Sunday, November 13, 2011

Going Commando (With No Muffin Top)


Among my greatest fears: becoming infected with flesh-eating bacteria, being stranded in the shark-infested open sea, having a muffin top.

And let's face it, that last one is by far more likely to happen to most of us (size zero scuba divers notwithstanding). Material Girl is a little soft in the middle, but I know the appropriate size and rise of jean to wear and I skip certain articles of clothing on non-skinny days, thus generally avoiding the dreaded and unattractive waistband spill-over.

But, even after slimming down a few years ago, I'd never found a brand of tights that was not muffin-top inducing. (They all lived up to their name.) I love the look of tights and I like to wear skirts and dresses in cooler weather when bare legs are inappropriate, so I kept trying. I'd find a new brand, put them on in the morning, and head to the ladies room 10 minutes after arriving at work to de-tights. They were uncomfortable and made me feel both self-conscious and a little a nauseated. I tried buying larger sizes, but they were baggy in the legs and still too tight at the waist. I even tried snipping waistbands, but then I'd just have to tug at my tights all day as they slipped down.

Then I discovered Commando tights. They have a high, non-rolling waistband that actually looks like it's meant to go on a full-grown woman's body when you pull it out of the package. They are comfy and create a smooth line even under clingy dresses. The last few years I could only find them in black and brown (both footless and footed), so I was very exited to get a box of colored and patterned tights from ShopBop recently. Last week I wore a ribbed red pair with Foley + Corrina black velvet shorts purchased from a MYHABIT event, black Frye harness boots, and a favorite gray glen plaid jacket I got from the Gap a million years ago when they still made good stuff--it was very Angus Young meets Rachel Bilson.

If you are a tights fan, give Commando a try. You can find an array of colored opaque tights (red, purple, army green and more) plus sheerer styles including fishnet, polka dot and lace. They will transform your fall and winter wardrobe and you'll be doing your part to help us achieve a muffin-top free world. (Find varying Commando tights styles at ShopBop, HerRoom and Bare Necessities.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

For Your Fashion Library: 100 Unforgettable Dresses

SJP as Carrie Bradshaw in a billowing gown spread across the bed in her Paris hotel room. J. Lo's chiffon palm-print Grammy's dress with a V-neckline that plunged well below her belly button. The tight red number Julie Roberts as the-hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold wore to the opera with borrowed jewels. (If you're keeping score: Versace, Donatella Versace, Marilyn Vance-Straker.)

You know all these dresses--as well as the 97 others profiled in Hal Rubenstein's new book 100 UNFORGETTABLE DRESSES. And if you are a lover of fashion it's a must-have for your library--or coffee table. The book itself is beautiful to behold with with its embossed cover featuring a close-up of the bodice of a Jackie Kennedy dinner gown by Givenchy. (I was all set to buy this as an ebook and read it on my iPad, but it's only available in hardcover. Thanks the sartorial gods!)

The beautiful photos of the exquisite frocks in 100 UNFORGETTABLE DRESSES make my heart beat speed up a little. Each photo gets a page or so of accompanying text talking about when the dress was worn, the designer who created it, and why it made such an impact. The dresses featured span decades--Coco Chanel's LBD to Kate Middleton's McQueen wedding gown. (Princess Diana's is featured as well.) Plus there are special sections discussing the most memorable dresses of Grace Kelly, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cate Blanchett, Cher, and other fashion icons.

Black Friday is almost upon us, fellow shoppers. Material Girl recommends you add 100 UNFORGETTABLE DRESSES to your holiday I Want It list. (And look for more book recommendations on Material Girl in the near future.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weekend Shopping with Cheapy: Banana Republic

Cheapy is not a fan of shopping. He'd rather spend money on a bottle of scotch than a new clothes, and he's got little patience for The Mall. But every so often, he declares: I really need some shirts! And off we go.

He made a shirt declaration last weekend and I happened to know that Banana Republic was having a 40%-off-your-entire-purchase thing going on in their stores. (They email me. I keep up.)

We headed to Banana, but not the one at The Mall near our house. We like the other one better. (Nicer layout and they carry petites.) A trip to Banana is a great way to start a Saturday night date and makes me look forward to a New Outfit Monday.

Lately I've adored the offerings at Banana. Adored. I've scored a number of jackets, tops and sweaters as well as a few items from their Mad Man Collection (including the quick-to-sell-out leopard print trench which makes me happy every time I wear it). Their designers are really hitting my sweet spot these days (which I certainly can't say about the Gap--haven't even seen anything I want to try on there in years. The Gap sucks. There: I said it.)

If you hit the BR website today, you can get 30% off of full-priced items. (There are still a few hours left!)

Here are a few of my favorite recent Banana Republic acquisitions:

There's nothing a love more than a blazer that feels like a sweater. Looks good, feels good. That's a win and a win. This one is soft, comfortable, warm and vintagey.

You can never go wrong with a leopard cardigan. Or a leopard anything (says the woman with leopard luggage). (This is so cute. And I want this.)

I find this drapey top to be both flattering and versatile. It's great for layering with sweaters, vest and jackets and is a perfect companion to a statement necklace. 

This scarf is perfect. Light and drapey and ideal to wear at work at a chilly office. It also comes in a flattering shade of pink. (You can't have too many scarves. Even though I'm pretty sure I do.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

BirchBox: A Monthly Visitor You'll Look Forward To

Finding packages on my porch is always exciting, but, except on my birthday and around the holidays, I always know what's going to be in them. (I do most of my shopping online.)

So I was really happy to recently discover a delightful mystery-package-on-the-porch treat: BirchBox. You sign up on their site and for just $10 a month, you receive a beautifully packaged box of curated product samples. It's always a happy surprise. And every month I've discovered at least one product that I now love and/or can't live without.

Some recent favs include the best lip treatment ever from Jouer (I'm slightly obsessed), a fab blush by Laura Geller, and fun-and-easy peel off/press on nail polish appliqu├ęs (in glitter!) from Incoco.

If you like the samples, you can hit the BirchBox shop and buy the full-size product. They give you a reward point for every dollar you spend and 100 points = $10 in the store. Shipping is always free for the full-size samples from the monthly shipment (and free over $50). And, beside making great beauty product discoveries, you'll never have a shortage of sturdy boxes and pink tissue paper.

(You can like BirchBox on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.)