Archive for October, 2013

October 20, 2013

No Sweat!

No Sweat!


Recently I have been obsessed with the embellished sweatshirt – and this is quite notable since presently I don’t even own any sort of sweatshirt.  They just haven’t been my thing.  This obsession all started this summer when I saw one on Pinterest, pinned by my very fashion savvy 12 year old niece, Darby.  This wasn’t some basic Hanes sweatshirt emblazoned with a sequined pumpkin or other seasonal or cutesy motif.  No this was a super-chic fashionable sweatshirt – navy blue with sequined sleeves in silver, gold and copper. 

After that first one I began seeing them everywhere, especially as the pre-fall and fall seasons rolled out.  Tarting up a comfy sweatshirt is hardly a new concept and nearly every fall season sees one verion or another, but lately there have been more than a few versions that are fashion far beyond the sequined kittens octogenarians wear at bingo.  It’s tricky to articulate just what combination of color, cut, and embellishment elevate the lowly sweatshirt past cute or fun and right on to chic, but every once in awhile one does with a bang.  I pulled together a sampling of my current favorites – from couture to fast fashion:

  1. This confection from Lanvin, is without question a fashion statement – the color, the cool cut of the raglan sleeve, and the sequins in varying sizes, the whole thing is fab.
  2. This is the one that renewed my interest – its a sweatshirt and doesn’t hide the fact, but it does so in a super cool way.
  3. With the embroidered bell sleeves this particular number is so much more than a sweatshirt. Can’t you just see this with white jeans and a sparkly statement necklace?
  4. I am especially drawn to designs where the embellishment is thoughtfully placed – like the lacy patterning on the shoulders of this Dorthy Perkins Collection piece.
  5. This cutie, in traditional grey jersey graced with lady like pearls, in a cropped cut is…like..totally eighties, and since its from Delia’s its also totally affordable.  

How to wear the look?  Well, clearly these babies are meant to glam-up your Friday casual or weekend looks so don’t kid yourself into thinking they are appropriate for dressy occasions like a cocktail party.  Just as critical as where you wear it is, how you wear it is even more important.  When you are creating an outfit around one of these fancy pieces it’s all about balance

 First off, choose jeans or slouchy boy-friend cut pants, or pair with a maxi skirt for some season transiting fab.  Solid colored bottoms are the safe choice, but if you are feeling adventurous you can absolutely go with a print or texture as well.  Just be sure to balance the visual impact of print and embellishment carefully.  If you want a narrow pant, make sure it is a true pant and not just a jersey legging unless the top is tunic length.  Actually, this advice applies to EVERYONE – Leggings are meant to be worn with longer tops since jersey doesn’t cover as well as you hope it will when it is stretched across even the tiniest bottom!!  

Sweatshirts can be bulky and make you look wider and shorter than you might want so select both the top and your accompanying bottom with fit and the overall silhouette in mind.  If the top has that traditional banded bottom, make sure it fits well (no over stretching or riding up) and hits you in a flattering place.  If you aren’t loving where the band hits you, you may be able to have a tailor remove the band which will be a more forgiving boxy swing silhouette.  

You will want to keep the rest of your accessories balanced and complimentary rather than matchy matchy.  To avoid looking like a Christmas tree keep shoes and bags on the simple side without going too sporty (or it will just look like, well, sweats.)   Select jewelry that doesn’t compete with the embellishment but balances it.  What does that mean?  Well, if you have “fancy” sleeves and a plain body, you don’t need tons of bracelets, but a sparkly bib necklace or pendant might be just the thing.  Conversely, if the embellishment is on the front or all over than leave off on the necklaces but maybe toss on a sparkly cocktail ring for a cheeky pop. 

With winter and the holiday season coming up I am sure you can find quite a few occasions for a tarted-up sweatshirt, I certainly know I can.  Also, before you write this off as a single season wonder, Jason Wu showed a light version with almost floaty embellishment in his Spring 2014 Runway show that was gorgeous.  So if you love this look as much as I do you stay tuned for more opportunities in the months to come.  Now I just need to find the perfect version to add to my own wardrobe!


October 5, 2013

THE White Dress – Epilogue




Looking back at old posts recently I realized we are coming up on our first anniversary and I never did finish up my dress odyssey.   So here is how the story ended, or at least what came right before “and they lived happily ever after”. 

My final wedding look ended up being a collection of fortuitous “make it work” moments from a blend of talented helpers, my own editing skills and just pure luck.  As some may recall, unlike most brides who start by actually trying on a sample dress and then trying on veils, shoes, etc.  to go with the dress,  I had a dress made for me based on my own sketch, so bringing all of the elements together required some vision.  Little did I know just how much!  

