Shoe Confusion

So I can’t decide if these Stuart Weitzman Exert platforms are fabulous shoes or oh-my-god-my-feet-are-killing-me-what-was-I-thinking! shoes.

Weitzmans are notoriously comfortable, in spite of towering heel height. And, of course, the higher the sole platform, the lower the heel seems–and feels.

I think the design on these is superb…I’m just wondering if buying them would turn out to be a too-old-to-wear-these faux pas.

Any opinions from my baby boomer sisters?

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Sam Saboura’s Style Team Officially Launches on liveperson.com on June 26

I’ve been preparing for this…getting nervous about this…and then getting really excited about this. After agonizing over how to use the live chat software–and it’s so easy, it’s embarrassing–I’m ready.

With an official launch date of Friday, June 26, the fun begins.

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Sam Saboura and his style team will offer advice on liveperson.com on a host of issues: dressing on a budget, finding your own personal style, menswear, hair and makeup, and the particular clothing concerns of baby boomer women (that one’s my specialty).

We’re available for live chat (if we’re online at the time you want us) and via e-mail. There’s a small fee involved, but you get to control how much you want to spend.

Please stop by any time: liveperson.com/elle-mansfield

Stories I Never Finished

Four years ago, my husband and I moved from our home in Northern California to Los Angeles–a temporary change of scenery dictated by a lucrative work-related project for him. While we were there, I started—and never revisited–a couple of short stories about the move and the culture shock of being an older/mature/seasoned woman in the land of youth and beauty. I offer them here…now…because perhaps if I see them in print, I’ll be inspired to add a few hundred more words…

And We’re Off…

“Pack up the Buick, baby, we’re movin’ to LA!”

The words filled the house as my husband burst through the door, a grin of utter self-satisfaction on his face.

Never mind that we don’t have a Buick. His message was clear nevertheless—he had just received word that he’d won a large environmental contract with Los Angeles County, and we were on our way to southern California.

***

Crone Among the Roses

I’m 57 years old, my hair is dark, and I live in Los Angeles. Loosely translated, I think that means I’m an alien.

Every day, everywhere I go, I’m faced with youth and beauty. It doesn’t matter if I’m at the gym or the bank…the dry cleaners or the grocery store. If there’s another female present, odds are she’s a blonde with an unlined face and a tight butt. That’s not to say they’re all younger than me. Far from it. Some of the smoothest faces I’ve seen are on women several years my senior.

Youth. It’s not just for the young anymore.

Body Types–Finding Yours

Another excerpt from Real Style: Style Secrets for Real Women with Real Bodies, a book I co-wrote with stylist extraordinaire Sam Saboura.

How many times have you shopped for hours, only to end up frustrated and discouraged? You think that nothing out there is made for your body. Nothing looks good no matter what the cut or shape. In fact, nothing fits properly at all. Before you know it, a bad shopping day turns into a bad self-esteem day.

You start believing that your hips are too big or your boobs are too small or your butt is too wide or your legs are too short. Your arms are too flabby or your shoulders are too sloped or your belly is too round or your waist is too long. You’re convinced you’ll have to go naked for the rest of your life—or at least go on a diet or go to the gym, because something isn’t right.

Wrong! You’re just not shopping for the right body.

Until you identify your body type, you have no way of knowing what styles are best. To get on track, you have to figure out exactly what kind of body you have. When you do, you’ll have a clear picture of what to wear for the way you’re built and what to avoid at all costs. More important, you’ll stop wasting money on clothes that still have the tags on and are too old to return. Reality check: these are not ”inspiration pieces.” They are just mistakes.

Before we go any further, I want to stress one important thing: no one—I repeat, no one—is one stock body type. Every person is completely unique and made up of a combination of many different types. So don’t worry if you can’t find your exact figure in the following list. Just select the basic shape that seems closest to yours, and use it as a general guide.

I also want you to keep in mind that your body is what it is. Sure, you can lose a few pounds or build some muscle or step up your aerobic exercise, but you can never transform the lush curves of an Oprah into the lean-limbed grace of an Audrey Hepburn. And you don’t have to. When you realize this, shopping will be fun and enjoyable—the way it’s supposed to be.

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The Apple

You have a rounded figure with a fuller bust and midsection, heavier arms, and shapely lower legs. You wonder why you never see your body type addressed in the fashion magazines. After all, the average American woman wears a size 14 or 16—depending on which survey you read—while women in the media are usually no bigger than an 8. Now you can be as dazzling as the slinky girls, because plus-size fashion has evolved beyond the big-and-baggy look.

The Diamond

You have wide shoulders and a large bust, with narrow hips and killer legs. Your pear-shaped friends envy you for your slender bottom half, but they don’t know the other half of it. You, too, struggle with balance—it’s just upside-down—because you carry most of your weight on the upper half of your body.

The Willow

You are tall and slender—the Nicole Kidman of your neighborhood. Your breasts are small, your waist and hips are narrow, and you legs and arms are long and lean. But what only you realize is that your willowy stature makes it difficult to find clothes that fit properly. If a size is small enough for your slim frame, odds are it will be too short in the legs and arms. On particularly bad shopping days, you have to sneak into the men’s department just to find pants that are long enough.

The Hourglass

You have a curvy figure, with a full bust, small waist, and full bottom. Some people accuse you of dressing too sexy when you’re not even trying. You make a magnificent Marilyn Monroe at Halloween, and you have the most sought-after body in history. Embrace those curves! Women spend tens of thousands of dollars on cosmetic surgery trying to get a body like yours.

The Rectangle

Do you feel boxy instead of foxy? Feel boyish no matter what you wear? Do you get more compliments when you’re in your boyfriend’s or husband’s clothes than when you’re wearing your favorite dress? You’re a rectangle, with shoulders, waist, and hips that are all about the same width.

The Pear

Your figure is smaller on the top and wider on the bottom. Your shoulders are narrow, your breasts are small to average, your waist is slender, and your hips, thighs, and bottom are full. Your goal is to visually alter the proportional differences between your upper and lower body to create a sense of a balance.

The Half-Pint

You’re actually in a class by yourself. You can have any of the body types addressed above, but the one characteristic that sets you apart is your short stature. You might have a stocky, athletic body or be a petite version of the willow. No matter how you’re built, one thing is certain: if you gain five pounds, it looks like ten.

Fitness Clothing–Working Hard and Looking Good

I would like to be able to say, with a straight face, that I’m one of those dedicated individuals who just loves to work out. Alas, I’m not. You’ll find me lifting weights and panting through spin classes not out of any sense of true dedication but because I know it makes me stronger and healthier…it’s done wonders for my balance…and it allows me to eat and drink wine. Win/win, I’d say.

Since motivation doesn’t come naturally, I find my inspiration to exercise where I often find it–in clothing. If I wear something that I feel good in…that doesn’t look like I grabbed the nearest sweatpants and T and headed out the door…it sets me up for a good workout.

I’ve had great success with Nike, since it’s easy to find pants with a looser fit through the hips and thighs, which I prefer. The “Gym Lab” Dri-FIT capris are just about perfect–simple and uncluttered, a flattering cut, easy to move in, and covering the parts I prefer to keep under wraps.

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For tops, I have a bunch of racerback tanks in different colors from places like Target, The Gap, and K-mart, where you can often find them on sale for just a few dollars each. They’re fun when you layer two–a look that’s been around for a while, but  still works. I like coordinating vibrant colors–purple and turquoise, red and bright pink, lime and coral. You can get a similar look by layering a tank over a bright sports bra.