Archive for November, 2011

November 29, 2011

Puttin’ on the Glitz

It’s the season of holiday parties and fancy functions.  To add to the holiday dressing frenzy this year I have yet another event – my friends and I are headed out to Las Vegas for a big birthday celebration.   Three days and two nights of, as one friend put it, five star dining, dancing, and sashaying through fancy casinos – yay!!!

Needless to say, we have spent the last month getting ready and this means some very serious shopping, along with lots of other personal “detailing” and prep work.  The girl buddies have all hit the stores or internet and the e-mails have been flying with outfit planning.  I so love this, its almost as good as the trip itself.  Even better, I got to spend some quality time with one friend in a record-breaking shop at the local mall – five perfect dresses found in under three hours – Epic! 

I have now seen practically every cocktail and evening piece out there and all I can say is that sequins are BIG – dresses, tops, bags, even shoes – I mean BIG.  We are all going to be wearing at least one sequined number – matte, shiny, mixed, you name it!  At one point my clothes trolley at home had eight different sequined/sparkly/beaded dresses on it – no exaggeration.  Now please note that this wasn’t due to some sort of massive indecision on my part.  At my size there are NO dresses in the store so I did a very big online shop in order to get enough options to try on.  This meant that at least five boxes arrived in a week, a fashion show was held for Mr. Commando followed by a very intense edit and then nearly as many boxes got shipped back out.  While not totally in love with any of my choices, what I ended up with will fit the bill rather nicely – once fabulously accessorized, of course. 

With dresses selected the serious business of accessorizing got going.  For the first time in my life accessorizing posed more of a problem for me than dresses did!  First off, I had a heck of a time finding shoes with a sufficient glam factor that I would still be able to actually walk, or even hobble, in.  Can’t we get glamorous mid-heels, please?  It took four orders, but I ended up with some truly gorgeous shoes by Butter.  (I also ended up with a bunch of beautiful shoes that are, ahem, NOT going to Vegas, but will be very happy in their new home – more on that in a future post!)   

In the jewelry department this year it is all about the fabulous bracelet and there are sooo many great options that it was impossible to narrow down my favorites.  So instead of actually *deciding* I am going for the more is more approach.  I ended up with two great cuffs from BCBG and those amazing crystal-embellished cable bangles that Nordstrom featured in their latest catalog – and yes, I went big here with three full sets of six, any less looked rather skimpy on my plump arm.   In addition to the bracelets I nabbed some new earrings, and a great sparkly necklace in black, anthracite and crystals.  I suspect I may end up looking like an overdone Christmas tree, but I couldn’t help it! 

The bag department was the hardest part.  Having fixated on that darned Louboutin fur ball bag I talked about in a previous post, I hadn’t found anything that measured up and fit within budget.  Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of great options out there in beading and sequins, but with the super-sparkle I have going in the dress department they didn’t really work for me.  I needed fabulous in fabric, fur or leather, and I mean F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S.  Being just okay with my dresses I had no desire to settle on my bags – no way!  So with less than a week to go I found a darling textured fabric minaudiere by Sondra Roberts that was half price at Nordstrom – I love it, but I don’t LOVE it…which is fine since it was such a terrific deal.  But then as luck would have it, I received the most perfect thank you gift EVER.  One of my best girl friends gave me a gorgeous little fur clutch that will be simply PERFECT.  Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!  

So, what am I wearing?  For the first night I went trendy with a sapphire blue sequined Caroline Rose tunic top (which I creatively modified to be more flattering), paired with narrow Anna Scholz black pants, black suede Chie Mihara Platform shoes, the textured Sandra Roberts bag in black, big dangling crystal circle earrings and the cable bangles.  For the second night, a shiny sequined LBD with a hammered satin sash in gunmetal, Bow-bedecked Butter platform suede shoes in black, the big BCBG rhinestone cuff, and big dangling pear-shaped CZ earrings with my fabulous new fur clutch.  During the day I will go casual in nice jeans with a favorite sparkly Anna Scholz tunic and cute swingy tops/cropped jacket combos, paired with fun/funky Butter flatforms and suede boots and my always cool black Chanel 2.55.  Oh yeah, and did I mention bracelets?  Lots and lots of bracelets!

