February Q&A

Greetings and salutations on this fine Tuesday! Last month’s Q&A was so popular, I decided to make it a monthly feature.

I asked for questions a few times over the past week or two, and I compiled them all into this post. It’s a long one… grab another cup of coffee and sit for awhile!

Fashion Questions

Q // When you wear booties with bare ankles in winter, do you wear a short sock that doesn’t show or are you barefoot?

A // Nope. I pretty much just go barefoot. I’ve never found a no-show sock that doesn’t slide down.

Q // I think that colored slacks/jeans are so cute, especially for spring. However, when you have extra ‘junk in the trunk’ how can I ensure that they are flattering?

A // Fit is key — make sure you’re wearing a style of pant that is flattering to your body type, and always check your rear view for pocket placement. Take pictures and compare, and you’ll start to see which ones look better on you.

Also, be sure to try them on with the shoes and top you will wear with them, and take a picture that way. It can make a big difference…

I thought these pants were super cute from the front, but I don’t love how wide apart the pocket are placed. I’m still trying to decide if they’re okay or if I should wait for a better pair.

Q // I have a pair of mustard yellow colored cotton pants.  I like wearing them spring through fall but have trouble with shoe color. What color shoe should I wear with them?

A // I think you can wear them with most everything — white sneakers, grey sneakers or flats, navy looks good with mustard too. I put together this Nordstrom Look as an example…

Q // You commented in a recent post that AG jeans (or at least a pair you just purchased) are the perfect fabric content to you – 98% cotton and 2% elastane [something stretchy].  Can you explain what different fabrics do or don’t do and whether there are particular fabrics you avoid?

A // Sure! So traditionally, all denim was 100% cotton — basically the original stiff Levi’s that are suddenly popular again, although now we call them vintage. #gofigure

As jeans have evolved, and people wanted more comfort, they’ve added more stretchy stuff. Supposedly, jeans with more stretchy stuff has better shape retention, but I do not find that to be true. It really depends on the jeans, and it usually comes back to price and quality (as do most things.)

I have some of both — my new Rag & Bones are very stretchy, and more legging-like. Their fabric content is 50% modal/41.5% cotton/6% polyester/2.5% elastane. So they’re 50% rayon, basically, and then they have a good bit of cotton, and finally poly and stretchy stuff. They have a more legging-like fit, which is comfortable, but may be more body-con than some people prefer.

My AG Farrahs have 98% cotton/2% elastane. They are still a legging fit, meaning they’re cut very slim through the leg, but they aren’t quite as form-fitting as the Rag & Bone, due to the stiffer fabric with less stretch. They have a way of molding to my body without fitting like a second skin. They’re my personal favorites.

They may look the same in pictures, but they feel very different, and I do think you can see the difference in real life.

Neither is better or worse, they’re just different. Some people prefer more stretch, and some less.

Q // You will likely think I’m totally nuts, but my resolution for 2020 is to not buy any new clothes unless absolutely necessary. Every time I clean out my closet, I find items with tags still on or old favorites that some how got shoved to the back and ignored. I have plenty of clothes. I don’t NEED anymore. So I am resolving to make do with what I have.

So my question or maybe it’s a suggestion for a blog post is to show us how to style what we probably already have in our closets. I know most people like to see new merchandise they can buy, but maybe just focus on items that have been “on trend” for at least a couple seasons so we’re likely to already have something similar we can build an outfit around. 

A // I don’t think you’re nuts. You clearly have a lot of clothes you’re not wearing, and I think a lot of women can probably relate.

I’ll start with your last point, requesting blog posts to show how to style what we already have in our closets. This is exactly what I’m doing when I post my daily outfits every other week. My 5 ways to wear posts are also full of outfit formulas you can use to shop your closet and come up with new looks without buying more new stuff.

As far as not shopping goes, I think it’s smart to take a break from shopping and try to wear what you already have in your closet, but if you have a lot of things in your closet that have been forgotten or ignored, it might be time for a good old-fashioned closet purge.

Getting rid of the things you don’t love and aren’t wearing will give you a whole new lease on life! My post on How to Purge Your Closet and Love Your Wardrobe Again is a good place to start.

How to Purge Your Closet and Love Your Wardrobe Again

Finally, I’d caution you not to be so strict about not shopping that you miss the opportunity to add an item here or there that will help you get more wear out of what you do have. There are times when we need to fill a hole in our closet or update a wardrobe basic that is worn out or out of date, and that’s okay too. I hope that helps!

Q // You don’t often mention wearing rings. With wedding rings on my left hand, can you wear something else on that hand? What kind of statement rings would work on the right hand? Which finger(s)? How many are too many? How do you coordinate with other jewelry?

A // This is more a matter of personal style than right or wrong. Some women  wear multiple rings on each hand, but I’m a bit of a plain Jane, and I just wear my wedding rings on my left hand.

