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Not AARP

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Spotted (literally) on the street. Love the fearlessness.

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A member of my “still going strong” tribe.

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A statement necklace is a statement of confidence.

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Tiny Boutiques With No Bathrooms

Dear Eiko:

I wanted to follow up with you on the conversation we had on Saturday. We were sharing recommendations on cool shops and you blanched at the idea of going into a tiny boutique I like.

There’s something about a small shop that can be intimidating. You said you feel as if you have to buy something.

When you discover a shop that has the owner’s and your distinctive point of view you have stumbled upon a fun shopping experience. The owner has made it easy for you to find something and if she’s smart she’ll leave you alone. You have honored her with your presence and not your credit card.

But I do agree the lack of a bathroom is annoying given how much coffee we drink.

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The Joy Of Stuff

I bumped into a friend who had just moved from a four bedroom house into a one bedroom apartment.

I knew the sordid details about the acrimonious divorce. Now I wanted to know where she was going to put her stuff. “I got rid of a lot. It’s so freeing, Ellen.” Perhaps.

Thankfully she didn’t mention the “sparkle” philosophy as touted by Marie Kondo, best-selling author/organizer/and guilt inducer. “If you don’t feel sparkle, toss it,” she admonishes the I-Can’t-Live-Without-It people.

This morning I opened the closet and admired my taste in clothing. No sparkle to be found. However, I did notice many of my wool sweaters had moth holes.

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Clothes Made The Man

A stylish friend asks “when did you start to develop your personal style?” I smiled. “I was 12,” I replied.

My mother had no interest in clothes or shopping. But my father loved the process of creating a great style. On Saturdays he would take me on his regular trips to his tailor and shirt maker.

When we went to the tailor my father encouraged me to look through the books with fabric samples. If he had a solid navy blazer, I might suggest a Prince of Wales check. We would ruminate on the color of the pants. He respected my opinion.

His shirt maker was old school. He always answered the door with straight pins in his mouth. My father preferred white shirts with his initials embroidered on the left cuff in a simple font. The fabric had to “breathe” so shirts were made of the finest Egyptian cotton. I lingered over the samples while my father was being fitted. Fit was important to my father especially the width of his collars.

My father died a few months ago. That day I went upstairs to his closet. I was surrounded by his beautiful clothing and his polished shoes. It’s funny how a closet filled with clothes can pack such a painful wallop.

Thanks Dad for sending me on my way.

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I’m Feeling Long Skirts With Sneakers

When I talk about clothing I’m talking about street style. Stores are not nearly as interesting as people with savoir flair and a daring sense of humor.

Last weekend I noticed the most interesting looking women were wearing long skirts with sneakers. I did a double-take at least twice in one day.

I didn’t see this look in a magazine. I saw it on the street. I saw it in a photograph of designer Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garcons) at Paris Fashion Week. That’s how it happens. You look at people. You feel it. And if the wallet permits you buy it.

When fashion icons say “style is something you’re born with” don’t believe them. Style is being observant, taking delight in someone’s creativity, and then copying them — at least in the beginning — until you’re ready to do it your way.

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Shopping For My Avatar

It was a dreary summer. A clumsy accident (I prefer to call a clumsy accident a “sports injury”) meant I couldn’t walk about the city, exercise, and shop — three of my most favorite activities. Thank goodness I had downloaded the Bitmoji app (available on iTunes.)

Are you familiar with Bitmoji? It’s your own (and eerily accurate) personal emoji or avatar. You select your features, personal style as well as mood states. It’s been my salvation. Whenever I ruminate about my sorry shape I switch to Bitmoji and shop for my avatar. My avatar has fantastic taste so she’s a little frustrated with the current avatar collection.

A few weeks ago I sent a Bitmoji message to a good friend. She wrote back and told me she was about to pick my avatar’s Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress for her avatar. Unlike in real life when someone copies you and you’re supposed to consider it a compliment, this was a no-no in the Bitmoji world.

Sensitive to my friend’s disappointment, I went to my avatar’s closet and chose something for her winter wardrobe. I then told my friend her avatar could have the DVF dress.

Clearly this sports injury is making me crazy.
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Current Obsessions

1. Good-bye to text messaging. I was reading a book. My phone was not in my hand. The book was in my hand. Reluctantly, I picked up my phone and saw a message from a friend. She was in a cab and wanted to visit. She needed my address. Tsk. A phone call would have solved that problem.

2. Calling to thank someone for a gift that just arrived in the mail before sending the thank you note. Do you know how many times I’ve tracked a package because the thank you note was either late or never came at all? Drives me insane.

3. Techno fiber clothing. I’m never happy (and never myself) when I look drab when it rains or snows. Techno fiber clothing is water and snow resistant. “Outer Voices” is a new line that designs practical clothes that are terrific. I adore their stirrup pant in charcoal.

4. Faliero Sarti scarves. You can buy them on-line. They’re in your face fabulous — huge, soft, colorful, and a big statement. They come in a soft cotton sack so you can tote them in your bag. Cozy for a flight.

5. Making appointments by email or text messaging. You cannot synchronize two calendars virtually. It doesn’t work. So don’t complain when you wish you had plans. The phone, darling, the phone.

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A 1969 Style Renegade

I remember going to Lisa E.’s house when I was 16. Lisa’s mother, Mrs. E. was the epitome of chic and flair. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail, she wore matte black stockings with black ballerina shoes and a long black skirt. It was the quintessential “you had to be there” if you had never met anyone wearing black stockings. It was radical.

I didn’t know Lisa well and was quite surprised when she invited me to her house. We had very little in common (she dated football players) so the friendship fizzled rather quickly. Luckily I got to meet her mother who turned my style world upside down.

Though Mrs. E. lived in a neighborhood where women went to the beauty parlor once a week to get their hair washed, set, and lacquered with hairspray, Mrs. E. answered to a different muse. She washed her own hair. She wore black stockings. She was a style renegade.

This is how you develop a personal style — you ring a door bell, your senses are jolted, and you fall in love with the mind-boggling concept of looking like no one else.

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Show Some Panache

Last weekend I was at a party. It was a nice party. I didn’t know everyone but who cares? I’m (somewhat) interested in “really, I mean really hot yoga.”

Each time someone said good-bye I stood up and either shook their hand or kissed their cheek. I noticed no one did that. The guests merely smiled or waved or said those three dreadful words “I’ll call you.”

I stood up two more times to say good-bye and by then everyone did it too. It’s these old-fashioned gestures that are memorable and yes, stylish. Perhaps my new friends will do it automatically because it’s a lovely gesture of respect and panache.

Style isn’t limited to wearing chunky hiking boots with an evening dress.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02:  Michelle Williams attends the "Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology" Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 02: Michelle Williams attends the “Manus x Machina: Fashion In An Age Of Technology” Costume Institute Gala at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Although that is a cool look.

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Confidence and Clothes

A recent article in The Atlantic Magazine discusses a study about the connection between confidence and clothes. I like psychological studies that have to do with clothes.

I remember the first day of high school like it was yesterday (and that is so very sad). I know I did not look fabulous. Girls who looked fabulous were asked to join one of the “secret” sororities.

When I realized I wasn’t invited, I was hurt, sad, and furious with my mother. Why didn’t she know you needed a cool outfit for the first day of school? Whatever confidence I had (not very much, frankly), went poof. Out the window. Gone.

When you’re confident you perform better. You take risks. You enjoy being you. And most importantly, you are resilient to mean girls who sometimes grow up to be mean women.

Now you know why I like to shop.

I cannot believe I wanted this bag.

I cannot believe I wanted this bag.

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Ellen Lubin-Sherman

Some say she's tart and arch, but she knows fabulous when she sees it, and that's what she writes about. Get her book, The Essentials of Fabulous, on Amazon. More about me...