Styling Advice from Bridgette Raes – Casual Skirt Outfits

Last week, I shared my initial debrief of my second virtual style consult with Bridgette Raes.  In that post, I wrote about Bridgette’s feedback on paring down my large jewelry collection and cultivating a more workable accessories wardrobe.   Bridgette’s words of wisdom coupled with readers’ comments provided some excellent food for thought – and now I want to do some more culling!  I’ll be back with a follow-up on that topic before too long, but today I’d like to talk about skirts.

A Skirt Conundrum Revisited

Skirt outfit advice

In my first session with Bridgette back in August, we reviewed a few of my skirt outfits, two of which were very corporate and/or church-worthy and not at all appropriate for the life I lead.   Using Bridgette’s feedback, I put together some new skirt outfits that I hoped would be more suitable for my casual lifestyle.  In today’s post, I share what Bridgette had to say about my skirt ensemble “reboots,” as well as my follow-on thoughts and future plans for this area of my wardrobe.

One thing I appreciate about Bridgette is that she can be very blunt but is also able to speak difficult truths in a humorous and caring manner.  She’s really good at explaining the reasoning behind her recommendations, which really helped me to see why certain outfits just didn’t work.   I often get a visceral feeling (either positive or negative) about some of my looks, but can’t always explain why I feel the way I do. Bridgette is able to articulate what’s going on in such a way that I really “get it,” and then she clearly outlines what to do in order to correct those less than fab ensembles.

About the New Skirt Outfits

The new skirt outfits I reviewed with Bridgette were put together during a “shop your closet” session awhile back.  I didn’t fully style any of my sample ensembles (I wore the same shoes and accessories in most of the photos) and none of them ever left my apartment.   I just wanted to see how I could wear some new and/or trickier pieces and if I could possibly tone down the “church vibe” inherent in many of my skirts.

While I put together some good looks that day, others simply fell flat.   I opted to send photos of both types to Bridgette for her feedback, as I believed that even the better looks could be improved in some way.  Below I share some of the input that Bridgette gave me, as well as how I felt about the looks presented.

Striped Pencil and Zigzag A-Line Skirts

Back in August, I bought a black and grey striped pencil skirt.  Since most skirts I’ve worn over the past few years are more of an A-line or flared shape, I wasn’t sure how to wear this new skirt.  I sent two casual outfit possibilities incorporating the new skirt to Bridgette (first and second images below).  Bridgette really liked the skirt and was impressed that I bought it, especially since I’m so self-conscious about my bottom half (I even sent her a back view, which she assured me looked just fine).

Skirt Outfits - Part 1

Styling options for a new pencil skirt and a wardrobe workhorse zigzag skirt.

I wasn’t sure if the flat metallic sandals worked with the skirt, but Bridgette felt that both those shoes and the black caged sandals coordinated well.   She loved the color of the purple tank, but wasn’t fond of the ruffle details on the front.  She suggested that I keep an eye out for a clean, basic top or tank in that color, as it looks nice with my skin tone.

Bridgette expressed that the pencil shape is a better match for my sense of style than many of my other skirts that will be addressed below.   She also really liked my zigzag striped skirt, which she told me can be treated as a plain black skirt in terms of what I pair with it.  She liked the skirt with the black caged sandals and teal tank, but felt that the lace straps of the tank conflicted with the overall sleek look of the rest of the ensemble.  The shoes and the skirt are modern and clean, whereas the top has more of a feminine vibe that doesn’t really match.

As with the purple top mentioned above, Bridgette loved the color of the teal tank, but would prefer that the straps be plain instead of lace.  I feel the same way at this point.  When I purchased these two tops, I was in favor of a more feminine and pretty style, but my preferences have changed.  I’d now like to incorporate a bit of edge into my outfits, as I’ve mentioned previously.

The caged sandals definitely move me in that edgier direction, so I feel they were a good purchase.  However, they don’t really work with many of my skirts, which are more conservative in style.  For next summer (and possibly earlier), I’d like to add a few more modern skirts to my closet, as well as a few new tops/tanks to replace some of my more girly and frilly options.  Those new wardrobe additions will coordinate well with the caged sandals, but I also have some dresses, skirts, and pants to wear with them now.

Geometric and Polka Dot Print Skirts

Bridgette was glad to hear that I had let go of the geometric print skirt pictured below, as she felt there was something “off” about it.   Although the print was nice, it was too wide and my attempt to have it narrowed was unsuccessful (that’s an example of “The Dark Side of Alterations”).   As I noted above, I’d like to move away from this skirt shape and more toward narrower and shorter styles.

The wider type skirts generally skew dressy and really look best paired with heels.  I tried to “casualize” these skirts by pairing them with flats, but the resulting looks were a bit on the frumpy side, as per Bridgette. I agree, which is probably why I typically wore my flared skirts with heels.  Of course, then I ended up with the “church vibe” that I’ve been trying to get away from!  If I start to wear more inherently casual skirt styles, it will be easier for me to create laid-back looks with flat shoes that aren’t frumpy.

Skirt Outfits - Part 2

Trying to wear my conservative skirts more casually and not really succeeding!

Toning Down the “Church Vibe”

Even though the polka dot skirt in the center image above has a slightly flared shape, Bridgette believed it has good possibility for me.  However, she didn’t like this skirt paired with the blue jacket (more on the jacket later).   She told me that the skirt would look a lot more modern combined with structured, unfussy pieces that cut down on the conservative, “churchy” look.

In order to avoid looking like I’m on my way to church, Bridgette told me I need to “water down” the conservative skirts by bringing in the complete opposite.  She recommended that I try the polka dot skirt with a denim jacket, white t-shirt, and flat sandals.  I like this idea and plan to try it very soon!

The right-most look above was my attempt to make a flared skirt look more casual while also wearing a loved but rarely worn jacket.   Bridgette really liked the jacket and felt it could work with some skirts but not the one in the pictured outfit, as the two pieces have very different vibes and clash with each other.  She envisioned the jacket with my black and grey striped pencil skirt and a pair of slightly heeled boots or booties. That’s another outfit I wouldn’t have put together on my own, but I can definitely see it working.  But that’s why I hired Bridgette!

About That Blue Jacket

When I presented the blue jacket with the wide ruffled lapel in this post, several readers expressed disdain toward it.   They liked the color but felt the sleeves were too short and the collar too fussy.  Bridgette, however, felt very differently about the jacket.  She liked the asymmetrical closure and interesting collar and felt the problem was in what I wore it with, rather than with the jacket itself.   She offered the great analogy that an outfit with too many frills is like a cup of coffee with too much sugar.

The ruffled blue jacket combined with the polka dot skirt resulted in an outfit that’s just too conservative for my style.  Bridgette thought that jacket could look fabulous with more modern accompanying items.  Since the jacket is a bit on the fussy side, everything else in the outfit should be really sleek and clean. Here are a few options she offered me:

  • Have the outfit be all about the jacket. Wear it with a black tank, a sleek pair of black pants, and a cool pair of shoes.
  • Wear the jacket with a white tank and dark denim jeans.
  • Pair the jacket with a plain pencil skirt.
  • Try it with a black structured A-line skirt, black tights, and black heeled boots – a column of color with the jacket as the “star player.”

Bridgette wasn’t opposed to the idea of combining the jacket with an A-line skirt, but felt it looked a bit “marmy” with my polka-dot skirt.   It really needs to be paired with non-ruffly, non-feminine items in order to work well.

After all of the negative input I got about the jacket from both readers and my husband, I opted to pass it on.  However, the consignment shop where I bought it didn’t want to re-consign it, so I still have it.  I was planning on donating it, but before I do, I’m going to try out Bridgette’s suggestions above.   Even if I don’t end up deciding to keep the jacket, at least I’ll get a chance to try some new things.  If I like any of the looks, I may opt to share photos in a future post.   Bridgette told me she thinks the readers who hated the jacket would actually like it when worn as per her suggestions.   It would be interesting to see if that ends up being the case!

Often Problematic Toppers & Outfit Juxtaposition

One issue I have with my skirt ensembles is deciding which topper to wear when it gets cold outside.  My toppers and shoes are often what sent my outfits into church territory, so it’s been a struggle for me to stay warm while also maintaining a casual vibe.   That’s a big part of my reason for purchasing a few moto-style jackets this past summer.   I felt those jackets would not only make me a look a bit edgier, but also more casual as well.

Skirt Outfits - Part 3

Summer dressing is harder to do when it gets cold and I need a topper of some kind!

