Layering Tips From The Runway

woman modeling

Layered clothing has had quite a history. Following the premiere of the movie “Flashdance” in 1983, the amount of clothing one woman wore in the course of the day seemed to multiply exponentially. A simple outfit might consist of a tank top with a shoulder- baring sweatshirt over it, tight pants with leg warmers, belts, headbands and layers of bracelets. There were also super baggy pants, rolled up to feature turned down high-top sneakers with striped socks peeking ours. Madonna layered her leather jackets over her miniskirts, under her famous, “Boy Toy” belt. Bananarama wore famously baggy overalls over their wifebeater tanks.

The 90’s brought its own take on layering with the emergence of grunge. Flannels were worn over shirts or tied around the waist. Leggings peeked out from under ripped jeans. Indeed, to this day, layering doesn’t appear to be going anywhere quickly.

What is behind the longevity of our love affair with layers? Layered clothing has many benefits. It is the best way to keep warm in cold weather and allows people to shed or add layers to adjust to the temperature. It lets us get maximum wear from our clothes, it allows for creativity and self-expression, and it can hide a multitude of sins. If you are contemplating adding a scarf or blazer to your wardrobe, here are a few things you may want to take into consideration.

Switch up Your seasons
Break the rules! Part of the layering trend includes combing skimpy clothes with clothes for the chillier weather. Consider putting a floral mini over long sleeves or put a dress shirt on your little black dress. Boho to practical, layering redefines the wardrobe and lets you get your money’s worth from your clothing purchases.

Bottom Layering
Why not try skirts over pants or leggings? Try wrapping a dress over your trousers. The look can be work appropriate or rock festival ready.

Wear Heels
If there are any reasons to avoid layering, one would be that if we over -layer, we run the risk of getting lost in our clothes, especially if we are on the short side. How do we fix this? A pair of heels will lift your body from the bundle of indistinguishable clothing and transform you into a put together fashion statement. Just beware not to trip over some of the lower layers. BTW, the optimal ration for clothing top to bottom is 70:30.

Wear Something Sheer
Have you ever seen something in a store that is absolute to die for, but you can’t imagine how you might wear it appropriately in public? Try wearing something over it. Sheer lace blouses can look great under a strappy dress or blazer, as can a sheer skirt over fitted pants.

Combine Textures
Create an interesting look by throwing a silk evening shirt over a cotton turtleneck. Contrasting fabrics can complement one another and give them a new definition.

Belt It
Feeling lost in all these clothes? Remind people you have a waist. You can still look svelte and sexy in your layers by cinching them with a belt. Consider belting jackets, shirts and trousers kimono style to show off your hourglass figure.

Experiment with your clothes! It will be a wardrobe overhaul and let us know if you have any interesting ideas about layering and what works and what doesn’t.

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Skin Safety On The Hiking Trail

Girlfriend and boyfriend hiking

You think he might be a keeper.  Your nights of clubbing and endless bars may soon be over.  This guy has his stuff together.  Good job, good looks, no girlfriend (as far as you can see) and he has invited you to go…. camping?  You’re dying to be alone with this guy, but when you open your closet, there are platforms and sequins for as far as the eye can see.  What would Hiker Barbie do?  After checking out some options, you compromise on skintight skinny jeans rolled up to reveal hiking boots, a down jacket,  ski hat- oh, and a really cute backpack with all your nice undies in it for later that night.  All set?  Wrong?  You forgot to shop for your skin products.

Unfortunately, just being in nature does not guarantee, in fact, quite often, the opposite is true.  Mother Nature can be wicked. Make sure your skin is prepared!

Bug Repellent
Maybe the bugs you are used to are more of the cockroach variety, but nature does have quite a few different insects in her apartment and they are hungry for your blood. (Cue horror movie music.) You’re going to need bug repellent.  If the health of your skin is a main concern, you probably want to choose a natural repellent.  Your skin gets enough toxins on a daily basis.  You don’t need more in your bug repellent.

Stay Hydrated by Eating
While drinking water is a great way to keep hydrated, much of that H2O will come out in your sweat.  Fruits and vegetables are cellular structured to hydrate you for longer time periods and provide additional nutrients for your skin,  Remember to pack fruits and veggies if you are concerned about rehydrating your body and keeping your  skin healthy and glowing.

Sunblock and a Hat
Sunblock should be in the picture any time you’re spending an extended time outdoors, and if you are hiking, you are going to be doing just that.  Use water resistant sunblock which will stay on the skin for a longer time and will not be diluted by sweat.  The UV rays of the sun can break down collagen, creation age spots and sun spots.  Make sure you have some form  of sun protection lotion in your back pack and reapply every two hours.  A wide brimmed hat is also recommended.

