Friday, May 31, 2013

The work wardrobe - flats vs. heels

Picture the professional office.  Dressing for work has become more creative than it was decades ago, yet in many work places the suit with button down meets the dress code. 

Most women in a conservative office environment, like banking, law or accounting, dress in something like this, or if they're lucky they get away with a slightly amped up version that incorporates a bit more color and slightly edgier pieces.  Still, there isn't much variation in the choice of footwear.  The uniform of the working woman includes some form of the pump. 

Being someone who works in this type of environment, I'm in a shoe with a heel daily.  I love shoes, I love pumps, and I have a vast wardrobe to choose from.  More and more I'm noticing that many designers are adding flats to their shoe line.  Not long ago I bought my first pair.  Not my very first pair, but my first pair that wasn't cheap, canvas, disposable.  I wear them often, always on weekends with jeans or shorts.  They're comfortable, they're stylish and they always garner compliments.  It got me thinking about the possibility of wearing flats to work.

Here are some options that might work.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

In or out?

The great necklace debate - inside the collar or outside? 

Outside looks a bit buttoned down but also rather sophisticated.  It's a showcase for fabulous gems.  It takes the right necklace, one that will lay well and show enough to be interesting.


Inside is a different feel altogether.  Less showy, a little sexy, letting a glimpse of collar bone show under the jewels or gleaming gold.


It depends on the shirt, the outfit and the mood.  The same necklace can feel completely different and be a more versatile piece worn inside the collar one day, outside on another. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Washing leather garments

Is there anything more luxurious than a leather garment? Leather used to be less common, the province of motorcyclists and cowboys.  Now there is leather for everyone.  Dresses, tops, tees, skirts, pants, and of course, jackets.  Since designers latched onto it a few years ago, there are also numerous pieces that are trimmed in leather. 

A leather item can be worn a number of times before it needs to be cleaned, particularly if you wear something under it.  Eventually there will come a time when it needs to be cleaned and that can get expensive.  Very expensive, as in over $70 for a simple sleeveless leather tank.  Since the cows stand out in the rain without shrinking or stretching, it got me thinking about the possibility of washing leather.

It turns out I'm not the first person to think of this.  There are actually leather washes available, including this one by Leather Therapy. 

Another getting good reviews is this Moss leather cleaner.
The question is, am I willing to experiment on my leather clothes?  Well, no, but I would give it a try on a thrift store find.  It could be a worthwhile experiment.    

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The black pump

Every girl should have a pair of black pumps.  I'm not sure every girl needs nine pairs of black pumps, my current total.  That doesn't count black booties, black flats or black sandals.  The black pump is a wardrobe work horse.  Depending on the style, they can go to the office with pencil skirts, out at night with body con dresses, and out running errands with boyfriend jeans.  They are the wear with almost everything shoe.

Despite having the aforementioned nine pairs, I find myself drawn to yet another.  Behold the Vince Claire choked pump.  Matte leather upper - not suede or patent - with a sexy d'orsay side, a very walkable heel, and my favorite toe style.

A little more foot coverage, great with pants or skirts.  Am I talking myself into buying them?  Oh yes.  Available at Nordstrom, Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and if you fancy the front in hair-on calf, the variation is available at Nordstrom.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Making a statement

There's a lot to be said for accessories.  They amp up basics and give simple outfits personality. As far as I'm concerned when it comes to accessories it's go big or go home.  Dainty pieces are not me.  My oversized accessories fall into three categories - belts, jewelry and scarves. 

Lacking any semblance of a waist, I rely on belts to create curves.


I go large with jewelry as well.  Cuffs are a personal favorite and rarely a day goes by that I don't wear one. 
Tory Burch
Necklaces and rings also get the oversized treatment.  The trick is to choose a focal point - one large piece at a time.

Scarves are a new obsession and one that I'm finding can be very versatile.  A beautiful scarf can take the place of a necklace.  Google ideas for scarves and you'll find ways to use them you never thought of, everything from halter tops to sashes.  

