Author Archives: kraken

Expressing Yourself With T-Shirts

In my own experience I have been a cancer survivor for 5 1/2 years. In my first summer my struggle inspired my sister-in-law to get active in the Tacoma, Washington Relay For Life program of the American Cancer Society. Every spring they host a weekend walk and fund raiser. A large part of that walk is the Survivor’s walk celebrating all those people currently battling cancer and those who are cancer free.

All the survivors walking in that event are given purple t-shirts with the Relay For Life logo on the front. On the back is the saying: I Am… Living Breathing Inspiration.

I love wearing my t-shirt with that saying on it both for my own feelings and for the inspiration of those around me.

Another situation involved a camping/hiking trip my partner and I took several years ago in the Columbia River gorge near The Dalles, Oregon. This was the year the Sesquicentennial of the Oregon Trail was being reenacted. A replica of the 1843 wagon trains was in progress coming all the way from the mid-west to Portland, Oregon.

When we joined them they had arrived in The Dalles and were camping out at a large fair grounds. After square dancing the night before, we set out on foot hiking with the train for that day’s journey, a distance of about 18 miles.

When we got up the next morning and were about to leave the train, we came on a fellow in a wheel chair who was selling t-shirts. He said they were his own original design, in this case a fine pencil sketch of the Oregon Trail at Barlow Pass. I bought one on the spot both to support him in his efforts and for my own memory of the occasion. I still wear that tee shirt and think of the fun my girl friend and I had on that trip.

The next obvious use of t-shirts is if you’re a sports fan. In my own case as a long suffering Seattle Seahawks fan, I still wear the tattered t-shirt I bought in 1983 that reads “1983 Play-Offs” along with the team logo on the front. I guess that hasn’t been the last playoffs we’ve been in, but it sure seems like it.

Shoes, Dress, and a Hairdresser

My neighbor went to her hairdresser to get all of her hair cut off.. Onlookers gasped at the thought of cutting it all off. You could hear sighs of pain from other clients as the clipped hair fell to the floor. The hairstylist cut, snipped and dismissed her from the chair. AAHHHH! I thought to myself. Is she going to shape it up or comb it or something? Immediately I started to think of the scene from the movie, Waiting to Exhale when Angela Bassetts’ character was depressed and upset about the breakup of her marriage. She sat in front of the mirror and just started cutting away at her hair. The way she cut it, you would not believe she had a mirror. I saw my neighbor walking towards me and I could not believe she did it. She looked like a depressed, tired old maid. (Translation… Someone who does not have anyone to love and/or is not happy with her life.) Her earrings were small, simple and plain. The dark circles under her eyes complimented by her uneven skin tone made her look like she never owned a mirror. A hairstylist is supposed to make you feel like a new woman. The same way a new dress or pair of shoes makes you feel. She looked horrible. Something in my mind kept saying, “Don’t you say anything to hurt her feelings; be quiet.” Now you know I could not be quiet, however, I did choose my words wisely. I began, “Wow, you cut off all your hair! You have a good shaped head for such a style. Now you need to go to the barber and let him give your style some shape. I know a place where you can get some fabulous earrings to accent your style too.” She said, “I have earrings, but the people on my job don’t get all dressed up.” I said, “Forget the people on your job, what about going to and coming back from work. You never know who you will meet with your new look.” Then I said, “It was meant for you to see me today so that I can give you a complimentary makeover consultation.” She laughed and we said goodbye.

