Thursday, November 7, 2013

Shop My Closet!

Breaking the radio silence to let you know I'm selling a few things from my closet on eBay.  

Happy shopping!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Moving On...

via Pinterest

So, I didn't want to start a blog only to watch it slowly but surely descend to the depths of that wishy-washy "I might post every once in awhile when I feel like it" kind of deal. We all know that's where blogs go to die, whether it's acknowledged or not. So now, I'm trying to do you a favor. Kind of like in old animal movies where it's best for the wild but adopted pet to go back into the wild, and the sobbing child owner has to act like it hates the animal's guts to get it to leave?

"Go ON! Get outta here!! I don't want you anymore!! The ranger's gonna get you if you stay!!"

This blog was an experiment of sorts, to test my interests, and see whether this was something I wanted to maintain, as well as explore what it could evolve into and become. It's not a failed experiment in the slightest. I've been pleasantly surprised and extremely supported by the amount of kind feedback and input I've gotten from you for almost a year now! The questions kept me going and challenged me to keep learning and for that I'm so grateful.

But here's the thing. A lot of what I've been writing about is being covered all over the fashion blog corner of the interwebs right now, and I've never wanted this blog to be about adding to the noise. And while my blogging voice is and has remained my own, my stylist skills are still very basic. Because of that, I think it'd be better for me to stop talking and keep learning at this point, until I have something to offer that's not readily accessible elsewhere. But I need to be able to learn at my own pace at this point, without the pressure of maintaining a blog about it.

So, The Twenty Ninth's exploratory fashion era is being put to sleep, for now. I can't thank you all enough for keeping me inspired and keeping my post queue full of drafts.

Who knows what reincarnation this blog will go through next? Until then, here's to all of you!

Now go on! Get outta here!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Makeup School with Sarah, Part 2

It's the second half of our Makeup School with Sarah series! Today we're talking more about the practicals -- Sarah offers tips and tricks as well as her makeup recommendations below.

All photos are of clients Sarah has made up... err... done make up for? You know what I mean.

The Twenty Ninth: Do you have any practical and simple tips for everyday makeup users?
Sarah: Whatever you are applying, make sure you are applying it COMPLETELY.  Uncertainty in technique and placement leads to women applying makeup only half-way or part-way.  Applying makeup incompletely isn’t safer, it just looks bad!  The two ways I see this happen most frequently are in foundation application and application of a bold lipstick.  It’s too often that I see women walking around with foundation missing from a 1 inch rim around the perimeter of their face.  Your foundation should be blended gently into your hairline, below the jaw line and into the neck, and even slightly behind the ears.  You can’t see those areas, but most other people can.  As for the bold lip color, do it or don’t!  If you wear the bold lip and don’t apply it fully, it will look silly anyway.  Make sure you extend the color all the way to the peaks of the cupid’s bow, all the way to the lowest part of the bottom lip line, and all the way into the outer corners of the mouth.  Using a lip liner will really help you to be purposeful about where the lipstick goes.  If there are certain makeup techniques you’re not comfortable with but you want to master (winged eyeliner, fake eyelashes, blush, etc.), just keep practicing!  The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become, and the more you will enjoy putting on makeup! 

