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Body scanner + sales help at Bloomingdales = perfect fitting pants?

16 Aug

Could this be the pants-finding solution that all hard-to-fit booties are looking for? Bloomingdales has installed a body scanner that recommends the best fitting, and flattering, pants for your body dimensions. My immediate association from seeing the photos: Star Trek, everyone gets to see you with your clothes off. Of course that isn’t really the case (your avatar wears a bikini) but it will still take some courage to put myself under the microscope. However, in the interest of good journalism for this blog, I think I’ll gather up my courage and check it out, and report back…

From today’s San Jose Mercury News:

High-tech help in finding jeans that fit

By Troy Wolverton

twolverton@mercurynews.com

Posted:   08/16/2012 09:12:53 AM PDT
Bodymetrics body scanning cabin created to help women find jeans that fit

No it’s not airport security – it’s the Bodymetrics body scanning cabin, created to help find jeans that fit. It’s available for a test drive at Bloomingdales in the Stanford Shopping Center.

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Making the Most of Online Sales

24 Jul

Ever have the feeling you have 17,000 email messages in your inbox? I actually did – I signed up to receive “marketing communications” from all my favorite online stores, and then fell behind on reading all the messages. After more than a year of neglect, I finally sat down to clear out the backlog, and was amazed at the volume of email urging me to buy, buy, buy… message after message saying “hurry” or “last day” (only to announce another sale a few weeks later).

They just keep coming...

They just keep coming… over 20 marketing messages received by 10am.

Truth is,  you don’t need to be on a store’s email list to take advantage of the best sales of the year.  They always happen twice a year: after Christmas, and right now – in late July and August, when Fall and Winter clothes begin to arrive in stores. But email marketing offers you the advantage of early access and sometimes an additional discount.

I recently needed a dress to wear to a summer wedding in Sonoma, and I was hoping to land a deal.  So when Boden (one of my favorite online stores) announced their end-of-summer sale, I jumped on the site the same day. I loaded up my cart with 10 “maybe” items, then quickly narrowed down to the best five. I gulped at the total dollar amount and then ordered all five items, knowing I’d be sending half of it back – because in a real store, you take more stuff into the dressing room than you intend to buy. I even paid $15 for express shipping to find out quickly if I had “the right dress” for the occasion. The next day, a large box was on my doorstep!   (It’s my first time using overnight shipping, and I have to say, I could get used to this.)

As it turns out, of the two dresses I ordered, one was a winner. Even with the extra shipping charges, it ended up costing less than $160 – not bad considering I never even had to leave my house. No raking through cluttered clothing racks. I could try it on at home with my own shoes and accessories. As a footnote, less than a week after ordering it, my size is already sold out – so I’m glad I acted quickly.

boden silk petal dress

A recent score from Boden’s online sale – just the dress to wear to a summer wedding.

The unexpected winner from the order was a funky 60’s print tunic – I had my doubts about the crazy retro print, but when I put it on, it felt so good that I decided to keep it. I live in tunic length tops, and the print offers a welcome pop of color.  The fit is great too – flattering neckline, not too tight around the hips, long enough to wear with leggings (or as a super-mini dress if you are feeling daring). $58 is more than I usually spend on tops, but I know it will get plenty of wear.

Boden Fab Jersey Tunic on Sale

The stretchy cotton jersey material was so soft and comfy that I ended up keeping this one.

In a nutshell, here is how I make the most of online sales:

1) Use a separate email account for online shopping. Then, ignore the account unless you’re looking to buy something.

2) Be stingy with your time. Delete all marketing emails older than a week without reading them.

3) If you do intend to buy, respond to online sales early, because popular items can go out of stock in a few days.

4) Order more items than you intend to keep. (You may need to pay for return shipping, but perhaps ordering more means you get free shipping with your order.) Order two sizes of the same item if you have trouble finding your size in a real store.  Yes, you’ll have to float the cost of the additional items until your return is processed, but you’re more likely to end up with something that you’re excited about.

5) Look for coupon codes before you check out  – it only takes a minute and may save you shipping or 20% off with very little effort. My favorite site is Retailmenot.com

6)  Be picky when trying on your clothes at home. Using the best mirror in the house, force yourself to make quick decisions based on gut-level reaction. When in doubt, send it back.

