Friday, March 13, 2015

Do These Jeans Fit?

There's one question I'm asked more than any other: "Do these jeans fit?"

Shopping for jeans can be a frustrating, confusing experience. There are so many brands, scads of fabric permutations, and tons of different cuts, styles, and colors. Believe me, bathing suit shopping is a walk in the park after you've tried on 40 pairs of jeans in bad lighting.

Shopping with a few rules on board will make your next excursion a happier one.

RULE #1: Shop with a plan.
Are you in the market for a skinny jean? High-waisted? Cropped? Bootcut? Know before you go so that you walk away with the jeans that will fit in your wardrobe and look best on your body.

RULE #2: Check the thigh.
The back view of your jeans tells the story of their fit. If you see a defined horizontal line back-of-the-thigh, the jeans are too tight.

Size up or try a different brand if you see this telltale sign on the back of the thigh - these are too-tight.

RULE #3: Watch the waistband.
If you're a woman with curves, you're familiar with the waistband-gap-problem. When you've found jeans that fit everywhere except the waist, consider having them altered (bringing in a waist is a quick and relatively inexpensive fix).

RULE #4: Muffin top. Avoid it at all costs.
When your midsection is squeezed out of the top of your jeans, it's a bummer of a silhouette. Not to mention uncomfortable. Look for jeans with a higher waistband (rise), and/or a wider waistband. There are so many different rises available these days, muffin top is completely avoidable. (There are even jeans with wide, elastic waistbands. Heaven!)

RULE #5: Say NO to camel toe. (I'll spare you the picture.)

Dark, uniform wash: perfect all 'round denim that can be dressed up or down - an excellent choice if you can wear denim to work.

Dark wash with fading/distressing: a little more casual than a uniform dark wash, super-versatile in a wardrobe.

Light wash denim: excellent casual choice and beautiful for spring and summer paired with whites and pastels.

Beware: whiskering at the the hips if you are curvy.

Beware: poorly executed stone-washing, sand-blasting, or lightening in places that you don't want highlighted.

The size and placement of the back pockets is a big deal. Small pockets make a beautiful, bountiful booty look like it's going to eat the pockets for lunch. Large pockets can make a narrow booty look anemic. Back pockets should be proportional to your butt size and placed in a flattering location: not too high or low, and not too close together or far apart.

Beware: flap pockets or embellished pockets if you're curvy. Choose a plain pocket instead.

Bootcut, straight-leg, and flare: the hem of your jeans should hit the middle of the heel (approximately) of whatever shoe you're wearing. Sometimes this means buying two pairs of the same jeans. I know, gah.

Skinnies: cropped above at the ankle (my preference, they tuck in to boots in the winter, look great with sandals in the summer) or hemmed just at the bend of the foot.

Beware: jeans (or any pants) that are cropped mid-calf. These are never flattering, I checked. 

Most denim comes with a little spandex or lycra these days. And thank goodness, a little bit of stretch does amazing things for fit and comfort. If you're looking for durability and a retro fit and feel, look for 100% cotton denim without additives.

Beware: If the jeans-with-stretch fit perfectly in the dressing room, it's likely that they'll be too big after you've worn 'em for a few hours. Try the next size down.

Stay tuned, I'll post about some slam-dunk, great-on-everybody jeans soon!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Shape of Spring

Spring is peeking out from all corners of the Northwest. Daffodils are in full bloom in mid-February and I can actually see the days grow longer because there isn't a cloud in the sky. These hopeful beacons translate immediately to how I dress. See ya later Smart Wool socks (a begrudging good-bye to the striped pair), I'm shopping for a replacement for my Chloe wedge sandal. 

Fashion's transitional seasons are my favorite. Come spring and fall, I'll devour the latest magazines and dogear pages that capture my both fancy and my reality. Spring is the time to bring in some fresh basics and play with proportion and layers. 

Here are my hankerings (click the links to go directly to my coveted items):
1) A stack of crisp white T-shirts. My favorites come from The Gap, aptly named "Favorite T."
The short-sleeved style comes in scoop, crew, and V-neck.

2) Slouchy pants. I love these with a flat T-strap sandal or sneakers, top with a slinky T-shirt and tidy leather jacket ... tomboy chic! 
Find these, and many more, at Shopbop.

3) All-round fabulous sneakers. I'll wear these with shorts, skirts, dresses ... maybe even a bathing suit. 
I'm a traditionalist and lean toward the tried and true brands. These Vans are from Piperlime, which has a vast selection of this style in many silhouettes and price-points.

4) A glorious handbag in dove gray or cream. This beauty from Rag&Bone is spot on.
It's almost too pretty.

5) Easy, lightweight button-front and pop-over shirts to pair with shorts and skinny pants. 
Love the dreamy fabric and piping of this JCrew tunic.
I adore gingham! This Nili Lotan shirt will look outstanding with a pop of color - find it online or in store at Parallel.
Lean on this shirt forevermore. A classic denim silhouette (check that stitching!) from Levi's.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Thoughts on the Gym Rush

Gym memberships soar in January and my gym is no exception. There are many new faces, classes are fuller, and there's a longer wait for machines.

