Monday, November 30, 2009

Double Take

While I'm all about free competition and using existing ideas as springboards for new creation, Nine West has certainly crossed the copyright line with their version of the ruffled peep toe that Stuart Weitzman offers in an array of colors, for $200 less than the originals. Thoughts?

Shopping Online Versus Waiting In Line

I did not break a sweat once during 4 days of trying hard to resist the numerous sales that littered the malls and city blocks like pigeons. However, I have grown weary after 4 days of incessant emails from every store I was ever stupid enough to give my email address over to at check out. While I love J.Crew and Ann Taylor dearly, if I get one more email announcing a percentage off and free shipping, I may have to drown my Blackberry in a vat of leftover turkey soup.

Apparently, Friday's shopping hordes will pale in comparison to Cyber Monday's throngs. I love a good Internet search for the perfect cashmere cardigan as much as the next person, but I just can't climb aboard the online shopping bandwagon. (Granted while I was away at college in Central New York, miles away from the nearest mall, I received my fair share of packages from .com websites such that the mail room staff began to call me by name, and ask what I was buying this time.) But for those of us who live in shopping meccas, is Internet shopping really preferable to the real deal?

I think of Carrie Bradshaw in the mid 90's when Miranda was explaining the benefits of creating an email account and online shopping. Carrie declined the offer of cyber buying, explaining that shopping was her cardio. Though I frequent the gym, shopping is a sort of health-boosting activity that stimulates my imagination, my emotions, and gets my creative blood flowing. I do however, see the appeal of foregoing the streets and enjoying the buying high from the comfort of a good leather easy chair and a trusty MacBook. Between the crowds of shoppers who leave their manners at home, and the desperate sales persons thirsty for commission that smell your wallet from 100 feet away, it can be a bit much. (My Husband and I visited Bloomingdale's on 59th and Lex yesterday for a pair of leather gloves and had to leave after being assaulted by countless hungry sales persons who hadn't seen their last meal in days.)

Just as I prefer beautiful stationary to emails for certain communications, meeting for coffee to instant messaging (I still don't really know what Twitter is), and tactile inspection to a mere cyber image, I choose hitting the pavement in search of that perfect party dress over an Internet quest for thumbnail images of skinny girls who would look good in burlap sacks. But for those who fancy being online to waiting in line, today's .com sales will make your head spin. For extra savings and free shipping, be sure to visit Saks, Bloomingdales, Loft, Bluefly, Nine West, Banana Republic, and L'Occitane today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Keeping Friday in the Black

When I hear advertisements for Black Friday sales beginning at ungodly hours like 4 am, I cringe. There’s nothing that terrifies me more than the thought of waiting in line with avid shoppers, all jockeying to have first crack at the SpongeBob pajamas. The kind of stores I frequent do not participate in Black Friday door busters, and I like it that way.

The name given to the shopping bonanza originates from the time when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink denoted loss while black ink indicated profitability. The volume of sales the day after Thanksgiving always brought retailers out of the ‘red’ into the ‘black’. The current economic stalemate threatens to make a mockery of the nickname, as few retailers worldwide will see the elusive profits they so desperately need. I will be doing my part, as I already have plans to hit the Long Island malls with my mom in search of a few holiday treasures (dressed in sturdy boots for stomping through crowds and a stampede-proof vest.)

Though J.Crew has resisted the current deep discount trend, they are in the minority this holiday season. Ann Taylor, Loft, Banana, Gap, Bloomingdales, and Lord and Taylor are among the majority offering tantalizing deals to attract consumers into their stores, which are bursting at the seams with ripe holiday merchandise. For those adverse to the mobs of sale hungry wolves that will be out in full force Friday, many of the aforementioned brands are offering free shipping on their .com sites, several with no minimum purchase required. The Loft is already thinking ahead to the desolate post-Christmas lull and offering a 20% off coupon, good from December 28th through January 24th with any donation to St. Jude’s that you make with purchase. Get a good, tryptophan-induced night’s sleep Thursday and do your part to keep Black Friday in the Black!

(photo credit to Grace Magazine)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mid-Week Shopping Spree

From now on, by popular demand, Tuesdays will be reserved for whichever of the moment item that I myself, or those around me, are seeking. With a calendar full of holiday festivities, today's must have: the embellished party top.

No matter your age, your comfort level exposing your arms, or your desire to stick to a budget, there is a sparkly, ruffled, tiered or otherwise bedazzled top for you. To begin the catalogue are my wish-list finds. If it has sequins, chances are I want it. This J.Crew sequin, vintage inspired tank is amazing, but unfortunately, the price is not. Paired with trousers, denim, or black skinny pants, its a party all on its own. Another lustful piece is this DVF sequin tank, whose a-line shape makes it easy to wear for all sizes.

On to more foreseeable purchase options. This Alice + Olivia top is about the same price as a party dress, but more versatile since you can pair it with a multitude of bottoms for different looks. Plus the shoulder detail is reminiscent of the 1920's, my favorite fashion decade. For a more casual top with added elegance, this Project Alabama number at Anthropologie is sweet. The knit would lie nicely under a blazer or cardigan for those who don't do bare arms. For subtly, this J.Crew beaded, washed-silk taffeta tunic style top is irresistible. I've tried it on in the stores and it drapes like butter.

I am admittedly growing a tad weary of the Shakespearean ruffled collars that are persistently popping up on shelves everywhere. Though I own several myself at the moment, I need a hiatus from the look before I grab a wig and begin reciting a Midsummer Night's Dream. Ann Taylor has been showing many of these ruffled darlings, but has updated the detail for the holiday season with a less dramatic collar and more versatile silhouette, especially good for those who like a little sleeve. (Thanks in part to my weekly recommendations, AT reported profits for the 3rd quarter despite carrying light inventory and taking deep markdowns.) Before your next winter party, grab a little sparkle (or channel 90210 and go DIY with a bedazzler).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bar Wear

New York City night life never fails to delight me. This weekend at a friend's party in a familiar east village bar was no exception. Girls were dressed in cute sequin-adorned tanks, satin blouses, belted tunics, velvet blazers, skinny jeans an adorable array of heels. Unfortunately for my female companions, the men were not sporting their bar best. Rather there was a sea of nylon, mock-necks, ball caps, and the dreaded sneakers (apparently none of these guys had caught Tim Gunn on Oprah last Thursday).

Not to fear, where there is a crime against fashion (and a few cocktails) I will do my best to rectify the situation. I spotted an offensively clad guy in his late 20's/early 30's donning a full-zip hooded sweatshirt with the hopeful collar of a button down peering up from underneath. I excused myself from my friends for a moment, and approached the patron. I introduced myself, and the offender seemed shocked that I was talking to him. I politely suggested that, perhaps if he wished to meet any potential mates tonight, he might lose the sweatshirt and stick with just the button down shirt beneath. He hurried to take off his sweatshirt so quickly that he forgot about the beer he held in his hand and it was tossed nosily to the floor. Immediate improvement.

Next was this man pictured above (whose face has been blurred to protect his pitiful fashion choice). While his tan corduroys are rather pleasant, the full-zip mock neck is doing just what its names suggests- it is mocking him. The crew neck red t-shirt he chose to wear under his athletic gear would have been better suited for a game of poker in the confines of his basement. The last guy on my hit list dressed in a full nylon warm-up uniform seemed beyond hope. When I asked him about what he was wearing, he informed me that he was the Brown Football coach, and his team had suffered an embarrassing loss to Columbia today (though I may not know much about college sports, I do know that losing to a team like Columbia is a particularly brutal defeat). The coach thought this somehow explained his outfit, but my expression of confusion did not change. He too took off at least the nylon jacket. My work for the night was done!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gunn to the Rescue

While flipping through the channels yesterday afternoon, (before rolling up my sleeves to make dinner from scratch for the husband, like a good unemployed wife) I was thrilled to see that my favorite man in pinstripes was on Oprah. That's right, Tim Gunn! (This was probably only the second time in my life that I've actually sat through an episode of Oprah, but I'd do anything for Tim.)

Like me, Tim is baffled by what he aptly describes as the "slobification of America". I'm unsure of exactly when utility replaced femininity, but I'm nonetheless acutely aware that at some point the desire for comfort overtook any underlying effort at presentation. Several guests wrote in to Oprah with a myriad of complaints about their mate, friend, or relative (mullets, 80's t-shirts, baggy jeans, torn sneakers). Despite the fact that some of those felonies are actually on trend right now (the unfortunate 80's revival, and the new 'boyfriend fit' loose jean) the pool of candidates for Tim's style rescue was deep and treacherous. Gunn tells it straight, just look for the big 3: silhouette, proportion, fit.

Carson Kressley of Bravo's Queer Eye offered a few basic guidelines that even the fashion offenders worthy of Oprah's selection could effortlessly follow. Just as women must avoid 'mom jeans', so must men steer clear of 'dad jeans', those denim nemeses featuring whiskering, acid washing, intentional tearing or any other such adornment. Men should stick to straight, medium rise, classic blue jeans that meet the tops of their shoes with room to crease slightly. And as far as footwear is concerned, Carson and Tim both loath sneakers outside of the gym. No excuses. (Luckily for my husband, I was willing to overlook the fact that when I met him for the first time at a friend's party, he was wearing badly beaten gray New Balance kicks with pants that barely touched the tops of those atrocious sneakers.) Now if Bravo would just bring back Tim Gunn's Guide to Style....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Styling in Silence

For all those who think 'stylist' is a synonym for 'rail thin, Cartier-clad, dramatic TV personality' (and for my friend Rebecca for different reasons) here is an interesting article from the NY Times on the woman behind Sarah Palin's controversial wardrobe. Another shining example of the often small voices behind some of the most notable ensembles (for better or for worse), and the misconception that those who style always do so with acronyms, fur, baubles, and spotlight.

Off Broadway

Tired of the midtown scenery on a mild, sunny afternoon, I decided to take a long walk down to Soho and enjoy the up and coming holiday window displays. (For the occasion of migrating south of Houston, I found it appropriate to wear my preppy-meets-hipster black and white lace-up oxfords.) As usual, I took 3rd Ave down to 14th, then walked up to where Park Ave turns into Broadway and headed down past Astor Place, Bleecker, and finally Houston. Flustered to find an enormous amount of construction on the corner making it too hard to navigate in brand new shoes, I had to detour west of my route, just off Broadway. Who knew that some of the city's gems hid mere feet away from the main drag?

On Sullivan and Prince I found a shop that momentarily made me think I was back in upstate New York (in a good way). Purl yarn shop is perhaps the cutest store I have even come across in New York City. Though I haven't knitted since junior year of college when my roommate Hillary taught me how (and I made a mangled, lopsided hat that only a mother could love) this discovery made me want to take up the hobby all over again. Then on Greene I saw what looked like Pinkberry meets home decor, and couldn't help but go inside. What I later learned was the Alessi flagship is the perfect place to find unique gifts for anyone interested in cooking, entertaining, or just being quirky. On Spring I came across what looked like just another clothing store, until I went inside and discovered a large vintage display, full of boots, t-shirts (the original Twizzlers logo) and other fabulous accessories. Flying A has a decisive downtown feel, with splashes of lower east side edge and Tribeca glam (including the hard to find Petit Bateau that Rebecca is forever searching for).

Hunger began to rumble in my stomach, just as I turned down Broome and found Mariebelle Soho. Though this was a 'no gym' day, I couldn't resist a little treat from the chocolate bar. The hot chocolate made it impossible to ever use instant Swiss Miss again. To rediscover the city you think you know so well, just veer a little to the left.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Praise Worthy

New talent in the fashion business is like an apple picked from a tree on a crisp October day. It's fresh, juicy, and reminds us why we loved the fruit to begin with. For the past 6 years, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has partnered with Vogue and from a vast pool of fresh design talent, chosen 1 winner and 2 runners-up to receive prize money and recognition in the industry as rising stars.

Often times the winners are people whom are largely unknown at the time of the award to the larger consumer market. Past recipients of this award are Alexander Wang (2008), Rogan Gregory of Rogan (2007), Doo-Ri Chung of Doo.Ri (2006), Trovata (2005) and Proenza Schouler (2004). This year's winner, Sophie Theallet, was born in France and trained with famous designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Azzedine Alaia. She launched her own brand in 2006 and her pieces can be found at high-end stores like Barney's. Sophie Theallet's designs have been called 'bohemian lux', which aptly describes her use of movement, draping and fabric choice.

While the winners are certainly a talented bunch, I personally find myself rooting for the designers who end up as runners-up. For example, 2007 runner-up Phillip Lim (of 3.1 Phillip Lim) is a well known designer with edgy, chic pieces. Both 2006 runners-up, Rodarte and Thakoon are now flourishing in the industry. This weekend I finally had the pleasure of attending the American Beauty exhibit at FIT where a red and blue Rodarte draped floor length gown caught my attention. The design had macabre inspiration (blood running through water) but regardless of the gothic notion at its conception, the end product was show stopping.

Thanks to Vogue and the CFDA, green talent can be plucked from the tree and watered with the financial nutrients and experienced mentoring it needs to grow and reach consumers everywhere.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Night in Murray Hill

It' a drizzly, damp, oddly temperate for mid-November Saturday night. My Husband and I are returning from dinner with his parents at our favorite local Greek restaurant, Ethos, located in the heart of post-college frat scene, Murray Hill. Though our reservations were at the ripe early bird hour of 6:30, we still managed to collide with the barely legals as they headed out to the vast array of bars that spans 4 long blocks of our neighborhood. While this was probably least pleasant for my poor in-laws, who are not accustomed to the drunken squeals and unsteady teetering of 22-years olds beginning their night out, it was a treat of sorts for me. Aside from the glimpse back into my college years (and unfortunately, New Years eve an embarrassingly short time ago) that this run-in provided, it also was an eyeful of fashion, and, like tequila, there was the good, the bad and the ugly.

Exhibit number 1. A skinny girl, not a day older than 21, dressed in a micro-mini skirt made of an indiscernible synthetic, reminiscent of pleather, topped off with a voluminous faux fur cropped jacket, and chrome heeled ankles booties. While this poor soul would be a Glamour Don't had I had a camera, she manages to just teeter by with a few disbelieving stares. (Faux fur is better than real fur, but in the same way that rug burn is better than a 3rd degree burn.) But there is one point that her ensemble makes, that fashion trickles down from the runway and eventually hits the streets, literally. The micro-mini is a popular silhouette. And ankle booties, as you are well aware, are hot. The volume of the girl's coat is right on track with the unfortunate 80's revival I loathe, yet still recognize.

Exhibit number 2. An average framed girl, about 23, donning skin-tight, shiny leggings tucked into Tory Burch low boots, no coat over her paper thin James Perse tank, and a coordinating Tory Burch clutch. I won't harp on the leggings (even though these were double offenders because they were shiny). The boots are cute, and Tory Burch is on fire lately, ever since her cultish Reva flats hit the shelves a few years ago. I think girls over the age of 12 should not wear thin tank tops by themselves, let alone in the rain, but this was likely the girl's intention. And like Stacy and Clinton say, your bag should not match your shoes so perfectly unless you live in the 1960's or are a cast member of Mad Men. Luckily my in-laws made it back to Grand Central for their train back to Connecticut unharmed by the atrocities of Murray Hill on a Saturday night.

Monday, November 16, 2009

All Black & Blue

Though quite literally many are feeling bruised by the economy, there is also something wonderful happening in black and blue. On a shopping trip to Soho with Rebecca, we came across the color duo she has been in search of since returning from a year in France. It evokes a kind of daring sensibility that many fashion rule followers might shun. But the unexpected pairing of midnight blue and black is quite reverent, and just in time for holiday dress shopping.

There are a multitude of ways to dip your feet in the water before jumping in head first. Rather than being so bold as to do blue and black on our own, by, say, pairing a hot black cocktail number with deep cobalt suede pumps for evening, look for pieces that do the heavy lifting for you. This black Max Azria for BCBG dress adds a dash of blue at the waist. Or this dress, featured at left, by Haute Hippie (with a steeper price tag) mixes the hues more strikingly. Anthropologie, famous for its vintage-inspired apparel, has this adorable party dress in the mixed combo, with the pleasant price tag hitting south of $200. This Ali Ro frock with wide, sequin-adorned stripes of navy and black is my personal favorite of the season.

For pieces that will rock the party, but not your wallet, Urban Outfitters is a go-to destination. This embellished black and blue tank dress is only $58. Or for a more covered up option, this frock priced at just $38 costs less than a double round of Patron shots on a Friday night. Famous for their easy, wearable pieces, Banana Republic has a compelling blue and black story for evening in their Soho location, not currently available online. With prices in the mid $100 range, the collection makes diving into the black and blue ocean an easier task.

If you plan to shop your own closet to prep for holiday festivities this season, there are easy ways to don the new color combo. Pairing your allegiant little black dress with a new pair of opaque navy tights is fresh. Or purchase a pair of the above mentioned navy pumps to do the trick. This season's bib necklaces can also add the unexpected peek of Navy to a black ensemble. If I ever make it to the elusive round 3 interview, perhaps I will be enabled to purchase one of my picks to ring in the new year in new black and blue style.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Legally Speaking

Time and again in the world of fashion, I come across items that so strongly resemble something previously on the market, I literally stop in my tracks to examine the impostor. I am not talking about the bold, brazen knock offs on Canal Street which usually fall into the category of very obvious (and very illegal) trademark infringement. The murkier area is copyright infringement, and the lines are anything but decisively drawn.

Copyright is limited protection given to creators of original works of authorship that have been reduced to tangible form. Ideas that are so singular as to have only one method of expression are not worthy of protection (for example, there is only one way to boil water, so you cannot receive copyright protection for reducing this idea to writing). This concept of limited protection is known as the idea-expression dichotomy. Fashionista (my favorite blog besides my own) features a section they call 'adventures in copyright' where they display a multitude of clothing seemingly inspired by (or copied from?) another. I read it constantly and evaluate the 2 looks myself to reach my own verdict. More times than not, I find the cheaper alternative to the designer work is guilty. (Can you tell which of the above pink and blue dresses is the $24 Forever21 dress and which is the Aidan Mattox from Saks? The waters are caliginous!)

One of the hurdles designers face in protecting their creations under copyright is defining exactly just what constitutes the 'original work of authorship.' For anyone who has ever gone shopping with a significant other, and taken joy in the sight of a full tool party skirt only to have your companion curl a lip, sneer, and tell you you had to be crazy if you though that was hot, you know that style is subjective. One person may look at 2 identical black shift dresses with shoulder cut outs and see 2 totally different frocks, while another may see that clearly the Chanel on the left is a dead ringer for the Cynthia Rowley on the right. And to a certain extent, a little bit of imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, isnt it? When your friend shows up to a party in a denim and leather ensemble reminiscent of the look you rocked a few weeks ago, you feel happy to have inspired others, right?

Not so much in the design world. When Marc Jacobs dreams up a floral, flouncy frock with a price tag north of $400, and Forever21 offers a strikingly similar number for around $30, its hard to say they are really competing. A prime concept in intellectual property law is the notion that consumers and 3rd parties will be confused, and mistake the Forever21 for the Marc Jacobs. Even fashion neophytes will agree that such mistake is not possible (does a Datsun look like a Mercedes because they both come in red?) But regardless of the lack of feasible consumer confusion over the 2 dresses, it is still a robbery of sorts. The creative expression of a talented designer has been outright copied for the financial gain of a low end chain retailer. We may not shed tears for the uber successful Marc, but think about when this happens to a small time designer trying to make it big. If her look is 'adapted' for mass marketing after a runway show that took her years and mountains of loans to put on, she will never make ends meet in the word in which she was so 'sincerely flattered'. A line needs to be drawn in the sand so that the designers who bring so much joy to our eager eyes each season can afford to keep doing so with integrity and inspiration.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gifts That Hit The Spot

With Thanksgiving lurking a mere 2 weeks in the distance, the inevitable holiday gift buying frenzy that follows is not far away. After a very busy summer stocked to the rafters with wedding preparations for many of my friends me, we have decided to forgo our annual gift exchange in favor of a good meal with good company. But for those who are not lucky enough to call for a gift stalemate, there are many glorious options in every price rage this season. Some websites, like J.Crew, have user friendly gift guides organized by price tag for those who really want to make this painless. But if you enjoy the thrill of the hunt as I do (even when the ultimate treasure will be turned over to another), there are some fabulous ideas I've collected from my vast array of fashion and style reading in all this free time I have on my manicured hands.

I always shop for gifts that I myself would love to receive. While this does not always work (a few years ago, I gave my friend Eileen a fashion forward powder blue vinyl clutch that she has never taken off the floor of her closet, and that created a tiff about whether or not I really did know her after our 15 years friendship) it is usually the best guide to scoring the perfect finds for others. Never underestimate the joy of the gift card. If you know where a friend or relative shops, eats, or gets their manicures, you absolutely cannot go wrong with a gift card. It's like giving them a glorious day of shopping or pampering for free! (Please get over any apprehension about placing an obvious dollar amount on the card, because, despite what you may think, when someone returns your misguided gift using the fancy 'gift receipt' that intentionally has no price, the second the cashier rings the return, the exact price appears and the mystery is aborted.)

If you insist on tangible items, think broadly about something the recipient is likely to desire, yet never anticipated to buy for themselves. (If you're getting something for me, there are few things I am unlikely to buy for myself if I have the funds, though my mother has mastered this art quite well.) Anything you can personalize is an instantly thoughtful gift. Think of beautiful stationary, a monogrammed cashmere sweater, a customizable beer pitcher and glass combo, or a set of Ridel wine glasses bearing an initial. If your recipient entertains, a stylish set of Jonathan Adler playing cards is super chic, as is a chess set which manages to serve aesthetic as well as useful purposes. As my francophile friend Rebecca would agree, gifts bearing French influence have a certain sophistication. Try a gift set from L'Occitane, or a sumptuous Diptyque candle which will burn for 60 hours and actually permeates the entire room. For a newly wed couple or a relative, a beautiful crystal ornament is timeless.

Even on a limited budget you can be thoughtful and fashionable in your gift giving (just as you can be in your personal style).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stretchy Stuff

After yesterday's successful shopping trip (my friend went home with 2 pairs of knee high boots), I've been forced to reevaluate my blanket abhorrence for all things resembling leggings. I can divide the vile gear into 2 distinct categories, one which deserves its loathing, and another that can be quite magnetic.

First are the well know spandex, easy to spot (and easy to resist) sausage casings for legs. Regardless of your affinity for cured meats, these don't really look good on anyone. While browsing the racks yesterday, my friend and I came across a pair of denim leggings, and were both equally horrified (and my friend is a fierce defender of leggings). I first tried to give the pants the benefit of the doubt and suggested perhaps the elastic waist was suited for maternity wear, but upon further examination I could tell this was not the case. They were just ugly. Skinny jeans are hard enough to wear well, I wouldn't recommend delving into pants that are so brazen as to call themselves 'denim leggings'.

The second variety of spandex leg wear that I find less offensive, and even adorable, are the equestrian inspired camp. On this week's 'to do' list is picking up a pair of these from J.Crew. Several elements make these pants different from the former, vile sausage casings. First of all, they are called 'skinny pants', not leggings. (Any lawyer will tell you word choice is everything.) Secondly, they have a back zipper, kind of like a reverse fly. This makes them more akin to actual pants than leggings. Additionally, the ankle hem does not hug the leg within an inch of its life, but rather stands breathing distance away from the skin. The inner leg patch detail, reminiscent of equestrian jodphers, seals the deal.

So while my bottom line has not changed, I have opened my mind to another previously unknown category of spandex. Just another reminder of why fashion is so fabulous, you never know what you may find.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mid-Week Shopping Spree

In anticipation of my shopping trip with my fashionable friend from college tonight, I've been scouting the best boots for fall-winter'09. Though my former roommate's focus is on the knee-high variety, I can't help but stumble across many ankle booties as well (which have become my season favorite). As always, I tried to cover an array of price points to satisfy my cravings, while at the same time placating my Husband (and recognizing that we still share a studio apartment).

For those fashion gurus who need not look at price tags, these knee highs from Chloe are irresistible. These Burberry equestrian boots are reminiscent of the pair I spent every weekend wearing during my horse back riding career, and I can never get enough of those images. Though I can't get on board with the whole over-the-knee boot, these by Modern Vintage are the least offensive of the variety that I've come across. No one does elegance with edge quite like Christian Louboutin. Those trademarked red soles never fail to deliver effortless chic. These round toe ankle booties are no exception. My friend loves Giuseppe Zanotti (she wore a super hot pair to my wedding) so she may like these knee-highs, though they cost a months rent. Some sacrifies are worth it.

For the price conscious, yet not too restricted, I love these Tory Birch ankle booties. The rounded toe is fresh, the heel is high, and they go day to night seamlessly. No one does equestrian better than Ralph Lauren, and these field boots are very well priced. If you must buy over-the-knee, these Dolce Vitas are well priced and cute, if you fold down the upper portion of leather.

For those who have yet to land a job in this economy, share a studio apartment with their significant other, or spent all their money on the new Louis bag and have none left, there are some very well priced options for a little indulgence. The new low cowboy booty reminds again of those barn days, and I love this affordable pair by Lucky. These knee-highs by Marc Fisher are super cute (and even cuter because of the price). For an edgy little pair of booties, these Kennith Cole's are south of $100 and can be worn with skirts or pants.

And no matter how plump or paltry your wallet is, everyone needs rain boots for those wet, damp city commutes that inevitably engulf the months of January and February. My very favorite are the classic Burberry rubber boots, which I've had since college. If you want to wear a Burberry raincoat, don't want to look like a giant plaid pillow and , these Michael Kors boots hardly look like they're built for the weather. If you really want to camouflage your rain boots, these London Fogs are ridiculously cute, and 100% waterproof. (I'm just not that into hot pink rain boots with critters on them. But as always, wear what you like!) Counting the hours til shopping time.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just call me Esquire

Breaking news in my inbox today:

"The New York State Board of Law Examiners congratulates you on passing the New York State bar examination held on July 28-29, 2009. An official certification notice will be emailed to the email address currently on file with the Board. The email will include an attachment with your official bar exam results, which will be in Adobe pdf. A copy of the Notice of Certification must be filed with the Appellate Division as part of your application for admission."

This is not only vindication after 3 years of torture, but also proof that torn sweatpants, Teva sandals and Hanes undershirts do not make one more apt to pass the bar than a cute, cotton blend dress and coordinating gladiator sandals. It is possible to be stylish and successful. A law license is certainly a timeless new accessory, it goes with everything in my closet.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beware of Rushing in Heels

Tired of always 'saving' my best shoes for some illusive special occasion, I decided it was time to wear a new pair to run mundane errands. Since my fall '09 obsession is clearly ankle booties, I whipped out my brand new 4 inch set and headed out.

I had at least 2 hours before I needed to be somewhere, so I began my romp leisurely. When booties are new, the portion of leather just below the outer ankle bone is often stiff, as it has yet to be broken in by shopping trips or walks up and the corporate hallways. Not to worry, I rubbed a bit of Band-Aid Blister Block below my ankle to ease any friction this new booty might create. All was well 90 minutes and 40 blocks worth of errands later, when I spotted a Duane Reade and remembered I needed new shampoo. Thanks to the prime cost of retail space in Manhattan, half of this particular Duane Reade is located downstairs. Of course the escalator was not in service so I was forced onto the stairs (ok, I could use the additional calorie burn of a few steps anyway). I placed one foot delicately in front of the other to descend the staircase, and made it to the bottom with a few angry sighs encouraging me to use more speed at my back. After scouring the ransacked shelves for my brand (Pantene, just like Stacy London) I headed back for the ascent to ground level.

I knew my 2 hours were nearly up, and wanted to avoid the bitter lashes from other shoppers clearly in a hurry to leave Duane Reade. As I made my way up the stairs, I increased my pace one notch above normal. I underestimated the great amount of care it took to stabilize one leg at a time on a teetering 4 inch heel, and as I reached the top 5 steps where the outdoor light of safety greeted me like a helping hand, I missed its grasp and came crashing down onto first a knee, and then finally a thigh and partial butt cheek. Those angry sighs turned to shocked gasps, and a handful of concerned offers for help. No need, I could manage on my own. I stood, hobbled up the last remaining steps and brushed myself off. I surely broke in those booties, just as they broke in my self-esteem.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Prep School

Perhaps it all started when my parents sent me to private school at age 12. Or perchance it is a remnant of growing up in the 90210 idol age. (I also went to college where Gatsby themed fraternity mixers were all the rage.) Whatever the reason, I love preppy clothes, and I love preppy boys. Nothing makes me feel perfectly well dressed more than a gold button blazer, and nothing causes me to stop and stare more than the sight of a guy with a plaid scarf, khaki pants and a tweed coat.

The November cover of InStyle Magazine is a perfect example of the versatility and utter timelessness of prep. Reese Witherspoon dons a navy Brooks Brothers boys blazer over a gold brocade DKNY dress, and looks ready to party. Though the 90210 age has been replaced by the Gossip Girl generation, the preppy fashion messages have stayed steady (though the price tags have soared to astronomical heights far above the heads of the 16 and 17 year olds who worship the actor portrayal of New York City elite). Brenda Walsh's plaid shirts have been traded for Blaire Waldorf's pearls and head bands, Brandon Walsh's fitted jeans and crew-neck sweaters swapped for Chuck Bass's 3 piece suits and ascots. My Husband admittedly swoons over Nate Archibald and his crest-adorned cashmere blazers with coordinating bow ties.

Yesterday, in search of something new without breaking the bank, I stumbled upon a pair of old fashioned, wing-tipped, lace-up oxfords that I had to have. The thought of pairing them with skinny jeans and a long blazer made me giddy. However, there are limits to my preppy obsession. For example, the head to toe Lilly Pulitzer ensembles that fit right in at a Hamptons fiesta look oddly perplexing in normal life. There is something about pastel that reminds me of Easter eggs and bridesmaids, and while both of those images are pleasant enough, they are not things I wish to evoke when dressing.

Every season embraces hints of prep, but none quite as unabashedly as the fall. There is plenty of cold weather to come, and an abundance of plaid to warm the masses.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's To Come

With the autumn chill squarely upon us, exciting fall fashions have migrated from central display tables to rear sale racks in order to make room for Spring 2010 offerings. Though I am not quite over the thrill of my boyfriend blazers and tweed minis, I welcome a peek into seasons ahead.

Designers' resort collections will hit stores first to tantalize us with warm thoughts of sun and sand, followed by full spring lines. The runway shots are dazzling. There are feathers (reminiscent of the flapper generation), there is mesh, there is bondage (the influence of the Herve Leger signature frock is lingering). There is a broader neutral palette, from designers who usually emphasize bright color, like Marc Jacobs. Donna Karan shows her distinctive shoulder-bearing ensembles in beige tones with impeccable draping. Though Narciso Rodriguez's red and black dress was crucified on election night last year when the always stylish Michelle Obama donned it on stage, I never understood the fuss. His Spring 2010 collection stays true to his use of shape and understanding of women's bodies. Project Runway winner Christian Siriano creates a nude effect with his choice of flesh-tones and sleeker silhouettes. Sheer fabrics and cut-outs keep things light an airy for spring.

Spring embraces a variety of footwear, including wooden heels, espadrille wedges, embellishment and ruffles (though admittedly, some are growing a tad tired of the Shakespearean ruffles that landed several seasons ago). Shoe guru Jimmy Choo has a new line of footwear, clothes and accessories for wallet-friendly retailer H&M that has me very excited. The signature sky high stilettos and rock-n-roll details are now offered for prices in the $120 range (a pair of classic Jimmy Choos begins in the $750 range). I'm praying to land a job by the time these lovely ladies line the racks in full force.

The over all impression of spring and summer 2010 is softer and more feminine than the structured tweeds of fall. Feedback designates the collections as very wearable, an often illusive quality on the runway. I'll be saving my pennies!