Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bikinis, tankinis, sarongs, oh my

When Ellen asked me to be a “guest blogger”, I was skeptical, and flattered. I consider myself hilarious, but you never know if that will translate well in cyberspace. So here it goes.

I live in Chicago, home of the endlessly funny Jen Lancaster (if you’re reading this, I want to be your friend) and outrageously long winters. However, in normal (read: Cali and the Bahamas) parts of the world, beach season has already begun! So it is with a twinge of sadness that I propose we discuss beachwear, even though it will not be useful for me for another month and a half. (Who walked through ankle deep snow and slush and dodged falling ice chunks three days before April? Oh, that would be me.)

Let me just put this out there up front: I hate shopping for bathing suits, and I almost never get excited about being in one in a public place. That being said, I have found that it really doesn’t have to be a painful experience, and that bathing suits can be the topic of some really interesting conversations.

First, we will start with Andrea’s Rules for Bathing Suits and Cover Ups, in which I will shamelessly steal the ideas of my friends, whom I polled and questioned relentlessly.

Andrea’s Rules for Bathing Suits and Cover Ups:

1. Buy the bathing suit in your actual size. This really shouldn’t be necessary to say, and yet every time I am at the beach or a public pool I see women (and some men) in bathing suits that are WAY too small. I know it’s not fun to see the size or admit that you might need an underwire in your bathing suit. But for the sake of those around you, PLEASE remember that it’s just a tag, and what’s important is how you look and feel in it! (And what Ellen and I think, obviously.)

2. Tankinis are not necessarily the answer for bikini-phobes. I have mixed feelings about tankinis, though I find the word really amusing to say repeatedly. They are always cute on little girls. Backless tankinis are a HUGE no-no. Bandeau tankinis are also a no-no in my book. Uni-boob AND possible hip pudge?! EEW. When they are sufficiently roomy, are in fun colors, and actually cover the areas you are trying to avoid showing in a bikini, then I am all for it. Proceed with caution.

3. Things that are Unacceptable at All Times, Anywhere: thongs (I don’t care where you are from or how nice your ass is, save it for your private Jacuzzi), mesh (eew), teeny tiny shorts used as a “cover up” that might as well be undies, high heels at the beach, super exposed boob/nipples (I have big boobs, I appreciate showing a little boob, but really people, sometimes it just gets out of hand), socks with sandals, heavy make-up at the beach or pool, tanning lotion (more on this later), and VAC (visible ass crack) (again, this should be obvious, but apparently it is not).

4. Cover ups- use them. Again, no mesh, don’t wear all black, mu mus are unnecessary, and for the love of all things fashionable, do not wear ripped denim anything. I am a big fan of Capri-style pants- I have some great ones that I think are meant for yoga that I found at Old Navy. They come in fun colors, are flattering and weather appropriate, and are really durable. Sarongs are fun too, especially if they are in bright solids or not-too-Key West prints. Sundresses are also great- but the kind with tube tops or bandeau tops generally look like crap and/or make you look preggers (which of course is fine if you really are). Board shorts are cute and sporty, but be careful that you don’t get them too long, or you end up looking like a confused basketball player.

5. Boob support- just do it. Even if you have tiny boobs, there is simply ZERO excuse to have them flopping about while you are in a swimsuit. I am not an expert on bikinis, but I am certain bikinis with appropriate coverage and support exist for all shapes, sizes, and styles. In: athletic friendly bathing suits. Out: Playing beach volleyball and giving Spring Breakers a free show.

6. Wear sunscreen. I repeat: WEAR SUNSCREEN. Aside from obvious cancer risks, there is nothing that is less attractive than sun-wrecked skin and super wrinkly chest/boobs/skin. I am all for aging gracefully, and this is the best way to do it. Target has some great sales on sunscreen right now (in Florida anyway), so there's no excuse. Also, SPF 5, 8, 10, or any other such ridiculousness DOES NOT COUNT. Healthy sun-kissed tan is pretty, but lobster is not. (Aloe people, use ALOE. I invested in an aloe plant when I lived in LA, and it definitely paid for itself before it died.)

7. Hairiness is NOT ok. Please shave, wax, do whatever you need to do. I realize that everyone has different theories and opinions on body hair, but when it comes to bathing suits, it's just gross. Also, nasty feet and bacne are equally as unacceptable.

So there you have the basics. If you have questions, do please ask before you walk onto the beach sporting mesh covered saggy boobs. Your fellow beach goers thank you.

-Andrea S.

No Fuchsia Snake!

Let's discuss how nauseating these shoes are. Nine West really bit the big one on these. Not only are they freaking HIDEOUS, it is offensive that I have been seeing them in store windows and magazines. God FORBID I should see them on someone's feet.

