December 6, 2017:

Hola!

It's COLD here. Cold and windy. But the Sun has been out for the past 2 days so it's bright, and that helps me to bear the cold and the short days. Only 15 more days to Winter Solstice, and then each day, a few more minutes of daylight will magically begin to be added, and even though the cold and snow will continue, the "worst" will be over because I know we are over the hump and headed toward the Spring Equinox.

Meanwhile, I am busy decorating the tree. I dug out an old collage of photos from the former Maison Newton (above). Gosh, that was a beautiful fireplace. My current gel fuel fireplace is great, but no match for that large and lush gas fireplace in my former home. In my case, downsizing meant not only much less square footage and a single story (which IS nice), but no fireplace until I purchased my gel fuel fireplace. I love it, but there was only one wall I could put it on, and this current living room is much smaller than my former living room, so I sized the fireplace accordingly. (It was also much less expensive and did not need to be installed by professionals).

Yesterday I womaned up and muscled, huffed, puffed, cussed some, breathed heavily and heaved mightily to get my Christmas tree up the basement stairs and dragged into the living room, and then into position in front of the picture window overlooking the front of the house. Whew! Quite the work-out. But I wasn't ready this year to switch to a "single woman of a certain age" (4 foot tall) tree. Maybe next year...NAH!

Jan

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Looking for Inspiration and Reassurance!

Tonight was a short evening out with the Ladies of the Bus.  I ride the bus with the most incredible group of interesting women!  We're all different ages, but most of us are single for various reasons.  We'll probably get together again during the holiday season for an evening out after work.  It was a great time tonight.  We had everyone in the bar laughing; you know how sometimes the positive energy just builds and each line that comes out is funnier and adds on what the other said before you, and round and round it goes, and it's all just perfect. 

I hope I can do that with my sewing of this jumper project!  Now, I know I fell flat on my face picking out the plaid I wanted for my jumper.  That jumper I had back in the 1970's - it was bright yellow and green large plaid!  And it was fabulous!  I wore it with a green turtleneck bodysuit underneath, LOL!  Of course, my figure was different then than it is now, but that's why I picked out a straight up and down pattern - it will hide that which should be hid from public view :)  I was intent on a read plaid material.

So, what did I choose?  Nothing anywhere near the red plaid I'd envisioned.  I picked a sedate brown menswear plaid.  What was I thinking?  And yet it is beautiful material and I think it will make a very cute jumper.  Sooooo.... guess I'm just thinking up excuses to getting started sewing.  Sort of the sewing yips, I think -- like not being to make a sure-thing putt in golf, I'm not able to put those first stitches to material.  EEK!

I'm looking around the internet right now for jumpers.  I still cannot believe that when tonight I typed in plaid jumper a whole host of sites appeared, whereas a few short weeks ago, when I typed in jumper and women's jumper dress no plaids appeared!  Duh!

Here are some jumpers that I sure hope mine doesn't turn out looking like!

I think this jumper has a lot going for it - it has
great style and the plaid is bold which I like, but the pockets,
oh my, the pockets - way too big and placed too high, totally
ruins the proportions of an otherwise excellent jumper!
This is just ugly.  I didn't like the dropped waist style when it was
"in fashion" and it still sucks now.  This dress is also poorly
stitched - look at the dip right in the waist seam right at the front!

Awful!  Like a potato sack and the plaid is ugly, too.
Shoulders are too broad, the v-neck is cut too shallow,
and the light-weight cotton does not have a decent drape.
The following jumpers, on the other hand, I feel have a lot going for them:


I love the cut of this jumper and it has excellent
tailoring - the buttons down the front add a nice touch.
The plaid is conservative (like the one I chose) and
will work perfectly in a business setting with the
right accessories.

Ohmygoddess, how cute is this!  I love the tartan
plaid and the bow tied front is just gorgeous!  I don't
think I can carry off this look but possibly a variation...

The caption for this jumper at Etsy said it was
"1960 vintage wool".  I love its tailored lines and
the conservative plaid, great for work, but I would
give it a scooped neck or a v-neck.  I'd also want to check
what it would look like with a turtleneck or blouse
underneath with those mini-cap sleeves.
So, we'll sew and see...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Taking Care of My Skin

Hola darlings!

I do lots of things wrong when it comes to caring for my skin.  I don't use sunblock other than what's in my make-up -- using the regular stuff makes me break out in itchy rashes!  I drink alcoholic beverages (a big no no according to the Sages of Vogue).  I don't drink enough water.  I don't get enough sleep. 

This is all good advice - do the opposite of what I do, darlings - but you know, I think a lot of whether one has good skin or bad skin has to do with genetics and with one's attitude and personality.  For instance, I have noticed that people who have a sour, negative disposition and a downer attitude toward life - in other words, those who usually see the glass half empty, tend ot have sour-puss faces - maybe that's where the term came from!  Me, I tend to be an optimist and I tend to be pretty darn resilient.  Like Scarlett O'Hara, when I "think about it tomorrow" and just go to bed and sleep on things, I always feel better in the morning and rise to face whatever the challenges are.  This method hasn't failed me yet :)

I also think that not having had the additional stress of a marriage and family in my life has had an enormous impact on my looks.  Children (and spouse) wear one out and stress shows in the face, particularly accumulated stress built up over years of marriage and family-raising. 

So, the good things I do - I don't smoke, I don't do drugs (other than the presecriptions my doctor gives me to control blood pressure and cholesterol), I am very good at relaxing and shaking off things that are bothering me.  I probably have less stressors in my life than the average woman.  No matter how tired I am, I always wash my face at night and in the morning.  I never go to bed with make-up on!  And I use L'Bri products for my skin.