As she walked away, I had to laugh to myself because I had also experienced a bad hairstylist. I was an unsuspecting consumer who drifted into the Bunches of Hair beauty salon in midtown. (I changed the salon name to protect the innocent.) This place will definitely have you drifting in by the fabulous hair photos covering the wide framed window. The stylists are dressed to impress in pink and purple. Everyone’s hair was whipped to perfection. “Come on in, sit in the chair and would you like a cup of tea?” said the stylist in the pink and purple smock. “Oooh girl, I am impressed.” I thought to myself as I told the stylist that I would like finger waves. She said, “Yes ma’am.” I walked over to the sink where not only did I get my hair washed, but my blouse and legs got a soaking too. Water was everywhere. She scrubbed my scalp so hard that I got a headache. I guess she thought she was giving me a good head massage. She almost broke my neck. Back in the chair, she proceeded to dump almost an entire jar of gel on my head that resembled orange bees wax. Carefully, she sculptured each row to resemble a sea of beautiful water waves. As she finished, I glanced in the mirror only to spot clumps of orange goop. Three hours later… (That’s another story) my masterpiece was finished. She slowly unwrapped the net from my head. The moment of truth has arrived. Ahahhh. Ahahhhhh Ahhhahh. I couldn’t stop screaming. I spent all day at the salon and all I have to show for it is a matted mess. Now the orange goop had got deep in color and hardened into a wax sculpture around my hair. “I am not going outside like this!” I said. LOOK AT MY HAIR! LOOK AT IT! By the way, I do not like unisex salons. There were some nice looking men getting a haircut and they witnessed the entire episode. How embarrassing. The stylist apologized a thousand times and marched me back over to the sink where she used a hammer to chisel the orange sculpture from my hair. Well, it was not a hammer but that’s how I felt. I ended walking out of there with a pigtail. You heard me, a pigtail. It is a style here you get just enough hair for the rubber band to catch hold. I will never go in any salon without getting at least two referrals and a hair police report.

The next time you are shopping in the mall and pass the local hair salon, just take a peak inside to see what is going on. Ask the clients for a referral and keep it in your shopping file just in case you should ever need it.

Luxury of Shahtoosh

In Persian, ‘Shahtoosh’ means ‘King of Wools’–a perfect description for an ultra fine wool that’s softer than either Angora, Pashmina and Cashmere.

Shahtoosh shawls are so incredibly lightweight that they can be passed through an average sized finger ring, hence their common name, ‘Ring Shawls’. The reason they’re so light is because each hair of the Tibetan Antelope is around 6 times thinner than the average human hair. That’s a very fine hair!

Each shahtoosh shawl requires about 350 grams of wool. Being as each Tibetan Antelope yields no more than 125 – 150 grams, it takes the wood of three animals to make just one shawl.

How Is The Wool Harvested?

You may be wondering why there’s so much fuss about shahtoosh shawls. We take the wool of plenty of other animals, after all.

That’s true, but the Tibetan Antelope is different.

In order to collect the fine hairs, these beautiful animals have to be slaughtered. Yes, that’s right. Where we sheer or comb other animals in order to harvest their wool, the hairs of the Tibetan Antelope need to be individually plucked from the skin.

Just imagine, three animals are killed for every shahtoosh shawl sold!

Shahtoosh Shawls are Illegal

Once popular amongst celebrities to either drape around their shoulders when wearing expensive ballgowns to glamorous events–or even to swaddle their newborns in–shahtoosh shawls were once the epitome of celebrity luxury.

Luckily, more and more high profile celebrities have realized that wearing a shahtoosh shawl is harmful to their reputation. Some have even joined campaigns against the sale of these shawls.

But that doesn’t mean people aren’t still wearing them.

Even though the trade of shahtoosh is illegal in most countries, retailers continue to offer shawls in high-end boutiques throughout the world. The Internet sees its share of the trade, too.

Those inquiring about the origin of the wool are told stories of ‘shy mountain goats’ that rub themselves against trees and shrubs, leaving their wool behind. Because only small amounts of wool can be harvested in this way, the price is high. If only those customers knew just how high the price is!

Of course, some do know but don’t care. The human desire for luxury often gets in the way of what’s right and proper. As long as people are willing to feed their selfish attitudes, the trade in shahtoosh shawls will continue… but only for as long as the Tibetan Antelope exists.

About Travel With Style

Trip to the Airport

For your trip to the airport dress comfortably but don’t overdo it. Don’t be a “show off” at the airport, you’ll draw as much negative attention as the “scruffy person”.

Remember you’ve got security to clear so keep the jewelry simple to avoid setting off alarms and creating long lineups of backlog as they take you apart one piece at a time.

Carry a travel wallet with slots for your id, passport and boarding pass – it will keep things moving smoothly. Have a pocket in your carry on where you can place your jewelry and coins in prior to clearing security.

Remember your jacket, poncho, or overgarmet may be removed so make sure what your wearing underneath is appropriate for others to view.

Basics to Pack
Pack a lightweight coat, white or light colored shirt that goes with many of your other wardrobe pieces, neutral pants, and a tote bag.

Be sure to include a cardigan for the cooler evenings. Pack a versatile dress than you can dress up or down depending on what your plans are. Pack both flat sandles and sandles with a slight heel – wedges are perfect.

