Archive for September, 2013

September 22, 2013

Creating a Flap…per!!!!

I recently got a chance to really stretch my creative muscles and it felt sooooo goooood! My favorite restaurateur, Bonnie, celebrated her birthday with a fabulous bash at her restaurant – Harlow’s in San Juan Capistrano.   The theme, Great Gatsby, was both totally on-trend and befit the gorgeous vintage vibe of Harlow’s, better yet – the invite said 1920’s dress encouraged – time to dress up! 

Chatting with Bonnie a few weeks before the party I got the dish on the look she was considering for herself – beaded flapper dress, feathers, the works.  This girl always looks simply gorgeous and she had several options in her wardrobe so I was expecting amazing.  As we chatted I mentioned I have a snazzy Louise Green 20’s inspired cloche and she made me promise to wear it.     

I instantly knew the look I was going for –  luxe and sophisticated 1920’s – think Lady Mary ala Downtown Abbey rather than full-on flapper.  My cloche is a daytime hat, but it is a rich brown and with the right clothes it could work for cocktail hour.  I started pondering my closet for an eveningy ensemble to wear with the hat and got royally stumped.  I have plenty of daytime options but not a single thing that would really be right for evening. 

Scouring my online sources yielded absolutely nothing.  Then I thought “well maybe I need to go black and get a NEW hat”.   (I am always ready for a new hat.)   However, after a few more scans the only dress I found was ridiculously expensive, and I would still need to get the hat and probably shoes so it was just too extravagant, even for me.  

What to do?  I was running out of time, contemplating not dressing up and doodling on a note pad as I pondered my options.   When I looked down at the simple shift dress I had sketched an idea bloomed – why not MAKE a dress?!  A few more sketches, some measurements, and I had my concept – a simple shift with slight sleeves, a dropped waist and knee length skirt but jazzed up with some sparkle and shine.  But, it still seemed a bit drab.  Then I thought “feathers!!!” and sketched in a feathered skirt.   

At the fabric store I hunted for the right materials, pulling together feathers, trim and fabrics.  I found absolutely perfect trim – black with brown embroidery and bright crystals right off the bat, and found several good options on fabric, but came up with only one not-quite-the-right brown feather boa – rats!!!  I needed eight boas to make a skirt, and without the feathers the dress was going to be beyond dowdy.  I headed to a craft store where I found, miracles of miracles, a huge pile of boas in a mixed cream and brown –and since apparently no one else has found a use for mottled natural colored boas they were even on sale – bingo! 

I set aside a weekend for my sewing project.  Pattern and muslin making took a morning and by then end of first day I had the dress fitted, zipper in, and sleeves done.  Then I spent the whole of Sunday on feather boa manipulation and hand sewing.  By the end of the weekend I was tired, my workspace was covered in feathers, but I was very very satisfied with my creation.

The final outfit came together perfectly; the color palette and every element from hat to dress to accessories worked seamlessly together.  I had snagged one of the solid brown boas to actually use as a boa, and added a pair of Mary Janes in a burgundy metallic patent from my own closet – period style, dressy and not too matchy-matchy.  My recently purchased Givenchy jewelry in bronze metal and rose crystals lent the right sparkly touches with long necklaces and a bold cuff.  Even my haircut was just right, conveniently, a swingy bob.  Best of all – that fabulous darned hat with its feisty feathers and band– LOVE!

The party was a blast – a restored Model T graced the front entrance for photo ops, there was a casino with proceeds benefiting the Marconi Foundation for Kids, and lots of folks joined in the fun of dressing up, dancing and celebrating.  While I didn’t manage to get Mr. Commando in an era-appropriate outfit, he looked good and I did get him to join me on the red carpet for a snap.  Bonnie and I had a big laugh when we saw each other and realized we had both ended up wearing dark brown.  She couldn’t believe I had made my dress and kept showing it off (so sweet).  I got tons of complements that night and the final fun came just a few nights ago – we were at Harlow’s for a casual dinner when the GM came up and asked if I had noticed that my picture, hat and all, is now on the restaurant’s “wall of fame” – how fun is that?!

Flappers

September 15, 2013

Go Team, Go!!!

goteamgo

Watching college football on television got me to thinking about just how silly most sports fans look on game day – it’s part of the fun I think.  But sometimes you do have to up the style quotient a notch.  I have had a recent experience that is an excellent case in point.

As I have mentioned before, the hubby and I have season tickets to the Los Angeles Clippers that happen to be in a very prominent location for photo ops.  This has always meant being a little bit self aware lest you find yourself getting texts from friends who see you scarfing up popcorn, wearing a baseball cap and track suit  on national television. Oh yeah, sooooo not good for one’s fashion cred.  

