Monday, June 30, 2008

What $10,000 Buys You Today

Chanel Lambskin Classic Flap Bag With Glassstone and Rhodoid Embroidery (NOTE: The above photo features the same bag in jersey; the exorbitant cost is for the lambskin bag)

As I did some field research (pictures simply do not cut it sometimes) today, I happened upon two $10,000 bags: the one above, in lambskin, and a Bottega Veneta limited edition expandable lizard bag in a lovely mustardy taupe (I regret that I could not obtain a photo of said bag). Both were painfully beautiful, exceptionally made, and ridiculously overpriced. I remember when Hermes was the highest high-end bag company out there and anyone seen with a Birkin (now roughly $7 grand for the leather version) was sporting haute bag-couture. Now, sadly enough, an Hermes is commonplace (at least, on Fifth and Madison Avenues), and a quietly fabulous bag costs a year's worth of tuition (at least at a state school) and merits barely a raised eyebrow on the street.

My slow ascent into the world of designer bags has left me somewhat jaded. As my husband always is quick to point out, I was madly in love with my first Gucci bag, which has now since had an unfortunate accident and is retired on my bag shelf. Then came the slew of mid- to high-end bags: Kate Spade, Coach, Longchamp, Prada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Yves St. Laurent, Fendi, Bottega Veneta. And yet, there's always a new designer bag out there that I covet. With designer bag prices reaching astronomical highs, I've finally decided that there's a limit for even the most dedicated fashionista.

$10k? Are you kidding me? I'm all for a well-made gorgeous handbag, but at the prices that are proliferating today, I have to wonder what compels one to make the charge. Then again, there is a diamond-encrusted crocodile Birkin that goes for $148,000. I suppose that Chanel bag is supposed to look cheap by comparison.

Easy Dressing: Beaded Necklace Blouses

3.1 Philip Lim Beaded Necklace Blouse, $375 at

Dressing lately has become a complicated task, replete with item-specific accessories and complex layering fit for a Japanese kimono. Necklace blouses, however, resolve that issue quite easily, combining the necessary accessory (necklace) with a easy-to-wear piece (the blouse). Add a skirt or a pair of pants in a similar hue and you're set to go.

1. Banana Republic Monogram Silk Beaded Top, $125: Lovely on its own or with a suit jacket.

2. Banana Republic Puff-Sleeve Origami Top, $79: While this top doesn't have beading, the cut-outs resemble it. The puff sleeves are adorable, yet sophisticated.

3. Oscar de la Renta Crochet Embellished Top, on sale for $1,732 (down from $2,310) at Not for the faint of heart, or the faint of income:

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hot Trend For Fall: Lace

Lace is a versatile fabric that can be worn in a plethora of ways: high/low, conservative/ subversive, minimum/maximum, sweet/wild. As I fingered the rich lace at Prada (yes, their fall items are in!), I was surprised how tempting it was, and how easily I had forgotten its appeal. And yet, I was not willing to spend approximately $3,000 for a piece of it. Thankfully, lace is not exclusive at Prada, and its easy transition into low(er) prices allows lace to be a hot trend for fall. Here are some more affordable and no less stunning options (all available at

1. 3.1 Philip Lim Runway Two-Tone Lace Dress, $625: A sweet and complex dress, rich in details and color.

2. Tracy Reese Runway Lace Overlay Frock, $475: The feather-print and the lace bodice make this dress wild and subversive, and yet pretty.

3. Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti Lace Dress, $995: This dress can be worn simply, with black heels, or goth, with skulls and crossbones (not my pick). Personally, I think it's a little overpriced for the design.

4. Marc by Marc Jacobs Metallic Lace Dress, $428: Okay, I know, I've boycotted Marc Jacobs for years, but I have to admit, this dress is cute.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Giambattista Valli Resort 2009

Although Giambattista Valli's exaggerated shapes aren't for every body, one can hardly deny that this man is pure genius. His Resort 2009 line did feature some strange ruching as shoulder ornamentation (which I aesthetically admire but decidedly refrain from showcasing), but for the most part, his collection was exquisitely finessed, fit for royalty.

