Archive for ‘Ahead of the Curve’

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 😉

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…

September 3, 2011

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

One of the biggest challenges for a Posh-Plus girl living in the OC or San Diego is the lack of truly great brick-and-mortar shopping options, even more so now in these post-bubble times.  The department store presence has reduced (Bloomies) or completely deserted us (Saks) and all we are left with is our tried and true Nordstrom.  As for boutiques, well this *is* the OC, a size 8 is considered fat and fashion is in two camps – Housewives (leggings with big shirts, mom jeans with twin sets, and track suits) and Housewives of the OC (jeggings with slinky tops, low rise jeans with slinky tops, and track suits).  The universal form of footwear is the flip flop.  Comfy – yes, casual – yes, fashion forward – not so much.  If you are looking for something a little different, of excellent quality, and meant for someone above a size 12, well it’s off to the internet with you – until now…. 

A few months ago a Google search sent me to a soon to be opening boutique for PLUS SIZES, “coming soon – late summer”.   I began to watc…okay I will be honest here… stalk the site waiting for more newsI was so excited when the website expanded past the landing page, finding the tidbits of clothes intriguing and owner Deirdre Mick’s vision absolutely inspiring.  And then the opening day was set, at last!  Better still – it coincided with my end of summer staycation.  Yes!!!

Having spent a very long and demanding summer at my real job I was definitely ready for some rest and retail therapy.  So my first morning off found me tooling down the I-5, the weather glorious and the sparkling ocean crashing away next to me.  Bliss.  In less than an hour I pulled onto on a cute street of boutiques and design shops, the Cedros Design District in Solano Beach, and was greeted by the jaunty brown striped awnings of Curve Couture.   

My first steps into Curve Couture told me this was going to be well worth the trip.  The shop is spacious and gorgeously appointed.  You are warmly greeted and then allowed to soak it in a bit.  Everything here is just right.  The merchandise is not over crowded or eerily empty.  Displays are creative without overwhelming or stretching the bounds of reality.  And they carry not just clothes but terrific accessories and shoes. 

The clothes are fabulous.  Ms. Mick has made a point of finding designers that are not currently carried in the region.  She strove for, and has achieved, a European vibe – a little bit of edgy, a tiny bit of trendy mixed with great basic building blocks.  There is something here for nearly everyone from the classic woman in white shirt and designer jeans to the Boho babe in the layered Lagen look.  And yet the overall effect is cohesive and distinctive.  The stock includes some familiar names like Linda Lundstrom, Mellisa Masse and Neon Budha, with the always delightful All Black for shoes, but there are also brands that are completely new to me but that have me wanting more!

A glass of bubbly offered and cheerfully accepted, I threw myself into my retail mode – trance-like focus on every item, sales assistant shuttling clothes to my dressing room.  The dressing room was clearly designed with the plus-sized shopper in mind.  Proportioned for a size 24 body and furnished with a nice, sturdy bench – no wobbly micro-sized chair or flimsy seat waiting to detach itself from the wall when I sit, bless them.  With good lighting, substantial privacy curtains and even a few tasteful pillows for the shopping weary to enjoy, a girl can strip down and start trying on clothes in comfort.   Which is exactly what I did. 

I had a ball!  The staff was truly interested in helping and wanted to know about fit and my opinions.  They made great suggestions, and best of all gave candid feedback.  That embellished Lundstrom jacket – terrific (and now in my closet;)), the white tunic blouse – not as good.  Helpful and enthusiastic without pushing, these women clearly have extensive retail experience and are genuinely excited about what they do.  As my purchases were packaged (beautifully might I add), I enjoyed a glass of sparkling water, a chocolate and a fabulous chat about the plus-size fashion business with manager, Anne.  Her energy and enthusiasm for Curve Couture is palpable. 

So what did I get?  The embellished jacket, some swingy tunic tops each with unique and fun features – my favorite being a very retro/mod Cheyenne swing top in blueberry with circle cut-outs edged in black, a really awesome medium width calf hair belt in the perfect leopard, and a mixed media necklace. 

This is just what we have been waiting for – a great selection of jeans and casual wear, professional wear and evening clothes, all higher-end, size friendly and truly fashion, not just clothes.  Even if you aren’t typically a plus size, it is well worth a browse as the jewelry is divine, scarves, bags and belts terrific. 

