Friday, June 5, 2015

Apple Watch: Where Fashion Meets Technology

I tried to resist buying the Apple Watch, I really did. Who, after all, needs a computer on their wrist? Well, no one, but I'm an Apple fangirl at heart, so I placed my order.

Then it arrived, and I fell in love so quickly that it surprised even me. I'll say it again before I dive in, no one needs an Apple Watch. No one needs a Keurig machine to make coffee, either. I save only seconds, maybe a couple of minutes in prep work and cleanup each day using K-cups rather than brewing ground coffee. Nor does anyone need diamonds, or jewelry, or designer bags/shoes/clothes. Still, there is a basic pleasure in indulging in life's little luxuries sometimes. The Apple Watch is highly individual. If you ask five different people what they like about it, you'll get five different answers. If you're interested in what I like about the Apple Watch, personally, read on.
Photo from StyleCaster
I love Apple's aesthetic, the clean lines and rounded edges. Now I can wear it on my wrist. Though it's hard to tell from my sunset picture at the top, I have the same watch as the model just above. I love the shiny stainless steel casing. The white band probably wouldn't be my first choice for daily use, but it's neutral, and I plan to collect some third-party watch bands in "my colors" to supplement it. It definitely makes a statement. No one said a word about my Movado watch in the 15 years I wore it (other than "How do you read that thing?"); but people notice the Apple Watch. I expect this will change once it's been around for a while, but being an early adopter means getting comments and questions.

I enjoy being able to change the very face of the watch. In my top photo, I confirmed that yes, the sun was indeed setting when the watch told me it was. :) I've included some of my favorite faces below, but there are more, and more features and options within each one. Rather than choosing one favorite face, I move between them as my mood (and my outfit) dictates.

While all of this is very nice, the real reason for the Apple Watch is its functionality. I won't try to outline all of its features here, but I have a few favorites.

I had a FitBit prior to the Apple Watch, and I liked how it kept me accountable and helped me make sure I moved at least 10,000 steps per day. The Apple Watch takes it a step further with its three circles. In order to fill all three circles each day, you have to 1) exercise at least 30 minutes 2) burn a certain number of moving calories (determined by your age, gender, height, weight, and activity level) and 3) stand and move around for at least one minute of every hour for 12 hours. Getting those circles closed each day is quite motivating, and I do find myself moving more, not just working out and then spending most of the rest of the day on the couch.

The camera remote is a nice touch. I set up my iPhone wherever, then tap my wrist and smile! Instant selfie or group photo without the outstretched arm (or dreaded selfie stick).

I use the iPhone's GPS to get around, and the Apple Watch adds an extra layer of assistance. Wrist taps tell me which way to turn, in case I miss the spoken directions from the phone.

The notifications have really helped me stop looking at my phone so much. If I'm expecting a call, or a text, or an email, I don't have to keep pulling out and booting up my phone to see if anything's happening. A gentle tap to my wrist tells me something important is going on, and a split second glance tells me if it's something that needs my immediate attention or not. As a result, I'm not worried every second about my phone being on my person. I leave it in my purse or on the charger and go about my day. When I'm out to dinner, I don't keep my phone on the table in case one my kids is trying to reach me anymore. I won't miss anything.

The complications on some of the watch faces give me split second access to my activity levels, the date, the weather, my next appointment, and of course, the time. There are lots of other options to add, but those are my favorites.

I haven't even gotten into the apps, but I consider those secondary. If I'm going to go digging around into apps, I'll usually pull out my phone. It's the quick stuff I really enjoy on my Apple Watch.

So is there a killer feature? No, not really. But all of the little things add up to something I really enjoy wearing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Best Face Wash I've Found for Cleansing Skin and Removing Makeup in One Step

I've tried quite a few face washes over the past year or so, which I've like to varying degrees. I have combination skin. I tend to get oily in the usual places (my T-zone, plus the middle of my cheeks) and dry around my mouth area, especially in the winter. I wouldn't call my skin overly sensitive, but I do tend to break out if a product doesn't agree with me, and I do have a bit of rosacea. I do like a cleanser that makes my skin feel clean but not taut and dry. I also like to wash my face and remove my makeup in one step, rather than having to use a separate makeup remover. And price matters to me as well.

