Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Office Party, Volume 2

First, a few definitions, my little lambs...

A Black Tie invitation calls for formal attire. Men should wear tuxedos; women should wear cocktail, long dresses or dressy evening separates.

This is not to be confused with Cocktail Attire, which means short, elegant dresses for women and dark suits for men.

These are not the only options for parties- there are Black Tip Optional affairs, Semi-Formal events, Creative Black Tie parties, etc. I would like to highlight a few differences for you and incorporate a couple of rules to live by.

1. Black Tie means it's fancy.

You cannot get around this in any way. If you don't want to dress this formally, don't go the event.

Your best color choices are black, navy, gray, deep jewel tones, or red. Pastels are not ok, and bland colors like oatmeal and cream are inadvisable.

2. Cocktail means it's fancy, too, it just means men won't be in tuxedos and you don't have to wear a ball gown. Dresses are still your best option.

Look, if you prefer separates, that's cool, but they must rise to the same level of formality that you'd have in a fancy dress.

Tuxedo pants and a jewel-toned blouse could be fun, or a silk skirt with a sequined top would be a good option.

3. Velvet pants are not ok.

Don't even CONSIDER them. I have said it before and I will say it again: they always look cheap, no matter what you paid. Why would you do that to yourself?

4. Red and green together are not "festive." They are tacky.

5. This is an office affair, whether you are bff with half the office or not, so don't get cute.

Dress in keeping with the level of formality of the event and now is not the time to reveal the peircing/tattoo that you've been keeping under wraps.

6. Notice how in each of the above descriptions of black tie and cocktail did not include any mention of sex? That's because they do not call for over sexiness.

Dresses are fantastic, but keep them mid-thigh at the SHORTEST (and even then, with tights and lover-heeled shoes) and do not show massive amounts of cleavage .

7. Chose under garments carefully.

Bra straps hidden; no visible panty line; control top controlling, not rolling, so you have to yank on it every 5 minutes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Office Party, Volume 1

Now that the election is over, I can focus again on what's truly on your minds: what to wear to the office holiday party.

I get frequent questions about this apparently uncomfortable nexus of work and socializing. If you already don't like your cohorts, then this is a dreaded event and you might as well amuse yourself by looking awesome. If you like them, then you have a great excuse to wow them with your savvy sense of style.

And yet, every year, I see women buying and wearing the most HIDEOUS excuses for party attire.

Let me make it easy for you: overtly sexy is not ok.

For those of you living in a cave, this means that if you'd feel supremely awkward wearing it in front of your boss/CEO/clients during the workday, then it is not appropriate for the office party. Even with an open bar, she's still your boss.

I'm not saying you have to wear suit separates; that is just boring. A party dress or fancy skirt is a fab idea and I recommend buying something that is a little bit different from what people are used to seeing you in.

Let's start with the basics and I will get into detail and some big, fat nos in a bit...

The dress below is the perfect mix of fun and flirty without being overly sexy. Bare shoulders are great when the rest of the outfit isn't reveling, and showing off some leg (note I did not say THIGH) is perfectly fine.

A taffeta skirt says holiday party to me. With a simple top and great shoes, you are set. Any color is fine, as long as the rest of the outfit stays neutral.

Every woman needs at least one great evening top. It looks great with jeans, dress pants, skirts, etc. For an office party, I recommend teaming it with dark tailored pants (now is not the time for your reindeer print, people), heels, and sparkly jewelry. Make sure the top shows some skin- shoulders, neck, back- but little, if any, cleavage.

Until the Volume 2, I will leave you with this: pick one focal point and dress around it. Too much holiday cheer (read: Santa hat earrings, sequined top & brocade pants- you know who you are) can be just as bad as none at all.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Crazy Banana Sale

So, I know that Banana Republic is ubiquitous, but it's also a super easy choice when you need modern work basics. Right now they are having an AMAZING sale. Like, suit jackets that were $150 are now $39.99. Run, do not walk, to this sale, either at the store or online at

Seriously, the suit pants are like $60. They are usually over $100.

All hail recession pricing and retailer desperation.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Recessionista Round Up

A few tips, hot off the presses:

Hot Tip #1: Leggings are not pants.
In an effort to save cash, many women are wearing their leggings as pants. If you tell me that it's for a reason other than budget, I will be ill. If I see one more woman's arse in her leggings, I am going to lose my shit. Treat all leggings as tights and wear them under your skirts and dresses, as god intended.

Hot Tip #2: If it doesn't button across your chest, it doesn't fit.
I know, I know- you found such a great deal on that crisp white button down and you can't wait to wear it with everything you own. It fits your shoulders, your waist, and only pulls a LITTLE across your bust.
I sympathize but I still don't want to see your middle button pop open at work.
Do everyone a favor and 1) buy a shirt that fits, 2) buy one that fits your bust and get it tailored for your shoulders and waist, or 3) stop buying button downs. I don't wear them for this very reason and I have never once had a problem finding appropriate clothes for work.

Hot Tip #3: Shoe Pavilion is going out of business.
If you have one near you, go already.

Hot Tip #4: Sigerson Morrison is designing (cute!) shoes for Target. Anya Hindmarch is designing (really cool) handbags for Target. And Issac Mizrahi has some (great) dresses at Target. Converse One Stars are (rockin' it) at Target. Do I really need to say more?

Hot Tip #5: Smart Bargains has some amazing deals on some really lovely designer handbags and clutches right now. Like Via Spiga, Cole Haan, and Charles David.

