Archive of ‘Advice’ category

Style Challenge: The Upper Arm Dilemma

upper arm dilemma | Two Take on Style

upper arm dilemma | Two Take on Style

Ugh, it is really summer now and I’m on the east coast.  So there is no way to avoid the upper arm dilemma.  You know what I mean – the wiggly underside of the upper arm and its companion creepy, crepey arm wrinkles.  We all know that, at a certain point, it doesn’t matter how many arm exercises we do, our older upper arms will betray us.  There is a plastic surgery procedure to trim off the wiggly underside, but NOTHING will hold back the wrinkles.

So, while everyone else – i.e. the young – is wearing sleeveless tops and dresses in the hot weather, those of us with the upper arm dilemma have to scrutinize our appearance even in short sleeved tees.

What are we to do?

  • Embrace the elbow length sleeve – look for light gauzy tops with loose, flowy elbow length sleeves, for example, or elbow length tee shirts.
  • Throw a light jacket or scarf (kimonos are great!) over bare arms and shoulders whenever you can.
  • Draw the eye away from your upper arms  – wear lots of jewelry, a snazzy belt, fabulous shoes or a low-cut top.
  • Be grateful for our overly-effective air conditioning because it means that a light sweater or jacket is almost mandatory when we’re indoors.
  • Suffer this indignity through the worst of the hot weather and celebrate when fall comes around and we can wear long sleeves again.

Check out the tops selected below.  All are examples of chic tops we can wear during the hot summer months and avoid exposing our upper arms.

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Wearing a Weekend Wardrobe for Six Weeks

packing

packing

Remember that great post on packing a wardrobe for six weeks?  Well, dear readers, I’ve lost the opportunity to take advantage of my own advice!  Because I’m now 2500 miles from my closet, laid up recovering from my fall, and, instead, stuck with a weekend wardrobe for six weeks. Talk about a fashionista disaster, right?

Let’s look at the positives:

  • My weekend wardrobe is made up of cute items
  • There will be less to wash and manage
  • Moving from place to place will be simpler
  • For a lot of the next six weeks, I’ll be wearing

Here’s what I’ve got:

OK, now DON’T judge me just because I take a lot of clothes with me for one weekend.  If it were winter, I’d have fewer items, but it is so easy to pack more in warmer weather.  But really, it is not a bad collection to mix and match for six weeks, is it?  The crisp white shirt has to be professionally laundered and ironed to look good for more than one wearing and I should have included either more workout pants or sloppy pull-on pants for the work ahead – helping to take care of a first-time mother and newborn and packing – but I can borrow stuff from my daughter for this.  Oh.. and I don’t have a light raincoat!

But I know I can do this and it will be an interesting challenge for someone accustomed to a lot of wardrobe variety. And if I get really out of sorts, I can always order something darling and on sale and have it sent to me here!  By the way, here is a compilation of tips for efficient packing for your next trip.

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Reselling Your Clothes Online

poshmark | Two Take on Style

We’ve all dealt with the issue of getting rid of clothes we no longer wear or like.  Whether we’re trying to find more room in our closets, changing climates or ending careers, there is always a time when we are trying to figure out what to do with lightly-used clothes.

Back in the 20th century, I’ll tell you, there weren’t a lot of good options: haul old stuff to Goodwill or the equivalent and get a receipt for your taxes, give a few things to friends, or go to a brick and mortar consignment shop and cringe while the salesperson picked disdainfully through your items.  Or you could, as many people I know did, just carry the old clothes around for weeks in the trunk of your car!

