Five Gift-Giving Strategies for the Girl On Your List

The holiday season is a bonanza for business, with the media making darned sure that everyone feels a guilty responsibility: To buy gifts and to make ‘em good.

Face it: gift buying success is not an exact science. What’s more, when the female target of your gift purchases – whether it’s a family member, a friend, or a colleague from work – is a difficult “fit”, we can find ourselves roaming the aisles, either empty handed, or worse, with our hands full of gifts that are sure to go right to the back of the closet. Or back to the store.

Here are some thoughts to guide you on your girl-oriented gift-giving adventures.

(1) It’s winter. Think cozy.

You don’t have to be headed for a ski resort to appreciate the warmth that’s expressed by seasonal dressing. In the winter months, everybody loves an extra layer, and outerwear is a risk-free choice; whether it’s a casual sweatshirt or a camel’s wool coat, it doesn’t have to match any particular outfit. For a low-budget option, remember: winter scarves, hats and gloves are a colorful, girl-friendly gift, and a classic expression of seasonal affection.

Women's Loose Fitting, Raglan Style Shirt - Perfect 'Basic' for your Wardrobe

Women’s Loose Fitting, Raglan Style Shirt – Perfect ‘Basic’ for your Wardrobe

(2) Basics rock!

Did you know that the girl who has everything has something in common with the fussiest recipient on your list? It’s true: both have limited bandwidth for appreciating your creative shopping efforts. So why fight it? A sure-fire way to please both these categories is to concentrate on blue-chip, tried-and-true basics. Complement the wardrobe these women already have by choosing high-quality tops, bottoms and layering pieces in easy-to-match colors.

(3) You can never own too much…

…jewelry. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but if the real stuff is out of your price range, try browsing your local department store racks for fun – and fake – pieces that can liven up any look.

Kosher Casual's Little Black Dress

Kosher Casual’s Little Black Dress

(4) Dare to buy a dress

Yes, it can be done. Keep your eyes out for classic styles that are not too fussy in the details, yet say “holiday” all the way to the hem. For example, imagine an unstructured dress in a solid-color… that’s the kind of foolproof, one-size-fits-all gift dress that is sure to be appreciated, because it can be dressed up and accessorized, creating a starting point for a personal fashion statement.

(5) And if you despair…

Don’t. Gift certificates may sound like a cop-out, but allowing the girl on your gift list to do her own shopping might be the greatest gift of all!

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A Modest Proposal – Skirts that Fit YOUR Body

If you dress modestly, you know that modest skirts are the workhorses of your everyday wardrobe. But do you really know how to shop for skirts? By paying attention to just a few basic principles, you’ll have an easier time when you next go skirt shopping at the mall. You’ll also have an easier time finding the look that matches your body – and your lifestyle.

The Hips Have It

Skater_Skirt_1472_TealThe drape of a skirt begins at your hips. That’s why – when it comes to skirts – your particular hip-shape is crucial to making the right fashion choice.

Fuller-hipped, curvy women should look for A-line skirts that flare out toward the hemline. This de-emphasizes the mid-section, and creates a more streamlined, elegant line.

Straight-hipped women who wish to emphasize their curves are better served by pencil skirts. Gently hugging the hips and becoming narrower toward the hemline, pencil skirts define an hourglass silhouette that – if it’s not taken to an extreme – can be elegant, tasteful and 100% modest. If you want to further accentuate the pencil skirt’s hourglass effect, try tucking in your top, or wearing a cinch belt at the natural waist.

Hemline – How to Decide?
maxi_skirt_animal_print_1478_giraffe

Skirts that fall just below the knee are universally flattering. But if you choose to go lower – to a midi or maxi length – here are some things to keep in mind.

While undeniably modest, for some women, midi skirts can be a fashion failure. That’s because they tend to fall right on the widest part of the calves. If your legs are thick rather than lean, or if you’re of below-average height, midi-length skirts may not be the best choice for you.

