Parkas and Flip Flops

Down here in Florida it’s cold.  We have been between 45 and 80 degrees for about two months straight now.  I have been fortunate enough this winter to actually wear all my sweaters twice even if it means needing to take them off by noon or overheat.  A true Floridian never knows how to dress appropriately for cold weather because we’ve never had to dress for cold weather for very long.  Usually, by the time you find your closed toe shoes, it’s Spring.  No kidding.  Last Winter was extremely cold and I discovered I had NO closed toe shoes other than tennis shoes (tennis shoes is Floridian for athletic shoes and it encompasses everything from Keds to Sacouny).  Matter of fact, I have nothing but Saucony Kinvara tennis shoes, open toe stilettos and flip flops.  I discovered that socks in stilettos is not a good look.  I also discovered that I could wear socks with my Saucony Kinvaras for added warmth since they are virtually made of netting…something you appreciate in 98 degree weather but not when freezing cold wind is blowing.  I also discovered that I literally had four pair of socks!  Four pair.

We recently had a cold snap…(it’s called a snap down here because it gets really chilly then our state snaps right out of it).  Our day started out at about 75 glorious degrees then by lunch it was down to about 50.  The weather change was so aggressive that I had to put on winter clothes, i.e. a long sleeved t-shirt, jeans and socks with my flip flops.  By the time I met my friends for dinner and a bon fire I had a jacket and scarf…and still had on flip flops.  The friends I was meeting happened to be Canadians who were all wearing shorts, light jackets, and burks (burks is Yankee talk for Birkenstocks).  They thought I looked pretty silly with a down jacket, scarf and flip flops with or without socks.  It’s not because I have no fashion sense, but I simply do not know any better.  I have spent my entire life in Florida heat.  I have spent years perfecting the Floridian stance (the Floridian stance is standing with no part of your body touching any other part of your body) and winter is such an incredibly short season down here that I have a very hard time adjusting.

Flip flops are to Floridians what sinus infections are to New Yorkers.   What would one be without the other?


True story.  My 23 year old niece calls me because she was invited to an “Quinceanera” and when she asked her mother (my MUCH older sister) for outfit ideas, my sister suggested, “A nice denim skirt”.  Really, that was her response.

Oh brother.  Let’s start off on the right foot.

White Tie-Is the most formal of all events… think President, or Queen Elizabeth, Foreign Dignitaries, etc…

White tie attire would be white ties, wing collar and tailcoat for men.

Floor length gowns, elbow length or longer kid gloves.

Shoes- satin shoes, velvet, brocade, strappy.

Jewelry- estate style jewelry and family jewels like tiaras, etc…

Black Tie- is formal…think weddings, Debuts, Mayors, etc…

Traditional tuxedos for men with bow ties.  Men can actually change it up by wearing patterned jackets nowadays.

Floor length or shorter for women.  Materials for dresses are tulle, satin, silk, brocade, velvet, etc.. no pique, or cotton or jersey.

Shoes- satin, shiny, brocade.  No suede, patent leather or boots for women.

Jewelry- pearls, heirloom style jewelry.  Large stones are in good taste and no wearing rings over gloves, it’s…tacky. (no rope chains or linked chains).

Semi-formal- is tricky.  It could be a way of saying party attire or cocktail.

If it’s a business invitation it’s pretty safe to say the dress code means slacks and collared shirts for men.

Nice skirts and blouses for women, etc… think professional with party shoes.

If it’s a qinceanera you can safely assume it means:

Nice slacks with collared shirt/casual suit for men.

A little black dress for women, with fun jewelry and party shoes.  No gloves, no estate jewelry.

So, as you can see denim is not semi-formal.

John T. Molloy, “Dress for Success”.


John T. Molloy wrote a wonderful book titled,”Dress for Success” back in the late 70’s.  His platform was that women could not just be successful secretaries but successful executives simply by changing the way they dress.  People initially scoffed at his book but soon discovered that life truly does imitate art.  If you “look” successful, then you will become “successful”.  If you look like a secretary then you will stay a secretary,” was his motto.  After reading his book I decided to study it out to see if his theory is true.


