Monthly Archives: October 2012

Halloween Costume Party

I love Halloween. I love the scary movies (that I watch covering my ears), I love trick-or-treating with the kids, I love dressing up.

Last year, Darcy and I dressed as Mrs. Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega. Before the ahem, later scenes.

Our version:

I LOVE wigs. I don’t have the guts to cut my hair short or dye it, but wigs allow me to experiment with styles. I even cut and style wigs to make them resemble the character or look I’m going for.

The kids have very specific ideas of what they want to be.

Last year, my daughter wanted to be a unicorn. I had to hunt high and low, until I found her costume at Pottery Barn Kids marked down to $20 a few days before the 31st. (Procrastination pays off?) Jack wanted to be a pirate and he especially wanted that iconoclastic pirate tricorne with the skulls and crossbones.

This year, my costume is inspired by vintage 20s style: Darcy’s family preserved some beautiful things from the 1920s and I found a few of them in the great closet reorg. (Clothes and jewelry.) If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen the test run for a school party. (Also, are you on Instagram? Follow me and I’d love to follow you! I’m 2manyfish2fry)

Here are some images inspiring my costume, from the period also inspiring my daughter’s budding hobby as a fashion designer: she is now making clothing (using fabric tape and with me controlling the scissors!). I think I’m going to order her some of my favorite toys of yore (now only on eBay): Fashion Plates.

Zelda Fitzgerald. Tragic 20s heroine, who may have written more of F. Scott’s books than anyone is aware of.

SWOON. If you are looking for eye candy and love clothes, the movie Coco & Igor, about Chanel’s affair with the composer Igor Stravinsky is a must-see. The costumes are so chic and pitch perfect. A fashion lover’s dream.

I loved the dark red lips and nails of the period. The makeup was very dramatic and skillfully applied.

Here’s a preview: more photos to come…

Do you like Halloween? What’s your favorite costume you ever wore? What are you going to be this year?



Filed under personal style

How To Dress: Color

Last week I shared how a personal shopper taught me a lot about proportion. Another thing she helped me with was what colors I should wear. Not all shades of the rainbow look good on me. There are some colors that generally work well with my skin tone, usually tomato reds (not blue-red tones), corals, hot pinks (tricky), mid-purples. Some neutrals are OK too: light grey, black, tan, denim blue, cream. (Yes, I consider these all neutrals. YMMV.)

But the best tip she gave me was: before you even try something on, hold it up to your face and see if it makes you look pale, sallow, or, best case scenario, it brightens your skin making you look healthy.

Some colors are surprising: yellow is unpredictable. The color chartreuse? Looks good on me! RANDOM. You’ll see an outfit featuring chartreuse below. Chiffon yellow makes me look like I’ve caught diphtheria.

My shopper also taught me to pair colors with a base or neutral color. To ground an outfit, you can have one base color. (Not a hard and fast rule, though: lots of good stylists avoid this.) Even though dark brown doesn’t look great right next to my skin, it does look fine as pants. Same with olive (also a base). If you are super skinny, you could get away with wearing white pants or a white skirt. But that doesn’t work for my proportions: darker colors are generally better for my bottom half to balance out my wide hips. Usually. Colored skinny jeans, if paired properly, are almost universally flattering. That’s why they’re so popular.

Then there are the seasons to take into account. I do like to wear the oranges, yellows, rusts and the multi-colored comfy sweaters during October and November.

Here’s this week’s outfits with an eye on color:

Chartreuse and grey generally pair well, and that’s true in design too. Purple, grey and chartreuse are fantabulous all together. In an ideal world, those would be the colors of my living room. I found this peacoat (I LOVE peacoats!) and the color oddly worked with my skin tone. I had no idea what to wear it with until I found this sweater, from the same store. Another tip: it’s easier to pair colors at a store with a collection that matches all together. Peacoat: Old Navy, 2009. Sweater: Old Navy, 2009. Grey cords: Banana Republic, 2010. Boots: Born, 2009.

