You Could Use The Shopbop Sale For A Big Cool Clutch


Yes, I’m on break, this doesn’t count. The RewardStyle people wrote me to say the Shopbop sale is on,  at the exact moment when I was browsing Pinterest street style and realizing that the bag of the moment is an over-sized, soft-sided clutch. Envelope, fold-over, pouch, all good options.

And all available at Shopbop for 25% off, with the code, FAMILY25.


Of course if you’d rather look at the Vince slipon sneakers (also on sale), as a reasonable person might, Grechen’s got her highlighted items up over here.

Pretend you didn’t see me?

 

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Quarterly Blog Break


Hi guys! Time for the usual quarterly blog break. For any of you new to this self-published-time-stamped-upload-images game, I highly recommend planned breaks as a way to keep yourself going. New tagline, happily writing for 5 years and more?

See you in a week!

Extreme Casual Style For Weekends, Retirement, Stay-At-Home Moms And Anyone, Really


Back in 2013, I wrote a post about putting together a whole new wardrobe from scratch. We talked about how to stratify your closet, allowing you to dress well even when you have to muster all your courage to make the effort, along with some strategies for better days.

However, back then I was working, and the ideas I presented included the office. What are the equivalent ideas for the non-office world? For truly, madly, deeply casual lives? Weekends, stay-at-home moms, or Tomboy Retirement? The numbers and outfits are different, the stratification concept similar.

Stage 1: Survival

You can barely dress yourself, but, needs must. Kids have to get to school, there’s food to be purchased, you’re out of soap. Guiding principle?

Just don’t go naked. Seriously. There is no requirement in this world that you look pulled-together, you owe no one style. If you want to slam on clothes and bam on out the door, it’s your right. And here’s some impunity from the High WASP magic wand just in case. Ping!

Stage 2: Humming Along

OK. You’ve slept reasonably well. Armed with that list of errands, you’re in the groove. But you aren’t yet ready to sacrifice comfort for A Look. By the way, we’re wearing flats. I know you might find a little heel more comfortable, now, but I posit the theorem that time out of the office or social soirees is well-spent in returning our bodies to more natural states.

Untitled #193

 

Philosophy:

On days of The Bare Minimum, AKA 2-25mph, I stick to one of these 3 modern silhouettes.

  • Body conscious top (not tight per se) with loose cuffed pants
  • A neat shirt (think athletic fit) with flared bottoms
  • Long over lean

I realize I’m ruling out the full Eileen Fisher of loose shirt and wide pants, but, while classic, I do not consider that look modern. Besides, if I am to avoid looking rumpled and messy in all that fabric, I must pay more attention than I’d like. These 3 silhouettes also rule out camp shirt and cargo capris; let me go on record as saying that I do not find that widely adopted look terribly flattering on anyone.

I have also found 3 color schemes very useful in looking pulled together with minimal effort and money:

  • Your best color augmented by tried and true subtle complementary hues (blues with a burnt orange, greens with a tobacco brown, etc.)
  • Neutrals with a little pattern or texture
  • Monochromatic (shades of red, green, all black, etc.)

What you don’t want to do is hop into black pants thinking, “Doesn’t black go with everything?” and then add a top in whatever color is on top of the drawer.  If you’re adding anything, even to black, you want to mean it. The same principle holds true for jeans or khakis. All the colors you wear matter, they can’t be wished away, your pants are not invisible.

It’s really easy to fix this, by the way. Just choose a color set. It can be very, very small.

Details:
Selvedge jeans on sale at Levis // Blue tees from Calypso St. Barth, James PerseSteven Alan // Orange Birkenstock Gizeh on sale at 6pm //  Climachill tee from Adidas // Yoga pants on sale at Old Navy // Black Nike sneakers via Kohls // Fawn skinnies on sale at the GAP // Striped tunic from J. Crew // Kamik wellies via Zappos

You will find style at the very outskirts of elegance by representing your intentions, by embodying your aesthetic. People with intention are assumed to be taking care of themselves, and that’s the first principle of extreme casual style.

BTW, some might pull out a maxi dress in this situation. Tomboys don’t like flappy fabric, so I save dresses for, well, dress up. However, I support your choice and perhaps you might share some ideas with the gang here.

Stage 3. Rev The Motor, Almost Imperceptibly

You want to step it up, just a tad. Maybe it’s lunch with Dad, maybe a trip to the elegant mall, maybe the city streets call you to style up, baby, style up. But keep your flats.

