Friday, September 18, 2009

Leave of Absence

Just wanted to leave a note to my favorite readers that I'll be heading out of town today to prepare for my wedding, and then taking a long awaited honeymoon (which will be the first trip my Fiance and I have ever been on, can you believe that? We share a 450 square foot Manhattan studio, which I suppose is the opposite of a vacation.) I will return October 5th full of new stories and opinions. Here's an article on frugal fashion to enjoy in my absence (courtesy of Rebecca). Enjoy the cool weather and donning your favorite fall fashions!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Down to earth

With New York Fashion Week almost at its conclusion, many can breathe a sigh of relief (area residents happy to have less commotion, designers content after hearty responses, enthusiasts eager to get to the racks). As Rachael Zoe complained on Bravo's The Rachael Zoe Project, designers seemed to show less couture and focused in on the wearable
collections that store buyers were hungry to snatch up.

The New York Times reported that the response to Tory Burch was especially promising, and points to the pricing of her items as an explanation. (Though I would hardly call Burch's collections 'middle market' as the Times does, but I suppose my market is not broad enough to have a middle that falls above the Gap.) The positive reception that Tory Burch felt this year is surely an example of what many consumers (and all of my friends) have been saying for years: Who wears this stuff? When a leopard, Pleather, skin tight body suit trots the runway with 6 inch stilettos, it is hard to imagine it serving any purpose other than shock (and awe that anyone could wear it without being on the losing end of a game of 'truth or dare', even if they are being paid). But runway collections that feature wearable items are a pleasing change not only to fashion amateurs, but also to high end department stores who have not been able to sell the high price tag couture for many seasons now.

I have always loved Tory Burch's patterns and tunics (not to mention her cultish ballet flats, which have been updated for Fall '09 with an even broader variety of color and tonal toe adornments), and am even more apt to buy her pieces after such a reality based Fashion Week showcase. While the economic downturn has surely hit fashion hard, the industry must adapt to survive and come out even more compelling than at the height of societal excess. Bring on the boyfriend blazers and skinny jeans!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Worth the cost

In the spirit of marital financial consolidation, I've been trying to get to the bottom line of my monthly expenditures. With a joint checking account that we've already shared for 2 years, my Fiance and I are already well aware of each other's spending habits (or at least those that I fund through the joint account that is). I am a big fan of a woman retaining her own checking account and credit card, and fully intend to continue using mine for odds and ends. But with the bulk of the funding being channeled through a single source, it is necessary now for my everyday necessaries (and luxuries) to be out in the open.

I think that true intimacy is the disclosure of a month's worth of credit card receipts. Forget that cringe you first felt when someone else saw your cotton, misshaped 'laundry day' underwear. Or the big risk you thought you were taking the first time you wore opaque white pimple cream to bed in front of another. Try unearthing the past 30 days worth of paper stuffed into your wallet that transcribes your every purchase, every whim, every weakness. This is vulnerability.

I get oddly defensive when I begin to list the monthly expenses I cannot live without. (My reflexive need to justify comes possibly from the fact that I haven't had a real job in years, since law school costs money, time, and soul, and never returns the favor.) For instance, when I tell my Fiance that I must have a weekly manicure and a bi-monthly pedicure (yes, even in the winter), I follow immediately by informing him that I'd gladly forgo meals over this indulgence. (Indulgence is really an incorrect word. It's more akin to grooming, like bathing and getting dressed to me). I also can't see giving up an occasional trip to Ann or J.Crew for a quick browse of the sale rack ('occasional' meaning about once a week or so). I hold a passport gym membership which allows me to use any club in the city, which I always take advantage of to change the scenery. My IS Clinical skin care regime is admittedly pricey, but less pricey than the cost of prescription creams and lasers that no doubt plague women in their 30's and 40's who failed to take such care in their 20's. (My Fiance is a lawyer. He appreciates a well argued point.) I also have a terrible phobia of subways. This necessitates taxis on a weekly basis (but these days I don't travel too far out of my neighborhood anyway). And sushi. I can't go more than 5 days with sushi.

