Dr. E’s Greening Tips
Fashion Tips; Spring 2016
See, also, my Women’s Apparel Board on Pinterest.
In Honor of Earth Day, 2016, I am sharing some of my tips for recycling your own wardrobe and still looking fashionable. We’ve even had Earth Day Fashion shows of recycled outfits and clothing made of recycled materials. We don’t need to go to the extremes of Hyacinth Bucket in keeping up our own appearances, but looking good is important. When we look good, we do feel good. When we are put together, we function better. Let me make an allusion to my other passion, doll collecting and writing, for one moment. Many collectors enjoy finding vintage and antique dolls that need makeovers. They then refurbish and restore the dolls as needed. The end result is satisfying, and what was a wreck, is now a valued collectible.
Well, we need to be valuable collectibles, too!
This past winter has been one of the most difficult of my entire life. Dealing with a parent’s illness and injuries can be devastating to your as well, as I’ve found out. “Caregiving”, for lack of a better term, has become my 5th job. How do I get through it as an only child with no close relatives nearby? The best answer is “any way I can.”
I’ll talk more about this type of coping in another post, but for now, let me focus on how I keep myself looking good despite the stress, or at least, I keep myself looking like myself.
One tip I learned from my Mother is to layout my outfits the night before, down to accessories. If I can, I lay them out for the whole week. It really helps.
So, here are some ideas to help you look good, organize yourself, and follow Spring trends and fashions.
- Do read the fashion magazines, “Vogue”, “In Style”, “W”, are just a few out there. Big book stores also carry International editions, especially of “Vogue.” Even if you can’t read the language, the photos are great. “Telva” is my favorite all time fashion magazine; it some from Spain and is online. It is lavishly illustrated with great hairstyles and outfit ideas. “Telva” has feature stories, recipes, book reviews, and home décor/holiday ideas. I first read about the subject of my book and dissertation, Barbara Pym, in “Telva.” (The Subversion of Romance in the Novels of Barbara Pym; contact me if interested). If things are online like this, there are ways to translate languages, too. I use Google translator, but sometimes, you can hover your mouse over the text, or hit a key that says “translate.”
- If the magazines are too expensive, again, look online. Libraries also still carry print versions of magazines. At ours, you can keep magazines for a week. Libraries and thrift stores also sell magazines very cheaply, sometimes for as little as one dime! These are often current issues people are tired of. Newspapers also cover fashion trends.
- Charity fashion shows are good places to view new designers or to get ideas. Some of these might even be free as part of department store promotions.
- Ebay and Etsy have newsletters and online notifications for fashion. They also feature events that focus on the current trends. Ebay sometimes hosts celebrity auctions. Kris Jenner held one of these recently. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s fun to look and to get ideas. As expected, some of her items were very pricey, one of a kind designer pieces; yet, others were off the rack things that we could find on sale or at a discount.
- Find a look and stick with it, but don’t be afraid to vary it. Sunday Ads, like Target’s, Macy’s, even Walmart are great places to get ideas. I love Kmart’s Jacqueline Smith and other lines. I find my mother was right; when in doubt, wear a skirt and blouse. Marshall’s has once again, lots of great skirts for spring. Pair them with a plain T-shirt, or a simple blouse, long or short sleeves. Walgreen’s and some local grocery chains features plain T-shirts in different colors. These are great to wear under light jackets and sweaters, and give you a lot of options. The men’s and boys’ departments are also terrific places to find tops and sweaters that make great fashion options. Lots of sales are going on; look for them.
- Put on a necklace. Even if you don’t wear other jewelry, necklaces pull a look together and finish it. Even though I’m a big jewelry collector, too, I admit that I haven’t always worn it. Gym class and after school sports got in my way. Yet, when I did wear it, I always put on a necklace. If your excuse is you can’t stand things around your neck, then wear a long strand of beads, or pearls, faux or otherwise. I hate to be a fashion iconoclast, but even dimestore pearls look great with any outfit. Kmart has terrific jewelry, and Target carries some lovely designs. Kohl’s, with their 85% and 90% off sales are great places to find necklaces, as are yard sales, thrift stores, and even antique malls. I like to wear strands of beads made of colors that match my outfit. If I can find earrings of the same color, even better. You can also create your own. Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and other megacraft stores carry supplies for beading, assembling, or just adding charms and pendants to ribbons and chains you already have.
- Invest in a small jewelry repair kit, about $10, and you can save money fixing your own pieces.
- Wear jewelry; see 6 and 7 above. It showcases your original personality. I love pins, as in “Read my Pins”, a wonderful book. I have them for every occasion and holiday, and I’m writing a book about them. I make a lot of them, sometimes called “brooches” when I can, and my goal is to send one to Secretary Madeline Albright as a gift, one collector to another. They are a satisfying thing to collect, and add a little spark to a blazer, sweater, or even a sweatshirt.
