Join the New Gifters: Less Stuff, More Meaning, No Fruitcake
By Marilynn Preston
The holiday season is upon us. And there’s a 6-foot-high, plastic inflatable Santa standing outside the pet shop around my corner that I want to kill. He’s so cheesy, so filled with mechanical joy that his robotic “ho ho ho” makes me want to yank his polyester beard as I pass by on my way to yoga, knowing I can always calm down later, on the mat.
Finding calm and feeling real joy during the holidays is a personal goal you might choose for yourself this December. Setting the goal is easy. Planning for success is the challenge. What are you going to do this year that is specific, different and dramatic enough to shift your behavior and elevate your spirit?
Take gift-buying, for instance. It’s an aerobic sport this month, a virtual minefield of anxiety, stress and indecision. Will Samantha flip for the earphone-ready Ugg earmuffs? Does Sydney crave another pair of cashmere-lined gloves? Should I go into credit card debt to pay for more toys, more gadgets, more STUFF just because there are phony snowflakes in every store window?
The simple answer to that last loaded question is no. Simplicity is part of a growing trend in gift-giving that has nothing to do with more purses, more scarves, more useless stocking stuffers that add little more than clutter to our lives.
Instead, people on the path to a healthier, happier lifestyle are finding more satisfying ways to express their love and gratitude. Instead of buying into the crass commercialism of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Kiss-my-Mistletoe Tuesday, conscious spenders are rethinking old habits and replacing them with new ones that are greener, cleaner, more inspired and more charitable.
Interested? Wrap your mind around these:
CONSUMABLES ARE KING. Nothing is true for everyone. But for many people on your holiday list, giving consumables is the way to go.
What’s a consumable? Simply put, it’s something you use up. Like a fine bottle of wine. (In my house, anything over $25 dollars fits that bill). Or a box of fabulous chocolates. Or a fruitcake-free fruit basket filled with the yummiest organic produce you can find.
The one exception to the Give Consumables rule, in my book, is a great book. They’re a dwindling species, but readers still exist, and matching a great book with an eager mind remains a thrill. I remember one year giving everyone I know a copy of “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan. But most years, I find a fabulous food item or two online. Have you ever tasted a Greenberg Smoked Turkey? Or Heart of the Desert’s garlic & green chili-flavored pistachios?
EXPERIENCES LAST FOREVER. I like giving consumables … but I love giving people on my list something experiential. Stuff is stuff, but an experience can have real impact that lasts way beyond the holidays. Here are my FIVE favorite experiences to offer a loved one:
— A massage: Nothing beats a session with a blissful body-worker.
— Manicure-pedicure: good for ladies and hilarious for guys.
— Private coaching in his or her favorite sport: a total winner!
— Cooking lessons: fun for one, but better done in pairs.
— Tickets to theater, dance, music: Buy two, and share the good times.
DONATE TO A
NON-PROFIT. This is one of the highest forms of gift-giving, but it takes a little courage. Trust me — you will not disappoint. Find a charity you believe in, or one that’s in sync with your loved one’s interests, and donate in their name. One wonderful one to consider is Heifer International (heifer.org), where your gift of $20 dollars or more can buy a struggling family a flock of chicks or a share in a llama.
Another outstanding nonprofit I support and shamelessly promote whenever I can is Girls in the Game (girlsinthegame.org), where the mission is to teach young women to lead healthy, active lifestyles so they can grow up to be confident, strong leaders in their community.
So the choice is yours. If you decide to rethink your gift-giving, Santa and Rudolph will rejoice in their lighter load.
ENERGY EXPRESS-O! LOL
“The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband.” — Joan Rivers
Marilynn Preston — fitness expert, well being coach and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues — is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. She has a website, http://marilynnpreston.com and welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com.
COPYRIGHT 2015 ENERGY EXPRESS, LTD.
Beat Cool – Weather Keep health in mind as cold creeps closer
Temperatures may be dropping, but just because swimsuit season is over doesn’t mean it’s time to let your fitness regimen fall by the wayside. Keeping active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important year-around, so stay on track as the weather cools with these tips and tricks.
7 Healthy Habits for Fall Fitness
1. With cooler temps comes the temptation to indulge in comfort foods. Remember that it’s OK to satisfy those cravings but keep portions in control.
2. From the start of school to the kickoff of new sporting seasons, fall is a time of fresh beginnings. Get your own start on a healthier lifestyle by kicking unhealthy habits such as smoking.
3. Make the most of these last few months to enjoy seasonal fruits and vegetables. Try new recipes featuring options such as apples, pears, pumpkin and squash to enjoy the natural goodness of fresh produce and add some variety to your typical diet.
4. Colder weather may bring relief from the heat, but it also brings cold and flu season fast on its heels. Practice good hygiene and wash your hands often to minimize your exposure to germs and illness.
5. Commit to a workout routine. Whether that means investing in the proper home workout equipment to have at home or securing a gym membership (or a combination of the two), pledge to make time for a workout most, if not all, days of the week.
