Saturday, October 25, 2008

What Would Joan Do?

A few weeks ago, Liz came over to help me sort through my closet. I laid my clothes on the bed--heaps of plaid skirts, a few 1950s suits, a pile of cashmere sweaters that didn't seem to go with anything--and Liz helped me decide what to keep and what to toss.

Early on, Liz put her finger on the perfect methodology for deciding how to put together outfits. We were drinking herbal tea and the dog was laying across the bed, his head on a periwinkle Braemar cashmere sweater. I modeled one of my dozen plaid skirts, and I couldn't quite bring myself to top it with a nipped-waist sweater. I was afraid that by wearing a sweater that emphasized my curves I'd just look fat. Liz looked at me and said, "What would Joan do?"

Liz was referring to Joan from the television show "Mad Men". Joan is a curvy, gorgeous woman who would as soon lay under a bus as wear something that didn't show her tiny waist and full hips and bust. She wears saturated colors that shouldn't complement her red hair and fair skin, but they do. A person could do a lot worse than dress like she does.

Now my closet is lighter three pairs of shoes ("too '90s"), half a dozen or so plaid skirts ("too dowdy" or "that shape doesn't do a thing for you"), and a 1940s grey skirt I had put in the give-away pile before Liz came was resurrected and matched with a handful of sweaters. And now I wear sweaters a little shorter and form-fitting with my skirts, and I don't even hide them under a cardigan. After all, Joan wouldn't do it.

Do you have someone whose style you particularly admire, who you sometimes model yourself after?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Back Away from those Sweat Pants...

It's getting cold out now, and for many people cooler weather means, yes, sweat pants. Don't do it. Cut them into rags to use for dusting and polishing those candlestick holders that you've meaning to polish for so long or give them to a kid on the track team or donate them to the Humane Society to use to line dog beds. But except for trips to and from the yoga studio, you'll be better off without sweat pants.

Some of you may be nodding in agreement, but others say, "What? What do you expect me to wear when I sit on the couch eating microwave popcorn and watching reruns of Entourage?" At the Xtabay, we're always at the ready with glamourous options.

Option number one: Dressing gown. There is little more wonderful than feeling a full-skirted 1940s dressing gown swishing around your legs as you jump up to the refrigerator to see if there's any milk for hot chocolate. When it's cold, pull on leggings underneath and wear a knit shrug. When the OSPIRG canvasser knocks on your door, you can bet he or she will put a couple of stars next to your name.

Option two: Lounging pajamas. Preferably leopard or Chinese silk. You know what is really comfortable with lounging pajamas? Men's calfskin slippers. The pajamas are easy to layer with cardigans or wear with thick, cashmere--or, heck, even rag wool--socks.

Option three: Caftan. Oh, I know you're thinking of Elizabeth Taylor in her zaftig years, but a caftan can be really sexy and supremely comfortable, especially if it shows a little cleavage. An African dashiki or a Mexican caftan works well, too, if it suits your style. Just keep it on a hook on the back of your bedroom door, and you can toss it on when you strip off those constraining work clothes.

I know there are plenty of other non-sweat pants options for leisure time, and I'd love to hear them!