Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Challenging Cute Outfit Number One: Dog Walking in the Freezing Rain

There are some that are born so beautiful and compelling in nature that they always look gorgeous, no matter what the circumstance. They look fantastic in wet or greasy hair. They look amazing walking the dog in the blazing sun, riding their bike in bad weather, and even in the beer aisle of   Fred Meyers at 12:30 am. But that is not me. If left to the whim of nature, with no intervention whatsoever, I would quickly become a lumpy, hairy grandma. There are people in their 40's who are grandparents, but not me!

Horrified by the creeping indignities of middle age, I found I could actually resist a lot of the swift gravitational pull of nature by eating well, exercising, sleeping well, and getting a freaking clue as to what clothes looked good on me!

There are many factors that make this a particular personal challenge.Almost all of us have these various factors that must be understood before we can totally rock it on the street!

My personal challenging style factors include, but are not limited to:

1. Curvaceousness. This can be a good thing, but depending on how much or how little there is at the moment totally affects the line of an outfit.

2. I used to have very bad skin, terrible acne all through my teens, twenties and thirties. Nothing I did helped (although truthfully I ate terrible food back then, too!) Somehow in my 40's my skin finally cleared up, hormones I guess, and it is unblemished now except for scars, and of course my new friends, the inevitable wrinkles.

  3.I  have a  bad back. I used to go to the gym., and I loved to run. Then 4 years ago I hurt my back and it's never been the same. This makes shoe choice absolutely crucial, and seeing as how I refuse to sacrifice style for comfort, and how my back literally forces me to stay comfortable, I have become very good at spotting the best of both worlds! I am a hunter-gatherer of cute, comfortable, back-friendly shoes!

 4. I have hair that becomes a cloud of frizz at the least amount of humidity, and I live in Oregon.

The glowing beige bra
But despite these daunting challenges,and through sheer trial and error, (along with a total obsession with fashion and design) I am on the path to solutions! I do not always succeed, by any means! I still wear the wrong scarf with the wrong coat, like this morning when I tried to work an Ali McGraw headscarf with my down jacket, and ended up working a Russian Housewife look instead! Not that Russian Housewife doesn't have it's cute elements, but I was not working it. Also, a few nights ago I went to a fancy dinner at the top of a sky scraper that I should have LOVED getting dressed for. I have at least 3 dresses that should have worked, but none did! In the end I  picked a cute, high waisted sheath dress with a silk ruffled bodice, that looked too busty on me. Actually, horribly, in the picture it looks like my beige bra is glowing through the fabric! How embarrassing! The sweater, although really sweet is too light for the outfit. Oh well! I march on!

Anyway. Today's Challenging Outfit is: Walking the Dog in Freezing Rain

I know the shops are full of spring clothes, but SHEESH let's get real, the outfit I'm still wearing every single day is all about winter! There are no flirty tank tops or cropped jeans where I live-- it's all waterproof layers and wet hair, baby!
The reason I need to perfect this look is my friend Faye. Faye is our black lab, she's sweet as a goofy baby bear and I love her extremely much. She deserves to go on walks all day long, and to the dog park.

Since I spend a good portion of every day walking Faye, and since I happen to be walking through adorable neighborhoods, feeling the magic of the beauty of Portland (or you in New York, or LA, or wherever you are) I (you) want to reflect that feeling by fitting in artistically with the landscape.
I don't just run out to the store anymore with no makeup and wearing sweatpants. No. When I do that, I always see someone I know, or I just feel stupid, so why do it? It seems impossible, but I have decided to try to make the daily effort to do all my errands in something presentable. Perhaps even something with dash!

Something that looks good on my body in an alluring-but-age-appropriate way! Since it really only take one shopping trip to choose a go-to, flattering, lounge or dash-about outfit to prevent fashion embarrassment it's easy. I pay attention to proportion, and try never to leave the house, or even own something that looks like crap on me.  And rather than go on long, uncomfortable, cold wet walks looking TERRIBLE (no fun!) I thought up some go-to dog-walking outfits that work every time. (For winter. Summer dog-walking includes perspiration, which brings along a whole other list of challenges!

