Monday, December 31, 2007

Peter Som: Winter Wonderland

The title for this post is somewhat deceiving, as this is a resort dress from Peter Som; however, the black dots against the creamy white silk remind me of snowflakes falling quietly on a cold winter's day. The black lace, used sparingly to accent the bodice, is crisp and precise in its usage. While I passed over this dress when I first viewed this photo, I could not resist it when I fingered its sumptuous fabric at Saks. A truly beautiful sight.

Seeing Double: Oscar de la Renta and Behnaz Sarafpour

Sometimes, designers have ESP and manage to create looks that are almost identical. Case in point: Behnaz Sarafpour's glittering petal dress resembles Oscar de la Renta's tulip-hemmed gold dress. While there are some notable differences (Sarafpour's has petal-shaped flaps over the pockets while de la Renta's has a more exaggerated bloom at the bottom), the two dresses are remarkably alike. You be the judge: whose dress is better?

Carmen Marc Valvo: Silver Belle

If you're still searching for that perfect New Year's Eve dress, here's a beauty from Carmen Marc Valvo, the king of evening wear. The top and back of this festive dress are jeweled with rhinestones, and the design of the dress is a silver leaf brocade, a stubborn trend that has yet again reappeared this winter season. Add a white cape and white crocodile clutch and you're ready for a dramatic appearance into 2008. $680 at Bergdorf Goodman.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Salvatore Ferragamo: Welcome Mat

The leather ruffles on this tan wonder from Salvatore Ferragamo are ingeniously stacked like a bamboo mat, and the various straps along the sides and top offer substantial support on this 3 1/2 " heel. These sandals would be perfect with the inexpensive Banana Republic navy dress I just featured, or with anything peach, red, black, or gold. A whopping $770 at Neiman Marcus.

Banana Republic: Cheap Chic

Banana Republic is a staple for most women because its clothes are not only stylish, but also inexpensive: this woven silk shirt dress, which I saw today in the store, is luxuriously simple. Replacing the matching belt with a glammed-up option (gold patent, for example) elevates the simplicity of the dress and distinguishes it from the other copies strutting around the street (unfortunately, inexpensive clothes tend to be commonplace). Adding a textured cardigan or fitted jacket also quickly alters the look. A cheap $128 at Banana Republic.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Prada: Prime the Pump

This adorable Prada peep-toe pump is sleek, dainty, and functional. As a woman often on her toes, I usually cannot tolerate anything higher than 3", but these 2 1/2" heels are manageable for the city streets (except for the various grates that one inevitably encounters and actively avoids). The fabric bow in a lighter shade simply adds a femininity factor to an already gorgeous (and neutral) shade, and it lightens the seriousness of the shoe. I would wear this with nearly everything on my blog. Available also in black for $450 at

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sari Gueron: Versatile Luxury

Sari Gueron is known for her simple designs accentuated by feminine detailing, and this black lace jacket with flower appliques around the collar is just one example. As an alternative to a cardigan, this jacket, which is both simple and luxurious, could be worn casually with jeans or dressed up with an elegant dress. $899 at

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Luisa Beccaria: Laura Ashley Remix

When I was growing up, Laura Ashley was the coveted brand for girls who knew how to dress. Despite the many years of fashionistas who shunned anything Laura Ashley as too English rose garden (remember the "Sex and the City" episode when Carrie finds an old Laura Ashley dress?), florals have seriously made a comeback for spring. This Luisa Beccaria dress has a nostalgic, little girl quality to it, but somehow I am drawn to its fertile concoction of lavender, rose, and mint, and I am transported to the days of reading The Secret Garden, dreaming about Miss Havisham's wild bloomers, and inhaling the scents of Crabtree and Evelyn's lotions.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Alessandro Dell'Acqua: Gridlock Alert

The grid pattern on this Alessandro Dell'Acqua dress appears like flexible tiles--expensive tiles exported from some foreign locale. The pale blue rims on the shoulders and sides and the pale beige flanks and hem intensify the seaside resort feel that the dress imparts, and the exaction of the geometric shapes manages to highlight, rather than repress, the feminine form. Instead of adding blue or white sandals, I would choose nude ones, as they elongate the leg.

