Columns02 May 2009 03:30 pm


I’m about to get personal here. Time for fashion and mental health.

I have been inexplicably mopey for a few days. Completely indecisive. Like one day, I couldn’t choose which shirt I wanted to wear, so I wore all of them, layered on top of each other. My roomie told me I looked like a second-grader. I couldn’t decide whether that was a compliment.

Then on my way to work, I felt thirsty but couldn’t decide what I wanted. So I stopped at the gas station and bought a coffee, Diet Coke, water and cranberry juice. I immediately spilled the coffee on my shirt. Luckily, I had three others underneath.

My affliction was getting out of control; it was time to make an appointment with Dr. Urban Outfitters.

Yes, it’s dangerous, expensive and probably masking a serious iron deficiency or something, but I stand behind shopping therapy. I’m proof it works. Because as I walked out of the store with a bulging bag of stripes and oversized gold hoops, I felt a wave of peace and control. Maybe I can’t control the Cingular demons who sporadically drop my most crucial phone calls or my neighbor’s dog that begins his bark-a-thon at 5 a.m. every day, but I can control the size of the hoops dangling off my earlobes.

Flipping through the racks gets your hands off the office keyboard and surrounds them with comforting cottons and satins.

A new shirt temporarily makes you feel good about yourself.

And shopping is a reminder that no matter how twisted and complex life becomes, you can always fall back on That Which Is Shallow But Simple And Pretty.

Which, in my case today, is a light blue tank top from Boulder-based Kupu Kupu Design.

Said shirt is from the line’s “ribbon collection” and only $16 online (, making for pretty reasonably priced therapy.

Plus, the designs are more than just pretty. They merge Western and Eastern styles in an ancient Bali dying technique called batik. They’re made from high-quality natural rayon and produced solely for boutiques.

Anama Salsman is the designer. Salsman, a Boulder artist originally from Germany, began crafting clothes 14 years ago, inspired by her travels and creative eye.

She’s now internationally known, with a manufacturing operation in Indonesia. She sells to stores across the globe and in 20 states, including three on Pearl Street in Boulder (the Alpaca Connection and the two Surya galleries).

And the Pearl Trade Center, at Pearl and 15th streets. But shh, that’s a lil’ local secret.

Salsman used to sell last season’s styles for discounted prices from a warehouse on 47th Street, but she recently closed it down after she became too busy with her Indonesian plant.

More than 1,000 discounted duds now hang in her outlet at the trade center, for nearly 50 percent off retail prices.

Now to decide between the 1,000 pieces of clothing. I’m not sure, but I’d say that’s a little much to layer.

Columns and Shoes02 May 2009 03:29 pm


My grandma washes her hair once a week. I now understand why.

I am recovering from a bouffant.

My mother-in-law turned 50 on Saturday. In celebration, we held her a ’50s-theme party, complete with an inflatable juke box, retro record decorations and sloppy joes from Barbecue Bob’s (yeah, I wasn’t quite sure how that fit in either, but no one complained – except me when I sloppy joed on my white apron. Yes, apron. Read on).

In typical overboard Heckel manner, my mom and I decided to get our hair professionally “did” at a Loveland salon, Serenity Hair Designs.

Four hours later, we fox-trotted out with flippy ends and roots ratted toward the heavens. My bouffant incorporated a thick headband. My mom’s: a droopy white bow. She rocked the bobby socks and canvas shoes, a swing skirt, pearls and a pink polka-dot scarf.

I accented my blue eye shadow with a pleated, June Cleaver button-up dress and square-toed buckle shoes. I added a white apron for the funny factor (I don’t know how to serve cookies even if they come straight from the Safeway bakery).

I thought my costume was totally the cat’s pajamas.

Until several days later – still scraping the hairspray out of my locks – I stumbled upon and learned my look was entirely ’60s. The fifties were soft, feminine and curly. No blow dryers and tangle towers.

Golly, if I’d known that then, maybe I could comb through my hair today.

I blame the inspiration for pouf-head on my gramma, who to this day sleeps in a satin cap as to not disturb her stiff hair-cocoon. She gets her tresses washed and formed at the parlor every Saturday. (By Friday afternoons, she’s usually reaching for a fork or candle snuffer to itch her scalp without disturbing the ‘fro.)

And after hours of cooking under the astronaut-helmet hair-dryer, I don’t blame her for trimming her beauty routine to a weekly affair.