How about shopping for long skirts? Again, short women – as well as Petites – should be extra careful, because maxis can make you look even smaller than you are – to the point of even looking “stumpy” (and nobody wants that!). To avoid this pitfall when shopping for maxi skirts, choose one that fits snugly around your hips and thighs. This makes it more likely that you’ll achieve a look that is both modest and elegant.

When shopping for long skirts, remember: your goal is to dress modestly, not to disappear! Rather than choosing skirts that fall to the floor, try a hemline that reaches to the thinnest part of your ankles. This creates the flattering illusion of slim legs in the context of a modest outfit.

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Fab Skirts for Fuller Figures

Modest dressing looks good on every body type, but it has some distinct advantage for those of us with fuller figures.  This is not because we want to cover up and “hide” – heaven forbid.  Rather, modest cuts give us the freedom we need to make a beautiful fashion statement that embraces our size… and our lifestyle.

Tight Doesn’t Make Right

Plus-size women have natural presence, and the right skirt choices can help them make the most of it.  While it’s certainly true that “real women have curves”, it’s also true that when women’s curves are the focus of attention, modesty tends to go out the window.  In other words, if your mid-section is encased in tight, slinky material, it doesn’t matter if your elbows and knees are well covered – the total effect is eye-catching, and not in a good way.

Let’s look at some of the fashion secrets that allow plus-sized women to choose a skirt that shows them off to their fullest advantage.

Maxi flowing skirt with four panels Flowing and Fashionable Skirts

Maxi, midi or to-the-knee, every skirt length can compliment the more generous figure.

Skirts that go to the ankle or even the floor are not just for formal wear.  Long skirts can add elegance to everyday dressing, creating a line that draws attention away from the hips and tummy.  Ramp up this “camouflage” effect by choosing a skirt with flowing detail in the lower leg area – or dramatic pleats that begin at the knee.

Mid-length flared skirts can also create an elegant line. A generous cut that includes lots of extra material creates a flowing, attractive drape that moves with you.  Alternatively, you can look for a “tiered” skirt that offers a wider silhouette, while providing visual interest all the way down.

Classic, to-the-knee skirts come in a variety of styles that can work for plus-size women.  Whether you’re looking for a stretchy pencil-skirt, or a more structured design, your skirt should make you feel confident about the leg you choose to show.  Don’t forget to “test drive” your choice by sitting down – even in front of a mirror – and verifying the knee-coverage before you make your purchase!

Waist Not Want Not?

Women of generous proportions tend to pair their skirts with tops designed to de-emphasize the waist, by hiding it altogether.  But remember: a waist is a terrible thing to mind!   So keep an open mind while shopping for your next skirt, and consider waist-conscious designs that dare to define your shape.  Who knows – you may decide to tuck in that tee shirt after all!

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Got Girls? Ten Back-to-School Fashion Essentials

Starting a new grade in elementary school? Heading off college? No matter what stage our daughters are at, they want to have fun, make new friends, and… look fabulous.

And why not?  There’s nothing wrong with making a fashionable statement based on eye-catching outfits that express your daughter’s spirit within the boundaries of modesty. So moms, when you head out to the mall to update your daughter’s wardrobe with some back-to-school shopping, don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Let your daughter take the lead about colors and styles – while you set the tone about what constitutes “kosher” coverage. You’re sure to find solutions that will make you both happy, and have a good time shopping, too.

Back to School With A Smile

Back to School With A Smile


Here are ten tips to get you started:

