On Kate: Cardigan: J.Crew Factory (similar style, same color), Shirt: J.Crew (similar), Pants: J.Crew, Shoes: (similar, similar), Necklace: Target (similar, cute!)
On Jeanne: Cardigan: Kate Spade (similar, similar), Shirt: Banana Republic, Pants: Anthropologie (similar), Shoes: Talbots (similar), Watch: Cartier (similar), Bracelets: old (similar), Earrings: old (similar)
Kate says: I was a little nervous about this outfit. Cobalt blue is one of my favorite colors, but I was worried that the cardigan over the gingham shirt would scream “nurse” or “librarian” instead of the desired “monochromatic!”. In the end, I think it worked, helped out by the clustered pearl necklace and black wedges.
Throughout the years, my mom has always owned at least one pair of super wide-leg pants – or so it seems to me! They seem to work better on her than on me because she has a much narrower frame than I do. This is probably a darker outfit than I would wear, but I like how the beading detail on the cardigan mirrors the buttons on the pants and her big black earrings.
Jeanne says: These trousers are probably five years old – from when wide pants were last in style. I bought this sweater on sale this summer and – voila – it works! This outfit follows the style adage to wear something fitted on the top when you wear something more voluminous on the bottom. I agree with Kate – the shiny black on the earrings, bracelets, sweater and pants work together very well.
Kate’s outfit is young and fresh – and probably a little too casual for me except on Fridays. The more casual gingham shirt plays off the pearl necklace very well. I would probably button the sweater and put on a narrow belt if I wore this because I need to have my waist highlighted or I look straight up and down.
We decided that, because our time together is such a rare and precious thing, we would create a journal about each visit together. This time, we have a weekend together. Jeanne is flying in from Seattle on Thursday afternoon and staying with Kate and her husband Eric in their tiny apartment for the weekend. Cue son-in-law bonding! Actually Eric is pretty good about letting Kate and Jeanne observe their rituals: cuddling, looking at fashion and style in magazines and on line, getting pedicures (Jeanne’s treat), working on our blog, and more mother-daughter cuddling. Usually we fit in some shopping but probably not this trip since it is the dreaded “holiday shopping” period. Well, maybe a short trip to Old Navy…
Jeanne is pretty good at packing because she used to travel for business. Here is what she packed:
Kate makes a delicious dinner when Jeanne arrives: Spring Chicken Soup (thanks to How Sweet Eats for the recipe!)
Friday night we head out for a drink with Eric’s teacher friends (more son-in-law bonding). Even though this is a very casual gathering, Kate and Jeanne still want to look cute. Jeanne, of course, is limited by what she packed for the weekend.
Here is Jeanne in the maroon jeans, black Vince top and leather vest. Also a Bauble Bar necklace. Kate sticks with her casual Friday outfit: black turtleneck, green necklace, dark skinny jeans and cute gold flats.
Saturday dawns and the inexorable urge to shop takes over. Jeanne and Kate head off to the mall; here we are on Kate’s deck before we go.
What a blast we had, mostly because we came up with a great post idea “Too Many Trends At Once” and we see and record evidence everywhere. Of course, we also pick up some odds and ends at Forever 21 (jewelry to mix with other stuff), J.Crew (pants on sale as a Christmas present for Kate) and Gap (basic long sleeved t-shirts and some Christmas gifts). This is all dazzling to Jeanne since she always shops online.
We got pedicures – Kate’s a festive sparkly green and Jeanne’s a great classic red Pillar Box Red from Butter London – at the mall (a first for us) and rush home to prepare for a holiday party.
Alas Eric is laid low by a bad cold and so Kate and Jeanne are all dressed up with no place to go. Cue the red wine and old movies. Here we are dolled up and ready to go.
Kate is in a great maxi skirt from the summer which suddenly looks just right for holiday parties – also a sparkly necklace – and her gold flats. Jeanne is in another variation on her maroon jeans.
Sunday it pours all day and basically seems just like Seattle. We madly dash around doing errands and trying to avoid the traffic. The important thing is that we are together – whether we are bagging groceries, catching up on our e-mail, doing the laundry, straightening our hair, or stuck in traffic.
On Jeanne: Shirt: Banana Republic (similar), Pants: J.Crew, Sweater: Anthropologie (similar), Shoes: old (similar), Brooch: from craft show several years ago, Bracelets: old (similar).
On Kate: Vest: Banana Republic (similar), Shirt: J.Crew, Pants: J.Crew Factory, Shoes: Aerosoles (similar)
Kate says: I love this sweater vest I got from Banana Republic a few years ago, but I really struggle with how to wear it. A flowy blouse looks too bohemian for my taste, but a white dress shirt can look too stuffy. This combo worked okay for me – I did like how the blue and brown in my leopard loafers really picked up the other colors in the outfit. The only thing I might change would be to wear a brighter necklace for a little more color.
Mom has lots of these long cardigans. She does a great job of pairing them with fun outfits so they look very stylish. I love how the red pants and blue denim shirt bring those tones out in the sweater. Very cute! I would probably have worn a belt with these pants – for some reason, I find shirts tucked into pants without a belt to be a little awkward.
Jeanne says: I like this outfit because I love, love, love my red pants. They make me happy. I decided to try the denim shirt because they are so in style and it worked with the sweater. For the first time, I tried a brooch at the collar of the shirt and I liked how it turned out. What I DON’T like about this outfit is the gap between the buttons of the shirt. I am a big fan of “matchsticks” – double stick tape strips – and I forgot to use it that day. A word of advice: buy some and take a critical look at your outfit each day to see if you need to use some – particularly on button-down shirts or sweaters. Remembering these last details makes the difference between a fabulous polished look and a “meh” appearance.
I really like the mix of textures and fabrics in Kate’s outfit today. Her vest is darling with the colors picked up by her shoes (which have a blue tone you cannot see in this pic) and necklace. Casual yet chic. Although this post is about denim shirts, she could also mix a patterned shirt with this outfit. I also like her J.Crew denim shirt better than mine….just a little more “au courant”.
How do you like to wear denim or chambray shirts? Any ideas for how to make sweater vest not look old man-ish?
Today we are writing about a pet peeve that we know many of you out there must share – the idea of carrying a clutch in our day-to-day lives. This style trend is a metaphor for the many fashion accessories that simply do not work for the ordinary, busy, stylish woman. We are rushing off to work, catching a bus, grabbing things at the grocery store, picking up coffee to go and the dry cleaning. We carry a million things with us – wallet, cellphone, keys, sunglasses… Let’s face it – the daytime clutch does not work.
We do admit that there is a way to use a clutch in everyday life. When you are running out to grab lunch with coworkers, or heading to happy hour or other evening activity, it is nice to have something smaller than a tote to bring with you. Clutches are easy to carry in your larger bag and pull out when needed.
So how can we get the carefree, not-weighed-down-by-luggage look? First of all, never follow fashion blindly. Pick items that work for you, not for a Vogue model. Second, if you MUST have a clutch, at least buy one with an optional handle and some stretchability. Kate especially has started using cross-body bags as clutches. Third, save your clutch for evenings out (although we still find them extremely limiting) and look for bargains before you buy. Here are some stunning examples that you might consider.
There are many fashion trends that are wonderful to look at but totally impractical for the life of a real-life woman: consider Alexander McQueen’s heel-less high heels, voluminous fur (or faux) vests, pencil skirts without vents in back, micro-miniskirts, sheer tops. But we won’t be among the fashion victims who wear them. Real people take fashion trends and adapt them to real life or reject them entirely if they are totally impractical. We are solidly in that camp.
How about you? Tell us about the fashion trends that you consider ridiculous or about trends that you have adapted for real life and how you did it. We can’t wait to hear from you.
On Jeanne: Dress: Worth Collection (similar), Tights: similar, Boots: Frye, Scarf: similar
On Kate: Blazer: J.Crew Factory (similar, similar), Shirt: Banana Republic (similar style, similar color), Pants: Gap, Scarf: gift (similar), Shoes: Anthropologie (similar), Earrings: gift (similar)
Jeanne says: This is the last time this outfit will appear, because I have decided this dress has seen its last days. That’s always a hard decision with clothes that we love, but it is important to be objective about these matters. The dress is about ten years old. I’ve altered it and shortened it several times. The scarf is new (and purchased on sale). I regularly troll the sale sections of high end websites looking specifically for big scarves (25-36″ by 80″) that I can use many different ways. This is just one example.
Kate’s outfit is a subtler mix of textures and fabrics than mine. Her scarf is more muted and probably more versatile than mine is. She has on three layers on top – four with the scarf. I would probably eliminate the bottom layer since I don’t think it adds much to her look. I have been pushing Kate to wear pink-mauve for years because it looks so lovely with her complexion; hopefully these pictures will convince her for once and for all!
Kate says: This is one of those outfits that looked a lot cuter in person than on camera… or at least I hope! I don’t usually lean towards these more muted colors, but I like the way the earrings reflected the green in the scarf, and the blouse the pink. If I were going to restyle this outfit, I think I would add a belt or tuck the blouse into a skirt – the non-fitted-ness of this outfit doesn’t do much for my body.
Mom really let the scarf be the star of her outfit, and this is a scarf that deserves it – lots of great, bright colors. I love how she left everything else very sleek, and the scarf really draws attention up to her face.
PS – We are working on our photos, so you WILL see better photography soon!
Here’s another topic where Jeanne and Kate don’t see eye to eye – or ab to ab. We both exercise a lot and we have almost all our lives. Kate is the more natural athlete and Jeanne is … very determined. Perhaps because she lived through the era of leg warmers and leotards, Jeanne is also determined to be very stylish at the gym, while Kate takes a more relaxed, yoga-esque approach. However we both follow a few important style tips when we head to work out.
1) Be comfortable but pulled together. No one will be successful with their workout goals if they feel unattractive at the gym. For Jeanne, that means capri tights in black or dark colors and sleeveless bra tops for two reasons: Capri tights and long bra tops act like shapewear and sweat is less obvious when she wears dark colors. Kate likes fitted pants and bright colored t-shirts and tank tops that add a little personality.
2) Black capris or long pants are generally the best bet because they go with all tops and they are the most flattering and forgiving to our figures. Material also matters – spandex or lycra blends don’t show sweat as much, but the more cottony materials can be better for yoga.
3) Don’t pay retail. Why pay full price for clothes you will sweat in and wash at least once a week? There are sales everywhere, especially online. Check out Champion, Dick’s Sporting Goods, or Sports Authority to name a few. Peruse the sales racks at Nordstrom Rack, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Marshalls, Target, Walmart – you will find good stuff!
4) Buy shoes that suit the fitness activities you do. You don’t need to pay a lot here either unless you are in training for a particular sport. For most low impact workout machine workouts, you can wear less expensive athletic shoes. These too you can always find on sale.
5) For older sporting fashionistas: Always wear a good sports bra even with bra tops; you will thank us because your figure will look SO much more youthful. AND consider compression-type bottoms. They can be much more flattering than you might imagine.
What are your style tips for the gym? What do you wear to be most comfortable and attractive while sweating? Does what you wear to the gym affect your workout?
Here are a few of our favorite and inexpensive workout selections. Check a few out!
On Kate: Dress: Old Navy (similar), Shirt: J.Crew, Tights: Nicole Miller, Belt: hand-me-down from Jeanne (similar), Boots: Target, Necklace: Forever 21 (similar, similar) On Jeanne: Sweater: J.Crew (similar), Shirt: Boden, Pants: J.Crew, Shoes: Me Too
Kate says: This is a dress that I have had forever – it might have been one of my first Old Navy purchases after Old Navy became “cool”. It’s made of this awesomely comfortable sweatshirt material. One of my favorite ways to wear it is layered with a collared shirt underneath – the shirt dresses it up a bit for work.
I love Mom’s outfit. This is another quirky combo that I would never have the guts to wear, but looks great on her. The patterned pants are cute – I would probably pair them with a solid colored sweater or shirt, and I’d be more likely to wear the chicken sweater with jeans.
Jeanne says: A new outfit for this year – all bought on sale from J. Crew. I love the sweater with the round collared blouse. You can see – if you follow our outfit blogs – that I favor straight ankle pants right now. Worn with the right shoes (flats or heels) they feel younger and fresher that floor length pants. You cannot see this too well, but my outfit includes a silly pink rhinestone pin which I think plays up the whimsy of the chicken sweater!
I also had the same dress Kate is wearing and it points up another good style lesson for older fashionistas: it was so cute and cheap and I wanted to wear it with tights and flats. But there’s no way around it – too short and too young to look good on me. She has found a creative way to dress it up with the crisp white short and the belt. I love the ankle boots and tights. The only thing I would change? I’d turn back the cuffs of her shirt sleeves to balance the open collar a bit more.
Holiday festivities are coming up and we are planning our party wardrobes accordingly. We both have holiday work parties and New Year’s Eve plans. But we don’t have much to spend, what with buying gifts for others and making year end gifts to our favorite charities (well, let’s be honest – only Jeanne can afford that right now). A budget is essential at this time of year, right? So we’ve decided: Kate will spend only $50 to find a little bit of sparkle that she can mix with her existing wardrobe. Jeanne has allotted $100 with the same goal. Here is what we have put together!
Jeanne: I’m building my work party outfit around items I already own so that I can splurge on my NYE outfit. I’m starting with a pair of very wide-legged brown wool palazzo pants I bought at a sample sale in New York many years ago. They are beautiful and timeless, and brown is such a fresh color to wear in the evening. I also have a lace coral top from Ann Taylor I plan to wear.
Then I’ll add a bronze chain belt and bronze-y earrings I already own as well as brown Tory Burch flats. I’ll top things off with a beautiful scarf I bought deeply on sale a year ago and I’m ready to go. Here are the items from my existing wardrobe.
Similar wide leg pants, similar lace top, similar clutch, flats, similar earrings, similar scarf
For New Year’s, I bought this fabulous pair of leopard pants on sale at CUSP. I can see re-using these for the office with a cardigan or a black turtleneck. For NYE, I plan to wear them with strappy black (very old) Manolo Blahnik sandals, a crisp white shirt of my husband’s knotted at the waist, and black jewelry.
Robert Rodriguez pants, similar white collared shirt, similar clutch, similar strappy heels, similar earrings, similar cuff bracelet
Kate: For office work parties, I like to put a festive spin on things I might normally wear to the office. For this year’s holiday party, I chose to use a dark green pencil skirt from J.Crew paired with a sparkly black t-shirt and fun accessories.
Forever 21 top, Old Navy skirt, Jessica Simpson pumps, Juicy Couture necklace, Rebecca Minkoff bag
For a New Year’s Eve party, I usually plan to hit up H&M or Forever 21 for inexpensive and trendy items. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on something I may not wear more than once. This metallic jacquard dress adds sparkle and fun to some pieces I already have. The booties and belt (at the advice of Mom) help give it an edgier, less fancy feel.
Forever 21 dress, Michael Kors clutch, Target booties, American Apparel belt, Essie nail polish
On Jeanne: Sweater: Free People (similar color, similar style), Shirt: Target (similar), Leggings: several years old (similar), Boots: similar, Scarf: Eileen Fisher (similar), jewelry: old (similar, similar) On Kate: Cardigan: J.Crew (similar), Shirt: J.Crew, Jeans: DL1961 (same style, similar), Boots: hand-me-down from Jeanne (similar), Necklace: Target (similar)
Jeanne says: This is a casual Friday outfit and it is comprised of pretty inexpensive, on sale items or items recycled from past years. This is one advantage moms have over their daughters – we’ve had the chance to collect accessories (jewelry, scarves, etc.) over time and we can recycle them as styles evolve! I was experimenting here – trying to avoid the matchy-matchy approach I am so comfortable with. The sweater and scarf are basically olive green and this is mixed with the brown and the rest of the outfit.
Kate looks cute as always. Again she shows her ease in throwing interesting things together regardless of whether they match. The funny thing is that Kate’s black jeans COULD be leggings in this outfit and she’d look great! She has on DL1961 jeans and there is a style lesson here. Kate has tried on lots of designer jeans, but she has learned that the DL1961 brand flatters her figure and, when she can afford it, she goes back to the brand of jeans that suits her best. I do this with Paige jeans for the same reason. This makes it possible to buy designer jeans on line when they are discounted because we know our sizes and the brands that suit us best.
Kate says: This was a casual weekend outfit while we were out of town. I wanted to be comfortable but also stylish at the same time, and I usually fall back on my chambray shirt in these situations! It’s difficult to find that balance between looking trendy and stylish, and looking like you are trying too hard.
Mom uses her leopard print as a layering piece here, which looks cute peeking through her open-knit sweater. This is another outfit that looks really cute on Mom, but that I probably wouldn’t wear. I’ve been slow to embrace leggings (although I’m looking for my first pair now), and I often feel like these longer, looser sweaters make me look twice my size. Mom is smaller than I am, and can pull them off much better.
In general, this is an area where we tend to go our separate ways. Don’t get us wrong – we both wear heels and flats. But Kate is, in general, a flats girl and Jeanne mostly goes for heels. Kate likes the look of flats – they are more comfortable and still stylish – but she is trying to wear heels more often than just to weddings. Jeanne, on the other hand, likes that heels make her taller and make her feel stylish. However, the evidence shows that both flats and 4″ heels are bad for us.
We’ve all heard of the dangers of high heels: they can cause bunions, ingrown toenails, callouses and blisters. And, for women of a certain age, our balance isn’t as good as it used to be AND our bones are less strong, so falling off high heels is a bigger danger. Take a look at this depressing graph published in the Washington Post. Aside from foot health, however, extreme heels can take a stylish accessory into the territory of ridiculous and age-inappropriate. Here are some examples of cute shoes gone bad:
Extremely flat shoes are also very bad for your feet. After wearing flats exclusively, the feet get used to being flattened, and tendinitis and arch pain can develop. So, while they seem very comfortable, flats are also doing a number on your feet. You might ask yourself, “What option is left?” Good question. The answer is heels of 0.75″ to 2″ – basically a kitten heel. However, we all know that the temptation for cute flats or sexy pumps can be irresistible.
So what are stylish women to do? We have a few tips that may help you navigate the fabulous shoe issue.
1) Wear a variety of footwear, not the same heel height or flat day in and day out. In the case of feet and style, variety is a good thing.
2) Include wedges and kitten heels in your shoe wardrobe. Both are stylish and may well fall into the 0.75″ to 2″ guidelines. Even wedges that are higher than that may be comfortable for flats wearers and older glamazons because the wedge design is more secure and comfortable to wear.
3) Exercise some smart discipline when you do shop for shoes, especially if you are an older fashionista:
- Whether you order it online or shop in a store, if the shoe is not comfortable, DO NOT BUY IT. We’ve heard all about trying shoes on in the morning or the evening, blah blah blah. If it is uncomfortable now, it will be torturous later.
- Decide, through trial and error and trying on lots of shoes (always fun), what heel height or flatness works for you. Stick with those and don’t go outside your comfort parameters. If you shop at a store, take a tape measure and measure the platform and heel height. If you shop online, use the filters available on Zappos, Piperlime and other sites to set your parameters. If you are older than 55, eliminate any heel over 4.5″ or platform over 1″. If you are younger, comfort should dictate your choices, although some styles are meant only for people like Courtney Stoddard and Lady Gaga no matter if they are comfortable or not.
- Buy simple orthotic inserts for your flats that raise your heel slightly. You may have to cut the insert to size, but its a small price to pay for more comfort and better health.
So much for the advice. To close, here are some of OUR favorite heels and flats this season.