Untitled #192

 

Philosophy:

The 3 basic silhouettes persist. However, in the Extreme Casual world, as you dress up you add interest at every level. Oh, and dress wearers, this is when we shift to, well, shifts, right? Along with,

  • Comfortable but well-designed accessories
  • More adventurous color mixing
  • More embellishment to shape
  • More visually layered fabrics
  • A tad more texture and spark to those flats
Details:
Peach scarf from the Block Shop // Earrings via Max & Chloe // White Topshop peplum jacket via Nordstrom // J. Brand bell-bottoms via net-a-porter // Isabel Marant draped gray ombre top via Farfetch  // Kenzo Eye sweatshirt via Forward by Elyse Walker// Turquoise Jack Rogers on sale at Amazon // Vince sneakers via Nordstrom (online only) // Pointy-toe brogues via Nordstrom

Stage 4. Blowing Out All Cylinders

And blowing it out? Here we converge with the world at work. The world of dressing up is its own, a bubble, without reference to where we come from or where we go next. Wear a little black dress. Or a long silver one. Or try budget black tie. And yes, this is the moment for heels. The only constraints are time, money and imagination.

I suspect you all have the imagination, in spades. That’s what matters most. In the meantime, I’ve added to my >25mph sneaker collection, with the Vince sneakers above, in Mushroom. They run a size small. See you on the speedway.

 

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Why Does My Mattress Cost More Than Everything Else In My Bedroom Put Together?


dormeuse-image

Somewhere on the way to refurbishing a master bedroom, you might find you need a new mattress. Round here, I’m still sleeping on the full-size bed I bought for the apartment of my post-divorce years. It’s neither cozy nor romantic. It’s small. So we’ve been looking at king-sized options.

Unfortunately, enter the Princess and her associated Pea.

First, I injured my shoulder, back in January, in part because I ‘m a side-sleeper. Imagine a broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped person lying on their side. Weight rests on the relatively rigid hip, while shoulder and multiple associated bones fold uncomfortably forward. This, along with other modern insults to the body, can provoke a tendinosis of the shoulder. In the world of mattresses, only memory foam provides equal support to someone with 18 vertical inches of shoulders and 13 vertical inches of hip. Vertical inches is a term I just made up. Please bear with me and pretend it’s real.

Second, I am also ridiculously sensitive to chemical vapors, and highly wary of the effect of petrochemicals on the environment. Almost all memory foams are made of polyurethane, prone to diffusing volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere.

Enter Essentia.

My Internet research showed me that while there are many “natural” mattress companies, and many makers of memory foam, Essentia makes, today, the only mattress both natural and foam. How about we define “natural” as, “made with materials that as often as possible are produced without petrochemicals or other toxic ingredients or by-products?” Everyone good? It’s kind of a squishy concept.

Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, Essentia makes memory foam mattresses in a unique process using latex rubber, essential oils, and plant extracts. To finish, they cover their mattresses in organic cotton, charge you huge sums of money, add a 20-year warranty, and tell you latex fends off bed bugs and dust mites. This last blunts the financial pain, a little bit.

A final selling point, one which I did not see articulated in Essentia’s literature, but derived? Researchers are beginning believe that good sleep consolidates memory. In which case, it may help ward off dementia. Dementia runs in our family, my mother is losing her memory, my grandmother followed a similar trajectory. So, research. We want sleep spindles, as you can imagine. And I only just now realized, on Tuesday October 7th, at 6:14am Pacific Time, the irony of the term “Memory Foam.” Huh.

I’ve ordered the Dormeuse. As a side sleeper, I need softness. I tried it out at the company’s barebones storefront in Berkeley, and felt so comfortable. Apparently they don’t need to do much marketing in-store; people show up already sold. BTW, back sleepers will prefer the Beausommet.

If I might ask, do you face sleep issues? And if so, have you found solutions?

 

No consideration has been received for this post, nor will any links generate commissions unless there are elves in the Internet about which I do not know.

Retiring To Your Self, Or, Saturday Morning at 10:12am


 

Retirement

This week, Materfamilias blogged about reaching the decision to retire.  I use the term “reaching” advisedly, because these big life decisions often sneak up on us, like the proverbial bend in a mountain road. One minute you’re trudging along, eye on uneven terrain, the next, vistas.

It’s been a little over a year now since salaried employment and I parted ways. I am not actively looking for a job, and therefore call myself, “retired.” It’s an interesting time.

