Apr 25, 2014

Fashion Friday: Bucking Trends

I don't blog a lot about trends here and there's a reason why: generally, trends are something I shy away from. I really think that I learned a lot about fashion from my mom, and she was always teaching me "classic" fashion lessons. Like: "You can never have too many really great white tops."

I tend to believe more in classic lessons like that. Find what works best for your body, your personal style, your lifestyle, and build on that. Certain lines and silhouettes, I believe, will never go out of style. A perfect pencil skirt, a feminine and tailored white blouse, a classic trench, a ladylike dress. Naturally, you need to tweak your classic style a little as fashion evolves and changes, so it's important to keep an eye out for trends. But that doesn't mean making yourself a slave to them.

Here's how I like to incorporate trends: First and foremost, I think about what works on my body type. I wasn't thrilled, at first, when pants became decidedly skinnier and skinnier, but now most of my closet is dominated by skinny and straight legs. I love an ankle pant, so I tend to focus more there.

Once I have an idea what I might be able to add in, without sacrificing my own style or putting myself in something that simply won't look good on me, for the sake of being "trendy," I shop carefully. I definitely don't just run out and buy the same thing that everyone else is buying (and blogging) from J.Crew or LOFT. What's the fun in looking just like everyone else?

So for some of this spring and summer's trends, here's what I'm liking, for me. I do not have a whole lot of love for midi skirts -- I think most are unflattering on most body types -- but I do find an exception with pleated midis, and I want to add one to my wardrobe soon. I also do love florals, when they're done well, but you probably won't see me in floral skinnies. I have a great floral pencil skirt from last summer that I'll keep in rotation, and I'm thinking of adding a top or two.

Also, for the record, you definitely won't see me in a pair of Birkenstocks -- I would never make my feet look so ugly. Why they are trending now is a fashion mystery to me.

Here are some pieces I'm loving a little bit:

Zara|Zara|Asos
Zara|Asos|Zara
What about you? What trends are you adding to your spring and summer wardrobe?

Happy Friday!


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Apr 18, 2014

Fashion Friday: Your Perfect Hem Length

Did you guys miss me last week? I hope so, it makes me feel loved. My dad was in town visiting for a week, so I was busy trying not to murder tourists and enjoy some time with him! Let's get back to business for Fashion Friday though.



Despite our little weather U-turn here in the D.C. area, it's basically dress season! That's all of spring and summer for me, if I'm being honest. I don't really do shorts -- I think I only own two pairs -- and I rarely wear pants even in the winter months.

But ... hemlines are even more important when you're barelegged (without tights to streamline the look). Despite the myriad other connotations your hemline can convey, where your hem falls is just as important as a tan and a workout for how your legs look.

As I've talked about already, I've been doing my spring cleaning of my closets, making lists of what new items I need to shop for, and donating or selling things I'm getting rid of. There's one more important thing you should be doing this time of year though, and that's making a pile of things to take to the tailor (or alter yourself).


I do have a sewing machine and some decent sewing skills from my 4-H days, so I separated my "things to be altered" pile into those I could do myself and those I just preferred to take to the tailor, usually because they were just too much work to make it worth doing myself. If you need a good tailor in the D.C. area, I always recommend Fashion Dream in Arlington. She's the best.

I started thinking about the perfect dress length for me and where I wanted to hem each of these. I'd always thought that juuuuust a smidge above my knee was the perfect length, but I decided to do a little research to find out. I think most of us know our own bodies well enough at this point to know when a dress is too short or too long to be flattering on us in particular. I was curious whether there was an exact way to measure for your own body though.

I found two interesting different methods, in particular, to help me calculate the most flattering hem length for my body.

The Golden Ratio

If you haven't heard of the Golden Ratio before, I'm not going to put you through a full math lesson on Fashion Friday. Suffice to say that it is, in a way, a proportioning number. It appears often in geometry, architecture, art and even fashion and many believe that it creates the most pleasing shape, particularly in terms of proportion.

So, to use the Golden Ratio to calculate your perfect dress length, the theory is that you measure the length of your body from your shoulders to your toes (including the heel height you'd normally wear) and divide that by the Golden Ratio (1.618). If you take the resulting number and measure from your shoulders down to that number, you'll have your perfect dress length.

Source

Long-Shin vs Short-Shin

Most people do not have legs that measure the same distance from hip-to-knee as from knee-to-ankle. Most common is a long upper leg and short lower leg combo, "short-shin" if you will. Less common is short upper leg with long lower leg, or "long-shin."

The rationale behind this method is that you want to find the mid-point of your total leg and set your hem there. This means you're setting your hem at the point which makes your legs perfectly proportional.