7) Bang out the logistics. To make returns easy, keep your computer connected to a printer for creating return labels, and keep a roll of packing tape in your desk for sealing your package. Fill out the paperwork for the return as soon as you can (to avoid losing it). Find the most convenient place near home or work to drop off UPS packages (using UPS.com). If your package has prepaid postage, don’t stand in line at the post office – walk up to the front of the line, make eye contact with a clerk, and he/she will tell you where to leave it.

8) Log off and get back to real life.  It’s easy to get sucked into hunting for deals online – so I give myself a time limit. If nothing clicks in the first 1 or 2 minutes on a specific site, I ditch out, knowing there will always be a next time.

Do you have another tip to share? Leave it in the comments section below!

Bathing Beauty

16 May

I’m digging through my shoe bin in search of my flip flops. That can only mean one thing – bathing suit season is coming!

Last year, it took me months to find a bathing suit I was truly happy with. I ended up with a Patagonia bikini and swim short which I still like, but this year, I am feeling like I could use a little more coverage in the mid section. So I geared up to search for a bathing suit with a tankini top, or possibly a one-piece. Expecting the search to be long and grueling, I was shocked when I  found a bathing suit that worked for me in the first store I tried.  Great fit – cute print – comfortable – and reasonably priced. Here it is. (Ta da!)

Title Nine "Impossible" Tankini

The Title Nine “Impossible” Tankini – the bathing suit that will carry me through summer. (Also comes in solid blue and other patterns)

The cut of the front offers plenty of support and coverage, and the pads add some shape without looking phony. I also love the tie closure in back, which is more comfortable than a halter (those hurt my neck after a while) and easy to adjust. Here’s a view of the back – even though I could tie the closure myself if I had to, it stays put way better than a regular string bikini, so I hardly ever need to. It also comes in a solid blue color.

Title Nine "Impossible" Tankini - adjustable back

The Title Nine “Impossible” Tankini

It must have been a lucky shopping day because on the same trip, I stumbled across this ultra comfortable top to match – I intended it as a coverup to match my bathing suit, but find myself reaching for it for everyday. Paired with a tank top and jeans, it’s the perfect weight for cool and sunny spring days.  I only spent 45 minutes shopping, but felt like I had seriously scored by the end of it.

Stripy Stretch Hoody from Title Nine

If you have a Title Nine store near you, I recommend starting there for your bathing suit shopping. If not, check out their web site or catalog – their returns policy is reasonable and they carry much more online than they do in the store. Their sizing is pretty straightforward (my real life size matches their sizing in bathing suits). Their stuff is geared toward active pursuits like sporting or adventure travel – which I think describes the average day of a mom with young kids. Their prints are fun and colorful, and their fit is made to stay put, which really makes a difference – even if we’re not surfing or playing beach volleyball like the toned and tanned models in the catalog, our bodies are in motion all day long. Whether it’s splashing the kids in the water, bending over to make sand castles, or lugging piles of beach toys to and from the car, we need all the cooperation we can get from our swimwear (even if we can’t get it from our kids).

UPDATE: As of 8/1/12, The items listed above are on sale at Titlenine.com – if you’ve been waiting for the prices to drop, now’s the time to act! (The hoodie is sold out in the color on this post, but there are other colors still available. The tankini comes in two other colors and all are still available.)

Go, Go, Pants

1 May

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an easy method for finding the items of “deadwood” in your closet. In the process, I uncovered a black pair of black skinny capris from Target, which hung in my closet unworn all of last summer, despite the fact that black pants should pretty much “go with everything.”  I found them quite by chance at Target for about $30 while picking up some plastic bins and Kleenex for the household. Score! I thought. At that price,  it wasn’t hard to spend another $30 on taking in the waist (something I have come to accept as a necessity with my body shape).

But, after coming home from the tailor, the pants sat in my closet. And sat, and sat. During my recent closet clean-out, I told myself it was because the fabric was too light for winter (Target pants are notoriously thin, in my experience). Then warmer weather started to appear, and I still passed them over. Using the hanger trick described in my recent post, I was confronted with the reality that I was resisting wearing these pants – they were the last pair to remain unworn. With an open mind, I chose a warm-ish day to put them on. After going through the day in them, I realized why I had been resisting wearing them. I just didn’t feel good wearing them.

