Archive for February, 2012

February 25, 2012

Feeling Spring

Spring fling

 

So, despite the glorious weather, I still haven’t fully been feeling spring fashion…not sure what *that* is about but the spring previews and goodies that have hit the stores so far haven’t really been leaving me feeling very jazzed about the trends.  Colored jeans, lace, shaker knit sweaters in washed pastels or neon brights, and color blocking (everywhere!) are all good, but not terribly NEW and nothing has shouted out “you must take me home”.  How can that BE?!  I LIVE for Spring (okay, and Fall) fashion!  But then I saw (and, ahem, bought) these sandals.  These lovelies, from Poetic License gave my spring fashion season inspiration a serious kick start.

As cute, almost fey, as these are, they have endless possibilities.  The retro platform style lends itself well to boho, girly retro and even urban looks, and is especially great with all kinds of pants. The metallic braiding lets you go glam.  And the print!  An on-trend floral that is just abstract enough to span the range from girly to more sophisticated styles. With a combination of colors that just BEGS to be worked with – au courant coral and aqua, basic white and tan and a sprinkling of tangerine, red and kelly green, this is one of those times when you really want to go matchy-matchy and play with it.

I have already found quite a few items in my own closet that are going to be great with these shoes.  They will bring new life to some old favorites and update them just a bit while tiding me over until more spring goodies come out and really get me going…or not.    

So what can you do with these darlings?  Well, here are a few ideas to get rolling into the spring and summer vibe:

  • Urban Girl – go urban with a girly wink – pair up super on-trend coral denim jeans with a floaty tank and then layer on this divine suede cropped moto jacket.  Add a striped scarf and this fun kelly green bag for pop and to keep the outfit from being too bland.
  • Boho Babe – Combine these floaty palazzos with a slouchy tunic sweater and a fun metallic chain belt then stack on some bangles in fun colors.  You can dial the glam factor up or down with the accessories.  Not loving palazzos?  There are a ton of cute maxi dresses or skirts that will also hit the mark.  Keep the details dialed down when the volume of the fabric goes up to allow the shoes to remain a focal point.
  • Retro Girly – This is almost too easy – spring always brings great girly options.  These sandals would be perfect with a retro sundress – think halter or sweetheart neckline – in white or one of the pastels from the print.  Pair it with a sweet cardi and a lady-like structured bag with girly details like bows and ta-da!   
  • Uptown Girl – My personal fave.  I would take chic white trousers and add a great jacket or top in a sunny color with some refined details.  I loved the piping on this jacket – so fun.  For this look a light-weight tweed jacket in coral or aqua (I have seen a few out there) would be good too.   Layer a second color underneath for visual interest.  In all cases keep the details simple but present so the look doesn’t get too busy.  Then grab a wow bag – the always lovely Valentino comes immediately to mind, or this sensational Anya Hindmarch woven bag in platinum and Hello!   

I also think the print would work well with some subtle pattern mixing – like the tweed I suggest above, or another big trendy look, stripes.  This is where you would definitely want to go matchy-matchy to keep the look cohesive and not too crazy.  There is a Ralph Lauren boatneck sweater in that gorgeous aqua with a white stripe – perf!  Again the key to making this work will be in the balance between details. 

These shoes, are a perfect example of what I mean when I talk about a special piece that is a key building block in your wardrobe – they are singular and distinctive while still being so amazingly versatile.   When you first see them you think “what the heck will I wear these with?” or “these would be cute with jeans” but if you let yourself play you will find tons of other great options.  Most of the items I selected are relatively basic pieces that, when mixed and popped with the sandals become great outfits.  All adding up to the very best in outfit “math” and a terrific way to get into spring.

February 21, 2012

THE White Dress – The Search Begins

As some of you know, I am getting married this coming autumn.  I am so happy and excited about our wedding – a proper affair, white dress and all. The location is set and is gorgeous, the plans are well in hand, thanks to a simply fab wedding planner, and so now I need to turn my focus to my dress. 