The Twenty Ninth: What are some of your favorite techniques?
Sarah: Subtle layering and gradations.  They create quite a lot of positive change without making a person look unlike themselves.  They also help to mimic the natural shading of a healthy face.
The Twenty Ninth: What are some of your go-to colors/makeup combinations right now?
Sarah: At the moment, I’m enjoying playing around with colors that are almost inharmonious, but not quite.  They can create more pop and reaction than a bold color that is completely harmonious, yet still work.  I’ve also been interested in creating a stark contrast between intensities of different makeup elements within the same look.  For example, using a very sheer, undetectable foundation, with a strong painted-on brow and bold, opaque lips. 
The Twenty Ninth: Are there a couple of wrong ways people typically apply makeup that you can enlighten us on?
Sarah: I actually read an article recently that really hit the nail on the head concerning the most common makeup faux-pas!  I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I’ll let you read it for yourself.
The Twenty Ninth: What’s the one question you’re asked most frequently?
Sarah: “What’s the best makeup brand?”  Answer:  there isn’t one!  If there was, they would have already won and beat out the other brands.  Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is selling that brand.  Different brands are good at different things.  It would make our lives easier if you could just look for one common word on packaging to link together all worthwhile products, but as with most arenas of life, it takes a bit more work than that!  To sift through all the tricky marketing and beauty writers’ hype, read user reviews!  I can easily say I’ve gained more product knowledge through reading about products than through all the trainings I received while working in Sephora (I was trained by 40 different brands in the beginning, with many reinforcing trainings thereafter.)  Whenever I would receive a brand training at Sephora, I would go and read reviews on the products they had just told me about afterwards.  It’s much easier to get reliable information from an unbiased source.  Personally, I mostly prefer user reviews to beauty bloggers and writers when it comes to picking products, in general.  ( is a great place to find reviews!)  People whose job it is to write about the beauty industry get more money and attention saying something is amazingly wonderful or astonishingly horrible than saying something is mediocre.  Mediocrity doesn’t create interest and generate increased readership.  Regular people, however, have no problem giving a product the mediocre label it may well deserve.  I’d often rather read the opinion of 122 “uneducated” voices with a discerning eye than hearing only one “educated” voice who may or may not have ulterior motives.  Beauty bloggers can be great resources; you just need to take their endorsements and rejections with a grain of salt.  Much of life is not as extreme as entertainment sources would like it to be. 
The Twenty Ninth: That being said, what are some of your favorite brands?
Sarah: Being mostly experienced in the high-end consumer part of the industry, I’d say MAKE UP FOR EVER, NARS, Dior, Laura Mercier, Yves Saint Laurent, Guerlain, and Givenchy, from my experience.  There are many more great lines that I haven’t had the pleasure of getting to know in detail, both in high-end consumer (Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Bobbi Brown) and great pro-brands less visible to the public eye (Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Face Atelier, Graftobian, Cinema Secrets, Inglot, etc.).
The Twenty Ninth: What 1 makeup piece should be a person’s “investment” piece?
Sarah: Foundation!  You can’t fudge a good foundation.  Making a product that effectively mimics skin in color and texture is not easy.  Bad foundation is the #1 most offensive makeup piece to the general public, whether they know that was what created the adverse reaction or not.  Poor formula, especially when paired with poor color selection and application, can often lead to the general makeup descriptors of “cakey”, “orange”, “mask-like”, “unnatural”, etc.  With pretty much all other makeup pieces, you can definitely make it work with drugstore products for your every day makeup.  Some excellent foundations I like that work for most people are MAKE UP FOR EVER Face & Body makeup (sheer, lightweight, and great for all, but this will especially be the best friend of fair/freckled women!), Dior Nude Skin foundation, MAKE UP FOR EVER HD foundation (more coverage than the Face & Body), and NARS Sheer Glow or Sheer Matte foundation.  (Disclaimer: this is not a comprehensive list!  There are many more all-inclusive, beautiful foundations with which I have less experience.)
The Twenty Ninth: Which resources would you recommend to help people make sense of the cosmetic industry? 
Sarah: For (mostly) educated reviews on a wide array of brands, Sephora is a great resource.  For reviews on all brands, try Makeup Alley (but be careful, the quality of the reviews on this site can be a bit lower than Sephora’s).  To make sense of all the rumors and myths you hear about the beauty industry (ex. Parabens are going to give you cancer and kill you, horse shampoo makes your hair grow longer, etc.), check out The Beauty Brains.  They’re a group of scientists who make a variety of cosmetic products.  They know the ins and outs of how products and ingredients actually work from a factual level – no hype here!

Sarah, thanks for taking the time to share your expertise with us! Wish you all the best as you makeup your way to the top!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Makeup School with Sarah, Part 1

Remember Sarah, our Girl Friday from a few weeks ago?

Sarah just received her diploma from the MAKE UP FOR EVER Academy in New York City. She's an extremely talented makeup artist, and I asked if she'd be willing to share some of her tips & tricks with us here on The Twenty Ninth. Below, Sarah tells us more about her history in the makeup field, as well as a few of the things she's learned as an artist over the years. Tomorrow we'll get more into the practicals!

All photos are courtesy of Sarah, and showcase skills she learned while at school. For more pictures of her work, check out her Instagram!

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The Twenty Ninth: When did you know you wanted to become a makeup artist?
Sarah: I think part of me knew it since high school.  I remember saying aloud at one point, “Man, if I could just be a makeup artist for the rest of my life, that’d be so cool!”  But I only ended up getting into it by sort of by accident.  I was out of a job, ended up applying to be a makeup artist at Sephora, and got hired!  That was the beginning, and I loved it from there.  
The Twenty Ninth: Did you go to school/training for your profession?
Sarah: I just finished attending the MAKE UP FOR EVER Academy in NYC and I loved it!  I think it’s the best choice for a makeup school, at least on the East Coast, maybe in the States as a whole.  I don’t think going to makeup school is essential to becoming a successful makeup artist, but it definitely helps!  And I’m so appreciative of everything I learned there.

The Twenty Ninth: What kinds of clients do you typically have?
Sarah: I’ve done makeup for a lot of brides.  Occasionally I do makeup for local celebrities (Nycci Nellis, Sarah Frasier) and politicians (Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Laura Ingraham).  That was the sort of work I was doing in Washington DC (and will continue to do!), but it’ll be interesting to see what sort of jobs fill my time now that I’m freelancing in NYC as well. 
The Twenty Ninth: What's your favorite type of event or client to work for?
Sarah: So far, I’ve really liked doing bridal makeup.  I like establishing the connection between a woman’s makeup and her personality, which is especially important on a wedding day!  I’ve also gotten some of the most flattering feedback from my work in bridal.  “I’ve never felt more beautiful in my whole life!”  “This is what I’ve always dreamed of!”  There aren’t many jobs where you hear that kind of thing at the end of a project!  It’s nice.   In NYC, I’ll be excited to experiment with all different sorts of makeup jobs and clients, as there are so many thriving industries here!  

