Monday, February 25, 2008

Improving Unattractive Ceramic Tile

If you find yourself stuck with inheriting a kitchen or bath tile that is unattractive, don’t think that you must have it removed and replaced with different tile or wallpaper. Before you incur that time and expense, try repainting it yourself, or ask an artistic friend or relative to help.

This works best if there is a relatively small area to improve, and if the area is not near water. It probably would not be advantageous to paint an area that has constant contact with splashing water, since even the most resilient shellac may not offer adequate protection.

However, for decorative areas above a work area or counter space-or even a back splash-it doesn’t hurt to try this before ripping out the old tile. It may even be what the room décor may need to complement the color scheme.

Visit the local crafts store; acrylics are an excellent choice, as most are available in small bottles and are inexpensively priced. They also wash off clothes, brushes and grout easily, and can be mixed with other brands of acrylic paint. Plus, in the event the artist changes their mind about the style or color, this type of paint can be removed by scrubbing with soap and water, even if dried. (This is why a fixative, glaze or other protection is required after completion.)

Next, decide what colors would best suit the surroundings. Chances are, with the vast assortment of acrylics, you will find at least 4-5 tones of the shade you’re considering. Should you utilize 2 or 3 colors, it widens the range even more. Opt for 2 or 3 different paints, as fewer won’t be as interesting and more become too difficult when blending. (Blending is important as it can hide a lot of mistakes while still looking artistic!)

The initial step in implementing this project is to cover all grout with strips of masking tape. (If the area is larger than a few feet, aim to finish a section at a time, perhaps an area of 3 tiles across and 3 tiles down.) Then, start with the first color and dab over all tiles in the section. Use a flat sponge brush, since individual strokes are not needed with that type of applicator. Leave plenty of room for the other colors. Repeat with the 2nd color, and then the 3rd color (if used). By this point most of the original color is covered and other colors are somewhat overlapped. This process must be done fairly quickly, as acrylic dries more rapidly than other paints. The final step is to take a wet paper towel and start blotting into the colors. This will not only “blend” the paint but also lift out some of it, leaving a textured and layered effect. If a tile does not look the way you wish, simply wash off and redo. It may take some trial and error to determine how many tiles to work on at a time, but eventually it will become easier.

After all sections are complete, let dry overnight in order to see the finished project in daylight. If some tiles need more of a particular color, dab extra on; if others are too harsh or dark, dab with a wet paper towel to lift some color off. When satisfied, remove masking tape, let thoroughly dry, and then apply a coat of varnish or other clear protection. (Most are available in glossy, semi glossy or flat finishes.)

The time required to paint tiles will, of course, vary, but plan on spending longer than you originally expected. Allow an entire weekend in order to accommodate changes or repairs to the paint job; however, the process of doing several squares at once is the most efficient and provides uniformity for the blending process.

Although the time investment may seem like a lot, this is the type of project that provides ongoing satisfaction and compliments. People will never believe that you’ve done it yourself, as it really does add a designer touch to any space. Every time you’ll look at the handiwork, you’ll feel good that you have custom painted tile, and hopefully you will enjoy the process as much as the end result!

“Edginess” in Clothing-What Exactly Is It?

I’ll show my ignorance here -what is the value placed on “edginess” these days? Since the middle of last year, have heard reference at least once a week to this adjective (or noun), and I’m believing that I either slept through an English vocabulary class or am living in middle age geekiness. Is this a word to which only people under 25 can relate? Are they the only ones who truly understand what it means to be “edgy”? I saw no fewer than 2 ads in as many days asking for “edgy” writers. Just what makes writing edgy? Perhaps it’s the style in those free, urban newspapers that post every nightclub and restaurant, and pages of personal ads. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those publications, but I am not impressed with the writing because the writers are too impressed with themselves. Pieces are written in the tone that the writer is so aware of the latest scene, they obviously define what’s cool. This does nothing to endear me to them, and words not usually used by the general population are thrown in so we realize how “not with it” we are. Is that condescending style considered edgy?

When this word is applied to fashion, I am left scratching my head. Skimming through one of the newest spring magazines, I saw the word several times. Try as I might, I could not perceive one independent trait that the clothing had, as a group, rendering it “edgy”. I even saw an entire boutique that was advertised for its “edginess”. Now, there are some other descriptive adjectives that may apply, depending upon your frame of reference. Some examples may be: tough, sharp, distinct, unique, bold, brave, loud, asymmetrical, surprising, fun and having attitude. Now let’s think about this for a minute…don’t we all have something in our closets that can fit some of those descriptions? Does that make us “edgy”? When I’m on edge, it’s not a pleasant situation for me or for anyone else-you’d want me to be less “edgy” than more so!

That word has also been applied to movies, performances, and even music; when I think of “cutting edge”, I have to ask, the edge of what? And who the heck wants to be on the edge of anything? Wouldn’t we want to be planted firmly in the midst of whatever it is we’re trying to achieve? I can’t help but place negative connotations on that word, and it’s because I think that anyone who’s looking for edginess is trying to simply present an image that’s not entirely honest. If I have to try to be a certain way, it obviously isn’t from my heart, and trying to show others just how “with it” I am, for the sheer fact of proving I can be, simply takes too much work.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this piece is a cynical take on the words that the press wants us to find appealing, hoping we jump at the chance to be described by the word of the day. As a writer, I’m well aware of the power of words, and having worked for years in marketing, I know the importance of vocabulary when it comes to sales. It makes me somewhat oblivious to what ads say, because I know they’re prepared by someone like me who’s been told to use a certain word as much as possible. So I don’t fall for it, and neither should you. Buy and wear the fashion items that touch your heart and you will be more comfortable and confident. This will show in many aspects and you will thus appear more attractive, even if someone else has slapped other labels of them such as “boring”, “too retro”, or “old fashioned”. Don’t be overtly influenced to buy something that really doesn’t flatter you or work with your lifestyle just because some writer, somewhere, slapped a fancy adjective on it. Remember that fashions change so millions of people can retain employment in the industry, and if you don’t like those changes, don’t fall for fancy phrases. Be true to yourself; go with what you think looks and feels good, and you will have your own unique beauty.

Make Your Own Fashion Extras

Today I stopped by Michaels, the neighborhood craft store. It had been awhile since I visited, and as usual, I left feeling like I was missing out on numerous opportunities. There is so much a person can make when it comes to jewelry, that if left to my own devices, I’d end up with boxes full within a very short while.

Granted, your creations won’t be confused with Tiffany’s, but you are sure to end up with jewelry unlike that owned by any of the other several billion people in this world. But if you yen for something fancy, know that Michael’s even carries Swarovski Crystal beads. (You can make your own bracelet with any or all colors for around $10…)

If you don’t have such a store near you, there may a similar establishment. (We also have Joanne Fabrics here, and you can be sure that it’s really hard to leave empty-handed from there as well!) Anyway, here are some ideas that you may be able to put to use:

Jewelry-Buy thin (.5mm), clear, elastic to string your own small bead bracelets and necklaces. This elastic is easier overall when putting on and taking off bracelets, but you may want to string twice for added strength. For necklaces, unless you want chokers, the weight of the beads will pull the piece down, and the elastic may be noticeable on your neck. For those, you may prefer to use hooks and circular connectors-but be sure to knot many times. You will find post earring backs as well as wires for dangly earrings. Onto these, use super glue or bonding cement to make pierced earrings from existing clip earrings, unique buttons (not the kind with holes) or semi-precious gems that these stores also usually sell. There are also tons of charms that can be simply added onto bracelets or necklaces; Michaels has added a line that looks pretty upscale. Even at that, each charm is only around $4; if you add a few gems or crystals on either side, and attach all onto a good quality gold or silver chain, it could easily look like a department store piece. Also sold are pin backings, which mean that anything you love can be made into a pin-an interesting charm, pendant, miniature, tiny silk flowers, etc. It should also be mentioned that these stores usually sell gold and silver-toned chains as well, but they are obviously not as fine and delicate as the real thing. But they could be used in some instances, like if your young daughter wants to make a batch of necklaces for friends with the same type of pendant. However, packages come in long lengths and must be cut down with pliers, and hooks attached.

Belts-There are many plastic and metal buckle-type items sold in craft and fabric stores. Making a belt is super easy: buy a length of belt material (sold in fabric stores) and flip one end over the center strip on this kind of buckle. Sew it down (preferably by machine so it holds better.) Go to the other end of the strip of material, flip the edge over, and sew down for a finished edge. It’s ready to wear.

Purses-Purse handles are also sold, which work on the same basic premise as the belts. First you take material, turn inside out, and sew up the two adjacent sides for side seams. Turn to right side out again. Then, flip one top edge through the slot on one handle, and the other edge through the slot of the other handle. Anchor with sewing, and voila!

Hair Ornaments-Use items from the large array of gems, crystals, beads, silk flowers, lacing and the like to cover inexpensive or old barrettes, sturdy headbands, or even bobby pins. Fashion accessory stores sell such items starting around $5-$10 each, but they can be made for a fraction of the cost.

Tops- Buy an inexpensive tee or sweatshirt and decorate it with fabric paint (applied freehand or with stencils) or appliqués.

These are just a few ideas; you’ll probably come up with your own the more you allow yourself become an artist. You’ll find that you’ll love to say, “I made it myself.”

Is There Such a Thing as Fashionable Eyewear?

Here’s an irony…even though it seems that the majority of people need some sort of visual correction enhancement, no woman really feels that she looks better in glasses. Now, a few have found frames that suit their face, body, coloring and style, and actually look very attractive with them, but if given their ‘druthers, would probably not have to wear them at all.