So, you first need to measure your upper leg (from hipbone to mid-kneecap) and your lower leg (from mid-kneecap to mid-anklebone) and determine which is longer. (Mine are actually almost exactly proportional, which is probably why I'd always thought just above my knee is the perfect hem length). You then want to split the difference and move the hem in the direction you need to compensate.

If your upper leg is longer, you want to raise your hem above your kneecap by that number.

If your lower leg is longer, you want to drop your hem below your kneecap by that number.

For example, if your upper leg was 17 inches, lower leg 13 inches, your difference is 4 inches and you would put the hem 2 inches (split the difference) above your knee.

Okay? Start Hemming

I found it best, for me, to calculate each of these numbers and then put on some of my favorite dresses and compare the calculations to those actual measurements. After doing that, I still decided that right above my knee was really the best for me, but it was a fun experiment!

Of course, this doesn't mean that you want every single dress or skirt you own to be at the same hem length. There are places in your wardrobe for a mini or a midi, for example. But it's still good to know where your average hem length should fall, to best compliment your body and your legs.

Is this still just way too much math for a Friday though?

Happy Friday!


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Apr 4, 2014

Fashion Friday: Selling Your Used Clothing



As I do every spring and fall, I've been cleaning out my closet. I make different piles when I do this ... things to keep, things to have altered (either myself or by the tailor), things to donate. This year, I had a lot of great, like-new dresses in my "things to donate" pile. They were just too big, and not worth altering. Dresses are such an investment though! So I was feeling a little financial guilt at the idea of just donating all these great dresses. I started thinking about selling them on eBay.

I don't know if any of you have ever sold on eBay, but it's a lot of work. I knew I'd likely list a few, after doing all the work to measure and photograph them, eat the fees and be out money and still looking for another option.

So I started looking for consignment stores and that's when I came across Buffalo Exchange. It's a national chain of secondhand stores and they've been around for decades -- they're actually celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. (The in-store festivities are today!) And they don't work like typical consignment shops, where you usually take your clothing in and wait for it to sell before you get a portion of the proceeds. Buffalo Exchange offers walk-in selling and they offer you either store credit or cash on the spot for the items they choose to buy from you. Once they decide to buy an item and set a price for it, you get 50% of that in store credit or 30% in cold, hard cash.


I had polled Twitter a little and the general consensus was that the Logan Circle store was the best in the area (there's also one in Georgetown). So that's where I went.

I came in with two large reusable shopping bags full of mostly dresses, one spring coat, one skirt, two tops and a pair of pants.

When I arrived and walked in, they asked if I was there to sell. I said I was, they told me how many people were in front of me, took my name and said they'd call me when it was my turn, and invited me to shop around the store. This was perfect, because I wanted a chance to look around first and get an idea of how their items were priced. I also wanted to see if there was anything I'd like to take home with me!

Right away, I loved how organized the store is. I found a couple of cute dresses to try on and snatched up a pair of Kate Spade black patent peep-toe flats. I live in peep-toe flats in the spring and summer and needed a pair of black ones. These were in my size so I considered it fate!


When my name was called, we got started. They use your ID to set up a selling account with them in their computer right away. My buyer started looking through my items at first glance and gave me the rundown of what they're currently looking for. As you might have guessed, they're focusing on spring pieces right now. She also told me that they buy all sizes, as long as the items are in good, clean condition and are current styles.

After going through all of my items, they bought everything except the spring coat, which was a little dirty on one cuff. They are pretty picky about this, so be sure everything you take in is spotless! But I had a great experience. Their retail price of everything they bought from me came out to around $290. I took a combination of store credit (to get those great Kate Spade flats) and the rest in cash. So in the end, I left with a new pair of shoes and $60 in cash! Not too shabby.

This was really a great experience for me and a nice way to feel a little less financial guilt from items I was already purging from my closet in the first place. But be warned ... you'll get home and start looking at your closet with dollar signs ... "what else can I sell?!?" Or maybe that was just me.

I've been back in to that Buffalo Exchange with the rest of the dresses I figured they would buy and sold $80 more in cash. For point of reference, I also checked out Crossroads, a competitor secondhand store a little further up 14th at U Street. They offer slightly more in cash -- at 35% -- but I just found that I really like the people at Buffalo Exchange better. They were friendly, chatty, and made the experience fun. Also, I washed that spring coat and the "metro grease" didn't come off that cuff, but Crossroads bought it anyway. I came away thinking that I might sell things there in the future, but I won't shop there, knowing they aren't as discerning with the items they buy.

Happy Friday!

