A collection of tote bags with flat straps so they won't fall off your shoulder.

Tote Bags with Flat Handles: A Very Particular Request

I was DMing on Facebook with my friend Chris and she was asking me if I could think of a good tote bag without rolled handles. I was baffled as to why she didn’t want rolled handles but Chris has a very active life. With a pre-school aged child, a busy career and an online community devoted to baby-wearing on a budget this is a woman who knows what she needs and why.

Chris is like many other women who want a flat handle. The rolled shoulders slide off her shoulders.

So I went in search of great, not good but great, tote bags that feature flat shoulder straps. Here are my favorites. Whenever possible I’ve included everything from OMG that’s expensive to OMG that’s all? To etsy, loaners, and secondhand finds.

img src=”http://wearemidlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/tote-bags-with-flat-handles.png

Every woman should own a crisp white shirt. She should also have a few interesting tees and a basic silk or two. Here are eight budget friendly options.

White Shirts: Not All White Shirts are Created Equal

What are you wearing today?

Jeans and white top.


This is a look that could go a lot of different directions. You could look like Elvis. You could look like Courtney Love, or you might be channeling Sarah Michelle Gellar. Maybe you’re gardening, maybe you’re wearing silk, maybe you’re wearing off the shoulder bell sleeves from Zara that will be in style for exactly 54 seconds.

Jeans and a blouse, a skirt and a blouse, jeans and a tee… however it is that you get the job done – the trick is to get an interesting top. With that in mind, we’ve found these eight essential white tops that will keep your closet interesting.

Are you Courtney Love or a Sarah Michelle Gellar? A white shirt does nott have to be boring, here are eight great options.

Levears Specialized Earring Backs: THE Solution for Heavy Earrings

I was having coffee (of course I was) the other day with a girlfriend and we were talking about accessories. I mentioned that we’d been sent some earring backs from Levears. They’re meant to secure larger earrings so that your earlobes aren’t drooping. She looked confused so I explained that they had some size to them without the heft so your oversized studs no longer look like they are falling out of your ear. I suspect that over time they’d even keep your piercing from stretching out in the first place.

We wondered if Levears would keep earrings from drooping. The answer was yes. Click through for a coupon code.


I told her that I was headed out to get some really big earrings to see if they work. The next thing I knew she’d dropped in my mail box a large pair of cubic zirconia earrings to test the earring backs.

My friend is a house manager and she knows all the tricks. Including earring storage. Use a piece of ribbon to keep pairs together.

I should mention that this is my most organized friend. She’s an accomplished homemaker and a personal shopper extraordinaire. All of this makes her uniquely qualified to be the home manager for an extremely busy and famous television producer. She provides the details of organization and beauty that most of us will not only never experience, but not even know can exist. She stores earrings on colorful ribbon scraps to keep them organized for goodness sake!

In any event, I was excited to test out the Levears earring backs to see if they worked.  Have you ever worn a pair of earrings that end up drooping forward, so they end up facing the ground?  I have had some big earrings (gosh, remember the 80’s?) and no matter what kind of back I used, they looked like they were going to fall off. The unique backing of Levears held the earrings so they don’t droop forward. No longer are the earrings facing the floor!

It was funny because I decided to test them for a couple of days in a row. It’s important to us that we only recommend products that we really believe in. I ended up touching my ears every 30 minutes or so. Even though they were perfectly secure it’s been a lifetime of quick checks whenever I wear earrings that are over a certain weight and the habit was hard to undo.

Now I have this perfectly useless habit and I’m wondering how long it will take before it’s broken.

After nearly a week of use with several different pair of oversized studs as well as one pair of tassel earrings both Jessica and I are impressed with how well these work. We think you will be too.

These earrings never droop because Levears earring backs hold it all together.

One of the many things we love about Levears.com is that shipping is always free. One of the things you’ll love about Levears is entering WAM10 when you check out and getting 10% off your order.

If We Had a Queen Leader Her Name Would be Celeste

If the midlife community were to anoint ourselves just one leader it undoubtedly would be the great Celeste Barber. She’s a truth teller. A giggle maker. A holder of mirrors to our absurd celebrity culture.

She’s willing to be the butt of the joke. But really, is she? Or are the celebs?

