Thursday, July 27, 2017

How to Wear a Hawaiian Shirt

Rolled and tucked

It's Summer, and the islands are calling! I love Hawaiian shirts for their variety of patterns, casual vibe and cultural history. They are just not easy to give a feminine touch. Jimmy Buffett looks great in one; I just don't want to look like Jimmy Buffett. So what's a gal to do?

Hawaiian or "Aloha" shirts were popularized in the early '30s by Ellery Chun who sold them at his dry goods store in Waikiki. Locals (especially surfers) and tourists gobbled them up. It wasn't long before many Hawaiian manufacturers starting producing them, and they became THE civvies uniform of armed forces personnel in Hawaii during WWII. As tourists began to flock to the islands in the 1950s, so the shirts made their way back as part of leisure time culture.

In 1946 the city of Honolulu passed a resolution that allowed employees to wear sport shirts from June to October. This spread to other businesses and to a year-round "aloha spirit" that signified much of what island culture wished to express. If you want to know where "Casual Friday" started, my guess would be there.

Tradition has the buttons made of coconut shells. Avoid rayon when shopping for one. Instead choose cotton or a cotton blend to avoid droop and wrinkling.

Herewith a mini pu pu platter to up your Hawaiian shirt game:

> Give the sleeves a roll up.

> Go all Katharine Hepburn and wear the collar turned up, secured with a snap or hook if necessary.

> Wear out, tying the ends in the front in a small knot. Tuck ends under.

> Hem to the top of hips, adding side slits for ease, and wear out.

> If it's long enough, wear out and belted.

> Wear as a jacket over a dress or skirt.

> Avoid man-tailored shorts or chinos. Instead wear with palazzo pants, culottes or skinny capris.

> Pair with espadrilles, strappy sandals or straw wedges, not boat shoes or sneakers.

> Forget necklaces but add hoop or chandelier earrings or bangle bracelets.

Oh and guys can wear them too.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

7.5 Fashion Tips for 75-Year-Olds

Happy Birthday to me! 75 today. In honor of that 3/4 of a century, here are 7.5 of my favorite fashion tips. You didn't really think there would be 75, did you? These are especially formulated for those of us who aren't getting any younger, although a good tip is a good tip whenever.

1) Learn how to divert, distract, disengage. Fool the eye. Make it look someplace else.  See #2.

2) Harness the Power of Accessories. Layers soften. A scarf, a really interesting necklace can be your focal point.  Accessories can stretch your wardrobe, are a quick pick-me-up and don't have to break the bank. Though if you've always wanted a Hermes scarf, this would be the time.

3) Feet don't fail me now! Without 'em you literally are going nowhere. Forget silly shoes that may be gorgeous but are killing you. There are plenty of high-styled flats wedges, slipons and lace-ups. Avoid anything that resemble Oxfords like the plague. 

4) Wear pantyhose again if your legs look better with them than without. You just might start a new trend.

5) Turtlenecks don't fool anyone. If you like them, and it's cold where you live, fine. But a turtleneck is not going to help you feel any less bad about your neck. 

6) Be easier on yourself. Accept that you have spent XX years on this wonderful planet.  See #7.

7) Dress for who you are and the life you lead today. They say when men look in a mirror they always see themselves at whatever age they thought they looked best. You are smarter than that. The trick is to realize every year is your best.

7.5)  Drink more water. Not exactly a fashion tip, but drinking water is good for you and they say will give you a trimmer figure.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Check Mate

Thanks to American Airlines I am now in the market for a new suitcase. This is what happens when a blogger doesn't take her own advice to travel carry-on. But it was a beach vacation at a place where people like to dress up! It was wonderful. I don't regret one minute of wardrobe planning or clothes changing.

The giant rip in the corner of the suitcase wasn't apparent until it got to my hotel. I then noticed my clothes were starting to fall out. It was a large rip, separating frame from fabric. No amount of hastily applied duck tape would keep it together for the trip home. The airlines rep assured me it would survive. He also let me know how to claim the damage after I landed.

I must say American Airlines was very nice. They have a system, though, which smacks of a little racket. They would exchange my suitcase for a new one of the same size. I would then leave behind the ripped one. Or I could come back (within 30 days) with the busted case to see if it could be repaired. If it could not, I would be reimbursed.

How much could I get for a ten-year-old cloth suitcase without a sales receipt? It didn't go that far. I stopped at the idea of coming back to the airport and took their replacement. The new one is not bad looking, but it's the luggage equivalent of $5 umbrellas sold on the streets of New York. It might make one trip without falling apart.

So now I need a new suitcase. It will be (drumroll please) one of those hard-sided plastic jobs with eighteen wheels. But here's my quandry and the reason this can even remotely be considered Fashion: Do I go for conservative black, grey or silver, or do I break out in song with something bright or even patterned?

