Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

It Was the Best of Times and the Worst of Times: The Oscars February 29, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 4:23 pm

Oh, the Oscars. I stomached as much as I could last night and kept going back to the yawn fest wondering all the while, why. Joining us was my niece and nephew-in-law. He is from Japan and it was the first time he’d ever watched American classic. Needless to say, I was a bit embarrassed for the U.S. The glitz and glam just weren’t there. Instead they were once again replaced by social and political whining.


I thought Chris Rock was funny at first, but his constant racial jabs grew tiresome real fast. And the politics. Double yawn. Sam Smith, a singer no less, wins an OSCAR and all he talks about is his sexual orientation. Leo wins his first Academy Award and proceeds on a tirade about climate change. People, you make millions pretending. Please stop pretending you can also save the world. But I digress…


Moving on to what really matters…the gowns! Here then is my recap:


Pity poor Emily Blunt who had to share the stage with this…

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Actress Charlize Theron attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Charlize Theron once again owned the red carpet in her amazing fiery red Dior. Just knowing she would be on the red carpet would make me say, “Okay, you win” even prior to the event. Case closed next case.



And shame on me for saying Hilary Swank hasn’t been heard from in years in my pre-Oscar blog. The girl still has it and this Michael Kors number that she graced the after parties in proved it. Loved the sparkles. Loved the simple slitted skirt. Even loved the shoes.

Hilary Swank





I also thought Naomi Watts looked stunning in her embellished Armani Prive as did sweet Jennifer Gardner in black Versace. Ben who?


HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Naomi Watts attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Jennifer Garner attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


A wicked case of “who wore it best” goes to Reese Witherspoon in Oscar de la Renta and Tina Fey in Atelier Versace. Both purple numbers were stunning but can you say awkward?

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Actress Reese Witherspoon attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Actress Tina Fey attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


I thought Rachel McAdams killed in in this body con green August Getty stunner, which as my niece said, consisted of very unforgiving fabric.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Actress Rachel McAdams attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)


Mindy Kaling. Who knew? She looked fabulous in this blue and black off-the-shoulder trained Elizabeth Kennedy. One of my “best dressed” for sure.

Mkaling M Kaling


As obnoxious as she is, Sarah Silverman cleaned up well (at least in her clothing) in this understated and chic Zac Posen. Now if we could only work on her mouth.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Actress Sarah Silverman attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)


Sofia Vergara generally looks hot on every Red Carpet albeit similar to any previous one, but I did like her strapless navy Marchesa ball gown. The girl knows what works on her curves and brings it. Every time.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Sofía Vergara attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)


I swooned over the movie “Brooklyn” but didn’t swoon over Saoirse Ronan’s emerald green Calvin Klein sparkler. I liked it but didn’t love it. And what’s up with two different earrings and why didn’t anyone ask her about them?

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Actress Saoirse Ronan attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


Best Actress winner Brie Larson looked flowy and airy in her ruffled periwinkle Gucci but again, it was okay to me. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it. (Hated her hair though…more on that later.)

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Actress Brie Larson attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


I have to include OU grad Olivia Munn in this elegant one-shoulder Stella McCartney. So simple and so stunning but orange? C’mon Olivia!

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Actress Olivia Munn attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)


Kate Bosworth wasn’t on the Red Carpet but when I saw photos of her at after parties in this gray Ralph and Russo I knew she had to make my list of faves.

Kate Bosworth


Every year there is that one couple that kills it. Brad and Angelina. Matthew and Camila. George and Amal. This year that award goes to Jennifer Flavin and Sylvester Stallone. Her black Saint Laurent was breathtaking. Sly might not have won the Oscar but his wife took home the gold fashion-wise. (Speaking of couples, can someone please get Gwen Stefani a dress? We get it girl. You stole the much younger husband but you’re a mom of boys! Hash tag act your age.)

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actor Sylvester Stallone (L) and Jennifer Flavin attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


Now for the hair. I thought it was so underwhelming last night. Middle part. Slicked back. No style. But that’s just me. Thank you Reese for keeping it real.


My “in between” look…wanted to love but something kept me from doing so…was Rooney Mara’s. There was just too much going on for my liking. I loved the beading and the winter white, but would have adored it more minus the slit and the layered bottom. And as Shawn Mullins one time sang, “she’d be a whole lot prettier if she smiled once in a while.”

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  Actress Rooney Mara attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images)


As for disappointments, hate me all you want but I thought Cate Blanchett’s gown was just that, disappointing. Commentators called it sea foam green, I saw 80’s mint green. And, as my niece commented, it was very “arts and craftsy.” Totally agree. It was a Pinterest creation well-done.

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Actress Cate Blanchett attends the 88th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 28, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)


I also loathed Best Supporting Actress Alicia Vikander’s yellow high-low, bubble hemmed number. I thought high-low was out. The Danish winner looked more Disney’s Belle than Hollywood movie star.




