Anatomy of an Outfit- Two Layered Looks for Winter

As I write this, my neighborhood is just starting to come up out of a deep freeze. We had three days of below-freezing temperatures. I don’t like this at all. I usually start to feel chilly when the temperatures go below 70F. So I start layering my clothes for warmth. And when it gets really cold, I put on 3 lightweight layers. They keep me (and everyone else) warmer than 1 heavy layer. Plus, three lightweight layers are just less bulky and more flattering than 1 heavy layer. 

I still don’t like winter freezes and I don’t like having to bundle up in all those layers. I feel like an onion. However, I do like layering in general because I get to play around with different color combinations. Here, playing around with colors allows me to have fun and feel just a little bit better about winter cold.  

This first outfit was for Shabbat. 

Skirt- Navy, wool, straight. The heavy wool fabric and lining made me feel a little warmer.

Shell- Medium purple T-shirt with jewel neck and ¾ sleeves. I like wearing this by itself in summer because it’s lightweight. Here, it layers nicely and adds a good pop of color.

Shirt- Bright teal button-down. I love this for layering for whenever I need to look extra-nice. Here, it pops next to the purple of the shell.

Overtop- Navy button-down. This blends with the skirt to give me one long line. Since this is lightweight, like the teal shirt, it layers well and doesn’t make me look bulky. 

Wrap- I needed warmth on my head too so I layered three scarves. I used a teal and purple watercolor scarf in a basic turban, a basic dark turquoise scarf in another basic turban, and a teal Israeli scarf in a Yerushalmi twist. The three lightweight scarves kept me warm and didn’t look bulky. 

Jewelry- My off-white drop earrings and off-white Noemi bracelet added just the right touch of fun and contrast. 

This second outfit was from Sunday.

Skirt- Dark denim, very fitted. I love the way this skirt makes me appear curvier than I am. 

Shell- Basic black T-shirt. I can wear this by itself in summer but here it layers nicely and it blends with the dark denim skirt. 

Overtop- Brown V-neck. Another dark neutral to keep the line long. It blends nicely with the black and navy. 

Overshirt- Bright olive green button-down. Since the skirt and the other tops are narrow and fitted, I could wear this shirt open like a jacket without losing my figure. Green is my favorite color and this added a nice pop. 

Wrap- Again, I needed warmth so I layered three scarves. I used a brown and green watercolor print scarf in a basic turban, a dark brown scarf in another basic turban, and a dark green Israeli scarf in a Yerushalmi twist. Again, I got warmth without bulk. 

Jewelry- My pink drop earrings and pink Noemi bracelet added a perfect pop of fun and contrast. 

Dear readers, don’t be afraid to try new and different colors and other things to stay warm AND brighten up the winter doldrums.  

Two Power Looks for Mommies

I have three children and I’ve been raising them after conceiving, carrying, and giving birth to each one. For many years, I was a stay-at-home mom and while I love my kids, it’s not easy. One thing that made it a lot easier was clothing and accessories and grooming. Yes, really. First, I never spent the day in pajamas. Even if I wasn’t feeling well, I put on clothes and washed up and it always made me feel better. Second, I made sure I was wearing clothes that were casual and comfortable but also fitted and flattering. That made me feel very good in many ways. 

There’s a prevalent myth that when I (or any fashion and style guru) tell people to wear fitted and flattering clothes, that means that people have to get dressed up fancy. That’s not entirely true. There are situations that call for fancier dress but most of us live casual lifestyles with a lot of casual situations that don’t call for fancy dress. Casual situations do call for casual dress. And we deserve to feel comfortable in our clothes no matter what. But casual =/= sloppy. Clothing can be casual and comfortable AND fitted and flattering. This is very important for all of us moms out there. 

First, when our children are infants and toddlers, we need to remember that we are real human beings and not just maids and nurses. 

Second, when our children are school-age, we invite other people to join our children’s caring team- teachers, administrators, and special-needs providers (if needed). While we want our team to be comfortable and work together well, we are the commanders-in-chief of the team and we need to dress to command respect. 

Third, when our children are teenagers, we have to set the example that tzniut (modesty/dignity) is beautiful and that growing up and getting older is nothing to fear. 

There are two important looks that all of us moms need in our arsenal. One is the All-Around Confident Mom look and the other is the Confident Power Mom look. I call these looks and not outfits because the specifics have to be tailored to each individual mom. But there are guidelines for them. 

