Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Just because.

So there's really no reason for this post except that I get off writing about lovely, lovely things I either own or wish I owned.

(By the way, I've been contributing recently to ThisNext, a new online community where you can recommend and browse products on the 'net.  You can check out my recommendations here.)

This dress by Canadian designer Eve Gravel looks like it was swiped from a chic Parisian girl's closet.  I love the classic, gamine cut and the quirky details, especially the contrasting crocheted panel.  So perfect with black London Sole flats and a simple clutch purse.

It's Kiki DM and it's marked down considerably, so I couldn't resist.  Plus, if there were ever a way to get someone's attention...

Here's the obligatory part of any post I write on this thing that makes Julia question my sanity.  But these aren't just your average American Apparel leggings; these are glorified leggings.  Besides, I'm not the only one who loves them: Sass & Bide weren't even going to make these for the masses, but people were crazy about them when they showed up on the runway that they decided to by popular demand.
I love jewelry that manages to be both tough and elegant, like this Azendi necklace.  But I always wonder whether you could wear necklaces like this one, with its sterling silver dagger charms, and get past security at the airport...

I wear these "snakeskin" sandals with everything from cutoff shorts to skinny jeans to dresses.  This is the summer of gladiator sandals, and come September we'll all probably be sick of them, so I'm gonna enjoy them while I can.

This is the ultimate high-low dress.  I wear mine errand-running with my aforementioned Sam Edelman gladiators, and then I switch those out for sexy DKNY peep-toes for dinner and drinks.  I love clothing that works harder than I do...

J. Crew: Usually more vanilla than the latte I had for breakfast.  But I'm really digging these jeans - enough to have just bought them.  I love the relaxed-but-feminine fit and rolled-up ankles.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Black Halo Herringbone Dress

Kim Kardashian is one of those famous-for-nothing people that I try to keep off my radar, but sometimes I have to stop and give her props for having such a fantastically curvy body and being totally unapologetic about it. You have to be really comfortable with your hips to wear this dress, and she is working it. I think this Black Halo Belted Herringbone Cami dress, $370, looks so much hotter on her than on the stick-thin model. I do like the ruby-colored top with purplish skirt better, though-- it's just a little more "after hours librarian" than the white and gray's "quiet hours librarian."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Miu Miu Shoes

I'm a big fan of fantasy online shopping-- pretending that you're going to buy things you could never afford by putting them in your virtual shopping cart, or just looking at the item's page every day. While some people might find this a waste of time, or a bit masochistic, I find it fun to see how much money I would spend at J.Crew if I bought every argyle sweater that caught my eye (answer: about $2,000).

My latest object of aspiration? These Miu Miu Satin T-Strap Jeweled Sandals, $710 (but no longer available on the Neiman Marcus website, so they're doubly unattainable).

They're basically like the game Pretty Pretty Princess, but in smoking hot shoe form. They're so ridiculously girly that I can't help but lust over them completely. I love the classy t-strap shape, and the blinged-out heel is sublime.

(Sidenote: Is it me, or have designer shoes gotten way more expensive? After watching every single episode of Sex and the City, I got the impression that Manolo Blahniks and the like were all around $400. So for years, I've had in my mind that I just need to get to the point where I have $400 just lying around, and then I can buy some Louboutins. But now shoes like this are $700 and up! What's the deal? Is it because these shoes are made in Italy and the American dollar is so weak right now?)
And the Miu Miu line of shoes-- the "more affordable" offshoot of Prada-- are endorsed by no less a shoe expert than Mindy Kaling. She said, "If I were a cool New York midtown professional girl, I'd wear Miu Miu. No doubt. Comfortable and edgy." Sounds good to me! Here are a few more pair of Miu Miu heels I'm lusting over:

These jeweled peep-toe heels, $750, have the same fun embellished heels, but in slightly less foofy colors. The pleated multi-colored leather is sort of badass, especially in those metallic shades.