My youngest sister, Yvonne, introduced me to L'Bri in January, 2010 at a party I went to as a favor to her.  I was, frankly, skeptical of any product line used for skin care but I have to say I was impressed by the demonstrations given and I ordered some products.  I started using them regularly and within about six weeks, noticed a marked difference for the better in skin on my face and neck.  I've used L'Bri products since then.  My favorite is the facial peel which works by enzyme action of the ingredients lightly applied across the face and then gently sloughed off with a circular motion done with your fingertips.  I use the peel every three days or so and it gently removes dead skin cells and stimulates the growth of new fresh skin cells without irritating my sensitive skin at all!

Best of all, the rosacea problems I used to have are gone.  I also used to experience periodic break-outs which, being post menoposal, irked the hell out of me.  You would think I'd got past all that hormone stuff, but just because I stopped menstruating doesn't mean I've lost my hormones.  They are crazier than ever, methinks!

Maxi-Firm
Anyway, thanks to the L'Bri products I use: gentle cream cleanser, gentle soothing spray, gentle non-oily moisturizer for day wear, and intense moisture creme for night, the facial peel, and Maxi-Firm Skin Renewal Complex, I think my skin looks great.  Gravity, of course, can't be counteracted; nothing short of surgery can remove jowls and facial muscles that have headed south or fatty deposits under the chin.  But my skin is soft, smooth and firm to the touch.  No more rough, flaky patches, no more oily shiny patches - all on one face!  No more whiteheads or blackheads, and rarely a pimple!  Yeah, I've got laugh lines around my eyes and mouth, and saggy eyelids, but that's a function of time, not lack of skin care.  Even babies have wrinkles when they smile :) 

One other thing I did I also believe has helped keep skin issues at bay:  I switched from liquid make-up to mineral make-up that is brushed on and never clogs my pores or collects in those little creases and lines we all have :)  I did this in March, 2010, less than two months after I started using the L'Bri products.

I don't expect to look 20, but I do expect to look the best I possibly can with what I've got!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Started My First Sewing Project!

I'm crazy to be undertaking this, that's the only explanation.

Today I actually gulped a lot and cut the snakeskin print cloth to make the "poncho" top.  Then, I pulled out the old Kenmore sewing machine.  It's got to be 30 years old.  The case, a heavy-duty plastic, is all yellowed, but the machine is heavy - it's made out of metal, not plastic!

I actually remembered how to thread it immediately, I impressed myself:)  Then I screwed up by starting the hemming of the edges with the light-colored bobbin already in the machine.  The top stitches were too light; so I took out that bobbin and saved it since I figure I'll be using an off-white thread sometime in the future; I laboriously unwound a bobbin loaded with pink thread.  When the hell did I use pink thread?  It has to be from 1986 when I made curtains for the dining room in my first house - they were made out of sheets with a pink background.  Sounds icky, I know, but they were actually quite beautiful - an oriental floral print!

Once I had the bobbin unwound, I had to put the new color thread on it - I remembered how to do that too.  I'm amazed I remembered!  I probably haven't had this sewing machine open in 18 years or so (last project I can remember was making a new set of curtains, again out of sheets, for the patio door in this house that I have not been up for several years now).

Then I had to unpick the stitching from the top that I'd already done  - fortunately, I had not got very far when I realized that the wrong color was coming out on the top, so I didn't have much to unpick.

Now I'm watching the premiere of Amazing Race, and while I'm enjoying this break I'm thinking I'm not going to have a new poncho top to wear to work tomorrow.  Bummer :(

But while watching the show I believe I've figured out an easier way to hem the poncho material; I've got to hem it first before marking for the seams that will create both the sides and the separation for the sleeve openings and doing the opening for the head.  My initial plan was to do a straightforward quarter-inch hem with turned corners all away around the material, but after struggling to do the first corner (with the wrong color thread), I decided there must be a better way.  I'm going to put a -- not sure what to call it -- a zig-zag enclosed stitch all around the perimeter that will "lock" the edges, and then I will hand hem the material.  It may take longer to do it this way, but I can hand hem while I'm watching t.v. :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

More and More Sweaters!

It seems I have developed a real thing for sweaters as part of this urge (? - not sure what it is) to be more style conscious.  I was going to say "fashionable" but I don't think that truly applies; I'm doing a revamp rather than a total make-over, I think.
 
Anyway, I have already purchased several sweaters for the season and have a sort of Wish List of sweater I'd like to buy but just haven't been able to talk myself into spending the money to do so.  See, for instance, Sweaters at Ann Taylor that I posted on September 19th.

So, I added these off-the-cuff purchases from the Rainbow store at the Shoppes at Grand Avenue a few days ago (Photos of Some New Stuff!).  Rainbow #1 received a lot of complements when I wore it to work the very next day with a beige scoop neck tank and the HEATHER TAUPE slacks (one of five identical pair except for the colors) by Briggs of New York.  I'm planning to wear Rainbow #2 some time next week.  I'm pondering whether to wear it over a black, red or white long-sleeve mock-turtle neck.  Too late in the season now to wear it over a color match tank top, unless we get a heat wave (it's been known to happen in Wisconsin). 

That beige scoop neck tank was one of four I purchased on sale at Boston Store by Laura Ashley: beige, white (to go with a 3/4 length sleeve white fly-away matching sweater), black (ditto), and a beautiful fuschia color that will pop with a black slacks and sweater.  I don't have images of them, but look at these! 
At J.C.Penney - American
Living - I want!
At J.C. Penney - Liz Claiborne -
I want!
I love these sweaters. I especially like the texture and color of the sweater to the left.  I've noticed I've an affinity for shawl collars - when I'm not dreaming about cowl necks.  These sweaters have a similar look to the ones I picked out at Ann Taylor (see above).

I have several grey sweaters, including a medium weight all-over cableknit pattern, round neck and long sleeves -- so long I have to roll up the cuffs so they don't cover my hands, that I purchased hmmmm - you know what, I don't remember when I bought it, and identical brown and wine-colored sweaters from Kohls.  I've worn them a lot during the past 2 or 3 winters (maybe longer).  They are comfortable and I wear them over long-sleeve mock-ne!cks or turtle-necks, but they are not exactly "fashion forward."  LOL!