Wardrobe For Sightseeing

As glamourous as you may want to look while out exploring the sites and shopping at your destination, stilettos are out of the question! Comfortable shoes are a must for the mileage your going to put on your feet.

As well you must bring jeans or similar type casual pant, day or night jacket, a versatile skirt and a dress is great.

Your Trip To The Beach

Don’t overpack for a week in the
tropics. Just bring the minimum, you’ll not be wearing much more than that in your “hot” tropical location.

Make certain you have a pair of strappy flat or near flat sandles that you find comfortable for walking in and don’t mind if they get covered in sand or water. Don’t forget your bathing suit or bikini – most important.

Sunglasses and a tote are also needed. Add a light sundress, cotton blend shirt, hat, denim or similar type causal short skirt, shorts, and a light sweater.

Rubber Band Bracelets

The rubber band bracelets have become the most-preferred and the most inexpensive way to show your support for a cause, or to donate to charity, or to raise awareness about an issue or a disease. You can see them used for extremely different purposes, such as to proclaim one’s religious affiliation, or as a fashion statement! The rubber band bracelet is the modern way of wearing your heart on your sleeve, er wrist!

What are rubber band bracelets? They are simply loops of solid rubber, worn on the wrist by stretching and sliding them over the palm of one’s hands. They come in any color imaginable — yellow, orange, blue, green, black, pink… Some are translucent, others glow in the dark… And they are worn in support of many a message or cause — they are as versatile as they are stretchable! Not all rubber band bracelets are rubber, though. Some of them are made of silicone.

You can have any message stamped over the rubber band bracelets, or designs crafted on them. In fact, some of the latest rubber band bracelets sport more than one message! Rubber band bracelets usually sell for $1-5 a piece, and can be ordered online from many Web sites, in multiples of five hundred, or smaller packs of a dozen or more. The manufacturers often give discounts for the larger orders.

The most famous of the rubber band bracelets is the yellow ‘Livestrong’ wristband worn by cycling champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. The pink ones are worn to show support to breast cancer patients. SHeDAISY’s ‘Come Home Soon’ yellow rubber band bracelets (named for the group’s Top 15 single) with the words ‘Come Home Soon’ stamped on them are highly popular among relatives of American servicemen.

The rubber band bracelet is a very useful and inexpensive tool for crowd control: it is used as a cheap identifying device in restricted access events attended by large numbers of people, such as music concerts. The rubber band bracelets are also issued by hospitals to their patients as identifying devices with some basic medical information stamped on them.

So what makes these rubber band bracelets so popular? Sociologists say people have always used amulets in times of trouble. Now we are just using them in a more positive way. Yes, rubber band bracelets are more than simple loops of rubber; they represent the human urge to fight and survive great odds.

Boho Chic, Boho Style

Bold accessories will remain a staple in every fashion-forward woman’s wardrobe. Sorry Boho Chic haters, belts and boots look like they have staying power along with pendants, over-sized earrings, long chains and drop earrings. They may be staying on the shelves, but stones, feathers and shells that decorated the ears of spring and summer’s hottest fashionistas will be replaced by rhinestone-encrusted chandeliers and delicate drops. The long necklaces paired with the over-stated earrings will morph slightly from heavy, multi-layered, multi-stone piece to a simpler, chic, one-strand accessory. While the length and materials remain the same (gold still the winner), the detail will shift from Boho’s accessories to fall and winter’s fabrics.

Ultra-rich fabrics like lace and brocade are the hottest additions to fall and winter lines. Back-again-black along with gray and purple are the most popular for jaw-dropping dresses, frilly tops and tweed trousers that will line racks and closets everywhere in upcoming months. The feminine, flowy look will still be desirable, but it will be achieved with blouson skirts and culottes instead of sheer, floor-length numbers. If you’re concerned newer more regal fabrics like velvet, lace and tweed will still look make you look more thirties than twenties, you can still look eclectic-chic by matching new pieces with your favorite over-stated Boho belts and jewelry. If you’re still worried about shifting from fun and flirty to dark and serious, mix fabrics to achieve an even more eclectic look: there are NO rules this season about mixing tweeds and velvet or brocades with lace. More than anything, have fun mixing your existing styles with a totally new style to find your personal fit–fall and winter will bring plenty of opportunity to get away with experimenting.