I found another book, “What you wear can change your life” by Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine.  It was published in 2002 and it said pretty much the same thing as Molloy back in the 70’s.  The lesson is that you should dress for what you want to be not what you are doing now and mysteriously your move up will happen.  Hmmm.  I guess it’s true because when you see a guy who’s bald wearing all black with army boots and his nails are long and painted black you don’t think babysitter or teacher.  You immediately think disturbed vampire fetish psycho.  When you see a young lady with a ponytail, khaki’s, and boat shoes you think yuppy (BTW, my sailing friends have tipped me off to NOT wear boat shoes.  The serious boaters will laugh behind your back.  The people that own yachts do not own boat shoes because they make the feet sweat something terrible.  It’s safe to wear almost anything else but boat shoes.  You have been warned).  So, I guess it’s true that what you wear will make people treat you a certain way.   Both books have mentioned how your socioeconomic background is displayed in your dress.  I personally feel it’s exposed with your shoes, bags and jewelry more than anywhere else…men included (shoes, watch).  The reason this information is important is because you get more opportunities when you are dressed well and you are treated better as well.  I know this is true because I would run from someone that looked homeless but not from a banker.


Have you considered investing in your your future by investing in yourself and by that I mean your clothes?  Your shoes?  Your bags?  Your makeup???  Have you tried it?  If nothing else, it’s worth the effort to make yourself appear to be that to which you aspire.  For Pete’s sake, as I sit here and blog I am wearing a black turtleneck, black leggings and ballet flats like a real writer because that’s what real writers wear.  Actually, the truth is I am in my PJ’s…flip flops and ponytail like a legitimate “freelance” writer.  See, I aspired, dressed the part and succeeded.



Have you ever been to a clothing swap?  I was just at one.  When I was first invited I thought, “How cheap”, but after thinking about it I thought there may actually be something to a clothing swap.  So, I went with very little expectations which was good because I was amazed at how fun it was.  For beginners, I do have some very fabulous friends and they are fashionable which means fabulous clothing finds.  I actually picked up some great pieces.  I even grabbed some great trendy shoes and a necklace for my daughter.  Then a few days later my niece went to a swap with her cutsie friends and she grabbed bags of things for my teen girls.  Amazing.  Everything was in good condition AND very wearable.

The basics are this, all your friends get together to “swap” their old clothes, or perhaps the clothes they grew out of or shrunk out of or clothes that never quite fit correctly and bring them to a predetermined location, say the friend with the largest dining room…and you all drink mimosas or hot tea and you “shop” your closest gal pal’s closet.  Now, the swapping is not a garage sale.  It is not meant for disgusting old ragged clothing, only good clothing and shoes and accessories.  I suggest not doing this with people that dress poorly or that is exactly what will be at the swap…yucky clothes.  If you’d like to have a clothing swap with your girlfriends here are the plans.


1.  Invite at least 20 friends….well-dressed friends.  Try to stick with friends that are a similar size or build so that the clothing being swapped will actually fit you and your friends.

2.  Decide who’s house this will be at and as I mentioned before it needs to be a roomy place so the shopping is easy.

3.  Bring clothing racks but have all the women bring their own hangers that they can give away with the clothing or not..its up to them.

4.  Make everyone aware that the clothing they are bringing to swap needs to be freshly washed or dry-cleaned.

5.  Make drinks and a few snacks, but not a meal.  Perhaps, hot tea and cookies or mimosas and fruit.  Nothing messy and everything bite-sized.

6.   A few Cheval mirrors for trying on clothes-who doesn’t own one or two?

7.  A rack for shoes without boxes and ask they bring shoes in the boxes if they still have them.

8.  Shopping bags-finally a use for all those bags from exquisite stores you have been saving in the hall closet.

9.  Let everyone know that the left over clothing will be donated to your favorite charity immediately after the swap and all “swapping” is FINAL.  No take backs.

10.  Have a great time you know you’ve always wanted to get in your friend’s closets.