Wednesday, August 28, 2013

6 Steps to Create Your Fall Style Profile

Step 1: Get Inspired
It's late August, and like every year since I was 12 years old, my thoughts are turning to fall fashion. In years past, fall clothes shopping meant hitting the mall, trying on a bunch of stuff and buying the things that happened to look good on me - especially if they were on sale. This haphazard approach has resulted in a closet filled with a bunch of random pieces that are okay, but don't really work with each other.

This fall I'm 50, and I've decided it's time to upgrade my look by getting more strategic. I'm going to buy a few really great items that I'll want to wear all the time, and more importantly, fit the image I want to present. I'm going to develop a new style profile! It takes a little upfront planning, but the process is fun and the results are that you have a better organized closet, a pulled together look and the most out of your clothing budget. Wanna do it with me? Watch my video or simply read on!

Step 1 - Get Inspiration
All the big juicy September fall fashion magazines are out, showcasing everything you'll find in stores. Buy a variety of magazines - I got Vogue, InStyle, Marie Claire & Lucky - and round up all the catalogues you've received in the mail. Simply flip through them and pull out anything that appeals to you. Don't worry about the price or the brand, you're just looking for inspiration here.

Step 2- Find Your Themes & Colors Look at the images you selected and find the themes. Are you attracted to plaids or animal prints? Do you want to feel tribal or romantic? To you want to project a laid back hippie vibe or ladylike sophistication?  What shapes and colors appeal to you? You may be drawn to a variety of fashions, but the goal is to come up with a single cohesive look for fall, so be choosy! And remember, this process is simply based on your preferences - you'll end up with a style profile that is unique to you.

Step 3 - Name Your Style
Once you've pulled together a number of outfits that appeal to you, create a name for your style profile. You might choose "Going Green" for a relaxed, earthy look influenced by this season's green palette, or "Sporty Chic" for a cool combo of workout and street wear. The important thing about this name is that you relate to it. I'm calling mine "Streamlined Edge" because I'm looking for tailored pieces injected with a bit of rock and roll. Naming your style helps you define it!

Step 4 - Evaluate What You Have
Find the items you already own that fit your profile and bring them to the front of your closet. You probably have a lot of things that already fit the look you want. Now you can identify a few key pieces that you want to buy that will help you rock the look.
I already have a lot of stuff that fits my profile
Step 5 - What Doesn't Fit?
Move items that don't fit in with your new style profile to the back - you don't have to get rid of them, but get them out of the way. Now that you've organized your closet, paste your inspiration outfits on a piece of cardboard and tack it up to remind you what you're going for when you get dressed.

No florals or earth tones for me!

Step 6 - Shop with Discrimination
Here comes the best part, strategic shopping! Since you know what you're looking for and you're only buying a few key pieces, you can afford to be selective. If you've decided you must have a flowing tunic and ballet flats to complete your Romantic Rumba profile - search out the most gorgeous silk top and the prettiest, most comfortable flats you can afford. And don't get distracted by all the other stuff crowding the racks. It might be cool, it might be on sale, but if it doesn't fit your profile - walk on by.

Enjoy the Benefits
Creating and following a style profile will make it easier to get dressed, look good, and save money - because you only buy the pieces you really need and they work with  the things you own. And you won't struggle with that time-wasting dilemma - what am I going to wear today? Simply stay focused on your style profile when getting dressed.

It's humid and hot right now, but you'll soon see me sporting my new "Streamlined Edge" fall style. What's your fall style profile? If you care to, please share here!

Note: If you want to know what hot moms are wearing this fall, check out my pal Meredith Sinclair's "What's Trending" report for  Chicago Parent.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Celibacy Over Sex - an Emerging Trend in Japan

In Japan an astonishing new trend is developing: young women there are are choosing not to have anything to do with men. No romance, no relationship, no sex, no nothing. Apparently this trend has become so common the Japanese media has named it "Celibacy Syndrome."

I understand why modern women may choose not to marry or have children. But no sex at all? Now that's extreme.

Full Story in August Marie Claire.
I discovered this issue in a fascinating story in the August issue of Marie Clare Magazine titled No Sex and the City written by Abigail Haworth. Haworth writes that young urban women in Japan choose to be celibate because they value their jobs and independence over the restrictive roles of wife and mother. Women have gained power in the workplace, but Japanese relationships remain traditional. Wives are expected to be subservient to their husbands and getting married is the kiss of death to a woman's career, as Japanese employers assume her husband and eventual children will become her priority.