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Mar 28, 2014

Fashion Friday: Work Totes



Something that kills me about fashion in D.C. are the boring totes I see women carrying every weekday. There is no worse offender than the Longchamp Le Pliage bag -- no shape, no originality, no excitement. But when you think about the fact that women are willing to spend $140 for that nylon piece of crap ... it's just so sad! If that's in your budget, you can do much better.
Yuck.

To prove it, I've rounded up a sampling of great work totes, all $150 or less.


These totes are nylon, but with much more structure than the Longchamp, and definitely more style:


Clockwise from top left: Michael Kors ($110.40)|Dooney & Bourke ($139)|Michael Kors ($78.40)|Steve Madden ($78.40)


A few printed totes. These are fun, especially in spring and summer. I'm personally in love with the Vince Camuto: 


Clockwise from largest: Vince Camuto ($98)|Fossil ($73.49)|Michael Kors ($98)|Fossil ($73.49)


These totes (except for the first, which is real leather) are synthetic, but well-structured and don't look too fake:


Steve Madden ($98.98)|BCBG ($82.99)|Ivanka Trump ($125)|Jessica Simpson ($105.99)


Stripes are fun in the summer, it's like taking the beach to work with you:

Kate Spade ($94.99)|Kate Spade ($158)|ALDO ($40)


There are so many alternatives out there to that boring Longchamp tote, ladies, be original! And don't forget that discount stores like Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx are all great places to look for nice handbags. My black leather work tote is a Badgley Mischa that I found at Marshalls for $129. It just takes a little luck and a desire to be different than the masses.

Happy Friday!


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Mar 26, 2014

Dating Files: Online Profile Pictures are Tricky

The internet is chock full of online dating advice articles telling you which pictures you should select and why, to be sure to have current and true-to-you pictures and in what order you should position said pictures on your profile.

It's all good advice, for the most part, but it's not what I want to talk about today.

Yes, pictures are super important. Whether or not we pursue something with an online suitor largely depends on whether or not we like their pictures. You can certainly sink the hook with what you write in your profile, but getting the fish to even swim near your line in the first place all comes down to whether they like what they see at first glance.


Here's the thing though. In my expert opinion -- and I've been on enough online first dates to be an expert, for sure -- most guys are cuter in person. Sure, they're occasionally a little shorter in person, too, but still attractive. And that realization early on had me approach the whole live-or-die-by-the-picture situation a little differently.

I think it started one warm summer afternoon, as I was eating lunch outside and people-watching. I always note a good looking gent when he strolls by, but then I started to picture them a different way. If I saw a guy that I was attracted to in real-life, I tried to tell my brain to imagine what his pictures would look like on Match or OkCupid or Tinder. I could easily see how that guy I was attracted to in real-life could have pictures on an online profile that I might not be so excited about, but then I'd be writing off a guy I would totally date in the real world!

Once I started doing that, it helped me picture guys the other way around when I came across them online. I could look at that slightly awkward pose or smile in their profile picture and imagine them in real life. I realized that there were many more guys I'd probably be attracted to in real life and to ease up on the picture judgment a little.

Let's be honest, lots of good-looking people simply don't take great pictures. Only in your very best photos do your eyes sparkle as much as they do in person. And your smile will always look more genuine in real life, laughing at his joke, than in that carefully chosen picture on your own profile. When you think of it that way, and then try to apply it in-kind when looking at others' pictures, the pool of fellas you might consider dating will automatically widen.

And seriously, I'd much MUCH rather be on a date with someone who looks even better in person, than someone super photogenic who just really isn't quite as attractive in person as they were in their photos. Wouldn't we all?


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Mar 21, 2014

Fashion Friday: Spring Coats


I love coats. I don't know why, exactly, but they are one of my favorite articles of clothing. I especially love spring coats, because there are so many reasons for multiple coats!

I've recently donated most of my old spring coats, as they were now too big for me, so I've been in the market for at least one new spring coat. I feel strongly that everyone should own at least two great lightweight coats, so here are some of my tips for finding those perfect pieces to add to your own wardrobe.

A Classic

For starters, everyone needs a classic spring coat. If you're only going to get one, this is where you should start. Obviously, a trench is a great silhouette to choose here. And while a khaki trench is as classic as it gets, you don't necessarily need to limit yourself to khaki. Anything that can serve as a neutral will work, and that varies from person to person. Think about which hues dominate your wardrobe and find something that goes well with the majority of what you already own.

I personally find a shorter trench to be the most universally flattering, but this is also something you can play with depending on your body type. Same goes for single- or double-breasted; or even try an asymmetrical front.