Shelly, my designer, started with the bodice since we knew that getting the fit right would be tricky.  It took weeks, but it was perfect – just the right amount of detail, good fit, and the corseted design flattered my Rubenesque body.   While she worked on the dress, I ordered my tiara, made my veil myself (easy peasy), did my hair and make up trials, got my shoes and figured out jewelry.  Since the dress was to be the focal point, I was keeping the other accessories simple and classic. 

Heading into August everything was right on track.  Then, as Shelly draped the skirt, she becamed concerned, and before she got too far along she did a quick pin and baste up for me to try.  When I came to that fitting I was bubbling with excitement – things were coming together.  But Shelly was quiet, practically holding her breath waiting to see what I thought.  I put the dress on and there was a long silence in the fitting room. 

I could immediately see what she was struggling with – it simply wasn’t right.   Despite the fact that the design was made up of elements I knew worked on me, when we put it all together the overall effect was awful.  The proportions were off, somehow making me look even bigger and more ungainly than usual!  I was on the brink of tears, but I didn’t want to hurt Shelly’s feelings.  This was more about my body than her effort.  It just didn’t work.  Oh. My. Gosh.  It was the beginning of September – we had seven weeks until the wedding!!  

After the initial shock I pulled myself together – I took a big step back and tried to be rational and objective.  What could I do?   There wasn’t time to buy anything else.   We needed to make this work.   Forget my original dreams.  Forget fabulous.  Forget special.  I just needed to create something that I would not cringe about when I looked at pictures.  Shelly and I dissected what we had and discussed options.  We had some good elements that we could work with.  As for the rest, we agreed we just needed to rethink. 

Step one – simplify the top.  I had wanted a shrug or sleeves to cover up my ham-like upper arms, but everything we tried made me look squatter.  So we opted for an off-the-shoulder detail in organza – it still showed my beefy arms, but at least it broke up the vast expanse of pudgy shoulder and framed the décolletage (a bonus if you ask Mr. Commando).  Step two – redo the skirt.  Plain it looked horribly drab so we knew it needed something and after some playing about we settled on asymmetrical tiers for visual interest while avoiding having horizontal lines.  

Traumatized, I went to the next fitting in dread.  And my fears were realized when I found myself in a dress with puffy sleeves and tiers in a frilly lettuce edge which, paired with the tiara and veil, created a complete Princess look worthy of Disney.  This would have been great on someone 25, but on someone 45 it was utterly ridiculous.   I was appalled, it was soooo not me.   Shelly quickly grasped my concerns and we de-puffed and cut off the frilly finish – hmm….better.  Not wonderful but…fine.  Pragmatically I decided it would have to do. 

Thoroughly demoralized, I thought about what I could do to save this and came to the conclusion that I would use the same approach that I use for everyday.  I decied to make up for a lack of truly designer plus size clothing and my less-than-fashionable body with good styling and fabulous designer accessories.  I started a shopping frenzy to replace my understated accessories with some really posh goodies.  For jewelry I chose my Tiffany diamond heart pendant my beloved gave me and added a beautiful and dramatic pair of earrings and bracelet of delicate porcelain flowers from MaapStudio, a designer on Etsy; then I snagged a pearl encrusted heart clutch at BHDLN, and treated myself to the coolest sparkly Mary Janes in champagne from Miu Miu.  Now *that* was more like it!


But the veil had to go.  At my second to last fitting we tried a myriad of options with no awesome results.  Shelly sent me home with some stuff to play with including a beautiful handmade silk flower and a mini veil of French net.  When I got home that night there was a package from my mother-in-law-to-be.  It contained a beautiful vintage brooch – a bumble bee of topaz with jeweled wings.  It was an exquisite family heirloom with a wonderful story behind it;  I was so touched and charmed, here was the perfect something old!  And then an inspiration hit me.  Playing with the brooch and the flower, and the veiling I created a sort of hat – it was quirky and a little cool.  I took a quick pic and sent it to my wedding planner.  She LOVED it.  Then I called my hairdresser, Liz and she had me come in for a quick check – she came up with a nifty asymmetrical ‘do to work with it.  Problem solved!  And with only one week to go!!!!

When it was all put together, along with simply stunning make up from artist cum magician Jessica, the final result looked pretty good.  Of course everyone said I was beautiful, but then they have to say that, it’s a rule.  The pictures don’t make me cringe and as a bonus I came in WAY under budget for dress, jewelry, etc.  Best of all, I captured what I was going for – timeless, elegant, with just a touch of quirky and  I managed to achieve my dream of having an original and fashion-forward look top to bottom.  In fact, since the dress was created from individual layers of candlelight and blush, my wedding dress was truly a unique color and wasn’t even white.  No, my white dress was actually PINK!

brideCredits: Photos by Chard Photography, Hair – Liz Ward and Jenn Smit, Vogue Salon, Make Up – Jessica at Flawless Faces

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