I would like to take a moment to reiterate my two most important rules for animal print:

1. Small Doses

2. Colors that occur in nature

I really thought number 2 was obvious, but apparently Nine West didn't get that memo. Seriously, I cannot even IMAGINE wearing these around as anything other than a joke. No fuchsia snake people! Not on your feet, not on your wallet, not on your belt.

Lest you think that Nine West had just the one slip up, check out this revolting little peice of craziness. Um, is this a boot that got a bite taken out? A shoe with a headpiece? With what, exactly, would you wear these?

And these sandals are from hell. I cannot fathom how ANYONE would slap three plastic discs, each more hideous than the last, on a black patent sandal and call it spring footwear. These aren't for spring, summer, winter, or fall. They are for avoiding entirely.

So, I'm already not a fan of clogs, but I am willing to bet that these would win for Fugliest Clogs Ever. A blue studded peeptoe clog?! Really?! I am speechless.

And here's the sad part: Nine West doesn't always suck. Right now, Nine West is apprently all about tackiness. Maybe next season they can work on not insulting all of us with eyes.

Maxi Dresses: the controversy rages on

It has come to my attention that there are huge fans of the maxi dress and also some total haters. My contribution to this obviously EXTREMELY (and by "extremely", I mean "not very in the mass scheme of things") important discussion is as follows:

Just Do It

The maxi dress works on several levels if you choose the right one. The can be comfortable, flattering, and ridiculously easy with sandals (notice I did not say flip flops). They are ONLY for spring and summer.

The first is cotton jersey and looks as comfy as a night gown. I'd wear it to a daytime housewarming party or barbecue.

The second one looks really flattering and modern. I'd wear it to brunch or dinner.

The third is an example of how to do a wild, loud print. With a limited number of colors, the loud print reads as bold and fun instead of busy and overwhelming.

The fourth is one way to do the maxi dress in a semi-formal way. The color is a nice touch but it doesn't scream at you. And the halter is a little sexy.

However, there are many to avoid, which brings me to point number 2:

Run Far, Far Away

If you are really short, maxi dresses could work for you. A long, continuous line of color is elongating, but if the hems hits you above the ankle, like this one, it can cut off your leg line and make you appear stumpy.

Beware looking like mom. Some of these dresses come across as really dowdy, such as this little blue number. Flutter sleeves and a dated, conservative shape make this old and the maxi dress should be young and fun and happy.

Unless you are a bridemaid, don't do this to yourself. No, not even at a wedding/bar mitzvah/christening. Occasional exceptions can be made for mothers of the bride or groom, since they are to fit in with the wedding party to a certain extent.

Remember, darlings, evening gowns and maxi dresses are two different things, designed for two different purposes. The first is formal evening wear, the second more casual day wear.

The winter maxi dress is just awful. Trust me, it is not flattering. You can be a size 0 model and still look weird in this. First of all, it doesn't keep you any warmer than heavy tights and a much more flattering hemline. Second of all, it is really, really dated and dull. I would avoid it like the plague.

The shape of this dress is lovely, but all over patterns should be chosen carefully. This is a whole lot of springy/easter-ness. And it's too much. This print on a 4 year old seems much more appropriate.

If you avoid one kind of maxi dress, avoid the one masquerading as a prairie skirt. Don't let this dress fool you! It is not hip, it is not "bo-ho chic", it is not cute. It is just hideous.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Your Closet Profile: Dresses

Even if you are a self-proclaimed dress hater, try to keep an open mind and consider, just for a moment, how delightful it is to throw on one piece of clothing, accessorize, and be out the door. Don't lie, you know you like it.

Besides being ridiculously easy, dresses are a great way to break up the monotony of separates.
With these lovely incentives in mind, let's chat dresses. Instead of breaking down dress options by shape, let's start with the seasons.


Summer dresses are arguably the most fun, because there are so many options. The patterns, fabric weights, and shapes are almost endless. Here's what I recommend:

1. If you live in a warm climate (read: Florida, Vegas), I suggest having at least 3 casual summer dresses and 1 more formal one on hand. The casual ones can be any pattern or color your little heart desires, keeping in mind that proper fit is still important when it's hot out and no one wants to see your bum no matter how many sessions you've had with your trainer. The more formal one would be for a wedding, bar mitzvah, etc. and should probably be in a solid color that isn't distracting (I like the ones in the above picture).

2. If you live in cooler weather (hello, San Francisco), you might need 2 casual dresses at most. But if you are a dress lover, I can't fault you for having more.

3. If you like white dresses, do everyone a favor and wear a slip or get one that is already lined. Surely no explaination for this is necessary.

4. Your shoes should be in keeping with the tone of your dress. Black patent leather shoes with a white linen sundress are too heavy and seasonally inappropriate. Try sandals or open-toed pumps in a fun color.