6. Set a good example for the youngest members of your family by finding ways to get the whole crew involved. Take a walk or bike ride, or organize a game of backyard ball to get those feel-good endorphins going.
7. Poor sleep not only drags you down, it can raise your risk for numerous medical problems. Set a bedtime that allows you plenty of rest and stick to it. Also eliminate as many factors as possible that can disrupt your sleep, such as the TV, music and lights.
Electrolytes for Fitness
During a workout, you lose more than just water when you sweat – you also lose electrolytes. If you don’t replace what you lose, you can become dehydrated, decreasing strength, reducing endurance and delaying muscle response. Water alone doesn’t contain electrolytes, so you need a beverage enhanced with electrolytes like Propel Electrolyte Water. With 9 available zero-calorie flavors, it’s the only national water brand with enough electrolytes to replace what you lose in sweat. Learn more at propelwater.com.
Performance Training for a Healthy Lifestyle
Building healthy habits, strength and endurance is possible with the T618 Nautilus Performance Series Treadmill, which is perfect for home workouts. With a full suite of training programs, including interval training, weight management and other customized workouts, this powerful machine features an exclusive cushioning system, a gym-quality running path and an easy-folding deck. Bluetooth connectivity allows users to share data with the free Nautilus Trainer app, which automatically syncs with popular fitness apps. Learn more at nautilus.com.
Best Foot Forward
Keeping in shape requires keeping your feet in motion, but without proper footwear you can find your energy sagging and muscles straining. This is especially true for runners, whose feet take a real pounding. Look for a shoe that fits well in both the heel and instep, fitting snugly but not restrictive. Remember that feet swell during a run, so be sure you have ample room in width and length. Also be sure the shoe offers enough flexibility to give without causing blisters or rubbing uncomfortably while you’re running.
A Sporting Way to Get More Cardio
Keeping sports equipment handy makes it easy to incorporate more exercise into your daily routine. Assemble a variety of sporting goods to create some variety in your workout, and be sure to include options you can enjoy solo, with a partner or with a group of friends. An assortment of balls for games such as basketball, football, soccer and softball are simple ways to get in an extra cardio workout. Jump ropes, resistance bands and free weights are also handy to have around the house when inspiration to mix up your workout routine is necessary.
Family biking photo
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Running shoes photo
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Sports glove and balls photo
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Trick Plays for Budget-Savvy Tailgaters
As fall settles in, the air gets crisper and the kids head back to school, many Americans eagerly anticipate one thing: football season.
Whether you’re a die-hard gridiron fan or prefer to enjoy the food and festivities from the sidelines, everyone can agree that a successful tailgate is key to any memorable game day get-together. According to a recent Bank of America survey, 34 percent of Americans plan to attend a professional or college football game or tailgate this fall, and 20 percent plan to host a tailgate or viewing party themselves.
While many love planning out meals, decorations and activities for friends and family, the costs can easily add up and make hosting feel like an underdog game. So how can fans plan a tailgate that stays on budget and impresses any crowd – home or away?
Home design and DIY experts Ben and Erin Napier teamed with Bank of America to provide these cost-savvy tips for pulling off a memorable tailgate that fits the bill for every fan on game day.
Get in the Competitive Spirit
Whether you’re grilling outside the stadium or spending halftime hanging out in your backyard, Ben recommends laying out a variety of games for guests to enjoy, such as a wood-block game with blocks painted in your team colors.
Follow these simple steps:
1. Sand down wooden four-by-fours.
2. Cut into 48 pieces, each eighteen 18 inches long.
3. Stack pieces into a tower.
4. Take turns pulling pieces to see who knocks the tower over first.
For added flair and personalization, Erin suggests painting the wooden blocks your team colors.
Bring the Stadium to Your Living Room
If you missed out on tickets or your home team is on the road, you can still make your home feel like a day at the stadium. Decorating your home with the team’s colors – such as creating DIY wall art with framed jerseys – is a simple, cost-efficient way to capture the tailgate essence.
Ben suggests setting up a big screen TV on the deck or outdoor living area with speakers to mimic the feeling of watching a game outside in the stands. For inexpensive, comfy seating that will help welcome guests and add another pop of team spirit, try purchasing throw pillows in your team’s colors from a wholesale club or superstore, but make sure to weatherproof them first using fabric protection spray.
Create a Tailgating Space that Stands Out
One of the best parts of tailgating at the stadium is being surrounded by fellow fans. Try sprucing up your car or tent to create an inviting space that showcases your team pride. Ben recommends investing in a large, custom-designed vinyl or fabric banner for your tent. Not only can they be affordable to produce and last for many seasons, but they stand out in a crowd.
Defeat Your Budget
“Planning for a busy football season doesn’t need to be a ‘loss’ for your budget,” Ben said. “Turning to a credit card that rewards you for everyday purchases is one of the easiest ways to ‘win’ this season.”
Because tailgating throughout the entire football season requires many trips to the grocery store – often buying in bulk – using a card like the BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card lets you earn 2 percent cash back at wholesale clubs and grocery stores. And 3 percent cash back when gassing up for away games – on up to $2,500 in grocery/wholesale club/gas quarterly spend. You also earn 1 percent back on all other purchases.
