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Archive for the tag “dressing appropriately”

People Don’t Dress Up Anymore, All They Do Is This…

I just read an awesome article from the Huffington Post titled, “7 Ways Your Grandmother Dressed Better Than You.” It was so freaking on point and so true.

The list basically talks about how our foremothers were serious about the proper undergarments and proper fit of their clothing. It also discussed how because clothes were so expensive for everyone, knowing how to sew was a must among most American women of that generation. (Do they even have home economics anymore?)

That is totally a thing of the past unless a child has the fashion bug, and wants to be a designer and seeks out their very first sewing machine on their own. As an 80s baby, I had an Easy Bake Oven and I had a for real operational kid’s sewing machine. I feel like my generation was the last to be made to go to home economics, but honestly, when I can hem my pants or sew buttons for a boyfriend, it makes me feel like a hot commodity.

I actually want to take sewing lessons and learn how to make some things myself. It wasn’t uncommon back in the day for the older women of the neighborhood or some older person in your family to make a new baby a blanket, a christening outfit, prom dress or wedding dress.

The way things are now, I bet for most young women the first time they’ve ever worn tailored clothing is if they are a bride’s maid in someone’s wedding. There was a friend of mine a short thang who said she always had to get her pants and jeans tailored.

Tailoring! I had forgotten all about it. So when my jeans that fit right everyplace else but were too long and dragging on the ground, I realized, stupid, you can get these tailored!!!

It doesn’t even cross one’s mind and that’s sad. But as the article points out, what is the point of a good tailoring job if the fabrics are cheap and practically disposable anyway?

I didn’t realize how much we as a society, in America don’t dress up until a few years ago, my dad, who is quite stylish, visited me and we went out to dinner. He had on a button up shirt, slacks and blazer. I wore a dress. But all around us, people were wearing jeans.

My dad shook his head. To him dining out was an experience, therefore you dress up. I agree with him, although I eat out with my friends ALOT and I tend to be a jeans wearer, a lot of times, I do like to turn it up a notch and look like it’s a special occasion.

Then the last few times I’ve gone to the Kennedy Center for performances, I noticed that there were old school folks who dressed to the nines, like myself and others in….jeans.

In my opinion, the Kennedy Center is too beautiful to not show up looking your best. It’s one of my favorite places to go, because it feels so grand. But I guess the general consensus is you are sitting in the dark and no one will see you any way or you aren’t the one on stage.

We’ve gotten way too casual and it’s sad. I do think people feel better about themselves and hold themselves to a higher standard when they dress up for certain events and are expected to. There’s an increased level of civility. I know I walk with my head higher, I have better posture. What’s even worse is when you do go out for an event and everyone says, “Wow, you’re really dressed up.”

Actually, you’re way too casual. I love looking at blogs with street style in Europe and seeing how people in Milan and Paris turn everyday places into runways with a certain style and sophistication.

But here in the land of the free, home of the hamburger, we’ve gotten sloppy and slutty.

I’ll admit, I have moments I pull out a freakum dress or short shorts, but every occasion doesn’t call for that. I’ve been to weddings where people wore flip-flops (they are acceptable and smart during the reception only) and funerals where people wore jeans and tee shirts. (At hood funerals if said tee-shirt has a photo of the deceased, I’ll allow it).

Why can’t we even honor those moments with being well-dressed. We’ve gotten lazy as a society. “Clothes don’t represent who I am.” “I shouldn’t be judged by what I wear.” “People should accept me for who I am.”

I’m old school. I think people should dress nicely for church and I rarely wear pants to church, and if I do they are dress slacks, because that’s how I was raised. It’s not about showing off, or acting like wearing the best clothes is a status symbol or I want to be seen, but I want to respect myself and the occasion. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that or it makes me a dinosaur.

So hell yes, our grandparents dressed better. People may have been poorer or had less education, but they had way more class and self-respect. They had expectations and because they knew how to stretch pennies and make things happen, they knew how to cook and sew and fix things, we benefitted greatly, but it made us lazy.

Eartha Kitt photographed by Gordon Parks as she was being fitted for a dress by a woman who I am 99.9% sure is none other than the pioneering fashion designer Zelda Wynn Valdes in 1952.

Photo from blackvintageglamour.tumblr.com The amazing Eartha Kitt and her almighty seamstress.