Outfits planned – both my own and my friends, masses of shoes, accessories and champagne waiting to be packed, detailing done, I think I am ready to head out to the desert and shine.  As for the girl buddies – well, they are going to look simply AMAZING.  But then again, bless them, they always do!

November 23, 2011

Return of the Yeti

Fast and Fur-ious

This season fur – both real and faux – is HUGE; not just in terms of the ubiquitous presence, but in the nearly overwhelming shape and scale of the pieces themselves!  Big, fluffy, longer fibered furs, feathers and shearlings are the name of the game this year and the 70’s glam revival has made vintage inspired fur vests, long coats, chubbies, and trim au courant…again.

Luxury-oriented soul that I am, I love fur every winter, whether it is “in” or not.  I have amassed quite a collection of great fur accessories, several cool vests and coats, a fur trimmed sweater, and even a fur trimmed cape.  Living in Southern California presents me with limited opportunities to really indulge myself, but I take advantage of every chance I get – trips to the mountains and other chilly climes, cold evenings, etc… the second the temperature drops, I am snuggling up!  What can I say?  I am easily tempted by the soft, sensual feel and glamorous vibe.  

Being short and round, many of the big and fluffy styles aren’t all that flattering so finding the right cut and scale is absolutely crucial.  While fun and definitely statement-making, the larger scaled pieces, even in just a fur collar or cuffs on a sweater, can be very overwhelming and quickly go from dramatic to silly looking.  Here is one of those times I have to choose very carefully and edit like mad.  Otherwise I do indeed end up looking like, well, yes… that mythical, shaggy Abominable Snowman creature, the Yeti!

So, how *do* I wear fur?  Well, first off I have become something of a connoisseur of faux furs.  They don’t have to be expensive, but they do have to get it right.  I am not trying to pass it off as real, per se, but I still want it to look and feel luxurious and wear well.   There are some great options out there at all price points – whether you are shopping at the high end with the faux fur specialist Fabulous Furs or somewhere more affordable like HSN, which has a huge selection.   But you do have to choose with care.

One of the most important things I look for in faux fur is the fabrication.  The material needs to be fluid, light and supple – like real fur.  Not just the fibers themselves but the backing and the garment lining as well.  Faux fur with stiff backing is much more challenging to wear, the garments don’t conform to your shape when you need them too, and even a collar can become suddenly intrusive and uncomfortable if it is stiff and unyielding when you wear it.  For example, I fell in love with a short cape recently that looked amazing in the picture online, but in the store I found it to be really stiff, so much so that it stuck out like bat wings when I put it on.  Soooo not good.  I also look for fibers that have some shine with a silky texture, but that aren’t too clingy – if the fibers feel clingy or sticky the garment will look matted quickly.  Instead, I select items where the material feels slightly slippery and has movement, like real fur.        

Being a traditionalist, I tend to stick with the classics – brown, black and chinchilla patterned being my favorites.  I am not as big a fan of the wilder colors and patterns, although this great patterned vest by Tahari is a big exception – the pictures do NOT do it justice, and if I didn’t already have a fur vest…(ahem) or two…this would be in my closet right now.      

To make sure the overall silhouette is right I look for cuts with shape, like this great jacket from Fabulous Furs, with its nipped in waist and angled panels.  Belts can be also be a huge boon; this Rachel Zoe jacket has the dramatic shaggy-textured fur, but the belted waist and slightly shorter length keep the proportions from overwhelming.  This feather chubby gets the proportion right also, by keeping the length a tad on the cropped side so it hits right at the waist where you naturally curve in and keeping the sleeves bracelet length.  If I want a longer piece, I try to make sure it is fluid and light, and select a cut with a fuller skirt or swing line to it so that it drapes a bit and moves but doesn’t look like I am being overwhelmed or weighed down.  When I look at collars or trim I want them dramatic and wide, but again try to keep the scale closer in by keeping the fur in a slightly shorter cut, like in this terrific jacket by Burberry.   In all cases I look at the overall silhouette that is created and make sure the proportions look right – my coat may be big and fluffy, but by emphasizing or creating a waist or elongating and balancing my leg line and other proportions, I will look girl shaped, rather than gorilla shaped 😉 

On the accessory front I have been obsessively hunting for the right evening bag in fur that has as much appeal as Christian Louboutain’s black mink Ball bag from 2010 without killing my bag budget for a full year.  So far no luck, but I keep checking out all of the fur options that are showing this season – lots of cute ones, just not THE one…yet.   As for hats…well I am far too old for the super trendy trapper hat, no matter how cute and ironic they are on 20-somethings, on me they would be simply silly.  Instead I have a cute fur tam that is very glamorous, my snow hat has an adorable fur pom pom on top, and my ear muffs are the best for keeping my ears warm, both cute AND practical – LOVE.