This year the stakes got upped another notch when we found we have new folks sitting in front of us in the next row  – the very gorgeous Gloria Govan, star of Basketball Wives and wife of the handsome LA Clipper Matt Barnes, and their adorable twins Carter and  Isaiah.  She is engaging and lovely, and the little boys, along with their good buddy Chris Paul Jr., draw a lot of player and therefore camera attention.  

The Barnes family members are quite the Fashionistas – Matt, always well dressed off court, was even a guest on Fashion Police this summer and his taste and knowledge were impressive.  Even the twins are always nattily dressed – so adorable and on-trend, even at four!  Gloria has great style and the girl can rock skinnies and Louboutains like nobody’s business.  But it’s not all NBA Wife bling.  I complemented her at one game on a really chic necklace and she giggled and shyly told me it was from Forever21.   

Needless to say, I have found myself making a bit more of an effort to look my best when we are at the games – not so easy this particular year.  And it got even trickier when, miracles of miracles, my beloved team made it to the playoffs.  Why you ask?  Well besides increased media coverage, the arena gives away free shirts for every playoff game in the Clippers team color – red.  They want you to wear them or wear you own red fan gear to show a sea of red on national television (see pic above).  It makes a great visual impact and would be great if the freebies weren’t too small to go over my chest. 

I wanted to represent my beloved team – and I wanted to look chic doing it.  To make it more challenging, there are a LOT of games (stretches of two, three or four home games in a week) and frequently I am going straight from the office to the game, so clearly the one hand-sequined tee I made wasn’t going to cut it.  Game on! 

I started with some fun shoes – it took some hunting but I managed to find not one but two cute and comfy pairs of red shoes on sale – adorable sparkly metallic Cole Haan ballet flats and some Dansko’s that look like platform Keds – no tottering about in ridiculously high heels for me.  Next I found two great layering cardigans (one long and drapey, one cropped and classic),  an a-line cashmere tunic and a ballet neck tee all from JJill in a gorgeous color called “True Red” and all on sale!  Whahoo!!!  Lastly, because I simply can’t go anywhere without great accessories, I fashioned up a bold statement necklace in silver and gorgeous red glass beads.  Add trousers, leggings, or jeans in blue or white, layering pieces like my white leather jacket, et voila – a Clippers fan capsule wardrobe!

I’ve gotten quite a few compliments on the “fan” looks – even one from Gloria.  And in case you are wondering, the lovely Gloria is NOT wearing free tees either– she and the rest of the team wives showed up for the playoffs in super-cute customized team jerseys, with matching ones for the twins, of course.  Go Clippers!!

September 7, 2013

Dreaming of Autumn

Anniversary Goodies

 

With NY Fashion Week in full swing, and the seasons changing (except for here in Southern California) my thoughts are turning to autumn and all the yummy clothes that come with the cooler weather.   I have written before on how much I dislike the fashion rut that is June through August.  The stores are full of dreadful summer clearance merchandise (size 00 neon yellow monokini anyone?) and the fashion magazines go on breaks.  We don’t even have a mid-season break like we do in January when we get resort wear in and can fantasize about being warm when it’s cold outside. 

The one bright light in the otherwise uninspiring late summer is the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale in July, when we can sit in front a blasting air conditioner and look at leathers, boots and cashmere ON SALE and then actually go buy those goodies.  I have written about this event, a personal favorite, before (https://somethingtowear.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/happy-anniversary-sale/.)

This year I spent a delicious few hours with the catalog and then online plotting what I wanted to get.  Then I did the same with my eldest step-daughter, Christie.  She has just graduated from college and has started her first “real” job so we’re in career wardrobe-building mode for her.  No denim, no tanks, no flip flops – just real grown-up, versatile and sophisticated goodies.  Best part of our shopping “trip” was that it was all ordered online so we had the best selection, no first-day-of-sale crowds, and we got a little Christmas for a few days as the packages arrived later. 

We scored some amazing grown up goodies for Christie – a gorgeous Kate Spade top in bang-on-trend purple, a kicky and very chic leather trimmed fit and flare dress that has an endless number of destinations from work to a chic night out in San Francisco, and a luxe leather jacket that I expect she will wear for years to come. 

And for me?  Well I have been a bit disappointed in the past few years at Nordstrom’s plus size offerings for this event, seems like too often the fabulousness and gloss doesn’t make it past size 12.  But this year there were a few gems even for me!  I nabbed a much-needed new leather jacket, black with very cool and superbly flattering knit insets on the sides.  I also found a yummy cashmere sweater with bold sparkly embellishments, and a pair of black Attilio Giusti Leombruni ballet flats.  The flats are one of those pricey-but-worth-it items I tried on months ago and loved for their amazing comfort, but they didn’t have the right color in my size at the time, so finding them on sale and in stock was exciting. 