I need to mix things up a bit more!  I need to get rid of anything that doesn't fit properly (like those 3 comfy Kohls sweaters).  I'm still looking for a grey cowl neck (a BIG cowl neck) in either short or long sleeves.  I've pulled out pages from advertisements in Vogue and Elle into a Wish File.  No way, of course, can I afford those designer looks but I'm hoping to find some reasonably-priced close-enoughs!  So far, no go.

While I'm at it, let me add a few more sweaters I really like:
Bandolino Bleu at Boston Store.  I love this sweather!  I love
its length, the style, the closure, the cable-knit detail.  A tunic-
length sweater - grey!  Me and grey, geez.  The price is right too,
under $40 on sale right now.  I think I'm going to buy it.

Alyx at J.C. Penney - I like this.  It's cut almost to be a "sweater
dress" but I don't have the figure or the legs to pull it off.
But as a tunic sweater with a long sleeve shirt underneath
to ward off those minus zero temps in Wisconsin in December,
January and February, yeah.  I love the color-block effect.

Is it perhaps because I don't have a waist at present that I
am attracted to these looks?  Bisou Bisou at J.C. Penney,
belted cardigan in black and cream.  Love the big bands of
contrasting texture/color and the different weaves.

 
Notations cowl neck cable-knit pattern sweater
at Boston Store.  This is brown (don't like color) - I
love the sweater.
Okay, enough for tonight.  You get the idea.  LOL!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Colors That Make People Smile

Please see the post below :)

After I posted it, I realized that the outfit looked really cute with my sunshine yellow waterproof "walker" jacket purchased this spring from an L.L. Bean catalog that I wore this morning. 

I don't remember the exact price, I think it was under $100. It has a printed pattern fully-stitched in flannel lining which gives an extra layer of warmth for cool days and the outermost shell is 100% cotton glombed on to some kind of waterproof but breatheable material. I found it too warm for spring but it's perfect for right now, and the sunny yellow color makes me - and other people - smile. I've received four (4!!!) complements on that jacket from complete strangers since I started wearing it this fall, off and on, over the past few weeks -- because it was threatening and sometimes even actually raining.  I also received a complement on the coat on a cool but sunny day, so I think it's the color during this time of year that is cheering people up.

Good Fashion Tip:  Wear colors that cheer you (and others) up!

Fortunately, I look good in the jacket.  I discovered two winters ago that L.L. Bean's Women's Petite XL fits just right on my current figure, although I can't wear belted looks (the belt loops are too high instead of being at my actual waist); otherwise, the sleeve length and width across the shoulders is right, the girth (for a generous mid-section) is right, and the length is right.

I tried to find a photo of the jacket but had no luck.  I will attempt to take a usable photo of the jacket, but not tonight, I've got shoes to shop for.  It has five large yellow buttons down the front, buttoned epulats at the cuffs, and a buttoned belt accent across the back.  It covers my butt and ends a few inches longer, and is cut loose, a sort of A-line look but not a swing coat.  It has a button-on hood that I took off.  I tried to and failed to be able to save a "gif" from the L.L. Bean website of a coat with a different style but a similar color :(

Learning How to Put an Outfit Together

Hola darlings!

Well, knock me over with a feather.  I had the very first evidence today from an independent source that people have noticed my Renaissance!  (Isis does not count, as she would never tell me that I look like crap even when I do).

Of course it came on the heels of my running down to the commisary around 3 p.m. to get one of those packs of two large-size Reese's Peanut Butter Cups!  LOL!  Oh Goddess, they sure did taste good.  Talk about exquisite irony :) 

During the course of a conversation about a check with one of our Trust Accounting people, it came out that she had noticed my reduced size.  So, it's working!  Well, I thought it was, but it's nice to have it confirmed. 
And still reducing.  I thought I was imagining it two days ago when I put on one of the recently purchased pair of slacks and it felt loose in the waistband.  This is another exquisite irony because it - and four other pair of the same that I purchased in other colors - have those "control" panels in the front that don't really do much but they are in the only plain-front (no pockets, and no pleats) slacks that I could find that I felt were reasonably priced.  Of course I purchased BLACK, HEATHER GREY, BROWN, DARK NAVY, and HEATHER TAUPE.  All in the same size and all the same cut/style.  They are by Briggs of New York and the "short" proportion which works really great for me because I don't have to hem! 

Anyway, I dismissed the slightly loose-fitting waistband on the navy slacks until I noticed the exact same thing today with the grey slacks.  As I have worn both pair before and not noticed this, I have deduced that a little more of my robust middle section has bit the dust!  Hooray!  The best part, of course, is that others are noticing :)

The new stuff I wore today:
St. John's Bay 3/4 tab sleeve cardigan sweater
in grey striped cotton knit.  Very soft!
Because it was cool today (in the low 50's this morning, high of 64), I wore a cotton long sleeve mock neck under the sweater.  Unfortunately, because I was running late I didn't have time to think out accessories; I would have liked to wear earrings, my cuff watch and another ring along with a couple of gold chains (I prefer gold to silver) but as I grabbed a necklace out of my "favorites" jewelry box (no time to hunt for the thin chains I wanted to layer) I realized I had left my watch and the ring I wanted downstairs the night before -- grabbed another ring, no time for earrings -- and then I ran down the stairs, threw a last handful of peanuts to the squirrels out on the deck, secured the patio door, threw on my jacket, grabbed my bag and was out the door, sans bangle watch and second ring.  Better planning is definitely in order!
Briggs of New York flat-front control-
panel slacks in Heather Grey




While I was glad to have the long sleeve mock neck underneath the sweater I was not keen on how it looked. I think the weight of the sweater (light) and the cut of its sleeves dictate that in the future I'll be wearing it with a sleeveless tank underneath. I had to do a lot of tugging to get the mock neck sleeves and the sweater's sleeves  adjusted to a comfortable position. It wasn't tight, but the cotton long-sleeve mock neck is definitely a heavy weight material - with no spandex so it does not "hug" one's body -  and the cotton knit is meant to fit close and caress one's skin - not long cotton sleeves.