Unfortunately, Bridgette didn’t feel I was successful in pairing the grey moto jacket (which has since been returned due to itchy fabric) with my pinstripe flared skirt, especially with the ruffled purple tank underneath.  While the moto jacket is edgy in nature, the tank and skirt are more frilly and feminine, so the look seems “forced.”   I was going for “juxtaposition” and Bridgette is all for that, but such an outfit needs to look thought out instead of just thrown together.    She told me the outfit would work if either the tank or the skirt were “sharper” and that I should pick just one softer piece and have everything else be more severe.

Pattern Mixing 101

One of Bridgette’s favorite looks among those I sent her (I sent more than what I’m including here) was the pattern mixing outfit in the center of the image above.  She really liked this look, but again felt the tank top should be clean instead of ruffled.  She said the ruffles took it from being a fun look to having too much going on.   However, if I took the top half of the outfit and paired it with a plain pair of pants or jeans, it would work well.   But the leopard print and ruffles are just too much with the striped skirt.

I have to admit that the pattern mixing ensemble was a bit out of my comfort zone when I put it together.  I was just playing around at the time, but now that I look at the photo today, I kind of like it.  I agree with what Bridgette said, though, and will opt to wear one of my plain tanks under the cardigan instead of the purple ruffled one.  I would also wear heels instead of flats, as I really don’t like the look of flat shoes with my more flared skirts. Since I want to stay out of the “frump zone” as much as possible, I will reserve the flats to wear with maxi-length skirts and dresses, as well as narrower or shorter skirts.

Skirt Proportion Guidelines

Bridgette was also a fan of the tonal green outfit I put together (third look in the photo above).   She really liked the way the bright tank and dark green jacket coordinated, but again she would prefer a cleaner bottom piece.   She said that the blazer is a bit too long to be worn with such a wide and long skirt.  In order for the outfit to work well, either the jacket or the skirt needs to be shorter, or the skirt needs to be narrower.

The following skirt proportion guidelines given to me by Bridgette might also be useful to some of you:

  • Generally, the shorter the skirt, the lower the heel should be. Shorter skirts can look great with opaque tights and low-heeled riding boots in cooler weather.  This is a great look for those of us who don’t like to show our bare legs for whatever reason (in my case, varicose veins).
  • Longer and wider skirts usually look best with a bit of a heel. Flats worn with these types of skirts can make the look skew frumpy or “marmy.”
  • If you’re wearing a wider skirt (like mine in the photo above), your top and topper should be shorter (or the top tucked in). Longer tops and toppers work better with narrower skirts such as pencil or straight styles. My tops and toppers in the first two looks above are good lengths for the skirts, but the green jacket in the third photo is a bit too long (since the skirt is so flared).

Wearing Skirts and Dresses in Cooler Weather

Another topic that Bridgette and I discussed was wearing skirts and dresses in cooler weather.   While this may be a regular occurrence for many of you, I typically only wear my skirts and dresses during the summer months.  While it doesn’t get all that chilly where I live, I get cold easily and tend to stick with pants and jeans once the temperature dips down into the 60s (yes, I know I’m a wimp!).

When it’s cold outside and tights are required in order to keep warm, I get confused as to what types of shoes to wear.  Bridgette’s answer was simple:  boots.   Since she lives in New York City and loves to wear dresses, she has a number of boots in her closet to cover all of her needs.   Because she doesn’t wear black, her boot choices are in cognac, grey, and brown tones.  She believes in a “one and done” approach to dressing, so she has just enough boots to cover her needs.  She has dressy, funky, and rugged boots, but not more than one pair of any type.

For my lifestyle and color palette, Bridgette recommended that I buy three pairs of boots, all of which will likely be in black (although I’d also be open to charcoal grey or burgundy):

  1. Knee-high black boots – These would be the most versatile for me, especially with a flat heel.
  2. Low-heeled casual bootie – Perhaps in a moto style to add a bit of edge.
  3. Dressier bootie or “shootie” – With a stacked or thinner heel, perhaps in suede.

Since I’m now a big believer in proceeding slowly with new wardrobe acquisitions, I’ll likely start with just a single pair of boots and one or two pairs of tights at first so I can “test the waters” with wearing skirts and dresses in cooler weather.   If I find that I love the look and sport it often, I’ll then opt to add another pair of boots or two to my closet.

Final Thoughts and Next Steps

There will be at least one more post in this series.  Bridgette and I also reviewed a number of my favorite outfits during our follow-up session.  She loved many of those looks, but offered some suggestions on how I could make them even better.  I will share her feedback in a follow-up post.   I may also do another post in which I take on Bridgette’s advice and re-style some of my outfits.   I haven’t had a chance to implement many of her suggestions as of yet, but they’ve definitely been on my mind.   As readers seem to like these types of posts, I’ve opted to expand upon the series instead of just recapping everything in a single update.

Since I met with Bridgette a second time, I have been thinking a lot about my summer wardrobe, especially my skirts.   Although I plan to try Bridgette’s suggestions for making my conservative skirts look more modern, I will likely pass some of them on and purchase skirts in alternate styles for next summer (or sooner if I’m able to find some good options).

As my style aesthetic is shifting, I’m starting to prefer more streamlined skirt silhouettes. I have already passed on the geometric print skirt, and the recently purchased denim flare skirt will likely be gone soon, too.   As for some of the others in the second and third images above, time will tell.  If I re-style the skirts using Bridgette’s suggestions and like the looks, I will definitely keep them around.   If I still feel lukewarm about the skirts after re-styling, there will be no reason to hang on to them.   I have quite a few dresses and skirts that I love, so why not just wear those?

With the help of my outfit journal and my sessions with Bridgette, I’ve updated my shopping priorities list to include those items that will take my style to the next level.   I have a good awareness of what I will need for next summer, so I can start looking out for those items as soon as warm weather clothing arrives in the stores.   As for the upcoming cooler weather (yes, it’s still pretty hot here!), I feel I’m in much better shape with my wardrobe.   I still need to upgrade my pants and shoes a bit, but I have most of what I need to dress well for my lifestyle and personal preferences.  As a recovering shopaholic, it feels both surprising and wonderful to be able to write that.  I truly have come a long way!

“Flashback Friday” and Your Thoughts

Since I didn’t get this post out in time for “Throwback Thursday,” I’m calling this section “Flashback Friday.”   Each week, I’ll share what I was writing about last year at this time.  I know many of you weren’t around back then, so this is a chance for you to read some posts from the earlier days of the blog.  For long-time readers, it may be fun for you to revisit content you read the first time around.  I know I enjoy reading my earlier posts, as it helps me to gauge the progress I’ve made, as well as solidify some of the insights I’ve gained along the way.

Here’s what I was writing about last October 21st through 25th:

  • How Many Clothes are Enough?” – This is one of my most-read posts, probably because lots of people are searching for this topic via Google and other search engines. This is the post in which I first explored the topic of closet “set point.”  I also outlined various reasons why a person might need more – or fewer – clothes in her (or his)
  • What Triggers You to Shop?” – In this post, I reviewed one of the powerful exercises from “To Buy or Not to Buy” by Dr. April Benson. There are five types of shopping triggers which can propel us to buy.  I briefly explained each type and provided both general and personal examples.
  • A Mixed Bag of Useful Links” – For much of 2013, I did a useful links post every Friday which was usually confined to a narrow topic. However, last October I opted to mix it up a bit and share articles on a wider range of subjects (like I do now in my monthly link round-ups).   Included in this post are links about wardrobe “weak zones,” decluttering, change, relapse, materialism, and more!

I hope you liked today’s post and the “blast from the past” links above! Now it’s your turn to chime in.  Feel free to share your thoughts on the topics of this post, as well as any of the “Flashback Friday” links above.   You’re also welcome to ask any questions you have for me or make suggestions for future blog posts.


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Comments

  1. Okay I can’t make any comments on the skirts as I never wear them and don’ t own any but I just had to comment on the fact that you look terrific with your hair pulled back as in your one picture. I can’ t put my finger on exactly what it is versus wearing your hair down but somehow it makes you look more vibrant(?) if that makes sense.

    • I was thinking the same thing!
      Thanks Debbie for taking the time to share your feedback from Bridgette.

    • I totally agree! When Debbie and I were in our session on Skype her hair was pulled back and I loved it!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Abgurl, Jessica, and Bridgette. My hair was actually pulled back because I got very hot midway through taking photos. I wear it up all the time at home, but always thought I should wear it down when I’m out and about. But perhaps I should try mixing it up a bit. I am more comfortable with my hair up, as my hair is a bit of a pain (can’t tell from photos, but it’s naturally wavy/frizzy and I flat-iron it all the time). The TV stylists (like Nick and Ted on “What Not to Wear”) would always say that if you wear your long hair back/up all the time, you should probably cut it. I ponder that often, but am not sure if I have the nerve to do it yet!