Rue du Mail: Citrus Harlequin

Rue du Mail is Martine Sitbon's new label, and this stunning citrus beauty is one of the reasons why it has succeeded so quickly. The harlequin detailing on the dress is far from costumey, and yet the allusion is unmistakable; the choice of a lighter orange underneath the deeper one is unexpectedly fresh, and yet faithful to the light dexterity of the harlequin in Commedia dell'Arte. I would add a thin navy belt and simple gold flats for some added interest.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cynthia Steffe: Not-so-basic Black

Recently, I've avoided all things black when shopping because it's too easy a rut to fall into, especially as a New Yorker. The long dark days also scream for brighter garb that psychologically ease the mind and please the eye. This Cynthia Steffe black dress, however, reminds one why everyone loves black. The sheer striped black overlay on top of a white slip creates texture, and the simple shape is friendly to many body types. $395 at Neiman Marcus.

Fendi: Bib and Belt Beauty

Fendi's Spring 2008 collection was full of artful but unwearable pieces; but this belt and dress are artful and beautifully wearable. The chunky gemstones on the belt are symmetrically stacked like a glamorous seat belt, and the flowy bib on this ethereal dress creates a serene--rather than childish--shape. I'll pass, however, on the gigantic logo baguette-clutch, which detracts from the loveliness of the look.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Andrew Gn: Coat Check

Winter coats tend to be dull and functional, but this bright blue tweed coat from Andrew Gn stands out from the crowd with its light blue ribbon belt and the collar, wrist, and pocket detailing. Just add a fluffy cream scarf and white elbow gloves and you will be a welcome alternative to the sea of black and brown coats all staring in envy. $3,495 at

Alberta Ferretti: Tron-a-thon

The airy white maze-like lines on this Alberta Ferretti resort dress remind me of Tron, a favorite Sci-fi 80s flick that visually was ahead of its time. The dress has an avant-garde quality to it, combining a futuristic element with a wearable and feminine design appropriate for either a seaside landscape or a metropolitan block. I'd pair it with a light-gray cardigan and silver python sandals for a fashion-forward but current daytime look.

Malandrino: Pleats Aplenty

The intricate origami pleating on this navy skirt by Catherine Malandrino resembles zipper-like triangles that point downwards, emphasizing the length and height of its wearer; the bunched-up bottom and organza fabric create a sensual fullness, emphasizing the femininity of its wearer. While the billowy top adds too much fullness (a plain but professional crisp white blouse would provide a stronger contrast), this skirt is a prized item that you will turn to again and again.

Narciso Rodriguez: Lovely Lavender

Lavender is the more sophisticated version of its sister, pink, a color associated with baby girls and cotton candy. This lavender dress from Narciso Rodriguez's pre-Fall 2008 collection has a simple shape and elegant shade, which is more winter appropriate, mysterious, and calming (lavender is known for its sedative qualities). The black tights add a darker quality to this outfit, but I would replace them with light gray ones that would better complement the coolness in the dress.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How to Buy: A Three-Part Maxim to Live By

While my fashion blog is not meant to be dogmatic, I do celebrate my freedom to provide unsolicited fashion advice to those who care. I have heard from many friends and coworkers that they "hate shopping," which naturally is astounding to me, the shopping fiend. I find that women simply don't know how to shop. I follow the 3 Fs as a solid starting point:

1. FIT. Clothes simply must fit properly to accentuate your naturally amazing body (embrace that belief, no matter what size you are). Simple tailoring can work wonders for your clothes. (A tailor can also rework old clothes to fit new trends: consider hemming, elongating, adding buttons of your choosing, and pleating.)

2. FASHION. You don't have to follow trends, but a sense of fashion is a must. Choose what appeals to you not only visually, but also sensually. (Fabrics and textures can elevate your mood, as they physically touch your skin and move with your body.) Dressing according to your sense of self will enable you to express yourself artistically.

