Reviewing Shoes & Handbags Plus a Style Hack: Riches of eBay: Purse Straps

One worthwhile project to tackle during these days of isolating due to the coronavirus is a review of one’s wardrobe. It’s difficult to know when it will be time to break out the fancy duds again, but the most frequently used items in the wardrobe certainly merit time and attention.

Now’s the time to check on the condition of shoes and handbags, to polish them and give them a good cleaning, and to assess what needs more significant attention and what needs to be culled from the wardrobe.

SHOES:  While shoes can be polished at home, repairs and upgrading of worn heels and the like require the attention of a shoe repair professional. Most shoe-related maintenance projects may need to wait until the economy reopens.

Now is a good time to look over your shoe wardrobe and to determine if any shoes will need to be replaced, such as much-used athletic shoes or go-to styles of shoes for work. Putting together a wish list can be helpful. Online shopping may provide an option, albeit limited, for filling the gaps in the wardrobe, since there is no substitute for trying on a pair of shoes to determine how comfortable they are. Liberal return policies are of great help.

Also useful is being able to obtain exactly the same style of shoes that have worked perfectly for you. Sadly, few shoe lines produce identical designs over the years. Be very cautious if a shoe line introduces a shoe that looks to be identical to one you purchased before if the shoe suddenly has a new style name – chances are the specifications for the shoes are not the same, and the fit of the shoes may be very different.  

HANDBAGS:  With regard to purses, along with basic cleaning and polishing, there may be an additional repair or upgrade project possible to bring new life to a favorite bag. If a handbag includes a strap to allow for hands-free use, the strap almost always can easily be replaced.

Finding an exact replacement for your purse strap may be possible on eBay at a remarkably low price. Search by the name of the designer or manufacturer of your purse to find the identical or similar styles of bags. Measure the strap you wish to replace to ensure you are finding a match, and you may be all set. If the strap is sewn on, of course, you’re back to waiting for that shoe repair shoe to open to make the switch, but if the strap clips on, you’re good to go.

Don’t forget that an annoying short strap can be replaced with a longer one; a new color strap may add pizzazz. There are literally thousands of purse straps available on eBay. Have fun discovering a whole world of style possibilities available from the comfort of your own home.

The Nostalgic Charm of Charm Bracelets

During these days of extended home stays, the impetus to sort through one’s belongings is irresistible. For many Baby Boomers and other jewelry lovers, one or more charm bracelets may hold a place in their jewelry collections. Rediscovering these bracelets brings on the nostalgia.

The 1960s were the heyday of the style, and what fun it was to add charms to a bracelet, whether that bracelet was sterling silver, costume jewelry, or real gold. Travel bracelets were a frequent choice, collecting a charm from each state or country visited. Coming into contact with someone’s charm bracelet, it seemed de rigueur to ask to look through that collection of charms.

My favorite grammar school teacher was known for her jangly gold bracelets that announced her arrival. My mother and I both had cherished charm bracelets, adding charms to mark special occasions (anniversaries, graduations, piano recitals).

The May 2020 issue of InStyle magazine features new versions of charm bracelets available for purchase, perhaps interesting new generations in the style. You can also find pre-owned charm bracelets on eBay and other resale sites. These bracelets may supply charms you might want to add to your own new collection. They may make you wonder about the women who owned those bracelets – what stories those bracelets tell.

Quarantine Makeovers

As the quarantine continues, it can be amusing and even instructive to check in on individuals who make it a point to stay in the public eye, as well as those who have been inspired to share their coronavirus quarantine tips.  

Finding inspiration to exercise, meditate, bake or read may be just the encouragement needed to see the silver lining in unexpected free time. Comedy can provide relief from boredom or, at the other extreme, from the compulsion to take on too many organizing and home improvement projects.  

Without the benefit of our hair stylists and other beauty service providers during these strange times, it can be worthwhile to tap into unused products and samples we have accumulated. Now is a great time to experiment with makeup. What a great time to play!

This montage of quarantine makeovers from the May 4, 2020 issue of People may also inspire. I’m tying to talk my husband out of growing a Fu Manchu mustache, and please may he never consider a Mohawk. I’m thinking a man bun might be more appealing. As for me, my hair is getting long enough to do all manner of up dos and braids. I’m reminded of some particularly bad looks from high school. I will not be posting any photos.

Be well. Have some fun.

Coronavirus Closet Review

As we all shelter in place in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, now is the perfect time to take on a review of our resources. Checking the kitchen pantry, cleaning supplies and paper goods are top priority projects in assessing what we have and what we might need, to be sure.