The Twenty Ninth: What are you currently learning/experimenting with?
Sarah: At the MAKE UP FOR EVER Academy, we just finished learning body painting.  It was interesting going from learning how to be a better makeup artist to learning to be a painter, and on a live canvas at that!  It’ll be cool to see how such different expressions of the same craft will inform & strengthen each other. 
The Twenty Ninth: What's an important lesson/work skill you've learned in doing this over the past couple of years?
Sarah: I’d have a hard time limiting it to just one, so I’ll list a couple!  One is that I’ve learned to work quickly.  Naturally, I enjoy working slowly – to take my time and just have fun in the process.  There are no real makeup jobs where they will ask you to work more slowly.  Quickness & efficiency are always better!  It’s good to learn how to budget the time you have and recover quickly from unexpected obstacles.  Another is to give importance to every experience you come across relating to your field.  Every job you have matters.  Every person you meet while working or networking matters.  Every makeup tip or lesson you receive matters.  Not all of these things will pan out to benefit you, but you can’t predict which ones will benefit you and which ones won’t!  That’s only something you discover with time and initial pursuit of those resources.  Plus, making a general practice of treating the people you encounter with value will get you far in your relationships and reputation.  One more is that you are not just a makeup artist, you are a businessperson.  It’s not about just making amazing art.  There are lots of logistics that need to be skillfully managed to even get you to the place of being able to do that!  Learning to develop great rapport with people.  Learning how to network.  Maintaining quick and effective communication.  Managing expectations.  Setting up a business model and business goals.  Branding your business.  Accept that you are also a businessperson in addition to an artist, and learn to become a great one!  It’s crucial to your success as an artist.
The Twenty Ninth: How does being a makeup artist compare with being a paint & canvas artist?
Sarah: I’d say the biggest difference is that a painter’s canvas is static and predictable, while a makeup artist’s canvas is ever-changing and unpredictable.  A painter can usually count on their canvas reacting the same way with their tools & materials every time, I would think.  A makeup artist’s materials react differently on every canvas, depending on the person’s skin.  You can’t tell how they will react until you try using them.  Some makeup products will react oppositely on one face or another.  Also, a makeup artist’s canvas interferes with their art (mostly unintentionally!)  Eating, drinking, blowing noses, changing clothes, crying – all of these natural actions in your client’s life will affect the makeup you’ve applied to their face.  In that sense it’s more difficult, but in another sense I think it’s very rewarding!  Creating art that someone wears to reflect their personality and preferences is a very personal experience.  Not only is it an intimate reflection of the person because it changes the way they perceive themselves and others perceive them, but also because they must be present for the entire time the art piece is being created!  Because of this, they can give feedback throughout the process to help create the desired outcome.
The Twenty Ninth: Any advice for people interested in a career in makeup artistry?
Sarah: You need to learn from MANY different sources and come up with your own opinions about what’s best.  No one artist, brand or school can tell you everything you need to know about makeup.  They all have their “spiel”, their philosophy they want to be known for.  But if you only follow the philosophy of one source, you’ll be seriously lacking in your knowledge.  The best way to improve your technique (beyond knowledge) is PRACTICE!  Your technique and execution will only improve as they’re put to the test every day.  Practice on all sorts of different people.  You want to become excellent at doing makeup for all ages, skin tones and face types, not just the ones you prefer or that match you. 

Join us for Part 2, tomorrow!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tees 101: My Picks for Best Tees

via Pinterest
The time has come to go forth and FIND that perfect tee!

It's probably going to be a trial-and-error process. Finding a favorite t-shirt, one that you will keep and love and wear for all eternity, is a deeply spiritual experience -- second only to finding your spouse, and also maybe having a kid.

In the end, it really does come down to your specific budget & lifestyle, as well as your preferences for colors, styles, textures, and quality.

Here are my recommendations for where to start, at every price point:

via Madewell
High Quality // $$$$: J.Crew, Madewell, Gap
The colors, fabric softness, and garment quality speak for themselves! These are good places to stock up on tees you'll wear all the time, for years to come.

- Don't pill as easily
- Come in a variety of fabric thicknesses
- Gorgeous colors
- Available in every neckline & style

via Target
Middle Quality // $$-$$$: Old Navy, Target, Urban Outfitters
I particularly love to get v-neck tees at these three places -- the necklines are just the right height (not too high/low), and typically very affordable.

- Good for basics for the more budget-conscious
- Old Navy pills some, Target not as much
- Urban Outfitters has unique designs and slouchier fits
- Available in many necklines & styles, but can be limited in color choice

via H&M
Middle-Lower Quality // $$: Forever 21, H&M
For those times when you need something cute, cheap, and fun -- fast. These are great places to look for prints and graphic tees.

- Great for trendier items that only need to last a season or two
- Great if you're looking for more unique styles (banded hemlines, crazy necklines & sleeves)
- Items will probably only last a few seasons, so keep that in mind as you shop

What's your favorite tee and where did you find it? Leave a comment and let us know!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tees 101: Accessorizing

via Wit & Delight
The last part of Kari's email to me about tees was this:
"If you... could also address making a T-shirt look chic with accessories (rather than layers/other clothing), that'd be excellent too!"
My immediate inclination is to layer stuff up to make it interesting, but I like what Kari is asking here... rather than depending on other pieces of clothing to make a tee special, how can we draw attention to the simplicity and versatility of a tee through accessories alone?

