Sunday, July 28, 2013

I'm here to admit: I am a bag lady

As I celebrated my 40th wedding anniversary, my husband asked me what I wanted as a gift from him.  I knew exactly what I wanted...a Brahmin bag.  I've wanted a toasted almond Brahmin bag for about ten years and this was the year that I would finally buy one.

I am an addict - happily so.  And I'm not alone.  Not being sure where this addiction originates in so many women, I will say that tastes in handbags are varied.  Budget not withstanding, it is fascinating to see what kind of handbags women carry.

Once I had to sit at a table in a high end store for a promotional event. So I decided to perform my own visual survey as I sat. I wanted to determine what handbag most women carried.  It was certainly eye opening!

The majority brand that was carried was Coach. Of course, primarily young women carried that brand. I was surprised, however, to see that much older women carried Etienne Aigner the most.  Of course, there were the high end brands like Louis Vuitton, Prada and Longchamps but those were mostly carried by Europeans or Asian tourists shopping in this high end store.  There were non-branded bags and most British tourists wore (I hate to even write this) backpacks or fanny packs.  No matter where you go, promise that you will never, ever wear either -- ever!

I happen to love anything by Michael Kors and by Kate Spade.  I have four Michaels, two Kates, an Adrianne Vittadini straw bag, a SAK, a couple of old but beautiful Etienne Aigners and two Nine Wests. Not all handbags have to be brand names, however.  I have a cute straw bag that I bought at Bealls Outlet, two green handbags that are no brands, a couple of vintage bags, several beaded bags and a lucite clutch.

I must also admit that I like a big roomy bag.  Although I have a really cute smallish crossbody Merona bag from Target, it is not one I carry often.  I was a Girl Scout and like to "be prepared" so I carry a lot of stuff: a wallet, sunglasses in a case, a coupon wallet, a gift cards pouch, artificial sweetener in a pouch, several tubes of lipstick, a compact of face powder, an emergency pouch (that holds band aids, hand cleaning gel, aspirin and a headband), a cell phone, keys, reading glasses, a collapsible shopping bag, a little notebook, two pens, a hairbrush/comb set, hand cream, a small travel can of hairspray, a purse size package of tissues, a little case of emery boards and the kitchen sink.  Okay, maybe not the kitchen sink but you must admit I am prepared!

I have a dear friend who tries to carry the smallest purse she can find that will hold the few items she needs. She is frequently appalled at the weight of my purse and wonders how I can carry it. I wonder how she can carry everything necessary in such a small bag.  Different bags for different women.

Once in New York, I bought a fake Vuitton from a guy on the street.  I knew what to look for (logo not being stitched upon, zipper that zipped smoothly, leather-like interior smell) and got it really cheap. But once I got it home, I just couldn't carry it.  Although it was in the Alma style, it still felt fake to me.  And even though I didn't carry it, it eventually developed rot on the handles and I gave it to a thrift store.

In an earlier post, I wrote about a friend who only carried large black Merona computer cases as her purse, and I talked her into a bright red structured bag to step out of her comfort zone.  Not all bags need to be in black or brown to be appropriate. Try red. Try blue. Try orange or yellow. Try plaid or floral print. It is an accessory and does NOT have to match your outfit - sometimes it is the accent piece. And it should make you very happy to carry it.

I have a big canvas crossbody bag that I bought on sale at Old Navy that is the perfect travel bag. It looks like a school bag, a thick adjustable shoulder strap, and has zippered pockets that are covered by a flap that velcro shuts so no one can pickpocket from it without you knowing they're trying. It has traveled to Paris twice, Australia, Italy, China and Germany (not always with ME!).  It is machine washable, holds water bottles on the ends of the bag, and holds a ton of things for walking around (including a sweater or shawl for those cool interiors). I bought it for $12 and it is still nice looking.

The point I'm trying to make is that women "of a certain age" should have a great collection of amazing and varied handbags, shoulder bags, clutches and crossbodies.  You can carry them seasonally. You can create admiration from other women. You can accent your ensemble. You can make an impact. You can and you should. And think of the legacy you leave for whoever will inherit your bags!

This is such a perfect quote for today's post:

Until next week I remain, 
Stylistically yours,


Sunday, July 21, 2013

The cat's pajamas! (Cause I can't find any for me!)

Oh my gosh! I never thought I was very picky when it comes to sleepwear, but I must be. I cannot find anything I want to wear to sleep in for a decent price.  I don't know about you but, as a woman "of a certain age," my requirements are comfort, comfort and, oh yeah, comfort!  Living in a two story house means heat rises, so the upstairs bedroom is toasty. We do run the a/c and a couple of fans but menopause is still torturing me.

Summer sleepwear that is comfortable for a woman who bursts into sweat is almost impossible to find.  I do not want to wear those dowdy cotton house dresses ever  Just looking at them makes me want to cry.

 And I don't want to wear long pajama bottoms because I'M HOT! And not in a good way.

I don't want shorty flirty pajamas because I'm not a cute young thing - I go to bed to sleep. And whoever thought that silk or satin is a good sleep fabric must have been a man.

Currently I'm sleeping in a long soft cotton sports top with a T-back that I bought at Marshall's for $5. It is wonderful and I wish I had bought the other two they had (of course, they're gone now).

I've been to my usual shops:  Target, Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Old Navy and so far, nada.  I could go shopping in stores like Dillard's, Penney's, etc. but I don't want to spend a lot of money.  I know, I know, if I amortized the times I wear it, it works out to be cost effective.  But I can't be bothered to spend money that way.

There are a lot of p.j.s and nighties that are made out of stretchy fabrics but those don't breath and I want to cool off after a hot flash.  And I don't sleep nude. I don't like to see myself naked and I sure don't want to expose my husband, dog or in-case-of-emergency personnel to that!

I have a fan blowing on me in bed, use cotton sheets and a large tumbler of ice water by the bed.  I'm fine now, but if you "women of a certain age" have any better ideas to find comfortable, cotton sleepwear that is CHEAP - I'm open to feedback. 

I won't wear dumpy looking sleepwear. I just want to look nice, be cool and comfy and do it inexpensively.   
I don't have Hot Flashes! Iron On   They're not hot flashes... Iron On

Let me know how you cope and if you know a good priced sleepwear location.  Until next week, I remain...

Stylistically yours,


Sunday, July 14, 2013

When the "yoyo" is not fun!

I'm not writing about the toy (which was a popular toy in Greece in 500 B.C., just for your knowledge).  I am writing about that up and down of weight loss.

It seems as I get older, my weight does pile on faster and doesn't want to go away easily.  I do nurture it, I feed it well and often, and my activity level has certainly diminished greatly. But I refuse to let my age be an excuse.

So I bought a great weight loss tool:  a Fitbit Zip for $59.95 (mine is black).  Here's the scoop:

Zip™ Wireless
Activity Tracker

  • Tracks steps, distance and calories burned.
  • Wirelessly syncs to computers and select smartphones.
  • Replaceable battery, lasts 4-6-months.
  • Sweat, rain, and splash-proof.
  • Includes clip, wireless sync dongle, battery
    tool and battery

There are other, more expensive Fitbits, depending on what you want to accomplish. The Flex is a Wireless Activity & Sleep Wristband for $99.95;

the One is a clip on (like the Zip above) that is a Wireless Activity & Sleep Tracker for $99.95. 

There is even a scale, the Aria WiFi Smart Scale ($129.95) that syncs to your system to keep track of your weight loss, body mass index, and percentage of body fat, as well as charts your progress with graphs on your computer and tablet or phone and recognizes up to eight users.

There are also Jawbone systems (similar)

UP by Jawbone - Blue

 and Garmin systems (many of these come with direction feeds like you use in your car).

Forerunner® 10

These are amazing tools that help you take control of your movement, your caloric intake, your remaining calories available until day's end and there are even communities where you can share tips, issues, and make new friends who have the same goals. They track your movements and work with your computer.  It is so high tech and so simple. 
But here's the hard absolutely HAVE to actively use it.  You have to walk...a lot.  When you first buy it and set it up, you set your goals (but you can always adjust it).  Easy peasy.
Now comes the goal is to lose weight reasonably quick, so I'm to walk 10,000 steps a day. I also have a caloric limit and as I eat, I log my food into my tablet (it's easier than turning on my computer after a snack, etc.).  It all goes into my Fitbit Log, as well as my water intake and any additional activities I do (gardening, yoga, laundry and making the bed).  If you bike ride or swim, those also count as activities to be logged.  It all adds up to calories burned versus calories you take in.
well, there's a thought
The basic tenets of successful weight loss is eat less and the other is move more.  That's really it.  Anything else is "spin" to make money for the author of that concept.  Of course, you have to choose the right things to eat, make yourself drink a lot of water and not sodas, sweet teas, etc. and you have to feel good enough to be able to move more.  But if you are like me, healthy but "fluffy" - there is no good excuse.  As Nike's slogan states:  Just Do It!

Stop eating garbage and get off your bum!

You don't need to be a runner, you don't need to join a gym, you don't need special equipment or clothes (much to my chagrin).  You just need to walk, track your food and water and watch the results. 
Need to remember this

So where does "fashion" fit into today's post, you ask?  Everything looks better on a fit, healthy body (actually everything looks better as a Size 2 or 4, but that's not a reasonable goal for me).  And one feels better about herself if she's not uncomfortable with how she looks in her clothes.

It is July and is so hot and humid right now and our regular monsoon season is back, so you never know when a rainstorm will hit.  But there are treadmills at the gym, early mornings or late evenings when it is cooler to take a hike, air conditioned malls that encourage walkers, as well as many fun computer activities to make you move on Wii or XBox systems.

My favorite "truth" is: 
Sweat is fat crying

So make that fat sob crocodile tears! Whining isn't an option. You can do it and now there are great tools and friends who can and will help you!

Until next week, I remain,

Stylistically yours,


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Maybe this is THE ONE!

