Mighty Life List
Sep 18 2012

Mighty Closet: Portland Street Fashion

This girl was waiting for lunch at the food carts with me. Doesn’t she look like Katie Holmes? She works at a used and vintage clothing store in Portland, and I love the way she looks so casual but so pulled together. It’s tough to pull that off successfully.

Oh, Portland. You dress so cute.

Jan 27 2011

ALT Style: Shiny, Shiny

Anna Beth Chao of Hashai

Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind

Meg Keene of A Practical Wedding

Me of Vegas Cocktail Waitress

Nov 1 2010

Flashback Monday: Women’s Fashion, Part IV, Accessories

 

In an effort to gather all my writing in one place, I’ve been posting articles that originally appeared elsewhere. This piece was originally published by the The Morning News in 2003. Thanks to Rosecrans Baldwin, for the edits.

Fashion Standbys from Decades Past _ Mighty Girl

A girlfriend of mine just went through a particularly hard year — divorce, career upheaval, the possibility of leaving her beloved bungalow. We were talking about New Year’s resolutions, and she said she was going easy on herself. Her only resolution was to accessorize better. Screw the gym — this is a goal I can get behind.

Designers draw from the past, and so should you. The oft-repeated rule is that styles are recycled every twenty years or so. Wearing something that was once all the rage but has since fallen out of style will make you seem fashionable without risking disasters.

This is my list of standbys from decades past. I skipped the ‘90s because I still don’t have enough emotional distance to recommend that you bust out your shrugs. Forgive me.

1910s
Full-Size Umbrellas

Why do we wear shoes that make our feet bleed, but refuse to carry an umbrella that won’t tuck into our purse? Half the convenience, ten times the appeal, the full-size umbrella with a wooden hook handle is too charming to abandon. How forlorn to browse in a bookstore, sip a latte, or buy a paper on a rainy afternoon without one.

1920s
Fans

Aren’t fans sweet? They’re light, compact, and they drop right into your purse. If you live somewhere hot, or you like to go out dancing, it’s such a comfort to have a portable cooling system with you, and so much more attractive than fanning your sweaty neck with a magazine. If you live in a big city, head to the nearest Chinatown and pick one up for a buck or two. I’m a sucker for cherry blossoms.

1930s
Gloves

Without a decent pair of gloves, what do you suppose you’ll use to slap your offenders? Maybe white cotton gloves are a little too precious (and OCD indicative) for afternoon shopping trips nowadays, but dress gloves are so suave with an evening gown. I’m also in favor of colorful, soft, leather gloves for the winter. Try deep green with your black coat or a soft blue to offset chocolate. Leather gloves give such a satisfying thwack when defending one’s honor.

1940s
Back-Seam Stockings

You can wear them slutty, classy, or somewhere in between. Where else can you get that kind of versatility for ten bucks? Back-seam stockings lend ba-boom to the most mundane dress or shapeless skirt. Black is a classic choice. Please straighten your seam, or you’ll look as though you’ve just had a tryst in the broom closet.

1950s
Vices

Cigarette smoking is a nasty habit. Don’t cigarette cases make it ever so much more attractive? Press the precise, silver button, and pop! A tidy row of cigarette soldiers waits to defend you against the evening chill. Offer one to a friend; give him a light with your shiny flip-top lighter. (Plink! Tiny flame. Plink! Pocket-ready.) And for god’s sake, get yourself a drink. Why do you think they call it a cocktail dress?

Brooches
Brooches are nostalgic, and rarely the first choice when you’re digging through your jewelry box. They’re just grandma enough to qualify as quirky, and a very simple outfit is elevated with the right pin.

1960s
False Eyelashes

A kittenish sidelong glance is nothing without them. Buy a pack of individual lashes and some lash glue at the drugstore. Put a couple of lashes on the outside corner of each eye, and maybe one in the middle to even things out. Paint on some black liquid liner and give yourself a slow wink in the mirror. If you don’t want to have sex with your own reflection, you’re doing it wrong.

1970s
Pom-Pom Hats

The more interest you take in your wardrobe, the more you’ll realize that caring too much about what people think can be the kiss of death. When everyone is wearing their sleek little black watchmen’s caps, nothing says ‘piss off’ like a ‘70s-style pom-pom ski cap in Lifesaver colors. Orange and green stripes, or navy blue and white topped with a cherry-red pom—this is clothing that bobs when you walk! Right on.

Crocheted Beer Can Hats
Perhaps you’ve seen one of these at a thrift store. You cut beer cans into squares or ovals and then crochet them into a hat. Eh? Eh? I’m kidding. Take it off.

1980s
Bows

You had to give up your side ponytail, but don’t let go of the bow. Try it at your waistline, on your shoes, or tie a long scarf into a headband with a bow at the top.

The Details
Every time you leave the house, consider wearing, or carrying, one unique thing that makes you a happy kid. If you have an unusual accessory, you can throw on a black turtleneck and a ho-hum pair of jeans and still seem hip. The unexpected diverts attention from the mundane, and stocking up on wacky vintage brooches is a lot cheaper than buying an electric-green Cashmere coat. Also, electric green isn’t your color.

Jun 17 2009

You guys, I’m getting maaaarried!

Actually, my husband would frown on that. I guess one of you should buy this instead.

Apr 23 2009

Party Hat for Brides

When I got married, I was looking for something just like this to don for my reception (after I’d shed my veil). I didn’t find mine in time, but maybe I can help you out, my blushing brides. Here it is at Handle and Spout.

Dec 24 2008

Elsewhere: Seven Clutches Under $35

If you’re figuring out what to wear for New Year’s, or you just need a purse that isn’t the size of your torso, go have a look at the clutch roundup I just did for Target. Almost all of them are under $20, including the one pictured above, and they’re all pretty darn cute.

Dec 29 2007

Rowr

This 1950′s Saks Leopard Print 3/4 Sleeve Swing Coat is identical to the coat I wore while I was pregnant, and it made me feel so cutie when I otherwise felt kinda bleh. If you’re having a baby, or love someone who is, this coat is a winner.

Not preggo? This zebra stripe J Crew cardigan is on mega-sale. You’re welcome.