Of course, unlike mine did, my gramma’s ‘do looks timelessly stunning. I can’t imagine her with any other style. It’d throw my world off axis, like when your teacher gets a bad haircut or when my dad shaved off his beard after 21 years.

Some styles should never change. And could it be that everything comes back in style if you just wait long enough?

Tell that to the poor kid at McDonald’s who was too confused to give me my soda on Saturday.

My husband was supposed to pick me and my mom up from the hair place, but he couldn’t find it. I sucked down a Diet Coke in about 8 seconds and therefore needed another one, so we told him to meet us under the nearby big yellow arch.

By how he scowled at me, I’d say the cash-register kid didn’t appreciate my ensemble. I wanted to grab him by the ears and ask him if his mama didn’t teach him no manners. That lil’ whippersnapper looked about 10 years old, anyway. Don’t know what they’re doing hiring toddlers. And the only straws left were too short for my cup. I almost asked for my 79 cents back.

Oh, heavens. My gramma’s hair has gone to my head.

You don’t have to go so overboard that you freak out fast-food employees. Here are some ways to incorporate old-school cool in your modern wardrobe. This season, try:

A thick belt tight on your waist is as hip today as it was back in Elvis’s days.

Classic, simple pumps.

A form-fitting jacket with a full skirt.

Pearls with anything and everything forevermore.

A pencil skirt. Pair it with an ’80s-style T-shirt and really confuse Cash-Register Kid.

Columns02 May 2009 03:28 pm


I’m a Gabrielle with a cheap side of Edie.

Now before I proceed with this column, which is dedicated to my obsession with the most delightful show ever produced, here’s my disclaimer: If you’ve never watched “Desperate Housewives,” stop reading now. You are not worthy of these words, for what they’re worth (minimal). Go away.

Sound callous? Maybe. But really, I don’t want to imagine life without a weekly dose of Wisteria Lane. It’s the only show I watch. My indulgence. Sundays revolve around it. I wish I wasn’t this pathetic, but alas, it is so.

Which is why I am in panic mode now that Sunday is the season finale. I’ll be taking mental notes to last me through the summer.

You see, “Desperate” is the universal style guide, every episode brimming with traditional, provocative, trendy, sporty and business outfit ideas. It’s like a practical runway with a catchy plot.

++ Speaking of callous, every Sunday during the show I give myself a pedicure. This includes a foot soak, priming, painting, clipping and, as needed, filing the nails and the heels.

The latter completely freaks out my dad, who gets sick at the thought of taking a cheese-grater-like-tool to my feet to make sure they are smooth. His main concern: “Where does all of the skin go after you grate it off?”

Good point. But still, that doesn’t sick me out as much as rough feet.

Last week, my dad and I were planning my family’s weekly “Desperate” ritual. He asked me with a worried look on his face, “Are you going to be minimalizing your feet this week?”

Minimalizing? He thought I was trying to make my feet not smoother, but smaller.

++ “Desperate” takes costuming to a new level, as one of my friends pointed out.

The outfits enhance the characters in a way other fashion-forward shows haven’t. “Friends,” “Melrose Place” and “Beverly Hills 90210″ featured pretty people wearing interchangeably trendy outfits.

But on “Desperate,” the outfits are part of the personalities. Lest you wonder who’s the cheap neighborhood floozy: voila, hello, Edie/Nicollette Sheridan’s bulbous breasts. The June Cleaver on crack (Marcia Cross, aka Bree) wears pencil skirts and pearls. Producers even let hot-bod Felicity Huffman sport schlubby mom clothes and high-waisted pants as part of her character development. And this realness makes her hotter.

++ I took a test – “What is your ‘Desperate Housewives’ style” – and learned my love for python stilettos and playing dress up makes me a Gabrielle. My friends joke her style is all “Dynasty” and “cheap in a Charlotte Russe kind of way.”

Which I consider a compliment. Which technically probably makes me an Edie.

++ I’m bidding Wisteria Lane goodbye on Sunday with a “Desperate” viewing party: Come dressed like your fave character. I bet everyone will pick Huffman so they can wear their food-crusted sweats.

On the other hand, anyone who wants to do it big can do a different kind of bidding and buy the show’s actual clothing at Seems a little ridiculous. I mean, who wants Gabrielle’s red strapless Laundry dress? With beautiful rouched fabric, 100 percent silk. Built-in bra.