But paring down your closet in today’s world is a very different experience.  Sure you can still drag your old stuff to Goodwill or a consignment operation down the street, but the real action has moved online.  Most of us have listed and sold something on eBay, but, let’s face it, that’s a crap shoot and rarely satisfying when it comes to clothes… and it’s so “nineties.” Today there are a number of websites making it easy to get rid of your old stuff and make some money.

poshmark | Two Take on Style

Poshmark

Kate and I have both used Poshmark.  It is easy peasy.  Download their app (yes, most things are managed through the app) and then take pics with your phone of the clothes, shoes and accessories you want to sell. The better the pics, the quicker your items will sell.  Upload your pics and descriptions following Poshmark’s easy directions and away you go.  Poshmark and its users also facilitate selling by holding thrice-daily “parties” where you can list appropriate items and having special shipping deals if you drop your price. Shoppers can make you offers and leave comments to ask questions. Once your items sell, you collect 80% (for sales over $15) to be spent on the Poshmark site or sent to you via direct deposit. If you want to try it, use code JBTYC to get $10 off your first order!

Check out Jeanne’s closet and Kate’s closet on Poshmark.

Tradesy | Two Take on Style

Tradesy

I asked Kate to tell us about Tradesy since she’s been using it for a while:

Tradesy is really quite similar to Poshmark. Sign up on their website, upload photos of the items you want to sell and the Poshmark folks will actually clean up your photos for you! Tradesy isn’t as buyer friendly (Poshmark does much more with the parties, shipping deals, etc), but I’ve still sold quite a few things on there. Tradesy also seems to be more of a destination for high-end items, so you may have more luck posting designer clothes and accessories. If you’re like me and super ambitious about selling your used clothes, you can post on both Poshmark AND Tradesy!

If you want to try it, use this link to get $20 off your first purchase of $50 or more.

Check out Kate’s closet on Tradesy.

ThredUp | Two Take on Style

ThredUp

Suppose you’ve had items listed on Tradesy and Poshmark for months and they aren’t selling and the pile of old clothes is beginning to bug you.  OR you just don’t want to bother with the whole thing. Now you can turn to Thredup.  Register on their site and ask them to send you a Clean Out Bag.  Throw in your old clothes and ship them off.  The ThredUp people will go through your stuff, determine what is salable (usually 40% or less) and list those items on their website for sale.  The rejected items are donated by ThredUp and off your plate.  All in all, a pretty easy way to sell your clothes and feel good about helping others who have less than you do.

Use this link to get $10 to spend on ThredUp.

If you haven’t tried one of these services, check them out!  Then you can happily join Marie Kondo’s world and keep only those items that spark joy.

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Zara Sale Shopping for Women of a Certain Age

check jumpsuit - Zara

Zara is having their big post-holiday sale. Now I know that for many of us of a certain age the idea of picking up sale items on Zara or any other uber-trendy sites is hard to envision.  The information on each item is sketchy – I don’t know what size to wear – this stuff is simply too avant garde and young for me.

My advice is don’t pass these sales by!  A sale allows you to try different sizes and determine what really does fit.  It takes some trial and error but it’s worth it in the long run.  I like to use sales to take a chance on a shape I would never try otherwise (I’ll show you a few in just a minute.)  For me, perusing the sales at Saks, Neiman Marcus, and Nordstrom is pretty boring.  The prices are good, yes, but all that’s left are pretty traditional garb in black and beige.

Let me show some examples and give you ideas for shopping Zara (and, by extension, other similar sites.

Experiment with the unconventional – These jumpsuits are perfect examples of that.  I’m down with the checked one.  I know it would require some kind of belting and probably a top underneath, but if I don’t try this now, when will I try it?  The other jumpsuit is very pretty – possibly perfect for spring and it appears to have a forgiving shape.

check jumpsuit - Zara loose-fit jumpsuit - Zara

Fresh, new tops are always good – and often more forgiving in size and shape.  I’ve picked a few kinds of tops here – a little lace top in a blindingly wonderful yellow and two long shirts that could be VERY versatile.  Think of the latter under a long cardigan sweater or with breezy wide-legged pants in spring/fall.

