The time felt right to answer a few more questions. In some cases, I’m asking for the community to chime in, as you offer a veritable cornucopia of knowledge. Although I’d previously cut out the complimentary remarks, I decided to include them here, as it feels discourteous to ignore kindness. And, as my mother says, A Simple Thank You Will Suffice.
Q: Can a plumpish Jewish almost-50-ish girl who has been dressing like a sad sack soccer mom for the last 20 years, thinking I might figure out my personal style if I ever got thin, transform into a High Wasp Sturdy Gal or Arty Cousin? Or is it just too late?
A: Not to go all Cheerful Charlene on you, but it’s never too late. I think there are two primary paths to style, in light of where you are right now. Method number one, and probably the more daunting, would be to get your body into a silhouette you enjoy. I’ve written a few posts here on how I eat, and what I do for exercise, but the best advice I can give is find a community and get started, with support. Could be Weight Watchers, could be a few women who walk every morning together, could be an online forum. Method number two, and perhaps more immediately rewarding, is to investigate the Artsy way. If you’re Artsy it just doesn’t matter much about your silhouette. You can decorate yourself with color, with fabric, with accessories. Your body becomes a canvas, rather than the work itself. Take a look at Ari Cohen’s Advanced Style, and then dial that back about 50%, and you can come up with a way to dress that’s fun and doable.
Q: Since recently discovering your blog, I find myself returning on a daily basis to take advantage of the wealth of information you share with your readers. It is really quite amazing.
I have two primary questions that I need some help in sorting out:
1. I have a granddaughter’s wedding coming up in September, and I have finally found the right dress for the occasion. The color is navy blue (a very nice shade of navy–not too dark and not too blue), and I am debating about what color shoes would be appropriate. I am thinking black leather pumps or black patent leather pumps. Please give me your opinion.
2. Also, there will be two bridal showers this summer, and summery dresses and sandals will be worn by myself and I presume many other attendees. Since sandals will be acceptable, can you guide me in choosing a polish for my toes. Most women go very bright, but I often go soft pink. Please advise.
Thank you so much, Lisa. I am enjoying your blog tremendously.
A: So sorry to be responding late. You’ve probably already been to the showers, but here goes. With toes all bets are off. Soft pink, red, magenta, blue. Foot owners’ choice. In the High WASP culture your feet don’t actually exist as style constructs, they are for walking. We don’t see them. This allows for highly imaginative pedicures and woe be to anyone who care to comments. As for what shoes to wear with navy, the High WASP honorary color is the pigment equivalent of toes. That is to say, just about any shoes in the world – except another shade of navy – will work. Black is always good, but purple, pink, or green are wonderful.
Q: Hi Lisa, I am curious to hear your perspective on the recent factory fires in Bangladesh. As a business manager, woman who appreciates style/fashion, and writer who expresses great compassion (as well as a one-time traveler to South Asia), what do you think consumers or retailers can do to improve conditions? It’s interesting to note that European retailers like H& M have signed on to fire safety regulations in their factories, while US companies like the Gap have not. I would love to hear any insight you have to offer!
A: I am a believer in overseas manufacturing. I have no issue at all with Made In China, precisely because I believe honorable American business practices are our best ambassador, and benefit Americans and host countries alike. As a result, I think it’s critically important that US overseas factories uphold the highest possible standards of safety and quality. It becomes important therefore that we as consumers support retailers with good practices.
Q: I just discovered your blog by accident today, and it’s great – just delightful. But also, it was my 50th birthday yesterday, which brings a couple of questions to the top of my mind:
1) My teeth, always a bit yellow and crooked, are getting worse. Should I get them straightened/capped? My dentist says they’re fine as they are, good strong teeth and not terribly ugly; I am afraid that if I start messing with them, they’ll never be strong again. What, honestly, are the downsides to cosmetic dentistry undertaken in middle age?
2) You promise comfortable footwear that aren’t like shoe-muffins – can you fill me in on these please? Flat, comfortable, for walking in cities, but without that giveaway shoe-muffin look.
All tips gratefully received.
A: I can’t say that I know anything about cosmetic dentistry – my apologies. I do find that over-the-counter teeth whiteners like Crest Whitestrips work well enough, and are good for a little morale boost now and again. I plan to do a week program for my wedding, for example. As for comfortable shoes, I have posted several brands. My absolute favorite is Beautifeel. You can go classic, or Artsy, with a pair of red desert boots. What else could a Sturdy Gal need?
I am about to embark on an exciting year long docent training program at a culturally rich and prestigious museum in Sarasota, Florida. I want to look “like a docent,” without looking any older than my 45 years. Any tips on how to dress stylishly, yet appropriately for conducting lengthy museum tours in my warm climate? Your thoughts are greatly valued by me, as I love your approach to style.
Theirs is nothing on the Internet regarding “docent style.” Help!
A: Now that’s an interesting question. I suspect that some of the commenters here will have great advice. Analytically speaking, I’d imagine that “docent style” involves getting out of the way of the artwork one is presenting. But culturally, and socially, especially in Sarasota Florida, I’m at a loss. I put the question in turn to our community here.
Q: What would the High WASP stay-at-home mother wear? I ask because I have moved and my clothing is not always geographically appropriate and I have found myself in my mid-forties at home in Virginia with three teens and a 3 year-old. I work at home as an artist but I identify with your “Sturdy” style far more than the “Artsy” archetype.
A: In my case, the High WASP mother wore anything she could find that was clean and allowed for bending and twisting. I admire you enormously, 3 teens and a 3 year old. Am also slightly envious, to have a late-ish baby like that. In California our strategy is jeans, and shorts on the few hot days, with good classic tees, and some slightly hipster comfort shoes, like Pikolinos for example. “Trainers,” as the British call them, are to be avoided.
But Virginia’s weather might not support jeans, and the local culture might not be so shorts friendly. At a guess, were I you, I’d find myself a signature brand of khakis and wear them with high-quality button fronts – new and clean for going out, paint/materials decorated when staying in to work. Here’s a cool new LA shirt brand I saw recently. I might also invest in a few of the Dressed USA shifts, so that if I had to run errands in the heat, I could get out of work clothes fast, and pull a pretty but comfy shift easily over my head.
Thank you all for your questions. It’s a privilege to be asked.