The All-Around Confident Mom look is perfect for school open houses, school events like plays, and regular parent-teacher meetings. The general look is a classic neutral head-to-toe base with a color from the irises near the face. Iris colors are soft and flattering but they direct people to look you in the eye. Soft or structured is up to the individual mom but fitted is crucial- anything oversized is not only unflattering but too casual. Pretty flat shoes are fine.

Here’s an example of an AACM look.

I’m wearing a beige skirt (neutral) with light green tops (iris color) plus my light green scarf with print. The colors are light and the mix is fun but the structure of the skirt and the button-down help. My dark blue earrings and bracelet add just a little more fun to it and make me feel good.    

The Confident Power Mom look is perfect for school interviews and meetings with special needs providers. This is almost the same as the All-Around Confident Mom look except that it’s darker and has more structure. While the AACM look can go with lighter or darker neutrals for the base, the CPM look needs darker neutrals for a more dramatic presence. And while the AACM look can go soft or structured, the CPM look needs structure from a jacket or button-down shirt. The iris color still needs to be near the face.  

Here’s an example of a CPM look.

I’m wearing a navy skirt with a black top (both dark neutrals) and an army green (iris color) button-down shirt as a shirt-jacket. I’m also wearing an olive green (iris color) scarf on my head. My aqua necklace is the only piece of jewelry I need to brighten things up. The dark base and the structure of the button-down give the look an extra dose of authority.     

Here’s another example of a CPM look.

I’m wearing a navy skirt with a black top (both dark neutrals) and a dark brown (iris color) button-down as a shirt-jacket. I’m also wearing a brown (iris color) pashmina on my head along with a confetti scarf with brown (iris color), green (iris color), and orange. My green and orange necklace is the only jewelry needed here. Again, the dark base and the structure of the button-down give an extra dose of authority.  

With both the AACM and the CPM looks, jewelry is not strictly necessary. I love jewelry and I feel naked without one showstopper item so I wear either dramatic earrings or a dramatic necklace but not both. Some moms are minimalists with jewelry and would rather wear no jewelry or minimal jewelry. That’s fine here. 

I don’t wear hair but I make sure my hair coverings are neat, clean, and do not fall in my face. The goal is for the teachers and administrators and special-needs providers to look the mom straight in the eye- it’s professional and respectful- and so the face and eyes must not be obscured. Hair must not fall in the face. Bangs must be short enough to fully expose the eyes. Hats and berets and caps must not obscure the face. 

A minimum of makeup is a must. No woman needs to wear a full mask. It’s uncomfortable and unnecessary. But a little definition with the right makeup makes every woman look and feel her best in a situation where she needs to look and feel confident. 

I use liner, mascara, and brow pencil to define my eyes. Then I use face makeup to even out my skin and conceal as needed. Then I add subtle color to my cheeks and lips. That’s it. My features are defined without my face looking all that different.  

Of course we moms need to take care of our children. But if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of anyone. 

Twinsies!

It used to be that if two women showed up to any event wearing the same item, especially if it was a base outfit item like a top or dress, it was considered tacky. Even if the two women didn’t know each other, it was still considered tacky and it often left both women feeling self-conscious. The movie My Fair Lady dealt with this in a scene of the “Ascot Gavotte” in which we see all the ladies and gentlemen at the horse races. At one point, two women see each other wearing the same hat and immediately turn away in horror. Regarding this “rule,” if the two women did know each other, it was considered a real faux pas. One of my all-time favorite TV shows, I Love Lucy, dealt with this when Lucy and Ethel were doing a show together and they accidentally bought the same gown for it. The two women wound up in a huge but very funny fight over it. 

It’s even easier to laugh both at the Ascot Gavotte scene and at Lucy and Ethel’s fight today because that old rule is long dead. Two women wearing the same item is NOT a fashion faux pas anymore. In fact, it often makes for a good conversation starter. 

This past Thursday, I was wearing this headwrap consisting of a solid lilac rectangular scarf as a base plus a textured oblong in maroon, both from my favorite scarf vendor. I posted this photo of it on the headwrapping groups on Facebook and it turned out that my friend was wearing that same textured oblong in a different wrap style. We agreed- “Twinsies!”

Then, this past Shabbat, I was wearing the same scarves but with the textured oblong in a slightly different wrap style. I had to go out on an errand after Shabbat and I ran into a different friend who was wearing the same oblong, again in a different wrap style. She called out “twinsies!” Then she asked me how I wrapped the oblong and I demonstrated it for her right then and there. 

