(Photo from Today on MSNBC.)
I recently read a blurb about deep fried butter in The Week and kind of didn’t believe it. Oh, America. Apparently it tastes like a very well buttered biscuit with a slight aftertaste of death. Has anyone tried this?
In an effort to gather all my writing in one place, every Monday I post articles that originally appeared elsewhere, or work that has been gathering dust on my hard drive. This piece was originally published by the The Morning News in 2002. Thanks to Rosecrans Baldwin, for the edits.
Black is easy. Black is mythic. It can make you look 120 pounds when you weigh 250. Black is the new…well, you’ve heard it. But do you own anything that makes you laugh when you put it on? Not even a pair of ducky yellow boots tucked into the back corner of your closet?
If not, you need more happy clothes. Even in big cities where women tend to be more adventurous with their clothing, you can count ten women in muted colors for every one woman wearing a bright blue raincoat or green trousers. This is why designers have such an easy time hooking us with their color du season. We’re starved for something juicy.
And you can be juicy. Oh, yes.
Now in Technicolor
Color gets you noticed, especially when everyone else looks as though they’re in mourning. Think of who gets photographed at the Oscars: Nicole Kidman in her chartreuse Galliano, Gwyneth Paltrow in her glowing pink Ralph Lauren, Kate Winslet in her flowering red Ben de Lisi. Remember Helen Hunt’s black Gucci cloak dress? Or Julianne Moore’s sheer black Chanel? Yeah, neither does anyone else.
Get some glad rags. If your closet lacks color, refuse to buy any more navy, beige, brown, or black until your wardrobe is more vibrant. You may hear the inner voice that your mother so cultivated, shouting, ‘A pink suede skirt? That won’t go with anything!’ Perhaps. But it will make you want to shimmy.
Don’t wear green if green makes you look dead. How can you tell? Stand near a window in the store so you can see the color and your skin tone in a natural light. Now hold the item in question up to your face. Do you glow a little, or do you look hungover? If you are hungover and you still glow a little, snap that baby up. Also pay attention to people’s comments. If they ask whether you’re feeling tired when you wear your green sweater, chuck it. If they ask whether you’ve just had your hair cut, buy some more skirts to go with your fabulous green sweater.
Eschew black for special occasions. Consider your little black dress a standby for events that catch you off guard, not a default. If you know a fete is coming, find an outfit that will own the room, something that snaps. This will make you easy to find in a crowd, which makes it easier for charming strangers to hit on you.
Invest in a bright coat. It looks fantastic with an all-neutral outfit, and can make even a T-shirt and jeans look stylish. A colorful coat also adds some flare to more conservative work outfits.
Wear more red. It’s the only color that’s both bold and classic, and every woman can find a shade that flatters her. If you’re not sure what looks good on you, go to an upscale makeup counter and ask them to help you find a red lipstick that works with your complexion. Once you’ve found something attractive, you can buy red clothing with the same base shades. Nothing beats a red dress for sex appeal. If you don’t believe me, lick your finger, press it to your hip, and make a sizzling sound. Now isn’t that more convincing when you’re wearing red?
Mix and Match
The best way to figure out what colors work well together is to pay attention to fashion spreads and imitate the combinations you like. Hard-and-fast fashion rules on what matches and what doesn’t are somewhat naive. Styles are in constant flux. While neon pink with lime green would have been fine in the ’80s, today it would be a cause for concern. Some basic guidelines:
Stick to two or three colors per outfit. The rainbow effect hasn’t worked since you were six. If you’re pairing solids, choose two colors and work with those, perhaps adding a touch of a third color in your earrings or with a pair of strappy shoes.
Dress in color families. When you’ve collected enough pieces in a single color family, consider wearing them together once in awhile. Of course, they should be shades that match, mint green isn’t so hot with olive drab, and they should also be tones that vary. Wearing exactly the same shade of a bright color from head to toe can be an assault on passersby, but pairing a barely turquoise angora sweater with a robin’s-egg wool skirt looks smashing. Avoid an undesirable schizophrenic effect by offsetting a monochromatic outfit with a swingy little jacket and shoes in neutral shades or accessories in a complementary, but distinctly different, color.
Pay attention to color tones. Pastels work better with other light colors, while saturated colors work well together. Pale pink is beautiful with beige, but dark pinks are nicer with a chocolate color.
Pucci Over Pinstripe
Patterned clothing isn’t nearly as versatile as solids. There are a few exceptions—pinstripes, Burberry plaid—but patterns are often a liability. They hang forlornly in your closet because they don’t go with anything; they’re the reason that your white T-shirt is always in the wash.
Still, patterns are fun, and fun is the point. So if you’re going to buy a few things that don’t match much, buy outrageous things. See that bright green ’60s print with huge blue barracudas swimming all over it? That’s what I’m talking about. See that little tank top with the giant spiky flowers in fuchsia, and red? There are forty others like it on the sale rack, because no one else was brave enough to wear them. You don’t have those kinds of hang-ups. Vintage shops and deeply discounted sales racks are the best places to find striking prints.
Those who feel exposed in a crazy, dramatic pattern can balance it with classic clothing in a conservative cut. If you’re not particularly adept at choosing colors that work together, select a neutral or a shade featured prominently in the pattern. Your new barracuda pants would look great with a slate gray T-shirt. Your floral tank would be sweet with a little red skirt.
Tennis Bracelets Are for Sissies
If you’re not a brave girl, or you don’t have enough extra cash to invest in a fuchsia section of your closet, start with accessories. You can dress as conservatively as you like and still look dashing if you wear bold jewelry. What do I mean by bold? Colorful, and big.
