Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How to Rival the Times Square Ball

There is a time for subtle, demure, tasteful clothes. New Year's Eve is not it. Bring on the sequins, sparkles, and metallics!

From Heavenly Hostess, this is not a skirt-- it's an apron. It's the shiniest, hottest, most glamorous apron you will ever see. This is not the sort of apron you wear while making spaghetti for your family of 8-- it's dry clean only, so, impractical. No, you should wear the Sparkle Cocktail Apron, $120, over a LBD that used to be your go-to dress for cocktail hour but has gotten a bit stale recently, and could use some sprucing up. The sort of sprucing up that starbursts of gold and green sequins and a bit satin bow can accomplish!

If you'd rather wear a real skirt, J.Crew has the perfect option with their Liquid-Gold Sequin Skirt, $199. I love the understated ribbon waistband and the fun, swingy movement created by the pleats.

Also from J.Crew, the Bottle Sequin Jacket, $499, is in the most unique shade of olive. The cropped sleeves and hem make it perfect for throwing on over a simpler dress.

Vera Wang can be counted on to do a metallics without going over the top. From her Lavender Label, the Strapless Bustier Dress, $247.50, features a lightly shimmery silver lame fabric and an impeccably ruched bodice. Perfect if your New Year's Resolution is to spend more time in the spotlight.

I adore Herve Leger's bandage dresses-- they make every single figure look slamming. This Sequin Bandage dress, $2,800, is especially fierce. The ombre stripes give admirers the excuse to look you up and down.

This Old Navy Patent Clutch, $9.99, adds a touch of class and glamour to every outfit. The distressed faux-leather gives it a vintage, lived-in vibe, and the simple inside pocket forces you to prioritize your belongings. It also comes in a flashy bronze color, but I'm a fan of the dark teal.

I love these Mossimo Iyanna Sequin Trim Shoes, $19.99 (see what I was saying about my love of cheap shoes?). The ankle strap and low heel makes these practical for a more active New Year's Eve: bar-hopping, perhaps, or an outdoor block party. I like how the sequins are almost tiny mirrors-- it's very disco.

Everyone have a happy, safe and fabulous New Year's!

Banana Republic Mary-Jane Pumps

Besides the J.Crew boots I got as a gift, almost all of the shoes I own are worth around $20. Lots of Payless, Famous Footwear, DSW, Old Navy, Target, etc. So that might be why I'm being gunshy about these Banana Republic Shirley Open-Toe pumps, $49.99. They used to be $130, and with a 20% promotion BR is running (enter EXTRA20 at checkout, valid until New Year's Day) they go down to 40 bucks. That's a good deal for some well made leather mary janes, right? Especially since I don't already have a good pair of practical, serious black pumps. I think I need to just buy these already before they sell out of my size.

In other news, related only by the fact that I saw both these things at the mall today, The Limited is doing a spot-on knockoff of the Marc by Marc Jacobs gold quilted clutch that I blogged about after Thanksgiving. I was so, so tempted to buy their Quilted Satin Purse/Clutch since it was only $9.99 and came in an adorable shade of purple, but resisted. While I love purple, it goes with a lot less colors than gold (is there a color gold looks bad with, besides perhaps orange?), so I would chose it over the MJ one maybe 1 in 10 times.

I saw this at J.Crew and totally thought it was a clutch, but it makes a bit more sense now that I see it's a "jewelry traveler." On sale for $24.99, it's only available in black and spearmint online, but in the store they had a lovely pink and light blue. The satin fabric is so luxurious looking that you could definitely get away with shoving your cash and ID in the zippered pockets and carrying it as a clutch. Sure, it would be a pain in the ass to untie it and roll it open every time you want to check your cell phone, but otherwise it's adorable. Oh, and you can get it monogrammed for just $10! I was going to do a pre-Christmas post on really thoughtful, personal gifts, like custom stationary or made-to-measure dresses from the Etsy seller Miss Brache, but then by the time I got my act together it was 3 days before Christmas--way too late to order something specially made. But if you know someone with a January birthday, or if you're a freakishly incredible boyfriend who's already thinking about Valentine's Day, then I think this clutch, specially monogrammed with your loved one's initials, would make a fantastic gift. And if you also put a few necklaces and bracelets in the pockets? Holy shit, she would freak! Even if they were cheap, from Forever 21 or whatever, she'd find it adorable you went to the effort.

