Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This is a test ... (and a compilation list of what to have in your wardrobe)

To see if I can write coherently after being awake all night.

I finished Nina Garcia's book, "The Little Black Book of Style" Sunday night.

That makes four books I have to review for this blog, including the two Tim Gunn books, "A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style," and "Gunn's Golden Rules," and Rona Berg's book on makeup, "Fast Beauty: 1,000 Quick Fixes."

So far what I'm getting out of all these style/fashion/beauty books is that there are certain things that are given, but which the authors mention anyway, just in case you didn't get the message (and some of us haven't).

Bathing every day is a good thing.  However, you can skip a day when it comes to washing your hair, especially if you color it or blow it out every day.

Wash your face at least once a day, preferably at night, to get all the gunk off, like makeup and environmental dirt.  You can get away with rinsing your face in the morning; presumably it's still clean from the night before.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.  This goes for your face, your hair, your body.  I have trouble with this one, because my skin is not very dry to begin with, but I'm getting better at it.  Also, use at least SPF 15 sunscreen.

Use a face mask suitable for your skin type once a week.  Also, exfoliate your face and your body once a week.  But don't exfoliate right after you do your face mask.  It could irritate your skin.

Deodorant and perfume are our friends; but don't use too much perfume, since some people are allergic, or sensitive to odors ... and some people are just plain rude and can't keep their mouths shut and we don't want to offend them, do we?  No, we don't, because it would be much more fun to slay them with our charm.

That's it for the face, hair and body.  Everyone goes into it in more detail, but those are the bare bones.

As for style, everyone has a list of the basics that every woman should have in her wardrobe.  www.missussmartypants.com has an excellent list of basics that she runs for Spring and Fall (Spring 2011 is up now; you can get it if you join up).  But the main basics I have run across repeatedly, in my efforts to improve my style quotient are:

The white button-down shirt
The skirt - A line or pencil
Casual trousers
Dressy trousers
Dark rinse jeans that fit well and can be dressed up or dressed down
A dress that can go from day to evening, with a change of accessories.  Usually this is the Little Black Dress (LBD), but you can use other colors, too.  Navy is a good choice, as is gray.  Red also works well if you like attention.
A well-tailored jacket, to match the skirt, and if you plan on wearing a pants suit, it should go with the trousers, too.
A strong foundation:  Good foundation undergarments are important!  I speak from experience!  Give the girls the support they need!  You'll look and feel much better, more confident and dare I say?  Younger and more attractive.  Also consider investing in supportive shapewear.  This is not the area to save money.  Also, take care of your investment and hand wash your intimate apparel with baby shampoo (except your cotton panties, if you have them, and in my opinion, you should - wash them in the washing machine and dry in the dryer).  Thanks for that hint, MSP!  I've read that in other places, too.

You can add other items, like t-shirts, in classic white or colors, for casual or dressy wear, button-down shirts in other colors, and more bottoms in neutral colors for more versatility and a wider range of outfits.

As far as accessories go, you can never go wrong with a scarf, some jewelry, nice hosiery or legwear and socks.  I'm an 80's kinda gal, so I pay a lot of attention to my socks.  As for shoes, you want a pair of ballet flats for casual wear and a pair of heels, to go with your dressy outfits.  There are all kinds of rules about what heel to wear with what kind of pants, dress or skirt.  Everyone has an opinion on this.  My opinion is that you should check yourself in a mirror before leaving the house, if you have a full-length mirror (I don't), or ask a friend or whomever happens to be on hand their opinion.  Hopefully they will be nice, but honest and helpful.  I don't have a pair of heels, so I don't have the high-heel vs. flats dilemma at this point.  Heck, I don't even have an ironing board yet, so I'm not really in a position to pass judgment on what anyone else is wearing!

The handbag:  Another topic on which everyone has a different opinion.  Some people say, "Go for the It bag"; others say, "Don't buy the It bag."  Frankly, unless you want to be in hock to The Man for the rest of your life, I see no reason to spend more than $400 on a really good bag.  Considering that a good wallet will run you about $200, that comes to about $600 for a bag and a wallet.  If you buy from a reputable company, and it's high quality workmanship and material, that should be what you're paying for, not for a name.  If you have tons of money to burn, buy all the It bags you want, and spend whatever you want to for them.  Also, introduce me to your broker, please.

My opinion on bags is that you should have probably three or four in rotation.  You can have a basic black dress bag for the fall and winter, a black casual bag for fall and winter, a dress bag in a light neutral color for spring and summer social occasions, and a casual spring/summer bag, or you can use your fall and winter casual bag year-round.  I have two good black leather bags, one hobo (casual) and one satchel (dressy) that I keep in rotation year 'round, with assorted straw and canvas bags I use for the warmer months.  I haven't found my spring/summer dressy bag yet, but I keep looking.  Also, you might want to consider a messenger bag or a tote bag for those occasions when you have to either schlepp a lot of documents (work, professional meetings) or go shopping or take a trip to the beach or pool, or the park.  L.L. Bean is known for their tote bags, and you can design your own.  It's a really great service - I have two tote bags I designed from there - a large tote bag for going to the market or the beach, and a small, zip-top tote for carrying around in the summer months.  It's canvas, but even in the torrential summer downpours New York City is known for, the items inside haven't gotten wet.

Well, that's it for today.  Hopefully I'll catch up on writing reviews.  Now that I'm retired, everyone sends work my way.  It's like once you say, "I have nothing to do!" everyone comes up with stuff to keep you busy.  I'm not complaining.  As a matter of fact, I have to get going.  I have a meeting to go to today, and I better start getting ready if I expect to make it there.