My bid is $80. And growing.

++ Speaking of growing, I was shocked to see Teri Hatcher’s belly-button ring in the last episode. I’ve angered many a friend with my rigid stance against this kind of adornment. And for good reason.

One of my friends once had a belly ring. She got a cute flower tattoo around it. Then she got pregnant, and the daisy grew into a massive sunflower with a red hole in the middle where the piercing used to be.

I don’t know what she was thinking. I would have totally hired the maid to carry my baby.

Columns02 May 2009 03:27 pm

I went to prom for my 27th birthday.

This story might sound familiar if you are one of the three readers who’ve been following my column for the past year or so (hi mom, dad and that sassy middle-age man who e-mails me daily about argyle socks).

That’s because I crashed prom last year, too. In the World of Heckel, once is a joke; twice is a tradition. And I take tradition seriously.

That means I’ll be crashing prom until I’m so old I have to sneak in pretending to be a teacher chaperone instead of a curiously old-school junior who “totally just transferred from the Bay Area, and no, that’s not a wedding band, that’s my great-grandma’s ring that she left when she died, hecka sad, I don’t wanna talk about it. (Sniffle.)”

When I dug my senior prom dress out of my parent’s attic this year, I noticed two things. First, the gown smelled nauseatingly similar to the stray cat that recently moved in to my old box of clothes. And second, it looked nauseatingly similar to a lace-and-sequin-studded curtain.

Obviously, I wore it. Paraded it around the house to the nostalgic bump of “Return of the Mack.” When my husband saw, his eyes widened, and so did his smile. I winced for the bullet. Instead, he pulled me close and proclaimed how stunning I looked.

That meant a lot coming from a man wearing a wrinkly, untucked button-down, gray slacks and muddy flip-flops. Just like the old days. We were ready to roll out.

But not alone. Co-conspirators were my girlfriend Crazy Christine, 28, and her hubby. Christine showed up in a short black three-tiered ruffle dress with so many sparkles she looked like she was on fire. I told her there was no way she’d get in wearing something so hideous. They’d sniff our game out a football field away.

Then came the touchdown: She’d bought that dress at Ross. On Thursday. In 2006. It was a real dress that real people were buying for real occasions.

The dance itself was pretty lame, not half as exciting as the fact that I could still fit into my high-school clothes.

We simply walked through the doors, wearing oversized sunnies, but no corsages (my flip-flop-wearing date was too cheap, the jerk). We got our pictures taken with the cheesy “Secret Garden” backdrop. Did the Macarena when everyone else was grinding to Beyonce. Spotted several other girls sporting Christine’s dress. I felt pretty cool that no one else was wearing my curtain.

When things winded down, we hit the bars. The bartender complimented my dress. I told her she could have it – no, seriously, take it. She politely declined and never returned to my table.

It was the best prom I’ve been to in like eight years.

The weekend before that, I crashed my man’s fraternity formal. We were actually invited to that one, as alums. It was still hilarious, although we left the Macarena at home that night.

Now, as The Authority on being an old lady at youthful formal dances, here are my style observations:

++ What’s hot: High school: Brightly colored, A-line strapless ball gowns with trains and sparkle details, hair messily up, shoes optional (the coat room had a mountain of abandoned heels). Who cares what guys wear? Probably not flip-flops.

College: Simple, asymmetrical knee-length dresses fancied up with gaudy jewelry and stripper heels (left on feet at all painful costs). Proliferation of black and green jersey material. Sometimes draped in boyfriend’s suit jacket.

++ What’s not: Curtains.

Columns02 May 2009 03:26 pm


Pearl Street is blooming with lilacs and broom-skirt-twirling hippies. It must be spring.

May is my fave month because it brings my birthday, the best flowers and Colorado weather psychotic enough to qualify as all four seasons. Especially in my east Longmont neighborhood, with its breathtaking view of Interstate 25.

Whereas Boulder’s ecosystem is twirked by the flow of air over the Flatirons, Del Camino’s got hot clouds of semi-truck exhaust. I live in a pollution snow globe, with weather so moody it’s been known to place the top half of my body in winter and the bottom in summer at the same time.

Sundresses and wool cardigans. Capris and down vests. That’s how East Boulder County rolls.

