My Uncommon Love of Socks

Posted: September 29th, 2014 by Paula

Good-bye Summer! Take your fog and smog and humidity and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.

Hello Fall. Bring me your sweaters, pumpkin lattes, candy corn and yarn-y scarves and swaddle me in warmth as I binge-watch House of Cards. Lay down that blanket of red and yellow leaves to soften my steps into the cold crush of the holidays. Clean my palate between the extremes of Summer and Winter.

Me in my Solemate socks from UncommonGoods. Jeans: Rag & Bone. Sweatshirt: Vintage, from local San Francisco shop The General Store.

Me in my Solemate mismatched socks from UncommonGoods. Jeans: Rag & Bone. Sweatshirt: Vintage, from local San Francisco Outer Sunset shop The General Store.

Enter the sock, my favorite fall fashion accessory and the best way to soften any steps. They’re critical as we transition from Birkenstocks to boots, and for protecting our bare feet from the cold floors inside.

A fantastic place to buy warm, fun and fashionable socks is UncommonGoods. It may not seem like the most obvious place to purchase apparel: For years I’ve bought pillows and plates and paper weights — whimsical and useful items for my home and office. But while cruising for coasters, I detoured over to Jewelry & Accessories and made the happy discovery.

As gifts, socks always have had that stigma — especially when we were kids and you ripped open that puffy present to find a six-pack of tube socks inside.

This was always met a fallen heart and the most insincere “thanks” I could muster.

Uncommongoods men's "Shoe Socks" for a "meeting with the TV" or run around the house!

Uncommongoods men’s “Shoe Socks” for a “meeting with the TV” or run around the house!

But nowadays, like everything else, socks offer style real estate, and are often on full display peeking out of ankle-grazing cropped jeans, or protecting our toes in chunky sandals  (yes, socks and sandals are a thing.) So the humble sock, low down on the body and apparel priority list, affect our looks higher up – and best of all, affect our moods. Check out the socks above – I love my mismatched pair, such a great idea as we all have a draw full of orphans. My husband cracked up when I presented him with his business-casual loafer and sneaker shoe-socks. Since we don’t wear shoes in the house, these get a pass.

UncommonGoods also sells a full array of baby and kids’ socks, as well as other great gifts which can be found here. I happen to love the Shark Socks at left, which thankfully come in adult sizes too. It’s like your whole foot is being swallowed by jaws. Scary, perhaps, but scary fun.

So as Fall gives ways to the Pauladays (my birthday is 2 days after Christmas, thus the moniker), I can always use some *hint* socks. And the added bonus? They aren’t scary expensive. For more gift ideas for me and other wives, moms, sisters and friends, click here. And for dads, lads and the occasional cad, go here for fun and functional things sure to score major points.

PS: We’re STILL working on our new blog redesign, which has taken way longer than we anticipated. In a way, it’s been a good thing, as sometimes it’s nice to take time off, step away, and come back renewed and fresh. In any event, please excuse the messy design and our much longer than anticipated absence. We are hoping to be back up on our regular schedule in a few weeks. Thanks for your patience. We miss all of you! xo

Warby Parker’s Beacon Until Dawn

Posted: July 24th, 2014 by Jennifer

beacon-imageYoung, blithe and budgeted marked our time spent in our teens and twenties. We bargain hunted seaside boardwalks, thrift stores and the mall for treasured items that announced “I am.” The cheaper and more lurid the better to underscore and over-share our nonchalance.

Wistful are the days of youth. But perspective is a benefit of aging to be appreciated.

As time passes, budgets grow if the plan goes as planned. Our “I am’s” become more expensive, shouting our sense of arrival. I am here and I am succeeding.

We gain more perspective as birthdays are celebrated: Your own, your mom’s, your child’s, your spouse’s, your friend’s, your pet’s.

The I want more of our youth is replaced by I want to do more for others. In the age of mass consumerism and fast fashion, no longer are the deals on the boardwalk or in the malls attractive. To give back is the new consumerism; consignment, Vivienne Westwood and Warby Parker the new models.

