Monday, December 27, 2010

Stormy Sights

Sunday evening's snow storm certainly sent suburbia into a tailspin this weekend. A mere 8 months ago I lived in Murray Hill, Manhattan, where the winter weather merely necessitates Burberry rubber boots and perhaps a hat. I realize that leaving the confines of city dwelling carries certain liberties, but all such freedoms (cars, no more subways, organic farm stands that don't require import tax) come at a price (no more strolls down Madison, owning a shovel, enduring more sweatsuits and Ugg Boots than I thought humanly possible- and I live on Long Island's North Shore, a mere 30 minute drive from Manhattan).

Yesterday morning, despite the anticipated blizzard, we went to the local market to stock up on supplies for the annual dinner party we host after Christmas for my best girlfriends and their men. The parking lot, which resembled the news reports from Black Friday where that poor Walmart worker was killed, more than an organic local market on a Sunday morning, should have deterred us off the bat. But my cravings for light spinach dip and jello pudding snacks were stronger than my anti sweatpants as daywear instincts. After fighting an oversized couple for the last shopping cart, I was already exhausted and ready to grab the goods and get going. A fight at the deli counter was about to turn physical as we sped through the store in search of the few items on our list. Granted, it was cold, it was early, and many inches of snow were in the forecast. But there was not a wildfire, flood, imminent tornado or any other natural disaster that might require one to leave the house in their pajamas in search of rescue or sustenance. Be that as it may, the sight of the people on the checkout lines rivaled the scene at BJ's the weekend after Thanksgiving. Men had plaid pants tucked partially into boots, women had everything from nightgowns over leggings to long underwear and slippers. One woman had on a robe. An actual robe, not a cute sweater coat that men like to make fun. I'm 5 months pregnant and I managed a pair of black leggings, a coordinating zip-front terry jacket and snow boots (my husband, who doesn't own a pair of sweatpants, wore corduroys I gave him for Christmas, an argyle Brooks Brothers sweater and Geox waterproof driving loafers. A match made in heaven). Life in the suburbs will certainly take some getting used to!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Perspectives from Paris

As much as I love the holiday season and all the preparations that accompany the 30 degree days, I took a breather this weekend and dove blissfully into the January issues I had backlogged since the first of the month. I enjoyed Anne Slowey's account of the spring shows, which, for the first time in her career, she had to partake in the same way us mere mortals always do- from the couch.

As I near the half way mark to delivery, the thought of dressing in head to toe white doesn't conjure pleasant images in my head (that plus Saturday night dinner at Bryant and Cooper, where I nearly finished the bread basket before my fillet mignon arrived). However, the drape and swing of summer gauze in bright hues does sound appealing right about now. The pages of Elle are littered with interesting (often odd) shapes and silhouettes that won't translate to mass market America (as is the point of many European Houses). Anne notes that, from the couch, many of the fashions traipsing down the runway look better suited for the early episodes of Project Runway than high couture shows. This is the sentiment many viewers report, and perhaps we all need tickets to Vuitton before we can truly appreciate the intricate delicacy of the hot orange, floor length gown with Star Trek-like shoulder points. I'm eager to shop in regular stores again, and the neutrals paired with citrus brights on deck for next season look good enough to eat (as do many things these days).

Monday, December 13, 2010

Holiday Cheer

This weekend was full of dining, decorating, and dancing. When I took this job over the summer, I imagined attending numerous cocktail parties and finally having someplace to wear my sheath dresses and pencil skirts, but the particular details of what I was in for were always elusive. Saturday evening's holiday party, hosted in a private residence in Matinecock, Long Island (Great Gatsby comes to mind) was one for the record books. If my trip to the Queens Mall last winter represented a low point (in terms of self worth as measured by one's loathsome surroundings and the realization that such cultural ideals exist in today's world) this party signified a height of sorts (fashion, food, and all around fabulousness).

I knew I was in for a treat when one of the hosts greeted my husband and me decked in a red plaid Brooks Brothers vest. From there I took in several sequin mini dresses, patent pumps, Essie A-List red nails, Harry Winstons, and just the right amount of velvet. (My husband tugged at my elbow and I saw his eyes light up at the sight of the 5-tier raw bar with everything from oysters to king crab legs, but I asked him not to distract me from the fashions, which, unlike raw fish, I could actually savor.) The 12 piece band played to the background of clinking ice and vodka in crystal martini shakers (another pang as I sipped my club soda), and the ice sculptures picked up the reflecting sheen of many precious stones. (A limited edition Chanel clutch circa 2008 nearly stole my breath, but if I held it in too abruptly, I risked rupturing the seam of my non-maternity size 2 cocktail dress I insisted on wearing.) Tis the season!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Shapes

As the holidays approach, my calendar at work resembles a page from Elle more than that of an ordinary, 20-something new suburbanite. Between charity events, cocktail parties and office obligations my closet is getting more of a workout than I do these days. With the added complication of an expanding waistline, I've had to up the usual amount of effort I put into the seasonal task of holiday wardrobing.

Many of my favorite go-to's won't accommodate my shape for the next 20 something weeks so I've had to branch out (luckily, Pea in the Pod and Ann Taylor's Loft diffusion line offer me some assistance). Happily sequins are still on the scene, and while slightly predictable for holiday, some things just make sense. There's nothing like a sparkling cropped cardigan over a silky, draped tank to almost make me forget I'll be drinking Pelligrino with lime instead of Cabernet all season long. (And the most pleasing moment I've had was when an older co-worker asked if she could still expect to marvel at my ensembles in the ensuing months. Of course!) Besides, the demi-waist panel is one of the most spectacular inventions of the 21st century.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Freshly Baked at Home

Much to my chagrin, making gifts yourself seems to go out of style as you exit the 6th grade. I spent many hours circa 1998 crouched over a pile of threads and old denim on my bedroom floor sewing meticulous hand bags and clutches by hand, utilizing the most random treasures I found in the house (flexible plastic straws for supportive structure, fake lillies for adronments). But perhaps crafts are not passe after all. Fashionista works with Erica Domesek (of P.S. I Made This) on fabulous DIY trinkets, and if she can do it, why not me?

It is fitting around the holiday season to explore the most cost effective (if not time saving) ways to give a trinket from the heart. While I love to give a coriander scented delicacy from Dyptique, or cashmere gloves from the counter at Bloomies, a move to the suburbs, a 2nd car, the insurance to match, and nursery furniture nibble at the funds ordinarily reserved for such gifts. I don't think my back will allow me to resume my days of bag-making on the bedroom floor, but I certainly will be perusing the knitting needles and yarn from the college days (we needed an activity apart from drinking and partying sometimes) in an effort to resurrect that DIY spirit this season. Besides, the best looking, chicest cold weather accessories look hand made and cost $400. Why pay?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Anyone?

On the Friday after Thanksgiving I like to avoid retailers in the same manner I avoid leggings. Apparently hell has frozen over, because last Friday, I found myself in a BJ's, some massive warehouse grocery store I had only heard suburban rumors about until last week. Save for the fact that I now have enough paper towels and lemon-lime Canada Dry to last me until 2012, the experience was shell shocking, and not one I look forward to repeating (and don't let me get started on what people we were wearing to this BJ's, since I'm trying to be nicer in the spirit of the holidays. I didn't know slippers doubled as outdoor footwear.)