Dear readers, if you ever see someone wearing the same thing as you are, just smile and be grateful that it’s just good fun and not a faux pas.

The Self-Care Checklist

If you have ever flown in an airplane, then you’re familiar with the safety directions. One of those is about oxygen masks. They always give the instruction that if you’re flying with a child and you need oxygen masks, you should always put on your own mask first and then help your child. Why? Because if you can’t breathe properly, you can’t help your child. 

This instruction about oxygen masks is very real but it’s also often used as a mashal (parable) for self-care. The truth is that if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of those around you. Of course, we’re all only human and we’re not perfect and so we don’t always do everything we need to do for self-care. And part of self-care is to not feel bad about that. Again, we’re only human. 

I decided to help out a little with that by offering my self-care checklist. This is a list of things that I feel are necessary in order to take good care of yourself. This is NOT meant for you to drive yourself crazy. If you’re not doing every single thing on this list, that’s OK. Do not beat yourself up about it. Just read through, see what you’re doing and what you can still do. Also, this checklist is by no means exhaustive. I only included things that I feel are necessary and applicable to everyone. If you have something that you do for self-care that’s harmless and works well for you that isn’t on this list, that’s fine. In fact, please share.  

First category- Nourishing your mind and spirit

First, have you found a genre of books that you enjoy reading for pure pleasure? This could be anything from classic novels to contemporary novels to action/adventure thrillers to mysteries to biographies and memoirs to history to self-help to cookbooks to fashion to any others I didn’t mention. Note: reading to your children is good for all of you but it’s not self-care. This is only about you. 

Have you found a genre of music that you enjoy hearing? This could be anything from classical to classic rock n’ roll to jazz to showtunes to ethnic/cultural music to anything else that I didn’t mention. If you can sing along to it, so much the better. 

Do you have a creative outlet? It could be anything as long as it gets your creative juices flowing and gets you excited. 

Do you have a couple of hobbies that you enjoy, creative or not? It’s fine if one or both of these overlap with your creative outlet.   

Finally, do you have a spiritual outlet that allows you to connect with something greater than yourself such as regular prayer or meditation?

Second category- Personal care

First, are you brushing your teeth at least at bedtime and in the morning? And are you flossing?

Are you washing your face with appropriate cleanser at bedtime? And are you washing or rinsing your face in the morning?

Are you applying lip balm, light moisturizer, and sunscreen in the morning? And are you applying lip balm, eye cream, light moisturizer, and any other lotions and potions that your face needs at bedtime?

Are you making time for showering and body care?

Are you taking care of your hair properly based on its natural movement (straight, wavy, curly, coily) and texture (fine, medium, coarse)? 

Is your hair in a color that flatters your face? And is it in a cut that works well with your hair type and frames and flatters your face with minimal effort and no hot tools? Note: it’s OK to use hot tools sometimes to style it differently but wash and wear should always be a good option. 

Are you trimming your nails and keeping them clean? It’s OK to go short or long as long as you can move your hands and do what you need to do.  

Are you putting on real clothes every day? And do they all fit you and make you appear healthy, active, and vital? 

Do you have outfits that are appropriate for the five general situations- weekday casual, weekday work, dressy-casual, Shabbat/holidays, and special events? Note: you do not need five different wardrobes or even one very large wardrobe for all of these situations. You just need clothing items that are versatile and can overlap.

Do you have at least three fun, colorful accessories that you enjoy wearing?

Finally, do you have a basic, minimal routine for makeup as needed? Note: no one needs makeup all the time. Some situations just don’t call for it. But many situations do call for it and you need to be ready. 

Third category- Health

First, are you getting regular checkups with your doctor and with any specialists you might need?

Here I am dressed and waiting for a mammogram.

Are you getting regular checkups with your dentist?

Are you eating right and fueling your body properly? 

Are you making time for planned exercise? 

Are you taking advantage of unplanned exercise whenever possible? This includes walking or riding a bicycle instead of driving and taking stairs instead of the elevator. 

Finally, are you getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep at night?

Yes, I know- this is a long list. And like I said earlier, I’m sure that not everyone is going to answer Yes to everything here. That’s OK. Part of self-care is to not feel bad about that. Just remember that if you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot take care of others.  

Dear readers, feel free to share what you do for self care. 