It’s one thing to don glasses in the library or at a business meeting- after all, they do give the image of intellectualism-but does any woman feel sexy and alluring pairing eyeglasses with evening or formal attire? Even if the glasses are part of her, and she’s far from a vain type, there probably comes a moment when she thinks, “I wish I could go without them just for tonight.” I find myself wondering about the stars that present the awards at show like the Grammies and Oscars who don cheaters before reading the list of nominees. Have they checked with every designer eyewear store in the country to find just the right specs to match their evening gowns?

I always look twice at ads for eyewear that show an absolutely stunning lady wearing glasses with fancy clothes. On the model, the glasses look perfect, and so does she. In real life, it isn’t easy to find glasses that allow us to look like that because most of us don’t look that those models.

Millions of people wear contact lenses, and some don’t even need them-they just wear them to change their eye color. That’s what I did for a very long time, until I did what thousands of others did and got Lasik surgery. It was 5 years in the planning, and my research involved every web site and blog I could find, as well as local doctors, hospitals, and facilities. I decided on a “chain” clinic, figuring it had to have high, uniform standards. Unfortunately, it took 3 surgeries and over 3 years to get my eyesight right.

My nearsightedness existed since 8 years of age, and my prescription was 20/500. But since I was over 35, I was advised to consider monovision, where one eye is slightly under-corrected, in order to accommodate the future need for reading glasses. It seemed like a good idea at the time. My surgeon had to over-ride the settings on the Bausch and Lomb laser, but was too conservative and I ended up with 20/30 in one eye and 20/150 in the other. This difference was most unsettling, and knowing that I could not have a corrective enhancement for 5 months did not improve the situation. Since there was a chance my eyes hadn’t stabilized; it would not have been prudent to order glasses or contacts and have them no longer be usable within days, so I couldn’t find relief, or even drive at night.

My second surgery did the trick-for about a month. I then developed extreme eye dryness which caused the cornea to “crinkle” up, causing a film and vision loss that neither over the counter nor prescription drops could repair. Plus, my vision regressed slightly in both eyes, so a third enhancement was scheduled. That post-op period required plugs in my tear duct, 3 kinds of eye drops, and steroids. It took a good year for my eyes to resume normal tear production and retention, but now my vision is finally close to 20/20.After a lifetime of glasses and contacts, I still find it miraculous. To get up in the morning and be able to see, and to not plan my day around contact lens wear, is a unique type of freedom.

There is no doubt that you will feel prettier on an average day, and more glamorous on special days, without glasses, but it may take longer than you think. It’s clear that Lasik does not have the kinks worked out yet, and it is impossible to judge results. But, if you don’t want to bother, check out the new contact lenses-you may be surprised that they’ve invented more comfortable versions, in more natural colors. And, to answer my question, there is such a thing as fashionable eyewear-you just need to try on many styles in many stores. But it can be done-just ask the stars.

Is Your Hairdresser An Honorary Family Member?

Every fashion publication has one section that focuses on hair styles and hair care. Here on Fashion Blog last month, I wrote about our fascination with hair, and how it has power greater than anything involving self-image and how we feel on any particular day. When I see before and after pictures of ladies who receive stunning transformations from having a few inches snipped off and a little highlighter applied, I am again mesmerized by the talent and skill of hairdressers. No matter how technologically advanced our world becomes, this profession will be indispensable. Without them, we can wear a lovely and expensive new outfit but still not look our best. In the world of fashion, I think hairdressers are right up there next to a good fit-you don’t realize how vital either is until you don’t have it. And, both do wonders in making the most of what you have.

My hairdresser knows me better than many members of my extended family, and more (in some ways) than my immediate family. Now, the same type or degree of love isn’t equal, but I feel freedom to gripe about certain individuals, which isn’t an option with family members. There is a sense that I can tell a hairdresser almost anything, especially if there has been a long term connection. It’s a comfort, along with the sense of trust that my hairdresser is not going to do anything to make me feel worse about myself. Most women view having to find a new hairdresser as a major disruption in their lives, and pray they don’t face that situation any time soon. I have had longer relationships with the women who take care of my hair than I’ve had with many romances, and in my adult life, my hairdressers have numbered exactly two. I guess you could say I’m a “loyal” customer.

Cyndi was my rock during my working years, with me during moves, job changes, marriage and pregnancy. Around every 8 weeks, we updated each others’ lives, and, as infrequent as that sounds, over 10 years, it adds up. She finally quit and started to work from home, but lived quite a distance away. I made the trip a few times, but with a young child, I couldn’t justify spending an afternoon getting a trim. It’s embarrassing to admit that I drifted away from her. I have often wondered if hairdressers wonder about us in this vein, and if it’s one of their occupational hazards.

For 7 years I’ve been seeing Michelle, who left her family owned salon upon having kids and also opened her own studio out of her house. We’ve weathered many a hair dilemma together, from my daughter’s disappointing shag cut to a perm that didn’t take in certain areas, to my occasional self-messes. She has become an important person in my life. I see how some celebrities insist on their stylists traveling with them; it’s easy to become dependent on someone who knows how we wish to be “beautified”. Can we say the same for other members of our family?

If you go to salons where you see different stylists, you probably are lucky to get different professional opinions. But you have already realized that, when it comes to styles, opinions vary It’s great to find someone whose idea of style matches your own, while still having a relationship that’s honest. (You do want to be warned that your newest idea just won’t work with your type of hair or face shape, for example.) One good reason to stay with a hairdresser is that history gets built, and you both can refer to other incidents regarding what worked and what didn’t. Once you two are in synch, your hairdresser may even be able to convince you to try styles you never anticipated, since you probably reach a point where you start trusting his or her judgment. They are also usually good sources of “new” looks not only in hair, but nail care and cosmetics.

If you have yet to meet a hairdresser who rates a place high on the totem pole of your personal circle, keep looking. Here’s a tribute to hair dressers everywhere: Thank you for making our lives a little better, in more ways than one!

Does Everything Look Better With a Tan?

Some folks think they look five pounds thinner with a little tan, and that almost every ensemble looks better when one has a little color in their cheeks. It’s hard to argue that a healthy glow on arms and legs seems to perk up the clothes themselves. Whites and pastels appear cooler and brighter, and bronzed skin adds drama to darker colors. Women may feel less “naked” when wearing shorts, mini skirts or sleeveless tops with a slight tan.

We all know the dangers of artificial tanning, as well as the alternatives. We’ve been inundated with sunscreen protection and information about the ravages of skin cancer. However, although there is the argument that no sun exposure is safe, there are still many people who frequent tanning parlors and do so safely. I like to consider myself in that category, because I think humans are meant to get some sun, as vitamin D studies prove. Today’s article is addressing people like myself, who believe that they can tan minimally as well as safely.

I’ve visited a tanning salon during the last 2 winters. Before you cringe and question my sense, let me say that I am probably the most conservative tanner around. I buy a 10 session package that lasts me from November to May-which works out to going once every 3 weeks. I choose the lowest level of power, don’t always stay for the entire 15 minutes, and leave the top open a bit. So, you ask, why even bother? For me, it’s beneficial; my skin isn’t shocked once May arrives, and it seems to improve my skin. (Luckily, I have olive skin that never burns, but if I did not have this type, I probably would not go.) But tanning this way gives me some laughs:

My local salon had some specials this winter. First was a special $2 tan during my city’s football games (Pgh. Steelers), “except for half time”. Now, let’s think about this for a moment…How many people do you know would jump up from the couch in the middle of a football game, drive to the nearest tanning salon, strip down to their birthday suit, lay there for 15 minutes, and get back home before the start of the 3rd quarter? This special is obviously for folks who don’t care about the game, and use the time to avoid the crowds at shopping centers. In that case, they won’t care whether it’s half time or not…

The second reason to roll my eyes is the names for the fancy and overpriced products these places hawk. (In case you didn’t know, you aren’t supposed to use regular tanning lotions because they gunk up the plastic beds.) So, they sell “accelerators” and “enhancers”. Almost all have exotic, sensual names which are almost embarrassing to request. When I asked about the advantages, one clerk told me that I wouldn’t have the smell of “burning skin.” Ew…….

Third is anxiety that I haven’t locked the door to my cube and that someone will burst in while I’m in that defenseless state. Even though I make sure that I do lock it, there is always a moment when I’m laying there and it sounds like someone is trying the knob-although it’s next door. (With the fan going and the music speaker next to my ear, it’s hard to hear much clearly.)

Two years ago, my introduction to this was in a stand-up booth, which I really liked. I could stand further away from the bulbs and turn at my own pace. It was roomy, and time seemed to fly by. But they discontinued it; apparently 99% of tanners want to lie and relax. Well, that’s all well and good as long as one doesn’t have a fear of feeling like they’re in a coffin. (I prefer to pretend I’m in one of those freezing chambers that the Smith family occupied on “Lost in Space”.)

Tanning salons should be approached with caution and respect. Safe salon tanning may prevent sunburn by limiting exposure, will definitely remove the white patches bathing suits cause, and take way less time than hours outside. You will probably also feel that everything you wear looks better…but be careful.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


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Monday, February 18, 2008

Biker Jackets

Have you ever owned a biker jacket? You know-the fashion-forward versions of what motorcyclists wear to shield them from 80 miles-per-hour windburn…Personally, I have not. I do have a similar type in red, but it falls short of the real thing, or even the fashionable type.

After gazing upon photos of the new biker jackets, I figured they’d make a good topic for today’s column. They’re something that today’s woman would probably wear to school, stores and casual activities.

Biker jackets are usually found in shades of grey, black and blue denim. (Of course, the real ones are black or brown leather.) The jackets are basically form fitting across the bust and waist, and in addition to skinny sleeves, can slim a woman’s silhouette with the elimination of useless bulk. (This is in comparison to real biker jackets, which are bulky in order to shield the wearer from cold and elements.)

All of the models I have seen have had zippers on varying degrees of slant from the hem all the way up to under the collar lapel. (It’s suggested that the jacket be roomy enough to be zipped over the chest, which gives you some idea of the way they’re supposed to fit.) Just about every version has also had some amount of metal studding-decorative or practical-around the waist or collars, and a couple styles even have epaulets.

Due to the strength of such a piece, a woman would be wise to keep the rest of her ensemble low-key. Obviously, jeans, tighter-fitting pants, or pared down straight skirts will keep the attention on the jacket. Since there is so much detail in the front of biker jackets, it would be difficult to wear any king of long necklace with it, and even short necklaces or chokers could take away from the overall look of such a piece.

Since a biker jacket is not considered girlie or feminine, it may be a nice change for a gal who normally prefers that image, to show others that she’s not stuck in a certain look.

Biker jackets, can, however, be expensive; the ones I saw started at $225 for a fleece version and ranged up to $675 for a cotton one. There are other limitations to consider as well: First, they’re not the jacket to wear by anyone who has gotten used to hiding her hips and derriere; they’re all waist length or a little longer. (This correlates to the real biker jackets, which must be short in order to allowing maximum maneuverability while riding and not get in the way by flapping in the breeze.) For women who are accustomed to wearing longer tops, they may be uncomfortable with this feeling and not like their tops being longer than their outerwear. Secondly, biker jackets create a “tougher” look than the traditional car coat or blazer. For some women, this may not be the image they wish to present in some circumstances, especially if they are a little older. (Some women over 40 can carry off the biker-chick look easily; others feel so awkward that it shows.) Third, the biker jacket’s practicality is somewhat limited. Even heavy-duty cotton does not offer much protection from temperatures below 55 degrees, and, lacking hoods, they also don’t keep rain off a hairdo. Considering that many folks don’t even bother with jackets when it’s warmer, it seems that a short, cotton biker jacket is more of a decorative accessory item than a functional weather response. At prices that average over $300, that’s a lot for what may be limited use.

Several styles should be tried on before purchase. Such a short top can change the line of a woman’s body by “cutting” her almost in half. Some versions may hit the hips at a place that makes them appear wider, while others can appear to create a thick waist. A woman may find that, by wearing skinnier-legged pants and high boots, these flaws may be reduced, but then she’ll need to decide if those types of clothes are always what she’ll wear with the biker jacket.

But it can’t be argued that biker jackets have panache. They are worth checking out to see what they can offer to a wardrobe.

In Search Of Pearly Whites

This week, I guess I’m in the mood to write about the accoutrements connected with fashion, such as my article about wrinkles. As I was doing so, it dawned on me that the word “fashion”, along with its image of modern styles, flattering colors, and the most creative and imaginative pairings of items, also relies a good deal upon personal care.

It may be hard to find anyone on a best dressed list with constantly dirty hair, stubble in their armpits, and chipped nail polish. This makes perfectly logistical sense, since the attention to detail that’s needed for good grooming and basic hygiene is also needed for wardrobe co-ordination. Sometimes it seems that too much attention is given to areas that the majority of folks probably will never even notice. There seems to be “specialists” and professionals for just about every aspect of the female body, from eyebrow arches to nail shape to eye colors. Let’s face it-we rarely even notice such things on our acquaintances unless they are major changes. We probably wouldn’t even notice them on media personalities. Yet, there is one new area that is noticeable, and that is tooth whitening. Think about this: when was the last time you saw any model or actress flash a dingy smile?

We now have the ability to sit and type on high speed machines that make our words instantaneously available to anyone, anywhere in the world, while whitening our teeth at the exact same time. We’ve come a long way, baby.
I’ve tried a few tooth whitening products in an attempt to get those same brilliant grins that news anchors possess, but so far, none of them have been that easy. There’s one kind that I painted on like nail polish; it tasted awful and made me conscious of every drop of spit and saliva washing it off my teeth. Then there are the strips that were supposed to stay plastered to my teeth, but didn’t, requiring me to stick my finger in my mouth every 2 minutes to push them back into place. And, those that boasted a “comfy” mouthpiece looked about as comfy as the brace retainer I used to wear. Now I see there’s a new kind of applicator that fits better on the teeth. It reminds me of those wax lips we used to buy as kids in a candy store. (You know where your teeth just sink into that gushy, soft wax and get stuck…?)

Over the counter tooth whitening systems actually seem a bit scary. Have you really read the boxes of any that give “results like professional dentist office whitening”? Regarding the methods that utilize appliance-type applicators, in addition to inside instructional packets containing a choking warning, there dire directions call for notifying the poison center immediately if the waxy gizmo is accidentally swallowed.

Let me make sure I understand this correctly-I am applying stuff to the inside of my mouth for 30 minutes a day, every day for a week, but should the gizmo that’s pushing the stuff onto my teeth becomes swallowed, I’m in immediate danger of poisoning. What’s wrong with this picture?

Years ago, people had to be satisfied with baking soda and peroxide if they wanted less whiter-looking teeth. Then, about a dozen whitening toothpastes hit the market. Now we have all of these fancy, sophisticated products available in the neighborhood grocery, but it appears they could slowly poison us. But do we care? For the most part, we don’t. We’re suckers for those commercials that make us feel guilty for having teeth that may be stained from coffee, tea, wine, tobacco, and years of using regular toothpaste. (I guess we could just stop our bad habits, but for many, that’s too much of a sacrifice.) Recently, tooth whitening systems based on light technology have now appeared in variety stores. Between what we can buy almost anywhere, and the many professional whitening procedures offered by dentists, we’re inundated with an emphasis on pearly whites.

However, if you’ve never done so before, you may want to try one of these many ways to obtain a glittering smile. Whiter smiles can make you feel like smiling more, and smiling more will definitely make anything you’re wearing look better.

Going Glam for Special Days

At certain times of the year, many of us women start seriously considering sprucing up ourselves and our wardrobes. For some, Christmas and/or New Years are the high point of their fashion year; for others it’s Easter or springtime, and still others “bloom” in the short season of summer. (For what it’s worth, I fall into the last category.) Probably, the end of the year is the most the social time of the year, with holiday parties, family get-togethers, children’s events and entertainment opportunities. On the other hand, the spring and summer boast weddings, graduations, teas, picnics and outdoor exhibits. Sometimes, it seems that more people will be seeing us than we would probably like, and some of them haven’t seen us since the same time the following year. It’s at those moments we tend to feel like the pressure is on, and most of us start planning well in advance.

We look at ourselves in the mirror and make a list of things to do, most of which we probably don’t have enough time to accomplish. But, failing changing our body shape or growing our hair or improving our skin, we can at least buy stuff to improve what’s there, and thus begins the mad rush I refer to as “special occasion glam”.

The stores are more than willing to help us.

This past holiday season, I decided that I should get a little more dressy than usual for and of course I had nothing in my existing collection of fancy clothes that quite fit the bill. So I hit the malls, and found that there seemed to be a broad leap from casual to super-dressy, with little in between. However, I finally managed to find a couple of items that I liked. For Thanksgiving, it was a matching skirt and top, done in the style of an Indian design, with a long, gauzy skirt and long tunic with ¾ sleeves, all adorned with embroidery and beading. (Granted, my daughter claimed it “ugly”, but I’ve been able to wear it several other places easily, including a business meeting, show, and even to the dentist’s. The dentist complimented it, by the way.) As a special something for my husband’s company holiday event, I found a champagne-hued, tea-length dress in what could be a 1920 deco style. It’s since been worn to a wedding and a bar mitzvah.

I feel good about both purchases because I’ve gotten wear out of these outfits in more venues than I ever expected-and I will probably continue to do so. This kind of thinking coincides with the multitude of events, causing women to ask themselves, “Will anyone remember my wearing this before?” Some people actually keep notes, but I haven’t gone that far yet-primarily because I don’t go that many social events. I remember seeing in a gossip magazine take issue with Lady Diana wearing the same outfits to different functions, and thought that was rather low of the press. I’m sure her assistants made sure the clothes weren’t seen by the same guests, but I think it’s good that she, even as royalty, was setting a good example to get the most out of her fashion choices.

It does feel wonderful to look snazzy, but I don’t know if it makes parties any more fun than when one is wearing re-runs. But wearing anything more glamorous than the norm makes us feel differently than we do in daily life. Isn’t the whole point of good marketing? (“Buy these sequins and glitter and you’ll be a princess for the night. It doesn’t matter if the party is in the same old place and you’re sitting with the same old people-look like this and everything’s more exciting.”) I guess that’s the reason we have dress-up occasions in the first place, to make special occasions even more so. Fancy clothes may not be comfortable, but let’s face it-they can help make us look like we’ve been working diligently on ourselves for the last year.

So, here’s to the special occasion glam, the once-a-year sexy high heels and the flashy jewelry. Pulling it all together may be a bit of a pain, but it’s all worth it when you realize it’s helped to make you feel more festive!

Fashion Versus Wrinkles

When we think about high fashion, what are the images that come to mind? For most, it’s beautiful models on the runways of major fashion hubs, like New York, Milan or Paris. Invariably, they are tall, thin, and wearing ensembles that cost the equivalent of a few months’ rent or mortgage. Now, regular department-store fashion may be a bit more low-keyed, but it’s still represented by lovely, well-put together gals. The one common denominator, at least in my mind, is that these women are usually fairly young, or, at least too young to have any noticeable wrinkles.

Now, we all know that there are millions of absolutely stunning older women whose beauty is even more remarkable because it’s withstood the test of time, often without cosmetic surgery. These models of elegance are inspiration for the rest of us, who can only hope we’ll look that good in our later years. It’s encouraging to know that in real life, we aren’t so demanding that structured categories of weight, body type or age make much difference in attractiveness. This is a very good thing! However, sometimes it is discouraging to see advertising and other media that depicts older women with almost flawless skin. It’s right up there with personal computers now utilizing photo-shop techniques to air-brush improvements in our digital pictures. No matter how open minded we are about many things, we still are pretty closed minded when it comes to wrinkles.

Recently, while applying makeup, I noticed a few lines around my eyes-lines that did not readily disappear when I stopped smiling. I’ve been lucky (and grateful to my Mediterranean heritage) to have staved them off as long as I have, but I guess it’s time to pay the piper. Facial lines are actually nothing new to me, but they’ve been kept in check by a personal blend of elixirs I’ve trialed over the years. However, I guess the magic potions’ time has ceded to time itself, and the products can’t fight anymore; now I’m ready for the big guns.

So I went shopping yesterday for new, intensive, super-duper, deep-revitalizing eye serums, you know, the heavy hitters.

Why do manufacturers try to sell us their whole line when all we want or need is one item? Major cosmetic companies sell not just eye cream, but overall facial wrinkle smoothers, as well as products for spot areas that are “deeply damaged”. Then there’s the AM or PM choice to make, which always confused me. If I have to buy a wrinkle smoother in the first place, why wouldn’t I want to use the most efficient one at all times? And then there’s the chemical engineering to consider: Do I want it to permeate into the inner layers of my skin to regenerate from within, or to simply plump up the outer layer for a smoother surface? Do I really need to know this?

By the process of elimination, I narrowed it down from three to one major line of skin products. (It wasn’t too hard, since I disagree with the animal testing of one and believe the other is overrated.) That left me with about 6 choices from which to choose. I selected the one I did because it gave me a laugh. (Just what I need-more laugh lines…) This treatment, according to the box, has been “clinically proven to reduce the appearance of fine squint lines, fill the look of deep crow’s feet, fade dark circles, and diminish the look of “crepiness”.

Crepiness? How many people look at that and don’t make the connection to crepe paper? How many people take a quick glance at that and think they are reading the word “creepiness”? Furthermore, have you heard even one person ever use the word “crepiness”? Ok…let’s look it up in the dictionary…nope, “crepiness” is not a word.

Apparently, I’ll either continue to look creepy or like crepe paper unless I buy their product. (Hey-this may be one big advertising ploy to attract both those who resemble crepe paper and those who think they look creepy, all in one fell swoop!) It will make women wonder if they’ll end up looking less crepe-y or less creepy. It doesn’t matter, as long we look younger, and therefore, more fashionably acceptable.

Fashion and Technology - Novelty Digital Gadgets Review

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Our life is surrounded by many of the amenities of modern technology in this digital world, These digital gadgets benefit us for communication, automation and new forms of art. But there has been no such boom-and-bust cycle in the embrace of digital technology, So rather than paring back, people are increasingly turning to all sorts of new digital gadgets and services, whether it’s a novel music players, advanced television sets, cellphones in the latest version or high-speed Internet access.

Originality and Technology is taking a new leap every single day. Novelty digital gadgets are giving us new surprises and greater feelings more often. Let’s just give an analysis to a few modern digital gadgets.

Optical Liquid Wireless Mouse
Who would have guessed that a Computer Mouse can be a form of self-expression? Practical advantages are basic for a mouse: gamers need high dpi, extra buttons, and, like everyone else, a comfy shape. But what about mice that have nothing to do with improving the computer experience, at the expense of looking cool, cute, and a little weird? Optical Liquid Wireless Mouse is one of them. It’s fully armed with nifty designs, floating ducks, flashing lights… The mouse is symmetrically designed, meaning that its ambidextrous shape is handy for both lefties and righties equally. They're also all plug-and-play, without any need for software or drivers.

Mouse that combines practicality and personality together is more popular.

MP3 Player Eyewear
Music-playing eyewear is still mostly a novelty.

Popular versions is compatible with MP3, WMA, WAV, and iTunes' AAC formats. Mp3 Player Eyewear is getting more trendy in style nowadays.

Recharge Batteries with USB Port
You can charge anywhere from any accessible powered USB. There is no need for a separate charger or cables when traveling. You can easily charge cells in your game station and just swap over to continue play, and charging for just a few minutes provides extra hours of instant use for most input devices. Sounds quite handy to me!

What Will Be the New Focus in Trade Shows
It’s that time of year again. Time to stay in the know with this year’s 2008 CES. Technology analysts, reporters, and innovators will be in Las Vegas exploring the wealth of tech gadgetry coming out this year. Storage media, GPS technology, and more are only a few of the products that will be featured. Essentially, it is the stuff dreams are made of for the hardcore technology enthusiasts.

GPS technology has really taken off. I recently purchased a GPS system for a family member, and I could not help but be fascinated with how far GPS technology has grown these past few years. Announcements from several GPS device manufacturers are sure to stir up the competition. Hand-held, car navigation systems, wrist watches, and other types of devices that utilize GPS technology will spring up at the 2008 CES.

Probably some of the biggest announcements are going to revolve around the way you store your data where it’s computer storage facility or phone SD Card. SanDisk, Samsung, Sony, PNY Technologies, and others will be doing their best to pimp new offerings in the line of solid-state drives (SSD).

Feng Shui USB Flash Drive
Crystals play a pivotal role in the world of Feng Shui, and what better way to channel some good vibes to your workdesk than with this crystal-enhanced USB flash drive? I wonder whether it helps prevent virus attacks and corrupted data on your computer while using this. Still, it is a rather interesting USB flash drive to own, except that you can’t wear this around your neck or place it in your pocket as you will probably end up hurting yourself with the sharp edges accidentally.

Laptops just keep getting smaller, and smaller, and still smaller. It is a continuing trend. Expect that this year’s CES will continue that trend and bring us even smaller computer notebooks that will be just as capable as their bigger counterparts.

High definition televisions will be quite the interesting topic of discussion at CES. If I had money to burn, a 150-inch plasma television by Panasonic might fit the bill. Where I would put it is another article in itself. By the way, the picture is only of a 102?, can you imagine a 150?? Just wait until you hear the price for one of these things.

The show will ultimately result for two things: announcements about new products on the way, and prices being lowered for currently available technology. In the end, it really is a win-win situation for all.

Fashion and Technology
The lines between these two continues to be blurred.
Global trends now emerge faster than ever before because of internet and text messaging. Shortcuts in transmission of ideas and concepts between individuals are bringing the next big thing to you in the space of seconds. For example, the latest iPod, an advanced cell phone set and a laptop are today as powerful symbols of fashion as clothing, footwear, accessories and cosmetics. Successful brands must start to balance the 'be fashionable' aspiration with today's converging technology if they want to stay competitive in the industry and most important, relevant in the mind of consumers.

Popular Items in Women’s Shopping Bags

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T-Shirt: Women’s Fashion Statement
T-shirts are a fashion statement that is not just another fad that will go away in a few weeks. T-shirts have been around for a very long and are here to stay only now they are not something you wish to hide under your shirt to keep you warm during the winter; they are works of art worth displaying to the world. Make your own fashion statement to the world or find a great looking, funny, Christian, or just a beautiful T-shirt for a family member or friend. You will be excited to show off your new tee and so will your friends.

How to Choose a T-shirt: Color and Design
The thing that you will want to look for when shopping for a t-shirt is that it offers a color palette and design that will fit into your wardrobe and that also is appealing to you. If you will be using the t-shirt as a layering piece then you may want to buy several t-shirts in a variety of colors that compliment the other existing pieces in your wardrobe. If the t-shirt will be worn to work then you will need to make sure that its color and design are appropriate for a work environment. On the other hand, if you are looking for a fun casual t-shirt then you may want to look for one that offers a funky color and design.

Some Latest Trends That Apples in T-shirt Industry:
1. Military wear t-shirts - it has extra pockets and the masculine feeling, they add is far above any struggle from other kind of looks. Just add white and black to them and feel the variation right away.
2. Polo cool T Shirt: it comes in the top list of shirts. Wear a polo shirt with a Jeans, it gives a casual look. One can add a nice coat on it while attending corporate function.
3. Layering T-shirt - it works, particularly in winters.
4. Logos - it is not a new style. If there is enough money and wandering what to wear, then go the biggest and trendiest store and spend money and exhibit by wearing logos. But be careful, do not get too loud or too calm color.

Fashion Accessory to Remain Cool: Sunglasses
Sunglasses are like any other fashion accessory. With each passing season, sunglass styles change. Old styles become the kind of sunglasses that "your grandmother used to wear," while newer styles can be seen on the faces of Hollywood stars and glamour queens on magazine covers and at red-carpet events. Eventually those old styles stage comebacks as "retro" Sunglasses and the fashion cycle comes full circle.

Some of the hippest sunglass styles continue to be the oversized type. Sometimes these shades can look like they take up half of your face. But all the starlets and stargazers are wearing them, whether on the sand or on the way to the supermarket. Try some of the newest versions of the oversized genre, such as the "bug eye" look or "wide-line" styles that can actually fit over your prescription eyeglasses.