The new I wants are the limited-edition Beacon Collection from Warby Parker. For every pair of Warby Parker glasses bought, one is given to a community in need.

The images from this collection shown above portray today’s youth living our now long ago lives from dusk ’til dawn, full of spontaneity and disregard, with a better perspective, as perched in front of their eyes are frames from a company that know the value of altruism. This generation likes the way this new consumerism looks, especially on their faces.

So what if our days are spent between the non-sexy hours of 6am until 6pm making the world go round. Let’s leave the night shift to the ones with the stamina to keep this ship sailing.

Pool Time, warbyparker.com4:47pm – Pool time with the kids and Ingram Sunglasses from the Beacon Collection.

Paula_Garret 11:22 am – Clown-sized Garrett readers custom made by Paula. All the better to read Betty Crocker.

Our Facelift Has Taken A Face-Plant

Posted: July 1st, 2014 by Paula

blankstareblink faceliftBlank Stare, blink has gone under the knife for a little digital nip/tuck. The procedure is taking longer than we anticipated, and recovery is going to be a bitch.

While we undergo more high-tech surgeries and wait for our binary wounds to heal, please sit tight. We hope to be back with our new face within the next few weeks, and be a better version of ourselves.

Gotta get back in bed. Doctor’s orders.

We miss you all.

Isn’t middle-age grand? Pass the Vicodin, please.

xo

A Short Story About Shorts

Posted: June 11th, 2014 by Paula

While Jslow went to Bermuda(s) to tackle the summer heat, I went the opposite route during last weekend’s mini heat-wave: I stayed home and played shortstop.

Shorts Paula blankstareblink1

My sunny Sunday outfit: Eyebobs readers, James Perse sweatshirt, Each X Other engineer jeans cut into shorts, Steven Alan plaid shirt tied around waist, Chanel sneakers.

I’d just suffered through eight straight days of fog that buried the western half of the city in gloomy grey gunk, and my whole being ached for sun. Apparently, this outer San Francisco phenomenon is called “Junuary” — you know, January in June, and it really threw me for a loop.

And so I made every effort to be outside and soak up the warmth: I read the Sunday Times on the front lawn, busted out the Weedwacker™ and  whacked weeds, walked down one side of the hill to the local market for nothing in particular, and then down the other side to Walgreens for something very particular — Colonoscopy prep medicine — and then played tennis after dinner. And I did it all in shorts.

Like Jslow, I too have grown increasingly bummed about the state of my legs. As I noted here, they are the last to go – but go they do. And mine, although slim, feature sagging skin, vericose veins and cellulite — all the usual suspects. But screw it. I took my offenders out in the broad daylight. And you know what? Nothing bad happened. We didn’t get thrown in fashion jail. And I was comfortable.

So the next time it’s hot out, cut that sun off at the knees, or higher, and tell any haters to stick it where the sun don’t shine. And throw some shade.

cool shorts blankstareblinkI. P.A.R.O.S.H. ‘Fulcot’ print shorts, Farfetch. 2. Chino Shorts, Uniqlo. 3. Demin shorts in dark von wash, J.Crew. 4. Leather shorts, Madewell. 5. Pink floral shorts, J.Crew. 6. Patch of Sunlight shorts, Modcloth. 7. Ostwald Helgason jacquard high-waisted shorts, The Corner. 8. Milly neon stretch-silk shorts, Net-A-Porter. 9. R-13 slouch shorts, La Garconne.

 

Bermuda(s), Here I Come!

Posted: June 9th, 2014 by Jennifer

Palm Tree, BlankstareblinkIt all starts with the email in my inbox declaring 3rd Grade BEACH PARTY! I know it’s coming — warm weather, exposed body and years of neglect. My kids ask me, “How come you never go swimming with us?” (bad mom, bad mom, bad mom.)

There are reasons. I don’t like to be cold, I don’t want to screw up my hair color, but mostly because I don’t want to squeeze my fleshy flesh into less than a half a yard of fabric. Along with the abundance of flesh, it’s time for the annual deforestation of my nether regions. It’s all just so much work.

