Tuesday, January 17, 2012

That Strange Time-out-of-time: New Spring Lines in January

So now we're in the middle of the month, the faint sound of Jingle Bells still  playing somewhere softly in the distance (I mean, it's been three weeks, people!), and already stores online and in person are rolling out the Spring collection.  Am I the only one who finds this more annoying each year?  I'm finally just really digging into my sweater collection -- it snowed again last night --, and am being bombarded with sundresses and floppy hats in colors that are sorta setting my teeth on edge.  It's too soon after...we just celebrated all that is cold and shiny and wonderful, the days are still short and the drive home dark, my wallet has gift cards in it that I can actually use now, but I'm torn!  Do I commit to a pastel sundress dress I won't be able to really wear for another three months, or is it ok to go for that gorgeous bottle green sweater that I saw at Marshall's last week?  Sigh....

Yet this strangely out-of-place time of year has it's redeeming qualities, some of which I'm still discovering.  I was browsing around the drug store the other day waiting for my prescription to be filled, and strolled through the makeup aisle, and  was surprised to see the entire section decorated with little yellow flags.  Upon closer inspection, I found that these were all sales prices on the items that I use year round, some at up to 80-90% off!  Apparently when manufacturers change seasons, they will change their packaging, sometimes something as simple as wording, and BAM!  That blush you paid $10 for two months ago is now $2.49!  I stocked up and got some amazing bargains!

seriously considering this adorable red
beauty as my next addition!

I've found this same principal with shoes.  If you've followed me for long, you know how much I LOVE my shoes.  Right now, all of my shoe clubs are blowing out their winter styles at 50% off!  This is a great time to pick up that pair that you couldn't justify spending the $40 onbefore Christmas, but can now pick up for $19.95 without batting a perfectly-mascara'd-from-the-makeup-sale eyelash.  And with free shipping to boot!  (Or, at $20, should that be "two boot"?!!)

The fashion websites are also gearing up for Spring, some with huge markdowns off their regular prices, or offering other incentives like buy-one-get-one, free shipping with no minimum purchase, or a percent off their already on-sale prices.  No matter what you're looking for, you can find a deal to match what's left in your wallet after the holiday.

The long nights of winter are also a fun time to try different styles.  Sites like Polyvore allow you to pull together different looks and put them into outfits (think paper dolls) to see what you'd like to try without throwing everything from your closet onto your bed and then trying them on in different combinations to see what new looks you can scrounge up from the basics.  On those nights I don't have a lot of work, I've sat down at my computer and searched for the items that I have in my closet, saving a small picture of each item into a 'collection' under the account I set up on Polyvore.  These are then available for me to put together (literally) on a template page as a complete outfit 'set', which is what you see on page 1 of this blog.  It's become a template of the different looks I can get from the pieces in my closet at any given time.  This has been a really interesting enterprise on a number of fronts!  First and most surprisingly was seeing what the retail cost for some of my pieces actually are.  That's really what inspired me to put these  sets at the top of the blog, an actual example of what I've gotten for my pennies!  It's also fun to be able to put different pieces together that I wouldn't normally wear at the same time, just to see what else I can come up with using the basic pieces that I have.  You can also 'follow' other people on the site and get great style ideas, or even advice!  I was going to a black tie function earlier in the month, wearing a color I'd never tried before, and was completely stumped what lipstick color I should use.  I posted a picture of the dress, how I was accessorizing it, and a short description of the event and my coloring and preferences.  Then people could look at it and respond not only in writing, but also using pictures they themselves pulled off the site and put together for me!  It's a really fun, unique way to interact with others who are passionate about their fashion.

Pintrest sort of runs in conjunction with Polyvore in that you can "pin" your sets from Polyvore here (among many other fun things on this site!  Check it out!), and share them on a different platform.  Pintrest has provided a little sidebar to post deals of the day and generate interest in my blog and Polyvore account; together, they're like Facebook for Fashion!  I've really enjoyed it!  Rik comes into my office every now and then in the evening to say hi while I'm working only to find me posting a new outfit or 'deal of the day' on one site or the other...at least now he's not teasing me about over-posting to Facebook!

As winter makes it slow but steady way into Spring, use the time to reinvent your own style or rediscover what lurks in your closet.  So many cool tools out there to make this a fun and exciting endeavor on those dark winter nights or weekends too cold to go out.  Find a combination you like, and when the weather breaks enough to brave the trip, take a jaunt to your favorite resale shop and browse through those winter things your neighbors are shedding for Spring.  You might just be surprised there too!

Happy hunting! ;)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Carmel, Christmas, and Spanx

Every Christmas, one of my favorite parts of the holiday is pulling out my special Christmas cookbook full of my hand-printed recipes, and diving into those special things I only make a Christmas time. When the boys were growing up, it was always fun to surprise them with a hot plate of fresh gingersnaps, or their favorite Biscotti when they got off the bus.  Usually, my favorite Christmas treat is homemade divinity made from my grandmas recipe.  I have been known to eat entire batches without assistance.  So this year, I decided to try making caramel     I don't really like the stuff.  The sticky goopy sweetness of it isn't something I seek out with any regularity, unless of course it's hidden covered in chocolate and full of nuts.  So I made caramel   Batch after batch of caramel  each with 2 full cups of heavy whipping cream and real butter...so much caramel that I got a callus on my stirring hand. 
picture credit:  blogs.babble.com

And I gained 8 pounds.  The stuff was amazing!  Then I made the mistake of trying it salted....O..M..G....I'm actually drooling right now as I think about it....divinity never had this hold on me...

So now it's January.  Today the service came into the office to clear out the Christmas trees and decorations all sort of sad and apologetic-looking, as if they're sorry to be seen outside of their season, and I'm always a little sad to see the shininess go away at the end of a good Christmas.  Everywhere I go around here, the talk centers around new years resolutions, those earnest attempts at change, most as hopeful as a Christmas wish.  Most of them involve weight loss, and I see a lot of people coming in early to use the gym, and eating salads in the break room, and I'm right there with them, waiting for payday so I can join the gym here on campus and start taking the yoga classes I've been mentally hounding myself about for the last 3 years.

You're probably wondering what all this nonsense has to do with fashion.  I'll tell ya in one word:  SPANX.
Picture credit:  AnnTaylor.com
As I've gotten older, I haven't gained a ton of weight, but my body is starting to get bulges in really odd places.  Like, I suddenly feel I should be wearing my bra backwards...you know those poochy things that show up in the bra area, but in back?  Ewww.  I'm not well-endowed in front, but sister am I getting a rack in the back!  And then there's the muffin top (such a cute name for something so sinister!).  But I've recently discovered something that makes it all go away.  (By that I mean, out of sight, out of mind; I only see it if I forget to close my eyes when I change into my jammies at night.)  You pull on these wonderful stretchy saviors and suddenly, no matter how poochy you are in all the wrong places, you're streamlined for speed.  Those unsightly bulges squish inward where they belong, unseen by the naked eye and visible only on MRI imaging (I assume).

Picture credit: fortieswardrobe.blogspot.com
Not so long ago, women --even thin ones! -- wore girdles as a matter of course!  Watch Mad Men or Pan Am, and you get a taste of the "foundations" that women have worn for centuries in order to get closer to the shape they know is under there somewhere.  Add that to the increasing number of pictures I've seen recently of wardrobe malfunctions on women in entertainment who we look at as the goddesses of body, and I'm thinking "If it's okay for them, it's okay for me!"  I'm willing to be convinced I'm wrong, but until then, I'll continue to squish.  Oh how I loves me my Spanx.

Yes, it's cheating.  Yes, I still desperately need to go to the gym and cut back on sweets (damn you caramel  my new sweet friend!).  And yes, my desire is to eventually not have to hide from myself every time I get out of the shower, the visual equivalent of plugging my ears and screaming "LALALALALA" at myself.  But while I'm doing that (notice I didn't use the word "until" indicating action), I will gladly step into my Spanx every morning and have a totally non-bulgy silhouette.  If that's cheating, fine.  I can live with that.

Happy New Year to all of you amazing Fashionistas, however bulgy :)

~M