lace top - Zara long printed shirt - Zara printed shirt dress - Zara

Pick up generation-defying accessories – OK, so I might want to try a little knit hat with ears!  But in general Zara and other sites have a great selection of accessories (so many blanket scarves).  I’ve just picked a few that I like.  You should take a look!

knit hat with ears - Zarajacquard scarf - Zara shiny court shoes - Zara city bag - Zara

And below are a few others I could envision women of a certain age trying out.  Step out of your comfort zone and give one a try!

long straight skirtflared trouserspatchwork dresshigh neck waistcoatextra long cardiganlong tube dresstwo tone ribbed sweaterpolka dot trousers

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How to Put Together a Holiday Outfit from your Closet

holiday dressing | Two Take on Style

holiday dressing | Two Take on Style

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Maybe it is because I don’t get invited to lots of fancy parties in the holiday season, but I’ve never understood the extensive marketing chatter about sequins and glittery apparel at this time of the year.  I mean, life has gotten more casual and less dressy, hasn’t it?  What is the point of buying a sequin dress or a shiny top to wear just once a year?  Sure, some of us made an investment in one of these fancy items and we’ve worn them year after year, but that is the exception, isn’t it?

So how do we make festive holiday outfits without investing in new, sparkly apparel?  I have a few ideas.

  • Start with your best black pants. You can never go wrong with classic black on the bottom – you could even use a $15 tulle skirt or a pair of joggers.  Add your favorite top – no, not your comfy flannel shirt – but a classic white shirt or a silk top you love.  You can even use a pretty sweater.  Consider wearing a cardigan backwards!
  • Now turn to your accessories.  We all have some rhinestones, sparkly statement necklaces and chandelier earrings – even costume jewelry brooches!  Now turn to the mirror – using pictures from magazines or your favorite bloggers – and think how to use your jewelry creatively.  Double or triple up those statement necklaces.  Pin multiple brooches on your right shoulder.  Twist your favorite sparkly necklace around a head band and create a fancy hair adornment.  Pin sparkly clip-on earrings to the top of your plain black pumps.
  • At this point, you got the basics under control.  Now consider the rest:  shoes, outerwear and your handbag.  I recommend simple black pumps or black sandal heels from summer, but don’t be afraid to try your brightest dressy footwear – animal print, metallic, even a brightly colored suede pump.
  • Outerwear can be almost any kind of shawl or light jacket assuming you have someone to drop you at the door where your holiday party is being held.  Nothing dressy enough in your closet?  Run out to Joann’s Fabrics and buy a few yards of netting in a jewel tone and throw it around your shoulders!
  • Dig through your clutches and find a brightly colored one you can use.  Put one of your brooches on the outside.  You don’t have the right bag?  Check with your friends – trust us, SOMEBODY has a sparkly bag!

You may be thinking that, by now, you’ll look way overdressed or over-accessorized.   We’re sure you’ll have the good judgement to know when you look party-ready.  The bottom line is to use what you already have combined with your imagination.  You’ll be amazed by the final result.  And don’t forget that this same approach can be taken with other items you already have.  Take that black blazer hanging in your closet – did you ever consider wearing it out at night without a shirt or blouse underneath?  Just sayin’.

If you DO need to add some great basics to your wardrobe, here are some great options:

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Linking up with What I Wore, What I Wore to Work, Fashion Friday, #iwillwearwhatilike, Visible Monday, Sophisticated Style.

Jeanne’s Holiday Gifties

Jeanne's holiday gifties | Two Take on Style

Jeanne's holiday gifties | Two Take on Style

My dream for holiday shopping would be to buy accessory-related one size fits all gifts in the $50 range for a group of friends and family who care about fashion like I do.  Of course, this is not the point or the spirit of the holidays, but I can still have the fantasy, can’t I?

The rationale behind my dream:  there are SO MANY fabulous items on sale this holiday season and I simply cannot buy them all for myself.  Let me show you a couple of examples.