3. FUNCTIONALITY. Your clothes should correspond to your lifestyle, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't look your best (i.e. a casual lifestyle should not result in sloppy clothes). Your clothes reflect your perception of yourself and your job, and dressing well means that you take pride in what you do and who you are. And ultimately, that's what being fashionable is all about.

Rachel Roy: Look Before You Leave

Sometimes, a look can conceptually work, but the trusty full-length mirror indicates otherwise. Rachel Roy's pre-Fall vest/blouse (vlouse?) and skirt combination match in hue, and the idea of a vest as blouse appeals to my experimental side. But the top, unfortunately, has a fuddy-duddy, Walmartesque quality that instantly ages the wearer by five decades. A more exaggerated v-neck and a shorter hem length would energize rather than enervate the vlouse, and the skirt, a lovely tiered coconut concoction, could be redeemed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

D&G: Get in Line

Despite my natural dislike of stripes on clothing, I find the stripes on this D&G dress architecturally intriguing. Vertical stripes are much more redeeming than horizontal ones (why would anyone want to look a mile wide?), and the uneven paths of these lines center the wearer, rather than spread her out. The juxtaposition of casual khaki linen with precise black lines creates a sharp, modern take on a traditionally relaxed fabric. $625 for pre-order at Neiman Marcus.

Mink Earmuffs: Toasty Chic

While PETA and my non-carnivore friends will object to this post, I still insist that there's nothing warmer than fur. My current rabbit hat (a la Dr. Zhivago) has bounced around one too many times, and I am craving something easy and hassle-free to keep my ears toasty in the bitter cold (my darling husband accidentally broke my Burberry earmuffs last year). These mink earmuffs from Neiman Marcus, in a gorgeous burgundy hue (also available in brown, black, and camel) are luxurious and inexpensive: at $100, you won't regret it.

Sonia by Sonia Rykiel: Puff, the Magic Jacket

My favorite childhood heroine, Anne of Green Gables, coveted puff sleeves. While none of us want to look like linebackers, a delicate puff of fabric adds a feminine touch to any outfit. The key to wearing this trend is pairing it with a simple and slim bottom silhouette (pencil skirt, skinny jeans, sheath dress); otherwise, a puffy bottom just might make you look as juvenile as a fifth-grader at her first dance. Discounted at $438 (down from $730) at

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lela Rose: Going Green

The absolutely gruesome winter weather has almost annihilated all signs of green from our urban streets, but at least we can use our clothing choices as a healthy means of escapism. Lela Rose's moss green frock is lively, and the dotted faux necklace literally looks like a smile. The detailing on this dress is expertly done: the scalloped hem, the white and black straps, the black belt, and the off-kilter ribbon are charming and whimsical. When Old Man Winter pounds us hard, going green enables me to keep waiting for the first few buds of spring.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Thumbelina's Favorite Things

In my homage to Oprah, I've decided to list a few of my favorite fashionable things.

FAVORITE SHOES: Prada, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Chanel


FAVORITE BAGS: Bottega Veneta's exotic bags, Chanel's classic quilted bags

FAVORITE BELTS: Fendi, Yves St. Laurent




Behnaz Sarafpour: Minty Fresh

The spring lines reveal that ombre, the grown-up sister of tie-dye, is not going away anytime soon. The slim shape and the tee-shirt top of Behnaz Sarafpour's minty green dress create a polished sophisticate and casual hippie look all in one, making this a fresh choice for spring. The simple dark green ribbon belt gives shape to this textured mass, and the matching pumps bring the look together. $1345 for pre-order at Saks.

Tracy Reese: Electric Slide

As I get older, I find myself being drawn to bolder colors, like this blue beauty from Tracy Reese's Spring 2008 line. The metallic sheen inspires the onlooker to question whether the dress has a subtle pattern or a light-reflecting effect; either way, the overall look is stunning. The deep v-neck, both in the front and back of the dress, makes this party-worthy, but a black camisole and black jacket make this look more appropriate for day. I would switch the metallic gold sandals for matte suede black platforms or pumps.

Burberry Prorsum: Belted Genius

Most of my looks feature a belt and with good reason: the belt is one investment buy that will transcend seasons and instantly create a feminine silhouette. This Burberry Prorsum look is simple enough and easy to recreate, but the highlight of the outfit is the belt, complete with studded medallions and leather tassle. Fendi's B belts and geometric belts from their Spring 2008 line are also worthy additions to any wardrobe, transforming a relatively plain dress into one with personality.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Prada: Retro Asian

This Prada resort dress has a retro Asian sensibility: the poodle skirt is reminiscent of the conservative, repressed Fifties, and the floral pattern and heavy fabric are reminiscent of Japanese screen-murals. Somehow, these disparate influences yield a surprisingly stunning result: quiet ladylike richness. The combination of the light yellow, chestnut brown, and bluish-lavender also work wonders for this substantial piece. $4,220 at Bergdorf Goodman.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Lela Rose: Party Time

For many of us, the holiday party can cause some undue stress, mainly because the lack of a clear dress code and the challenge of finding a festive yet appropriate dress. The LBD is an easy but somewhat boring choice (unless the dress has unique detailing and rich texture). This Lela Rose fall 2007 dress is my choice: not only does its rich berry red stand out, but its black flower appliques are delicate and unique. I've added a black cable cashmere cardigan and black Chanel boots to winterize the look, but come summer I'll wear it alone with black sandals. Here are some pointers for tackling this fashion challenge:

1. Opt for a rich jewel-tone color or even a winter white shade. Limit your color pallette to two to three hues, and make sure that the other colors are complementary.

2. A knee-length dress works best for most women because it's work appropriate. Minidresses work for more casual affairs and can easily be paired with tights (Spanx is my favorite brand).

3. Your evening bag (clutches or small purses) should match one of your color choices. An exotic skin (snakeskin, ostrich, lizard, or crocodile) glams up a simple shape. If your dress is plain, opt for a rich, embellished purse. Otherwise, let the focus remain on you, and not your bag (most women leave their bags on the table anyway).

4. Bring a cashmere sweater for chilly drafts. Your boyfriend/husband's oversized jacket is tacky.

5. Choose a dress that allows room for movement and for food; this is not the time for those oddly popular bandage dresses, which make you look three months pregnant after one meal. Part of having fun means that you can dance, eat, drink, and be merry without worrying how large your stomach looks.

Zac Posen: Trashionista

If you've ever wanted to look like a furry trashbag, this dress is right for you. Not only does it provide the proper featherduster with which to sweep the floor and gaping guests in your wake, it also leaves plenty of space to eat to your heart's content! And don't forget the disproportionately large keyhole for others to view an odd pound of flesh. This incomprehensible trashbag is yours come spring.

Bill Blass: White, Black, and Gray All Over

Here's a more winter-appropriate outfit from Bill Blass's pre-Fall 2008 collection: the lush Persian lamb coat in chic gray and the black tights instantly warm the coolness of the blouse and skirt. I particularly love the black belt because it unites the outfit (white tights are just way too juvenile) while providing some contrast.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Luca Luca: Confetti Cool

This dazzler from the spring 2008 Luca Luca collection incorporates a calming dove gray with white confetti-like appliques that brighten and cheer. For the more conservative fashionista, a simple lacy white camisole underneath the dress would assuage any doubts about its appropriateness for day. This look would be perfect for high tea at Lady Mendl's (by far the most charming Victorian tea place this side of the Atlantic) or a bridal shower. Lanvin's white leather clutch and silver strappy sandals will be sure to make this ensemble one of your favorites.

Lela Rose: In the Trenches

Lela Rose is one of my all-time favorite designers: her fabrics are painstakingly selected, and her clothes are meticulously crafted for the uber-feminine woman. While the belted trench coat is not new (Burberry Prorsum's resident genius Christopher Bailey nailed this look on the runway), Lela Rose recreates this look in a softer, less militant way by uniting hues in a similar pallette. The dainty scalloped edges on her ochre skirt add a uniqueness to a simple skirt, and the lacy white blouse complements the ladylike look. By switching the pumps to tall suede boots in a light tan shade, this ensemble could work for the cold winter months.

