Thursday, December 31, 2009

new year's resolution

i've always preferred birthdays for the whole taking stock of your life and yearly accomplishments thing, but i can't help but get caught up in the annual enthusiasm for resolutions and their promise of a clean slate. i've been known to write pages categorizing everything i hope to accomplish in the new year. needless to say, i rarely complete even a fraction of what's on those lists.

this year i'm going to try something different. i am going to make just one resolution: to take better care of myself in 2010. and yes, there are about a million different ways this can manifest (starting with eating better, sleeping better, exercising more...) but i am not going to go there. because i really believe that one of the best ways for me to take better care of myself is to stop putting so much pressure on myself to achieve.

happy new year everyone.

simplify your morning routine

i don't know about you, but i take a lot of pills. two medications here, a few vitamins and supplements there... they all add up to a lot of time spent opening and closing bottles and doling out doses every morning. my solution? the detach n' go AM/PM detachable pill box.

not only does it have ample space for both morning and evening pills, it also pulls apart so you can easily grab just what you need for an overnight. you can also remove the flip-lids for cleaning (or if you'd rather start your week on a different day).

this way i can do all my sorting once a week and spend the saved weekday morning minutes on something more productive -- like five minutes more exercise, meditation, or, best of all, sleep. an added bonus: i know in advance if i'm running low on something making it much easier for me to keep on top of my refills.

you can also get ones like the apex medi chest that let you organize four daily doses.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

whole foods gluten free prairie bread

okay i promise this won't turn into the all gluten-free all the time blog, but i must rave about this amazing bread.

actually, i'm going to start with an anti-rave. a couple of nights ago we were having burgers and because i just couldn't face another slippery meat patty swaddled in limp, slimy lettuce, i went against my better judgement and bought myself a four-pack of ener-g tapioca hamburger buns. they smelled as icky as they tasted and were slimy after only moments touching the burger. (so yeah, thumbs down for that one.)

Gluten Free Bakehouse Logoenter whole foods gluten-free bakehouse prairie bread. the antithesis of the gummy burger buns, this bread was caky and moist and delicious and chock-full of chewy nuts and seeds. it was almost like eating a multi-seed pound cake. even better, it stood up just fine under the juiciest of burgers (complete with cheese, tomato and lettuce).

i won't tell you how much i paid for that delectable loaf of grainy and seedy goodness because i really don't want to admit i could ever spend that much on one loaf of bread, but at this point, i'm just happy to know that gluten-, potato-free bread this tasty does exist.

Monday, December 28, 2009

trader joe's gluten-free pancake & waffle mix

i'm sure it's completely psychological, but ever since i was diagnosed with a gluten allergy i have been craving pancakes. sure, i like pancakes as much as the next girl, but they usually aren't something i'd cross the street for unless i was having a serious carb crave and there was no serious oncoming traffic to dodge. but in an effort to help ease my transition to a gluten-free life, i've decided to indulge myself here and there.

lucky for me, trader joe's had just the ticket for this particular indulgence: a pancake mix that was not only gluten-free, but also free of potato derivatives (another newly identified food allergy). so i picked up a bag and whipped some up for breakfast the morning after christmas.

- simple to use: just whip up some eggs, oil and water, mix in the mix and you're ready to go
- inexpensive (which is a huge boon in the premium price world of gluten-free products)
- also free of peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, soy and corn
- contains only 9 ingredients, all of which i recognized

- so-so flavor (bland with a ricey aftertaste)
- prone to dryness
- not as springey as their gluten-rich counterparts

one thing i have noticed about substitutes made with rice flour: for me, at least, i find their texture a lot better the next day. this is especially true for pastas, but even the pancakes were firmer and tastier. (especially if you don't over-cook them in the toaster oven).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

comfort food

When it comes to food, I'm a simple girl. I like bread. I like cheese. I like just about any combination of the two -- especially the mac & cheese variety. And I liked it that way. That is until the whole gluten allergy thing. Lucky for me, yesterday a friend came to my rescue with a sweet little book called the wheat-free cook.

Now, I have to be honest, I am a novice in the kitchen, so I am easily intimidated by creating food from scratch. Not so with this book. Each recipe has a reasonable number of everyday ingredients and clear, easy to follow steps to help you transform a pinch of this and a cup of that into a dish tasty enough to please even the staunchest gluten-lover. I tried the featured cover dish: Corn Macaroni & Cheese, which I managed to pull together for today's lunch in under an hour. And it tasted just like mac & cheese.

Having already pleased my well-honed mac & cheese-loving palate, I can hardly wait to try the next recipe... perhaps Quick Flaxseed and Chickpea Baguette, Goat Cheese Pizza, Spinach and Zucchini Frittata or Almond-Plum Rice Flour Coffee Cake. With nearly 200 pages of recipes, I'll have plenty chose from.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

changes afoot

there's nothing like two bouts with the flu, a sinus infection, a brutal case of pneumonia and being diagnosed with a gluten allergy to help a girl hit her target weight. and then some.

but it isn't just my pants size that has been impacted. when you've spent your life eating nothing but grilled cheese, pasta and pizza, losing gluten is a life-altering proposition. no longer can i call for pizza when i get home tired from work. or anything else for that matter because gluten is in practically everything these days (soy sauce for example, and certain brands of canned water-packed tuna — who knew?). which means my dieting has changed into a completely new diet. and in fact, a whole new lifestyle. because now, in my fourth decade, i am finally going to have to learn how to cook. and not only learn but do it. every day.

which leads me to the second bit of health news: i have also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

over the past 6 months, this chronic pain disorder has forced me to completely remake the way i look at fashion. why? because many of the clothes and accessories i used to wear every day (especially the shoes) now hurt. and not in an amusing "suffering for fashion" kind of way. in a crippling i can't walk kind of way.

but rather than let myself succumb to sweats and shearling boots, i've decide to revise my previous challenge. it's no longer just about reclaiming my sense of style, it's about looking and FEELING great. from the clothes and jewelry i wear to the foods i eat to the way i live my life. so buckle up, and let's get back on the road.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

vacation packing

the last time i went to hawaii, i packed all the wrong things. now, in my defense, it's not like i was a hawaii veteran. i'd only been once before and that was on short enough notice that i didn't have time to think before packing. i just threw anything lightweight i owned into a bag and bought myself a hawaiian-print sundress when i got there. of course it didn't hurt that i had a washer and dryer in my room so i could wear the same three things over and over. what were those three things? my bikini, a pair of knee-length board-shorts, and a very lightweight sleevless t-shirt from H&M (along with my pink cowboy hat and keens, of course). oh, and about a gallon of spf 50 sunscreen.

what i didn't wear:
- jewelry
- dressy dinner clothes (especially the shoes)
- jeans (except on the plane, and even then i wasn't happy about it)
- a bra (except on the plane)
- my coat (even on the plane)
- a real purse

what i learned from both trips:
- pack more than one swim suit
- leave the dress clothes and the jewelry at home
- sarongs are a life-saver; you can wear them as a skirt, a dress and even a shawl or scarf for those chilly air-conditioned places (like the plane)
- lightweight, long-sleeved, loose-fitting button-down shirts are essential for those prone to sunburn
- the wider-brimmed the hat, the better
- the stronger the sunglasses the better

of course that doesn't mean i'm not going to fret about what to pack until the moment i'm on the plane or rush around trying to find the perfect pair of convertable cargo pants for the plane (okay, i actually already found those), but it will definitely help prevent the drama of being charged an overweight bag fee on my way home, so i'll have that extra $100 to spend on better things, like scuba lessons. or cool jewelry to bring home where i will wear it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

more questions answered

so, you probably remember all those questions i'm supposed to answer about my current and future wardrobe dreams. and i'll bet you noticed how i did a pretty good job of answering the first few before letting them trail off into the night like the trail of a trans-pacific flight. the dream of which is exactly what brings me to question number six on my long list:

how many fashion personalities/wardrobes do you need to have (work, casual, evening, etc.)? (i promise the segue will make sense in the end...)

my life is pretty simple. i work. i garden. i hang out. if i really stretch it i can add going out and working out. really stretch.

here's the break-down:

work: i work in a corporate office for the web division of a major corporation. that means i don't have to wear suits, but i shouldn't dress like a slob either. jeans are okay. t-shirts are okay. but i probably need to do less wearing them together. especially with beat-up adidas. and while lots of folks here take a pretty tame approach to wardrobe (slacks and button-downs), there is room for at least some range of personality and style. until recently i had not been taking advantage of this range. i need to. not only does it elevate my visibility (you always remember the girl with the fabulous outfit), i've found it actually makes me happier and more productive in my job by removing the resentment and misery of having to pretend to be someone i'm not. don't want to be a corporate drone? don't dress like one.

gardening: right now my gardening-wear consists of whatever expendable but maximally durable thing i can find in my closet. preferably with long legs and sleeves since the sun is not my friend. this means i pretty much look like a homeless person. i used to have an awesome selection of overalls and cute long-sleeved tees, but, well, do i have to say it again? yeah, they don't fit right now. the one essential in my arsenal: my pink cowboy hat. it keeps the sun off my head and neck and is a definite signature piece. as for the rest, i've been eying slogan shirts with sayings like "garden for victory" and "grow your own food." just need to place the orders.

going out: i'm not a four-star restaurant kind of girl, and i'm probably never going to need a swanky cocktail dress, but i do head up to the city for dinner and a little club action every so often and it would be nice to have something kind of hipster to wear. i mean, i'm not a 19 year old punk-rocker anymore, but if you're going to go out and have fun, you should look the part. bonus points here for something with a little edge to wake my inner party-girl.

hanging out: for me, hanging out is halfway between going out and lounging around (covered later). i'm leaving the house, but not to do anything that requires getting major beautification. maybe i'm meeting friends for a matinee or maybe i'm heading to the mall. the purpose doesn't really matter, what matters is that when i feel better about myself and how i look the whole experience is more enjoyable. that means comfortable, fun, clothes that reflect my personality.

working out: okay, this one is a little bit of wishful thinking since I don’t actually work out. at least not yet. but if you don’t have at least one workout outfit, it makes it tougher to actually make the leap to doing it.

lounging around: yes, i have become one of those people who change directly into sweats when i get home from work. which is fine. as long as you are home alone with your pizza and reality TV. but these days, i'm usually not, and the frumpiness of my lounge-wear is starting to depress my boyfriend. and honestly, even without him in the room muttering about the thrill being gone, looking that bad does not make me feel good. there's a big difference between relaxing and wallowing and let's face it, cute and comfortable don't have to be mutually exclusive.

of course i've left out the most important one, or at least the most urgent at the moment: vacation-wear! a tropical vacation is on the horizon and, surprise!, i have nothing to wear. but that, my friends, demands a post of its own.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


when it comes to fashion, i'm all about the fun and funky pieces. which is great, as long as you have something to wear them with. otherwise, with my affinity for tropicals and plaids, i'd wind up looking something like hawaiian luau meets braveheart in a blender. not pretty.

the solution was simple, of course: t-shirts. i've always had a huge supply in every color. some plastered with images, band names and slogans. some just plain. unfortunately, they are all in the too small bin in my sister's basement.

the truth is, i've been waiting until i lost some of my extra padding before replacing them. i hate shopping for clothes when i don't feel good about my body. then it hit me, there is more than one way to feel better about your body and clothes that look and feel great is at the top of the list. so off i went on a shopping spree, and thanks to ann taylor loft, american apparel and the gap, i am now awash in tees: short sleeved, long sleeved, no sleeved, three-quarter sleeved, even a few tank tops and cardigans thrown in for good measure, in all the colors of the rainbow (plus some that aren't). my favorites: the black peasant top from ann taylor loft and the grey cuffed tee from the gap.

it's amazing how much easier it is to get dressed in the morning.

Monday, June 15, 2009

the ultimate accessory

what can i say? not only is it a fabulous color which coordinates perfectly with my eyes, it's a great way to help get me back to a more comfortable size. (see, i love it so much it's making me poetic...)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

building brand

one of the cool things about the company i work for is that every so often they bring in special guest speakers to help inspire us in our work. yesterday was one of those days.

the speaker in question was a former CEO of our very own company. his resume is also populated with an impressive array of major corporations and start-ups. the topic: managing your career.

the talk he gave really was inspirational, but the part that stood out most for me was the section on building your personal brand. now, having spent most of my career in marketing and advertising (web-focused, but still) i get the value of a brand. more importantly, i get the value of packaging. and after all, what is fashion but your own personal packaging?

sure, finding just the right packaging can be tough. but that isn't really the crux of the issue. because the best packaging in the world won't make a bit of difference if you don't start by defining your brand. when it comes to a personal brand this means asking yourself some tough questions like:
  • who am i?
  • what are my talents and my passions?
  • who do i want to be?
  • what about myself am i trying to portray?
  • does it need to be different in different situations?
now for me, i've always had a pretty strong sense of self. unfortunately i haven't been able to translate that into words. the answer to "who am i?" always winds up sounding either flippant or weirdly esoteric and obtuse like a zen koan. i think the answer is to come up with key adjectives instead of complete thoughts. passionate. sensitive (not always in a positive way). shy. independent... you get the picture (or at least part of it).

so looks like i have more questions to answer. the second one, i will answer though with a quick anecdote:

some friends and i were discussing the lottery. when one friend asked me what i would do if i won, i didn't even have to think: read, write and garden (not necessarily in that order, but probably in generally equal weights). sure, there are other things, and variations on those things, but put most simply, those are it. read. write. garden. couldn't be any clearer than that.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

the down-side of sentimentality

i have this necklace. a locket actually. it's really beautiful and unique. thing is, it was given to me by my former mother-in-law, a woman i never much liked even before i divorced her son. and post-divorce... well, let's just say i'd rather pretend it was all just some ugly nightmare and try and forget him, her, everything.

but of course it's not that easy. especially when confronted with this lovely piece of jewelry. which i have spent more than 10 years now not wearing.

but today i got sick of the whole push-pull drama of it all. if i'm not going to wear it, i shouldn't own it. so i wore it to work. and spent the whole day thinking about my ex-mother-in-law. and i still haven't figured out what to do... but i do feel a new poll coming on... go ahead, vote... you know you want to tell me what you think.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

questions: my current look

1. what adjectives best describe your current look?
2. what do you like about your current look?
3. what do you dislike about it?

truth is, i really don’t feel like i have a current look. outfits are cobbled together from random items based primarily on what i happen to be able to squeeze into at the time. usually this results in me looking like a twelve-year old skater boy. probably not the best way to instill confidence in and command respect from my employees and coworkers and certainly not from upper management. outside of work, I almost always feel frumpy, drab and distinctly un-fabulous. which gives me a nice, clean segue into what I dislike about my current look:
  • doesn’t reflect my interests, passions or personality (sometimes not even my own tastes)
  • no continuity from day to do, no cohesive visual message that let’s people know who i am
  • not always (or even usually) flattering
  • not always (or even usually) well-matched
  • no pizzazz (except occasionally when it probably has too much pizazz)
  • takes forever to get ready because i can’t figure out what to wear (took three separate outfits for me to get out the door this morning)
but what do i like about my current look? the simple answer is not much. but there are certain outfits, certain individual pieces and certain components that i do like:

things i like...
  • big scarves: e wear one almost every day, partly because e’m always cold and partly because san francisco weather is fickle and demands both preparedness and flexibility (it’s a hat, it’s a brooch, it’s a pterodactyl—I mean it’s a scarf, it’s a hat, it’s a warm blanket…)
  • chunky-heeled shoes: there’s nothing better than added height without the added danger brought on by a clumsy girl trying to wear skinny heels
  • boots: ideally knee-height, they’re perfect with skirts, cropped pants and even rolled-up jeans, plus they’re warm
  • ethnic prints: tropical, asian, batik… i’m even a sucker for scottish tartan (especially when the tartan in question is weathered mclean dress)
  • wide-legged pants: even better, flares… even better, striped flares… okay, no, wait… that may be part of what got me in this mess
  • fitted (but not too-fitted) tops: showing off curves is good, looking like a sausage, not so much
  • chunky, single pendant necklaces: especially big, “alive” stones (moonstone, labradorite, opal) framed in silver

my favorites...
  • outfit: long elephant bell jeans worn with a black and burgundy mandarin-style brocade top, platform ankle boots and a big black scarf (incidentally, those jeans are also my favorite pants)
  • skirt: orange, green and black batik wrap skirt embellished with stylized images of taro leaves
  • tee: mission playground’s “a little for all”
  • scarf: a black and white batik pareo my mom bought for me in Hawaii
  • necklace: the labradorite pendant i bought in cambria, ca
  • shoes: vegas boots, baby! a pair of knee-high, stacked heel, black leather, italian lovelies that i paid an ungodly amount of money for in a boutique at the venetian in 1998 and which still look completely fabulous despite constant wear, proving once again that, at least when it comes to shoes, you get what you pay for
which leads us to another important question: how do I use these individual pieces as the basis for an actual style? but that is a question for another day.

Monday, June 1, 2009


in order to help me along my way to fashion fabulousness, my stylist friend asked me to answer a few questions:
  1. what adjectives best describe your current look?
  2. what do you like about your current look?
  3. what do you dislike about it?
  4. what are your short and long-term fashion goals?
  5. how would you describe the look you want to achieve?
  6. how many fashion personalities/wardrobes do you need to have (work, casual, evening, etc.)?
  7. who are your fashion role-models (celebrities, friends, colleagues, etc.)?
  8. do you have any hard and fast fashion rules (no bare midriffs, only natural fibers, etc.)?
now some of these are total no-brainers but others… they’re going to take some thought. i’ll answer one now, and the rest over the next several posts.

do you have any hard and fast fashion rules?

  • no angora, i break out in a rash just looking at it
  • nothing itchy or scratchy
  • nothing that requires dry cleaning
  • natural fabrics
  • low-waisted styles only
  • comfort is key
  • a little stretch is a beautiful thing
i also have a very strong preference for closed-toe shoes. my feet are always freezing so i’m all about socks.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

why fashion matters

i'm not sure how it happened, but one day i looked in the mirror and i realized i didn't like what i saw. it's not just the getting older, the getting heavier. those are just symptoms. it's two things really. the first was the realization that when i look in the mirror, i don't see me. the second is that i couldn't help but wonder how i let it get this way.

i have always had a very strong sense of who i am. and that strong sense of who i am has always been as clearly reflected on the outside as i feel it on the inside. but recently i have allowed myself and my life to become fractured. my identity has become compartmentalized into different roles, none of which truely reflects a complete me. there is the corporate manager. the novelist and poet. the gardener. the would-be activist. the artist. the girlfriend. the daughter. the aunt. the patient whose body sometimes struggles to find the energy it needs to get through the day. but even the truest and most valued piece all alone is only a fraction of the whole puzzle that is me.

when i dress for work, i have been dressing for the corporate environment. not to bring myself into the job, but to fit into a role. by dressing this way, i deny myself. i hide who i really am. this is not only in-authentic, it diminishes both me and my job.

when i dress to work in the garden in grubby, ill-fitting clothes, sure, i am considering the messy task at hand, but i am also de-valuing both myself and a job that i find extrememly fulfilling and deeply spiritual. i am not treating myself or the task with the reverence we both deserve.

for me, fashion is not about status. it's not about looking cute. it's not about fitting in. it's about creating an authentic external representation of the person that i am on the inside. it's about expressing who i am. and it's about treating myself and my body with the respect i deserve.

a necklace isn't just a pretty stone. it's a way to honor my own inner and outer beauty. a well-fitted sweater doesn't just look neat and put together, it shows i'm proud of who i am and the shape i take.

and that's what makes it so important for me to get up every morning and put on beautiful/fun/creative/exciting, well-made clothes that fit just right. not only does it make me feel more at home in my body and more connected to all the pieces of who i am, it reminds me to bring the whole package to everything i do. and if you don't do that, then what's the point of doing it at all?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

another item for the "missing" list

it's amazing how often i choose my outfit based on which shoes i can bear to wear. some days i'm just not up for the towering stacked heels that look best with skirts, anything cropped and most of my pants (since i'm a couple of inches shy of whatever height most designers sew for). obviously, this can be very limiting. luckily, there's a solution: get myself a pair of low-heeled black boots.

of course adding it to the list is simple. finding them, however, is a completely different story.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

close but no cigar

more and more often i notice while getting dressed that my wardrobe feels just a few cards short of a full deck.

i pull together what i think is going to be a great outfit but wind up stopped short of perfection by the following words: "this would look awesome if i only had a [insert clothing item or accessory here]."

inevitably, when i get into work, my coworkers, who have jumped on the re-fabbing bandwagon are quick to point out the resulting compromise: "you know, that would look so much better if you just had a [insert same clothing item or accessory mentioned above here]."

to address this issue i have added a "missing pieces" list to this blog. that way, i can add items as i think of them and create a list that i can use when i shop. so instead of being distracted by something pretty, shiny and completely impractical, i'll be able to head directly to the fitted black cardigan sweaters and bag my prey. okay, i'll probably still be distracted. but at least this way i'll get the thing i need, too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

fashion win

so this morning I walk over to chat with my stylist friend and no sooner had I sat down than she made me stand up again and do a slow turn so she could assess the outfit of the day. this was a change from usual when I can see her eyes struggling not to roll. when I sat down again, she smiled a big smile, gave me a double thumbs-up and said “approved!”

clearly I have a lot to learn, because while I thought I did okay with this outfit, I didn’t really think it was any better than others I’ve worn recently (and in some cases liked a lot more). I was however able to discern from her comments just what makes this outfit work:

- oversized belted sweater nips in waistline while camouflaging junk in the trunk
- skinny-leg jeans and high heels make legs look longer and slimmer

- hot pink top and scarf compliment skin-tone and draw attention to face
- dark wash jeans make legs look lean

- scarf ties together all the different colors in the outfit as well as my hair and eye colors, while the metallic gold thread provides a little sparkle
- turquoise cuff bracelet compliments yet another color in the scarf, adds a touch of fun and keeps the dark colors from getting too overwhelming

but what really makes this outfit work for me is that it’s super comfortable. the jeans have stretch, the shoes are tall but well-padded, and I can take off the scarf and/or sweater if the day gets too warm.

i’d like it even more if the jean were slightly more bootcut so i didn’t feel quite so much like a child’s top (skinny point at the bottom, wide load at the top) but that’s just me. according to the feedback I’ve received, the skinny cut actually shows off my legs. just goes to show you, i am not a natural when it comes to figuring out what flatters my figure. but that’s okay. these things can be learned.

the fickleness of fit

when it comes to looking fantastic, fit is king. possibly even one of those golden-age god-emperors. I learned this the other day when I put together what I thought was a pretty passable outfit. which it was. mostly. the problem was, my friend pointed out, the jeans. I love the cut of the jeans so I wear them a lot. but cut and fit are not the same (and that’s not even getting into the whole optical illusion created by the color of the wash, which I’ll get back to later).

the cut was fine. low waist. narrow through the hip and thigh. slight flare. but the fit did me no favors at all. the waist was too big and rode lower even then it should have, which to be honest, was already pretty low, especially for a corporate office. and then there were the thighs…

now, thighs are one of my admitted challenge spots. I like to blame the years of adolescent gymnastics, because even when I was thin as a rail, I had trouble finding pants that had enough breathing room in that area, especially if the waist fit. (this is one of the key reasons I prefer a little stretch in my jeans.)

so long story short, the waist was saggy, the pockets buckled and the thighs were like sausage casings (if sausage casings were made out of a pale blue tourniquet). now the jimmy dean effect is something that I’m going to have to work out with the gym, but the waistband is a whole ‘nother thing.

the suggestion of my fashion-savvy friend was to pop over to a tailor for a little nip/tuck. which if my weight didn’t fluctuate like a yo-yo I might actually consider. but today’s fit, would likely be tomorrow’s ill-fit, so what’s a girl to do?

1. stabilize the weight already. pick a number. go there. stay there. it will definitely take some time, but it’s a good goal to have.

2. always, always, always, buy pants with a little stretch. no matter how good the deal (and these jeans were a shockingly good deal — $2 at my local goodwill) if it doesn’t fit, there’s no way you’ll look fab, so it’s not worth the price.

Monday, May 18, 2009

speaking of shoes…

back in my younger days, i was a sucker for shoes. i had, at one point, over 100 pairs in every imaginable color, heel-height and style. thing was, i only really wore about 6 of them. why? because the others weren’t comfortable. at one point i got so fed up with digging through the piles of toe-pinching, blister raising torture devices that I tossed any and every pair that had ever caused me pain, which left me with a grand total of 8 pairs of shoes.

sure, i’ve built back up my collection some since then, but these days, it takes more than a pretty face or a well-turned heel to turn my head. these days, you have to earn your place on the shoe rack. sure, you still have to look cool, but you also need to be functional, comfortable and made well enough that you don’t need replacing after just a few strolls around the block.

as a result of my higher standards of shoe choice, i find myself gravitating to a couple of brands — brands that used to make me shudder at their very mention: clark’s, born, god forbid aerosoles… but here’s the thing. it’s not just that i’ve changed. they’ve changed, too, with cool new sub-brands that infuse the frumpy comfort of the parent brand with a hip style all their own, creating the perfect blend of form and function. these new shoes are so comfortable and still so fun, my closet is starting to overflow all over again. but this time it’s with shoes that actually feel and look good, including many pairs from these new hybrids:

indigo by clark’s: 6 pairs
born crown collection : 2 pairs

all it took was trying on one pair and i was sold. and in case you were wondering, those shoes i bought over the weekend? crown collection. pretty cool, huh?

the sweet forgiveness of shoes

i did buy one thing at the store yesterday — a pair of super-comfy but very cool black wedge shoes. they were a little expensive but since i've bought my last pair probably 15 years ago, i figure it's worth putting in a little extra money to buy something that's going to a) hold up over time, b) not kill my feet. besides, unlike the rest of my body, my feet stay pretty much the same size.

i can't wait to wear them to work today.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what chubby is made of

i'm not going to sugar-coat it. the only thing worse than trying on clothes when you at your all time high weight is doing it in 97 degree heat.

i wasn't even able to find any of the key purchases now listed on my new missing pieces list. just as well. highest weight ever is not the time to invest in classic pieces you hope will last a good long time.

tomorrow morning: renewed dedication not just to the exercise, but to watching what i eat. and just to kick it off right, i ate half a pint of butter pecan haagen dazs for dinner.

nothing like going out with a bang.

Friday, May 15, 2009

want wow? choose color!

i've always been a pretty monochromatic dresser. black, black and more black. sometimes with a wild touch of, oh, say, navy. or grey. but only if i'm feeling especially sassy.

well, today, inspired by the unseasonable heat, i decided to pull out all the stops. and when i mean all the stops, i mean ALL the stops. you guessed it: bright yellow.

i have no idea what possessed me to buy a bright yellow batik dress. it was probably being in hawaii. and the fact that it was on sale. at walmart. for $5. head full of sunshine and optimism i just couldn't resist.

today, i needed a little of that sunshine and optimism so i pulled out the dress. and man did it get noticed. mostly what i got was "wow!" wow like that looks fantastic? or wow, that's bright, must... sheild... eyes... i have my suspicions.

at any rate, it made me feel all sunny and perky even worn over dark wash, pegged jeans and under a slumpy black carigan. perhaps my coworker said it best:

"wow. only you could pull-off something like that." and yes, i am 100% sure that there were silent air-quotes around the words "pull-off."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

lesson one: think before you dress

okay, so i've been at this self-improvement, re-fabification thing for almost a week now and i have already learned one very important lesson: the number one key to improving how you dress is to actually think about how you dress.

sure, it seems obvious enough, but when you're sprinting out the door with no time to spare, sometimes it takes all you have just to find two matching shoes and a passably wrinkle-free shirt. you may as well forget about trying to coordinate accessories. make that kind of morning a habit and you'll find the crumpled, thrown-together look has become your new signature style. or total lack thereof.

the solution? picture your day's perfect outfit. for me, the best times for this little exercise are the night before while trying to fall asleep or first thing after the alarm goes off between hitting snooze and cursing the dawn. once i know what i want to wear, i can let my mind drift to accessories while i brush my teeth or wash my hair.

i don't recommend you take this advice too far and start mapping out your clothes for the week. i for one am way too fashion-moody to plan more than one day out and too much pre-planning can lead to fashion-anxiety and eventually fashion-exhaustion and you'll wind up worse than you started. but a little extra thought about looking good while standing in the shower never hurt anyone.

try it out.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

accessories freed from detention

back in october 2007 i put my house up for sale. in order to make it presentable i packed up most everything i owned including all of my jewelry. since then that jewelry has been slumbering in tiny boxes and (gasp) tupperware containers in the bottom dresser drawer.

i finally unpacked them today.

the good news is i was able to get rid of one third of the collection without even batting an eye -- because really, even i know i'm never going to wear that mood ring again, even on halloween. another third needed further consideration. the last third are things that i love and would probably wear again now that they have been liberated from their plastic holding cells. the bad news is, during those two+ years, many of them have become tarnished and dusty, and i, never really having been that much of a jewelry person (or maybe just not much of an "upkeep" person) have no idea how to return them to their former glories. which leads me to another question: once i do get them cleaned up, what do i do with them? i have a jewelry box, but it's it's like an episode of desperate housewives in there. necklaces getting themselves into nasty entanglements, earrings desperately try to loose their mates...

clearly i need a little schooling on the art of jewelry care and feeding (or at least care and storage). what are the best ways to rejuvenate tired pieces? and what are the best ways to store them out of sight and protected from dust, grime and clumsy limbs? because who knows... maybe a little bling would be good incentive to help keep this whole improvement project rolling.

Friday, May 8, 2009

ramping up and breaking a rule

in order to address the weight portion of the program, my friend and i have decided to start taking daily walks after lunch. we had been doing it before the weather turned, but rain is no longer a plausible excuse (it's 70 degrees and sunny today).

unfortunately, accomplishing today's walk will cause me to break one of my hard and fast fashion rules: never wear white tennis shoes with everyday clothes. given that fact you may wonder why, exactly, i even own white tennis shoes and why i have them tucked inside a file cabinet at work. suffice it to say, it's a long, sad story about last minute tennie buying before a trip to new york. and since i have a really hard time wasting usable shoes i figured i'd bring them in here, "just in case."

today's case is wooden platform clogs -- not viable walking attire. as for whether or not wooden platform clogs constitute a fashion offense of their own, that's a topic for another post.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

where it starts

i have lost my sense of style.

i'm not sure how it happened. perhaps it was the career transition from funky start-up to conservative mega-corp. perhaps it was the doctor-mandated 15 pound weight gain that turned into 20... 22... 23... and keeps climbing. perhaps it was just the getting older, tireder, lazier. but the reason doesn't really matter. what matters is, it's time to get it back.

to that end, i have enlisted the help of a life/fashion-stylist friend who swears she can get my fashion sense and wardrobe right back on track. of course, i'm going to have to take care of those extra 10 pounds myself.

my style make-over (or is it a re-make?) starts today. stay tuned to see where it goes.