You would think this would be quite easy for me and I would immediately be able to sketch out exactly what I want.  But that is not the case.  Perhaps it is because I have outgrown the bridal visions of my twenties, or that I have no princess fantasies dying to escape; or that I have absolutely no desire to emulate Kate Middleton, Kim Kardashian, or any other high profile bride (Although I do still LOVE Gwen Stefani’s pink gown).  I enjoy the Say Yes To The Dress shows not for the schmaltzy romance or the tepid drama, but for the fashion and styling aspects of the process – so many amazing possibilities, so many different styles and tastes, so many chances to be a beautiful (…or gaudy… or kooky…or tacky) bride, so perhaps my mind is just too muddled with options.   Or it may be that my own tastes have evolved well past what generous applications of lace, beading and bling will satisfy.  Whatever the cause, I am terrifically open to all the possibilities but when presented with the question of what I want I am at a something of a loss. 

My sister, lucky girl, wore my mother’s dress – a beautiful, timeless silk gown worthy of an Audrey Hepburn cover shoot.  It was the Dress of the Year when Mom wore it, and it looked even more amazing when my sister wore it more than thirty years later.  With her gorgeous face, tiny figure and that dress, my sister really did look like Audrey, and she was simply stunning.  Sadly I am not a size two so that fabulous dress will have to wait for my nieces.  But it sets the bar for what I want – timeless, beautiful, couture.  

So, with high aspirations and a determination to have the most flattering gown I could come up with, I started off my quest with some research – poring over the bride magazines, scouring the internet, reading the reviews, blogs, even chat boards.  I got a feel for the elements I liked and what I thought would work best for me but still no clear vision, let alone a picture or a model number to attach it to.  To further complicate things, all the advice on plus size bridal fashion I found didn’t remotely relate to what is available in the market.  Worse yet, what I liked the best and thought would work, the bridal experts had put firmly on the “do not do” list as being not the right silhouettes, details, etc. to choose for my size and shape.  Aaaahhhh!!!! 

Clearly I was going to have to try some dresses on to sort this out.  This was terrifying; after reading so many horror stories and watching hours of Say Yes To The Dress I knew that even my relatively strong self esteem was going to be put to the test when donning gowns intended for much smaller and taller women.  Knowing that most stores didn’t have many plus size samples to try wasn’t a big help.  Fortunately during my research I discovered Strut Bridal Salon in Phoenix, Arizona (www.strutbridalsalon.com); dedicated to plus size bridal and prom wear, every dress sample they carry is in a plus size.    Determined to give myself the very best first experience, have the best possible number of options AND have a fun girl getaway weekend in Scottsdale as an added bonus, the girl buddies and I headed out to Arizona this past weekend.  

First off, I have to say that Strut was terrific!  Owner Anne has created a charming salon and her knowledgeable and fashion-savvy associate, Jasmine, was amazing. We had an immediate Fashionista connection.  After a brief chat over what I was looking for (love texture, don’t love lace, neutral on bling, hate my arms, etc…etc..etc…) we pulled a variety of dresses, trying to stay within the boundaries of what I thought I wanted but admittedly getting caught up in the beauty of some amazing gowns. 

Jasmine, bless her, laced, tucked, clipped, hiked and hitched like a champ as I tried on dresses.  I tottered out in layers of fabric, top or back gaping, my body stiff inside a long-line bra and dress boning.  My sister and girlfriends oohed and ahhed.  Each dress I tried was lovely and had at least one element I loved – the fabric, the color, the neckline, the skirt, the detail.  Some looked great on, some not so much. 

Jasmine was unbelievably patient and positive, and best of all she really understood what I was trying to get to, even if I couldn’t explain it.  I felt like a colossal pill as I kept saying “maybe” and “almost” – I didn’t need a big teary, emotional ah-ha moment, but I needed to at least look and feel a “YES!”   Tired after squirming into quite a few dresses and exhausting even Jasmine’s best ideas, my best friend looked me in the eye and said “we are close, but we haven’t found the one that is YOU”.  She was absolutely right.  Each was beautiful, but not THE dress. Not MY dress.

The trip was totally worth it, even if we did come back empty handed.  I found that, despite all the so-called experts’ advice about dressing at my “advanced age”, I don’t need to wear some evening gown or a “destination dress” – I really can do the big white dress thing.  But not too big – I will need a dress that feels good for hours since I don’t want to change into a reception dress.  And it doesn’t need to be white – I look good in ivory and great in champagne or blush.

I learned volumes about what is going to work and not work for me.  For example, while pick-ups and huge skirts aren’t for me (can we say walking comforter?) the dresses with a ball skirt or a poufy tulle skirt emphasize my tiny waist and de-emphasize my tummy and, contrary to yet more plus size bridal advice, look really good.  As do corset backs, which again really make the most of my waist and bosom – I mean wow!  And while I still don’t love the sweetheart neckline everyone agrees – it loves me.  And that beaded bodice that completely scared me, isn’t half bad on – who knew?!  I have even begun to reconcile myself to the ubiquitous stevedore-arm-baring strapless bodice – although there MUST be a better solution than the faux coverage of chiffon or lace that, while it doesn’t add the visual or actual bulk of an opaque fabric, also doesn’t do much on the camouflage front either.

On the trip home I went back through the magazines thinking I needed to start over…but as I looked at the pictures I had marked before, I found to my own amazement that what worked on the pedestal was what I had marked in the pages.  So now I can throw aside the well intended advice, stick with what I really liked and find what is really ME. How cool is that?

And so, the journey continues. I will be sending more postcards of this adventure…stay tuned!

February 14, 2012

Love In The Rain

Love in the Rain

Not everyone loves the rain, but I do.  I think its romantic and perfect weather for Valentine’s Day.  It makes cozying up inside a must and if you add a little rumble of thunder, even better.

But I must admit I have never loved going out in the rain, especially if I am dressed up.  Getting properly covered up for stormy weather can mean donning a raincoat and boots, which can be an unfashionable sort of afterthought to a gorgeous outfit.  And if you don’t cover up, you run the risk of ruining something special – like a gorgeous pair of shoes, which is simply unthinkable. 

What is a girl to do?  That serviceable beige trench isn’t quite the right look, even if it IS Burberry and the height of day time chic.  And if you are here in California it’s a bit too warm for your long winter dress coat.  You need something medium to light weight, dressy feeling but not too fussy and ideally something you can wear more than just on special occasions.  And actually rain proof.  Don’t forget rain proof!

This season there are some terrific options in the rain coat department – tons of bold and brightly colored trench coats and/or rain coats with fun details or fabrics that add just enough special to take them into evening.  My favorite was this gorgeous satin trench in raspberry by Burberry (of course).  Yum!  I also really loved Kate Spade’s ivory number with spiffy black trim, so chic!   I can easily see either of these options over a little black dress without being too casual, and then being something you can wear for daytime as well. 

Not every bright color will do, though.  Some are just too sporty or casual – yellow for example.  Ideally you want something that feels a bit more formal and that coordinates with your going-out clothes.  For me that means my adorable lumo trench stays in the closet and I grab my satin trench in a deep raspberry color with a full, sweeping skirt-like bottom instead.   It is such a fun color that looks especially great with black or silver, and the satin makes it feels dressy.  Speaking of silver, one of my all-time favorite trenches is a silver satin one– mine has gotten so much wear it has gotten awfully ratty, but there are new versions out there, like this embellished one, and they are fab.