With those tasks under control, it is worthwhile to take on a review of the resources in our closets. It’s the perfect time to go through our wardrobes and determine what works and what doesn’t – what is flattering and useful; which pieces only take up space. Whether or not you think every item should spark joy, you can assess what pieces don’t merit closet or drawer space.

In a closet review, you may come across garments that are tried and true but which have become the tired workhorses of your wardrobes and might be ready to be replaced when the time is right. You may find shoes or handbags that can use a good cleaning or minor repairs. Some items may be ready to be retired immediately.

Assembling donations for your favorite charity can provide a sense of connection to others. And in these trying times, that connection can help us not only to survive, but also to thrive. 

Be well and stay connected.  

Power Dressing Par Excellence

My congratulations go out to actress Renee Zellweger on her most recent accolades and awards for her portrayal of the iconic Judy Garland. Also worthy of accolades is Zellweger’s personal style. The confidence she conveys through her style choices merits our consideration.

As seen in the February 24, 2020 issue of People magazine, Zellweger’s Oscar gown is a study in self-assurance. The sleek one-shoulder custom gown by Armani Prive in white brought attention to the woman wearing it, not to any fussiness in the details of design. Zellweger’s choice of a single chunky David Webb diamond and rock crystal ring worn on the index finger of her bare arm likewise was a confident and powerful choice.

Let’s face it, however. It is much easier to bring the wow factor to a wow event like the Academy Awards. The real test of power dressing is in circumstances where one cannot (or should not) be dressed like too much of a diva.

In this ensemble pictured in the February 10, 2020 issue of People, Zellweger shows us how it’s done. She is wearing red – the ultimate power color – in a head-to-toe pantsuit ensemble. The designer is not identified. Notice the lace detail at the flattering neckline of her blouse and the matching red shoes. Also note that Zellweger again wears a single chunky ring on an index finger, declaring this as a signature jewelry look. This is power dressing par excellence.

Style in the Age of Disposable Fashion

There’s something almost too easy about finding something to criticize about almost any particular look, whether it’s something we put together for ourselves or something put together by a professional for someone who is photographed for a living. Issues of fit are always major concerns. The color might be just a little off the wearer’s best hues, or the accessories aren’t as thoughtfully chosen as they might be.

It is with joy, then, that I propose to focus in 2020 on the stellar looks presented in the pages of the fashion magazines. At a time when social media makes so much of fashion whatever an influencer chooses (or, far too often, is paid) to wear, I suggest we look at the choices made by individuals who have a savvy sense not only of what is fashionable, but also of what is flattering to the wearer.

Flattering to the wearer does not come along all the time, by any means. Much fashion is pushed out to the public for their considerations. Fresh designs and new trends need time to imprint on the public. Some is inherently not flattering – and indeed, some fashion is purposely meant to make a statement that has nothing to do with making the wearer look good. Message fashions are an entirely valid choice.

To emulate a designer look on a budget is certainly an option. The cheap disposable fashion cranked out by some retailers serves a useful purpose in that manner, but these clothes are not the foundation of a stylish personal wardrobe.

With this background in mind, today I celebrate the fashions of Dior as modeled by actress Olivia Wilde in the February 2020 issue of InStyle magazine. The design of the jacket is complex but accentuates her every curve. The size of the hound’s-tooth print relates to the size of her features. Her retro hairstyle has volume and shape to match the volume and shape of the jacket. This is the photo of style so well done that it will never go out of style. Brava!

Find a Moment of Beauty

Every year I would wrap up my jewelry blog at TrulyJewelry.com with a montage of recently published photos of exquisite jewelry. This year I wish to bring the tradition here.

Think of these images as a gift to the visual senses, as seen in a collection of diamond earrings and ring adorning the very design of  the word “GIFT” on a page of the December 2019 – January 2020 issue of Harper’s Bazaar.

Consider the workmanship in gold, enamel and precious stones in a necklace from Bulgari pictured in the November 2019 issue of C California magazine.

Imagine the in-person visual impact of whole-ear diamonds that stretch from the cartilage all the way to the lobe from Cartier pictured in the November 25 – December 8, 2019 issue of New York magazine.

Revel with me in the color combinations of the ring designs from Pomellato pictured in the November 2019 issue of Town & Country.

And finally, marvel at the perfection of a ruby and diamond necklace from the high jewelry collection of Harry Winston pictured in the November 2019 issue of Elle Decor.

I have a pretty little magnet on my refrigerator with a suggestion I’d like to share as we head into the New Year, with all its promise:

Find a moment of beauty and linger there a while.

