Sunday, May 31, 2015

Kicking cancer's ass, one fashionable event at a time ...

We Can-Cer vive
Runway for Life, Virginia and DC

We Can-Cer vive
I have a good friend who had a double mastectomy and she is my hero! Her breasts were not what defined her but were only a small piece of her persona. She is just as much a woman now, without them, without reconstructive surgery, as she ever was … maybe even more so. Of course, my friend made me rethink the way I think about women with cancer, about anyone with cancer as a matter of fact. No longer do I think these women are sad,  silent or sickly. No longer do I think that cancer defines who they are. I now know they are vibrant, courageous women/people who are making a difference throughout the world. I don't think they want us to think of them as weak with disease but as strong heroines who are kicking cancer's ass! They are feisty, funny and fashionable. Find out more about these women (and people who love and support them) at three fabulous charities I support:


Monday, May 25, 2015

Sex symbol or patriotic gesture?

I'm an American ...
I love clothes ...
I love my American Flag ...
I'm torn …

On this Memorial Day I feel distressed that many Americans say "Happy Memorial Day" and wear suggestive/spandex dresses, short-shorts and tube tops as a way to show patriotism. I'm sure they mean well but first of all there is nothing "happy" about a day that is meant to remember the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans who died in war for my freedoms. Its a very somber day which deserves reverence and reflection. Secondly, I just don't feel (my opinion) that  posing in a suggestive manner in a dress clearly designed to look like the American Flag is the best way to show you are patriotic. However, I think wearing the American Flag in its entirety on a T-shirt does show patriotism. Do you see my dilemma? Where do we draw the line?

Why this double standard? Well, it all has to do with perspective really. Does the American Flag on your body represent a sex symbol or a patriotic gesture? Is sex a patriotic gesture, is that what the American Flag represents? Of course, this blog is about giving everyone their right to express themselves but in my humble opinion, elegant women don't use patriot symbols that military men and women died to protect as a way to show cleavage or backsides. Wearing red and white stripes with blue and white stars in one thing, its a "concept." But wearing what is designed to look like a dress made out of an American Flag?

What do you think?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Consulting the SMEs ...

Being a fashionable, seasoned, elegant woman doesn't mean you have to know everything nor does it mean you have to do everything for yourself. I consider myself a fashionably elegant and seasoned woman and I know when my knowledge is limited. It's quite simple really, there are things I want/need done but don't know how or want to do them myself but they must get done regardless. For example, I need the car repaired but it doesn't mean I want to go to automotive training to learn to do it so I take it to a Subject Matter Expert (SME), i.e. the mechanic. I need the lawn mowed or house cleaned -- I don't want to waste my valuable family time doing it so I call in the SMEs.

I look at it this way: If I could pay myself $XX an hour (just plug in what you think you are worth at an hourly rate -- I will use $50 an hour for myself) then multiply that by how long REALISTICALLY it would take you to do the task at hand (clean the house, mow the lawn, sew a dress, paint a wall, mend the fence, create a piece of jewelry, etc.) then you have your answer on whether or not to call in a SME. Let's face it, if I had to sew my own dress it would take me about 10 hours -- one hour of sewing and the other nine hours screaming at the sewing machine, cutting/stabbing myself with the scissors/pins/needles, shopping at the fabric store for the perfectly matching tread, etc.  The $200 dress that fits perfectly looks pretty damned good compared to the $500 in my valuable time that I would have spent in frustration making it myself. Apply the same concept to just about anything and you will discover two things: 1) what your time is really worth, and 2) the true cost of quality things is usually pretty fair so stop being so cheap.