On your feet – well I think rain boots can be pretty cute, or at least chic as long as you bring a tote with your *real* shoes along.  I snagged these adorable options – sort of dressed up wellies, which would all look great.  If you just can’t bring yourself to do the whole rain boot thing, at least consider donning some weather-proof shoes.  They don’t have to be ugly or heavy – Aquatalia by Marvin K has some great basic pumps in a block or kitten heel which come in great colors and fabrications.  I also found these really fun read suede numbers, also weatherproof, which seemed too perfect for V-Day.  It may not be the height of fabulous to wear a more basic pump, but it will beat wearing spattered, rain-soaked evening shoes or having wet feet from wearing sandals in the rain. 

Last but not least, as I said in my article about raingear for the boys – make sure you or your beau bring along a nice big umbrella!  Now, you are ready to go out and snuggle up close – to stay dry of course 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

February 2, 2012

Finely Feathered

Finely Feathered

It’s end of season sales time and for me they have, for the most part, been pretty disappointing.  In our “new economy” retailers and designers have really cut back on their orders and the resulting reduced inventory leaves the bargain hunting pickings awfully slim.  If you want the really good stuff you just don’t dare wait!  

I have taken this to heart and now play what I refer to as “retail chicken” with items that I am on the fence about.  You know, those numbers you really like but can’t quite justify at full price?  I stalk those pieces, waiting for that first markdown and let my shopping karma do the rest.  So if that amazing pair of boots were meant to be mine they will still be in stock in my size when they go on sale.

I scored in the retail chicken game recently with not one but TWO great Anna Scholz tunics.  And oddly enough both had a peacock/feather theme.  I have always loved the impractical, foppish peacock but never have owned a single item with that motif.  Until now.

First up, I got a gorgeous A-line tunic in a cobalt blue peacock pattern, with interesting asymmetric seaming detail at the hem.  This is my second foray into cobalt, a color I haven’t really worn much of, but I got so many compliments the first time I tried it again.  And it was a huge hit.   I started the basic outfit just like Anna did with black leggings and black boots – mine a pair of curvy heeled Chie Miharas’. But I found that even with the print and seaming, as well as some judicious tailoring to fit my super short bod, it seemed like a pretty vast expanse of uninterrupted blue.  A few attempts with streamlined/mod accessories looked a bit flat, so I went big and more girly – adding some multi-media necklaces in steely silver and a girly bag like this one with a chain strap and bold bow at the shoulder.  Just what it needed.   Love!

The second top was one I have stalked from the first showing on the Saks website, where it lasted only a few weeks.  It had gotten mixed reviews regarding fit so I held off, waited…and waited…and then lucked out.  Soooo worth the wait!  I love the mix of browns and the hint of teal as well as the overall art deco motif and knew exactly how I would wear it.  Like most garments, I had to have its shortened and in this case I went with a slightly shorter proportion than the way it is shown in the pics – the results are awesome.  I can wear it with my adored wide-legged trouser jeans or a skinny jean – either in deepest denim blue.  (Side note: I am still getting used to the skinny pant/tunic top look on me – I no longer feel like I am shaped like an ice cream cone but not I am not fully convinced it’s my best look either) 

Accessorizing the brown feather top is a breeze.  I took advantage of our unseasonably warm weather and got out my new Butter platform sandals in nude, paired up with my color-blocked Isabella Fiore bag which has a mix of those caramel colors in both shoe and top.  Yes I know, ANOTHER bow, what can I say? I am feeling girly.   The center detailing and bell sleeve (which is more pronounced than the picture shows) mean that not much jewelry is needed – maybe a bold earring and a cool cuff, or a turquoise necklace if its not too busy, but not much else.  And if I want a pop of color I can swap out the neutral sandals for teal….thus justifying a glance at those teal suede numbers I have been thinking about.

In these outfits all of my favorite go-to designers really came together – just gotta love those trusty faves!  Speaking of which – the first of Anna Scholz’s spring line hit Saks.com this past week for those plus-sized divas out there and all I can say is YUM!!!  Clearly I won’t be waiting on the sales for some of those goodies…

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