Here are some great trench options, all under $200:

CLASSIC KHAKI
Clockwise from largest: Via Spiga ($129.90)|Michael Kors ($125)|Calvin Klein ($79.99)|Gap ($128)|Calvin Klein ($75.99)|Jessica Simpson ($125)
COLORED TRENCHES
Left to right: London Fog ($178)|DKNY ($109.90)|Jessica Simpson ($112.99)|DKNY ($117)|Michael Kors ($139.90)

PATTERNS AS NEUTRALS
Clockwise from largest: London Fog ($129.90)|Kenneth Cole ($158)|Michael Kors ($175.99)
Modcloth ($129.99)|Modcloth ($169.99)

Something Sporty or Fun

Once you have a classic spring coat in your wardrobe, you can add to this with something a little more sporty and fun. Your trench is great for most workday outfits, but you might need something else for weekends and other more casual outfits.

If you have a more formal trench as your classic coat, you can add another trench as your fun piece. Something short and more colorful maybe, if you're really sticking to the basics with your classic. I also think anoraks and swing coats are great options here.

Here are some sporty, fun examples, all under $200:

SPORTY JACKETS AND COLORFUL ANORAKS
  Nordstrom ($110)|Old Navy ($44.94)|Mod Cloth ($79.99)|Nordstrom ($138) 
Lands' End ($55)|Nordstrom ($119.90)|Target ($39.99)|Forever 21 ($29.80)

Hope the thought of bright, crisp, colorful coats for spring gets you guys as excited as it does me! You'll notice I didn't include anything in boring ole black. Save that for fall!

Happy Friday!


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Mar 17, 2014

Dating Files: Just Be NICE.


Sometimes I see other women doing things in dating that make me cringe. One of my friends recently had a conversation on Twitter about dating, and a fellow male friend joined in and told her that most of the dates he schedules don't work out, because the woman flakes and cancels at the last minute. WHO ARE THESE WOMEN??

Stop giving the rest of us a bad name!

This failure of basic manners is unacceptable. I really believe that, sometimes, women just need to be nicer.

Cut guys some slack, at least they're making an effort.

I blogged recently about a Tinder guy telling me that "DC women are tough." In general, I think that's a good thing. We're strong and independent and know what we want and what we won't put up with. It's sexy. But it can also go too far, and I see that a lot in the comments I hear women making about the guys that are approaching them and asking them out.

THEY'RE AT LEAST ASKING YOU OUT. Cut them some slack. Let's save our bitching for the guys who never get around to even doing that.

Reply to the messages you receive, even if you aren't interested. It only takes a minute and it shows good manners. Plus, you never know if they might have a friend they'd then be more likely to set you up with!

If a guy doesn't have the perfect opening line on Match or OkCupid or Tinder ... he's not necessarily Satan's spawn.

Sure, we all get creepy messages and those are fine to ignore. If he's asking about inappropriate things, you don't need to respond. But I never understand ... there's not a whole lot of harm in at least responding to someone who sends you a message, if he appears to be a nice guy that you just aren't interested in. It's ok to send back, "Thank you!" and nothing more to the guy who takes the time to pay you a genuine compliment.

It's also ok to write back, "Thank you for sending this, I can tell you actually read my profile. I don't think we are a match, but I wanted to let you know that I appreciated it!" if a guy takes the time to write out a message after actually bothering to read the shit you typed up in your profile.

I also happen to think that even if he just says, "Hi Tiffany! How's your day?" that's perfectly ok as an opener. I'll at least respond and see if it goes anywhere from there. If it dies and it's clear that was the extent of his conversational skills, fine. At least I gave it a shot though and know for sure.

Also, while we're at it, if he seems to be an intelligent guy but uses the wrong "your" (instead of "you're"), let's give him the benefit of the doubt. How about you just assume it was an autocorrect mistake, rather than flogging him for his sins against humanity? It's ok to be pissed at a particular man because he was a jerk to you. It's not ok to assume that every guy is a loser just because he misspelled a word in one of his text messages. And yes, you do look like an angry hag when you overreact to a simple mistake like this.

Please, please don't cancel dates at the last minute or anything else you wouldn't want a guy doing to you.

Guys need a little encouragement here and there. It's not always easy to be the one who is expected to make the first move or to do the asking and all the planning. They certainly don't want to feel like they might be reamed for every little mistake they might make. No one wants that. We say all the time that we want a man to step up and act like a man. I think we should expect the same in-kind from women -- have good manners, please! Just treat men the way you'd like to be treated, all the time. It's as simple as that.

Plus, don't forget ... you'll catch more bees with honey.


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