Style vs. Trend vs. Frump (Or, How to Cultivate Style)

style-vs-trendThere were a few intriguing comments in Friday’s open thread about brooches and whether they were in style, with some readers even suggesting it might be a matter of age. To me, though, this kind of comes down to style versus trend — and I thought it might make an interesting discussion here. After all, don’t stylish women wear what they fancy — trends be damned? On the flip side, if something was once very trendy and is not any longer, at what point does it cross the line into frump and being “out of style”? How do you cultivate a style instead of merely following trends? (Pictured: The Glamourai.)

For brooches, for example, I 100% agree that they are not trendy right now. They did go through a brief moment of trendiness in the early aughts — for some reason 2003 sticks in my head, along with an episode of What Not to Wear where Stacy London was suggesting women add two or three brooches at a time to sweaters, coats, and more. Somehow, though, I had found my way to brooches before that — buying a ton of them at the Eastern Market flea market while I was in law school — and I still wear them now. (Here’s my advice on how to wear brooches.) As some readers pointed out, the excellent blogger Adina at Blue Collar Red Lipstick also wears them — and I also think often of a great post on The Glamourai (pictured) about how to wear particularly heavy ones without ruining your clothes.

Now — this brings us to another dynamic: frump. If something was trendy many years ago and you continue to wear it after the trend has passed, are you going down the slippery slope toward frump? I tend to think of frump as being more about ill-fitting, unflattering clothes and, perhaps, a general harried demeanor (wild hair, stains/wrinkles, unintentional half-tucks), but it’s an interesting question to ponder. For example, years after skinny jeans came in style, I insisted that my style was bootcut jeans, refusing to buy any skinny jeans until years into the trend. Now that bootcuts and flares are becoming trendy again, though, I see readers noting that their style is skinny jeans (or, specifically, skinny jeans with tall boots) — but that look is starting to look more and more dated to me as well. (It’s interesting, as I type this and reach for a word other than frump, to realize that the phrase “out of style” is what I hear most often, but obviously it’s maddening to talk about being stylish and not being “out of style” without feeling like it’s devolving into an “orange orange orange orange orange” kind of situation.)

What’s even more interesting is how quickly fashion trends move. When some retailers put out new clothes every few weeks, and others copy runway styles much, much faster than ever before, it feels even more like you should find your own style, rather than be a slave to trends and replace your entire wardrobe every season. So how do you cultivate style that transcends trends, without risking being thought of as “out of style”? I’m genuinely curious to hear what you guys think about it!

Here are a few specific fashion/makeup things for you to ponder — are they stylish enough to transcend trend? Does your thinking change if we contrast a “hallmark look” (think Iris Apfel and her eyeglasses, Anna Wintour’s bob, Carolina Herrera and her crisp blouses) with “I thought it would be fun with this outfit”? And — when does it cross the line into an affected look, where you think, “ah, she thinks she is Miss Fashion,” perhaps like with the bustiers/ties mentioned below)?

[Read more…]

Beauty Wednesday: Serums, Sunscreen, and Retinoids

aging skincare tips serums sunscreens retinoidsLadies, what is your skin routine? At what age did you get serious about skincare? What are your favorite products, both over-the-counter and prescription, whether for anti-aging, anti-wrinkles, exfoliating, or something else? I’ve seen a lot of readers talking recently about serums, sunscreens, retinoids and more, so let’s discuss. I’m curious to hear what everyone else is doing, what products you like, and if you have any tips/tricks for applying — but here’s my own story:

After years of using only organic options while pregnant/nursing (based on something my first OB/GYN said to me), I was eager to get “the good stuff” when I finally had my body back to myself. As I often do, I turned to the commenting threads for advice and found an older thread where a reader had said that for a woman in her 30s, the main things you need are Vitamin C, sunscreen, and a retinoid. I liked the simplicity of this statement, as well as the chorus of agreement from other readers. I already had an organic, nursing-approved Vitamin C serum and have been using sunscreen daily since my teenage lifeguard years, so I thought, OK, to the dermatologist I go for a retinoid. (Just a quick science/vocab lesson, at least as I understand things: Retinol and retinoids are both Vitamin A. Retinols are available in over the counter (OTC) products; retinoids are available in prescriptions only. Retin-A is the brand name for one of the retinoids you can get.)