Some complain about this rush of new members, I say kudos to anyone who is trying to better their mind and body through exercise! There is no better way to enjoy your clothes - and your life - than moving and caring for your body.

Welcome new exercisers! Welcome to those who have taken it up after a hiatus! Welcome, welcome everyone!

Welcome, now get the heck out. Seriously. This is not the place for you.

I am terrified by the poor form and risky technique that I see from my fellow classmates and weight-lifters. Large classes don't allow for the instructor to give individualized help, and new members are surely frustrated by the aches and pains that arise from bad form. This is the kind of stuff that will discourage return visits and derail all good intentions for a healthy lifestyle.

I strongly advise starting your new regime with a small exercise studio. While the price may be daunting when compared to a big-box gym, the experience will be well worth your investment. Not only do you get personal attention, but you're more likely to stick to the program because you're accountable to your team of trainers. Showing up is half the battle!

I love a small studio, but when I need to save a little money I'll reactivate my mega-gym membership and hunker down for a few months, locked and loaded with good form and habits from my time at the boutique gym.

Here are some of my favorite studios in Portland (I'd love to hear about yours):

Pil-oga-robic - Outstanding staff and beautiful space, I can't say enough about this place. The instructors are FUN and super-informed. Personal attention abounds and there's always a variety of classes to choose from.

Studio Blue - Dan and his team bust out some killer Pilates workouts. The studio offers both mat and Reformer classes, and there are plenty of Bosu and yoga classes to try too. You'll be sore in all the right places.

Fulcrum Fitness - Fulcrum is bootcamp heaven. Light resistance, interval training, and serious motivation from instructors and fellow exercisers.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Put Together Gift Picks, Fresh from Portland

'Til the season to shop. For some this is joyful, for others it's exactly the opposite. We can agree on one thing, however, shopping local is a good thing.

We live in a city rich with gift-giving options. There is no need to tap the retail giants for one single holiday purchase this year! I even send my out-of-town family to Portland shops when they ask what to get my kiddos. Powell's gift cards, gift certificates to local theater, and a Portland Art Museum membership are preferred to an Amazon purchase, no?

Here are my favorite gifts and gift purveyors in our fine city. Happy shopping (even if you hate it)!

1) Alma Chocolates

Innovative, beautiful, and delicious, Alma's creations are decadent works of art. I'm especially fond of the caramel sauces for hostess gifts.

2) Grayling Jewelry

Katy Kippen makes the most lovely, wearable things. From simple, everyday-wearable, to major attention-grabbing baubles, Grayling's line of outfit-making jewelry is outstanding.

3) Eliot's Adult Nut Butters

Local peanut butter with a decidedly grown-up spin. Delicious!

4) Betsy & Iya

Betsy & Iya is know for their signature line of jewelry, but it's their brick and mortar presence that excites me. Scads of outstanding gifts and inspired, fashionable goods beautifully curated and showcased in their NW Portland shop.

There is no better gift than fun socks, in my book. I'm especially smitten with the Bad Ass and Lightening Bolt socks. 

This outstanding Portland company makes fabulous, durable bags out of recycled materials from Cambodia. The process is innovative and the bags are really cool. Both my mom and mother-in-law have been happy recipients of Torrain totes! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

In Praise of Consignment Shopping

Fall is my favorite time of year to shop. It's also the most expensive. Boots, coats, well-crafted knits, and all of those layers, layers, layers can really add up.

I strongly believe that one should spend as much as one's budget allows this season - fall/winter clothing is a worthy investment. A good, well-made coat will last for years and will be worn over and over again. Same goes with boots, cashmere, and quality denim. One of my cashmere sweaters is almost 15 years old and is still a fashionable favorite.

Here's why I love consignment.
  • No matter your budget, consignment shopping is, hands down, the most ecological way to shop for high fashion. Period.
  • The hunt is FUN - face it, most of us have plenty of clothes in our closets (and we're not wearing half of it).
  • The obvious reason: paying a fraction of the retail price.
  • Selling clothes via consignment is a great way to cull the herd ... and make room for current styles.
I've had some serious shopping success at consignment stores. Witness:

Rozae Nichols blouse and Theory trousers. (Consigning Women and Here We Go Again.)
Seven jeans, Vince silk T, and Dolce & Gabbana blazer. (Consigning Women.)
Vince blouse, fabulous skirt by unknown designer, and Isola gold heels. (Consigning Women and Consign Design in Sun Valley, Idaho.)
That's right, it's sequined!
TSE sweater, Cabi skirt. (Consigning Women.)
Cashmere, yum.

Consignment shopping tips:
  • Know what you have in your closet and shop with a plan. Budgets are blown by buying things that need other things to make them wearable! 
  • Allow for an alterations budget to make your consignment purchase just perfect.
  • Build a wardrobe that will support the odd "must have" purchase: great fitting black pants, dark wash jeans, cardigans and jackets will leverage interesting finds.
  • Be patient and try to look at everything. Don't shop with time constraints.
  • When you find something great, ask what else that consignor has on the racks ... you likely share an aesthetic! 
Portland boasts a bevy of consignment shops, I like to haunt them all. Some of my favorites: Consigning Women, Modo, Consign Couture, Seams to Fit, and Here We Go Again