Friday, May 30, 2008

Calling For Comments

I encourage my readers to post a question or comment about anything on my blog or anything that you would like advice on.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Peter Som Resort 2009

Peter Som has become a staple in my closet: he knows how to make well-constructed, intriguing, and feminine clothes, and he chooses substantial fabrics to match those beautiful designs. His Resort line, however, was not always on the mark.

1. My favorite look of the collection, this gray/blue dress with beaded sash will most likely make its way into my closet next year.

2. I adore champagne, and one can always wear a classy jacket or cardigan on top to soften its formality.

3. Simple and peachy, but not worth the hefty price tag.

4. Will Grecian ever go away? I love the color, the long side sash, and the shimmery fabric, but I don't like the loose fit, which reminds me of a fancy garbage bag.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It's Official: Sale Season Has Finally Arrived!

Stats to date:

Saks: Sale started today
Bergdorf: Sale started today
Barneys: Sale started last week
Burberry: Sale in progress
Fendi: Sale in progress
Prada: Sale starts tomorrow
Bottega Veneta: Sale starts next week
Net-a-porter: Sale started last week

And the mayhem starts...I love Bergdorf's and all (they may be my favorite department store), but their sales are somewhat maddening. Shoes are flying everywhere, women are lunging, and salespeople are obnoxious. Thankfully, I've pretty much crossed off all of the must-have items for spring, and I'm down to the maybe-if-it-goes-on-sale-and-is-spectacular gladiator flats.

The key to building a stunning wardrobe is knowing when to stop. Otherwise, you'll end up filling your closet with dross that will eventually be given away (as I've learned the hard way). Be choosy, and know when to walk away. How?

1. Make a list of what you've wanted for months now. Longing that has longevity is a sign that you really want it.

2. Make a list of what you need. I needed a new pair of white pants, and I bought them: on sale.

3. Don't endlessly peruse racks and floors. Go to the floors/stores that sell that item. Purchase. Leave.

4. Compare prices and deals. It may be wiser to buy something at a store where you get points that later turn into a gift card (Saks and Banana come to mind). Or perhaps one site may offer limited complimentary shipping.

5. Try on everything you may purchase (especially for shoes). Sizes vary, and you may be surprised by the size you actually need. (Example: Burberry Prorsum's runway line is ridiculously small. I had to go up two sizes.) Items may not fit as imagined, and sometimes all it takes is a good mirror to make the final decision.

6. However, if you are purchasing an item online, be abreast of the company's return policy. Don't buy anything online that you cannot return (especially if you haven't tried the item on in person).

Happy Sale Shopping!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

To Short or Not Too Short?

Tracy Reese Cuffed Shorts, $190 at

For years, I have avoided shorts like the Bubonic Plague: partly it had to do with my conservative side, partly it had to do with my not liking my legs (in retrospect, I realize I was crazy), and partly it had to do with the casual quality of the garment (believe it or not, I did not wear jeans in college). Unlike most who are under-dressed, I have often found myself over-dressed. However, recently, I've decided to indulge in a more casual summer attire, and shorts seem like a must-have on hot, sweaty days (today was an apt reminder of how humid it gets in the city).

Despite the apparent ease of wearing shorts, I believe it has its problems: length, fabric, price, and accompanying tops and shoes. The younger one is, the shorter one can go; however, one has to have the legs to pull it off (scarred legs, stumpy legs, hairy legs, varicose-veined legs: all of these are unsightly). As a friend has pointed out, I have an "old lady" in me, which means I'll wear Bermudas. These classic black ones from Banana Republic (on sale for $55.30, down from $79) suit me:

Gladiators, wedges, or low-heeled pumps work with this look, but peep-toes, stilettoes, or ballerina flats may appear either too sexy or dowdy (ballerina flats work with short shorts or leggy girls). I'd avoid a tee-shirt and replace it with a pretty, simple cotton blouse (perhaps one from Anthropologie).

As for fabric, I'd choose cotton (breathable) or denim (durable), and avoid linen (too easily wrinkled), satin or silk (too precious), and terry (too beachy). While I don't flinch when it comes to expensive pretty dresses and skirts, I do prefer saving some pennies when it comes to shorts. We all need some cheap, durable choices for hot barbecue, picnic, beach, or amusement park days.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Vivienne Tam Fall 2008

Aside from a few gimmicky Disney-themed (Mickey Mouse) looks, Vivienne Tam's Fall 2008 collection was a stunner from beginning to end. Ornate brocade, rich textural patterns, vivid jewel tones, complex lace: the collection touched upon some of my favorite fall trends. Some of the highlights:

1. The armor-like vest reminds me of the ornate outfits on the Tudors:

2. The rich patterns are fit for an Indian princess:

3. The floral ruffles on this dress elegantly add interest to a gorgeous eggplant shade:

4. I can't get enough of purple, and the tactile texture is intriguing:

5. The sheen on this champagne wonder elevates the simple shape of the dress:

6. The only Mickey-Mouse inspired look that I like:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Would You Put Bird Poop On Your Face?

Shizuka New York, Geisha Facial, $180 for a 50 minute treatment
7 West 51st Street, 6th Floor, (212) 644-7400

My facialist has been all over the news lately because of her new "Geisha Facial," its magic ingredient being none other than bird poop (or nightingale droppings, to use more elegant wording). I was, of course, horrified by this news, as I had been a faithful follower of their Micro Facial, and as my husband in particular has a phobia of bird poop (which, unfortunately, always looms as a potential threat as pigeons have infested New York City ledges). The nightingale droppings, or uguisu no fun, is supposed to "brighten, heal, and retexturize the skin," but I can't help but wonder if it's called "no fun" for a reason. While strange ingredients are hardly new in the beauty and spa industry, I wonder how many women would actually go this far. As for me...I'll stick to the Micro Facial.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Valentino Resort 2009

It appears that Alessandra Facchinetti does not disappoint. Her stunning Valentino Resort 2009 collection is every bit as luscious as her Fall 2008 line, with each ruffle and seam in perfect pitch with the mood of the collection: sleek sophisticate with a touch of feminine. My top picks:

1. Although I shied away from red for years, this power suit is what every woman needs to assert herself. The Victorian influence is done in an elegant, rather than rocker, manner.

2. A frosty pink that turns warmer as you continue staring.

3. The ruffles on this pale yellow suit delicately move with you.

4. Fit for Cinderella, this magical incarnation of periwinkle completely enchants me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Let Me Introduce You To...

the new love of my life: this aesthetically astounding moss green Lela Rose dress. I managed to snag the only one at the sample sale last week (it was a size 8, way too large for me), and these two women were eyeing me like a hungry hawk, asking me intensely if I was going to buy it. Well, fortunately, I have a superior tailor who could take it in. I just picked it up from him, and ah! perfection. I could not ask for a more exquisite dress (the picture simply does not do it justice). The white straps are actually cloth-covered rectangular beads, and the dots across the breast are actually large fabric circles encased in metal. The fabric is a sumptuous, substantial satin...heavenly to touch.

I got around to thinking...what makes for a lasting love--that piece that you go to time and time again, that makes you gasp every time you see it, that inspires in you that same resurrection of faith in all that is beautiful in this world? Then I thought about those items in my closet that have managed to retain my affection despite the vicious passing of the seasons: my light green cut-out Zac Posen skirt, a pair of mohair-covered black Prada pumps with silver studded heels, a tweed black and white Chanel purse my husband gave me during his proposal (it was a series of surprises, this being the first), a Luca Luca white dress with silver and gold beading across the top, a red and black brocade jacket my mother used to wear. All of these items have a) the marks of superior craftsmanship; b) exceptional beauty; c) emotional value. Whether that emotional value comes from the memory associated with the purchase or if it comes from the feeling produced when wearing it, this last quality is critical. Ultimately, that item must merge with something inside of you, or else it remains a beautiful item in your closet. While we all cannot be fortunate to have a closet full of intense loves, we do need to beware of a closet full of uninspired garments that do little for us internally. Surface can only be surface if you choose that--but when surface becomes a reflection of what is internal, then life can really be lived.

Calvin Klein Resort 2009

Calvin Klein's minimalist aesthetic is usually too minimal and mannish for my taste, but Francisco Costa's Resort 2009 collection was surprisingly fresh, feminine, and detailed. His line also showcased some of my favorite colors: ecru, bone, nude, and camel, all colors that inspire images of sandy beaches and crisp, cosmopolitan, Zen-like spas. Here's what I would do while wearing these clothes:

1. I'd wear this on a slightly cooler night at an open-air market in Morocco:

2. Perfect for a refined dinner in Milan:

3. A power suit for the creative femme fatale, this crisp look would be perfect for a working lunch with overseas clients at the newest hot restaurant in Paris:

4. Slightly architectural in design, this dress would be appropriate for an art gallery opening in New York:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dear Thumbelina: Wedding in Connecticut

Dear Thumbelina,

What would you wear to a 6 pm June wedding at a very nice country club in Connecticut? It's hard to know what to wear in NY/CT when you're from a different part of the country.


Southern Belle


Dear Southern Belle,

Connecticut, although close to NYC, is much more conservative, and it tends to have a kind of "old money" feel to it. I would choose classic shapes and colors, tasteful embellishment, and clean accessories. Here are some recommendations:

1. Vera Wang Lavender Jewelled Neck Dress, on sale for $357 (down from $595) at Classy and formal, this dress will serve you well for years to come. I adore the jewelled neckline and the metallic color is hot.

2. Banana Republic Silk Asymmetrical Dress, $175 at and stores nationwide: This dress hits on two trends: Grecian and bold color. Choose chandelier earrings and you're set to go.

3. Tracy Reese Scalloped Dress, $310 at If you prefer classic shapes and black, you can't go wrong with Tracy Reese's sweet interpretation of the LBD.

4. Rebecca Taylor Beaded Chiffon Dress, on sale for $266 (down from $355): I rarely feature too many black dresses, but this one is so sweet, so pretty, and so wearable.

5. Nanette Lepore Party-Girl Dress, $430 at An ethnic-inspired choice that works equally well for day.

For accessories, choose a simple box clutch, low kitten-heels or peep-toe pumps, and classic jewelry (pearls, diamonds, chandeliers, bangles). Avoid anything too fussy, experimental, or elaborate. Think sophisticated, subtle, and simple. Have fun!



Zac Posen: Sale Dazzler

Zac Posen, Strapless Pouf Dress, on sale for $950 (down from $1,900) at

Ah, those treacherous sales. By the time I've decided to cut back on my spending, the sale season begins, and one can hardly stand it. This particular stunner from Zac Posen would be perfect to a wedding (primarily an ex's wedding). The electric blue color, the tantalizing shape, the flirty tulle...all of it is perfection. If you own anything by Zac Posen, you know that his clothes are impeccably made and fit to impress. It's too bad I have a plethora of evening dresses in my closet, or else I'd have to rationalize yet another purchase.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Chanel Resort 2009: Hits and Misses

From the Great Wall of China to an enormous jacket, Karl Lagerfeld knows how to put on a runway show. His Chanel Resort 2009 collection was over a glamorous pool in South Beach, but like the uneven tides, this particular show was full of hits and misses, both severe in their extremes.

HITS: When they're good, they're good.

1. My favorite look of the entire collection, this white evening charmer reflected the Art Deco roots of South Beach with all of the dazzle and none of the gaudiness.

2. The applique rosettes looked fresh, not trite, on this 3D piece.

3. A glamorous white suit, but it seemed oddly out of place in the collection (it was a little too Upper East Side and not South Beach).

MISSES: And boy, are they bad.
1. A cowgirl meets a '70s dancer: this combination is giving me a Saturday night fever.

2. Probably the worst look of the collection. Caged flapper meets a shredded swan. Ouch.

3. I love me some florals, but this one looks like a portal to floral hell.

4. Strange cloud-like bubbles in one's middle? Pass.

5. A really bad dye job with a plastic top to match. I wouldn't even dress a Barbie in this.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Oscar de la Renta: Resort 2009

Resort 2009 collections are slowly arriving, and this one by Oscar de la Renta, the king of elegant chic, does not disappoint. These two dresses are light, airy, and perfect for a luncheon with the gals. The white and red strapless reminds me of a Japanese cherry blossom garden, and the ochre pleated wonder reminds me of the deep yellow soil in a Nevada desert. The rich jewel tones, the textured tweed, the feminine silhouettes--these are de la Renta's strengths, and he does so masterfully, yet again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

3.1 Philip Lim: The Built-In Necklace Dress

3.1 Philip Lim Bi-Color Crepe Dress, $995 at
The built-in bra tee has been usurped by the built-in necklace dress, which is far chicer and offers ease in terms of accessories. While I am not a maxi-dress fan (I am short and I don't think short women can pull off this look successfully), I do appreciate the glamorous simplicity of this dress, which, if I were to purchase it, I would mercilessly chop off a third of it. Unlike some, who would wear this as a cocktail look, I'd wear it to a casual dinner or to an (off) off-Broadway play.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fashion Fantasies

Oscar de la Renta, Tulle and Organza Cocktail Dress, $5, 990 at

There is nothing quite like the fantasy that fabulous fashion inspires. After all, "fabulous," Carrie Bradshaw's favorite word, does come from the word "fable," which denotes myths, legends, and imaginary tales. In Project Runway, the judges often ask their designers to create a "story" that accompanies or elucidates the context of the created item. Designers themselves begin with a concept or type of woman and fantasize about the activities she engages in while wearing their clothing. Fashion is, quite simply, fantasy.
As a lover of literature, I see the stories in each stunning design. When I consider a garment, I imagine the story behind it: the expert artisans laboring over each stitch, the history of the fabric or silhouette, and the personal fantasy that the garment inspires in me. Life is often all too mundane or cliched, and while some fantasies are more trite than others, fashion can result in an excited new perspective of what life should be when one steps out of the commonplace.
One remembers with childhood fondness that Cinderella's ballroom fantasy is not complete
without the elaborate animal-stitched gown and the glass (or fur, depending on your source) slippers, that Little Red Riding Hood's epic journey into the lovely, dark, and deep woods is not complete without her iconic red-hooded coat, or that Joseph's tale of enslavement and eventual kingship would not have begun without that stunning coat of many colors, which inspired only envy and fury in his brothers. Oscar de la Renta's gown, seen above, is just one piece that comes with its own fantasy of a horse-ridden carriage, snow-dusted winter streets, and breakfast at Tiffany's.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Problem With Fashion Magazines, Or More Specifically, The Swimsuit Issue

Despite my love of blogs (one does get instant fashion instantly), I adore magazines: the texture, the ads, the glossy pages, the spreads...There is nothing quite like the experience of reading through a magazine, which I do with great care. With excitement, I espied my June issue of Elle magazine in the mail. Eagerly waiting until after dinner, I sat on my bed, pulled up the covers, and carefully leafed through the magazine as I normally do, from cover to cover. Then, with disappointment, I noted that it was "the swimsuit issue."

June is an awkward time for fashion magazines. Most of the spring items have been exhausted (how many times must I see those Dolce and Gabbana booties?), and an over-zealous Fall spread leaves little for the many cold winter months that follow. Pre-fall items are slowly trickling in, but they don't receive the same kind of coverage as the traditional Spring and Fall runway shows. Hence, the dreaded swimsuit issue.

While I am not completely bashing the need for a swimsuit spread (after all, we do need swimsuits in the hot summer months), I am lamenting the constant bombardment of swimsuit after swimsuit. Instead of a gorgeous fashion spread, we get beach wear in all incarnations: the beachy accessories (sunglasses, the tacky nylon, canvas, or plastic beach bag, the logo towel), the swimsuit for all body types, the Glamazon cover-ups (the tunic, the sheer maxi-dress, the floppy hats). Enough! And while I do enjoy reading about politics and literature, I don't find fashion editorials about them particularly enlightening or superior to the Times or a scholarly literary journal. When I read a fashion magazine, I want fashion, pure and simple.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Seasonless Dressing; Or, Fall Is Spring Again

From Left: Marchesa Fall 2008; Luisa Beccaria Fall 2008

While some generic fall looks appeared on the Fall Runway shows--plaid, fur, deep jewel tones--other looks reinforced what New Yorkers have come to know all too well: the blurring of the seasons has altered the fashion rules. Ever since the comforting revision that we can indeed wear white after Labor Day, fashionistas and designers alike have begun to realize that women can wear florals and pastels during the cold winter months and wear heavy plaids and fur during the supposedly warm spring and summer months. As the weather man is loathe to admit, it has become almost impossible to predict what Mother Nature will throw our way. (I was again rudely made aware of the unrelenting cold today walking home after dinner in the Big Apple, despite the momentary warmth at noon.) This further complicates our small closet space situation, as I refuse to put anything in storage (one never knows what one will need). While some may find this fashion situation confusing--after all, there will always be women who prefer the comfort of "rules"--, we can also see this as liberating--or as a confirmation of Al Gore's dire environmental prediction.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Not Your Grandmother's Lace...Or Is It?

Prada, Fall 2008 Runway Show

Fashion editors are predicting that lace will be HUGE this fall, and primarily because of Prada's lace-saturated show. Paradoxically enough, lace on Grandmother's doilies are considered to be Puritan and prim, but lace on lingerie is considered sexy and risque. Lace on Prada...well, that is a more difficult assessment to make. For the conservative (read: practical) woman, the lacy Prada item will be toned down with a matching black slip that diminishes the overt sex appeal while still adhering to the trend. For the obedient celebrity or gusty fashionista (read: slutty), a literal reenactment of the runway show may only garner jibes on the "Worst Dressed List" or shocked double-takes on the city streets. In other words, Prada's lace may only remain subversive on the catwalk, and not the sidewalk.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

If It's Got Wings...

From Left: 12th Street by Cynthia Vincent, Printed Silk Blouse, $295 at; Andrew Gn dress, Spring 2008 Runway
When I first saw Andrew Gn's Spring 2008 collection, I noticed that his dresses had a Hitchcock vibe that was both goth and feminine, dark and yet bright. The small specks of black, which undoubtedly look like birds, are less precious than polka-dots, and more mysterious. Cynthia Vincent's blouse is a cheaper but no less beautiful version of the Andrew Gn dress, and the smaller specks signify a further potential menace--that is, if you were as haunted by "The Birds" as much as I was.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Anthropologie: Easy, Breezy, Beautiful Tops

Top Row, From Left: Midnight Sun Top, $98; Florodoro Top, $78

Bottom Row, From Left: Counted Cross-Stitch Tank, $98; Ikebana Blouse, $88

In the really hot summer months, I can't be bothered with serious investment fashion (remember my previous post about 'cleaning how-tos'? I don't sweat in serious fashion when I can avoid it). All I really desire at times is to throw on a pretty blouse, white jeans or a simple skirt, and run off to Shakespeare in the Park, Free Movies at Bryant Park, or see a Met opera in Central Park. These gorgeous Anthropologie blouses offer me that combination of easy fashion and reasonable prices, and I know that I won't be grieved if something happens to them. Since I don't buy tee shirts--I acquire them somehow, nonetheless, from various functions--these lovely blouses go under my "staple" category, and I'll snatch up a few before the summer starts.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What Makes A Trend a Trend?

Skinny jeans. Scarfs. Ballerina flats. Bangles. Uggs. Tall boots. The trench coat. Leggings. What made these items trendy? And why do women embrace some trends and brazenly ignore others, despite the repeated attempts of fashion editors and marketers?

While I do not profess to know it all (after all, I rarely quote celebrities at this particular site--this is just one woman's humble opinion), I will attempt to deconstruct this critical question.

1. Convenience and /or comfort. Women want items that are easy to wear: skinny jeans (tucked into boots), ballerina flats (duh), and Uggs (warm) all satisfy some basic need.