A sidenote on J.Crew: what is with their war on the waistline? I swear, every top and dress in that store is baggy beyond belief. I'm all for size inflation, but why is their medium loose enough to fit a woman pregnant with triplets? Tailor, J.Crew, tailor! The hourglass is classic and flattering; the balloon is not.

A few final things: I covet Daisy Lowe's vintage polka-dot dress, as modeled in her recent profile in the NYT style section. Based just on this dress, I'm excited to see the cute nighties and kimonas she claims to be designing as part of an upcoming line of pajamas.

Bill Cunningham is, I believe, the street style photographer for the NYT Styles section, and he's this adorable 80-year-old man with silver hair and a Brooklyn accent. He sometimes narrates audio slideshows of his work for the site, and his latest is Frosted, about Christmas style on Fifth Avenue and the Bergdorf Goodman windows in particular. They really are incredibly beautiful and intricate; if you're in New York right now, run, don't walk, to Fifth Avenue to see them before they are taken down! If you aren't in New York, watch the audio slideshow-- Cunningham's enthusiasm is enchanting and contagious. I want him to be my style godfather.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Eve Dresses

I feel like I'm in a bit of a shopping funk lately, and I don't know what it is. I liked all the clothes I got for Christmas: some ridiculously comfortable So Low yoga pants and a really soft Gap reversible robe from my parents, and a Nike zip-up running jacket that makes me feel like a serious athlete and is the most incredible shade of blue. But I didn't get anything "wow!" that I could wear out of the house. Adding to my sadness, I tried to buy that Splendid cardigan from Barneys (remember? purple and black stripes, open with no buttons? $19?), but the day after ordering it I got an apologetic email from Barneys saying that it sold out. Boo. Then, the day after Christmas I went to the mall with my mom and sister, spent 30 minutes trying to find a parking spot, and then bought nothing. Frustrating! The next day I went outlet shopping and got some basic black workout capri's from the Gap (the pair I already own is literally coming apart at the seems, so it's time to trash it. I'm thinking that for New Year's I'm going to toss everything I own with holes. I convince myself that it's not a big deal to wear sweats with a little hole on the inner thigh, and that extra pair lets me put off doing laundry, but I'm trying to treat myself well by not wearing clothes that are falling apart), and then a rather adorable argyle cardigan from the Tommy Hilfiger outlet. I wish I could find a photo, but instead I'll have to paint a word picture: navy sleeves and back, with grey, white and yellow diamonds down the front, and a little ruffle around the crew-neck collar. Very preppy, but fun.

But I can't wear a sweater and jeans on New Year's Eve! I don't want a "cardigan" sort of year-- I want a drop dead gorgeous dress kind of year. I might wear this Splendid dress that I just bought off Shopbop a few minutes ago. It isn't blow-your-socks-off hot, but it's cute and comfortable and I think I could get a lot more wear out of it than any sequined halter minidress outfit. The Contrast Waist Tie Dress, $81, gets major points for the deep forest green color, a winter classic that never goes out of style. And Splendid's jersey pieces are always so soft, so I look forward to being cozy in this dress.

But there are some other dresses I'm eyeing that are more "special occasion." From Nordstrom, this Maggy London One Shoulder Dress with Beaded Waist, $94.90, is definitely not for everyday wear. You really can't dress down one-shoulder dresses, can you? Especially one with such gorgeous silver embroidery at the waist. Cobalt blue is a very hot color this year, and I think the goddess top and loose skirt would be very flattering.

Also from Maggy London, this One Shoulder Silk Dress, $81.90, is equally lovely. The charmeuse ruching at the waist gives it a bit of a bridesmaid vibe, although I don't know what sort of bride would let her friends look this hot.

This Adrianna Papell Sequin Grecian dress, $105, might be my favorite, and it seems a little bit less formal than the previous two. The gold sequins on bright teal silk chiffon is very fresh and fun-- it makes me think of Esmeralda or some other historically incorrect gypsy woman, the sort who is too busy with her forbidden love interest to worry about health care or ethnic cleansings. The full skirt is perfect for swishing around seductively; ditto for the plunging neckline on the halter top.

Here's another Adrianna Papell dress, but I'm not sure if it's cute or a bit weird. The Sequin Laser Cut dress, $94, has the refined color combination going for it, and the sequins on the straps and neckline are like a perfect frame for your face. But I'm not sure about the layers, or tiers, or whatever they're called. Everytime I see dresses like this I can't help being reminded of a worm. I think the diagonal layers on the bust help weaken that association, but I'm still not sure.

Here's a dress I have no reservations about, and it uses a similar color combo. From Abaete, the Charles Dress, on sale for $148.50, seems totally original and fresh to me. I love how the shoulder strap emerges effortlessly out of the woven bodice, and how easy I think it would be to wear despite being a bit high-fashion. I'm not a fan, however, of the big exposed zipper down the side, which you can't see here. Conceal that shit, Abaete! It's ruining the classy look of your dress! Ok, I guess I lied when I said I had no reservations.

If, however, my dress hunt fails, I might just hang out at home with a Young Adult novel from the library, wearing this Anthropologie Good Hours Robe, $128, and these Miu Miu Crystal-Heel Sandals, $695.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Very Classy Christmas

Hello friends and readers! I hope you had--or are having--a wonderful holiday! I've been a ghost here over the past few months (as I told Julia, who reigns as queen here, I am a "contributer," which is a nice way of saying I'm enormously lazy). ANYWAY... I thought I would share some of the loot I asked for and received this year. Forewarning: in making this post, I realized that I'm actually a huge spoiled brat, but I promise that it's not about bragging rights! A lot of it is currently on sale, and I have a feeling they'll be reduced even more in the post-holiday blitz.

First up: my JCrew stuff. My sister bought me two really cute headbands that I, unfortunately, can't find online, but you better believe I let out a squeal of delight and glee when I opened up Houndstooth bow-button cardigan ($59). It's so soft and cute in person. I love that it's a cropped sleeve and the length is much shorter than the slouchy boyfriend sweaters that Katie Holmes had been whoring out all over New York this past fall. The little bows are snaps so you can wear it either open or closed. My only gripe about it is that it JCrew didn't really take into account the fact that most women have boobs greater than the size of mosquito bites, so you might want to go up a size if you have a rack on you. I'm sure my sweater will stretch a little bit, but the space between the top and middle snap does pull open when I have the thing buttoned down. Still. SO CUTE.

My other awesome JCrew deal was the Dream taffeta-sash cardigan in black (also $59). I still can't figure out if I like wearing the ribbons tied as a bow better than leaving it open... but the beauty of this sweater is that it's perfect for dressing up and down. I can't wait to pair it with a cute dress, and it looked perfect with the pair of jeans that I wore today. The sleeves are also cropped on this one. Have I mentioned that I LOVE THE COLLAR? The ruffled look of it is so girly and prissy. If I had the money, I'd go to JCrew tomorrow and grab it in the mustard color. Ah, my poor, poor trembling debit card.

So you all know I have a huge love for GAP, even though I think they've jacked up their prices over the year in a way that could be considered cruel and unusual punishment in this economy. BUT! Lucky for me, GAP has also been having a wonderful sale, so I got two things that I was REALLY pining for.

After I visited NYC, I resolved to buy a puffer jacket. I'm not 100% sure why I was suddenly possessed by this need (other than the fact that when the temperature drops below 50 degrees I'm suddenly freezing my ass off), but I digress. I researched a number of puffer jackets because I wanted to find one that fit relatively close to my body (you know, despite the fact that I would essentially be wearing a pillow) and wouldn't break the bank if I ended up not living on the east coast after college. But, wouldn't you know it, the temperature in Arizona has been RAINY AND COLD the entire time we've been back. That's where GAP's Warmest Puffer Jacket ($49) comes in. I wasn't sure I was going to be a huge fan of it, because, let's face it, I'm all about the bows, ribbons and clean lines, but I'm super happy with this investment. The pockets are lined with fleece, the hood is detachable, it doesn't make a weird noise when I walk around, and, so far, no feathers have escaped the lining. Win!

Because I'm all about looking for clothes that will translate easily between work/play, I have been stalking the Ruffle-neck shift dress ($31) in a way that some might consider sad and slightly pathetic. Really, it was the friend that I visited every Friday to see if it had gone down in price at all.

The ruffle detail (again with the ruffles!) on the collar and the button on the sleeves spruce up a dress that might otherwise have been really drab and/or boring. The fit of it is really nice, by the way. I'm a big fan of shift dresses to begin with, but the fabric is a little heavier, which means that it's great for the autum/winter months, but also that it'll be a little more forgiving in covering your post-holiday pudge/food baby.

Okay. So Coach has decided to not only jack up their prices, but also to go in a direction that may
or may not be a rip-off of Chanel. Check out their new logo if you don't believe me! Or ask my Mom, who, as an empty nester, decided that she needed a part time job to keep her busy and is now a purse pushing machine. She, of course, gets an awesome discount on stuff, so I don't feel like that big of a brat when I tell you that she bought these adorable peace sign earrings ($95, but you can find a similar pair by Lucky for $22). Very light and pretty. It also means that I got an insane amount stuff from Coach--scarves, a pair of black flats, perfume, etc. They're also selling lip gloss now, apparently, since I got a tube in my stocking. Not complaining!

So, as if that stuff wasn't enough, I also got this super cute surprise: a Burberry Headband. Unfortunately, now that I've looked at the price I'm not sure I can ever wear it without feeling really guilty. Still, it's quite pretty and just the right size. OH! The best part? It's just tight enough to hold your hair, but not enough to give you an awful migraine after wearing it for a few hours. I think my parents have excellent taste--and I'm lucky because they also understand the need for nice, quality pieces that I can have and use for many, many years.
So what did YOU get for the holidays? Everything you asked for, I hope!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pretty Photos!

I've been trying to clean up my desktop a bit, and I decided it was time to tackle my folder of photos I save for this blog. And since I'm sure everyone could use a break from shopping for a few days, here are some photos that I found sartorially inspiring in the last year:Amy Adams is rocking my world with her shiny turquoise t-straps. Such a great compliment to a black dress that's a little on the boring side.
This photo of a chic Brazilian woman is from the Sartorialist. I love the ribbon sash at the waist and the intricate lace of the rest of the dress.

In my opinion, Sienna Miller's style is a cheap, tacky rip-off of Kate Moss's. But I have to give her props for this unfussy, fresh white dress.

Speaking of Ms. Moss: she makes me want to get married in a Burberry bikini, no small feat considering how much I adore dresses.

Ok, so Lauren Conrad looks a little fake n' bake in this photo. But she is rocking the ultra-mini dress and intense platforms. I would kill to raid her closet.

I was gonna post about Robin's shirt, because I thought I found it on Anthropologie, but then it sold out and I had no use for this still from How I Met Your Mother. But Robin and Barney looks so cute, and I do really like her shirt, so I refused to trash it until I could share it with the world.

I know that these sort of across-the-head braids a bit played out, but I'm still determined to master them. They look so fun and easy on Reese Witherspoon! I wish I had that sort of braiding skill.

Speaking of hair, this random Dove model has my dream ringlets, even though I'm unwilling to spend an hour of quality time with a curling iron every morning.

And Kate Hudson has my dream straight hair-- it looks so shiny and soft! And I want to play with baby lions, too.

I didn't see Iron Man, and I hate giving Gywneth any props, but I'm in love with her strawberry blond hair color in that movie.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gifts for Me, You, and Everyone We Know

I'm pretty much done with my Christmas shopping, but it just feels wrong to spend these last few days at home, relaxing with family, instead of elbowing other frentic shoppers out of the way and fighting over the last Princess Unicorn doll at the mall. So I'm feeling the urge to spend, like a good American, but it also feels a bit wrong to buy things for myself. So I've come up with a compromise I like to call, "One for them, one for me!" I hear that George Clooney takes the same strategy when making movies (aka, Ocean's Thirteen for them, Good Night and Good Luck for me).

I was in J.Crew the other day and everything-- sale, full-price, free if you shoplift-- was 20% off and fully returnable. That's a really impressive deal, if a bit smacking of desperation. Unfortunately, they didn't have this Onyx sequin dress, $79.99, which I'm dying to wear on New Year's Eve. I love how the cozy merino wool sweater dress is fancied up with sequins at the neckline, waist and arm openings. A nicely subdued take on glamour, so you can wear it for a special occasion but also dress it down for everyday. Sure, I already own plenty of little black dresses, but this seems like one I'll keep wearing for the next five, ten, fifteen years. Plus, empire waist, v-neck, knee length? It's a no-brainer.

For my imaginary male friend who has the taste and sophistication and balls to wear a cardigan, this solid cotton-cashmere cardigan, $39.99. It is one of my New Year's Resolutions to befriend a dude who wears cute cardigans, so I can parade him in front of my roommates and show them how cute they'd be if they only stopped being so close-minded.

I love browsing Swell, this website geared to sixteen year old surfer girls in Southern California, even though 22 year olds living in Manhattan probably shouldn't be wearing Roxy. But I do think I could get away with carrying this Hurley Rock Chic Tote, $32.99. The red flannel is way more East Coast than West, plus the faux-leather trim and silver hardware adds some grown-up attitude. I also love the front pocket, because otherwise I'll constantly be losing my keys and ID.

For my friends who actually do live in California and don't need to worry about frostbitten forearms, I'd give this Hurley Hartigan Pullover Hoodie, $52. Perfect for throwing on over your (I'll try not to die of jealousy in the process of writing this sentence) bikini after a day at the beach.

For me, from Urban Outfitters, these super fun Dolce Vita Equestrian Boots, $154. I'm a firm believer that the challenges of matching your clothes to a uniquely colored accessory is worth the rewards of having a stand-out outfit. And so, while these boots also come in black and tan, the hunter green is were it's at.

I would buy this Silence and Noise Speakeasy Mini, $98, for myself, but I know that I wouldn't be able to pull it off. Therefore, I want to buy it for my waif-y, leggy friend with a daring fashion sense. On me, it'd look like the bottom half of a figure-skating outfit; on her, it'd look like something Daisy Buchanan was wearing when she captured Gatsby's heart and made him pine for her for decades.

However, I do think I could rock this Anthropologie Oblique Pencil Skirt, $88. Trying to psych myself up for another semester of interning, which means getting up early and wearing business casual, would be a lot easier if I had this cranberry-colored skirt with slimming buttons down the side. However, I hate that it's all cotton and still dry clean only. Although, I did accidentally machine wash an Anthro cotton cardigan that was supposedly dry clean only, and it came out fine.

For my friend who is way too cool to make photocopies all day, this Over-Under Cuff, $24. I love how the gold glass beads look on the interwoven wires-- it's a little bit Paris, a bit Berlin, and a bit Cape Town. She can wear it on all of her amazing adventures.

I don't really need anything from Insound, but in order to keep with the theme of this post I'm picking out this handy silver Posterhanger, $16.99, for myself. I don't have any posters of indie bands that no one's ever heard of, but I do have this poster of Central Park that keeps falling off my wall, so this would help.

The real reason I'm including Insound is because this Shower Mike Sponge, $6.99, is the COOLEST gift ever! It's a sponge, shaped like a microphone, so your tone deaf friend can really rock out in the shower. I personally like belting out "Take a Change On Me," and I'm not ashamed.

From the She Boutique, I would kill for this Suede and Georgette Dress, $290, in "blush and honey." I love the ultra-touchable fabric--the light pink body is silk and the tan trim is suede--and the simply sweet shape. It's a very girlish, wholesome look, but the low cut back and front is equally sexy.

For a friend who'd rather cover up (it is December, after all, hardly the time for strappy pink dresses), I'd give this Hooded Wrap, $315. This ultra-soft and warm wrap can be worn countless ways, all of them cozy. And honestly, who isn't bored with pom-pom hats and knitted scarves?

So, yes, I already have a pair of pinstriped mary-janes. But those are closed toe with red accents, and these are peep-toe with green accents! Totally different! These Navy Pumps, $75, are very Modern Career Woman, with an Old-Fashioned Twist. Perfect for chasing after a hot story for the front page or pumping your co-workers for gossip.

I don't know if I have a friend who loves bacon as much as I do, but if I did, I'd get him or her these bandages, $9. You can also buy pickles, toast, and unicorn bandages!