Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sparkly and Lovely, Courtesy of J.Crew

Now that it's December, and all I want to do is get all tinseled up like a human Christmas tree. J.Crew is here to help me out with everything I might need for holiday parties, New Year's Eve, Secret Santa, or just trips to Starbucks for peppermint mochas:

Crystal Supernova Necklace, $128, is appropriately described as "an explosion of sparkle." It's the type of jewelry that will elevate whatever you're wearing and take it to the next level--I'd be a bit tempted to wear it with my most casual, worn-in dress just to see if it could rejuvenate it.

J.Crew is all about putting sequins on cardigans this summer, and those are two of my favorite things! This sequin scarf cardigan, $110.40, might, I admit, be a little bit too much of a good thing--you probably couldn't wear it during the day. But at night, when it's a little chilly but you aren't willing to bundle up in plain black wool, this is a showstopping sweater.

So the bowtie skirt, $350, is something that, if I were to find in a thrift shop for $20, would grab and make fun of to my friend, and then I'd say, "Hey, I might as well try it on," and in the dressing room I'd spent about 20 minutes staring in the mirror, trying to decide if it's whimsically cute or way too weird. I mean, it's a bunch of gold bowties sewed to a skirt. And eventually I'd decide to buy it, even though I wouldn't be sure if I'd ever wear it. So obviously I'm not planning on buying this $350 version, or suggesting that you buy it. I'm just saying, I think I've come down on the side of "whimsically cute."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lauren Conrad at Kohl's

This year I'm pioneering a shopping strategy that I'll call "Pre-Black Friday Recon." It involves going a few days ahead of time to those stores that you know will be packed on the day after Thanksgiving. I go on a Monday or Tuesday afternoon, grab anything with the remotest potential to be cute, and go into the deserted dressing rooms to try them on at my leisure. Then, I make note of what is flattering and what is fug, and make plans to return in three days when the price is slashed. Genius, right?

One place I definitely want to hit is Kohls, whose Simply Vera by Vera Wang collection is usually pretty awesome. I have a blue paintbrush-printed skirt from Vera that I get compliments on every single time I wear it--no kidding. And I saw another skirt there that had potential to join those exulted ranks, but sadly, it's not online. If I go back on Friday and buy it, I'll try to take a photo, but let me just say that it's Emma Pillsbury from Glee level of cuteness.

I've been bitching and moaning about needing a good blazer for ages, and I think I've finally found one, courtesy of my Laguna Beach high-schooler turned NYT best-selling author: Lauren Conrad. When I heard that she was folding her higher-priced line and doing something cheaper for Kohl's, I thought it was the best idea I ever heard. I love LC more than I'd like to admit, but there's nothing she could possibly design that would be worth more than $45 bucks. So, happily, this blazer is on sale for $42, hopefully to be marked down even more! It's a nice classic shape, with the fun touch of folded-up cuffs with a contrast lining. A good go-anywhere piece. And you know what? I think I'd rather a good piece of clothing fall apart before it falls out of style, so I'm going to convince myself that a good blazer is something I should be "investing" in.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic, about 9 months late

So this post is pretty belated. Confessions of a Shopaholic came out when, last February? And I rented it last August, which is when I fell in love with the below outfit. And I've always believed that only foolish people think that wearing a past season's style is a sin--most things don't become dated in six months, and sometimes cute is cute forever. I'm not saying this outfit is timeless, but I am saying that I love it and want to recreate it.

I mean, right? Look at how adorable Isla Fisher is! As previously discussed, I have a mad-crazy girl crush on her, and I think she pulled off all the silly outfits in Shopaholic with admirable aplomb. Most weren't doable for real life, but I think this one is.

Start with an adorable plaid dress that's not too cowgirl--from Fred Flare, the Lois dress, $45, has a sexy eye-hook closure in front and an attached belt to tie in the back. Hide that with an oversized corset belt...
...from AMI, for $19.99. As a lover of belts, I have to recommend thick waist belts only in situations when you don't plan to sit down or eat. But if you're planning an evening in which you'll be standing around and looking cute, wear that belt and cinch it tight.
And then finish it with some black thigh-highs, to expose just a little bit of your legs. Those maroon platforms that Rebecca Bloomwood is rocking? Those, you're on your own. I would go with riding boots, since I go with the riding boots in about 80% of all situations.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Neverending Search for the Perfect Everyday Purse

So last Christmas I got this bag from Urban Outfitters, and after some initial whining about how small it is, I learned to love it. I wore it nearly everyday, got many compliments, and had no intention of replacing it. But then, over the summer, the edges of the straps started to fray. I trimmed them, and it looked almost good as new. But the next stage of deterioration is harder to hide--the leather is peeling off the top of the straps (on the parts that are on my shoulder). Underneath is a grody grey fabric, and it looks completely brokedown.