Hot Tip #6: If you need to buy yourself a little happy, Overstock has hundreds of rings for under $100. Woo hoo!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Colors We Love

We heart red, black and gray. Not only is it a classic color combo, it is seasonally appropriate and flattering on a lot of people.

This outfit is on a fabulous woman who graciously allowed me to post her image.

Outfit details: the dress and shoes are from Chadwicks, I didn't get the details on all of the rest...

Why is works: the red near her face draws the eye upward; the line where the red meets the gray is well placed to emphasize a small waist; the length is modest but still shows off her legs and the fabulous shoes. The tights ground the outfit and keep is seasonal. LOVE the shoes- they are suede if you couldn't tell...

What it needs: it doesn't need much...I might switch the short necklace for something longer.

Dress is up: a large cocktail ring and chandelier earrings would be fab.

Dress is down: lose the tights and swap the shoes for wedges or flats.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I don't think any further discussion about this abomination is necessary. Except this: If you own this purse, destroy it immediately.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shoe Diva!

Most true shoe lovers never really need shoes- we are prepared for all contingencies with a variety of delicious footwear options. So, buying shoes is more of a sport or hobby than an exercise in filling any gaps in one's wardrobe. But "need" is a relative term, and some of us NEED to be entertained by shoes, shoe discussions, shoe critiques, and, most importantly, shoe shopping.

Enter Shoe Diva.

Last night at Macy's was the semi-annual Shoe Diva event, a wine & shoe-shaped cookie-filled event with a fashion show, a free shoe drawing and free totes with any purchase of the requisite amount. Twice a year, Macy's actually provides enough sales people to ACTUALLY help you try on and purchase shoes, which is why this is the only time I can stand shopping for shoes there. I'm a Nordstrom girl, people.

I walked away with two pairs of shoes that I am in love with. Seriously, actual love.

The first are the Cole Haan flat boots in black patent leather. Don't lie, you know they are awesome. The words from my boyfriend's mouth: "Those are pretty hot." If you can get that from a flat boot with Nike Air technology, rock on sister.

The second are the BCBG Catilda, also in black patent leather. I am so not hiding these under pants, people. Bring out the black tights and a dress and these are some of the hottest shoes to ever grace my tooties.

The women at work are going to hate both of these shoes by the end of winter because I am going to wear them pretty much every damn day.

And now I have an extra $50 gift card for Macy's just burning a hole in my pocket...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Recessionista Round Up

It's that time of the week, people. Your recessionista round up this week is a list of pieces to consider if you don't already own them...

1. Wide leg trousers or jeans
Don't lie. You know you've thought about it. If you don't already own a pair of wide leg trousers or jeans, GO TRY SOME ON. In the right size, with the correct rise, they will probably be fab. The idea is that by balancing your hips with a wide leg, you will appear longer and leaner.

Some exceptions: If you are really short, these will likely make you look shorter. If you are really short-waisted, a high rise with a wide leg will look pretty damn 70s.

Remember that extremes are hard to wear. If you go with a slightly flared or wider leg, you will get the effect of the wide leg without having to "pull off" a super wide leg look. Proportion is important, in case I wasn't clear.

A warning about embellishment on pants: the less subtle it is, the cheaper and likely more juvenile the look.

2. Leather jackets
Chill out, I'm saying put it on your Christmukkahkwanza list.
Retailers will be begging your bf/cousin/mom to take their merch off their hands, so help them out by giving Santa a head's up now.

But seriously- a leather jacket, your favorite scarf, and jeans- you know you want to. Not to mention the mileage you'll get out of it during the week.

3. Evening clutch
I know I keep repeating myself, but if I see one more woman carrying her tote/giant hobo/diaper bag into the bar at night, I will lose it. So if all of you carrying your hideous backpack-sized monstrosities would get out of my way when I am trying to order a damn martini, I will shut it.

There are super cute and functional clutches at EVERY price point, so don't even tell me you don't have the cash. I got a really great black satin one from Target for $15 and it holds an iPhone, keys, credit cards, cash, and lip gloss. Okay!?

4. Lucky Magazine
I know it's not a piece of clothing, but get over it.
By far the best magazine about shopping and style, so if you are looking for fresh ideas, this is is the one for you. I don't agree with everything in each issue, but 90% is still an A.

I think you can get a subscription for $12 or $15 right now...

5. Long cardigan.
Be careful with this one. The chunky cable knit looks great on the 6'3", size 2 model, but on most women they look revolting. Consider a thinner knit, in a color you rock, with a long, lean silhouette. Belt it if you do the belt thing. Keep it unbuttoned for the best elongating column effect. And pay attention to length- this is one time when mid-thigh or longer is actually a good thing. Just above or below your hips means you're just wearing grandma's cardigan from the 90s. This is basically a dress in cardigan form.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Price Tag

All of you recessionistas, trying to score stylish clothes at bargain prices, we are going to talk about the most dreaded part of shopping...

At the risk of sounding like Sophia on Golden Girls, picture this:

You are browsing in a store without any particular goals in mind and happen upon The. Best. Jacket. Ever. Now that you think if it, you've been needing a transitional jacket for the season, to wear when the temps drop but it isn't truly COLD yet. And this one is the perfect shade of gray/red/chartreuse that will go with literally everything in your closet. You pull it off the hanger, try it on, and it fits like a dream.