I just spent the past three hours cleaning out my "stash" and threw away three bags full.  No, I'm not talking about drugs or paraphernalia - I'm talking about hair products.

I buy a huge variety of hair products because, like every woman, I think that maybe this is the the one that will make my hair better/prettier/ fuller/ voluminous/ shinier/ manageable/ whatever.  If you walked into my bathroom (yes, I have my own separate from my husband's) and counted the shampoos, conditioners, treatment masks, finishers, balms and rinses, you'd be shocked.  Especially because my hair never really looks any different. But I persevere!

And next to my vanity in the bedroom, I have mousses, gels, volume sprays, root boosters, shining oils and finishing sprays. I am the perfect consumer that advertisers target to sell to.  It is ridiculous at how many products I have and I won't even begin to guess how much money this all cost.

I will, however, tell you about some products that I've discovered to be wonderful for "women of a certain age" and our hair.

1.  EverCreme Cleansing Conditioner by L'Oreal is pretty awesome.  For all dry hair types, it is sulfate-free, with no hard salts, triple action hydration and natural botanicals.  Because it is a conditioner that cleans your hair, it's two in one and leaves your hair clean, smooth and shiny.  You can find it at any drugstore or at Ulta.  But I don't get a lot of volume and I like my hair better when it is a bit bigger. I'm a Southern gal.
EverCrème Sulfate-Free Moisture System™ Cleansing Conditioner - Treatments - L'Oreal Paris

2.  Pantene Expert's Age Defy Shampoo and Conditioner (the one Courtney Cox advertises in print ads).  Very nice lather, creamy conditioner and I like that it fights seven aging hair issues:  breakage, split ends, frizz, unruly grays, lackluster color, thin look and dryness.   Again, you can find it at drugstores or grocery stores.  I will keep this in my supply with the conditioner.
Age Defy shampoo

3.  Total Repair 5 by L'Oreal Shampoo and their Balm (the one that Lea Michele advertises in print ads) that treats five hair issues:  rebuilds fibers, strength, vitality, silkiness, shine.
L'Oreal Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Restoring ShampooL'Oreal Advanced Haircare Total Repair 5 Damage Erasing Balm

I just purchased these two items because I had gotten a sample with my Sunday paper, tried it and liked how it did exactly what I hoped it would do.

4.  Mousses and gels:  I used cheap stuff. I have invested in pricey mousses and root lifters but I didn't see any difference. The cheap gel at my roots then blow drying with a big round brush is perfect for my hair.

5.  Hairsprays:  I still use a little but mostly as a bad habit I am trying to break.  Don't use a lot, if you must.

6.  Pastes, piecy cremes, and spiking gels:  I've tried so many and have been unhappy with every single one.  My favorite product to create that separation and piecy look I want at the ends of my hair is....drum roll, please.....Smith's Rosebud Salve.
Rosebud Perfume Co. - Rosebud Salve
I only find it in Sephora stores or online. It's cheap, long lasting, wonderful smelling, great for your lips, hands, skin and wonderful (used in small amounts) on your hair.  It washes out easily and can make your hair shine and separate beautifully.

7.  Clips and bands:  I found that the best way to get volume (not using hot rollers or curling irons) after I finish blow drying my hair is to grab it all and clip it up on the top of my head.
Open Wedge Shape Black ClampI keep this on until just before I leave the house and get great volume.

I cannot guarantee that I won't be suckered to try a new miracle product that will make my hair better. But I can tell you that the above products work for me and if you're looking for something to help your hair goals, you might want to give them a try.

I use an ionic blow dryer by Revlon that I got at WalMart, a flat iron with automatic shutoff (I need that because I've left it on too many times) that I bought at Ulta (with a coupon) and I take Biotin to strengthen my nails and hair and help my skin stay elastic. There are several straw hats by the door for when I walk the dog in the sunlight and a Solumbra hat in tan that I got on sale at Marshall's ($15! - such a steal).
46560I hate to admit that I have some wiry grey hairs at my temples.  If my whole head becomes like them, it'll be a new approach to hair care for me (my hair has always been stick straight).  So yes, I color it.  This is my favorite because it is two steps and provides me highlights on top of the base color, looking much more like my hair does. It does get lighter over time but that's okay. I still have the high and low lights that I seek.

And let's talk for a minute about hair styles.  If you know me, you know that I've worn my hair in a pixie cut for many years.  Mostly because it was easy and I am lazy.  But I've decided to let my hair grow out a bit before it becomes wiry and grey all over.  So I'm wearing a bob.  For now.  I have had long hair, permed hair and still don't know what my next hair goal will be.  Once I got a perm on bleached blonde summer hair and burned my hair off (not a look I was going for).  There are so many cute styles out there - and remember, it's only hair.  Try them, if you are so inclined.  Be a new you, if that's what you seek.  It's fun to experiment, if you are daring.  If not, change your part.  Wear it up.  Try it down  Get it texturized.  Have it straightened or get it curled. 

I agree with Hillary Clinton when she said:  I'm undaunted in my quest to amuse myself by constantly changing my hair.  

Until next week, I remain,

Stylistically yours,