The shoes I had to wear with this outfit were a FAIL.  I love my comfortable Dockers slides (no longer made, evidently), but the proportions I had on called for a higher heel - something over 1/2 of an inch which is what the slides are.  Also, they do not present the most flattering "profile" of my feet, which are not very pretty at the best of times!

I didn't used to care (much) about shoes, as long as they were cheap and functional.  Now I DO!  My hunt for fancy dress shoes for the St. Louis trip taught me in full the trials and tribulations of finding the perfect shoes.

All in all, I would give this look a PASS.  It's conservative but tres suitable for my office.  It will be improved with better accessorizing, some shoes that get my heels off the floor, and the slacks need to be tailored by taking them in from mid-thigh down to the ankles.  Wow. 

I am going to baste up some new seams on my new black slacks this weekend and see how they look, and if they work, I'll try to stich up some new seams on at least a few pair of my new slacks.  The waistband thing I'm going to ignore until they're all too big by at least a good inch! 

Round-up: I got the sweater on sale for $19.99 at J.C. Penney's online and the slacks at Boston Store in the Shoppes at Grand Avenue, downtown Milwaukee, WI, at an "exceptional value" price of $27.99.  The white cotton long sleeve mock neck (not shown) is already owned.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vogue's August, 2011 "100 Under $100..."

It's still up and running tonight - don't know about tomorrow.  I don't know when it will switch over to September (or if it does - was this a one-up event?  Don't know - I've only recently started visting Vogue online and I'm not familiar with its modus operandi).

Anyway, it's a really clever idea and I liked scrolling through it.  My eyes lighted upon this "color-block" look - a nice top I thought - I liked the colors, liked the lines, liked the blocking - except it's described as a dress!  For a midget maybe, yeah!


Honestly, darlings, does that look like a dress to you?  A Star Trek uniform for females from the 1960's television series, yeah - but definitely not a dress!


These are two interesting and wearable looks with no alterations needed!  I could not resist the chessboard patterning!  I love the colors and the overall outlines - I think this top and this skirt would be very femme friendly; for those of us who are a little more thick around the middle, a top just a few inches longer (resting at the top of the hips, I think) in a more generous flared cut, and with some ease under the arms, would do the trick:



I love this clutch!  It's so archaeological!  Topshop metal Silver Shanghai print box bag, $90



Why Do They Do This?

This dress has some possibilities for "commercial" production - minus the crap hanging down on the hem and adding some inches to the hemline.

The dress is - eh - but the look whoever gave to this model is grotesque.  Please, is it really necessary to ugly up a woman in order to make a "statement" on the runway?  And just what was the "statement," anyway?

My first thought upon looking at this image from Vogue.com was that the dress and look were created by a gay man designer who really really hates women, even if they are flat-chested with bad legs.  Come on, blue lips?  Is this some bizarre take-off on yesterday's "tribal" look?  Oh please. 

Turns out the designer is Mary Katranzou.  Is Mary a real she or a convert?  Guess it doesn't make much difference, either way, I think she hates women.  If she liked women and if she was comfortable herself with being a woman, she would never put a female model in such make-up and she would not turn out tramp-trash for the runway.

Photos of Some New Stuff!

Goddess, I've turned into a regular material girl :)
First, the items I purchased at my trip to Joann Fabric store on Saturday, 9/17/11.  My goal was to find one or two materials to use to make up vintage McCalls Easy stitch 'n save 9436 (women's jumper dress).  Oh, Robbie Burns was soooooo right when he wrote that the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray!

After hunting around through current patterns I just wasn't finding anything that was ringing my chimes; I'd decided to sew a jumper as my first (and hopefully not last) project since I figured it would be easy.  Well - that's another story...

Suffice to say, I turned to vintage patterns and found lots of possibilities, but hardly any available in the size that will fit my measurements.  I want to start with a way too big pattern and work it down rather than starting with a too small pattern and trying to work it up!  So - this is the pattern I settled on.

I had hoped to get a really nice red plaid for jumper #1, and possibly mix it up a little with red/black/white for jumper #2, but somehow things didn't work out.  I think I got overwhelmed by the selection - and not finding exactly what I had envisioned - and in the end I selected a sedate men's wear plaid in a light brown/camel blended color with a light blue thread running through it:


While I was roaming up and down the aisles eyeing all the cool stuff, I came across this material, and I fell in love with it:


This photo doesn't do it justice!  It's a very trendy snake-skin print in neutral tones with some gold  in it, black, tan, beige.  Semi-shiny and very pretty. 

I have a special project in mind for this material - I'm going to duplicate a "poncho" with "bat-wing sleeves" that I purchased from Macy's recently (as part of my new wardrobe, wooo wooo) in a black light-weight knit and fell in love with the fit and how the sleeves move and how comfy it is.  I think it was an Ana brand top - but don't quote me on that. 

Today I once again visited the mall downtown during my lunch hour and toured the women's clothing section at Boston Store.  I saw a few new items that I went "hmmmmmmm....." over but, all in all, nothing enough of a bargain to tempt me to part with more dollars.  I did see a sweater in a rust color that was very similar in design to the Ann Taylor "wedge v-neck" sweater I wrote about.  It was a lower price too, plus 40% off, but still not reduced enough...


Rainbow purchase #1 - a multi-colored
light-weight knight "poncho" style top.
As I was walking back through the Mall I passed the Rainbow store.  I've passed it many times but I only recently ventured into it about a month ago - I didn't buy anything but I left thinking that there were maybe some things there for me despite it's "urban hip" image.