Back when I was using my personal shopper, she pulled this sweater coat for me: it was marked down to $180 from $990. I thought she was crazy. She convinced me that not only was this a classic American style (the blanket coat), but she also knew it would balance out my proportions. I wore it to death in London. It’s warm, cute, and feels like a bathrobe, shows NO stains, yet I always get a million compliments on it. One of my greatest purchases, ever. Sweater Coat: Ralph Lauren, 2000. Turtleneck, INC (gift). Necklace, Lucky Brand 2012. Peach cords: Old Navy, new. Boots: Payless, new.

This outfit’s pretty boring. It was cold and rainy, and miserable. I just wanted to be comfortable. I figured the Vermillion boots added enough of a punch to brighten me up. I love those boots. Grey sweater: Old Navy, 2010. Grey turtleneck: Walmart, 2011. Leggings: H&M, 2010. Boots, Hunter, new.

The weather perked up a bit and I thought it was warm enough to wear this. Yeah, no. I was freezing. But I felt cute. The sweater is that tomato red color that works so well for me. Denim shirtdress: Old Navy, 2012. Sweater: Gap, new. Shoes, Tahari, 2012.

If there was a date night. Black and beige are good neutrals for me, and outfits can be composed entirely of neutrals, as Coco Chanel spent her life proving. Faux fur coat: Michael Kors, gift. Shirt, Lauren, gift. Skirt, Banana Republic, 2006. Bow belt: Anthropologie, gift. Spectator heels: Aerosoles, 2006.

What colors look good on you? Do you wear colors that don’t suit you because you like them anyway? What’s your favorite color to wear?


Filed under My Favorite Things

Who Are The Faces of Adoption, Loss and Infertility?

The Ricki Lake Show, since airing today’s show, has been responsive to the ALI community, and has shown an eagerness to talk more about infertility in the open. I welcome and appreciate this chance for dialogue and hope it will raise awareness! This is being cross-posted over on The Ricki Lake Show blog…check it out!

Today I wanted to talk about my series, Faces of Adoption/Loss/Infertility (ALI), which is an attempt to spotlight a disease that 1 in 7 of Americans suffer from. And yet, it is rarely spoken about. Infertility could be affecting people you know, but they may be afraid to share the details with you, because of fear of being criticized or misunderstood.

Details like this:

— Your neighbor might be like Courtney Cheng. She was thrilled to become pregnant in 2010, after marrying her husband in a fairytale wedding. At the time she said:

“I’m feeling all kinds of emotions. A little scared for how much our life is going to change, excited to go on this journey only given to women, I’m even looking forward to watching my body change. (I say this now still looking exactly the same way I did a month ago!)

By June 2011, she had experienced four miscarriages and had no clear answers from doctors as to why. She was devastated. Her spirit forever changed, she said:

“Even when I’m covering up the sad like today, I still just want to be pregnant. I want to be having the baby that I’m not having any more, who is buried beneath a tree. It’s just not fair.”

Something amazing happened to Courtney this year. You can click here to read about her story.

— Your cousin might be like Sarah, a young woman in her twenties, married and ready to have a family. But after trying for a baby for two years with no results, she was diagnosed with endometriosis, an extremely painful condition that also effects fertility. After two surgeries and thousands of dollars spent on operations to correct the constant pain she was in, she decided to look into adoption.

She was quickly matched with a birth mother. But she soon learned that the expenses for her adoption would exceed $30,000! Frantic to complete the adoption before the baby was born, friends and family held online auctions and she investigated tax codes and selling their home to boost their savings. She and her husband had to figure out a way to raise thousands of dollars in a few months. What happened? Did she adopt the baby? Click here to find out.

— Your friend might be like Leah. Leah was diagnosed with Stage IV endometriosis as a young single woman and was faced with a hard choice: should she pursue fertility treatments now while she was still young, which was her only chance to become a biological mother? How would she handle dating? Would she feel alone and isolated pursuing treatments? You can click here to hear about Leah’s journey, and find out what path she finally chose.

I’m hoping by reading these stories, people can understand more about infertility, which effects 7.3 million Americans. Possibly, your neighbors, your friends, your relatives.

Thank you.


