I celebrated a birthday recently. I have to say that mostly I tried to ignore it – telling people that I was celebrating the fact that I was born, not how many years I’d been on this earth. But truthfully, in a new town, I didn’t have to worry about too many people bothering me about it. My daughter Kate gave me several thoughtful gifts as did my husband (who is traditionally thwarted by the fact that if I want something, I buy it myself!) It was a good day; I helped Kate with darling grandson for a few hours and then exercised to my heart’s content; dinner with said husband was low key….and then it was, whew, the day after my birthday.
Look – I’m doing very well health wise – medical personnel are surprised to discover that I have a Medicare card – and I live a good life. Aside from the niggling issue of what I will do with my retirement, I am pretty content…except when I think about how old I am and how fragile we all are at this age. So I think low key birthdays will be the way to go in the future – maybe I can find someone else with the same birthday and then I’ll make a fuss over them and draw all the attention away from myself!
And…onto corset belts! I have always loved a very wide belt. I think a corset belt can make a full dress or pleated wide trousers look especially chic. But then my figure is such that a wide belt creates the illusion that I have a small(er) waist, so there’s that. Here are a few examples of when I’ve used a corset belt in the past:
The good news is that corset belts are back in the fashion headlines this fall since they featured prominently in the Prada A/W 16 line. In other words, they appeared on the runway last spring so we would all wear them this fall (hard to keep this couture calendar straight, isn’t it?). Of course, corset belts have always been a feature in renaissance fair and dominatrix fashion and perhaps they gained favor through the Kardashian waist cinching movement this past year. But who cares why? I am just happy they are back. If you’ve never tried one, you should give this fashion accessory a try!
We always like the look of belted cardigans because the belt defines the waist when one might otherwise look straight up and down. It usually works best with longer cardigans — we prefer a boyfriend or cocoon style. Jeanne tends to lean towards the wide belt, and Kate prefers a skinnier one, but either way goes. Try it out if you haven’t already!
We are big proponents of belt-wearing as you can see if you flip through our past 18 months of blogging. Kate goes more for the bright-colored skinny belt while Jeanne relies more on wide belts in shades of black and brown. Both of us agree that belts can be important elements of stylish dressing.
Jeanne says: Since I’ve been in the fashionista game for many years, I have an amazing collection of belts — wide, narrow, leather, fabric, metallic. I’ve found that investing in great belts is a wise fashion decision because, sooner or later, belt styles circle back and I can wear my older belts all over again!
I’d have to say that my very favorites are my widest belts and cumberbunds because they define the area between the waist and chest in the most flattering way. And I’ve always been a fan of wide hip belts over sweaters (a 70’s thing) and chain belts (probably an 80’s thing). Skinny belts don’t suit me the way they suit Kate — different body types. Oh yeah and I’ve found GREAT belts on Etsy!
Kate says: I also love belts, and have a wide-ranging collection. Belts can completely change the look of a top or dress, or make something shapeless instantly flattering.
I do prefer skinny belts, even though I own a few wider ones. I find them more flattering on my shape — the wider belts can sometimes make my hips seem wider as well! I love to use belts as another accessory kind of like jewelry — I look to my belts to provide a pop of color or texture.
Jeanne says: It was dress down Friday — can you tell? I really am not a dress and leggings girl, but, without leggings, this little dress is boring. And if I throw on a belt, it is definitely too short and leggings are the perfect answer! So there’s some fashion advice if you have either longer tunics or too short dresses. I love my new Jeffrey Campbell shoes — he has a wonderful sense of humor and, as you may know, designs either bizarre 8″ platform heels or wonderful, reasonable classic shoes. I think these are the latter….
Kate has this dress and leggings thing down better than I do. Here she is wearing her versatile black and white dress with leggings and a long sweater — a perfect example of winterizing a light dress. This would also look great with any of her high or low boots. I personally think she needs to put this dress on her “best dress of all time” list. She looks smashing! Interestingly, Kate wouldn’t wear leggings for a long time, but she finally understands their value 🙂
Kate says: Here I am again, in this dress I claim to hate! This is a good reminder of how useful a black and white print dress can be in your closet. I like the look of this longer cardigan with the high neck of this dress — the proportions are interesting, and still lets me wear a fun necklace. I definitely am a late-adopter of leggings, and still really only wear them like I do tights!