Percy Verwayne (1895-1968) was the original Sportin’ Life in the 1927 Broadway DuBose and Dorothy Heyward play, “Porgy,” the precursor to the iconic 1935 George Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess.” Mr. Verwayne was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) and appeared on Broadway, on radio and in several films for at least thirty years, but he was best known in his day for originating the role of Sportin’ Life. He was also a former athlete and that came in handy in 1941 when he was robbed of 75 cents by a very unwise 18-year-old within two blocks of his Harlem home at 400 West 128th street. The incident was gleefully reported in the New York Amsterdam News on August 9, 1941 under the headline, “Mugger Gets Wrong Victim.” According to the paper, when the mugger tried to run away, “Verwayne chased him for a block, grabbed him by the seat of his trousers and socked him into submission. When the cops arrived, Verwayne was in complete control of the situation.” I’ll bet he was… haha! Photo: New York Public Library, Billy Rose Theater Collection.

Now that’s bespoke. Photo from blackvintageglamour.tumblr.com

And now this is what we have today…

Rihanna Getty Images via Huffington Post.

So, I think deep down we want to dress awesomely. Aside from the storylines, people LIVE for the fashion of shows like “Mad Men,” “Sex and the City,” and most recently, “Scandal” because of the clothes, and the fit of the clothes. I am among a whole lot of people who created pinterest boards based on the fabulous Olivia Pope.

Folks aren’t just salivating over her steamy love scenes, but whilst live tweeting, you see folks going crazy over her coats, and amazingly chic clothing she wears sitting on the couch with her red wine.

http://scandalmoments.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/oliviapopefashionallsaintsepisode5scandalseason2.png?w=620

Photo from scandalmoments.com Please see the wonder that is Olivia Pope in all of her fashionable glory. God, this show.

One of my personal faves. Grandmother would be proud, Liv.

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Photo: Scandalmoments.com

Confession: I Thought I Was Too Grown for Sneakers

Tracee Ellis Ross is a grown woman who rocks sneakers right and appropriately. My inspiration to wear sneaks again. Photo courtesy of solecollector.com

When I was a kid, a teen and through my first two years of college, if I wasn’t at church or a formal function, I was wearing sneakers or tennis shoes– whatever you like to call them.

I lived in em. They were easy and comfortable. They were just, me.

Somewhere down the line during my matriculation at the prestigious and oh so fashion forward Howard University, where I watched girls teeter on 4-inch heels, with Louis Vuttion bags sitting in the crooks of their elbows, faces made up to perfection for 8 a.m. classes, their influence– no matter how vain I thought they were– was seeping into my psyche.

I slowly let go of my Old Navy baseball caps, sweatpants and my beloved athletic shoes.

I started to morph from the sporty tomboy of freshman year (to this day people know me as the chick with the baseball caps) to a young woman who wasn’t as extreme as the pseudo model co-eds, but was developing what I thought in my mind,  a more mature look. To truly achieve this, to truly become my more feminine and mature self, it was clear, my all-purpose athletic shoes had to be the first to go.

It all was a gradual transformation. I left the sneakers for leather booties with a two inch heel, to go with form-fitting jeans and shirts to hug my curves. Eventually, I full out fell in love with heels, and wore them everywhere like the “pretty girls” I mocked.  By the time I got into my latter 20s I realized, all I owned were heels.

I looked in my closet and I may have only had one pair of sensible flat shoes that didn’t hurt my feet. So, I turned my shoe obsession to kitten heels and cute flats and wedges. In my latter 20’s I still wanted to be cute, but I still needed to be able to walk, handle business and not take off my shoes at the end of the day and be mistaken for a ballet dancer from the ankles down (ankles up, I’m all about it).

When I joined the company softball team one spring, I realized the only pair of sneakers I owned were the faithful pair I wore in college, before my “metamorphosis to maturity.”

Even when I purchased a new pair for the team and to wear when working out, I never, ever wore them casually. It seemed young.

Since I recently bought a jazzy pair of Nikes for Zumba, and I decided one day to wear my Zumba shoes out with jeans, I had a revelation.

It was cute! And comfortable!

And I didn’t look crazy.

Hold up.

So, as I mentioned in a previous blog, there is a pair of casual Pastry brand sneakers I’ve been eying. I had to ask at least two friends if I’d be one of those pathetic women trying to pretend she’s a teenager when she’s well into her 40s, whose entire wardrobe consists of items from juniors departments, Forever 21 and Delia’s. I like Junior’s departments, Forever 21 and Delia’s, but these days, I purchase few and very specific items from those stores.

I was going to go ahead and buy the sneakers anyway, but this photo of one of my girl crushes and style mentors, actress Tracee Ellis Ross confirmed (so did a mail solicitation from the Scooter Store) for me that sneakers can be rocked right by grown women too outside of the gyms and running trails.

To all of the sneakers I passed up thinking I was too grown/good for you, I’m sorry. I’m so, so, sorry. I was wrong. Take me back, old friend. I didn’t realize how much I missed you.

As for the baseball caps… I never gave those up. I upgraded to a sprawling collection of Kangols that every man in my life, including my father, has tried to steal or trade.

Goodbye, “Literal, Lazy, Sexy.” Hello, “Subtle, Sexy, Chic.”