I'm trying to have a new approach to my wardrobe which is to buy fewer clothes and more accessories.  I'm not sure the wallet is spared but the variety of looks created makes up for it!

Saturday, May 25, 2013


What do you wear now that you didn't wear 3 years ago? Are there things you used to wear frequently that are no longer in your closet?  For many of us, style evolves over time.  Is there an ultimate goal, a point at which you have a defined individual style that doesn't change?

Of all the things to experiment with in life, fashion is the most fun. Nothing is forever, even a bad outfit.  In the 20s and 30s, trying new things, taking risks and enjoying trends is normal.  Even beneficial.  As you move into your 40s and beyond, the lessons learned earlier help you avoid mistakes.

Even those who didn't embrace the joy of fashion when they were young can end up stylish in later life.  People with no sense of style can be taught, rehabilitated if you will.  It is possible to learn from fashion faux pas.

Designer Rick Owens said, "fashion is a playground up until a certain age, but then you have to find your own signature and your own style."

After many years of trying things, discarding what didn't feel authentic and refining what did, I think I've finally got it.  Simple shapes, neutral colors, excellent tailoring. This is the type of look I favor.

More of my style inspiration here.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The one that got away

We all have something in our shopping careers that has eluded us. Or worse yet, we had it for all too brief a time and made the ill fated decision to return it and regretted it ever since.  It might have been a one of a kind or vintage item that we passed on and when we returned to the shop, it was gone.  Whatever that garment, pair of shoes or accessory was, it has seemingly been swept from the face of the earth and cannot be found anywhere.

My Exhibit A, the Yves Saint Laurent Charlotte pump.  Classic shape, soft leather, charming wood block heel.  From many seasons ago, they are no longer available from any retailer.  The usual resellers like Bonanza and eBay see a pair from time to time.  After much stalking I found a pair in my size, never worn with the original box.  And I forgot to bid.  FORGOT TO BID.  Since then I have never found them again in my size, let alone in such pristine condition.

You rarely regret what you do buy.  You regret what you didn't buy.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stripes, again

Clearly I'm striped obsessed.  I have a dress, a skirt, a drapey silk top, a button down, even a scarf.  All striped.  Still, there is a big hole in the middle of all that horizontal glory.  I lack the perfect striped tee.  That ideal combination of fitted and slouchy, ivory with black stripes, three quarter sleeves, bateau neckline, a la Bardot.

Something so simple seems impossible to find. I've come close a few times but it remains the holy grail of wardrobe basics.  The search continues . . . 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Jean jackets that aren't jean jackets

The garden variety jean jacket is a wardrobe staple for many women.  Versatility is the middle name of the jean jacket. It can be worn so many ways and practically everywhere except church and a conservative office. 

Still, the ubiquitous jean jacket is not really my style. Kind of boxy, kind of stiff.  I'd like the options it provides with a little less western flare.

How about a collarless version?  This one by Helmut Lang is a win.

Maybe a vaguely Chanel-inspired style, like this by Textile Elizabeth and James.

The ultimate cool, a denim jacket with leather sleeves, by Veda.
The one most likely to end up in my closet, this Gap denim biker jacket.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The pointy toe flat

Judging by the reaction I get from some of my friends, this is an acquired taste.  What is it about them that keeps drawing me in? 

It started with these, the Jenni Kayne d'orsay flat.

I wear them constantly so needless to say my eye turned to similar pairs. The spring brought these Phillip Lim snakeskin flats, which would be mine if only they'd go on sale in my size. 

The other day I open an email from one of my favorite retailers and there is another must-have pair, available for pre order.  Behold the Miu Miu two tone flat.

Do you die?  I think this is a need, not a want.
Oh yes, they will be mine.  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Target collaboration - heaven or heartbreak?