2. Celebrity exposure. Let's face it: if a celebrity is seen wearing something, most of us will want it. Consider how items worn on "Gossip Girl" almost immediately sell out. And while some of us don't care to admit it, we are influenced by what we see on TV, the rags, and Access Hollywood.

3. High- and low-end versions of the thing. If a trendy item cannot translate into a low-end version for the common woman, chances are that it will not last. I rarely saw arty clothing around town because it mainly was made by high-end designers like Dolce and Gabbana. And frankly, it looks ridiculous in the hands of amateurs (my pre-adolescent days as a budding artist come to mind). And while we may be lured in by the designer jean trend, jeans are found at every price point, thanks to Old Navy and H&M.

4. Easy glam appeal. Complicated pieces do not last (I will never buy an item that takes me more than three minutes to figure out). Bangles, chandelier earrings, tall boots, scarfs: these items are easy to throw on, and yet they instantly produce a dramatic effect.

So, you ask, which of the spring trends will be likely to last? Thumbelina Fashionista's humble predictions are as follows:

Safari / Ethnic / Tribal
Color, especially jeweled tones
Booties / tall boots
Wide-leg jeans/skinny jeans
Architectural shoes

Art / Origami (too stylized; men don't like / understand it)
Oversized Bows (no one wants to look like a present)
Winged motif (even though I adore it)
Oversized clutches (frankly, most women would rather carry a handbag)
Maxi dresses (only tall women can pull this off)
Extreme ruffles (not flattering for many)
Fringes (snags on too many items)

The Best of The Sales

Here are my top picks for best sale items out there:

1. Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti Painted Stitch Dress, $475 (down from $790) at Lovely for day or night, this minty-fresh dress is light and airy.

2. Max Mara 'Iconico' Wrap Dress, $449 (down from $750) at Make a bold statement in this orange staple.

3. Tory Burch 'Jacques' Merino Wool Dress, $229 (down from $395) at A great day-to-night look, this dress also could be worn to the office with a jacket.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bling For the Shingding

Temperley London Purdey Embellished Dress, available for pre-order for $1,295 at

Pre-Fall items are slowly trickling in as the sale season is slowly gearing up, and this Temperley London dress is one such item that caught my attention--surprisingly so, since I usually dislike her overly-done designs. Yet this navy beauty is simple but ornate, and the gorgeous jeweled collar and pockets are done elegantly, not gaudily. Perfect for a wedding or a fancy night out, this dress would be fabulous with silver sandals and a gray crocodile clutch.

Spanx: Slip/Panty/ Shapewear Solution

Spanx Higher Power Panty, $36 at

In the warmer months, women undoubtedly turn to their thin (jersey / silk) dresses that offer them the ease of movement and style. However, those same thin dresses also have a nasty tendency to reveal all that we also want to conceal: lumps, bumps, pantylines, etc. In my experience, slips are finicky: the fancy lace ones leave lumps, and not every slip is going to fit every dress. Most women believe that a thong will solve every dreaded pantyline problem, but with thin dresses, people can see your pantyline at your hip-line. And who wants to wear full-length hosiery in the summer (especially when you've just had a pedicure)?

I've turned to the power of Spanx to solve this dreaded problem. Their "Higher Power Panty" provides the support of shapewear, the coverage of a slip, and the freedom of no pantylines. Plus, they come in nude and black (nude offers the most flexibility, but black is perfect for your LBD). Best of all, it only reveals what you want to reveal: you, in that gorgeous summer dress.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Amrita Singh: The Ethnic Statement Necklace

Amrita Singh Spiral Cone Pendant Necklace, $575 at

This mesmerizing piece from Amrita Singh succeeds on two levels: its ethnic look and statement quality are fashionably trendy for both spring and fall, and it is a distinctive investment piece that you will turn to time and time again for any occasion (I could wear this to the movies with jeans or to a gala with a strapless gown). And while this piece is not cheap, it is significantly less expensive than pieces from Gurhan and Reinstein Ross, two designers who also capture that rich Indian look perfectly. In my experience, once you go Indian, you can't go back to anything less ornate.