So really, when I get to my bottom line, it's not so bad (in the way you tell a friend who just got a terrible new haircut that 'it's not so bad' knowing that it is quite bad, but it will eventually grow back). But some things are worth the cost.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bringing back 'evening'

When was the last time you got really dressed up? Probably for a friend's wedding, guided by the time of day and location. But what about dinner out with your friends? Or happy hour cocktails with a cute boy? There are abundant opportunities to dress to the nines that people never take advantage of. This absence of glamor was cleverly referred to in September Issue as a 'famine of beauty'. Really, it is a famine of sorts. When the economy is dipping low, what better way to lift the spirits than by donning a cocktail dress and heels instead of denim and cotton? (It is called a cocktail dress for a reason).

This Saturday my Fiance and I had a date night night at a local bistro and wine bar. While I must admit I wore denim, I also wore a silk blouse and heels (and managed to walk 12 blocks there and another 12 blocks home without a single groan). But all around us was a sea of mediocrity, and calling it that is me being kind. I saw poly-blend everywhere I looked, sneakers, nylon parkas, and, sin of all sins, baseball caps at dinner tables (my Dad has been known to reach over to a fellow diner and forcibly remove his baseball cap). When our caprese salads arrived, I had to be nudged under the table to attend to the deliciously delicate tomato and mozzarella on my plate and turn away from the horror show all around. Our waiter in his crisp white shirt and black tie was the best dressed one I could find.

There were the days of my youth, when I would dine out with my parents and gaze longingly at adults in their silk frocks, lace, patent pumps and jewels. I would help my Mother pick out the perfect sapphire tone tank to top off a pair of satiny smooth slacks (of course now when we go out I chose my Mother's head to toe look, and often request that she change if she tries to chose on her own).

I bemoan the loss of elegance that has come with our generation of human apathy and Internet emotion. But I will make more effort to get use out of my cute dresses and pumps, and to rediscover those ensembles in the back of the closet reserved for 'special events.' Everyday should be a special event after all!

Monday, September 14, 2009

To pack or not to pack?

12 days away from my wedding, and 14 days away from my honeymoon, I have begun the immense task of packing. (Dreaded for some, but actually quite pleasurable for me). For 7 days my Fiance and I are going to Bermuda and staying at the Reefs, taking advantage of the special 'romance package'. We will be spending our days between the beach and the infinity pool, and our nights among the several restaurants located on the premises (one of which offers beach-side dining where you actually sit at tables in the sand at the water's edge. Obviously no Manolos are to be worn that night).

But the age old question when preparing for a glorious vacation is, what to pack? Always sure to check dress code suggestions, I dread nothing more then having the wrong clothing for an occasion. (I also have the chore of packing my Fiance's bags since he worked all weekend and won't have a day off until our wedding). 'Jacket recommended' means he will feel like a fish out of water in a polo shirt. Silence on dress code means he can get away with his famous green pants (which, you can be sure, are packed in the very top of his suitcase.) Women have it the easiest for vacation dining. 5 new jersey dresses in a variety of prints, colors and silhouettes will get me fashionably through all our meals (plus jersey doesn't wrinkle so I can roll them up in some tissue and not worry about the less than agile Jet Blue employees who will no doubt shove, cram and assault our luggage.)

For beach days, I rely on a large straw hat (tans which cause wrinkles are never in style), several new, brightly colored J.Crew bathing suits, and a cute linen tunic for modesty on the commute down on the trolley. Not one for over packing, I plan to re-wear several key pieces. (I'm sure I seem like one who would appear at the airport with an entourage of suitcases, and then cause an inevitable scene when I was told I could only have one bag, but really I'm a minimalist when traveling).

Our adorable canvas red and white monogrammed bags are all ready to go, stuffed like proud turkeys, waiting by the door!

