Evolution of Clothing: The Sweater Dress

Sweater dresses have a surprisingly long history. While we tend to associate their first burst of popularity with the 1950s, patterns for such garments were produced by pattern companies and in sewing magazines in the 1940s and 1930s. Today we tend to think of the sweater dress as a comfortable, casual clothing item, but this wasn’t always the case.

Through the 1950s, the soft lines of the sweater dress didn’t mean that wearing them was remotely comfortable. Foundation garments for women including girdles, corsets and highly structure bras were still the standard, and the clingy shape of the sweater dress only made them more essential.

In the 1960s, sweater dresses took on a split personality. Conservative dresses, usually in a single color and with small stitches, were appropriate for women in the workplace. Meanwhile, the sweater dress also became popular with the rise of the hippies who incorporated multiple colors, layers and stitch styles, including crochet. Sleeves became wide and outrageous. As they moved towards the 1970s, sweater dresses came in all lengths – from the micro-mini to floor-length versions. Some were worn alone, other were worn over slacks and blouses or smaller, clingier dresses.

In the early 1980s, the sweater dress was largely co-opted into the dance-wear craze, and sweatshirt dresses were as common as their knit cousins. Worn with leggings, the lengths were often quite short, and bold patterns in primary colors were popular. Bright reds and blues, along with black, white and yellow dominated the sweater dress in the first half of the eighties. In the later eighties, hems came down a bit (but were still largely above the knee), and the dresses took on more muted colors. Sweatshirt materials were out, and the traditional sweater dress was back to being knit. That said, the silhouette still remained loose.

Beginning in the 1990s and moving through the turn of the century to today, the sweater dress went back to its roots, becoming clingier , more appropriate for office settings and often homemade as knitting once again became a popular activity for women.

Vacations for the Outdoorsy: Raw Colorado at Devil's Thumb Ranch

There are few places in this world that successfully combine raw, rustic living with five-star accommodations. One such rarity is Devil’s Thumb Ranch, which boasts “5,000 acres of raw Colorado”.

My wife visited this beautiful ranch about three years ago for a writer’s conference and retreat. She came home gushing, not about the speakers or the opportunity to write, but about the beauty of the land and the hospitality of the staff.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch is located west of Denver in the Rocky Mountains and offers a host of outdoor activities for your enjoyment. From fly fishing to horseback riding, from snowshoeing to mountain biking, from skiing to swimming, this place has everything you could possibly want in an invigorating vacation.

And after you’ve spent the day taxing your muscles and taking in the scenery, you can enjoy a massage or body wrap in the ranch’s private spa.

They have 16 cabins and a lodge onsite for guests who wish to stay a while, and you’ll find that the accommodations are more than suitable for a relaxing vacation. Each room features exposed-beam architecture, soothing colors and quaint, yet elegant furniture.

For those of you who are interested in green living, you’ll be happy to know that Devil’s Thumb Ranch is committed to eco-friendly practices. Their buildings are heated geothermally to cut down on energy usage, and all meals served on the property come from organic meat and produce.

After you’ve worked up an appetite, you can get a bite to eat in the Ranch House Restaurant or the Saloon, and you are always free to select a bottle from hundreds of vintages in the wine cellar. All in all, this is an amazing place to spend your next vacation, whether you plan to travel in the summer or in the winter.

When visiting a ranch of this size, it’s fair to say that you’ll do a considerably amount of hiking. Make sure to pack a pair of sturdy hiking boots with solid ankle support, such as the Oakley All Mountain LTs for men or the Keen Targhee II Mids for women.

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Coolest Skate Parks: Skatopia

Skate parks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Public skate parks tend to be free and offer a few features that you can practice on. However, if you are a hardcore skateboarder looking for something a bit edgier than your local concrete skater pond, then visit Skatopia. This private skate park was referred to as “88 Acres of Anarchy” by Rolling Stone Magazine, and after visiting this mega-skate park it is easy to see where the nickname came from.

Skatetopia – The Basics
Skatopia is located at 34961 Hutton Road in Rutland, Ohio. It first opened its doors back in 1995 and was the brainchild of Brewce Martin, who still owns and operates this wild skate park. The park itself sits on about 88 acres of land. It includes both indoor and outdoor skateboarding features like an outdoor bowl made from concrete, a couple of indoor bowls and an interesting pipe-ramp complex comprised from a vert ramp and a full pipe.

Skatopia – The Extras
In addition to being a cool place to skateboard, Skatopia is also the home to the Museum of Skateboard History. This museum has a huge display of vintage skateboards that contains about 12,000 specimens. If you are interested in the evolution of skateboard design, take time to stop by this museum.

Skatopia – Events
The final attraction of Skatopia isn’t a physical feature. It is the events that are hosted at Skatopia. This skate park is a great place to host your own events like birthday parties, graduation celebrations and even your band’s gigs. This destination also offers you a great selection of planned events like the Backwoods Blowout.

Dressing for a Trip to Skatopia
Skatopia offers both indoor and outdoor skating, because of this you need to make sure you dress in layers so you don’t freeze when you are outside or roast while skating indoors. Also remember to bring the proper safety equipment with you, such as padding and a helmet. Finally, bring your board with you. Working with a board you are familiar with will help you to navigate the various features of this park safely.

If you are ready for an awesome and unique skateboarding adventure, grab your skateboarding shoes and head to Rutland.

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Recipes For The Family: The Trick to Eating Fiber

How do you get your children to eat more fiber? Whole grain bread is often a challenge. Instead, children want to munch on sandwiches made with fluffy white bread. But what if there were easy ways to get fiber into your children? What if you could turn some of their favorite meals into high-fiber meals? Best of all, what if your children never knew they were eating a healthy meal? Well, guess what? You can prepare a high-fiber meal that your children will love. Best of all, it takes less than an hour to prepare.

They’ll Never Know Chili
Serves 8 to 10

  • olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 large green peppers, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • fresh, ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 15-ounce can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of black beans
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans of kidney beans
  • hot pepper sauce, to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onions, peppers, garlic, ½ tablespoon of chili powder and ground pepper. Sautee until the onions become translucent.
2. In the meantime, mix 2 tablespoons of chili powder and cumin with the hot water.
3. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasoned water.
4. Drain the beans, rinse them thoroughly and add them to the pot.
5. Season with hot sauce and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the flavors have combined.

Hidden Fiber Sundaes
Serves 4

  • 8 apricots, cut in half lengthwise and pitted
  • 2 cups of fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt
  • 1 cup of healthy granola

1. Grill the apricots until slightly brown.
2. Top with frozen yogurt and granola.

Meals can be high-fiber without your children knowing it. The key is to change recipes so that they contain high-fiber ingredients. Just imagine it, a healthy meal that doesn’t have your children packing their bags and running off to grandma’s house.

SPARKLING EYES... LITERALLY

Sparkly jewels around the eyes are nothing new. But sparkly jewels hanging from your eyes are.

According to Fashion Week Daily, the new, slightly odd fashion accessory, is eye jewelry – a crystal, flower, etc. – that hangs from a thin thread that is attached to a contact lens. This makes the person wearing it look like they are crying a crystal…or something.

Yes, we think our eyes would water, too, with something dangling from them and with the constant blinking over the thin thread. The eye jewel is available in the UK and costs about $400. Um, a $400 price tag? Yes, that would make us actually cry.

Clothing Sizes and You: Apple-Shaped Women

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. And why wouldn’t it? In prime form, an apple is red, juicy, crunchy and delectable. I believe these are the main reasons an apple tempted Adam in the story of the “Garden of Eden.” After all, nobody would believe that a guy would get all worked up over a kumquat. Yet, even when it comes to apples, there is a dark side. Women with apple shapes rarely see it as a plus.

Women with apple shapes start off small and skinny at the bottom and grow larger as you move up their bodies. This fact is true regardless of size. As a result, their biggest issue is finding a way to balance out their bodies. The good news: there are several ways to do it.

Apple-shaped women can create an illusion of balance by wearing certain kinds of clothes. These clothes are ones that elongate the neck, minimize the bust, create a waist or widen the leg area. Here are a few suggestions:

Flared skirts
Wrap dresses and tops
Wide-legged or normal jeans
Wide-legged or normal slacks
Fitted blouses and boat necks
Long-lapelled jackets
V-neck sweaters

These items are the kinds of clothing that accentuate the bodies of apple-shaped women. As you can see, most of them are classic clothes. You know the kind of clothes that rarely go out of style and translate through time. You can easily find them in any department store.

All of this talk about apples is making me hungry. The last time I looked, they were on sale. You can get an apple for fifty cents! And the best thing is that you don’t have to make a deal with the devil to do it.

ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS?

We here at Couture, are not sure how we feel about this, but word is US TV producers are going to attempt to remake the classic British show Absolutely Fabulous. First, besides the task of finding replacements for Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley, this updated version probably wouldn’t involve the hilarious, sometimes hideous fashion that the two wore in an effort to stay hip and cool. Few Americanized British spin-offs have stuck (does anyone remember the US version of ‘Coupling’? Didn’t think so.), so that will provide enough challenge…but we just can’t help but be skeptical because the overload of ‘80s trends helped make the show. We guess wardrobe could overload them with layered necklaces, snakeskin and crocodile, gladiator flats, rompers, fringe and floral…but will it work? We will have to wait and see.

Clothing from Around the World: Asia's Shoe Addiction

I’ve travelled in Asia for the last five years and have visited many countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. All of these countries are vastly different in culture and tradition, and to some extent, in fashion. But one thing I discovered in all of them is the Asian women’s addiction to shoes. Sure, Sex and the City’s Carrie had a shoe obsession, but most Asian girls easily have her beat.

In Thailand, girls are obsessed with high-heel, strappy sandals. They’re available everywhere and come in every color and design you can imagine. No fashion-conscious Bangkok girl will ever have less than 30 pairs of shoes, and many have a lot more. One of my Thai friends, Tua, has over 60 pairs of shoes and adds to this collection every week. She loves the pointy-toed shoes, the sling-back sandals and even the peeptoe shoes. She also has a pair of Mary Jane’s that is to die for. Tua loves shoes so much she actually gets a rush of excitement when she finds another cute pair and can’t wait to try them on. If they fit, she’s transported to a place of unimaginable joy. Now that’s an obsession with shoes!

In Japan, a lot of Japanese girls are really into boots of all lengths (ankle boots were popular when I was there) and stylish flats that they can walk in. Japanese girls definitely seem to be more concerned about comfort than Thai girls, who will stagger around in the highest high-heel shoes just to look sexy. Funky Mary Jane’s in moss green, brown and black are a big hit in Japan, and paired with the typical Japanese flair for fashion, they do look cool.

In Hong Kong, women seemed much like the Japanese during the day. Trendy, yet comfortable seems to be the order of the day; probably because Hong Kong is a walking city. So flat shoes, low-heeled boots and Doc Martens abound. But at night, even though you’ll still see many of the flat shoes around the shopping areas, if you head to the Hong Kong nightclub or restaurant scene, designer high-heeled, strappy sandals hold sway.

If you’re ever in Asia and you love shoes, you’ll fit right in. For Asian girls, the shoe is often more important than the clothes.