This truly breaks my heart to write, but Jennifer Lawrence was no bueno last night. The black lace tiered gown just didn’t live up to her impeccable Red Carpet rep. First time she’s failed to impress and it hurts.



Then there’s super model Heidi Klum. Did I say super model? Then why does she always stink up the Red Carpet? Heidi, please, get a new stylist.



But, my worst dressed of the night? Newly crowned “Sports Illustrated” cover model Ashely Graham. The plus-sized sensation is everywhere now, but when she showed up on E! News’ Red Carpet coverage show I about died. No, no, and just no.



What about you? Agree or disagree? Who were your favorites? Who wasn’t? Please share!






And the Style Oscar Goes To… February 28, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 12:40 am

Like many of you, millions of Americans, and millions more worldwide, I will be in front of the television tomorrow night watching the Academy Awards. It’s not because I loved the nominated films (although I did LOVE “Brooklyn”) or that those Hollywood types are on my list of “people who I admire the most.” Nope, it’s because….fashion! Truth be told, I’ll probably watch several of the pre-show Red Carpet specials, tune in to see Chris Rock’s intro, stick around for the Best Supporting Actor and Actress awards, then check out until the last hour or so. Who knows, if it’s good and not overly political, I might stick around for the whole thing.


But, let’s get back to the “who are you wearing?” question rather than the “and the Oscar goes to” statement.


Yes, I will wait with bated breath to see Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio’s handsome selves, but sorry men; the Red Carpet is all about the babes. I can’t wait to see what nominees Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, and Rachel McAdams arrive in as they are pretty bankable as not only actresses but style stars. Julia Roberts, Helen Mirren, Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Lupita Nyongo, and Emma Stone also often take my breath away and I’m hoping they do so again this year.


There’s no telling what anyone will show up in and who will make the “Best Dressed” and “Worst Dressed” lists so while we wait, I thought I’d share my top Oscar style picks from years past.


Let’s start with one of this year’s nominees, Jennifer Lawrence. Can I just say JLaw is kind of amazing? Her 2014 red peplumed Dior was simple yet stunning and when she wore her necklace backwards in 2013 jaws dropped. She gets it.

2014 Dior 2013


Someone else who, in my opinion, almost always gets it is Renee Zellwegger. A Carolina Herrera fan (as am I), Zellwegger was on point in both 2003 and 2004.

2004 Carolina Herrera 2003 Carolina Herrera


Someone who knows how to dress for her shape is the uber-talented Octavia Spencer. In both 2012 and 2013 she honored Adashi Shoji by chosing his masterpieces and she killed it both times. When you find a design that works, stick with it.

octavia-spencer-2012 tadashi shoji 2013 octavia-spencer-tadashi-shoji


My “most memorable but still chic” awards go to Sharon Stone, Nicole Kidman, and Halle Berry. Stone’s decision in 1988 to pair her lavender Vera Wang skirt with her husband’s Gap shirt was brilliant (as was her newly cropped hair), Kidman’s embroidered chartreuse John Galliano column stole the attention away from even her famous escort in 1997, and who can ever forget Berry’s delicious Elie Saab creation in 2002? She won not only the Oscar that year, but “Best Dressed” as well.

Sharon Stone - hubby's Gap shirt and Vera Wang skirt - 1998 1997 Dior 2002 Elie Saab


Looking back at Hollywood’s true glamour years, one can only admire Julie Andrews’ simple canary gown that she elegantly paired with gloves and a white stole to accept her Oscar in 1964, while the equally elegant Grace Kelly donned Edith Head’s mint green satin number. Not to be outdone by anyone, Marilyn Monroe glammed up the 1951 Oscars in a black tulle gown that she borrowed from the 20th Century Fox wardrobe department.

Julie Andrews Edith Head 1955 1951 black tulle from 20th century fox wardrobe dept


Perhaps the most elegant of all elegant, Audrey Hepburn spiced up her trademark Little Black Dress with a fun polka-dot and striped number in 1988 but returned to her simple glamour with a one-shoulder hot pink Givenchy in 1992. No one does it better. No one.

1988 1992 Givenchy


Charlize Theron usually does it well too. Her white two-piece Dior in 2013 was both striking and fun and I adored her “hidden illusion straps” black Dior in 2015.

2013 Dior Couture   2014 Dior black


A somewhat new but reliable style star is the likable Emma Stone. Her red bow-tied Giambattista Valli in 2012 and pulled back hair were perfection and I’m still obsessed with her 2015 Sag Awards black Dior allusion skirt and 2015 Golden Globes black Lanvin embellished top and pants so I’m including them here. Perfection.


2012 Giambattista ValliDior 2015 SAG awards BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11:  Actress Emma Stone attends the 72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)


Hilary Swank. Haven’t heard that name in a while but boy could she bring it. Her olive green Randolph Duke gown was glamorous enough in 2000 but what stole the show and still has me saying “that’s just sick,” was her stunning Asprey & Garrard necklace that was originally designed for Queen Victoria’s daughters. In 2005 she showed everyone how proud she was of her killer body in a drapey and cut to “there” in the back blue Guy Laroche. Uh-mazing.

 2000 Randolph Duke  OSC144D:ENTERTAINMENT-OSCARS:LOS ANGELES,26MAR00 - Hilary Swank holds her Oscar statue after winning for Best Actress at the 72nd annual Academy Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, March 26. Swank won the Academy Award for her role in the film "Boys Don't Cry."    jm/Photo by Mike Blake REUTERS --- Image by © Reuters/CORBIS Swank guy laroche 2005


Gwyneth Paltrow will never be one of my faves, but the bubblegum pink Ralph Lauren she wore when she won the Oscar in 1999 will forever scream “Oscars” to me (ill-fitted as wrinkled as it was), and the caped winter white Tom Ford in 2012 was also award-winning in its own chic way.

R. Lauren 1999 2012 Tom Ford

Never a nominee and not even an actress Camila Alves regularly shows Hollywood how it’s done. The Brazilian bombshell and wife of Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey, Alves’ eggplant Donna Karan Atelier in 2015 was as gorgeous as her hubby and this wordsmith has no ample words to describe the incredible blush Gabriela Cadena she wore in 2015. Speechlessly spectacular.

camila-alves 2015 Donna Karan Atelier Camila Alves 2014 in Gabriela Cadena

One can never go wrong in basic black, as Reese Witherspoon, Angelina Jolie, Beyoncé, and Julia Roberts all proved. Witherspoon looked stunning with her hair in a pony and her Armani Prive in 2011, and it’s not so much Jolie’s Elie Saab number that I loved in 2009, but rather the incredible 115-carat Lorraine Schwartz earrings she wore with it. I still remember thinking, “wow!” when I saw them. Maybe it’s because emerald is my birthstone. Maybe it’s because they were insanely striking. In 2005 Beyonce was striking in a simple black velvet Versace. It was so refreshing to see her tone it down and strike a classy pose, as did Roberts holding her “Best Actress” Oscar in the forever memorable vintage Valentino in 2001.

20110227_rua_o44_175.jpg 2009 Elie Saab and Lorraine Schwartz jewelry 2005 Versace 2001 vintage Valentino

Red can sometimes be a risky Red Carpet choice (you never want to blend in with what’s under your feet!), but Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, and Jennifer Hudson all proved it can be done. Winslet’s Ben de Lisi red silhouette with a floral strap was oh so pretty in 2002 while Kidman again rocked the red carpet in 2007 in what I still consider one of her best looks ever, a tomato red bowed-at-the-neck Balenciaga. And who looked better and more joyful than Jennifer Hudson in her orange-red Atelier Versace in 2011? New body, new Oscar, new “I’ve got it going on” attitude!

2002 Ben de Lisi 2007 Balenciaga Jennifer Hudson in Atelier Versace 2011

So what do you think? Who have been your favorites? What would you wear to the Oscars? It’s fun to dream, right?





I Can Only Imagine February 21, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 6:03 pm



I can only imagine. That was the title of a song magnificently sung during a funeral I attended this past week. It’s a popular song and it’s a gorgeous song. In it, MercyMe wonders if one will dance upon reaching heaven, or will one fall to their knees or just be still. It always makes one think and it had the congregation hushed and reflective.


It’s never easy to attend a funeral but this one was inspiring in so many ways.


First off, the celebrant, who was a family member visiting priest, compared life to the departed’s love of golf. Apparently this loving man had a wicked slice but still loved the game. He had faith in his game and such is life said Father Bobby. Life is often all over the place, full of slices and hooks and even many a sand trap and bogey, but through it all we still have faith. We have faith that at the end of our ultimate round, we will find our true game and our glorious eternity.




As hard as it is to attend a funeral, it’s even harder to find the new normal once a loved one is gone. The calls stop coming, the hugs disappear, and people move on with their lives. Reality sets in and pain resurfaces. I loved what Father Bobby told the family though when he said, “Life changed, but it didn’t end.” For their loved one, life is now at its fullest and although theirs is forever changed, they too can only imagine what lies ahead. He lived a good and full life and was loved by all. That’s all we can ask, even as our hearts break and our souls ache. Life’s challenges are designed not to break us though, but to bend us toward God. At times like this however, we stiffen up and it all seems so difficult but as Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”






As I sat in the service, wiping tears when “The Peace Prayer of St. Francis” was sung, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own life and those I love and cherish.


Fresh off my annual college girls’ trip, I felt beyond grateful for these four gal pals of nearly 30 years. Being with them brings true joy and laughter to my life and I feel energized when I’m with them (albeit frumpy as well, surrounded by their beauty and impeccable style) and always learn something from each one of them.


I’m always happy to return home though. My sister is in town with my new grand-nephew (I constantly remind my niece that I’m officially a “great” aunt!) and I love spending time with them and my husband. I also enjoy being back at work, and as I sat in the funeral and noticed two entire pews of colleagues there supporting our co-worker who lost her dad, I couldn’t help but get chills and tear up once again. How beautiful it was to see these busy but loyal women drop everything on their day off and come be as one.


This is what life, and death, is all about. It’s not about money or power or things, it’s about the people you love and who love you. It’s about living a life that results in every putt dropping and the caddie of all caddies carrying you through every round. I can only imagine.



40 Days to a Better Person February 9, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 9:31 pm




Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the day Lent officially begins and the day many of us vow to “give up” something. Lent is not just a Catholic thing, as many would believe, but is also observed in Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Eastern Orthodox faiths. Considering that its purpose is to draw us closer to God and to be more Christ-like, what’s not to recognize about it by all believers?


Ash Wednesday

Why the Ashes?

To address the elephant in the room, Catholics around the world will gather in churches tomorrow to receive blessed ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. The ashes come from burnt and blessed Palm Sunday palms and symbolize the “ashes to ashes” scripture from Genesis 3:19. They also remind the faithful of their sinfulness and the need to make changes in their lives. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends Holy Thursday, March 24. Sundays are not included as days of abstention or fasting.


Now that the specifics are out of the way, let’s move on to the more spiritual aspects.




Give Up and Give

In mass this past Sunday Deacon Dean gave a sermon that was the kind of sermon I wish we got every week. I left church feeling both fed and inspired. His message to us was to use Lent as a time to grow closer to God step-by-step, day-by-day, so when the day comes that we take our final step, it is an easy one. Loved the analogy.


But why do we “give up” something at Lent? Tradition has it that we abstain from things that take our attention away from God. We try to watch less TV; eat less; and waste less time on computers and phones texting, emailing, and endlessly scrolling through social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Sunday’s sermon so eloquently suggested we fast from things like those that distance us from God and instead use the time for more proactive and good things. It got me thinking.


What do I habitually do that distances me from God? In today’s ever-growing secular and spiteful world, so many things. So very many things.


Giving up certain foods is what most of us automatically think of. When I was growing up, we’d always give up candy. This made the sweet treats in our Easter baskets all the more rewarding. As I’ve grown up, I still give up a certain sweets (Swedish Fish and any and all gummy candies, which I love, if you must know!) as well as other things that may not take me away from God, but are sacrifices nonetheless. We sacrifice things during Lent to remind us of what Jesus sacrificed for us: his LIFE! But, what can I remove that takes me away from God? I thought about this in mass and am still contemplating it.


One idea I have is to read any type of spiritual book when I go to bed rather than turn to my IPad or TV. When I think of it that way, choosing the IPad or TV over praying or reading definitely leads me away from God. Bingo. I’m gonna give it my best shot! Maybe I’ll even start to like it.


Lent is all about just that: conversion. The goal isn’t just to abstain from something during the 40 days of Lent, but forever. It’s kind of like going on a diet or a fitness program. Your goal shouldn’t be to eat healthy only while dieting or to exercise only while trying to lose weight, but to take on those habits daily and regularly. Giving up sinful things and negative habits during Lent can be as difficult as giving up sodas, chocolate, or fast food, but eliminating them from your life all together is even tougher.


So, avoid those unhealthy sodas and mindless computer games, but how about also giving up things that take the joy out of our lives like resentment, complaining, pessimism, worry, anger, pettiness, and even gossip. As Deacon Dean said on Sunday, rather than seeing homeless people at your car window at a stoplight as an annoyance, think of them as an opportunity to serve Jesus. He suggested giving them socks and underwear as they have nowhere to do laundry so once their undies get old or soiled, they have no choice but to throw them out. How hard is it to keep sock and underwear in your car? Not very.


We tend to look at those homeless souls as icky and dirty, but none of us are genuinely clean and pure. Consider Lent as an early exercise in “spring cleaning” and look at what you need to “clean” out in your “temple.” We all have cobwebs lurking behind all of our good intentions, but as they say, your beliefs don’t make you a good person, your behavior does.



I Am Third1

Lastly, Deacon Dean reminded us that we are encouraged to offer up Prayer, Almsgiving, and Fasting during Lent. Prayer consists of our relationship with God, Almsgiving is our relationship with others, and Fasting is our relationship with ourself. Isn’t that how we should always prioritize things: God, others, and self? Tomorrow is a good day to start.