Torrid Shades Of Grey

Torrid Shades Of Grey

I've been wearing a lot of white this Summer, but I think my favorite neutral is grey. Dove grey to be specific. So in putting together another outfit for the "Accessorize My Outfit with boticca.com" challenge I chose a predominantly grey palette.

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The Long And The Short Of It

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I spent the bulk of my late 20's and 30's with hair so long I could sit on it.

Initially it was a rebellious move. I was railing against all the years of short, bad, pixie-like haircuts that made me feel like a bigger Spaz than I already was. In high school all the pretty girls had long tresses, some with, some without the iconic Farrah Fawcett feathering that permeated that era. The cool girls could style their coif perfectly with a flick of their wide-toothed comb and proved expert in sporting the perfectly peroxided lightened hair. In junior year of high school I dumped two bottles of peroxide on my chestnut hair and promptly turned it orange. By the time I got to college the mullet, mohawk, and punk locks were the styles of choice. I had a short, bad perm - which was the result of salvaging a long, bleached out, burnt up perm. By the time it had grown out enough to be shaped into a mullet with perfect 80's triangular sideburns I decided from that point forward to swear off beauty salons altogether.

And I did for about four years and nearly 12" of hair growth. It was only about two months before my wedding that I opted for a layered, just-past-the-shoulder cut. After that I experimented with color at home; badly. I dyed my hair all the wrong shades of red and even attempted a do it yourself "frosting". Keep in mind that my fine motor skills suck and you should get the gist of the results. After a while I had moved too many times and ventured too far from anyone I trusted could do anything, so I did nothing. I twisted my hair up and secured it with a giant banana clip at the back of my head. I even slept that way. It looked atrocious, but at that time I hadn't yet reached my epiphany concerning the impact my appearance had on others.

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Fast forward ten years of looking like a Grateful Dead groupie. Then one day someone dear to me commits suicide. I am not surprised, but I am devastated beyond words. In a show of mourning I cut most of my hair off myself. It was a symbol of a time ended that would never return. It looked awful, but I didn't care. Eventually I summoned up the courage to go into a small local salon. Being new to the place I didn't know who to ask for, let alone what to expect.

I really lucked out that day. Turns out I not only got a great haircut, I also made a great friend. In the 12 years since Lani Barrett has cut, highlighted, and dyed my hair a myriad of colors in three different salons. When we met she was not confident enough in her own abilities to give me the style she thought I should have. Today I sport a cut from the Twilight movies - the "Alice" to be exact - and it was entirely her idea. It's the best hairstyle I've ever had (and the worst movie I've ever seen).

Six years ago, out of the blue, she asked, "Want a blue streak in your hair?"

How could I resist? I loved it, hubby loved it. Everyone else hated it, so we switched to purple, which I've been wearing in some capacity ever since. In fact, as I write this I have two foils at either side of my head feeding purple dye onto two bleached out sections of my hair. In case you're wondering I'm not at the salon. Every other week my friend comes over and helps me clean my house. It's more accurate to say I help her because she does the bulk of it. Aside from Mr Spashionista and I Lani also did more to help rebuild this house after the Nashville 2010 flood than anyone else. She even cooked and delivered a surprise 20th anniversary dinner for us that year because, obviously, we weren't able to celebrate otherwise.

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If only she liked to go shopping.  Oh, well; nobody's perfect.

Lani currently works at Cindy's Hair and Tan in Ashland City. If you're lucky enough to live in the area you can make an appointment by calling 615 792-1141.

Do you have any "hair-raising" experiences in the evolution of your style? Are you okay with showing your grey or do you banish it from sight? Do you think it's fun or folly for women over 40 to dye their hair in non-traditional colors?

The Happiest Place On Earth Part One: Classics Forward

No, not Disneyland. Stein Mart, of course.

I can't think of a better store to focus on to bridge the Budget and Occasion sections of BODS. I've been shopping here for years and the reasons are simple. Their selection is varied, sophisticated, and fashion forward. Their customer service rivals that of Franklin, Tennessee's Shi by Journeys. Their sales undercut that outlet malls and, in some cases, the discount stores.

A friend of mine had been recommending Stein Mart for quite some time before I actually took her advice and had a look for myself. I had believed their stock to be stuffy and matronly. It was just something I'd heard, but my friend's wardrobe certainly didn't fit that description. Then I started paying attention to who was making the disparaging remarks; they weren't exactly style icons! I was hooked after just one trip.

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These are a few of my most recent finds that will see a lot of use in the coming months and years. The charcoal grey wool coat on the left is a Jessica Simpson lined with leopard print. The fur collar is detachable, adding to its versatility. I apologize for the cropped shot but, rest assured, you will see more of this coat in future posts as the weather goes from cool to freezing. Two of the three pieces on the right, the boots and skirt, are also from Stein Mart. Pencil skirts are in this fall and as they are a classic shape that suits my curves and never go out of style I'm snapping them up when I find those that fit well. This petite sized, fire engine red panel skirt is the perfect length and color for fall and beyond. The knee-high boots are quite a coup for me. Not only are they deep purple suede - my favorite color - they are cut generously enough in the calf for my not-so-skinny legs. I find it extremely difficult to find over-the-calf boots so I was ecstatic to find these.

