Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's the Diff? Bandaged stripes

It's another round of What's the Diff? between Anthro and ModCloth.

This is the Layered Column Dress.  It's $178 at Anthro.

This is the Sea Span Skirt. It's $59.99 at ModCloth.

It's obvious that one is a dress and the other is a skirt.  And yes, one it black and one is deep blue.  But unless you want the bandage strip look all over, the skirt is a very similar (and well-priced) alternative.  Personally, I love the dress and all the reviews make it sound like it's universally flattering.  ModCloth pieces, on the other hand, do not often fit me, since I am neither a junior size nor a size 0-4 in women's clothes.   But if you can pull off the ModCloth stuff, it's a great option if you don't want too much of a good thing.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Princess n’ Boots

[Another fab guest post by fab li'l sis, Andrea S.]

I grew up in Florida, and then moved to LA, so boots were never a significant part of my shoe collection. (Read: Not a single pair!) This was also convenient, since in addition to size 10 feet, I have huge calves. (Read: NOT cankles, just large, shapely calves that have become the bane of my existence…) So when I moved to Chicago, and could legitimately wear my all-time favorite outfit combo of a dress/skirt, sweater, tights, and boots, I was REALLY excited.

Until I actually tried to buy some.

Much like every other fashionable item, boots tend to be designed for very tall, very skinny women who neither have fat nor muscle, and who would probably be blown away in Chicago wind. Shockingly, I am not designed like that. But Ellen is not one to accept the fashion industry’s BS, so she shopped online and I went from store to store feeling bad about myself, and eventually I found some semi-acceptable boots as well as one really great pair from a Canadian company being sold at Clark’s. (I know it sounds old lady, but Clarks has some really great shoes!)

Even when I finally found some, I did not have any idea that a pair of tall black boots that look good with my skirts and sweaters would not be appropriate for a Chicago…but that is a whole different story.

So for 3 years (which here is synonymous with three winters), I made due with a variety of snow boots/shoes/buckets and this one pair of admittedly fantastic, but now quite boring, black boots with a 1.5 inch heel, squarish toe, and no fun buckles. The cobbler loves me. My coworkers were less than impressed. I am beyond over them.

This year, I was pretty resigned to taking my boots to the cobbler, again, and avoiding the boot ordeal for another year. It’s so demoralizing. And the looks on the shoe salespeople faces are just maddening. But I took my friend Stephanie shopping at perennial favorite Nordstrom (another blog post to come! WOOT), and at the end of our very successful day, we went to the shoe department.

Folks, what you are about to read brings tears of joy to my eyes even now: I tried on TWO pairs of fantastic boots- tall, luscious leather boots- and THEY FIT. It is not because my fantastic trainer found a way to make my calves smaller, either. According to the reviews of the Sofft and Enzo boots I found, they are “huge” and people are “swimming in them”. I laugh at your problems, ye of twiggy legs!

Friends, meet my soon to be new boots:

Not only can I wear these both to work, with jeans, with skirts and dresses, and with nothing at all- they are high quality, fun, and comfortable. They still won’t work in a blizzaster (see: Northface boots for the winter win!), but they will carry me through 8 months of darkness in style. You can all be jealous now.

       May I make some suggestions for my fellow boot lovers, before I go on my boot purchasing spree?

       1. f you live in a warm climate, don’t act like you live in the arctic- boots with fur and intense winter features just look ridiculous. (Note: After living in LA, I have developed an intense aversion to Uggs. Uggs are not boots. They are fuggly slippers. I WILL judge you. I will not feel bad.)

       2. Flat boots are best for a starter pair, or a low heel. No one likes to see a wobbly chick in stiletto boots. Also, what is the point of those?! Just wear a pair of heels.

       3. Cowboy boots= weekend boots. NOT for work. Also, watch where you go- those pointy toes hurt. 

       4. Animal lover or no, real leather rules. They last longer, look nicer, and wear better. I’m sure Ellen can hook you up with some faux-leather alternatives, if you must.

       5. You get what you pay for, most of the time. I definitely understand not wanting to invest $200+ on a pair of boots if you live somewhere with the normal THREE months of winter. But if you live in winter, it’s worth it. Save up, buy them, and don’t feel guilty. Price per wear, right!?

       6. Beware the super trendy boot. Just sayin.

       7. Beware the leg cutters. And by this I mean a boot that is a bad height for you. Ellen has shown some great options. But don’t get boots that make your legs look stumpy. 

       8. Take care of your boots!!! I should do this more, but its still true. Love your boots and they will love you.

Let this be a tale of hope and inspiration, no matter what climate you live in or what size you are. There are boots out there for every calf size, twiggy to gargantuan. Websites abound with options (widewidths.com, Clark’s, etc), and there’s always Ellen. 

Happy Boot Shopping!