We've all been through the ups and downs of the Target collaboration.  Fabulous famous designers whose wares we can't afford create a capsule diffusion line for Target.  First pictures get leaked, then official photos show up and we ooh and ahh.  The date is set and we all wait anxiously.  Some of us even stay up until midnight on the day before to catch the collection as soon as it lands online.  We order, hold our breath, and . . . then reality hits us across the back of the head.  "Dufus!", it says.  Sucked in once again.

Inevitably the garments and accessories are not what we expected.  There is a lot of polyester and polyamide, nothing fits right, and everything looks like it was made for 59 cents.

Needless to say, I'm a bit skeptical about the next planned collaboration.  But it's Phillip Lim!  This is a designer who has the modern woman in mind.  He's got the urban chic aesthetic down.  His now famous Pashli bag has been reinvented in numerous colors and leathers.  His shadow dress is iconic.

According to Target, the collection includes more than 100 items and ranges in price from $19.99 to $299.99 for clothes and $19.99 to $59.99 for accessories. There's going to be natural fabrics (at least some) and real leather.  The collaboration includes both a line for women and one for men.

Thus far, not much detail has been forthcoming, except these sketches from Mr. Lim.

We have no choice but to wait until September 15 to see if the latest designer collab lives up to the hype.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The color red

Red is not a shy, retiring color.  Not like pastels, that can easily fade into the background.  Red never goes unnoticed.  It's bold. It says something about the wearer.  It will not be ignored.

It is a color that can be worn year round.  There's a shade for everyone.   Some reds are cool with blue undertones and look smashing on pale skin.  Others have an orange cast that goes well with warm skintones. 

Not everyone is brave enough to wade into the pond of red by buying a dress, skirt or pants.  That's quite a commitment.  Luckily, red can be an outfit accent in small doses.  Shoes are the perfect place to sport a pop of red.  Whether it's a heel or a flat, it brings an outfit to life.

Too much?  How about going a little smaller?
A red bag amps up the weekend jeans and tee, or a little black dress.
Whenever I'm asked what my favorite color is, I answer red.  It's the color of passion and joy, life and vitality.  It fuels creativity.  I've been a little shy about wearing it, it does attract attention.  It also helps me feel energized and happy whether I'm wearing an accent or an entire garment.  It is a color everyone should try.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Big price tag v. small

I like the idea of a drapey, wrappy, sort of Grecian dress for summer. Summer dressing should be simple.  Let's face it, when it's hot you want something you can throw on and go with, that doesn't require tucking in and sorting out.  The drapey dress is easy to find this season, the only decision you have to make is how much to spend.

The upper end is this Day Birger Et Mikkelson washed satin wrap dress, at $320.00.

Forever 21 has a similar option that is superior in one way - it's all cotton, including the lining.  It will set you back $27.80.

Friday, May 17, 2013

We always want what we do not have

Do you ever get obsessed with an article of clothing?  As in, you discover it exists and set about finding it so you can have it yourself, only to find out it's sold out everywhere in your size?  That's when you become officially obsessed.  You stalk links, you call stores in other states, you enlist the aid of your friends.  You might even, ahem, wake up earlier than normal to check the website of a retailer you know updates stock in the wee hours. 

Okay, maybe we're only talking about me here.   

Behold the latest object of my obsession, the Tibi Elsa skirt.  Perfect for summer, no?  It's a knit, it won't wrinkle. Stretchy, yet still made with a zipper and waistband for good fit.  Tapered in, and long enough for tall people and/or those of us who like to wear heels.  With a white blouse for work, with a white tee for weekend, this skirt could do double and triple duty and more than justify the $250.00 price tag.

At first I thought it was a Net-A-Porter exclusive (where it is, of course, sold out).  Tibi doesn't carry it!  Then found it on the site of a tiny e-tailer though not in my size.  I'm usually the same size as the Net-A-Porter model who wore a 2.  The e-tailer had a 4.  I ordered and am anxiously awaiting the package.  Will it be euphoria or crushing disappointment? 

