Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Closet Basics: Outfit #2

The other basic outfit I wear a lot is a simple skirt + sweater or blouse + jacket. There are a lot of women who tell me they don't wear skirts any more, or dresses either, but I always have. I like them, perhaps because I'm short and buying trousers that fit me is tough (answer: find a good tailor or learn to hem/fit them yourself!), but skirts are easier.

Shirts can be professional and feminine without being flirty, and no matter your height, weight, age, or shape, there is a skirt shape or length that is good for you.

A few rules for the over-35 crowd:
  • Skip mini-minis. No matter how good your legs, a short skirt on a woman over 35 just looks like a frill on a turkey in a skirt higher than 3" above her knees.
  • Keep the size real: don't wear skin-tight skirts, again no matter how good your figure is.
  • A few"cute" skirts are good, but unless your style is truly Boho Original don't embrace the Forever 21 aesthetic of your teenage daughter. Or granddaughter.
  • Wear some kind of hose or tights, or get a really good, even, "natural" tan if you are Caucasian; I prefer black or dark gray hose or tights in winter, and I try to get a "natural" tan in summer. The way your legs look does matter: believe me.
I like skirts in a few basic shapes.

Pencil skirts. This is a great shape if you're short, because hemmed at just above the knee or mid-knee, it elongates your leg. Idon't like mine over-fussy, so I avoid extra seaming, slits (one in back is fine), or buttons. Just draws attention to places you might not want it, like your hips. And no stuff across the hem creating horizontal lines, if you're curvy.

A-line skirts, above the knee and long. I include gored skirts here. Again, these work for me. I have a mid-calf version that I wear with lace-up boots in a wool that is a very simple A-line shape, and a couple of different colored short A-lines that come in at just about the knee--not as short as this. The weight of the fabric--and there is more of it than in a pencil skirt--means you need a little bit extra length, even if you're short, to balance the proportions. Again, the simpler, the better in my book.

Pleated skirts--where the object is to look neither like Brittney Spears nor escapee from St. Ignatius' girls academy. Or a Pussycat Doll. You KNOW what I mean.

Yes, pleated skirt

No, Pussycat Doll--Yikes!
These are the three shapes I wear consistently.

With them, I can wear any combination of blouse + sweater, blouse + jacket, sweater alone, sweater + jacket... add accesories and go. Shoes/boots, scarves, belts, jewelry.

To be honest, I consider skirts to be just another element of an ensemble, like jeans or trousers. I don't wear suits any more, but I do bank on having separates that can rotate around--among my 20 closet pieces--and earn their way by matching with multiple tops in my closet. Most of my skirts are solid colors (black, gray, navy, chocolate, and red) so that pattern comes from the accessories or blouses. In summer I do break out into patterned skirts more, but still try to keep it leaning toward neutral patterns rather than boho explosions (been there, done that, regretted it).

One of the benefits about skirts for me is wearing boots with them. I find knee-high boots or lace-up boots plus jeans or trousers to be too bulky a look for me and too constricting on a comfort level. But I do wear boots with skirts and dresses, constantly. It gives a nice, long line to my overall look, which as a short, curvy person, I long for. (Hello, Charlize!)
In fact, I am wearing a skirt and blouse today--must run and get ready for class.

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