Find two or three bright colors that you love—a lipstick crimson, Tiffany’s blue—and begin to collect scarves, pins, and bracelets in those colors. Bright, dramatic jewelry is especially nice with clothes that take no chances. A beige T-shirt, jeans, and sandals looks ho-hum until you add a chunky orange necklace. Your little black dress stands out if you added aquamarine chandelier earrings or a pink tassel necklace that falls to your waist.
The extra bonus with dramatic jewelry is that you can always remove it and stuff it in your purse if you feel overdressed or silly. This is not as true of thigh-high leather boots that lace up the back.
Bold and Brave
Nothing looks good on a woman who isn’t brave, and it takes a brave woman to wear orange pants. Not everyone will like what you’re wearing, but a few people will love it as much as you do. Those people are the correct ones.
Fashionable women are willing to wear what other women won’t (yet). They have a sense of humor about what they put on their bodies, and they’re often respected less for their artistry than their chutzpah.
What the rest of us need to figure out is how to be daring without being reckless. Playing with color is the most foolproof way to do that. Next time, buy the pink suede skirt. It’s practical.
Did you win? You did if your name is Amber and you’re commenter number 202! Please report to the front desk, Amber. You have clearly done some very nice things for people, in this or other lifetimes.
As for the rest of you, holy holy there were a lot of you. Thank you for entering and for reading. And stay tuned for another big giveaway soon. The Mighty Summit is in a few weeks, and we’ll be setting aside one of those gift bags as well.
I’ve always wished I knew more about music, and this is part of my Life List project to listen to 1,000 new songs. Right now I’m up to 487, and on Fridays I share some of my new favorites. If you’d like to share some music with me, please send your picks to maggie at mighty girl dot com, and I will listen to them.
“Good Enough” from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“Good enough for me. Good enough for right now.”
“Come Alive” from Janelle Monae
Man, I’m so fascinated by Janelle Monae, and this rockabilly/punk song makes me miss dancing.
“Shine On” from Seth Bernard and Daisy May
(music starts around the minute mark) via Bianca
“You knocked me off of my feet, but I think it’s time to start walking again.”
“There’s An Arc” from Hey Rosetta!
Wait for the last bit when the strings come in. For a few months, I lived across the street from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and this is what the evening sounded like coming through my window.
“All Summer” from Best Coast, Kid Cudi and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam
“Everybody good we aint worried bout a thang.” Take your shoes off, grab a beer, go dance in the grass.
Still looking for more music? Here you go: Mixtape 1, Mixtape 2, Mixtape 3, Mixtape 4, Mixtape 5, Mixtape 6, Mixtape 7, Mixtape 8, Mixtape 9, Mixtape 10, Mixtape 11, Mixtape 12, Mixtape 13, Mixtape 14, Mixtape 15 , Mixtape 16 , Mixtape 17
Laura just did a great post about our Mighty Events cocktail party, and it reminded me of something you should add to your Life List.
This is my new Internet crush, Joanna Goddard of Cup of Jo. I’d never met her before the party, but we got to talking, and Joanna mentioned that she had never opened a bottle of champagne. She said it scared her a little. People, this is a woman who just delivered a child.
Still, I have a lot of friends who feel the same way. And, thinking back, I used to pass the bottle off myself. We had an entire bathtub full of Mumm at the party, so I said, “This is one for the Life List. You have to do it.”
And so she did!
Hooray, Joanna! You are officially celebratory.
How about you? Have you ever opened your own champagne?
So! The gift bags for the Federated Media cocktail party in New York were kind of jaw dropping thanks to a couple of good friends. Maile from Epiphanie Bags, the woman who did our family photoshoot, offered to give us a bunch of her camera bags:
Are these gift bags ludicrous? Yes they are. Do you want one?
Leave a comment telling us something on your life list by Monday, August 30 at noon PST. Your comment enters you for a chance to win the Lola Epiphanie camerabag and Photojojo’s Fuji Instax Mini 25 Instant Camera. I hope you win, because I like you very much. Thanks for reading.
Now for the fine print: Please only leave one comment, because it’s the nice thing to do, and also because multiple entries will be disqualified. I’ll use random.org to select the winner, and I’ll announce who won at the top of this post and in a separate post on Monday.
(photo from The Standard Edition)
Man, I’ve spent a lot of time in New York this summer. When I mentioned the horrible (albeit cheap) teeny hotel room from my first trip, lots of you asked about good places to stay when you’re in town. Stay at the Ace.
We were at the Ace for a week and threw a cocktail party there with Federated Media (photos here). Because we needed the suite for the party, we ended up staying in three different rooms. By the end of the trip, I felt like we lived there.
The Ace is a boutique chain with other properties in Portland, Seattle, and Palm Springs as well. All the hotels have strong, free wi-fi throughout the property. The New York Ace has a welcoming lobby with a bar, an old timey photobooth, and a Stumptown Roasters attached. The coffee is so good, you’ll want to bathe in it.
Most of the rooms have walls painted by local artists, and the in-room fridge has a pony keg.
I can’t say that I’ve ever been inspired to take photos in a hotel gym before. I wonder what the decorators would have to do to inspire an actual work out. There are lovely details everywhere you look.
They even manage to make ironing less irritating, and Laura wanted to take the bathroom home with her.
Plus, you can’t beat a room that comes with a guitar.
Anyway, if you’re booking a trip to New York, I highly recommend a stay at the Ace. Where do you stay when you’re in town?