Wash Your Face After Hiking
After coming back from a long hike, your skin is likely to be a melange of layers of sunblock and bug repellent, mixed with dirt, sweat and air pollution.  Make sure to clean up with a face wash and moisturizer.

If you are a regular hiker, you should be aware of how exposure to the environment can affect your skin.  You may want to check out serums and creams specialized to fight the effects of  radical damage and pollution.

Good luck on your hike and make sure you engage in safe skin practices!

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What Happens When You Go Gluten-Free

Woman eating a healthy salad

Going gluten-free.  Some need to do it, some prefer to do it, and some swear that they wouldn’t do it if gluten disappeared from every food product on this earth.  Late Night comedian Jimmy Fallon quipped, “It’s been discovered that 10% of the population is allergic to gluten and 90% of the population is sick of hearing about it.” Whatever your take on gluten, there is little doubt that its certainly controversial.  So let’s clear some of the dust out about the g-word.

Those who need to avoid gluten
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Celiac is an intestinal disease that can be triggered by eating gluten. Wheat allergy is a negative immune reaction to  wheat proteins that can also be triggered by eating gluten. It affects the skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal tract.  Sufferers of celiac and wheat allergy are diagnosed as gluten sensitive along with anyone who may experience distress when eating gluten.  People with gluten sensitivity need to avoid gluten.

Those who prefer to avoid gluten
You may have heard of the gluten-free diet being tossed around.  Many of the followers are people who have self diagnosed a digestive problem as gluten sensitivity while others claim that cutting gluten out of their diet has made them feel less bloated and depressed and has even helped them lose weight.

What’s wrong with the gluten-free diet?
It seems that studies find that gluten-free diets can be very low in fiber, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, zinc, phosphorous and vitamin B12.  This is because unenriched starches and grains are used in “gluten-free'” products and tend to have lots of calories, but not many vitamins.  The result is that gluten-free diets can actually lead to weight gain.  Experts find that in the case many of those who report weight loss as a result of going gluten-free, the shedding of pounds is due more to cutting out excess calories found in flour based food. Registered dietitian Cynthia Sass says ditching carbs, like pasta and bagels, “automatically cuts excess carbs… ups fiber and nutrients and results in soaring energy.”  On the other hand, if you replace products with gluten in them with gluten-free versions, you will probably get more fat and sugar.

How to check if you need to go gluten-free?

  • Have your family physician perform a checkup.
  • Consult an allergist if you have a wheat allergy and a gastroenterologist for celiac and other gastrointestinal disease.
  • If you are not diagnosed with celiac disease or a wheat allergy, see a dietician to determine whether or not you are getting a balanced diet with nutrients, foods rich in fiber and are staying physically active.

If you need to go gluten-free
If you are diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, you are best advised to see a dietitian.  Sheila Crowe, of Celiac Disease’s Medical Advisory Board says, “The average doctor a) does not have the time and b) the knowledge to counsel them (the gluten sensitive) on the nutrients they’ll need, the addition of fiber and, what grains are naturally gluten-free.”  Make sure that you have substitutions for anything vital that may be lacking from your diet as a result of giving up gluten.

Feel free to let us know if you’ve gone the gluten-free route out of necessity or otherwise and what your take on it is.

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The Best Fibers For Natural Clothing

Woman shopping for clothes

Let’s go back, back, back to the Garden of Eden and the loss of innocence.  Adam has just taken a bite of the apple and realizes that he is naked and needs to cover up.  He grabs the first thing available; the fig leaf and covers his privates.  It would then be fair to say that the first item of clothing ever worn was a fig leaf?

Certainly, we have a come a long way  since then and a great deal of time has elapsed.  We have seen the rise of jeans, the mini skirt, the stiletto heel and high couture.  But, things tend to come full circle.  Here we are in the new millennium and it seems like we’re back to the fig leaf.  Well, maybe not exactly, but in this age in which we are doing our best to make sure that everything we use is eco-friendly, there is a trend toward organic clothing, and one could hardly argue that the fig leaf is anything if not organic.  Maybe Adam was on to something.

So, say you want to go organic, and kudos to you for that, and you’re not sure what to look for.  You know burlap is a natural fiber, but you may not want to use this to make your ecological fashion statement. Here are some more common alternatives.

Natural Fibers

Bamboo is a grass, usually grown with minimal chemical use.  It is biodegradable, possesses antibacterial properties and is biodegradable.  Unfortunately, when the plant is turned into fabric, toxic chemicals may come into play.  The Federal Trade commission has demanded that bamboo based rayon is labelled if toxins were involved in the manufacture, so check the tags.

Organic cotton
The Big Daddy of natural fiber, organic cotton is grown without toxins and synthetic chemicals.  For a total absence of chemicals in your clothes, look on the label to make sure natural dyes or colored cottons have been used.

Industrial hemp
This stuff is renewable, uses little or no pesticides or fertilizer and is super easy to harvest.

Recycled polyester
Now you can look like Austin Powers and be environmental at the same time.  It’s actually made from soda bottles and cast off polyesters and is said to leave a carbon footprint 75% lower than regular polyester.

Silk/ Soy cashmere
After soybeans are made into food, the remaining soy protein fiber is used to make this fabric.  If you are committed to being very green, you may want to look on the label to make sure there was no genetic tampering involved in the engineering of the soy.

Renewable and fire resistant, organic wool is becoming increasingly accessible and requires no chemicals for growth.  Chlorine-free wool means that the animals used to make the material are organically treated so look for this on the label for an extra perk.

If you are now ready to go purchase something organic keep in mind,  there is still a long way to go in naturalizing clothing manufacture.  It still takes energy, land resources and water to produce.  So until we find a way to make clothing completely free of environmental impact, maybe the fig leaf will be the next big thing.

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Athleisure Is Not Business Casual

Business women in workplace

It seemed to have begun with the movie “Flashdance” in the 80’s; the movement to combine workout clothes with streetwear. Remember the leg warmers? How about those off-the-shoulder sweats and headbands? At the time, it seemed like the optimal solution in combining the elements of comfort with fashion. At least we could feel good and look good at the same time. As the trend evolved, the clothing did as well with designers constantly coming up with ways to make their clothes even more flattering to the female body. The clothes began to feature built in support, and the patterns and materials became more attractive. More and more, this “athleisure” became a staple of the average woman’s wardrobe. It might even be safe to say that many women preferred these clothes to more formal wear, feeling they better complemented her body and enabled her to move more freely. The growing popularity of these clothes began to bring up questions about propriety. While they might be appropriate for the grocery store or picking the kids up from school, were women crossing a line by wearing these clothes to the office?

“Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman,” Coco Chanel
One can hardly deny that Coco Chanel may have the last word in fashion. Well, then that decides it right? If you want to give a professional look, no athleisure, right? But maybe we should define shabby before we draw any conclusions. A Bloomberg Business article described $400 couture yoga pants and another told of sweatpants going for upwards of $800. These clothes are constructed impeccably with strong seams and quality fabrics and, of course sport designer labels. Does this make them acceptable office wear?

Not Acceptable
Kara Martin Snyder, a lifestyle strategist from Massachusetts, reported wearing workout pants as a CPA for a New York tech startup. She reports, “Occasionally, people confused me for an intern….” Mae Demdam, a digital analyst from Sydney says, “leggings are slim fit and they hug thighs, which aren’t appropriate to the workplace…. I mean, imagine if guys wore that to work.” Demdam added that she preferred clingy pants, which while relaxed, were sexy and appropriate. Fashion publicist Samantha Slaven-Bick admits to wearing assessor pants to work, but says she would “want my employees to dress a little nicer” and “feels a little self-conscious when others around me are more dressed up.” Slaven-Bick also claims that dressing up makes her feel “more productive at work.”

Stylist, Monaco believes it is all in the delivery. He believes that pairing the right pants with office appropriate wear such as a blazer and heels would convey, “a certain air of cool confidence,” but adds the best rule of thumb for determining whether or not athletic pants are ok for work is to, “simply look around. Is everyone else in suits and day dresses? Probably not a good idea. Jeans and t-shirts? Might be ok.”

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Healthy Alternatives To Smoking

Woman trying to quit smoking
Have you ever seen John Travolta cast as Danny Zuko in “Grease?” Do you remember that scene when he first looks at Sandy (Olivia Newton-John)? He turns his head with that dangerous slicked back hair and black leather jacket and glances over his shoulder with the stub of a cigarette precariously dangling from his full Italian lips? This image was to become the stuff of teenage fantasy and panty-wetting for the 1980’s and generations to come! Or what about sexy Penelope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” lighting a cigarette, eyebrows knit, concentrating heavily on the task, posing next to a cooly disaffected Scarlett Johannsen in front of a graffitied building in a scene of urban decadence. Those two were too cool for school! No matter how health conscious, we have become as a culture, it would be hard to deny that those scenes would not have had the same allure were it not for the use of the cigarette. One can only speculate as to what would happen if Zuko turned around to Sandy with a carrot dangling from his lips. Looking at Cruz and Travolta, the bad boy allure of the cigarette is all but undeniable, and it is easy to see how the young may fall prey to this filthy habit. However, it eventually becomes apparent that these elegant accessories will never turn us into celebrities, and rather leave us with poor health and a $5/ day habit. If you have been lured by the lie of the cigarette, you are not alone. Luckily, there are alternatives to smoking, and some can be rather sexy as well!