As context, both my career and my retirement have followed a slightly irregular path. As I’ve said before, I wound up a software executive – on a whim. Ha! I bet that’s a sentence nobody expects to read on a Saturday morning.

And, as may be true for many of my generation, I spent the early years out of college bumping through various Travel The World And Explore Your Soul situations. Even after I got my MBA, and therefore acquired a veneer of A Known Quantity and therefore got hired a lot, once I had kids I career flickered more, if you will. Stayed at home, consulted. Worked part-time, went back to work. Zoomed to vice president level, stepped out for a couple of years. Stepped right back onto the racetrack. Then off.

To here.

Retirement, for me, and I imagine for many these days, has little in common with the  5/days week on a train to the city, times 44 years, testimoniral dinner with gold watch, done, cue golf, that 1960s literature loved to ridicule.

Instead, this.

In early months, you miss your work. I wrote about that for the mostly younger women at Corporette, here. Then, you start to focus on those things you didn’t have time for while you worked. I also wrote about that on Corporette, here. The best part of getting older is sharing what you’ve learned, right?

It has taken me some time to pick up non-work activities, tasks and goals without attributing them the same urgency and anxiety as paid work. But it’s happened, I think. And once that To Do list calms down, something else happens too.

It turns out that anyone who is not retired is too busy. Way too busy. Over-worked, overwhelmed, under-resourced. At least everyone I know. So you, the retiree, become the spare resource. And the world senses your availability, and starts to pull. Almost like someone installed a beloved but incessant vacuum hose somewhere in your front yard.

This is the moment when you really choose your retirement. When you handed in your badge you only stopped paid work. What proportion of your capability do you exercise on yourself, now, what on the asking world?

I don’t have the answer. There is no one answer, of course. Everyone’s different. I only know the words that have begun to speak in my mind.

I don’t want to be done living until I have lived some time centered. I want to give, I want to support, I want to do some part of my old job, I want to garden, to care for my husband, and to sit, in quiet. All of it, self-instigated.

I am not making up for what I never had, only for who I never was.

Retirement is when you cross your legs on the sofa, under your laptop. You relax your feet. You chose your pajamas, you kept that old college sweatshirt, you recognize what you see. Not from selfishness, nor revenge, nor pique, no pouting. But I think we’ve all got the right to plainly be in our bodies and our minds, without feeling a single tug. At least once.

Or maybe I’m just telling that to myself, because it’s what I always needed.

Have a wonderful weekend. No, have a wonderful day. You owe nothing, not even to Sunday.

Introducing Uncommon Goods, And A Few Beautiful Objects


Map Coasters from Uncommon Goods

Uncommon Goods has sponsored this post. However, I am honor-bound to give you my true opinion, otherwise my dad might speak to me strictly in his study.

I am a big fan of capitalism, when tempered with kindness. As it happens, I’m the only person “in trade” left in my family, everybody else is devoted to truth, knowledge, and kindness. But I do believe that one can do right in business: that top-flight business practices are today’s manifestation of what’s good in the American dream, and that often the impact of our laws is our best export.

So consider, if you would be so kind, a company called Uncommon Goods. Here are a few of the details they would like you to know.

  • [We were] founded in 1999 and [are] headquartered in Brooklyn, New York.
  • We run all our operations out of the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, including our warehouse where the lowest-paid seasonal worker starts at 50% above the minimum wage.
  • We make it our mission to support and provide a platform for artists and designers; in fact, half of what we sell is made by hand.
  • Most of the products we carry are created right here in the USA, and about one-third of our entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials.

And here’s the detail I’d most like to share.

  • Uncommon Goods is a B Corp: B Corporations use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. We are proud to be a founding B Corp since the B seal means that we meet a rigorous standard on a wide range of issues, including wage levels, environmental impact, and giving back to our community.

I had never heard of B Corporations before Uncommon Goods reached out to me. Benefit corporations are legal entities, neither the standard for-profit C corp, nor a traditional non-profit. And the B seal is a certification administrated by B-Lab, a non-profit. For more detail, this Forbes article is useful.

I find the idea of a commercial entity legally granted the right to try for social good – as much as profit – encouraging. I hope that organizations like this help evolve the role business plays in the American dream.

But back to quotidian commerce, you guys, and, if not always full-on beauty, the pleasure in a graceful line and harmonious colors.