Here are some of the ones I've tried recently:

I'd heard that Cetaphil was very gentle, so I gave it a shot. Surprisingly, I did not particularly like it. It left my skin rather taut, plus it seemed to exacerbate my rosacea. And it did not remove much of my eye makeup at all.

Next, I tried Garner Clean + Makeup Removing Lotion Cleanser. I didn't like this one at ALL. It felt waxy in my hands, waxy on my face, and did not do a good job of removing my eye makeup.

I got a free sample of Clinique's Rinse-Off Foaming Cleanser. I do like this one, and will continue to use the free samples that often come in their Gift with Purchase bags. It feels luxurious to the touch, and I like how it makes my skin feel - soft. It doesn't do a perfect job of removing eye makeup, but pretty close. It is, however, pretty expensive, so I kept looking for one I could buy at the drugstore.

I finally found a drugstore cleanser I really like. Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser is reasonably priced and does the job. This one leaves my skin soft and doesn't aggravate it. It's still not perfect at removing every bit of eye makeup, but it's the closest I've found. I did try another cleanser in this line and didn't like it as well. This will be my go-to cleanser from now on.

What's your favorite face wash?

Monday, March 9, 2015

You Say You Want a Revolution....Gray

I just wanted to give a shout out to Revolution Gray and thank them for including me on their fabulous list of 25 "Gray Hair" Bloggers Who Rock - 2015 Edition.

It's so flattering to be noticed at all, not to mention being grouped with so many fabulous ladies. If you haven't already, you should also check out their 25 "Gray Hair" Bloggers Who Rock - 2013 Edition. Some of those ladies provided me with much needed inspiration to take my own silver journey.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Handling Rude Comments About Going Gray

If you’re going to let your natural silvers shine at the tender age of not quite even 45 (or 55, 65, or even 75 … maybe at 84 you’re allowed), you’ll have to be prepared to handle some strange reactions.

I’ve been luckier than some of my silver sisters, in that I haven’t gotten any flat out insults. No one (yet) has told me they hate it, it looks awful on me, or anything like that.  

But I’ve gotten some doozies, some more than once, and I don’t think any of them meant to be (THAT) mean, but it’s hard to imagine any of these were meant as compliments either. In each case, my response was rather dull, and I thought of snappier comebacks while in the shower the next day. Isn’t that always the way?

“Oh, Karen, I didn’t recognize you because you changed your hair!” (I’ve gotten that exact statement from two different women, a year apart.)
My response: *shrugs,* *smiles.* Twice I did that. Duuuuh. 
What I should have said: “Well, this is the real me.” *big smile*

“It doesn’t look bad, now that it’s all grown out.” (from a co-worker who had seen the whole year-long painful grow-out)
My response: “Thanks.”
Probably not really worth a response.

“So, you decided to let your hair go gray, huh?”
My response: “Yup.” Followed by a fairly defensive explanation of why, when I wasn’t asked.
What I should have said: “Yup.” Followed by silence. So hopefully they realize their question is about as polite as pointing out, “So you decided to wear pants today, huh?” or, “So, you got a haircut, huh?” I mean listen, if are curious and you want to know what made me decide to go natural, then just ask. I don’t mind a question. But a statement (disguised as a question, but it’s still a statement) about appearance NOT followed up with a compliment is not very nice.

“You’re too young to go gray.”
My response: “I started going gray at 11, and I dyed it for many, many years.”
What I should have said: “Apparently not.”

And the one I’ve heard at least a half dozen times in the last year or so: “You can get away with it. I definitely couldn’t.”
My response is usually just to change the subject. Maybe I should say, "You never know."

And I am happy with it. I love my shiny silver hair. I don’t even mind being different, being the only one with natural hair in a room with women my age and many decades older. (We won’t even talk about the men - we all know they are ALLOWED to go gray without censure.) Questions are welcome, I can talk about hair all day! Want to know why or how I did it, just ask. But much like pregnant ladies don’t need random strangers’ hands on her belly, I don’t need snide or ignorant comments about my appearance.