1. I've never been as enchanted by a basic black suit as I am by this one. Note the exaggerated puff sleeves, a trend that we saw on the Fall runway lines:

2. If you weren't sick of Prada's hard-edged lace (and you may be by this time next year), Valli offered a more feminine version with a bow and beads:

3. Perfect for Easter Sunday, High Tea, or a meeting with the Queen:

4. If I were getting married again, I'd choose this dress:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Orleans Style

New Orleans was quaint, friendly, hot, and did I mention hot? (It was in the 90s every day.) Thankfully, we stayed in the French Quarter, which is pretty much the hip location to be, but we also spent time seeing the devastation from Katrina, the beautiful and scenic Oak Alley Plantation, an alligator-infested swamp tour (my husband's favorite), the City of the Dead (the cemeteries were quite regal), and plenty of museums (the Wax Museum, the Voodoo Museum, the World War II museum, the Arsenal). And, of course, we did plenty of hard-core eating (I think I gained five pounds that week alone!). Galatoire's, Brennan's, Cafe du Monde, Bourbon House, Johnny's Po-Boy's (the best deal in town!)...New Orleans know how to eat!!

Now for the really important item: the STYLE. I've narrowed it down to categories, based on my observations:

1. J. Crew Meets the Windsors: These are the upper-crust of New Orleans, who live mainly in the Garden District. Men wear suits, boys wear polos and khakis, and women and girls wear pretty sundresses.

2. Middle-Class Standard: Like many New Yorkers, New Orleans men and women who work in the Financial District or high-end hotels dress predictably: men in suits, women in a short-sleeved blouse and pencil skirt.

3. Tourists: Always in shorts, tee-shirts, and sandals. Camera and map in tow.

4. Grunge/alternative: Tattoos, dreadlocks, dirty bodies. Usually relaxing on the ground, and always white.

As The Unofficial Guide to New Orleans stated, "Self-respecting New Orleans dress, tourists don't."

Shopping in New Orleans was a bit of a challenge, and I think it reflected the dress here. Although I did not go to the Riverwalk Mall (where there is a Saks and your Banana Republic, Gap, etc.), I did not see a single high-end store; only one boutique in the French Quarter sold designer duds at a discounted price (Miu Miu's for $100!). Mostly the stores in the French Quarter varied from touristy junk (Mardi Gras beads, preserved alligator heads, masks, obnoxious tee shirts) to high-end antiques/art/jewelry on Royal Street. Small boutiques carried inexpensive but cute clothes, cheap plastic and rhinestone jewelry, and knock-off bags. Designer duds were not a priority in this town.

Obviously, living in New York has skewed my fashion perspective somewhat. Most people care about looking decent, not wearing designer clothing. The priority in New Orleans is living well, not dressing well by runway standards.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Off to New Orleans!

Oddly enough, my husband and I almost went to New Orleans the exact same week that Katrina happened; thankfully, we decided to go elsewhere for vacation. I've always wanted to visit the Big Easy, and tomorrow we're off to enjoy all of the delicious, odd, and spooky wonders of this great city. I'll be MIA for five days, but I'll report back about New Orleans style!

Bill Blass: Resort 2009

In Peter Som's capable, fresh, architecturally-gifted hands (his parents are both architects), Bill Blass is experiencing a resurgence of chic, easy American style that no longer seems staid and old-fashioned. (I've glossed over Bill Blass for years, relegating that label to my parents' generation.) And if you haven't been yet convinced, here are three examples that just may sway you.

1. I love the ease of the long cardigan over a fun, interesting design:

2. My absolute favorite, this canary yellow gem screams to be worn to the opera or a black-tie affair. This dress is on my MUST-ACQUIRE list.

3. The tulip hem is reminiscent of Oscar de la Renta, but the subtle pattern is Som.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Trend: Raw Stones

Isharya Kadamba Square Bangle, $320 at

As "Diamonds in the Rough," a jewelry company that features uncut diamonds, has demonstrated, raw stones are all the rage right now, as the return to earthy and chunky jewelry dominated the runways this fall. For years, the unpolished quality of this look resonated with the arid Western look (complete with gaudy turquoise and cheap silver), but now, the look has translated into Upper East Side-meets-Village chic. While I'll always love the look of delicate gemstones, that look has become overshadowed by the bold idiosyncrasies of Mother Nature.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Peplum: The New Shape

Miu Miu Spring 2008

PEPLUM: A short overskirt or ruffle attached at the waistline of a jacket, blouse, or dress (

While the thought of an extra layer of fabric extending from one's waist may sound unflattering, on second glance, peplum can actually work like a belt: it emphasizes the small of the waist while exaggerating the width of the thighs, creating a pleasing silhouette for the pear-shaped among us. Miu Miu's odd but whimsical sumo wrestler-meets-ballerina example was gorgeous but intimidating off the runway (not many of us can boast having Cameron Diaz's lean legs), but with longer lengths, I became reconciled to its practical application.