As for colors and textures of today's top sunglasses, keep your eyes out for the newest designers that feature animal skin and lizard leather textures, crystal-jewel touches, or even mother-of-pearl inlays. Even sunglasses' carrying cases can be glamorized with touches of gems, dangling doodads, or the designer's logo.

It doesn't necessarily mean that the shade of your sunglasses should match the color of the outfit you are wearing. Sunglasses in a single shade would most likely match any outfit. Choose a shade that would bring out certain colors in the clothes that you are wearing. Choose a shade in sunglasses that would also break the monotony in the color of your clothes.

It is important not too spend too much on sunglasses. You can have two or three designer brands which may be expensive but you can still find cheap ones that look good as well. If you aren't sure yet if a particular pair of sunglasses would suit you or not choose to buy the discount ones. It is best that you invest in sunglasses that are classics and will never go out of style. For those that are just the fad, don't spend too much on it for it will just soon end up in your drawers. If you are the tech-savvy individual and you enjoy listening to music, there are sunglasses that incorporate an MP3 player with it.

That's far from enough to fill your Shopping Bag, let's take the focus to shoes.

Footwear Must Have: Casual or Formal; High Heel or Low Heel
Boots in a medium or dark neutral
These leather alternative boots are classic enough for work-wear yet sexy enough to add an edge to jeans and an everyday tee. Top-of-the-calf boots Shoes with a flat heel are one of the cold weather season’s hottest looks, but are surprisingly in-demand even as the weather grows warmer.

One pair of neutral-colored casual boots for the weekend
A woman can never go wrong with classics such as the Amy boot. Your weekend casual cruelty-free boot should have an extremely soft and flexible sole making it extremely comfortable for all day wear. Make sure your casual eco-friendly boots exteriors are made of "leather" like synthetic micro-fibers giving you that stylish look, while the interior is made of a soft cotton lining and a generous foot bed that will accommodate your feet.

One pair of attractive non-leather sneakers.
The fall time is the perfect time to run around the track at your nearby park, and enjoy your surroundings. Whether your eco-friendly non-leather sneakers are made from hemp or synthetic micro-fibers, they are go well with your tracksuit, yet hard-working enough to perform at the gym. The best athletic/sporty shoes are the pairs that have an extremely supportive EVA sole, and a thick padded tongue.

Women also love Sports Shoes
New Opportunity in Sports Shoes Market: Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
With the approaching of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, more and more Chinese customers attend in various of sports, athletic sports gradually become one of the parts which can’t lack of in common people’s life, sport shoes market will be more and more larger. Besides townsman’s professional demand to Sports Shoes is advancing.

The influence of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games to science and technology content of Sports Shoes: product. Nowadays the current of product with the same quality is more and more serious, who can keep ahead of technology and make out larruping and suitable product for customers, who will be favorite. Besides, sport shoes manufactures need improve professional capability, at the same time enclose with athletic sports requirement, via reduce cost to supply bargain gym shoes product for person.

Flip-flop Slippers: Summer Shoe Star
This kind of slipper originates fom Korean, and quickly gain popularity around the world. It's casual enough, totally informal, but you still can see holiwood star worn it working in the street or even attending some formal party. Flip-flop slipper is simple to were and free your shoe. People like the comfort it brings and the cool touch of it in the hot summer.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Global Fashion Icon and Major International Designers to Appear

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March 25-30 events create showcase for top international designers to reach their Midwest customers and launching pad for local up-and-coming designers.

St. Louis, MO, February 12, 2008 – Rachel Pally, Black Halo and Yana K, designers whose frocks can often be seen on celebs like Drew Barrymore, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Lopez and the runways of L.A. Fashion Week, are just three of the top designers formally announced to come to St. Louis to launch their Fall 2008 Collections during BORBA Skin Balance Water and Budweiser Select's Spring 2008 Saint Louis Fashion Week. BORBA Skin Balance Water, a delicious enhanced water that helps promote healthy skin from within, and Budweiser Select, a premium American-style light lager, are two Anheuser-Busch products that are enjoyed by stylish, contemporary adults, and a perfect fit for an event celebrating fashion, luxury and trendsetting. The exciting news was broken early this morning at City Hall by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay alongside spokespersons from major Saint Louis Fashion Week corporate sponsors and partners, including Anheuser-Busch, ALIVE Magazine, Washington University, Lumiére Place Casino and Hotels, Macy's, Lori Coulter Swimwear, Centro Models, West Model Management, Mother Model Management, NEXT Models and Solique Models. The runway shows will occur over six days at the new Lumiére Place Casino & Hotels.

"Saint Louis Fashion Week has become an amazing community partnership between some of St. Louis' most prominent corporations, cultural institutions and visionary leaders," said Attilio D'Agostino, Executive Producer of Saint Louis Fashion Week and Editor-in-Chief of ALIVE Magazine. "It's a remarkable collaboration of over 40 St. Louis-based businesses – from boutiques, modeling agencies and creative firms to restaurants and nightlife hotspots – coming together to create a destination for the world's top designers to touch their Midwest fans and customers, and a showcase for the best up-and-coming designers to launch their careers."

Also announced at the press conference was Budweiser Select's "Fabulosity" Saint Louis Fashion Week Launch Party with Kimora Lee Simmons on Saturday, March 15th at Lumen. The global fashion icon and reality TV star -- along with camera crews from her hit TV show "Life in the Fab Lane " -- will arrive in St. Louis on March 14th to participate in a series of events honoring her success as Saint Louis ' most celebrated fashion star and launching Saint Louis Fashion Week. During her stay, Simmons will be making a stop at Washington University , where she will receive the prestigious Susan Sanders Silver Ripper Award for fashion design from The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Kimora will also announce a financial aid scholarship in her name in partnership with Anheuser-Busch. Afterwards, she is scheduled to make a public appearance at Macy's St. Louis Galleria to sign autographs and collect toys for charity in celebration of the "Fabulosity of Giving."

Runway shows for Saint Louis Fashion Week will begin with "Pure" on Wednesday, March 26, where Rachel Pally, the nationally acclaimed L.A. designer, whose vibrant signature designs have been spotted on such celebrities as Madonna, Kate Hudson, Nicole Richie, Beyoncé and Sarah Jessica Parker, will host the evening and reveal her much anticipated Fall 2008 collection. Two more of fashion's brightest young designers, Laurel Berman of Black Halo (famous for dressing celebs like Mandy Moore, Kelly Ripa and Becki Newton each week on ABC's "Ugly Betty"), and Shay Wilson of Kinetix, will also be in attendance at Pure to show their Fall collections.

At "Emerge," on Thursday, March 27th, top designers Yana K and Amahlia Stevens of Vitamin A Swimwear will headline the show. Star L.A. Fashion Week designer, Yana K, is a favorite of celebs Kelis and Kim Kardashian, while celebrity swimwear designer Amahlia Stevens of Vitamin A counts Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen and Jennifer Aniston among her fans. Opening the evening, Victor Hugo de Leon of Niformis and Roberto da Carrara suits, and Joseph Kadi of Joseph's Cloak will be premiere their latest menswear designs, followed by nine of the hottest new names in women's fashion, including Tiffany Alana, Sohung Designs, Zeto, Katie Kantley, Phyl Couture, Miacro Design, English Clientele, Karina and Lyndsy Walker.

At Glow, on Friday, March 28, Macy's will present their latest trends for Spring, featuring their signature INC Collection, followed by an exclusive preview of St. Louis-based designer Lori Coulter's Spring 2008 swimwear collection. Glow will be hosted by international runway supermodels Catherine McNeil and Karlie Kloss. McNeil and St. Louis native Kloss will be joined by President of NEXT Models, Joel Wilkenfeld, and Jeff and Mary Clarke of St. Louis-based Mother Model Management.

On Sunday, March 30, Washington University 's Fashion Design Program will have its senior student show on the Fashion Week runway in five segments: ball gowns, suits, day dresses, tailored coats and evening dresses. Washington University has been the starting point for a number of the fashion industry's top professionals and its students have gone on to work for such fashion houses as Christian Dior, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. The show will also be held at the hub of Saint Louis Fashion Week, Lumière Place Casino & Hotels.

2008 will mark the first-ever Fashion Week for the spring season. "We have such an incredible line up of talented designers and supportive partners this year. It is an honor to be a part of this event and to welcome back Fashion Week this spring," said D'Agostino. "Last fall, we received such an overwhelmingly positive response – not just from the local fashion scene, but from industry leaders all over the nation. We look forward to growing Saint Louis Fashion Week into a monumental tradition that this city, and the entire nation, looks forward to."

Over a dozen parties have been scheduled to take place every day of Fashion Week both before and after the shows at local hotspots, as well as exclusive VIP pre-parties for celebrities, designers and their guests. In addition, the Fashion Week team has arranged for the return of the city-wide St. Louis Shopping Event on March 29, where shoppers will get special Fashion Week discounts on the items and trends that they have seen on the runway. Fashion enthusiasts, local boutiques and downtown businesses are already gearing up for the influx of out-of-towners and the full week of glamour, fashion shows and star-studded after-parties.

August of 2007 marked a ground-breaking first season for Saint Louis Fashion Week. For five nights, the city welcomed hundreds of out-of-towners and St. Louis residents, as fashion enthusiasts flocked to runway shows and after-parties to get a glimpse of the hot new trends, top designers, models and entertainers.

