Clean your closet and donate to YWCA: A win-win

Closet-BlastIt’s that time of year again for the great seasonal closet switcheroo. If you still haven’t switched from your winter wardrobe to your spring and summer clothes, don’t delay. I like to think of the middle of March as your annual wardrobe-switching deadline, so make this your weekend to get to work.

We’ve already enjoyed some gorgeous summery spring days. The last thing you want to do on a bright warm morning is scrounge around tweedy jackets, cashmere sweaters, and leather pants as you look for something light to wear.

The drill is the same as every seasonal change. Sort through your winter clothes before you store them in your out-of-season closet or drawers or wherever you stash them until fall. Make four piles: items that need to be cleaned before storage, items ready to store, a very few transitional winter items that can stay in your closet for a little longer in case it gets chilly, and items that you are ready to give away.

This closet changeover may be a bit tedious, but it’s really therapeutic — and philanthropic! A friend once wished for a closet large enough to hold all of her clothes so she wouldn’t have to do seasonal changes. I disagree. While a gigantic closet sounds great in theory, I think it’s good to be forced to look at your wardrobe at least twice a year. It gets you in the mood for the new season and makes you confront the clothes you should get rid of.

As you consider what clothing to give away, just think about how you’re making space for new clothes that are on trend for this year!

It doesn’t matter if you are giving away something because it doesn’t fit, it’s no longer your taste, or you just can’t bring yourself to wear it one more time. You are entitled to your own rationale, which could be no reason at all – no one needs to justify or explain.

But I can give you one good reason to cull out what you’re not wearing any more, or rather 1300 reasons. The staff at Tres Mariposas is once again collecting women’s and children’s clothes for the YWCA’s acclaimed Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center, with a goal of 1300 items by April 16.

In addition, for every item donated up to 1,300 items, Tres Mariposas will contribute a dollar to go toward an urgent need the center staff has identified for the children living at the TLC: activity uniforms.

Think of all the great activities you might have enjoyed growing up – Camp Fire Girls or Girl Scouts, girls’ soccer or volleyball. Now think of the children who can’t take part in out-of-school activities, such as team sports or Boy Scouts, because they cannot afford the uniforms required for participation.

You can help Tres Mariposas raise $1,300 to purchase these activity uniforms for the children staying at the center. Together we can help children experiencing homelessness in our community have some fun after school!

Especially needed are almost new or gently used women’s clothing for job interviews and office work. However, think about what any woman might need, especially if she had to leave a bad domestic situation in the middle of the night without packing or if she has been homeless with little more than the clothes on her back.

The women who live temporarily at the center while they get back on their feet receive shelter, safety, job training, independent living skills, and help with child care. These women appreciate what all of us appreciate. They need skirts and slacks that fit, attractive tops and jackets, jewelry, watches, purses, and even nice pajamas.

This year, we’re also collecting children’s clothes. If you have kids or grandchildren, you know they outgrow their outfits long before their outfits wear out. It would be great if you can donate gently used boys’ or girls’ clothes for any age, from babies to teenagers. These kids need sweaters and coats, too.

You may already have activity uniforms that your kids aren’t using – things like Girl Scout blouses, Boy Scout shirts, basketball shorts, football pads and pants, baseball pants. With our donation, which will be presented at the YWCA Luncheon on April 17, the Transitional Living Center can buy the special team jersey or shirts needed so these kids won’t be prevented from taking part because they didn’t have the right uniform.

The collection campaign brings a win-win situation: you get a closet organized for spring and the TLC gets 1,300 items of clothing and $1,300 for children’s after-school program uniforms!

A Cutting Edge Trend That Cuts Edges – Literally

White cotton open weave dress by Yigal Azrouel

White cotton open weave dress by Yigal Azrouel

Technology influences many aspects of our world, and fashion is no exception.

It’s no accident that a major 2014 fashion trend is technology based. It is a trend that is likeable, crisp, interesting, and works in a myriad of bright or neutral colors. It works in tops, skirts, dresses, jackets, and accessories.

What is this versatile trend? Laser cut fabrics and materials. Today’s advanced laser cutting machines can slice the cleanest of edges on virtually everything from silk to fur, and turn out consistent patterns at an incredible speed.

Laser cuts create intricate tactile masterpieces of interesting textures. We are seeing laser cut leather jackets, laser cut cotton dresses, and trendy laser cut booties. It’s all about the cut-outs this year. Closely related trends include perforated fabrics, mesh, open weaves, or cutaway styles.

Once laser cutting techniques were limited to haute couture brands whose delicate laces and intricate leathers were painstakingly created by craftsmen.  Now, due to technological advances, laser cutting is more affordable and practical for a variety of higher end and even mainstream manufacturers. The results are intriguing – just check out how well this trend works for apparel, accessories and shoes!

P.S. Next week, we’ll look at another technology driven fashion trend…

 

 

Question of the season: What do women want?

Men ask me this all the time, Sigmund Freud asked it, and probably every great thinker since Socrates asked it. What do women want? What in the world can a guy give a girl that she will be sure to like?

Successful gift giving can be a challenge for men. Women don’t hide it well when they are less than thrilled with a gift.

At the Tres Mariposas Men’s Night this week, I decided to ask a few of the men there about this issue. Here’s what they say about gifts that have won the hearts of the women in their lives.

 

Dr. Bruce Applebaum_2

Dr. Bruce Applebaum:  “My most successful gift was a puppy when my wife and I got engaged — an adorable German Shepherd.  I haven’t been as successful in other categories of gifts!”

 

Jesus Canaba2Jesus Canaba:  “The best gift I’ve ever given was a watch.  Why did she love it so much?  Because of the little diamonds.  She was really into diamonds.”

 

Gene Carrejo2Gene Carrejo: “Jewelry from Ippolita.  She wears the earrings and necklaces all the time!”

Howard Smith2Howard Smith:   “Jewelry is always a winner.  Women just love bling.”

Michael Zimprich2Michael Zimprich:  “I’m planning for my most successful gift to be the one I’m going to give her next week.  I can’t divulge what it is of course, or it will spoil the surprise.  I try to get things she would not buy for herself – luxury and higher end items.  Christmas means a lot to her so I try to get her something nice she’s been wanting.  Guys sometimes forget until the last minute.  I try to watch and listen all year when I’m out shopping with her and then I go back.”

I like Michael’s perspective; sometimes I think women just want to be listened to! And there’s a message here for women here in our community – your men are trying hard to please you, so keep your smile on no matter what you receive Christmas morning. Remember, you can invariably exchange it if you need to!

 

The Meaning of Jewelry

naga

Having a fine jewelry store inside Tres Mariposas has been an amazing experience. The pieces are so gorgeous and it’s been wonderful to see customers admiring them and studying their details. It’s interesting — as I become more involved in fine jewelry, I am also becoming more aware of the deep significance jewelry holds for people.

Archeologists have discovered jewelry pieces dating back 75,000 years; its appeal is universal through virtually all cultures and eras. Jewelry has been worn for decoration and fashion, but also for its perceived qualities of power, protection, and even magical effects.

Women seem innately attracted to the adornment factor of necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. The right jewelry can bolster a woman’s confidence and bring out her beauty. It can pull together an outfit and make a special occasion absolutely dazzling. But women also love jewelry for its connections to others and for the stories behind the jewelry.

Flori Trudeau is a new Tres Mariposas associate and long-time jewelry industry veteran. We love to hear her talk about the jewelry – she is full of great stories about the gemstones and different designers.

“Every designer has his or her own story,” she says. “They all have different sources of inspiration and motivation. For instance, John Hardy was an American designer who moved to Bali for his inspiration. Now his pieces are made by Bali natives.”

Hardy_fall13_Naga

Hardy has one line called the Naga Collection which features a dragon motif. Flori says that the dragon plays an important role in the people’s folklore. The legend is that a dragon lives on the top of a mountain, but he is in love with a pearl at the bottom of a lake. He visits the pearl underwater and when he flies back up to the mountain top, the water on his wings drips down to water the rice fields.

For the natives, the dragon is a symbol of love, good luck, protection, and prosperity. For some women, it’s empowering and comforting to think that the beautiful dragon on their wrists can attract all these good things. In any case, it’s a lovely story – and all of us can do with more love and good luck in our lives!

Of course, certain pieces of jewelry carry their own stories. You remember where you were and the story behind the occasion when a loved one gave you a special bracelet, ring, or necklace. Each of those pieces carried a silent message of “you are so, so important to me” or “you really deserve this” or a clear and definitive message of everlasting love.

Jewelry treasures that are passed down from generation to generation carry stories of memorable women and moments in time. Jewelry pieces that women buy themselves come with their own stories: “I survived my first year of teaching,” “I passed the bar,” or “I got a raise!”