The sequin pump, $650, is like wearing a classy disco ball on your feet. Even the heel is covered with sequins! And these sequins may look purple, but they're actually a shade called "nero," which is black. But it's just a shiny, vibrant, awesome shade of black that when the light hits them, it reflects purple and grey and whatnot. Sort of like magic!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Split Decision

I can't decide which version of this dress I like more. The "retro violet" or....
...the felt blue.
The violet one is so vibrant while still easy to wear; the striped one is definitely more interesting and eye-catching, but I always worry about the busy-ness affect with patterns. The first lets me indulge my fantasies of getting $50 sushi dinners with investment bankers, while the second creates the fantasy of playing Skipper on some luxurious yacht. Tough choice, right?

Old Navy tie-back knit dress, $24.50.

I'm rather frustrated because the August issue of Lucky has this Old Navy sundress-- flutter sleeves, deep v neck, band at empire waist, A-line skirt, with an old-fashioned sort of floral print on a cream background-- that I want ridiculously bad. But it's not online, boo. I hope that it's just not in stores yet, and will come out later in the summer; I'd guess that I look at Old Navy dresses often enough that a winner like this wouldn't be able to slip past me, but you never know. Keep an eye out for this adorable cotton dress that looks a lot more expensive than $30.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Signature Necklaces

I've been wanting to get a big, vintage-ish statement necklace for a while-- a locket, or maybe some other pendent, on a super long chain. I used to doubt that such a necklace would work on my body, since a necklace like that, which hits at or below your breasts, seems to work better on girls with smaller chests. But if Joan, the legendarily curvaceous secretary from Mad Men, can rock this look, then I know it's possible. I'm curious what her necklace is-- a fancy pen on a chain? She's wears it quite often, which is a costuming detail I really like.

But I know what I won't be buying: this Fred Flare gold retainer necklace, $300. Only girls who survived high school without any sort of awkward stage would ever wear this necklace. Just last night, one of my roommates came to talk to me right before I went to sleep, and said, "I didn't know you wore a retainer." And I was like yeah, because I only wear it at night and I keep it a closely guarded secret. I feel absolutely no urge to wear a gold retainer around my neck during the day, for all to see.

A way classier, cheaper option from Fred Flare is this Ladybird Watch Locket, $20. On the front is a sweet pair of black and white birds, and inside is a fabulously old fashioned working clock. It's the female equivalent of a pocket watch, except with feminine details like the floral design etched on the back. I'd love to wear this over a simple black crew neck tee and let the compliments roll in.

But let's get to the point: the best place to buy a necklace that could double as a flea market find is Etsy. Like this Kathryn Locket, $18, from the seller Monsti. The little red crystal attracts the part of me that's like a rodent hoarding shiny things in its nest, but the locket-- a little tarnished, a bit worn-- is certainly no afterthought. I like the teardrop shape, which is a bit unexpected, and how simple the floral engraving is.

On the other hand, this locket from Jak's Interior Art, $24, is a total showstopper. You have the big vintage locket as the focal piece-- you should definitely have a gasp-inducing photo inside, because every one will ask if it opens. Then, up the chain a bit, there's the tiny bluebird charm, hammered disk, and trio of turquoise beads. It could be overkill, but I think all the elements work together cohesively instead of competing for attention.

This item doesn't quite fit in with the "long statement necklace/locket" theme, but it just caught my eye while browsing Etsy, and I've instantly fallen in love. I mean, how often do you see lily pads on a necklace? The Golden Lilypads necklace, $28 from Luxe Deluxe, is loveliness to the extreme. And you don't really see lariats that much anymore (lariats are necklaces that make a Y shape, usually by running one end of the necklace through a loop on the other end), so it has that originality to it.

A bit pricier locket is the A Hummingbird Lives Inside necklace from Basil the Cat, $75.
Instead of a traditional locket that flips open, this locket is a former solid perfume case. The top slides open to reveal a hummingbird and four small crystals. Who needs a photo when you have a secret bird? The front section is gorgeous too, which the twist design and glass rhinestone. I'm not crazy about the glass beads attached to the chain above the locket-- they look a bit cheap next to the locket. But the piece itself is still fantastic, and will make even the most everyday outfit a touch more glamorous.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Modern Women in Retro Dresses

I've been watching a whole lot of Mad Men lately (amazing show, on AMC, second season starts July 27th!), and it's making me wish I could dress like those women all the time. I mean, how gorgeous is this dress on Betty (the blonde)? That blue sash, that full skirt, that cone bra! I want one to wear to class or the grocery store or what have you. Also, on a side note, the woman on left used to be married to George Clooney! She was once the luckiest woman in the world, and now she's the woman who ruined Clooney for everyone else, since he swore off marriage after their divorce. And she's also married to John Slattery now, who is a silver fox of a slightly lesser quality than Clooney.

