Anatomy of an Outfit- Skirt Challenge

This past Sunday, I had in mind that I wanted to wear a specific skirt. So I took it out of the drawer. But then my mind went blank and I couldn’t think of what tops to wear with it. For a minute or two, I considered putting that skirt back and taking out a different one. But then I remembered that this is the kind of challenge that I love. So I went with that and then I came up with some ideas. Here’s how it worked…

Skirt- Medium-wash denim, A-line. Denim blue is a secondary neutral and it goes with just about everything. Maybe it was the myriad choices that left my mind a little overwhelmed. 

Shell- teal blue fitted t-shirt. Teal is my best blue and these tees work great both on their own or as layering pieces. 

Pullover top- Light aqua, deep V-neck. Normally, the waist of this top is more fitted but I think the extra cinch made it balloon out a bit. 

Button-down- Bright teal. Button-down shirts are so versatile. They work on their own, as an underlayer, or as an overtop. I can wear them buttoned or tied. 

It was a very cold day so three tops gave me good layering against the cold and they were much more flattering than one or two bulky tops. 

Wrap- Mix of solid scarf plus print, turquoise in both. These coordinated with the mix of blues in my tops. 

Earrings- Yellow and orange millefiori cluster drop earrings. Here was the perfect pop of contrast. Orange sits opposite blue on the color wheel and the two colors look great together. 

Dear readers, did you ever have an outfit challenge? How did you handle it?

Anatomy of an Outfit- Podcast

In my last blog post, I mentioned that different colors can have different effects on different people. According to the fashion guru from whom I learned that, colors from the red/pink/peach/orange family show passion and enthusiasm. Just the other day, I needed to show that but in a restrained way. I appeared on a podcast with my friend, Miriam Glick Yager, to discuss the concept of erasing women in the Jewish world. We both agree that it’s wrong and that we Jews need to do something about it. As my readers know, I’m very passionate about that subject and so that had to show in my appearance. Here’s how I did it. 

Skirt- fitted, navy, red seaming. My skirt wasn’t seen but it was still there and since it flatters me, it made me feel good and gave me a great base.

Shirt- dark brown, fitted, button-down. Dark brown is my best neutral for when I don’t want to look TOO dramatic- it goes with everything but the color is softer. The structure made me feel more authoritative. 

Shell- dark coral. This color makes me appear rosy and healthy and it showed my passion and enthusiasm but as a shell, it was reined in by the shirt and top so that it wasn’t overwhelming. 

Wrap- Two watercolor-print scarves, one in brown with green and orange and the other with pumpkin and plum. As a repeat of the colors of my tops, this wrap coordinated nicely. 

Earrings- light, bright green drop earrings. These added a nice pop next to the browns and corals and kept attention near my face. 

Dear readers, what colors show your passion and enthusiasm?

Color Your Mood

I’ve learned a lot of terrific things from fashion gurus. One of those was that different colors can have different effects on different people. It’s not just about flattery but about mood. Different colors, even as they flatter the wearer, can make her look authoritative and perfect for a job interview or relaxed and perfect for a casual gathering or festive and perfect for a formal event. 

Here are a couple of examples.

This scarf has a lot of red and purple and the print is very colorful and high-contrast. On me, it has a festive feel. Plus, the wrap style of “turban wrap with tail” is great for weekdays when I just want to feel a little more dressed-up while the wrap style of “marrakesh turban” is dressy and formal and great for Shabbat, holidays, and special events. 

This scarf has the same print but it has a lot of browns and softer blues and the print has a lower contrast level. On me, it has a more rustic and more casual feel. I can dress it up in a “marrakesh turban” and make it look right for a more casual event or dress it down in a “turban wrap with tail” and wear it for work and regular days to feel relaxed. 

Here’s another example.

I wore this look a few years ago when I had a “day into evening” situation. I used a black shell and black skirt as the base. For the morning event which was more dressy-casual, I wore an olive green cardigan and olive mitpachat. Olive green is my best green and it makes me look relaxed while still having a presence. For the afternoon and evening events which were more dressy, I changed into a teal cardigan and teal mitpachat. Teal is my best blue and it makes me look dramatic and dressy so it works for more formal events. 

Dear readers, what effects do your colors have on you?

