Saturday, October 22, 2005

Minis and Sashes

We received a couple of questions that I figured I'd address at once. The first was about mini skirts - are they tacky, and who should wear them? I am a big fan of the mini skirt, myself, with a few caveats.

Primarily, the difference between a nice mini skirt and a skanky one is length. For the record, I'm considering a mini skirt anything that falls above the knee. There are teeny weeny mini skirts, the kind that fall just below your behind, and frankly they would make anyone look like a tramp who would wear one. Take a look at model Nadja, at left. You look at her and think, "Tramp-o-lina!" The shoes don't help either, but the bottom line is that a little modesty is a good thing. On the brighter side, the mini is good for a lot of people. Especially for those with short legs, a miniskirt will elongate your lower half. Add some nice heels and they get even longer. Wear it with a cute pair of sneakers and you've got the cute sporty look. So, what if you're super tall? I say go for it - you'll have miles of legs, and what's wrong with that? So, who can't wear them? If you have thighs that need some work, you might want to stay away - every time you sit down they'll be front and center, so if they're not your best asset, think twice. Also, if you're going with the skirt and you're white as a glass of milk, slap a little self-tanner on those legs first. We recommend the new Jergens self-tanner. Natural, easy to use, and gradual. Finally, give me a big amen for opaque tights and a denim or corduroy mini in the fall. Tres chic. Really, the miniskirt is a good choice.

Now, as for sashes, we are big, big fans. The sash comes in so many different colors, and you can do so much with them. Tie one around your bag, wrap one around a ponytail, tie one around the neck for a '60s look, use a long one as a belt...I could go on forever. If you have a short torso, it's probably not the best idea to tie one around the waist. Give yourself a little bit of length by tying it around your hips, instead. Ditto if you have a short neck - use it as a headband, instead, and avoid that horrible headache. For the really adventurous, tie a small one around the wrist as a bracelet for a boho look. Really, the sash has had a renaissance since it came off your 2nd grade party dress. Take an outfit from ordinary to outstanding with a sash, such as a plain dress; girly up a pair of jeans, or even khakis. And go crazy with the patterns, too. As long as you don't make a whole outfit from it, no harm! Most importantly, stand out, and be yourself.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Looking cute while nursing a baby, or: "Down with Mom Jeans!"

Claudia writes:

"Have any advice for a new mom? I work from home and will be taking care of my son, however I do not want to get lost in that world new mothers seem to inhabit after giving birth. The frumpiness is just overwhelming. What are some essentials I should stock up on?"

Congratulations! You're in for a wonderful time with your little one. Enjoy every moment of his little coos and gurgles, but there's no reason you have to feel frumpy while doing it. We'll help.

First of all, AVOID MOM JEANS. I see so many women out there with those ghastly high-rise jeans. They're guaranteed to double a woman's butt size, show off every bit of loose skin gained in pregnancy, and scream: "I have no time to look good because the ravages of raising kids have destroyed my fashion sense."

This is really key. Don't buy high-rise jeans to cover up any baby fat you may have. Instead, go out and invest in a couple good-fitting pairs of stretch jeans. Stretch is God's gift to woman. If you get a modern wash, preferably something dark and 'worn', it can add a youthful flair to your look.

I especially like these stretch jeans from Eddie Bauer:

Don't balk at the price--there are stretch jeans available at That French Boutique as well for about half the price.

Make sure you try the jeans on and sit in them for awhile. Don't be discouraged if you need a bigger size than what you wore pre-baby. Remember that size is only a number, it doesn't define beauty. Comfort is key, so make sure the jeans are loose enough to give you plenty of freedom of movement. Too-tight jeans are the sure sign of a woman in denial! But I think I've said that before.

Now, what about tops? My advice to you is to avoid ANYTHING that's not cotton. You and your baby may go through several outfits a day. There's a reason why most baby clothes are made of cotton: it's durable, it washes quickly, and it can handle all the spit-up and poopy diapers that are such bastions of babyhood.

I've heard that Ann Taylor Loft's tops are friendly to nursing moms. Their generous sizes guarantee that your girls will not be squished, and right now they're having a sale on some adorable tops in bright colors. Try and buy colorful items like shirts in red or pink. They'll give a much-needed lift to your day if you're feeling discouraged about your changed looks.