A sumptuous item that goes around one’s neck especially on sale scarves and faux fur pieces…just a few of my favorites:

Delightful tied under a coat or pinned around the collar of a sweater or sweater coat – and 40% off!

100% wool and ideal for gift giving!

An item of jewelry that doesn’t require sizing – like a necklace or bracelet:

Works for people who wear gold or silver

Who wouldn’t love this with a white tee and distressed boyfriend jeans???

An accessory that may not be thrilling in the moment but anyone would come to love – like these:

And BTW if push comes to shove, turn to the MOMA Design Store!  I’ll close out with a few one of a kind items from MOMA.

Happy shopping!

85997_A2_Dual_Bubble_Earrings

Dual Bubble Earrings $55 99511_A2_Mesh_Bowl

Mesh Bowl $38 107889_A2_Coin_Bank_Cat

Cat in Box Bank $38 113126_D2_Reversible_Ostrich_Travel_PillowReversible Ostrich Travel Pillow $40

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Finding the Perfect Neutral Handbag

neutral handbags | Two Take on Style

neutral handbags | Two Take on Style1 / 2

Well, first of all, this is NOT my challenge (c’mon people, I switch my handbag almost every day!).  But someone I know asked about this the other day and it got me thinking:  what constitutes the perfect neutral handbag?  I have a few ideas:

  1.  First of all, there isn’t a single perfect bag of any kind.  Each of us has our own needs and desires based on how we live, how we dress, and what we carry around. For example, whatever I buy has to have handles I can fit over my shoulder but I also want crossbody features – and that’s only one characteristic I seek.  So the first step in picking a bag is knowing YOUR non-negotiable requirements.
  2. Probably the most universal neutral hues are black, brown, gray and beige.  But remember that other unconventional neutrals are out there.  First, leopard or animal print can act as a great, chic universal choice, as can a multicolored snakeskin print or even faux fur.  Don’t forget about a tweedy wool-like fabric or a bag that combines two neutrals – black and brown or black and gray, for example.
  3. Don’t confuse the word neutral with the word bland.  Always look for a bag you can fall in love with, not just the most practical one.  BTW, backpacks are a great and versatile solution these days: practical as all get out, but as easily slung over the shoulder as strapped to the back, and available in some very cute fabrications.
  4. Don’t forget to include eBay, Poshmark and The RealReal in your search. Pre-owned luxury bags sold by women who used them a few times – what’s not to love?

Hope these ideas helped.  See if you like any of the options we’ve collected below!

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How to Work Around Too Short Skirts

short skirts

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I don’t want to wear skirts above my knees anymore.  Well, MAYBE in some alternate universe where I had a wonderful plaid kilt and I was wearing opaque hose and a turtleneck, all in black.   Oh wait, that alternate universe was my twenties!  Too short skirts and dresses just don’t fit the sophisticated look I’m after these days.

All well and good, but it is not that simple.  Many of my go-to brands are churning out dresses this season that are SO darling…but just about three inches too short for me.  Well, I’ve decided that I won’t miss out on these cute pieces if I can help it.  I have some ideas here, and if you share my dilemma, these might help you too.

  • Many clothing lines – Ann Taylor, J. Crew and Banana Republic to name a few – are making their popular items in petite, regular, and tall.  So I’ll be ordering dresses and skirts in the tall sizes whenever I can.  Just a caution:  this may not work with a dresses that has a defined waist – like a shirt dress for example.  And you may need to shorten longer sleeves, but for shifts and straighter cuts, it could work.
  • Pay attention to the length of dresses or skirts if you order online.  The item may LOOK too short on the website, but the model wearing it is probably at least 5’10”.
  • Also always check the hem allowance when you find a too short item that you love. A good tailor can extend the length and use every inch of the hem allowance by sewing on a hem extension out of another fabric.
  • Finally, size up as a last resort.  You will gain another inch or so of length because of the size difference and because the skirt or dress hangs more loosely on your frame.

Check out the selection below to see some dresses and skirts SO cute that I would try out all of these ideas before I gave up!

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The Great Wardrobe Switcheroo

closetMost of us are in the midst of putting away our heavy winter clothes and pulling out the summer wardrobe, right?  It is always exciting to hit that point in the year – especially if we’ve been doing a little spring/summer shopping in advance.  But at the same time, it is a big CHORE to make the switch – stuffing heavy clothes into garment bags (or under-the-bed storage) and pulling out wrinkled summer items.  We have just a few tips for making the switch as painless as possible:

  • First, just because we are sick of winter clothes doesn’t mean we should neglect them.  You should make sure they are washed or dry cleaned before they are put away (you’ll be grateful when you pull them out in October!). This is particularly important for those coats you wore every day this winter.
  • Also make sure you store clothes in closed containers and use those cedar balls to keep them safe from moths!
  • If you have any items from your winter wardrobe that you realize you never wore… now is the time to clear them out! Try selling them online (Tradesy and Poshmark are two really great options) or in a consignment store, give them to a friend or donate them to Goodwill.

Onto the spring clothes:

  • Rule #1:  If you are pulling out items you never wore all of last year, it is time to do one of several things: 1) Take them to Goodwill or consign or sell them (see last item above!) or 2) Alter them so that you WILL wear them.
  • Rule #2:  As you pull clothes out, check for rips, missing buttons, undone hems (for shoes, check whether heels need replacing or shoes need polishing).  Fix those yourself or take them to an alterations person NOW so you can enjoy them the whole season.
  • Rule #3:  Consider whether any of last year’s apparel can be repurposed to be more stylish this year.  Wide pants could become culottes, maxi skirts can become midi skirts, short sleeves can become cap sleeves, etc.  If you think so, see your friendly tailor or get out that sewing machine.

Have fun making your transition from winter to summer clothes!

Are you switching out your wardrobe? How do you tackle this chore?

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Going on a Shopping Diet

shopping

shopping

It is probably hard to believe but we have plenty of clothes in our respective closets. And we really enjoy shopping and having new stuff. But, for different reasons, we have both decided to go on shopping diets.

Jeanne says: My current commitment is a clothing shopping ban for one solid month. It is only March 3 and my fingers are already itching to hit “buy now”. But enough is enough. I can only wear one outfit at a time. I don’t want to become a victim of every “30% off sale” and therefore I need to start down the path to “recovery”. While clothes are fun and I love to get a UPS box as much as the next person, they cannot make me truly happy.

Kate says: I’ve actually been scaling back drastically since before the holidays. Due to a combination of pretty ambitious financial goals (so much saving to do, so little time!) and the aforementioned bursting closet full of clothes, it seemed like the right time. I haven’t put an entire ban in place, but I have limited myself to one “purchase” a month. In January, that purchase was a Golden Tote Mystery Tote, last month I bought a pair of knock-off Uggs (I know, I know, but my commutes are really cold!), and this month my purchase will be to finally take a bunch of items to be altered. This forces me to make that one purchase really count, thereby cutting down on retail therapy-type purchases.

We’re both focusing our attention on “shopping our closets” for the near term. Here are some other “shopping diet” tips:

  • Organize your clothing by color and by item in your closet, bureau, and shelves. This is good for two reasons: organizing will keep your mind off your diet and give you new ideas about how to combine the clothes you already have.
  • Go ahead and keep a wish list of the clothing items you WANT to buy. This is also good for two reasons: First, as the weeks go by, test whether you still really want the items you have listed. More than likely, you’ll lose interest or another item will catch your eye. If you DO still want it and it is still around, it’ll probably be on sale and you can pounce.
  • Do something more interesting than shopping — either online or in stores. Read a book (or many books), take a hike, go to a museum, call a friend (preferably some one in “recovery” like you!) You can still browse occasionally but break the habit of shopping as a main recreational activity.

Have you tried a “shopping diet”? How did you survive?!

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