Ugh. I agree that makes marriage and motherhood sound pretty unappealing. But why not at least have sex with the guys?

In the U.S, much has been written about the hook-up culture and how it can actually be empowering for young women by allowing them to focus their energy and resources on their careers and education without getting lost in a relationship (check out Hanna Rosin's controversial story for the Atlantic Monthly). But casual sex isn't a real option in Japan. Women who have sex outside of marriage are considered sluts and judged harshly.

So many Japanese women aren't socializing with men at all. Instead, writes Haworth, young women spend their free time with girlfriends - dining out and shopping - and lavishing their affection on pet rabbits. Seriously. The pet market in Japan is booming.

And Japanese men? They're not all that interested in getting it on either, because they've got their own problems.

"Men, too, feel burdened by such old-fashioned attitudes about gender roles. Amid the ongoing economic recession, many men feel that the pressure on them to be the main family provider is unrealistic. At the same time, the glaringly obvious answer— settling down with career women and sharing the burden—is not feasible because the corporate world is too rigid to allow both parents to work."

I'm all for female empowerment, but women shouldn't have to become sexless bunny-lovers to keep their jobs. The world is changing rapidly - especially for women - which is a good thing. But progress is uneven and bumpy, and it's going to take some places and institutions a while to catch up. Women deserve to be both employed and sexual!

As Japanese men and women negotiate these choppy waters, I hope they find ways to connect and appreciate each other. Because girlfriends rock and kittens are cute and cuddly, but neither is a real substitute for real human intimacy. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

3 Steps to Great Sex in Longterm Relationships

Quickies and maintenance sex serve their purpose in long term relationship, but sometimes couples need to amp things up and create a special experience to keep the relationship fulfilling and hot. Here are three steps to a great night (or morning) of sex that will be far from routine.

Anticipation is so delicious.

1. Plan it
When are you and your mate having sex next? Have no idea? Waiting for the mood to strike? When it comes to sex, spontaneity is overrated.  Get out your calendar and schedule a sex date with your man in the next few days. We plan time for things that are important to us; a few intimate, pleasure-filled hours with your hubby should be one of them.

2. Prepare Yourself
Whether your hot date is tonight or Sunday morning, start preparing now. Your goal is to bring your most sensual self to the party. What will you wear? How will you ditch the kids, the dog, the cell phones? Do you need a pedicure, a massage, a playlist, a babysitter, a bottle of champagne?  Organize it! Be a bit naughty too - how about some good lube, a racy thong, erotic stories, or a blindfold? Women need time to access their desire, and all this mental preparation and physical planning serves as foreplay for you, just like it did back when you were single and took hours to get ready for a date. Let your guy know you're looking forward to your appointment - tease and flirt with him a bit. He'll be so psyched, he'll put some extra thought into it too, and the anticipation will be fun for both of you.

3. Stay Open
When your appointment rolls around, it's time to get out of your head and into the experience. Take a few deep breaths, slow down, and just let go. Don't expect any particular outcome and don't try to direct or control things. Be ready to respond to what moves you, inspires you, and feels good. Open up to your partner and the moment. Who knows what pleasure you might discover together?

Want more inspiration to make it happen? Here are some other articles you might enjoy:

Make it Better - Be Your Most Sexy Self 
eHarmony, How to Feel Sexy
MSN - Secrets of Sexually Satisfied Couples

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Choice to be Childfree - This Mom Gets it

Yesterday I found an old college friend's Linkedin profile. My formerly flighty chum - who I'll call Stacey - is doing amazingly well.  She has a law degree from a prestigious university, speaks five languages, and has held high-profile positions in major cities all over the world.

I hovered my mouse over the "connect" button, then changed my mind. My own accomplishments seem so skimpy by comparison. But what neither of our profiles show is whether we have kids or not. I'm not sure, but based on  Stacey's globetrotting mobility alone, I'm assuming she must be childfree.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

NYC's Soho - Where Shopping is Weird and Wonderful

Hey all, I just got back from a couple days in New York City where my husband and I met up with some of his Irish buddies to celebrate their 50th birthdays. We stayed at the Mondrian Hotel in Soho,  an area I knew very little about. Soho (which stands for SOuth of HOuston) is known for it's galleries and lofts and artsy vibe. But it also has a ton of cool shopping. Here are just a few of the stores I explored. If you're interested in learning more, follow the links to their websites.