1. Roland Mouret Pre-Fall 2008: It's hard not to love peplum when Roland Mouret does so in such a feminine, curve-enhancing way.
a. A subtle version of peplum on a stunning white dress:

b. And a more daring example on a suit:

2. Bottega Veneta Fall 2008: Tomas Maier's flirty peplum resembles origami, rather than an umbrella:

3. Douglas Hannant Resort 2009: Hannant creates such a ladylike shape from this wavy peplum. I'm in love!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fendi: Puffed Purple

Fendi Puff-Sleeve Sweater Dress, $811 at

While I'm not in any rush to buy a sweater dress, this lovely one from Fendi would be an easy addition to my wardrobe several months from now (when it goes on sale). I've finally grown to acknowledge that maybe I do need less dressy items that still have an elevated sense of style. Puffed sleeves were good enough for Anne of Green Gables, and they remain stylish today--just make sure the rest of your outfit isn't puffy as well.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dear Thumbelina: Glad about Gladiators?

Dear Thumbelina Fashionista,

I love reading your blog, and actually was wondering if you could share some advice for a fashionista in trouble. I just recently bought a pair of white gladiator sandals, but am having trouble deciding on what to wear them with. They're glamorous on their own, but seem to clash with flowy summer dresses. They only seem to look good with shorts. I was wondering if you had any other ideas for ways in which I could wear them? Thank you!


Unsure How to be GLADiator


Dear Unsure How to be GLADiator,

Gladiators are surprisingly versatile, and as we can see from the Resort 2009 lines, they're not going away anytime soon. While gladiators have a somewhat casual quality about them, they're much like ballet flats, which can easily be worn with dressy or casual outfits: the key is in the combination.

If we look at some runway examples, Alberta Ferretti combined gladiators with

1. FLOWY and SIMPLE GRECIAN DRESSES: The key to not looking like a Roman extra in a bad remake of Spartacus is to tone down the Grecian details. This particular dress is casual but elegant.

Zac Posen utilized gladiators with a number of his looks, from beautiful day dresses to evening wear. Wear them with

2. GEOMETRIC SHIFT DRESSES with or without JACKETS: The gladiators soften the dressed-up look here. She doesn't look like she tried too hard (pumps would make the look more formal).

In another look from Zac Posen, he combined gladiators with

3. A PRETTY FLORAL DRESS: The key is using a subdued pattern that doesn't compete with the shoes. Make sure your shoes complement the dress in hue (wear a floral dress with specks of white, for example, if you have white gladiators).

Another option is to go ultra boho luxe, like this example from Net-a-porter, which combined gladiators with

4. LONG, BOHO TUNICS: If you're not sea-side, you may want to wear them with short shorts. Emphasize the look by choosing ethnic extras, like wood beading, large bangles, and long, chunky necklaces.

You can, of course, do a more hard-edged look, as seen here in another example from Net-a-porter:

5. PENCIL SKIRT WITH LEATHER JACKET: While this look is a little unconventional, it works if you're a little more Downtown than Uptown in your aesthetics. Wear silver jewelry with it and don't be afraid of dramatic details like a large collar.

LASTLY, you can always wear gladiators with

6. PANTS /SHORTS and a BLOUSE: For a casual but put-together look, choose tailored pants/shorts and a feminine blouse to off-set the masculine bottom.

Enjoy your gladiators!



Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Richard Chai Resort 2009

Richard Chai's Resort 2009 line fuses safari with sweetness. Of course, I'm naturally drawn to the feminine, rather than the masculine. In keeping with his past looks, Chai faithfully adhered to the shift dress and suit-y blazers.