As valuable as these pieces are – with all their diamonds and colored gems, pearls and stones of all kinds, set in platinum, gold, or silver – part of their value comes from the stories behind them and what the pieces mean. Think about one of your favorite pieces of jewelry – what is its story?

john-hardy-naga_header

Fall Bestsellers: The Customers Have Spoken

As you probably know, the fashion cycle has a rhythm all its own. New style trends emerge each season, and retailers have to predict months in advance what they think will sell in their own stores. As buyers, we do our best to guess which items are going to be big winners for the season.  Which looks and outfits will our customers desire the most?

Right about now, mid-October, retailers are finally seeing what trends customers are responding to with the most enthusiasm. It’s interesting — bestsellers at Tres Mariposas invariably reflect the bestsellers emerging with other retailers across the country. Our tastes on the Border are in line with national trends.

Here are a few early winners for this fall:

Jacquard Pattern Jeans

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Why it works? Texture!

Fashion is all about texture – and everyone needs jeans in her wardrobe.  These are basically textured jeans! The term jacquard refers to fabric with a pattern woven into it.  Your interesting fact of the day: French inventor Joseph Marie Jacquard invented the first loom for these intricate patterns in 1801.

Fit and Flare Dresses and Skirts

DSC03775-2Why it works?  Figure flattering!

Not all of us look fantastic in straight pencil skirts.  The fit and flare style is fitted at the waist and then flares out into flirty fullness at the hem.  It’s been a classic since the 1950s.  Every skirt and dress in this style that we’ve received at Tres Mariposas seems to fly out the door.  Women must be hungry for something feminine and flattering.

 

 

Motorcycle Jackets

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Why it works?  Instantly ups your cool factor.

Every girl needs a bit of racy biker machismo now and then. The motorcycle jacket in black leather and other fabrications has been cool since James Dean. Wear it over everything in your wardrobe.  Add boots and you are set for the season.

Fur Vests

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Why it works?  Makes the outfit.

New design techniques and technology have morphed furs into garments almost as lightweight as sweaters. These are not your grandmother’s mink coats. Friendly to El Paso’s climate, fur vests are great for casual lifestyles.

We may very well see other bestsellers emerge as the season goes on, but these four trends have already taken El Paso by storm. The customer has spoken!

 

Dressing for the decades: What to wear at gala

Elegance in Navy

Elegance in Navy

It’s almost time for one of the major fixtures on our community’s fall social and philanthropic calendar: the Annual Friends of FEMAP Gala.

As many locals here know, FEMAP (Federacion Mexicana de Empresas y Asociaciones Privadas) is a nongovernmental nonprofit organization serving future and expectant mothers in Ciudad Juárez. FEMAP founder Guadalupe Arizpe De la Vega wanted to make family planning and prenatal care accessible to women living in poverty and has worked side-by-side with many El Pasoans, including longtime leaders Adair Margo, Mary Ann Dodson, and Dr. Jack Heydemann, to make this goal a reality.

What started out as a two-room clinic named Clinica de la Familia became the beloved Hospital de la Familia, where thousands of babies have been born since 1976. I have been a serious supporter of FEMAP since I visited that hospital in Juarez years ago. I was amazed at the medical services provided with such limited resources.

Today FEMAP has two full-service inpatient hospitals, a nursing school, community-based health programs helping children and teenagers develop emotionally and physically, and a micro-finance program. It’s a good cause and hundreds of people from both sides of the Border are expected to attend the benefit ball at the Judson Williams Civic Center this Friday, September 20.

Anna Aleman, executive director of the FEMAP Foundation, tells me that this year’s theme is “Decades: 1973-2013” to celebrate FEMAP’s four decades of service and the Foundation’s two decades of fundraising.

In 1973, when Guadalupe founded FEMAP, disco was king and everyone was doing the Hustle under mirror balls and strobe lights. So for this anniversary year, the gala’s entertainment will start with ‘70s disco tunes and work its way up through hits of the past to the present, while celebrating each decade of the organization’s milestones.

So, naturally, women are asking me how they should dress for this themed party but still be elegant and stylish. Good question! Here are some thoughts on the questions I’m hearing:

  •  Length? Either cocktail length or long ball gowns are appropriate. Both are in fashion. Choose the length that makes you feel the most fabulous.
  • Color? Navy blue is by far the most up-to-date color for evening wear this year. It is so trite to say it’s the new black.  Ok I won’t say it.  In addition to navy, burgundy and teal are great evening colors.
  • Details? One of this season’s top trends is the return of lace and illusion – sheer fabrics to cover a little but still tease.
  • Jewelry? Less jewels on the dress itself – not so much in sequins or beading.  More drama in colored stone necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Think sapphire or blue topaz

I hear that some tickets are still available for the gala! Call 544-4151 or visit www.femap.org