it. I’m really trying.

But I’ve got a problem. The Girls down the hall.

See, our office dress code is officially Business Professional. But it could more accurately be termed Ultra-Conservative Business Professional. Meaning closed-toe shoes, skirts a maximum of three inches above the knee (the official measurement from the employee handbook), common-sense necklines, muted colors, etc. etc. etc. And that’s fine with me. Really. But when I started here I had to do some serious shopping. My fairly-dressy-for-an-elementary-school-teacher wardrobe just wasn’t going to cut it. So I shopped. And, I must say, managed to come up with a good solid Business Professional foundation.

Then I saw the Girls down the hall. For a split second, I was envious enough to want to work in their office – they seemed like a fun bunch. But after a few days’ observations, I realized something.

I don’t fit the job description. They do.

What job description? The list of qualifications that includes a height of at least 5’10”, long shiny flowing Taylor Swift-esque hair, a model size 00 figure and a perfect hand at applying the latest cosmetic trends. Seriously. They all fit the mold. I don’t. Enough so that I get the feeling of looking like I just rolled out of bed (even though I spend at least an hour on myself every morning) if I run into one of them in the elevator.

How does this relate to my current shopping drought? Well, everything that I’ve seen lately in the shops (that I thought I had to have) doesn’t fit the office dress code. But it sure fits theirs. Although I have had to remind myself a few times that, just because something comes in my size doesn’t mean I should wear it – at least to work.

Examples:

Seriously Sky-High stilettos
The grey sequined blazer
Brightly colored animal prints
Skinny jeans
Skirts that look more like a bandeau top
Leggings – with a black sequined mini
Skirts and dresses a minimum of three inches above the knee
Tops that enhance and show off the – erm – chest area

Now admittedly, I wouldn’t have bought all of these items – or even worn them – but they are actual items seen around the building. For real. Part of me wonders what kind of brain cell fires off when deciding to wear this stuff to an office. But then it hit me.

They’re real live Clackers!

Yes, Clackers. If you’ve never seen The Devil Wears Prada, I’m sorry for you. You’re behind the learning curve here. (Completely unrelated tangent – a friend of mine from high school works for Conde Nast and I’ve been tempted, more than once, to ask her if there really are clackers in the building. But I never do. I don’t want to seem like a hick tourist.)

What does any of this have to do with anything? Not a whole lot. But it just goes to show that you can always find wild and weird stuff going on somewhere in the city…

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Filed under Budget, Careers, Fashion, shopping, Work-Friendly Attire

Frugality!

Happy Friday! In the past, Friday has always meant that the weekend was close. Really close. And when I was younger, the weekend meant lots of ‘quality family time’ at home. That was pretty challenging during my teenage years. No, I wasn’t the typical rebellious teen, but looking back I’m not sure how my parents managed being in close quarters with the hormones, mood swings and attitude that teenage girls all seem to have to some degree. It’s moments like these that make me stop and thank God that I have boys.

But in the midst of teen angst and attitude, there was one thing my mom and I could do where we bonded. Actually bonded. Shopping. For some reason, then and now, when we go shopping we can just hang out – no issues, grudges, petty disagreements. Just hang out. And most of the time have fun. So you can imagine why my thoughts naturally turn to shopping on the weekends today.

In my currently unemployed state, I’ve pretty much declared a moratorium on shopping. Well, except for the occasional (necessary) find. Necessary being an extremely subjective term. But I have toned it down and in the process have found some sites I’d like to share with all of you frugally-minded folks (or at least the five of you that may read this.) Here goes…

Coquette:
Admittedly, her idea of frugal and mine are on different levels. Living in New York, she has access to all of the shows, shops and buffet of fashion-consciousness that I’m lacking in suburban H-town. But it’s fun to window shop – and most of the ideas she posts are easily doable with my resources and some help from Tarjay, Kohls and Old Navy.

Houston on the Cheap:
For you locals, this is a gold mine! Links to Groupon deals and other similar online discount deals appear pretty much every day. On the weekends she posts links to cheap restaurants and other activities in and around H-town. And – my personal favorite – there’s a Family Fun tab that gives tons of (cheap0 ideas for the fam on weekends out and about town. There’s even a Cheap Gas tab!

Penny Pincher Fashion:
This is my kind of girl. Able to put together outfits that rival anything Stacey London could put together, she posts lots of pictures of herself in said ensembles – to prove they actually work on a real person. I’ve also found really cool (and easy) basic sewing and crafting projects for reworking wardrobe staples or worn-out pieces into completely new (and cute) items.

Haute Mommy:
This is my college friend’s blog. She posts beauty tips and links to some of her favorite designer-on-the-cheap sites. Now, don’t get too excited – a pair of Louboutins on the cheap are still going to be too expensive for the likes of me, but there are really affordable, good quality pieces out there too. Ideeli, especially, has home accessories and kids’ clothes on occasion.

So there you have it – my top frugal faves! What are yours? Please share!!

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Filed under Budget, Coquette, Fashion, Houston, Ideeli, Moms