None of these pieces were on sale, meaning I paid the full Stein Mart price for them. However, "full price" usually means a savings of 30-70% off of retail. Because all three of these pieces will get a considerable amount of wear, not just this fall and winter but for some time, it makes the "per-wear" value worth every penny!

Even though by now I can maneuver ever aisle of the store like an old pro I wouldn't have two of these great garments were it not for the store's most valuable asset; its employees. I want to introduce you to a few very special sales ladies next week.

It's A Cinch To Pinch Those Pennies

Last week I promised to share with you where I found the bottoms in this picture.

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I got these jeans at a thrift store for $4.98. In fact, I purchased everything you see below at one of three thrift stores I periodically pillage.

For my fellow disabled Spashionistas and anyone on a tight budget or a fixed income secondhand stores can be a boon. You're letting somebody else pay full price for a garment that has the potential to make you look fabulous when you score it for a lot less money. There are obvious downsides to the thrift store experience. You have to be willing to wade through a sea of so-so clothing to find that rare piece that's perfect for you. You also have to be willing to have it altered if it's a close fit.

Take these jeans, for example. These happen to be Nine West and fit me perfectly except for the length.

Given the fact that I'm on the short end of petite I expect any pants I find are going to be too long. I paid $6.98 for the jeans and another $9 to have them hemmed (you didn't really think I could sew, did you?). For around $16 I have name brand jeans that fit like a glove. The Westbound Petite I'm wearing in the photo above, along with a pair of Old Navy Sweetheart Jeans purchased for $5.98, are the only pants I've bought that didn't need to be taken up.

Other notable summer tops include the pink One World ombre  for $3.99; the RXB turquoise embellished tunic, also $3.99.

The black and white "mystery"  label-removed tunic for $2.98.

The gorgeous Ilyse Hart LTD black pencil skirt with white lace looks like a million bucks but only cost me $3.99! The third black and white item is a Sangria dress that I purchased for $5.99.

Fall picks start with the Sarah Arizona Petite dark sage top for $4.99 and the Worthington Petite black wrap top at $3.99.

This Ann Taylor Loft grey fringe wool skirt with appliqued flowers was a steal at $8.98.

Winter clothes are hard to find secondhand. This is especially true for sweaters that can't be altered and tend to arrive at the thrift store stretched, snagged, or pilled. When I find a great sweater I pounce on it. Take these two for instance. The white is a Raphaella angora/lambswool blend for $7.98. The pink Valerie Stevens is cashmere and set me back $10.99.

By my calculations that's a total of $84.81, including the $9 alteration fee, for 13 items. That averages out to $6.52 per piece. Is there any sceneario by which this does not qualify as awesome?

Please excuse the quality of these photos - I lent my photography rig to Vogue magazine. They promised to have it back in time for this shoot but, well, you know how that goes!

What's your best thrift store/charity shop/consignment boutique find?

The Blank Page

Think you're invisible in your grey sweatpants and black T-shirt? Think again; you couldn't be invisible if you tried. The right color is a Spashionista's best friend. It can make you look vibrant, confident, and prettier - and who doesn't want that?

There are several ways to find your true skin tone and the corresponding colors that work well with it.

We'll start with the easiest way. Even if you are Caucasian your skin is not pure "white". It has an undertone that determines which colors look best on you. Take several sheets of white printer paper to the closest source of indirect natural light. Hold your arm up to the light, turn it so that the underside of your wrist faces upward, and hold the paper next to it. If your skin appears to have a golden or yellow color you will likely look good in Warm colors. If your skin has either a bluish or an olive cast to it you will look better when wearing Cool colors. If you have peachy pink skin tending towards blue undertones you will look your best in Mid-Tones.

If you are not Caucasian but your skin tone is neutral you should wear Mid-Tones. Caramel colored undertones shine in Warm colors. Ebony skin tones look radiant in Cool colors.

Still confused?

Not My Closet

Go to your closet and divide your clothes into color groups, blues together, yellows, greens, and so on. Then take them to the nearest mirror - full length is best, but a bathroom mirror will do in a pinch - and either try them on or drape them near your face. Start with your favorite color and take a good, long look at what you see. Does that color make your skin glow or does it make you look sallow and tired? Do your eyes look bright or like you haven't slept in a week? Be objective; get help from a friend if you need it. Put the colors that truly work for you together. Likewise those that don't. Unless you have ample means to go out and buy a new wardrobe don't throw out or give away anything that doesn't fall into your optimal color palette just yet.

In the next several posts I'll explain each group in better detail to give you as much help as I can.