Unlike the shameful running of the bulls that our country undergoes on Black Friday, Cyber Mondays are relaxing and anonymous, the way many prefer to shop these days. The depth of the discounts signal the health (or lack there of) for the different retailers. For example, you can get 40% off and free shipping at Ann Taylor and all related stores, but a measly 15% off at all Gap companies (it would appear the tables have turned this season). Savings will continue until midnight, so those who worked with heavy internet firewalls all day can come home and indulge from the privacy of the micro suede couch.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

All About the Whale

Do you relish the present season for the food? The fashions? The tweed? How about the corduroy? This past weekend while watching my Husband's Sunday morning news lineup, I was fascinated by a segment on a group (or cult?) call the Corduroy Appreciation Club.

I mean I love a pair of cords as much as the next. I stick with the 5-pocket boot cut classics, and the more modern 'toothpick' ankle skimming variety. I even have a wide-whaled hunter green blazer from fall 2008 that I never miss an opportunity to wear. But I never considered there might be an entire gaggle of fans who meet, sing, write, and hail the cloth.

The club meets on 11/11 each year in the City (since the repetition of '1's' most closely resembles the whale of the beloved corduroy). Their mascot, is of course, the whale (they chant and give praise to the whale). Poets gave readings, songwriters sang their hearts out, and thousands of fans (3,500 current members of the club) cheered them on. I appreciate any such enthusiasm and dedication to fashion, no matter how specific or obscure it may seem. I see a kindred spirit in the cord club.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Barely Legal

Though fashion and law intermix often these days, its not often in the way Above the Law reported last week. Brooklyn Law allowed Diesel to shoot an ad in their library, which, anyone who is familiar with the denim brand knows, is not exactly an easy fit. (My good friend is a Brooklyn Law grad, and since she, like me, prefers tailored separates to Euro-trash as an aesthetic, you can imagine her reaction.)

Calling Diesel 'fashion' is almost a stretch these days, as its more akin to tacky lingerie than style fit for the world outside the bedroom. I remember the days I would order a pair of the $180 jeans from my dorm room at college, and run excitedly back from the mail room when they'd arrive. A night at the Jug was infinitely more fun in a pair of hip-hugging, boot cut Diesels ('straight' and 'skinny' didn't come into vocabulary until the year I graduated from college). My friend from my days at Ann Taylor left the style stalwart to work at Diesel in 2006, and when they passed out colorful condoms to everyone on Friday afternoons, she knew she had made quite the culture shift.

Perhaps the ads will give law students a needed distraction in the days before final exams (a time I now relish and won't even read for pleasure during).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Party Ready

My affinity for J.Crew is hardly unique. When the catalogue comes each month, I seldom toss it aside without crafting at least one new outfit for the week. You can imagine my delight when I read about the debut of the brand's long-conceived new line line, 769 (named after the flagship Madison Ave store, where, of course, you can exclusively find the new digs. Perhaps its a good thing for my bank account that we left our Murray Hill apartment which was a stone's throw away).

Elle's Whitney Vargas describes the collection as "dressy ready-to-wear," which basically calls to mind most items from the last few seasons of the classics. Creative Director and company President Jenna Lyons calls it "the J.Crew girl turned up a notch." Regardless of the prose used, the pieces make the anticipation of holiday invitations even more palpable. (I'm not sure I can pull off a pair of $650 sequined harem pants, but I do love to look at a picture of Katie Holmes in them.) The roughed-up pretty look of jacquard and denim, argyle socks and satin platforms, is irresistible and kinda makes you think. Rather then reaching for the cardigan and black pants, a sparkle belt or bejeweled tank can loosen things up a bit. (And if you have the legs, I'd love to see some knee socks!)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Boot

Much the same way that you can't help but stare at an accident in the opposite lane on the LIE, I was flipping channels last night and came across Steve Madden on HSN and couldn't turn it off (at least not right away). I of course recited the name of each boot that he shamelessly peddled, and found it difficult not to offer commentary along with each style that traipsed down the faux runway (none of which was G rated).

Regardless of my residual angst and heart palpitations at the sight of the SM logo, I happen to love flat boots more than any other article of footwear (an artifact of a childhood spent on horseback, decked in traditional English sportswear?) Since I can no longer wear daily denim, fitting the classic flat riding boot into my weekly wardrobe is more of a challenge than in previous years. My favorite pair is still a score from Cole Haan at Bloomingdale's that I got in exchange for several off-registry wedding gifts that my Husband would sooner part with than pay out of pocket for new boots for. The ever-loathed legging comes in quite handy when trying to avoid jeans and still enjoy the tall boot (by 'legging' I refer to J.Crew's Pixie Pant, the most acceptable form of a leg-hugging skin I can manage).

Since each season calls for at least one new pair of boots, I've been browsing the under $200 selections, in the spirit of saving money for our impending move the suburbs in a few weeks. The pair from Ralph Lauren pictured right is quite a deal for the style and quality. (Steve Madden happens to offer a bunch of boots under $200, but I just won't go there.) Happy shopping!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Legs and All

The November cover of the J.Crew catalogue inspired a month long search for the perfect pair of gray tights. Sure, the ones featured in the pages themselves would have done just fine, but J.Crew is no longer in my daily path and lately I refuse to pay $8 on shipping for something that costs only slightly more.

While wearing skirts in the summer is fun, there's nothing quite like a pair of opaque, woolly tights to take the skirt to a whole different level in the colder weather. As soon as the leaves turn and begin to fall, I reach to the back of the drawer for the Wolfords. In the spirit of not spending $30 on a pair of tights that will probably snag or rip by the end of the season, I was looking elsewhere.

My new job, which leaves room in my schedule for weekly lunches with my mother, is also a stone's throw from a lovely little plaza with boutiques and shops galore. After our weekly lunch date, I had a few extra minutes for a stop in at Banana Republic. A 25% off your entire purchase sign was music to my eyes, as were the the perfect shade of gray, textured tights snuggled into the accessories bin to the left of the door. I snatched them up (along with a new wool mini skirt to match) and headed to the counter with my new obsession satiated. Almost as good as taco night.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Blonde Ambition

I won't say that Elle Woods was my inspiration when I applied to law school in 2005, while at the time working as an assistant buyer for Ann Taylor. But Legally Blonde certainly didn't hurt. The first year of school was a blur; endless reading requiring my first real pair of glasses, Socratic method-induced nausea, and a new found fear of subways (and one of the few highlights- being told by a classmate I hardly spoke to that she loved every single outfit I wore, and asked what I hoped do after law school. Good question).

Had there been something similar to Fordham's Fashion Law Institute at the time, I think law school may have been an entirely different experience for me. The new course of study may have the law school halls chocked full of a new breed of student, possessing not just intelligence (which, in law school, is as pervasive as hangovers freshman year in college), but also a style savvy that is largely unprecedented in such locales. An added bonus is that style icon and wrap-dress inventor Diane von Furstenberg backs the program (internships anyone?)

I am pretty happy in my new line of work, where law makes a daily appearance in the form of contracts with venues for various galas and events, and a high school moot court club I'm fortunate enough to head up. But Fordham's Institute certainly opens a lot of doors for those who haven't yet found their fashionable calling.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Shorts and Loafers

A fall weekend is rarely complete without a trip to J.Crew. Among the plush cashmere and light as a feather merino, I got momentarily lost in what felt like a visit to Barnes and Noble. The new preppy must have Take Ivy (complete with issue number out of a proclaimed 300 copies, fact or fiction being largely irrelevant) was the find of the month.

