The Skort Report: Best in Show

After ten months of painstaking, daily research--and many, many golf skorts--I can tell you with confidence: one skort is better than all the others.

It does not come cheap, but it is worth it. If you want a black skort nice enough to wear with blazers, to business meetings, get this one. If you want a black skort comfortable enough to wear anywhere but also (miraculously) flattering on your figure, get this one. 

I am (sadly) paid nothing--by nobody, never!--for any of my observations. In future installments I will highlight other skorts which serve various functions -- but for my friends who wanted to know which skort to buy, and where, here you go.

If you have only one skort in your closet, it should be this one.

1. BEST IN SHOW: Jamie Sadock's Skinnylicious Skort

FORM: Comfortable and classy. This skort, my friends, is designed with the elegance of the Sistine Chapel. I mean it. It holds me in like Spanx® while being miraculously comfortable--no sucking-in, no ripping off my undergarment at day's end--and yet it flatters as well as any garment I have ever worn. The length is appropriate; the zipper at the hem is slightly sexy; the material is fine enough to enter the boardroom, the classroom, the editing room . . . maybe even the bedroom. 

FUNCTION: Smart and sexy. The inner short hugs the body like workout gear, while the outer skirt falls away in a most appealing shape. This thing is Project-Runway-worthy, folks! It is constructed of some high-tech miracle fabric: stain-resistant breathable; it looks downright expensive, On "fat days," when I have a meeting, when I want to look especially good, when I want be comfy and appropriate all at once -- day after day, I reach for this beautiful skort.

The engineering of the three pockets is deeply satisfying. All on the right side of the body, they are deep enough to hold an iPhone without a terribly unsightly bulge. This is a skort that almost allows me to go without a pocketbook (not quite--because I am a packrat--but close)!

Neat and nimble. My first chance to try a stand-up paddle board--an experience so glorious it changed my life!--occurred while I was wearing this skort. I wanted to practice falling in the water to see how easily I could get up (easy-peasy-lemon-sqeezey!), so I went right into the drink. The skort prevailed. It dried as quickly as a mountaineer's tent and looked gorgeous the rest of the day. 

FASHION: It's gorgeous. This is the skort I have worn to weddings, funerals, and business meetings. The metal zippers are functional but add a kick-ass flair (they have also never stuck or broken, which is a miracle, considering the marathon I have put them through!).

It looks as great with a motorcycle jacket as a tucked-in silk blouse and blazer. With flip-flops at the beach, with pumps, with boots and leg warmers, even with running shoes and on a casual bicycle ride, this skort looks great, fits well and feels good! 

It comes with gold or silver zippers, and I started my year-of-skirts with one of each. I have since purchased two more because I realized I could really have nothing else, ever, in my closet, and be pretty satisfied. (One of the new ones I preserve for "good," the others I wear daily.)

FLAWS: This skort tends to wrinkle--deep, lap creases when I sit for long periods--which bugs me, but I wear it anyway; it still looks okay. The stiffness of the fabric makes it so flattering, the lap creases are a decent trade-off.

I have worn these skorts excessively and they show some wear--the fabric is a little frayed at the seams. The tags are correct: for best results, this skort should be dry-cleaned. The one time I did schlep mine to the cleaner's the results were awesome. It looked brand-new. With normal wear and proper care, this skort should last just fine. I have abused mine and they have performed heroically.

I wish there were pockets on both sides of this well-designed garment. (I believe Ms. Sadock has just released a similar design with more pockets--can't wait to try it.)

FEE: A good skort does not come cheap. All year, this garment cost about $110, and (trust me) it rarely goes on sale anywhere. I have bought all mine at the PGA Tour Superstore, because they have provided excellent service all year. And RIGHT NOW this skort is on sale!! Grab it while you can!!

[For more tips on shopping for the right skort, read this.]


The Skort Report--Definition of Terms

After ten months of daily, painstaking research, I know my SKORTS. My friends have asked me for my recommendations: Where should they buy a skort? Which skort should they buy?

Beginning this week, I introduce The Skort Report: a shopping guide to the best skorts money can buy!

Take notes, Ladies, and get shopping . . . let the glory of the skort simplify and revolutionize YOUR life, too!