Just One Half Inch…

As a Torah-Observant Jew, I need to be careful and not wear necklines that are too low and too revealing. Honestly, I think that when a neckline is too revealing, it’s too distracting and it often looks wrong. However, I have a short neck and I have a little bit of thickness on my jawline. This means that, in order to look my best, I need to avoid any necklines that fall on my neck. The good news is that there are necklines that hit that balance point- low enough to flatter me, high enough to look appropriate. Sometimes it’s just a tiny thing that makes such a big difference. 

I have a couple of items that have crew necklines. This is a high-ish neckline that features an extra band on top, raising the neckline even higher. It’s not good for me because the band falls on my neck and visually shortens it. I wanted to remove the band but I don’t know how to sew. So I asked on social media and there were a few women who told me what to do to remove the band while keeping the neckline stable. 

It worked. 

Here’s my dark red shell, before and after. 

Here’s my black sleeveless dress, before and after.

In both of these, the neckline is stable thanks to the seam stitching but the neckline is so much more flattering. Just one half inch of band is gone and now I actually have a neck.  

It’s amazing how such a small thing can make such a big difference.

Anatomy of an Outfit- Same Color, Different Versions

There was a time when women never wore different versions of the same color in the same outfit. This was considered a fashion faux pas because they never matched. Now, we know that this old rule was just limiting and that we don’t have to follow it. In fact, different versions of the same color can look rich and sophisticated. 

Here’s how I did a combination of blues…

Skirt- Straight, dark navy. Navy is a classic neutral and it goes with everything. 

Top- Fitted, dark teal. Teal blue is super-flattering on me so it works great near my face. The very dark color of this top blends with the dark navy of the skirt to give me one long line. That one long line is flattering on every body type. 

Wrap- Teal scarf with print. The other colors in this scarf are darkish and so the print comes off somewhat texture-y which I love. The teal is more medium here so it draws attention upwards. The chignon wrap is easy and comfortable.

Necklace- Aqua 3-strand necklace. Aqua is a much lighter version of blue so it pops against the darker blues but it’s still in the blue family so it looks cohesive. Yes, I could’ve worn a different, non-blue necklace and it would’ve looked just as good but I felt like going with blues. 

Dear readers, don’t be afraid to try different versions of a color together and see how they look. You may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Anatomy of Two Outfits and Birthday Wishes

The first full week of September this year was the week of my birthdays. First there was my solar/secular birthday and then there was my Jewish birthday. Both days were regular weekdays so I wasn’t going to get dressed up fancy. But I did want to look special. For my secular birthday, here’s what I did. 

Skirt- Tiered multi-colored maxi skirt. This skirt feels very feminine on my straight frame and its colors make me feel very artsy and creative.

Top- Fitted t-shirt in medium/dark green. Green is my favorite color so it played a starring role. The ballet neck and ¾ sleeves flatter my neck and arms and the fitted shape balances out the skirt. 

Wrap- Olive and dark green solid scarves in a two-scarf single twist wrap with tails. I love a good mix of different versions of any color and this mix of greens is very rich. The wrap gives me great height and volume and the tails feel very feminine. 

Jewelry- Off-white drop earrings and bracelet. The base outfit had a lot going on so the off-white jewelry added a nice pop of contrast without competing with anything. 

For my Jewish birthday, I had to get just slightly more dressed up because I had to go to work at my day job. But since my family and I usually take Jewish birthdays a little more seriously, it makes sense. 

Dress- Dark Olive green. Again, my favorite color played a starring role. An A-line shape with princess seams flatters just about every figure and it makes me look feminine and healthy. The ¾ sleeves flatter my arms too. 

Wrap- Same as secular birthday. If something works so well, why not wear it again?

Jewelry- Pink “For Our Kedoshim” necklace plus goldtone chain necklace with off-white beading. Pink contrasts nicely with green. And I love a mix of 2-3 delicate necklaces- it’s sophisticated and flattering. 

Dear readers, may this coming year be a year of revealed good and may you all use your talents and strengths to be active and visible in this world; promote kindness, respect, and dignity for everyone; serve G-d and community; and make the world a better place. 

Anatomy of an Outfit- Last Minute Inspiration

This past Sunday, I was putting together an outfit to wear for a casual day of errands and a visit with my parents. I put these things together as I was getting dressed and I really loved the results. In particular, I loved the color coordination and the boho feel. 

Skirt- tiered, multi-colored, full, long. This skirt always makes me feel very artsy and creative. And it coordinates with just about every top I have. 

Top- greenish yellow, ¾ sleeve, boatneck. With the full skirt and the multiple colors going on, I needed a solid top. Yellow and green are both going on in the skirt so the top coordinated nicely.