  1. A flattering jean skirt is essential for every girl’s wardrobe, but skirts don’t have to be boring, or look like a stuffy school uniform. Look for fun appliqués or flounces (for younger girls) or a sophisticated drape (for high school and college students). Because they go with everything, jean skirts are the foundation of flexible and modest dressing.
  2. Stock up on casual pencil skirts in a variety of solid colors. This will give your daughter inspiration in the morning, so she can mix and match to create fun new looks.
  3. Even non-dressy girls appreciate a comfortable dress that slips over the head and gets her out of the door fast.  Whether it’s made of tee-shirt material or a more substantial fabric, look for a dress that’s simple enough to be dressed up with some jewelry or a wide belt, or dressed down (a baseball cap worn fashionably backwards and high-top sneakers?).
  4. Speaking of flexibility, you’ll want to buy more tops than bottoms when you’re shopping with your girls. Pair your school skirts with elegantly casual tees with ¾ length sleeves, or a boat-neck collar. Button-down shirts that skim over the skirt’s waistline are crisp and fashionable choices for fall days on campus.
  5. If your daughter’s looking for fun fashion, relax – you can afford it. Along with simple colored shirts, stripes and plaids, stock up on bright and inexpensive logo tees that will give your daughter a chance to express her personal style.
  6. Want to vary the look? Add more interest to a basic top by adding a stylish vest – denim is a good choice to match those jean skirts. Every girl should have two or three outer garments for layering as fall turns to winter, whether it’s a hoodie, pullover, or long sleeve button down cardigan.
  7. Don’t forget workout clothes. If your daughter’s school has a specific policy about “Phys Ed” fashion, you can probably rest assured that the girls will be steered toward appropriate and modest active wear.  But if the school doesn’t supply the dress code, you can step up to the plate. From long basketball shorts to covered sports skirts with leggings, there are a lot of options out there. Find something colorful and comfortable, and your daughter will probably find fashionable uses for them outside of gym class.
  8. Accessories are make-or-break items for casual back-to-school fashions, but you don’t have to break the bank. Set limits and ground rules with your daughter, but let her do her own shopping in this department. You’ll be surprised how many hair ornaments, belts and bangles she finds that bring her in under budget!
  9. Shoes, did anyone mention shoes? Before you head out to the store, take a back-to-school inventory. For growing girls, a new pair of school shoes is essential. Your daughter will also need sneakers for gym, boots for wet/snowy weather, and a pair of Mary Jane’s or dressy flats.
  10. Finally, find the accessories your daughter needs to keep organized. For younger kids, consider purchasing a roller backpack or a backpack with straps. A cute lunchbox will make your daughter feel special, and might even encourage her to eat her vegetables!
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Top Ten Accessories that Pull it All Together

Whatever your personal style, creating a polished, put-together look is more than a matter of wearing the garments that you love. In fact, no matter how keen your fashion sense, individual clothing pieces can only take you so far. Wearing modest clothing basics does not need to be boring. For the finishing touch, remember: it’s the little things that help you make a fashion statement from head to toe.

To transform your clothes into outfits that work, save room in your closet for these top ten accessorizing essentials:

    1. Jewelry: Understated Jewelry: Just because a necklace, bracelet or set of earrings is subtle doesn’t mean it can’t have a major impact. Complete any look – and show you care – by choosing earrings that can be seen beyond your hairline. Choose a necklace that harmonizes with the collar or neckline of your top. A delicate bracelet or two adds a feminine touch that complements any outfit, and is appropriate for work or leisure activities. Signature Jewelry: Dressing modestly doesn’t mean fading into the wallpaper. Invest in a few bold pieces that express the strong woman you are. Whether you go bright, colorful, or “chunky” in your choice, signature jewelry adds pizzazz to your everyday wardrobe, and provides that extra measure of glamour to special occasions.
    2. Scarves: Take a look at your basic wardrobe. What are your favorite color schemes? What are some favorite items that work together – or don’t? A few scarves or shawls with “bridging” colors can turn isolated tops and bottoms into beautifully coordinated outfits, and increase your fashion flexibility.
    3. Spring Flats: Fashion polish starts from the ground up, and colorful flats are a great way to get your look off and running. Great under pants or skirts, basic flats help you move smoothly from casual occasions to more formal events, without missing a beat.
    4. Black Heels: These are the shoes that can lend an air of authority to your work outfits, and add fashionable propriety to the dresses you reach for on special occasions. You may have to invest some time shopping for the perfect black heels that are both beautiful and comfortable, but once you find them, they’re a joy forever.
    5. Strappy Sandals: For that special party or event, you don’t have to go high in the heel. Whether neutral or “out there” in color, strappy sandals put sophisticated elegance on your feet.
    6. Just add sunglasses and a bag to accessorize any outfit