I would love to hear others' ideas on this, since I'm still trying to get the hang of simple accessorizing! Link up to a favorite Pinterest inspiration photo in the comments, or leave me a note about your favorite way to accessorize a tee. In the meantime, here's what I came up with:

Statement Jewelry: Go big or go home! Bib necklaces, chunky cuff bracelets, and intricate chandelier earrings work well against an empty t-shirt canvas, and allow you to show some personality.

Layered Jewelry: I'm thinking multiple charm/pendant necklaces or an arm-full of bangles or beaded bracelets and a watch...

Graphic Scarf: Whether it's a larger, light scarf draped around your neck, or a smaller silk scarf tied in a knot at your throat, a scarf is a great way to add a special pop and some interest. 
via Pinterest
via A Cup of Jo
Bags: Crossbody bags with a pretty or unique strap, a big tote with a graphic print or picture on it, or a beautiful leather bag with awesome hardware can dress a tee up or make it look artsy, instantly.

Belts: If you're into tucking your tee in and showing off a belt, this accessory can have the same personality-boosting effect as a necklace.

Hats: Baseball cap to floppy straw hat... it's all about the look you're going for. Headbands and headwraps are another great option!

Shoes: Don't take for granted to affect your footwear can have on your simple tee & jeans outfit. Heels or wedges (or even flats!) can take a tee from lounging on the couch to out-and-about glamorous. Since it's spring, try a colorful pair of espadrilles!

What's your favorite way to dress up a basic tee?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tees 101: Sleeve Lengths

Have you ever noticed how different t-shirt sleeve lengths can either make your arms look great or look... well... large?

Growing up during the world's "baby tee" craze, I wore tiny, tight short sleeve shirts without a second thought, like everyone else. But as I got older and my arms filled out and were no longer preteen spaghetti arms (those were the days), I started to realize that the length of my tee sleeves mattered.

Lauren Conrad only confirmed this for me in her book, Lauren Conrad Style:

When I read this a few years ago, it finally all made sense. I had found that t-shirt sleeves that hit me just above the bicep were the most flattering, but didn't know there was an actual "style science" behind it. My arms aren't big, but tight, cropped sleeves that hit me at the shoulder made them look bigger than they were. This is not to say I shouldn't/can't ever wear other sleeve lengths (above the elbow sleeves work for me too, for example, and I can wear some cap-sleeved pieces, if the sleeves are loose), but it's always good to know your most flattering lengths, sizes, and cuts -- it makes shopping easier.

Do some experimenting yourself! Put on a short sleeve tee with slightly longer sleeves and, in front of a mirror, roll or pull the sleeves up and down until you find the length you think works best for you. It makes a difference! 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Girl Friday: Sarah P

This is my friend, Sarah!
A talented makeup artist and photographer, Sarah has long inspired me with her fashion choices and daring makeup experimentation. She sees the connection between fashion & makeup and other artistic mediums so clearly, and uses her wardrobe and talent as a way to share her passion for art. I've often seen her wearing (and pulling off brilliantly) things that I would only dream of trying.

I'm so excited to share her interview with you all -- and even more excited to inform you that Sarah will be guest posting on The Twenty Ninth in the next couple weeks, sharing makeup tips & tricks and answering frequently asked questions about makeup. Stay tuned for that soon! But for now -- here's Sarah's interview.

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The Twenty Ninth: Tell us a little bit about what you're currently doing.
Sarah: I just recently moved to NYC to attend makeup school at the MAKE UP FOR EVER Academy. I'm in the full program, covering beauty & fashion, television & film, and stage & artistic make up. It's been awesome to learn from such talented instructors and alongside people who share my passion for this craft!
TN: Describe your style in a few words or a phrase:
S: A fusion of classic/preppy with with a little bit of indie/bohemian. Theoretically, I like to draw inspiration from all fashion genres, but those are the ones that make it into my closet most often. I'm trying to really stretch my fashion sensibilities as I've recently moved to NYC and you can get away with a lot here!
TN: How has your style evolved over the years?
S: A short style history: 
  • Age 5: Received clothes as a gift for Christmas. Wailed in disappointment.  
  • Age 10: Received more clothes for Christmas: my first pair of bell-bottoms (in the peak of the bell-bottoms resurgence) and a 70's inspired shirt from my grandpa.  Couldn't be more thrilled!
  • Age 15: Entire closet dictated by the aesthetic of American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch
  • Age 20-now: A hodgepodge of lots of different styles, stores, and inspirations! I really appreciate the rich experience that results from drawing from a diverse multitude of resources and inspirations.  

TN: Any fun/embarrassing clothing mishaps or stories you want to share?
S: Ummm, my whole childhood? I was pretty much a dweeb. Glasses, braces, big headbands & scrunchies, etc… I had a long geek phase.
TN: Who are your style influences?
S: As far as an inspirational person, mostly Mary-Kate Olsen. (Don't judge.) Beyond that, I'm inspired by fashion ads & magazines! W magazine, J.Crew ads, Vogue, Free People ads, musicians, etc. Also, I've recently been very inspired by NYC street fashion.