5. Stilettos + grass = muddy heels and increased tripping. Wedges are a perfect alternative if you don't want flats.


Fall dresses tend to be the most versatile both in color and fabric weight. Heavy cotton blends and light wool blends are ideal for the cooler weather, and they transition well from late summer into winter.

I recommend having the following:
1. Wrap dress in a cotton, silk, or wool blend. Perfect with a cami and heels or boots.

2. Shift dress, lined for optimal fit. Great with tights and pumps when it's cool, bare legs and peep toes when its warmer.

3. Evening dress in flattering color. For the theater and cocktail parties.

4. Dress shapes should flatter, not hide, whenever possible. Don't get me wrong, I love the freedom of a trapeze dress, but it's not exactly giving me a waist.

5. Fall is the best time to buy dresses, because the quality of fabric is typically much higher generally than in other seasons. If you want something to last for several years, I suggest looking in the fall offerings.

6. Plaid dresses are pretty juvenile; I prefer my plaid in smaller doses.


I'm not a huge fan of winter dresses because I can't wear any of the snuggly wool options. But just because they make me itchy, doesn't mean you shouldn't try one if you can handle the fabric.

1. Sweater dresses are great, but beware: they are often not flattering, and tend to be highly unforgiving.

2. Please avoid the winter maxi dress at all costs. Just because they are everywhere, doesn't mean you should get one. I will discuss maxi dresses shortly, but suffice it to say that they do not belong in your winter wardrobe. No, not even belted.

3. The maxi dress should not be confused with a long formal gown, which could be useful this season, depending on the kinds of parties you attend.

4. A comfy, long sleeved dress for the weekend is a nice change from the ubiquitous jeans-and-a-sweater and a snuggly yet cool choice with tights and boots.

5. Most, if not all, fall dresses can be winterized with tights, boots, and a jacket or sweater.


If you aren't dress-inclined, you can skip this season all together. Most retailers are trying to sell us resort wear and unless you are going to Tahiti in March, I doubt you need any of it. If you like dresses, though, some spring dresses can liven up what you've been wearing all winter and take you into summer without breaking a sweat.

1. Maxi dress: just do it. They are comfy and cute and you can wear them all spring and summer. Pick one that is fitted on top to balance the volume in the skirt.

2. Color! Now is the time to break up the black and brown with something colorful. Beware the trendy prints. Safari-inspired, ikat, etc. are all cute, but aren't super versatile for most of us.

3. For some reason, denim dresses keep creeping into the landscape. Avoid these at all costs. Run, do not walk, away from anyone who tells you differently.

4. Ruffles. Spring is a fun time to experiment with new shapes and volumes in your dress wardrobe. Ruffles and the one shoulder look are fun; don't go overboard on pattern or color if you choose an already bold shape.

If you own none of these or want pictures for examples of the dresses described above, let me know and I will do a follow up post with pictures and definitions. There are no stupid questions, only stupid purchases.

Jewelry Picks for Spring & Summer

All of these super versatile pieces are from Clay Pot (http://www.clay-pot.com/index.jsp), a site I recently found out about and really like.

1. Great ring

I'm not saying you should spend $350 for a ring (which is what this Melissa Joy Manning piece costs), but this one is both earthy and sparkly, which is difficult combo to find. Surely a less expensive version can be found...
2. Funky Earrings

For under $70, you get eucalyptus pods and pearls. How cool is that? These fit with the ethnic & safari vibes going around (again) this season, but could also be a fun work accessory.

3. Statement Necklace

I'm not saying it has to be gigantic, but it should be fun and statement-making. I love this Alexis Bittar lucite piece. It feels bold and delicate at the same time.

Attention Northern California Shoe Fanatics!

Let's all rejoice at my fellow shoe-lover LB's willingness to share the following store: Foot Candy Shoes (http://www.footcandyshoes.com/index.asp )

Yes, they are very expensive shoes. No, I would not spend $800 on a pair of freaking sandals. But come on people, everyone loves a sale. And just because $200 isn't an amazing deal for a pair of sandals, doesn't mean it's not an AWESOME deal for this pair of SIGERSON MORRISON boots that were originally $695. Seriously.

I would like to thank LB for not keeping this place a secret, and hope that my spreading the news around doesn't mean all the 8.5s will be gone before I get there.

New Shoe Site

Ok, so I don't know if they are new or if I am just behind, but I just discovered solestruck.com. I am currently obsessing about this pair of Campers, but since they are over $150, I am restraining myself. For now.
The site has a lot of brands and fairly wide selection, including some pairs I don't think I've seen elsewhere... I am also digging the free shipping on orders over $50.
And yes, my apologies to my loyal readers who have been disappointed for several weeks at my gross violation of my part of our deal: to post stuff, like, regularly.