That’s also how I justify girls who still wear mini skirts and Uggs, years after that horrendous combo has blown over. It’s not that Boulder County is fashion backwards. Blame it on the weather.

May is also my least fave month because it marks the beginning of my husband’s golf obsession.

Don’t get me wrong. Like any true addict, he’s been golfing throughout the winter (you hit the course around midnight and spray-paint your balls glow-in-the-dark orange so they show up in the snow).

But warm weather means he will try to suck me into his horrible habit. And golf expenses compete with my shopping. Even worse, we’re looking for a new house, and – you guessed it – one of my man’s top criteria is proximity to a course.

It’s frightening. But I am a renegade. So I have decided to combine my hobbies with his and embrace the prettiness in this disaster. Preppy golf fashion is super cute – on and off the course.

We’re talking checkered sweaters, button-downs, stripes, V-necks and, of course, polos. I’m still a fan of flipping the collar. Tuck in or leave out, depending on how rebellious you’re feeling.

I’ve never been a fan of khaki, but why mess around with pants that blend in with your flesh when you’ve got an excuse to wear a short skirt?

Ralph Lauren ( makes an adorable white skirt accented by a vertical black stripe for $125. I also adore Polo’s navy skirt with a single front pleat. And I’ll be darned, there are shorts under there, in case you encounter a gust of wind and/or fall asleep in the cart with your feet propped up (regularly happens to me on hole seven).

Accessorize the outfit with a snazzy golf bag. I love Benetti’s solid pink one, $300ish, with a matching glove (better than the white Michael Jackson look). Also found bags with stripes, palm trees, flowers, dogs and dragonflies – for other playas like me who need something pretty to keep them awake.

It gets better. The Fitter on University Hill in Boulder sells Reef Mulligan flip-flops lined with Astroturf and a tee ($39.95). The heel pad looks like a golf ball.

Not sure if my man would approve of the flip-flops’ sole grip. But then again, if they sabotage his score, maybe he won’t want to play three times a day.

I wonder if my yoga mat will fit in my pink golf bag.

Columns02 May 2009 03:25 pm

A friend once described me by saying, “She likes pretty things.”

Simple, but true.

I have chosen friends solely for their appreciation for pink pen ink. And I adore virtually useless things that are beautiful to gaze upon (i.e. my toy poodle).

When I got married four years ago, I bought a veil that was impossibly impractical and therefore impossibly stunning. It had flower embroidery along the edges that matched the bosom of my dress. The mega-veil had to be shortened by several feet because it was actually longer than the aisle in my small stone chapel.

I swear.

After the wedding, I tried to incorporate the massive expanse of tulle into my home décor. I hung it above the bed like a canopy. But Husband got tangled in it whilst sleeping and “accidentally” ripped it down.

I tried to use it as a window covering. Somehow Husband also managed to tangle in it there (or so he insisted when I found it wadded up on the closet floor).

Today, my veil rests in a massive fluff in my hope chest. About once a month, I take my veil out and wear it around the house while I’m cleaning or talking on the phone. Until I notice a tug and turn around to find my husband tangled in it, like a fish in a net.

Maybe they’re too dangerous, but mega-veils aren’t the rage anymore. (Were they ever? I didn’t care.) So says the Bridal Connection, 1515 Main St. in Longmont. The 25-year-old shop says brides this year prefer simple, waist-length, single-layer veils.

Expect bridal gowns to steal the spotlight at this summer’s weddings.

It’s about honesty. Brides these days aren’t pretending to be virginal. The trend is white gowns splashed with color. Red’s the most popular. Next in line are navy and baby blue, said the Bridal Connection’s owner, Cindy Schlagel.

Echoing the Hollywood awards shows, many modern brides also choose ivory gowns with café or champagne accents.

I apologize in advance to the friend who I’ll inevitably lie to this summer (“Ooh, wow, the red really brings out your, um, eyes!”). But I’m glad I got married before the attack of the colored gowns.

Café accents look like your dress needs serious love from the dry cleaner.

And bright colors are too trendy for something as permanent as a marriage. I fear the brides of 2006 will look back on their wedding photos with the same repulsed twitch as the brides of 1986, as they lament their V-shaped headdresses and puffy lace sleeves.

Not that I’ll ever regret wearing a 20-foot veil. Oh, no, never.

My girlfriend Annie is doing it right. Her wedding ring is handcrafted and one-of-a-kind, which will never go out of style.

