Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
In these cases--shopping emergencies--you need to rely on a friend out there who can talk some sense into you. My good friend asked all the right questions, leading me through my jumbled maze of temptation. Yes, it was beautiful. Yes, I could wear it easily and for day. But could I wear it frequently? No, I admitted. It would be one of those "she's wearing that zebra skirt again" sort of item. And that sealed the deal.
My closet is bursting at the seams, and there's no need to fill it with an expensive skirt that I'll wear once in a blue moon. And I have to face it: the economy isn't looking too good. And so, with a heavy heart and a forced frown, I walked away.
Looking back, I realize that at another time, I would have easily bought that skirt. But while my finances really have not worsened, I am being more cautious, more circumspect about what I buy. I considered my fall must-haves, and I realized that that skirt was not on that list. Zebras will have to wait for another season.
P.S. This has nothing to do with my post, other than the fact that I was annoyed that women brought their boyfriends and gay friends to the sample sale, where women had to undress openly. Women: please be considerate!!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
When Victoria Beckham wore Roland Mouret's hot pink Moon dress on the soccer field with a matching hot pink Hermes Birkin, the fashionistas were all astir with envy. I, too, was tempted to purchase this amazingly chic number--and now the wait was worth it. ABS by Allen Schwartz's near-identical version is just as chic, and it comes with a belt and a slightly more forgiving silhouette. The best part? The ridiculously low price.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
There are women who purchase only practical clothes: work clothes, sneakers, tee-shirts. And then there are women, like me, who purchase mostly beautiful clothes, regardless of the practical use for them. If you're in the latter category, perhaps you can relate: you see a gorgeously impractical dress, like this one from Lela Rose, and you buy it. You wear it, and then you send it off to the dry cleaners. You get strange looks from them. They frown, they grimace, and then they scold you for your frivolous purchase. And then you pay the price on the dry cleaning bill.
In this day and age when the cost of basic necessities has risen dramatically, people forget to discuss the much-hated but necessary dry cleaning bill. Have you seen it recently? It's as astronomical as the gas prices. But what items jack up the cost?
1. Embellishment: Sequins, Beads, Feathers, Strips of Leather (on non-leather items), fur (on non-fur items): They are prone to melting during the dry cleaning process, so if you have a respectable dry cleaners, they will remove each item manually and resew them on after the cleaning. That accounts for the higher cost.
2. Pleating: Yes, that's right. Any additional folds in your skirt or dress will cost you, because the poor presser has to iron each of those folds. That takes time.
3. Dry-cleaned Cotton: If you don't specify to your dry cleaners, they will often dry clean an item that can also be machine washed, which is why sometimes a cotton shirt can cost more. If you want to save some money, tell them to machine wash and then iron it.
4. Delicate Items: Items that can tear or bleed easily must be carefully handled. Often, they are put into a separate bag or cleaned alone to prevent damage to the item or to other items.
5. Fancy or Loose Buttons: If your jacket has one-of-a-kind vintage buttons, for example, your dry cleaners has to remove each of the buttons before the cleaning and reattach them afterwards.
Be aware of your dry cleaners' price list and ask any questions when the bill looks higher than it should be. If your heart is still set on that feather-trimmed dress, just be mindful that it may cost you more to clean it.
I recently saw this dress at Bergdorf's and then saw the red version on Anne Hathway in some celebrity rag. She was rushing off somewhere important--or at least it seemed so from the photo--and instead of wearing this glamorous dress to a premiere, she was running errands or going to see her agent. That's why we love Hollywood--stars are able to don a stunning dress in a casual manner and not look overdressed.