I have several David Yurman rings my husband has gifted me over the years, and I usually wear one of those on my right hand — either on my ring finger or my middle finger. I don’t worry about coordinating them with my other jewelry.

Q // I was wondering if you have suggestions for someone who prefers to wear slacks rather than dresses to a First Communion or Baptism.

A // Sure! I would go for white or off-white to keep them lighter and more spring-like. White House Black Market has a lot of nice things — like these pants with a top like this or this.

Q // I have been looking for a long or tall denim jacket for a long time for a long torso. Regular denim jackets are short for my body. I have searched but most tall sizes are still the same length, if that makes sense. Do you have any suggestions?

A // Since I’m not tall, I asked in my Facebook Group for suggestions. If you’re on Facebook, I hope you’ll join us!

This GAP Icon Jacket was mentioned, and it comes in tall. Old Navy was also mentioned, as they also make tall sizes.

Several people mentioned Chicos, and theirs is 24″. For comparison’s sake, my Vince Camuto denim jacket is 23″, and my Kut from the Kloth is 22″.

This one from Madewell is 26″ but it’s an oversized fit. And finally, someone suggested Eileen Fisher — this is definitely longer, but I’m not sure it’s the fit you want.

Q // Let’s say you’re going back to work this spring, in a conservative environment, after 12 years home with kids. Given your focus on quality over quantity, what pieces would be at the top of your list for a new work wardrobe?

A // I’d definitely start with the quintessential black pants and blazer — number one and two on everyone’s list of wardrobe essentials. And if you like a good white button-down, I’d invest in one of those too. (I don’t wear the traditional style, but I might go for something like this.)

Maybe a classic sheath or wrap dress — whatever style you feel most comfortable in, and of course some good quality pumps or other work-appropriate shoe. Then beyond that, some pretty blouses or sweaters and maybe a pair of navy or grey pants. That would give you a good foundation.

Q // I’m meeting a brother in April that I didn’t know I had (such a total shock!) and I’m already thinking about what to wear (hope that doesn’t make me shallow). Anyway, I’m pretty sure it will be just day-to-day visiting so I expect it will be casual, with maybe one or two dinners out.

A // Wow, that is exciting! I know it probably sounds like a copout, but I would just dress as you normally do on a day-to-day basis. Or if you want to dress up a bit more, wear something you’d wear out to eat. I’d wear my favorite jeans and sweater and boots. Done!

FYI, I do not think you’re being shallow — not at all. Pick something you love to wear and feel really good in, and then focus on getting to know him!

Q // I would love to see a post on all of the coats and jackets you wear each winter.  I have a few coats and jackets but it feels like I never have the right color or style or weight for the given situation.  Maybe I just need more?

A // Funny you should mention this, I actually think I need more coats. (I hope my husband isn’t reading this… he would beg to differ, I’m sure.)

My coat tends to be more or less an afterthought, but one thing I’ve noticed about fashion bloggers with more sophisticated style is they usually incorporate a coat into their outfits. (And, of course, they have a variety of coats to choose from.)

If you live in an area with a real winter, you probably want to have at least one of each the following:

  1. a casual quilted jacket
  2. a heavy puffer coat
  3. a wool dress coat
  4. a casual rain coat
  5. a classic trench

That’s a good starting point, but then if there’s one particular style that you wear often, you may want to add another in a different color to change it up sometimes.

I wear my casual quilted jacket or heavy puffer coat about 80% of the time. If it’s mild out but wet, I will go for the casual rain coat.

Then I usually wear my grey wool cocoon coat (shown above) or my grey trench when I want something dressier. I also have a red peacoat, but I haven’t worn it much in the past few years. I kind of forget about it.

I’d like to add camel and black wool dress coats to my closet, and I wouldn’t mind having a tan trench. (I’m kind of over the grey that I have.) I was also wanting to add a light colored (ivory) puffer to my closet this year. I showed a few on the blog, and ordered a couple more to try, but I didn’t end up keeping any of them.

Your coat wardrobe definitely depends on your lifestyle and personal style aesthetic, but this is what works for me.

Q // At age 50, I’m still trying to understand the front tuck and whether I should be leaving the house with this look. I know it plays into the rule of thirds, but what does this say about the view from the back? Does the rule only apply to the front? Is that a stupid question lol?

A // There are no stupid questions… she says in her best teacher’s voice.

But seriously, I get it. The front tuck is awkward.

There are two reasons for it — 1) it changes the proportions of an outfit by shortening the top, and visually lengthening the bottom, and 2) it can help create the illusion of a waist.

I feel like #2 works best for women who are smaller on top. It can actually create visual bulk on those of us who are more well-endowed in the chest area, but it still helps the proportions of an outfit, so sometimes I do it. It works best with materials that have a nice drape.