Budweiser Select and BORBA Skin Balance Water, a premium, enhanced water with botanicals, antioxidants and vitamins designed to provide distinct skin-care benefits, are the presenting sponsors of Spring 2008 Saint Louis Fashion Week.

Nest, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the lives of women artists and artisans in developing countries by helping them create sustainable entrepreneurial businesses through micro-credit loans, is this year's charity partner. Throughout the weeks leading up to Fashion Week, partners and sponsors of Fashion Week will be participating in fundraising efforts for which proceeds will benefit the charity.

Presenting sponsors Budweiser Select and BORBA Skin Balance Water are joined by Macy's, Lumière Place Casino & Hotels, ALIVE Magazine St. Louis, Washington University in St. Louis, State Beauty Supply, Bronx-Diba, M•A•C Cosmetics, Redken, Lori Coulter Swimwear, Lordo's, Mercedes-Benz of Progress Point, Arcturis, Power Couple and St. Louis Cosmetic Surgery.

Event partners include; 963 Collective, Centro Models, Charter On Demand, CheresseInk, Contemporary Art Museum, Contemporary Productions, The Fountain Studio, FOX2, Lucky You, Mother Model Management, NEXT Models, Rock Uniform, Solique Models, STL TV, Synergy Productions LLC, Twist, West Model & Talent Management and charitable partner Nest. Each of these sponsors will be providing a wide array of talent, services and amenities to make Saint Louis Fashion Week 2008 possible.

For more information on Saint Louis Fashion Week 2008, or for press and industry registration, please visit us online at

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Office and Outdoor Furniture - Invest in Style and Comfort

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Working Better and Healthier with Fine Office Furniture
Comfort is the first consideration. Be it office chairs or desks, each of the furniture of an office ought to meet the standard of comfortability. A comfortable chair and desk in an office assure the workers a space to work better. Health surveys, be it UK or any other country, state that serious health problems like headache, body ache, mental stress or other psychological disorders are caused by poor sitting posture in office due to uncomfortable chairs. Thus, comfort level should come first. Affordability and style come next. It’s important that style of the chairs, desks, etc. is meeting the modern standard style. Office Furniture meant to be kept at reception has to be much more stylish than the one used at workplace.

Design Trends Worth Notice
Hi-tech and Tradition Perfectly Combined
The concept of "fittings" is what the systems are based on and allows the user to make an infinite number of configurations with the joints or fittings as they are called. The systems are great for any application from entertainment wall to storage units, and even beds

Convenience Taking Counts
Convenience seems to be driving many of the new furniture designs as it does so many other aspects of our lives. Take a cool computer desk for example. All the cables and computer components are contained within the desk and the top lifts for internal access. On the side of the desk reside the CD, RW/DVD, USB, and Hot Keys for a complete computer experience.

Multiple Configuration Options
Many designers are giving life to furniture that has multiple configuration options. The main reason for this emerging trend is versatility, allowing the piece to be used in spaces of various sizes. These modules are "based on shapes like graphically geometric, sinuous, and futuristic forms making this smart furniture useable in more settings. For example, magazine Rack are now taking more flexibility.

Outdoor Seating: Bring Indoor Comfort to Outside
An innovative approach to outdoor seating, a wide curving sofa, a semi-circular footstool, small elliptical table and an arching canopy which can be mixed and matched to create the ideal arrangement for your summer's leisure. The wide curving sofa when paired with the sweeping foot stool offers a huge base on which to recline and relax. Good outdoor furniture adds glamour and style to your gardens and patios.

Outdoor Furniture Choice
Cushions: Consumers want indoor comforts outside. Many companies sell furniture and umbrellas made with great fabrics, which are "pretty much indestructible.
Faux wicker: People like the look of wicker but want to leave furniture outdoors; hence the popularity of powder-coated frames covered by resin strips. Wicker feels like a vacation house.
Lounge seating: dinning sets are no longer the big draw. Customers want outdoor rooms to look more like lounges, experts say. Contemporary designs are a big part of this look.

Sofa Fashion
Sofa Bed with Multiple Function
There are many pieces on the market today that serve multiple purposes. One of my favorites is the sofa bed. I think sofa beds offer terrific functionality when needed and provide daily living requirements of being a great piece of furniture to lounge on. You will not always have overnight guests, but if you do, it is nice to offer them a place to sleep. Also, if your spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend misbehaves, you can send them out to the sofa for a good night sleep!

Sectional Sofa: Functional and Space Save
A sectional sofa for a small space probably appears to be an oxymoron. How could there possibly be a perfect meeting of the two? Well, the honest answer is that in the right home, a sectional sofa could actually save you space! Centrally locating sofa pieces within a small living area not only lends to proper seating for conversation and intimacy, but could also make the space feel more spacious. If seating in one specific spot is not to your liking, with sectional pieces you have the ability to place them however you prefer. This would lend your own personal creative touch to the living room. When looking to purchase a sectional sofa, it would be a wise decision to locate a home furnishing store or website that sells each piece individually or as a whole. That way, if a set is too large you could subtract a couple of pieces and if a desired set is too small, you could add an extra piece. The ability to choose particular pieces allows you to mix and match, therefore, creating your own unique signature "look".

The Material Quality Really Cares
When purchasing outdoor furniture for your space, you need to get something that is made out of higher quality materials. If you don't, then what you purchase will end up breaking down under the elements and will have to be replaced sooner rather than later. Teak along with thick synthetic materials including polymer, resin, and recycled plastic. Every one of these materials will last for quite awhile. Plus, they are all very pleasing to the eye and can be made even more beautiful by the different finishes and colors that are applied to them, something that allows you to also personalize the look of your space. Like, if you just want that plain, sophisticated wood look, then you can get furniture made out of the Southern Cypress with just a clear finished applied to it. Or, if you are looking for something that has a little more flair and panache to it, then a great option would be to again get something made from Southern Cypress, but this time have a hand painted vibrant color applied.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Spring 2008 Fashion Advertising

Browsing through another new fashion magazine has given me more information to share with you.

We’ll start with hemlines…I read several accounts that it’s best to stick with skirts that are a few inches above the knee, for various reasons-not looking frumpy or too retro were two that come to mind. That makes sense, as it seems to be the perfect length for females of any age. Too short always seems too risqué (and unforgiving of flaws), and too long can easily remove the lean line of the body for which most women strive. It appears that handkerchief hemlines are being shown, but with “cleaner” lines than previously. (Am I the only one who gets the image of a dog nipping at the bottom of one’s dress with this kind of hemline?)

Although I’m not done perusing this publication, I’ve come to the conclusion that they will be selling longer tops, and loose tunic dresses, often paired with belts. Many have very interesting prints. This is good; such a style is comfortable, and can look as form-fitting as a woman wishes. (One suggestion is to wear a long blouse with “slightly shrunken blazer” to rein in the volume, which rather defeats the purpose, but I guess it’s good for a change.)

Every pair of shoes I’ve viewed has flaunted high, high heels. I still wonder why women punish themselves in this manner. It’s one thing to wear them for a photo shoot for a few minutes or for an evening of sitting; it’s another to wear them for over 8 straight hours. Even models depicted on the sands of beaches have huge heels, and one ad in particular left me scratching my head: It was that of a young teen male, bare-chested, with jeans almost falling off his hips and his ears adorned with earrings, holding one yellow, high heeled specimen. Sure...I’ll take one of those!

In fact, from page one to page 86, there are exactly a dozen ads utilizing a pool or beach as a setting. Considering this magazine has 274 pages, the total of such ads would number close to 40, using the same ratio. Do you think this is just a bit excessive? I guess this is to get us in the summer mind-set, but as I gaze out onto the latest snowstorm, those ads are plainly irrelevant. Considering that only a relatively few people throughout the world are lucky enough to live on coastlines or spend winters at resorts, it’s seems somewhat presumptuous.

Some very interesting things that I would consider purchasing include accessories with Japanese cherry blossoms, and a handbag in navy suede with black patent leather trim. I’m also intrigued by a new line of nail polish colors developed by O.P.I., named the India Collection. I love their ad featuring a beautiful woman of Indian ethnicity, wearing traditional jewels, and holding a sandwich, with the wording, “Lunch at the Delhi”. It's cleaver and memorable. Plus, bangle bracelets-my favorite jewelry-seem to be on almost every model’s wrist, especially those by Lydell NYC. These are varied in color, and sport a glittery pattern of horizontal striping.

What fascinated me was a creation that any woman can put together-a top that appears to be made of 4 long, matching, rectangular scarves. This looks like it can be made by pairing up 2 sets of 2 scarves and stitching the shorter ends together, which will become the shoulder seams. They should then be laid flat, and the right and left longer sides of the bottom 2 scarves (closest to you) should be pulled together about 1/3 of the way down and stitched-this is the back seam, which offers a v-shaped back neckline. The scarves on top (farthest from you) then need to be flipped over and stitched the same way. The v-neckline may be made deeper by sewing slightly more than ½ of the longer sides together. The hemline will dip at the sides, and wide sleeves will hit around the elbows. Voila-you should be done! No other work should be needed, since the scarves’ edges are already finished. It seems easy enough...

If I try it, I’ll let you know how it turns out, and if you do, please let the rest of us know as well!

The Lady With The Hats

There are some people whose joy of life is expressed in the most interesting ways. So often, those folks also manage to touch and uplift others. One of those special people who deserves acknowledgement is known in my town as the Crazy Hat Lady.

The Crazy Hat Lady works in a grocery store. Middle aged and a single mother, her life is far from being glamorous or easy. But she has attracted many shoppers into the store-and probably retained even more-with a practice of wearing her own line of crazy hats. She is one of the first people customers notice. Often, jaws drop open and kids yelp in amusement. She’s used to the pointing fingers and the questions. The Crazy Hat Lady thinks it’s a hoot.

How can a clerk’s simple action of wearing crazy hats increase the store’s clientele? It’s probably because society doesn’t expect to see a check-out lady wearing them, just like it does not expect to see that grown woman having so much fun. Her hats are a conversation piece, which, after so many years, has allowed the Crazy Hat Lady to be on a first name basis with the regulars.

The Crazy Hat Lady’s name is Dominique, and after noticing her hat of the day, you notice her eyes. Her eyes are constantly twinkling because they have learned to find the humor and fun in the little details of life. Her eyes stand out because her hair is tucked up under her hat. This hat can only be described as a work of art. It’s said that customers go into the store just to see which hat she is wearing that day. Her wardrobe of caps, berets, visors and wide-brimmed straw hats is extensive. Questions about them draw shoppers to her particular check out station, even when she is working in the deli. Her hats are always the subject of much conversation and laughter. It’s not just her hats that are the source of levity; her effervescence affects almost everyone. After all, how can anyone do business with someone who is wearing a crazy hat and not comment on it?

However, some people consider themselves too “dignified” to acknowledge something they view as inane, or perhaps they’re having bad days. It doesn’t bother Dominique; she will continue to provide excellent customer service even to those who look askance at her.

Some of the crazy hats look ready to topple over, however, creating the mystery of how so much on the hats is secured. For example, a large, black witch’s hat is covered with 3-D ghosts, goblins and spider webs, which extend over her ears, as well as spooky toys upon close examination. No holiday throughout the year is ever forgotten or given second-rate status, and Dominique makes sure that she includes every secular decoration available. In between the holidays, she dons an array of professional team sports hats, in addition to hunting, fishing and various other hobby and activity-based theme hats.

Anything that can start a conversation, especially funny and out of the ordinary, deserves special merit. Dominique has realized that we need as many laughs as we can find, and has found a way to give them to us. She probably has many other things to do than glue designs on hats for the fun of it. But that’s the point: fun. She’s not afraid to look silly to generate amusement. She obviously enjoys bringing laughs to others and the face under the crazy hat is always smiling.

Even though the Crazy Hat Lady isn’t making and wearing her hats to get a thank you, hundreds appreciate her effort. It makes their day a little lighter and a little more bearable. She has the guts to make and wear crazy hats that bring more joy to life.

Dominique has proven that anyone can make a positive difference in others’ lives. She does not have public status or cover-girl beauty, but people know her because she makes them forget their problems. By expressing herself with a hat, she changes moods for the better.

We are lucky to have a Crazy Hat Lady. Hopefully, Dominique will receive joy in return for providing us with many happy moments. We need more crazy hats in our lives.

Do You Think Body Piercing and Tattoos Are Fashionable?

I have one word to say on this subject: “Ewwww”. Is there any doubt about where yours truly stands?

Not meaning offense to readers with a different opinion, but “fashion” covers a broad spectrum, and I found myself wondering if women are considering such ornamentation as stylish. As such, I thought I would dedicate an article to it, and as always, fashionblog welcomes your comments.

During the last few days, friends and I discussed the subjects of body piercing and tattoos. I’m the most conservative on the issue, probably because I’m the oldest. It could also be because I am horribly afraid of needles. I’ve actually passed out when getting an injection-and that’s not even watching the needle go into my skin. I cannot and will not observe a needle being poked into any part of my body. Even if I could get past the idea of a needle being used to purposely make a hole or picture that God did not mean to be there, my question is “Why?” What is the point, other than trying to impress people?

And why should they be impressed that I’ve stuck holes in places that don’t need holes in the first place, or I’ve decided to have pictures permanently etched into my skin?

It’s taken me years to get to this point, but I’m finally where I can say that costume jewelry-or even expensive jewelry-doesn’t always enhance a woman’s natural beauty; it often distracts from it. A person who is lucky enough to have a healthy, whole, working-order body should not be focused on punching 10 holes in each ear to stick $30 worth of metal studs around it. It mars the perfection that has been entrusted to them. Judaic law actually states that doing so-along with tattoos-prevents entry into heaven for that very reason.

I never saw an eyebrow or tongue piercing, or a tattoo, make any woman more attractive. I’d never hire anyone with facial piercings, either, regardless of their qualifications. Call me biased, prejudiced or just plain old fashioned, but I think there are better ways to make an impression than by ruining a perfectly fine exterior with holes. Just pick up any fashion magazine or mainstream news publication and I doubt you will find any of the highly paid, gorgeous models sporting face piercings. Perhaps they have some, but since the majority of society does not equate that fad with beauty, they’re well advised not to-or forbidden-to display them. I don’t know of any first-run, professional, A-List television shows or movies that cast actresses with facial piercings.

At least piercings may be made less noticeable with makeup, or may close completely, but tattoos outlive their hosts. There’s something scary in making such a lifetime commitment. As someone who changes her mind about every aspect of her wardrobe frequently, how would I know if I’d find a butterfly tattoo ugly within a week? The constant appearance of a tattoo I no longer like would be torturous. No matter how lovely any image is on a flat surface, it will appear differently on skin, which leads me to other questions-do folks who get names etched into their skin in strange places ever regret that they can’t read them, even when looking into a mirror? Do people who get tattoos on their shoulder blades, the small of their backs, or butts ever regret that they will never be able to really enjoy looking at them, after all that pain and effort?

I do not see tattoos on women in the general advertising of today, especially in the fashion segment. I suspect that it has something to do with tattoos drawing attention away from the clothing and accessories. Admit it: when you see a photo of a celebrity in evening wear, with clearly obvious tattoos, do your eyes first jump to the tattoos or the gown? Personally, I’d rather be noticed for my hair, choice of ensemble, or overall glamour than for the dye someone injected into me. Plus, think about how hard it would be to co-ordinate a multi-colored tattoo with formal wear. No, I don’t think I’ll go there, but if that’s your cup of tea, hopefully, you’ll still find it tasteful 20 years from now.

Shopping For Jeans Is Not Fun

Anyone who is considering having a child should first go shopping with a teenage girl for jeans, to get an idea of what being a parent is really like. Politicians spend less time deciding to go to war than many girls spend on deciding which jeans to buy.

Recently my daughter and I visited 4 stores within 3 malls; within 3 hours she tried on about 15 pairs of jeans, none of which sufficed. There was what appeared to be enough denim to outfit a small town, but, to her, not one pair was “perfect” enough to wear to her 8th grade classes.

Why are people so picky about jeans? I can see not having the seat bag down or the middle wrap around your hips like a girdle, but it seems that size is the least concern to today’s kids.

I think that a good bit of this has to do with the degree of choice offered to the public-from boot cut to slim fit to relaxed fit to skinny legs to flared legs, it’s overwhelming. Add the various lengths (which usually drag on the floor-do designers think girls young enough to fit into size 0 are going to wear 3 inch heels all the time?) and you add too much selection into the process. Top it off with raggedy holes, patches, studs, lace and fancy stitching and you have the makings of a nightmare.

It used to be that people threw away jeans in better shape than what is now being sold for outrageous prices, so what does that say about us a society? It used to be that wearing jeans tight enough to show panty lines were too tight, but now with thongs, they’re fashionably marketable. It used to be there wasn’t much choice, but back then, jeans looked a lot better than they do now. “Used to be” is the operative phrase when talking about the economics, comfort and use of that lowly cotton denim. I remember an “I Love Lucy” episode from the 50’s where Ethel said something to the effect of, “I’ve never gone downtown in my jeans and I’m not about to now.” Ah-that’s when jeans knew their place!
Adults have other problems in their quest for jeans. Middle aged woman with wide bell bottoms or low hip huggers encourage comments such as “Aren’t you too old to wear that?”, at least from family members. The “relaxed fit” marketed to ladies may hide a slightly sagging derriere or saddlebags, but doesn’t do a person justice if they’ve been religiously working out or watching calories. Unfortunately, other fits may not, either. An older woman doesn’t necessarily want jeans that are too faded because that seems discomfortingly youthful, or ones which are too blue because that seem old-fashioned. Gray and black offer versatility, but they really don’t seem like jeans. Elasticized waists can make an otherwise young looking woman over 35 feel dowdy.

Whatever happened to finding medium blue, fairly straight legged jeans with doubled seams, plenty of pocket space, and wide belt loops, especially on styles that don’t need hemmed? Sometimes I wonder if the jean manufactures believe that shoppers find the basics boring. I would take boring with a good fit over fancy with an odd fit any day. There have been times that I considered a practice done by girls from my high school days, and that is to get into a bathtub wearing jeans, and let them dry on my body for a good fit. But even the prospect of decent fitting jeans isn’t enough to walk around dripping and damp for a few hours.

I currently own exactly one pair of jeans, bought on the assumption that I would take them in for a better fit. Unfortunately, doing so coincided with a 5 pound weight gain. So, I have no jeans to actually wear at this moment. The saga hasn’t ended for my daughter, either. She owns only two pairs of blue jeans and a few colored pairs. So this weekend, mission impossible begins again.
Reading about celebrities who pay over a hundred dollars for jeans, I laugh, but there are moments that I think it may be worth it. Then, I come to my senses.

A Goal to Wear Comfy Clothes

Perhaps a sign of maturing is that one would rather be dressed in comfort instead of in fashion-but are the two in opposition? I got away from dressing to impress after becoming a stay at home mom, but it seems that fashion focus can come and go throughout life.