Head Wraps Plus Neck Wraps

Recently, someone on social media asked about how to wear both a head scarf and a neck scarf without it looking bulky. It’s an excellent question and I decided to demonstrate here how I do it. 

My first rule: no bulky neck scarf. 

No matter what kind of head wrap I wear, whether it’s lighter-weight, heavier-weight, or layered, the scarf around my neck needs to be lightweight and either narrow or easily foldable. The pashmina I’m wearing around my neck here is just too much. 

My second rule: wear a head wrap with no tails.

When there are tails hanging down, it bulks up around the neck scarf and I lose my neck.

There is one exception. If I wear an Israeli scarf in a Yerushalmi Twist wrap, the tails are hanging in the back so they don’t add bulk in front. 

My third rule: drape the neck scarf in ways that leave the neck open.

If I wear a scarf wrapped too snugly around my neck, not only do I find it uncomfortable, but it’s not flattering. I’m left with no neck and, at certain angles, I’m left with extra flesh at my jawline. 

Notice that when I wear a simple wrap with no tails, whether it’s a pashmina or a lighter scarf, plus a lightweight scarf draped in a way that keeps my neck open, I get the look of head wrap plus neck wrap with no extra bulk. 

It’s always a good idea to keep the overall look smooth- it makes every woman appear healthy.


Anatomy of an Outfit- More Breaking the Rules

Even when I was a teenager, I had started breaking fashion rules little by little. As an adult, I began doing it more and more. And I’ve found that I love the results.

                Here are two outfits that are similar but have me breaking more rules. The first was a birthday outfit and the second was a regular workday outfit.

This was my birthday outfit
This is a regular workday outfit similar to the birthday outfit.

                Old rule: green doesn’t go with blue/navy. Yeah, right. As my readers and followers know by now, green with blue/navy is my favorite color combination. It’s just a matter of getting the green right. Rich olive green is always right on me.

                Old rule: classic neutrals must not be worn together in the same outfit because they don’t match. Yeah, right. In the first outfit, I’m wearing a base of black shell with navy skirt. In the second outfit, I’m wearing a base of dark brown t-shirt with the same navy skirt. The mix of dark neutrals actually looks rich and sophisticated and makes my body appear longer and leaner.   

Print scarf with sari sash
Print scarf with textured oblong as sash

                Old rule: prints and textures must not be mixed. Yeah, right. In the left outfit, I’m wearing a print scarf with a sari scarf. The sari scarf is a mix of small prints that comes off texture-y and mixes nicely with the print scarf. In the right outfit, I’m wearing a print scarf with a textured oblong and that too mixes nicely.

                Old rule: jewelry pieces must match the outfit. Yeah, right. If they match too closely, they don’t stand out and set off the outfit. If I wanted a look of a base outfit with subtle bling, then matching jewelry would work, but I want my jewelry to stand out.

Pink contrasts nicely with green.
This lopsided rainbow necklace is so much fun.

                Old rule: jewelry pieces must match each other. Yeah, right. It’s always a good idea to just go for one showstopper piece and keep everything else neutral. In both of these outfits, I wore fun necklaces and I love how they look.

                Dear readers, what rules do you like to break?

Breaking the Rules

There used to be a lot of rules in the world of fashion and style and to violate them was a faux pas that would leave you sticking out like a sore thumb. I’m grateful that most of those old rules have died because all they did was limit our wardrobe choices. However, there are still people who insist that those rules do stand. This means that I get to have extra fun showing how I and other women can break the rules and look great doing it.

To be sure, I do think that some rules are still valid. I do believe that revealing too much comes off cheap and gimmicky and it distracts too much from the personality. I also believe that if an item or outfit doesn’t fit and flatter you, then it too distracts too much from the personality. But the rules that need breaking are the ones that don’t make you look better.

Here are two outfits that break a few rules and I love both.

Old rule: green and blue don’t look good together. INCORRECT. In the first outfit, I’m wearing olive green with navy. Navy is a classic neutral which goes with EVERY other color, including green. In the second outfit, I’m wearing mint green with light blue. Green and blue sit next to each other on the color wheel so they go together just fine. If the color combo doesn’t appeal to you, it’s fine to not wear it, but that doesn’t make it a faux pas.

Old rule: no mixing prints with other prints or with textures. I admit that mixing prints is sometimes a bit tricky- we don’t want to look overdone. But it can be done. And mixing a print with a texture is slightly easier and leaves everyone just a bit more comfortable. With coordinated colors, the mixes work.