I want to participate in life. I want to wear shorts and be in summer. I think I might retire to Bermuda. More fabric means more coverage means a happier mom. Should I book the trip? Flights leave hourly from Vince, Neiman Marcus, Farfetch and Opening Ceremony.

Life Magazine, bermuda shorts, blankstareblink.com

bermuda shorts, blankstareblink.com1. Vince, 2. White House Black Market, 3. Marc Jacobs, 4. Opening Ceremony,  5. Vince, 6. Kai-Aakmann

How To Put Your Best Face Forward On Tinder

Posted: June 6th, 2014 by Paula

Let me rant about yet another annoying thing about passing fifty — you get email spam like this:

bsb tinder

And let me point out that I have no issue with the couple, who look quite fetching – and happy in an fake-ad way. It’s the god awful “SeniorPeopleMeet” issue. Seriously? We’re skipping grades now too? Going straight from “Middle” to “Seniors”?

Screw that.

I have loads of single friends in their forties and fifties who are beautiful and brilliant and would cringe if this hit their in-box. Most have experimented with online dating, and I can assure you that not a one would click on the ad above, having had varying degrees of success on Match, OK Cupid and eHarmony. And if you count “getting laid” as success, Craig’s List works in a pinch. Or for one.

But I’ve become fascinated by the new entry, the “straight” off-shoot from Grindr: Tinder. For those unfamiliar, Grindr is a gay geo-based mobile dating app, where one can swipe through photos of available half-naked guys in your area, and hook-up on the spot. Tinder was founded in late 2012 as the hetero version of Grindr and was quickly adopted by 20-somethings as a quick way to also hook-up with people in their neighborhood. It’s since settled down to a more mainstream way to meet people.

As with most technology made and adopted by the young, — like Facebook, Twitter, Pandora etc. — people like us realize it’s potential and wade in with one toe, eventually jumping in with both feet. At first when friends tried Tinder, they were horrified to find almost zero men over 40. That’s no longer the case. Even 40-something Joel Stein of Time Magazine wrote about his Tinder experiment a few weeks ago here, where he and his wife Tindered to see who would fare better if they got a divorce. She won.

How do you win?

I met photographer Karina Louise at the Blogcademy Conference a few weeks back. She specializes in social media profile pictures, including photos for dating sites like Tinder. According to Karina’s site, statistics show that a person is over 3 times more likely to get a positive response based on a good picture than without. If that doesn’t have you running for the camera — or Karina’s number (415.606.3464), nothing will!

Lucky for us, she offered up these great tips on how to take a great photo that work.

Karina’s Tinder Tips – Get Swiped Right!

As an online dating photographer, perhaps my favorite description of Tinder comes from their Wikipedia page: “Tinder is a location based social app that allows users the superiority that comes with rejecting someone without the hassle of dating them first.”It’s fast, it’s furious and anyone who has used it knows that you have about 3 seconds to make a good impression. Since it is my work to make you shine online, the following are my best tips for getting swiped right!

1) Wear a bright color. Color catches the eye and since you have such a short time to get attention, this is a solid start. Studies have shown that pinks and reds get the most attention from men. On this one, I would trust the experts.

2) Smile. Use a great headshot of you smiling and looking into the camera as the main photo. But make sure to follow up with secondary photos that show more of your figure and potentially your personality.

My dear friend Kelly, photographed by Katrina Louise. Note the smile + color!

My dear friend Kelly graciously volunteered to have her social media profile photos taken by Karina Louise. Note the smile + color!

3) Avoid Glamour Shots. Use soft natural lighting and if you hire a professional photographer make sure you still look like you. I would also suggest going easy on the photoshopping. Generally speaking, less is more when it comes to attraction.

4) Leave little mystery. Only post around 5 photos. It’s always advisable to leave them wanting more.

5) Avoid old photos. There is nothing worse than showing up on a first date and surprising/disappointed the person you are meeting because you look much older in person. Showing your natural and current self from the beginning can help you to avoid this.

6) Show a little skin. Think bare shoulders or a cute summer dress, but stay away from sexy poses, lots of cleavage, etc. There are ways of showing your figure without posting a bathing suit photo. You may get more attention, but not from men who want a long-term relationship.