      • Hahaha -I am laughing because if I didn’t know better we could be sisters. We share sooo much in terms of the physical from body shape(although I am 2 inches shorter than you) through to unruly hair that requires much coaxing to which I said a few years ago to hell with and grew it very long ( almost 3 feet ) with layers wearing it up all the time. The longer it is the easier unruly hair is to deal with and boy – does one ever save money, instead of every few weeks a cut it becomes 2x a year- pees my hairdresser off but makes me smile and the time saved every day- well, “priceless” like the commercial says. A quick brushing, smoothing back and into a bun or low ponytail it goes!

      • So funny you should say that about hair, Debbie! I think we chatted about this. This is exactly what I found. All I would do when my hair was long was pull it up. I just finally chopped it all off and have never regretted it. I don’t know if short hair is for everyone, but, one thing I do like about it is I don’t have to think about it and it always looks good.

        • Ahh but remember when its cut it will require more money to maintain ( frequent trims and usually styling products as well as likely more washing than long hair) so if not wanting to spend a fortune ( trust me been there done that) then long hair is great and looks very chic when worn up. Also it still can be worn down on occasion when one has time to deal with it so I guess it is a matter of weighing time and money.

          • True.. Something else to think about with short hair is that you need to spend more time on hair styling and makeup to look “done.” I have been growing my hair out from a pixie cut for two years! When it was short I often felt like I would look like a little boy if I didn’t feel like putting the time in. I think you should take What not to wear’s advice with a grain of salt. Having longer hair and pulling it back is way less irritating than having short hair. I have very sensitive skin so I couldn’t stand it when I was growing it out but couldn’t pull it back. Especially in the heat, my hair would stick to my face and poke my cheeks -ugh! Pulling your hair back in a ponytail isn’t the only thing you can do- there are hundreds of way to style long hair, and as long as you’re not in a rut, I don’t see the problem with it. And I do like the different silhouette it gives you.

          • Debbie Roes says:

            Good point about short hair, Sarah. I guess there are plusses and minuses to both lengths. Medium length styles can offer the best of both worlds, but my hair often looks too pouffy and triangle-like if I don’t have some length to pull it down. I’ve had short hair a few times in my life, most recently 12 years ago. I did end up wanting to grow it out again not long after I had it cut, but it was kind of a high-maintenance styles (lots of layers and flipped up at the bottom). I liked the way it looked when it was “done,” but if I ever didn’t have time to do it or just wanted to go to the walk or to the gym in the morning, the only recourse I had was to throw a hat on my head. I really need to explore more ways to style my hair, especially in up-dos. Mette did a whole series on hairstyles on her blog and it was fun to see the different ways she did her hair. I need to watch some YouTube videos or find some other online inspiration, as it would be nice to find some quick and easy ways to do my hair when it’s very hot and humid (and flat-ironing is basically useless) or I just don’t want to spend the time to do my hair.

  2. Debbie, I think your styling session with Bridgette is worth every penny. Her suggestions are absolutely spot on. And you did a fantastic job illustrating the idea so that every one of us can learn something as well! I run cold all the time too so I understand the frustration caused by functionality and form conflict. For this reason I basically limited my skirt option to maxi for summer and short wool skirt for winter(paired with thick tights and boots for sure). I always love pencil skirt but it looks best bare leg and with heels which I can’t walk in, so all my pencil skirts end up being benchwarmers. I finally accepted that functionality trumps form, at least for me. Btw my coldness is related to my low thyroid. My doctor suggested more red meat consumption which turns out to be very helpful.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad that my recap of the session is useful for you and others, Meghan. That was definitely my intention, even though it is about me and my issues. It sounds like you’ve been very smart with your skirt options. I need to streamline as well. I also have low thyroid, which probably has something to do with my being so cold, although I’ve run cold for many years (maybe my thyroid has been low for a long time). I need to get some thick tights and boots, as I would love to wear skirts and dresses (I’m actually more into dresses this year, but the skirts have been more problematic) more when it’s cold out!

  3. I love wearing skirts and dresses (people freak out when I wear pants to work because they don’t recognize me – lol) but my shoe pairings are not good. Bridgette would NOT approve! I have converse, flip flops (kinda nice ones with double straps, but still very very casual), and running shoes. I really need to find some flats that are comfortable and casual enough to work with my style and life, but which have some style. And boots. I’ve been meaning to buy boots for 5 years… I need to take a shopping buddy and really try a wide range of boots on. (I’m a horrible underbuyer when it comes to shoes).
    It’s interesting to see how skirt proportion and length relate to the shoes and tops we wear change the way we look. It’s great that you got so much good feedback from Bridgette and that you’re feeling satisfied with what you have. 🙂

    • Hi Joanna! I would never judge you for your choices! 🙂
      Have you checked out Eneslow? They sell all comfort brands and, while some of the styles are totally horrible, many are cute. They have a store in NYC but an online store too. http://eneslow.com. Comfort brands have really stepped up their game lately, so I am sure there are lots of brands worth considering that will give you comfort and style. In fact, totally flat shoes aren’t good for your feet. A small heel (like 1-1 1/2″) is actually better for you. Being a NY’er I totally understand the need for comfortable shoes. They are my mode of transportation!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Striking a balance between comfort and style with shoes can be very tricky, Joanna. I’m glad to see that Bridgette has offered some tips for us here! I’ve found that what she says about heel height is true. I struggle with completely flat shoes and prefer a small heel for comfort, but I have very high arches. I didn’t realize how much heel height mattered in terms of skirt outfit proportion until I took all of the photos and had my session with Bridgette. Now there’s so much to think about! But I think I’ll get it all figured out at some point, and I hope you will, too. Good luck finding some comfortable shoes that are a step up from flip-flops. If you find anything good, please let me know, as I struggle there, too!

  4. Ohh I know what else having your hair pulled back does- you can see your shoulders clearer and it shows that your hips are not bigger as you think but both shoulder and hips are in a pleasing proportion to one another. Take another look at that pic and then at one with your shoulders visible but your hair down which somehow obscures that both shoulder and hips are more equal in width than you believe.. I think it is because your hair cuts the shoulder width whereas there is usually nothing in the way around the hip area.You should certainly wear your hair back more as it shows off not only a pleasing silhoutte but also your great bone structure facial and other

    • I am glad you posted these photos as there is something very important that you need to see . Take a really good look at the photos where you are wearing a tank with the skirt and focus only from your shoulders to your hip area. I know that you don’ t realize this as you have ” mentioned on a number of occasions your big hips and the grief they give you”, but seriously you are actually an inverted traingle whose shoulders are wider than hips- using the photos draw with a marker from where your shoulder begins straight down to the hip and you will clearly see this. This my dear Debbie is the preferred bodyshape of all clothing designers, models and the like
      and YOU have it- the proof is in these photos !!!!!!

      • THANK YOU! You are 100% right, although I saw Debbie as more of an hourglass, but I will take a closer look. It’s hard for other people to wrap their brains around how someone sees themselves. Looking at Debbie, I thought her body was beautifully proportioned and didn’t see half of the issues that were plaguing her. However, as I have learned from my years with clients, it doesn’t matter how I see them, it is how they see their bodies and no amount of trying to convince them otherwise will work. I worked with a woman who had a body, after 5 kids, that I would die for. Meanwhile she spent the whole time poking at the small amount of stomach flab from being pregnant so many times. It can get frustrating as an onlooker, but I always have to remember that the way I see someone’s body can be very different than how they see it.

        • Ahh Bridget yes she does also fit into the hourglass as well. It is the fact that she has a well defined waist. Debbie and I share the identical bodyshape which is why I see the inverted triangle right away . We both as well have the well defined waist though which is not usually typical with the inverted triangle- most have ” clothes hanger shoulders”, that is abt 16 inches wide then straight down with no or very little waist and narrower hips than shoulders & I can guarantee that from looking at the photos Debbie is short waisted like me – a pain in the butt when it comes to tucking in shirts but on the up side makes

          our legs look very long. It took me many years to see it although it was pointed put to me many times( and yes we are sooo our own worst critics in telling ourselves our bodies aren’ t somehow right). My short waist has made me learn tricks to elongate it such as
          wearing a belt of the same color as my top( for example a black top with a black belt),
          wearing midrise pants, ensuring tops are abit longer( 24 or 25 inches versus the average 22 inches many tops are) so they hit at my high hip.
          Debbie my dear- you have one of the most enviable body shapes a female can have in he modern era!!!!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Okay, now I’m blushing with all of this talk about my enviable body shape 🙂 I’ve realized recently that the reason I fret so much about my hips is not because they are so huge, but because they look larger in proportion to my thin arms and narrow torso. I know that my shoulders are broad and my husband actually measured them a while back. They are indeed wider around than my hips, but about two inches! And yes, Abgurl, I do have a short waist, which Bridgette confirmed during our sessions. Like you, I aim for longer tops, especially to wear with pants, and I don’t tuck my tops in because I always feel like it looks weird. I feel like my torso looks disproportionately short when I tuck in, so I prefer to leave my tops untucked and maybe do a belt over my top (although that can be fussy).