TN: Where's your favorite place to shop?
S: I love getting things for less than you're supposed to pay for them. So for me that means shopping at thrift & consignment shops (Unique Thrift, Salvation Army & Current Boutique in DC, plus a whole host of new places in NYC!), off-price stores (TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Loehmann's, Off The Rack), and hitting the sale racks at stores with great style & higher prices (Club Monaco, Banana Republic, Free People, etc). I end up enjoying the clothes I got for a bargain the most! (i.e., a pair of leather oxfords I got for $3 at a thrift store.)
TN: How do you pick out an outfit?
S: I generally start out with either the mood of the outfit I want to wear, or think about where I'm going and what I'm doing that day, then just build from those starting points. Sometimes I'll look for one piece that inspires me, and build around that.

TN: What's your favorite thing in your closet to wear, and why?
S: Probably anything that's perfectly tailored. It just feels so RIGHT when you wear it! :-)

TN: Any shopping tips or fashion advice you'd like to share?
S: A few things:
  1. Try to challenge yourself to make different silhouettes and combos with your outfits! It's easy to get stuck in a rut of buying the same type of pieces all the time. I am the first person that's guilty of wearing the jeans-and-shirt combo too often. My most fashionable friends wear the jeans & shirt combo only on occasion, not as the foundation for every outfit. Check out The Sartorialist blog for inspiration!  
  2. Get a fashionable friend to go shopping with you! Ask them to pick out an outfit for you, try it on and see if it's something you want to try. You can also just run your fashion experiments by your friends whose style you admire.   
  3. HAVE FUN!  Fashion should feel enjoyable, not obligatory. Take risks on the things that interest you. Don't try something provocative or risky just because you think you should, wear the things you like! But don't let yourself get lazy and stop caring, either. Beauty makes life much richer!

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Can't wait to share more of Sarah's tips and photos with you all in her upcoming makeup series!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tees 101: Necklines

necklinesThe key to necklines is finding an appropriate skin-to-fabric ratio, based on your body type. Leaving the correct amount of skin exposed between the neckline and your chin can help to create a flattering balance. To find this balance, it helps to consider your shoulder width, bust size, and neck length.

We're also going to have to all just get over the fact that we need to talk about busts and bust sizes... Because they are a major factor when it comes to necklines. So get all your giggles out now.

The basic of the basic. High, rounded, and fitted around the neck.
Works Best For: Those with smaller bust lines and longer necks.
While a relaxed crew (a neckline that's almost into scoop-neck territory) or a crew neck on an oversized slouchy tee might be okay, those with larger busts will be better off picking a slight scoop neck or v-neck tee, since crew necks can tend to accentuate the bust in an unflattering way, as well as making it appear lower.

Ranges from high to deep.
Works Best For: V-necks are universally flattering, depending on neckline depth. They elongate the torso and draw attention to the face. Particularly great for those with medium-larger busts and those with fuller, rounder faces.
Treat a high v-neck similar to a crew neck: high necklines draw more (bad) attention to the middle. With deep v-necks, most of us probably need to layer it over a higher necked cami or tank in order to remain somewhat decent. If v-necks are your best fit, look for a V that's high enough to keep you comfortably covered, but low enough to create a good skin-to-fabric balance between your face and the neckline.

Scoop Neck
Ranges in depth and width; includes U-necks.
Works Best For: Just about everyone! Because this style accentuates the collarbone (a slimming, attractive feature on pretty much everyone), this is a flattering choice for many. Like v-necks, scoop necks help elongate the torso and draw attention to the face.
Beware super-low scoops and their lack of coverage. Wide scoop necks should be avoided by those with broad shoulders, as it'll make them appear wider.

Boat Neck 
A high cut but wide neckline.
Works Best For: Those with narrower shoulders and smaller busts. Can also help offset wide hips.
If you have broad shoulders, boat necks will only make them appear wider. Also, those with larger busts will run into similar issue as with crew necks.

If you have other questions about necklines, leave a comment below or email me!

All photos in this post are via J.Crew

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tees 101: Fits

Multipurpose, multifunctional, multiawesome... But what kind of tee should you wear, and when? Don't be a victim to the way your tees fit -- make them work for you!

For the purpose of simplicity, we're going to talk everyday fits and gloss over more nuanced or style-specific tees like cropped, destroyed, vintage, henleys, etc.

The Basic Tee
Your typical, run-of-the-mill, Hanes kind of deal. Baggy fit; floppy sleeves and boxy hem.
via Pinterest
When/How to Wear: With skinny jeans or slim-fitting pants, a pencil skirt, layered under a jacket or cardigan (with slim pants). The key is to balance the oversized fit of the tee with a slender fit on the bottom or over it (i.e. a jacket), so you don't look oversized all over. Stick to classic white, or plain solid colored versions of these kind of tees. Concert tees (or a tasteful graphic print) are great, too!

Avoid: Any shirt you received for participating in something. You know what I'm talking about. Those one-size fits all tees with crazy graphics & bad fonts that spell out the details of the activity you got the shirt for. Those have their nostalgic time & place, of course... Consider making them workout shirts, pajama tops, or around the house tees.

