This beautiful shoe not only looked horrible in high gloss Payless, it also was very sad in black. And honestly, I have a gazillion pairs of black shoes, but I only had one pair that is this classic camel color. So I came back from my trip to California determined to seek a refund for the price of my shoes. Well, after five trips to the Cobbler’s Bench at Union Station, the owner finally showed his face. (Note: four of those trips the staff told me that the owner asked me to come back the next day at a certain hour, which makes the no-show-y-ness all the more egregious.) I now have in my wallet a very suspect looking check, which I am less than 50% sure is going to clear tomorrow when I take it to the bank. There could be a third act yet.
Is there anything clothing related that gives a woman who has birthed two children more anxiety than having to get into a bathing suit? Even when I was at my marathon running height of fitness, I detested the trying on and purchasing of bathing suits enough that I wore one that was two sizes too big for three seasons longer than I should have just because the alternative, standing in front of a three-way mirror with that horrible department store lighting, seemed much worse. And I loved the color of the suit.
But this year, I had to face the inevitable. Last year’s hasty on-line bathing suit purchase did not pan out. I had bought a strapless one because I knew I was going to be wearing a strapless dress to a July wedding, and I can’t stand the look of tan lines. Aside from the realization mid-wedding that I never want to wear a strapless dress again, I came to the conclusion that strapless bathing suits just don’t work for moms who still sometimes get in the pool to play with little swimmers who tend to grab fabric instead of flesh when in water over their heads.
Let’s just say, I don’t need a repeat of the time I was at a “mommy and me” baby swim class with Colin at the YMCA when he grabbed a hold of me and pulled down the bodice of my bathing suit, exposing me for more than a brief second to a very shocked dad who didn’t make eye contact with me for the rest of that class or any others. Needless to say, we didn’t take lessons there again.
This year summer came faster than expected, and I’m not just referring to the insanely crazy temperatures and humidity. How can it be that tomorrow is June 1st? The last day of school is in striking distance. Summer camp time is near. Whereas usually the water in the Cheverly Pool is too cold opening weekend or the weather too rainy, this year, we made it for Memorial Day (as did every other pool member) which meant I had to put on a bathing suit just a little sooner than expected. (I honestly thought given our schedule it might be three more weeks before we got there.)
Since I donated the aforementioned strapless suit in a fit of closet and drawer purging, that left one option: the one-piece, racer-back Speedo I bought for myself back when I thought I would trade my running shoes in for laps in a pool. The tags were still on it. And if there is any style suit that was meant for function not form, it is a Speedo. I definitely did not take off my sarong.
But I can’t hide forever, so before they are completely sold out (my first choice style and color is already back ordered until mid-July) I got on the J. Crew website and ordered a couple different options to try on in the privacy of my own room, without the discomfort of unflattering lights and three-way mirrors to taunt me. Which means I will only have my doctor and his ban on activities I consider “real cardio” to blame for what I see reflected back at me. Well, that and my love of food. And wine.
I think regardless of how the suits fit, the sarong is going to figure prominently into my summer plans.
I’m going to the prom tonight. Not as a chaperon. (I have at least 6 or 7 years before I get to torture my children in that manner.) No, tonight is the annual “Cheverly Prom,” a long honored tradition of the adults in Cheverly getting dolled up and drinking a lot of booze so that they can be hungover the next day, otherwise known as “Cheverly Day.” Cheverly Day is also an annual tradition with an early morning parade; a fair-like atmosphere; and most importantly to the kids, a moon bounce.
Usually Cheverly Day is 90 degrees and humid, thus I try to pretend that I “forgot” about it so that I don’t have to go watch the boys risk their dental work and pristine noses while I stand by sweating profusely and cursing the noise. (I know, I lack community spirit.) And thus far, I have never been to the so-called prom. But as you should know by now, I like all things bacchanalian. And I have been told that everyone drinks a lot of wine at the prom. So when my friend Kate asked me to be her date (her husband Rob is gallantly doing the NYC to DC Climate Ride this weekend) of course I had to accept.
Kate is super cute and we have a good rapport, but I’m pretty sure that at the end of tonight, my status of not hooking up with my prom date will be intact. Junior year of high school, I broke up with my boyfriend/date in between dinner and the prom. My mom was horrified, thought that he would presume I had just been going out with him in order to go to the prom. Really, I was just petrified at his suggestion that I apply to colleges in the state where he (a year ahead of me in school) was headed in the fall. So I broke up with him, spent the evening dancing with my friends, and at the end of the night, when he brought me home at 11:15 instead of the 1:00am curfew my mom had for once in my high school life set, everyone in the family was astonished.