Filed under Faces of ALI

Then She Decided To Cut Off All Her Hair…

Today was class pictures.

Yesterday, I gave the kids their very own scissors for craft projects. I had consulted various experts and teachers, and concluded they were ready.

Well, the headline of this post says it all.

My daughter decided she wanted to look like Coco Chanel. Yes, she knows who she is. She’s obsessed with fashion books.

The amazing thing is her haircut looks GREAT! It’s insane, but she created the classic tapered bob HERSELF, with the hair shorter in the back and longer in the front. The bangs could have been more even, but her instincts are pretty (this word is overused but appropriate here?) fierce.

I’m torn between being proud of her individual style and annoyed that she cut her hair without my permission.

But I’m mostly proud.


Dress: Janie & Jack


Dress: Gap Kids. Shrug: Gap kids. Headband: Janie & Jack. Sunglasses: unknown.

Did you ever cut your hair when you were little? When you were little, did you have a strong idea of how you wanted to look?


Filed under personal style

Style Scrapbook: YOU Take Center Stage

First of all, THANK YOU for all of your feedback, tweets and emails about my How To Dress posts! I’m so glad you are finding them helpful.

While I have guidelines and tips, one thing I DON’T like about certain guides and makeover shows is how they can erase people’s personalities AND values. (E.G.: not wearing leather or fur.) I’m trying to tutor myself and you all about how to make the MOST of how we dress, but I don’t want you to change your true essence, your own individual style.

Women have different muses: David Bowie, 90s grunge rockers, 20s flappers, Gilded Age heroines, 40s movie stars, yoginis. One of best things about BlogHer was seeing everyone’s outfits: from cool Chuck Taylor Converses, to brightly colored togs, to super cute eyeglass frames, to Martha Stewart’s fun coral platforms to Katie Couric’s sleeveless shift, emphasizing her strong guns. Everyone brought their own personality, and outfits reflected this.

Something else I have been mulling over: I want us all to stay in the frame, to continue being the stars of our own lives. We all matter.

So. I’d like to put together a Scrapbook, if you will, of YOU.

I will update with links, below, so here’s what I’m hoping you can do. If you are a blogger comfortable being pictured, link to a post (it can be old or new) in the comments where you are photographed, where you look like YOU.

You Being You!

From Too Many Fish To Fry
From Bloodsigns
From R. Sativus
From Stumbling Gracefully
From Stirrup Queens
From Silent Sorority: 1, 2
From Hard to be Human
From Write Mind Open Heart: 1, 2, 3, 4
From Mama On the Fly
From Road Less Traveled: 1, 2, 3
From Dragondreamer’s Lair


Filed under My Favorite Things

How to Dress: Fit and Proportion

A-line skirt, Banana Republic

Back in my career days, I used a personal shopper. I used to shop once a season, and she was able to get me great discounts and deals. This sounds like an extravagance (and, it probably was) but in the long run I picked up investment pieces through her that I still wear today. She also taught me some invaluable lessons.

First: know your body. The first thing she did was take all of my measurements (bust, waist, hips) then she dispassionately pointed out my strengths (long, thin arms and legs, height: I’m 5’8″, my bust is pretty great, my waist is really small), and my, er, disproportionate parts. (My hips are wider than is proportionate, my shoulders are narrow, my head is a bit small compared to my body and finally the high-waisted look was not for me: my hips and shorter torso make any high-waisted pants look like Mom jeans.)

Gorgeous 30s gown, on the bias, would look AWFUL on me

I still work within these confines today. A-line skirts are usually my friend: they don’t highlight my hips. My wedding gown had an A-line skirt. On the bias is usually a disaster, unless the patterns and sleeves balance out the lower silhouette. (On the bias dresses would look AMAZING on Esperanza, whose hips are very narrow.) My hair has to be a little bit poofy: no slicked-back ponytails for me. Sleeves and tops that make my shoulders look wider are good. (I love shrugs.) Waist-cinching belts are usually flattering, low-rise pants are great. Skinny jeans, if worn correctly, can be great as they show off long legs, but they have to be carefully paired.