Truthfully, striped pencil skirts are everywhere this spring and if Elsa doesn't work out I'm sure I can find another.  Apparently I always want what I cannot find.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tag, you're it

Is it just me, or are care tags becoming more complicated?  See this one?  This one is simple.  I can read it, I can understand it, and I can successfully follow it.

Here is a care tag that doesn't want to take responsibility. You do what you want, but it's probably best if you don't do anything and send this to the dry cleaner.

Then there are the symbols.  Oh my goodness, the symbols.
Confused yet?

Here's the deal. I have a few things that need to be drycleaned.  The rest must survive the wash or they can't live here with me, although I don't mind the odd load in the gentle cycle.  Silk goes in the washer.  Wool sweaters go in the washer.  Yes, even cashmere.  I'm the fabric whisperer - I touch it and determine what it needs.  So far I haven't lost a garment.  Well, except that white tee that came out pink after sloshing around in the washer with the colors.  There is no care tag made that could have prevented that.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fashion Solutions: What do you do about deodorant marks?

We've all been there.  We put on a top, or we take one off, and there are the marks from our deodorant, all over the side. What's a girl to do?  Wash or dry clean the item every time its worn?  Unless you've run a marathon, or run after a few children, you probably didn't work up enough of a sweat to warrant that.

There are solutions.  There's actually a deodorant removing sponge, here.  I haven't tried it myself but judging from the reviews it does a great job.  There are much more cost efficient ways of getting it done, it turns out.  Nylons - commonly called pantyhose around these parts - work perfectly.  The slightly abrasive texture takes the mark right off.  Likewise the mesh bags used for washing delicates, another item you probably have in the house.  You can use a mesh dish scrubber, as long as it hasn't already been pressed into service to clean the lasagna pan.  Ditto a mesh body scrubber. 

Save the bag your oranges came in, it works too.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Warm weather leather

I've received a lot of store emails recently extolling the virtues of summer leather.  Summer leather?  What's cool about leather?

Maybe it's not such a nutty idea.  Leather comes in all forms these days.  Some of it is so thin and supple, you would almost forget it's actually leather.  It is very wearable in warm weather, and even once it gets hot if you add a thin silk layer under it.   

Leather shorts are a great way to transition from spring to summer.  This is a simple and sexy look that almost anyone can wear. 

Maybe a top is more your speed.  Perforated leather may be just the ticket to beat the heat.  Ignore the pained expression on this model's face.  This top from Vince, a master of amazing leather clothes, could work well with Bermuda shorts, a flowy silk skirt or cropped pants. 

Not ready for a solid leather top?  This top, also from Vince, features a silk back.

Stick with a simple silhouette that isn't trendy and won't go out of style because leather lasts a long time. Wait for a sale and you'll spend a little less while still getting an investment piece that will span seasons and work for multiple occasions.   

Monday, May 13, 2013

Imitation is . . . well??

I came across these clutches while browsing Shopbop. 

The Christopher Kon clutches (here) have a leather weave that looks very, very familiar.  That's because it's exactly the same as the Bottega Veneta intrecciato leather weave first created by that brand's craftsmen in 1966.  I'm no expert on copyrights and intellectual property, I have no idea if you can patent a method of weaving leather.  Is it flattering imitation or outright copy cat?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Grownup Pom-Poms

Despite the title, this is not a T-and-A post. It's really about for-reals pom-poms. I've loved 'em since I was a wee one. See?

But, the whole pom-pom look is trickier to pull off as an adult. Luckily, there are whimsical options out there for those of us who can no longer rock a bare midriff adorned by those sweet little tufts of puffs. This pompom crest tee ($68) from Anthropologie is Option 1.

Probably the easiest thing to do is rock 'em in a scarf which tones down the junior/cutesiness factor quite a bit.
Option 2: La Fiorentina scarf ($58) from Nordstrom.
And finally, for you big spenders..... Option 3: A pricey ($155) Tory Burch "Reva" scarf that is just too fun in those bright colors.
A bonus...
This Iztapa pompom poncho ($78), also from Anthropologie, is subtle.