The Body Shop giveaway winner is...

The winner of a gift bag and sold-out summer bronzing products from The Body Shop is...

Brittney of A Day In The Life Too!

Brittney said...
heck yes i did all of those things. so jealous of all you dallas bloggers! that looks divine. annnd...please pretty please pick meeeeeee! (i'm slipping a twenty right now...)

Congrats Brittney!

Outfit Post: The tyranny of the "bikini body"

Memorial Day weekend, 1981: I am seven years old. My parents are hosting a barbecue and have invited my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and neighborhood friends. The air smells like roasting barbecue briquettes, daylilies, freshly cut grass and hot dogs.The rhythmic spurt-spurt-spurt of the sprinkler permeates the air. I am wearing an enticing two-piece yellow terry cloth bikini which ties around my neck, and my cousins and I shriek as we run through the needle-sharp spray of the sprinkler. My waist-long hair drips water down my back. I feel happy, unencumbered and free.

Flash forward to Memorial Day weekend, present day: I am 36 years old. My husband and three children chatter excitedly about going to the neighborhood pool. I have zero desire to go to the pool, because going to the pool means wearing my swimsuit in public. I stand in front of my dresser and try to calm myself down. I try on two-piece after two-piece, self-esteem plummeting in the process. Swimsuits lie tangled on the floor. My thighs seem to expand with each selection. My body takes up too much space. I am flabby and fat and all-together unacceptable. I feel like a failure.

Every summer, I go through the exact same ritual. I become obsessively focused on the notion of the perfect bikini body, an entity I am certain every woman possesses except for myself. The NY Times recently ran an article exploring the notion of the bikini body, examining the effect it has on fear-inspired marketing campaigns and as a symbol of physical perfection.

There's no way of figuring out when the phrase "bikini body" was first uttered or when its tyranny took hold. It's common knowledge that the two-piece as we know it was invented in 1946 by engineer Louis Réard who christened it after Bikini Atoll. The style became popular in the 50's and by the 80's was standard beachwear. As our culture increasingly enshrines physical perfection, the bikini has come to inspire dread and awe. It wasn’t always so. In the 1960s, when bellybutton-baring suits first became popular in America, “it was a youthful phenomenon definitely,” said Sarah Kennedy, the author of “The Swimsuit: A History of Twentieth-Century Fashions.” Then the high-fashion set and movie stars began to put on bikinis, and by the ’70s, she said, the bikini was “worn by all ages.”

And a few extra pounds didn’t disqualify anyone, considering the fitness revolution was still roughly a decade away. (The NY Times mentions that in the book there’s a 1940s photograph of a fresh-faced still-brunet Marilyn Monroe looking smashing in a two-piece, a roll of pale flesh at her midsection.)

Writes The Guardian's Laurie Penny:

When it finally became popular in the 1960s, the bikini was a symbol of physical liberation, of beautiful women reacting to the stern sexual prudery of previous decades by exposing as much skin to the sun as they pleased. Today, as with many iterations of the sexual emancipation rhetoric of the 1960s, wearing a bikini is no longer associated with pleasure and daring, but with anxiety, dieting rituals and joyless physical performance...The bikini body has become cultural shorthand for a moral standard of female perfection whereby any physical flaw should be regarded as a source of shame, an obstacle to collective fantasies of glamour and happiness.
When did  the bikini become the standard of all beauty? I'm going to theorize that the first Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues, published in 1964, had a lot to do with it. With that publication, swimsuits became explicitly linked with the standards of female desirability. Also, the Swimsuit Issue is published in the winter and had little to do with the reality of actual women being at the beach, let alone swimming, and a lot to do with unattainable goals.

"Bikini body" is the going code for "acceptable." It is always in bikinis that the tabloids feature the "best" and "worst" bodies. Type "bikini body" into Google and you get the following suggested searches:

bikini body workout
bikini body diet
bikini body tips
bikini body fast
quick bikini body

The bikini body has nothing to do with overall health, or fitness, or lifestyle. No, it's about shedding "winter weight" fast, before some arbitrary deadline known as "Bikini Season," at which point we're forced to confront a two-piece suit with, naturally, the requisite "bikini wax," and no trace of cold-weather pastyness. Jezebel argues that the "bikini body" craze goes so much deeper than fatism or fatphobia. It is part of our society's relentless insistence that a woman's body is not her own. It is an object to be criticized.  Our society seems to think that a woman wears a bikini not for herself, but for the public to decide her worthiness.

Will the world end tomorrow if I can't cram my butt into a bikini? I was going to ask Stephen Hawking, but, after some careful mathematical calculations, I was able to come up with the answer on my own: No. Does this mean that I still don't have days where I hate my thighs and stomach so much I want to carve them off of my body with a fillet knife? No. But I understand that those days will happen and that they really don't matter because there truly is NOTHING wrong with my body. I've put it through a lot in the past 36 years and it's stuck around and carried me through everything.

So my motto is this: Just be healthy. Eat things that are nutritionally good for you and exercise, but don't forget about delicious, delicious baked goods and gelato from Pacuigo. Don't deprive yourself of things to satisfy the warped and nonsensical views of people that see you as another bottomless pocket and empty head. 

Do what you want, eat what you want, wear what you want, and be who you want.

Now I ask you: How you deal with the pressure of the "bikini body?" Does wearing a swimsuit in public make you break out in a sweat? Do you avoid going to the beach, pool or lake because of this fear? Does wearing a swimsuit cause you to dread summer activities? And do you have a favorite swimsuit that makes you feel great about yourself?

Thrifted Gap chambray shirt: thrifted vintage dress; Old Navy belt; White Mountain sandals; TIKKR watch; Charming Charlie bracelet; Forever 21 necklace

Memorial Day giveaway!

Happy Memorial day, everyone! I hope you're enjoying your day with friends and family and barbecue. Because if there's one thing that Memorial Day makes me think of, it's barbecues. But then again, most holidays have some sort of correlation with food in my head. I'll have to give that some thought. Later, when I'm done eating my burger and potato salad.

Today is the second to last day to enter my giveaway for a gift bag and new sold-out summer bronzing products from The Body Shop! Don't forget to take a moment and enter here. The drawing will be tomorrow night.

On Sundays I Smile - Week in Review May 29th

On Sundays I review the past week and I Smile. And I share these moments with you.

On Tuesday I got a pedicure and was enraptured by all the colors of nail polish. Am I the only one who stands, transfixed, in front of the display for an embarrassingly  ridiculously long period of time trying to choose a color? I ended up going with OPI's I'm Not Really A Waitress, which is the color I choose 99.825% of the time anyway.

On Wednesday I went to the Bishop Arts district in Dallas. Bishop Art is one of my favorite places in the city - a little six block radius of boutiques, vintage stores, restaurants, and coffee shops. You can eat the world's best raspberry pie and drink iced lattes and gawk at old trucks and vintage shop and people watch and pet various unidentifiable breeds of dogs.

And, if you're brave (and slightly insane) you can ask some random guy to take your picture in said old truck. And grin maniacally while doing so.

Bishop Arts is also home to The Soda Gallery, a store that sells sodas from all around the world, including 30 different kinds of root beers. They even have Fitz's, the world's greatest root beer, brewed in St. Louis. Be still my beating heart.

A mile down from Bishop Arts lies a section of Oak Cliff and possibly one of the scariest neighborhoods in Dallas. It's also home to a goldmine of a Salvation Army. It was there that I unearthed these vintage 1970's sunglasses, which are so big they make me look like a bug and eat  my face. I should also mention that I stood in the cashier line in front of two completely inebriated old men, one of whom peed himself. Good times.

Another genius thrifting find  this week was this completely fetching, sequined and bead encrusted nineties vest. With a golfer on it. I'll admit I wasn't going to buy it, but after tweeting a pic (you're following me on Twitter, aren't you?) was talked into purchasing it by ten Twitter friends. All of whom I will blame if I look redonk in it. Though for $2.70, how could I resist? Now I just have to figure out how to style this glamorous piece of fashion iconography.

Now it's your turn: What are some things that made you smile this week? Grab my button (created by Kate of Divergent Musings - HUGE THANKS to Kate!) and blog about your Sunday smiles; share your weekly smiles in the comments; or smile just because it makes you feels good.

While I'm smiling, here's what went down on Dress With Courage this week:

I'd also like to take a moment and welcome all my new followers.

I'm really, really happy you're here. As always, you make me smile too. If you're visiting my blog for the first time, please think about follow me through Google Friend Connect, tweeting with me on Twitter, or becoming a Facebook fan

Fashion Beauty Friend Friday: Hair care

This week, fashion Beauty Friend Friday is focused on hair care. I'm not much of a hair girl - I haven't had long hair since I was in middle school! - and I'm really intrigued to read what other bloggers have to say about the subject. We've talked about going the all-natural route when it comes to hair care, but we’ve never discussed our usual routines. So here goes…

The Friend Friday group by Modly Chic is a way for fashion bloggers to share more about themselves and join a friendly community of bloggers. Find out more about the group by checking out the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group. And don't forget to check out Modly Chic - it's such a great blog.

1.      How often do you get your hair cut?

I get a haircut approximately every five weeks, and even then it's just a trim to neaten things up. Despite being a pixie, my hair looks best when it's a bit grown out. I suppose it's a shaggy pixie.

2. Do you go to the same stylist each time, try someone new, go to the cheap hair cutting chains or live it up in a salon?

I go to the same stylist every time. I've been going to Toni and Guy for years, and though I believe every stylist there is probably great, I like to stay loyal to one hairdresser. She understands what I want and always gives me a consistently great haircut. And she's not too chatty. Nothing is worse than having to make small talk while getting a hair cut. I like that time to relax, read a magazine, and let my mind wander.

3. Do you color your hair? How often? What’s your natural color?

I do color my hair myself, over my bathroom sink every four weeks with good old Loreal Preference. I started going grey my senior year of high school and began coloring with henna. That was my gateway drug, which led to Nice and Easy and finally Loreal. I went through a brief phase when I had it colored professionally, but I just can't justify the $100+ expense when that money can go towards more worthy causes. Such as thrifting. My hair has been all colors - super dark brunette, white blond, strawberry blonde, burgundy and now a bright orangey red. I haven't seen my natural color in close to twenty years, but if I recall correctly it's brown with very faint red highlights. At this point, I suspect I'm approximately 80% grey. And I'm only 36. Le sigh.

4. The one thing you always do to keep your hair looking great is:

Not wash it every day! Red hair is really challenging to maintain - the colors fades easily and it can get pretty brassy. Washing it every other day helps maintain the color. It still fades faster than when I was a brunette, but I think it helps. I also occasionally use a color-depositing shampoo every now and then, but I'm not thrilled with the residue it leaves on my hair. I think it makes it look a little greasy - ick. I actually did a post about the care and feeding of a redhead here.

5. What hair trend do you love and wish you could rock?

I will probably always dream of having long hair, simply because I just don't have it and probably never will. In college I was friends with a girl who had long, stick straight, thick hair that cascaded down her back to her waist. I still lust over her hair. I daydream of ponytails and the pervasive "blogger bun."But I don't have the patience to grown my hair out. And being a mom to three doesn't really permit the time and energy required to maintain such a crowning glory.

Thrifting 101, part 18: Dating vintage clothes by era - the 1980's

Three weeks ago in Thrifting 101, I began exploring the history of fashion from the 1920's to the 1950's  in order to help you determine the age of a garment while thrifting. Two week ago, we focused on the 1960's; last week we delved into the 1970's. This week I'll follow the fashion timeline through the 1980's. Understanding more about the history of modern dressing is a great way to figure out when a garment was made.

Missed any previous parts of the series? Up to this point, Thrifting 101 has focused on tips for newbies and those dealing with the squick factor, advice regarding how to shop at a thrift store, thrifting for the clothing snob, recommendations for finding the best thrift and consignment stores, tips for determining what days are the best for thrifting, a post where I explained my love for thrifting, advice regarding thrift store etiquette, tips for cleaning vintage leather, a post of my favorite thrifting and vintage blogs, tips for identifying and cleaning thrifted jewelry, advice for storing vintage and thrifted garments, and advice for shopping for vintage online.

The 1980's

Design in the 1980's can be summed up in one word: exaggeration. Fashion, whether oversized or shrunken, crumpled or tailored, pastel or neon, short or long, sexy or mannish, bare or covered, sophisticated or innocent, was taken to excess. Along with their clothes, women's bodies became, by the end of a decade obsessed with fitness, changed - breasts became bigger and chests broader; arms and legs more muscular; and even faces became silicone-enlarged with plumped pouty full lips and sculpted cheekbones.

The baby-boom generation continued to have great influence over what was produced and purchased. As these men and women transformed themselves from hippies and rebels into yuppies, their tastes became more luxurious and their appetites for new experiences more intense. They found having money more acceptable and pleasurable; they started having families and demanded comfortable living environments; and as they aged they became more fascinated with nostalgia and kitsch.

In fashion, just about every style since the crinoline resurfaced. The decade saw nineteenth century bustles and crinolines; 1920's drop waist chemises and bias-cut silks; World War II large structured shoulders; and sheath dresses and day-glow miniskirts from the 1960's. Revivals from the 1970's included the renewed interest in ethnic fabrics and silhouettes. Despite all of these influences, a number of distinct styles encapsulate 1980's fashion.

Power dressing

As women became a more formidable force in the workplace, they focused their concern on diminishing decorative and alluring dressing and turned towards a more masculine uniform. Across the country, structured blazers with padded shoulders, man-tailored shirts, bow ties and pleated pants were adopted. Many outfits had Velcro on the inside of the shoulder where various sized pads could be attached. Power dressing rested largely on suits but also included straight, simple pencil skirts paired with silk bowed blouses in subdued prints. The look managed to be both masculine and feminine. Bold tailoring and men's fabrics were used in interesting combination. Donna Karen, designing directly for the women executive, was influential by introducing curvier shapes highlighted by wide belts and softer draping. Brighter and more contrasting colors, higher heels, and signature accessories including scarves, eye-catching jewelry, and even lavish underwear became the signature of the self-possessed woman.

Women's fashion and business shoes revisited the pointed toes and spiked heels that were popular in the 1950's and early 1960's. Some stores stocked canvas or satin covered fashion shoes in white and dyed them to the customer's preferred color. While the most popular shoes amongst young women were bright colored high heels, jellies - colorful, transparent plastic flats - become popular as well.

Glamour Dressing

The Dynasty cast

The television shows Dynasty and Dallas, watched by over 250 million viewers around the world in the 1980s, influenced fashion in mainstream America and perhaps most of the Western world. The show influenced women to wear glitzy jewelry as a way of flaunting wealth. Designers such as Bill Blass, Oscar de la Renta, Caroline Hererra, Bob Mackie, Scassi, and Victor Costa introduced more formal shapes featuring billowing skirts and trains, elaborate draping, and huge puffed sleeves. Satins, chiffon, and taffeta were utilized, often embellished with rhinestones, silver threads, and sequins. Shorter party dresses, with puffed bubble shirts supported by tulle and taffeta, were embraced by younger women to wear to proms and weddings.


Drew Barrymore in a short, tight Lycra dress

A new obsession with fitness brought the classic leotard back into the gym from the discos of the 1970's. Accompanied by matching tights, legwarmers, and elastic headbands, leotards of the early 1980s boasted bright stripes, polka dots, and even elastic belts. The popularity of aerobics and of dance-themed television shows and movies, such as Fame, and Staying Alive, created a dancewear fashion craze, and leotards, legwarmers, and headbands were soon being worn as street wear. The 1983 film Flashdance popularized ripped sweatshirts that exposed one bare shoulder. Celebrity dancewear inspirations of the era included Olivia Newton John's Physical video and Jane Fonda's line of aerobic videos. 

Betsey Johnson and Norma Kamali introduced spandex clothing into their collections and spawned a number of imitators. Miniskirts, bodycon dresses, leggings, stirrup pants, bicycle shorts, tank tops, and bodysuits were produced in dazzling colors and shimmering Lycras.  Cropped tops exposed toned, bare midriffs. Bright, contrasting colors were utilized in exaggerated prints.


1980's cabbage rose print dress


The solid earth-tones of the 1970's gave way to floral, nature-influenced prints and fabrics. Cabbage roses, paisleys, and even fruit and vegetable prints appeared on dresses. Polka dots, tartans, tweeds, and brocades were accented with decorative tassels, bows, and ribbons, as well as beads. The decade ensembles were accompanied hats and gloves, chosen for fun rather than function. Hair ornaments, scarves, shawls, patterned stockings, whimsical shoes became important. Clothes by Perry Ellis, Ralph Lauren, Geoffrey Bean, and Anne Klein were worn with complimentary shoes, pocketbooks, and costume jewelry.

The Madonna influence

In the 1980s, rising pop star Madonna became extremely influential to female fashions. She first emerged with what was dubbed her "street urchin" look, consisting of short skirts worn over leggings, necklaces, rubber bracelets, fishnet gloves, hair bows, long layered strings of fake pearls, bleached, untidy hair with dark roots, head bands, and lace ribbons. In her Like a Virgin phase, millions of young girls around the world emulated her lingerie worn as outerwear, huge crucifix jewelery, lace gloves, tulle skirts, and boy toy belts.

Gloves, sometimes lace and/or fingerless, were also popularized by Madonna, as well as fishnet stockings. Short, tight Lycra or leather miniskirts and tubular dresses were also worn, as were cropped, bolero-style jackets.

Punk fashion

A continuation of the 1970's punk movement, punk in the 80's was characterized by towering multi-colored mohawks, ripped skinny jeans, worn band tee-shirts, and jean or leather jackets, it was practiced by people who listened to punk music such as The Sex Pistols and later Guns N' Roses. Jean jackets (which became an identity of the group) were adorned by safety pins, buttons, and patches. Punk fashions eventually evolved into the hair metal and metal head movement.

Long, teased, permed and crimped hair; leather rocker jackets with cut-off denim jackets; tight worn-out jeans, black concert tee shirts (often ripped); black nail polish, spiked bracelets and dog-collars, and all-black outfits, often made of leather or velvet trimmed in lace or fishnet material became signatures of the metal movement.


Conservative college students began to embrace a style that became knows as the prep look. Influenced by tailored, conservative prep-school uniforms, the style included long, camel-hair blazers, plaid miniskirts, pastel-colored polo shirts with turned-up "popped" collars (often made by Lacoste and Ralph Lauren), oxford shirts, bold striped rugby shirts, cuffed pleated khakis and loafers. Madras shorts in mixed plaids and longer, Bermuda-lengths were adopted by teenagers. Wide-wale corduroy pants, often in camel and tan, were worn by both men and women. Simple, subtle jewelry also dominated the look, in the form of thin gold chains, pearl stud earrings, and gold hoops.

My "Oprah" list, or that time that I allowed myself to be diva-esque

Yesterday I luxuriated in a quiet day of doing as little as humanely possible. I got a pedicure, grabbed some take-out pad thai from Pei Wei, ran to the supermarket for some groceries, and caught up on blogs. While traipsing through the internet, I uncovered a completely insane morsel from Kitty Kelly's 201o unauthorized biography of Oprah Winfrey. Allow me to share an excerpt:

About five years ago, Oprah's office contacted Georgetown's L'Enfant Gallery, because she owned works by portraitist John Kirthian Court and wanted to see more. Gallery owner Peter Colasante bought three paintings ($60,000-$80,000 each) and had them shipped from Portugal to his shop for Oprah's consideration. He received strict instructions for her short visit, along with a partial schedule: "2:17 p.m.: Oprah's limousine arrives at L'Enfant Gallery, 2:20 p.m.: Oprah walks into gallery...."

On the appointed day and time, two limos pulled up and Oprah went into Deborah Gore Dean's shop across Wisconsin Avenue. After waiting 30 minutes, Colasante walked over and found his famous client berating Dean. He told Oprah and her entourage that he had other appointments scheduled and she needed to honor her timetable.

"Oprah does not walk," she told him, referring to herself in the third person. "Who is this guy?" Then she started screaming at her staff, but finally agreed to cross the street and come through his front door.

"I just don't feel it," she told him. "The vibrations aren't right."

"You'll feel them once you see the paintings we've assembled for you," he said, pointing up the stairs where Court's art was hanging. "Oprah does not do stairs," she said.

Things went rapidly downhill from there: Colasante's partner hissed that maybe Oprah could use the exercise (unclear who heard), and she stormed out in a huff without buying anything.

Naturally, cackling sadistic that I am, I found this entire description HIGH-larious. Being rather diva-esque myself, I can think of few things that would make me happier than declaring to the world the things that I "do not do." So I figured I'd devote today's post to just that. In the third-person, of course.

*Elissa does no do bunnies and roses and Cathy comics and motivational inspirational crapola. It just ain't me. 

*Elissa doesn't do snakes. Except if they've been utilized in a lovely pair of pumps or a fetching clutch.
*Elissa does not do tents. Or hippies in tents.
*Elissa does not do leather shorts.
*Elissa doesn't do karaoke. Unless there's a considerable amount of booze involved. 

*Elissa does not do seafood of the "slimey" variety. Aphrodisi-MY ASS.
*Elissa does not do "hiding emotions." Note: This is more often a curse than a blessing. Heart-on-sleeve club for life.
*Elissa does not do workout gear in public. 
*Elissa does not do jokes about bodily functions. Because I'm a lady.
*Elissa does not do loud clubs with booming house music and strobe lights and $15 shots of Patron and girls prancing around in patent leather platforms and chain-metal handkerchief tops. Blech.
*Elissa doesn't do acid-wash. 
*Elissa doesn't do yardwork. 
*Elissa does not do interruptions during The Real Housewives of Whatever-City-They're-Filming-In. Consider yourself warned.
*Elissa does not do beets. Or blue cheese. Or lamb.
*Elissa does not do mountain climbing or mountain biking or basically any activity involving mountains.
 *Elissa does not do thongs. Ever.

I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam, y'all. I'm sure there's a ton more but I figure it's best for me to quit while ahead.

Are there things that you just "don't do?" Share 'em in the comments, or on your own blog (with a link back to mine, 'kay?)

Outfit Post: Miranda Kerr wants you to know about her underwear

Allow me to share a cringe-inducing little tidbit from a recent People Magazine:

Miranda Kerr’s flawless post-baby body has everyone a little jealous. The Victoria’s Secret Angel, mom to son Flynn, 4 months, with husband Orlando Bloom, bounced right back after giving birth, even hitting the runway in a Paris fashion show.  The model mom says she’s most comfortable when she’s “just in knickers,” hanging around the house with Bloom and Flynn. “People have come to the house and I’m just in my knickers,” she reveals. “[But] I feel like it’s more appropriate to have knickers on than being completely naked.”

If pressed, I'll admit that I've engaged in a few innocent dalliances with US Weekly and People. I have read more than my fair share of exposes on the size and incubation of one's baby bump; the botched plastic surgery attempt of certain b-list celebrities; and pages and pages of baby daddy gossip. I've taken those insipid little tests regarding what my perfume says about my personality, which real housewife I would be in real life, and which celebrity hot spot I should visit during my next luxury vacation (hello, Phuket.) I've examined photos to determine which starlet wore those hideous peach jeans the best. Apparently, this is a thing right now. Peach-colored jeans WILL BE the next blogger red pants. Put your money on it. I've studied Candy Spelling's floorplan and wept white hot tears over the breakups of Courtney Cox and David Arquette/Christina Aguilera and Jordan Brattman/Renee Zellweger and Bradley Cooper. Actually, that last one I'm not so torn up about. Because it means Bradley is available, and I have a shot. Bradley, call me.

Anywhoo. I have been there, people. So I suppose that's why I wasn't so shocked by Miranda Kerr's "I'm so squeally suuuuppppeeeeerrrr comfy in my knickers, teehee" comment. For one thing, once your eyes have been photo-raped by Britney Spears' c-section scar (hello, panty-less crotch shot summer of 2006) you've seen it all. For the time being, let's ignore the snarky, insulting message that Miranda lost her baby weight faster than you did, you fat cow, can't you get your lazy ass off the couch? It's the prancing around the house in her undies that I'd like to focus on. Ms. Kerr is a Victoria's Secret supermodel. Either she's totes getting paid to gush about wearing her undies around the house, or she's a devoted fan of underwear in general. I have no doubt that Miranda spends hours lounging around her immaculately decorated ocean-front limestone mansion in nothing more than a pair of lacy boyshorts and a boned corset three sizes too small for her heaving bosom. She and Orlando probably spend hours having sex on top of the changing table and heating up bottles and preparing homemade baby food in less clothing than their entire baby's layette. I suppose her friends should be happy she wears clothes at all. Naked time for everyone! Weeee!

Personally, when I think of a comfortable choice in clothing to wear hanging around the house, I do not think of my underwear. Underwear is designed to stay under clothes - whether they be leggings and tee shirts or sweatshorts or whatever. I did not grow up in a naked house. My parents were firm believers in sheathing our naked bits in layers of clothing, preferably made from wool. And even now, as a fully grown adult, I don't prance around the house in my skivvies. I can only imagine the horror this behavior would cause - the assault of a splash of hot oil against my uncovered stomach while cooking dinner; the giggling of my children as I emptied the dishwasher; the outright staring of the UPS man when accepting a package; the snickers from friends while serving up cocktails in a push-up bra and satin tap pants. Nope, when I want to be comfortable around the house, I dress in ancient pairs of Old Navy sweats and college tees and maybe, if I'm feeling risque, a Gap body tank.

I'm truly curious to find out if you hang around the house in your underwear. Is this something you're comfortable with? Do you enjoy being naked at home? Why or why not? What do you throw on at the end of the day?

Vintage thrifted silk shirt; vintage Ann Taylor silk skirt; Old Navy belt; vintage thrifted Coach satchel; White Mountain clogs; thrifted (St. Vincent de Paul) Michael Korrs watch; Forever 21 rhinestone bracelet

Outfit Post: The labels we wear on the inside

This past Saturday night I went to see the Black Angels with Erin of Work With What You've Got. It was loud, and hot, and the audience was at capacity with bearded and ponytailed twenty-something hipsters in black concert tees, skinny jeans and Chucks. The venue smelled like beer and pot and cigarettes and a million other unidentifiable odors. I wore a fetching ensemble composed of a Forever 21 hot-pink leopard sports bra under a lace trapeze top, paired with a thrifted vintage black skirt and black leather platform sandals. With my tattoos and bright red hair, I thought I blended in pretty well, despite the fifteen year-age difference between me and the rest of the crowd. After five hours of talking and singing and yelling and dancing and people-watching, I eventually crawled home after one o'clock in the morning. All in all, it was a fantastic night.

However, on Sunday morning I was in serious pain. I couldn't hear out of my left ear. My throat was raw. My head ached something fierce. And my feet were sore from hours spent in those platforms (which I wore despite warnings from my husband that they'd make me a cripple before the night was over. Okay, husband, you were right. There, I said it.) I spent most of the day popping Advil and lying on the couch curled in a fetal position.

In the wake of my post-concert trauma, I started to question whether I should have attended the event in the first place. I wondered about the condition of the other concert-goers the next morning. Were they suffering from pounding headaches and sore throats? Did their feet hurt? And the came the inevitable questions: Was I too old to have been there? Did I look ridiculous? Were my days of late nights behind me? Did I belong at home, watching depressing sitcoms on CBS and clipping coupons for things like Sunsweet prunes?

While pondering these questions, I was reminded of a recent post on Psychology Today about the internal labels we carry. The author explored the life-long struggle many of us have to shake off the limits we think define us. Often these labels have been internalized for years, and the fight against them can feel like a never-ending challenge.

Reading this article led to some fairly deep introspection. I mentally flipped through ways I label myself.

"You're too old to stay up until all hours."
"You're too fat to wear those skinny jeans."
"You can't shop in that store."
"You're not talented enough to be a writer."
"You can't make a long road trip by yourself."
"You're not stylish/cool/youthful enough to wear that outfit."
"You're not fit enough to run a 10k."
"You shouldn't leave the house without make-up."

Labels have a way of sticking around. Often they've been adopted following a traumatic event or conversation with an important person in your life. My mother was a strict enforcer of rules, and I grew up believing that there were certain things I just couldn't do because they were inappropriate, unbecoming or unladylike. That included wearing certain types of clothes, staying out late, or even going places alone. Growing up with such strict limits also discouraged me from even trying to challenge them - why have hope when I'm just going to fail? The defeatist, pessimistic nature of labels keeps us confined and crippled by self-doubt and insecurity. Criticism from a boss, close friend, or teacher can also reinforce the ways we label ourselves. Sometimes it only takes the slightest reminder to trigger our biggest fears and doubts.

Thankfully, I'm determined to challenge the ways I label myself. Despite the fears that I was going to look redonk, I wore that neon leopard bra. I danced and sang at the top of my lungs and stayed out late. And I had a fantastic time. My morning after guilt is inevitable after challenging myself, but it's no excuse for me to continue to abide by labels.

Do you believe that you have internalized labels that limit yourself from being who you are? What are some ways you label yourself? Are there things you believe you just can't or shouldn't do? What do you do to challenge these labels?

Thrifted Target tuxedo jacket; Forever 21 lace tank; Forever 21 sports bra; thrifted vintage skirt; White Mountain sandals; thrifted vintage Coach satchel; TIKKR watch; Forever 21 rhinestone bracelets

On Sundays I Smile - Week in review May 22nd

This week I'm starting a new feature called On Sundays I Smile. Inspired by one of my favorite blogs, Monster Cakes, I thought it would be nice to share moments from the past week that inspired me and gave a deeper glimpse into my daily life outside of what I wear and my thoughts regarding fashion and style. I review the past week and I Smile. And I share these moments with you.

Frozen yogurt with extra fruit, coconut and extra chocolate chips - my favorite warm weather dessert. There are so many self-serve frozen yogurt places not far from my house and I don't think there's anything better that mixing up my own concoctions every week. Fruity Pebbles? Caramel sauce? Crushed Oreos and cherries? Bring it on.

A new Salvation Army opened near me this week, and it was there that I discovered an abundance of glossy vintage 1970's furs and what has to be the sequined motherlode - two things I have a deep thrifting fetish for. Cue grabby hands.

However,  despite my NEED for both, it was this 1950's fox stole that went home with me. Yes, that's three foxes strung together - little heads, tails and all. Husband thought it was morbid. I consider it wondrous.

Crafting with my oldest twin Josh. We made tissue paper leaves and acorns and little animals made out of pom-poms and popsicle sticks and glitter glue. I am reminded every day that the moments we share while he's still little are too few. It's inevitable that he grows out of crafting, but for the time being, I'll take every opportunity I can get.

Violent spring and summer storms are a regular occurrence here in Texas. I'll admit that a day of rain makes me morose and introspective and eager for nothing more taxing that a nap on the couch. But a rainbow peeking through clearing skies kind of makes a stormy day worth it.

Now it's your turn: What are some things that made you smile this week? Grab my button (created by Kate of Divergent Musings - HUGE THANKS to Kate!) and blog about your Sunday smiles; share your weekly smiles in the comments; or smile just because it makes you feels good.

While I'm smiling, here's what went down on Dress With Courage this week:

I'd also like to take a moment and welcome all my new followers.

I'm really, really happy you're here. As always, you make me smile too. If you're visiting my blog for the first time, please think about follow me through Google Friend Connect, tweeting with me on Twitter, or becoming a Facebook fan.

Fashion Beauty Friend Friday: Blog pet peeves (with a rebuttal)

The Friend Friday group by Modly Chic is a way for fashion bloggers to share more about themselves and join a friendly community of bloggers. Find out more about the group by checking out the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group. And don't forget to check out Modly Chic - it's such a great blog.

This week's Fashion Beauty Friend Friday questions are inspired by a post by Beautifully Invisible entitled ‘The 10 things that drive me crazy about your blog.’ Though blogging is by nature an incredibly personal activity, the public nature of it forces some attention on appealing content and design. However, what I consider attractive and tasteful might not be the same as what another blogger believes. Thus, I'm extremely hesitant to behave as if I have any right to subject my opinion on anyone else's blog.

I hold fast to the philosophy that regardless of public opinion, you ultimately need to make yourself happy. If you like lots of white space, few photos and an emphasis on writing (as I do), more power to you. Or if you prefer many pics, buttons galore and short descriptions, then you should embrace it. That's what blogging with courage means to me. Your blog is a reflection of you. It exists to make you happy. None of us are in a position to dictate how a blog "should" look. Your blog does not exist to make me happy, and naming the things that irritate me about it is kind of ridiculous.

Okay. That being said, instead of listing my blog pet peeves, here's a list of blog qualities that I find inspiring and refreshing:

A simple, clean design: I'm a fan of white space and a clean, straightforward design. I believe it makes a blog look focused and keeps the emphasis on the content of the blog itself. A clean design puts emphasis on the blog's pictures and words, and ensures the attention of readers.

A stable layout: Some bloggers are fantastic at HTML and graphic design. They spend hours constructing and editing and updating their blog. Personally, I like stability and consistency. I like being able to find previous posts without difficulty, email the blog author easily, and locate a blogroll without getting lost. I understand the need to keep things fresh, but too much change makes me confused.

Working links and buttons: I've found so many fantastic blogs just by scrolling through a blogroll. In fact, when I have the time, exploring new blogs is one of my favorite activities. This is why working links and buttons are so important.

Too many pics: Fashion is a terrific tool through which we can be creative, and I get so inspired by the outfit pics posted from my favorite bloggers. My favorite bloggers include four to five pics per outfit post, all with different angles highlighting specific attributes. Too many pics makes me a little overwhelmed.

Proper grammar and spelling: I'm a writer, and correct grammar and spelling are important to me. A beautifully written, eloquent post immediately draws me in and makes me want to read more. As a writer I understand how important proper grammar, spelling and punctuation are in ensuring the legitimacy of my own blog, and I appreciate it when a blogger takes the time to spell-check and reread their post.

My feature in this week's IFB's Tech Links a la Mode

I was excited to learn that my post regarding the best fashion, shopping and style apps was chosen for this week's IFB Tech Links a la Mode. This is a very strange thing, as I'd hardly consider myself technology-astute. I can barely figure out how to restart my computer when it starts to act wonky, and it usually leaves me a sweating, swearing, anxiety-ridden mess who feels like they are suffocating and OH MY GOD WHY CAN'T I GET THIS THING TO FREAKING WORK??? Creating and running my blog has been an incredible learning experience, and there's so much more I want to figure out in order to improve my blog. Such as creating buttons. If you have any tips, let me know. (Or feel like being nice and making some for me. That would be awesomesauce. Just sayin'.) Considering all this, being featured in IFB's Tech links is a really nice, if slightly bizarre, compliment.

Be sure to check out the posts from the other featured bloggers and introduce yourself to some new blogs! Here's the feature with my link:

Mobile Mavens: Making Savvy and Stylish Choices to Improve Our Blogs

Edited by Maggie Battles

Trends and technology move at a rapid speed these days and along with that comes unlimited choices. We can choose from a variety of blogging platforms, we can shoot from any number of cameras and shop from any number of online boutiques. There’s so many styles and options to choose from in fashion and technology that we’re constantly evolving our taste to match each moment in time. This weeks Links has a collection of examples on how to take your blog to the next level. The following are a group of links with helpful advice on everything from how to work with PR people, to switching to a new blogging platform and to navigating user-generated fashion on the web. I trust that many of these links will prove to be very useful to all of you. Happy posting!


Thrifting 101, Part 17: Dating vintage clothes by era - The 1970's

Two weeks ago in Thrifting 101, I began exploring the history of fashion from the 1920's to the 1950's  in order to help you determine the age of a garment while thrifting. Last week we discussed the 196o's, and this week I'll follow the fashion timeline through the 1970's. Understanding more about the history of modern dressing is a great way to figure out when a garment was made.

Missed any previous parts of the series? Up to this point, Thrifting 101 has focused on tips for newbies and those dealing with the squick factor, advice regarding how to shop at a thrift store, thrifting for the clothing snob, recommendations for finding the best thrift and consignment stores, tips for determining what days are the best for thrifting, a post where I explained my love for thrifting, advice regarding thrift store etiquette, tips for cleaning vintage leather, a post of my favorite thrifting and vintage blogs, tips for identifying and cleaning thrifted jewelry, advice for storing vintage and thrifted garments, and advice for shopping for vintage online.

The 1970's

The 1970's began where the 1960's left off: restless, critical of the status quo, questioning traditional authority and social hierarchies, and flamboyantly expressive. The social upheavals that swept the nation in the mid 1960's - civil rights, women's liberation, environmental movement, and gay liberation - continued to shape the 1970's. But the seventies were not merely a repeat of the sixties. Political protest movements lost steam and the focus turned instead to lifestyle and concumption. America's turn inward bequeathed the era that earned the sardonic title of "the me decade."

Seventies fashion can be broken down into six very distinctive areas. The societal focus from social movement, towards the rediscovery of the self, contributed to the concept of using fashion as a tool for pleasing yourself. These six distinctive fashion trends during the seventies were bohemia, blaxploitation, glam rock, disco, punk, and Victoria/Art Nouveau.

The influence of the self styled hippy clothes and the mish-mash of 1970s fashion from every corner of the global village crept into mainstream fashion. Easier travel meant that people brought ideas and accessories from abroad. Others looked for designers to provide styles that fitted the mood of an era, that had returned to nature and was anti-Vietnam-war in outlook. By the late 1970s women travelling in enclosed heated cars could choose to wear lighter weight clothes and abandon full length coats. Homes and stores almost universally became centrally heated, and most women could tolerate a chill mad dash between car and front door knowing that warmth awaited them.


Efva Attling & Lars Jacob, 1971

German fashion models, 1972, showing a range of skirt lengths

1970's fashion began with a continuation of the miniskirt, bellbottoms and androgynous hippie look. Jeans remained frayed and tie-dye and Mexican print blouses were still popular. In addition to the miniskirt, mid calf-length dresses called midis and ankle-length dresses called maxis were also embraced in 1970 and 1971, thus offering women three different skirt lengths.

Afghans, Indian scarves, and floral-print tunics were embraced by younger women. One frequently worn style was the granny dress with a high neck. Sometimes the neck was pie-crust frilled, or lace frilled. Often these dresses were made from floral print design in a warm color palate from viscose rayon crepe which was draped and gathered into empire line styles. Halter-neck dresses and jumpsuits also became popular, either in maxi length or above the knee.

The Hippies of the sixties had brought with them clothes from other ethnic groupings which had often never even been seen before in the west. Nehru jackets and loose flowing robes from hot countries made their way to world cities and permeated down to mainstream fashion, helped of course by designers like Yves St Laurent. The ethnic influence was so strong that it revived craft skills from far flung places. Macramé bags and bikinis from the Greek Isles and crochet waistcoats and shawls from Spain were all high fashion.


The 1970s produced the genre that would later come to be known as 'Blaxploitation'. The film genre emerged during this decade as films were made specifically with an urban black audience in mind. These movies were larger-than-life, action-packed, and full of funk and soul music. Known not only for their exciting nature, these films also involved progressive social and political commentary. Produced from about 1970 to 1975, blaxploitation films focused on black men and women as anti-heroes waging battles against the corrupt white establishment. The movies were counter-intuitive of the mainstream white-produced movies featuring clean-cut black heroes by empowering a drug dealer or pimp to protect ghetto blacks from the brutality of "the man." Stars such an Pam Grier, Issac Hayes, Billy Dee Williams and Sydney Poitier asserted a strong influence over modern culture.

From the mid to late 70s, caftans, kaftans, kimonos, muumuus, djellaba (a Moroccan robe with a pointed hood) or jalabiya (a loose eastern robe) and other styles from every part of the Indian sub-continent and Africa, were translated into at home style robes and comfort wear. They were worked in every fabric imaginable, but were especially suited as glamour dressing when sewn in exotic fabrics and edged in silver, gold or other metallic embroidered trims. Bright, colorful African prints were utilized in long flowing kaftans. The afro was worn by both sexes throughout the decade, and was occasionally sported by whites as an alternative to the uniform long, straight hair which was a fashion mainstay until the arrival of punk and the "disco look" when hair became shorter and center partings were no longer the mode.

Glam Rock

David Bowie

In both Britain and the United States, fashion from 1972-1974 were influenced by the extravagantly dressed glam rock stars such as David Bowie, Roxy Music and Marc Bowlan. Musically it was very diverse, varying between the simple rock and roll revivalism of figures like Alvin Stardust to the complex art rock of Roxy Music, and can be seen as much as a fashion as a musical sub-genre. Visually it was a mesh of various styles, ranging from 1930s Hollywood glamour, through 1950s pin-up sex appeal, pre-war Cabaret theatrics, Victorian literary and symbolist styles, science fiction, to ancient and occult mysticism and mythology; manifesting itself in outrageous clothes, makeup, and hairstyles. Glam is most noted for its sexual and gender ambiguity and representations of androgyny, beside extensive use of theatrics.

Glam rock fashion includes platform shoes, lots of glittery make-up for both men and women, face painting, colored and spiked hair, Victorian style shirts, vests, leather, feathers, lots of metallic and space-age colors. In the early 1970s platform shoes started with a slim sole which moved from ¼ inch up to about 4 inches at the peak of popularity. By the mid seventies the most ordinary people were wearing two inch deep platforms without a second thought

Glam rock fashion had a futuristic look and was influenced by science fiction. Flamboyant fashion included vinyl clothing and accessories, leopard and fur vests, feathered detailing and sparkly suits for both men and women. Cosmetics accentuated the look, with both sexes embracing mascara, theatrical face paint, lipstick. Make-up was garish and glittery, with eyebrows thinly plucked. David Bowie's rooster-red crewcut and shaved eyebrows pushed boundaries, and strongly influenced the upcoming punk wave.


Halston and the Halstonettes, ca. 1977

By the mid 1970's fashion strongly began to reflect the popularity of disco. Tight lurex tops, metallic-coloured lamé and antique velvet dresses, satin hot pants, sequined bra tops, and occasionally ostrich- feather boas draped over shoulders or turbans appeared on young women. Stretch sequin bandeau tops were often adaptations of professional modern dance wear that found itself making an impact in discos as disco dancing became serious. Gold lame, leopard skin, stretch halter jumpsuits and white clothes that glowed in ultra violet light capture the 70s disco fashion perfectly.

The king of disco fashion was Roy Halston, and his Studio 54 minions were dubbed the Halstonettes. His work was classic American sportswear in jersey and simple silhouettes.  For nighttime, the look was accessorized with heavy make-up and lots of jewelry. Jumpsuits, polyester and jersey dresses, and one-shouldered tops and swimsuits were characteristic of Halston's 1970's look.

In 1971 extremely short, tight short called hot pants began to appear on young women, typically made from satin, cotton or nylon. With an inseam of two inches or less, they were meant to emphasize the legs and rear. Their popularity spread with the development of disco culture and eventually crept into daily wear.

Stretch sequin bandeau tops were often adaptations of professional modern dance wear that found itself making an impact in discos as disco dancing became serious.The dancer's leotard became an important feminine fashion accessory in 1974, and remained in style throughout the decade. The traditional long-sleeve leotard was popular as the "layered style" of the mid-1970s took hold, where it served less as clothing than as a way to add color and texture to the body. In the late 1970s the leotard had become a standard fashion icon of the disco scene, where flexibility and ease of movement were important. It was helped by an extensive advertising campaign in the late 1970s by Danskin which promoted their leotards and tights as "not just for dancing". Celebrities of the 1970s also appeared regularly wearing leotards, including Joni Mitchell, Cher, and even Rod Stewart. The leotards popularity was still climbing at the end of the decade, and exploded with the arrival of the aerobics craze in the early 1980s.

The jersey wrap dress, first designed by Diane von Fürstenberg in 1971 and an extension of dance wear, became an extremely popular item, as it flattered a number of different body types and sizes, and could be worn both to the office, as well as to nightclubs and discos.

By the mid-1970s hip-huggers were gone, replaced by the high-waisted jeans and trousers with wide, flared legs. In Britain, they were often referred to as "Loon pants". These lasted until the end of the decade when the straight, cigarette-leg jeans came into vogue. Women wore high-waisted flared pants made from satin or denim, sometimes decorated with rhinestones.


Vivienne Westwood (in plaid), 1977

Punk rock was an intentional rebuttal of the perceived excess and pretension found in mainstream music, and early punk fashion was defiantly anti-materialistic. Generally unkempt, often short hairstyles replaced the long-hair hippie look and the usually elaborate 1970s rock/disco styles. In the United States, simple clothes, such as the T-shirt/jeans/leather jacket style favored by the Ramones was preferred over the  colorful clothing popular in the disco scene.

In the United Kingdom, a great deal of punk fashion from the 1970s was based on the designs of Vivienne Westwood. Incorporating bright plaids, black lace and corsetry with heavy-soled boots and ripped tights, Westwood's clothes became symbolic of the debauchery of the era. Deliberately offensive t-shirts were popular in the early punk scene, some featuring an inverted crucifix and swastikas. These T-shirts, like other punk clothing items, were often purposely torn. Other items in early punk fashion included leather jackets, blazers, and dress shirts randomly covered in slogans,  patches and controversial images.

Fishnet stockings (sometimes ripped), studded or spiked jewelry, safety pins (in clothes and as body piercings); silver bracelets and heavy eyeliner was by both men and women. There was a 'do it yourself' quality to the fashion. Many female punks rebelled against the stereotypical image of a woman by combining clothes that were delicate or pretty with clothes that were considered masculine, such as combining a tutu with big, clunky boots.

Punk clothing sometimes incorporated everyday objects for aesthetic effect. Purposely-ripped clothes were held together by safety pins or wrapped with tape. Other items added to clothing or as jewelery included razor blades and chains. Leather, rubber and vinyl clothing became more common.

Preferred footwear included military boots, motorcycle boots, Chuck Taylor All-Stars and later, Dr. Martens boots. Tapered jeans, tight leather pants, trousers with leopard patterns and bondage pants were popular choices. Hair was cropped and deliberately made to look messy, and was often dyed bright unnatural colors. Although provocative, these hairstyles were not as extreme as later punk hairstyles in the early 1980's.

Victorian/Art Nouveau

Bianca Jagger in Victorian dress
Bianca in a silk hand-painted kaftan

Emerging as a counterbalance to the defiant fashion of the punk trend were the clothes offered by designers such as Bib, Chloe and Ossie Clark. A soft, feminine, and romantic silhouette emerged, in pieces such relaxed, flowing, loose sportswear. Rich, sumptuous materials such as silks, jersey, chiffon, and lace accentuated slinky styles. This fluid unstructured style borrowed strongly from from the feeling of 1930's glamour.

Knitwear and knitted jersey fabrics were the easy classic dressing of the 70s. Chunky hand knitted cardigans like the ones worn in Starsky and Hutch were soon paraded around town. The most iconic designers of knitwear were Bill Gibb and Missoni. Their zig-zagged knit patterns and complex intricate designs in bright colors were frequently copied in department stores, and ushered in a blossoming of hand and machine knitting nationwide.

At the same time coordinated color schemed clothes slowly began to enter the stores and boutiques. Suddenly it was possible to buy a skirt or trousers and top and not have to spend hours searching for tops and knits in other shops that just might coordinate with the items. Late seventies fashion included the emergence of silk, rayon and polyester tanks, which softly draped over flared pants and long maxi skirts. The tank top of the 70s was a forerunner to the scoop necked camisole top of the 1980s, the shell of the 1990s and the vest of the millennium.  It was a useful garment often paired with a matching v-neck long cardigan similar to the 1950's twin sets.