Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

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!


August 28, 2012

Hat Last!

One of the niftier aspects of wedding mania is the fun fashion opportunities it has presented.  So many events to dress for, so many pictures!   This past week my darling sister and dear friends hosted my bridal shower.  As expected every detail was thoughtful perfection, and truly fashionable.  Instead of little pins we got bangles for the “don’t say ….” game, we all got to shop for Stella and Dot jewelry with some of the proceeds benefiting my pet charity, Concept 7, and my adorable nieces strolled the party modeling the great pieces.  Best of all, in keeping with the theme, all guests were asked to wear hats!

As you know from some of my previous posts, I looooovvveeee hats.  Their recent revival has simply thrilled me.  I am so happy to see them appearing on celebrities and being seen for more than just the infrequent special occasion.  With my baby-fine, style-resistant hair I was meant to wear hats and I would really enjoy a life that accommodated them – one filled with race days at Ascot or Churchill Downs, opening ceremonies, coronations and the like – basically I should have been a royal.  Sadly my real world is not so accommodating and an engineering department in a big corporation is really not an appropriate place for such self-expression.  Booo. 

Needless to say, this party was a dream come true for me – way to go little sister!   Brilliant!  Among the guests however, the idea got a mixed reception.  My friends and family members are definitely an eclectic bunch from the very trendy young to the relatively conservative and mature.  We have some true Fashionistas but we also have quite a few women who very proudly declare they are NOT girly-whirly and consider wearing a color, a scarf or a miniscule  embellishment their outer limits in the name of fashion.  But, after a few “does she mean it?” questions, folks started to get into the spirit and I was dying of curiosity to see what they would wear. 

I was simply amazed at the chic variety. The more casual gals wore a range of chapeaux from wide-brimmed sun hats to sportier cloche models.  The young, hip and/or trendy donned nifty fedoras.  Except for my gorgeous step-daughters-to-be,  Megan chose to wear a fascinator-like flower clip she made herself, and Christie channeled Audrey Hepburn in my beloved black chiffon swathed straw.  Two women took this opportunity to actually MAKE hats and the results were fabulous – a gorgeous tulle and silk flower number was really chic, as was a teal feathered version.  Some were a bit more tongue-in-cheek – a fascinator with lights and one embellished with a tiny shark.  Tulle and feathers featured prominently.  Everyone looked so chic, so fun!  Each hat really did say something about its wearer, too.  My sister, for instance, really should have been a flapper and she simply rocked her adorable black straw cloche.

So, what did I wear?  Well the minute my sister told me about the hat theme I raced up to Louise Green Millinery Co. in Los Angeles (online at:  I have been dying for a justifiable reason to get a Louise Green for several years.  I was in heaven the minute I stepped in the door and Mr. Commando was so very patient as I tried on a dozen hats and modeled for him.  He was a great partner in crime for this adventure as he loves hats on women and he appreciates the artistry that makes them special.  So gave his opinions willingly.  Most were hits – the cloches, the wide brims, the dramatic; a few- not as much (apparently the tallish Jackie O, and Eliza Doolittle numbers did not suit me as well).  Every hat fit perfectly and every hat was beautifully made.  I fell in love with several – but for the shower I chose to do a custom version of the fabulous Kelly hat I featured last year ( ).  I picked material, color, and trim – it was so much fun.  And in just a few weeks my gorgeous confection arrived at my home in its spiffy green-striped hatbox.  The results speak for themselves – my very own My Fair Lady moment.

Okay, confession time…this is NOT the only hat I ended up buying.  No…I ended up with THREE hats; all very different, all simply beautiful.  They are all very happily nestled in their snazzy hatboxes waiting for their moments and I will feature the others in upcoming posts.  AND Louise Green has just released her Fall 2012 collection – so I am already warming up the ol’ credit card! 

Photo Credits: Photographer – Mr. Commando, Model – Me (even though I hate having my picture taken) Clothing – Anna Scholz Jersey Tunic with chiffon sleeves, Anna Scholz Linen Pants (from a few seasons ago and still my faves) and a fab and oh-so-dramatic Madame Mathilde necklace.

August 12, 2012

Basics Stepping Up – Who Knew?

The fall catalogs are rolling in – mostly from the other  part of my life – the part that involves the purchasing of t-shirts, polar fleece and the other not-quite-as-fashionable items that come with living with and dressing Mr. Commando.  Ah yes, the all-American steadfast and true retailers who use terms like “outfitters”, my good friends LL Bean, Lands’ End and Eddie Bauer.

