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)?

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Open Thread: TV, Streaming, and Movies

fall TV open threadSince we’re all getting back into the swing of things after the long weekend, I thought we’d have a fun open thread today: what new TV shows are you looking forward to this fall? What second, third, and beyond seasons are you eagerly awaiting? What shows are you so glad you’ve caught up with via streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Prime — and have you seen any great documentaries or movies lately? (Here’s another great question: for those of you who love to binge watch things or tie TV-watching to workout time — what are your favorite shows?) Do you put limits on your TV watching (e.g., no more than 7 hours per week, only on the treadmill)? (Cord cutters / those without a TV, I’d love to hear from you too — how’s it going?) 

For my $.02: With two small kids and limited grown-up/unscheduled time outside the house, we almost never go to movies in theaters — the last time I can remember going was when I saw Gone Girl by myself the week it opened… oh and of course we saw The Force Awakens the week it opened. So almost all of my picks will be TV-based! For new TV, I just set my TiVo to record (links go to the official trailers on YouTube):

  • MacGyver – I’m kind of really psyched about this reboot; we watched the old series all the time while growing up. (Pictured.) It premieres Sept. 23.
  • Bull – I read the description (it’s loosely based on the backstory of Dr. Phil and his jury consultant years) and thought, OK, fine, it sounds interesting — but the trailer makes it look like a really fun mix of a procedural/character study, so I’m now properly excited. It premieres Sept. 20.
  • The Good Place – Kristen Bell plays a woman who dies and wrongly goes to Heaven instead of Hell; the comedy is about her trying to change her less-than-stellar ways.  It looks OK to me, but I like Kristen Bell, so I’m hopeful. It premieres Sept. 22.
  • One Mississippi – I mostly set the TiVo based on the recommendation of Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker’s TV critic (but a quick Google shows it’s getting a TON of good traction from the critics, along with Fleabag and Atlanta — here’s the NPR article on all three).  One Mississsipi is a dark comedy inspired by comedian Tig Notaro’s life: “Tig returns to her hometown in Mississippi, where she contends with the death of her mother and her own mortality as she embarks on a painful yet hilarious journey that unearths uncomfortable truths about her family and her self.” It premieres Sept. 9.
  • Designated Survivor – Fiiiiine, I thought, I’ll record it since this show is getting so much buzz, and hey, I had a crush on Kiefer Sutherland many many moons ago, although I do not remember why. After watching the trailer I’m intrigued, though — Sutherland plays “a lower-level cabinet member who unexpectedly becomes president after a devastating attack on Washington.” It premieres Sept. 21.
  • Braindead – I’m not quite sure where to put this one — it’s eleven episodes into its mid-summer premiere. I started watching it primarily because I’d read about how the costume designer from The Good Wife was doing this as his next show, and while the clothes are fine (I’d say unremarkable, honestly), the show itself is a delight — quirky, funny, smart.  The premise: “A government employee discovers that the cause of the tensions between the two political parties is a race of extraterrestrial insects eating the brains of the politicians.” Big thumbs up.

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Four Reasons to Do a Seasonal Clothing Review

Four Reasons to Do a Seasonal Clothing ReviewWhether you’ve got a small apartment closet or yours rivals that of Kim Kardashian’s, reviewing your clothes on a seasonal basis is still a great idea. I’ve always been a fan of seasonal clothes storage, using clear sweater bags to store out-of-season fabrics, colors, and styles — as well as physically moving out-of-season clothing to the back of the closet, and moving more seasonally-appropriate clothing to the front. I even do this with socks (I only wear no-show ankle socks in the summer) and lingerie (I don’t wear lacy bras with summer t-shirts and dresses, and I’ve also found I have a preference for unlined bras in the summer, as a foam lining or whatnot can feel a bit hot). Some pros to a seasonal clothing review that I’ve found over the years:

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4 Types of Vacation Packages for Busy Women

Specialty Vacation PackagesTravel planning can be a lot of fun, but it’s also time-consuming — and stressing out about a vacation kind of defeats the purpose. Vacation packages can take almost all the planning out of the equation — and they don’t have to be the run-of-the-mill, giant-tour-bus trips that might spring to mind, either.

We’ve rounded up five types of vacation packages that seem just right for busy professional women who don’t have a lot of time to spend researching hotels, restaurants, activities, sightseeing spots, and so on. These companies are booking through 2017, but if you’re looking for something last-minute, you’re in luck: Now is a good time to find deals, as late summer is a less popular vacation time than early/mid-summer. (Check Last Minute Travel, CheapCaribbeanTravelzoo, or Groupon. You can also read our guest poster’s tips for traveling solo, as well as check out our last discussion about using all your vacation time.)   [Read more…]

The Hunt: Stylish Comfort Heels

comfortable heels for workSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

One of our top pages of all time is our regularly updated Guide to Comfortable Heels — and while that guide includes brands outside of those that bill themselves as “comfort” brands, sometimes you just really want a heel that is built like a sneaker, whether for commuting, for long days on your feet, or for general foot problems.  Finding stylish “comfort” heels can be a challenge, though, so I thought we’d round some up.

Some of our favorites for today include:

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Weekend Prep for Monday: Do You Do It?

weekend prep for mondayOne of the things that came up in the comments on our diets for busy women post was the idea of prepping meals and snacks on Sunday for the week ahead — and I’ve read a ton of advice saying that you should steal an hour during the weekend to review the major tasks you need to accomplish in the week ahead. So I thought it might be an interesting open thread today:  Do YOU do weekend prep for Monday or the week ahead? When do you do it, and what do you do?

Pictured: veggie meal prep from @squirrel_kitchen, featured in this DailyBurn article about 21 inspiring instagram accounts for meal prep. 

For my $.02, when I was working in BigLaw I liked resting/playing on Saturday and coming into the office on Sunday for a few hours if I needed to do some work. Because I was well rested and there was no one else in the office (or, at least, vastly fewer people, and everyone was there to work), my focus was so much better — I used to call them “Super Mondays” because I was so productive. These days, I often try to get at least half of the short morning and afternoon posts written for the week on Sunday afternoons, putting in a few hours of work while my youngest son naps. If at all possible I also try to write a to-do list of my tasks for the week ahead, and put papers to review on my desk so I can get some focused work done before turning on the computer — easier said than done when your business is online! This probably isn’t even that noteworthy, but another thing I try to do is look at the NYT and WSJ and other news outlets on Sunday, because I’ve found that I waste far too much time looking at articles on Monday, particularly the longer magazine articles.

So ladies, let’s hear it — what routines and practices have you put in place for your weekends that lay the groundwork for a great week ahead? For those of you who do meal prep or have other healthy habits on the weekend, I’d love to hear what you do!  

Psst: here’s our last discussion on morning routines for successful people.

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