To be certain we are all on the same page, we begin with

Definitions of SKORT Terms:

Upcoming Installments in The Skort Report:

Best in Show: The Best Skort Money Can Buy

Best Skort for Travel

Best Skort for the Beach

Best Skort for Pretending You Are Wearing Your Pajamas All Day

Best Skort with a Belt

Honorable Mention

Skorts on the Fly: Packing for Travel

Well. My primary assumption about what to pack for air travel is wildly out-of-date. I’m a carry-on girl from way back. My ability to “pack light” is a point of (rather perverse) pride. I suppose it’s a hold-over from more vagabond days, when my imperative to carry nothing more than a backpack kept me free to go anywhere and do anything. I also had my share of luggage lost in the 1980s, delivered to me by van several days after I had started vacation. And then the concept of paying for checked bags entered the zeitgeist, adding fuel to my already indignant fire. Yes, I am a carry-on girl, and proud of it.

Things, they are a-changin’. It is now often cheaper to check a bag than to carry one on-board the airplane. The allowable dimensions for carry-on luggage have shrunk like a sweater in the dryer. The airlines are absolutely encouraging us to check our suitcases at the curb and trust that we will meet them again at our final destinations. If I’m going to check a bag when I travel, I no longer have any reason to pack only the bare necessities. And yet—as my brilliant and hilarious girlfriend Pat recently said—“packing for a vacation can send me into therapy.”

I have just returned from a six-day trip to see my family and my editor. I did check a bag, swallowing my pride as I paid for the privilege. I stuck to my wardrobe rules for the year, of course, which certainly streamlines the process of packing. Skorts travel well. Still, I will do things differently when next month I make another jaunt.
I have always packed for travel the way I now dress—a sense of uniform prevails. Neutral pieces that all go together are the name of the game—an adult version of Garanimals, the company that first brought “mix-and-match separates” to an art form. First I take inventory of all the activities my trip will entail, then I force myself to pack as few pieces as possible that can be combined to meet any demands of my journey.

For example, last week I knew I should be prepared for the following:

1. Meetings with my editor and a potential franchisee—both totally casual. Of course I wanted to look my very best, but being in a “creative field” has its perks.
2. Heavy lounging, relaxing, story-telling and card-playing with my extended family
3. A night on the town, including a performance of a touring Broadway show
4. Daily exercise
5. Swimming and boating and sitting around a giant fire as the sun dips into the lake
6. Warm (hot) days and cool (cold) nights

I took three skorts – one is wrinkle-free and best for travel days; one is most flattering but best for standing events because it wrinkles; one is great for everyday – and a small collection of sleeveless back tops. I wore a denim jacket on the plane and took one black cardigan and a thin windbreaker-type jacket. I wore one big gauzy scarf and packed another. As is my custom, I wore cowboy boots on the plane, and I packed a pair of nude wedges and my comfy, sporty, go-anywhere black FitFlops. And while I felt I had enough clothes to look appropriate at all times, I wish I had packed more.

One mistake I often make in packing is to underestimate the power of smell. I always think, “I have enough. If anything gets dirty, I can just do a little laundry.” If you know me, you know the likelihood of me doing laundry while I am travelling. No matter my good intentions, I just can’t force myself to do so vile a chore while I am enjoying my time away from regular life. So as I sit around those big fires on the beach and jump in and out of various bodies of water, my clothes absorb certain aromas. Walking city streets on other trips, or riding horses or bicycling through state parks—just any of the things one does when exploring new places—likewise leave their stench in the fibers of my togs. By the end of any sojourn, when I’ve done a particularly good job of mixing and matching and “packing light”, my clothes stink.

The airlines have offered me a lovely solution to this olfactory dilemma. Now that I feel like I have to check a bag—and it can weigh up to 50 pounds!—I am going to change my strategy.

In three weeks, I am going to New York City, for both business and pleasure, accompanied by two of my besties who are both enamored and a little frightened of the Big City. Again the list of things I should be prepared to do ranges from as dressed up as I will ever get to as casual as I want to be. We worry about the heat. Although mid-June is a far cry from late-July, summer in the City can be downright uncomfortable. We want to be prepared also for rain, and for air-conditioned theatres and museums. We want to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and maybe bicycle through the Park. We will visit old friends and we will pay visits to new business acquaintances. And of course, we will walk. A lot.