As you may have read earlier, I had a great New Year’s Eve, during which I wore a scandalous yellow dress with a plunging neckline that required boob tape.

But was still tasteful.

Upon seeing the few photos circulating on Facebook, a friend sent the following text: “I see you, J. Lo.”

To which I responded, “I had to do it while I was still in my twenties.”

It’s true.

While our favorite starlets like the infamous J. Lo and Halle Berry are now into their 40s, had babies and still have amazing bodies and can still probably rock their most talked about frocks, I am fully aware that I am a regular woman in transition.

I don’t have a trainer, a chef, or a glam squad.

I have spanx, I make a good salad, I have a few MAC products, a mirror and good sense. I’ve got to work with what I’ve got.

Fashionwise, as a grown woman, there are just things I’m going to have to leave behind in my second decade.

I won’t be wearing large logos on my clothes or accessories. Example. In college, I had a pair of jeans with Enyce in large blue stitching across my behind. No mas. I used to love Guess purses, but their logos are too loud and gaudy for my taste now.

I will not let my bra straps or panties show. I have invested in those bra clasp thingies and have a variety of strapless or convertible bras to accommodate various styles of clothing I have.

I will no longer wear low-rise jeans. I gave them up a couple of years ago this will prevent the visible panty situation.

I won’t expose my midriff. A snug tee, I’m down for, but outside of a banging two-piece to rock beachside, no dice.

I can’t wear novelty shirts with cherries on them or saying I’m a golddigger, hustler, or slut, or naughty kitten. I’ll let my suitors find that kind of information out on their own.

Even my beloved Carrie Bradshaw, of Sex and the City, told her homegirl Samantha in an episode in season 6, that there comes a time where even the edgiest of fashionistas mature and don’t dress with “naked” as their default setting, as they once did in their youth.

As a grown woman, you want to always be sexy, but also taken seriously. Ask any human resources director and they’ll tell you, nothing sends your credibility down the drain faster than an inappropriate ensemble, no matter how brilliant you may actually be.

We judge older women harshly. Look no further than reality show hip-hop mothers like Frankie (Keyshia Cole’s mom) or Mama Jones (rapper Jim Jones mother and self-proclaimed “psychotic bitch”) who wear skinny jeans and midriff exposing tee shirts. Their antics as well as their clothes often make you wonder if their grown children are more mature than they are.

I’m not saying they should be school marms, but there are grown women doing the damn thing the right way. I call it “subtle, sexy, chic.” This type of style is more thought out. It’s strategic, and when done correctly, it still brings the boys to the yard, and keeps em there. Yes, it takes time, practice and finding your own personal style mentor to help you get it right.

As the headline of this blog says, the literal interpretation of what’s sexy, tends to be lazy and mainly includes showing skin and doing not much else.

However, the “subtle, sexy, chic” women don’t hit you over the head with the breasts and booty as soon as they enter the room, but they also don’t shy away from playing up their best assets with well-tailored clothing on and off the red carpet. Women who dress “subtle, sexy, chic” allow you to see other sexy traits that aren’t as obvious and that grown women play up very well: hair, eyes, smiles, the decolletage.

Meet my celebrity style mentors:

Michelle Obama. There’s a reason President Obama hasn’t cussed out the entire free world yet, dropped the mic and walked off the stage like the lead singer from “Sexual Chocolate”. He has a fine woman at home. Michelle is the epitome of class and she rarely gets it wrong. Whether she is jump-roping, gardening, entertaining world leaders, or encouraging military families, her hair, makeup and clothing choices are always appropriate and she pulls it off wonderfully.

Princess Kate Middleton. (She’s turning 30 next week! Kate dresses the part as modern young royalty in a way that’s classic, but still fashion forward.) I think Kate has done a wonderful job since she’s been in the spotlight as Prince William’s boo. From jeans to evening wear, she is a strategic dresser and knows she can’t embarrass head grandma in charge, the Queen. She doesn’t try to dress older than what she is, but she manages to get it right and represent respectfully. This young lady is going to be one to watch and emulate for years to come.

Tracee Ellis Ross. I decided to throw one celeb in here, considering wives of world leaders have another level of pressure and decorum to adhere to that the rest of us don’t. Tracee wowed us as Joan Clayton on the television show “Girlfriends” and she gushes all the time about taking her famous mom, Diana Ross’ clothes. She’s got the big, gorgeous signature hair (also from her mama) and she’s another one who makes a trip to Trader Joe’s look like an effortless jaunt down Fifth Ave. She’s creative but takes calculated risks that end up winners.

So as I turn the big 3-0, I keep these women in mind as I’m shopping and getting dressed.

As for the yellow dress and a few other items in my closet…

They are officially retired.

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