Friday, August 26, 2011

10 Pairs of Leather Boots under $50

Trust me, getting genuine leather at this price is a coup, but it's not impossible.  Don't waste your time with faux/pleather/man-made/vegan if you can get the real deal. 

In case you are don't know where to start, Target, Endless.com, and 6pm.com are great sources of leather shoes at a budget price.

For your budget shopping pleasure, here are some great real leather options for boot season for under $50...

Target Karima Leather boots ($49.99):

Somewhat masculine, on trend, and look comfy.

Target Kamischel Suede boots ($44.99)

For so much suede (typically impractical in inclement weather) these look pretty durable with the lug sole and sturdy construction.  I'd have them weather treated.  Several other colors available.

Target Kachiri Leather boots ($49.99):

These are a perfect, unadorned take on the riding boot.  The shape is similar to many (much more expensive) Frye boots. Also comes in cognac.

Dollhouse Zatty boot ($37.99):

Fun, slouchy details and a sleek wedge.

Volatile Quill Boot ($48.83):

The two materials add some interest to an otherwise fairly plain over the knee boot.

Sketchers Lunacy-Palomar Boot ($43.99):

These aren't my thing, but I can see them working with a biker chic outfit or even a flirty skirt.

Kelsi Dagger Lace-Up Ankle Boot ($43.42):
These are a sweet little suede ankle boot with just a hint of fringe detail. And it comes in 7 colors.

Naughty Monkey Rock Out Boot ($42.50 for black, $49.47 for red)

Another suede option with some cool buckle details.

Enzo Angiolini Keylyme Bootie ($39.43):

Super sharp for the office. Also comes in taupe suede.

Clarks Ruby Glimmer ($47.30):

Very good quality and high on comfort for an awesome price.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Booties For Your Perusal

People, we can't ignore booties during Boots Week. 

If you haven't tried them, do it already.  They are a fantastic alternative to pumps or flats when the weather sucks, and can be used when taller boots are just too warm or too much for an outfit.

Some suggestions:

1.  Maximize versatility by choosing a pair you'd consider wearing with dresses and skirts, as well as pants.  They are especially leg-lengthening when paired with tights in the same color.

(Sure, she'd look great in a burlap sack, but you get the idea.)

2.  If you have skinny legs and ankles, try some with a fairly narrow leg opening or you may look like you are playing dress up in someone else's too-big clothes.  Typically, the higher it hits on you leg, the more narrow the opening.

These Dolce Vita booties could work ($195):

Or these Same Edelman versions might be perfect ($160-190) (also come in black and leopard):

3. If you have larger legs and ankles- and even if you have the dreaded cankles!- you CAN wear these. Try some with a wider leg opening and details that draw the eye down, creating the illusion of a longer leg.  Otherwise, your leg line will be cut off and you will appear shorter and possibly stumpy.  Typically, the lower it hits you on the foot, the wider the opening.

This Ash pair, with black tights, is the perfect choice ($225):

A similar, but less expensive, Nine West version ($109) would also work well (also comes in taupe and black):
Another option is the (ridiculously-named) shoetie (this Plenty by Tracy Reese pair is $145):

And a simple, but fun, version with a wide ankle opening (Libby Edelman, $99):
4. For the love of people with eyes, please don't wear them with shorts.

It's collegiate, it's juvenile, it's hideous.  With or without tights.

5.  I still hate the peep-toe bootie in all its forms (click here for the rant), but if you must do it, do us all a favor by wearing them with tights to keep them seasonally appropriate.


Second Hand Fabulousness: A Tory to Remember

[Note from Ellen S: Here's another long-awaited guest post from my fav li'l sis, Andrea S. A round of applause, please.]

I am not a fan of thrift stores and second hand shopping. The smell grosses me out, pre-worn clothes skeeve me out...Call me a snob or lazy or whatever you want- its just not my thing. Also, I almost never find anything that fits me, so I get frustrated and shopping becomes unpleasant. Not cool.

But I have several friends who LOVE buying second hand clothes, and admittedly I get jealous of their finds from time to time. However, when they find really fantastic designers or vintage pieces that are spectacular, they often don't realize it. And let's be honest- that is a damn shame!

My friend Katherine is one of my best friends- she has a great sense of personal style and understands what fits her body type. Katherine is also one of the people I'm referring to above- she finds fantastic used/vintage clothes and often doesn't realize the level of awesomeness she has purchased for a low, low price. For example: We decided to volunteer at some ridiculous eco-friendly beer festival (for the free beer, obviously), and since there was little for us to do, we did what came most naturally to us- we ate cake balls and went shopping! Luckily, we found both a fantastic bakery and a fantastic designer consignment shop. I pulled a huge pile of dresses for her, and off we went to the dressing room.