It wasn’t the fit – I had them tailored to my exact body type. The fabric was cotton with a bit of stretch for ease of movement, and nothing was obviously itchy or uncomfortable. They were reasonably flattering. Still, I felt like I was trapped in them, and couldn’t wait to take them off. What went wrong between now and the fitting room at Target?

I had a careful look in the mirror and realized what it was. The closure loop at the waist was straining, making it look like my middle was bursting open. Because I had these pants tailored to my exact body type, and they didn’t feel gut-binding, I realized that they suffered from poor construction; the fabric was too lightweight to carry the strain of the closure, and the tab wanted to separate from the pants. Cheap pants! I cursed. Even though I could explain away the problem without blaming the size of my midsection, every time I looked down at my bursting closure, I got the feeling that my body was the source of the problem. Before Kids, I thought, these pants would not have given me a problem. 

{Now imagine me with a dark cloud hanging over my head.}

The Black Capri Pants Disaster

Disaster?

Well, there was just one thing to do about that. I only hesitated a moment before chucking them into the give-away pile. Yes, $60 is a lot to pay for a pair of pants you only wear once. But the money is spent, and now I have a choice to make. Berate myself every time I put them on for my thick middle, or make the problem go away.  Isn’t the choice pretty clear?  What would you tell your girlfriend to do? Battered women must choose whether to stay in an abusive relationship or cut bait.  Well, sister, we wouldn’t live with a man who insults your body type, so why should we put up with a pair of pants that does?

I am sure there’s another pair of black capri pants waiting for me that will love me more than those cheap old pants. Even if I was hoping the relationship would last longer, it’s always better to look ahead than try to put energy into a direction that has no future. The hardest thing, of course, is feeling the sting of my mistake, and admit that this love affair was over before it started. But that’s ok, nobody walks a straight path in life, we all make mistakes. Buying a bad pair of pants certainly doesn’t rate up there with running a ponzi scheme, or sailing an Italian pleasure boat too close to the shoreline.

Disaster!

Keeping my pants-buying failure in perspective, I put  the old (new) pants on the curb with the other Goodwill stuff, happily imagining someone out there getting a brand new pair of pants for cheap.

As for buying pants from Target – part of me says, Never again – My booty deserves better! Part of me can’t resist the temptation that I’ll find another good deal. I’ll definitely proceed more cautiously now, and perhaps opt for the casual pants with the elastic waist. (I have a $25 pair of baggy linen Merona pants from Target that have already lasted me for several years.)

So, there are two lessons here:

1) When shopping cheaply, it’s hard to go wrong buying pants that are styled like pajamas. For pants with a more tailored fit, it probably makes sense to shell out a bit more for a better quality product.

2) Never, ever, keep anything in your closet that causes a black cloud to appear over your head and follow you around wherever you go. Put that thing away at once. (In other words –  it’s not you, it’s the pants. It’s always the pants.)

Free closet help (really!)

16 Apr

I discovered a really cool closet trick that I’ve been meaning to post about, but I have had writers block from seeking an interesting way to introduce it. So, in order to get the idea up quickly, allow me to skip the intro and get right to the meat of the discovery. Maybe you will appreciate it on the day before income taxes are due – who couldn’t use a little closet help without spending more money.

The idea came from something I read online someplace (if I remember where, I will update this post with the credit) and it goes something like this:

It’s pretty clear that a closet cleared of clutter serves the owner much better than a closet full of unappealing or ill-fitting stuff. Yet, the problem is finding the time to get it organized.  Well, now you don’t have to set aside special time to do it, if you follow this handy little trick.

Image

After you wear something, hang it back up in your closet with the hanger backwards. Try to wear everything at least once, before wearing the items again with the hanger turned around already. After a few weeks, you will have identified the stuff that you’re not wearing, which you now need to take a closer look at.