Now these are GREAT resources for my beloved boy’s everyday wear – shorts and t-shirts that are “long enough” and will hold up well, khakis hemmed to order, and proper oxford shirts that are cut for real men with real necks, arms, shoulders, and (ahem) tummies, instead of being cut so narrowly they only fit ultra-skinny hipsters.  Better still, while there have been a few missteps in the quality department, generally these guys have kept a pretty steady level of quality and dependability through the rough economic times.  Hey, even Nordstrom has had a few issues in the quality department as cost-cutting has pushed almost all retailers into selling garments that would have previously not met the mark. 

I am also a big fan of these stores for my own cold-weather and boating basics.  Here is where I look for reasonably priced layering turtlenecks, polar fleeces, and even cashmere sweaters.  Good basics like pima cotton t-shirts or the occasional cardigan that won’t rock the fashion world but are classic everyday building pieces.  And then, every once in awhile they will surprise you with a super find like a cashmere sweater in an amazing color – oooh yeah.  

Can you tell I am fantasizing about cold weather?  Yes I am!  So, while it is still 100 degrees out I thought it would be fun to see what they outfitters are up to for fall.  Over at Eddie Bauer it’s pretty quiet so far.  But they do have a corduroy Workwear jacket in a trendy vintage yellow that with it’s layered collar and short cut could be very fun in a northwesty way and would make a nice change from the same ol’ denim jacket.  They also had some cords with flared legs in tangerine or fennel that I think are a great riff on the colored denim shown everywhere.  There are also some good high heeled oxfords and boots, but not much else that is rocking just yet.  (Psst –  if you are a skier or other snowbound type there are some jackets and layers like their down shirt that are great technical gear and fairly fashionable – well worth checking out.)

Speaking of oxfords and boots – I simply LOVED the Cap Toe Boot and Spectator Oxfords in LL Bean’s Signature collection – very nice!  The Signature collection is intended to appeal to the young, hip crowd who buy J Crew, and while the individual pieces are a bit higher quality (and price) most of the trendy comes from how the pieces are styled together – definitely a step up.  But not every piece is basic, there is a structured Seersucker jacket that is really pretty fab – with clever seaming giving it a modern edge.  And the Linscott dress is a basic sheath but in a funky mod print of grey, cream and mustard.  They show it both worn alone and layered as a jumper with a mustard tee.  This piece clearly has a bit more ummph and will be a great transitional piece this season.  I also like the silk/cotton/linen slub textured boatneck top with exposed zipper in steely blue – actually kind of edgy and chic, in a basic sort of way.

Moving on to Lands’ End, imagine my pleasant surprise upon opening their Plus Size catalog to find a much more fashion forward collection than I think they have ever managed before.  Now much of this, like LL Bean, is attributed to good styling – they definitely stepped it up accessorizing with bold necklaces, lush leather totes and satchels, pretty scarves and cool belts – triple wrapped in colored suede, funky ringed in saddle brown.  And among the tarted-up basics there were a few really fun and almost truly fashionable gems in there!  First up are colored chinos in modern cuts and fits – think boot cut or wide leg with a lower rise or a true skinny cut, all in modern colors well beyond khaki – I thought the  Raspberry Wine and Dijon gold especially fun and I know the bolder among us will just adore the red.   

Lands’ End didn’t stop at modernizing their chinos either, they showed a boot cut denim pant that is definitely not from their usual mom-jean repertoire.  Also well past their usual fare are the leopard print pumps and driving mocs – yes, you read that right, leopard print – and a heeled ghilly that is really quite sexy.  Have you ever put sexy and Lands’ End together?  Yeah, me neither.  Wow.  For me the two must-try pieces are an on-trend knit blazer with twill tape trim and a lace tee.  The jacket is particularly snappy in heather grey with contrasting navy that I am itching to play with and see where I can take it.  As for the lace tee, it comes in aubergine or bittersweet with its own matching cami and if the reviews are anything to go buy, it’s a winner.  Lace from Lands’ End?  Who knew?   

Now I am off to take advantage of their 25% off everything sale and giving a few garments a try and maybe that triple-wrap belt in purple suede, too.

June 2, 2012

Day Sailor

Day Sailin'

Summer is here!  And with the start of warm weather comes invitations to outdoor functions – beach parties, barbeques and other outings.  Most are pretty casual and it’s easy to put your self together and head out.  Just throw on something cute, grab your bikini and go.

But every once in awhile comes one of those casual but not-really-totally-casual events that demand you bring on your fashion A game.  You know the ones – the boss has invited everyone over for a pool party or the firm’s new partner is hosting a “casual” cocktail party at his beach house or you are heading out for a day sail with business associates on a snazzy boat.  This is still casual, and will in some cases even require a bathing suit – EEK!!! – but it is decidedly NOT run of the mill, wear your oversize university tee, casual.  Moreover, these tend to be the events where you want to feel totally confident and totally fabulous. So, what to wear???

Evening get-togethers are fairly easy to attend looking super chic and appropriate.  It’s as simple as taking one great maxi dress in a sumptuous jersey (I find something amazing from Rachel Pally nearly every season) add a statement necklace or earrings, a bold bracelet, a great pair of sandals and you are good to go. Do consider the terrain you will be on – if you expect the event will be on sand or grass I highly recommend wearing a pair of platform espadrilles that aren’t too high and make sure your dress is easy to move in so that you negotiate uneven surfaces with grace.  Also consider the audience – you may want to keep the plunging necklines, strapless or thigh high slits for other times. 

Things get a bit more complicated when you add water.  Pool or beach side, and even in some cases boats, may require swimwear.  No matter how great your body is, you will really want to think about who will be at the party before you pack that new string bikini.  I would always recommend erring on the side of caution and stick with a one-piece or a two piece with really good coverage.  Especially if the party includes people who pay you or potential in-laws – unless, of course, you know them well, or the boss is married to a Kim Kardashian-esque trophy wife.  Make sure whatever swimwear you choose fits well, is not transparent when it gets wet, and is not prone to wardrobe malfunctions of any kind.  The last thing you want is your top departing when you dive in with your co-workers. 

For poolside you can add a cute cover-up dress or pull on a maxi skirt or pants over your suit.  If you plan on being there through the evening don’t forget some sort of light weight wrap or at least bring clothes that can be worn without your suit.  Sitting in a damp swimsuit as the evening cools is not going to be fun….brrrrrr.    

As for boating, well as a boat owner this one is near and dear to my heart.  Having had a few guests aboard in totally inappropriate clothes getting cold, getting wet, not being able to get around on deck, or getting painfully sunburned; I always try to make suggestions to my guests beforehand.  Boating can be a great opportunity for elegant socializing, but whether you get involved in the actual sailing or not, even just getting around on deck is pretty active.  So practicality is a must – skirts, maxi dresses and palazzo pants are only going to work if all you plan on doing is being carefully handed aboard, and then sitting decorously.   

First and foremost, to win the approbation of every captain – wear appropriate footwear – deck shoes, tennis shoes, or flat sandals with non-marking soles.  Polishing black scuff marks off of fiberglass is no fun.  Also, unless you are very comfortable walking onboard, I would steer clear of flip flops, slides or any other footwear that isn’t securely fastened to your foot.  I have been boating my entire life and I am still too clumsy to trust myself not to lose a slide overboard when I go from dock to deck.  Speaking of securely fastened, this is another place where a one-piece suit with fully functional straps is a good idea, as are a hat that doesn’t blow away (I love close-fitting baseball caps) and either lanyards for your sunglasses or bring along a pair you can afford to lose. 

Okay, now that the boring stuff is out of the way you *can* look super cute and chic.  For boating I love an All-American vibe so I scouted out the best of J Crew for this outfit.  First off, a pair of shorts with a fun sailor button detail – not too short or with too low a waist.  With that I added a tunic tee in a nautical stripe but with some funky embellishment to keep it fresh (I leave the anchor embellished, star-bedecked red white and blue looks for the really cute older ladies I see at the marina).  You can layer these pieces on/off with the swimsuit through the day – I chose this one piece in a bright red to add a pop of color, note the substantial straps (you bend over a lot on a boat, trust me).  As it gets cooler I always throw on my beloved cashmere hoodie – it doesn’t feel as damp as cotton, is wonderfully cozy but doesn’t get too hot – PERFECT!  And then I found yet another pair of awesome Sperry Topsiders – these have fun mesh side panels, still good deck shoes, but super cute too. Add a snappy tote bag big enough to hold your sunscreen, your extra layers, and a small cross body bag for shore-side scouting and you are ready to roll. 

So, with a little planning you will still be casual, just really posh casual.  And you will be one of THOSE women you see at these events, you know the ones – perfectly dressed in a way that makes trudging through sand, stepping across docks, and batting beach balls look fun and yet elegant all at the same time. 

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