She ordered her ring from Krikawa Jewelry Designs, a family-operated business in Arizona. It’s a “mokume gane,” a solid band swirled with different colors and metals. The technique came from an ancient Japanese sword-making technique. Tough and timeless, like a marriage should be.

I wonder if my husband would be cool with draping our house in mokume gane.

Learn more at

Here are some other random thoughts about wedding style:

I do: Tuxedo companies are now making lightweight, beige-colored tuxes for casual beach or mountain weddings. Looks sharp, but not too stiff.

I don’t: Steve Martin’s daughter in “Father of the Bride” wore lacy tennis shoes, but that was more than 10 years ago. And flip-flops make you walk like a duck. If you must change during the reception, opt for white ballet flats.

It is possible to be simultaneously practical and beautiful. Not that I know anything about that.

Columns02 May 2009 03:24 pm


I volunteered to watch the 3-year-olds at church on Easter, not because I know squat about kids, but because I was all about the unofficial fashion show.

Kids on any normal day? Shrug. I could take ‘em or leave ‘em (the latter usually occurs alongside a shrill scream – mine or theirs). But Easter is the one day still preserved for frilly dresses, parades of pink, patent leather and floppy hats. The church halls are a runway, and if you’ve got a good seat, you might even spot a lacy bonnet or a satin bow.

On kids, of course. Even sporting a fully primped toddler, most parents I saw dragged through Easter wearing jeans, sneakers and a disheveled look that expressed exactly how delightful it was to get little Karli in those white tights.

My class was flowering with girly girls, including one named Dakota or Takoma or Toyota or something like that, who carried an antique beaded clasp clutch (destroyed in the Play-Doh after 12 seconds).

The kids were supposed to wear name tags. But it felt criminal disrupting those precious ensembles with a sticky “Hi, my name is” written in dull crayon.

And anyway, I’m fundamentally opposed to name tags. I never know where to stick them. Above the breast? My shirts are often too low-cut. Below the breast is basically my waist. And on the bull’s eye itself, the tag peels up at the edges if I don’t constantly re-smash it, which requires an awkward amount of public self-groping.

Oh, and don’t you dare give me a name tag with a pin. You’ve got a better chance of me sticking it through my eye than my chenille.

Speaking of name tags, my friend recently met a guy wearing a Sean Jean shirt and asked if that was his name. Later, she met a guy wearing G-Unit polo, and she asked if his shirt meant “gun it,” like when you hit the gas pedal, or if it was something French. You know “Gunet,” sort of like “Monet.”

If you can’t pronounce it, don’t wear it. That’s Boulderite Heather Smith’s theory.

This fall, Smith launched, an online boutique that supports sustainability and eco-consciousness.

She sells high-end beauty products, accessories and clothes, from designers like Burning Spear and Undesigned, that are made from organic, fair trade, renewable, recycled or sustainable fabrics. Designers must be “socially responsible,” and their materials natural and pronounceable.

“I like to understand my health and beauty products, how we use them on our body and how it affects our body,” Smith said. “And also how it’s grown and how your purchases affect the world around you.”

Smith sells Ananas purses made from banana plants. Her Burning Torch tunics are made from recycled vintage scarves. Her Spring and Clifton shirts are 80 percent bamboo and 20 percent cashmere. Those are two materials I can happily pronounce. Over and over again.

Right in time for Earth Day.

Feeling earthy?

Boulderite Jessica Franz-Christensen recently released her 2006 line of hip, organic maternity clothes and baby bedding at She says it takes about 1/3 of a pound of chemicals to grow enough cotton for one T-shirt – not something you want to swathe your pregnant belly in.

The University of Colorado’s Environmental Center is holding an “Earth Exposition” from noon to 5 p.m. today on Farrand Field on campus. It’s free and open to the public.

The event features environmentally and socially responsible products and services, including a fashion show. For more information, visit

Columns02 May 2009 03:23 pm


I don’t expect much.

Simply shower, get an occasional haircut, smell good and smile a lot, and chances are most guys will escape my fashion wrath. Unfortunately, the first three are a lot to ask for in Granolaville, Colo.

Sometimes I gaze dreamily at GQ, imagining walking down a suit-coat-and-cleanly-shaven Pearl Street. On a recent visit to London, I was floored to discover even the bodies gettin’ crunk in the clubs sported dapper suits.

Back home, I seriously considered going on a rampage with a knife, attacking Boulder’s massive gang of “skullets,” aka “granola mullets,” aka scraggly ponytails grown extra long to try to counterbalance the balding skull.

Even at Boulder County’s premier daily news outlet (not to specify or anything), male species often crawl about wearing biking Spandex, bare feet and sweat-ringed T-shirts. Jeans are reserved for fancy interviews, like the hero who planted ganja in the Pearl Street flower bed, or the captain of the prairie dog protests.

Then there’s JJ Collier, a diamond in our rough, snap-worthy enough to take on an entire herd of roving skullets with his perfectly tailored suit jacket.

Collier, 34, gets it. He rocks classic styles with a modern twist and emphasizes good quality, a good cut and careful proportion. Like his outfit last week, which incidentally changed about five times during our two-hour meeting, but included a white thermal, a tan button-down and a black leather vest.

Not only does Collier look put-together, he is the reason men across the globe do, too. Boulder’s very own Collier is the design director for Ralph Lauren Polo’s RLX technical outerwear. Thank him and his design troupe for some of the hottest streetwear-meets-the-sports duds out there. They outfit Aspen Skiing Company. They also rule the nautical, golf, box-fitness, off-road and outdoor/trail style.

My fave thing about Collier: He was a professional snowboarder. He didn’t attend fashion-design school or set out to beautify the slopes, so his ideas are raw. They evolve from passion and practicality (the Chassis Jacket features a three-layer shell with dual venting, a removable hood and powder skirt).

Oh, yeah, and luxury.

Collier let me try on the black and red women’s F1 down vest, made from “Plonge” leather. I think he realized that was a mistake when my drool glands kicked into overdrive, nearly sending me racing out of his studio with the $900 vest I can never afford.

I might have tried to get away, too, if it weren’t for the pimped-out racing Porsche sitting in front of Collier’s house, which would have killed the Daily Camera’s clunky SUV. At least I no longer wonder why most of RLX’s style are named after cars.

To be honest, even London men have style issues. My waiter at this one Thai restaurant was adorable and trendy, until he turned around. Climbing down his neck was a rattail. A skinny mullet that is sometimes (eek) braided. Rattails remind me of that one stray hair on my ankle that I always miss when shaving.

My table only had chopsticks or I might’ve sliced that hair-snake right off, right then.

LaDon Smith, the owner of Longmont-based The Men’s Room, tries her best to keep Boulder County rattail-free.

Smith is fundamentally opposed to mullets, rattails and comb-overs, the three deadly sins of man-dos. She also doesn’t do perms or dye, so you don’t need a gas mask to enter the building.

The Men’s Room, 415 Coffman St., is a men’s-specific salon. Six months ago, it partnered with Judy Brand’s JB Skincare for Men, which hooks up guys with facials, waxing and all that goodness. Not just metrosexual pretty-boys, either. One of Brandt’s regulars is a rodeo cowboy who likes to relieve his skin from the grime of the arena.

Men’s beauty is the fastest growing area in her industry, Brand says. It used to be considered frou-frou, but increasingly more guys today appreciate the joy of an occasional snippy-snip and back wax. Between RLX, the Men’s Room and JB Skincare, Boulder’s boys should put the London rats to shame.

Brand recommends washing your face nightly, and not with a bar of harsh soap. Use sunscreen and moisturizer. Don’t shave against the grain or you’ll get in-grown hairs. Brush your teeth. Clean behind your ears. Come on, Sir Skullet, do we really need to tell you this?

That’s rhetorical, of course.

Columns02 May 2009 03:22 pm


I was asking for this.

I’ve been swaggering in skyscraper-high heels since I learned how to balance in them, long before I could even drive a car. It’s tough being 5-foot-nothing-tall. I tried to compensate.

Until my brown and gold suede wedges did me in last month. The walk home from the club that evening was like walking on nails. I woke up in the middle of the night with electric shocks going through my feet. Now I can’t run without fighting bucking charley horses in both arches.

My dad, who is definitely not a doctor, diagnosed me with “plantar fasciitis.” Dr. Dad says no running. No tall shoes until it goes away.

Dr. Dad has relegated me to sneakers. With arch supports. I’ve had to entirely reinvent my style. Pretend I’m Sporty Spice instead of the love child of Posh and Baby.