Celeste Barbor accepts the Kelly Osborne challenge and the results are hilarious

Because let’s be candid I don’t even understand why Kelly Osborne took this photo. No one does.

Just a quick poke around Instagram with a quick search for #celestechallengeaccepted and you’ll find Barber recreating all sorts of interesting Instagram poses.

There are no words for any of this.

You’ll learn fun facts, like that boys lie but carbs do not.

Celeste Barbor accepts the Kendall Jenner challenge and we find out that boys lie but carbs do not

Also, who is this person and why are they doing this? I’ve often affirmed that your 20’s should be spent more naked but… well this is a head scratcher. Not Celeste’s photo. Celeste is perfection.

Celeste Barber the queen of midlife

We hope that if we find ourselves in Oz our leader would take us boating.

This is an entirely normal way to go boating.

Because the only thing more absurd than Celeste’s bikini photo on the bottom is whatever it is that’s happening on the bow of that ship.

And the only had better than my CREATIVE F*CKER hat is Celeste’s #CHALLENGEACCEPTED trucker hat. I feel like we could be friends.


What if you had a Navy Blue capsule wardrobe and stopped wearing black all the time?

Navy Blue and You

Everyone needs a LBD but how many of them do you have? Instead of loading up on more black dresses how about something navy? Much like black a navy palette allows you to add nearly any other color you’d like as an accent. It’s not bright but it’s not dreary. Too much black is… well it’s just too much.

Zara makes a basic navy blue tank top with a twist that inspired us to share more options with you.


We were looking at Zara’s website and came across this blouse, which is perfect for going out to dinner. Just toss your tee shirt in the corner, wear it with denim and add some heels.

There are other great options to build out your wardrobe in navy.  Zara has some really cute little satin shoes that will probably fall apart by the end of the season, but who even cares? They’re cute and cheap.

Stefanie created an inspiration board with a few basics. Note: no denim is included. Denim is always recommended. You cannot go wrong with denim. Well… unless you do this.

So do this instead:

Navy Separates for your capsule wardrobe

If you've ever wondered what a $2,500 iron looks like we are here to show you. We were invited to come see the new Miele Steam Ironing System. Which is a really great product for everyone from crafters to seamstresses and fashionistas. Of course we turned it a little silly but we also have some information to share. WeAreMidlife.com

Miele and Me: A Steam Iron System

When the folks at Miele invited Stefanie and me to visit the showroom and learn about Miele’s new steam ironing system I jumped at it. I might have sent an overly enthusiastic email about the four different dry cleaners/laundries I use. I might have mentioned that my secret dream is to own a mangle. I might have come off like a complete and utter freak, and guess what? I don’t even care.

We both have Miele canister vacuum cleaners and we both needed vacuum bags too so we decided to call it an errand and booked an appointment.

We’d both seen the webpage for the Fashion Master but neither of us had seen it in action.

We went to the showroom on Robertson and were greeted with the Miele Fashion Master in it’s storage position. If you’re curious about the footprint of this it’s a lot like taking the space an ironing board occupies and making it square. Not much more of the closet than what mine already takes up, plus the iron and steamer are included.

Miele Steam Ironing System

The folks at Miele set the system up and we were curious how it would work for different heights. The ironing board does adjust quite high so if you’re taller it’s a treat to have an ironing board that actually suits you. Then they were like, would you like to try it and we did this:

The Miele Steam Iron System has a heated ironing board as well as a blower

After giggling a bit we got in there and played with some of the features. Seamstresses and crafters already know that a heated ironing board cuts your time in half, maybe more. Adding fans to the board as well as a nonstick-delicate soleplate means that you can steam silks and screen prints without scorching anything.

A heated ironing board means that you don't have the flip your shirts over. You can just iron on one side and be finished

The steam is simple and you can use tap water. The system has water testing available so you can adapt it to suit your water’s mineral levels. It also lets you know when it’s time to descale. We did not see descaling (not time yet) but it appears to be as simple as using a cleaning solution and pressing a button as there is a computer system that cares for it all. Stefanie and I are accustomed to descaling as I do so for my teapot and she does for her coffee maker.

Once we tried the Miele Iron it was fun for everyone.

We started to use the Miele Ironing system and then burst into laughter after realizing that we'd just driven across town to do chores! www.WeAreMidlife.com

In fact everyone got a little silly, check behind us at the register.

We were having so much fun laughing while we were trying the Miele Steam Ironing System that even the store employees got in on the silliness. www.WeAreMidlife.com

We did get to ironing and there are some things about this that make it right system for the right buyer. Firstly, whomever owns this needs to be forward thinking and completely devoted to an impeccable wardrobe. The model we played with is priced at $2,499 and there’s another available at $1,999. I spend about $40 a week at the laundry and more still at the dry cleaner. I’d be wise to buy something like this and iron at home. I am not wise but I’m working on it.

For a seamstress or a crafter this makes infinite sense. The lightweight iron, the fact that the steam never drips, the ability to handle delicate fabrics and the structure of the board will make your hobby even more fun and productive.

Miele honeycomb makes it difficult to scorch your clothing with their iron

The honeycomb pattern makes it difficult to scorch your clothing and the extra template for delicates means that you can manage silks at home. A soft pad and heated board enable you to iron right over buttons and not in between them. This will cut down on loose threads and a significant amount of time. You just put the shirt button side down and run the iron.

Miele Fashion Master Steam Iron System has a board that heats up so you can iron right over the buttons.
We ironed a shirt right over the buttons, no more of that in-between.

Miele Fashion Master Steam Iron System has a board that heats up so you can iron over the buttons.

If the Miele Fashion Master reminds you of the giants rigs you see at the dry cleaner, you’re right. It’s a scaled down version of what the pros use.

Miele honeycomb makes it difficult to scorch your clothing with their iron

I’m curious what y’all are using at home and if your ironing board is tall enough for you? Mine is not. It was fun not having to hunch over.

We were invited to come see the new Miele Steam Ironing System. Which is a really great product for everyone from crafters to seamstresses and fashionistas. Of course we turned it a little silly but we also have some information to share. WeAreMidlife.com


Summertime outfit ideas that take you from day to night in style and keep you cool and comfortable.

Summer Outfit Idea: Wide Leg Pants

It’s summer and I have been ogling all the cute things in the stores, mostly wide leg pants because they are so comfortable when the weather gets hot. Here inn Los Angeles come July, we are all looking for the most comfortable things to wear. I love an outfit that can be worn for both day and night with a simple change of shirts, to brunch, the girls night out, wherever your heart desires.

Outfit Idea




A case study in how to not apologize

When Mean Girls Hit Midlife

This morning Jessica posted this photo to Instagram.

Like a lot of women who are born and bred in Los Angeles I have a difficult relationship with the sun. I love it. I love summer more than anything and if I had a zillion dollars I’d chase the summer all over the globe. Alas, the sun is responsible for most of our skin’s aging and we need to protect our eyes as well. So I’m slathered in sunscreen (read about that on the blog), and often in a hat and sunglasses too. I’m enjoying this off the shoulder romper but I think that the blousy style is more flattering for women with smaller bustlines. I’m worried that I’m adding loads of fabric and creating heft. You’ll see tomorrow when I show the whole look. #romper #ChanelSunglasses #clubmonaco #over40style #realoutfitgram

A post shared by Jessica & Stefanie | Midlife (@wearemidlife) on

You’ll notice that the caption ends with:

I’m enjoying this off the shoulder romper but I think that the blousy style is more flattering for women with smaller bustlines. I’m worried that I’m adding loads of fabric and creating heft. You’ll see tomorrow when I show the whole look.

Jessica and I have very different figures but we are exactly the same size in clothing and shoes. We don’t wear the same things often because every body is different and one of the things that we’ve both experienced since launching @WeAreMidlife is an appreciation for our bodies as support for our minds, emotions, and health. Interestingly all these photos have freed us from some levels of vanity. We wear less makeup, we don’t touch up imperfections (except cracks on walls), and we’ve learned to delight in the photos our midlife community shares on Instagram. It’s a really special corner of the web most of the time.

We share photos of ourselves in outfits and settings where we are not always feeling most confident.

Shortly after posting this morning Jessica texted me a photo that the founder of a blouse company had shared. It’s a woman who looks an awful lot like Jessica sitting on the subway, minding her own business, and looking adorable for springtime. Unfortunately the founder of this company snapped this woman’s photo …. well, you take a look.

When Mean Girls Hit Midlife: This photo was taken of another person without her permission and shared publicly as what not to wear. We disagree. We think she looks fabulous on the outside and we're willing to bet she'd prettier on the inside than the person who took her photo.

You will never convince me that humiliating strangers will sell a blouse. For the record (not that it should matter), this subway riding lady looked good.

Since we share an account, before we do anything that could be seen as controversial we always chat. After a quick phone call to follow up we left the following comment:

Gentle reminder: this is a real person with real feelings. 

After which many other comments were left in the same vein. Some not so kind. Some downright angry. The account owner was defensive and seemed to genuinely believe that this photo was providing some sort of public service.

After a few back and forths with a rabid Instagram community the photo was removed and this was posted. I’ve blocked out the names because we do believe that the account owner is entitled to make mistakes in relative privacy. It’s a small account and we hope that after some introspection there will be enlightenment.

A case study in how to not apologize

@WeAreMidlife has been on Instagram for almost a year now, and we started this account to celebrate women in midlife – but really women at any age. This is the first online community that I can say I’ve created. I’ve found it to be both rewarding and fascinating. Many people that we follow and who follow us feel like friends now, and I enjoy that immensely. This is a new and exciting experience for me.

Recently a woman who I’ve never met before, but have interacted with a lot on Instagram was body shamed. Many people stood up to the bullying, reported it to Instagram, and then Instagram shut down the account.

Glamour Magazine’s Do’s and Don’ts page was a source of young adult angst for me. I remember getting dressed in my early 20’s thinking, “Thank God I don’t live in New York City – I am sure that I am a Glamour Don’t right now.” It took me a while to figure out my style and I made many a fashion faux pas.

I can’t imagine a photo of me being on the internet as the subject of ridicule, can you?

Author Brene Brown said in her book Rising Strong, “appearance and body-image fear- the most common shame trigger for women.” When you want to hurt a woman emotionally, criticize her appearance.

Not long ago former Playboy model Dani Mathers took a picture of an unsuspecting nude 70 year old woman in the locker room of her gym. When she posted it on SnapChat for all of her followers to see it became a crime.

What I saw today was no different than what Mathers did to her victim. Which leads me to say, a 70 year old women should be celebrated, heck she’s at the gym-you go girl! Dani Mothers is now banned from all LA Fitness gyms and has been sentenced to 30 days (240 hours) of graffiti removal and had to take an anti-bullying course. After looking at her twitter account I am not sure she has learned much from this experience.

I am glad to see people standing up to body shaming and bullying in any way.

I am hopeful that we can present our daughters and sons opportunities to build their self esteem so that they are builders of communities like our friend Jaimie. I hope that I’m raising kids who recognize the beauty in the people around them. I hope that younger women on Instagram can see our account and see that there is so much to benefit from by encouraging everyone. First they must have solid role models, and we are obligated to be those role models.

Shopping tips to stay on trend but still in a classic style with straw purses, the must have accessory for spring time.

Straw Bags for Springtime

If you’ve ever sat with Jessica and me you’ve heard us talk about the difference between a trend piece and an investment piece. We are never opposed to owning fashion or accessories that are on trend but we blanch at overspending on them.

Style is lasting. Trends come and go. Every so often there’s a trend that you know is really a classic in disguise and this summer the straw handbag is exactly that trend. It’s a classically elegant style that comes out of hiding once or twice in a decade.

We love straw bags because when you’re trapped in the city you feel like you’re in the country. When you’re trapped in the country you can pretend like you’re on a beach. When you’re on the beach you can shake the sand right out of them without opening a zipper, latch or drawstring.

This spring’s ubiquitous bag is clearly the Indigo & Lavender straw bag from Madewell. You’ll see it all over Instagram and all over town. Sometimes when you see a bag everywhere it’s because it’s a great idea. Sometimes when you see a bag everywhere it’s boring as all get out. We’re going with the former.

We are in love with the giant straw disc.

I have my own favorite straw bags. I have bought them over the years, one was a Mother’s Day gift from my husband. I typically only wear them a few days a year but this season will be different. This is the year that my bags get a lot of wear.

You see, straw bags really are an investment piece. It’s an accessory that’s timeless and will pay you back in a few years when the trend is straw bags and yours is just a little different.

Summer Basket Purses


Here are some great options ranging from  a modest $54 to very not modest numbers

Weaved basket
$54 – chairish.com

Betsey Johnson glitter handbag
$108 – macys.com

JADEtribe round purse
$142 – saksfifthavenue.com

Patricia nash bag
$149 – macys.com

Orange home decor
$150 – shop.harpersbazaar.com

Edie Parker tote bag purse
$995 – modaoperandi.com

Edie Parker crossbody tote bag
$1017 – net-a-porter.com

Mark Cross leather bucket bag
$1786 – matchesfashion.com
I learned early on that the right undergarment makes all the difference in how your clothing looks and getting properly fitted for a bra is just as important as proper tailoring. www.wearemidlife.com

Q & A With Sandra Mimran: Founder of Boost, Lingerie for Small Frames with Big Bustlines

We first noticed Sandra Mimran and Boost on Instagram @boostwr. Like Sandra, Jessica has a larger bust line on a smaller frame and solutions are always welcome. When we noticed that she was launching this company at 50 we were immediately fans and peppered her with a million questions (okay 29 of them). For everyone who ever wanted to know what it’s like to launch a brand at 50 here’s our Q & A with Sandra Mimran of Boost.

What is your work background? 

When my kids were younger I worked in an internet startup which procured auction experiences for charities. When the kids got a little older I transitioned to residential real estate, which I’ve been doing for the last 14 years.

When I turned 50 I wanted to change direction and pursue something where I could integrate a fashion brand with a cause. My passion for fashion started in utero, as my mother was a high-end seamstress, and although I can’t even sew a button I’ve always had an eye for design and detail. Lingerie has been on my radar since I was 16, when it became clear there was nothing available for my body type. It’s something that I kept coming back to, especially since my shape was changing and there was still nothing suitable in the marketplace. I knew that I wanted to address this in the marketplace through an effective design but finding the right team to execute my vision took much longer.

Currently the most common bra size is the US is 34DD


How long should a bra last?

Two years max, depending on the wear and tear and how often they are hand-washed. Bras stretch over time, but more importantly our bodies are constantly changing, which also means breast sizes change. I can be 3 different sizes in a month.

How many times should a bra be worn before it’s laundered?

I’m a pretty active person and with my hormone fluctuations I feel warmer than most, so for me it’s 3 times, then a hand wash.

Do people really expect us to hand launder these things?

My garment is “machine wash” which I know is important for convenience. As for a bra, hand washing them is the only way to keep it’s shape and fit. And for us bustier girls, where the average bra is at least $80.00, we’ll take the time to give them some TLC.

[Editor’s note: We asked this question before getting the answer that Sandra actually hand washes her bras. Jessica pleads guilty to sending very expensive lingerie through the washing machine but at least it’s on the hand wash cycle.]

Where can a busty woman find a properly fitted shirt?

For me it’s been trial and error and it’s a combination of material and cut. There needs to be a bit of stretch in it and the shirt needs to be a little longer, since busty girls tend to be short waisted. I like Pink, Theory and Skinnyshirt for layering. I always carry Fashion Tape, just in case.

Are there underwires in this?

Boost is not a bra. I purposely designed Boost without underwire because chesty girls usually have to wear them all day and the last thing they want to do is lounge or sleep in it, but we constructed the garment in a way that still gives you a shape without any constriction! The pattern is very technical.

What do you friends say about this? Has anyone recommended therapy? It’s a BIG project.

lol…My friends have been extremely supportive (pardon the pun) and ironically the people that have inspired me the most have been from on-line communities, where I’ve never met any of them. This has been something I’ve wanted to do for years and it was now or never, has it been scary, hell YES, but facing my fear has been my therapy (and if you knew how much a NYC therapist costs, it’s actually cheaper to start a business).

What comes after Boost? Is this the beginning of a line?

The goal is to turn Boost into a brand, I have a lot of designs in my head, especially in activewear. The marketplace is slow to catch up with our changing shapes, and having shopped extensively and been routinely disappointed I know that I can come up with some solutions.


Do you think that it’s limited to the midlife + demographic?

Not at all! I really made this for my 16-year old self, when I shot up from a size A-DD in a year, and it evolved to my 50-year old self where I’m still the same size only now, I need a lift! I had a soft launch in November with a well attended trunk show — my customers ranged from 16-60, so I’d say it’s for everyone.