Here are a few more things I leave to the SMEs
Purple Palm Event Planning (ask for Pam)
Event planning -- As a stylish seasoned lady, why do you want to spend your entire time planning and coordinating a party? I like to be the life of the party which means I let someone else put it all together (with my ideas of course). No fuss, no muss and I don't have to do the dishes afterward! Here are two of my favorites Purple Palm Event Planning ( and Simply Breathe (
Photography -- I have a camera sure. But do I know all that crap about lighting and amps and reflection, blah, blah, blah? Nope, don't want to nor do I want to go to school to learn it, I just want to look awesome in my photos! And let's face it, as a seasoned lady, I am not a fan of "selfies". However, seems these days everyone with a smartphone camera or a pawn shop D-70 thinks they are a photographer. Trust me, you are not. The professional photographers are professionals because their end product looks great not just because they HAVE a camera. These guys and gals can make a rainy, gloomy wedding day look fabulous regardless of the weather. Here are two of my favorites: KPW Photography ( and Amber Wilkie Photography (
Financial Planning -- I do not have a head for numbers. In fact, I barely passed college math. So, I absolutely let someone else do my financial planning and accounting. My best financial friends are Pam Sams ( and Debra Yerys (find her on LinkedIn, Minnesota).
Face and body -- I didn't get seasonably elegant by trusting my skin and the care of it to some big name drug store. I use quality things handmade by people I know and love. My favorites are: Hannah & Hobbes soaps ( and Old Town Suds skin care products ( I also need to give a thumbs up to the lady who does a fabulous job at make-up artistry because I really suck at applying more than mascara, lipstick and concealer lol -- Eszter Tary ( -- call her, she can perform miracles!).
Clothing design -- I love clothes and when I can afford it, I have them made to fit me perfectly. That is why I love designers Fruwah Boma Chapman ( and Alexe Tran ( Their clothes are fabulous!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Grey and Coral the new black and white?

My friend Sharon's fabulous patchwork pants with a coral silk blouse look great!

My new favorite piece of jewelry, a grey and gold zipper brooch from Kate Cusack!
I have two new favorite colors in my style arsenal of late -- grey and coral (some say salmon, I say coral). These colors really pop when put together and I think it might be a new trend. What do you think?

P.S. You can now find me on Bloglovin' <a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It's not just about the clothes ...

Elegance is not simply about clothing, its about the whole package. I included the quote above because I think its so fitting for what I'm about to write. Even the medium in which the quote is presented (its on my tea cosy -- a tea pot cover to keep your tea nice and hot, very British -- I got from a great local shop, in Maryland) explains my topic du jour.

Elegance is in everything we do, from broadening our minds to acting appropriately in public. Seasoned elegance is not about acting your age, its about being you … at your age. It's being proud of who you are and that means what you weigh NOW, how old you are NOW, what job you have NOW,  where you live NOW. etc. It's about embracing the here and now and enjoying your life because, quite frankly, what is the alternative?

A few things that I think ooze elegance in a woman that have nothing at all to do with clothing. I have observed the following seasoned and elegant women below and never even thought to look at their clothing because they exuded confidence and self-acceptance enough that their clothing didn't matter:

  • A woman sitting outside her home (whether that be a 7,000 square foot McMansion or a 700 square foot apartment), drinking a cup of tea/coffee and reading a book. 
  • A woman taking a walk in the evening air with a friend, not necessarily talking but enjoying some down time with a like minded individual.
  • A woman who politely told a friend that the skirt she was wearing might be a bit short because she could see her varicose veins.
  • A woman who appreciates window shopping (where would we be today without Audrey Hepburn -- one of the most seasonally elegant women imaginable -- window shopping with a pastry and coffee outside Tiffany's?)
  • A woman who, obviously frustrated with her husband's brutish behavior, was calm and quiet  while she listened to him rant about nothing in particular but then was kind but stern when answering his terse question.
  • A woman who gave (a large amount of paper, not coin) money to the Salvation Army Christmas Bell ringer not only entering the Target store but exiting as well.
In other words, kindness, charity, understanding, politeness, honesty, calmness and appreciation are also part of elegance. What would you add to the list?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Dressing "mom-ish" (i.e. tired and cheap) ...

All-American mom running errands in a "mom-ish" look of white trousers, burgundy jersey blouse, blue bag, no make-up, unkempt hair, toting parent's nectar (a.k.a. coffee). Thank goodness I have progressed!
I love Mother's Day. Being a mom to an awesome teenager, I love the little extra attention I get on the 3 holidays that normal teenagers will actually be civil to their mothers -- these are Mother's Day, my birthday and Christmas. The  other 362 days out of the year (363 on Leap Year) I get the typical grunts and eye rolls. I know motherhood isn't for everyone and that is perfectly fine in my book. I am one of those people who will try almost anything once, thus why I have ONE child and never had a second thought about having another one. Needless to say I embarrass him regardless of what I wear. If I try to dress trendy, he will say I'm trying to hard. If I dress down, he says I'm not trying at all. Once he hit 16 I decided I wouldn't win no matter what I wore so I should just dress for me. My son calls my look the "Stylish Mom Look". Not too trendy but not too "mom-ish".