- Make up is a good thing. I will admit I don’t buy or wear as much as I should because of time, but I wear Merle Norman powder nearly every day. A good friend gave me a gift pack with mascara and lipstick; I’m surprised how much better I feel using them. I have a booklet from the Anti Vivisection society and I buy make up that is not tested on animals. I also look for make up on sale at organic food stores and coops. Foundation also helps protect your skin from sun and weather. Wash it off carefully, use some astringent with cotton, and you avoid blemishes and even wrinkles. Look online, on this blog, and in bookstores for ideas for natural makeup and beauty treatments, things like cucumbers and tea bags. I like to look at what’s on sale at Marshall’s and TJ MAXX. Never underestimate the drug store, either, as a great source. Some CVS Pharmacies and Walgreen’s carry Milani cosmetics; this is my married name, and the company once belonged to my husband’s family. They are reasonable, and I like the look. Also, to save a little, I will use lipstick as lipstick, and sometimes, as a little rouge. Hint; if you have outdated eye shadows and make up, don’t use it. But, you can use them as paint, a tip I saw on “Martha Stewart”, and to repair and touch up doll faces.
- Thrift stores and resale stores are becoming more brand and fashion conscious. Stuff etc. tries to feature certain brands like Coach and American Eagle Outfitters. Stuff also lets you consign your clothes and other things so you can create your own clothing budget. It takes about a month or two, but you start seeing return on your things and build up an account. Goodwill is creating more attractive displays, and The Discovery Shops of The American Cancer Society hold fashion events throughout the year. Many now display clothing by color and type, e.g., skirts and blazers together, blue sweaters together, etc.
- My mother sewed and knitted. I don’t know how she found the time, but I still wear the simple skirts she made for me, and the cotton sweaters and neat scarves. We looked for theme prints of all kinds that quilters love. Quilt shows are great places to find unusual patterns, and so are fabric and craft stores. You can also buy online.
- Women’s magazines have practical fashion ideas. One showed how many ways you could pair simple, crew neck cotton sweater. It worked under a sleeveless dress as a sweater, with jeans, with a skirt, under a jacket, etc. The outfits were accessorized with scarves, jewelry, different shoes and handbags.
- While we’re on the subject of shoes, let me just say my last name is “shoemaker.” Before I die, I would like a air of Manolo’s, but there are styles of good Manolo wannabees, too, that are more practical. I’ll be buried with my Italian heels and my little leather flats with the embroidered Gondolas, but I can’t wear them every day. Invest in one or two great pairs, and wear them with everything. I mean it. I have a pair of Frye, distressed black motorcycle boots that I wear with everything. Velvet skirts and sequined tops, denim, slacks, Polo dresses in prints by Ralph Lauren that I get at outlets and Marshalls, and I wear them all year. I love them because they look antique, are comfortable, and remind me of my late Uncle George. He had a pair of brown one’s. The last time I saw him alive, he was wearing them. I look for style and color, but I love bargains. If I find sandals, flip flops, or canvas espadrilles in colors I like I’ll try to buy several pairs or get them on sale. They can be washed, often, and last well year to year. For walking, invest in one good pair of sneakers. Again, you can buy them on sale. Keds and Keds types are still terrific, as are Skechers. Tom’s are great to wear, and have nice arch support. Tom’s also contributes to charity for every pair brought. Target was carrying them for awhile; it’s worth a look.
- Jeans for me don’t have to be expensive, but I pair them with nice shoes, blazers, and jewelry. Even with a T-shirt, I like to wear a simple chain or strand of beads.
- Sock can also make a great fashion statement. They are also fun. Pure cotton is great all year; I love cotton anklets in different colors, and can find Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren on sale. Smart wool is terrific. I have also found great socks and scarves that match outfits at military surplus stores. Theme socks for holidays are my weakness; I wear mine all year. I treasure a pair that has images of Marilyn Monroe all over them, and other pairs trimmed in lace. While Mr. Blackwell would turn over in his grave, I admit I love black cotton tights and leggings, and wear them all year. I have strayed from pantyhose, but still find stockings and a garter belt comfortable, and I love thigh highs. If I wear hose, I still like L’Eggs and No Nonsense. Patterns and colors are fine by me.
- Shop sales; buy some basic pieces in neutral colors, mix and match. I love basic blank and white; I regret consigning my black Ivanka Trump dress with white collar and cuffs from Marshall’s. I’m going to look for another one. I only did it because it was kind of tight, but was wearing it with a long sweater. Moral: don’t get too carried away purging your closet!
- Dollar General and Family Dollar carry the current versions of Jantzens, White Stag, Bobbi Brooks, Fyre Islander and other brands that were once expensive and sold in higher end department stores. They are still cute and wearable, and far more reasonable.
- Animal prints are still in, so are vests and long sweaters, some patterned. You don’t have to dress like Cher’s character LaVerne, but you can add a scarf, a pair of shoes, or a bag to your look to update it. Scarves, especially infinity scarves, are still out there. They add something to a simple top or outfit. They also protect against spring chills.
- For those who weave, spin, dye their own cloth, sew, recycle vintage clothes, get going. Now’s the time to get crafty. My aunt had her own atelier and label in Greece. She supported herself her whole life and did what she loved.
- Have fun; wear what makes you look good and feel good, be comfortable, and be creative. Style is a state of mind. Wear flower in your hair for spring, find a great sun hat, and walk in the Sunshine!