Monday, March 31, 2008


Are you maybe having sort of a downer kind of day? You know, it's Monday, it's raining, you're going to die a miserable failure all alone? I have just the cure.
Puppies you guys!! Sometimes when I'm bummed out I like to go hypothetically shopping for my hypothetical future life, which varies in shape and form depending on the day. Today I'm thinking, Young Adult Fiction editor living with my boyfriend John Krasinski on the Upper West Side with a rooftop garden and a cocker spaniel named Pemberley. And that cocker spaniel can't just go around naked (no, seriously! I know clothes for dogs seem totally lame and pointless, but it gets freaking cold in New York and if you have a little dog it'll suffer). And when J.Kras and I take it for walks in Central Park every morning it has to look stylish in case we run into Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates walking their puggle, Puck. Enter Crewmutts, J.Crew's mini-line of dog clothing and accessories, all exorbitantly priced and completely adorable. The anchor sweater, $55, above, is maybe the cutest thing I've ever seen in my entire life, and my hamster has babies once.

This Ivy Critter sweater, $60, isn't as cute, but I'm totally tickled by the fact that it's dry clean only. You would have to be out of your mind to buy a dry clean only sweater for your dog, and I like that. It looks a little less comfortable than the first sweater, but that's maybe because the dog looks kind of sad, like it has an awful stage mom who spends every second of her weekend trying to get her puppy into modeling shoots. But the little dog bones embroidered all over are pretty darn cute.
Aw, sleeping puppies! I've always wanted to buy a doggie bed, probably because my dog growing up was terrified of the one we bought for her and would never use it. I'm hoping my hypothetical future dog will be made of stronger stuff and will appreciate this madras dog bed, because if she doesn't that'll be a huge waste of $200.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Reinventing the basic black heel

You might that have noticed that, in shoes, my tastes tend to run towards the whimsical, the detailed, the slightly out of the ordinary. Life's too short to wear boring shoes, right? But then being too stubborn to invest in a good pair of black pumps leaves you forced to wear brown heelss with a black dress, since your one pair of black heels are way too open-toed to wear with tights, and it's too cold to go bare legged. I love my Claire Satin Slide Heels, $16.99, from Target, but I can't get away with having them as my only black shoe. (I do have a lot of love for these shoes, since they were my first pair of real heels and I learned how to walk in them. I wore them to cotillion, to English AP cocktail party, to multiple weddings. I bought them almost four years ago but they're so classic that Target still sells them, both in stores and online.)

So after last nights brown shoes/black dress fiasco (not really-- no one noticed), I decided I needed to get a pair of hot black heels. Here's what I'm looking for: preferably close-toed and heeled so I can wear tights, simple enough to match almost anything, but with some element that will make other girls look down and say, "those shoes are totally fucking fierce!" I'm thinking mary jane, t-strap, just something beyond a basic pump.

These are pretty much exactly what I'm looking for, but I can't buy them because they don't have my size and Danielle owns them, and knowingly buying the same pair of shoes as your roommate is just, like, against the rules of feminism. And they also have a little peeptoe, but they call it a "keyhole" so I think it's small enough to get away with tights. The Report Signature "Dita" Mary Jane Pumps, $149.25, are maybe the hottest shoes I've ever seen in my life. If you wear these shoes people will think you're either a really freaky librarian or a really classy burlesque dancer, both of which I want to be (or, at least, want people to think I am).

These shoes aren't quite as hot, and way too expensive, but I find t-straps are way too rare in the shoe world. How is it fair that there are Uggs and Crocs everywhere, but you have to search high and low for a good t-strap pump? The black patent Engage heels by Charles David, $250, also come in a burgundy color that I like so much better. See, that's the problem with shopping for back shoes: if they come in another color, I always want the cobalt or aubergine or jade version.

These Chinese Laundry Attitude shoes, $70, don't have much of a wow factor, but the cut-out on the side is interesting and they'll match every single thing in your closet. I'm also a big fan of the 1/2 inch hidden platform, since you can pretend you're just naturally that tall. Oh, but they come in dark teal! I want the dark teal! It'll match absolutely nothing but I want the dark teal!

Oh, these Report Bijou shoes, $152.10, are so vampy I'm getting a little flushed just looking at the photo online. I like pretty much anything with corset-style tie-up detailing: shirts, underwear, dresses, pants, whatever. These shoes would also be good if you're into toe cleavage, which I'm not really. I don't have anything against toe cleavage, but I sort of don't think it's a real thing we need to talk about and want to create. It's just your toes getting smushed together-- to compare those to real cleavage is just sort of insulting to boobs.

Here's another from the Report label, which I've kind of fallen in love with in the course of writing this post. They're out of my price range, but if I got a job and saved part of a few paychecks I could swing it; contrast that to, say, Manolo Blahniks which I could only afford if I saved ten paychecks and did buy any food for a month. For just $152.10 you can get these beyond fabulous Celine pumps with a sequin overlay. Sequins can be dicey-- you don't want to look like you're going to be performing in the Tarrytown Community Theater revival of Cabaret. But black sequins are subtly glitzy; you won't look like a disco ball but you will catch everyone's eyes. But they also come in red and gold at Zappos, silver and purple for $169, and red and purple for $84.50 at Macy's. I love black sequins, but when there are red sequined pumps, you have to ask yourself, "What would Dorothy do?" and go for the red. Yes, everyone you see will make Wizard of Oz references, but they'll also think you are exceedingly fetching and playful.

You couldn't wear these with tights, but I really like these Steve Madden Seducce (not a typo, just a stupid spelling) Black heels, $19.99. Also, they're really practical because the t-strap ensures that your foot is staying in the shoe. There's no slingback strap slipping out or your foot stepping out of the front. And they're nice and minimal, so you can wear something a little more detailed and your shoes won't compete for people's attention.

Two things I'm not sure about are suede and pointy-toes (they make your feet look kind of scary and long!), but I like these Steve Madden Arouse pumps, $29.99. The combination of the two is sexy, I think. I know that I would constantly be sitting, crossing my legs, and touching my soft shoes, and encouraging cute boys to do the same.

I posted the red version of these shoes a few posts back, but the black version is also hot. From Isaac Mizrahi for Target, the Black Chris Mary-Jane pumps, $29.99, are the sort of shoes secretaries who sleep with their bosses wear. In a good way.

I like the Kenneth Cole sublabel Unlisted because some of the shoes have a bright red sole, Christian Louboutin-rip off style. I don't really believe in designer knock-offs, but I wouldn't be made if I was wearing these shoes and some stranger thought they were real Louboutins. These "Stylish" pumps, $45, have an awesome fake crocodile embossed upper. I like that the croc leather and red sole are very sex kitten, but the general shape of the shoe is very demure.

These shoes are super demure. They should call them Coquette shoes. They're called the Charming shoe, $44.99, which is a little uncreative. These shoes might be a little too sweet, with the pleated satin and the ribbon and the tulle and the bow. But I think it could all work if you were wearing something almost, but not quite, as sweet and girly.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Shopping Hodgepodge

Just yesterday I thought to myself, "I really shouldn't be doing any more shopping for a while." But then I walked by the kitchenware store Broadway Panhandler and saw, in the window, this dish towel with a photo of some 50's housewives and the text, "You mean shopping for more useless crap isn't the meaning of life?" And that was enough to convince me to keep spending money I don't have on things I don't need. Yay!

Incidentally, what do you guys think of that category of Retro Bitch kitschy stuff, like coasters and aprons and post-its and whatnot? Sometimes I think they're cute, but a part of me thinks it's trying so hard to be subversive that they're lame. They're not as bad as those t-shirts that say something like, "Mrs. Pitt" or whatever, but they're in the same general category of ickiness.
But anyway, the dish towel convinced me to keep buying things in order to find inner happiness. Danielle and I went to the flea market on Greenwich Avenue in the West Village, recently mentioned in the NYTimes. Since it just opened for the season a week or two ago, and we went pretty early in the morning, there weren't a ton of vendors there. But there was a guy selling rings with typewriter keys and earrings with Scrabble tiles, plus a really sweet old pocket watch that I might have been tempted to buy if it actually kept time. There was also a Polish woman selling vintage jewelry who told us about fifty times that the gemstones were from Italy, and Danielle got a sweet cocktail ring with an amber stone. But the best stand belonged to this woman selling delicate, understated gold and silver jewelry. I should have gotten her name, but if you go, look for a middle-aged Black woman selling gorgeous jewelry at really good prices, with a sign that says "Ask prices! Tags equal ugly jewelry." I got a bracelet with little silver ball beads strung unto about a dozen silver chains all twisted together. It kind of reminds me of tinsel, but not in a tacky way. I'm very excited to wear it, although it's sort of a bitch to try and put it on by myself. That's why I need a roommate, for help fastening bracelets and doing zippers.

After exhausting the flea markets stands (I think we'll go back in a month or so, and I'll try and remember to take photos), we split up and I headed back home. But I couldn't resist stopping into Banana Republic, especially since they had those giant "SALE!" signs up in the windows. But really, there wasn't that much stuff on sale. Working retail, I learned that the clothes on the designated sale wall aren't necessarily more discounted than clothes elsewhere, they just don't fit into anywhere else, and the sale window displays are more about not having displays relating to the new merchandise than anything inside the store. But anyway, I went inside and was browsing without any intention of buying, or even trying things on. But then I saw this cotton short trench coat, except electric blue instead of green and on sale instead of $148. I'm on a quest for a fun spring coat, but this wasn't quite it. There was something odd happening the shoulders and neck, so I couldn't buy it. But once I decided to try it on, that gave me leave to go grab a bunch of other things to try on, just to justify taking my clothes off. Although, I guess you could argue that I didn't need to take many pieces of clothing off to try on a coat, but... whatever. I tried on this long-sleeve sweetheart neckline top, $14.99, which is about the same color as the jacket. This is a cute top, and I was really close to buying it, but at the last second I stopped and thought, "this is going to be one of those tops that hangs in my closets for months at a time, and I'll see it and think, 'this is cute, I should wear it more often,' but then not actually ever wear it." So good for me for having the foresight to not buy something I'll like but not love.

I also tried on this golden cap-sleeve silk dress, $109.99, which I believe I included in my post about yellow. I especially wanted to try it on because Blake Lively is wearing it in last month's issue of Vogue, although you can't really see it in the photo. Also, has anyone else noticed how, outside of Gossip Girl, Blake Lively is just as hot as Serena but Leighton Meester isn't nearly as hot as Blair? I mean, she's still a totally cute girl, but she's lacking that special quality that makes Blair the center of every scene. Maybe it's the hair? Although, Leighton's t-strap shoes in this photo are the hottest of the hot.

So anyway, the dress, which really should come with the belt but unfortunately doesn't. It's a good dress, but not perfect. First, the fabric seemed a little worn, and there were little runs in the silk in the skirt. Sure, I bet a ton of people have tried on this one dress in the last two months, but it should be able to hold up a little better. And second, there was something weird going on with the back, where if I stood up straight with my shoulders back the fabric would gap out, like they made it half an inch too broad. It was very odd. I might be tempted to buy it if it gets more deeply discounted, but until it's under a hundred I just can't.

So BR was a bust in the clothing department, but I did get a sweet bracelet. I like the cuff shape because it's way easier to get on, plus I have relatively big wrists so it fits nicely and won't fall off. It's pretty different from all my other jewelry, but it's such a statement piece that trying to match it with earrings or a necklace is unnecessary. It's enough jewelry for a whole outfit. I also like that it's thick enough to cover up the red string I have tied around my left wrist and I never take off because I know it'll never go back on. Anyway, this bracelet is $35.99 in stores, but no longer available online. Sorry for the amateur photography in this post, by the way. I now have a whole new respect for jewelry photographers, because trying to figure out how to get enough light without causing a glare is tough.

So my last stop on yesterday's mini-shopping tour was Payless Shoes, which can be so hit or miss that I don't stop there that often. But I'm glad I did yesterday, because the second I saw the Anatole Pump by Lela Rose, $27.99, I knew I was going to buy it. You could wear these shoes just about anywhere: the office, to go out, even to class up a pair of jeans. It's a totally timeless shape, and the polka dot prints gives it a little bit of whimsy. Now that I have these shoes I'll have no excuse to wear flats (although, last night I did a lot of walking in heels and I got this really gross blood blister on the ball of my left foot, so that's maybe a really good excuse to wear flats. Was this an overshare? Are you totally grossed out? Just be glad I didn't take a photo and post it, because I was really tempted).

I didn't buy these Captain Boat Mocs, $16.99, but I was horribly tempted. They obviously fit with my fantasy always-on-a-yacht style, and could be cute summer shoes when my pedicure is looking a bit too worn for flip flops. But I just couldn't convince myself that I wouldn't look at these in three months and think, "Why in the world did I buy these stupid shoes?" If they were real leather (and still miraculously $16.99), I might have been more willing to give them a chance, but for now I'm saying no.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Leather Jackets

So spring might not seem like the most obvious time to be wearing a leather jacket. But that's exactly why you should! On those days when there's still a bit of a chill in the air, or the nights when you need a little extra warmth over your little spring dress, a leather jacket will keep you just warm enough. And you'll look like a bad ass!

In the past, I haven't bought a leather jacket because I was too scared I couldn't pull it off. I'm a bit of a Bambi, so I thought there was a big chance that wearing leather would make me look like this. But then the combined good influences of my roommate in Prague and Gossip Girl convinced me otherwise. From the first five minutes of the GG pilot, I wanted to find my own vintage tan leather jacket (and not only so I can recreate this outfit and go as Serena for Halloween). And then how awesome is this leather jacket? I covet it beyond all belief, and when this episode airs (this is a promo pic for a future ep) someone better tell me where it's from. See the buckle in front at her waist? Perfect.

Also, am I the only one who wishes she had to wear a school uniform so she could copy Serena's plaid skirts and loose ties? And those of you who had to wear uniforms, don't burst my bubble with reality by saying that you could never get away with Serena's outfits at their school.

I think this Short Trench by Guess, $179, could maybe find its way into Serena's wardrobe. Great color, fun buttons, and I love the buckles at the wrists. On the other hand, I find that coats with belts are hard to wear open, because the belt kind of falls all over the place and looks sloppy. And for spring, you gotta wear your jacket open so as to better show off what you're wearing underneath.

This Scuba Jacket, also by Guess and $179, would be great for that. I like how non-butch this jacket is, with the deep brown color and vertical seams. And it's nice and fitted so you won't get lost in it.

Speaking of feminine, this Generra Cropped Leather Jacket, way out of my price range at $695, makes leather sweet enough for lunch with your mom. Also, have I talked about how I have severe issues with this particular ShopBop model? She has such fantastic hair, but such an awful bitchface! I'm equally drawn and repelled by every thing she models.

Let's talk about price. Leather is expensive, because cows are so rare and so highly valued in our society. You're lucky to find a cute jacket under $100, and I definitely found more jackets costing a month's rent (in some town other than Manhattan). But here's a pretty cute Short Zipper Jacket in a fun shade of burgandy that's just $59.95. Ignore the Fake Housewife of Orange County inside the cute jacket. I also like this Waist Length Honey Colored Leather Jacket, also $59.95.

This one is cheaper than most because it's not a full leather jacket; Dillard's calls it a Zippered Cardigan with a metallic leather front, $69. I guess the front and part of the sleeves are leather and the rest is rayon. But that's good for warmer weather, and t's definitely a unique design. The cutout embroidery is just the icing on the cake.

So all the jackets I've shown so far have been colors other than black, because I think brown and tan leather and like are easier to pull off when you're sort of a wuss. But through my extensive research, I'm beginning to become convinced otherwise. Just look at these Ashley Olsen and Natalie Portman, two petite women not known for their ass-kicking toughness.

Let's start slow with some cropped jackets. You know, I'm always kind of impressed when magazines or websites do a splurge and save feature, since it seems hard to find items that are practically interchangeable from very different price points. But guess what? I have a splurge and save for you. The first, the Twenty9Twelve Yves Leather Jacket from Shopbop, is $690...

...and the second, the Halogen Zip Front Leather Jacket at Nordstrom, is $148 and 50% off!

The first has the full length sleeves, really cool pintucking at the waist and in the back, but I'm not crazy about the weird ruching on the bottom of the sleeves. The second has the sleek zipper, and doesn't it just look ridiculously soft? Also, it has four pockets in the front, so you would hardly need a purse.

I have just one more super expensive jacket, and then I promise I'll go back to under $200. I like this Vince Leather Motorcycle Jacket, $775, because it's not overly fashion-y. With the right outfit, you might be able to convince someone you actually know how to ride a motorcycle. It's pretty basic, but the slightly distressed look of the leather and the snap closure at the neck are badass.

This Leather Moto Jacket from Arden B, $128, is a bit simple, too, but the gold zippers make it just bling-y enough that you could wear it to a nicer bar or restaurant.

Also from Arden B is this Leather Pintuck Moto Jacket, $168. Pintucks are usually so prim and reserved, making them totally bomb on a leather jacket.

Remember, at the beginning, when I said how awesome a leather jacket would look over a light spring dress? Well, I would be remiss if I didn't give you some options for dresses also. The first is the Cut-Out Shift Dress from Old Navy, $17.70. You can't really see the detail on the front in the photo of the white, so I'm including the black version too.

I'm completely obsessed with next dress from Alice + Olivia, who always makes great frocks. The Ombre Rosette Tube dress, $297, is like the sky in dress form. Yes, it's a little shapeless, but a highly structured dress would be wrong when trying to capture essence of sky, right? Just think about how fierce those chiffon rosettes will look peaking out from underneath your leather jacket. I'm including three photos because I think it's just that fantastic.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Dresses

Happy Easter, everyone! Right now I'm in the airport, waiting for my flight back to New York to board and eating taffy with little bunnies on them that I found in my Easter basket this morning. My family brought me to the airport but barely slowed down to push me out of the car, since they were all heading to church. Hmph. It is undeniably true that I would not have gone to church with them even if I didn't have to go back to school, but it is also undeniably true that dresses to wear to church (or, even better, brunch) on Easter morning are really fun to shop for. Look how much fun Judy Garland and Fred Astaire are having in the movie Easter Parade! I highly recommend you try and track this movie musical down if you want to do have a theme movie night tonight.

If I was really committing to the Easter theme I would post photos of all sorts of giant hats for you to buy and look ridiculous in as your stroll down Fifth Avenue. But in a match between hats and dresses, dresses will win 7 days a week and twice on Sundays (thrice on Easter Sundays!).

I think this Arden B. Floral A-Line Dress, $148, is the quintessential Easter dress. Floral? Pastal? Chiffon? Waist sash? Full skirt? All check. But the pleated cross-top and color block at the bottom hem keeps it young and fun, like "Who wants to celebrate Jesus with some Long Island Ice Teas?"

The Free People Pretty Poppies Dress, $128, is a little less in-your-face, but still, so pretty. But why is it that all the Free People brand stuff on the Urban Outfitters website is really cute, but when I look at the Free People website I'm like, "What hippie shit where they smoking when they designed this shit?" Maybe they tone down the arts-and-craftsy whickawhack look for the UO stuff, but go wild with the crochet and florettes on things that are only by FP. Anyway, I adore the blue and white striped sash and straps on this dress.

On the Gap website they recommend toughing up this Strapless Empire dress, $69.50, with a black leather jacket. I love that idea, but not for Easter, of course. This dress comes with straps that are obviously removable, but I suspect that the boning in the front of the bodice would keep it in place well enough. And pretty print, right? It's a bit like toile, but toned down so it's not overwhelming.

The Marc by Marc Jacobs Wave Print Halter Dress, $198, is a little less girly, I think, with the unconventional color combination. And I like that it's an abstract print, almost simple stripes but with some messiness.

Just to go from end of the designer spectrum to the other, here's the Forever 21 Floral Eyelet Dress, $24.80. It's so feminine and sweet, with the lace trim and the eyelet on the skirt. It also comes in a light yellow that'd be appropriate for Easter, but personally I like the pink.

The AE Garden Sundress, $39.95, is great because it's not so foofy that you couldn't wear it to class or a party or places other than church and your sorority meetings. Plus, it has pockets, which I am hugely in favor of when it comes to dresses.

Speaking of sorority girls, I had a suspicion that Lily Pulitzer would have some great Easter dresses. The first one I liked was this Marlon Embroidered Dress, $198. Orange accents on crisp white fabrics are one of my favorite color combinations; it looks so fresh and fun. You can barely see the embroidery on the dress, but there are oversized pink and orange daisies all over.

What is better for Easter than white linen? The Penelope dress, $298, would make you look both super tan and very skinny (with the vertical stitching) and also pretty busty (with the sweetheart neckline). That's pretty much my big three dress wishes, right there.

I don't know why, since I almost never wear shift dresses like this, and I'm rarely on board for some paisley, but I'm kind of irrationally in love with the Jacqueline Dress Pique, $248. It's cute, right? I don't know, I like the keyhole at the neck and the three flowers... it's just totally working for me.

So I realize that none of these dresses are exactly modest, and unless you want to be like Lyla from Friday Night Lights (who is constantly going to church in these little sundresses and looking unappropriately babely, if you ask me), you need a cardigan. I could write epic odes about the majestic beauty of cardigans, but for now I'll just give you a few options so you don't get any pervy looks from the priest.

For dresses I think a cropped cardigan is best, because if there's too much sweater going on I start to look a little grandma. I covet this cropped ruffle cardigan, $49.50, from the Gap. Assymetrical can be hard to pull off, but I think the pale pink helps soften it. This cardigan also comes in navy blue, white and gray, all exceptional cardigan colors. If you don't like the ruffle, Gap also has a basic cropped cardigan, $39.50 (that little ruffle cost ten extra dollars? Pffph) in good spring colors.

Here's another cardigan with a little more detail, from Free People. The Boho Tie Waist Cardigan, $98, is a little more chunky but has the slightly open weave and cool buttons. Black is a little anti-Easter, but you'll be able to wear it with anything.

I know I said cropped cardigans were the way to go, but sometimes, with a shorter, simple dress, a super long cardigan (almost as long as your dress) can look super hot. The Lux Basic Long Cardigan, $48, would also look great belted, I think.

For a grand finale I was going to scan and upload a picture of me and my sister wearing matching Easter dresses when I was 2 and she was 4, and we're holding little stuffed bunnies and looking way too freaking adorable, but I couldn't find a scanner so: use your imagination.