Every detail of this place has been well thought out from the merchandising and staffing to the color scheme that is carried in the décor, the marketing materials, packaging, even the napkins!  The owner’s eye for detail is everywhere, right down to the etched pattern in the glassware coordinating with the murals on the walls.  In the dressing room I was so pleased to find my choices artfully arranged, shoes on the floor unlaced and ready to try.  THIS is how you do retail, folks!  Perfection! 

Curve Couture  415 S. Cedros Ave Suite 160, Solano Beach, CA  848-847-9100    Curve-Couture.com.

May 14, 2011

Nifty Knits – Rachel Pally

 

Thinking Pink with Rachel Pally

A few years back contemporary designer Rachel Pally debuted her plus size line, Rachel Pally White Label, with Nordstrom.  Being Posh-Plus, I was seriously excited about this line – these were not frumpy dumpy token designs, but were riffs on her main collection.  Regularly worn by stars such as Angelina Jolie, Rachel Pally has quite a following and to see these designs translated for the plus size market was beyond exciting.  High-end, elegantly draping, super soft jersey with enough body to be flattering – the mini collection had several tops and dresses, including some fab maxis, and a drapey palazzo pant – DIVINE! 

I had known and vicariously enjoyed the Rachel Pally designs via the media.  One particular piece – a gorgeous halter top in black – was a particular obsession; I spent weeks tracking it down for one of my friends because I knew it would be absolutely perfect for her.  And it was!  The demure band neck in front tied behind into a soft and sexy bow that draped down the completely open back, with a similar tie at the bottom.  Soft, simple and simply devastating on!

This *is* jersey – so it is pretty body conscious, especially in the regular line.  However, I think the collections have done a good job of striking a balance between demure and sexy, much like that halter top.  Both lines include body hugging numbers and short skirts alongside more forgiving tunics and empire cuts.  Better still, this is one designer that seems to still produce an occasional dress with actual sleeves!  There are a few key designs – such as her awesome caftan – that are offered most seasons, introduced in new colors and a bold print or two, and then new items are added each season.   Her plus size line has expanded and is now carried at Bloomingdales and Nordstrom and, even better, her own website – yay!   

While many of her short dresses appear more along the lines of a mini, I have found that most of the pieces do tend to be cut long.  I have seen several tunics shown as both a top and a dress.  The dresses and pants usually require significant hemming for all but the truly tall; on the upside most of the knits are unfinished hems so it is a snap to have things shortened. 

One of the greatest things about her pieces is that they are terrific canvases to build a look around.  Beyond the obvious Grecian influences, they lend themselves to bohemian, beachy, urban, and even edgy looks.  In fact, the Rachel Pally website is currently accessorizing with the brand’s own grommet adorned tan desert belt.  Not necessarily what I would have thought to pair with a short goddess draped dress, but interesting nonetheless.

I was especially inspired by this pink dress this season– offered at Shop Bop in regular sizes and at Bloomingdales for plus sizes.  This is a terrific “canvas” piece that could be glammed up enough for a special occasion, or kept more casual with boho accessories for a “patio evening”.   You can do so much – it is the perfect backdrop for a special stand-out shoe or bag and you can add metallics or pop another bright color or a pattern with it – so fun!

Now, these goodies are definitely not priced in the fast fashion range – maxi dresses start at $200 for regular sizes and about $260 for the plus size equivalent.  But finding comparable quality at lower price points is tough – even tried and true brands like Nordstrom’s private labels have gone to less expensive and lower quality knits.  Which is unfortuante as, let’s face it, few things are as unflattering as cheap knit fabrics, they cling to everything and have the irritating habit of being unexpectedly transparent.  (Just how is it possible to *create* more cellulite? Really?!)  I can’t tell you how many times I have found a cute garment only to be disappointed when I put it on.  But not so with these pieces.  The fabrics and cuts are really good, and the quality is great.  I am still wearing all of my pieces, including those from that first season back in 2007,  no small accomplishment for jersey! 

So, if you are ready to join the Hollywood gliterati and rock some truly better contemporary knitwear, definitely check Rachel Pally out.

PS – If you live in the Los Angeles area there are Rachel Pally warehouse sales events from time to time – I haven’t had a chance to check one out yet, but will let you know how they are when I do 😉

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