Wrap- light green, gold, and pink watercolor print scarf. I was considering a solid yellow scarf but I love yellow and green together and this scarf coordinated well. 

Earrings: off-white drops. There had to be one element that stood out and this was it. 

Even for a casual day, I felt very creative and even a bit glamorous. 

Dear readers, don’t be afraid to just go with the flow. If something comes to you even at the last minute, try it. 

Color Combinations

I recently saw a question in one of my Facebook groups about color combos. The user asked about the color combination of brown with black. I answered that I love brown with black because it’s rich. But this made me think about certain color combos that I love.

Here I am wearing a brown top with a black skirt. I’ve worn a black top with a brown skirt before too. I love the way the two dark colors come together and give me one long line. And I love the warm richness of this combination. Brown and black are both classic neutrals which means that they go with EVERYTHING, including each other. I accented this base outfit with a brown mitpachat (headscarf) with a green and coral print and with my blue Anita necklace.

Here I am wearing a black top with a navy skirt. I’ve done the reverse too. This is a color combo that always makes me look just a little dressed up. I once wore this black top with a dark denim skirt and friends were asking what I was so dressed up to do. Black and navy are classic neutrals and they go with EVERYTHING. I accented this with the same blue Anita necklace and with a navy mitpachat. 

Here I am wearing my favorite color combo- green with blue. Olive green is my best green and this top looks great with my navy skirt. Olive green has a softer effect on me (not unlike brown) so the outfit looks a little more casual. But the combo is still rich and sophisticated just like the others. I accented this with an olive green mitpachat and with the same blue Anita necklace. Green and blue sit next to each other on the color wheel and they look wonderful together. 

Dear readers, if a color combination doesn’t appeal to your aesthetic taste, then it’s fine to not wear it. But never assume that any two colors don’t go together until you try them on you. You might find something new that you love. 

Anatomy of Two Outfits- Two Milestones

My husband and I are happily married for 20 years now. That’s a major milestone and it deserves celebration. In my case, it demands some nice clothing.

One of the Jewish pre-wedding festivities is the aufruf (pronounced oof-roof). This is where the groom gets called to the Torah on the Shabbat before the wedding. This is accompanied by some extra singing and good wishes. Sometimes, usually due to logistical issues, the aufruf happens on a Shabbat over a week before the wedding. That’s what happened with my husband’s aufruf. It wound up working out perfectly because it came out on Shabbat Nachamu, “Sabbath of Comfort,” immediately following Tisha B’Av and the mourning associated with that. 

Since this past Shabbat Nachamu was the 20th anniversary of my husband’s aufruf, I wanted to honor that with an extra special outfit. 

Dress- Teal blue, straight, high boatneck, ¾ ruffle sleeves. The color is very dramatic on me and the straight shape and the neckline and sleeves all flatter my figure.

Wrap- Teal Israeli scarf plus white lace scarf in double Yerushalmi twist. This wrap style was the first style that made me excited about headscarves. The teal is dramatic on me all by itself but the lace adds a romantic touch. 

Jewelry- Off-white mother-of-pearl and pearl drop earrings plus my off-white Noemi bracelet. These pieces are substantial enough to stand out and they contrast nicely with the blue.   

As for our wedding anniversary… 

Our secular/Gregorian anniversary almost always falls during the Three Weeks or the Nine Days which are a period of mourning leading up to Tisha B’Av. So we rarely celebrate that day. Instead, we wait until our Jewish anniversary which is 21 Menachem Av and we celebrate then if we can. This year, that date was on a regular workday but I still wanted to honor it with a special outfit.  

Dress- Dark olive green, A-line with princess seams. The A-line with princess seams flatters just about every figure and it adds curve and femininity to mine. Dark green was my wedding color and it’s still one of my favorite color families. 

Wrap- Olive green base scarf plus multi-green oblong scarf in a top-knot turban. I continued the dark green theme on top here. I allowed different versions of dark green in my wedding party and the women looked spectacular in their mix of dark greens so I wanted to echo that here. The wrap style is a simple one so it’s appropriate for work but it gives a high and dramatic look that I love.  

Jewelry- Warm pink drop earrings plus warm pink Noemi bracelet. Pink contrasts beautifully with green and these pieces are substantial enough to stand out. 

Both of these outfits made me feel great on both of these special days. 

Dear readers, may all of our beloved singles find their soulmates.