Friday, September 11, 2009


The scene is Starbucks on 40th and Lexington, and its about 11:00 in the morning. I sit in a corner arm chair with a soy latte (decaf) and a book (the cover of which I try to hide since I am embarrassed to carry it in public. All I'll say is that the author received fame from a reality show on MTV). Two women in their mid to late 20's walk in, scan for an empty table, and settle to my left. The taller of the pair takes an order from her companion, and returns several minutes later with two steaming grande cups. Eyes surreptitiously peering up, I can't help but study the clothing chosen by these young ladies. Though their faces reveal their age to be no more than mine (27), their outfits suggest at least 15 years be added to this estimation. I could be entertained for at least 20 minutes with nothing more than these ensembles to gawk at, but serendipitously, they begin to speak in a decibel that I (as well as everyone else in the store) can hear.

"I hear this judge is really really mean, especially to women," the shorter woman complains to her friend. The taller woman purses her lips in annoyance, gives an exaggerated eye roll (a girl after my own heart) and tries to explain "he's not mean to women, he just doesn't like when female attorneys wear pantsuits in his courtroom. But look at us! (She lifts her arms with ill-placed pride) We're dressed perfectly." Both women smile and sip from their cups. At this point, I have to raise my embarrassing book choice to cover the smile that involuntarily curls the corners of my lips.

The tall girl dons a polyester blazer in a muddy shade of taupe, in a size too small for her average shaped frame. The coordinating skirt (also a size too small) has been dry cleaned more often than its poly mate, so its hue is slightly more muted (but no less muddy). Underneath the synthetic atrocity she has chosen a plain white shirt, which would have been fine, except that the buttons are pulling, it hasn't been ironed, and the collar has a set-in stain (no doubt from an afternoon snack several months ago). Her shorter attorney friend is equally dowdy. Rather than taupe, she wears yellow. (Now keep in mind it is September, yes, technically still summer, and I'm all about making your own color rules, but some things are just silly.) The short woman's suit is her size, but no less polyester (and no less offensive to the senses). The best part of all is only revealed once my eyes can at last leave the suits and manage to reach the floor. Had the women been wearing sneakers, I could at least excuse them as wanting comfort, and surely planning on changing once they arrive downtown at court. But what I see has no explanation. Scuffed, square-toe, black, leather loafers with stacked 1 inch chunky heels. (They might have been the actual pair, not just style, that the Pilgrims wore.) I exhale an audible breath to resist the laugh that rumbles in the depth of my throat. Perhaps its not 'pantsuits' that this feared judge dislikes, but rather so much ill-fitting polyester that makes him irritable. I would be mean to women as well if they came before me in such costumes.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Some things are better left in the 80's

When Anna Wintour said that 'fashion is not about looking back' in her documentary September Issue, I actually balked out loud in the theater. (An involuntary reaction, similar to being tapped below the kneecap by the doctor.) If that were true, then the new phenomena that offends all my senses would not be actually happening, and it would all be a bad dream. But alas, the 80s are back.

I was born in the early part of the decade notorious for neon, plastic accessories, padding and volume. Though too young to exercise volition over my clothing choices, the trends affected what my mother dressed me in. Many photos capture me donning loose sweat shirts with coordinating leggings, slouchy socks worn over the ankle of the leggings, topped off with an array of colorful Keds. (Agreeably, the Keds are still cute, but as for the rest, my gag reflex begins to tickle in the back of my throat.) By time I reached the double digits (the ripe old age of 10) and an upper crust private school on Long Island, I was making my own fashion choices. But those 80's were not easy to kick. The stores clung to some voluminous, overly bright pieces like a child to a diaper. By the early 90's most remnants of atrocity had vanished, only to be replaced with flannel and Doc Martens, a la Nirvana. (Think of Beverly Hills 90210, Brenda's belly bearing cut off t's paired with plaid button downs, reverse fit jeans, and black boots, or Kelly's pointy-shouldered, men's fit blazers in shades like fire engine red. I still shudder, though I love the re-runs.)Now that I've happily settled into straight jeans, cashmere cardigans, deep mens v-neck t's with feminine blazers and round-toe pumps, I see a disturbing omen. The Wall Street Journal seems to agree with me. Runways show peaks of shoulder pads, flashes of neon, teased manes and oversized tops paired with form fitting spandex bottoms. (Admittedly, those pesky leggings have been creeping onto the scene for several seasons now, but I refuse to believe they are here. What some call denial I suppose.) If Ms. Wintour was correct about fashion's forward facing gaze, I doubt many present styles could be explained, and least of all, this 80's rebirth that's leering around the fashion week corner. I do not mean to be disloyal to the decade of my birth, but some things are truly better left in history.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Make it work

As a fashion enthusiast, I was quite happy to learn about Vogue's global effort to spur the fury that fuels fashion. With New York Fashion Week imminent, it is the perfect time to remind people of the fantasy and escape that this time of year offers to people when it is most needed. But the industry that has always been a work horse for the community is in need of its own hero. When the financial belt tightens, one's wardrobe seems to take a back seat to more pressing necessaries (such as food, mortgage payments, etc). But fashion is an indispensable part of the economy and more importantly, the human spirit.

I understand making choices (though usually the choices I have to make are between buying a $10 salad for lunch on Friday or getting a manicure this week). My solutions to financial conundrums involve a balancing act similar to those preached about in law school (weighing of the arguments, evaluation of the evidence). But what I practice on a small scale in fairly materialistic terms is in reality not that different from what people do worldwide at this time of year. Fashion's night out tomorrow is conceived to inspire people to conjure up the thrill of the chase, the joy of the hunt, and the ecstasy of scoring a bargain for a coveted piece of the fashion industry. (When a woman feels down and out, next to eating a pint of Ben & Jerry's on the couch, shopping is the most popular therapy. That may explain why lipstick sales spiked while the economy tanked in 2008.)

In the spirit of camaraderie (and as a reminder that fashion is accessible for all), no invitations are required to attend any of the hundreds of events happening city wide between 6:00 and 11:00 tomorrow evening. So call a friend, head to your favorite store, and bring a few dollars to help the industry that has picked you up when you were down.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wish list

Though Christmas is several months in the distance, it never hurts to be prepared. (Not to mention once the stores set their fall floors in their entirety, I am reminded of how many things I crave, but sadly cannot buy myself.) Many women, like my mother, love jewelery. I of course admire the beauty of a precious stone strung from a platinum chain as much as the next female, but my obsession rarely targets such ornaments. Instead I fixate on bags, with the occasional pair of to-die-for shoes thrown into the mix.

This year, in the spirit of maturity (an attempt at least) I have expanded my list to include many work staples for the elusive job I am preparing to land one of these days. I must start with the same item I've craved for over a decade, but never actually 'asked' for: the classic Chanel quilted shoulder bag, of course. No outfit could be completed in any finer a fashion than with the pairing of this iconic purse. Moving on to items I may actually receive this year, there is this Ann Taylor Loft cropped jacket in brown leather (I am rarely a fan of leather, but something about the supple grace of this jacket when I put it over my shoulders made me feel like I could do anything). I adore these Cole Haan knee high riding boots, paired with straight jeans and cardigans. (Another quirk I have: I simply cannot wear, or stand the sight of, knee high boots with heels. Odd, I know, but I truly can't look at a pair without thinking of streetwalkers or Halloween in college. Some things just cannot be explained.) This cashmere sweater by Theory can be worn with a pencil skirt or boyfriend jeans, and will look just as refined, yet edgy, with either.

One of the most important articles you wear all season long is a coat. That may sound counterintuitive, since a coat merely tops off an outfit while you scurry from one location to another, but it's the one piece that is always visible to the masses during the colder months. I am infatuated with this long wool lady coat from J.crew in bright cobalt (to wear with either a red scarf or the classic Burberry Nova scarf). Inspirational credit must be given to Rebecca who has had a red J.crew lady coat since high school. (Always give credit where its due, a paramount rule of fashion!) Don't let the calendar discourage you, it's always fun to make a wish list for when the time is right.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bring on the white

The upcoming holiday provides a good excuse to explain the title of my blog (as well an excuse to eat multiple hot dogs and mayonnaise laced salads for 3 days, despite my size 2 wedding dress that needs to be worn in 22 days).