But I digress. The return of peplum (seen in particular on Prada's runway show) reminds me why some looks are more appealing than others: they serve an actual function. For women with a soft belly, peplum is the exact fashion solution: the strategically-placed ruffle blocks out any bumps from an onlooker's view. Akin to full skirts, which thankfully hide large thighs, peplum both disguises and accentuates the female form. The onlooker is forced to acknowledge that the body is indeed smaller than the exaggerated shape creates--as is the case with hoopskirts (simply think of the poofy skirts in Gone with the Wind). Of course, one could digress yet further and make an argument about distorted female body images and alluring cover-ups, but I'll leave that to the critics.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
When I found this particular dress, it was categorized as a "party dress"--a title that I will blatantly ignore. This is the exact kind of dress that I would wear to work--it has a conservative shape, neutral color, and surprisingly feminine details. It reminds me of an architecturally beautiful Roland Mouret dress, but at a fraction of the cost.
Since I work in a creative environment (that's how I view teaching), I have more freedom in my outfit choices than say, a banker or a doctor (sorry doctors out there, but I would shudder if I had to wear scrubs every day!). But all in all, I do "dress up" for work--one's clothing is a reflection of the pride one has in her work. What are some of my typical outfits?
1. A tailored dress, either A-lined or sheath
2. A white blouse with a full or A-lined skirt with a notable detail (appliques, cut-outs, brocade, etc.)
3. Plain tailored slacks with a decorative blouse
4. A cashmere sweater or a cropped jacket over a dress
Although I currently do not own a vest (I think there are some fashion flubs from the '80s that I have not fully recovered from), I plan on wearing one a la Maggie Gyllenhaal in the new Batman movie: she glamorously dons a menswear-inspired dark vest over a flouncy white Victorian blouse. The look was perfection.
Monday, July 21, 2008
2. THE JEWELRY: You're in luck--fashion's current craze is with costume jewelry, which means more freedom with one's look. You don't need the latest Van Cleef and Arpels piece to complete your look, but you do need to be choosy. Avoid thinning jewelry--the weak kind with sparse gems and fragile silver strands: that looks cheap. Choose a bold piece, like chunky beads in wood or even glass beads. Crystals are fine, as long as they are NOT trying to look like diamonds (it's obvious that those 3 carat studs are made out of cubic zirconia). Choose crystals that create an interesting shape, like a rosebud. Take this bright yellow starburst necklace ($228) from JCrew--they're refreshingly fun without trying to look like anything else:
Also avoid wearing too much jewelry at a time--one statement piece is all you need.
3. THE SHOES AND BAG: Unfortunately, it's hard to find an inexpensive pair of shoes that doesn't look cheap, unless you buy designer shoes ON SALE. Saks and Bergdorf's have marked down their shoes 70%. And while it may still pain you to spend $150-200 on a pair of Prada's, remember that quality shoes last longer and are worth the investment. As for the bag, choose one that has clean lines and impeccable stitching. If you really want a designer handbag, either a) buy one on sale; b) go to a high-end consignment shop that sells last season's designer bag; c) choose a non-logo, mid-end designer bag brand, like Botkier, Furla, Kate Spade, or Cole Haan. And nothing looks cheaper than a knock-off.
Botkier Gladiator Small Shoulder Bag, on sale for $315 at shopbop.com
4. OTHER ACCESSORIES: Belts can do wonders for your look, and it's easy to find one that is crocodile or python-embossed these days. Choose a thin or medium-width size; most women look awful with oversized ones. As for stockings, they are another inexpensive way to look chic in the colder months. Choose a simple dark hue (brown, black, or navy), and avoid nylons. Nobody will know if your tights are from Wolford or Old Navy.
5. THINGS THAT LOOK CHEAP no matter the cost of the item:
a. Ill-fitting clothes or shoes (too tight, too loose)
b. Too many accessories at once
c. Ill-fitting or visible undergarments
d. Too many fads at once (choose only one item that adheres to the trend)
e. Frowns, slouching, constant picking at one's clothes, too much makeup
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
The folklore of the mermaid remains ever active in our collective unconscious as a reminder of our deep connection with the sea. From the dangerously seductive (think Sirens) to the innocently beautiful (think Ariel), the iconography of the mermaid arouses in us such powerful emotions, which is why designers continually integrate features of the mermaid in their work.