7) Mix it up. Remember if you’re not getting the amount of attention you want on Tinder, it’s not you, it’s your photos! Try a photo you like as your main profile pic for a week or two and if you’re not getting the attention you deserve, try a different one.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. How about just one great swipe right?

xo

Don’t Talk To the Hand — See Through It!

Posted: June 4th, 2014 by Paula

The next time you can’t find your readers, don’t pound the table with your fist — look through it!

Since we’ve been on the topic of reading glasses and how integral they are to our middle-age life,  what can you do if  you can’t find yours and you urgently need to read something like the price-tag on those Prada oxfords or how many steps you’ve taken on your FitBit?  Not being able to read can be one of the most awful, humbling experiences ever, and to feel this helpless just plain sucks. Nothing like piling one middle-aged malady on top of another — misplacing stuff, and not being able to see what you’ve misplaced.

Ugh.

Which is why this simple, free and easy solution is so life changing: curl your hand into a fist, look through the hole and viola! You can read. I know — I also have some swamp-land to sell you! But this trick seriously works. When you use your fist like a pinhole camera, it focuses the light so your eye doesn’t blur the objects.

Here is the demo from Lifehacker, which by the way is one of my favorite nerdy sites ever, full of tips of how to do get random stuff done.

I couldn’t try this fast enough.

Do you know how incredible this is? I’ve had minor panic attacks over being somewhere without readers. Happens a lot in restaurants, and let me tell you, nothing is more mortifying than asking a colleague or friend to read me the menu, which reduces me to both baby and old lady at the same time. But now, I have this crutch, this thing I can do no matter what to help me get by in a pinch. Or in this case, a fist.

So ladies, raise that fist in the air! You will no longer be held hostage by your eyes again.

xo

If You Can’t Read This, Lookie Here.

Posted: June 2nd, 2014 by Paula

On the long list of things that fall apart during our march through middle age, the eyes are near the top.

I had always taken my 20/20 vision for granted, until it went sideways when I hit my mid-forties. Reading is such a basic, reflexive action you really don’t think about until you can’t do it. I felt helpless and went through the four stages of grief:

lookie lous readers box qoute

lookie lous® message inside of the package.

1: Denial: If I hold Us Weekly just slightly farther from my face, I can still read about who has the worst beach body.

2: Anger: Not only does holding Us Weekly farther away from my face not work, but it hurts my arms, and damn it US Weekly, why do you print in such a small font?

3: Depression: Really, Us Weekly, why is everybody in your magazine half my age and three-times hotter, (even the worst beach bodies)? I am overwhelmed by middle-age maladies and am going to close my eyes so I don’t have to deal with trying to read anything anymore.

4: Acceptance + Hope: Hey! Reading Glasses can be fun! It’s a new category of shopping! I can change up my look! They give me an air of sartorial sophistication!

I found some great readers in here!

I found some great readers in here!

So with this sense of acceptance and hope I dove into the world of readers with mixed results.  Clearly, this world is not in the style universe, as distribution choices include such grim retailing options as Walgreens, Chevron, and the Touchless Car Wash.

But this “readers everywhere” phenomenon started to make sense as I lost mine at a rapid pace: on the bus, in restaurants, in my own house.

And then I found lookie lous®. These revolutionary readers’ not only look great, but they double as a head-band or space-age choker, as you can slide them up to your head or down to your neck without taking them off or putting them down.

lookie lous® in Paris Pink.

lookie lous® in Paris Pink.

Founders Kelly Coty and Kristie de la Casinier created lookie lous® in Nashville (how cool is that!) for all of us who want a fashionable reader that works well and stays put. “I bought tons of readers once I hit 40, but I could never find them,” recalls Coty. “I wanted to create a design that was functional for most people. lookie lous® are for the mom on the run, the businesswoman in and out of meetings and that person who can never find their glasses when sitting down to read.”

You can see them in action here:

They come in five colors, which I of course thought was purely for reasons of fashion. But taking this whole functionality factor further, Clear is for everyday use, Los Angeles Sand and New York Black are for reading in the sunlight, London Gray for indoor/outdoor use, and Paris Pink for computer reading. At $39.99 with free shipping, you can afford different colors for different uses – and outfits!