      Just add sunglasses and a bag to accessorize any outfit

    7. Sunglasses: Obviously, sunglasses are great for hiding tired eyes and shielding you from the sun’s glare. But psst! Their real beauty is how, by just sliding them on, sunglasses make you feel like a star.
    8. Leather Handbag: A well-made, roomy purse with a strap and plenty of pockets is a must for any woman on the go. Choose something solid, functional and not too flashy – after all, how many of us want to transfer our everyday essentials from bag to bag depending on what we wear?
    9. Clutch Handbag: An accessory that changes the entire atmosphere of an outfit, the evening clutch is an elegant, easy way to transition between a look that says “getting through the day” and one that says “going out for the evening”.
    10. Weekend Tote: You take care in the way you dress. Why ruin the look by tossing your weekend clothing into something that’s less than beautiful? Doubling as an extra-roomy purse for your “off” hours, the weekend tote is one piece in which you can go to town, and choose splashy colors or materials that express your sense of fun.
    11. Fashion Watch: Now that so many of us are carrying cellphones and other devices, the humble wrist watch has emerged as a major fashion statement. Use an eye-catching wrist watch to offset bracelets and bangles. The watch puts a little business into your fashion pleasure, while getting you where you have to go – on time and in style.
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I Love My Leggings!

Whether heading out to the store, jogging through neighborhood, or striding into an important business meeting, women who choose a modest lifestyle have got it covered.  And more and more, modest, yet fashion-conscious women are choosing leggings to complete outfits that are characterized by just the right balance between “coverage” and “cool.”

Long Black Leggings

Long Black Leggings

Leggings offer comfort, confidence and an amazing variety of modest fashion options. Under a skirt, tunic or dress, leggings of different lengths are a smooth, breathable layer that provides a snug sense of support – without the struggle or “snag” of traditional tights or pantyhose.  At the same time, leggings bridge the gap between those body contours we want to see, and those we think should be kept under wraps.

Adding leggings to your wardrobe is a great way to bridge the seasons in style.  Paired with boots or funky socks, leggings provide colorful layering options that allow you to extend the usefulness of a summer outfit into the fall. When spring rolls around, just ditch the socks for a pair of sandals, throw a kicky scarf around your neck, and you’re in business.

Leggings are also a natural choice for modest exercise clothing. They give you the easy-going mobility you need to stay covered – and forget about how you look – while you concentrate on reaching your personal best.  Leggings keep you feeling strong, too; an athletic, sporty silhouette can be a great motivator – whatever your workout routine.

Perhaps the best thing about leggings is the variety of modest fashion choices you can make. Coordinated with the color of your top, it’s easy to use leggings to create a sleek, top-to-bottom look that de-emphasizes your legs and draws attention to your dazzling smile. But modest clothing doesn’t equal dressing demure – with the huge variety of colors and patterns out there, leggings also stand front and center, offering a playful, yet modest fashion statement.

 

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Mind the Gap – Layering Solutions for Fun and Fashion

We all have them. Those casual tops and bottoms that screamed “buy me” in the store, but – once purchased – never seem to make their way out of the closet.  Dressing in layers is a great way to re-think your personal clothing inventory and make the most of what you have.
In addition to its value for rescuing under-used articles of clothing, layering is a great fashion strategy, allowing you to add interest, a dash of color, and create an entirely new look that is totally “you”.

Sleevies® 3/4 Sleeve Extensions

Why Not?
From the overly-generous scoop of a low-necked tee, to the skirt that rides up, to the clingy materials that highlight those love handles, there are lots of reasons that some clothes just can’t make it on their own.  Rather than throwing out or donating, experiment with layered dressing strategies that accentuate each garment’s best, most attractive characteristic.

Let’s say you bought a shirt because the color goes perfectly with a hard-to-match skirt.  If the shirt rides up, don’t give up!  Save the situation by layering on a contrasting vest, or adding an underlayer.  Many women swear by the “hippies” – a flexible layering solution that bridges the gap like a wide belt, providing coverage without adding bulk.