Senior year, I got perilously close to the prom without having been asked to go. Then one of my dearest friends, a junior, not wanting me to miss this seminal event in a relatively popular high school girl’s life, mercifully asked me to be his date. We went. We had fun. But we agreed later that the funds would have been better spent on a weekend in Boston. But hey, if I hadn’t gone to my senior prom, I’d have always regretted it. Well, for at least a few years anyway. (But if you are reading, thanks for the gesture Ryan because it is only in retrospect that I have such a mature attitude about it. I owe you a trip to Boston.)
Of course, what to wear has been on my mind off and on since I accepted Kate’s invitation. Not feeling at the height of my hotness, I have been loathe to try on anything prom-worthy from my own closet. But I also am not going to accept the post-back procedure state of my body by buying a new dress. So my first appearance to the CHV prom might be in skinny jeans and a sequin top. After all, I was not rebellious enough in high school to make such a statement, so why not now?
And I promise Kate that no matter what happens, I won’t break up with her tonight.
This morning I got an email from my friend Rayanne. The subject line was “Dear Chelsea Chronicles” and the message included a fashion question. At first I thought that I had accidentally published my last post sans the great photo I was still in the process of tracking down of Seersucker Thursday and my super long hair. But it turns out she just wanted my advice. Minutes before I was about to take Dear Chelsea Chronicles live, here I was getting a question from another friend who values my advice.
Her timing was almost impeccable. An email yesterday would have yielded inclusion in today’s post, but regardless, the continued requests are making me look forward to including Dear Chelsea Chronicles as a weekly entry. And for the record, while I answered Raye’s question right away, she did indeed provide fodder for next week’s edition.
Then at lunch I talked to my friend Tom (although he isn’t necessarily in my demographic) about adding a weekly feature called Buy This! where I highlight one recommended item to buy. The item might be something that is on super sale. It might be an investment piece. Maybe something I already have and love. Or covet. Whatever the case, so many women tell me they want to go shopping with me that I consider this my own way of virtual shopping with all of you, but without the hit my budget would inevitably take if we hit the stores in person.
The conversation with Tom was still a bubble in the air when another mind-reader made herself apparent. I got an email this afternoon from my friend Kasey recommending a regular Style This! feature where YOU, my readers, send me an item, and I style it for you. (It looks like I am going to be getting well acquainted with polyvore after all.) I love it. A challenge. Bring it on.
But please, don’t ask me to style a meat dress. Or sweatpants.
There is nothing that quite makes you feel like your own little universe’s fashion icon than to get questions from friends on what to wear. Lately, a number of you have suggested ideas for new blog posts, and most of these ideas come in the form of questions, such as “do you think it’s okay to…” or “how would you recommend styling…” Not to mention, “I have a wedding to go to…” As a result, beginning today, I am going to include a weekly post dedicated to your burning questions. So bring them on.
Dear Chelsea Chronicles:
When is it okay to wear linen? On that note, when is it okay to wear white?
Sincerely: Your Office Mates
Dear Office Mates:
You wouldn’t be asking me this question if you weren’t looking for a response that allowed both items to be worn outside the traditional Memorial-to-Labor Day window. And you are in luck, as the rules of fashion have been not only bent, but completely broken over the last few years. For example, while we were always told that white was only to be worn during the aforementioned time frame, I read a blog recently that advised women to wear white jeans in the early spring. The key is to make the outfit more seasonably appropriate by pairing the white jeans with a darker hued top and adding a cardigan or blazer. That is to say, white jeans and a sleeveless pink silk shell look out of place in March, but white jeans with an orange tee and a nautical striped shirt (and camel colored shoes) would pass my pre-Memorial Day test.
Part of the answer is in the styling, and part is in the weather. Last week, I saw a woman wearing a seersucker suit on a 62 degree day. Texture fail. It was just too breezy and cool of a day to pull out the seersucker. Even former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who founded the tradition of Seersucker Thursday, would have looked out of place. If you’re going to don linen, seersucker or poplin fabrics, make sure the weather is appropriate for it. That doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to wool until May 31st, dearest office mates. Opt for lighter fabrics and play with color. When in doubt, you know where my office is if you need a personal consultation.
Dear Chelsea Chronicles:
Is there a red lipstick that doesn’t make teeth look yellow? I hate to have to bleach my smile every time I want to opt for a sexy red pout.
Yours Truly: Stuck in the Capitol
Dear Stuck in the Capitol:
Finding the right red lipstick can be harder than securing a date with an unmarried man over 5’8″ with a good head of hair who is gainfully employed and isn’t living with his mom. I have heard it said before that the “blue reds” will minimize the yellow tint caused by love of red wine and coffee. A quick Google search of “red lipsticks with blue base” revealed several hits for M.A.C. Ruby Woo. (I never knew there were so many blogs dedicated to red lipstick.) I myself am devoted to Chanel’s Rouge Allure in Lover, although recently I was seduced by Tom Ford’s Private Blend Lip Color in Smoke Red. Any make up artist should be able to steer you toward the so-called blue reds. The best advice I read though is that if you are testing lipsticks at the cosmetics counter of a department store, take a moment to step outside and see how you look in the natural light instead of relying on what the overhead lights (or self-absorbed bloggers) may tell you. Though given that you may be wearing your perfect non-teeth yellowing red lipstick while confined in the U.S. Capitol complex, perhaps natural light in this case is overrated.
Dear Chelsea Chronicles:
Is it okay to wear black to a wedding?
Warm Regards: What (Not?) to Wear.
Dear What (Not?) to Wear:
In my opinion, the only color it is not okay to wear to a wedding is white (or shades thereof) unless it happens to be your wedding. Or you are maid of honor to the future Queen of England. So if it is an evening wedding, wear your black dress, but make sure the fabric, cut and accessories (in particular, your shoes) don’t scream day at the office or funeral chic. And while you’re at it, try a lush red lipstick.
So, my dear readers, bring on the questions, the more challenging the better. I may even attempt a polyvore set for you.
Mars Needs Moms. And moms need wine. If you are my Facebook friend, then you know that my schedule this week is: Monday Jack had little league practice, Tuesday both kids had practice, Wednesday Jack has a game, Thursday both boys have practice, Friday Jack has a game, Saturday Colin has a game, and Sunday both boys have practice. Just writing it makes me tired. In addition, Tuesdays are musical theater practice rehearsal (yes, I am a stage mom). This Saturday is Touch Truck. (If you live in the DC metro area and have a child obsessed with trucks, you need to come to Cheverly for this annual event.) Saturday is also the annual Cheverly Garden Club sale and this month’s “Weekend Warriors” day. (Weekend Warriors is a group of friends who once a month tackle a household project or projects at one family’s home. I have been trying to break into the club for six months, but with all the back brace issues, this is my first opportunity for an appearance.)
That means that on Saturday, I need to be in four places at once (garden sale, little league, warriors, touch truck) and Colin needs to be in two places (little league, touch truck). I almost had an aneurysm when Jack picked up the phone today to arrange a play date for this overbooked day.
Whether you are a stay-at-home-mom (a job that I don’t think I would ever be awarded should I apply for it), work part-time, work from home, have a nanny or have kids in daycare/school, being a soccer mom (that title sounds so much better than little league mom) is no easy business. And if you home school, you deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for not killing your children at some point in the curriculum and educating them in the process.
I am a single parent, but only 50% of the time. With our week-to-week schedule, that means that I get a break that not all single parents get. It isn’t the every night break that a two-parent family balances out, but a shift from managed chaos to solitude. Some kid-free weeks, my nights are filled with happy hours and dinners. In the pre-Beatrix days, I went to the gym (in particular, Jess’s spin class is better than any happy hour special). Most nights, I work late. When I go home on my off-nights, my house is clutter-free. (I know most of you think this all sounds appealing.) But one thing is constant and that is that whether the boys are home or not, at my own bedtime, I instinctively head to their room to tuck them in because I’m always thinking of them and sleeping soundly in their beds is where they should be.
Usually, I am a multi-tasking genius. But this week, it’s only Tuesday and I’m already overwhelmed with our pending schedules (work and extracurricular) and to do list. I am feeling a little like the mom in Mars Needs Moms. The tyrant mom, that is, not the beautiful, green-eyed mom gasping for breath on Mars, inspiring the life-saving action of her previously unappreciative son. But still, regardless of the schedule or the demands, I can’t imagine a life that doesn’t have my boys in it. It’s just that some nights, that life needs an extra glass of wine.
As anyone who has read my posts since I left Beatrix in the dust knows by now, lately I have been embracing color. This is very unlike my typical Northeastern default to wearing black most of the time. Black is usually my go-to color and certainly was the color of choice to camouflage Beatrix those two dark months of back brace confinement. But after ten days of being able to integrate more color into my wardrobe, I can honestly say that I have been pleasantly surprised.
My spirit is definitely a bit brighter when wearing color; I don’t miss that sickly glow that black can often cast on your skin. Don’t worry, I’m sure this is not the end of my relationship with black clothes. I have too many black dresses, sweaters and blazers in my closet to eschew my beloved black forever. But for now, I am obsessed with red.