Then the day of reckoning must come- you must view...THE PRICE TAG. $300.

Your reaction: It is $300?! I can't believe this store actually carries stuff that expensive. And I've never paid $300 for any item of clothing before, why and EARTH would I start now?

Let's discuss WHY, ladies and gents. Or at least why you could and should consider it.

Price Per Wear
Price per wear is something you may have heard a lot of stylists and others in the industry talk about. It may sound like an excuse for buying ridiculously priced clothes. It is actually a good way to decide whether you should pay for any article of clothing at pretty much any price point above Old Navy.

The jacket you just found is $300. You are planning to wear it every day from now until it gets really cold and you have to switch to your pea coat. The means if today is October 15 and the temperatures will be super cold by December 1, you have about 45 days to wear it.

$300 divided by 45 days is $6.67 per day. Shut up, I can do math.

This is where you have to be honest with yourself. Will you REALLY wear it every day? Does it REALLY go with everything? Is the weather REALLY going to be perfect for this jacket until December 1?

If answering yes to these questions still doesn't help, ask yourself whether you'll be able to wear it another season. Will you be able to wear in the spring or next fall? If so, your price per wear just dropped dramatically.

If you can wear it in the spring, let's say another 60 days, then...$300 divided by 105 days is $2.85. And that's a price per wear that I can live with.

So, now that you know how this is done, a few observations:

1. Be honest with yourself or your calculation is meaningless.
I have tricked myself into thinking that I will wear something more that I actually will in order to justify a purchase. Don't do it! Be honest about how useful and versatile something is. Black evening jacket- check and check. Hot pink floor length gown- unless you are a transvestite, probably not so much.

2. If you can't afford it then it doesn't matter.
If you are going to go into debt or not eat because of a purchase, you can't afford it. So even if the price per wear is 40 cents, that $2000 trench is not a wise purchase.

3. Don't let the initial price tag scare you.
This might seem obvious given all of the above, but it is worth repeating. If you find a fabulous dress for $300 and you can wear it 3 times (i.e., you have 2 weddings and an engagement party this year), then your cost per wear is $100. Considering that most dresses you'd buy for these occasions are at least $100, that is a fantastic price per wear for something awesome. And now that you've found the dress for all three parties, you can focus on the fun part: accessories.

4. Price Point Shoppers- listen up.
You know who you are. You won't spend more than X on a jacket and Y on a dress. This is short-sighted. The $300 jacket might be more than you've ever spent on anything before, but just how great ARE the jackets you bought for $40 at H&M in the past? And did you REALLY wear that printed sundress you found for $20 all summer, like you said, or did you wear it once and shove it into the back of the closet? That's $20 per wear people, and that is not a bargain for a short cotton shift.

This where honesty kicks in again. Sometimes more expensive pieces have a much lower price per wear than cheaper ones. This cannot be ignored when you shop, especially when you are bargain hunting. The price tag is one factor to consider, but your price per wear is the other.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Recessionista Round Up

News Flash: Top Ten Tuesday is out, Recessionista Round Up is in.

1. Save Yours Pants! Try Zakkerz
What are they? Directly from the website: a temporary pant roll-up wrap used to hold pants that have been rolled up to a shorter length for flat shoes.

They are great. I have used them while commuting to and from work and they really do keep your pants rolled up and off the ground while you wear your commuting flats (note that I did not say "your ugly commuting running shoes). I have also used them when it is wet outside and I just didn't want my pants dragging in any gross puddles.

For $27-31 for a full set of 4 (2 for each pant leg), you are spending a little to prevent having to buy new pants and from looking bedraggled.

Please note that these are primarily for commuting, not as an alternative to actually getting your pants tailored to a proper length.

2. Host a Clothing Swap!
Gather several friends and puts everyone's closet rejects out for the others to try. That red dress that is too long might be perfect on someone a bit taller. And her tiny tees might not fit over her bust but they could be your ideal weekend uniform.

The more friends the better, to have a larger range of sizes and styles. You can do a more focused swap, too, such as accessories only or evening/party dresses.

Free, aside from the vino I suggest having on hand.

3. Do a little online research. There are lots of sites that compare prices for you- here are a few:

Online research will cost you nothing but time.

4. Try something different. Scoured the Target racks 10 times this season already? Try out stores like Kohls or Sears. They get less press than Old Navy and the like, but might have what you're looking for with a price tag you can stomach.

5. I have said it before and I will say it again: Shop during a sale. And when you buy full price, keep an eye out for a subsequent mark down. Many stores will give you a price adjustment within 14 or even 30 days of your purchase.

Now, who do we know with store discounts?

Let's Talk About...

Sexy clothes in the office.

Sure, I COULD stand here on my soap box and criticize, chastize, and berate those of you showing STOMACH (are you freaking kidding me?!) at the office or more than a little thigh.

But I will not.

I will, instead, take the high road and merely guide you, you lost little lambs.

The fact that I even find this post necessary is already disturbing enough. Just because you found your inner recessionista and you can shop low-budget with the best them doesn't mean the discount clothes don't have to fit. For god's sake.

Here are my mandates- I mean, "suggestions":

1. Any stomach is too much stomach. This means you should be able to do your entire job without showing any stomach. Yes, this means you should be able to reach a file above your head without flashing your (ubiquitous) butterfly tattoo to anyone.