When I first started working, business suits were required. I lived most of my waking hours in “dressy” blouses tucked in, pantyhose, heels-and suit jackets when with clients. It wasn’t fun or comfortable, but I accepted it as a way of appearing older and getting respect from co-workers and bosses much older than myself. After 8 years, I transferred to a department that was more lax, and found that my existing wardrobe was too formal. Even dressing down to a skirt or dressy pants wasn’t necessary, but by that time, “clothes made the woman” and I sacrificed comfort. On “dress-down” days, I did not feel right, although I was more comfortable. That’s the funny thing about clothes; when we can get used to dressing a certain way, other styles make us feel differently. (It corresponds to the times as children when we were told that it had to wear our specific clothes for specific circumstances. It’s hard to deny that doing so added to the unique flavor of the experience.)

I was at my most comfortable, while trying to be fashionable, while pregnant. Wearing loose dresses and flats made the other physical symptoms tolerable. Today, there are even better styles of maternity wear from which to choose, and fashion really has made quite a statement from the frilly frocks of decades ago.
After the decision to resign, I moaned to a colleague that I would become a household drudge, and she assured me I would not. However, there were times I’d gaze at my sweatpants and t-shirt and wonder what happened. How can a stay at home mom have the time, energy or inclination to care about the latest styles, when it’s hard enough to keep ahead of the laundry? Eventually, I found my niche in a wardrobe of comfy, co-coordinated “sets”, making sure that I fought the urge to wear mismatched cast-offs belonging to my husband. “Fashion” can mean different things at different times of our lives, and often reflects the lifestyles of those around us. I did not see women in the grocery store wearing designer duds.

Returning to work as a dance teacher was pretty easy, especially since it required a standard “outfit” that, to me, is the most comfortable thing on earth. All I needed was a pair of pants over a leotard and tights, and I was ready to go. It dawned on me that the emphasis on dancewear in the fashion world was heavily based on its comfort. With the introduction of stretchy leotards that never bind (or even move, for that matter) and flat ballerina shoes, dancer’s working attire was also viewed as fashionably attractive. It was also good to see that leg warmers had become a popular accessory, as well as shrugs and bun covers.

Concurrent with this time was my assisting in a preschool, where I had to forget wearing anything that wasn’t washable. I had juice, paint, glue, and marker spilled or dropped onto me. I had to get down onto the floor for various reasons, and we often ran at recess. It was definitely a jeans, sweatshirt and tennis-shoe kind of job. Were any of the teachers “fashionable”? I’d have to say fashion displayed itself in jewelry and purses, validating that fashion can go beyond actual tops, bottoms and footwear.

By this point, I’ve gotten quite used to casual attire, and admire men and women who are confident enough to dress for comfort. I continue to search for fashionable clothes that provide that comfort and ease of wear. They are out there, even if they may not be quite as form fitting or stunning as what’s in magazines. I sometimes think that if everyone were more comfortable, there may be less disgruntlement and fewer disagreements in the long run. I know I’m in a much better mood when my clothes aren’t annoying me!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

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Monday, February 4, 2008

Fashion Magazine Savvy

Do you subscribe to any fashion magazines, or do you just flip through them while you’re waiting at the hairdresser’s or doctor’s offices? My daughter and I just started receiving one from a free subscription against my airline credits. I’ve never wished to subscribe to one in the past because it seemed that I’d be paying for a lot of rehashed information and too many ads. However, on the assumption that we needed (OK, I needed) to be up on what’s happening in the international arena of style, we decided that this would be useful.

Well, this first issue was pretty much what I expected. I’ll share some of what I ventured upon-in the event you haven’t been privy to the latest-as well as some of the problems I have with such print media.

The first thing that caught my eye was an ad for a new line of Max Factor mascaras. They are referred to as vivid impact highlighting mascaras. They turn eyelashes gold, silver, pink, blue or lilac. Now, the model wore gold, in conjunction with shimmering pink and blue eye shadow that swept out at the corners like batwings. It was paired with iridescent pink lipstick. On a 20 year old girl with streaked blonde hair, the effect was stunning. I could only wonder how it would look on a dark haired, darker complexioned, older woman like me. I figured I’d look bizarre. As intriguing as the perfectly lit headshot was, if I saw a girl-even a young one-strolling through the local Target with spiky silver lashes, I’d end up staring against my will. I keep going back to the opinion that cosmetics should enhance what one already has, instead of calling attention to something that nature would never provide.

Another invention was a new foundation by Revlon called Custom Creations. Now, this I like. It’s a makeup that comes in a special jar, where you turn the top to varying degrees to adjust if from darker to lighter, for the perfect skin tone match. I think this is wonderful. How many millions of women have opened up makeup they believed would be a good match, only to discover the color looked like a mask on their face?

Those were the high points for me, but it could have been due to it being the February issue and torn between winter fashions almost over, but too early for spring items. One interesting, 3 page photo shoot showed how some clothes could make a transition from winter into spring. That, and another spread of outfits that can be made from 6 tops and 6 bottoms are the kind of articles I’ve always liked. They’re pretty standard for most fashion magazines, though.

That brings me to what I don’t like in fashion magazines, and what I believe editors should rethink. First, they assume that readers are all under 35, and post the young ages of women mentioned in every piece. That’s not the way to influence readers older than 35, who will surmise that the fashions and magazine are obviously too young for them. (In some cases, it’s true, but fashion magazines should do a better job of appealing to a wider market.)

Another annoyance is the fashion photographers and the style in which they shoot. I truly doubt any woman poses herself seductively on cushions in front of a window, in her bra and panties, and stares into space as if to solve the world’s problems. That kind of ad does nothing to make me want to rush out and buy undies. Plus, why are so many of the pictures taken with models wearing scowls or pouts? They’re young, beautiful and rich, so why do they look miserable? Don’t photographers know that people are attracted to smiles, which are more influential?

Finally-please stop with the “must haves” section…Don’t tell me I must have a skinny, long, black scarf to pair with a white t-shirt to be style-smart. I may just hate black, white, scarves and t-shirts in general. Most women don’t like feeling coerced.

Yet a woman can’t help but be motivated by fashion magazines. It spurred me to my closet to mix some winter and spring pieces together. Fashion magazines do help women realize that what they currently own has the potential to look better, and for that we must thank them.

What’s With Kids and Outerwear?

Well, winter has finally hit hard in the northeast (and other parts as well) and it’s again obvious that some kids and teens have strange and unexplainable aversions regarding outerwear. Has it been around all along, or is this something new?

Apparently it’s not just in my school district; I’ve heard from other mothers about teenage girls wishing to only wear “hoodies”, and I am totally baffled. Why would anyone opt to be cold if they can avoid it? Is it some vanity thing or an “independence” thing? Regardless, I think it’s a “stupid” thing. (Since I’m the one stuck paying medical bills, I figure I have a right to call it as I see it.)

My daughter and I had major fights about this back in October when we were hit with winter-type weather, and she refused to wear any of her coats from last year. So, in deference to the fact that she had grown, I bought her two more coats, a lighter weight one that has a fashionably wide, elasticized waist cinching and cuffs, and a heavier, insulated, ski-type jacket. It’s been a struggle to get her to wear either. Before this recent snow accumulation, the ski jacket would come home in the backpack, but now it’s at least worn-albeit open. She will deign to wear boots occasionally-regardless of any snow accumulation-strictly as a fashion addition to her outfit of the day. But, as far as gloves go, forget it…it’s absolutely crazy. The concept of other poor souls being too destitute to even have winter apparel is lost on this spoiled generation. They really need to be stuck outside in the snow, freezing every part of their body off, to learn their lesson.

Last week we had to attend the funeral for a relative, and it just so happened to consist of a long, outside cemetery service. I wore a hat that would have served any Russian well on a trip to Siberia, while my daughter elected to wear her short jacket without the hood. Although she insisted that she wasn’t going to bother with gloves, after 10 minutes even she caved in and put them on. At least I know she’s not totally impervious to the cold, and it makes me wonder if it’s a peer-pressure thing. It’s right up there with donning a low cut tank top when it’s 20 degrees, just to flaunt the results of a new push-up bra. The weather is the last thing on these kids’ minds.

I see the little ones all bundled up and don’t understand what happens in the intervening years until adulthood. My friend told me that she never wanted to wear a coat, either, since it would cover up her “ensemble”. Hah! Yep, the world is breathlessly awaiting the opportunity to check out every teen’s belt and band shirt…

Somehow I made it through my entire existence without ever going coatless in winter. It’s therefore really difficult for me to understand the rationale behind not wanting to wear one. I think that part of the situation is that kids today are seldom even out in the cold; in the suburbs, buses pick them up close to home and leave them under an awning near school doors. Their feet never touch snow, and they don’t have to experience weather conditions for more than 6 seconds. Now, adolescent boys do try to be macho with shorts and tee-shirts in freezing conditions, but girls look like they’re showing off to get attention. As my mother used to say when I wanted to rush summer, “It looks like you aren’t even smart enough to dress for the weather.” I listened, because I didn’t want to look ridiculous. I wanted to look as old and as mature as possible, even if meant wearing my mother’s high leather gloves at age 13.

Alas, my hopes of this being a phase that my daughter may pass through quickly were dashed the other day. I ran into a 24 year old graduate student who I know, who works as a support specialist at a preschool. She was wearing her usual jeans and hoodie as the wind howled and the snow flew… I guess I need to aim a little higher in my hopes; perhaps kids’ common sense doesn’t really kick in until they’re a parent and responsible for someone else’s health and comfort.