Back to Black

In industries around the world, high fashion, euro-fashion, action sports/surfer chic, etc. the past year has been all about color, from the overly-saturated HOT pink to orange to yellow and even bright greens. BUT, for all you girls who love those classic black pants or simple black cocktail dress, this fall is YOUR season! And for those who love to play up the girly side, the trend is heading towards more feminine and attention-getting pieces. Cocktail-length dresses in velvet or chiffon, soft and touchable “flowy” knits, sexy suits- pant or skirt, and even a plain black tee with a little colorful jewelry for flair are going to be saturating the streets. It’ll be nice to enjoy being comfortable, yet chic, in the most flattering color for all body types.

Key pieces for the season are “the little black dress,” which I’m sure all of you own at least one; black velvet or chiffon; and the classic black trench adorned with bows, rosettes & beading.

If you are lacking any of these essentials and are about to rush to the store, I suggest you start from the top down. By that I mean, head down to the nearest upscale mall and torture yourself by strolling through all the major label retail stores.

Versace

Prada

Marc Jacobs

Gucci

Christian Dior

Dolce & Gabanna

However, if you’ve already broke the bank on clothes this year……you can usually find these items for less at BCBG, bebe, overstock.com and of course Nordies (That’s Nordstrom’s for you non-valley girl types).

Shoe Styles to Wear With Skinny Jeans

Go with ankle boots

Ankle boots are back, and you’ll find them everywhere in as many styles and colors you can imagine. Whether you like cowboy-inspired boots, lace-ups or slouchy suede, you’ll be sure to find an ankle boot to suit your style. Ankle boots look fabulous with skinny jeans; their abbreviated shape sets off slim legs perfectly, elongating your legs by showing more of them. Plus, they’re fun, funky and right on trend.

Choose classic tall boots

Knee-high boots are the iconic foil to skinny jeans. Tuck your skinnies into tall boots and you’re instantly stylish, chic and polished. Classic riding boots are especially flattering with skinny jeans, so try an always-fashionable flat-heeled equestrian style to emanate preppy-cool style and take your look up a notch. But when it’s time to dress up a bit more, heeled tall boots paired with skinnies–especially skinnies in a super-dark or black wash–make you look glamorous and ready for a night out.

Try a flirty flat

Ballet flats have been popular for awhile now, and their staying power hasn’t diminished. While ballets look cute with other pant styles too, they’re especially adorable with skinny jeans. A cropped or ankle-grazing skinny jean with a classic ballet flat is the perfect flirty, Audrey Hepburn-inspired look–and flats are practical and comfy to boot. If your daily life involves a lot of running around, chasing kids or dashing from meeting to meeting, a ballet flat is ideal. As an added bonus, you can find ballets in tons of styles and variations, from casual to elegant. For a more casual look, try fun printed canvas, denim or classic solid-colored leather ballets. For a dressier or edgier look, choose flats embellished with jewels, flowers, ruffles or buckles, or go for a two-toned, cap-toed flat or one in an animal print.

Fall Wardrobe On A Budget

First off forget the designe names. Yes they’re great if you can afford them but if not take their ideas and then go shopping. There are plenty of similar after market designs that are very close and won’t break the bank.

Items such as blue jeans, pheasant skirts, v necks, and wool sweaters can be purchased without the designer name. Also watch for some great sales as the stores begin to already bring in their winter stock. This time of year you can save anywhere from 30% to 50%.

Looking fresh and stylish is important and when you get to save good money you don’t feel so bad about tossing an item that’s starting to show its wear.

You can also save plenty on shoes by watching for sale or shopping at a shoe warehouse. The shoe warehouses have plenty of style choices you just might have to hunt a little bit to find your size. Well worth the time for the savings!

Most important is fit and comfort, and of course you need to be certain they’ll work with your wardrobe. This season the wedge continues in popularity. Slip ons are also still very popular and we are seeing imitation fur linings this season. Nice and cozy and still very classy! If you shop carefully you can add several pair for the price of one pair of designer shoes.

Lastly you can save a whole lot of money on your jewelry. Costume jewelry is affordable and the selection is great. If you stick to costume jewelry you can buy pieces for the fall season and not feel bad because you spent too much and they are out of style by next year.

There are many good online store with very reasonable prices. Don’t forget to have a hunt through your old jewelry as well – you might be surprised at what you find that has made it back into style. Large clunky jewelry continues to be instyle as well as wood and bone jewelry. Color is making a big statement this year. Bold is beautiful this season!

If you need to get some ideas for the spring season – this months women’s magazines have some great articles and examples. Vogue, Elle, and In Style are all full of excellent fashion pages.

Perfect Swimsuit For You

Plus Size: Let us begin this guide to swimsuit shopping with the women
who often feel most rejected by swimsuit manufacturers. While all women feel
somewhat self-conscious in a skin-baring swimsuit, women who wear plus sizes
often feel that they will never find a good swimsuit fit for their unique bodies.
However, these women often have the sexiest curves to show off in a swimsuit. In
the 1950s, curves were in; in the current era, curves may be making a reentry into
the vogue of swimsuit fashion. To accentuate and flatter curves in a plus size
body, try pairing a light colored, waist-defining tankini top with more subdued
bikini bottoms. Choosing a swimsuit with a high percentage of Lycra or spandex
and a high-cut leg will actually shave 10 pounds off of your appearance. To slim
and shape the stomach, make sure tankini tops and bottoms meet. This will
prevent any unsightly stomach bulges.

Pear Shapes: Women with pear shapes often have an extremely
challenging experience when buying a swimsuit. The combination of a relatively
small upper body with large hips and thighs can look somewhat unflattering in the
wrong swimsuit. Fortunately, plenty of flattering swimsuit options do exist for
women with pear shapes. The number one secret to finding a sexy swimsuit for any
type of body is to flatter and display appealing characteristics while drawing eyes
away from less desirable characteristics. For women with pear shapes, the best
swimsuit or bikini entails a flashy top with plenty of eye-grabbing detail combined
with more subdued bottoms. Try a one-piece swimsuit or bikini with a halter-top
to widen the shoulders. Pair this top with dark, high-spandex bottoms with high-
cut legs. High-cut legs tend to slim the hips and thighs.

Short or Long Torso: Women with either short or long torsos often have
a difficult time shopping for swimsuits, as well. Torso length is one of the most
important factors to consider when finding the right fit in a swimsuit, and swimsuit
manufacturers seem to (rather unfortunately) concentrate their efforts largely upon
women with “normal” length torsos. To either lengthen or shorten the appearance
of the torso in a swimming suit, the key is getting the right cut on the legs. For
women with short torsos, try finding a bikini with low-rise bottoms that sit just on
the hips. The low-rise bottoms will show as much midsection skin as possible. Legs
that are cut too high will shorten the torso even more and give the appearance of
stockiness. Conversely, women with long torsos should try a tankini with bottoms
that sit a little higher on the hips. The tankini top will break up a long torso while
the higher bottoms will lengthen the legs.

Large Busts: Women with large busts often have difficulty finding a
swimsuit that offers enough support in the top. It seems that the swimsuits that do
offer the appropriate amount of support often look too matronly. Thankfully, most
swimsuit manufacturers now offer bra-style support in their swimsuits, an absolute
must for minimizing and flattering large breasts. The key to finding an attractive
swimsuit for a big bust is to look for a one-piece swimsuit or bikini top with a
hidden underwire. An underwire will lift the bust, giving it the support it needs.
Also, look for a suit with a straight across cut at the top and wide-set straps. To
avoid looking matronly, find a bikini or swimsuit in a pretty, young, pastel color.

Small Busts: For women with small busts, the key to looking attractive in
a swimsuit can also be found in bra-style support. Hidden underwires will lift and
shape the busts. To add curves to the bust, try a bikini top with triangle-shaped
cups or a tie-front. Triangle cups will add shape and curve to small breasts while a
tie-front will lift and shape a small bust even more. In general, women with small
busts should avoid bandeau-style bikini tops. Bandeau tops tend to minimize and
flatten the breasts.

Boy Shapes: If you fear you have no shape to accentuate in a swimsuit at
all, you may have a boy shape. To gain more Marilyn Monroe style curviness, try a
one-piece swimsuit with a low, plunging neckline. The top of the suit should gather
to add shape and curve to the bust and shoulders. To emphasize curves in the hips,
try a high-cut leg that sits just above the hipbone. This type of cut will make the
legs seem longer and curvier. However, if you would like to embrace your boy
shape, try pairing triangle-shaped bikini cups with short boy shorts. Boy shorts are
incredibly popular but look attractive on only a small percentage of women; women
with boy shapes make up the majority of this small percentage.