1. The gray shading on this white dress slims its wearer:

2. This dress oddly reminds me of Proenza Schouler's petticoat dress:

3. Too frilly and puffy, this dress would only look right on a five-year-old girl.

Prada Resort 2009

Prada's Resort 2009 line drastically departed from its most recent Fall 2008 line, but in many ways, it was classic Prada with the inundation of anoraks, large bags, and spectacular shoes (ah, the shoes!). In keeping with the chunky jewelry trend, Prada featured Indian-style jewels that transformed what appeared to be simple, sporty looks.

1. An easy, loose olive green dress. I'd wear this with large earrings and a distinctive, studded belt:

2. The jewels are what make this navy dress come alive:
3. Another example of a built-in necklace dress, this black dress could only work for slender-shouldered gals. Subtract the matching earrings to tone down the look:

4. While animal prints aren't for me, this dress is quite intriguing; however, the low-slung bag doesn't match the elegant, dressed-up vibe:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Burberry Prorsum: Resort 2009

As anyone can tell from my previous posts, I adore Christopher Bailey for the genius that he is; he's also brought sexy back to the House of Burberry. However, his Resort 2009 line is almost identical to his Pre-Fall 2008 line: it's replete with the standard Burberry "look": pencil skirts, belted jackets/sweaters, black ankle socks with booties, brocade/textured fabrics. While I certainly appreciate the look, I wonder if it's a little too one note. I'm sure designers struggle with the age-old question of choosing between "if it ain't broke" and "reinventing the wheel." In many ways, that same question haunts the consumer. Do you faithfully adhere to a uniform, making it your "signature" look, or do you mix it up for variety's sake?

1. Beautiful skirt, wonderful color combinations:

2. The belt looks awkward on this look:

3. My favorite look, the combination of the moss-green jacket over the silver brocade dress is unusual:

Monday, June 9, 2008

Jaalber Jewelry: Turkish Delight

While I was walking around Nolita yesterday with two friends in the scorching heat, one friend recommended Jaalber, a Turkish jewelry store she loves. Instantly, I too was in love. Matte gold, bright bulbous gem stones, one-of-a-kind designs...The saleslady was enormously helpful, allowing me to try on stackable gemstone rings (around $500-600 a ring), a 22k band loaded with diamonds totalling near 2 carats ($5,000), a three rose-cut diamond ring (seen above for $3,000), and a purple statement ring by Sevan (also seen above for $5,000), a famous Turkish jeweler known for his meticulously-crafted and unique designs. While I'm not currently in the market for a new piece of jewelry, I'll keep Jaalber in mind for the next major anniversary. Jaalber is located at 248 Mott Street (cross-street is Prince). Call them at 212-925-1235 or see them online at

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Legal Designer Knock-Offs

From Left: Prada Resort 2008, Express Purple Haze Dress, $128

Now that Prada's Resort and Spring 2008 lines are on sale, I'm heavily tempted to purchase one of their gorgeous floral dresses. However, the appearance of the cheaper look from Express makes me pause. While we can all appreciate the proliferation of "the look for less," I cannot help but consider them low-end designer knock-offs. While no one has a patent on florals, one can question the similarity of the look. Is this akin to the dreaded Chinatown fakes, or do low-end designers have a right to repackage a noteworthy design for the masses?
Personally, I have no legal insight here, just the concern of a wise shopper. Does the Express dress cheapen the worth of the Prada one? In some ways, it does seem less special; in other ways, it is clear from the actual texture and design that the two are drastically different--it's akin to the difference between a diamond and a cubic zirconia (the discerning eye can tell them apart). One cannot possibly dress with the assumption that everyone has that discerning eye, and yet one wants the value of that piece to be acknowledged.
Ultimately, this debate calls our attention to one simple question: putting labels aside, do you truly love the piece? If not, knock-offs forgotten, the item is not worth purchasing.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Monique Lhuillier: Resort 2009

Monique Lhuillier is known for her fabulous wedding gowns, but her daywear and evening options are equally fabulous. I'm completely coveting her entire Resort 2009 line, but these are my favorites:

1. While I wouldn't wear this gown with this blazer, I'm completely mesmerized by the beautiful black swirls on this soft puffy white fabric:

2. The combination of a long floral jacket over a puffy khaki gown is surprisingly fresh.

3. I can't get enough of white dresses, and the elaborate black jeweled bib on this one stands out:

4. This dress is perfect for a Spanish princess: