Monday, March 31, 2008

The Politics of Patriotic Fashion

Chanel, Spring 2008

At the risk of sounding unpatriotic, I find this look from Chanel gauche in design. "Stars and stripes" will inescapably conjure up images of our founding fathers in wigs and our gallant young soldiers fighting for their freedom from the tyrant King George. And perhaps it is no surprise that we have both a biopic on John Adams and a recent film about Iraq: two opposing views on the issue. Yet this kind of dressing is contrived and reminds me of a young man I once knew who wore Puerto Rican paraphernalia but who never actually lived or went there (nor was fully Puerto Rican). One can do stars in a less overtly political manner, like Stefano Pilati's Spring 2008 Yves Saint Laurent collection, without all of the garishness of wearing one's home country's map. As one who's married to a "foreigner" and who's always found herself surrounded by people of all races, cultures, and nationalities, I find it necessary to be sensitive to the overtures of loud political fashion. Of course, I say all of this as a byproduct of the very freedom that comes from living in this country, and I also am aware of the ironic implications of raising a fashionable eyebrow at those who embrace their freedom of expression.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Give Us This Day Our Daily Blog

The daily blog has become somewhat of a web phenomenon, so much so that a) single dads like Scott Schuman are now hired by and travel the world to photograph the stylish; b) stay-at-home moms like the Bag Snobs are now considered to be the bag gurus of their day; and c) a "sixteen-year-old from Indiana" can voice his opinion (to use a phrase from Scott Schuman's speech) about fashion alongside Vogue's Anna Wintour. And now I, alias Thumbelina Fashionista, have joined the online discussion because unlike magazines, blogs are instant, unbiased, and daily--a testament to the new opiate of the masses: fashion.

The insatiable need to have instant access to the daily blog is fueled by several factors: a) fashion is slowly becoming global, not regional; b) fashion is becoming more accessible, not less so (hence the plethora of books about "how luxury lost its luster"); and c) fashion trends move faster, not slower (hence the new existence of four fashion seasons). Cathy Horyn of The New York Times and Diane Pernet both commented on the pleasurable global discourse that blogs provide, and it is this postmodern fusion of cultures that is slowly creating a new kind of fashion and fashionista: one who reads The Sartorialist with the pleasure of examining fashion trends all over the world, and not just in one's backyard. And while fashion can be dictated by region (as in my recent post about Uptown/Downtown styles), one is not fastened down by location any more than a sophisticated traveler would be. Therefore, one sees Hollywood stars dressing both in an Uptown and Downtown manner, depending on mood and situation.

This fluidity--or lack of rules--has created what some call the new "Wild West," in which the authority is no longer just the fashionable experts at big name publications. The fear in this is one's new reliance on a multitude of voices that can often crowd out an insecure inner voice; but through the discourse, the arguments, and the posts, one finds that old Biblical adage to be true: "iron sharpens iron." This unprecedented exchange of voices foreshadows a new age of fashion, which has already embraced high and low as the new ideal in dressing. And now, even museum curators have found a place for blogs in their exhibits (if you haven't already, check out the Met's blog: The equalizing power of blogs is both the appeal and the result, one that will continue to transform fashion in the years to come.

The Cult of the Fashion Persona

From Left: Diane Pernet, Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano

While I attended the wonderful lecture at the Met about fashion blogging, I couldn't help stare, mesmerized, at Diane Pernet's extravagant and bizarre hairdo, which seemed to me to be a cross between a royal headdress and a circus tent. When Harold Koda jokingly mentioned subtlety (then turning dramatically to Diane Pernet), she did refer to it as her "persona," which both suggests the psychological separation between self and surface and a kind of call to the fictional aspect of fashion: it is, after all, just a tool that one uses to create an identity.

I began to consider the popularity of the persona in fashion, and how designers like Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano, even Michael Kors (unabashedly boring in a black jacket and jeans) have turned to the "persona" as a form of marketing oneself as a concept, rather than as a real human being. What is behind the headdress, the tuxedo, the costumes? Do they function as masks to hide behind or as a kind of statement of one's unflinching identity?

I am unable to fully answer this question, being a simple observer. But I can question its application to real life, or to the "common woman," who has unknowingly or consciously decided to adhere to her own persona as a way of communicating, however subtlety, what she stands for. Even the so-called fashion challenged have communicated their blatant disregard of clothing as essential to self, or have spoken to a kind of tacit conformity in their Abercrombie and Fitch clothing. While I certainly do not understand Diane Pernet's decision to have a bee hive on her head as a kind of permanent extension, at least I can appreciate the drive to stand out from the masses, which to me is certainly more complex and creative than the clones who walk the street, afraid of finding what really lies beneath the surface.

Off to Meet the Sartoralist

From the Sartoralist's Blog:

"I am very excited to participate in a panel discussion about fashion and blogging that will be hosted by Harold Koda and the Costume Institute and The Metropolitan Museum of Art this Sunday.Cathy Horyn of the New York Times and Diane Pernet will also be part of the panel.The event is free with admission to the museum. I would love to see of you at the event, if possible.The event will be held at: The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium at the Museum on Sunday, March 30, 2008 from 3:00-4:45pm."

As Dorothy said, I'm off to see the wizard of blogging! For those of you who are attending, I'll be the one in the Fendi Ballerina Dress. (No ruby slippers, however.) Come say hi!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

In Response to Miss Cavendish

While I usually refrain from personal information, I found myself inevitably answering Miss Cavendish's questions:

Books I’ve read/reread recently:
  • Angela’s Ashes
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • The Great Gatsby
Things I frequently say:
  • Take copious notes.
  • That’s fabulous.
  • Get out of town!

Music I like:

  • Classical (e.g. Debussy, Mozart)
  • Musicals and Operas (e.g. The Phantom of the Opera)
  • 80s music (e.g. Chicago)
  • Jazz
What I couldn’t live without (in absolutely no order):
  • My husband, family, and friends
  • Designer clothes
  • Books
  • Knee-length boots
  • SPF
  • Cream/Lotion (I have painfully dry skin)

What I’d love to do before I expire:

  • Write a book
  • Raise two healthy, happy, and productive children (preferably a boy and a girl)
  • Travel the world (in particular, Asia, Greece, Brazil)

The Uptown/Downtown Debate

The fashionistas of New York City often fall into two distinct categories, appropriately dubbed by residence: Uptown Chic vs. Downtown Chic. Walking around Soho and Tribeca today, I couldn't help noticing how severe this distinction manifests itself, and I felt strangely out of my neighborhood (as if you couldn't tell, I would have to categorize myself as "uptown" in style), despite my black boots and coat. For those mystified by this distinction, let me elucidate the ways:

  • Colors: predominately black, touch of plaid

  • Generic Look: skinny jeans, black booties, hip-slung bag (Chanel or Marc Jacobs), large scarf, motorcycle jacket, large sunglasses

  • Celebrity Adherents: The Olsen Twins (who live downtown), Kate Moss, Sienna Miller, Kate Bosworth

  • Armcandy of Choice: Stunning European males, gay best friends

  • Primary Designers: Gucci, Thomas Wylde, under-the-radar designers, Marc Jacobs
  • Techniques: Layering, messiness, focus on legs

  • Jewelry: Silver/platinum, skulls


  • Colors: white, khaki, pastels, black
  • Generic Look: fitted jacket, pencil or A-line skirt, tall boots or peep-toe pumps, Hermes or Bottega Veneta bag, trench coat, Hermes scarf

  • Celebrity Adherents: Victoria Beckham, Sarah Jessica Parker

  • Armcandy of Choice: Billionaire next door

  • Primary Designers: Chanel, Bottega Veneta, Fendi
  • Techniques: Tucked-in blouses, belts, limited color palette (monochromatic or two shades), focus on arms and waist, fitted clothing

  • Jewelry: Van Cleef and Arpels, Cartier, a big rock, gold

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Versatility of the White Pant

Michael Kors's Bianca Wide-Leg Stretch Linen Pants, $725 at

Women rarely wear white pants, and for good reason: they stain easily. However, a pair of crisp white pants can elevate an outfit in a way that few pants can; they look chic, easy, clean, light, and glamorous. The key to wearing white pants is knowing where they'll travel and adhering to certain "flight restrictions": never wear them in the rain, extremely windy weather, or after a rain shower (the water on the ground inevitably jumps onto the back). Also choose ones with lining, wear nude underwear (white underwear shows through mercilessly), and pair with heels. While these numerous restrictions seem cumbersome, remember the versatility that white pants provides: they go with nearly all of your spring clothes (even dark-hued ones); they look perfect with any of the hot "it" shades of the season: yellow, orange, or blue; you can wear them for a number of occasions (work, lunch, dinner); and you stand out in a crowd. Although I've grown to eschew pants in favor of skirts and dresses, I'm determined to purchase a pair of white pants this spring season.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Your Shopping Budget, Broken Down

Yes, consumer confidence is down. But if you're a wise and devoted fashionista, you'll find that it's all about budgeting and editing, because while you're aware of the economic situation at hand, you plan ahead for long-time use. There are several shopping categories; check your wardrobe to see which one you fall mainly into to have a clearer understanding of how to divide your shopping budget:

1. Basics. Jeans, tees, camisoles, underwear, and sweaters fall in this category. The amount you spend on these items depends on whether a) you purchase very few but quality items (e.g. a pair of designer jeans); or b) you purchase several but inexpensive items (e.g. ten tees from American Apparel, or sweaters from J.Crew). Personally, I am of the belief that one should spend only a small percentage of your shopping budget--say, 10%--on basics. Additionally, never spend full price on basics, which always go on sale.

2. Trendy: While I agree with many fashion editors who say that trendy items should be very cheaply bought, one must consider which trends you're following. In fashion, "everything old is new again," and certain trends have historic appeal. Florals, prints, safari, color...these "trends" are actually timeless and will certainly reappear with time. The other important consideration is allowing yourself to satisfy your own fashion aesthetic and not the opinion of some impersonal fashion editor. If you enjoy it, chances are you'll go back to it time and time again. However, if you don't see trendy items as investment pieces, I suggest going to H&M and other inexpensive stores to satisfy your whims. 20-30% of your fashion budget should go to trendy items.

3. Occasion-based: Weddings, parties, galas...Occasion-based shopping is somewhat a hassle, but you must consider how often you attend these events. If major events are a part of your fashion wardrobe, then you've already migrated into #4: Investment shopping. If you shop for these showstoppers once a year, then invest in an item that you can return to years later.

4. Investment: While gowns are certainly investment items, everyday wear can also be high-priced ticket items that have a timeless appeal. If you cannot afford to (or do not want to) purchase items full price, wait until sale season to purchase a few but stunning items. While it may seem absurd to spend 60-70% of your fashion budget on a few items, it is ultimately worth it in the long run. Building a fashionable wardrobe takes time, patience, and strategy. Most women cannot afford to buy everything they want; instead, a slow process of collecting hot items each season will amount to a carefully-edited and stunning wardrobe. Make sure that not all of your investment pieces are occasion-based; choose daytime looks like a detailed dress that works for multiple occasions.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Burberry Prorsum: Bags Need To Go On A Diet, Too

While I adore Christopher Bailey and the creative genius that he is, his handbags have yet to measure up to his incredible clothing. I saw this Mason Warrior Bag today and nearly fell over trying to hold it; yes, it feels as heavy as it looks. My big beef with bags these days is that they weigh a ton. Clothes have sizes; shoes have heel heights; bags need scales. The label should read Mason Warrior Bag, 18.5 lbs...(by the way, that's an approximation). The Chloe Paddington, with that ridiculously heavy lock, also weighs more than a three-year-old child. And that heavy poundage is without any food inside to make it even heavier than it already is. So add your phone, Ipod, keys, a book, makeup, etc. etc., and you're bound to experience back pain. The next time you consider purchasing a handbag, add all of your daily items in it and then walk around the store with it on your shoulder. Then imagine feeling that weight for several hours. Unless you're the next female body builder, I doubt this bag will make it home. $3,195 at

Peter Som: Pretty in Pink

There's a reason that movie was so popular. Pink is the eternal girly girl color, wedded to baby girls as soon as they're born. And while I adore a pink button-down on a man (it screams confidence), women own pink in a way that they don't any other color. This Peter Som Chiffon Veiled Dress is exquisite; while it appears simple enough in the photo, the dress actually is a metallic brocade that is only revealed through tiny chiffon stripes that are carefully sewn on top. I adore the nude pumps on the ensemble, which are a fresh surprise (black would be too severe, and white somewhat prissy). Add Fendi's Vintage Leather Baguette, $1,950 at, and you're set to go. $2,195 for the dress at

Valentino: Rebirth

Alessandra Facchinetti's deliriously perfect designs have proclaimed to the world that Valentino is still a hot go-to label for fashionistas hungry for chic elegance and feminine detailing. This particular dress from their Fall 2008 line has me drooling (figuratively speaking, of course). It is the perfect dress. The gorgeous champagne color, the delicate bow, the adorable bow-shaped belt, the tulle, the satin, the flattering silhouette...I'm in heaven. While I'm aware that this prissy style is not for everyone, it is the ideal dress for me to don the next time I'm walking around the Champs Elysees. Now all I need is a handbag to go with it...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Dressy White Blouse

For me, spring is all about wearing light-hued clothing, and a delicate, feminine white blouse can instantly transform a simple bottom. Here are my top three choices:

1. Peter Som's Scalloped Camisole, $795 at Flirty, seductive, and yet prim, these contrasts produce a modern marvel.

2. Fendi's Runway Blouse, $1,390 at There's a casual quality to this elegant number, as if you slipped it on without a moment's notice. And yet the deep back is sensual and deliberate. Wear with a white camisole for day to maximize the piece, and wear without one at night for optimal viewing.

3. Rebecca Taylor's Silk Applique Top, $315 at As if you fell into a bed of white flowers. Simply gorgeous.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Prada: It's a Fairy World

Prada's fairy motif in her Spring 2008 line has left me both enchanted and frustrated. I find myself helplessly drawn in by her mystical designs (the artwork of James Jean), despite my usual fashion no-no of wearing faces or bodies on clothing. And now the frustration: according to, the fairy bag has a bleeding problem (the result of hand-painted art and poor craftsmanship). In addition, while I am enthralled by Miuccia Prada's designs, I find that her clothing is poorly made for the exorbitant cost. One exquisite but man-made fibered dress was approximately $2,500, but its silk version was close to $3,000; in addition, neither dress came with lining. While some of Prada's clothing is impeccably made, not all of it is; the hard lesson is that a buyer needs to be cautious when purchasing high-end goods. However, I may be persuaded to purchase one of these items when they go on sale.

Carpe Diem: The Fashionista's Perspective on an Age-Old Maxim

Fendi, Spring 2008

As my clothing tastes have become more demanding over the years, I find that "day" clothing is usually too tame / boring / mundane for me, and "evening" clothing satisfies my fashion aesthetic but appears too dressy for everyday. The dilemma, of course, lies in this simple idea: does the everyday deserve special treatment?

My mother and grandmother come from a time in which everything precious was to be saved, cherished, and hidden away for some magical, unforeseen moment of use. However, I rarely saw any of these precious items used; no regular day was ever "fancy enough." But I have gone to the other extreme, in which over usage of the elaborate has become the new norm.

I justify this belief in the following learned lessons: a) life is short; b) life is uncertain; and c) life is precious. Therefore, if a, b, and c are true, then d is certainly true: d) every day is precious and glamorous. Indulging in fashion should not be a source of guilt and repression but one of excitement and meaning. And while clothes are just a small part of that sense of meaning, it does reaffirm some of the most important values in life: self-worth, confidence, beauty, faith, and hope. For it takes faith to hope that each day has the magical power of beauty, and that one has the self-worth and confidence to indulge in that belief.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Orange You Glad?

While the deeper pumpkin shades are best for fall, orange's lighter, fruitier, and brighter shades--tangerine, poppy, papaya, coral--assert with insistent jubilance that spring has arrived. Instead of pairing these strong colors with browns and blacks, complement the lightness with whites, peaches, and navys for a more spring-appropriate look.

1. Prada's Striped Satchel in Papaya, $2,050 at A statement bag in a statement color.
2. Yossi Harari's 24k Sara Mosaic Pendant Necklace, $9,340 at You'll want to wear this beauty forever.

3. Zac Posen's Noblesse Dress, $1,700 at Sophisticated, chic, and slimming, this dress is perfect for a garden party, high tea, work, or a night out.

4. 3.1 Philip Lim's Petal-Front Shift Dress, $495 at The simple shape of the frock is accented by petals along the neckline. You'll look effortlessly chic in this.

5. Peter Som's Poppy Dress, $1,195 at and Perfect for a night out dancing.

Banana Republic: Starry Night

Banana Republic is now having its 40% off sale, and this genuine sapphire medallion pendant is now only $199.99 (down from $248). The exotic quality of this necklace adds interest to a plain top, and statement necklaces--large, complex, and unique--are a huge trend right now that continues to return to the runway season after season. Dress up jeans and a cardigan or complement a show-stopping evening gown--all for a modest price.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Zac Posen: Darth Vader Clutch

While I adore (most of) Zac Posen's clothes designs, his bags still leave me mystified. This particular clutch's eerie resemblance to Luke Skywalker's evil father makes one wonder if this clutch was particularly designed for a sci-fi costume party. The glazed leather also looks more like cheap pleather from a tacky shop in the Village (no offense to either the Village or to sci-fi fans, as I am a lover of both) than expensive leather from Italy. An incomprehensible $950 from

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Worst Designer Dresses

Even designers have boo-boos. Take the following messes from hot-shot designers:

1. Miu Miu's Lady Harlequin Bubble Tunic, $1,790 at Creepy, crazy, and circus-y.

2. Fendi's Multi-Circle Dress, $2,480 at You are getting sleepy...

3. Bottega Veneta's Rope Trim Dress, $1,230 at A potato sack meets an ugly set of pajamas.

4. Ralph Lauren Collection's Roland Dress, $1,698 at Bergdorf Goodman: Your 6th grade dance, reincarnated in dress form.

5. Roberto Cavalli Floral Gown, $4,175 at Bergdorf Goodman: Did your dress just catch on fire?

Oscar de la Renta: Flamenco Dancer

In kindergarten, we had a map of the world that contained pictures of various people dressed in their "native" garb; this Oscar de la Renta Geometric Print Tank Dress reminds me of the flamenco dancer who was permanently attached to the map of Spain. I find myself drawn to the exotic quality of the print and the fantasy it inspires, and the single bottom ruffle--only a homage to the costume but not costumey--transforms a chic day dress into a glamorous cocktail number. (I wish the bottom ruffle were detachable for an easy day-to-night look.) Now all I need to complete the fantasy are some tapas, a margherita, and a bull. $1,950 at

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Shoes Are The Window Into A Woman's (Fashion) Soul

Mary Gordon, a professor I once had, wisely said that the first thing she notices on a woman is her shoes. And if you profess to have any interest in fashion, chances are you care about what simultaneously separates and connects you to earth. The Chinese bound a woman's feet because they intuitively knew that that was the one part of a woman's body that gave her total control; movement, after all, implies freedom and self-determination.

So it is not flippantly that I declare that each woman's shoe wardrobe reveals an essential part of her person: what she uses to ground herself, to move herself, and to express herself. While these categories are fluid, they are useful defining tools:

The Practical Woman:
WEARS pumps, sneakers, clogs, wedges, flats, or boots
PRIMARY MOTIVE: comfort and/or need (a business woman needs pumps; a doctor needs sneakers)
BRANDS: Manolos, Pumas, Cole Haan, Aerosoles, Christian Louboutin

The Fanciful Woman:
WEARS: platforms, sandals, thigh-or knee-high boots, booties
PRIMARY MOTIVE: aesthetics
BRANDS: Miu Miu, Prada, Chloe, Giuseppe Zanotti, Dolce and Gabbana

The Feminine Woman:
WEARS: peep-toe pumps and sandals, slingbacks, knee-high boots, ballerina flats, Mary Janes
BRANDS: Kate Spade, Oscar de la Renta, Pedro Garcia, Prada, Delman

The Rebellious Woman:
WEARS: platforms, stilettos, thigh-high boots, booties
PRIMARY MOTIVE: statements/looking fierce
BRANDS: Yves Saint Laurent, Fendi, Gucci, Chloe

The Conservative Woman:
WEARS: pumps, kitten heels, flats, slingbacks, D'Orsays
PRIMARY MOTIVE: classiness
BRANDS: Tods, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik

Monday, March 17, 2008

How To Snag An "IT" Item

After seasons of experience, I've come to find that it is not so easy to snag an "it" item. Last Thursday, for example, was Saks' "Want It" Campaign (their equivalent of a fashion spring fling), and all of their seven Miu Miu brocade dresses (featured in their catalog) were sold out almost immediately. Miu Miu stores citywide were also sold out on various hot items. How does a fashionista score on hot-ticket items? A word to the wise:

1. Befriend a salesperson at each store that you frequent. Establish a relationship that ensures reciprocity; remember that salespeople make commissions, so the more you buy from a person, the more he/she will be likely to secure that item for you.

2. Put your name on the waiting list as soon as you see that item on the runway. Each store receives a limited number of items, and even fewer ones in your size (unfortunately, smaller items sell out faster in New York). Keep in mind that different stores will also buy certain items and may not overlap (Bloomingdale's may carry a dress that Bergdorf won't).

3. If an item is sold out in your local store, ask them to check the inventory on the item in stores across the country. Las Vegas' store may not sell out as fast on winter items, for example. Have them ship that item to you directly.

4. Remember that stores sometimes re-stock. Ask them when the next shipment will arrive, and put your name down on the list. After the initial craze, items can be and usually are replenished.

5. Check with online stores (eluxury and net-a-porter, for example) and email customer service for information on their inventory arrivals. Remember that net-a-porter receives new items on every Wednesday of the week; check early in the morning for hot items. You can also sign up for email alerts when certain items come in.

6. If all else fails, wait a couple of months. Stores slowly restock, and the item may longer be hot, but at least you can eventually own it. Or check with ebay to see if someone is selling that item for a higher price. But beware of fakes.

Weighing In: The Maxi Dress Trend

Diane von Furstenberg, Maui Patchwork Gown, $445 at

Despite what fashion editors say, this trend maximizes everything but you. And while I am not dismissing its value for regal galas, I am questioning the practicality of constantly dusting the floor every time you walk on the city streets or of drastically altering this item to suit the average woman (frankly, it's ridiculous to presume that we are all 5'11"). This particular dress, with its heinous print, makes this model look more like a circus performer on stilts (is it me, or does she look like a never ending statue?) than a casual bohemian vacationing in Hawaii. If you want casual, buy a mini; if you want respectable cocktail, buy a knee-length; if you want uber-dressy, buy a maxi. In my humble opinion, casual maxi is an oxymoron I'd rather do without.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cheap Chic: Nine West

I haven't given Nine West a single thought for years (I find their shoes to be uncomfortable), but when I saw this dress in a recent advertisement in Lucky magazine, I went ga-ga over its perfect simplicity and neutral shade. Shirt dresses are a dime a dozen, but this one is more feminine with its cap sleeves and high waistline. I'd add a deep brown crocodile belt to add a luxe factor to this Burberry-esque dress. $134 at

Variations on the White Blouse

Carolina Herrera swears by it. Fashion editors never tire of praising it. The white blouse is one must-have for every woman's wardrobe, but while the standard white-collared, crisp cotton white shirt gets the job done--and admirably so--, we women tire of the generic. Here are four versions that will spice up your wardrobe (the first three are available at; the last one is available at

1. Fendi's Runway Origami Blouse: This beauty doubles as a jacket and cries out to be worn with a belt. It also touches upon a major spring trend without looking dated years later. $995.

2. Mayle's Rocio Silk Top: I adore the sailor-girl influence, but this beauty can be worn underneath a work-appropriate jacket or on its own on the weekend. The nipped-in waist and longer length are also flattering to many. $425.

3. Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti's Printed Paillette Cami: Perfect for a night on the town or under a crisp black jacket. $365 for all the days of the year that you'll want to don this beauty.

4. Catherine Malandrino's Ruffle Poplin Blouse: A more feminine version of the classic we love, this top is perfect with a floral skirt. $245.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chanel: Navy, Baby

Never underestimate the power of the navy pump. While navy is usually more subtle than its favored friend black, this Chanel sandal-pump is anything but: the gleaming liquid gold hardware and piping accentuate and compliment the navy canvas and elevate the sporty nautical look to a whole new level of chic. I've been craving a navy pump, and this one is on my must-have list for spring: perfect with all of my crisp white dresses. A worthy investment at Saks for $795.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Miu Miu: Empire State

If you can stand a 5 inch heel (there are some women who can--take my husband's co-worker, who is never in anything lower than 3 inches), this shoe is the Empire State building of shoes. The jewel-encrusted heel reminds me of the building's various neon-colored lights that glow, and the applique flowers are flirty, fun, and feminine. While these beauties will never grace my feet, I can admire them on other, more fearless women. $790 at

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Alice + Olivia: Spring Awakening

As spring break nears, I am reevaluating and exchanging the dreariness of my winter wear for the bright florals of spring. While we all cannot afford the numerous beauties from Dolce and Gabbana and Carolina Herrera, we can set our sights on Alice + Olivia, whose plethora of pretty frocks this season left me invigorated and encouraged. (Yes, even I experience fashion fatigue...usually in the midst of a long, seemingly unending cold winter season.) Most of their dresses are $500 and under, and this red and white silk floral applique dress is $370--a reasonable price for a unique design and quality craftsmanship. Wear this fearlessly with platforms for a fierce look or with flats for a more casual look. At

Monday, March 10, 2008

You Are What You Wear

"Your clothes tell the world who you are," a wise stranger told me at my friend's 30th birthday party this past weekend. Another acquaintance said, "Your clothes reflect your stage in life." (A graduate student, she proceeded to lament the popularity of skinny jeans on college students at Penn.) As I get older, I realize that my solidifying fashion sense has reflected my growing comfort with myself as a woman and with myself as an individual.

This process was a long time in the making: I grew up wearing uniforms for school--an external branding of my identity as a prep school student. For years, I wore baggy clothes (usually plaid), imitated my mother's hairstyle (a bob, no bangs), and wore penny loafers (always brown) for lack of creativity. It wasn't until my study abroad trip to London that I learned to wear clothes that actual fit me; after all, I was a stranger in a strange land, but it forced me to examine myself without the traditional comforts of an imposed identity (daughter of ---, friend of ----, student of -----).

Today, I embrace the woman that I am and comfortable wearing clothes that others may perceive as too dressy/girly/etc. (I've been told that I look like I'm going to a wedding everyday; I've also been told that it's surprising that I "haven't let [myself] go" since I got married.) While determining one's identity is a lifelong challenge, the essential thing is to listen to the self that you are now; and while one doesn't need to look ready for the runway every day, it is also important not to allow yourself to mistake sloppiness for selflessness, or fashion for an undeserved reward. Ultimately, it's not what's on your back so much as your reason for wearing it that is what people see and what defines you.

Straight Jackets For Fashion Sanity

A well-chosen jacket can accompany you through the various stresses of life: job interviews, overworked work days, parties, weddings, bar hopping...the list goes on and on. It's a go-to piece for adding a slightly masculine edge to a feminine dress, a conservative accompaniment to a work /creative suit, or a sharp element to an otherwise casual jean outfit. Here are my top choices:

1. FOR A CREATIVE SUIT / JEAN OUTFIT / EVENING LOOK: Thomas Wylde's Valley of the Kings Silk Jacket, $935 at The oversized snaps decorate the collar of this chic black jacket and make it a stand out piece. I adore the slightly puffed sleeves, which offsets the hard masculine quality of this expertly tailored jacket.

2. FOR JEANS / A PRETTY FEMININE DRESS / A CREATIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT: Loeffler Randall, Metallic Bib Jacket, $385 at The subtle metallic sheen adds interest to a delicate and sweet piece.

3. FOR WORK / JOB INTERVIEW: Roland Mouret Pyxis Jacket, $1795 at Look sharp for the board room with this pleated jacket.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Reinstein Ross: Emerald City

Recently, I've come to love the vivid and often neglected emerald: its perfect shade of green reminds us that spring is near, and its softer stone reminds us that its delicate nature is only a reflection of its value (which is why it is unusual to find emerald rings: they are more fragile than their blue sister, the sapphire). These Taj emeralds in 22k yellow gold from Reinstein Ross are hefty, yet delicate; elegant, yet everyday; exotic, yet modern. No wonder Dorothy's sights were on Emerald City. $5,800 at