Today I hit paydirt!  I went into the Rainbow store and came out about 15 minutes later with two sweaters for less than I would have paid for one sweater at Boston Store.  And I'm very happy with them!  They are so cute!

They're light-weight - they're meant for summer/fall wear, but I know I'll be wearing these into December over mock turtlenecks.

I took these photos this evening with the clothes hung upon a light colored door in my manse :)  It looks so tiny!  But it fits!  The colors of Rainbow sweater #1 are beautiful:  turquoise/light blue, rust, beige, a little brown - and an open airy weave that will show the top underneath.

Here's a close-up photo I tried, spread out on the dinette table.  Professional photo NOT.  The colors are almost irridescent, but there is no lurex in this top.  I'm going to wear this to work tomorrow, over a cream scoop neck tank top with my heather taupe slacks (purchases for the St. Louis trip).  The unseasonably cool temperatures we had last week have been replaced by seasonal temperatures and more humidity than we should be experiencing this time of year.  I can tell because my hair is frizzy!  It will be comfortable in the mid 70's forecast for tomorrow and will give me some coverage in the overly air-conditioned air in my office! 


Here is Rainbow sweater #2.  You know, I'd been looking for something in black and red ever since returning a knit top I'd purchased online at Macy's over a week ago.  I loved that top but it was just too small - it just was not flattering, even though it was an XL.  NOT!  This top's material is not the spandex blend knit that I'd purchased at Macy's, but it's colors and pattern are reminiscent of the top I sent back (I've done of a lot of that since shopping for clothes online for the St. Louis trip!):


This photo of the sweater isn't too flattering.  It's made out of a very stretchy light-weight weave/knit with a knitted band around the bottom, the arm cuffs and the neckline and will be perfect over a black, red, grey, or white cami, tank top or mock turtleneck!  I love this versatility.  It's a dolman short sleeve style so can be worn practically year around.  SCORE! 

I plan on wearing this top next week Monday with either a black tank or a black mock turtleneck and the black slacks I bought for the St. Louis trip -- geez, I bought a ton of clothes for that St. Louis trip!  More about that in another post.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sweaters at Ann Taylor

I was browsing a few days ago at Ann Taylor online and I fell in love with these sweaters - enough to email the links to myself.  Now, the question is, will I pay the price that Ann Taylor wants, or will I try and find something similiar for less?

First up:  2011 Ann Taylor's "Wedge V-Neck Top."  $88.  Ouch!

A cotton and merino wool blend, comes in three colors:  grey, black, and "hot cappucino" - a fancy name for a sort of camel/beige color. 

What I like about this sweater:  (1) the material blend; (2) the styling is lucious - it's got just the right amount of detailing (ribbing, dolman or bat-wing style sleeve, nicely defined neckline; (3) good length without being too long to look good with a skirt; and (4) in an appropriate body-skimming size, would be perfect over a turtleneck, mock turtleneck or round neck style long sleeve knit for those way below zero days in Milwaukee in the winter, or for a more adventurous (for me) look - a puffy sheer poet-style blouse with gigantic billowing sleeves and a bundle of froth, or even a big fat bow, at the neckline. 

Next up:  2011 Ann Taylor's "Shawl Collar Cardigan with Faux-Leather Buckle."  $98.  More Ouch! 

Okay - I've no idea how that little "squiggle" got there, but it may have something do to with how I copied the photo.  Just ignore it - it really is not a foreign language clue to anything...

This sweater is 10% Alpaca, 30% wool, and 60% acrylic.  It just looks like a HUG wrapping around one, I LOVE this look.  The question, of course, is - what would it look like hugged around me?  LOL!

It would certainly be warm for those cold Milwaukee winters, and look great over just about any color turtleneck, mock turtleneck, henley, or round-collared long sleeve blouse. 

Did I mention these were 40% off (at the time I found them online, September 16, 2011)?  But even at 40% off, I found the reduced prices too steep for my frugal ways.  Well, I've got to save up some money for the Madrid trip in January!

I Bought a Sweater Dress!

Wouldn't you know it - I thought it would be a cinch to find an exact photo of the sweater dress I purchased last week Friday at Boston Store in downtown Milwaukee (it's BonTon owned).  But no such luck!
I did find this style of sweater dress that is like it (see photo, right) - but my sweater dress is a charcoal grey color and has a cableknit design worked all the way down the front (plain back).  It is not a marled knit.  It has two small pockets (bottom of pockets about six inches from the hem, so placed lower than on this dress) with two buttons trimming each (this dress has only one buttom trimming each pocket), a round banded neckline and cap sleeves.  So this Notations sweater dress (the brand I purchased), is similar to the pictured, but not exactly alike.  And, darlings, I am probably 1.5 times as large as the model wearing the dress in the photo.  But the length of the sweater dress I tried on is about the same on me as on this model. 
[Inserted on Tuesday, September 20, 2011:  I took a photograph this evening of the charcoal grey jumper!  Yeah, two models in the dress above could fit into this one dress - oh well :)  Itr's not as clear as I'd like but you can sort of see the cableknit pattern worked all the way down (and across) the front, and the location of those loooowwwww pockets with two button-trim.  I know it doesn't look like much on the hanger but it did look very cute when I put it on - honest!]

It was on a sale rack and it caught my eye immediately because it was a color I like and it looked like it might actually fit and be a length I'd feel comfortable wearing.  Most sweater dresses are cut like tunics, meant to be worn over leggings or jeggings.  I'm into neither of those looks and they are certainly not something that would pass muster in the law firm at which I work!  A modestly above the knee length sweater dress with black tights (not leggings or jeggings) and maximum 2 inch heeled black pumps, or perhaps low-heeled just to the knee black boots, yes.  Mid-thigh high (or higher) length tunic pretending to be a dress, stilletos, or thigh-high boots with 4 inch heels, well there are a few who work here who might wear the look but it's not exactly what I'd call professional.  But that's me, darlings.  I'm conservative when it comes to dressing.

Anyway, I grabbed an XL (the only one on the rack) and also grabbed an XL grey block-print cowl neck with a big, fat belt on it (I do not DO belts, darlings, but I figured if the dress fit the belt could be deep-sixed), and headed for the dressing room.

I had on a turtle neck and tried the grey sweater dress on over it, because I would wear it over a turtleneck (a red or perhaps a harlequin print, if I can find one), with black tights and low-heeled black pumps. 

I did not expect the dress to fit but fit it did, and quite nicely.  It was large enough to skim over the parts I don't want to emphasize and, better yet, it was just damn cute on me.  The proportions were perfect!  I couldn't believe it.  SOLD! 

Feeling encouraged, I tried on the cowl neck block print sweater dress, but the cut was different and it was just a tad too tight for my comfort, and several inches shorter.  I was not comfortable in it, and I reluctantly decided against it because I WANT a cowl neck sweater dress.  It is one of the items in my "Wish File" of clippings from fashion magazines that I've started during the past few months.  Oh well.  I will keep looking!

Jan in a sweater dress.  Never in a million years would I have thought it was possible.  I never ever owned one, not even when I was in my 20's and 117 pounds! 

Best news yet, the sweater dress was on sale.  My sales price was $38.40 before sales tax.   Grand total:  $40.55.  Savings over original cost:  $25.60.   LOVE IT!  Thank you, Boston Store :)

Cleaning Out the Closet

I built this house and moved into it in August, 1990.  So, that's 21 years and counting I've had stuff hanging in the master bedroom closet!

Without fail, 3-4 times a year I receive calls from Purple Heart, Goodwill, Vietnam Veterans, Charities for the Blind, and others, all asking for donations that they will conveniently pick up if left out on the front porch.  I have obliged every year, for 21 years, always cleaning stuff out of the master closet - and the bureau and long dresser.

So why is it I am still coming across clothes out of that closet (and even in the dressers which I thought I had picked clean!) that I haven't worn in years and never will wear again - even if I could get into them!

Ridiculous!  Where have they all come from?  EEK!  And, yesterday, I added to the latest pile of clothes.  And, I got very very brave.

Yes, I actually tried on clothes I have not attempted to get into since 2002 (and a few from 2004), when I first bought them!  The shock of my life was that - some of them FIT! 

Unfortunately, in the discard pile are five beautiful and fully lined straight skirts (now they're called pencil skirts) -- two spring/fall/autumn weight; three woolen blends for winter.  They are all very long, the shortest one (a classic grey woolen flannel) was mid-calf length, the rest were nearly down to my ankles!  Holy Goddess!  Did I actually wear my skirts THAT long?  Oh my!  I would still wear those skirts today, although quite shortened to probably a few inches below knee length, but I can't get them closed around my waistline.  Sigh.

It hurt to put those barely-worn skirts into the donate pile, but after analyzing the structure of the skirts I don't think there's a chance in Hell that I can get them altered to fit me.  HOWEVER, I am going to take them to Miss Diane at P'Dia Custom Couture anyway to see what she has to say on the matter.  Who knows - maybe she can pull off some miracles!

I had more success with two spring/summer light weight A-line style floral prints from Sag Harbor.  They fit perfectly - not even a pinch tight!  But they are VERY long and need to be hemmed up at least 10-12 inches!  Again, that nearly down to the ankles look.  What was I thinking when I bought them?  I remember, I purchased them in 2004.  Ohmygoddess, was I really that damn frumpy?

One of my very favorite skirts, purchased in 2002, is an autumnal toned "circle" skirt - a beautiful tapestry look paisley in gold/orange/brown/red/olive green.  It also fit without pinching or straining of zipper!  This swirling cut on the bias skirt is nearly to the ankles and needs to be shortened, but would look fabulous with boots!  BOOTS!  I've never work boots that weren't for the purpose of mushing through snow or below zero weather in my life!  What am I thinking???  Me wearing boots to the office for FASHION? 

Am I going insane?  Where can I find boots that are (1) comfortable (2) cut in triple WWW (3) comfortable (4) affordable (5) comfortable (6) big enough to fit around my calves and (7) comfortable?

And no, just in case you were wondering, I wasn't wearing Spanx underneath - it was my natural body with just undies on and bare skin elsewhere!  All three skirts are on an "hem/alter" rack for further action.

The two light-weight A-line skirts and the circle skirt will go to Miss Diane at P'Dia for hemming - because so much material has to be removed she's going to have to pin them around while I'm wearing them, I don't see any other way to get an even hem.  It's not just a matter of taking them up by a few inches.  A good foot will be removed from the length of each skirt.
Also put on the side are two lined woolen blend A-line skirts that are tight around the waist, but I managed to get them closed - pinchy pinchy!  They have fitted waist bands (the other three skirts mentioned above have some elastic in the back of their waistbands that probably accounts for the fact that they fit comfortably).  However, because of their length I think some kind of alteration can be done by moving the waist area "down" the skirt to a wider area that fits comfortably around my current waistline, while still maintaining a length with which I will be comfortable. 

I don't know what possessed me to try those skirts on after so many years!  Or why I've ignored them hanging there taking up space for so many years -- well, that's probably because I couldn't bear to part with them after having worn them so infrequently and having paid so much for them back then.  You know the drill "someday I may fit into them again."

Well, this time, it happened to be true for at least some of those skirts!  OHMYGODDESS.  Some of them actually fit.  I wouldn't have thunk it in a million years.  The other skirts, well, we'll see what Miss Diane has to say. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Is this when it started???

The trip to St. Louis for chessly things was set for September 8 - 12, 2011.  Through the auspices of a  travel agent booked by the Chess Collectors International, we got an excellent rate on a one bedroom suite (a queen size pull-out bed in the living room area), and Georgia, a Goddesschess principal and friend for the past twelve years, who would be meeting me in St. Louis and would be sharing the suite, and I, were off and running planning our respective wardrobes several weeks in advance.