Katherine is quite curvy, and wasn't having a lot of luck until...The Tory. This gorgeous Tory Burch dress fits like a glove, and is really funky. I almost died- both from excitement and jealousy. But Katherine didn't know about Tory Burch, and might not have realized what a steal she was getting for $105! Why am I not a perfect, curvy size 8-10?! Needless to say, of course she purchased the dress, and found a store to which we will be returning quite soon!

Of course, the moral of the story is that I'm going to try harder to love second hand stores, and I will be accompanying Miss Katherine on her field trips...if for no other reason than to give fashion designers the credit they deserve! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Shop This Place: Garnet Hill

I know, I know.  It sounds like a cheesy site with too many hippie tunics and lots of "comfort" shoes.

Trust me, Garnet Hill comes as a great surprise to me, too.  I'd say it has Anthropologie, J Crew, and Ann Taylor cross-over appeal, which means I like a lot of what they offer.

Here are a few examples:

The Rosette Knit Dress ($118) looks like something straight out of an Anthro catalogue:

Same goes for the Winnah Dress by Velvet ($132), a brand regularly carried by Anthro:

The Signature Merino Cardigan ($88) comes in several fun prints:

The styling of this Boatneck Cashmere Sweater ($98) could be straight from J Crew:

These gorgeous Born Asbee Riding Boots ($198) are right on the nose for fall and winter:

(It wouldn't be Boots Week if I didn't show you boots, people.)

And these Artful Ballet Flats ($118) are just charming:

Check out the site!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chic Card Holders

One thing you need as a professional, or just as someone who meets other people, is a card holder.  Most card holders are snore-inducing.  You can do better, people.  How about one of these chic options?

Under $100:

Tory Burch Robinson Card Holder ($95):

Comes in 4 colors, including a delicious moss gold.  Want.  Gimme.

Kate Spade Tudor City Metallic Holly ($55):

So cute, yet practical.

Under $50:

Lodis Astor-Lily Card Case ($44):

Also comes in nude and black.

Hobo International Kai Patent Card Case ($44):

Also comes in black and mulberry.

Under $25:

Pink Business Card Case ($24.95, free personalization):

What do you carry your cards in?  And if you don't have cards, how do you give people your contact info?  (Please don't say cocktail napkin.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Boots, Glorious Boots

Fall = boots.  It's just simple math, people.  I love boots of all flavors, but I especially love knee-high boots.

This is the pair I chose this season:

I got them in natural (not the brown shown here), which looks more like a beat up, worn in grey in person than in the online pic.  I was going for something rugged to wear with dresses in the fall and dresses with tights in the winter.  I think I scored here, since I found exactly what I wanted and had enough Nordstrom Notes to pay less than $80 for them. 

If you are into flat or low-heeled riding style boots, you're in luck- they are huge (again) this season. 

Here are a few options...

The sleek, straight-forward classic:

A girly version from none other than Fergie:
For the buckle-lovers among you:

A quilted version:

And a more Western classic from Frye:

Are you into the equestrian look?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Frankenshoes, or Why The 70s Resurgence Has Gone Too Far

Unless you live in a cave, you have noticed the 70s having another round in fashion.

I have been supportive of flares (they balance out your hips and elongate your legs!), flowy blouses (concealed muffin top, check!), and even the giggle-inducing pussy bow blouses (which also had a moment in the 80s).

But when I walked into my beloved Nordstrom shoe department and saw this:

I was DONE.

They have a 2 inch concealed platform, a huge, chunky heel, and uppers from hell:

Pretty sure Elton John has several pairs of these. 

A salesman approaches me and asks "How are you today?" insincerely. 

"I'd be better if I wasn't ACTUALLY IN 1974." I scream gnash respond politely.

He informs me that they sell "really well" to women of "all ages" and "they look better on the foot."

Right.  Because any self-respecting woman would try these on:

Um.  I just realized why clowns scare me. 

Nearby, one woman posited that drag queens would be all over these, but they must be the only ones. "Phew," I'm thinking.  "I get the costume angle." Her friend reported that biological women all over NYC are wearing them, unfortunately.

Great.  Can't wait to see women all over the greater bay area tottering around- and breaking ankles- in these:

People, those aren't even the worst ones.  Remember splatter paint and puffy paint?  Don't worry, you can have that on your frankenshoes, too:

I am sorry to say that the "toned down" versions aren't any better.  Solid colors or neutrals do not save this hideousness:


Also a no:

By this point, I was going blind. 

I moved on, trying to repress the bile and focus on another shoe display, when I stumbled upon the Uggs table.  That was my cue to GET OUT WHILE I STILL CAN.  Clearly I had entered a Fugly Shoes Only Zone and could not escape unless I put on blinders and proceeded quickly to the nearest exit. 

Nordstrom Buyers, I hope you are cringing.  You are purveyors of taste, not just what sells.  Either you don't care or your taste has taken a guttural plunge.  Either way, you should be embarrassed.