Friday, February 28, 2014

Wardrobe Essentials: The B Team and Other Necessities

 In the last post I covered the dozen pieces that are versatile and efficient for getting you through life. Those were your A team. Once you've acquired them, you can move on to this list to flesh out the great bones of a classic wardrobe you've started. Today is list B (other great pieces you'll want to add) and C, necessities for when it doesn't matter how you look.

A note about color: Though I list black as a neutral in these posts, after a certain age you have to be careful about wearing it close to your face. I finally had to give up a wardrobe staple: the black turtleneck, because I looked ten years older when I wore it. Camel, brown, and gray are much more friendly next to those fine (and not so fine) lines. If you think I'm making this stuff up read the article, Black Clothes Can Put Years on You.  Your classic Little Black Dress is going to need a low (but not too low) neckline so you can look stunning in it at any age. Now, on to our list.

The Breton shirt. It simply never goes out of style. Ever. Here's a Brief History of the Iconic Breton Stripe.

Animal print or snakeskin belt. Adorable and interesting over a cardigan or to change up a sheath.

Black leather jacket. Because some days you just want to feel fierce. Mine is a classic fitted piece with zippers for a little edginess. It came from a local thrift store and cost thirty bucks.

Wool winter coat in a neutral if you live where it's cold or better rain gear for wet climes. 

Scarves in all lengths and colors, some silk, some wool. Accessorizing is how those few neutral pieces are going to keep looking fresh. After a certain age you are going to want a scarf for your neck (whether it's cold outside or not).

Boots in brown and black. I wear them all winter and so have flats and heels in both colors.

Animal print flats, a neutral ballet slipper, or moccasins. Your go-to shoe for every day errands.

Nude heels. You can wear any color in your wardrobe with them and they eliminate the brown/black choice when traveling. Literally if you were going to buy only one dress shoe this would have you covered.

The last two posts cover a basic wardrobe for being in public. It works if you stay at home, work in an office, or travel. But we all know this isn't the end of the list, don't we? You are going to need a couple of old shirts and pants for painting or yard work, some work out clothes and running shoes, socks, or yoga wear, a couple of pairs of pajamas for summer and winter,  tights in black and brown, leggings especially in colder climates.
Last but certainly not least you are going to want some decent lingerie.  Something sexy and lacy under your clothes makes you feel feminine and pulled together, even if no one knows it's there except you. And buy a robe, a lesson I learned the hard way when room service arrived at 6 AM, and I had nothing to throw on over aforementioned lingerie.

Like it or not people get their first impression of you based on your style. Want to be taken seriously? Get your wardrobe together and you can stop thinking about it so much and go on to ending world hunger, reforming education, or whatever else you have on your world changing to do list for the day.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


My husband and I never actually go out on February 14th. We make it a point to celebrate a day or two early to avoid jacked up prices, long waits, and crowds. Valentines Day is the Disney World of holidays. But this year some friends of ours who are having problems (the problem is that they're married) had invited us to go out with them. We felt obligated since the husband's effort would have to fall under the category of "last ditch." He wanted to see a play and go to dinner so my husband suggested our favorite restaurant near the theatre so as to ease the pain of awkwardness for me.


My mother has been in the hospital for nearly two weeks and starting on this past Monday they began  saying she could go home any day. My past experiences with my mother and hospital discharges are legendary in their length, confusion, and stress. Knowing this,  every day I would clear my calendar for the next day. Tuesday: "We are going to put her on an IV drip to strengthen her heart." Wednesday: "We want to keep her a couple of more days." Thursday: "Might be tomorrow." I had been to her apartment to pack her a bag and get documentation she might need to go to a "rehab facility" for a week or so. In case you don't know what "rehab facility" means, it's a nursing home.

Friday (Valentines Day) came and the rain poured. I showered, dressed, called my mom to see if the doctor had been in, and generally played the part of the concerned responsible daughter. I took a little afternoon nap in anticipation of our late night at the theater. My husband had gone out to hit some golf balls and called to tell me there was a change in plans. Our friend, it seems had gone to the theater ON THE DAY of the show and tried to get tickets. They didn't have two seats together anywhere, let alone four, so he didn't buy them. Plan B was a dinner theater in a community center in an adjacent small town.

I'm nothing if not adaptable. I mentally shifted gears from Monty Python's Spamalot at a real theatre to something called Love Letters at a community center.

I called to check on my mother at 3:30. She hadn't heard from the doctor so I relaxed a little. She didn't seem to think they'd send her home at this point. Twenty minutes later, her nurse called to say that Ms. K has been discharged and I should come and get her. I explained that she was going to rehab and not going home. The confusion was solved and I was told that yes, indeed, she would be transported by ambulance to rehab.

I'd been waiting all week to hear from the nursing home and of course now at 4:00 on a Friday, in a pouring rain, on a night when we actually have plans that involve other people, I have to go fill out endless paperwork. My husband called to explain the situation to our friends. We'd try to get there in time for the show. The admissions director gave us a nice tour and introduced us to the staff who would be taking care of our "loved one." I tried to act like I was interested but I was really thinking that I could have booked a 7 day cruise while she was tucked away safely and no one would have missed me.

As my husband and I were leaving he nudged me. "Look." I followed his gaze. Down a long corridor there were 6 or 7 women in wheelchairs s-l-o-w-l-y making their way back to their rooms from the dining room. It was equal parts funny and depressing. As we headed for the door my husband called our friends to say we were leaving the nursing home. He responded "You are coming to another one."

After an hour long drive in rush hour traffic and getting lost in a town so small you can't believe that can actually happen, we arrived at the correct place, were met at the door and our friend walked with us to our table. We were committing the worst theatre faux pas: arriving late and disrupting the show. Naturally our table (turns out it was a dinner theater production) was right down front. As I glanced around in the darkness I understood his comment about coming to a nursing home. We were by far the youngest people there, a point made clear by our lack of wheelchairs and walkers. At one point the character of Andy writes that he is using his father's Parker 51 fountain pen. "I had one of those pens!" an old guy in the audience says far too loudly to his table.

At intermission the other couple at our table wanted to chat. My friend whispered to me that the man had done nothing but talk about himself during dinner. "Most of the people in this room know who I am." He was wearing a tie pin with his name on it. Then aloud she said "He does magic tricks, he showed us about 15 during dinner." He didn't seem to pick up on the sound of irritation in her voice." He asked if we had any kids under 12 because he had free tickets to the circus which he waved in his hand. I said that we didn't and asked him how good a magician he could be if he couldn't conjure up some kids to take to the circus.

 Did I mention we swung by the house and I made myself a drink which I drank in the car and that I hadn't had any dinner?

After intermission was over we noticed that about half the crowd had left. It was 8:00 and judging by the empty Coke cans and half eaten desserts on the tables it had already been a pretty wild night for them. During the second act I heard several sounds I desperately hoped were snores. The show, which is the best acting gig ever for actors with bad memories, was pretty good. There was some talk about getting coffee after but let's be honest, I wanted to go to a bar. My friend was exhausted from her long work week and texted that they were bailing and heading for home. We headed to our neighborhood sushi bar. It was packed and we didn't feel like waiting for a spot at a bar at this point. My husband raised an eyebrow and pointed to the Kroger next door. "Yes. Let's get some Mexican Coke to mix whiskey with" I suggested. As we wondered the aisles under tired fluorescent we could not stop laughing at just how badly the evening had turned out. Eventually we made our way home, mixed up some cocktails and watched a few Modern Family reruns. It was the only part of the night that was perfect.

The evening was a disaster but will probably be one of the few Valentines Days we actually remember.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Your Valentine's Day Survival Guide

Personally, I've always thought a flying fat baby with a weapon is a little scary. 

Once I was driving with my son and saw a big Valentine's Day wreath on a door.

"I don't really like hearts as a motif."

"That's because you don't have one, Mom."

Well, I wouldn't go that far...

I'll admit that this is my least favorite holiday, right behind Mother's Day. I'm not a big fan of any day when we are supposed to drum up some specific emotion on demand. It can also be kind of hard on our single friends.

If you happen to be single, aren't you just a little happy? You don't have to worry about finding the appropriate gift, or whether she likes Indian food, or what he wants to do. (I mean, we all know what he wants to do.)  A relationship isn't going to solve all your problems and complete you. I don't care what Jerry Magure said. I've been married a long time and one thing I've learned is that even in a relationship, sometimes you have to hold your own hand.

So how about showing yourself a little love today?

Play your favorite music as loud as you can without bothering the neighbors. When you are in a relationship, you are going to hear "I can't believe you like that!" and "Can you turn that down?"

Dance. Either at home by yourself or out with your friends.  Music and physical activity release endorphins that make you feel happier.

Spend time with friends. You don't have to impress them. Champagne taste just as good with the girls and guys can hang out watching sports which NONE of their friends in relationships are going to be doing on V-Day! They are probably going to be at some over priced, over crowded restaurant, wishing they were out with you. You won't have to explain why you are upset over your fantasy basketball roster over dinner. Soak it up. You can brag about it to your married friends tomorrow...

Get a massage. Craving a little skin on skin? Relax and performance anxiety, guys. No wondering if you look fat, girls. Plus, it gets to be all about YOU. (C'mon, who doesn't like that?)

Try something new. This is a great day to take a cooking class, try yoga, or climb the rock wall at your local gym.

Volunteer somewhere. Get over yourselves, girls. You are not homeless, cold, or hungry. You are just single. No whining.

Call a friend you know is in a bad relationship and cheer them up. (You can secretly be glad that's not you.)


  • Watch Pride and Prejudice, Sleepless in Seattle, or Notting Hill.
  • Sit down in front of the television with anything that comes in a carton.
  • Call, text, or otherwise contact anyone from a past relationship. (If you are out drinking with friends, give them your cell phone.)
  • Sit down in front of the television with a bag or a six pack of anything.
  • Facebook stalk your ex to see the latest pictures of her and find out if she's out tonight.
  • Drunk text your ex after you finish that six pack you aren't supposed to be drinking.
Now run along and do exactly what I've told you. You'll probably have a better Valentine's Day than your non-single friends. 

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