I'd also recommend buying a little velour jogging suit. They can be found everywhere these days and are well worth the investment. Get it in a color that makes you feel happy and pretty, like this pink suit:

The jogging suit is a great invention. It's designed to look cute and curvy while still being very comfortable. Like cotton items, it can also take quite a beating at the tiny hands of your little offspring.

Keep in mind that your body may have changed significantly. The key to not feeling frumpy is wearing things that fit properly. At this stage in your life, it's better to have one pair of $100 jeans that fit properly and make you feel good than ten $15 jeans that only remind you of where you used to be.

I have a friend who just had her second baby a few months ago. She looks fabulous. Her secret, she tells me, is that every time she feeds her babies, she drinks a liter of water. The pounds just melted off!

Last, you may not have time to do your hair, but try and wear a bit of makeup even when you're going to be at home all day long. It doesn't matter that no one sees you at home. YOU see you, and you'll feel better if you take those extra few minutes to put on some foundation, blush, and lipstick.

Congratulations again, and enjoy your new baby!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Dearly Departed Guilty Pleasure

Austin wrote in and asked if we knew anything of what has happened with Jerry Hall and Seth now that Kept has ended. For those of you who did not watch the show, a bunch of American guys competed in a reform-school contest to see who got to be Jerry's kept man. And for those of you who, like me, did not know what a kept man was, it's basically a guy that Jeri gets to keep around like a lap dog, give expensive gifts and have her lusty way with. Aside from the fact that Jerry Hall is not the most attractive woman I've ever seen, it seems like a pretty good deal.

The show stipulated that whoever won would get to spend a year in London, living off the fat of Jerry's riches. Seth ended up the winner, and to be fair I really liked him; he is absolutely hysterical. He's a little too wild for my milquetoast lifestyle, but he seemed pretty good for a woman who was once married to Mick Jagger. My personal preference would have been Maurizio. How hot is he? I was so upset when she sent him packing I almost decided not to watch the show anymore, but I think we all know I have no self control when it comes to VH1, and I watched it to the end. So, what's going on with them now? I could tell you, but instead you can read Seth's blog, And how interesting that he's in the same little corner of the internet that we are! Anyway, it's a truly good read, especially for the few behind-the-scenes aspect of the show. And he rips on Ricardo, which I have been waiting to do for a very long time. I noticed, however, that he didn't mention Jerry much. I guess you know what that means. For a particularly good laugh, check out how he describes a traditional English breakfast on July 12. He was funny on the show, he's funny on his blog.

Then, when you're done with that one, click over to Austen's blog and read his. A little drier, but occasionally worth reading. I especially loved his diatribe about Ricardo on July 1st. So, to answer the original question of what happened after the show wrapped: most likely, not much.

Fighting the Battle of the Bulge

Having done this for almost four months now, and being a woman, and having spoken to people of both genders, it seems that there are a few overarching similarities that everyone seems to struggle with. When it comes to fitness, that sentiment is doubly true, and there are just as many myths out there as people who are willing to try them. After having done a little research on this and tried a few things out myself, I decided to separate the wheat from the chaff in regard to working out and fitness.

Myth #1: Crunches make good abs. This is only half true. If you do hundreds of crunches a day, your abdominal muscles will get very toned, but the reason that even the most toned abs don't look like a six pack is because there's a layer of insulation there. This is also true for your other muscles - you won't see the definition you've built until you eliminate the fat. So, as much as some people hate to hear this, you're going to have to do the cardio. That means 30 minutes three times a week, at least, and make sure you warm up and cool down for five minutes or so, which does not count toward your thirty minutes. Really, it will be at least 40 minutes of being on the machine. Now, if you hate the idea of being a hamster on a wheel, there are plenty of other activities besides the treadmill that will give you a cardio workout. There are elliptical machines like the one at left, which are aerobically effective, but low impact if you don't have the knees to run. There are also, of course, aerobics classes, swimming, cycling - getting out is not a bad idea. Make sure, though, that you monitor your heart rate to ensure that you are working out at an appropriate pace.

