When Less is Best


No makeup makeup.
No makeup makeup.

A gradual shift in makeup that has been quietly happening over the last few years moves into full view this spring. Makeup’s Bare-Faced Look. We are moving away from the fully made up faces of camera-ready celebrities like the Kardashians.

Recent movies featuring women in a natural state, have contributed to this theme. Reese Witherspoon in “Wild” and Dakota Johnson in “Fifty Shades of Grey” are two prominent examples. Johnson features this look on the February cover of Vogue. Millennials are embracing the look and cosmetic companies are delighted to have new market opportunities as they formulate products to achieve this “no-makeup” look. It seems the pendulum continues to swing from extreme to extreme!

Gweneth Paltrow without makeup.
Gweneth Paltrow without makeup.

Finding your best look is such a personal thing. Trends should be age appropriate. A young woman in her twenties is most likely going to pull off a no-makeup look more easily that her grandmother. Just remember, ladies, we grandmothers may have a few lines here and there but we are the ones the young women come to for advice.   Be true to your style. If your style is dramatic, you will want your makeup to reflect that look but if you have a sporty, outdoor look, it should be fresh and more natural looking. Ladies with light coloring will have to choose more subtle makeup than the lady with darker skin or hair.

Cate Blanchett in subtle, natural makeup.
Cate Blanchett in subtle, natural makeup.

These no-makeup looks are achieved through use of concealer, sheer foundation, skillful contour techniques, and natural looking blush. Gone is the look of having applied makeup with a putty knife! However, the best “natural” look isn’t necessarily natural. Gweneth Paltrow is adorable and looks ready to take the kids to the park but this totally un-made up look would not serve her well at the Oscars! Cate Blanchett pulls off a natural look perfectly – with skillfully applied makeup.   She could take the kids to the park or wear a more glamorous hairstyle, slip on an elegant dress and be ready for an evening out.

Oh yes!  Always camera-ready!
Oh yes! Always camera-ready!

No matter how you approach the no-makeup look, remember that your beauty comes from having a foundation of beautiful skin under the makeup. Take care of your skin from the inside out you can change with the trends seamlessly.

What ever happened to sleeves?



Classy sheath to be worn with a jacket or without.  Saks
Classy sheath to be worn with a jacket or without. Saks

Most ladies over forty prefer to have their arms covered – well, maybe not the whole arm but at least the upper arm or perhaps that fleshy little area right below the shoulder. But what do we get in the stores? Sleeveless! Not to mention how ridiculous it looks to see ladies on TV shows wearing sleeveless dresses while discussing snow and sub-zero temperature outside the studio.

It is not the fault of the store buyers. They hear your plea for sleeves. After all, the last thing any store wants is to transfer dozens of unsold garments to the sale rack. Unfortunately, only a few designers respond with the addition of sleeves. Most are resistant to making this change as they feel their design may be compromised.0400086612111_ASTL_247x329

“How did this happen?” you might ask.   There is actually no one answer. As clothing has become more casual, ladies demand comfort. Sleeve designs often restrict movement. Try to reach on that top shelf in the storage room for supplies wearing a dress with fitted sleeves and you get the point. The addition of fabrics with stretch or give has spoiled us even more. But, knowing how it happened does not help solve the problem, and while professional business wear has become slightly less rigid, it still must be professional.

I searched through hundreds of dresses on store web sites and found several examples that offer a professional image, style, AND cover your arms. One of my favorite options is to add a sweater or jacket but this can only work with a simple dress where the jacket does not detract from the dress design.

0454748526696_ASTL_247x329The simple black sheath offers sleeves and classic design while a jacket could change it into a suit. It could be worn in the office by itself or just add a jacket when meeting that important client. You could add some jewelry, dressy shoes and a clutch for a business dinner or cocktails. It is a great basic that would flatter most any body shape. If the fabric does not stretch, you may need to have a colleague get supplies from the top shelf.

Another classic is the wrap dress. Jersey fabric offers give and the simple lines of this dress flatter most figures. If cleavage is visible, use a camisole. I have seen full-figured ladies sort of spill out of these wrap dresses and it is not attractive or professional. . . . unless you have a different agenda.

I even found an example of a dress design with sleeves that needs to stand on its own. This blue dress is stylish, work-appropriate and will flatter many figures. It will fit in many 0474126910541_ASTL_247x329business settings. If this is your look, they are out there but you have to search.

This print has cap sleeves that will only cover the top part of your arm. You could add a jacket to give a more professional look. Prints always give a more casual impression but this could be great in the right setting or add a short linen fitted jacket that concealed the neck detail and transform the look. I would go with red, yellow or black for spring.

If you look better with sleeves, investing a little search effort will be worth your while. Your detective abilities may find hidden treasures!

Tiptoeing through final markdowns!

Statement skirt you can pair with many options.
Statement skirt you can pair in many ways.


Final markdowns are everywhere.   The magnetic pull of those bargains tug at every nerve for those of us who love a good deal!

But wait. When is a bargain not a bargain?  I usually encounter a few of these lonely items hanging there with tags still attached in client’s closets. No matter how good the price, these item were not a bargain.

Like most of you, I love a good bargain but to truly make a sale purchase a bargain, it takes some planning. Let me take you with me in how I do it.

Great pencil skirt with design flair.
Great pencil skirt with design flair.

My two favorite stores regularly send out emails announcing new arrivals, trends, and events. These keep me up to date with what the new season has in store.  However, I do not like to order online.

Since moving to a condo with limited closet space, I have revised my wardrobe to include more basics, offering many options in combinations plus some unique pieces to add punch.   Each season, I assess my basics and shop to update those items that need a breath of life or to be replaced. This might be done during the first markdown sales when there is still a good selection.

Now come the Final markdowns! Two firm rules for any purchase:

  1. It must be in my color palette.
  2. It must fit.
Oh, so many ways to wear this.  Add jacket, sweater, jewelry, scarves for totally different looks.
Oh, so many ways to wear this. Add jacket, sweater, jewelry, scarves for totally different looks.

Because of these two non-negotiable rules, I prefer to go to the store and try things on. This reduces the risk of mistakes from shopping on line and the hassle of returning an item that doesn’t work. The color in a pictured item may not be true to the actual color and each manufacturer has a slightly different fit. I have even found variations in fit within the same brand when the cut is different.

Before going to the store, I review the sale items on the web site to make mental notes of things that I want to review. I check racks for these items then look quickly through miscellaneous.   At the end of the summer, I found an Ellie Tahari cotton dress and this winter, I found an Akris Punto skirt. Both items were 70% off, fit me and add a totally different look to my basics. I also had a sweater that pairs perfectly with the skirt.   Even if alterations are needed, you know at the time of purchase if it is worth the extra cost.

Edgy capris to make a statement!
Edgy capris to make a statement!

Both items I mentioned have prompted many compliments and I feel great when wearing them. Being able to add a unique piece that fits my style and adds punch to my wardrobe brings a warm satisfaction. No more orphans in the closet. A little planning and discipline can result in finding wardrobe treasures you will love!

All images from Saks.

A Look Back on 2014 Fashion

Let’s reflect back on some of the notable happenings in the world of fashion for 2014.

Let’s Leave It in 2014!

Pherral's vintage Westwood hat
Pherral’s vintage Westwood hat

Pharrell’s vintage oversized Vivienne Westwood hat. He is a talented guy but the hat can stay in our memories of ’14 – far back in our memories!


Blanket coats. The Row, Ferragamo and Chloé were among the noted

Blanket Coat by Stella McCartney
Blanket Coat by Stella McCartney

designers who presented the blanket coat. Burberry Prosum is, perhaps the best known designer offering actual blankets used as coats. This was not a joke and was not intended for a picture around the campfire on a cold evening.  It was “style”.  Enough said.

A Sad Good-by to Oscar de l Renta

Oscar de la Renta with Vogue editor Anna Wintour
Oscar de la Renta with Vogue editor Anna Wintour

Oscar de la Renta has been one of America’s best loved designers for fifty years.  Former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush both wore his designs.  Oscar de la Renta was the personification of style and being a gentleman.  His collections were consistently beautiful creations and could be worn by a wide variety of ladies.

Oscar de la Renta spring collection at Neiman Marcus
Oscar de la Renta spring collection at Neiman Marcus

He was able to present his spring collection last fall and to create the wedding dress for George’s Clooney’s bride before losing his fight with cancer.  I have never owned one of his creations but had the pleasure of attending a style show that he hosted. His loss will certainly be felt in the US fashion world.

Oscar de la Renta spring collection
Oscar de la Renta spring collection

Prince George steps into the fashion spotlight.

We have loved watching Prince William and Kate take their royal responsibilities so fashionably.  Now there is baby George. He was recently photographed looking every bit the dapper 16-month old prince.  Prince-george--a Royal fashion watching is taking on a whole new charm with this impeccable young couple, baby George and the little brother or sister expected in a few months.

Look for 2015 to bring much news to the fashion world – and no doubt, to included the good, the bad and the ugly!