The Basic Fitted Tee
Not too big, not too small, not too loose, not too tight.
via Pinterest
When/How to Wear: With, on, on top of, underneath everything! Layered or alone, this all-around well-fitting tee can be the workhorse of your basic wardrobe. The one thing is to make sure to pick the correct size. You want a fit that makes you look your best, something you can live in, day in and day out. Don't go off the size the tag says -- consider every aspect of fit when picking out your arsenal of basic tees and go with the size that complements your body type the best, such as:

Length: Those with longer waists, be sure to go for a longer hem. Shortwaisted? Try for a hemline that hits you at the top of the hips or slightly below, to create the illusion of length. In between-waisted? You can't go wrong with a tee that hits you right at the hips (like in the picture above).

Fabric tightness: Shouldn't be too tight or too loose. A well-fitting tee should skim your body and be forgiving enough to cover over any bumps or tummy pooches.

We'll talk more about finding the perfect tee for your body type in the next few posts -- a lot of it also comes down to sleeves and necklines.


The Slouchy Tee
Fitted through the sleeves & upper torso; more and looser fabric on the bottom.
via Emerson Fry
When/How to Wear: Front-tucked into slim or well-fitting flare-legged pants. With shorts. Front-tucked into a pencil skirt. Knotted at the waist over a dress or high-waisted skirt. Try a wider neckline slouchy tee over a colorful tank or camisole. Because this type of tee is slightly more fitted, you don't have to worry as much about balance, but do keep it in mind.

Avoid: Don't pair slouchy tees untucked over swingy skirts, baggy pants or otherwise slouchy bottoms. If you tuck the tee (at least in the front, like in the picture above), you can get away with it. Tucking creates a slimmer line around your torso and prevents the "I'm wearing a sack" effect.

Slouchy tees are my personal favorite. They usually provide enough shape (both in the sleeves and the way they skim the upper torso) to help me appear slim, while being forgiving enough in the middle to hide any post-pregnancy tummy while I'm shaping up.

The Baby Tee
Usually tight fitting all over with cap sleeves.
via Shade Clothing
When/How to Wear: A baby tee will ensure clean lines and a streamlined look, making it perfect for wearing with skirts (tucked or untucked depending on length of the tee), under cardigans/jackets, or with linen cargos or other baggier pants.

Avoid: Midriff skimming hemlines. Overly tight fabric. Avoid baby tees altogether if you are more curvy -- the cap sleeves and tight nature of this style won't complement your body type.

Any questions about making a fit work for you or how to style a particular type of tee? Leave a comment or shoot me an email!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tees 101: The More You Know

via J.Crew

This email from my friend Kari was the final kick in the pants I needed to actually do a series on finding the perfect t-shirt that I'd been considering for a few months. 
Can you please find me the perfect T-shirt? What would work for a boyish frame, worn with jeans?  I like a slouchy-but-feminine look, but am open to anything. I'm saving toward a big wardrobe investment this coming summer, so price isn't a big concern.  

If you have time and could also address making this T-shirt look chic with accessories (rather than layers/other clothing), that'd be excellent too!
Tee, t-shirt, Tshirt, tee shirt.... does anyone really even know the correct name, spelling, and hyphenation for these cottony marvels of nature? For this blog series' purposes, I will be using the formal "usted" and calling them t-shirts/tees. You can call them whatever you like.

You might say a t-shirt is just a shirt -- what more is there to discuss? My 12 year old self agrees with you. But, with a little bit of styling, you'll see that a tee can be transformed from a last resort, I'm-running-to-the-store-at-midnight-and-I-hope-I-don't-see-anyone-I-know fashion choice to a staple and workhorse (or rather, a magical wardrobe unicorn) in your closet.

To be clear: I am not talking about your stash of cleverly designed Hanes Beefy T's, which, if I were to lay them out, would tell me most of your life story like a jersey scrapbook. While these have their place in your wardrobe (think washing the car, working out, or absorbent housework rag), there comes a time when they must be relegated to lazy Saturdays & pajama top stand-ins. If you're tempted to make these your everyday wear, I suggest ripping off the band-aid and just donating them all (except for maybe a few that evoke very sentimental memories) in one swift motion. Hold on to any basic white Hanes tees you may have (or your manly significant other may have)... those, as you will see, can come in handy.

Basic outline of the series:
  • Fit: Types of styles and how they're best worn
  • Necklines: An overview, and finding which cuts work best for you
  • Sleeves: An overview, and finding which cuts work best for you
  • How to accessorize a basic tee
  • Recommendations for where to find tees, at every price point
I'm excited to get started and share some t-shirt magic! If you have burning questions about tees and how to wear them (anything, really -- anything), email me and I'll include it in my posts!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Swimsuits and Where to Find Them

They're the two words that strike fear into the heart of any woman... I'm not talking about "jeans shopping" or even "bra shopping." We're talking DEFCON 1: Swimsuit shopping.

I wish it was as easy as, "Ooh, cute bikini! I'll take it!" But for the majority of us, swimsuit shopping takes grit, determination, and maybe even a few shots of tequila. Even the truest of heart and bravest of the brave can be moved to tears at the sight of themselves in nylon and lycra.

What's to be done?

Corinne asks:
"Summer is right around the corner and I am in dire need of a new suit. I am not the kind of girl who likes to walk around in a bikini but I want a new suit that is grown-up, stylish, and still cute. Any suggestions? And how do you find the right kind of suit for your body? I've been wearing swim team suits and tankinis my entire life and I need something new!"
So let's talk suits for the non-bikini wearers among us... Suits for, shall we say, the regular-shaped woman?

I plan to take this opportunity to post pretty beachy pictures, by the way.

Swimsuit options include:
- One piece: The one piece suit is coming back in a big way. Lots of cute patterns and stripes and other options are out there these days.
- Tankinis: My personal recommendation. Not only do they provide range of movement, but they also make for quick bathroom trips, am I right?
- Monokinis: I... I... Just. No.

In general when you're buying a bathing suit, the areas to be careful of are mainly the mid-section and the thighs, with consideration to the bust. The neckline you choose is a personal preference kind of thing... as long as you're not completely hanging out, a lot of necklines are fair game. Just find one you're comfortable with. I will say that if you have a bigger bust avoid large embellishments like ruffles or pleating up top, as it'll only make you look bigger. Of course, if you're smaller chested, ruffles and embellishments can be your friend!

If you have a little something in the middle you want to conceal, go for a suit with ruching in the middle. The pleats will hold you in and help with hiding. There's also the blouson suit, which will hide anything you've got, and still look stylish. If you're into the bikini look but are still concerned about your tummy, a retro high-waisted suit could work for you.

Wider thighs? Consider a suit with boy shorts or a lower leg opening. You don't want anything too long, but a little length around the leg will provide some separation between the thighs, and will provide the coverage you need (both for the thighs and the backside... you don't want your butt hanging out around the edges). A close-fitting swim skirt is another option for some thigh coverage, but personally I feel like they restrict movement and weigh you down in the water. Swim dresses with a little ruffle are a better idea if you're into the skirt idea.
via Oh Pioneer
Where does one find these suits we speak of? Here are a few places to get you started:

- ModBe / Downeast Basics (cute patterns and fairly good coverage)
- LimeRicki Swimwear (some slightly weird patterns/designs, but give it a try)
- Athleta (for a no-nonsense, more sporty-yoga look)
- Gap / Old Navy / Target (not for everyone, but they occasionally will have some options)
- Macy's (they have some good tankini options this year)
- J.Crew (particularly if you're looking for a cute patterned one-piece)
- Shade Clothing (more basics, both in patterns & styles)
- Lands End (if you're looking for a very basic black or navy suit that covers everything)

If you have a favorite place to shop for bathing suits, or any suit-shopping tips you'd like to share PLEASE DO!! I'd love to hear more options. We all need to stick together and help each other out on this one, am I right?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Girl Friday: Courtney

This is Courtney!
My friend Erin nominated Courtney for Girl Friday, and it's not hard to see why! Get to know Courtney better via her interview below!

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The Twenty Ninth: Tell us a little bit about what you're currently doing.
Courtney: I taught seventh grade social studies for five years in New England. This past summer I made a quick and unexpected career change to work on the Romney campaign. Best experience ever, but due to the way things turned out in November and the sequestration on the Hill, things did not turn out as planned. I am now managing a clothing store at the regional mall in the DC area. We'll see what the future holds!
TN: Describe your style in a few words or a phrase:
C: Preppy with a bit of a modern edge.
TN: How has your style evolved over the years?
C: I have become more comfortable with myself and have learned to accept that there are certain styles that can not be done with my 5'11'' height and DDD chest. Also, I've learned to shop my size! No one else is going to know what the tag says on the inside of your clothing, but they will notice if you are trying to pour yourself into something that is just too small. Plus, you end up looking bigger when you wear something too small for you than if you just wore your true size.
TN: Any fun/embarrassing clothing mishaps or stories you want to share?
C: I mean pretty much all of my fashion choices from the age of 9 to 14 shouldn't be allowed to see the light of day... And that's all we need to say about that.

TN: Who are your style influences?
C: Honestly I love looking at how 'normal' people dress. Celebrities are great, but they often have stylists and unlimited budgets -- not reality for us peasants. My best friend has amazing style -- a little bit more glam than I am -- and we definitely push each other to be more stylish, but also to take risks (she's in the pictures with me when I'm wearing the gold dress and the one with the pink dress). Also, I have a cousin (the one next to me in the picture where we are sitting on a rock ledge) who accessories her outfits beautifully and inspired me to collect a huge jewelry collection. Putting on a gorg necklace is the easiest way to elevate a jeans and T-shirt outfit into something fabulous.
TN: Where's your favorite place to shop?
C: Nordstrom Rack is my favorite place. I've learned that it's better to buy quality over quantity (especially with shoes!). The Rack allows me to do that on a teacher/ campaign worker budget. For fun pieces that may go out of style in a season or two, I always head to Forever 21 or Old Navy. Also, I can't forget about Ann Taylor! It is my go-to for suiting and dresses.
TN: How do you pick out an outfit?
C: This sounds really obvious, but I usually pick an outfit based on the weather. Don't be the stupid looking girl in a mini-skirt in the winter. Once the weather factor is out of the way, I shop based on the occasion (another duh!). It's important to take into account what you are doing during the day. When I was on the campaign, I was often up at 6 AM and not in bed until 12 AM. My outfits had to be functional, modest, easy to move in during the day, but also be able to transport easily to a dressy event at night. It takes some thought, but if you have a few key outfits to 'run to', you can not fail (and keep a pair of heels in your tote bag!). Don't forget your own comfort! The days you feel 'fat' are when you break out the empire waist dresses, and some days you feel hot, which is the time to try things you're normally afraid to wear. Don't forget that if you act like you own your outfit, people will generally accept that it's fabulous.

TN: Which part of your look have you experimented with recently?
C: My hair -- I usually keep it shorter than shoulder length, but recently I've been growing it out. And secretly I've always wanted a pixie cut. #conflicted
TN: What's your favorite thing in your closet to wear, and why?
C: Leggings and maxi dresses. I have a pair of black leggings with back pockets and seaming, and they look like ponte pants = people think I'm wearing pants and I feel like I'm wearing pajamas. Winning. I have been stopped several times while wearing a maxi dress and been told I "look so glam." Meanwhile I feel like I'm wearing yoga pants and a hoodie. Another huge win in my book.
TN: Is there an article of clothing or type of shoes you wouldn't be caught dead in?
C: CROCS. Never, ever, ever acceptable in any circumstance. Also, a Vera Bradley purse. I used to love them, but now realize that a quilt is best left on the bed.
TN: Do you have a favorite skincare or makeup product, or a favorite perfume?
C: Flowerbomb by Viktor Rolf is an amazing perfume! False eyelashes for events are a must. I am a make-up junky. The ladies at my local Sephora know me well... #shame
TN: Any shopping tips or fashion advice you'd like to share?
C: Dress for your body/ size! Most women cannot wear everything -- don't try to. Buy quality when shopping for long-term items, splurge on handbags -- they really are an investment. More ideas can be found on my Pinterest!
*   *   *   *   *

I love your confidence and advice, Courtney! (Also, your description of Vera Bradley bags was brilliant...) Thanks for interviewing.

Know someone who should be featured on The 29th? Interested in being interviewed yourself? Drop me a line: casey [at] thetwentyninth [dot] com. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Styling Saddle Shoes

Current/Elliot via Pinterest
Anyone else grow up wearing saddle shoes from Buster Brown? I had pairs in both black & white AND in pink & white.

Oxfords & saddle shoes are making a comeback in a big way, and while they're a very classic style, they can be difficult to integrate into a modern style without turning an outfit blatantly 1950's vintage and even costume-y.

My friend Erin is considering getting saddle shoes from ModCloth and writes:

"I think these little style of shoes are so cute by themselves but I'm hesitant to get them because I'm not sure how I would ever wear it. Any thoughts?"
via ModCloth

Those of us with awesome retro-vintage style could easily just throw these on with any outfit and make it work. But what about someone with a more modern style? Avoiding cutesy styling is key, so just say no to sweet collars, lots of ruffles, swingy skirts and old-fashioned/vintage cuts & lengths (unless of course that's just the look you're going for!).

Saddle shoes and two-tone oxfords are definitely statement pieces, since the style is so iconic and the color contrast is stark. As with any statement piece, the general idea/rule is to keep the rest of your outfit simple and streamlined, especially if you're going for a more modern styling.

Here are a few examples of how to make saddle shoes work:

via Pinterest // via Happy, Honey & Lark
- The styling here is more masculine, which works well with the oxford-style shoe.
- Leather pants/dark jeans are modern and sleek, providing contrast for a potentially cutesy shoes.
- The color-blocking in both the scarf and the checkered button down carry the black & white color-blocking of the shoes and makes the outfit look streamlined, consistent, and clean.

via Pinterest   //   via Pinterest
- The simple color palette of both outfits neutralizes the pop of the shoes.
- A worn-in, grunge style provides extra contrast and also helps neutralize the "dapper-ness." Specifically, the graphic tee & cut-off shorts and the ripped sweatshirt all contrast the potential "cutesy" factor and update an icon. 

Simple & Slightly Sweet:
via The Drifter & The Gypsy
- Modern colors and a simple jeans + blouse combo allow the shoes to be a statement piece.
- The polka dots hint at a retro style without screaming it, and provide a neutralizing interest point for the color-blocked shoes.
- If you do want to go a little more old school, choose just one or two pieces that speak to the retro factor, like a sweet dress, a collared shirt, a floral or vintage pattern, etc. Limiting the vintage pieces will help you avoid the costume effect. 

via Pinterest
- The preppy stripes provide a style contrast and dumb down the retro feel.
- Simple black pants and a more neutral colored shoe help keep things streamlined and modern. 
- Drinking coffee while wearing saddle shoes is always a good idea. 

Anyone else have ideas for wearing saddle shoes? Have a favorite way to style them? Share!