Not ready to go all out on a fur garment?  Then I highly recommend you at least dip your toes in with some trim on a garment or an accessory.  It will add instant luxury and glamour to any outfit.  And who couldn’t do with a little delicious softness to snuggle into?!

November 5, 2011

Changing A Leopard’s Spots

here kitty kitty

Leopard prints continue to have a HUGE presence in fashion this season.  From tiny accents to all-over prints we are seeing fabulous spots.  While I have seen many chic and terrific interpretations on this motif, and I love the concept of this print in theory, in practice I have personally had a hard time finding just the *right* version for me.  

So what is my deal?  It’s not about what or how to wear such a great print – in fact it’s so versatile it’s almost too easy.  Leopard can be dressy or casual, bold in a big swath with a major statement piece or more subtle with a detail such as a lining or a skinny belt paired with an otherwise solid ensemble.   It’s fun, it’s chic, it practically screams confidence and is one of those sure fire signs of a fashion insider. 

But I can’t help it, somehow in my mind leopard, rather than evoking the powerful, beautiful, sensual being we are trying to mimic has instead gotten a costumey party time/bad girl/retro reputation that makes me feel like wearing it is almost too much, too cheesy for my every day life.  When I think of leopard print I envision the woman who gave me my first driving test.  My memory conjures up cream, orange and black polyester, topped by a bee hive hairdo and small red cat-eye glasses on a chain ala Far Side – baaaaadddd.  Or I see naughty costume/lingerie ala Fredricks of Hollywood – well….  Or I think of fifties/sixties starlets or current pop stars like Beyonce and Katy Perry – much much better, sexy, fun and cool, but not really me. 

Ridiculous, isn’t it?  And yes, I know, *this* from the girl who regularly wears sequins to work…   In fact, come to think of it, I have a silk satin Anna Scholz tunic from a few years back that is in a bold floral print where the flower petals are in animal print in grey, cream and rose, AND it has sequins too!  Cool, fun and chic, and in no way subtle or mundane.  

In recent years leopard prints have done much to overcome the old-school retro images and been replaced by cooler, less traditional options such as that Anna Scholz print.  But still I struggle.  I find myself being quite a print-snob and I edit mercilessly – this version is too clubby, that one too tacky, etc…  so that it is rare that I find myself sufficiently in love with a print to commit.  In fact I own exactly four pieces – two truly fabulous belts, the previously mentioned top, and one in the lining of my favorite trench coat (which hardly even counts!).  Any less and they might take away my claim to being a true Fashionista! 

This season several designers did some riffs on leopard that have me rethinking the overall wear-ability of this look in my own life, so optimistic and hopeful I set out to change my own image of leopard prints and bring some home.  But after looking at a bunch of garments and accessories I had to ask myself – just what exactly is the deal here?  Why do I look at one spotty fabric and find it more appealing than another?  What makes one print look cheesy and another one super chic? 

Decidedly it’s not price point, as there are some YSL and Marc Jacobs prints that are just NOT it, and some more reasonable brands like Talbots that made some really good stuff.  It is also not the designer, Jimmy Choo for example has some leopard I hate, and then some I love – like this amazing little bag that I am having a full blown crush on.  And the god of leopard himself, Roberto Cavalli – has one or two pieces that I think are to die for, and the rest – meh.  For a bit I thought it was the color scheme as I do find that I am drawn to versions that are a bit different from the usual tan/orange/black motif, but then I saw these Rebecca Minkoff pumps, which I loved.   

Hmmm…. Whatever it is in my mind’s eye that makes a print good and wearable vs. not, there are some terrific choices out there that are au courant without being completely irrelevant in my day to day life.   But will I really wear them?  Plus designer Igigi did a top that I am on the fence about – I love the print and the cut, but I am not sure I would really WEAR it.  So, will I continue to bypass options so that the leopard I own remains in the form of linings and accessories?  Stay tuned!

And what about you?  Are you seeing spots?  More importantly, are you wearing them?

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