Time for an upgrade! I was at DSW this past weekend (shopping for boots, of course, but no luck), and decided to swing by the bag section just for fun. This Nine West Madeline Shopper, $69.95 at Zappo's, caught my eye:

I love the roomy shape, the simple and classic design, and all the fun inner pockets. My only pause is the color, which isn't very accurately reflected in this photo. It's called "Rust," and it's more of a brownish, orangeish, red--not a color that often appears in my wardrobe. But it would match my green winter coat, and hey, maybe it's time for something new! I just don't want to spend $70 on a bag that I either won't wear a lot, or will fall apart in under a year. This one is synthetic leather, too...

Doesn't anyone have experience with Nine West purses, especially faux-leather ones? Are they built to last or can I expect this purse to be falling apart by next October?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ginger Love!

So a few weeks ago, I dyed my hair red. It was a big move; I've been a blond my entire life, and I needed a lot of pushing to get to the salon. They gave me an "Irish Ginger" gloss, and for the first three days I hated it. And then for the next week I loved it. And then the week after that, I was like, "My hair looks almost the same as it did before, how did that happen so fast?" I saw my oldest friend in the world about two weeks after dying it, and she didn't notice a difference until I mentioned it.

So now I'm a dark blond with a slight hint of red, and I know I can't drop that much cash again in the same month. So I'm thinking home treatment, but I don't want to look like a cheap stripper or a clown. I need recommendations! Any redheads out there, please give me your suggestions so I can look like Nicole Kidman for under $20.
What's that, you say? You say you want a mini-pic spam of redheads, in order to get an idea of the color I want? Ok, since I did a lot of research on Google Images before going to the salon, I can do that for you.
I fell in love with Isla Fisher so hard after seeing Definitely, Maybe. I mean, she was hilarious in Wedding Crashers and adorable in Confessions of a Shopaholic (shut up, it was a good rental!), but Definitely, Maybe should have been her star-making role. She plays what would be, in a lesser movie, the typical Manic Pixie Dream Girl. But slowly she turns into an excellent best friend, an independent female, and a surprising heroine. She's the best part of that movie, and it has a lot of good parts--I'm not kidding, you should rent it for the excellent 90's references alone. Really, the only bad parts of the movie are some stiff, cheesy acting from Abigail Breslin and the awful, hideously generic title.

I just watched Drop Dead Gorgeous, which is another excellent movie. Amy Adams makes her film debut as a slutty Minnesota cheerleader, and she's very cute... but she's a blonde. And she looks good, but she doesn't look as amazing as she does as a redhead. Oh, and it helps that she got her smile fixed, because she was giving dear old Kirstin "Snaggletooth" Dunst a run for her money.

I don't watch Dr. Who, but Alexandra Hepburn alerted me to the fact that the new assistant is a darling ginger. I love how completely natural her hair looks.

So I've been watching Glee, and I don't intend to stop, but I have some major problems with it (like, Will, how have you not touched your pregnant wife's stomach in the last 4 months?). But one aspect I'm totally on board with, besides Puck singing Sweet Caroline, is Emma's amazing hair and all-around style. The cute red bob is a nice twist on the usual "red hair=temptress" stereotype, and I love how one side is always perfectly swooped away from her face. Also, her J.Crew ensembles knock me dead with their matchy fabulousness. That gold chain on the neckline of her cardigan? Genius. I expect Michelle Obama to be rocking it soon, if she hasn't already.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't Tempt Me, Urban

Ok, so I tried to put these pieces into a Polyvore set, but I couldn't quite make it work. So instead, I'm bringing you 4 covetable things from Urban Outfitters in a lazy list form.

Silence and Noise Faux Leather Biker Jacket, $128
How long have I been wanting a leather jacket? A really long time. The other weekend I borrowed my friend's badass leather motorcycle jacket, and I felt totally unstoppable all night. If there had been a bar fight, or a particularly competitive dance battle, I would have jumped right in. I love the asymmetrical zipper on this jacket, and that the leather is a little broken in.

Kimchi Blue Suede Boot, $88
It's strange--when it comes to leather boots, I can't stay away from cognac brown, but when it comes to suede boots, I'm all about grey.