The clothes that are left unworn will probably fit into these categories –

1) Don’t like anymore -> Get rid of it. Give away to charity, offer it to a friend, sell it, or go to a clothing exchange. (I always have a plastic bag in my closet that I am filling up with stuff to give away.)

2) Doesn’t fit -> If it can be fixed by tailoring, create a pile for “take to tailor”. Otherwise, let it go into the “get rid of” pile. (Caveat: If you are within one year of having given birth, cut yourself some slack, but put away what you’re not wearing and pull it out again in a few months. The point is to only leave stuff in your closet that you are actually wearing *now*).

3) Out of season -> Box up and put into the garage/ attic/ storage space until the weather changes.

4) Need something to wear with it -> Start a “wish list” of what item you are missing to go with it, whether it’s a matching top, bottom, shoes, belt or bra.  Keep the list somewhere in your closet with a pen nearby, so that you can add to it easily, as inspiration strikes. When filling in the gaps, shop your closet first, and encourage yourself to re-imagine wearing something with it that you already own. (Pick up a good fashion mag like InStyle or Elle for some inspiration about unexpected combinations that work, like below. I’m not saying you need to wear avant-garde runway looks to the playground, but don’t be afraid to go a little outside your comfort zone.)  And next time you go shopping, take your “wish list” with you.

Elle magazine spring collection

Check out a fashion mag like Elle magazine for inspiration; sometimes combining two patterns and textures can look fresh and inspired.

By sticking to this system for about three weeks, I freed up about half of my closet by putting away the stuff that was not being worn. After filling a large box with stuff for warmer weather, and another bag for give-away, I was looking at a closet full of stuff I could actually wear. Now, looking at my closet doesn’t start a panic attack – getting dressed is faster, feels better, and I can get creative with new combinations.

Street style photographed by Elle magazine

Orange and burgundy? Consider re-imagining color combinations in your wardrobe, in any way that feels right for you.

I haven’t applied the weeding out to the folded part of my closet, but I think the same technique should work, if I start with an empty drawer and only put the stuff I’ve worn in there, leaving the questionables behind to be sorted out.

Why I love this approach:

1) it points honestly to the “deadwood” in your closet – either it’s been worn or it hasn’t

2) it has inspired me to find ways to wear the stuff I was passing over before

3) it has caused me to feel grateful for the stuff I already own

4) I did this at my own pace and felt no time pressure to complete the task – you can take as much time as you need to get to the end result.

Because I stopped wearing the same three pairs of jeans every week, I got myself out of a fashion rut. I even got myself to wear a skirt, and realized with tights and boots on colder days, I really enjoyed it. When I found something missing a top or bottom to go with it, I reconsidered which colors and patterns could go together. You might be thinking “uh oh”, but it doesn’t mean you have to look like a kid dressing themselves for the first time.  Most moms I know (myself included) could stand a little kick of color in their wardrobe – and certain bright colors are very “now”. (Even neon and printed pants are making a comeback, with 1980’s flair, though I don’t think I am ready to go there just yet.)

Printed pants are making a comeback from the 80's

With all the 80's trends being revived lately, it was just a matter of time before pants with patterns made their comeback. I'm going to stay on the sidelines for that trend, at least for now. (Fashion week in Paris, 2012)

I am especially loving yellow, coral and turquoise, as a promise of the warmer, sunnier weather soon to come. And for the stuff I wasn’t wearing because I didn’t have the right shoes, I took the time to pull out all the shoes I had, and, looky here – I had forgotten about several pairs which actually filled the gap.

Next month, when Uncle Sam isn’t knocking on my door, looking to get paid, I may take my  own “wish list” and hit the stores. But then again, I am liking the challenge of trying to shop my own closet for everything I am missing – because I am convinced, as I let go of my own rules, I am bound to make even more new discoveries of what to wear inside my own closet. You might even say where creativity leads, inspiration follows. Or something like that.

Reblog: Fighting the Great Armpit Fat War of ’12

26 Mar

A great post from a fellow mommy-blogger about bras After Kids – or “booby straps” as my 3yo daughter calls them…

Fighting the Great Armpit Fat War of ’12.

A Warm Wind is Blowing (At Least in the Malls)

18 Mar

Just last week, I ate at a restaurant with Christmas decorations still up, and there was frozen grass on the morning walk to school not too long ago. But you’d never know it’s still winter by looking at the shop windows of clothing stores at the local mall.

Spring has sprung according to the retail merchandising calendar, and there are a few mom-compatible trends I want to try out for myself this season:

Nautical stripes

Splendid Navy Stripe crop

Nautical stripe looks fresh with lighter pants and layers well on colder days.

You can see them everywhere, on tops, tunics, and shift dresses. Remember the saying that horizontal stripes make you look fat? Not true. With a top that’s cut close to the body either at the waist or in the lower arm, and paired with slim pants, stripes can look light and fresh. You see them just about everywhere, from sweaters to t-shirts to tunics. I like the version with navy blue stripes on an off white (not bright white) background. Also, dense stripes can look busy, I tend to like a wider spacing to avoid giving myself a headache when looking in the mirror.

Above is a top I recently picked up at Anthropologie by Splendid tees. It costs more than I would have liked (over $50), but the cotton is silky soft,  and the cut is flattering and easy to wear; form fitting without binding, and falls below the hip. The stripe is a warm grey that is fun to coordinate with other neutrals. I have a feeling I am going to be living in this shirt well through the summer.

After feeling how comfy that Splendid top was, I got more interested in that brand. Turns out it’s a company dedicated to stylish, casual, nubby t-shirts! If only their prices were a bit lower. (Don’t you just want to dive your face into the closet below?)

Splendid Fabrics

"Yummy Fabric & Color" according to Splendid.

Wedge heel shoes

I get a boost in height and and add a fun accent to a plain outfit with wedge heels. I wouldn’t run after my toddler in them, but if I am going to wear heels, these are probably the most comfortable way to do it. I also like that they convey a laid-back bohemian chic, a reminder of old, carefree days of kicking around town in style before kids. Here are my favorite wedge heel looks – waiting for the sale on these though:

Awesome suede bootie by JCrew:

Wedge heel bootie by J Crew

My favorite shoe trend this spring: the wedge heel (it's everywhere)

I also love the espadrille version by Toms:

The wedge heel espadrille by Toms

In case you’ve never heard of Toms, it’s a shoe company that promises to give one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes they sell. The shoes are simply made, but comfy, and their social mission means you see their flats on 20-something feet everywhere. (Did I mention they also have toddler and kids sizes?) If you want to try them on, stop by Nordstroms, which carries them in several colors. I can’t see myself wearing a heel this high every day, but definitely appealing for dinner out or date night.

The Shirt Dress

This trend takes the crisp tailoring of a collared mens shirt and extends the length to become a dress. Hey, the chance to wear a collared shirt, with no office in sight – there’s something very appealing about that. Plus, the length is very flattering for all body types. I would opt to wear the shirt dress with cropped leggings or skinny jeans rather than bare legged, for the sake of modesty. (Short skirts and childcare don’t mix well, in my opinion.)  For going out to dinner on a breezy summer evening, I would go with sandals and bare legs. Either way, a belt adds definition at the waist and keeps it from looking like you raided your husband’s pajama drawer.

I first noticed this look on Rachel Mc Adams who appeared in the recent Woody Allen film “Midnight in Paris” as an American tourist abroad. (Fun movie, by the way, if you haven’t seen it yet.) I couldn’t find a good image of the outfit online, but as it turns out, a web site has created the knockoff look:

Midnight In Paris Outfit

The shirt dress looks great with a belt, and, look - there's that wedge heel again!

I do have a few reservations about the dress shirt. For one, where do you get a reasonably priced version that’s easy to maintain? J. Crew had one in the store the other day for $100+, which I can’t even consider it until it goes on sale. (Other than jeans, I don’t pay more than $100 for anything I wear around my children for fear of their greasy fingers. I have several pairs of pants with greasy stains in the lap; since they otherwise work well and fit great, I just go around with permanent grease stains on my pants.)

Then there’s the question of how to keep that collar looking crisp and fresh. It goes without saying that I am unwilling to wear anything that needs ironing or a run to the dry cleaners. (I don’t even know where my ironing board is! Do we still own one?)  If only J. Crew married the Land’s End wrinkle-free technology and came out with a no-iron shirtdress. Their current selection is made of conventional cotton poplin, dress-shirt material, which is going to need ironing. Here’s a real opportunity for moms to look polished without much extra effort – Land’s End, are you listening?