For more information, visit bankofamerica.com/creditcard.
Source: Bank of America
Old School Throwbacks: The Back to School Checklist
By: Sharon Mosley
As summer fades and it’s time to head back to class, take a few notes on the fashion favorites that will be making the grades this fall. It’s all about channeling the ’90s and adding a modern twist to these wardrobe must-haves. Check out these trends for tots to teens that get an A for Attitude:
–Distressed Denim. Denim is always a back to school staple, but this year, it’s getting a little distressed. That means ripped and ragged…in all the right places, of course. And if this shabby chic is not up to the school dress code, then there are plenty of other options. Flared jeans, overalls and ombre chambray shirts are trendy for teens; cuffed jeans and denim mini skirts for kids. And cropped skinny jeans are turning up everywhere…the perfect jean to wear with everyone’s favorite ankle boots.
–Graphic Tees. Kids of all ages this fall will want to get their own personal message across with T-shirts that express their personalities. This is where parents can let their kids do their own things and be creative with fashion choices. My favorite? “Be You Tiful” from Lands’ End. Or don a tee splattered with geometric printed “artwork.” Be creative!
–Cool Jackets. They’re the finishing touch to jeans and tees and a way to chill out on cooler fall days. The popular jean jacket it always a must-have, but kids and teens this year jazz up their denim jackets with decorative patches that personalize the back to school classic. Jackets are also favorites of teen boys in military styles and bright colored leather bombers for teen girls.
–Plaid Shirts. The grunge look of the ’90s is playing out in a major way for the back to school crowd. Kids of all ages are layering the popular flannel button-front styles over T-shirts and jeans or wrapping them around their waists for warmer days when style still counts as well as comfort.
–Activewear. Ath-leisure is now a fashion trend gone mainstream. Activewear goes to class in zip-front hoodies, jogger pants and tracksuits. Old school is new again, and who could argue with this trend that combines performance wear with a stylish twist?
–Girly Dresses. For teen girls, the slip dress is a winner this fall, inspired by the models and rock stars of the ’90s. It’s a great layering piece for T-shirts and jackets, too. Younger girls love to dress up in flannel baby doll dresses that pair perfectly with tights and booties.
–Slouchy Sweaters. Sweaters are a varsity essential, and this fall, the popular trend shows up in slightly oversized shapes in everything from boxy sweatshirts to long tunic tops. Varsity-inspired cardigans are always a school favorite, and make a great partner to plaid shirts.
–Knit Hits. These are the ultimate mix-and-match pieces for a back-to-school wardrobe that stretches the budget and can be worn throughout the whole school year. Collect soft knits in dresses, pull-on leggings, short skirts and all kinds of tops and tees.
–Westward Ho. Let the fringe fly this fall…on suede jackets and skirts, on boots and book bags. The Wild West comes alive with the favorite classics of cowboys and cowgirls:
Start with the denim basics — jeans and skirts — and top off with chambray shirts and suede jackets or vests. Denim worn with denim head to toe has never been a bigger trend. Western style boots are another way to add a touch of the Wild West to school day wardrobes.
–Extra-Curricular Accessories. If it’s a backpack, then chances are, it’s headed back to school. And this fall, there are backpacks for every age. From animal prints to camo prints to metallics, there are bags with matching lunch totes and bags for laptops. And then there are the shoes of course…think platform sneakers for teen girls, chukka boots for the guys and ankle boots for all.
COPYRIGHT 2016 CREATORS.COM
Dad’s Day Gift Ideas – Feed dad’s interests with gifts he’ll love
Dad can be hard to shop for sometimes. Of course, he can never have too many ties, coffee mugs or tools. But doesn’t the man who taught you how to ride a bike, to play catch and to always try your best deserve something more personal and unique.
Sure, he will be happy regardless of what you get him, but why not help him enjoy more time with the interests he has outside of being a great father. Here are some Father’s Day gift ideas for every kind of dad – from the grill master to the car enthusiast and the clean freak to the hygiene centric and every kind of dad in between.
Let Dad Stand Out with a Million-Dollar Shine
Your dad can now achieve the million-dollar appearance of Barrett-Jackson car auctions in his garage. Their Premium Auto Care line includes washes, waxes and detailers formulated with synthetic hydrophobic polymers and genuine carnauba wax for lasting brilliance and easy application. Learn more about how to bring a long-lasting and brilliant, deep shine to your dad’s car at Barrett-JacksonAutoCare.com. Barrett-Jackson Premium Auto Care products, which range in price from $5.49 to $17.99, are available at retailers nationwide, including Walmart, Pepboys, Menards and select Home Depots, and through online retailers including Amazon.com. For the ultimate gift, go a step further and wash his car for him.
For the Dad Who Loves to Drive
What do you get a dad who loves his car and truly loves to drive? How about something that connects him to his car, like a shoe that enhances his driving experience? While comfortable and stylish enough for everyday wear, the Piloti Spyder S1 driving shoe features patented Roll Control heel technology, superior red suede and mesh panels for maximum comfort and flexibility as well as the perfect combination of support, size, grip and feel. Check out the Spyder S1 ($150) as well as Piloti’s complete line of luxury, casual and performance driving shoes at Piloti.com.