My new strategy:

I am going to use a rolling suitcase and check it at each curb. However we make our way between the airport and our lodging, we will have to keep in mind that we will be hauling big bags. (I am used to being completely mobile – the subway or a city bus are totally reasonable options when I want to save a buck and live like a local. Schlepping for blocks from public transport to my hotel never bothers me – great way to get a feel for the ‘hood! This trip, we may do a shared-ride or a taxi – you know, like grown-ups do.)
I am going to pack every single skort I have. That way, I will have nearly the full options of my regular wardrobe – I will have more than one skort for each day, even without doing laundry my threads should smell fresh as a daisy! The best part is this: ALL of my skorts, folded together, take up the suitcase space of about one pair of jeans.

One joy of checking our bags, of course, is that we can take all our beauty products without worrying about three-ounce bottles. We can take luxurious things, like our slippers or our nice cologne or a sick pair of heeled boots that really deserve a lap through SoHo before they die. We can take all the gifts we want to those we are visiting, plus the giant lenses for our cameras, and oh the possibilities for bringing home souvenirs! The airlines’ insistence that we check our bags can only boost the economy. I once had to curb my travel purchases to what would fit into my crowded carry-on bag – now we all have the freedom, and the room in our luggage, to shop ourselves into a collective coma.

So during my year of experimenting with simplicity, the airlines are encouraging a certain excess in our travel. As I pack, I will think of myself less like an intrepid adventurer, making do with as little as possible and using her wits to survive. Perhaps I will channel someone more civilized, try an older and lovelier approach to travel. Some character written by, maybe, Jane Austen or one of the Bronte sisters, who tucks all her love letters and her porcelain atomizer into her travel chest. The kind of woman who unpacks in every new place and surrounds herself with the accoutrements and comforts of home. Who travels with her own tea and biscuits, embroidered pillow, and a cameo of her mother. Who opens her silk parasol and dons her finest gown to go experience the wild abundance of new experience.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

4-Week Check-Up: April 28

NO CLOTHING PURCHASES

I have definitely felt pangs when I have seen really cute outfits for sale. It’s hard to define what they were—a little panic, a little frustration, a little sadness, I suppose. But whatever they are, the pangs have been brief and fleeting. I just remind myself that new clothing has nothing to do with me, and I move on. And then there is actually a little touch of relief.

Knowing I cannot possibly–according to the rules–buy whatever sumptuous material or smart cut or pretty detailing I admire means I don’t have to worry about it. About how to afford it, or justify it, or make it work with what I have already in my closet . . . new clothing, no matter how fabulous it might be, has nothing to do with me. Let’s channel our inner Stuart Smalley and agree, “and that’s okay.”

COMFORTABLE SHOES

I have purchased two pairs of shoes for the spring and summer seasons. I think it’s interesting that despite the caveat allowing myself to buy shoes, I haven’t felt very tempted. First of all, the shoes have to be comfortable—really, truly comfortable at all times while wearing them—so that disqualifies a lot of contenders for my pocketbook. Secondly, the idea of having just a few pair of shoes that are versatile and flexible (and comfortable) feels right. Rather like wearing a black skort every day, as a matter of fact. So I have a new set of nude wedges and a pair of stacked flip-flops with a little sparkle on the strap. Both totally comfy, both totally wearable to almost everything I can conceive for my life until August. We’ll see. I may have to step it up a little for a wedding or similar, but I kind of doubt it.

SKORT LIFE

In some ways, this is easier than I thought. Realizing that I can wear the exact same outfit to a funeral and a high school baseball game, feel comfortable and appropriate in both settings, and not raise a single eyebrow, is simply fascinating. And thrilling. It is as if I have come upon a great secret treasure that has been hidden behind a door I pass every day of my life.

A TALE OF WOE: LAUNDRY

The laundry aspect of this experiment is not my favorite. The laundry aspect of anything is never my favorite, ever, anywhere, anyhow. I hate doing laundry with a white-hot passion. I would rather scrub baseboards or pick up dog poop than do laundry. It is a perfectly Sisyphean task and I sense the gods mocking me every time I make the extra effort to iron a crease or button a shirt onto a hanger. I spend as little time in the laundry room as possible, do the minimum amount of work required, and resent every minute of it. The Skort365 experiment brings laundry to the forefront in two ways: I have to keep up on it, and I have to pay attention to the tags inside my clothes.