I had absolutely nothing appropriate to wear to a fancy cocktail party/dinner, and I'd been trudging along in my regular boring office clothes for the past x years - they were so old, I only vaguely remember that I may have purchased most of them seven or eight years ago! 

I was in desperate straits!  I embarked upon a massive hunt for suitable clothing to take to St. Louis and also to update my boring old look, which I had only recently come to realize actually was quite old and quite boring.  Blech!  Was it the trip to St. Louis that turned the trick?  Or was it turning 60 years old that triggered something - maybe some of that famous Newton rebelliousness lurking in my French Canadian genes?  Is this all just about not going "softly into that good night; rage, rage against the dying of the light..."?  Damn!

August 17, 2011:

I am pretty sure my story is typical of what a woman my age and with certain - shall we say, figure flaws - goes through in order to find a decent fitting, well-designed dress these days. A dress that is not for a granny; a dress that is not for a size 0 perpetual 17 year old; a dress that has no fricking spandex in it!

Who is designing clothes for women these days? Whoever they are, they all seem to think that it is "fashion" to just upsize the junk they sell to 20 years olds for women who are in their 50's and 60's and 50 plus pounds heavier. Oh please!

After having tried to locate a suitable dress locally and failing, I resorted to the desperate move of ordering clothes online. I hate doing this because (1) it takes so long (2) return issues (3) you can't tell what a dress really looks like online (4) sizing issues (5) quality issues (cut, feel of material, drape). But not only did I wade in to ordering clothing online, I ordered SEVEN dresses from four different sources! I read a blog post at a fashion site that said I should order a ton of clothes and try them all on and send back anything that isn't exactly what I want style, quality and fit wise. How exhausting!

Today the dresses from Zappo's arrived. I love Zappo's because they have a great (gigantic!) selection and a great return policy and free shipping to and from, or in this case, from and to because, unfortunately, I will be returning both dresses I ordered.

This dress is by Karen Kane: V-Neck Flower Trim Dress, SKU# 7846612
I really liked the style of this dress and the "flower" ruching around the neckline was lovely and added a greal deal to an otherwise simple dress. Unfortunately, it doesn't really show up in the photo. There was just a bit of gathering from the empire waist seam underneath the busline so this dress was a bit less clingy than the second one I tried on. I was also happy with the sleeve length - about elbow length. The issues that turned this into a "no buy:" material too clingy for my taste - showed too many figure flaws! Clothing is supposed to disguise certain things, not accentuate them. I don't go around accentuating my flaws, I try to accentuate what positives I have and neutralize the rest! The neckline was cut too low, the dress was heavy too. The skirt was too short - I am looking for something that falls just below the knee (good luck, Jan!) It also took a lot of tugging and pulling to get the dress positioned correctly once I got it on over my head (no zipper). Because of the heaviness of the material, this dress would probably give me heat stroke in a high humidity climate like St. Louis is apt to be in early September.

Tommy Bahama: Tambour Double Layer Dress, SKU# 7826125 I ordered this dress on the basis of the photo because it looked like it had a more generous cut through the middle and would skim over a problematic area, but it turned out to be a worse fit than the Karen Kane dress. I liked the long sleeves. That was the only thing I liked. The neckline was way too low, the dress was too short, and it didn't skim - it clung! It was also heavier than the Karen Kane dress.

While the cut of the Karen Kane dress showed some promise on my figure, the Tommy Bahama dress did not. This heavy dress that also had to be tugged relentlessly into place would suffocate me within five minutes of donning it in St. Louis' heat and humidity. It is a dress that would look great on someone 4 inches taller and 30 pounds lighter than yours truly.

So, I'm waiting for the next shipment - this one will be from Macy's. Now that I know I can't wear anything with spandex in it, one of the Macy's dresses probably will be disappointing, but I have some hope for the second dress because it is only polyester, no spandex. Those dresses ship tomorrow.

August 23, 2011:

Success!!! I Have Found A Black Dress!

Patra tiered dress with flutter sleeves
Hola, darlings! It's certainly not a "little" black dress, ahem (the winning dress: right). But it does fit, covers various figure flaws pretty well, and did not look too horrible (although I look nothing like the model). It's probably 4 inches too long, so I'm going to take it to the tailor tomorrow and see if she thinks it can be hemmed without ruining the line. Ideally, I would like it to hit at the bottom of the knee. It's also a tad low cut for my taste (much lower cut on me than on the model), but what the hell, these days my boobs are about the only assets I have, aside from my "fine eyes." LOL! A drawback to the wide open and deep neckline is my farmer's tan issue! No way to resolve it although I will desperately try self-tanning stuff to try and even out the color differential somewhat. I'm going to have a two-toned v-neckline and bosom. A zebra in a black ruffled dress.

This is one of two dresses I'd ordered from Macy's online, and this was one of two dresses that I ordered in a "W" size (for plus size woman - please, no jokes!) The second Macy's dress (not a "W" size) is gorgeous and it fit me which, in and of itself, was a major shock, but the sleeves were too short and being part spandex, hugged in just the wrong spots too much on my awful upper arms; and while the dress looked fabulous straight on in my full-length mirror, when I turned to the side and looked at my profile - it was definitely a FAIL. So, the second dress is going back. Unfortunately, I also received someone else's order in my box! Eek! The unwanted dress and the un-ordered blouse (? -- not sure if it is a blouse, a tunic, or a very short and thin dress) are going back to Macy's tomorrow.

Mind you, darlings, the boxes that were waiting for me this evening (from Macy's and Kyonna via Catherine's online) contained the last three of seven dresses I'd ordered online. After having sent back the first four dresses as EPIC FAILS and while waiting for the final three dresses to arrive (figuring that none of them would fit or be flattering, or both, either), I decided to go the "separates" route and thus an additional shopping expedition ensued! I made my purchases, including a pencil skirt that fit but was far too long (hit my legs in exactly the wrong spot) -- and so I had my wardrobe for the St. Louis trip all planned. And then tonight I tried on the Macy's dresses and - well, I changed my mind. I decided to keep the Patra dress and take back the pencil skirt. If I were being thrifty and wise, I'd keep the pencil skirt, pay for some tailoring, and send the much more expensive Patra dress back. Oh well...