A Gift Dad Can Sink His Teeth Into
Make Father’s Day complete with a dinner he’ll remember for years. The Omaha Steaks Father’s Day T-Bone Gift package is a meal dad will be willing and eager to fire up the grill for. The package is headlined by two 18-ounce T-Bones and includes four Brisket Burgers and four Gourmet Jumbo Franks along with Omaha Steaks Seasoning. Regularly $194.95, you can now bring the family together to enjoy this incredible fare for just $69.99. For more information, visit omahasteaks.com.
A Spotless Man Cave, Workshop and Car
It’s the ultimate gift for dad and his man cave. The Dirt Devil FlipOut(tm) is a premium cordless hand vac, perfectly designed to keep his man cave, workshop or set of wheels spotless. The 16-volt, fade-free lithium battery means faster charging, longer runtime and continuous power. It’s compact and lightweight, and has versatile tools for quick and easy cleaning. The FlipOut is $49.99. For more information, visit DirtDevil.com.
Power Dad’s Smile
Be the power behind dad’s smile this Father’s Day with the Oral-B 7000 SmartSeries Electric Toothbrush with Bluetooth connectivity. The brush connects to the Oral-B App, which provides real-time guidance while brushing and records brushing activity that can be shared with dental professionals. With six different cleaning modes, it removes 300 percent more plaque compared to a manual brush. Upgrade your dad’s oral care routine and visit oralb.com for additional details.
(father and daughter photo)
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
KEEP YOUR COOL
How Sportswear is Innovating Underwaer, Socks and T’s
Athletic styling continues to increase its influence on casual clothing – often referred
to as “athleisure” apparel – with innovative fabric treatments associated with high-performance activewear making their way into basic apparel; even underwear.
Temperature-control and wicking technology that draws moisture away from skin, initially developed to keep athletes dryer and more comfortable while training and competing, can now be found in items we wear every day, including T-shirts, underwear and socks.
“Comfort is the biggest factor when choosing basic clothing, so it’s little surprise the technology that makes high-performance sportswear so appealing to athletes is being well received in casual, everyday apparel,” said Jay Turner, president of underwear, panties and socks at HanesBrands, which has introduced X-Temp, a dynamic temperature control and cooling technology, to its product lineup. “There is no such thing as too much comfort in underwear.”
After all, the gym is hardly the only place where temperatures rise and perspiration follows. Sometimes life sets the thermostat to “really uncomfortable,” especially with normal workday pressures. From interviewing for a new job, making a big presentation or dealing with a demanding boss, there are countless scenarios in the workplace that call for keeping your cool.
Fit meets function
Athletic apparel was once only worn for specific athletic activities, but now demand has inspired manufacturers to deliver the same style and comfort in more affordable, everyday apparel. One of the key components of comfort is temperature regulation, and a high-tech
Swiss company, HeiQ, developed the Adaptive technology that actually responds to body temperature changes by turning moisture wicking on or off, much like the skin does naturally. You want more evaporation to keep you feeling cooler when the body is warmer and less evaporation when you are chilled.
Top brands are now incorporating this technology into their collections. For example, Champion PowerTrain T-shirts, hoodies and training pants (look for “Vapor” on the label)
are made from virtually weightless fast-drying fabric that wicks moisture for sweat-free
comfort, no matter what else you’re wearing and what you’re doing.
Underneath it all
When things heat up, keeping your cool depends on that first layer of fabric against your
skin. That’s why it’s important to choose undergarments designed to respond to your body temperature. By incorporating the same cooling technology used in active apparel, Hanes has introduced X-Temp undershirts, socks and men’s and women’s underwear that wick moisture away from consumers when warm. Soon you will even be able to find bras that incorporate
“Technology continues to migrate from athletic wear to underwear as part of the athleisure trend,” Turner said. “For consumers, comfort is 24-7 and knows no boundaries.”
To learn more about comfortable, casual clothing with the technology to meet your lifestyle needs, visit hanes.com.
White. Black. Navy. Brown. These are the basic colors found in most of our wardrobes. But what happens when fashion designers decide they want to shake things up a bit? They surprise us by creating a little more daring color chaos thrown into the mix of all those boring basics we insist on wearing year after year.
“Without the classics, a wardrobe can’t be built,” admits Jackie Nasser, Fashion Director of the online boutique Rue La La. “But without a little color chaos, a wardrobe can’t come to life.”
Color expert Lee Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, agrees. “There are specific color combinations that say classic,” she says, “while other mixes are completely unexpected and bring an element of surprise. Some may refer to those combinations as chaotic, yet in the proper context they might be absolutely on target for expressing a more freewheeling and creative mood. … There is room for classic and chaotic.”
So whether you want to stick with the classic palette or inject a little more fun into your wardrobe this fall, designers provide plenty of color inspiration. Pantone’s fall 2015 predictions include a color palette that ranges from earthy neutrals such as greenish-gray “Desert Sage,” olive green “Dried Herb,” blue-gray “Stormy Weather” and golden-yellow “Oak Buff.”
Add a wine-like ruddy brown like “Marsala” to warm things up or a blue-green like “Biscay Bay” for a splash of tropical flair. And then if you really want to get a little “chaotic,” layer fall color favorites like “Cadmium Orange,” “Cashmere Rose” and “Amethyst Orchid” to invoke a ’70s flashback.
But while the trends may change every year or two, we usually have a favorite color, says Eiseman, who extensively explores how color affects all of us in her book “The Color Answer Book.” “Everyone has a personal color ‘signature’ based on hair, skin and eye colors,” she writes. “Wearing accessories or clothing that repeat elements of your personal coloring will be flattering and distinctive and pleasing to others as well.”
Here are Eiseman’s additional tips for selecting signature colors:
—”If you have hair, skin and eyes with very little contrast, such as very dark skin, eyes and hair that appear almost black, there are actually other undertones present. Extremely dark skin and hair may appear to be blue-black. So a jet black or true navy sweater and pants accented with a (Biscay Bay) blue shirt and a touch of pristine white to add sharp contrast … would look terrific.”
—”If your skin is a deep dark brown, a brownish black, such as Black Coffee, would look subtly striking.” Try shirts in this season’s Marsala or Biscay Bay to complement coffee-colored skin. Eiseman also suggests a touch of winter white to add a flattering contrast.
—”If your hair is silver, your eyes a light blue, and your skin is fair, there is nothing like the drama of jet black” or dark blue colors, writes Eiseman. This season, try Biscay Bay, Marsala and gray Stormy Weather worn with contrasting white or silvery gray and a vibrant touch of Amethyst Orchid.
—”Redheads, of course, by virtue of their unique coloring, can’t help but attract attention,” writes Eiseman. “If you are a copper-toned redhead with cream-colored skin and amber eyes, you simply know that the very same shades are magical on you.
—For Asian skin tones, Eisemen recommends complementary colors to the olive base of their skin. So reds and pinks are a good match (Marsala, Amethyst Orchid). These shades work well with anyone who has dark hair and dark eyes.
—”Sandy-haired people with beige skin tones and brown eyes invariably go for the neutrals. … If you wear them consistently and with very little contrast, you will disappear into the woodwork,” writes Eiseman. “Wear these classic tones, but add a touch of contrast, something memorable” A little Cadmium Orange or Cashmere Rose, perhaps?
Experiment with different elements from Pantone’s fall palette. Then if you want to add more “chaos” to your life, wear all these colors together!
To find out more about Sharon Mosley, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM
By: Sharon Mosley
It’s back in the saddle again. Time to round up those fresh jeans and head into a new season of denim — a favorite in our wardrobes, year after year. The stars of this season’s fashion rodeo lineup are extra relaxed, playing like a modern Western with more options than ever. Here are some ways you can ride high and get in the denim spirit right now:
—Shimmy into skinny. The slim silhouettes are still going strong, so if you love the skinny look, you can easily update it, dressing jeans up by tucking them into a pair of new boots this fall. Opt for straight legs if you’re tired of squeezing into those tighter jeans. The newest way to top off slim jeans? An oversized poncho or swingy cape.
—Relax with fuller silhouettes. While skinny jeans may not be going away, fuller silhouettes are coming on strong, giving us alternative, roomier styles that we can wear for all kinds of occasions. Cropped jeans with raw hems are ultra-chic when worn with heels; cuffed “boyfriend” fits are fun, too, and cute with casual flats.
—Go for jeans with flare. Seventies fashion continues to influence designers, who have taken the high-waisted wide-leg jean to a new level this year. This is probably one of the most versatile denim silhouettes out there now. Wear darker washes with high heels to work and whiskered, distressed washes with flat boots on the weekends.
—Do denim in new ways. Yes, we all want that perfect pair of jeans in our closets, but how about trying a tailored denim shirtdress, a great new midi skirt or a pair of funky overalls? If you don’t have a classic jean jacket in your wardrobe, add one this season. It will become your “go-to” piece to wear with everything.
—Fade into fall. We’ve always been used to denim lightening up in the spring and summer, but this year, the faded stuff washes right on into fall. Lighter blue denim pieces are a great way to make the transition from summer into cooler weather. Pair your chambray shirts with darker jeans and vests. Another traditional summer denim classic showing up for fall? Shorts! Pair them with tights and boots in chilly weather.
—Think accessories. It’s a lot easier to fit handbags and boots into your life than it is to wiggle into a new pair of skinny jeans. Check out studded denim clutches by Chanel, denim cross-body bags by Pucci or knee-high denim-and-leather boots by Tom Ford.
—Wear it with everything. Blue denim plays well with other pieces in your closet. Pair it with creamy neutrals, classic leopard prints, luggage-brown accessories or black leather. Or wear denim head to toe. Denim is one of the most versatile fashion must-haves, whether you’re a boho rocker or a tailored professional.
—Embellish it. From artsy prints to patchwork to fringe, denim gets detailed this fall with more and more surprises. Designers have decided that this sturdy classic is not going to ride off into the sunset, even as leggings continue to gain ground. After all, our wardrobes are plenty big for all of it — and there are plenty of new ways to wear our favorite denim duds. Hee-haw!
COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM
Back to School on a Budget: Shopping Tips for Parents
BY SHARON MOSLEY
Editor’s Note: The following column was originally published in 2009.
Let’s talk about the biggest “B” word this fall. It may be time to head “back” to school, but for many parents, the biggest “B” in their bonnets will be “Budget.”
“It’s evident that parents are more financially conscious than ever before, budgeting for groceries, family trips and now back-to-school shopping,” says Katherine Hurley, vice president and general merchandise manager for Lands’ End Kids. “As a result, smart moms are using a variety of shopping strategies to be sure kids are ready to head back to class.”
In a recent survey of moms conducted by Lands’ End and Parents Magazine, more than 63 percent of respondents stated that when it comes to back-to-school shopping and spending, they are more anxious this year compared to last year.
But getting your kids ready for school in style doesn’t have to be an anxiety-ridden, budget-busting experience. Here are some basic shopping strategies to help ease the back-to-school budget blues:
—Have a Family Meeting: That’s right, pick a time where you can all sit down and strategize. Don’t wait until you arrive at the store and your kids start whining about why they can’t have the $150 sneakers or hoodies in 10 different colors. Talk about your budget concerns before you go shopping, and let your kids be involved so that they understand the spending parameters.
—Clean Up Your Closets: This is a no-brainer, but many of us forget to do it. Help your kids clean out their closets before they buy new clothes. Separate what fits from what doesn’t. You never know how many pairs of jeans may be lurking in the deep dark recesses of those closets, buried underneath layers of unseen T-shirts and towels. Donate anything that doesn’t fit to a charity.
—Make a List: Another often overlooked necessity. But you probably make a list when you go grocery shopping, don’t you? Why not use the same procedure when shopping for back-to-school clothes? Check off the list as you’re shopping. You can even duplicate lists so that every child has a copy. Then, when you get to the store, stick to your lists.
—Allow for a Treat: Shopping for back-to-school clothes may not be every child’s dream come true, but you can make it more appealing to kids. Set aside a small amount of money so they can pick out one “special” item — a cool pair of shoes or a special headband — to wear on the first day of school. And that’s only if they stick to the original budget!
—Mix It Up: One of the best ways to obtain the most for your fashion dollar is to purchase mix-and-match coordinates. This is a great way for kids to express their own personality in putting their clothes together, and it provides for many more outfit choices.
Take your daughter’s favorite denim skirt from summer. With an additional pair of leggings, you can extend the skirt’s wear into fall. Those same leggings can be added to other knit dresses and tunics for even more wearable looks.
—Look for Quality: Beware of buying the cheapest clothes you can find. If clothes can’t withstand multiple washings, recesses and play days, then they are not great bargains. And if you want “hand-me-down” potential, stick to quality clothing.
Look for reinforced knees, adjustable waistbands, double-stitched seams and pre-washed pieces that minimize shrinkage and hold color. You never know … hopefully you’ll find some of the new clothes will actually make another appearance this time next year.
COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM
Fall Ahead: Fashion Trends to Check Out Now
By: Sharon Mosley
Don’t let the warm temperatures fool you: the season’s next fashion finds are arriving online and in stores daily now. It’s not too early to think about taking a break from the heat and cleaning out your closet to make way for some cool new looks that you can wear now and later. Check out these trends:
—’80s Club Chic. Yes, we are back to the ’80s, moving right along from those ’70s-inspired rock ‘n’ roll looks that were so in style last year. Think Madonna and her groupies, flashing back to fishnets, fingerless gloves and anything ripped, torn and held together with safety pins. The spiky-haired punks are back, but all grown up this time around, with oversized menswear blazers, asymmetrical hemmed skirts, animal-print coats and, of course, tulle skirts. Lingerie comes out from undercover. Refresh your memory and watch Madonna in “Desperately Seeking Susan.” But you don’t have to be all that desperate to try out this trend. A hint of lace and leather will do. A little goes a long way.
—In the Abstract. It’s all about painterly prints this fall. And these prints are meant to be seen — from far away! Huge, oversized geometrics (the bigger, the better) in bright colors are splashed on clothing canvases from dresses to tops to bottoms. The hit of the season? Head-to-toe checkerboard prints. And the more these graphic prints and colors clash, the better, too. If you’re not quite as bold as those ’80s club kids were, then stick with one piece of wearable art at a time!
—Modern Vintage. The bohemians from last year are marching back in time with a slightly more dandified approach. We’re talking velvet in lush jewel-tone colors that have a fairy-tale effect, creating a romantic fashion twist that borders on the Baroque and glistens in gold metallic prints. Go with the flow in ’60s-ish floral dresses, long skirts and high-necked blouses. Add some tassels and fringe. Pull on your gloves and pin on the brooches. Get ready to strut your stuff in those velvet Victorian lace-up booties, girls!
—Sporty Leisure. The popular trend that combines athletic wear with casual wear will continue to have a big influence on our wardrobes, because, let’s face it, we all love comfortable clothes. The baggy sweats of yesteryear have morphed into lean leggings, long tunics, zip-front jackets and jumpsuits. We are knit-wits about these kinds of sporty outfits that can be worn to the gym and beyond. Look for pajama-inspired clothes to become even more popular this fall. After all, it will be time to get cozy and hibernate soon!
—Coat Craze. If there’s one thing to put at the top of your fall/winter shopping list, it’s a coat. And not just any ol’ coat. Look for a statement piece. After all, you wear your coat over everything else, day in and day out. Why not make it special? Whether it’s a knockout color, an over-the-top shape or a fabulous faux fur, this is the year to find that one-of-a-kind outerwear that stands out in a crowd.
—Block Party. Accessories are always key signals that a new fashion season has arrived. This fall, the newest shoes are stepping out with square heels that give footwear a mod ’60s touch. And if you really want to get a foot up on the latest trends, buy a pair of block heels or ankle boots in white. The stark contrast of white shoes in the winter will put you at the head of the fashion pack this year. Step out and be bold!
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Rethinking Jewelry: Instant Updates
By: Sharon Mosley
Go big and go bold. It’s the mantra of jewelry designers everywhere this year. The bigger the bauble the better. From pearls to pendants, jewelry is once again making a big fashion statement — popping up not only on celebrities strutting their multimillion-dollar sparklers on the red carpets, but in the accessory wardrobes of women who are scoring great finds from local artisans and vintage flea markets.
It’s time to rethink your own collection of jewelry. Here are some quick ways to update your decorative treasures right now:
—Make a statement. It’s all about impact when it comes to jewelry trends. Don’t be afraid to be bold with your choices whether it’s fine jewelry loaded with semi-precious stones or 1950s costume jewelry that you picked up at your neighbor’s yard sale. The oversized statement piece is one of the best investments you can make in creating a wardrobe that has lots of personal style.
—Mix classic with contemporary. Have a favorite pearl necklace you inherited from your grandmother? Add a modern twist to it by teaming it with a leather cord lariat or a detachable pendant or brooch. Mixing materials is one of the best ways to update old jewelry. Don’t be afraid to combine different metals and gemstones, as well as gold and silver. Mix, don’t ever match. It’s called “coordinating”!
—Layer, layer, layer. More is more when it comes to accessorizing with jewelry. Layer necklaces, combining long and short for more impact and creative style. Stack a dozen thin slivers of bangles in an artful mix of silver and gold, some dangling with your favorite charms, for a delicious dose of arm candy at its best.
—Change up your chains. Wear solid link chain bracelets with snake chain or beaded chain bracelets. Combining different textures is a quick way to make your jewelry much more interesting. Chunky chain cuffs are another way to pump up the glam factor.
—Buy local and personalize. Necklaces or bracelets that sport various words or slogans continue to be a popular way to express a special occasion. But necklaces and bracelets dangling with pendants and charms can also be a creative way to tell your own personal history. Check out local jewelry artisans in your area to find unique pieces that can be customized just for you.
—Go for the “multiple” experience. There are plenty of ways to get creative when it comes to accessorizing with jewelry. In the spirit of “more is more,” consider wearing multiple rings on your hands, whether it’s one ring across several fingers or two or three rings on one finger. Ditto for long necklaces, earrings or bracelets.
—Try a new trend. Perhaps it’s tassels dripping from a hand bracelet, feathers fanned out over a brooch or a single earring dangling with stones. Whatever you decide to try, the latest jewelry trends are a fun way to indulge your fashion fantasies. This year, the “arts and crafts” look will update your wardrobe of basics. Also on the jewelry trend radar: tribal-inspired designs, mirrored metals and geometric shapes.
—Make it versatile. Think about wearing a piece of your favorite jewelry in a new way. Pins and clips can function as fasteners on dresses and blouses as well as an accent on scarves, belts, hats and shawls. Scout out special clasps that allow jewelry to be worn in different ways. A hinged “oyster” clasp is one of your best bets. And if you’ve got a drawer full of old mismatched pieces of jewelry, think about creating a whole new life for your memorable treasures — decorate picture frames; cover pillows; create a “bouquet.” Remember: think outside the jewelry box!
COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM
What Not to Wear to the Class Reunion
By: Sharon Mosley
You’ve put the date on your calendar — but you’ve still got time to change your mind about going to that dreaded class reunion. You’ve already decided you’ve got nothing to wear anyway. But before you RSVP “no way,” why not change your attitude and get ready to reconnect with old friends and party like it’s 1999? Here’s some help on the fashion front: tips on what not to wear.
—Workout clothes. Leave the yoga pants at home, please. Ditto with the hoodies and the leggings. The “ath-leisure” trend may be having a big moment in fashion right now, but class reunions (or any other special occasions) are not the time you want to show off those abs you’ve been working on ever since you got the save-the-date. You can still be casual and wear a stylish tunic paired with capris or sleek jeans and heels.
—Office wear. You may be the president of an up-and-coming new tech company, but wearing a very tailored menswear suit like the one you wear to the office every day may not attract the kind of comments you want your fellow classmates to make when you enter the room — even if you were the biggest nerd in the class of ’95. If you insist on wearing a suit, loosen it up a bit with a fancy lace blouse and strappy sandals. Make sure your accessories are standouts.
—Over-the-top fashion trends. This may be the one party of the year when you will want to go all-out and show off one of your trendiest outfits, but try to resist. And if you do work in the fashion industry and just can’t stand not to look like you’ve just strolled down the runway, then stick to one trendy item that adds that individual flair you’ve always been known for: an oversized big-brimmed hat, a pair of chic wide-leg pants or a poncho dripping with fringe. Keep the rest of your outfit simple.
—Blasts from the past. Never make the mistake of trying to re-create any look from your former “glory” days. The ’70s may be back in a big way, but those crocheted vests and taffeta prom dresses from days gone by were not all that attractive then, and they sure have not aged well as fashion must-haves. And never recycle anything that screams “bridesmaid’s dress.” Try updated separates and dresses that have a little sparkle to them. Think subtle beading or sequins on skirts or tops paired with elegant pants or jackets.
—Excess makeup. There may be a few things we all want to cover up — wrinkles included. Remember, all these classmates are the same age as you (and, yes, some have aged better than others). Stick to a youthful look and don’t go overboard with obviously fake eyelashes, clown blush or lavender hair. Use this special occasion to put on a fresh face. Book an appointment with a makeup artist weeks in advance. Talk to your hairstylist about updating your hair. Don’t forget pedicure and manicure appointments.
—Too “too” clothes. You know the ones: too tight, too bare, too low-cut, too short. Steer clear of the current crop of cropped tops that bare your stomach. No one wants to see how toned your stomach is even after three kids and thirty years. Try too hard and you’ll look too desperate. Instead concentrate on looking your best in colors and styles that flatter your body, no matter what shape it is in. Then have fun, and don’t worry about what you’re wearing. After all, everyone else is usually thinking about one person: themselves.
COPYRIGHT 2015 CREATORS.COM
Secrets of Stress-Free Vacations with Kids
Family vacations can be either delightful or disastrous — it depends greatly on your attitude and the care you devote to research and planning.
Adjust your attitude. Here is the first rule of family vacations: Parents on vacation really aren’t on vacation. If you can unload personal expectations that you will be relaxed and refreshed when it’s over, you won’t be disappointed when you’re not. And if you do get a little R&R along the way, consider it an unexpected bonus.
Be realistic about cost. Decide ahead of time how much cash you have for this vacation. If you have, say, a family of five and $500 to spend, don’t even think about a couple of days at Disney World. Always consider the money you have first, and then design a vacation that will realistically fit within that financial boundary.
Be realistic about time. Don’t try to stretch your available cash to cover the maximum time you have to be away from home. Divide what you can spend by a reasonable daily budget to determine how many days you can be gone. Carefully consider all the costs, not only the admission fees and overnight accommodations. Instead of full weeks, consider day trips or a weekend vacation. When it comes to family vacations, quality is considerably more important than quantity.
Single parents. It is really tough to go it alone. If you have more than one child, full vacation responsibility can be overwhelming. You need help, so consider staying with relatives or travelling with a group. Sharing the trip with another single-parent family with kids the same age can reduce costs significantly. It will relieve your anxiety and stress, too.
Involve the kids. If everyone is involved in making the plans and saving the money, you will prevent lots of problems. Let the kids have a say in where you will go. Talk about how much money you have to spend. Show the kids what it costs to eat in a restaurant, spend the night in a hotel or buy tickets for the amusement park. Look at travel guides to find the best bargains for the amenities you agree on. Also, take a look at a brand new resource, “Planning Successful Family Vacations: A guide for traveling with kids.” Encourage everyone in the family to think of ways to cut back to allow more money for activities or what you have decided is top priority.
Envelope method. There’s nothing like a good visual to keep a vacation based in reality. Large colorful envelopes are ideal, one for each day to hold that day’s allotted cash. Design the outside for the spending record so you can keep track of where the money is going.
Living-history museums. There are at least 2,000 living-history museums around the country, where the past seems as real as the present and learning is a joyous adventure. Spring and summer are the best times to visit because there are so many special children’s programs and family events. Many can be seen in an afternoon, while others might require the entire weekend. I suggest you start with a virtual visit. Go to www.alhfam.org, the site of The Association for Living History Farms and Agricultural Museums located in every area of the U.S. and Canada, where you can take a virtual tour of wonderful places like the Jamestown Settlement in Williamsburg, Virginia, The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan and Conner Prairie in Fishers, Indiana, to name just a few. You can find hours of operation, entrance fees as well as the programs they offer currently.
Whether you plan to travel this summer or design a stay-at-home vacation, it’s not too early to start planning. Besides, half the fun is the anticipation!
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at email@example.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014.
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