Layers can also come to the rescue when trying to accommodate our changing bodies.  As the years go by, women who were once happy to step out in short sleeves may find that a little more coverage makes them feel more confident.  Again, there’s no need for a new wardrobe.  Layer your favorite tops over a sleek shell underlayer – or add “sleevie” extensions – to give your old garments a new lease on life. Along with underlayer shells (short-sleeved, long-sleeved and cropped), sleevies and hippies, other garments that can widen your layering options include:

  • The cropped top  or half tee– a midriff-exposing layer, meant to be worn under a longer shirt. Half tees can be found in a variety of decorative necklines that add interest to any outfit.
  • Tee-necks – sometimes referred to as a “dickie”, these garments provide coverage under shirts that expose too much of the chest.
  • The pencil skirt – adds length to a tunic dress or a too-short skirt. Available in almost every color, pencil skirts complement an outfit, without making too obvious a statement.

The Fashion Advantage
Layering is a great way to re-work what’s in your closet, but remember – layering is also a creative and fashionable way to dress!  Choose a color scheme, and experiment with garments that you never wore together before.  Shuffle up the shapes, so that each individual article of clothing can be seen. When layering, choose just one particularly interesting item to highlight – a cropped jacket, or a fabulous scarf – rather than having lots of loud layers competing for attention.
But most of all, have fun!  Dressing in layers is an individual statement. So forget the rules, and enjoy building a do-it-yourself look of your very own.

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Modesty – It’s Kids’ Stuff

Well, the data is in, and it confirms what so many of us already knew.  So why aren’t children’s clothing designers – especially the ones who design outfits for our little girls – paying attention?

A team of social psychologists recently published an academic study about how clothing choices affect how children are perceived by adults.  According to the study, when children dress in “sexualized” clothing – a general category that includes skin-revealing cuts, as well as garments decorated with provocative images or text – adults are significantly less likely to believe these children to be intelligent, competent, or responsible.

The Numbers Show…
In the study, 162 male and female volunteers from an American liberal arts college were shown one of three images of the same fifth-grade girl, manipulated by computer software so that her clothing was either childlike, somewhat sexualized, or definitely sexualized.  In each case, the child was also described in terms of her level of accomplishment – either average, or above average.

No surprise:  When participants in the experiment were presented with the image in highly sexualized clothing and the girl was described as “above average”, the response – as reflected in the answers given to a set of standard questions – was: You must be joking.

Teach Kids to Dress for Respect
Most adults understand that they have to dress appropriately if they want to be taken seriously. But for kids, what constitutes “appropriate” is never clearly defined, and this can have serious social consequences.

Full A-line Skirt with Elastic Waist

Full A-line Skirt with Elastic Waist

Even the most responsible parents can be uncomfortable about exerting authority over clothing choices that – in many cases – haven’t truly crossed the line.  After all, if parents are seen as obsessing about a hemline that’s too short, or a shirt that shows a little too much shoulder, children are likely to dig in their heels, and insist on just those outfits that push parental buttons.

But if we want children to respect our values, we have to clearly define what those values are. This includes listening to your child, and coming to a workable agreement about what it means to dress appropriately, within mutually-acceptable limits of modesty.

From Worst-case Scenario to Best Results
Modest dressing is often presented to children in terms of avoiding danger. We all want to keep our children safe, and it is unfortunately true that too-provocative clothing may in some instances invite dangerous, inappropriate attention.

But one of the best ways we can protect children is to teach children about the powerful, emotional impact that our clothing choices can have.  Scientific research has confirmed that it’s possible to dress – not just for success – but for respect.

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Staying Ahead of the (Summer Camp) Pack

I admit it. When I heard about moms in New York City spending thousands of dollars to hire professional organizers to pack their children’s camp trunks, I was shocked. I was also jealous.

Successful packing for sleep-away camp – whether the little darling’s adventure lasts one week or two months – requires more than just working through the camp’s checklist. The trick is to balance the camp’s directives against your child’s very real needs to cover up, yet look cool in all weather conditions. All this, without the availability of a private laundress (er, that would be you).