The other thing she taught me is try on EVERYTHING. Things that look horrible on the rack might flatter you. Similarly, clothes that you adore on the hanger might look wretched on you. You can never be sure. I try on things at Target, as well as Banana Republic, as well as Barney’s.

Even the skinniest models on the runway have disproportionate parts, with a few exceptions: Kate Moss is almost perfectly symmetrical. That’s the key to her look, not her weight. She can quite literally wear almost anything. I have a friend who is not thin at all, but her measurements are perfectly symmetrical. Her bust and hips are the same size and her waist is small. She, too, can wear almost anything.

Here’s this week’s outfit diary, with an eye on proportion:

Sweater: James Pearce, 2006. It nips in at the waist. Long T-shirt, Susan Bristol, Spring 2012. Necklace: gift. Low-rise olive pants: Banana Republic, 2010. Boots: Payless, new.

Shirt: Anthropologie, 2011. The butterfly sleeves create a widening effect for my shoulders. Necklace, gift. Jeans, Old Navy, 2011. Brogues: Payless, new.

The picture for this outfit turned out poorly, so here’s what it looks like on:

Jacket, DKNY, vintage. Skirt: (A-line) Kookai. (MiL bought it for me in France this year: not sure the availability in the US.) Navy tank top: Marc Jacobs, 2010. Navy flip-flops: Target, this year. It was hot mid-week.

Then it turned weird and foggy and drizzly.

Long raincoat that covers my hips: Dana Buchman, 2001. Black sleeveless turtleneck: INC, gift. Jeans, Old Navy, 2010. Shoes: Marc Jacobs, 2010. Pin: Darcy’s grandmother’s.

If we had a date night: this jacket and top creates an optical illusion of wider shoulders. The combination of the halter top and the tufted sleeve of the jacket widens my shoulders. Jacket, Anne Klein, vintage. Halter top: Banana Republic, 2010. Black skinny jeans, Old Navy, 2010. Patent leather heels: Banana Republic, 2010.

A note about brands: some work better than others. I should note here that Old Navy jeans generally fit me well, whereas any pair of JCrew pants pretty much look TERRIBLE on me. The fit models at JCrew must have narrow hips. Banana Republic also is a brand that fits me well. So if my wardrobe seems sort of dominated by those brands, that’s why. I don’t buy high-end brands very often (especially recently) but Marc Jacobs has worked well for me, as has Ralph Lauren and Dolce & Gabbana. (I have a theory they design for women with hips: the corset/skirts they produce are AMAZING.) Also, I loved my Vera Wang wedding dress.

Do you dress for your body? What are YOUR tips for your figure-type? Are there brands that fit better for you than others?


Filed under My Favorite Things

“Who Could Ask For Anything More?”

I am currently admiring the style and spirit of American women in the 1940s. I could not put down the book “Next To Love,” which was about wives left behind during WWII on the East Coast. And now I’m watching “The War,” the heavy-going Ken Burns documentary. (Which has been a rude awakening. I knew NOTHING about America’s involvement in that war. It’s been an education.)

My grandma was a “Rosie the Riveter” in the 1940s. There were many strong yet stylish females during that time. Like…Ethel Merman?

The kids and I listened to Ethel Merman perform the song “I’ve Got Rhythm” today and my daughter was fascinated. She’s been compared to Ethel since birth, (she has a VOICE) so I guess it’s not too surprising. But she’s been belting out numbers (of her own composition) and screaming “Ladies and GENTLEMEN” in this Merman-esque style ever since.

Meanwhile, here are some looks I am admiring from the 40s.

These shoes and purse from 1944 are actually are IN a museum. And deservedly so.

The classic, heartbreaking goodbye of the soldier and the sweetheart 😦 They both look so beautiful. Sob.

My grandmother probably replied to a similar advertisement.

Strong AND fashionable.

If money were no option, I’d bid on this gorgeous 40s Lanvin dress at Christie’s.

I’d wear it with this vintage emerald and diamond ring.

Is there a decade that inspires you, style-wise and otherwise?


Filed under My Favorite Things