And it really is all about the way it looks from the front– not the back. Which is another reason I don’t like it. I think it looks awkward from the sides and back. But… sometimes it is necessary, unless you stick with tops that are the right length from the get-go.

Beauty Questions

Q // Round brush you use when blow drying? I got the Dyson and like but don’t love it. Thinking I need the right brush.

A // Yes, I usually style my hair when I dry it, and that’s when I can really tell the difference between the Dyson and the other hair dryers I’ve used.

I’ve been using the Bio Ionic round brushes for years. I purchased my first one from a hair stylist, who highly recommended it. They last a long time, but I have needed to replace mine a couple times over the years, and I just order on Amazon. I like the Large size.

Dyson Hair Dryer

As far as styling, I’ve watched my hairdressers over the years, and sometimes I ask questions, and I’ve gotten pretty good about styling my hair with a big round brush. I posted this tutorial many years ago, and I still use pretty much the same technique.

Q // I have a question about skincare. Are you still using Beautycounter or do you use Colleen Rothschild. I have the CR cleansing balm and love it! I noticed that she has some things on sale and was wondering if you recommended any of them. Or do you recommend Beautycounter? I have used some of the BC products but I’m on the fence about them. What do you think?

A // I use a mix of things, and right now I’m not using Beautycounter or Colleen Rothschild, although I think both are good products. I’m currently using the Elemis cleansing balm; it seems to get my skin a little cleaner than the CR, although both smell and feel wonderful.

elemis cleansing balm

Q I’d like to know how it’s going with the microblading. Are you still happy that you went with this process? Has it been difficult to care for during the healing process? What about going out in public – scabbing, peeling, etc – too obvious or shocking? 

A // I am thrilled so far. One eyebrow definitely needs some touching up, and it’s driving me batty waiting for my 6-week followup to have her fill it out more, but in general, I’m very pleased. It is such a relief not to have to recreate eyebrows every morning!

Here’s a before/after for anyone who missed it before…

The healing process is a bit of a pain, but they never looked terrible. (I never was worried about going out in public.) I just had to not clean them for 2 weeks, and my skin got kind of cruddy around that area.

I didn’t have any big scabs or anything, so I’m not sure why some do. I think it’s probably because she kept mine thinner than most? I really don’t know. I expected it to be a lot worse than it was. Now that I can wash my face and hair normally, they’re no big deal at all.

The worst part is waiting the six weeks for my follow-up visit, so she can fill in the areas that need it. I can’t wait to see the finished result!

Home Organization

Q // I’d be interested in ideas on how you organize and store your jewelry. 

A // I keep most of my jewelry out on my dresser. My long necklaces hang on this wall-mounted jewelry organizer beside my dresser, and the shorter ones are on a necklace stand on my dresser.

I have a bracelet stand and an earring holder sitting on my dresser too. I prefer to be able to see what I have, but I do keep my nicer sterling pieces in their bags in a drawer.

Q // I am always gaining and losing 5-10 pounds. Right now I’m down, at my ideal weight. When you lose enough that your clothes no longer look good on you, what do you do? 

A // I put them away and label them — usually in the basement with out of season clothes.

Recently, I’ve lost some weight, and I just stashed my bigger jeans in a dresser drawer (I don’t use my dresser for current clothing — it’s mostly out of season stuff or overflow basics that I don’t wear a lot.) If I don’t need them within the next few weeks, they’ll go downstairs when I switch out winter and spring clothes.

Now that I’ve discovered Intermittent Fasting, I’m hopeful that I won’t need them again, but since they are recent purchases and more pricey pieces, I will hold onto them for a while.

Q // My question is how do your keep your clothing and shoes in meticulous shape? I find that wearing new shoes/boots just a few times makes them look worn and shabby even though I put all of the stuffing back after each wear and put them back into their boxes.

And, blazers and sweaters tend to pill under the armpits, which makes me want to donate them after a month or two! I hang most of my clothes to dry, except jeans because I like them to fit snugly. Only polyester seems to hold up after multiple wears and washes, but a wardrobe should have only so much polyester. lol!

A // Due to the nature of my job, I don’t keep many of my clothes a long time, so I may be the wrong person to ask, but I guess I do have some shoes and nicer sweaters I’ve kept year after year, and they still look pretty good.

I don’t think I’m very rough on things, but I’m also not precious about them. I don’t always put my shoes away right away, for instance. Sometimes they get kicked around the house for a bit before I put them away.

I really think it’s a quality issue most of the time. Better quality items hold up better, in general. This is where investing in quality over quantity comes into play once again.

Family/Personal/Misc. Questions

Q // I have a question about your IF journey related to the insomnia you mentioned a few weeks ago. Has that gotten any better? 

A // It is finally getting better… I’m trying to give my body time to adjust to IF. I think it should actually provide better sleep once I am fat adapted and really living the IF lifestyle. I listen to a lot of Gin’s podcasts, and people seem to feel like everything gets better, but it takes some time.

Q // My oldest will be going to college next year (sigh…) Now that your son has been away for a bit, how have your family dynamics changed? Is there something that you would have done while he was still home? How often do you see him? I’m trying to prepare myself.

A // Oh, mama! It’s hard. And our situation was complicated by us moving at the same time. I wish I’d communicated better with my son about that whole process.

I was so distracted and consumed with the decision making and then the actual moving process that I didn’t realize how hard it was on him until it was too late. I assumed he knew more than he did, and when I finally realized how hard it was on him and tried to talk about it, he shut down.

I will probably never know what was going on in his head at the time, and I think that is probably the hardest thing about letting them grow up — we aren’t privy to their thoughts and feelings anymore.

Now that all is said and done, and we are all adjusted, things are good. Because my son stayed close, we see him a couple times a month, which is really nice. You get used to the coming and going, and soon it’s just the new normal.

As far as advice, I guess all I have for you is make the most of the time you have, try to keep communication lines open.

Also, give them the opportunity to be as independent as they can be — especially once they’re off to college. Don’t do things for them that they can do themselves. Our kids are so coddled these days, the best thing we can do is give them space to grow and try new things, and yes, even fail.

Q // Have you read anything lately that you particularly enjoyed? I know that you have mentioned some books in the past.

A // I’ve been totally engrossed in The Obesity Code lately. My last novel I enjoyed was Eden. It’s a nice, light beach read.

Q // You often talk about eating real food, etc. But I’d really love to know what you actually eat (and don’t eat) — like, what does a typical day look like?

A // This seems like a good question to end on!

This answer gets really long, so if you don’t care, you can shut it down now, and you won’t miss anything.

I don’t know why, but I tend to forget that not everyone has been reading my blog for the past 10 years. You may not even know that I have oodles of posts in my Health & Wellness archives about my health journey and what I learned about real food over the years.

If you want a recap of my personal story, this post about my health journey and this one both sum it up. For more information, you can check out my good health category, and if you’re really interested, and this post kind of summarizes what to eat.


Fast forward to today…

Most of you know this, but in case you missed it, I recently started practicing Intermittent Fasting for weight-loss reasons as well as the health benefits.

As far as what I eat, I’ve gotten lax about my commitment to real food because my job has become a lot more demanding in the past 5 years or so. I don’t make as much from scratch, and having teenagers who can drive themselves to the grocery store means a lot more crap enters my house than I would like, but I personally avoid most processed foods.

The processed foods that I do buy are usually from the organic/natural section. I realize they still have very little nutritional value, but I’m hoping they don’t have as many chemicals and harmful ingredients as the rest.

I don’t touch soda. Ever. I never bought into the artificial sugars; I always thought they were killing us, so I always drank real Coke… but lots of it. I gave that up about 10 years ago, and I think that is probably the single best thing I’ve ever done for my health.

I always buy full-fat dairy products, and I try to buy our meat/eggs/vegetables from local and organic sources when possible, but I’m not legalistic about that.

For dinner, I cook meat/potato/vegetable kind of meals most of the time, and sometimes we have soup or tacos or a casserole. I just ordered this cookbook to try to get some new meals into our rotation. We go out to eat or have pizza takeout once or twice a week.

Lunch is usually some type of tuna salad or green salad with chicken on it. If I’m out and about, I love the Kale Caesar salads from SweetGreen, but I do indulge in Shake Shack at times… with water to drink.

For breakfast, eggs are my go-to. Even now, with IF, I try to break my fast with eggs or tuna or some healthy protein. I drink black coffee and water until it’s time to break my fast.

For the past year or so, I got into a bad habit of grabbing a sugary breakfast bar (organic and gluten-free, as if…) because I thought I was too busy to make eggs. That’s one reason I started IF. I figured, if I’m going to eat crap, I may as well not eat. (Turns out, that assumption was 100% supported by science, so yay for that!)

I don’t keep any cereal bars in the house anymore.

I snack on popcorn (it’s an organic brand called Acadia that I get at my local whole foods market — not Whole Foods, it’s a local chain where I do 80% of our grocery shopping) or potato chips (my downfall — I usually buy the Kettle brand.) I love a charcuterie (cheese and meats) board, but I definitely pack on the pounds when I allow myself to indulge in that very often. I like nuts, but they make my throat itch… I am probably mildly allergic, so I usually steer clear.

With IF, I don’t do much snacking, but I usually nibble on something while I’m cooking dinner.

I do drink wine, and dessert is a piece of chocolate or a single cookie (usually the Back to Nature brand.) Then I close my eating window for the day. I never eat after dinner anymore.

And that’s basically it! This post is over 4000 words, so I think I better stop here.

I’m always happy to answer more questions in the comments.

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