Myth #2: I don't want to be muscular, so I'm not going to do any strength training. A lot of people conjure images of bodybuilders when they consider lifting weights, so they decide not to do it. It would take an awful lot of weightlifting for you to get there, however, and there are so many other benefits to strength training. For example, leaner muscles burn more fat, so all your other workouts and activities will be more effective. Also, it will save you plenty of problems down the line when you get older. Yes, it's never too soon to start thinking about those kinds of things. If you want to add a little strength training for those fringe benefits, do only one set of 8-12 repetitions, so you can tone your muscles but not end up looking like a steroid freak.

Myth #3: I hate going to the gym because I just know people are looking at me and judging me. First of all, I can tell you from personal experience that they're not, especially the real gym nuts. Trust me, they're only focusing on two things - their workout and how they look while doing their workout. Seriously, most people are busy monitoring the things they need to watch while they're exercising, so they generally pay very little attention to other people. Secondly, who really cares what any of these people may or may not be thinking of you? You can't hear it, anyway. Let them think what they want - you are doing a good thing by making a commitment to your health. It does get easier over time. The first time I went to the gym I was terrified, especially with all those hardcore gymgoers walking around with their perfect bodies. Now that I've been going for quite some time without incident, it's become a place where I can actually relax and destress, and I know it can become that for you, too.

Myth #4: I don't really need to stretch after a workout. Yes you do! Stretching not only helps to give you more flexibility, but it will help you to preserve that flexibility into your golden years. Also, if you're short like me, it will really help you to reach onto that high shelf. If you're a mom, it will help you to keep up with your kids. It only takes five or ten minutes after your workout (while your muscles are warm) and you'll feel so much better. Not only that, but I've found that stretching reduces the likelihood of cramping, as well as a little (just a little!) extra salt in the diet.

Myth #5: Some diets work better for me than others. I hate to break it to you, but there is no special food formula that will help you lose weight. The bottom line, no matter what diet you are on, be it the Zone, Atkins or what have you, is that you need to burn more calories than you take in. The only real solution to having the body you want is to eat right and exercise. That said, diets like the Zone are great because they help you to keep a balanced diet, but that alone will not ensure you'll look like a model by next summer. You have to add exercise to it in order to see real, lasting results. After all, there will come a point where you will go off your diet, like the winter holidays, and you'll eat what you shouldn't. With a well-rounded plan, you won't wreck your entire program.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Cold-Weather Guywear

A friend and reader recently wrote us to ask about what guys should wear now that the weather here in the northern hemisphere is getting colder. As he writes, "How can I still look trendy and stay warm without looking bulky and baggy?"

The first step to staying warm without looking like an eskimo would be a respectable group of sweaters/shirts. It's difficult for guys to wear wintry clothing without the risk of looking like a grandfather, so I suggest some more modern sweaters, such as the one at left. It's warm, it's a sweater, but you don't look like Mister Rodgers. Pullovers like these give you a little bit of personality and heavier knits will help to keep you warm. This seems like a good time to advocate for layers. It doesn't really matter what you wear underneath, as long as you don't look lumpy and whatever parts stick out look clean and neat. You may want to stock up on some layering shirts that you can just stick under an outfit at random for some extra warmth, including just plain long-sleeved tees, or even a button down shirt, if you're feeling bold. Adding a scarf to any outfit is also man-friendly and seems to be a trend with staying power. Make sure, though, that you get a long scarf that will dangle to your waist, because it's really meant to be an accessory to your outfit. It just so happens that it will also keep you warm.

The legs are next on the list, and of course jeans are an excellent fallback plan, but what if you're sick of jeans? Let me take this opportunity to introduce you to a warmer, autumn-friendly cousin of denim - corduroy. The corduroy pant is wonderful because it is a heavier fabric and comes in more colors than just blue. Our model has on a pair of black cords, illustrating that while black jeans are a little odd, black cords are perfectly acceptable - even a little dressy. You don't have to put a belt on them and tuck in your shirt, though. Cords can be casual, too; just slap on a sweater and you're good to go. They also come in a variety of man-friendly, earth-toned colors that look good with almost anything in your closet and will look great all broken-in for that Saturday afternoon look.