Marc by Marc Jacobs: Mellow Yellow

I'm pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this sunny number since Marc Jacobs--and I am prepared to be burned at the stake for saying this--is highly overrated (in my humble opinion). This dress is sweet and bright, and yellow always reminds me that summer is just a couple of seasons away. The bow-shaped belt, however, is cloying and callow, making the wearer seem as youthful as a five-year-old girl with a lollipop. Switching the belt for a simple white one (I prefer Yves St. Laurent's rectangular belts) and adding a silver cardigan would make this more adult. White or silver pumps instead of Mary Janes or flats would also be wise choice. $698 at Bergdorf Goodman.

Alexander McQueen: Train Wreck

Alexander McQueen is known to indulge in eccentricities that perplex even the most daring fashionistas. In his Spring 2008 show, he subjected his models to odd birdcage-like head ornaments and plants, backyard tents as dresses, creepy masks and alien facial makeup, and this monstrosity, a cross between a winding staircase and a cheap toy train set. I'm afraid I'll have to throw this papa off the train.

Andrew Gn: Fancy Flight

Andrew Gn's Parisian and Asian backgrounds have proven to be the secret of his success: his clothes are artful, delicate, ornate, and sophisticated. A whimsical scarf floats at the top of this white and gray Spring 2008 dress, and the carefree gray butterflies appear to dance in a serene white expanse. A silver clutch by Nancy Gonzales (in crocodile) or Carlos Falchi (in python) and gray sandals would complete the look. Isadora Duncan would surely approve.

J. Mendel: Winter White

With the cold weather literally raining down upon us in morose New York, I am reminded that we cannot all wear dresses and sandals (in my perfect world, this would be my uniform). While this outfit from J. Mendel's fall 2007 collection is impractical in the rain, it nevertheless combines functionality with fashion. J. Mendel's furs are absolutely divine, and the subtle combination of pale yellow with white is sure to brighten up the streets more than the gaudy Christmas displays all over town.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

6267: Baby Blue

6267 is relative baby in the fashion world (only starting in the fall of 2006), but it is a precocious baby who knows how to get some serious attention. Saks, Bergdorf, and other major department stores are showcasing this prodigy, and for good reason. This navy blue and red dress flatters two delicate female features: the collarbone and the waist. The smallest peek of red in the bundle of blue is slightly subversive; the flounced hem is slightly mischievous. A ruby ring and navy pumps ensure that this look is all grown up.

Akris: Stairwell to Heaven

The long white discontinuous stripe on this lovely Akris resort dress reminds me of Jacob's ladder, an old-fashioned toy that brought me great pleasure as a child. No matter how many times you snapped the wood plank, the toy faithfully moved like dominoes down a dotted line. The slightly off-white stripe that interweaves itself between a cloudy white makes me think that indeed, this is a stairwell to fashion heaven.

Fendi: Hello, Kitty

As a child, I loved Star Trek for its innovative alien races, and as an adult, I loved it for its literary allusions (back when Gene Roddenberry was alive) and political undertones. However, this Fendi resort dress seems like a cross between a fashion-challenged alien race and Hello Kitty, that pervasively annoying cartoon cat. I would be afraid to hug anyone in that dress.

Derek Lam: Safari Chic

This Derek Lam resort dress is a shirtdress, minidress, and safari dress all in one. The subtle billowing on the sleeves contrast the straightness of the dress, and the shiny buttons are understated but noticable. The winey red pumps act as a kind of reverse neutral, accentuating but not detracting from the overall cleanness of the look. A delicate gold necklace and a simple handbag in brown would be all that you need.

Luca Luca: Burn Baby Burn

Ever since I bought my first few items from Luca Luca, I have fallen in love. This burnt umber work dress is simple at first glance, but its intricate detailing in the center of the bosom is reminiscent of the origami designs that are populating this season's clothes. The cream peep-toe sandals really pop and complete the professional but sophisticated outfit. Pre-Fall 2008 collection.