Mom looks so cute in these photos — I love sharing these more casual photos of her on the blog. She looks very sleek and chic in her all black outfit. We all know I would need some color in there, but she breaks it up with a zebra print scarf, big belt, and silly alphabet loafers. A perfect casual outfit.
Jeanne says: I always wanted a full tulle skirt and I finally got one through Ebay and I love it. I had so much fun pairing it with a favorite graphic t-shirt and my slightly-bondage like belt from Asos. I especially love how this belt really defines the waist to make this voluminous skirt a little more flattering.
I love this outfit on Kate. It once again reminds me how perfect and crisp a white dress shirt looks with a full skirt and belt. Both of our outfits reflect this rule for wearing full skirts: define or cinch the waist to provide more shape with a full skirt. I think we both get “A’s” on this lesson!
Kate says: I love the classic feel of this outfit. It is much simpler than many of my outfits, but I really do love the crispness of the white shirt and the femininity of the full skirt and cinched waist. A great reminder that classic, feminine shapes are always something you can fall back on!
Mom’s outfit is a cheeky twist on my classic ensemble. I love her tulle skirt (so young and adult at the same time!) paired with her quirky palm tree print tee. She looks so chic and yet comfortable — the holy grail of outfits, right?
Jeanne says: I got this maxi dress last year and loved the dress, but didn’t like the look of the elastic waist. So I covered the waist with a wide belt. Belts have often been my “go to” when an outfit doesn’t have a defined waist. At the same time, wide belts in the summer can be a little hot and sweaty. But the outfit is always more important than a little discomfort!
Kate once again avoids my matchy-matchy look by incorporating a wide variety of colors and materials into her outfit. We have seen her in this dress before and I am impressed once again by the number of different looks she gets out of one dress – casual, dressy, and in between. She doesn’t wear wide belts that often, but I think the wide belt look here looks great on her.
Kate says: I agree with Mom that wide belts are a wardrobe must. Even though skinnier belts have been more trendy the last few seasons, a wide belt is always flattering, especially when worn over a simple dress. This belt was a great find at Target – it is actually quite challenging to find a reasonably priced wide leather (or faux) belt. I like how it gives this dress a new feel.
Similarly, Mom uses her wide belt to take a new twist on a simple dress. It adds a little more polish to her maxi, and takes the look from comfortable daytime to summer dinner out. I also love the fun print on this dress – seems like it would be a very versatile closet staple!
Kate says: This is a really standard outfit for me – printed top, cardigan, jeans, and bright flats. This is the peplum top I got through Stitch Fix, and I love it more and more as I wear it. It has a cute little bird print on it that peps up any outfit, but the cream background color is really versatile and a nice addition to my wardrobe. One of my favorite things about patterns is that you call pull out all kinds of colors to feature in the rest of your outfit, like I did with my cardigan and flats. These flats actually have a subtle tone-on-tone polka dot pattern, which I love.
I really like Mom’s outfit, probably because orange is one of my favorite colors. Her combination of cardigan and printed top works great, and I love how the cardigan really brings out the colors in her top. I also love how she wears these plaids pants (can you even tell?) almost like a solid, and it works because they are so subtle. You can see the pattern if you look closely, but the plaid doesn’t compete with the rest of her outfit. Same goes for her belt!
Jeanne says: My outfit is another one I liked better in my mind than in reality. I love this shirt but it is an awkward length – as you can see, way longer than my cardigan (makes the cardigan look tiny and it isn’t) and too long to tuck in comfortably. But the print is so spectacular that I have put aside my misgivings! The pattern did mix beautifully with my plaid pants and after mixing all these patterns, why NOT add an animal print belt?
I was envious that Kate actually found an item in her Stitch Fix delivery that she liked! This little peplum top is adorable and fresh looking. It is probably not something I would wear, but I love it here with the saturated colors of her sweater and shoes. All this together with the simple hair and dark jeans creates casual on-trend outfit for Kate. Also let me go on the record that I want to borrow those shoes!
Jeanne says: This outfit feels a little wintery to me, but actually it is just layers of cotton and could work year round. I loved putting all these patterns and textures together; this idea doesn’t always work perfectly but it did this time. I cannot remember where I got the idea to wear the bee brooch, but it makes me happy here. This J.Crew skirt is incredibly versatile too; I can dress it up or make it very casual. It’s a great twist on a plain old navy pencil skirt!
Kate wears checks and gingham much more than I do and she’s put together a cute if slightly conservative version here. She is using a dress as a jumper which I like and, as always, she adds a pop of color with her belt and shoes. That blue in her gingham shirt must really make her blue eyes pop too. We all know I would button that top button and maybe add a little more bling but that’s the difference between us. And differences make the world go round. Nicely played, Kate!
Kate says: This outfit is pretty much a uniform for me: button-up shirt layered under a dress. This cotton J.Crew works nicely for layering; the fabric is light but it still holds it’s shape over a bulky under-layer. I’m fairly certain this was one of those days when I didn’t have the energy to think about what to wear. I love this gingham shirt in the bright blue, and also love how it pairs with pink accessories. Mom is right, in retrospect I would add some more jewelry. But sometimes simple is good!
I love this outfit on Mom. I would never have thought to combine the large rugby stripes with the gingham print, but I think they work really well together. I also think her pencil skirt is genius – such a great way to add texture and depth to a standard navy pencil skirt. Although I agree the bee pin is cute and whimsical, I would have left it off as kind of an unneeded accessory in an already layered outfit.
Kate says: This was actually my Valentine’s day outfit – I thought it was a fun way to wear pink. At the time I thought the pink plaid with the pink skirt was too much (how many times have I said that now?), but looking back this is one of my favorite outfits. I am not a huge leggings wearer – mostly I wear them as a thicker version of tights. But they are also useful with a shorter skirt to make me feel more comfortable at work.
I think this is one of Mom’s go-to outfits: belted sweater over leggings with booties. It works for her! It shows off her slim frame and gives her a nicely defined waist. I think maybe this outfit is a bit too brown – I would have liked to see some more color thrown in there. You can barely even see her leopard print shirt! But I guess her beautiful orange Michael Kors bag makes up for that, huh?
Jeanne says: One last legging effort before Spring – that is the theme of my outfit. I am certainly a study in brown. I remember thinking that brown leggings would be very servicable when I found them, but now think that the only leggings worth having are black – more universal, more chic and less “trying too hard”! An interesting note about this open sweater from Eileen Fisher: I have NEVER worn it unwrapped without a belt. Hanging loose, it looks like a big, shapeless thing and so do I. Final verdict on this outfit: OK dress down work day outfit.
Kate’s outfit is a perfect example of an outfit that is perfect for her and would look totally age INappropriate on me. What a saucy solution for a short skirt at work! Love it paired with the long sweater and plaid shirt. Casual but work-appropriate. And – as I’ve said before – she looks awesome in pink.
Jeanne says: I think my outfit is kinda “meh” actually. This dress is a recognizable Banana Republic shape and I bought it because it was a neutral and it was long enough for my age and taste. So I am constantly trying to make it interesting (which it really isn’t). The bright turquoise helps and the bling-y belt is the highlight. Like I said – meh.
Kate has the perfect torso for belted cardigans. While I am always trying to create a smooth look, Kate has that smooth look naturally! I also haven’t mastered the belted unbuttoned cardigan like she has. Great look – trendy emerald sweater and she looks confident and polished. Love those Toms!
Kate says: This outfit has become one of my go-to outfits when I don’t feel like thinking about what to wear! I like how the off-white/beigey color runs throughout the outfit – kind of like a twist on the black and white trend. The cut of this blouse is very parachute-y and I honestly haven’t found many other ways to wear it. It definitely needs to be belted!
I actually really like Mom’s outfit, although it is admittedly a little tame for her! That blueish/turquoise color is beautiful on her, and her awesome embellished belt picks up the gray in the dress. I think I might like a more saturated color with this dress – maybe a jewel tone – to provide more contrast to the light pattern. But overall, this is a very flattering look for her.