Now that we've solved the torso and leg temperature problem, our next step is to get good cold-weather footwear. Brace yourselves - you may have to go out and buy a new pair of shoes. I know, I'm asking a lot! You had to break down and buy those oxfords, bringing your collection to a staggering two pairs, but now neither of those will suffice if you're dealing with slippery surfaces and casual occasions. A good, casual, non-work-oriented shoe is the way to go on this score. By that I mean don't go get a pair of workboots and call it a day. Do you work in construction? Are you a lumberjack? If you answered no to both of these questions, don't bother. Instead, let me recommend the handsome devils at left. They're a great color for fall, they have lug soles for slippery surfaces, but they're slip-ons, so they're casual and lazy! Really, what more could you ask for? You can find these at your local Sketchers store. Now, you have your orders, so go out and go shopping!

Burning question: Should we tuck our jeans into our boots?

Alright, ladies, I'm gonna level with you. Lately I've seen a lot of gals around with jeans tucked into their boots like this:

(Image from The Fug Girls)
I don't know who this broad is. I think she plays on the Sopranos. Maybe she'd be more famous if it weren't for this style. Maybe she'd be more famous if she brushed her hair. Maybe she'd be more famous if she washed her jeans, but I digress. The point is this: This gal is tall and leggy and lean.

Be honest with yourselves, ladies. Are you long and leggy and lean? If you are, then go right ahead and reach for the tucking sauce. It's your barbecue, after all. Are you short like me? In that case, stay away. Stay far, far, far away.

I've seen many a beautiful outfit on many a bootylicious broad absolutely ruined by the Tucking Sauce. It's just no good. You know I love you and I always tell you the truth. The truth is, women who are curvy shouldn't tuck their jeans. It makes them look like they're in denial about their generous figures. It wrenches them straight from Monroe Lane and lands them squarely at the corner of Teapot Court and Stout Street.

A woman in denial is not pretty at all. Your true beauty will show as you learn to embrace it and capitalize on what is best about it. You'll never realize your true potential (and trust me darlings, you ALL have potential) if you keep insisting on trying to conform to whatever the latest cheap Twiggy knockoff says is the new black.

"But all the famous girls are doing it!", you may protest. That's true. However, it seems to me that I've used that argument myself once or twice. I remember now. I used it when I trying to talk my mom into buying those pink pants so I could look just like MC Hammer. She wasn't impressed, obviously. "Others may", she told me, "you may not."

And if anything points to the fact that celebrity fashion is followed at one's own risk, it's definitely these pants:

(Image from Tarheel Blue)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Under Construction

Las Fashionistas are going to be making some changes to our blog. You'll still get the same great articles, advice and celebrity-bashing, but things will be a little different. For example, you can meet each Fashionista in her profile, and you'll be able to see who wrote what. So, look around, explore, and enjoy. And for now, excuse our dust.

SWF seeks sassy clothes

We love our readers. Thanks for using Las F as your fashion guide!

Claire writes:

"I have a bit of a fashion dilemma. I'm an unemployed college student looking to update my wardrobe from mostly jeans and cartoon character tees to something a little more sophistcated/grown-up, but still comfortable and reasonably casual. Do such things exist?"

Claire, we feel your pain! It seems so recent that we were in your shoes, struggling to make the grade both in the classroom and the fashion arena! Never fear--it's possible to mature your fashion style without breaking the bank.

The trick to dressing both stylishly and cheaply is to stick with basic pieces that can be interchanged with many other pieces. For example, I just purchased a black pencil skirt from the clearance rack of that little French boutique, Le Target, for only $9. What a steal!

The first thing any well-dressed girl needs is a little black dress. You can dress it up with a sweet sweater and pointy-toed shoes, or you can dress it down by wearing a jean jacket and casual shoes. Take a look at what Ze French Boutique has to offer.

The next key item this season is a pair of black boots. A word of warning, though: stay away from trendy details like studs, buckles, or ruched-style boots. For example, these boots are nice and all, but will you really want to wear them next season? I give this style five months before it hopefully dies a quick death at the hands of more feminine trends. You want your boots (and any shoes, really) to be classy. You shouldn't be able to tell in what year you purchased an item. It's fun to wear trendy things, but it's a bummer for your wallet if you have to constantly keep updating.

To recap:

I love these boots! I wear them with everything-skirts, slacks, jeans, and denim trousers. Available at Le Target.

A sassy spinoff of a classic style. Wear with jeans or trousers. Available at Bakers.

Also available through Bakers--but unless you're willing to drop $60 every time a new style comes out, this is not the boot for you. The badass-style studwork combined with a jeweled buckle is the sure sign of fashion adolescence. This boot doesn't know what it wants to be, and the designer doesn't know either. STAY AWAY.

Now that you've got your feet under control, let's turn to your bod. How about a nice pair of denim trousers? I personally adore The Editor Denim Pant, available through Express. In my experience these are the some of the classiest and best-fitting pants I've ever bought. They give you an exellent clean line, and are definitely worth every penny. They're a worthwhile splurge and surprisingly comfortable to boot!

You may find these pants too expensive for your taste. Never fear-there are knockoffs everywhere. In my experience, however, pants that fit correctly are one in a million. I have yet to regret spending good money on a pair of pants that hug me in the right places.

Tops, on the other hand, are a dime a dozen. Stick with solid colors and clean lines, like This sweater. It can go with a wide variety of things. Versatility is key when you're on a budget. Don't waste your time on pieces with limited matching potential, it's not worth it at your stage in life!

In the arsenal of every well-dressed woman is a great bag. Start with a basic black bag, but feel free to branch out and try something new. This green number is not likely to go out of style anytime soon since it's more of a vintage look.

If you want to save money, you have to be willing to be a browsing shopper. Check the clearance racks. It may seem like a futile effort at first, but you will find some gems!
Whatever you do, don't feel like you have to go out and buy everything at once. Changing your fashion style is a conscious choice that takes place over time. View it as a fun and ongoing process instead of a one-time dramatic event. Maybe start with a new pair of pants. Then later, progress to boots and a sweater. Still later, accessorize the outfit with a nice bag and a killer pair of earrings. I always used to ask for gift certificates for my birthday and Christmas. Everyone knows college students are poor, so my friends and family were always happy to comply.

Have fun!

Attending a Soiree

So, you get an invitation in the mail for a soiree, and immediately you start thinking to yourself, "What do I wear? Am I going? Do I bring something? Ack!" To be honest, you got the easier end of the bargain if you are the receiver of the invitation, so don't freak out. This part is quite simple, but there are important rules of fashion and etiquette to follow for such an occasion.

Firstly, when you receive the invitation, check your social calendar and find out if you are going to go. If so, and you are at least 95% sure you can go, then go ahead and RSVP by whatever method the hostess has requested (phone or mail). If you at least 95% sure you can't go, then be sure to call and let the host/hostess know and be sure to express your regrets. It's better to call in this situation because you're trying to show her that although you can't go, you wish you could. If you're not sure if you can go, call the hostess, let her know, and that you may not be able to reply by the RSVP date. Tell her you will call her as soon as you know for sure if you can go. It is equally bad to show up when you said you couldn't than to not show up when you said you would, so make sure you know what you're doing. Either way it can throw a lot of things about the party off, so be considerate to the inviter. If at any time an emergency comes up and you have to alter your plans, call the hostess right away. She may be able to fit in another seat or fill yours if you aren't going. If you are going, and the invitation doesn't make it clear, as the hostess what the dress code is, so you can start planning your outfit. Also ask her if you can bring anything; she'll most likely say no, but it's polite to ask and shows you are grateful to be invited.

Let's say the soiree is a cocktail party, and the attire is commensurate with that kind of atmosphere. Men should wear a nice suit, usually in a dark color for an evening party, with a tie and good dress shoes. Women should wear a cocktail dress - think about Vivian in Pretty Woman. A cocktail dress is usually a fancy dress, but it only goes down to the knee, or around that length. Anything longer is too formal, anything shorter and you risk looking too casual or, even worse, slutty. The one at left is a good choice, and basic black is a nice, safe color that you can accessorize easily. You may also run into a lot of women wearing black, so if you want to stand out, you might select the dress at right, another knockout. No matter what dress you choose, make sure you pick a fancier fabric, such as satin or silk. Cotton, no matter the cut, will come off sloppy and underdressed. Pantyhose are a must, no matter what the weather, unless the venue is on a beach or some other situation where you might want to take your shoes off. Oh, while I'm on the subject, heels are also a must, and as we discussed before, don't forget your foundation! Hair is up to you. A lot of women choose to do a nice updo, and some choose to leave their hair down. If you do an updo, you should probably do more understanded accessories - too much and you'll look like you're at the prom. If you wear your hair down, you can pick flashier jewelry, to lend a little extra class to your ensemble. So what jewelery works well?

One of my favorite accessories is the cocktail ring, which is obviously fake, completely gaudy, and yet for some reason looks great with the dress. These extra-large rings are not only a good match, but can be relatively cheap - hey, everyone already knows it's not real. For understated jewelry, pick silver or gold (not both - that's okay for everyday wear, but not a fancy occassion) and get some nice, thin pieces. It will accent what you are wearing, but will still allow the dress to be the center of attention. Small rhinestones add a sparkly touch, and for your up or down do, you might try a couple of rhinestoned barrettes. As always, we caution you that using all of those pieces together is a bad idea, but pick out a couple and go with those. Also make sure you don't have too much going on in one place! If you do barrettes, use more understated earrings. If you're wearing chandelier earrings, go with a simple necklace.

Now it's time to go out and enjoy yourself. Show up about fifteen minutes late. Although we at Las F take pride in our promptness, you don't want to be the very first person there. Show up a little later and you'll already have people to mingle with, and everyone will pay attention when you walk in - we love making an entrance. Men, I have only one piece of advice for you: don't hang around the snacks. It's a party! Go talk to people, dance, tell a joke, but for crying out loud, you will eat again. Ditch the snacks and go start some conversations.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Fashion Emergency!

We got a couple of letters, and we want to share them with you and issue our opinions so we can address the whole appropriate dressy situation.

"How should I dress for this one? I'd like to hold onto some kind of girlish attractiveness while still looking adult and faintly professional."

First of all, snaps to you for knowing what is appropriate wear in this situation. Now, the key words you mentioned in your comment were "intelligent companionship", and that's the look we're trying to get - smart, womanly, sexy. This is what I loved about Jackie O, who had the unique task of being one of the youngest first ladies in a generation that was just starting to be obsessed with "hip". As you'll see, she pulled it off nicely. The first step is to show skin in the appropriate places, and that includes some neckline and some leg. Pants are an option here, but a skirt is definitely flirtier. You might want to try a traditional suit with some contemporary embellishments. What we love about the outfit at left is that it recognizes the need to look professional, but it adds the flippy skirt and is prime for great accessories - the suit will help you blend in, the accessories will make you stand out. A belt around the waist is completely hot this year, and some glitzy jewelry adds a little glamour. Let's face it, you're going to a political function. You will be surrounded by women in suits who are probably way too serious for their own good. You'll be appealingly different if you add some whimsy to a serious outfit. Try a couple of the accessories below:

Our next reader asked about a few pictures on her blog as for what she should wear to a very important business expo. My advice to you is, I liked your first outfit, with the button down and skirt. The clean, crisp look of a white button down is a timeless classic. However, I think a long skirt on a body like yours is a waste of a good figure. The bright color looks great on you, but you probably have some lovely legs under that skirt. You also mentioned that you have short legs, so the longer your skirt is, the more it will accentuate the shortness. I found the one at right, and I think it would look great on you. It would give you a little curviness, and the length is good for short legs. The pattern is also lovely, but it's still professional. A little colorful jewelry will help you to bring out that funloving side I saw that you have. In any event, I hope I've helped. Of course, the key is, as always, be true to yourself with what you wear. You want your clothes to make a statement about you, and if that statement is best said with a piece that conventional wisdom doesn't like, do it anyway. You are the architect of your own sexiness. Consider it fashion at your owk risk!