[Read more…]

Feeling Jealous of a Younger Colleague

Feeling Jealous of a Younger ColleagueWhat should you do if you’re feeling envious of a colleague who’s younger than you, seemingly unappreciative of the opportunity you’re giving her, and also — in your opinion — inappropriately flirty at networking events? Reader J wonders:

I’m a 40 yr old business development manager at an engineering firm. I’ve formed a group of female colleagues that helps with networking and business that’s getting notice in my city (like a Stiletto Mafia). A few months ago one of the key ladies in my group invited my junior engineer in my firm to join.

This engineer is funny and smart but also a gorgeous 24 yr old. Now I am torn between wanting to be a mentor and jealousy. I am jealous that she has access to this group of high powered ladies that are my friends and doesn’t seem to grateful that I’m including her. This engineer also occasionally helps with networking. It’s frustrating to attend a business event while these men are flirting with her. She isn’t overt, but she is aware of her looks and plays them up.

I’d like to drop her from the group and ask her to focus on current clients vs networking. Am I being a hypocrite?

I think you’re being honest, Reader J — a lot more than most people would be in person. I don’t think this is unusual, though; I think a lot of younger women alienate good mentors by being too entitled (like the reader who expected her boss to help her network) or arrogant at work, or, here, too focused on other parts of life like flirting. (We have offered some tips in the past on how to network with older women that may help younger readers here!)

[Read more…]

Hair Masks for Busy Women

The Best Hair Masks | CorporetteAs the weather is getting cooler and the air is getting dryer, I thought now might be a great time to talk about hair masks. I really got into them while pregnant with my second son — my skin was super dry, and my hair seemed to be too — so these are all ones that I’ve bought and tried myself.  (In case it matters, I tend to have fairly fine hair, but a ton of it — and it’s getting curlier each year.  It also gets more dry each year, also — handy for making a blowout last for days.)

[Read more…]

Where To Start When You Need Style Inspiration

Online Stylists and Inspiration | CorporetteWhere should you start when you need style inspiration? Are online stylists all out of your budget?  Reader M has a great question:

I am a 48 yr. young corporate professional / entrepreneur /contractor looking for professional, age appropriate looks. Can you suggest a website that can guide my “lack of style” sense to better purchases within a reasonable budget, too? I really need a stylist but the internet is my next best option. I tend to like www.marieforleo.com and www.giulianarancic.com clothing but I am a size 16 (working on this part) and 5′ 3′ (wish it could change :) … two big issues… and oh yea, no heels for me. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. I would love to find the info I seek here.

Great question, M! We’ve talked about some of the best personal style blogs before, as well as personal shoppers, but we’ve never quite done a post on stylists, or where to start for style inspiration.  (M, you may also want to check out our post on how to look professional in flats when that’s all you wear.)  I’m curious to hear what readers say!  A few notes:

[Read more…]

Gray Hair: An Open Thread

Gray Hair Care: An Open Thread | CorporetteWe’ve talked about gray hair before (as well as aging gracefully in general), but not in a long while, so I thought we’d revisit — ladies, do you dye your hair?  (One friend told me she went blonder to help hide the grays!)  Do you rock the gray — and if so, do you care for it with special products?  I’ve noticed Amazon has a ton of products to brighten gray hair and keep the yellow out, which I’ve been told is important.

For my $.02, I haven’t ever dyed my hair (not counting some experiments as a teenager with “wash out red dye” (it was a thing) and, briefly in college, experimenting with blue hair dye), but I’m starting to wonder whether I should!  I first started seeing gray hair at age 26 (thank you, bar exam!) and it’s definitely growing.  If I had darker hair I would LOVE to rock the salt and pepper look — one of my old editors had hair like that, and I always thought it was so chic and cool.  If I were to go all gray I would equally love to rock the silver hair look — one of the partners I used to work for had a super stylish silver bob.  (I even like the silver streak look, like Stacy London!) But now, where it’s brown hair mixed with about 1-2% gray hairs throughout… I’m less of a fan, and have been trying to make an effort to tweeze about 5 silver strands each night.  (Which apparently is the worst thing to do, whoops!) I suspect I’ll hold off dyeing it until the percentage of gray grows to 5-10%, but that’s me.

(And just in case this is in question: I don’t think there’s anything professional or unprofessional about gray hair — I think it’s totally a matter of personal choice.  In my situation I have noticed that my gray hair tends to be a different consistency than the rest of my hair, which sometimes requires extra attention to smoothing so I don’t get a frizzy, frazzled look — the halo of gray! — but maybe that’s me.)

So let’s hear it ladies — do you have gray hair(s)? How do you feel about them? How do you care (or cover) them? 

Further reading:

[Read more…]

work fashion blog press mentions