Lastly, I snagged a set of Givenchy necklaces in a very cool bronzy metal with blush pearls and crystals.  I loved how they layered them in the catalog pics and loved the effect even more when I got them home.  They were a bit pricey for fashion jewelry, but I have several other Givenchy pieces and they are of amazing quality that puts them in a class above regular costume jewelry.  Better yet, the brown color makes them super versatile, they filled a wardrobe gap (I don’t wear gold so its tricky when I accessorize brown) and they were perfect for an upcoming event (more on that later)

I have only one left-behind-and-regret-it item; an absolutely gorgeous Burberry Orchard satchel with super natty brogue details.  Nordstrom offered a “limited time” special price on these bags in a burgundy and a cognac color for a few brief moments at the beginning of the sale, then zipped them back up to full price.  I love love love the Orchard bags but if I get one, it really needs to be black so I resisted.  Now they are at regular price and no signs of a version in black yet.  Rats! 

California’s perverse September weather arrived this week with scorching heat and insidious humidity.  The news and Facebook are full of reports of fall leaves, cooling temperatures and even rain.  My new jacket and sweater wait tantalizingly in my closet until the weather cools.  Meanwhile absurdly I sweat away and dream of cashmere…oh yeah, and rock my new flats and necklaces 😉

September 1, 2013

Emerging

Butterfly

Hello wonderful peeps – yes, it is I. Long lost but hopefully not forgotten.

It’s been exactly one year since I last posted and I have missed you. But I am back at last! So where have I been? Well, what started as first a slowdown in writing became a full-on break during the run up to my wedding and then life hit me…hard. Let me catch you up on what’s been going on and then we can take it from there….

Shortly after the wedding (which was wonderful and I will share more on that in future posts) my beloved father passed away. He walked me down the aisle and then just two weeks later he was unexpectedly gone. After his death came the holidays and a winter and spring filled with some very serious work stress and several tough trips to Oregon to fulfill my duties as executor. Then, just as I was starting to get back into the swing of things, my mother’s health began to fail and, before we could even believe it possible, she was gone as well.

I cannot sufficiently express the sadness and loss. The grief and stress were devastating, leaving me barely enough energy to maintain critical functions like work and the occasional desultory workout. My ability to focus was completely gone, and normal social interactions required serious effort – to speak without crying, to remember common civilities, to not bore the socks off of everyone I came in contact with just by being so utterly wretched. I trudged through the days and if I didn’t drop any critical responsibilities, had acceptable hygiene, clean clothes, and enough consideration not to be outright rude I considered myself ahead of the game. Needless to say, I did not have the time or the inclination to care about fashion, much less write about it.

Sartorially I was at my most, ahem, essential – ponytailed, bare-faced and even bespectacled as frequent tears made make-up impractical and my contact lens impossible. My sister said it best when wiping her eyes after one particularly teary greeting – “oh crap, there goes another five dollars in eye cream!” (Embarrassingly, nearly anything will still make me cry – happy, sad, funny, just about anything can trigger waterworks). My only nod to maintenance at my former levels is the near-religious upkeep of my hair color, a vanity but necessary as the year’s events dramatically accelerated the silver taking over my roots with none-too-flattering results.

I was able to dress like I meant it for the trips and funerals – I donned a seriously chic Louise Green hat for Dad’s memorial that he would have LOVED and even got a new interview suit queued up as a security against getting laid off. But my usual panache was dimmed, replaced by only occasional glimmers – getting excited about a new season of Project Runway, a Zappos raid, and dressing for a few social events. I didn’t completely lose it and wander around in sweats 24/7, but much of the time I found myself wrapped in what I call “comfort clothes” – layers of forgiving jersey, soothing cashmere, reliable denim, paired with comfortable shoes, adding a bag here or a necklace there for accessories. Nothing complicated or elaborate, just easy, soothing and requiring no thought.

Ever so slowly I am recovering – emerging like a butterfly from a chrysalis. I haven’t quite gotten back into the full swing of things (must confess that I am still enjoying 10 more minutes over my morning coffee rather than spending them doing my make up) but I am getting there. As I awake from the haze of the past nine months I am discovering the need for some other changes, though.

After months of comfort dressing I stood in my closet one morning and it dawned on me – many of the clothes hanging there felt like they were for a different person! Clearly it is time for a rethink. So I am embarking on a period of personal discovery and trying to figure out what, exactly, these new wings are suppose to look like. And I invite you on what I hope is a fashionable journey – do stay tuned!

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