It used to be one did not call attention to oneself with lovely luggage as that might indicate the contents were lovely as well. Nowadays all bags look like Tumis. How's a bag-napper to know? If I were one, I would assume the beat-up, soft-sided suitcase held the treasure.

Do I pick one in a subtle, sophisticated color to reflect the subtle, sophisticated person I wish to appear? Or do I get one so loud I can spot it from the instant it hits the carousel?

Any thoughts please? My next trip is only 10 months away.    

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Where Fashion Has Flown the Coop

No, I didn't see this at the airport during my recent vacay. I've long railed against the dumbing down of— not just fashion— but good taste while traveling. From jeans and sweatpants we have now digressed to Ready for Spin Class. Yoga wear— and not pristine high-end Yoga wear either— is literally taking off. And don't get me started on flip flops as foot gear. I've never seen so many sloppy looking women of all ages in one place. Have we completely given up? Is air travel so miserable that we must express our displeasure by wearing the worst our wardrobes have to offer?

Yoga class will be held at Gate C26

This is a mystery, part of my quest to uncover where women wear all those clothes they are always shopping for. Personally, whenever I spend a lot of money on something, I like to look nice doing it— a nice restaurant or a Broadway show. That airline ticket cost plenty. It's the least I can do.

Looking better than average
On the other hand, what's to be done about the men??? Unless they are going to a business meeting and are forced to look respectable, men are ridding themselves of real clothes faster than women. They are not donning workout gear so much as throwing on a t-shirt and shorts. I'm going to say it right here, with my husband sitting in the next room: no man over 50 should wear shorts to travel on a plane. The old school end of the spectrum tuck in the t-shirt, wear a nice dress belt and add socks to whatever is on their feet. It's a skewed sense of decorum that some woman should have stopped from going out the front door. Perhaps it's not fair to pick on these guys as I bet they think this looks okay.

What's to be said for other men, especially those who know they will be noticed and possibly recorded for posterity? Channing Tatum, I'm talking to you.

Channing not charming


Friday, July 7, 2017

Women We Love: Angela Merkel

There are many reasons to love Angela Merkel— humanitarian, diplomat, politician... Chancellor Merkel used the full force of her (feminine) powers to stand out at the meet-and-greet for dignitaries at the 2017 G20 World Summit in Hamburg. She wore a bright red jacket and landed smack in the middle of the first row. No pushing required.     

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Come Fly With Me

"Come fly with me." That's what I said to my suitcase because I HATE to check luggage. The downside of any trip is standing around the carousel waiting for my bag to not appear.

I recently made another 5-day jaunt going carry-on only and realized I've found a little pod wardrobe that's served me well on short hauls. It's so easy I don't know why I ever stressed about it.

There are exceptions. You can't be doing a lot of sports activities or attending many formal events. Your hat won't fit if you're being presented to the Queen. But for the average trip this should serve you well.

Colors need to coordinate, of course. Choose your basic black, grey, tan or navy and work around that. Bear in mind I haven't counted pjs or underwear or all those lotions and potions you must squeeze into little 100 ml. bottles.

Pick one bag and add your...

4 tops
    > 2 shirts
    > 1 other top
    > 1 dressier blouse  
My shirts are tailored and in a soft synthetic fabric. They can be worn out or tucked in. The "other top" is a classic Breton T in summer or a pullover sweater in winter. The blouse has a bit of pattern, coordinates with everything and keeps me from getting bored.

2 trousers
I prefer a fabric that can look dressy or casual depending. One is not a pair of jeans, but yours might be.

This always seems to be a shirt dress, and I wear it on the plane. I really think a dress is more comfortable than pants, and I like looking a little nice for the trip. Synthetic fabric again, not linen or cotton that will wrinkle like crazy.

Blazer or denim jacket, depending on your agenda

"Coat" may mean lightweight, raincoat or down-filled according to your destination. I wear it to travel as obviously it won't pack.

Make it big enough to act as a shawl.

2 necklaces 
That's all you really need. One chunky, one delicate. Avoid packing a mess of earrings, rings and bracelets. Of course they don't take up much room, but keeping track of them is a pain.

3 pairs shoes
    > flats
    > walking shoes
    > plus one 

My flats are sturdy enough to wear all day, not those cute but floppy ballet slippers. I don't love trotting about in sneakers so have found some good walking shoe exceptions, but pack sneakers if you must. Make the "plus one" sandals or boots as needed.  Wear the bulkiest of the three in transit.

In addition I throw my actual purse into a soft-sided tote that will fit under the seat. This gives you a little more room for reading matter, snacks and a traveling Scrabble game.

Think of this as a Marie Kondo "Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" for your trip, where less may not be more, but it may just be enough.