Lands End carries a few shirt dresses at reasonable prices - but until they come in wrinkle-resistant fabric, this look is really not mom-friendly.

After a bout of cold weather, the weather turned warm last weekend, and we went to the beach in Capitola. It was really nice to lay face down on a beach blanket and feel sun on the underside of my bare feet.  I’ll take a real spring day on the beach over a fake spring day in the mall any day.  After all, the clothes and sales will wait for me, but my kids seem to wake up a little bit taller every day.  A day spent digging the world’s deepest sand tunnel under a warm, cloudless sky is far more precious than trying on one more pair of shoes in the mall.

I Am Sparkle Princess

3 Mar

I am sure anyone reading this post has noticed that metallic shoes are “in” right now, in shades of silver, gold, copper, etc. When this trend first appeared a few seasons ago, I rolled my eyes and avoided it, as it reminded me too much of Vegas, or else of country club ladies who lunch with little fluffy dogs in their lap.

Metallic Pump

I can't decide who is likelier to wear a shoe like this: Cinderella, or a Vegas Showgirl?

Recently, though, I have started to come around to the playful side of metallic, thanks to my 3-year old daughter. She fell in love with a silver pair of Mary Janes and wore them into the ground (no thanks to Old Navy quality, which didn’t even last long enough for her to outgrow them). The point is that she enjoys feeling fancy and is not shy to show them off to visitors or to checkout clerks in the grocery store. She loves her princess shoes, and fully expects others to love them as she does. She simply loves the way she looks in them, without any self-consciousness.

Watching her shamelessly pointing out her beautiful shoes to strangers, it became clear to me that even though I don’t plan to wear a tutu skirt in public anytime soon, her attitude is a path to freedom for me and moms everywhere.  I realized that dressing up for her and for adults is not that different. She is channeling her inner fairy princess, and I am channeling my inner carefree bohemian urbanite, even though my real life bears very little resemblance to the person I dress up as on some days. (Case in point: sometimes my day includes chasing a runaway turd escaping from a diaper.)

Sorry for that reference. I hope you’re not reading this while eating lunch. Anyway, at a recent Macy’s sale I came across a pair of greyish-copper flats by Clarks (below). Shelving my own prejudices for the moment, I tried them on, and discovered they had a very comfortable sole. Sold! With a skirt, they look dainty and feminine, and with jeans, they add some casual chic. And for about $45, they were a no-brainer even if I get tired of them by the end of summer. Suddenly I belong to an unspoken sisterhood with other wearers of metallic shoes. Although I don’t call attention to my shoes in the checkout line of the grocery store. I wait for the sisterhood to notice my shoes and pay a compliment. 😉

Clarks Metallic Flats

Ok, I confess: Sometimes, I enjoy wearing sparkly shoes like my 3-year old daughter.

I think the key to wearing metallic is to have fun with it, and only wear it if the look tickles your fancy. To avoid looking like you came from a princess dress-up party, avoid wearing too much sparkle at once (I would avoid a matching handbag or a belt, or too much bling elsewhere, for example). Though of course, don’t expect your daughter to respect this rule. As you probably know, there there is no such thing as “too much sparkle” for any girl under 10 years old.

Just as I am finishing this post, the weather is turning sunny and warm in Northern California, with daffodils busting out of the ground everywhere. I guess it’s pretty clear that I should finally put away the Christmas decor this weekend. On the other hand, if the weather is good, forget tidying up the house – we’re taking the family to the beach. If no one in my house has noticed that the Christmas decorations are still up past Valentines Day, they probably won’t say anything if they make it to St Patrick’s Day either.

___

Worth mentioning: The products and companies I am featuring in this post are of my own choosing – I have no relationships with the companies or products that I spotlight.  If that ever changes, I’ll be sure to post a disclaimer to that effect.  It’s not that I have anything against receiving products to review – it would enable me to give more firsthand performance reviews. After all, there are only so many pairs of metallic shoes a woman can justify to her skeptical husband. 🙂

Feeling Stuffed?