      I have a lot of body image issues, mostly left over from my many years of having an eating disorder. I know that I see myself as being larger than I really am, even in photos. When some bloggers post their height, weight, and measurements (not many do that, but a few have), I am always so surprised that I am smaller than they are when I thought I was bigger. I know that much of my problem is between my ears, not in my body. I continue to work on that, but it does help to get a reality check from Bridgette and some of the people who comment here. I realize that as I get older, my body probably isn’t going to get any better and I will likely kick myself for not appreciating the way it looks more. So I’m trying to do just that and work with what I have. It’s not easy for me, but I’m getting there.

  5. Thank you so much for continuing to take the time to share what you have learned from Bridgette! You clearly put a lot of thought into it so want to return the favor by commenting- yours is the only blog I ever take the time to so. The info about shapes of clothes is really interesting. Seeing your outfits really works well to illustrate the concepts in a way just reading descriptions would not. I have also been thinking more about the “one and done” since your jewelry post and with my outfit journal I can see I really “splitting my wears”. This has been tremendously helpful for me to stop my buying in areas with duplication and really think about filling gaps.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thank you for your kind words, Justine, and for taking the time to comment. Yes, I put a lot of thought and effort into my blog, but it’s well worth it if it helps people. That’s why I opted to go into so much detail about my sessions with Bridgette, as I know a lot of people would love to work with a stylist like her, but it might not be accessible to them. As a visual person myself, I know that the outfits add a lot to the discussion, so that’s why I included them (although most of the ones featured here are far from my favorites!).

      I continue to be splitting my wears, too, with both jewelry and clothes, but I’ve made some good progress in paring down. It’s usually a process rather than something that we do once and are then done. I really didn’t realize how much duplication I still had with jewelry until I took the photos for Bridgette. And with clothing, it’s the outfit journal that is teaching me that I still need to pare down. I’d really like to get rid of all of the duplication I have and adhere to the “one and done” philosophy that Bridgette espouses.

  6. Love the zig-zag skirt, can you give details on it please ? Also I agree, the advice is so good, the detailed analysis explains so well why some of the looks are a bit “off” or could be improved. Really enjoying your blog, and although I didn’t think I was a shopaholic, I’m seeing tendencies I didn’t realise were there :). You are keeping me in check. Thanks for lots of interesting posts. I agree with the hair up too, I think you look younger and more casual so that may be something to combat the “churchie” look.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      The zig-zag skirt is by Kenar, Cathie, but it’s a couple of years old. There are a lot of striped items out there now, though, so I’m sure that similar options are available. I know it’s frustrating to like something someone else has, only to be told that it was a gift, purchased in another country, or a few years old. That seems to happen to me all the time!

      I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog and learning from it. I’m happy to be able to help keep people in check. Thanks for the comment about my hair. I didn’t think it would help to tone down the church vibe, but you might be right. And if wearing my hair up makes me look younger, all the better!

      • I’d love to see a photo of your hair au natural too without being flat ironed. I bet that would be a more casual and younger look too.

        • I’m waiting for the same too!

        • Debbie Roes says:

          It’s not a pretty sight, Juhli. The wave is uneven and there’s lots of frizz 🙁 I pretty much need to flat-iron my hair, wear it up, or cut it off. I’m trying to “baby” it more to see if its condition improves, as my stylist told me the frizz is mostly from damage. We shall see, but there may be short hair in my future.

  7. I really love that grey and black pencil skirt on you. It is very flattering. I wonder how it would look with a black tank or top and a colored necklace, maybe red or colbalt? It’s been very interesting to follow along with this process. Happy boot shopping!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Tonya! I like the idea of the skirt with a black top and a pop of color in the jewelry. I’d love to find a colored necklace I like. That’s something I don’t have, even though I have such a large jewelry collection. At least I know now what NOT to buy in terms of jewelry. I don’t want to keep duplicating, but I didn’t even realize I was doing that until I took the photos. I hope to be able to find some boots soon, too. It’s a bigger purchase, but I’m excited to find something I like. I won’t rush the effort, but it would be great to find some tall boots before the end of the year if possible.

  8. I really enjoy reading this series of your feedback (and your blog in general) 🙂

    However – one thing struck me during todays post: You talk a lot about your style and how it has evolved. But have you tried digging into what your style really is?

    There’s an EXCELLENT little exercise here that could help you define and visualize your style:
    http://lostinaspotlessmind.com/2012/07/defining-style-be-inspired/
    Because it is so visual it requires some browsing around the internet on style blogs and online shops (I often get styling ideas from my favourite webshops). But it is very good for defining what exactly is your style and for keeping a focus when you’re shopping – not least because you can make some buzzwords for yourself to have in mind when you shop!

    I did mine here
    http://modedullen.blogspot.dk/2012/12/essensen.html
    (it’s in Danish, you won’t understand the word-part) and it has been an excellent help for me.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Welcome, Modedullen, and thanks for your comment! I have done some digging into what my style is and have taken some style quizzes, but not recently. It would be well worth the effort to do so, though, and I look forward to digging in to the links you provided. I may end up doing a post on this soon, as I can see there being a lot there to write about. I was able to translate your page into English (Google Chrome is great that way, although I’m sure you’d probably chuckle at how the translation was done), so I can get an idea of what you were doing. I really appreciate the links you shared and I look forward to learning more about my style through those resources! I encourage others to check them out and learn, too.

  9. Loved this post! First observations- you’re lovely! My favorites also are the zigzag and pencil skirt. I also really like the black skirt with blue wave print. The flared skirt with sheen was my least, along with the skirt you no longer own. It flares out past your shoulders making a triangle shape, which is NOT bad just not as flattering as the other skirts.

    One note- I run cold and my favorite way to wear skirts and dresses is in fall/winter (except below 0 F)- fleece lined tights are often warmer than pants! I only wear this combo when I’m only going from the car to work, etc because the wind is the problem that will cut through the tights and make me chilly.

    Bridgette’s advice is amazing and I CANNOT wait to see the re-stylings!

    • Meli- Uniqlo also makes heattech tights that keep you warm. Probably not as warm as fleece lined but something else to consider! Thanks for your comments!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad you liked this post, Meli, and I really appreciate the “lovely” compliment. Your favorite skirts are mine, too. I think the one you mentioned as having “sheen” is the denim skirt I’m considering purging. I’m just not into really flared skirts anymore. I definitely don’t want to cultivate a triangle shape, as that’s what I’d like to get away from. I look forward to trying out the re-styling ideas. I’ve had a lot going on recently and haven’t had a chance, but I know I will take it on sure and will likely be happy with the results. I got such wonderful advice from Bridgette and it’s already helping me to be happier with my outfits. I like your idea of fleece-lined tights and the heattech tights that Bridgette mentioned. I don’t need these types of items nearly as much as you do, but I can see myself being quite cozy in them nonetheless.

  10. I too like the pencil skirt on you. I think with a black skirt of similar shape: you’re done. I also concur with the column idea. I wear a black column pretty much every day. It really reduces the “paradox of choice.”

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I would love to find a black pencil/straight skirt, frugalscholar, and I’m going to be on the lookout for one. I love the black column concept. Joan Rivers used to do that all the time and she still had lots of variety in her outfits through jackets, shoes, and jewelry. I’m all for reducing the “paradox of choice,” as I’ve really come to understand how much it can paralyze us. And who wants that?!

  11. “Debbie, I think your styling session with Bridgette is worth every penny. Her suggestions are absolutely spot on. And you did a fantastic job illustrating the idea so that every one of us can learn something as well!” I completely agree with this quote from Meghan. Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve learned. I also love your hair up – it brings the focus to your pretty face!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Yes, Meghan was right on, Kim. I’m definitely happy I decided to work with Bridgette and I’m glad my recaps of the sessions are useful to readers, too. Thank you for your compliment on me with my hair up. I actually really like to wear my hair up, but worried I looked too “severe” that way as a middle-aged woman. But since so many people are writing nice things about that look, I think I will do it more often!

  12. Really insightful post, I love it when Bridgette responds in the comments as well, it’s really helpful to see it all in action.

    Debbie, your wardrobe is almost the opposite of mine, I have lots of basics and not many stars, you have a lot of stars and less basics. I wonder if that resonates with you at all? You have lots of exciting items that stand alone and I would love to see them against plainer items.. The blue jacket ‘we’ disliked would look good against black I’m sure!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Glad you liked this post, Saltbox. I’m happy that Bridgette is responding in the comments, too. You may be right that I have too many “stars” and not enough basics. I think that’s more true for my summer wardrobe than for my cooler weather clothes, but it’s something I need to pay more attention to with future buys.

  13. I too love your hair up!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Saltbox! I actually wear it up a lot, but not so much when I take the photos. Actually, I often start with it down and then it bugs me (poufs in humidity, especially lately), so up it goes!

  14. Hi
    I think being British gives me a very different view. There is nothing wrong with the blue jacket. Wear it with a white t-shirt tucked in blue or white jeans ( you have the waist for it and no muffin top), white vans, matching handbag and belt. Iwould choose black or tan but any colour would be good. Smart and casual. Don’t do the jacket up. Dress up or down with jewellery. Simple and everything you must have in your wardrobe
    You can change the White vans to boots or flat shoes.
    Hope this help.
    Your posts have really helped me

    • Linda, I agree. I said exactly what you did. I really liked the blue jacket and truly think it will be embraced by readers of this blog who initially disliked it when she changes it up. In fact, I think this has whole topic has inspired a post on my own blog for this week. I am glad you see it too!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for the outfit suggestions, Linda. You and Bridgette are very much on the same wavelength. I look forward to trying to re-style the jacket to see if i feel differently about it. Even if I don’t, it will be fun to try some new ideas. We can all get stuck in ruts sometimes, so that’s a big reason why working with Bridgette has been so helpful.

      Bridgette, I look forward to reading your post inspired by my blue jacket problem! Happy to inspire 🙂

  15. TexasAggieMom says:

    Thanks for allowing us to benefit from your sessions with Bridgette, and thanks to Bridgette for her comments here, which are also very enlightening! You and I have similar body types, coloring and styles so I wanted to weigh in on the dress/skirt with tights look. I tried it for the first time last winter, which was the coldest in my area in many years. Overall, I have become a fan and since I usually prefer dresses to pants, it has really increased my options. I have found that I can wear slightly shorter skirts than I normally would if they are paired with matching tights. Contrasting color tights really emphasize the hemline, so I stick with matching, as I’m in my mid-50’s, but if you like contrast, check out Sally McGraw’s archives on Already Pretty. Target’s tights seem to hold up well if you buy their more expensive option. I have found the best color range in the Hue brand, which is available at most major department stores. Gap also has some interesting options (subtle patterns, etc.) but it’s hard to find them in taller sizes. I splurged on new grey and black boots during NAS this year and am working on ways to wear them. So far I am much more comfortable pairing them with skinny jeans and longer skirts that cover the top of the boots. Wearing them with shorter skirts seems to emphasize that fatty bump on the inside of my knees. I completely agree that the shorter the skirt, the flatter the shoe but with my narrow feet and high arches, flats are hard to wear. I have recently started buying Vaneli flats that have a built up arch – check Nordstrom and Zappos for some good options. Be prepared to pay around $140, but so far mine seem worth it. I find that the almond or pointy toe styles are much more flattering than the rounded, especially with skirts. I had the best luck with boots in Bandolino and Sam Edelman. Another option to consider for this fall is the ankle bootie, which theoretically can be worn with skirts or pants. I scored a great deal on some black suede “Famous”style booties by Aquatalia on eBay for less than a third of retail, and bonus – they are waterproof! First saw these on Une Femme d’un Certain Age in her travel shoe recommendations for comfort and versatility. Still waiting for cooler weather to wear them outside the house, but they are insanely comfortable and they look great with my straight (not quite skinny) jeans. They also seem to look acceptable with skirts and tights, particularly a black and tan geometric sweater dress I recently found at Target. I’m pushing my comfort zone with these, but if you’re wanting to go in an edgier direction they might work for you. I’ve seen similar styles at all price points, so you can surely find some that fit your fussy feet. Hope that helps to give you some new ideas! Catching up on your site is my greatest weekend pleasure, and I so appreciate you allowing us to take this journey with you. Even on days when I realize how far I have to go, I can also see through you that recovery is possible.

    • You can also look at No nonsense’s tights. They come in an array of colors and are less than $10. Fully disclosure, they company sent me a pair to try out. But even if they didn’t I would still recommend them. I have been wearing a pair and they are so comfortable and beefy. They don’t roll and are really opaque. Personally, I was a bit disappointed by Hue’s tights. They weren’t substantial enough and felt really thin. I kept pulling them up. I agree with you, Vanelli does make wonderful shoes, and if you are wide or narrow, they offer a wide array in these widths. One of my favorite shoe stores for special sizing is Marmi shoes (they have a website) and a few location. I mention this because they stock a lot of Vanelli. LOVE Sam Edelman, one of my favorite boots are by him and good for you getting a pair of Aquatalia on sale. Those boots are amazing but they are very $$$.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I’m glad my posts are a guilty weekend pleasure for you, TexasAggieMom, and I’m happy to be helping to give you hope for recovery. Yes, it IS possible! Thanks for sharing your experience and suggestions for tights and boots. I would love to get a pair of Aquatalia boots. Actually, I DID buy a pair once at Nordstrom, but I ended up returning them because I’d gone on a big shopping binge and had to do some damage control (this was back in 2012 before the blog). Maybe this will be the year that I splurge on them. I appreciate both your and Bridgette’s tight suggestions, as I am a MAJOR novice in that department!

  16. Debbie, just a thought … have you considered shortening your skirts to mid-knee length? You have such a lovely figure and I think this might give your skirt outfits a more modern look. I’m 51 and wear all my skirts and dresses at mid-knee length instead of below the knee. It always amazes me when I shorten a skirt just how much more stylish it looks and how much that extra inch or two shorter moves an outfit out of matronly territory. As well, you mentioned something about proportions, and I read somewhere that outfits should be in 1/3 and 2/3 ratio (e.g. skirt is visually 1/3 of entire outfit, or 2/3 or entire outfit). Thank you for sharing your journey.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Actually, many of the skirts pictured HAVE been shortened a few inches, Carla. I’m not sure I want to invest more money in skirts that are “on the bubble,” but I do plan to pick up some shorter and narrower skirts once I can find some that work well for me. As for the skirts I have, I’ll likely just wear heels with them so they look less matronly (but I may shorten one a bit more to see what I think). As Bridgette said, it was the combination of longer, fuller skirts with flats that was a problem. I was trying not to be “churchy” but ended up being matronly or frumpy instead, which is actually worse! I’ve read the proportion thing, too, and it makes good sense. I still feel like I have a lot to learn, but at least I’m making good progress!

  17. Debbie, thank you for taking the time to give us so much detail about your experience with Bridgette. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Most of us instinctively know when an outfit is or isn’t working, but I know that I, at least, often don’t understand exactly why. It’s fascinating to hear a professional’s opinion and advice.

    • Kayla, thanks for your comment. It is so funny that you said what you did. I always say that I answer the why’s of fashion. Often, women know something isn’t right but can’t figure out why. Therefore they can’t repeat their successes or avoid their failures. By being able to make informed choices they can have a better wardrobe. As a very wise person said to me once, “Why is the most important word in the English language. Once you know why, you can always have success.”

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Bridgette really DOES answer the whys of fashion, Kayla! Since my last session with her, I really “get” why certain things don’t work and it’s helped me to tweak my outfits so that I’m happier with them. And I haven’t even gotten down to the nitty gritty of re-styling the pictured outfits yet!

      I love the quote you mentioned, Bridgette. This sounds like a very wise person! Working with you and keeping my outfit journal has really helped me to answer the “why” question much better. I feel like my understanding or what I do and don’t want and how to translate those things into reality has improved exponentially in a very short time. I look forward to continuing to improve my wardrobe and shopping and feel armed with the knowledge and insights to do so!

  18. You make this look so easy … do you offer fashion consulting? If you don’t, you should!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Stacey! Actually, I used to do wardrobe consulting, mostly helping women to clean out their closets and better use what they had. I did some shopping with them, too, but I didn’t like that as much as I thought I would. I’m MUCH better with other people’s wardrobes than my own, as I can be completely objective when it’s not my own body and closet. I’m very happy I reached out to Bridgette for help, as I had a lot of blind spots that she’s helped me to see.

  19. I am also really eager to see the ‘before and after’ of outfits you’ve restyled using Bridgette’s tips! I think that will be really fascinating.

    It’s interesting that her suggestions on a lot of your outfits have to do with paring back the look and making it simpler (e.g., plain tank instead of a ruffled one). I can see how that ‘severe background + single point of interest’ formula could accomplish the edgy but casual look you are wanting to express. I wonder if that’s a trick you could use when putting together outfits on your own, too: ask yourself, how could I make this simpler?

    I liked the suggestion made by a commenter above about wearing skirts at mid-knee length rather than just below the knee. I agree that helps mitigate any marmish vibe even with flat shoes. You have a great body and a youthful look overall, flaunt it!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Very good observation, Sarah! One thing I’ve noticed about inspiration outfits I’ve saved either online or from magazines/catalogs is that they’re all pretty simple and clean. I think I used to like more “bells and whistles” in my clothing, but not so much anymore. I like the idea of having one single point of interest and asking myself how I could make things simpler. Thanks for the suggestion! As for the skirt length, I’ve come to understand that a few inches can make a real difference, even on someone as tall as I am. I actually did shorten a lot of my skirts, but probably not enough. Thanks for your kind words about my body and youthful appearance – much appreciated!

  20. I find that shoes and sandals with flat or low heels, ankle straps, high lacing etc look better with shorter hems as they cut the length of the leg. It also helps with shorter waists as there isn’t as much skirt length so you can wear tucked in tops more often.
    Also it is worth building the look of a skirt outfit up from the footwear in style and shape. Those black caged sandals really suggest an edgier look- the the skirt above the knee, then a slash or scoop neck grey or black short sleeved T shirt and some layered up long chain necklaces and maybe a silver cuff. I think I’d put the black strap sandals with the zig zag skirt, the lacing on the other sandals distracts from the focus of the skirt pattern. I’d tend towards a crop or short sleeved plain top to create a more x shaped silhouette balancing the skirt shape.
    I really think you could wear the classic French seaside looks well, and have the climate for it. I’d love to see you try a chambray shirt and simple T shirts with an A line denim skirt (above the knee), and jeans, and simple, easy dresses.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks for the outfit suggestions, Lynn. I like the idea of building an ensemble from the shoes up. That’s really not something I’ve ever done, but it could lead to some interesting and different results. I also like the French seaside look idea, too. I’m a big fan of pretty much all things French, so the idea resonates with me well. I’ve been looking for a denim skirt like the one you mentioned for a while. I used to have one and wore it often, but I had to retire it a few years ago and never found a replacement. One would think such a thing would be easy to find, but I haven’t found that to be the case!

  21. Thank you for sharing your sessions with Bridgette! I love reading your analysis too.

    Here is another link to a minimalist wardrobe article. “Enjoying your wardrobe more when you have less” is the theme.

    http://www.xojane.com/clothes/personal-style-capsule-wardrobe

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I always love your links, Leah! I think it’s really true that less is more when it comes to clothing. Of course, the me of a few years ago would have scoffed at the thought, but as I’ve pared down, I’ve gotten more and more happy with my wardrobe and more in touch with my personal style. I’m glad you’re enjoying the Bridgette session recap posts. There was a lot to write about and I’m not done yet!

  22. I like you in the simpler tops, and bold colours and patterns. I especially like the green jacket with the light green tee. Short, flat but modern boots might provide a good contrast to the skirts, even the flared ones, and as the skirts and tights may be black/white, it might be fun to get boots with some colour, like burgundy, so that the bottom half doesn’t become all black (or maybe burgundy tights?)

    The feminine/masculine thing is interesting. I’ve been taking photos of myself in various outfits, and it became clear quite quickly that my normal jacket/trousers/flat shoes combination can look very masculine and dull (hardly surprising, I’m sure most readers are thinking, but I was under the illusion I looked edgy and charmingly gamine, whereas I look more like a traffic warden). Anyway, my first Project 60 style challenge is how to soften this, without introducing girly things like frills.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I like the idea of burgundy boots or tights, Alice, as that is one of my favorite colors. Sounds like you have a good first goal for your Project 60. I’m sure you didn’t look like a traffic warden, but wanting to be a bit more girly without being frilly seems like a worthwhile and doable pursuit. I wish you the best of luck. Please let us know how it goes!

  23. Deborah (Deby) says:

    I’m enjoying your posts about your session with Bridgette, but I feel compelled to speak up about your skirts. I know you like them, and with exception of the horizontal striped pencil skirt, all your skirts seem to have the same flared shape at the bottom, and are the same “just below the knee” length. I really think you look best in a pencil skirt or a slim maxi skirt. Your body is very proportional, with your shoulders and hips being the same width.

    Every time I look at a photo of you in one of your flared skirts, the proportion seems off somehow, but until today I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. Two things: First, I continue to think that your skirts are too long–for example, I think your striped pencil skirt would look better if it was about “3 stripes shorter” (whatever that measurement is). When a skirt hits below the knee instead of at the break of the knee, to my eye it looks “churchy”. Secondly, when I see a full length photo of you in a knee length skirt, my eye is always drawn first to your outfit, and then to your legs–and I just figured out why! Because your legs are paler than your face, I see them first! I bet you don’t wear those knee length skirts as often as you do pants, because it looks as if your legs don’t get a chance to naturally tan the way your face and arms do!

    I know you feel self conscious about leg veins. I have spider veins on my legs too, but it doesn’t stop me from wearing skirts. I use Jergens Natural Glow Self Tanning lotion on my legs in warm weather and it balances out my tanner face and arms, while disguising the spider veins. I also had sclerotherapy done on mine with great success. However, its best to do this treatment in the winter when you would be wearing long pants anyway.

    But here’s a thought–if you struggle so with issues you encounter with skirts at the knee, why wear that length at all? I think you look more sophisticated in maxi skirts anyway, and with your height, long slender skirts honestly give you more presence than knee length skirts! And you wouldn’t have to agonize over your leg veins.

    • For what it’s worth, I’ve never looked at a pair of knees and said to myself, “Ugh! They should really cover up those ugly knees!” Knees are weird. Everybody’s got them. Anyway, I agree that you also look fabulous in long skirts, especially that striped maxi dress you posted awhile back (maybe with your magazine article?) Either way, congrats on your progress so far. It’s no small feat.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      You’ve mentioned this feedback about my skirts and white legs before, Deby. I addressed the skirt length issue in the post and in response to some other commenters, so I won’t repeat myself about that here. As for maxi-skirts and dresses, I enjoy wearing them and will continue to do so, but not exclusively. I like to mix it up with skirt length and my preferences are evolving. My skirts look longer in the photos than in real life, probably because of the photo angle. I don’t think everyone will ever agree on what looks best on me or anyone else and everyone doesn’t need to. The more opinions that get added to the mix, actually, the more confused I get! I’m working to really hone in on what I like, as that’s what’s most important. As for my veins, I had sclerotherapy done a few years ago, but the veins came back. I may do it again this winter but mostly because the veins hurt more than because they are unsightly. I’m working on accepting myself more for who I am. My work with Bridgette is helping me a lot and I share it so that others can learn. I wasn’t really looking for more input on my outfits, but I know I open myself up to that whenever I post photos. I know that you and others are trying to help, but it all gets a bit overwhelming for me and I remember why I don’t post outfit photos very often.

      • People also need to understand that a photo is not a true representation and that clothing is about one’s personality as much as one’s style.

        Photos are flat, people are not.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          This is very true, Saltbox! Some of my outfits look better in the photos and some look better in person, and some look pretty much the same. But the point about personality is really what’s key. There is no universal right way to dress. Sure, some things may be more flattering than others, but even that is in the eye of the beholder. I’m trying to find the right style for my personality. It hasn’t been easy, especially since I listened more to other people’s voices than my own for so long. I’m finding my way and am sharing my journey because it might help others who are on a similar path. I’m sensitive, though, and some of the feedback I get hurts my feelings. I know that isn’t anyone’s intention, but I have to be honest and admit that it can be hurtful.

          • I hope my post didn’t come across as advice for what to wear- just trying to be supportive that your body (and clothes) are fine just as they are, whatever choices you make!

          • Debbie Roes says:

            I got that from you, Sarah. No worries! It’s true that I never look at a woman and marvel at her gorgeous knees. Legs, maybe, but not knees specifically. Many women are sensitive about their knees, but most probably aren’t all that bad (yes, including mine!).

      • I’m sorry if I contributed to you confusion. I thought you were looking for feedback.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          I wasn’t really looking for a bunch of extra feedback about my outfits, especially since I got a lot of input from Bridgette that I’m still assimilating. I know that not everyone reads what other people write, but I kept getting the same feedback over and over again and much of it was virtually identical to what Bridgette already said and I agreed with. I’m not sure how many more outfit posts I will do. I don’t think my skin is thick enough to deal with all of the feedback I get.

          • I’m truly sorry to hear that some of the comments have been uncomfortable and/or veering into areas that weren’t up for discussion. I love your outfit posts and enjoy your journey immensly. I was hoping you would post your Bridgette inspired complete outfits, but I understand that some of the comments are not what you were looking for especially considering that you shared incomplete, unstyled outfits when you had been just demonstrating what you were asking Bridgette about.

          • Debbie Roes says:

            Thank you, Meli. I’m glad you enjoy these types of posts. I still plan to finish out this series, which includes Bridgette’s advice for making my favorite outfits even better and doing the restyling of the outfits in this post using Bridgette’s suggestions. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to post some of the less good outfits on the blog, but I thought that would be the best way to help others to learn. Most bloggers who post outfits only post really good ones and also use posing, backgrounds, lighting and other enhancement tips that I don’t use (don’t even know how), but this isn’t an outfit blog. I often regret when I post outfits, but I know that many people like those posts and learn from them. I will probably keep to just doing it once in a while and only when it helps to illustrate points. I will leave the regular outfit posting to those bloggers who do it a lot better than I do!

  24. The Zig-Zag skirt is one of my favorites from your closet.
    This was a really good post, I think B. has good ideas for you. The “church” and “marmy” characterizations are a perfect description of a style that I think is way too easy to slip into.

    I’m often drawn to patterned jackets when I shop and I stop myself and ask whether it will lead to what I call the “arty jacket” style — a cousin of the church lady. I think B. is right that those sorts of items need to be worn with other things that are minimal. The showy jacket with a busy skirt, arty earrings, heavy necklaces — you might as well stamp “middle-aged” on your forehead and skip the trouble of dressing at all!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I know what you mean about the arty jackets, Ginger. My mother-in-law loves to wear those, but she’s 81 and an artist! I think that the young can pull such things off more easily and the truly old often don’t care (but sometimes they do). Those of us who are in the “middle-aged” category need to tread more lightly and Bridgette’s tips are perfect. I now better understand why the “church vibe” was happening and have some ideas for how to avoid it.

  25. I have some suggestions, too, and I will go ahead, since you don’t seem to mind but did want to say that I hope that’s true. It’s a lot of commentary — I hope it doesn’t end up feeling overwhelming or hurtful. I, too, would like to see you wear your skirts a little shorter, so that they show the narrowest part just below the knee rather than cutting across the calf, which is thicker. I also wonder why you opt for tank tops when you run cold. You have lovely arms and shoulders, but wouldn’t some tees with sleeves solve the cold + coverup problem? Set-in sleeves also mark the far point of the shoulder, so would highlight the balanced figure people have been pointing out.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Actually, I do get overwhelmed by the feedback, Kate, especially when much of it is the same and similar to what Bridgette already said. It may seem like I don’t mind because I do my best to always be diplomatic and respectful in my responses, but sometimes I do get hurt by the comments people make. I’ve already addressed the skirt issue ad nauseum in response to others above, but as for the tops, you have a very good point. I have added sleeved tops to wear with skirts to my shopping list for next summer. If I find good ones in the interim, that would be great. I like to wear sleeveless tops because my arms and shoulders are favorite features and this summer it was definitely hot enough to wear them without the need for any sort of topper, but that’s not always the case. In any event, I want to mix it up more, so I will plan to add more sleeved tops that are appropriate for skirts (many of the ones I have are not) to my wardrobe.

  26. You look lovely with your hair pulled back! I can totally relate to damaging my hair through constant flat ironing. Weekly hair masks, a newer flat iron and cutting back to once or twice per week made a huge difference in my hair.

    I think that outfits with these skirts are always going to look somewhat church-y because they’re all church -appropriate! I agree that you can tone down the corporate-ness with shoes/tops/jewelry, but I think unless you wear a really revealing top … there’s going to be a bit of church-y. So what?

    I’m staying tuned for what you do with that blue jacket. It strikes me as very preppy, but I think B. is right in that it’s all about what you wear it with. Also, I think the jacket next to it would look really nice with skinny jeans cuffed at your ankle.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I am trying to rescue my hair in much the way you mentioned, but my hairstylist is right in that the damaged parts will basically need to grow out or be cut off. I trim my hair regularly, but I haven’t wanted to chop a lot off (at least not yet). I still flat-iron my hair too much, but I’ve turned the heat way down and am using protective products, so hopefully the damage is being mitigated to some extent.

      I am okay with looking a bit church-y, but I don’t want to look over the top corporate or marmy. I plan to buy different types of skirts moving forward, but was trying to work with what I have, especially since my long-time tendency has been to run out and buy a bunch of new clothes whenever I’m not happy with what I have. I think I over-exaggerate the problem sometimes and think my entire wardrobe is bad when I just may need to pair things differently and cull back a bit. As the warm weather draws to a close, I’m doing to re-evaluate my summer wardrobe (will likely to a post on this) and probably let go of a few things. I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the blue jacket, as I had it pegged as a “goner” before my session with Bridgette, but I’m going to try the restyling and see if my feelings change. You never know…

  27. Ohhh ladies the power of Argan oil for your hair – simply put a few drops in your palms , rub together and then either work through your hair if its wet and style or smooth after it’ s dry . Best plan though is to use this and then do your hair in a simple pony or chignon( either a loose or more formal, your choice) with no blowdrying, curling or flat ironing allowing you to avoid damage or further damgage and still look great. Simple, classic and beautiful all day. Jennifer Scott( of The DC blog) has an excellent video on how to achieve the chignon even if you are all thumbs.

    • Jojoba oil is also great for hot oil treatments (and your skin) because it absorbs easily. I think I’ll do a hot oil treatment tonight after reading about all this frizzy hair!

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I use all sorts of oils and leave-in conditioners in my hair. Sometimes I put several different things in my hair and it never gets oily from it. I think my hair is so dry and damaged that it soaks it all in. Perhaps I should try the hot oil treatment that Sarah suggested. I’m wondering, though, how much to use and how easily it rinses out. If you see this comment, Sarah, and can offer tips for those of us with ultra-dry (and frizzy) hair, it would be much appreciated!

      Abgurl, I haven’t watched Jennifer’s chignon video yet but I plan to. She has beautiful hair and it always looks good. I used to have hair like that, but it’s really gone downhill over the past few years. Perhaps it has something to do with the overall decline in my health. I think our hair and skin reflects our health pretty well. Maybe if I can improve my health, my hair will look better, too. Sounds easy, but it’s been a very tall order!

      • I’ve only done it a couple of times, but it seems like the key is to avoid the root area and just apply to the lengths. I find it’s easier to start at the end and work my way up. The idea is not to put so much that it will drip out because it’s so hard to clean out of carpets and things. If you squeeze your hair and it still feels dry you can add a little more. But you won’t hurt your hair by applying too much, it will just get messy.

        I chose a cheap bottle from sally’s (the kind with the pointed tip like diner ketchup and mustard) and mixed together olive oil, coconut oil and jojoba oil. You’re supposed to warm it in water slowly but I am lazy and did it in the microwave in about 15 second bursts. That’s pretty dangerous though so probably not a good idea. After you apply the oil put on a shower cap (and an old towel around the neck) and blow dry the whole thing, or place a heating pad on your head. You should get a good kick out of looking at yourself in the mirror at this point. I usually lose my tolerance for the whole process around 20 minutes. I find I might feel slightly oily for one day, but the improvements last at least a few weeks.
        Like you, though, I probably have some hair that should just be cut off but I can’t part with it because I’ve been growing out my hair for so long.

        • Debbie Roes says:

          Thanks for following up on this, Sarah. I gather you put the oil on your dry hair instead of wet hair? I used to do that with Ovation Cell Therapy, which works really well but I couldn’t stand the smell. I’m very sensitive to odors and don’t even wear perfume! I think it’s because I’ve had migraines for 30 years and my senses are really heightened as a result, especially my sense of smell. I’m sure the smell isn’t that bad to most people, but I couldn’t take it (I could still smell it after I washed and dried my hair!). I actually like the smell of argan oil and use it and other hair oils often. I just put a few drops in, though, and have never done the hot oil treatment you describe. I can see how it would help, though, so I think I should give it a try! I think my hair is slowly improving. I only notice a minor change, but my stylist said it was a lot better the last time I was there. I’m going to see how it goes, as I would like to keep long hair for a while longer. At my age, I worry that if I cut it short, that will be it forever. Not that it would be horrible to have short hair, but there’s something about long hair that represents youth for me, so I’d like to hang on to it awhile longer if possible.

          • No problem! Yes I apply it to dry hair because the water can cause the oil to slip right off instead of being absorbed. Like you I am extremely sensitive to fragrance and used to get a lot of migraines and have had a variety of ailment like you. (I’ve been eating high fat very low carb lately and my health has vastly improved including NO migraines so if you are interested you should definitely look into it. There’s a lot of new and old science to support it.) Anyway, I digress. Blending your own oils is a great fragrance free option. Have you looked into protective sprays for blowdrying? I don’t currently use heat styling but I wonder if you used a little bit of argan oil as abgurl mentioned, before blowdrying or flatironing, if that would protect against damage?

          • Debbie Roes says:

            Thanks for clarifying about putting the oil on dry hair. Interesting about the diet change. I will definitely look into it, as I’m intrigued. Being gluten-free has helped me somewhat but not enough. My diet is pretty clean but I don’t eat a lot of fat. I’m not phobic about it, but it just doesn’t end up being in my diet too much except for avocadoes (which I love and eat daily). Back to hair, I don’t do a lot of blow-drying. I try to let my hair mostly dry naturally, but then I have to blow dry it a bit because it takes bloody forever to dry (even though it’s only about half as thick as it used to be). I do put oils and protective serum or sprays into my hair before using heat on it, though, and I think it has helped. But I still flat-iron too much. It’s as much of an “addiction” as my shopping, I think! At least I’ve decreased the heat, so hopefully I’m not frying my hair as much as I used to!

          • Haha, I can’t wait till my hair gets long enough to be “addicted” to styling it! I probably will start heat drying again with the winter coming up because going out in the snow with wet hair doesn’t sound too appealing. So I’ll try the argan oil too!

            And since it’s off topic to this blog please feel free to email me about the diet thing if you feel like it. I love talking about it! (I think you can see our email addresses?) I’d also been gluten free for 5+ years prior but like you did not see *enough* improvement.

          • Debbie Roes says:

            Good luck with growing your hair out, Sarah. Your comments have really made me stop and think about cutting my hair. I’m not happy with it the way it is, but I know it can take seemingly forever to grow out. I hope that being more gentle with my hair will help to save it so I don’t have to cut it all off! Regarding the diet issues, I will be in touch (yes, I can see everyone’s email addresses on the back end). I’m open to trying all sorts of things, as I’d really like to see some relief from my troubling health issues!

    • I should also add this oil does not make your hair oily or lanky& stringy although you leave it in – only soft, shiny and non- frizzy

      • Debbie Roes says:

        I have found the same thing to be true, Abgurl, as long as I don’t put TOO much oil in my hair. A few drops is usually enough to use. It doesn’t eliminate the frizz (at least not for me), but it does help my hair to feel softer and less dry.

  28. PS Debbie – your facial structure lends beautifully to the chignon in both the more smooth formal aka no hair out of place but also the more casual and youthful loose aka escaping strands around your face)

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Thanks, Abgurl. I like the idea of doing a chignon, so I’m going to watch Jennifer’s video and give it a try.

  29. Good post Debbie. This is thoughtfully written, with lovely photos illustrating, and filled with just the right details to help us join in your process and help all of us at the same time. Thank you for your warmth, good writing and for being willing to share this candid this update with us. And Bridgette, thank you for chiming in. I’ve learned many good things from you within the past couple of years and I always appreciate your perspective.

    Something that I feel is key, which can happen only with an up close and personal visit, that can’t be replicated with photos or in a blog post, and since I have had the honor of meeting you and spending time with you Debbie, I want to remind everyone that although your photos are lovely, they are flat images, and it is a lot like when we look in the mirror and stare at ourselves, and see only our legs, or our bust, or our shoulders, or stare at an outfit without moving about and seeing from many angles. In person when you move about, and walk and talk you are strikingly pretty, with a vibrant spirit and personality and you are alive with beauty and grace, and although the outfit you wear is important, it’s even better when we see the person first and a good outfit second, and that’s how I saw you. I think that it is easy to forget these things when we simply look at photos of a person. I saw you as tall and thin with body proportions that will allow you to wear pretty much whatever you feel drawn to wear and are comfortable wearing.

    As an aside, hair, a topic that is being drawn out in the comments here. As you know you look great with your hair pulled back or down. And I’ve been doing what you mentioned, love how my hair looks when it is pulled back when I’m hot or not in the mood to have my hair down. But the day we met I too felt compelled to have my hair down for our first meeting. Except then at the end of the afternoon it was wonderfully fund when we were both brushing our hair that had begun to frizz with the hot humid weather and all we both wanted to do was pull our hair back.

    You are doing beautifully Debbie, finding your style, taming your compulsion to shop and in the process you are helping many of us along the way. Thank you for your honest writing and for posting photos illustrating the points you are making.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. “—Theadore Roosevelt

    • This is such a lovely comment! I sincerely hope I will find more people like you for friends when I start all over again (since I’ll be moving soon.)

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Terra, you are so kind. I really appreciate what you had to say and I always love seeing the Roosevelt quote, which is one of my favorites. I know that I am “daring greatly” by writing this blog and sharing so much of myself here. It is worth it to me, even if some of the comments do get to me sometimes. It was SO wonderful to meet you and I hope we get to spend time together in person again. You are very lovely both inside and out. Your beautiful hair was one of the first things I noticed about you. I actually wanted to wear my hair up, too, but always think it looks better down, so I usually start out that way most days. Of course, I may be mistaken and perhaps it looks as good or better up. That would be nice, as it ends up that way much of the time!

      It was so nice to be able to sit with you and talk for several hours. The time went by so fast! Sarah E, Terra is a wonderful person and I would love to find people like her for friends in my area. Of course, Terra is my friend (as are many here), but she lives several hours away. I value my online friends greatly, but I’m feeling like I’m living too much of my life online and I need to expand my offline circle and activities more (but I’m not going anywhere in terms of online and this blog).

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Terra. It warms my heart to know that you saw me the way you did. I felt the same about you, but I guess we often don’t see ourselves the way others do. I’m glad that you saw me first and my outfit second, as that’s how I always want it to be. Clothes are great and I’m going to continue to work on improving my personal style, but I want to be what people focus on more than what I’m wearing. I also really appreciate your feedback on my progress. I know that I’ve made some great strides, but I continue to be too hard on myself much of the time. I need to acknowledge how far I come more often instead of just looking at how long the road ahead of me is. I know I will get to where I want to be in time, but I also need to focus more on enjoying the journey!

  30. Hi Debbie
    These boots may be perfect for you. I bought some last year and have worn them so much. They are low heeled and so comfortable but look stylish and modern. Great with opaque tights, skirts and dresses as well as with trousers.
    RIEKER – Kendra Ladies Leather Button Trim Ankle Boots
    Have you tried wearing a thermal vest/T rather than a topper if you don’t have a topper which works well?
    I find that straighter skirts, dresses and trousers need longer straighter cardigans, fit and flare styles need cropped cardigans, and textured or patterned cardigans and jackets should only be worn with plain outfits or you look messy and unfocused.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      I had to Google those boots, Lynn, but I like them. I have a few pairs of ankle boots, but there is too much gaping around my ankles to wear with skirts. My goal is to find a pair that is more fitted (maybe a “shootie” as Bridgette suggested) that will look good with tights and skirts/dresses. Perhaps the ones you mentioned would fit the bill. As for vests, I haven’t worn them in years, but I’m not opposed to them. The thing is that my arms tend to be what gets coldest on me, so I like to have sleeves. Your observations on the right toppers for various under-layers are what I’ve found to be true, too. It can be hard to find cardigans that are cropped enough to work with the fit and flare silhouettes, especially since I’m so short-waisted. I have quite a few of the longer style cardigans but have had trouble obtaining the shorter versions.

  31. There’s nothing like a neutral eye to explain why something does or does not work. I take outfit photos often, so that I can figure out why I do or do not like my outfits. I find these reviews have made me a faster shopper because now I can look at an item and right away know when certain styles just don’t flatter my shape no matter how pretty the print or how nice the price is.

    • Debbie Roes says:

      Very true, Lisa. Sometimes just seeing the photos ourselves is enough for us to be able to troubleshoot, but it was very helpful to be able to get advice from an expert. The feedback I got from Bridgette will continue to be beneficial to me moving forward, as now I have a better idea of what to look for.

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