Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Kick in the Fancy Pants

I preached it and until this past year actually lived it.  What led to my fashion downfall, you may ask (or not).  Life, that's what happened.  2014 was way too real for my bones, and when you combine that with reaching 'a certain age' and the joys that come with it (sleeplessness, weight gain, unexpected 'warmth'), I figured 'why bother?'  It's not as if my little corner of suburban heaven is exactly a fashion capital.  No offense to my yoga-panted neighbors.

But then I watched a wonderful documentary called Advanced Style.  Based on the fabulous blog by Ari Seth Cohen, it featured fabulous older women (yes, much older than me) who do not let age, illness, or anything for that matter keep them from allowing  their inner fashion goddesses to shine...each and every day...rain or sickness and in health...til death do them part.

  If those gals in their seventies, eighties, and nineties could still get their style game on, thought I, then there's no reason why Beth Newman at almost mid-forty-ish, couldn't do the same.  (You know I'm serious when I refer to myself in the third person).

I realized upon viewing it that I had a closet full of old friends I hadn't visited in a long while, and spent the remainder of the evening playing dress-up, mixing, matching, ripping, stitching, and such.  I felt truly good, truly creative, and couldn't wait to get my style back on track. 

The next day
I put a button-down shirt underneath an old cocktail dress.  Paired it with leggings, cowboy boots, and a scarf.  The purse is an old thrift-store find that I love but had never really put to good use.  I wore this to the grocery store, got several compliments from the husbands of my yoga-panted neighbors, and a gorgeous young employee of the store insisted on carrying my two small bags of groceries to my car.  If that isn't success, Sweeties, I don't know what is.

Then later on....
I dyed my reddish-brown hair to reddish-red hair, thanks in part to past experiences with the hue and a recent Mad Men marathon.  Joan rules.  Enough said.

What I'm buying...
 Canned music and corporate outfits that resemble one another simply won't cut it for me, nor will the exorbitant prices ($120 for a plain white button-down shirt?  Thanks but no thanks.)   Give me thrift stores, consignment stores, and the fantastic Diva Exchange clothing swap parties hosted by my friend, Marian Bell (  Or just give me your old clothing...

But then again, my style may not be yours.  I encourage you to figure out your fashion preferences and go boldly with them.  Fashion should be fun, and it's certainly a great way to express yourself. Do your homework, but most importantly get inspired.

You can't have style without inspiration.
-Isaac Mizrahi

Very true, Mr. Mizrahi, and thank you for the reminder.

Please please please check out Mr. Cohen's blog

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

'Tis the Season

Okay, I know I know I know....I made promises to scribble more diligently, but life gets in the way, boys and girls, and I've been far too busy and sleepy to keep you in the loop. Anyhow, my intentions for rectifying the situation are good, so cross your fingers, wish me luck, and then get on with your lives.

'Tis the season, so let's talk about the joy of giving, and the headache that typically comes along with it.

First of all, I don't like to brag, but I've completed most of my holiday shopping, and what I haven't bought I intend to make.  Those on my gift list should be highly concerned right about now.

Online ordering proves itself yet again as the way to go, and many members of my family (myself included) have enough snap to set up Christmas Wish Lists on Amazon.  Sure, it eliminates the element of surprise to a degree, but I'd rather be slightly less thrilled in getting what I've requested rather than overly put out because I've received garbage for which I've no use.

As an enthusiastic giver of gifts, and an equally enthusiastic receiver of one (exceptions:  see garbage), I've put together a list of helpful hints and snarky suggestions for your holiday consideration:

Be Thoughtful:  Whether it comes from a wish list or not, really think about your recipient.  What does she need? (a good night's sleep) What does she want? (tickets to see Rick Springfield at the Hobby Center on February 6).  Notice her manner of dress, the way in which she decorates her home, what she eats, what she drinks, and the how she spends her time.  If she spends her time alone, overly indulging in food and drink, a nice necklace will suffice.

Regarding home decor:  if you're offering framed photos, keep the space of your recipient in mind.  Small candle holders are a nice thought, but can be tricky.  She may have bigger household issues to deal with (squirrel infestation), and a glass what-not from Kirkland's just might not cut it this year.

Be Creative:  I personally love home-made gifts, particularly if it's something that's well executed and comes from the heart.  

Think about your talents and go from there.  You might take a moment to make a list to help you narrow down your choices. Feel free to use my list as an example:

What I'm Good At:
-presenting information
-coordinating outfits
-keeping score

What I Pretend to Be Good At:

What I Don't Care That I'm no Good At But Do Anyway:
-playing the ukulele

So everyone on my list this year can expect to receive vital information (gossip) while I sift through their purses. Don't tell me not to do it; I'm not listening.

Honestly, though, how many of our beloved actually need anything?  Do they have food, clothing, and shelter?  If so, why not put a little more time, energy, and money into helping those who don't have the essentials we take for granted.  For example:

-The Salvation Army Christmas Angel Tree Project- an opportunity to give gifts to underprivileged children and senior citizens in your area

                                          Or you could....

-Donate poinsettias or other holiday items to a nursing home or other facility that may need cheering

-Take all the toys your three ungrateful cats don't play with and donate them to an animal shelter.  Shelters will also take food, blankets, cat litter, and cold hard cash.

-Check in on a single neighbor to see if she/he needs anything done around the house (see squirrel infestation).

Let's get creative in letting our loved ones know we love them this time of year, but let's not be stingy with that love - lots of folks can use it.