Resolutions Made Easy

If the thought of making New Year’s resolutions elicits a been-there-done-that attitude, take heart: This could be the year you stick with your plan—if you make all the right moves. These ideas will boost your chances of success.

Embrace the power of one. Life’s too hectic to make several changes at once. Pick one specific goal then figure out how to tackle it. Rather than resolving to simply lose weight or exercise more often, quantify the results you desire (the number of pounds you want to drop, how far you want to be able to run, or how many push-ups you want to be able to do). Then set a timeline for meeting it.

Help you help you. Be realistic. If you hate the gym, set up a circuit workout at home. Determined to write that novel? Make your workspace inviting and inspiring. Can’t get your chores under control? Stock household goods that make life more streamlined (like an all-in-one laundry detergent, stain-booster, and fabric softener).

Go public. Research suggests you’re more likely to stay accountable and succeed if you broadcast your goals to others. Post your progress on your favorite social network or create an online pinboard and invite your friends to motivate you.

Monitor yourself. There are tons of apps that will track your progress, whether your resolution is about fitness, spending less money, walking the dog more, or just about anything else. No question, viewing your progress is super satisfying.

Have a reward! No, this isn’t about giving you license to cheat. It’s about motivating yourself to stay the course. Smart: Pick a perk that’s in sync with your goal, like a massage for all those new muscles, or new workout clothes in fun bright colors. Yes, you deserve it!

Embrace the Big Chill

The temps have dipped below freezing, and suddenly staying indoors seems way more inviting than going for a run or suiting up the family for a day of sledding. But don’t duck out on your plans just because the thermometer dropped. Follow these guidelines so you can brave the chill without turning into a Popsicle.

Layer up for outdoor exercise. Three layers on your upper body is the magic number. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, which draws sweat away from your skin and helps regulate your body temperature. (There are many synthetic fabrics that offer this, including some wool-containing sports fabrics—look for wicking claims on hangtags when you shop.) Add a warm mid-layer (wool or synthetic fleece) for insulation, and then, especially if it’s raining or snowing, a windproof top layer (a waterproof shell), which will keep you dry and allow excess heat to escape.

Don’t forget your head, hands, and feet. In cold temps, your blood flow is concentrated to your body’s core, leaving your hands and feet vulnerable to chills. Invest in gloves and socks made from a wicking fabric, which will keep hands and feet dry and hold in heat. Buy a pair of wind blocking mittens for especially frigid days, and top it all off with a hat that covers your ears.

Be sure snow gear is waterproof. This is especially true for kids, who’ll spend most of their day in direct contact with the cold, wet stuff. A fill like down will get soaked when wet and when that happens, you get cold. Helpful: Buy coats and snow pants with waterproof shells and do the same with gloves or mittens.

Launder appropriately. Winter weather gear—especially waterproof fabric—doesn’t need to be washed after every wear, unless it gets really dirty (or your little one didn’t make it to the potty in time). When you do launder them, use a specialized detergent that will remove dirt and sweat. Dry according to the fabric label.

Don’t forget year-round rules. You may not feel as thirsty during the winter months as you do in warmer temperatures, but whether you’re jogging 10 miles solo or taking the kids sledding, make sure to imbibe regularly to avoid dehydration. Stick to room temperature H2O and carry an insulated water bottle. And don’t pass up on sunscreen—snow reflects the sun’s rays, making you susceptible to burns even if you feel cold.

How to Buy It: Best. Jeans. Ever.


Leg Opening



Like it or not, the skinny jean is here to stay. For those of you not ready to take the plunge, look for cuts like “straight leg skinny” or “slim cut straight leg.” This means that the denim will have that slim leg line of a skinny jean without hugging every curve as closely. If that still feels too snug, look for a slim boot cut that hugs the leg through the knee and tapers out from the calf. Pair these slimmer jeans with a pointy-toed flat, a heeled bootie, or a wedge, or tuck them into your favorite boots.



Pocket Placement



Gone are the days of bedazzled, labeled, and ridiculously large pockets. Minimalist, classic denim is the way to go. Look for small or closed pockets in front (with skinnier-cut jeans, watch for unsightly pocket outlines making an appearance on the thighs) and simple back pockets that fall squarely on the derriere.



Side Seam



Oversized and dramatic seaming had a fashion moment, but, sadly, that moment is over (not too sadly, actually). Current stylish prints, colors and coating are dramatic enough. Look for seaming that matches the color of the denim.






Jewel tones are a great way to embrace the colored jean trend without feeling too flashy. Burgundy, forest, plum, and amber are options that go with almost anything in your closet that you would wear with regular denim. To keep colors bright, wash your jeans inside out with a detergent designed for cold water.






Slight fade marks on the thighs of the jeans resembling whiskers was in, then it was out, and now it’s somewhere in the middle. It can be flattering on lighter-washed distressed jeans, but for now stay away from dramatic whiskering on your basic blue denim.






Go for a modern, luxe look with coated denim—a much easier and less expensive alternative to leather or specialty fabrics. Search for metallics such as pewter or bronze, or leather-like coatings in black or burgundy.


Men’s Jeans: The Rules!

Guys, we know you care about how your butt looks in your jeans and if you’re wearing the right-now style. Follow these simple rules and you’ll be sure to pick the perfect pair.

1. Don’t wear faded denim. It’s just plain dated.

Do pick dark-washed denim (without faded spots or streaks). It’s dressy enough for a casual Friday at work, a dinner date, or a visit with your mom (aw!).

2. Don’t wear loose-cut jeans. They do favors for no body.  

Do choose a straight-cut jean that skims close to the body. Its shape shapes you and makes you look straight and slimmer in ways that baggy bottoms can’t. Shopping tip: As any woman will tell you, brand fit and sizing vary wildly, so try different stores until you nail a pair that works for your physique.

3. Don’t shock your friends and family by turning up in uber-bright skinny jeans. (Unless you’re a 19-year-old pop singer. Then you can do whatever you want.)

Do express your need for self-expression with neutral colors like gray, khaki, olive, or burgundy. All look modern right now.

4. Don’t launder your new jeans with hot water and a hot dryer.

Do: Help prevent fading by washing jeans on a cold setting with a detergent that is specially formulated to clean at lower temperatures. Also, consider line drying. If the jeans need softening, tumble-dry them for a few minutes on a low setting.

5. Don’t invest in a pair of good jeans and then treat them like dirt. Wear an old, cruddy pair to do projects around your house.

Do target stains on your work jeans (like grease) or your new jeans (like a fancy appetizer you dropped in your lap) by pre-treating problem spots with a detergent before you wash.

How to Look Great in Photo-Booth Shots!

Photo booths have long been a fun attraction at shopping malls and amusement parks, but lately they’re also generating plenty of party buzz (and long lines!) at special events like birthdays, bar mitzvahs, and weddings. One reason: New booths often feature technology that lets you instantly broadcast your pictures to social networking sites. Follow these tips to strike a fun and flattering pose with confidence!

Think happy thoughts. If you tend to look stiff in pictures, this time try focusing on anything but the fact that you’re having your picture taken. Before the shutter goes off, run through a funny joke, a favorite song, or a great memory in your head. Also, cozy up to the people you’re posing with instead of leaving your hands stiffly by your sides.

Wear something bright. While neutral colors might be a good choice for corporate photos, think color and pattern if you want fun party pix that pop!

Put your best face forward. To avoid the dreaded double chin, don’t look down. The lens should be at eye level or slightly higher. Also, lean your chin forward about an inch further than you normally would to give yourself a long, graceful neck. And take a tip from the pros, who recommend showing two-thirds of your face by tilting your head a little, turning your shoulders slightly, or moving your eyes slightly in any direction other than straight ahead.

Try this eye opener. If you’re prone to squint or close your eyes in pictures (especially if there is a flash involved), try this photographer’s trick: Look at the floor and begin counting to three. Lift those peepers up on three, or just as the camera shutter is about to click.

Guarantee a great smile. If you’re especially self-conscious about smiling, it makes sense to practice your smile in front of a mirror at home. Once it’s photo time, you can also try bringing out your best grin by embracing your silly side. Before you step into the booth, grab a prop—whether it’s a glass of wine you can raise to the camera, a crazy hat, or a feather boa. Many photo-booth operators now stock their booths with props. Another smile booster: Squeeze as many friends and family members into the booth as possible!