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Dec 16 2011

My Giant Adult-Sized Onesie

By at 11:22 am

The 100th episode party last night for The Big Bang Theory was big and full of bang, held at the Science Center in downtown Los Angeles. The Barenaked Ladies performed, and we cut into giant cakes in the shape of the number 100 (the cake was, alas, not vegan, so I did not eat cake for the cameras). In any event, we got to give thanks and appreciation to our amazing crew and staff and it was an intense but lovely evening.

For me, though, the personal thrill (besides seeing Chuck Lorre and Simon Helberg each play a song on stage with The Barenaked Ladies on stage – what!?) was my outfit. You see, I have taken on the awesome challenge of trying to conform to some standards of tznius (religious modesty), in this incarnation as an actor. Matter of fact, I did an entire set of posts about this entitled “Operation Hot and Holy” around Emmy time last year. The rules are simple enough: cover to the knee, cover the arms, no plunging necklines, no “unnatural cleavage” (meaning, if what God gave me is in evidence, more power to me, but no pushing up, no padding, no exaggerating allowed, as it were).

The stylist I used was recommended to me by the make-up/hair woman who I think it the most un-Hollywood make-up/hair person ever. This is a good thing, since I don’t like Hollywood people who tell me I look “aMAzing” when it’s clear that I don’t, etc. So the stylist, as it turns out, is a very un-Hollywood person as well. Yay!

Said stylist (thestyleden.com is her blog) is low-key, very hip, very not obnoxious, and very adorable. She also is straight-forward and funky, as well as reasonably priced. But the best part is the following (hang on to your kippahs and sheitels (wigs), Orthodox world): she is working with me on the tznius (modesty) thing. I can’t say she is overjoyed about it, but here’s how last night worked as a great example.

We chose a sweet Alice + Olivia dress that had teeny tiny adorable little cap sleeves. Not gonna work for mama, I told her. She suggested a blazer. That felt too “covered up.” I proposed a solution: frum shell.

What’s a frum shell, you ask? Picture a giant adult-size onesie (they also come without the snap crotch but who doesn’t want a snap crotch?!) in any color of the rainbow you want. They even come with different textures, sparkles, bling…They are sometimes 3/4 sleeve, I prefer the long sleeve.

When I explained the frum shell to the stylist over email, she wasn’t sure…She kept asking about the material. I told her it’s tight and shiny and black, her response was “OMG you just made me so happy when you said that!!” because she was worried that I would show up in black saggy, baggy, long john cotton thermals under my gorgeous dress. When I told her they come in every color, she laughed and said,  “Then in every color of the rainbow you shall have them!” I know, you’re loving her, too, right!?

We did one more fitting for me to try on the dress with the frum shell. The stylist eyed me. She looked skeptical. She paced around me, hands to her chin. She eyed the place where the neckline of the dress met the neckline of the frum shell. A little was poking out. She said if I wear my hair down so it covers the neckline, I have her blessing. Amen!

I love that I got to wear a frum shell under this dress to the party. I love that the frum shell allows one to wear dresses that are hip and happening without showing one’s arms if you don’t want to. I love that the party was held in a hangar-size room that was impossible for heaters to warm up; people were literally shivering and having trouble keeping their lips from chattering while I was happy as a clam, arms covered, cozy, and allowing the glory of my inner soul to shine through. Okay, alright, that was a bit of religious hyperbole, but you get the idea.

Possibly the most exciting thing about my new BFF/stylist is that she already has a designer picked out who will design me tznius dresses for the awards shows I will attending this season. Those will include the SAG awards (our show was nominated for Best Ensemble which means if we win, I get to go up on stage!), maybe The People’s Choice, and – who knows? – maybe the Emmys.

I know you’re all wondering if she’s Jewish, this stylist I am crushing on. Truth be told, she and I haven’t discussed it and I don’t know that we need to. All I know is she’s from Houston and her last name is Kahn, a name associated with the high priests of Judaism since the Torah. I know better than to make more of this than I ought to, but suffice it to say, she had me at “OMG.”

Read up on Mayim’s fashion adventures, keeping it hot and holy.

Sep 15 2011

Fashion and Moms: Can They Go Together?

By at 11:45 am

At least Stephanie's diaper bag is cute.

As I mentioned, I was in Dallas for a bar and bat mitzvah this past weekend. Besides comparing the ceremonies and parties of now to those of then (as in, 20 years ago, when I was 13), I realized something about traveling with a toddler. It seems that the smaller the person, the more you need to bring for them.

I have traveled around seven countries of Europe twice with less baggage than I needed for 48 hours in Texas. Forget not checking a bag. For my first experience with staying in a hotel with my daughter, I packed enough changes of clothes to keep her outfitted for a week. But without ready access to a washing machine and her tendency to wear half of what she tries to eat, what else could I do? I also brought enough healthy foods (see my post about vacay eating) to feed several adults. Crazy? Perhaps. But there was no way I was chancing having to pay mini bar prices.

This all really came to mind after my mother-in-law twice pointed out that I had to schlep a diaper bag instead of delicately carrying something more fashionable. Unfortunately my dressy bag – a Lauren Merkin clutch – wouldn’t be able to accommodate several size 4 Pampers, a wipes case, several bags of various Gerber Graduates, a snack cup of peanut butter Ritz Bits, a jacket in case my daughter got cold, tissues, two water cups, two toddler books, and my wallet.

In my defense, my “diaper bag” is actually a snazzy Lululemon Athletica bag that just so happens to have all the right compartments in all the right sizes for toting all of my 21-month-old’s assorted items. The bag is a lifesaver and I love it, plus it’s black so it’s subdued and goes with everything – including the dresses I wore to temple and to the party. So, I think I deserve a slice of slack for forgoing a posh purse.

In retrospect, it’s not easy getting dressed up with a toddler around, period. At the temple, I laughed at the image of myself sitting on the lobby floor in my Ann Taylor dress and high-heeled pumps while keeping Ellie from disturbing the goings-on. I mean, there was Play-Doh involved. And markers. I was dodging spilled food and milk and praying the rubber soles on her gold mary janes wouldn’t somehow snag my pantyhose mid-Haftarah.

My ability to be fashionable has slowly increased as my daughter has grown. At first, the constant spit-up prohibited any kind of nice shirt or dress, and her habit of grabbing dangly earrings and necklaces precluded wearing those. Once she was starting to be mobile, I stopped wearing dresses and skirts because I spent most of my time cross-legged on the floor with her. Slowly, I have added jewelry back into the mix, and the occasional nicer ensemble, but I can see where moms get a bad rap for the Mom Look.

How do you maintain your style while adapting to the necessities of motherhood?

Check out our list of the most stylish Jewish moms and our interview with Piper Weiss, author of the book My Mom, the Style Icon.

Aug 30 2011

Bad (Jewish) Hair Day

By at 2:25 pm

I have not met a woman that doesn’t have a bad hair day. There are different hair types that have degrees of bad hair day, and those who are born with the traditional Jewish curly hair are some of those who have the hardest time keeping their tresses in order.

“Jewish” hair is usually dark kinky hair that can be frizzy. It takes a lot of product and finesse to get it to look and feel the way the person would like.

Here are some tips on what to do those days where spending time on your hair is not going to happen:

It perplexes me why more women don’t know the value and greatness of a single braid down the back, but get to know it. It can look so chic, yet simple. Step it up with beautiful fun bobby pins, like the Happy-Go-Lucky Bobby Set. For a more sporty look put on a great non-slip headband like the Woven Pink Argyle. Use them to hold back loose hairs, or just to dress up your hair.

For those of you looking for something to cover a little more, try a headbandana. What’s a headbandana, you ask? It’s like a scarf you tie behind your hair, but it’s already made into a headband so you don’t have to tie it at all. My mother would call this a schmata (Urban Dictionary: noun – unfashionable piece of clothing; something you should not be caught dead wearing), but if she does, I’d say it’s a chic one. My favorite ones are the Cappuccino by Danielle Loporto.

There are times when you just need to get your hair out of your face and away with a bun or chignon. I have tried these fantastic Goody Spin Pins. Two of them keeps your bun staying up all day long. For those of you who are skeptical, so was I, but they actually do work! Mix it up and use these with pretty bobby pins, and again you’re accessorizing your plain bun.

Something I tried recently that surprised me is dry shampoo. It certainly doesn’t clean your hair, but it does remove the oil if you need. I like the Suave Dry Shampoo because it works and it’s under $4. Win-win!

Who said a bad hair day had to look bad?

May 16 2011

Interviews with Interesting Jews: Piper Weiss

By at 4:32 pm

Growing up, the word “stylish” probably never popped into your head when thinking about your mother. But if you’re a mom now, you’re well aware that even if your kids don’t think so, you’re just as fashionable as those waify models and actresses on TV. Piper Weiss is the author of My Mom, the Style Icon, a blog-cum-book that allows people to send in old photographs of their moms boasting some serious fashion sense. We talked to her about Mom Jeans, shoulder pads, and much more.

How much was your own mom an inspiration for the blog and book?

100 percent. It was her old photo album from the 60s that inspired the blog. I found them a couple of years ago and starting asking her for the backstories because the pictures were so incredible. I wanted to share with my friends so I scanned them in at my parents’ house and uploaded to a blog. I was hoping to encourage my friend’s submissions but I didn’t expect to get photos of moms from around the world.

Moms and fashion haven’t always gone hand-in-hand, as seen with the everlasting fashion label “mom jeans.” Why do you think moms have gotten a bad rap in the fashion world? Does My Mom, the Style Icon aim to change that?

Absolutely. Looking back at our mothers, we realize just how ahead of their time they were. Only two years ago, when I started the site, mom jeans were ubiquitous in Brooklyn. Here we were wearing the same pants we reduced as uncool the first time around. On another level, it’s a chance to understand your mother as a person where once you only saw her as someone who’s life was to function on your behalf. I think that’s where the whole ridicule of mom jeans came: their style didn’t pertain to us so we wrote it off as “lame”.

Do you plan on having kids, and has doing this project changed your concept of what a mother is?

I don’t have kids, but this project has definitely changed the way I think about the course of a life in general. How many turns it takes whether it’s in style or in love, work, health. Old photos (especially prom, wedding, first love pictures) really capture moments in people’s lives that they think at the time are ‘the’ moment, when in fact it’s an ever-evolving thing. At the same time, one photo can be passed down and re-contextualized by another generation, so it’s crazy to think how far a moment can stretch.

Piper's mom looking awesome in Israel.

What’s your favorite decade, style-wise?

Definitely the 70s. They had taken the inventive architecture of the dresses of earlier decades and made it a little more casual, a little more rock n’ roll, a little more diversified in influence. The women’s movement had to have been a factor.

Have you gotten any submissions of moms dressed up for synagogue?

I have not but I’d love to see some. I remember growing up, getting dressed on Yom Kippur when the entire Jewish population of NYC took to the streets to walk to temple, was a big deal. Lots of nylons, shoulder-pads and high heels, which seemed like a real commitment to fashion in light of the hike involved.

Was your mom a style icon? Send in your favorite pictures to Piper’s blog and buy the book here.

And be sure to check out Kveller’s stellar guide to the most stylish Jewish moms!

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