Zac Posen: Gray Matters

Gray has been the strong "it" shade of this season, and Zac Posen proved that it will remain so next winter. This gray architectural minidress for his Pre-Fall 2008 collection manages to capture a youthful freshness that often does not coincide with the dull grayness of Granny's bun. If you are young or have killer gams like Cameron Diaz, this dress may be the smartest dress to don come next year.

Versace: Birds and the Bees and More

Versace is known for its risque designs, and this one is no exception. I absolutely adore the color scheme, and the shape of the dress is pleasant enough. But the actual calla lily design is shockingly crude. Dresses that accentuate the feminine shape is one thing; providing an actual map of the organs is another. I'm tempted to place a NC-17 rating on the poor model's head. $2435 at Bergdorf Goodman.

Sample Sale Madness: Woman Cannot Live on Retail Alone

If you happen to live in New York, the fashion capital this side of the world, you know that sample sales abound at particular seasons of the year. And if you are as devoted a fashionista as I, you would also know that there are certain sample sale protocols that must be adhered to.

1. Wear underpinnings that you wouldn't mind strange men seeing. I opt for black leggings (the closest thing to pants) and a camisole that women wear during the hot summer months. While gay men in fashion abound (and therefore wouldn't care if they saw you in your birthday suit), many women schlep their boyfriends/husbands to these sales.

2. Don't hog the one mirror in the room. If you're not actually wearing the garment in question, don't stand in front of it.

3. Provide some separation between your street clothes and the sold ones. Many a woman has embarrassingly eyed another woman's dress before the nasty "That's mine" response.

4. Go early. If you're a size 2, chances are that the goods will be gone by 5 pm (hey, this is New York). I was astounded by the hundred women that showed up to last season's Jimmy Choo sample sale one hour before it began. By the start time, there was a line down Fifth Avenue. I also snagged an incredible dress, a metallic blue and gray skirt, and a fuzzy brown pencil skirt at Peter Som by arriving early.

5. However, ask the saleswomen if new merchandise will arrive later on in the sale. Some designers will even further discount prices after each day of the sale.

6. Pick and choose your sample sales. You cannot go to each one, unless you don't have anywhere to be.

7. Don't buy it if you don't love it. If it's a size larger, you can always tailor it. If it's too small, forget it.

8. Lastly, preview the designer's runway show BEFORE you go. It helps to focus your shopping on certain items that may appear.

Happy Shopping!

Oscar de la Renta: Separation Anxiety

Our society favors contrast: Beauty and the Beast, Serendipity's Frozen Hot Chocolate, Grease's Sandy and Danny. In fashion, prim and primmer only equates to a visual meltdown. The silhouette is pleasing enough, but the combination of lace and oversized buttons confuses: is this a grown-up doll? The shoes, likewise, attempt to match the frilly Victorian top in hue, but the scalloped front and ties are distracting. The skirt would be better with a black turtleneck or a simple v-necked blouse, and the top would look sharper with skinny jeans and black flats. The skirt retails for $2780 and the blouse for $890 at net-a-porter.

Alberta Ferretti: Grecian Goddess

Here's another beauty from Alberta Ferretti: a white dream with a wreath of gold to crown it off. For ladies planning a low-key but elegant beach wedding, this would be perfect. It's unfussy but with a touch of class, and the flowy dress would be perfect for a photographer eager to catch you frolicking on the sand with bouquet and man in tow. A gold woven clutch from Bottega Veneta would complete this perfection. $3520 for the dress at net-a-porter, and $1200 for the clutch at

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Max Azria: Textural Taupe

Taupe is a underrated color that complements nearly every hue. This intricate and easy taupe and black textured dress is an obvious buy. The cut-out circles in the waist define a woman's shape, and the individual black threads create a unique texture that will continue to astound onlookers season after season. The matching taupe pumps provide continuity--I am a firm believer that the eye can only take so many colors in one ensemble. One caveat: this dress is not for owners of cats that get tempted by the slightest hint of string.