The first and undeniable most important piece in the outfit is The Coat. And if, like me, you have a tendency to really feel the cold, you need something with a cute, flattering silhouette and warm coverage. You need: a down coat.
Like slipping on a sleeping bag, the instant warmth and cushioning of my navy gap down coat is indescribably delicious. No matter how cold, how wet, how grim the Portland winters get, this pretty blue puffy dream cloud of a coat takes me in its arms and gives me the heart to walk miles and miles every day with darling Faye. Thigh length, an adjustable cord to cinch in the waist so you can still be a little sexy in your silhouette, and with a hood, I am encased in comfort!

Some of the most important elements of the coat are these:
Thigh length. The coat must come down to mid-thigh. Shorter jackets are really unflattering for the most part, showing off big behinds and cutting hips too high. Also exposes larger thighs. A thigh-length coat creates a simple, flattering shape from shoulder to mid-leg, smoothing any possible problem areas.

Fabric: for warmth, down. Trench coats and wool coats come in every beautiful fabric under the sun. Keep in mind that neutrals are more age-appropriate and can be paired with bright accessories for "fun". For this particular outfit we are most concerned about maximum warmth, in freezing rain, with a dog. I really pity the dog-owner who does not have a down coat.

If there is freezing rain outside then an umbrella is also necessary. Cool women and men should always use an umbrella when it's raining. It looks crappy to be hunched against the rain in a hood, with your face all squinched up, no matter what your age! It looks unprepared. Ideally you should almost always have an umbrella stashed in your bag when rain threatens. Also keep a soft knit hat and light gloves available. Freezing red painful fingers are not fashionable!

Incidentally, umbrellas are awesome fashion accessories. They can be walked jauntily down the road like a cane, tucked casually under an arm, snapped open like fan, and  craftily used to avoid the leering eyes of the drunks down on Powell blvd.

 Again, simple solids are best . Black might seem like a disappointment next to checks or stripes, or red polka dots, but it will always look pulled-together and sophisticated. If you absolutely must be "fun" in your umbrella choice, then a solid color will create a pop. I have a red umbrella and a black umbrella. I love my red one with my grey coat, but not so much with my burnt-orange one.  Avoid at all costs umbrellas with animal ears or other whimsical additions. Avoid giant slogans or promotional umbrellas. Try not to use broken umbrellas. A quality, heavy and somewhat spendy umbrella is a good investment. It will be your friend every day in the winter on your dog walks, making a little shelter for you to listen to headphones in and wonder at the cloud banks.

Shoes: boots-So important! Flat heeled, tall boots over socks pulled over jeans is a warm, comfortable, sleek dog-walking look. Boots over jeans have been all the rage for a few years now, and they make some extremely stylish, flat walking boots. Again, a simple look and color, no more than one or two embellishments. No chunky square heel, no slutty ruching, or "punk" buckles. Simple, feminine, quality. I found some $150. boots at Imeldas that have served me almost every day for the past 10 months. Sometime a small 1" wedge (very low) looks a little more stylish, and if it's rubber it can be walked in all day. Definitely find a rubber sole to absorb shock, give great traction on wet sidewalks, and create a cushion for the back.

Of course women's rain boots have also been trendy for the past few years. Rain boots are a good thing --they make the dog park a snap! No mud worries is a huge deal! They laugh at puddles, striding through confidently, and quietly laughing at the hapless folks wincing and tiptoeing around puddles and mud. However, rainboots are not always comfortable on a long walk. 3 miles in those babies might give you a blister. They also tend to be made in loud colors and hideous patterns. That psychedelic paisley pattern might look cute on the shelf but any 44 year-old who wears it on her rain boots is needs counciling. Plain black rain boots are much more dignified!

 I can't stand to wear the exact same coat every single day, so I do have a small fleet of thigh-length trenches and wool coats to alternate. I care about comfort almost (but not quite) as much as style, so I make sure to wear puffy, soft warm scarves to make up for the lack of down in the coat, and I did luck out at xmas to find cashmere dove grey gloves in my stocking! (I'm just extra careful with the poop bag.)

Ladies! It can be done! Freezing Wet Dog Walks! With sass!

1 comment:

  1. Dog walking is an essential business of many as well as past time for pet lovers to spend their time to exercise with their dog companion. However, many individuals who are into walking dogs forget some courtesy in the area they walk used for the task. It is common sense that etiquette be applied in these places since a walk with a pet is usually done in public places like the park and neighborhood sidewalks, consideration for others must be observed.

    Dog Walking Mississauga