Anyway, the show has inspired me to hunt around for some old-fashioned style dresses. I'm not too picky about the era-- I just want to look like I've stepped out of a time machine.

Ben Sherman is celebrating some sort of anniversary, so to celebrate they're selling a dress designed in the last five decades (or something-- I think I deleted the email with all the details). Some of the dresses are fug, but I love the Didi dress, $299. I believe that this dress is supposed to be from the eighties, but it seems way more 40's, screwball comedy, His Girl Friday. The houndstooth skirt is a classic touch, and the tucked in shirt plus pleating will make your waist look tiny. I want to wear this with some badass pointy-toed pumps, and then go in and demand a raise (... at my unpaid internship), because I'm worth it, dammit.

Also from Ben Sherman, the Dunnaway Dress, $94.99, has a fun sixties vibe that I adore. The length and cut is very mod-- if you really wanted to go with the theme, you could rock some go-go boots. But it doesn't have to be costume-y; the grey fabric is more modern, plus it counteracts the sweetness of the plaid bow.

So I recently discovered the site Blue Velvet Vintage, which sells both authentic vintage and vintage-inspired reproductions. Remember Blair's perfect blue sailor dress she wore in the Gossip Girl finale? It's from Blue Velvet.

I think this black and white floral sundress, $119.99, looks like it could be straight out of Betty Draper's closet. I can see her wearing this to a dinner party with her husband's boss, or to her psychiatrist's office, or while trimming the roses... everywhere. I think my favorite thing about these retro-style dresses is their emphasis on the waist. I'm a firm believer that under no circumstances would your waist be obscured, especially if you have the curves to really create an hourglass silhouette. The dress in this photo has a petticoat underneath-- I mean, talk about creating an eye-catching shape. But the overall look of the dress is so classic that I don't think a petticoat would leave you feeling like an extra from Gone with the Wind. The red sash with that swirling pattern? It doesn't get any better than that.

Old Navy Shoes

I've mentioned before how Old Navy has been making surprisingly cute shoes lately, and their winning streak looks like it'll continue through summer. You go, Old Navy.

The leather peep-toe pumps, $44.50, manage to perfectly walk the line between "cutest girl at the office" and "cutest girl at the bar." They're sophisticated, yet fun; classic, yet sexy. I worry that the heel is a bit too chunky, but it would most likely make these easier to walk in, which is never bad. And the top is 100% leather, which means less likelihood of evil, foot-eating blisters on the back of your heel.

If those pumps are a little too staid for your taste, try the sling back wedges, $29.50. These are the perfect summer shoe for when you're ready to give the flip flops a rest: the cut-outs will keep your feet nice and breezy, and the slingback means you can toss them off and jump into the pool much more easily. I'm also a huge sucker for cute patterns on the inside linings of shoes; the attention to detail is very much appreciated. It's like having a tiny secret inside your shoes! This shoe also comes in a more practical black or brown, plus a dark green and slate grey. I sort of want one in every color.

A nautical-themed shoe? Of course I want it. The rope t-strap sandals, $19.50, will make even the most land-loving girl look like a natural sailor. The use of rope over the foot is adorable, and the addition of suede elsewhere results in a shoe that's not at all kitschy.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Home Improvement

I moved into my new apartment about two months ago, but it occurred to me today that my room has yet to transform into a real, adult room. This is my room, the model version with the perfect decorating and attractive yet real-looking models. They have curtains, and a dust ruffle, and some sort of tree in a vase. I have a bunch of poorly-assembled Ikea furniture, including a desk chair (but no desk). I taped some unframed posters onto the wall, and today I threw away the big piece of cardboard that's been taped onto my floor for a week (I put it there in the first place for breakdancing purposes, of course). So I decided that my summer project needs to be making my room look less like the "before" photo in a room makeover TV show.

If I had infinite time, money and motivation, the first thing I would do is paint an accent wall-- I think a rich dark blue would work with my dark red sheets and rug. But I have to be practical and admit that the accent wall just isn't going happen-- it's a lot of time and effort for an apartment I'll probably be moving out of next May. I was browsing Apartment Therapy and I think I may have found an alternative: EasyChange Wallpaper from Sherwin-Williams, which is guaranteed to come down without any special solutions or tools. Perfect for renters! Here are a few patterns that I like:

The temporary wallpaper thing might not happen, but I'm determined to frame some of my personal photos and mount them on the wall. I'm inspired by Carrie's remodeled apartment in the Sex and the City movie. I love the idea of having a bunch of differently sized frames clustered above my bed, and I've been eyeing this set of 10 frames, $36, from Urban Outfitters. In my ideal apartment, I would have a collection of frames from flea markets and my world travels, but it is way, way easier to just buy some frames online. I think these classic black frames will contrast nicely with my light wood furniture, and I'll be able to rearrange them any which way I choose. It'll be a hassle to go to the drugstore to get my photos resized (because who just has 8"x 10" photos lying around, besides your parents with your old school photos?), but I have to remind myself of the long run. I'll be able to take the photos and frames with me to any future apartments, where I'll slap them up on the walls and feel immediately at home.

The next thing I do really need is a desk. I had my heart set on finding a desk that was as close as possible to the desks in the NYU dorms: a nice big drawer across, with deeper drawers on the side, and three levels of shelves on the attached hutch. But, again, I was inspired by Sex and the City (and I do sort of hate myself for saying that, because there's this whole subculture of NYU girls who comes to New York wanting to live Carrie Bradshaw's life, and they are just insufferable). I saw that her desk is just a simple wooden table with a single drawer, which makes it perfect for sitting by her window. You can just barely see it in this photo (and how desperately do I covet the Aiden chair?). So now I'm leaning towards something simple but functional, like this Mission Computer Desk from Target, $99. Probably my favorite thing about it is the bar along the back, because that's exactly where I want to rest my feet when I'm sitting at my desk. I like the hutch, $79.99, too, and I can just imagine putting all my books and knickknacks on those shelves. But the hutch would totally block the window, and I'm really attached to the idea of staring down 22nd St as I study.

So if I put my desk against the window, I'll have this whole wall with nothing on it, which would be perfect for a reading chair! I usually read in bed, but my habit of putting on my pajamas and getting under the covers before reading (in the middle of the day, even) usually leads to impromptu naps. If I had a comfy yet sleep-adverse chair to curl up in, I wouldn't fall asleep after fifty pages. I really like the Karlstad chair from Ikea, $299. I want a really distinctive chair, in a fun pattern or design, that'll liven up all the solid linens and unadorned woods I have in my room. I want the first thing people say when they come into my room to be, "Hey, cool chair," although I'd settle for, "You are so beautiful it hurts to look at you." Other chairs that I like but can't afford: The Lulu in Green Leaf from Urban Outfitters, $380.

The Punchy Floral Reese Chair, $350, from PB Teen. I like the blue and green, but I'm not sure if they're too cutesy for my taste.

I like the pattern of this Maslin Armless Chair, $649.99 for two, but an armless chair is all wrong for comfy reading, and they come in sets of two. What would I do with two armless chairs?

I'm not sure how I feel about butterfly chairs. Actually, I'm pretty sure I feel that they're good for college freshman, but when in about five years I'm going to look at it and think, "I am way too old for this stupid chair. Grr, get off my lawn! Where's my prune juice?" But UO's Circle Line Flower Dish Chair, $125, is reasonably priced and looks super comfy. Plus, I bet it would be super easy to make a new cover for the cushion, if I decide I don't like the pattern. What do you guys think: is this a viable option or am I just about too old for this style?

I have one last thing on my apartment wish-list, but this one is out of the bedroom. From Time Out NY, instructions on how to wallpaper your fridge! It's so easy, just basically slapping some rubber cement onto your fridge, so it pulls off later. I really wish I still lived with Danielle so we could forgo the wallpaper and just cover our fridge with pages torn from Vogue and the Anthropologie catalog. Maybe I can find some scrapbooking paper (because I'm certainly not buying a roll of wallpaper for a fridge) in a boy-friendly abstract pattern, and use that.