The Plus-Size Model’s Coat That Doesn’t Fit, on So Many Levels

How does one explain the photo below of the well-respected plus-size model Paloma Elsesser in the October, 2019 issue of InStyle magazine?

Elsesser is often described as an outspoken voice for plus-size models and has a vast Instagram following. She was honored earlier this year by being selected by the CFDA to join the selection committee for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award.

Her beauty shines in numerous photos you can find on the Web, even if you aren’t an Instagram follower (and I put myself in the latter category).  One lovely example is above.

Compare that with the photo chosen by InStyle, above, on a page devoted to “Cheap thrills to fast-track your style.” Elsesser is pictured in a trench coat that is wrong on so many levels that I find it entirely inexplicable. Consider:

  • The coat is far too small, and doesn’t fit around her.
  • The sleeves are too long, and one sleeve is turned up more than the other.
  • The tight belt looks terribly uncomfortable, like a desperate attempt to keep the coat in place.
  • The coat is shown over a dress and some kind of additional layer that hangs out from the bottom of the coat irregularly, which looks sloppy.
  • The high neckline isn’t especially flattering – it makes her look very much “closed off.”
  • The white shoes are trendy but draw the eye downward to the irregular hems and detract from the rest of her look.
  • The red purse is small and sloppy with all its straps and doesn’t go with anything else she is wearing.

Is this genuinely meant to inspire InStyle readers?

Interesting . . . Note that the month was left off the bottom of the page, which shows the place holder “MONTH” rather than the word “OCTOBER” as seen on the back of the page. I have to wonder if this page had a tentative photo intended to be replaced. Please tell me it was.

An Incredibly Unflattering Bodice

I do not know how much influence an actress is given relative to the costume she is required to wear in a film. I am incredulous that a celebrity chooses to wear something unattractive unless that is essential to establishing the character being played. I am also incredulous that an elaborate bejeweled wedding gown from a couture designer could purposely be designed to make a character look unattractive.

In the upcoming film “Marry Me,” Jennifer Lopez plays a woman jilted by her rock-star fiancé as she is about to get married at Madison Square Garden and who picks a guest from the crowd to marry.

Her publicists have released dozens of photos showing Lopez in a magnificently elaborate custom wedding gown and veil from designer Zuhair Murad. Celebrity watchers, including some in the main stream media,  have been gushing over the dress, calling it glamorous and gorgeous.

Yes, the dress is gorgeous, but flattering it is not. Here is a photo from the November 4, 2019 issue of People.

No, that photo is not an aberration. Here is another shot from the Web.

Jennifer Lopez is stunning at age 50, in superlative shape. Why on earth would anyone put this beautiful woman in a dress that crushes her bosom?  This is a custom dress – it could easily have been altered to fit her, whatever the cost.

I give this look a thumbs down and a serious oh no, J Lo!

Scarves as Works of Art

A renewed interest in silk scarves as fashion accessories this year, especially as cooler weather means the extra heat of silk on the neck is less of an issue, prompts many of us to revisit the vintage pieces already in our wardrobes.

Scarves can add beautiful color to an ensemble, and their versatility is evident, as seen in this montage of photos from the February 2019 issue of Elle. There are books dedicated to the art of scarf tying. Scarf clips can assist in the draping; scarf clips with attached brooches can assist in the exact placement of a scarf for the most flattering look. Scarf tubes through which scarves can be run can add further embellishment and personal style.

The article “Mix, Match & DIY” in the October 2019 issue of Good Housekeeping takes another approach as it urges readers to “Steal these clever ideas for incorporating vintage finds and easy projects into your décor.” One such idea:  “Frame a scarf. Hang a decorative or sentimental scarf in a clear frame for a stunning (and affordable) piece of art.”

Stunning, quite possibly. Affordable? I did some research online to see just how easy and affordable it is to hang a scarf in a clear frame. You’ll need essentially a quality poster-size two-layer frame, which is not going to come cheap. And then you have to figure out how to get the scarf to lay flat and stay put within the confines of the two layers. Putting the scarf on some type of backing is likely to damage the silk. Magnets might be usable, but will interfere with the clean look of framing. Piercing the silk is not an option. I came to the conclusion that this is a job best delegated to a professional framer.

Once framed and hung, the scarf in its frame may well fade or discolor by the effect of sunlight beating through the frame. And, of course, the scarf is no longer available for enjoyment as a fashion accessory. The price of that “affordable” project may be steeper than you might have anticipated.

Once a scarf has outlived its useful life for personal adornment, however, repurposing it by hanging it in a frame or making it into a pillow can extend appreciation of its beauty as a work of art.