My best friend Jackie had her bridal shower in July (while I was elbow deep in bar studying), and I am her maid of honor. At the event, we were all asked to write some words of wisdom for the bride to be. (I'm sure you can imagine the advice that was doled out, 'never go to sleep angry', 'communicate', 'say I love you often', the usual.) Not one for public displays of emotion (unless we're talking about college and there's tequila involved) my words for Jackie were wise, but more practical than ardent. I wrote "Don't listen to those who tell you not to wear white after labor day. Love, just like fashion, is best when you make your own rules." Short, simple, to the point, right? Well, after my card was read no less than 10 people approached me to compliment my quote, and ask where I found it. (Am I to be flattered? offended?) I explained they were in fact my own words, and nothing I considered to be masterfully articulate or spellbinding. But if so many middle aged woman loved it on a Sunday afternoon over tea and scones, I figured it would do well as the headline for a new blog. And here I am.

A word as the the substance of my 'wisdom': You truly should wear white after labor day. White jeans are a seasonless staple that should greet you when you open your closet like 'good friends', in the words of Diane von Furstenberg. They are offered by brands like Seven all year long (though I do not eulogize spending $200 on a pair, there is an abundant supply lining the sale racks at this time of year since apparently, not everyone has heard my words of wisdom.) So break out the white, and never stash it away in the depths of the wardrobe as a 'Summer' item. (White shoes are another story, I detest white shoes, before labor day as well as after it. My wedding shoes are not event white. But again, that's just me. Wear what you love.) Happy Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Choose wisely

As essential as getting dressed and brushing your hair before exiting the house to begin a day is spritzing a few mists of a fabulous perfume. Choosing a fragrance is quite similar to choosing a trademark. Both should be unique, distinctive, and revealing of something.

When one chooses a trademark for their product, the law provides strict contours to be followed. The mark must not be generic, it cannot merely describe the product to which it is applied, and most importantly, it cannot be in use by another for a similar product. A trademark that at one time was secured can lose its legal protection through overuse, when it begins to be used commonly to describe a class of products (a phenomena in the legal world called 'genericide', think 'Band Aid' and 'Kleenex'). The same principals apply when selecting a signature scent, though the law won't penalize you for missteps (but your friends will; have you ever been in an elevator and suffocated when a woman walks in, and are then left to choke on her lingering scent long after she has exited? Your scent should not precede you).

Like a trademark, your fragrance should not be overly common, or used by another in a similar vicinity (both personally or professionally). Since I was 16, I have worn Ralph Lauren's Romance in the summers. (Credit to Rebecca for always having it in her overnight bag during the thousands of sleepovers after camp we had.) Once I landed in college, I began experimenting with other more saturated scents, such as Burberry Touch. Then in my post- college, pre-law school life as a career woman, I began wearing Chanel Mademoiselle (still using Romance religiously in the summer months). Recently, with the arrival of the first month of fall, I wanted a new fragrance to celebrate the new phase of life I stand at the precipice of. After much research (involving handfuls of coffee beans and a multitude of glass bottles), I purchased a bottle of Trish McEvoy No. 9, which is a bouquet of blackberries and a hint of vanilla, but retains a clean edge rather than an overly sweet note. I had not smelled it before, and am confident it will blend and not fight in any atmosphere. So choose a new scent for fall, retain your distinctiveness, and beware of genericide!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy New Year! aka September 1st

In celebration of September 1st, a little montage of a few of my favorite images of the Fall season to get everyone as excited for the upcoming months as I am.

Neutral hues are extremely wearable and approachable, even for the fashion faint of heart. And who wouldn't love to frolic in fallen leaves, circa second grade playtime? The sight alone sends fondly reminiscent chills down my neck (which is clothed with my luscious new scarf). Plaid shirts are huge for men and women alike (I actually bought an
extra small men's version and plan to rock it with straight
jeans and heels.) When feeling super feminine, I love to add
exotic heels to a pair of jeans (of course assuming we are
taking cabs that night and not actually walking anywhere.) A
foolproof ensemble for anyone is the classic blazer and jeans,
made fresh for '09 with navy and a floral scarf for color.

Get excited!