Example 3: Zac Posen Candied Lurex Mermaid Dress, $1,900 at Eluxury.com: Although the hem is relatively normal, the bust looks like a clam shell:
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Since my last splurge-worthy pair of shoes (those silver Chanel skyscraper platforms I featured some while back; yes, I bought them!), I have seen only one other pair to come close to these stunners from Max Kibardin, a recently new addition to the Saks Shoe Department (those are the ruffled Prada pumps for fall). I see these incredibly mesmerizing sandals and am green with envy: the cut-outs are huge for fall, the colors are divine, and the 3 inch heel height is manageable (usually stunners like these are 4 or 5 inches). These *must* be mine! And I know the perfect outfit to wear them with...
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
In the hot summer months, I can't be bothered with heels, mainly because the inexorable heat can make feet swell. Unlike fall and winter, when one scurries from place to place to avoid the cold, I like to enjoy a more leisurely walk in my hot, but active, city. While I adore my pewter Giuseppe Zanotti gladiator flats (I receive so many compliments on them!), I know that my ballerina (or closed-toe) flats can have a second life when the trees change color. These Oscar de la Renta Ikat flats are perfect for summer or fall--the rich purple and green on the black background look festive enough for summer and have a depth that makes them versatile enough for fall.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Derek Lam's entire fall collection showcased moodily elegant, sophisticated Hitchcock-esque clothing that lends an air of mystery to any woman who wears them. From a gold lace dress to luscious furs, Lam's work is enormously covetable. While I have never been particularly fond of plaid, Lam's taffeta version delights me with its simple but flirty shape, the versatile black and white color combination, and the contrast of plaid, a homely design, with taffeta, an upscale fabric. Wear this to work with a jacket or alone at a party.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Friday, July 11, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
No, your eyes do not deceive you. This crystal-studded image of Ganesh, the Hindu deity popular in India, is a BAG. Actually, it is a clutch, which means that you must hold it in your hand while the other partygoers strain their necks trying to determine a) what monstrosity you have in your hand, and then b) why you have an elephant in your hand, or better yet, why you have an Indian deity in your hand. After justifying to them that it is, in fact, a "Leiber," you may want to explain that, ironically, Ganesh is the REMOVER of obstacles, and that the exorbitant price tag somehow diminishes the ridiculous appearance of the obstacle that you hold in your hand. But if you stare at it long enough and allow the spirit of Ganesh to fuse with yours, hopefully you'll realize it looks better as a table sculpture than as a bag.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Monday, July 7, 2008
Bottom Row, From Left: Carlos Falchi Buffalo Anaconda Bag, $2,850; Miu Miu Cutout Bowler, $1,460
Friday, July 4, 2008
Even though it's the fourth of July, this green wonder has caught my attention. The whimsical rectangles, which increase in size from the top to the bottom of the shift dress, are artfully arresting without being loudly distracting. The black accents also make this dress easy to wear: simply add black accessories, and you're ready for a creative day or night.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
With each new collection by newbie Alessandra Facchinetti, I am more and more enamored of her work. While theater is, by no means, absent from her Valentino Couture collection, it forgoes the ridiculous in favor of the beautiful.
1. The pattern is like a sheet of sublime music, fit for the gods:
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Since my trip to New Orleans, I've been heavily focused on fine quality jewelry, perhaps because I saw so much of it there (if only I had millions!). I find that most jewelry today lacks a creative touch, and it's mass produced with no individuality in mind. I recently discovered the historically-inspired and intricately-astounding jewelry of Wendy Brandes, who goes against that automation mentality. I'm in love! Here are some of my favorite looks:
1. Sunflower Earrings, $7,500: Inspired by Van Gogh and perfect for everyday or a fancy occasion:
2. Boleyn Necklace, $9,000: I've always been fascinated by the haunting story of Anne Boleyn, whose regal ambitions left her beheaded. And despite the fact that Henry VIII desperately wanted a son, it was Anne's daughter Elizabeth who really carried on his legacy: