Posts Categorized: Advice

Book giveaway and interview: Learning to escape from “Ugly Mom Island”

By IN Advice

Escape From Ugly Mom Island!Book: Escape From Ugly Mom Island!I knew I’d found one of my new favorite blogs when I discovered Holly Hester’s My Year of Fabulous, a 12-month project in which she tried—and documented to hilarious effect—12 different styles in order to break out of her mom wardrobe rut.

She’s turned the results of her year-long experiment in hands-on style discovery into an equally entertaining and educational new book of advice called Escape From Ugly Mom Island!. You can now find her writing about life, style, family, and everything in between at Riot Ranch.

I talked to Holly about her journey from blog to book.

Q&A with Holly Hester

1. Which is harder, writing a book or birthing a baby?

I would have to say birthing a baby is much harder than writing a book. I gave birth to my three kids at home with a midwife. I’ve always told my husband that if we ever had a fourth child I would give birth in the hospital, be totally numb from the eyeballs down and if possible be hooked up to an intravenous margarita drip. Don’t get me wrong—I’m really proud that I gave birth totally naturally, but crawling around on my living room floor mewing like a wounded animal while nine pound babies came flying out of me is not a scenario I’d ever want to recreate! I’d much prefer sipping a cup of coffee in front of my computer writing a fun style book.

2. Is this a humor book or a style advice book?

It’s both. My goal was to write a style book that was very approachable. So often style books can come off as condescending and elitist and I wanted my book to feel welcoming and warm. I wanted to encourage women in a funny way that fashion is for everybody—not just celebrities or airbrushed models in fashion magazines or those paddle-boarding women with perfect bodies in Athleta catalogs. We can all feel empowered by the clothes we wear.

3. What’s the best piece of style advice you’ve ever gotten?

It’s a quote from Nina Garcia, “With style, you show the world who you are.” When I spent a year trying out different styles, I was amazed to discover that people treated me completely differently based on what style I was wearing. When I was in Euro, strangers opened doors for me. When I was in Rock & Roll, the sketchy crowd at the skate park suddenly talked to me. When I was in hippie, people would ask me where they could find good pot. (Seriously.)

I realized by wearing my dowdy mom uniform every day (ponytail, bad jeans, boring t-shirt, big white sneakers) I was sending out this massive bat-signal to all of humanity, “Ignore me! I have nothing interesting to say! I probably smell like baby wipes!” By finding my style I suddenly became someone to reckon with (even though I still probably smelled like baby wipes).

4. What’s the worst?

I went through a Madonna phase as a child so I don’t know who to blame for that … Madonna? Also, I’ve been convinced by friends to wear so much hair spray that I looked like one of those neck-frill lizards. And more recently, a friend convinced me to buy a jumpsuit. I don’t care how amazingly trendy and popular jumpsuits are right now—I look like a telephone repairman.

5. Are leggings pants? (Trick question: Of course they aren’t.) Real question: If you could convince moms to change one thing about their style, what would it be?

If you asked my 9-year-old daughter, she would say leggings are definitely pants. And very comfortable pants at that. If I could convince a mom to change one thing about her style, I would suggest she accept her body as it is today.

Buying great clothes for your current body does not mean you are giving up on your imagined future body. It only means you’ve made a decision to look fantastic during the transition.

Escape From Ugly Mom Island! is available now on Amazon and Frantic But Fabulous readers can win one of two signed copies! Just leave a comment below or on my Facebook page before June 3 and I’ll choose two winners at random. (Winners will need to provide mailing addresses to receive their books.)

Frantic But Fabulous site policies

Dressing up in a dressed down world

By IN Advice, Find Your Style

Girl in white cotton dress: Dressing up in a dressed down world
[photo credit: Dominik Martin/Unsplash]

Once upon a time, we used to dress up. We dressed smartly to go grocery shopping, to the movies and to travel, especially when flying. We wore our Sunday best on Sunday.

But now the pendulum seems to have swung wildly the other way. We wear yoga pants everywhere but the yoga studio and sweatpants everywhere but the gym—even pajamas outside the house.

Dressing more casually started as a rebellion against overly formal dressing, and even as a rebellion against overly gender-defined norms. It seems amazing today to think that it once was shocking for women to wear pants.

While we have much to be thankful for with these shifts in style in fashion, sometimes it seems like the shift has gone too far.

If everything is casual all the time, when do we dress up? Can we dress up? Should we?

Why even bother?

To say who we are

“How we dress sends a message about who we are, or at least how we want the world to perceive us. It’s the semiology of clothes. … I subscribe to [the] theory that language is a self-contained system of signs. How we dress is a personal form of language. … How will people respond to [the] image of you, and what assumptions will they make about who you are?”

Tim Gunn, A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style

To honor ourselves

“Dress presentably on a daily basis to honor yourself and those around you. Remember, first impressions are terribly important. … Never save your best clothes for ‘later.’ What are you waiting for?”

Jennifer L. Scott, Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris

To add a little glamour and confidence to our lives

“Just think how much more beautiful and pleasant your office, favorite bar, or local Starbucks would be if people ditched the frumpy clothes and grumpy attitudes and instead opted for elegant ensembles and charming manners on any given Thursday.

“Replacing your favorite ‘running around’ sweats with an actual outfit (nothing crazy, think a relaxed, yet chic striped top and great jeans) will make you carry yourself with more composure and confidence. Even wearing a chic or elegant matching set of pajamas at home instead of worn-out yoga pants will make a difference in your attitude.”

George Kotsiopoulis, Glamorous by George: The Key to Creating Movie Star Style

To take control and earn respect

“If you depend completely on others for a sense of self-worth, you’re not just greedy, you’re needy. Style can help foster self-esteem and in turn the kind of confidence that attracts friends, lovers, employers and coworkers into your life. Celebrate every day the person you are, and garner the level of respect you deserve. …

“Style is about creating possibility. It’s about taking passionate, strategic control of your image—not just to dress for a job you may not even have known you were going to want but for oodles of other things you can’t predict for your future.”

Stacy London, The Truth About Style

To bring us joy

“I will love my body as it is today. I will honor it by taking care of it and dressing in clothes that flatter my shape and bring me joy.”

The Fab Mama Style Manifesto

So what does it mean to dress up in a dressed down world?

It doesn’t mean you have to be formal every day. It’s not a return to pearls and heels at the supermarket. It doesn’t even mean you can’t be casual.

It’s about dressing in a way that’s deliberate, with items that are chosen just for you and your lifestyle and your body, ones that make you feel fabulous when you put them on, even if they’re a pair of jeans and a knit top.

As my friend Estella says, we don’t always have to wear our Sunday best, but maybe we can wear our Sunday better.

Learn how to dress for your body shape, clean out your closet and create outfits you’ll love in the Frantic But Fabulous style makeover workshop—including a checklist of closet essentials.

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Working mom outfit idea: Fall to winter transition

By IN Create Outfits, Find Clothes You'll Love, Find Your Style, Personal Style, Try This Thursdays

Outfit idea: Fall to winter transition

One shortcut for creating outfits for colder winter weather is to take the building blocks of your autumn wardrobe and transition them with layers. (It helps with variable fall temperature days, too.)

On an early fall day of blue skies and warmer sun, this weekend casual outfit of classic pieces like a simple long-sleeved tee, cords and flat shoes will do.

Once the highs get lower and the sun gets weaker, trade the sneakers for more insulated suede desert boots and add a cardigan and scarf (this Burberry is from my Fantasy Closet).

When winter arrives, pile on more layers with a chambray shirt and taller, warmer boots.

In any of these scenarios, the outerwear you add on top will depend on the temperatures where you live and your tolerance for cold. You might toss a puffer vest on any one of these, or go all the way to turtleneck underneath and down coat on top. That’s the beauty of layers; you can adapt your way from “cool and crisp” to “downright Arctic.”

Learn more about how to dress for your figure, clean out your closet and create outfits in the Frantic But Fabulous style workshop—including a checklist of closet essentials.

[Affiliate links disclosure]

What’s hanging in your Fantasy Closet?

By IN Create Outfits, Find Your Style, How-To Tuesdays, Personal Style

What's hanging in your Fantasy Closet? The answers will give you clues about your personal style and the clothes that make you happy.

One fun way to play around with ideas about your personal style is to imagine what it would be if money (and space) were no object.

What are the clothes you dream of wearing? What are the items that catch your eye when you flip through a magazine or skim a website? (Fab blogger Une Femme calls this your Fantasy Wardrobe.)

And while Fantasy Clothes are often a fantasy for a reason, thinking about them can be more than an enjoyable daydream with a cup of coffee.

So start by noticing. What do you notice when you look at clothes, whether they’re the clothes you see on other women or in the store or online?

Pull them together on a Pinterest board, in a Polyvore outfit college, in a binder or whatever way is fun for you.

As you look through your Fantasy Closet, here are some questions to ask yourself about what’s “hanging” inside.

  • Do your selections surprise you?
  • Are they the opposite of what you’re wearing now?
  • When you imagine dressing that way, is the idea exciting? Scary? Both?
  • What are some characteristics these clothes have in common?
  • Is it a color, a shape, a designer, a cut or even a feeling?

You may never be able to fill your real closet with your Fantasy Clothes, but the things you learn about what you like when you answer these questions will help guide your choices the next time you look for something new to buy, or put an outfit together.

In my Fantasy Closet: lots of classic / chic and touch of modern. Black, red, bolds and patterns (OK, this is already in my real closet!). Marni, Armani, Chanel, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors. Impeccable cuts. Fluid fabrics. And because this is a fantasy, I could wear high heels without hurting my feet!

It’s your turn to go Fantasy Shopping. What are you buying?

Get step-by-step help editing your closet of the clothes you no longer need and filling it with style for the way you live. Say goodbye to “I have nothing to wear”! It’s all included in your instant download of the “No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” style makeover workshop

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Working mom outfit idea: Outdoors in autumn

By IN Create Outfits, Find Clothes You'll Love, Find Your Style, Personal Style, Style, Try This Thursdays

What to wear outdoors in the fall
Calvin Klein puffer vest /
Joseph Long Sleeve Sailor Tee
/ patterned scarf / Citizens of Humanity cargo khakis / MiH Jeans the Tomboy narrow cords / TOMS suede desert booties / Vans Authentic Lo Pro shoes

Autumn is such a great time of year for outdoor activities: crisp, clear, moderate. This weekend casual outfit will suit you for a range of activities, from the neighborhood block party to an apple-picking day trip.

Start with a ¾-length T-shirt, longer-sleeved if you’re in colder climes. I love a classic mariniere, like this one, but any pattern or solid color will do.

You could always wear a pair of jeans, but why not mix it up with slim fit cords, or cargo khakis? The pockets on the latter come in handy for stashing extra Kleenex, binkies or anything else a mama-on-the-go might need.

If it’s a cooler day, or you’re outside for a while and the temperatures start to drop, wrap a scarf around your neck and toss a puffer vest on top. If it’s later in the fall, keep adding layers, like this or this.

Leave the running shoes at home and try something equally comfortable but with a bit more flair. Desert boots, or chukkas, have been around for decades, but are making a bit of a trend resurgence. Speaking of long-time classics, lace-up Vans or Keds like these are a great choice, too.

Accessorize with a cross-body bag (hands free!) and an insulated mug of your favorite warm beverage.

What’s your favorite outdoor fall activity?

Learn more about how to dress for your figure, clean out your closet and create outfits in the Frantic But Fabulous style workshop—including a checklist of closet essentials.

[Affiliate links disclosure]

The Little (Non) Black Dress

By IN Advice, Find Your Style, Flatter Your Body, Style Q&A

The Little (Non) Black Dress
[Little Red Dress, Anne Klein // Little Royal Blue Dress, Tahari // Little Bright Blue Dress, Calvin Klein]

A reader writes to ask:

If I get a non-black LBD, what colors/cut/fabrics would be a best bet for nearly year-around use?

While the non-black Little Black Dress may seem like a contradiction in terms, it’s not if you think of the LBD as being Your Wardrobe Staple Dress. Keep the “little” and the “dress,” but toss the “black” if it’s not your style (or if you want to mix it up with a second option).

For a year-’round fabric, you really can’t go wrong with a natural fiber. Wool crepe is often suggested because it has a nice drape, and I think it could work in summer, too, since you will probably be wearing an L(N)BD in the evening and/or inside and there’s not much fabric to one, anyway. (That would be the “little” part!)

As for colors, any jewel tone, such as an emerald green, royal blue or rich red, will work in the same universal way that black does. To get ideas, think about the colors you see celebrities wearing on the red carpet. My favorite L(N)BD is turquoise—but you could even opt for a Little White Dress in summer.

The cut is whatever works best for your shape. Alternatively, there are some universally flattering options: look for a style that fits across the smallest part of your torso, and a you can’t go wrong with a v-neck. (This is why the fit ‘n’ flare style works so well for most bodies.) The simpler the silhouette, the more likely it will be to stay in style—and in your closet—for a long time to come.

Learn more about how to dress for your figure, clean out your closet and create outfits that are fab, not drab, in No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style, the Frantic But Fabulous style workshop. This easy-to-follow system includes how-to guides, worksheets and a checklist of wardrobe essentials. Get started today!

Bargain shopping tips roundup: More ways to save

By IN Advice, Find Your Style

Bargain shopping tips: More ways to save on style, in the stores or online

More ways to save when shopping: Coupon codes, cash back and sales alerts.

One of the subscribers to the Frantic But Fabulous email newsletter, The Style List, had a succinct request: “More bargain shopping tips, please.”

I’m always on the hunt for ways to get a deal, too, so this is the perfect opportunity to round up some of the best advice from the penny pinching experts.

Best bargain shopping tips

  • Know what’s really a deal. Mark Ellwood, the author of “Bargain Fever: How to Shop in a Discounted World,” says anything lower than 30% off isn’t a deal. (Another one of his tips: interact with the sales staff; they will often get you the best deals.)
  • Let the internet find the deals. RetailMeNot is the go-to source for online coupons; before you shop online, search for discount codes for that site. ShopItToMe will send you alerts when what you’re looking for is on sale. Sign up for the email newsletters of your favorite brands to get alerted to insider sales. If you’re on Twitter, follow bargain-focused accounts like @slickdeals and @couponcabin.
  • Don’t be fooled by the coupon. If a coupon requires you spend a minimum amount in order to get a discount, be careful. You may wind up spending more than you’d planned, and going over budget is never a bargain. And speaking of coupons, remember to stack them.
  • All low prices aren’t created equal. A pair of shoes priced at $29.99 full retail will never be of as high quality as a pair of shoes that cost $29.99 after they’ve been marked down 60% from $100. Your goal is to get a great price and a great value. Think “deal,” not “cheap.”
  • Never stop looking for savings. Follow Pinterest boards devoted to deals, or periodically search for tags like “coupons,” “deals,” and “savings.” New tips for bargain hunting will pop up all the time.

And if you find a really great deal on those wardrobe staples you know you’ll wear again and again, consider whether it makes sense to pick up not just one steal, but two.

Get more tips on shopping smarter for clothes that fit you and the way you live. Say goodbye to “I have nothing to wear”! It’s all included in your instant download of the “No More Yoga Pants: How to Dress Better, Shop Smarter and Reclaim Your Style,” style makeover workshop.

[Affiliate links disclosure]