Uncommon Goods is particularly interested in familiarizing you with their personalized products, here, and their personalized jewelry in particular, here. I like the map coasters above. Made of cork and marble, they can be customized for any location you want to remember. Or, for the beach-lovers among us, a silver beach sand pendant. Made of silver, with sand from all the beaches listed here. Alternatively, send the artist sand from anywhere you choose.

Beach Necklace from Uncommon Goods

As I browsed the site I also (because that’s where my mind is these days) found more than a few items that I’d like for my house. Or a house of the future. Or a house I never own but imagine over and over again.

 

Untitled #191

You guys, those are glass balloons. GLASS BALLOONS. They remind me of my mother’s Murano glass candies, only more outrageous. Would you hang them permanently? Or might they become the family birthday symbol, complete with fights over who got the purple one for special? I would have stored all the toys in those baskets, back when I had littles. Oh so much primary colored plastic bit to step on.

Sorting through my resolutions for this year, here, I told you I wanted to do good and sell my clothes on eBay. At the time, I assumed that would mean volunteering and, well, eBay. In that comment thread, one of you asked, “If you want to do good, why not just donate the clothes?” In other words, “Why create extra activities to support our values?  Why not just covet objects from companies with heart?”

Very good question. I think I owe you guys a glass balloon or two, and Uncommon Goods a thanks for sponsoring a post that educated and entertained me in equal measure.

It’s My Birthday And This Is What I Wanted


I turn 58 today. My loved ones are generous, I am well-fêted, but doesn’t everyone like to give themselves a little present on their birthday? Here’s mine.

No, not a Crystal Palace girder extravaganza, nor a gig at Javits Center. The book.

Not That Kind Of Girl

It’s Lena Dunham’s, Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned.” As it turns out, Ms. Dunham very considerately picked my birthday to launch her new endeavor. Thanks honey.

When I was young I would in fact have been sad about Lena. I would have felt jealous, wished to have her platform, as we call it now, to tell the world how I felt. To communicate my sole and remarkable perspective.

But as I turn 58, I’m glad she exists. It makes me hopeful for all the women who will come after me.

I know she’s not everybody’s cup of tea. And that the world of “Girls” is perhaps a small one. But I find Ms. Dunham’s apparent kindness rises above any other reputational flotsam. In fact, she appears to manage both kindness and honesty, two traits often difficult to combine. And she’s dang smart. So I averted my eyes from the cover “quotation marks,” and bought.

By the way, I used the my Amazon commissions from blog’s last month or two to pre-order the hardback. It arrives today. I’ll tell you if I like it as much as I expect I will, but I thank you in advance for your generous presence. You provide me many treats, both small and large.

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Something Other Than Listsicles, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:48am


I want to thank whoever recommended The Browser to me. A hunt through the blog comments and email yielded no name, so you remain our mystery informant.

In March, I wrote here that I felt uneducated, with respect to the world. Everyone gave me great recommendations.

Six months later, The Browser has made perhaps the most noticeable difference in my knowledge, or at least to my sense of my own knowledge. What I actually know or don’t know, well, who can say, of course. But in the past 6 months I’ve read articles on Putin, power politics, US foreign policy, historical research, the workings of the brain, and most recently an article from Outdoors about the effects of lightening strikes on humans.

How does the site work? The editor and staff read widely and digitally (if that is a word), hunting for intelligence. Then they clip and present the first few sentences of each article deemed worthy, with a link to the full original. We, the readers, have access to 5 free click-throughs a year. You can cheat the system, by searching for the articles yourself, but why, when a 12-month subscription is only $20?

I find that reading the beautifully written, occasionally arcane, wide-ranging articles from the Browser, along with general news snippets from the Internet, and a few sources in the areas of most personal interest (fashion, design, and women’s issues), makes me feel (at last) like a worthwhile citizen.

OK, throw in local TV for more discussion of the weather than you might think possible and breaking news about the Bay Area.

And, I subscribe to the Browser via Feedly, which is also how I read blogs. Now I think I’ll just add Refinery 29, for complete light-hearted nonsense, (also horoscopes), and I will finally have created the Privilege[d] News Of The World I’ve been waiting for since the first word was made binary.

New blog tagline? Making Fewer Uninformed Observations Since March of 2014.

Have a wonderful weekend, oh you citizens of the world, and thank you for sharing your non-trivial intelligence with me.

The One Piece Of Clothing I Might Buy This Fall, OK Maybe Two Or Three


Around the world, seasons are changing. Australia welcomes Spring, the East Coast of the United States prepares for Autumn, we here in Northern California await, well, black denim.

It’s a myth that California has no seasons. At least in the North. We’ve got them, of a subtle and simple variety. Above all, we live by Rain Or No Rain. This morning, as I write, it’s raining for the first time in ages, so happy in this year of pronounced drought. Beyond water, we feel our seasons in small shifts, the gold of the light in late afternoon, the first morning the front door opens to cool air, the smell of dust in the streets.

So we don’t, as our summer ages like whiskey and the sky burns just a little umber into its blue, rush out and buy sweaters. We’re likely to live with nary a wool trouser in our closets. But still, still, we crave the seasonal change. We’re humans, even in this land where the American Dream comes to reinvent society and buy a whole heck of a lot of German cars.

Right now I’m after some black jeans. This is the first urge for new clothes I’ve had in months. And, fair warning, my mpulsive clothing urges have been pretty darn predictive in the past. Party Pants post, circa 2011 . Brogues, circa 2010. Now add the impetus of GAP’s current and nifty campaign “Dress Normal,”and it’s quite possible we’re sidling up to a black denim explosion.

Let’s take a look at a few choices. We’ll start in the stratosphere and wend our way down to reasonable. Few sites do stratosphere with more sprezzatura than Net-a-porter.

Are you surprised that Victoria Beckham makes dignified pants? Cropped, refined, and thank you ma’am.  You’d have to wear them with heels, I think.

Black denim from Victoria Beckham

Don’t do Lady? How about the Swedish brand, Acne, and their boyfriend jeans? By the way, I saw this image on the blog It’s Not That Deep, and I’m thinking I just might try her trick of low black socks with brogues and loafers. Yup.

Black denim from Acne

How about plus size? I’m a huge fan of waxed cotton, these are from Eileen Fisher at Nordstrom.

Plus Size Black Denim from Eileen Fisher

How about under $2oo? Commenters across on the style blogs I read love Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. Also from Nordstrom.

Black denim from NYDJ

And because I love you so, and am retired and therefore more cautious in my wardrobe spending, and besides, black denim is what you make of it, these, from the GAP for less than $100? Dress normal, indeed.

Black Denim from the GAP

With sneakers. So one might, of course, also need new black ones. We of low-contrast are also going to wear these jeans with gray v-neck tees from UNIQLO, and a denim jacket. And black earrings.

But if you can carry off high drama, why then you might be thinking about tops in red, peacock blue, and all 657 shades of green and whatever the heck color shoes you like.

The Kind Of Garden Just About Anyone Can Grow


Container-Garden-#1

Of all my retirement projects, my container garden may provide the most small and bubbling happinesses. I started it back in July, from seed. I planted Grandpa Ott morning glories, sweet alyssum, purple basil, and delphiniums. If you are hypothesizing that this led to an all-purple extravaganza, you are quite right. But it took time.

Container-Garden-#2

The morning glories grew first. Like crazy.

Grandpa-Ott-Morning-Glory

The alyssum sprouted too. The basil dilly-dallied, the delphiniums did nothing. I pouted.

Then, before we left for England, I threw some petunias in one of the pots to compensate for my laggards. I set up a drip tubing system, of which I was very proud until I discovered that my 60-year old hose bib and faucet leaked. Cue Operation Cute Little Neighbor Girls to water in my absence.

Container-Garden-#3

Serendipitously, the tubing served as great climbing support for the morning glories. Such is gardening. Upon my return from travel, I thinned those purple trumpets mightily,  in order to add a bougainvillea from the nursery. Also scrounged up two more pots. Why not? In for a penny, in for a pound.

Container-Garden-#4

I filled the two empty pots with petunias and alyssum, also from the nursery. I’ll do seeds again next spring.

Container-Garden-#5

The alyssum flourished, the petunias did not, inexplicably. Such is gardening. Don’t you like my watering can? Is it vain to like one’s watering can and say so? I should mention that all this plant hubbub sits right outside one of the living room windows, and I can see it quite plainly from my perch on the sofa. I have loved experimenting with different shades of one hue. Sustains me from morning,

Purple-Container-Garden-In-The-Morning

to night.

Container-Garden-In-The-Evening

As does the purple basil, which I pinch and eat, regularly. And guess what happened? Those delphinium seeds? About a month and a half after I planted them, this sprouted.

Yup, a delphinium.

Delphinium-From-Seed

I have high hopes. Such, my friends, is gardening, even writ small.

 

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