I asked him what "mom-ish" looked like once, he said, you know, like all the other moms, tired and cheap. OUCH! Tired and cheap?!? Well, duh kid, of course I look tired and cheap. Most parents look tired because when you are little children, we are up half the night worrying about your health, your esteem, whether we are feeding you enough, your college education. We are tired when you are older because you are driving, showing independence and we are worrying about car accidents, who you are hanging out with, what you are doing, etc. In other words, we are tired because we are taking care of your needs before our own. And we are cheap for the same reason! Those size 12 men's shoes you are wearing now cost more than my first car buddy, of course I look cheap!

Anyway, I'm glad I have progressed to a style that does not look "mom-ish". And to do that, I have adopted the mind-set that I will not buy disposable clothes (e.g. cheap clothing that will stand up in 3-4 washes and then have to be tossed due to pilling, fading, rips, etc.), get my nails done bi-weekly so I look polished and not unkempt, do something with my hair each day, never shop in bargain basements (it's in there for a reason and it's never a good reason), and -- this is the biggie -- never comment on one of his friends outfits/items of clothing/etc. with the phrase "oh, where did you get that, I'd like to have one of those?"

The bottom line is: there is a big difference between looking "mom-ish" and looking like a "Stylish Mom". You have to find the "Stylish Mom" look that works for you. Again, dress for you, not anyone else. And for goodness sakes, spend some money on yourself every now and then. We all love our children, want them to have the best we can give them and will sacrifice anything for them. But we should not be martyrs in our style for their fashion, sacrificing our good taste for them because we should all be able to be stylish!  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

BFFs, BFAs & DBs, oh my!

My BFAs in Virginia: Carrie, Karrye and Susan.
Happy early Mother's Day to all moms (biological, step, adoptive, surrogate, etc.)! There are several women in my life who have shaped who I have become and who I will be. Working in government, I moved a lot in my 20s and 30s so I have BFFs all over the world. I have BFF's here in the DMV area: Molly and Judy; my BFFs in Minnesota: Anne, Kristen and Sue; my BFFs from Oregon: Devon and Sonni; and my BFFs from my days overseas: Lani, Suzy, Christine, Ozgul, Ayla, Elizabeth, Mickey, Lottie, Jamie.

Some of those BFFs are biological mothers, some are adoptive mothers and some are pet mothers. Regardless, they are all mothers of sorts. And they all shape my life, and especially my fashion. I don't have BFFs who are afraid to tell me I shouldn't wear chartreuse. I don't trust BFFs who won't tell me the truth that my butt does look big in jeggings (jean leggings if you didn't know that term). The point is, my BFFs are like my mom, sister, aunt, stylist, therapist, daughter, mentor, mentee, all rolled into one. That is what I think a BFF is regardless of where they are in proximity to me.

And while I have lots of BFFs worldwide (the above are just the ones I have here in the states), I still need some good old "basic friendly acquaintances" (BFAs as I like to call them). We all do! Part of being elegant is being sociable to all sorts of people, not just in your group of BFFs. So, when I move to a new area, I like to scope out my options for acquiring BFAs. Because, what's the point of being elegant all by yourself (especially if you are like me and are a work-a-holic and the majority of your BFFs are hundreds of miles away)?

BFAs are people who are good to communicate with, might offer you assistance with work or personal issues along the way (maybe even some style advice now and then), are a nice bunch of people to be around (i.e. like minded for the most part), and can probably introduce you to other  individuals with whom to accept into your BFA circle. It's important to have BFFs but its also important to have BFAs.BFAs keep you social and elegant women are social women. Please note that BFAs are not DBs (drinking buddies). DBs are a totally different group that elegant women put behind glass with a little sign that reads "Break only in case of emergency, like bad boyfriend breakup or job loss."

One of the groups I belong to in order to keep my seasoned and elegant social edge is the National Association of Professional Women ( -- there are more than 200 chapters nationwide so perhaps there is one in your area). It's not necessary to pay to join a networking group like NAPW (although I have found a lot of benefits to membership based networking groups like PRO Networking, Women in Business Network, Sterling Women, and Business Networking International). You could also find a good pool of BFAs at or even on meet-up pages on Facebook and Twitter. It's not difficult to corral a group of BFAs if you know where to look.

But remember, treat your BFAs well (don't use and/or abuse them) because, 1) you are too elegant to use or abuse anyone, 2) BFAs could potentially turn into BFFs and then wouldn't you feel silly for mistreating them, and 3) you are too damned old to worry with all that tacky drama (hint: drama is NOT elegant).

Sunday, May 3, 2015

What was I thinking?

Continuing with my "May Day mayday" theme, today is all about my many ah ha moments (a.k.a. my "What the Hell Was I thinking?" moments). Below is a list of things I have bought, inherited or thought I would look good in for normal everyday wear (these were never bought to wear to a costume party or for Halloween mind you!). Look at the list below and see if you agree with this 40+ year old non-Fashionista:

Thanks to Elizabeth Teater's Flickr stream at 
  • Jean leggings
  • Yoga pants to wear as work clothes
  • Heel-less shoes (see my post on "funky shoes" below)
  • Glitter eye shadow
  • Lace gloves
  • The latest fitness cream to destroy cellulite
  • black nail polish
  • Nose ring
  • Quilted peasant skirts
  • Ruffled poets blouse
  • leg of mutton sleeved shirt
  • temporary tattoos
  • cheap bras (those that tear up after a few delicate washes)
  •  an epilady
  • studded/spiked leather chocker
  • anything chartreuse
So, what else would you add to the list?

Friday, May 1, 2015

May Day maydays: Fashionista crash and burn ...

To learn more about the actual celebration of May Day, visit

Today is the first of May, May Day for those of you who celebrate the pagan-turned-Christian holiday. And there are several times throughout my 40+ years where I -- thinking I was some fantastic fashionista -- crashed and burned. Here are a few of my not-so-fantastic fashion-after-40 moments, a kind of recap on my fashion "maydays" on this beautiful May Day if you will:

Stilettos and platform shoes
Pro -- they look sexy
Con -- I'm torn between not wanting to break a hip and they are just so uncomfortable

Skinny jeans
Pro -- everyone is wearing them
Con -- why would I want camel toes

Hair extensions
Pro -- looks good from a distance
Con -- You know your girlfriends are laughing at you because last week you were sporting a pixie cut and this week you look like Rapunzel. Um, who do you think you are kidding?

Funny slogans on T-shirts
Pro -- you like to express your sense of humor (my favorite T-shirt,  that I only wear at home, shows a little "chick" marshmallow Peep with glasses that says "chick with brains" -- given to me by my BFF, Molly)
Con -- let's not mistake sense of humor with sense of style

Uber short shorts
Pro -- They are the trend and I want to be trendy
Con -- My mom always told me that just because something was out there, didn't mean I should have it. I apply this logic to the uber short shorts (you know the kind, where half your buttocks are hanging out the back) and a host of other fads. Yes, uber short shorts are made by designers and they are available to me, but that doesn't mean I look good in them or should purchase them.

Fancy workout wear (e.g. Juicy Couture velour sweatsuit)
Pro -- It's Juicy Couture and you are hip to the 20-something style
Con --  It's Juicy Couture and you look like you are trying to be a 20-somethingwhen you are really 30+, 40+, 50+, etc. (my sister would be mumbling something about "mutton to lamb" about now)

Blinged out anything (e.g. baseball caps, jackets, etc.)
Pro -- It is unique and eye-catching
Con -- Do you really want to look like you let an 8-year old girl and her bedazzle gun get a hold of your clothes? It warrants people to ask, "who is your fashion designer, a Disney Princess?"

Team spirit clothing outside of sporting events
Pros -- Wearing your favorite football, basketball, (fill in sport here) team colors or name across your chest shows your loyalty and team spirit.
Con -- Why would you sacrifice your elegant and fabulous style (outside of an actual sporting event) to provide free advertising to sports stars who already get paid ungodly amounts of money to throw balls, catch balls and run?

A $2,000 purse
Pro --  You can claim you have a luxury item from premium designers like Hermes or Louis Vuitton
Con -- it doesn't matter how much you paid for a purse, it will still get filthy on the inside from lipstick tubes which lose their caps and pens that pop open and write hieroglyphics on your beautiful lining

Legwarmers as streetwear
Pro -- Great if your job is prima ballerina or you are going to a costume party as the 1980s Flashdance girl (Jennifer Beales)
Con -- If it's that cold outside that your ankles get cold (and not any other part of your leg) you have bigger problems than a fashion  faux pas (in other words, go put on a pair of pants)