30 Nov

Thanksgiving may be over, but in our house, leftover pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes are still on the menu – all day long. Anyone who has never eaten pumpkin pie for breakfast should go out of their way to do so before they die – whether naked, or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. (I’m talking about the pie, not you, of course.) It’s one of my favorite things about the holiday.

Pumpkin Pie

During the holiday season, anytime is a good time to enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie.

All this eating does leave me feeling over-fed, which is to be expected this time of year. And I don’t expect it to let up in December; between holiday cookies and parties, it’s the time of year to reach for the jeans with the loose waist. Better yet, I wear stretchy pants with a tunic or dress over it – there is no reason to force that zipper closed when there is still a whole month of holiday treats to be eaten. There will be plenty of time for slimming down after the new year.

I’m not saying it’s time to binge, but I plan to enjoy the treats of the season without calculating how many extra laps I am going to swim just to work off that chocolate covered gingerbread I just ate.

Instead of counting calories, I make a point to get outside despite the unappealing weather – even though it’s been cold and gray in the Bay Area, Northern California’s not Minnesota, and the Fall colors are spectacular in the neighborhood. Also, my son is suddenly a soccer enthusiast; a quick 15 minutes minutes of kicking the ball after school keeps me moving, and it’s often enough to boost my energy for the rest of the day. For an indoor energy boost, I reach for caffeine in the form of green tea, another stimulant that’s a little milder than Red Bull, and easier on my stomach than coffee. My favorite green tea at the moment is The Organic Himalayan Green Tea by Allegro, a company based in Colorado and available in certain grocery stores.  It’s mellow and tasty – I remove the tea bag after 5 minutes to avoid bitterness. (Get one for yourself and one as a gift for the tea lover on your list!)

Allegro Himalayan Green Tea

Allegro Himalayan Green Tea is an instand indoor pick-me-up

In the meantime, here are my new favorite comfortable jeans with plenty of stretch: Not Your Daughter’s Jeans (NYDJ). I know, I dissed these in a previous post about “mommy jeans”, but after giving them a second chance, I have fallen in love with the fit and comfort. The fabric is stretchy and just the right weight. The rise is a bit higher than other designer jeans which helps with coverage of the front and back, but not so high that you are aware of a bulky midsection (my problem with the Miraclebody Jeans reviewed previously). They have a great fit throught the seat, too, without gapping at the waist, which is always my problem area.

My biggest revelation about buying jeans is that although I used to be self-conscious about tight jeans, it turns out that slim-cut, well-fitting jeans actually make you look and feel slimmer, not fatter. The NYDJ fit slim in a tasteful way – I don’ t feel like like my jeans are painted on, but they fit snugly everywhere they should. Also, most jeans stretch out after wearing – if the zipper goes up easily, I know the tightness in the seat will relax after a few wears. As long as I can sit down comfortably, I trust the fit. (To prevent shrinkage, I never put my jeans in the dryer, unless I actually want to shrink them down a size! Instead, they hang dry overnight in my shower stall.) Knowing how I want my jeans to fit makes shopping much for fun and efficient – it’s easy to recognize the right jeans when I try them on.

I bought my NYDJ’s at Bloomingdale’s but many department stores carry them (Nordstroms, Macys, etc.). They run about $100, which is more than a pair of Levi’s but still less than other designer jeans like Joe’s Jeans which run $150 and up. (You can sometimes find them on sale for about $70-$80.) They come in many cuts, including bootleg, straight leg, and slim. They also offer Petite sizing and Ankle lengths. They even have corduroy fabrics for the Fall and Winter seasons. Though you can find them online, it’s worth visiting the store to try several pairs and find the look that suits you best.

Here are a few to consider:

The Straight Leg – an everyday workhorse of a jean, slim enough to tuck into boots or wear with tennis shoes. Comes in many other colors too.

NYDJ Straight Leg Jeans

Straight Leg Jeans work great for everyday - with flats, boots, or tennis shoes for the playground.

The Bootcut – Wear with boots, black dresses up for evening. Many other colors too.

NYDJ Bootcut Jeans

Leggings – I usually shy away from these because I feel like I am stuffing myself into too-skinny pants, but NYDJ leggings zip up easily while still giving the super-slim look that goes well under tunics or long sweaters, worn with boots.

NYDJ Leggings

NYDJ Leggings have a comfortable super-slim fit.

Happy jean shopping, and enjoy the season of giving and holiday (de)lights!

Fit to be Tied

11 Oct

So last week I decided to try out a little wardrobe update.  I thought it might be a good idea to check out TJ Maxx since I had to make a return there from buying what I thought was a cool sweater vest a little while ago.  I decided to browse around and ended up with a ton of stuff to take home and retry since I was running out of time.  I heard the echoing of my mother-in-law saying “If you aren’t sure just take it home.  You can always return it.”  So I did.  I felt like Old St. Nick walking out of that store because the bag was THAT BIG.

When I went home I tried on a bunch of stuff for my husband and ended up with a bunch of things to return and some that needed in a different size.  So, I went back the next day and ended up trying a bunch of things on again.  As I was trying them on, the dressing room attendant (we’ll call her “the Attendant” for ease of reference) was commenting on a couple of the items I was wearing.  It was unsolicited but not bad advice.  And the attention was pretty nice, too.  So, I went through all of my outfits and with some help made final decisions on what I would be bringing home.  The last item I tried on was a knit dress with  3 broad color-blocked bands, knee-length and fitted.  Both my husband (from the night before) and the Attendant seemed to be very pleased with this dress but I still wasn’t sure.  I really haven’t worn dresses much less anything fitted since way before kids.  So I kinda shrugged and said “well, I think it makes me look fat.”  Shock and awe struck her face and she reassured me that it definitely didn’t and that I am skinny.  How could I argue with skinny?  And since I was already in a euphoric state from even being able to step foot into a clothing store for more than an hour ON MY OWN, I decided to set aside my insecurities and drop the dress into my “to buy” pile.  I then got dressed and headed out of the dressing room, thanking the Attendant for all her support and encouragement.  That’s when things changed…

As I was gathering up my “keepers”, the Attendant, almost in a whisper, leans over and asks “Um, do you have a baby?”  Now, I wasn’t with a child, I never mentioned a child, I didn’t have any child related products anywhere near me (in fact, I had man slippers in my cart, in plain sight) and I made sure to manage my time in the store so that I wasn’t asking around every 5 minutes if anyone had the time while explaining that I had to pick my child up from school.  So, the only conclusion I could come to was that I probably did look fat in that dress!  I replied “Yes, why because you could tell from my belly sticking out in that dress?”  And before I knew it we were in the underwear section standing in front of a rack containing items with control tops while the Attendant was explaining to me that if I needed to I could always buy one of these but I definitely didn’t look like I needed it in that dress and by the way did I remember to TIE MY BELLY when I was pregnant?  TIE MY BELLY??

If only I had known…

Naturally, I replied “Uh, Noo” as if I had forgotten because apparently in her world everyone has or is doing it and I definitely wasn’t going to be the idiot that had no idea what she was talking about.  She then continues to say “Oh yeah, you gotta tie your stomach but that’s ok if you didn’t this time, you can always make up for it with your second and third child.  And you know you can always do sit ups for your abs.”  NEWSFLASH!

So with little time remaining and clearly lots of work to catch up on (belly boot camp, working on a second and third child, picking my current child up from school), I excused myself and checked out.

I bought the dress but we aren’t friends and it will probably find its way back to the store and maybe into the hands of the childless, young and single Attendant who probably ties her belly just in preparation for the day she gets pregnant.

The irony in all of this is that I was in the store trying to find things that didn’t give away the fact that I am a mom.  I realize my body has changed and I look tired which doesn’t go well with many things other than yoga pants or jeans and a t-shirt but sometimes I just want to change it up.  I want to get past my postpartum insecurities and start feeling more like my old self.  But, is that possible?  Or do I embrace a new identity (a “mom-dentity”) with a side of who I used to be and incorporate the two into how I want to express myself now?

I suspect that although we want to find and embrace the things that remind us of who we used to be we can’t help but think about who we spend most of our time with and just how they play a defining role in who we are now.

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