Swim/Run Skirt with Contrasting Leggings for Girls

Swim/Run Skirt with Contrasting Leggings for Girls

First Things First
Before you begin, use a laundry pen to mark every single item that’s going to camp – from socks to soap dish – with your child’s name. Sew-on or iron-on labels are also an option, but only for parents organized enough to order them in time to be available on packing day (Did I mention I was jealous those New York moms?).

Basics that Mix and (More or Less) Match
Children contend with all kinds of situations while they’re at camp, so flexibility is key to successful packing. Limit stand-alone outfits, and instead, choose simple tops and bottoms in colors that work together in a wide variety of combinations. Prepare your camper for the inevitable changes in the weather by packing items that can be layered on during the chilly morning hours, then peeled off as temperatures rise.

A lightweight fleece under a rain poncho will help your kid weather any storm, and will also save the packing room that would be taken up by a dedicated raincoat. And for super hot, sunny days, remember, less is not always more. Pack long-sleeved shirts, long pants or skirts made out of light, breathable materials. You may also want to look into clothing and swimwear that has sun protection built right into the fabric. Such items – formerly sold only in specialty camping stores – are now easy to find, and not that expensive.

Speaking of swimming, if your child is going to be down at the lake every day, a single bathing suit is simply not enough.  There’s nothing more unpleasant than suiting up for swimming in something not quite dry.  Encourage your children to wear modest swim suits that keep their upper arms and thighs covered and protect them from the sun.  Modest swimwearis a fashion statement, and a time-saver; some kids use their modest swimsuit as a wardrobe basic, both in the water and on land.

Color Me Happy
It’s not so long ago that the term “camp shirt” referred to a straight-cut, conservative cotton blouse with a spread collar and buttons.  Indeed, this kind of shirt is still in demand for school uniforms.  But when camp time rolls around, children want to “make the scene” and meet new people while wearing fun fashions that expresses who they are – or who they would like to be.

I’m not suggesting children should be 100% free to choose their own camp wardrobe. But letting your camper pick out a few splashy T-shirts is more than just a clothing investment.  It’s an investment in your child’s confidence, and ultimately, the success of his or her camping experience. Just think of that when all the packing’s done, and the bus is pulling away…

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The A-Line Skirt History – Still A+ After All These Years

With a silhouette that flares gradually from the hips to the hemline – however low it may fall — the A-line skirt is a modest fashion choice that flatters almost every figure.  With such obvious advantages, you might think that the A-line has been around forever.  But while maxi-length flared skirts were standard Edwardian era and made a comeback in the midi- and knee-length skirts of the 1930s and 40s, you may be interested to know that the A-line owes its name to the famous French fashion designer Christian Dior, who made it the centerpiece of his Spring Collection in 1955.

Dior’s A-line was a very specific: a flaring skirt topped by a smooth waistline and leading up to narrow shoulders. Dior was famous for dressing his models in chic little jackets, and his signature A-line outfit followed along these lines, with a small-shouldered jacket which flared slightly at the hip, and covered an even-more-widely flaring skirt.

In 1958 Yves Saint Laurent introduced a variation on the Dior A-line look, which he called his “Trapeze” line.  Maintaining Dior’s wide shoulder-to-hemline flare, this collection skimmed past the waist without defining it, creating dresses that – looked at with a modern eye – seem like a comical meeting point between high fashion and maternity wear!

Yves Saint Laurent’s dramatic “Trapese” dresses did not have much impact on the popular market, but soon, less extreme A-line skirts and dresses were everywhere – and on everyone.

1958-trapese-2-yves-saint-laurent

A-line skirts  are still a popular choice for modern women looking for modest, yet fashionable wardrobe staples – no matter what their body type. With a waist defined by darts or seams, the A-line skirt falls gently over the hips, making it flattering for large-hipped women whose contours are balanced out by the wide hemline.  Women who have top-heavy figures like how A-line designs de-emphasize their upper body, suggesting more of an hourglass shape.   Finally, slim, small-hipped women also benefit from the A-line look, which adds a touch of curvaceous definition, without giving up on modesty.

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