Are you thinking about going natural but worry what others will think? Or have you quit the dye and gotten some weird comments yourself? How did you handle them (or wish you had)?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Comparing My Jeweltone Summer Zyla Palette with Soft Summer Sci/Art Colors

Well, now I have two separate palettes from two completely different sources - well-regarded experts, both, but not systems intended to go together.

My Zyla palette is Jeweltone Summer. My Sci/Art palette is Soft Summer. So, how do they fit together?

I photographed them side by side:
Left: Soft Summer - Right: Jeweltone Summer
You can see some similarities but they aren't identical. Overall, I think the Zyla colors are just a touch brighter than the Soft Summer ones, but that may be due in part to the Sci/Art palette being fabric and the Zyla one being paper. Let's take a closer look at each Zyla color.
The Tranquil colors are pretty close to the purple SSu strips.
Energy fits in pretty darn well with SSu, those blued sea foam green shades.
I think Dramatic is a decent match, the darker shades in particular.
There is no true match for my Essence shades. But do they harmonize?
                                       The Romantic shades are a near-perfect match for my favorite pink strip (6.1).

First Base fits right in, the darker shades particularly.

Second Base is a good match, too, especially the darker one.

Third Base really don't fit in - it's greener than any of my beiges.
Here are my Pastels and Metals. They're mostly pretty good, maybe a bit brighter.
So, what do I do with all of this? My plan is to use both. I'll especially look for the colors that exist on both palettes. If I find an item that fits the Zyla palette perfectly but really isn't on the SSu palette at all, I'll simply do what I was instructed to do when shopping with my fan in the first place: Thwap! In other other words, open up the fan, thwap it down on the item, and look at it. Do I see harmony, or does the item make the fan look dingy? Do they work together to bring out the best in one another, or does the fan make the item look garish? It's hard to tell if two sets of color strips harmonize. I really need to take it on a case by case, carefully examining each garment and comparing it to my palettes before I buy it.

Another way to think of it is to consider my Sci/Art fan to be an extension of my Zyla colors. After all, if both David and Christine are as accurate as they are reputed to be, then both palettes really are ME, and either one should bring out my best.

How do I like them, and which do I like better? I really do like them both. There are certainly colors on each that it would have never occurred to be to try (that Essence peach, the pale First Base sage, the greeny SSu yellow), but now I will if I can find them in stores. It did take me time to adjust to the muted tones of the SSu palette, since I tend to gravitate towards brighter, more saturated tones. My Zyla colors are ever so slightly brighter than my SSu tones, which I like.

I've only been shopping a couple of times since I saw David Zyla, and what I did was LOOK for the Zyla colors, but double checked everything with my SSu fan. In the future, I know there will be times when I NEED to buy something and maybe don't have time to hunt down an exact Zyla shade. Or, I will fall in love with an item that just isn't on the Zyla palette at all. I don't think the Zyla palette is meant to be exclusive, as in I should ONLY live in those couple dozen colors. So when I can't find Zyla, I'll use my SSu fan instead. It's not that I like Zyla's colors better, it's more that I think of them as my "sweet spot." While I may still buy things not pictured in my Zyla set, I will not buy anything that doesn't suit the SSu palette.

Do you have palettes from different systems? How do you use them? In concert, or have you chosen one over the other?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

David Zyla Told Me That I Am a Jeweltone Summer!

Karen's Jeweltone Summer Palette
Ok, so I'm not keeping you in suspense. That's my archetype. And above, you can see the palette he put together for me. I posted previously about who David Zyla is and my experience seeing him. Here are my results, in minute detail:

Romantic - the color of my fingertips, the color I blush - my version of red, sexy, vitality, one of the most powerful colors to wear. For me: a cool winter raspberry - don’t warm it!

Essence - skin color - my version of white, nude. Most subtle thing to wear, vulnerable

Energy - the darkest part of my iris (but not the ring) - friendly, approachable, present, I’m here

Tranquil - the lightest part of my iris - mellow, chill. For me: a cool lilac.

Dramatic - the color of the veins in my wrist - kaboom, look at me! Guest of honor. It’s the opposite of romantic on color wheel.

First Base - taken from the ring around my iris - formal neutral, my version of black. LBD, coat. For me: Charcoal.

Second Base - the darkest part of my hair - everyday neutral - my version of brown. For me: Red Plum/Aubergine.