Originally published in Japan in the 60's, the revamped treat is bursting with inspirational photos and serves as a diary for the ages. (My coworker who cannot accept that the leather sleeved, felt body varsity jacket is a thing of the past would surely love to get this as a gift.) At my liberal arts college, which liked to call itself a 'little ivy", though I'm not sure what that really means, there were more sweatshirts than oxfords between the hours of 9am and 6pm. While I stand by my aversion to men's hairy legs, I can't completely condemn the madras and penny loafers when done so deliberately. I think ripping out page 11 and placing it behind my desk might be a nice reminder of what young men are capable of.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Short Sighted

When I was abroad in Australia junior year of college, we took a 2 week long spring break trip into the interior of the continent. In preparation for the trip, which would involve a lot of hiking, rain forests (and other foreign modes of travel for a bunch of Northeastern liberal arts college kids), we were instructed to buy sturdy, practical backpacks that would be filled with multiple water bottles for our journeys. After a trip to the local mall, and perusing the many 'practical' options (various shades of hideous nylon with straps and buckles that resembled something from the show Lost more than something I'd be caught dead carrying), I went with a single strap pack from Diesel, which was worn across the chest and, in my opinion, qualified as a 'backpack', and was extremely cute.

On the second day of our 2 week excursion, it was over 100 degrees, and we were 3 hours into an infinite hike up a red-clay covered mountain side. I had already finished the only 2 12 ounce water bottles that my fashionable pack would hold, while my companions had many of reserves still to spare in their oversized, ugly yet utilitous sacks. I was miserable, dehydrated, and exhausted by the time the sun began to set and we returned to our bungalow.

The moral of the story, however, is not that I will thrown taste and aesthetics to the wind when shopping for a item of apparel with a specific function in mind. Rather I will just be sure the particular good meets the requisite need before indulging in the first cute option that comes along. With that in mind, I set my sights on this Marc Jacobs messenger bag as a fall must have for my new lifestyle which includes a lot of being prepared on the go. (I also actually like this Coach convertible, since they decided to offer options that err on the side of classic Coach and don't blind you with assaultive logos). No matter how many you own, there's nothing quite like the thrill of a new purse (especially when its lack of storage space won't cause you to faint on a mountain side down under).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Laced Up

Mens tailoring is nothing new on the fashion map, but that doesn't mitigate my obsession with it every time fall rolls in. This season, as oxfords are firmly planted in the scene, they've taken on softer notes.

Whether you prefer the originals (pictured left from J.Crew) or the newly feminized variety that come with cutouts and heels, they work for the office or cocktails (and days where one leads into another, as is often the case for me in my new line of work). If you don't feel like shelling out $250 on your first pair, try these from Matisse for under $100, with free shipping. If you're of the many who admire the laced up shoe on your friend, but don't quite feel you can pull it off, give it a try. You'll trade in your weekend sneakers if nothing else. With your boyfriend's watch and some large jewelry, its the perfect alternative to the black pump.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Legally Speaking

A staple in every prepster's wardrobe is the classic bow tie, especially a navy and white striped version from Brooks Brothers. But did you ever take a close look at those ties? Apparently the adorning patent numbers, used for mostly aesthetic purposes, struck a nerve with a New Jersey lawyer who discovered the use of expired numbers on the clothier's merchandise (perhaps he had too much time on his hands).

Upon hearing of the suit last May, I, like the judge hearing the claims, didn't think the lawyer had any standing to sue (lack of personal stake in the subject matter or outcome of the case). But on August 31st a Federal Circuit Court in Washington thought otherwise and allowed the lawyer to sue.

Other than committing a fashion faux pas if tied incorrectly, or using a pre-tied variety, I can't see the harm in the expired patent numbers on the bow ties. Unlike some retail perpetrators who rip off other's ideas faster than a linen strip at the waxing salon, Brooks Brothers can't be said to have tried to profit through thievery (in fact, lack of intent to deceive is a defense to the action). I think the lawyers should save their strength for more pressing matters (habeas corpus claims, financial fraud, women who wear harem pants) and leave the veteran retailer and its iconic silk ties alone.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Goes Around Comes Around, Again

Though its tempting to cleanse one's closet of all pieces that haven't been worn in the past 2 seasons in order to create much needed space (if you live in or near the City), a glance through the September issues is a lesson in restraint.

Example: I have had this full, mid length, ocean blue, jade green and ivory skirt from Club Monaco since approximately 2004. When I first moved to the city to join Ann Taylor's buyers training program after college I remember it being one my very first splurges ($160 for a skirt is still a splurge in my book, by the way). The full fabric nips in at the natural waist and bows out subtly below. As trends and hem lengths have risen and fallen with moon, the skirt had moved further back in the wardrobe, taking a back seat to pencils, above the knee tweed minis, and tulip cuts. Flash forward to present day, and Marc Jacobs collection for Louis Vuitton has placed the full, mid length, ladylike skirt front and center. The treasure from 2004 suddenly is fresh and so happily still hanging in my closet. (The same story can be told about my Coach platform, 3 inch heeled penny loafers from 2006, which, with the addition of fresh soles at the local shoe repair, eliminate the need for Prada's 2010 version.)

Take care when closet purging, so that the inevitable fall binge does not leave you regretting your choices.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Toast to Taste

No better way to kick off a Labor Day weekend than with a fall shopping spree, and a trip to the green market for all the necessities for a weekend of boats and bbq's. (The former included this sweater and tank from Banana, this skirt and trousers from Loft, and this necklace and silk top from J.Crew, to go with aforementioned bottoms. Fall is the time I break my own rules and pay full price, I can't bear the worry they will sell out of my size). A little threat of a hurricane won't dampen the whole weekend, and will provide a nice excuse to take the Hubs to the movies for the only feature I actually want to see this Summer (no, not Eat, Pray Love).

Planning the party is half the fun, and you can set the tone of the event early on with good old fashioned invitations (I detest the 'Evite' and will never send one. If I'm going to invite you via the Internet, I'll just send you an email). If you love the Evite, but appreciate the beauty of a real invitation, Paperless Post offers a fabulous line of Internet-age invitations that have all the splendor of the real thing. Whether you're hosting or attending this weekend, a nice bottle of Pindar's Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice at a great price (my friends who detest chardonnay and those who love it can all agree on this wine). If your host is like some of my gracious, newly homeowner friends, she may say bring nothing but yourselves. Even when someone tells you that, always show up with something. (If I ever tell you we don't need anything I'm either lying or distracted. Wine is always welcomed.)

Happy Holidays, and please don't pack away the white. Wear if happily once Monday has passed!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Kitten Kicks

This weekend, in an effort to cleanse my space, I carted no less than 13 pairs of shoes off to the donation pile when, after trying them on my feet one last time, their narrow, dart like pointy toes reminded me of duck beaks. After several seasons of the soft, subtle, round toes I first fell in love with back in 2005 in a Marc Jacobs store, I just can't lust for a pair of pointy.

Though I'm into all or nothing when it comes to my heel height (whether they be round or pointy), I'm sure many are thrilled to see the reemergence of the kitten heel for fall. Personally, I either need to be able to run around all day and will opt for the classic ballet flat (my favorite 3 years in a row is this Ferragamo staple), or I want to take my pencils up a notch with a solid 3-4 inch pump (the Cole Haan platform is my go to). In between just doesnt fit for me anymore- like wearing sneakers outside of the gym.

But if you, like many, are into the itsy bitsy boost to the ball of the heel, you are in luck this season. (On one of my last days in shoe buying land, I witnessed an argument between the buying director and a junior buyer over the need to actually get on board with the trend for fall, and though the neophyte lost the resistance, I sympathized with her pain over having to be the one to place an order for 1200 pairs.) Even Manolo offers a kitten heel for fall, along with Jimmy Choo, and Louboutin. And for those of us renting 1 bedroom apartments, Nine West and Enzo among many others have affordable versions that will fill your need.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Timeless Tiffany

Its kind of fun these days choosing which bag to carry to work each morning (now that my entire life no longer needs to fit inside, no more risk of stretching Louis Epi leather). 'It' bags change with the season's leaves, but this fall's new totes and clutches have staying power. Tiffany & Co. introduces its first line of bags, complete with the alluring details of its world renowned jewelry.

Created by Robert Lambertson and John Truex (whose brand Tiffany acquired in May 2009), the line features 44 items in all shapes and sizes. Since Tiffany's specific hue of blue is one of the first and most prime examples of color serving as protected, registered trademark, it is only fitting that the color can be found in decadent purse linings and details. Though growing up on the North Shore of Long Island and attending a triple digit number of bat mitzvahs may have jaded me slightly when it comes to the little Blue Box, the sophistication of the new line certainly amps up the lust factor for the fall merchandise (besides, several upcoming new work galas and benefits call for the right measure of timeless accessory). For more info, check out page 129 of September's InStyle. The line landed just in time for the upcoming 1 year wedding anniversary...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Legally Speaking

In the ongoing debate over copyright in the fashion industry, I find more and more that its hard to choose a side. Unlike the decision to get highlights or bangs, extending full copyright protection to designers is not an impulse buy that can be easily undone with some do it yourself home remedy.

This article on the pros and cons of such a measure makes a lot of thought provoking points. Setting aside the nature of copyright law and its origins (to encourage creative productions and provide incentives to authors of ingenuity and culture) there is the issue of determining who actually owns the rights to the work itself (only the owner has the right to reproduce, among others). The example provided in the article of the National Jazz Museum not being able to publicly distribute a valued recording to the many fans around the world due to inability to ascertain original copyright ownership, is an illustration that would be amplified in fashion. Imagine trying to decide who really was the first to bring the speedy bag to fruition? (Probably the first ever medical doctor, since the speedy is really the doctors original bag).

I'm not abandoning hopes of extending protection to those who dedicate their lives to creating only to have their ideas ripped and reproduced by the likes of Forever21 and Steve Madden (thank you, new job) but its not as black and white as a Chanel tweed jacket.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Phoning it in

In the Verizon store this weekend I learned more than I ever wanted to about phones (and the neighborhood between Long Island and New York City). I'm not sure where I was when the cell phone became the new accessory of the season, on par with a hand bag or pair of peep-toe ankle booties. But as I stood number 18 in line (to replace my husband's phone from 2006, and only because the screen finally cracked), I realized that all the people ahead of me were trading up for flashier, newer, shinier cell phones.

As my name neared the top of the list I grew even more impatient and crowded closer to the counter, as if that might speed up the woman being helped. By time I was called, I had spent sufficient time surveying the phones strapped into cradles and held in place by anti-theft devices to have developed a small craving for the new Blackberry. (Don't ask me about the iPhone, I can't understand a touch screen, I cannot navigate applications that replace human thought and can count the calories in your sandwich as you chew, and I despise AT&T). Though my Blackberry worked perfectly fine, it was gray, dull, and its buttons had faded. The new model came in the feminine fall favorite, lavender, and fit snugly into my hand like a perfectly molded appendage. After we had negotiated a nearly free phone to replace my husband's 4 year old flip, I grabbed the purple accessory and slipped it across the counter. My husband shook his head as the salesman looked pleased to ring another item. With a $100 mail in rebate, my new accessory cost much less than a new Miu Miu tote, and will probably get more use.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Neutral Gear

Ever since Phoebe Philo took the reins at Celine 2 years ago, I've been pleasantly surprised by the brand's allure. Just as she did for Chloe in the late 90's (working with the legendary Stella McCartney) it seems the fashion veteran has revamped the previously stale label into a ripe, fresh treat ready to be plucked.

Camel and black is hardly new, but as you may know by now, I'm not one who is wowed by newness. I have yet to see a combo as compelling, easy to wear, and classic as the 2 tones slapped together like a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Celine has been around since 1945, when it was a children's shoe maker, so the brand has age on its side. A house that can weather the fickle fashion forecasts certainly knows a thing or two about reinvention. Sleek silhouettes in neutral palettes alone don't make for Celine's notoriety, the textile mix of cashmere and leather offset the ultra feminine vibe with spikes of masculinity (which you cannot avoid loving this season). If you, like me, can't quite swing a Celine pencil or knee length pea coat, the mass marketers have their own translation of the fall staples that will fit just right.

photo credit to NY Magazine

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Toting Less

For a new job that no longer involves the NYC Subway system, and instead requires my own personal car (a first for me, like many urbanites) some adjustments can be made to my daily routine. The city dweller knows all too well that the forecast determines more than a bad hair day. 'Chance of showers' means proper footwear (rainboots or flip flops?) an umbrella compact enough to pack along with said footwear, and a tote that won't wilt or wither under acidic city rain. Most days, my work bag resembled an overly stuffed holiday ham brimming with supplies for the many scenarios that might require them in the 12 hour work day.

Tomorrow, I relish the chance to pack just a few items in one of my scarcely used, smaller bags for the day ahead. The options one has when 'walking shoes' are no longer necessary and a pair of moderate heels can take you through the day are liberating (perhaps not quite as liberating, though, as the new 8 hour work day which ends at 4pm, can you imagine? I can't.)

Some of fall's cutest bags are modeled after 1950's coin purses and can fit nothing more than a Blackberry and a tube of Clinique almost lipstick. A classic Cole Haan is a nice choice, as is the very urban Marc Jacobs mini satchel. (The Fendi convertible is scrumptious, for a pretty penny even at Bluefly.) Though the day may require a few more necessities, I may try my hand at packing a crossbody mini for the sheer challenge if paring down.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mad(?) for Mad Men

Though I tried to get on board the Mad Men fan train (for the fashions, if nothing else) last year, I just couldn't do it. I would inevitably leave the couch mid episode to answer the phone, wash the dishes, or do any myriad of chores to avoid watching the entirety of an hour long chapter. Last Sunday, since I was beginning a week-long staycation between jobs, I thought I'd give it one more try with the season premier. To no avail.

What I do love about the series (and do not need to watch the actual episodes to appreciate) is the costume work. Janie Bryant received an Emmy nomination for her work on the set of Mad Men, and such honor is well deserved. As the EllE Blogs report, Bryant is now launching her own fashion line. Though it will sell only on QVC (I'm not much of a home shopper, excluding those additional 30% off sale emails from J.Crew I jump allover) I hope the line finds its way to some department store shelves come next season.

The iconic 60's sheath and ladylike dressing reaching the mainstream through television is a fabulous turn of events, one that might help rescue America from the slobification currently gripping the nation with an iron fist. While I can't quite tolerate the story lines or saturated arrogance that makes it hard to like any single character on the show, I do love to see the outfits like breaths of fresh air (from an era when the air was in fact fresher, despite the popularity of indoor smoking).

photo credit AMC website

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Wash of Color

As if their iconic trenches and newly chic sportswear under Creative Director Christopher Bailey weren't enough to covet, Burberry's cosmetic line was officially launched earlier this month. Reading about it for months doesn't quite have the same affect as a trip to Nordstroms (home of the launch) and swab of lipstick.

It is perhaps the same psychological phenomena at play as when Chanel lipstick sales soar as the stock market tumbles like a drunken frat boy. But whatever the explanation, the ability to own a piece of a luxury brand creates momentum that transcends economic strata and opens the market to the masses. (The finely etched Nova Check plaid on each buttery cylinder of the lipstick itself is a nice touch to make the connection more tangible.)

As my good friend Christine knows all too well, $30 and a new tube of skin tone altering lipstick can take the biting edge off a 10pm deadline (I like no. 13 Heather best).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Workplace Hazards

On Monday mornings in retail merchandising land, reality is suspended for about 4 hours during which time perfectly normal women are transformed into wildebeests. Fights break out over the color printer, obscenities ricochet off the walls like angry bullets, and calculators are often thrown to the ground and stomped on like glasses at a Jewish wedding ceremony. All of this frenzy ensues in a mad rush to print the Monday reports, recapping the previous week's business (and deciding for some if they will still have jobs come next month).

On this past Monday, during a particularly tense period of morning turmoil (summer sales designed to liquidate warm weather merchandise to clear room for fall goods not quite doing the trick) one poor girl was doing the work of 3 (and the poor girl was not me for a change). The boss let out a blood curdling scream for the girl, and on instinct as if the Titanic were sinking, the girl lept up from her desk and dashed into the hallway, Starbucks still in hand. Unfortunately, a rather large hand truck from the warehouse was parked outside of our door for morning sample delivery, and the girl's foot met with the obstacle with an audible 'crash'. As she tumbled face first into the boss's office, we all jumped up in fear for the girl. Her foot was bent at an awkward angle and her face was as white as sushi rice. Our boss, witnessing this incident head on, dropped her eyes to the newly placed carpeting, and asked "did you just spill coffee on my floor?". The scene was a nice confirmation of my decision to leave this job for a new one, beginning early next month.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mid-Week tid bit

In the midst of shopping for a new wardrobe for a new job (and a bit of a new life that comes with the territory, which will no longer include working nights, weekends, or holidays), I was asked to write a little something for a fabulous paper company's Wednesday website post. If you're in the market for some stationary that's as innovative as your purse collection, check out Rhodia and their classic notepads.

Happy Wednesday!

p.s. many main stream retailers open their fall floor sets today, so stop and browse on your walk home from work this hump day.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Olive it

With fall fashion only a few furlongs away, its clear that some of the big messages for the season are in the details. As the NY Times reports, a few of the big wigs in the true meaning of the word have parred down, or in Givenchy's case, skipped runway shows altogether (except apparently for Lagerfeld's Chanel show which involved a 265 ton glacier back in March).

While Cathy Horyn reports a new wave of color in the collections, I cant see past an expanse of camel, olive and gray when I review line sheets and design boards for the months ahead. I love a good gray TSE cashmere v-neck as much (if not more) than the next girl, so the abundance of the shade doesn't disappoint me (I'd gladly don the Piazza Sempione number pictured right). But for those wishing for some spark, perhaps they need to shop Dior's couture pieces to find the promised punches of pigment seemingly lacking from the larger retail market (as far as sportswear goes at least). If you're planning a fall safari, you won't have trouble finding the appropriate ensembles, as military and camo are all the rage (again, I don't mind that this is hardly groundbreaking, as some of my very favorite styles are those that have weathered the ebbing tides of trend).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Packing Light

Despite the fact that 3 semi walk-in closets barely contain my wardrobe and all its components, I am in fact an efficient packer. For an upcoming destination wedding in the Caribbean, where the weather is hot and the 21st century plane guidelines are not, compact is key.

When the invitation reads 'cocktail attire' this usually indicates a jacket and optional tie for men (a concept the originalists, much like Justice Scalia, do not embrace). Women always have it easy, as a dress will never let you down. I plan to spend little time away from the water, so actual outfits number less than 4, and all fit rolled up into a neat cylindrical log tucked into the side compartment of the trusty boat and tote bag. When all is said and done, the Hubs and I managed to squeeze 5 days worth of beach, dinner, wedding and cocktail attire into one large canvas tote, and a small appendage of a carry on for necessities (in case of lost luggage always bring a bathing suit aboard so your vacation will not be a wash out).

Rolling out the LL Bean luggage brings happy rays of honeymoon memories (the last time said bags were deployed, minus the loss of one wedding band 4 days after the vows in the Atlantic Ocean). Interesting that heading down toward the Equator promises to bring relief from the northern heat that wilts hair, and melts thighs into seat cushions like burning birthday candles against cake frosting. Stay cool!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Short of It

Everyone has their favorite article of summer clothing. Whether it's your jersey knit dress, your white chinos, or a classic pair of madras shorts, you've surely sported your seasonal best at least a few times since the mercury rose past 70 degrees. A warm weather trend I've always been a fan of is the ankle length pant. (Not to be confused with the capri pant, which doesn't actually look good on anyone and has the affect of turning perfectly average legs into stocky hamhocks.)

Despite my affinity for the cropped trouser, I was confused and slightly bewildered to see Docker's ankle length pants for men while browsing the web for a linen sport jacket for my husband (an upcoming Ritz Carlton wedding in Jamaica certainly calls for linen). While a woman' slim, smooth ankle may look cute exposed under a pair of 26' inseam chambray pants, is a man's thicker, bear-like extremity really attractive? (my best friend Rebecca might have a thing or two to say about womens' ankles be called 'slim' as a generality, but she always likes to argue both sides of the case.) I'm just not sure how I feel about this new trend for the average man.

Whether you prefer to feel the breeze against your ankle bone, or like it covered up with some summer weight cotton, be sure to pull out all your best for the 4th. I'm sure I will pack my madras for a boating trip to Eastern Long Island on my parent's new yacht. Hopefully the hubs won't confuse our plaids.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Train-ing Days

To be a commuter in the true sense of the word, is to be a warrior of sorts (commuting 4 miles to work, no matter that it takes me 45 minutes to traverse the distance, does not actually count). Setting off each morning for a long, arduous day bettering the world one pair of shoes at a time is a daunting task in and of itself most days. But add to that a crowded train, 90 degrees, 80% humidity, and a gaggle of New York's un-finest, and you have quite a war of attrition.

I may be in the minority in some of my style views, but I just can't understand how a person shoe-horns themselves into a pair of snug, airless denim on a hot summer day. The sausage casing becomes engorged with flesh as the mercury rises, and the sight is painful for both wearer and passersby alike.

After a short 10 minute ride into Manhattan from my office, and a lovely dinner with a college friend at Lugo Cafe, (the only acceptable restaurant near NYC's Penn station, location chosen to ease her commute home to Hoboken and mine to Forest Hills) I had the displeasure of sharing a snug train car home with some disgruntled, disheveled, and dogged Long Islanders. (If that is what suburbia looks like after a 12 hour work day, do not sign me up for life out of the City.) I'm not sure I've seen that much polyester in one place since the time I rented Studio 54 from Blockbuster in the 90's. The odor of cheap take out and the sight of red and white grease soaked paper bags caused the Aperol Spritz to rise in my throat. The train is not only where synthetic fabric and faux leather hand bags go to die, apparently its also a dinner table and fully stocked wet bar rivaling that at a basement fraternity party.

As the woman next to me in a head to toe acrylic turquoise jump suit with black Reeboks audibly munched on her Taco Bell Gordita, I couldn't help but wonder when exactly the generation gap swallowed all sensibilities whole, without a single chew (much like the feasting lady to my left).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fall Foreward

Though for most normal people July signals the thick of summer, for fashion people, it rings in the first deliveries of fall (all in-warehouse dates after 6/26 are classified as fall, believe it or not). If you've been shopping lately you've no doubt noticed large sale signs, to clear the way for the fresher fall palette that often doesn't sit cohesively among the summer's citrus hues.

Rather than breaking out the tweed and cashmere, retailers take you into the new season gently, like those initial tip-toe tests of the icy ocean water in early June. Coral and brown is a popular transition combo I've seen around, done in short (but not too short) skirts and silk trimmed tanks for the hot temperatures. Blazers are seasonless, and J.Crew's Ikat number (pictured left) is right on for the in-between. And of course nothing beats a floral Zac Posen dress done in darker tones and cinched with a black belt for easing the conversion into cooler times.

For a peak at whats to come, take a trip down Madison (or to the local mall) and have a look around. As usual, the fashion world is a few steps ahead of the calendar.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Legally Speaking

Though there are very mixed reviews when it comes to Coach (the once classic leather ware company now turned quasi-designer with the ever popular logo tapestry and a raging arsenal of 'C' configurations) there can be no ambivalence when it comes to my pet peeve: fake bags. On June 8th, the company filed suit naming Klass Fashion ASIM Enterprises as defendants in the Southern District of Texas. The cause of action was the ever popular trademark infringement claim.

I remember when my parents first realized I had outgrown my gap messenger bag days and was ready for something a touch more sophisticated (this was circa 1993, when I was in the 6th grade. My poor parents). A trip to the Coach store ended with a glorious, camel colored, butter soft leather tote, with stamped Coach logo inconspicuously under the top handle. A decade and a half later, and such iconic staples have been replaced by fuchsia, eye catching nylons with flagrant brand identifiers accosting the senses like designer impostor perfume. I'm sure from a business perspective, this was a calculated endeavour to place the brand among the rank and file with premium, luxury houses (had they hired my new company to consult for them, I certainly would not have disagreed with this move. I would, however, have advised against such blatant unoriginality in strategy to compete with the big wigs of bags).

Love them or loathe them, infringement is never the path to dominion. I just miss the days of originality (as in the definition of copyrightable material).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Day in the Life

The day began with a few clouds, punctuated with occasional stabs of sunlight. Since it was nearing the end of Shoe Show week, and the office would be nearly empty, I opted for causal olive chinos, flat sandals (from a brand other than the one which employs me), and a white cotton tank topped with a navy linen blend open front cardigan. (Sneakers don't exist in my wardrobe, except for the gym.) The train ran on time, my ticket was never collected, and the fruit stand had a fresh delivery of Red Delicious apples. A fine start to the day.

As the clock struck 1pm, the fashion gods began to pelt me with stones. Though I had run a PTO search before we assigned a certain pseudo-controversial name to a certain shoe weeks ago and come up empty, I had advised against such a move to be safe. Since no one really acknowledges my presence most days, my legal advice went unheeded, and a unfriendly letter from an unhappy lawyer arrived in the mail. Lovely. Next, the showroom visit previously scheduled for Friday at 8am was suddenly moved up to this afternoon at 3pm (yes, picture the scene in Devil Wears Prada where the fall preview is rescheduled with 15 minutes notice, and then Andy dribbles corn chowder onto her blue, lumpy sweater). With 2 hours to finish a days worth of work, an outfit not suited for the buying big wigs of the top department stores, and footwear that would get me fired, I had a lot to accomplish.

The sample closet contained only size 6's and, try as I might, my size 7 foot just wouldn't conform to fit (regardless of how hard I crammed it in). Off to the subway I ran. Unfortunately, the express trains were running local. The store nearest the showroom where I could swap my favorite flats for some company branded wedges didn't have anything in my size that I would remotely consider placing on my foot. My preppy chinos had sagged and wrinkled from the long subway ride and the heat I was producing at rapid rates with the impending deadline approaching. The further away store had something that would work, so out I ran with the new shoes on my feet and the salesperson yelling after me that leaving behind the box made the shoes a final sale (standard in the industry in case you should find yourself in a similar predicament). I skidded into the west side showroom with seconds to spare, proud of myself for arriving (in brand) on time. Too bad the presentations had actually started early (probably for the first time on record). Perhaps I'd be better suited for another career. Maybe something in botany or still life painting.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Summer in Spring

I'm not sure what exactly happened to spring, those 6-8 weeks between frozen feet and icy sidewalks, and sweltering, city sun pressing down on bare skin like an omelet pan. But it seems summer is upon us in full force, despite what the calendar says. So what does one who must commute to work in the oppressive city heat wear? (Despite the lax dress code in my office, I won't be seen in public wearing dresses that resemble nightgowns or shorts that hardly qualify as underwear. And besides, just because you can wear something, doesn't mean you should.)

The dress, in its many forms, is the single best wardrobe option for sultry, sun-drenched days. Can you tolerate the mere thought of anything structured, with seams and waistbands strangling your skin? No matter your shape or size, there is an office (and fashion) friendly dress out there for you. (Though skimpy straps and plunging necklines seem like ideal options for staying cool, the more skin you have exposed to the sun, the warmer you actually will feel. And not everyone needs to see that much of you anyway.) My favorite destination for vintage charm suitable for any age, Anthropologie, has some irresistible frocks for surviving the summer. When it comes to fabric choice, steer clear of words you can't pronounce (they don't breathe, and will only add to that stench you know and loath on the 4 train). Instead, stick to cotton. Classic black and white, in the tradition of Chanel, is still relevant for the hot months of summer, and Trina Turk does pattern worthy of boarding a plane to St. Barths. Sweet, light and still covered, this punchy smocked dress is a must have, priced at just $98 (machine washable is a nice bonus). Or if you prefer a touch more structure, this shirtdress can go to work, or do weekend duty. A few seasons ago I bought a dress just like this jersey number from the Gap (for $39) and still end up wearing it often, with a navy blazer and heels for work, or flip flops for play. The maxi dress is still a popular choice for a lot of people (who doesn't love anything by DFV?), and even those south of 5'4 can wear one (though a trip to the tailor probably needs to be factored into the cost). I'm not so sure about the long, flowy option in the office, but it has become a summer staple that's weathered fashion's fickle fancy.

Stay cool (and covered) in the heat ahead.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Shoe Full

As the first full week of June approaches, the shoe gods are aligning themselves for June 2010 FFANY shoe show all over New York City. This entails many hours spent on foot, merchandising shelves upon shelves of shoes, only to have the boss catch one glimpse of it over Blackberry, and order the whole store to be flipped upside down.

Though some people find the exposure effect to have the opposite result, I find that spending upwards of 12 hours a day knee deep in knee high boots and sandals creates a desire to own even more pairs of shoes. (The memory of moving 2 weeks ago, and individually bubble wrapping an inordinate number of shoe boxes should quell this urge, but women's minds are not always machines of logic.) Perhaps its a coping mechanism, along the lines of cognitive dissonance, to crave the goods you dedicate most of your waking hours immersed in.

But regardless of the explanation, the economic predicament that some feel has subsided has not extinguished people's dedication to buying footwear (Monday reports don't lie). Though I sometimes check my math 2 and 3 times over, numbers (unlike people) are easy to read with the right calculations. (News of impending lay offs after more budget cuts in District Attorney Offices City wide make people's spending habits seem even more confounding, but again, logical is not the name of the game.)

Enjoy the best looking shoe shelves you'll see all summer, but buy wisely. You too may have to fit them all in a moving box one day if you decide to cross the river to save some dough.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memorial Whites

As the holiday weekend approaches, and prepsters and hispters alike reach for the white, I am reminded of the many fashionites still adhering to the archaic rules which relegate the neutral to the back of the closet for 75% of the year. Besides the total misconception about the relevancy of an entire color (despite what my first boss believes, neutrals are color too), this antiquated idea of saving white for the 12 weeks between summer holidays is tantamount to using good china only for company.

Many of life's greatest pleasures need to be indulged in daily. Now that we are settled in a new apartment (exactly 3 times the size of both apartments I've lived in during my 6 post-college years), I am trying to heed my own advice. I wore my white jeans to work this week, and unpacked the Wedgewood gifted to us 9 months ago at my bridal shower. Frozen Lean Cuisine after a 12 hour work day just tastes better eaten off of fine white china rimmed with delicate platinum. Similarly, a difficult day at the office (where even the customer service people at Pottery Barn who cant schedule your couch delivery are giving you grief) is eased by an outfit that makes you comfortable and stylish enough that, when your boss (who wears a lot of Prada) calls you in, your ensemble distracts her from the case of shoes you accidentally had overnighted to Florida instead of California.

Spend your weekend (and extra day off if you, unlike me, actually have one) doing something that makes you happy, wearing something that makes you smile. Break out the madras, the white, the Wedgwood. And the leggings can be packed away for now (or forever, preferably. Spandex is nobody's friend in humidity).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Filling in the Gap

A friend recently forwarded me this article on the perpetual folly that is the Gap. He, like me, was once an ally of the struggling chain, turning to the stalwart for all his cotton t-shirt needs. But despite the talent at its helm, and a decent denim collection this past fall, the brand cannot seem to get out of its own way.

The downward trend (in terms of both style and stock) is the culmination of several factors, all slowly sucking the life out of the American chain. When people think of the brand, the classic boy-next-door, adorned in plaid and khaki with a hooded sweatshirt for good measure, comes to mind. Rumple his hair, add a distressed messenger bag, and you have the window display for the past decade. But in an era where premium denim reigns supreme, and jean brands are as pricey as their names are pompous (Citizens of Humanity? Seven for All Mankind? Not all mankind can spend $300 on denim, nor does all of humanity really shop at Bloomingdales) the Gap has fallen into a rut.

And because it is the Gap, and not Banana Republic, is anyone willing to spend more than $58 on a cotton sweater? If you, like many, have found your beloved $10 white t misshapen and not fit for sleeping after a few washes, you're not alone. The catch 22 of sorts is trying to build a collection within a budget, and make it appear to exude quality, without actually upping production costs (Industry standard is a mark up, or profit margin, of about 72%-75%). You cant spend more making the clothes without raising retail, yet you can't raise retail without changing attitudes so that shoppers will shell out the extra $10-$20. So what is to be done? Though news of any retailer facing impending doom is saddening for me, there is a certain survival of the fittest and market competition at the heart of capitalism that I can't fight. While I hope to see Patrick Robinson live up to his infinite potential, I'd also settle for some quality cotton t's circa 1995.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dressing for the Ages

This weekend I attended my hubby's 10 year high school reunion at a ritzy Connecticut all boys boarding school with picturesque views and vineyard vines galore. Of course the hubs was no help when I asked what to pack for the Saturday evening cocktail reception and sit down dinner, so I packed my trusty black dress as well as a brighter, preppier option that ended up being the chosen one for the evening. (The 4 inch Michael Kors, however, proved an ill advised decision when faced with cobblestone.)

The festivities were attended by multiple generations, all celebrating a variety of reunion milestones. But the more salt than pepper hair and weathered smile lines were not the giveaway as to exactly which anniversary each group was celebrating. Rather it was the self-assigned dress codes that earmarked the decades.

A herd of long haired, rambunctious guys in wrinkled Nantucket reds, denim and Birkenstocks (which I didn't know were even still around) screamed class of '05 through swigs of bottled Bud Light. The class of '00 was slightly less rumpled, but ties and closed toe shoes were still scarce. The largest bunch of graduates were decked in full suits, ray bans, and accompanied by frosted blonde women with high neck lines, low heels, and a plethora of pashminas. The generation gap once you jump beyond the year 2000 is more vast than any other such valley. Is it purely age, or the style wisdom that comes with experience that causes men to replace Birkenstocks with Brooks Brothers? (I have to admit to owning a pair in college, but they have long since been donated, or burned, whichever got them out of my closet faster.) Though I am a New Yorker, I feel at home among the preppy, and can't help but smile at Nantucket red and madras (even in early May). I just wish the generations would get on the same page when it comes to sandals and cocktails- the two should not be in the same room (and yes, for this purpose, Bud Light is a cocktail).

Thursday, May 13, 2010


From my semester abroad in Australia, I know the potential of the often overlooked stateside brand, Esprit. After a wave of notoriety in the 90's the retailer seemed to have fallen asleep at the wheel. But the brand that appears quaint and homey (and homely?) with its summer dresses and cotton tops has 800 stores and is sold in 14,000 wholesale locations worldwide (and also licenses to several 3rd party vendors, which also interests me professionally). A 25% off dress event tugged my sleeve as I passed by the flat iron location, and was worth the detour.

Marie Claire describes Esprit's aesthetic as "perennial schoolgirl" and they're not wrong in their assertion. A new collection backed by model Daisy Lowe has promise for carving a touch of edge into the otherwise sweet brand. The edc line features leather, cropped vests, and an occasional stud along a seam. And the price is right in this still fragile economic abyss, with denim ranging from $59-$89, and outerwear hovering in the low $100 territory. In the spirit of not judging a book by its cover, don't be turned off by the junior-esqe feel to the website, take a stroll through one of the various Manhattan locations and have a look for yourself. (This jersey drape cardigan is a much more wallet friendly alternative to the pricier American Apparel varieties.)

Happy shopping

Monday, May 10, 2010

Karmic Style

Watching many hours of reality TV shows can sometimes rub off on us in unexpected ways. No matter what the Housewives (of New York, New Jersey, or any city in between) spend their ample time and funds on, it's never a good idea to emulate. It's like the thin, murky line between knock off and inspiration- take one step too far and you've become a clique.

Over the weekend, I got an email from a fan that turned a stressful day of packing into a sublime day of productivity. Not wanting to copy my fan's gesture with a similarly flattering email to a blog author I adore, I instead thought of another method of doing a good deed that might propel the spirit forward. With an impending move less than 2 weeks away, we decided to donate all of our furniture and made endless calls to arrange the feat. (You would be surprised how many thrift shops and organizations are not that happy to receive an apartment full of gently used furnishings. After 6 phone calls and declined offers, I was loosing my charitable spirit.) I then ransacked my closet for all wearable items that were 'interview appropriate' and handed them over to the Dress for Success effort at my office. (Buying a case of dog food and granola bars for the homeless man and his pet I pass on the way to work everyday doesn't count since that was pre-blog fan email, and therefore not in the new momentum of this idea. But that made me happy, which in turn reminded me of the episode of Friends where Phoebe proves all good deeds are inherently selfish. Which is true, no?)

Contrary to what I may think, telling someone that their pants are a size too small or that their white t-shirt with yellow armpit stains isn't really a good choice to impress the new boss doesn't count as a 'good deed', no matter how noble your intentions. I'm not sure I can ever turn off the voice that screams when I see leggings in the office, or stop the eyes that roll when I pass a faux Louis Vuitton bag with its telltale orange glued seams. But in an effort not to turn into the catty women I am fascinated by watching on Bravo, I shall try. (Luckily there won't be any cameras following me anytime soon to capture my progress, or lack thereof.)

Friday, May 7, 2010

After a particularly gut wrenching week during which I've reconsidered my chosen career, pictures of pretty things can do wonders for the spirit. I'm not a proponent of shopping to fill a void, or spending money to save your sanity, but there are times when a little retail therapy is a necessary prescription (so I told myself on the way home from work around 10pm last night when I was happy to find a few stores still open on 34th street, and managed to find a few moderately priced spring tops that eased my pain).

This month's Anthropologie catalog takes you back in time to an era when women dressed up to do the laundry and walk the dog. (There are times I think perhaps I could be happy leaving the work force and being a housewife, donning day dresses and cooking all afternoon, or moving to Vermont and making cheddar. But then my mother reminds me I'm lactose intolerant, and tells me I would last five minutes being home all day, and she is right about both.) This patchwork inspired catmint dress is a friendly nod to a simpler time. A friend recently mentioned being very into Free People lately, which reminded me of the brand's classic vintage spin and fresh prints for spring. Their website feels like the trip I took upstate to the Blue Grass Festival with my college friends the summer after graduation (to which I could have worn this tunic and fit in smashingly). A cowboy hat and calico dress can brghten anyone's day.

Happy shopping, and happier times for the weekend.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dressing Down=Downhill

A prime example of practicing what you preach occurred this week. After serving as maid of honor (technically 'matron, of honor' but that just sounds old) all weekend for my wonderful friend out east, I arrived home Sunday night thoroughly exhausted from 3 days of fun. When Monday morning rolled around (which, in retail, require being at my desk by 7:30 am) I had little energy for getting dressed. A peak outside revealed a day as gray as my mood, and as dark as my apartment with a still fast sleep husband. I settled on a casual oxford, slouchy boyfriend jeans and boat shoes, an ensemble that did not make me feel happy or put together for a Monday in the least. The muggy humidity from Sunday's heat wave hung in the air like dirty laundry and hit me in the face as I exited my apartment.

From there the day went downhill quickly. The train was 10 minutes late, and then ran at a physically painful speed which I could have out ran on foot, in stilettos. The main door to my office building was locked with a metal gate (a sure sign that it's too early to be there, no?) and I had to buzz the warehouse stock men to let me in through the truck entrance. My co-worker called in sick, and I had the pleasure of running twice the number of Monday reports. After compiling said reports frantically for the 10 am morning meeting, said meeting was canceled. When lunch time rolled around and I had already put in a 7 hour day, I discovered the Luna Bar I had banked on eating had been snatched by a coworker on Friday while I was out east for my friend's rehearsal. 6:00 mercifully arrived, at which time I bolted from the building and headed for the train. The day's reckoning was not yet complete as a gigantic body of water disguised as a shallow puddle swallowed the lower half of my leg on the corner adjacent from the train.

Today, though my alarm failed to go off and I thus slept through my morning workout, I was determined to stop another bad day in its tracks. I took the time to choose a skirt, sandals, silk tank and belt that put the spring back in my step (enough to avoid the lingering puddles). The ensemble elevated my mood and prevented an encore to Monday. Behold the power of the outfit.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Legally Speaking

Though some people have tagged trademark infringement suits as the 'ambulance chasing' equivalent in IP law, I can't quite tire of brands picking up their daggers and protecting their fortresses head on.

On March 26th, Levi sued Evisu International in the Northern district of California for trademark infringement. The jury will be out on this one for a while no doubt, but in the mean time, the denim veteran has made its point.

Levi is often credited with being among the original pioneers of the denim frontier, offering its 501's for under $50. In a culture that craves immoderately priced jeans (and wretched 'jeggings') Levi sometimes gets lost in the mire. The unmistakable dipping 'V' that signifies a pair of the brand's pride and joy has never lost its strength (in both the fashion and legal sense) even amongst fierce competition on backsides everywhere. (I personally find the rear pocket to be the single most important element in a pair of jeans. A plain pocket is always a safe choice when in doubt.)

But the question of protectable trademark falls to more than just strength of mark, and the 7 other Polaroid factors ( 287 F.2d 492 (2nd Cir. 1961)) must also weight in Levi's favor to score a win for the brand. Time will tell.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What's the Allure?

When you see a pair of python Jimmy Choo sandals in the window of Saks as you pass by after work, and your heart leaps into your cheek, do you ever stop to think why exactly you have this visceral reaction? Harper's May issue features an interesting (although chauvinistic) article written by the husband of a socialite fashionista, expounding on the pros and cons of women's dressing, and examining just what exactly it is that makes an outfit 'likable'.

I agree with a few of Christopher Brooks' points (wedding dresses don't do women any favors) but, as any good lawyer, I strongly object to others (painted nails and flats should be eliminated for their lack of flattery). The core of his commentary centers on defining the tangible quality that causes us to lust after a fashion item. For some I imagine it is fit, flattering one's shape, or attracting possible mates (for just how long correlates inversely with the length of the chosen hemline). But it is nevertheless a contemplative inspection, and inspired me to search inside for my motivation as a peak inside the psychology that drives the multi billion dollar industry in which I work.

I rarely pick something because I think someone else, including my husband, will like it. In fact, I've read that men find the biggest trends in women's fashion to be utterly ridiculous (oversize sunglasses, harem pants, neon). Something that fits well is always nice, but not enough to pull my wallet from the bottom of my bag. Comfort? Also a bonus but doesn't seal the deal. Color and pattern often leap from the rack and snatch my attention, but at the end of the day, I usually end up with gray, khaki and ivory for spring. So what then? Perhaps the image of slipping the silk sleeveless top over my head and looking instantly fresh and new. Would the same allure still hold 4 weeks later once the top is no longer 'new' and instead hangs among its companions in the closet?

This visual exercise of placing the object in my wardrobe and fast forwarding a month has saved me several purchases this past week alone (though it did not spare the 5 new pairs of shoes I carted home from work today). In the interest of buying only what you truly love, practice this game and take home those pieces that will make you just as happy in August as they do in early May. And do not worry what the boys will think, they'll like anything that you look happy wearing (with the exception of Harem pants. They don't look good on anyone.)