  • Chewing Sugar Free Gum
    Anyone who has ever seen Pamela Sue Anderson blowing a bubble in a photo shoot can attest to the steaminess of gum chewing. It satisfies the oral fixations and also helps to chase away cravings. Sugarless gum also promotes oral health by keeping the acidity down in your mouth, preventing tooth decay.
  • Chew Flavored Toothpicks
    This might have worked for Travolta. Like gum, toothpicks will keep your teeth clean and the flavor can last for hours. From peppermint to Tootie fruity, these babies are made from bamboo and are totally organic.
  • Eat Dark Chocolate
    This would definitely have worked for Cruz. Dark chocolate boosts levels of dopamine and causes pleasure in the brain. Just don’t get addicted to it; as it is not without the calories.
  • Yoga
    Yoga is a great alternative to smoking because it helps to alleviate stress. It helps you relax without turning to stogies and also helps you stay in shape.
  • Running
    If you are a smoker, running may be the last thing you want to do. However, one positive feature of smoking is that its effects are reversible. Once you quit, you will develop an increase in lung capacity, and running may not seem quite as impossible to you. You may also grow to love the rush of endorphins you will feel after having a good run.Now you have no reason not to quit. Cigarettes may look good in the movies, but they don’t play out nearly as well in real life.

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The Dangers Of Zit Picking

Woman squeezing pimples in her cheek
Ah, the popping of the zit.  When the head of the pimple has come to that perfect fullness and you squeeze, the pus squirting in a perfect arc on the mirror, the pimple a collapsed soldier on the field of your face. We have all been warned about the adverse effects of zit popping.  Popping pimples can cause scarring or infection.  When you pop, your skin tears and bacteria transfers from your hands into what is essentially now an open wound on your face.  The result is a possibly permanent scar or infection. Not a pretty picture, but the short term satisfaction of the pope is often more powerful than any long term admonition.

How To Properly Pop A Zit
Few loyal viewers of the Oprah Winfrey Show will forget Dr. Oz demonstrating the correct way to pop a zit. First, the Great Oz explains that squeezing a zit “will macerate it.” He goes on to explain, “You’re destroying all the healthy tissue with the pressure you are putting on there by squeezing.” Then Oz pulls out an enlarged model of a zit and a needle about the size of a chopstick, both of which resemble castoffs from a horror movie set, and proceeds to show the audience “the correct way to pop a zit.” Oz advises the pimple inflicted person to take a sterilized needle and insert in through the zit parallel to the surface of our skin so that it passes through the middle of the pimple and comes out the other side, in other words, almost as if we are sewing a thread through the pimple only instead of drawing the needle all the way through, Oz advises that we stop in the middle and pull the needle up, tearing the skin. Oz says that, in this way, you only hit the white or dead part of the pimple, and do no damage to the healthy skin. Not nearly as satisfying as squeezing, but it kind of made sense. Stay tuned because the plot is about to thicken! Now, it turns out that researchers, Oz included, have reason to believe that popping zits can kill you. “What?,” you cry, “Dr. Oz an advocate of mass suicide?” Before you vilify the good doctor, keep in mind that Oz’s advice still perfectly sounds, as long as the zit is not located in The Triangle of Death!!

What Is The Triangle Of Death?
The Triangle of Death is the area form the corner of your mouth to the bridge of your nose. Blood vessels in this area drain at the bottom of your brain and also lead to the opening the sinuses.Infections in the sinus cavity can lead to loss of vision, paralysis and even death.Bacteria entering the veins around the mouth, nose, and eyes are close enough to the brain to do serious damage. Popping a zit is one way in which the bacteria can enter, making it a potentially deadly behavior.

Other Things To Avoid

  • Tweezing Nose Hair
    Your nose is included in the deathly triangle and when hair is plucked, staph bacteria, if present, can enter the area and eventually travel to the brain.
  • Face Piercing
    So fashionable these days, but worth the danger? Don’t worry about a simple nose ring, but the more exotic dimple ring and septum piercing, as well as the “Medusa” in the middle of the lip or the “Monroe”, on the upper side are all possible death sentences.
  • Nose Picking
    One of the greatest, and most perverse pleasures of life, digging for that green gold can be very dangerous! Try blowing your nose into a tissue for a gentler alternative and avoid bursting blood vessels in the process.
  • Takeaway
    Never pop zits in the Triangle of Death! It is simply too risky. If you must pop in other locations, try the Oz recommended process, no squeezing! Trim nose hair, be careful where you pierce and blow, don’t pick!

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