Third Base - the lightest part of my hair - informal neutral - my version of khaki. For me: Pale Sage

Pastels - lighter versions of the above colors. Great for summer clothes, bathing suits, and home decor. For me: stay away from white or anything icy. 

Metals - metallic versions of the above colors. Use for jewelry, belt buckle, pen, business card case, metallic thread running through a scarf. For me: silvers and platinums, metallic versions of my colors.

Notice there is no true blue - it goes a little cold on me - he doesn’t like it as well. There is blue in the greens and lilacs. No brown, yellow, or orange, either.

Wearing an outfit with bases only will be pretty but it won’t have much impact. Use a pop of color.

My personality (and I think he is dead on with this):
I get along with men but stay feminine  
I have a strong energy but still feminine  
I have a nurturing management style but not coddling  
My children are getting a realistic view of the world - I’m not doing their homework for them, but I set limits to make sure they succeed

I am: Jeweltone Summer! Hyperfeminine but still strong

Always an element of drape, but streamlined overall (this is TMIT)
Drapes and wraps - for example, wrap dress, faux wrap top, waterfall sweater, pashmina (with dressy dress)
Roman updated - but not Grecian, that’s too wispy. Roman is stronger
Unbroken lines - top flows into the bottom - don’t color block, don’t end at the waist
Dresses are great
If separates: tie the top to the bottom with a scarf or jewelry containing both colors
I have elongated curves - like a stretched out hourglass - and my clothes should be elongated
Only one element of wrap/drape at a time, overall look should be streamlined. Eileen Fisher is too drape-y
Nothing rustic! (Rustic: tweed, heavy knit sweater, birks, whipstich, distressed)
Classical, cleaner
Clothes that look like you took a piece of fabric and wrapped it around me and it just stayed - fabulous

Painterly effects
Pointillist - confetti - looks like a solid from a distance, but up close it’s dots of different colors
Prints should be no larger than palm of hand
Avoid anything cartoonish
Avoid hard contrast - keep tones similar
If there are “bad” colors in the pattern, then draw out the “good” colors with another item of clothing

40’s style:
Like high waisted pant, fluid leg, hollywood pant, side/back zip, no belt loop, with a fitted top (brands: Layfayette 140, Ann Taylor)
Silk Jumpsuit with a heeled roman sandal (designer: Kathryn Malendrino) - simple in shape, no metal hardware
Avoid menswear

Jersey, suede, silk velvet, cashmere, mohair, crepe, crepe de cine, georgette crepe
NO men’s cotton shirt, or tweed

Separates or a dress are better for me

Always show waist
Single button
Go in at waist, end at hip
No collar (that notched, angled look is not good) 
Maybe a soft belt that ties like a bathrobe

Wrap dress is ideal - Lauren by Ralph Lauren makes a nice jersey faux wrap in a bunch of colors every season (packable, dress up or down)
No shift dress - that’s too plain for me
Example of a cocktail dress:-high waisted, crepe on the bottom and chiffon on the top

To middle of knee
Wrap skirts
High waisted pencil skirt, top tucked in
Perhaps a four inch trumpet
No pleats
No gathers at the waist

Boot cut when they’re in style
Side/back zip
High waisted
If not high waisted, then wear long shirt
Instead of jeans, go for brushed cotton, twill
Look for luster, pile, velvet
Cords only if very fine wale
Denim is too flat and masculine
Brand: DKNY often does velvet jeans at the holidays

Crossover jersey/faux wrap
Length - high hip - (well below the waist)

Cowl neck (lovely with skinny pants)
Waterfall cardigan (lovely with a watercolor print blouse under) 

Buttery, like calf skin - not patent leather
Shape - no drawstring, need some structure. Bottom wider than top is nice. Double handle
If crossbody purse, it should be really small.


Should stop at the ankle, not mid-calf (if I must!)