Granted, my red Saucony kicks beat grandmotherly orthopedic flats. But it hurt my heart on Saturday to pair them with my satin corset and lacy cardigan, while a pair of stilettos was shining, abandoned, in my closet. Plus, now everyone knows my true height.

It’s tough to be forced to change your style for medical purposes. I know my arch aches are nothing. Go ahead, make fun of me. Still. This has given me a new perspective on fashion.

I recently had tea with Kim Decker, of Boulder. Decker, 33, found out she had breast cancer the spring of 2004. Her surgery was followed by four months of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation. One day, she noticed her wrist was so swollen she couldn’t see her tendons.

Turned out she had lymphedema, the chronic swelling of a body part common with breast cancer surgery and treatment. To ease the pain and swelling, she needed to wear a tan “compression garment” that about as lovely as an Ace bandage wrap.

Not only was it ug, it was a constant reminder of Decker’s condition. When it was warm outside or her arm was too swollen, she couldn’t hide it under long sleeves.

So she decided to make something beautiful out of her condition. She created the “Sliver,” a detached sleeve she could wear over her compression thingy. She made an elegant one with a “V” shape that connects over the hand onto the middle finger. She made others out of different patterns, organic cotton blends and silk.

The Sliver also has adjustable snaps and covers the upper arm, unlike tall gloves or what I like to call “formers,” i.e. leg warmers for your forearms.

Check Decker’s products out online at She is hoping to soon sell them in specialty boutiques and physical therapy clinics that treat lymphedema.

As Decker says, “We all have ailments of some kind. I just like to forget about mine for a little while and the Sliver helps me have fun doing that.”

Don’t underestimate the power of feeling pretty.

Take, a non-profit group designed to help cancer survivors improve their quality of life and body image through clothes.

Feeling good about yourself is empowering, Decker says.

“It’s part of your getting back into the world of feeling normal again,” she says.

The Shop Well Web site recommends clothes that make you feel confident and comfortable. It says warm colors, such as red and rose, can flatter a skin tone that changes during chemo treatment. And natural, breathable fabrics, such as cotton and silk, can ease the quickly changing body temperatures.

“It’s a celebration. I am alive,” Decker says of her style. “I can wear what I want and look nice and feel good. When I look down at my hand, I don’t have to see that dingy compression sleeve. I can see purple or another color. And that makes me smile.”

Decker will have a booth at the 25th-annual Day of Caring for Breast Cancer Awareness from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 13 at the Denver Merchandise Mart, 451 East 58th Ave., in Denver. Learn more at

Decker has plans for other products, including a watch to remind patients when to take their pills and decorative wrist supports for people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.

I wonder if she can design me some sassy, arch-friendly, suede wedges. Or maybe a chic Sliver to slide over my Saucony kicks.

Columns02 May 2009 03:20 pm


The terrain is perilous. I tug my hat tightly against my head and charge forward, across an expanse of black ice and snow drifts. I forge through the entrance. I know it is dangerous for me to go here – especially now, when I’m not financially or mentally prepared. But this is my job. I’ve been trained for this work. And at 10 a.m. Monday, there’s no way out.

Within seconds, my eyes land on the first skull. I knew there would be many craggy bones and skeletons in this midst, but I simply wasn’t prepared for how many.

I spin on my heels and nearly collide with another skull, this one flaming. Now I stumble into The Buckle. I’m at the FlatIron Crossing mall in Broomfield. Around every corner is another T-shirt or hoodie adorned by a skull and crossbones.

How did this happen? I wonder. It’s fashion genocide.

And oh so sexy.

I bought my first skull and crossbones T-shirt at Urban Outfitters on Pearl Street last August. I loved the bad-girl flare, because, let’s face it, I needed something to counteract my natural childishness. Thought it’d make me look tough. A nasty girl. Grr.

Since then, I have seen skulls slowly taking over the female fashion world. Two for $10 at Charlotte Russe. My boss even recently bought her gorgeous daughter a pair of pink booties, accented by black skulls.

My husband loves them, too, because a skull and crossbones is the symbol for his college fraternity. He thinks Sig Ep is behind this whole movement.

Not that he’d wear a crossbones tee. This trend is nearly exclusively feminine.

The new manly emblem is birds and other winged creatures. I don’t know who decided this. But check Express Men, for starters. Eagles and angels abound.

Hmm. You know, angels are my sorority’s symbol. Is there a Greek conspiracy going on?

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