So - I must go back to Southridge Mall tomorrow night after work to return the pencil skirt.

About dress seven -- The lace overlay dress I'd ordered from Catherine's (actually Kyonna brand) was gorgeous! It looked even better in person than the photographs online. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a size 0X (a Women's size), I didn't even bother to try on because it looks like a size 10. I mean - really? The label on the dress said size 0 and it's a lie. Did they send me a 0 instead of a 0X (for those unintiated, 0X is between 16 and 1X, which is where my measurements place me, GASP!)

NOW comes the hunt for the final parts of a lady's outfit: perfect shoes and accessories! I've already got my Saturday shopping expedition for shoes planned. I scouted out shoes online and, amazingly, there is a shoe store near where I live and can easily get to that stocks the W and/or WW (width) that I need - and in fashionable styles! GASP! I wasn't kidding about teetering around in 3 inch heels. That's nothing these days, when your 20-somethings teeter around in 5 inch plus heels with platforms. Ohmygoddess, those are some damn ugly shoes. The highest heel I ever wore was a 4 inch spike and no platform! That was in 1983, my second year in law school. I had a 23" waist and nice legs back then. My life could have taken a whole 'nother turn because of those heels...

But that's not a story I'll write here :)

August 26, 2011:

TWO: The quest for the not-so-little black dress. Darlings, I am beginning to think that my brain has somehow been permanently altered, and it's rather frightening! I can't seem to get black dresses out of mind, for one thing, and now I'm on a quest for the perfect yet comfortable dress shoe to go with the perfect not-so-little black dress! What's more, I am fixated on the constant discount coupons I am now being slathered with from the online retailers I ordered merchandise from recently. OHMYGODDESS! Will it never end? Hellllllllppppppp........

You know, it never occurred to me before, but Hellllllllppppppp........ is actually a contraction for the words HELL (echo, echo, echo, echo, echooooo.....) and GULP!

Should I be grateful for this re-awakened fashion frenzy? Hmmmm.... I actually ordered VOGUE. Yes, I know, darlings. Incredible. A two years for the price of one special. I couldn't pass up such a good deal :)

Anyway, as you know, I found this most incredible couture designer who also does alterations and tailoring - Ms. Diane Wilson of P'dia in downtown Milwaukee. So I owe my quest for the perfect not-so-little black dress to meeting this incredible lady. 
"Maka" by Annie
As for those damn shoes - not so easy! I do not, really, want to go shopping yet again tomorrow. I'm tired! So, tonight after work I dashed over to Rogan's Shoes near where I live because I found them online and I thought they would have all of these fabulous shoes in stock! EPIC FAIL. They have a huge store and it's all odds and ends! I didn't spend 10 minutes looking before I knew it was a bust, and the 14 year old clerks were not an encouraging sign. Soooo, I went back to Zappo's and ordered two pairs of shoes, crossing my fingers that they will arrive and at least one pair will fit and I'll be able to walk in them and stand for more than 15 minutes! "Maka" is one of the styles I chose. The other pair is - well, it just looks like granny.

But I expect that since rain is forecast for tomorrow, I'll be going shopping - again. Sigh.
. . .

From the Weird World News of Alejandro Rojas
New Mexico Cop Says Military Responsible for Cattle Mutilations
Posted: 8/22/11 02:03 PM ET


Wait a second. What the hell is that? I thought we were supposed to be writing about cattle mutilations - oh no! It - it's - oh no! It's the granny shoe that Jan ordered EEEK EEEEEEKKKKK EEEEEEKKKKKKKK EEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKK - WHERE'S THAT KNIFE, QUICK! 

I can't believe I'm doing this...

But I AM! 

A conglomeration (is that a word?) of events coalesced to trigger some sort of post-menopausal hormonal overload and a paradigm shift - and here I am, starting a new blog.  I don't have time to do the original blog for Goddesschess, let alone all the other things I am supposed to be doing and/or taking care of on a daily basis.  Oh well!  As the titty said to the kitty, life is tough, kiddy.  LOL! 

The actual quote is, I believe, something like "Tough titty, said the Kitty, the milk tastes shitty."  I like paraphrasing where appropriate...

The Events That Conspired To Send Me Over The Edge...

(1)  Deciding to go to St. Louis for Goddesschess to attend various chessly events!
(2)  Finding Ari Seth Cohen's fabulous blog, Advanced Style, which features mostly (but not exclusively), older New Yorker natives dressed to the nines and loving every minute of their lives!
(3)  The coming and passing of my 60th birthday on August 19th.

So, perhaps two months ago (more?) - I went on the hunt for suitable clothes to wear to the St. Louis functions. I needed chic but casual, I needed a black dress and fancy shoes for the Saturday evening dinner of the Chess Collectors International that I would be attending, I needed a comfortable travel outfit, and I need to fit it all into one bag, which I would check. Suffice to say St. Louis sent me on a shopping frenzy, and that is how I found Advanced Style and also happened to get re-acquainted with Vogue magazine and all sort sof other things, while doing frantic searches for "clothes for older women." LOL! I will start copying those posts from the Goddesschess blog to here. They are closely akin to the subjects of the Goddesschess blog, but on the other hand, they are intimately intertwined with the entire Weave of Goddesschess, so I will leave them in place there.

Along the way I have found websites and blogs that I had no idea existed until I needed them - true inspirations!

So - I'm doing this entirely new blog for myself, and only for myself.  It's not for Goddesschess, it's not for our chessly group; it's all just for me. 

Am I getting selfish in my middle age?