“Jeans" made out of a beautiful twill with a cowl neck sweater
Gym: Luxe, terrycloth Juicy Couture-type pant with tank top  

Sandal with thin straps is great
Soft V or elongated oval - not pointy or round
Comfortable brand: Arche - they make stretch grosgrain.
Avoid hard horizontal, like a strap across the ankle
For tennis shoes - look for slip-ons, or laces that are the same color as the shoe so they “disappear” (lacing is rustic)
Boots - suede in the charcoal or aubergine

Hood - drapes softly around the face
Draped collar 
Hidden buttons
Self belt (like a bathrobe)
Softly structured
If must get a down coat - get in Romance color! (try LL Bean)
For raincoat: pearlized, iridescent (try London Fog or Sanyo)

Short short (not bustline length - that widens the bust)
3/4 length sleeves but not with capris (with capris, wear short sleeves instead)
Long sleeves - ideally really long, onto the hand
Bell sleeve sweater is nice (fitted at the top of the arm, ends in bell)

Softened V is perfect, echoes my chin
Draped neckline
Scoop and crossover also very good
Shorter, harder Vs are ok
portrait not as good
No crew neck

Pink Tourmaline, Amethyst
Pink pearls but not freshwater (those aren’t formed/refined enough)
No turquoise or catsite or anything veined or rough or unfinished - too rustic

Oval, teardrop pendants are great
Longer length necklaces, not collarbone
Layer two necklaces, say, long strand of beads and a shorter pendant/medallion
Or long necklace with beads and metals
But not heavy or chunky

Oval studs
White gold, open in the middle
Designers: Rebecca Norman, Melissa Joy Manning

Never a cuff
Three thin bangles are nice
If it’s an inch wide or wider, it should be filigree - open work, not thick/solid/chunky

More oval than square
This is a good place to bring in colored stones, perhaps in tones of a color

Bracelet watch
Pearlized face is better than black or white
Open work bracelet-type band

Cowl neck is fantastic
Linen, translucent for summer
Avoid Hermes twill silk
Wool shalley
Wider, longer scarves - to cowl and create drama
Not shiny
Not small and perky

Soft belt like bathrobe
Or skinny belt to define waist
Covered buckle - don’t want to see spokes and holes - it should end cleanly

Silver frames, or any of my metals - he really likes the metals for me
Clear plastic frame
Clear with silver flecks
Second base color - aubergine
The bases and metals blend more with my hair.
Or for more of a statement, really any of my colors, dramatic, tranquil, energy, romantic. Energy and tranquil really pulls out my eyes!
Don’t go any wider than my current pair in the temple - if too wide, you can see the arms and they compete with the eyes
Slight angle to the lens shape, not a total oval
If I go with color, it should be mottled light and dark like my purple/blue pair, not a solid color
Current lens size is perfect (I’d call it medium)

Winter: Skullcap-style knit beret - symmetrical all the way around
Variegated in color - a combo of my colors
Maybe a brim, but fun and floppy, 70’s style - do a straw version of this in summer

Long - past the wrist

Don’t go shorter than jaw or longer than shoulder (that would be too languid)
Do go shorter in the back - if longer in the back, it would drag my head back.
Slight layering

Any of the colors in my palette, but he pointed out essence, metallic, and pale romantic

Foundation/Powder: Essence
Lip/Blush: Romantic
Charcoal eyeliner (1st base) - the softer one
For variety: aubergine eyeliner (2nd base)
Eyeshadow: 3rd base over eye
For evening out eyeshadow: a little bit of energy or tranquil
Good brands for me: Shisedo for eyes, Dior for lips - the french brands go cooler

Stores/Websites good for me:
Diane Von Furstenberg for wrap dress
Kettlewell (UK) - lovely wrap sweaters and wrap dresses
Talbots (just a few pieces there - will take some hunting - 80% of the store is not good)
J. Jill
Ann Taylor 
Ann Taylor Loft 

Other questions I asked:
Will my palette change over time? It may mellow and soften a bit. I may find someday that the darkest shade no longer works, and will want to go with the lighter ones.
Why several variations of each? To give me options. The deepest color is the most potent. You can use any color in between the chips themselves.

In my next post, I'll go into detail comparing this with my Sci/Art designation.

My Color Journey Continues - with David Zyla!

The book: Color Your Style by David Zyla

I have a lot to say about this, so I'll split it up into three posts. In this one, I'll explain a bit about who David Zyla is and what he does. I'll also talk about my consultation with him, what it was like. And, hopefully, help you decide if this is something you'd want to pursue for yourself. In subsequent posts, I'll go into minute detail with my Zyla results, and compare them with my Sci/Art results.

So, as I blogged about earlier, I had a Personal Color Analysis done in the Sci/Art system. I loved the experience, and was actually quite happy with the results. But still. It's only color. So what about style? What kinds of clothes will flatter me best? Sure, I've read fashion blogs, but no one really has my exact figure, and it's hard to self-analyze to put myself into a category. Some people have great success figuring out their Kibbe style, but while I dabbled around in that, I never felt that confident that I had chosen correctly.

And then I found out about David Zyla. His system is entirely different from both Sci/Art and Kibbe. In his book, he describes his entire system. The basic idea is that everyone has a personal palette of colors, drawn from their own coloring. You can use these colors to your benefit if you know which colors to use and in which situations. For example, you might wear your Romance color (the color you blush) on a date, your Energy color (drawn from the darkest color of your iris, but not the ring) for a pick-me-up, or your Tranquil color (drawn from the lightest part of your iris) for relaxation. Additionally, every woman is one of 24 archetypes. He divides these into four seasons (which don't necessarily correlate with Sci/Art's or any other systems out there), six types within each. These archetypes not only define your style, but your personality as well.

I started by reading the book. It was really interesting, and I did "Zyla" myself according to the instructions in the book. But then, I found out that the man himself was coming right to the city I live in. While a two-hour consultation with him is quite expensive (he styles the stars after all - he works in show business and has won an Emmy for his work), the fact that I wouldn't have to travel made the idea irresistible.

Fast-forward to the day of my consultation. It was a real pleasure to meet David Zyla himself, he is personable and friendly and I could have chatted the day away with him! We spent the first hour or so sitting by a window (he needs the good light), where he had a bunch of color wheels - paint chips, like you find at the hardware/paint store. While he busily cut chips and held them up to me (from a few feet away), pasting the best ones and discarding the others, we chatted about nothing really related to anything. Our families, travel, restaurants, TV, you name it. I think he was using this time to get a feel for my personality. But he certainly didn't quiz me on anything that might be pertinent to his system.

Then, once he had completed his "Karen collage" (my term), he presented it to me along with my archetype and detailed style recommendations. He allowed me to record this last part (over an hour), and I'm glad I did. Because while I furiously scribbled down nine pages of notes as he talked, upon listening to my recording later I found I had missed a few things. I'm also glad I had come prepared with questions (five typed pages' worth) because I got a lot more detail than I might have gotten otherwise. One question I asked him repeatedly was, "Where can I find this?" I got names of specific designers, websites, and stores that he might not have otherwise suggested.

This was all incredibly fun, and it gave me some fabulous ideas for shopping in the future. So did I "Zyla" myself correctly? No, and I'm not really sure anyone can, because Zyla's eyes see beyond the literal. For example: your Second Base color (intended to be used as a neutral, where one might wear brown) is taken from the darkest part of your hair. I chose Espresso Brown for my Second Base, because that's what color it is! David, however, chose a Red Plum/Aubergine. Third Base is based on the lightest part of your hair and is intended to be used as your casual neutral, like khaki. I chose Silver, but David chose a pale Sage Green. I assure you, my hair is not purple or green in any way! And he didn't say it was. But that's how he translated the idea of my hair. I can't do that myself, no one can, at least not exactly the way Zyla would do it!

As for archetype, you use your colors to get you partway there but ultimately you just pick one. David did not select the same one I did (though it was in the same season).

So, is it worth buying the book (or checking it out from the library) and figuring out your own archetype if it's not going to be "right?" Well, why not. It could be fun, and it could give you some self awareness and some ideas for dressing better. And if you try on your archetype and it really doesn't fit you, then move on.

I can't say that seeing Zyla himself is something that every woman needs to do. The book suffices for many. (And of course, there are plenty of women who have zero interest in this sort of thing! I am speaking to my fellow color nerds here.) Additionally, there is a treasure trove of websites, Facebook groups, and Pinterest boards devoted to his ideas. But I thoroughly enjoyed my experience and I have every intention of living my archetype and my palette and seeing how it goes! Now, to go shopping...