Recently, the DC metro area has been plagued with a tug-of-war, not between political parties (well, yes, between political parties) but between winter and spring. And the end result has more often than not been rain. Some days, the rain is accompanied by sticky humid weather. Other days, the rain is cold, steady and miserable. Both types of weather events call for my perfect red trench coat that I bought for myself (from Janna) for Valentine’s Day.
However, Thursday in DC was in the mid-60s and sunny, so the red trench stayed home. But feeling of festive spirit — and knowing I had three sets of drink plans — I pulled out of the closet archives a dress (same cut as linked here but different fabric and slightly different shade of red) I bought from Betsy Fisher a few years ago to wear to the happy hour that celebrated my 40-minus-one birthday (or 35-plus-4, depending on how you like to do your math).
Observation number one: nothing attracts compliments more than wearing red. It never ceases to amaze me how wearing a red dress (or a red trench) captures so much attention. Especially when said dress or trench is paired with the perfect shade of red lipstick (Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Rebelle). More strangers make eye contact. More random people offer you wishes for a good day.
Observation number two: red is empowering. There is certainly no fading into the woodwork when one is wearing red, so you really do have to own it. As one of my guy friends put it yesterday, “you look like a little red sports car in that dress.” People make way for you in a crowd. You get what you want.
Observation number three: I need more red in my wardrobe.
While I still have 9 days left until Lent is overt (I gave up shopping for Lent) I am already contemplating how I can incorporate more red in my life in a way that accommodates the fact that I have a list of home improvement projects to fund. And did I mention that I had to pay taxes? A lot of taxes? As my friend and accountant Kara put it, I need to invest in something other than my pretty clothes and good wine.
I’m guessing she didn’t mean a little red corvette.
I am by no means a small purse woman. I usually blame the fact that I have to carry a larger-sized handbag on my being a mom, but when was the last time I actually toted around crayons, pacifiers, or matchbox cars in my bag? Frankly, the real issue is that I can never narrow down exactly what lipstick I want to wear (and often I combine two or three colors to make my own custom-perfect shade) and honestly, lipstick takes up a lot of space.
Okay, maybe not.
But I also have this huge wallet. When I bought it four years ago, I remember the sales woman at Nordstrom saying, “this is lovely, and it can double as a clutch.” Seriously? Where would I put my lipsticks? In the change pouch? I don’t think so. And while I do have a few clutches in my repertoire, I have to admit that I rarely use them. I need my keys. I need my iPhone. I need my iPhone charger since my iPhone only carries a charge for about 45 minutes these days. I sometimes carry my iPod too (especially if I’m metro-ing) because if my iPhone dies and if I am stuck with an 18-minute wait for the orange line in the direction of New Carrollton, I want something to listen to.
Then there are my eyeglass cases. I can sometimes get away with only carrying one, and the regular glasses and the sunglasses take turns being housed it in, but it has to be the bigger of the two cases because my sunglasses don’t fit in the case for the eyeglasses and if I am going to PT or the gym or some place where I might need to take both pairs off, then I need to bring both cases.
I didn’t really keep any of this in mind when I asked my friend Janna from The Finicky Filly to order me the Kate Spade Essex Scout in orange. In my spatial-judgmentally-challenged mind, it looked like it wasn’t that much smaller than the purse I had been using since August. After all, I wasn’t buying the Kate Spade Small Essex Scout. But in practice, my new orange purse is small. It can barely fit my mammoth wallet. I have to narrow my daily lipstick selection down to two options (today’s choices were the Trish McEvoy “Instant Pick Me Up” Lip Shimmer and the new Chanel Rouge Coco Shine in Bonheur). My keys seem too bulky and of course I need my iPhone charger. (The iPhone was conveniently being carried in my coat pocket.) No iPod. No crayons, pacifiers or matchbox cars.
The other night, my seven-year old saw my new purse laying on my bed and started petting it.
Colin (adoringly): Mommy, is this your new purse?
Me: Yes, do you like it?
Colin: I love it. (Pause.) When you don’t want it anymore, can I have it?
I don’t think that Colin realizes that while the cross body style of my bag is very Indiana Jones, he can’t fit his entire retinue of treasures in the Essex Scout. Maybe a couple of his smaller twig wands, a Lego gun and one of the knives he cut out of cardboard. But certainly not all his rocks, his corks (he has a lot of these) or his bottle cap collection. Not to mention his lip balm (he is my son, after all). But that is beside the point since I am far from giving Colin his own Kate Spade purse, even one that has been used.
This week I was lucky. It was rainy, so I didn’t need the sunglasses, and since I was carrying around my computer bag, I could use it to stash the surplus items that I didn’t fit in the purse. And I was only carrying around one cork.
Yes, I have a cork collection, too.