Old rule: jewelry pieces must match each other. Matching jewelry worn together can come off very old-fashioned. A much better way to go is with one showstopper piece and keeping any other pieces small but coordinated. Here, none of my jewelry pieces match but the showstoppers are all I need.

Old rule: jewelry pieces much match the outfit. I used to say that this was a total no-no but now I agree that it’s an option. If you want your outfit to appear subtly ornate, then matching jewelry is fine. But if you want your jewelry to add a pop of color and set off an outfit, then it must be visible next to the outfit and not disappear into it and that means it must not match.

Dear readers, are there any rules that you like to break?

Mixing Prints and Textures

I admit that for a long time, I was not comfortable mixing two prints in the same outfit. While I do mix prints sometimes and love it, I do still get a little nervous about it. But I find that mixing a print item with a textured item is a little closer to my comfort zone. While I do believe that every woman, myself included, does need to step outside of her comfort zone at least sometimes, I agree that at least some of those steps need to be baby steps. Mixing prints with textures is a great smaller step.

Here I am doing exactly that in a bunch of recent outfits that I love.

This first one starts with a neutral brown button-down shirt. I added a brown scarf with a texture-y animal print and then added the textured oblong as a sash. Neither one is seriously dramatic so they don’t compete with each other. The oblong added a smidge of color too. All I needed was a bigger pop of color and I used my lime green earrings for that.

This second one features a neutral shell, neutral skirt, and purple overtop with texture-y print. This time, I added a solid dark purple scarf and then added a dark purple textured oblong as a sash. The print top is a bit more dramatic but it’s a bit further away from the textured oblong so there’s no competition. And my aqua earrings added just enough pop.

This third one has me in very spring-y colors. This time, I was wearing a dramatic print skirt paired with a solid peach button-down shirt. I could’ve worn a subtle print scarf with this one because it would’ve been far enough away to not compete but I felt more like going for texture again so I used a solid peach scarf as a base and then added a textured oblong in burnt orange. Orange actually looks wonderful with pink/peach and the texture here is just fun. And my blue earrings contrasted with the peaches and oranges while bringing out the blue in the print of the skirt.

This fourth one has me in dark reds. I cannot wear straight-up red because it’s too strong and it wears me but these dark reds are great. The print in the button-down shirt is not too dramatic. I added a solid burgundy scarf along with a textured oblong. This oblong has a black base (just like the skirt I’m wearing here) but it has a lot of red in it so it coordinates nicely. And my light turquoise earrings and bracelet added the perfect pop and contrast to the red.

Dear readers, it’s OK to take baby steps out of your comfort zone as long as you do take those steps.

Skin Care, Makeup, and the Mask

I admit that I do not like wearing a mask. It’s uncomfortable. It frequently fogs up my glasses. It’s warm underneath and it makes my face perspire. I’ll wear it as long as my doctors tell me that I need to wear it but I don’t have to like it.

August 17- Eye makeup with mask

However, it doesn’t stop me from taking care of myself underneath it. In fact, one of my coping mechanisms is my daily skin care and grooming. And just recently, I started wearing eye makeup again. I haven’t worn any makeup at all in a few months but I started wearing it again and I like it. Eye makeup is my favorite makeup. My eyes are my best feature and I love playing them up. I don’t like my complexion- it’s scarred and blotchy- and one of the advantages of the mask is that I don’t need to wear face makeup. I do miss lipstick and lip gloss sometimes but I don’t miss face makeup.

Here’s what I do.

In the morning, I brush my teeth, wash my face, apply lip balm with SPF, and apply light moisturizer with SPF.

After I’m dressed, I apply makeup. I always do eye makeup first anyway and I always do liner first. Sometimes I use a dark brown pencil and then layer it with powder shadow. The shadow both intensifies the line and sets the pencil. Other times, I use only powder shadow with a small brush. I love brown and subtle metallics like copper but I also love green- it makes my hazel eyes really pop. I NEVER line the inner rims of my eyes- I don’t want to risk an infection and my eyes are a little more prone than most. I rarely go beyond liner on regular days. For special days, I like to add shadow in the crease and a little highlighter under my brow.

August 17- liner and shadow

I always try to keep my brows groomed. I think that some women look better with thicker brows while others look better with thinner brows (it really depends on the individual woman’s face and features) but I don’t think any woman really looks her best when her brows are messy. I brush and trim the brow hairs and then tweeze as necessary.

In the evening, I remove all makeup. Sleeping in eye makeup is a setup for eye infections and I can’t risk that. Before bedtime, I brush my teeth, wash my face, apply Blistex lip ointment, and apply eye cream. In the winter, I also apply a nighttime moisturizer every night. In the summer, I only apply it after exfoliation. Twice a week, I scrub my face with white granulated sugar to exfoliate. Once a week, I use a dermaplaning blade. Even as an adult, I do get the occasional zit (no, it’s not “maskne.” I’ve had this for years) so after lip ointment, I add an acne treatment on any zits.

Dear readers, don’t forget the power of basic hygiene and grooming to make you feel good and help you cope with anything.

Anatomy of an Outfit- Neutrals Plus Pops of Color

Many fashion gurus teach that it’s best to use neutrals for the base of a wardrobe and then add color with underpinnings and accessories. I will not rule out color for base pieces but I do agree that using neutrals for the base and then adding pops of color is a great way to go. Neutrals go with everything so it’s easy to make a few base pieces into a whole bunch of different outfits just by changing the accessories.

Here are two neutral base outfits with pops of color. Both of these were for different Shabbatot.

This first one is lighter neutrals.

Skirt- Tan, A-line, fitted. This skirt has some diagonal seaming and flaring in the hem. It feels very feminine and I love that.

Shirt- Soft white, fitted, button-down. Button-down shirts are amazing. When they fit properly, they flatter everyone and add some nice structure. They’re perfect when you want structure without having to wear a blazer or other jacket. It also coordinates nicely with the tan skirt so that there isn’t too much contrast.

Wrap- Soft white with an autumn-colored flower and leaf print, wrapped in a simple chignon wrap. This was the inspiration for this outfit. I had just purchased this scarf and I wanted very badly to wear it so it chose the outfit. I love the pops of color in the scarf itself.

Earrings- I usually prefer earrings with a button-down shirt because necklaces might compete or get in the way of the buttons. These feature light turquoise beads that contrast nicely with the orange of the print and pop against the whites of the scarf and top.

This second outfit is darker neutrals.

Skirt- Black, A-line, fitted. This skirt has a handkerchief hem on the bottom and that too feels very feminine.

Top- Basic, black, fitted. This blends so well with the black skirt that they could be easily mistaken for a dress. Any dark top would work here but I wanted black this time.

Wrap- Bright green solid scarf layered with a green print scarf in a Waterfall Twist wrap. I specifically wanted the tail effect and this style gives that in a very dramatic way. These greens are great on me for a more dramatic look.

Necklace- Off-white and soft white pearls and other beads in a two-strand necklace with tassle pendants. Off-white and soft-white give great contrast to the black without competing with the bright greens of the wrap.

Dear readers, don’t be afraid to use your neutrals and try them with everything. You’ll get a ton of “new” outfits without spending any money.

Anatomy of an Outfit- Black and White Print Top

I used to be scared of prints because I thought that they weren’t versatile and would limit me in what I could do with them. But here’s how a classic black and white print can work when you play around with it. The shirt is fitted with ¾ sleeves that really flatter my arms.

Both of these outfits were worn on Shabbat. The first outfit was in the spring when it was cooler.

Skirt- Basic black, straight. This skirt works with any dark top.

Shell- teal blue. This adds a pop near my face. It’s also a dramatic color for me which makes the outfit special.

Wrap- I used two solid scarves plus a multi-colored sari scarf to create this “Fountain of Joy” wrap. The colors are mostly blue but the sari has other brights mixed in for a fun effect.

Earrings- Goldtone with dark red crystal beads. The red adds a nice contrast to the blue and picks up the red and pink in the sari’s prints.

The second outfit was in the summer so I wore the top all by itself.

Skirt- another basic black skirt, this time in a lighter weight.

Wrap- Solid olive green scarf plus a “jungle mix” sari. This sari is black with a lot of olive green, gold, and maroon in the prints. This wrap style is easy but still gives a dramatic effect.

Earrings- pink and peach contrast nicely with green so I used my “For Our Kedoshim” earrings.

Dear readers, always play around and experiment. You will likely be pleasantly surprised at how many great outfits you can get even with prints.