So it’s a total coincidence that I chose pink to go with my current orange hair, but they truly soften the glare of my Mac Air, where I spend most of my waking hours. I haven’t misplaced them once as I continue to get double and triple takes and gasps of “what are those” and “where did you get them?” It never gets old (even though I do!).

And the older I get, the more importance I place on supporting smaller, independent companies and retailers who make things that they wear or use themselves. Thanks Kelly and Kristi for your labor of love, lookie lous®, and helping us all see better, and with hope, through rose colored glasses.

Me in "Paris Pink" Lookie Lous®. Fur top by Staci Snider.

Me in “Paris Pink” Lookie Lous®. Fur top by Staci Snider.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am A T-Shirt and Nothing More

Posted: May 29th, 2014 by Jennifer

white tee, blankstareblink.comI’ve got nothing. From weekend guests just leaving, to little league baseball playoffs and end of the school year celebrations, graduations, dance recitals and musical debuts. I’ve got nothing.

What I do have, finally, is a favorite white t-shirt. I’ve tried many, but have happily settled on my v-neck from Vince. Not too sheer. Not too tight in the middle. Not too long so it’s perfect for a little tuck and hang. Nicely white for after Memorial Day and all year long.

That’s all I’ve got. A great white t-shirt and nothing more. Ok, I do have a new pair of cropped harem pants. But that’s another story.

(I found my tee at a local Vince store. I don’t see it on their website, but I did find it here.)

A Barney’s Virgin Pops Her Cherry In Las Vegas

Posted: May 27th, 2014 by Paula

las vegas virgin america signI don’t know about you, but I’m still recovering from Memorial Day weekend.

Five of us from our seven-lady poker group had decided to take our show on the road and play poker in Vegas over Memorial Day weekend. I must note we pretty much suck at poker, but it’s our excuse to gather each month to drink, eat and catch-up as we burn and turn our way through the cards. It beats a book club, hands down.

The highlight of the trip for Suzee, Laura and Luanne was their date with Bruno Mars Saturday night. For me and MaryBeth, it was our date with Barney(s).

las vegas taxi line phones blankstareblink

Going “off campus” to leave the Cosmopolitan for the Venetian Grand Canal Shoppes took every ounce of energy we could muster, but we rallied our post-pool-cocktail-and napped selves to trudge down the long hotel hallway to the elevator, which picked us up on 40 packed with 20-somethings. We did the sideways squeeze-in, eyes now wide watching the girls squeezed into their tiny dresses teetering on giant heels, faces caked with more makeup I’ve worn all year. The scene multiplied by the thousands as we crossed the casino to queue up at the cab line.

las vegas taxi line back blankstareblink

Slut slut, goose.

Finally, we made it to the mall. That big red Barneys awning was our umbrella sheltering us from the trash that had hit us from all sides. We were safe.

MaryBeth is probably like most of you ladies, who take great care of yourselves and love to shop for pretty things, but either can’t afford or justify spending $750 on a pair of shoes. As Jslow noted in this post last week, every once in a while it’s okay to treat yourself to a piece of sartorial art. So with that in mind, MaryBeth zeroed in on HER piece of art: A very sexy, shiny and classic pair of Manolo Blahnik heels she has been coveting for years.

She put them on. Cartoon birds and rainbows appeared. That pair of shoes with the 4 inch heel elevated not only her already towering five-foot-nine-and-a-half inch frame, but her entire look, mood and self-confidence. They were both shrink and stylist in a box.

Manolo Blahnik Chaos sandals blankstareblink

We grabbed food-court pizzas and Bud Lights and headed back, MaryBeth with more swagger than the lot of those Vegas vamps. She had popped her Barneys cherry, and there was no turning back. In that magical night, she grew up from a mere shopping girl to a shopping woman. She had no regrets, as she was ready and knew that those shoes were the one. It had been love at first sight and she was ready to consummate the relationship.

And this time, what happened in Vegas most definitely did not stay in Vegas — it came home in a Barneys bag.