I began the month with seven skorts. My supportive husband gifted me with another one when he placed an order with an online discount golf-supply store. (More on the various skorts, their features and my ultimate reviews coming soon!) For any normal person, this supply should be plenty. But I get very dirty on a regular basis. My propensity to be covered in clay or paint or dirt means that I really have to keep up on the laundering of all seven (now eight!) skorts. It’s kind of a pain, but the upside is that I could wash all of them at once if I needed to, and feel like everything I own is tickety-boo. When all eight skorts are clean and folded, I feel like the possibilities are endless! With eight freshly laundered black golf skorts, I am a girl with the world on a string!

Knowing that I cannot buy any new clothes means I have to protect and take care of the ones I have. Already I have spent more time than I normally would tracking down a red scarf left behind at the theatre, plus I have donned an apron every time I have entered my studio to paint or the kitchen to cook. But it was a low moment indeed when I admitted the fact that I needed to do some hand-washing. Oh, woe is me! But the tag on that white sweater set insists I treat it with special care, and I like it and want to keep it nice, so hand-wash I did. For the first time in at least 15 years and probably many, many more. I gleefully rejected all hand-washing somewhere in middle school, when my mom extolled the benefits of the practice and made it clear that I would be expected to tend to my own delicates from there on out. I went without fussy items of clothing that needed so much personal attention, or I threw them into the machine and took my lumps when things got ruined.

Hand-washing still annoys me and feels like a gigantic waste of time. But I shall do it. Maybe there will be some zen-like side effects along the way; I’ll let you know.

HOW IS IT REALLY GOING?

It’s going swimmingly. It’s like not even a thing, most of the time. I just do it (wear a skort and comfy shoes) or don’t do it (buy new clothing) and I hardly notice any of it at all. Without a doubt I have spent less time this month worrying about what to wear. Without a doubt I feel more comfortable in my clothing and in my skin and with my self. It will come as no surprise to the rest of you, who are more evolved than I am, that people seem to treat me exactly as they always have.

Ain’t nothin’ but a thing.

Comfortable out of My Comfort Zone? On Dressing for a Special Occasion

Despite appearances to the contrary, my primary goal when getting dressed is to look appropriate. Don’t get me wrong: I like to sparkle, but I try to do so within the boundaries of what is appropriate. I am in my comfort zone when I feel confident that my outfit will be approved—and, yes, I hope even admired—by those around me. I really wish there were published rules for every social occasion. I am so much happier knowing when a hat or covered shoulders or a designer handbag is required. It’s a funny little irony that this experiment (learning to be comfortable in my clothing) requires me to step so far outside my (social) comfort zone. 

The most difficult task in the past three weeks has been contemplating Easter Sunday. For Easter, I feel an imperative I have learned is not unique: I want to look a little bit fancy. The annual habit of wearing pastel ruffled dresses and shiny new shoes dies hard. On a barely conscious level, a lot of girls feel compelled to fuss with white gloves and lace-trimmed anklets, hats and purses, flowers and baskets and bunnies and bows. When it comes right down to it, every Easter I fight the urge to buy a frilly new dress and—so help me God—a bonnet.

I am almost always disappointed in my Easter attire. In Colorado, it usually feels like brand-new springtime on Easter Sunday. The sun blazes in an azure sky and the sweet scent of the Russian olive trees hangs lightly in the air. I want to bare my skin and dress to match the showy blossoms springing up all over. But I haven’t quite shed the winter layer of my skin. My toes, upper arms and knees are not quite ready to see the light of day. A kicky little floral dress that might look beautiful on me in July is a mistake in March or April. What’s more, I have often selected outfits that look more like my idea of Easter than they look like me. I recall an asymmetrical linen, mauve suit in the 1980’s, for example, and an early-nineties shapeless lavender sheath intended for a much, much taller woman. Easter is often a case of the dress wearing me. All the time and energy I spend planning what to wear inevitably lead to disappointment and hating all Easter photos of myself.

So this year, as I noticed the thawing of the earth and the end of Lent, I was aware of a slight panic creeping up my spine. I mostly kept it at bay and tried to trust that when it came time to choose my Easter ensemble, I would have what I needed. I tried not to worry about it. Mostly, I didn’t.

Then on Saturday, it got Real. My husband and I drove to a neighboring town for a very special Easter vigil service at 8:00 PM. It was raining hard that night, but it was not terribly cold. I felt a familiar confusion mounting as I struggled between looking “appropriate” for Easter (light, bright, springy, flowery, pastel!) and “appropriate” for the time of day and the cold weather. I will admit I spent some time the night before trying on outfits in my closet. To no avail. I started to feel panicky and worried. Instead of laying out my entire outfit, as I used to do, I went to bed. I looked at my closet, assured myself I would find something appropriate, and fell asleep in peace.

It worked. On Saturday night, I chose a white twinset with gold and silver embellishments. I wore my new low nude wedges because I thought they were neutral enough not to matter. The church was warm and the service was long, so I was happy I had not caved into the weather and opted for boots. I also wore a big gauzy scarf, the value of which my pre-menopausal friends and I are discovering together. The possibilities for layering in response to any crazy temperature change are fabulous!

I wore the same outfit the next day, minus the scarf. In order to do this, I had to talk myself past a few roadblocks, as such: 

1. I would not be seeing any of the same people on Sunday. Only my husband and children will know that I am wearing the same things two days in a row. And I certainly know they won’t care.
2. My skort and white sweater set are not an Easter dress. And that’s okay. I am a grown woman. As hard as this is to swallow, I do not require a twirly dress for any occasion.
3. The best word to describe our family Easter celebrations is casual. Dinner is a raucous potluck; everyone sits everywhere to eat and drink and catch up on family news. It’s a huge group of people. Children run around and crack confetti-filled eggs on each other’s heads. Despite my inclination to dress in a “special” way, a comfortable skort makes more sense for this celebration than anything I have ever worn.
4. I did not wear a colorful Easter dress. For Easter, the priests’ robes are white and gold. My outfit, I decided, was in fact is as Easter-y as the ruffles, pastels, or bright florals tempting me each year with their siren songs.

My white and gold Easter vestments

My white and gold Easter vestments

Because I am still in the habit of seeking external cues and approval, the outfits of two others helped me contemplate my year-long experiment in terms of this first special occasion. First, my tall, beautiful, effortlessly appropriate cousin Jennifer showed up to the family celebration in a black skirt. It could have been a skort and in fact was an “exercise dress,” according to Jennifer, who found the concept amusing. Over the dress she wore a black-and-white-striped cardigan with a kickly little coral trim – tres springtime! On her feet were a pair of casual but attractive leather flip-flops that looked very, very comfortable. Realizing how attractive and appropriate she looked—and how very much we were dressed similarly—helped me realize I might also look attractive and appropriate. I started to look around. Many people were wearing black—skirts or shorts or trousers—with white, or with a pop of Easter color. No one over the age of 14 was wearing anything like a frilly dress, or even an outfit for much of a special occasion. 

I had a few truly wonderful conversations with cousins I don’t see often. I enjoyed the broad, unrestrained laughter of teenagers and young adults hearing stories about their parents’ pasts. I ate good food and loved the feeling of the sun on my face. I sat on the floor, on a couch, on a deck chair. I was comfortable. On Saturday night, we celebrated a life-changing event with one of my former students and his friends. I was honored and filled with joy to be included. And today, I do not hate the photos of me in my Easter finery.

The other outfit that helped me see things in a new way was the dress of a four-year-old girl. It was stripe-y and spring-y and bling-y. She wore it with contrasting and colorful tights and I admired her spunky sense of style. Then, as I watched her racing across the lawn in pursuit of those elusive colored eggs, it hit me. I can admire the bright beauty of a child, or a peony bush or a Technicolor double-rainbow on the horizon, without imitating it. My daily wardrobe does not in fact need to reflect the changing seasons or the mood of the occasion or my love of fun and color and design.

Indeed, when I don the gay apparel of a four-year-old child or of a Chinese ring-tailed pheasant (seriously, the colors are amazing!), I maybe look a little bit insane. A little clown-like. I have to admit it, as I stare this skort project in the face: maybe every so often I dress like a crazy person. Certainly people remember me based on how I dress. I’ve always assumed that was a Good Thing, but I’m re-thinking that idea, too. Perhaps I prefer it when people remember me based on our conversations, our connections, the times we laugh and cry and break bread together.

In my more subdued, more mature, more appropriate Easter togs, I felt just fine. I felt just like me. I felt comfortable, even though I started way outside my comfort zone. I wore something that felt mundane for this “special occasion,” but it turned out to be a perfectly special day, after all.