2. The same goes for bum. If I could even POSSIBLY see any part of your arse, your pants/skirt/dress is too short or sits too low on your hips. Seriously, unless you are a plumber...well, you know.

3. Not so high on the thigh. Every office has a slightly different take on skirt length, but they are all in the same ballpark: don't show too much thigh. If you are concerned about your bum being covered when you sit or bend, then your skirt is too short. Period.

4. Lose the stripper heels. I heart my heels, but if they are too high (over 5 inches), too loud (hot pink with silver trim), or too cheap (hello, clear plastic or anything that lights up), then they do not belong at the office.

5. Under no circumstances should anyone be able question whether you are showing too much cleavage. If you have to ask, then it's too much. A low(er) v-neck is fine if a) you wear a cami underneath, or 2) it doesn't show cleavage. If you need a number, I'll give you a 1: that is, 1 inch of cleavage is your absolute max.

I will repeat: If you have to ask, then it's too much.
6. Super tight is not attractive. Your body hugging LBD might score you shots at the local dive, but come ON. Are you really trying to get promoted that way? It's trashy and beneath you, so just stop it immediately.

If you haven't figured out the difference between fitted and tight, please just tell me and I will be most happy to enlighten you. A few guidelines, in the meantime: It is too tight if a) you can't breathe, b) your circulation is cut off, c) you are afraid of seams ripping when you move, or d) people cringe when they see you.

I know this might seen obvious to many of you. There are so many women who dress inappropriately, however. Too sexy is just as bad as, if not worse than, too sloppy, too trendy, etc.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What is Your Shopping Style?

Next time you go clothes/shoes/handbags/jewelry shopping, think about how you tend to shop. I'm not talking about what you do when you are helping your friend find a dress for a last-minute event. I'm talking about your natural tendencies when you go shopping for yourself, alone or maybe with your favorite shopping buddy.
Below, the types of shoppers I have seen and my unsolicited advice for each...
Indecisive Shopper
This shopper can't commit to a purchase, great or small. She might try on a lot of items, but she buys little.
My recommendation is that you examine your closet, make a list of what you want/need, and befriend a Power Shopper or Shopaholic (discussed below). And note your store's return policy- if you get home and change your mind, just bring it back!
She shops for fun, for therapy, as a hobby. She tends to buy often, even when she doesn't need anything.
If you are able to browse without buying, I recommend indulging in your desire to see what's out there either online or in store, while limiting yourself to 1) a strict list of needs, 2) a budget, or 3) a certain number of times per month or week when you are allowed to make purchases. Or start helping your friends shop- you can be out there in the wide world of retail without spending your own money.
Bargain Hunter (Huntress?)
Price is her first consideration regardless of the item. Typically has specific price caps, over which she will not spend for certain items (i.e., no more than $80 on shoes). Now, I don't advocate spending more than you can afford, but she may be looked upon as cheap.
The problem with shopping this way is that you may be sacrificing quality. I recommend expanding your price range, even if just slightly, to allow for a greater number of things to be considered. True classics- trench coat, LBD- may truly be worth more than your (probably) arbitrary price ceiling.
Power Shopper
She is Type A in every sense. She has a list and she sticks to it. Efficiency is the name of the game.
My only recommendation is that you take a little time to enjoy yourself. Shopping can be fun, and I hope you can enjoy the process at least a teeny tiny bit.
The Browser
Examines every option. Wants to try on every pair of pointy-toed boots in the city before selecting one pair to buy. Makes informed decisions, but they often take a long time to make.
I recommend doing some online research to shorten your in store search time. I also recommend befriending a Shopaholic, who also tends to know what's out there and could help you edit your choices more quickly. If you love the browsing process, stick with it, but when you find something that fits your life/style/budget, just get it already!
The Hater
She just doesn't want to be there. She sticks to very few stores, buys a lot at once to get it over with, and is relieved when it's over.
My recommendation is to make a list and befriend a Power Shopper, who will help you get in and out without much fuss.
Who are you when you shop?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Top Ten Sites/Stores for Cute, Inexpensive Work Clothes

Continuing in the spirit of recession chic, I am listing several sites (many with bricks and mortar stores, too) where you can find cute work clothes that won't break the bank.

With all of these stores, the following disclaimer applies: some inexpensive stuff is cute and doesn't cost a lot; some of it is just plain cheap. Understand the difference and you can bargain shop with the best of them.

10. Target

I love Target for many reasons, not the least of which is that you can score a super cute, fully lined, totally warm coat for $45 like a co-worker of mine just did.

9. Victoria's Secret

Sweet sweaters under $60, awesome wool coats under $150, fun work blouses. Steer clear of anything that deliberately exposes cleavage unless that's the angle you are working at the office these days.

8. Chadwicks

Don't laugh- they have some fly little dresses for great prices. They also have some shit I wouldn't be caught dead in; stay age appropriate, people. If the maxi dresses with boots isn't hot on the model, it's not going to be in real life.

7. Urban Outfitters

This is a great store, but it can run on the collegiate side, so make sure you select clothes that are professional AND cool. A plaid flannel shirt dress that barely covers the arse does not fit the bill. A solid boyfriend cardigan, however, does double duty over a cami and skirt at work and with your favorite jeans on the weekend.

6. Old Navy

Better selection than the Gap with lower prices. Their fall collection is pretty cool. Check out the one button blazer for under $40 and puff sleeved sweaters for $15.

5. H&M and Zara

There are probably at least two of each of these stores within easy driving distance from most of you. They both have huge selections of trendy clothes at very low prices. Quality can be hit or miss- some pieces look way more expensive than the $30 you spent and some will just be cheap-looking. Check for even seams and hems, lined jackets and pants, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, whether it actually fits.

4. Ann Taylor Loft

A great place for basic, classic dresses, suits and separates. Check out the turtleneck sweater dress and cowl neck dress, each for $79.

3. Macy's

This store has too many sales for you to shop when there isn't one going on. Sure, there are expensive sections in this store and on their site, but they have great sale stuff all the time. Some of my favorite well-priced brands are INC, Alfani, Nine West, and Sunny Leigh.

2. Newport News

Huge selection of cute stuff for great prices.


Yes, it seems like a cop out for the #1 spot, but some of the best deals are often at sales at a typically higher priced store, like Nordstrom or Banana Republic or Anthropologie. If you love these or other stores, go at sale time. I recently got an amazing black trench for $119 (originally $225) at Banana and a fitted cropped blazer for $49 (orignally $98) at Anthro.

What are your favorite go-to sites and stores?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The One Hundred

So, I just read The One Hundred from Nina Garcia, the cool as a cucumber judge on Project Runway.

I was underwhelmed.

Here's the thing: I have read a lot of fashion and style books. A LOT. And while I am not expecting anything deep or life-altering, I do expect the advice to be grounded in reality as well as good taste. Some of her choices were neither.

I completely agree with many of the One Hundred: A-line dress, cocktail ring, clutch. (Seriously, if you still don't own a damn clutch, I don't know what the heck you are waiting for.)

But leather pants, moccasins, and Missoni knits?! Are you freaking kidding me?

Leather pants: Unless you are an actual rock star or a Hell's Angel, these are totally unnecessary. Even the real ones often look cheap.

Moccasins: Gross. If you own some, yay for you. If not, there's probably a reason. Most likely that they are ugly and again, completely unnecessary.

Missoni knits: I love a designer label as much as the next brand whore, but these pieces start somewhere around $1500 for a dress. The idea that every "stylish woman" must own something this overpriced is not only ridiculous, it's insulting. Several schools of thought exist on the subject of style, obviously, but I subscribe to the notion that all women can be stylish at any price point with creativity and their own personality shining through.

If you can afford a Missoni dress, go for it, but don't sweat it if you can't. Crazy head to toe horizontal stripes aren't my thing, FYI.

Anyhoo, I do not regret my purchase, but I don't think it's the best style read out there.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

COLOR! Part 3

As promised, the hideous:

Seriously, people, flags are not inspiration for fashionable- or even viewable- color combos. This is just disgusting. Red and green are great on grandma's Christmas sweater, and that's IT. You may be able to work deep red and olive together, but anything this bright just advertises that you are indeed color blind.

Schizophrenia is not funny. So why dress like you have it? This is simply too much at once, without anything neutral or common tying the colors together.

Juvenile. This might work on your 14 year old kid sister, but otherwise, give it up. If you have eyes, you can see that this little number includes purple, red, pink, yellow, and black. At the very least lose the pink and red and try working the purple and yellow for a slightly less crazy ensemble.

No, no, NO! What I said before about red and green is still true. Strawberries can be added to your list of things that should not inspire an outfit for you.

Here's the thing: red and blue can look amazing together. Or they can look like this. No matter how much this outfit cost, it looks cheap and tacky. One way to finesse an unusual combo like blue and red is to use one color as your base (here, blue), one contrasting accessory (red bag) and then STOP. Use neutral shoes and very simple jewelry.

First of all, who does this?! Secondly, this just epitomizes the idea of taking the color wheel too literally and not using common sense to judge a color's tone and mood. The loud dress already contains red and purple (obviously I will discuss the use of animal print in another post). Adding a red jacket in a completely different red shade and boots in yet another red shade is just adding insult to injury. The addition of a purple hat and what appear to be blue or purple earrings is god awful. The bag is simply unspeakable.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Recession Chic

"There are no ugly women, only lazy ones."

Helena Rubinstein, a Polish-American philanthropist and cosmetician, said this, and I agree.

In our current recession, there may be a temptation to dress down and not focus on something as frivolous as your appearance. Avoid this temptation if you have a job and want to keep it. How you present yourself at work is one of many ways to tell your employer that you take your job seriously.

I saw a woman on the train today wearing a periwinkle fleece track suit. That is not just out of style, it is butt ugly. Unless she was about to teach gym in a very cold building, this is entirely inappropriate for ANY job (yes, this includes stay at home mommying).

Back to black, back to basics, blah, blah, BLAH. Dressing in times of financial decline is not an excuse to wear something as ugly as a track suit or anything as boring as all basics in all black. What it can mean is a great opportunity to look at what you have and 1) shop in your own closet, and 2) evaluate what you really need (versus what you want, such as yet ANOTHER pair of knee high black boots).

Shop Your Closet
If you have ever read a fashion magazine, you have heard this phrase. What it means to me is that you reacquaint yourself with what you own and see how many different ways you can wear it.

For example, I am in a major I Must Buy New Fall Dresses mindset right now. However, on looking at the dresses in my closet, I realize that I already own at least 4 fall-appropriate dresses and 2 or 3 others that can be adapted for fall. So I really have 6 or 7 already. This doesn't mean that I won't buy any new ones this year, but it does mean that I now realize what I actually have and see that my dress situation is not nearly as dire as I thought it was.

This brings me to my next point...

Evaluate what you really need
In my example, this means that with the several dresses I can adapt for fall, I see that I will need tights and a cardigan to bring the short-sleeved dresses into the new season. I can evaluate my sweaters and tights to decide what will be necessary to not freeze while wearing my beloved (and I DO love them) dresses.

My point?
Instead of 5 or 6 new dresses (can get expensive quickly!), I actually need 1) 2 pairs of tights,
2) 1 cardigan, and 3) POSSIBLY 1-3 new dresses.

And look, we did all that without talking about basics and black. Woo hoo.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

COLOR! Part 2

As promised, I will demonstrate several ways to use colors in a fun but sane way. I will start with the good, and move on to the bad and the flat out ugly in the next post.

The good:

This is just one example of using black on purpose, rather than as a cop out. To offset and accent white pieces, black is lovely and crisp.

You CAN put three colors together, as this picture and several people in my office can atttest to. Just be sure they are chosen purposely and are of the same tone or mood. The orange and yellow would not work with a hunter or forest green, for example. Here, the green almosts acts as a neutral, balancing the orange stripe and yellow top.

When mixing several shades of the same color, think compliment, versus contrast. These shades of purple work together since they act in concert to compliement the skirt, which contains all of the other shades used in the rest of the outfit. The result is colorful without being loud.

I love orange. I really love orange with brown. Here, the brown and orange are so harmonious, I couldn't imagine the orange with any other neutral, except maybe tan or khaki.

Monochrome: Feel free to start with a color you love, like grass green, and continue it throughout the outfit. Note that this outfit includes a colorful top, so colorful accessories, and some neutral peices for balance.

This is one way to mix colors in different families. The yellow top is so bright that any other color used as a contrast must be equally bright, such as the earrings. Again, neutral peices complete the look.

Combining purple with red isn't as hard as you'd think. The colors are next to each other on the color wheel, making them complimentary more than contrasting. Just be sure the tone or mood of the peices work together.

This is a great way to add purple. With an aqua top and basic neutral jeans, the purple hoodie and shoes are put together without looking over the top.

Love, love, love this combo. Navy and mustard are weird in theory, but sophisticated and pulled-together in practice.

P.S. Check out for more outfits with color.

Monday, September 15, 2008

COLOR! Part 1

At a good friend's request, I give to you a teeny tiny (and very basic) guide on clothing colors...

DISCLAIMER: there are exceptions to every rule, so don't feel constrained. If you already mix colors like a pro, you don't need this entry.

First: tint, shade, and tone are WAY more important than the color itself.

I will explain. Unless you live in a cave, you are aware that purple is totally hot this season. What that means for you is not that you should run out and buy the first purple outfit you see. That's hideous and a gross disservice to yourself. Instead, think about what you already own. If you wear a lot of neutrals, then the shade of purple/lavendar/violet/berry simply has to be pleasing to you (and on you).

If you already wear a lot of color, then the color wheel starts to mean something for you. For example, if your go to pants are olive (a psuedo neutral), you can find that color on the outside of the color wheel. Also on the outside in the purple "slice" of the wheel are slate blue, eggplant, and plum. This is your cue that the deep, rich shades of purple will be lovely with your pants, while fushia (on the inside of the purple slice) will not.

Second: wearing complimentary colors is more modern than head to toe in one color.

Here's the thing about head to toe color: it just doesn't work most of the time and it tends to look dated. If you have a fab all yellow outfit and you beg to differ with my advice, more power to ya (and please send me a pic, because I don't believe you). For the rest of us, it just looks off. To be purposeful about your color choices, choose complentary shades.

In this scenario, you could choose any two colors either in the same slice or spoke of the wheel or one from the spoke and one from either side of it. For example, you could wear a midnight blue skirt with a blouse in another shade of blue (powder blue, blue-violet, blue-green, etc.).

Third: contrasting colors can be awesome, but beware of black.

Black does NOT go with everything. I may be met with skepticism, but hear me out. If you are a big proponent of black, you understand that black pants with your rich jewel toned sweater is lovely. You may not be aware, however, that black with super bright or pastel colors is actually cheapening the color and making your whole outfit look cheap.

All those myths you learned about black- "it goes with everything," "it's slimming," "it's sophisitcated"- get over them. A certain about of black is useful, but use it on purpose, not as an excuse not to care.

I will give you several examples.

Black pants, red top, black shoes: Snore.
Black pants, red top, gray shoes, gray jacket (yes, that is what I'm wearing today): A+
Red and black looks fab if you add another neutral to the mix. It looks retro in a bad way if you don't. The ONLY exception I have found to this rule is the LBD + red shoes.

Black sweater, eggplant skirt: lovely.
Black sweater, pale lavender skirt: looks like you are confused about which season it is and had nothing else to put with that lavendar skirt you just got on sale.

Another contrasting color scenario: colors from different spokes of the wheel. How about mint and lemon this spring? Notice that both colors are in the same position in their respective spokes. Mustard and rust may sound super 70s, but technically they work.

That brings me to my final point for now: Use some discretion and trust your instincts. I have an aunt who must have a detailed color wheel in her head, because she can tell what works and what doesn't from a mile away. If you don't think that way, consider playing with the colors you have on a day when you aren't rushed to get dressed. You might find that your teal top looks amazing with a khaki skirt and your new red-orange pumps.

P.S. Part 2 will include pictures of awesome and god-awful color choices.

P.P.S. For more info, check out:

Fall Handbag Alert

For those of you losing sleep over my impending fall handbag decision, your long wait is over. I have purchased the Kenneth Cole Motorway Flap Hobo in Ash.
It's a glove leather, so it looks a little worn and not at all shiny. It reads a little 70s saddlebag, but is a completely modern look overall. The color is super clean- there are some muddy grays out there that come across as dull and aging. This is a clear, bright gray, if that even makes sense.
My favorite feature? The two straps- one long one and one short. When I use the short strap, the long one fits right underneath the bag so it's not in the way. When I use the long strap, the shorter one can be tucked under the flap.
I love, love love this bag. Many thanks to those of you who weighed in on my dilemma.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Top Ten Things I Covet for Fall

Yes, Top Ten Tuesday is back. We will now return to regular programming.

Top Ten Things I Want for Fall (or possibly have just purchased):

10. Grey ankle boots.
Check. Obviously, I got the ones pictured above. You all have jeans, pants, skirts, and dresses, right? So you already have a complete wardrobe with which to wear some nice new booties.

9. Plum or burgundy dress.
Will look smashing with tights and my new booties AND will be a flattering fall color.

8. Fall/winter handbag.
This one is tough, because I have caviar taste without the matching budget. So finding a bag that a) suits my needs, 2) looks fab, and 3) indulges my inner bag snob is not easy.

7. Scarf.
This is not only for warmth in cooler weather but also to look rockin' with a leather jacket.

6. Tights.
To bring my dresses into fall and winter. I am a DKNY tights girl.

5. Gloves.
I covet a lovely pair of leather gloves that are lined in something sumptuous, like cashmere.

4. Flat pointy-toed boots.
Check. I just got a sweet, well-priced weekend pair that should hold up in the rain this winter. Woo hoo.

3. New camis.
Not super exciting, but a girl can't be showing too much boob in the office, people.

2. Nude T-Straps.
To wear with dark tights. Sexy secretary, baby. Loving the options at right now.

1. Lovely evening top.
Colder weather does not always lend itself to beautiful evening wear. This is a challenge I am willing to take, though.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

I heart Smart Bargains

If you love shoes that used to cost $295 and are now a mere $79.97, look no further.

I just have to tell you that I am LOVING Smart Bargains ( I know there are a lot of discount sites and some are better than others. Smart Bargains has Charles David shoes for 60-70% off, people- what the heck are you waiting for?!

Go. To. The. Clearance. Shoes.

One downside is with limited quantities available, there's not a lot of time to deliberate. If they have your size and you like them, make them yours as soon as possible.

The 30 day return policy means that if Charles (or Arturo Chiang or Betsey Johnson) doesn't fit, you aren't stuck with them.

The pictured shoes are the Franco Sarto Soda Cap for $29.97.

Flats, pumps, sandals...Seriously, why aren't you on that site right now?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Let it ride

I have been on a quest for underwear that does not ride up my arse for some time. I think I have found them, but since I fear that calling them THE solution to my arse-riding issue will jinx me and thus condemn me to a life of wedgies, I will simply say that I seem to have found what I'm looking for. Sorry Bono.

I ordered 7 pairs of the Vanishing Edge panties from Soma Intimates ( I tried the hipster, the bikini, and the boy shorts. The secret is apparently several small bands of rubber/elastic/whatever aroud the inside of the leg openings. This sounds less comfy than it actually is, I swear.

Here are my (very personal) thoughts:

I love the boy short. It doesn't ride up and I feel like if a wear a dress on a breezy day, I won't be flashing every schmoe on the street. I will be ordering several more pairs immediately, in every color. If they don't work with pants, trust me, I will let you know.

The hipster is great. I felt secure that everything was, ahem, contained and I wasn't exposing some sort of hideous panty line. This comes with a caveat though- make sure you are wear a size that actually fits. No panty-line free undie in the world will work if it's too small for you. I typically wear medium and I ordered everything in large, which was perfect.

The bikini is also great. I have the worst time with bikini underwear riding and these stayed in place all day. Woo hoo.

Needless to say, now that I have Soma Intimates in my life, I will not be returning to Victoria's Secret any time soon.

P.S. I will test and review other products for you from time to time. Next up: Zakkers- a way to keep long pants from dragging on the ground during your commute. Sounds weird, but I think they work...


I subscribe to the camp that believes that flats should never be basic. Unlike heels, flats have to draw visual interest from something other than an alluring curve or straight up sex appeal. Basic black might be practical, but it's boring as hell. The same black flats would be just as practical in quilted patent leather, or with a buckle, bow, or reverse stitching.

So, we come to rule number 1: Even when practicality is your first priority, shape, pattern, and texture should be considered, too.

Some basic black flats that hit the mark:

Why do these work, you ask? The first is a Steve Madden in tweed with a buckle accent. These would work with skirts, dresses, jeans, whatever. A round toe is super practical and the shoe is cute without looking like something you stole from your kid sister.

The second is a pointy toed Report, with a grommeted buckle and a subtle shape that gives it just a hint of sex appeal. This shoe is also practical without putting anyone with eyes to sleep.

The third is the Tory Burch Reva ballerina flat. This one comes in suede and has the signature medallion on the toe. There are countless knockoffs of this shoe, so don't let the $195 price tag of this one scare you. Looks comfy and practical to me, but it screams fashion conscious without being obnoxious.

Rule number 2: Color and pattern can make a basic outfit interesting- embrace them on your tootsies.

Check these out:

I recommend jumping on immediately to check out this first pair- they are from Fitzwell Callie, come in like ten colors, and are $65.

If you are a prepster like my li'l sis, you will recognize a boat shoe with you see one. The second pair above are in rust, the brand is Unisa, and they are perfect for pants and skirts this fall.

Animal print is awesome, especially in a sleek black and white pair like the third pair above. Guaranteed to make your outfit pop, these Sigerson Morrisons are amazing. Don't pay $500 for yours, though- I've seen pairs at every price point in stores and on Zappos.

The fourth pair is the DKNY Brianna in grape patent python. The d'orsay cut out gives the shoe some sex appeal, and the color is fun without being loud. Not only is this one way to wear purple if you aren't sure about the purple trend this season, it is a way to add color and texture in one purchase. These also come in black, orange, and yellow.

Rule number 3: Sporty and weekend flats should not look juvenile or orthopedic.

The first pair is from Privo, a quality brand of comfortable, sporty shoes that aren't bulky. These stay sleek and light: perfect for running errands or as your commute shoe.

The second pair is from Hush Puppies, so you know it's comfy. It is also polished and great with jeans.

The red and white pair tows the line between adult and just for kids. I like a printed shoe with a bow, just make sure the lines are simple and there isn't any other embellishment. From Unlisted.

The last pair is from Kenneth Cole Reaction and I love that it is neutral but not sleep-inducing, since it has a subtle pattern. It comes in 3 other equally neutral and subtle patterns and is only $73.

Other brands to consider: Simple, Grasshoppers, Keds, Naturalizer. The question to ask before buying: Do 16 or 60 year olds wear this? If yes, move on, people.

Rule number 4: if you are short, want your legs to look longer, or tend to wear longer skirts: Beware.

Nothing lengthens your silhouette and legs like heels. So if you wear flats, try a pointy-toed shoe and avoid an ankle strap like the plague.

If you wear skirts below the knee, you will look shorter and squatter with flats.

The general rule for skirt length vs. shoe height is the shorter the length, the flatter the shoe. Thus, the longer the length, the higher the shoe. This is a basic rule of proportion and balance the can't be denied unless you are over 5'10''. So keep your skirt length at or above the knee and you can avoid the dowdy school marm look that screams "celibate for life."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Summer in San Francisco

Yeah, the picture is fuzzy. Everything is fuzzy in SF when it's this hot.
Outfit details: Tee, Banana. Skirt, Banana. Shoes, farylrobin.
Why it works: Off white skirt and aqua is sharp. And just because it's hot, doesn't mean your skirt has to be ridiculously short, ESPECIALLY at work.
What it needs: necklace or bangles would be my thang.
Dress it up: Heels would be lovely.
Dress it down: Untuck the shirt and you are ready to roll.
P.S. Coming up: Top Ten flats!

Off-white after Labor Day

(I wore this on Tuesday, if you are keeping track.)

I don't buy into the outmoded notion that you shouldn't wear certain colors during certain seasons. I DO approve of taking into account the weather and season generally when deciding on which fabric texture, weight, and color to wear.

If you've got a September BBQ to attend and it's a sunny day, wear those fabulous white flats! But if it's freezing by October, maybe save the open-toed sandels for another time.

Outfit details: Dress, Laundry. Cami, Banana Republic. Shoes, Vince Camuto.

Why it works: One, it was hot, so this had just enough sleeve to not be sleeveless in the office, but short enough so I wasn't sweltering. Two, a little peep toe never hurt anyone, especially when you have an awesome pedicure, like moi.

What it needs: I always feel a little nekked without a cocktail ring...

Dress it up: Add bangles and some stilettos.

Dress it down: Flats, baby.

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Finds!

I know I have been MIA much of this week, but it is only because I have been scouring the world (wide web) for new stuff for YOU.

Some cool sites to check out:
This style site is all about new stuff and a community of fashion-forward people.

My Style Diary
Post and view pics of people around the world, get tips, see new trends and style experiements in action.

Soma Intimates
Check out the Vanishing Edge panties and other good stuff. I have ordered several pairs and will review them for you in great detail soon.

Melanie Auld Designs
Some of the coolest new and very wearable jewelry I've seen in a while, and pretty decent prices. Delicate necklaces, charming earrings, stackable rings.

Duo Boots
Bootastic. Amazing boots that come in a huge range of sizes and calf widths. Prices aren't cheap, but they aren't super scary either, especially for a beautiful- and beautifully fitting- pair of leather boots.

Plus size clothing and boots that are stylish and well-priced.

Barefoot Tess
Womens' shoes and boots in size 11 and up. Amazing range of designers available.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My photographer is sleeping in, so now we know what happens when I try to take a picture of myself...

Outfit details: Tee, Banana; Pants, Banana; Shoes, Bamboo (they are yellow, in case the blurry image above doesn't convey that); necklace, H&M

Why it works: The colors' tones make it work- since the navy, green, and yellow are of a similar tone, they compliment each other instead of looking messy. This is the way I know how to make several colors work together: make one of them a neutral. The necklace dresses up what is otherwise just a tee.

What it needs: I'm on the hunt for the perfect structured jacket...

Dress it up: Switch out tee for a blouse.

Dress it down: Exchange jeans for the slacks and you have a great weekend look.