Chain Knot Cloche, $28
A girl would need a certain amount of joie de vivre to pull this off--the saturated blue, the gold rope, the old-fashioned cloche shape--but I'd like to think I'm up to the challenge. The color would look killer with my blonde hair, too.

byCorpus Long Sleeve Wrap Dress, $39.99
I've always wanted to be a ballerina! This veers a little close to American Apparel, but I think with some classic accessories (and no lame leggings) you can avoid looking like a victim of corporate hipsterism.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Timeless Wool Coats on the Cheap

It's been getting really, really cold in New York, and my winter coat is hanging in a closet in Arizona. It'll get shipped here soon, but in the meantime I'm coveting these:

Nine West Belted Hipster, $59.95
I already have a green wool coat, so I can't really justify two (although this one is way better than mine). Adore the forest green collar, the belt, and the wraparound collar. It would make wearing a scarf a little unnecessary, though, and lord knows I love a good scarf.

Kenneth Cole Peacoat, $59.95
A classic in every way. I love a good winter white, too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grey Work Dresses

I've been doing some temp work this week, and I have to confess that I've been enjoying the challenge of dressing for the office. I am sure that I won't feel this way when I have to work five days a week, but for now I'm having fun trying new combinations of pencil skirts, button-down shirts, and heels.

But in this office, there are all these devastatingly fierce women strutting around in power suits and perfectly tailored dresses. Today, it seemed like everyone was wearing grey dresses, which is a smart way to bring feminine fashion into the workplace, without offending any dress codes. A Little Black Dress at work can, with the wrong accessories (too high heels, too glittery a necklace), look too fancy or sexy--as if you don't know the difference between cocktail hour and lunch meetings. A Little Grey Dress, however, is just right: more conservative than a colorful or print dress, but still with enough personality. Here's how I want to imitate the look when I'm a corporate HBIC.

You can't do much better than this Magaschoni Wool Dress, $129. The bateau neckline is sexy/modest in that Jackie Kennedy way, and the pleated skirt with pockets makes this more interesting than your typical shift dress. If you have buff arms, the cap sleeves are insanely flattering; if you'd rather cover up, add a cropped cardigan or jacket and then layer over a thin belt in a statement color like red or yellow.

Speaking of belts, this Banana Republic Wool Sheath Dress, $149, is the ideal blank canvas for a hot corset-style belt or a trendy double-wrap leather belt. The slightly exaggerated shoulders also give you an hourglass silhouette (without going full-on 80's, which, I don't care what the fashion press says, is not a good idea). This dress is good for offices that are a little more creative--it's a big short, especially if you're on the leggy side. On the other hand, it gets colder everyday, and once it's tights season you can get away with a little bit more, length-wise.

Now for a slightly cheaper option, if you're more of a cubicle-dweller than mistress of the corner office. From Modcloth, the Hold My Calls Dress, $84.99, practically screams, "I'm young, I'm ambitious, and I'm not afraid to look good while I work harder than anyone else." This dress is a bit of a combo between the two previous: the pleating and pockets of the Magaschoni, with the shoulders and wasp waist of the Banana Republic. In the Modcloth lookbook, they added a brightly-colored pin to the shoulder--that's the perfect excuse to spend an afternoon combing through vintage and handmade brooches on Etsy!

At this temp job I'm currently in, I spend the entire day sitting behind a receptionist desk. It's a mixed blessing--since I'm not running around, I can wear uncomfortable-but-hot heels, but since I'm sitting, no one ever sees them but me. But sometimes that's enough, as I expect would be the case with these Chunk of Change mary-jane heels, $56, from Lulu's. The grey suede body will match your dress quite nicely, while the teal heel and oversized strap adds a lot of personality. These shoes deserve to be shown off--maybe I can answer the phones and greet guests standing up?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Catalina Island posters

Bad news for my bank account: I'm falling back into shopping mode. All summer I've been so good: avoiding H&M, coming out of the Gap empty handed, window shopping but never actually pulling out my credit card. See, when you're a recent college graduate with no job, living in the most expensive city possible, you need to be frugal. But when I was home in Arizona I bought a dress from Target, and a few days ago I got a Ralph Lauren blazer off Ebay, and today I went to Target (which is obviously a weakness of mine) and spent way too much. I intended only to snag a peg off a bookshelf on display (long story), and ended up buying :a poster frame, Never Been Kissed and Catch Me If You Can on DVD (have I already mentioned how my dream job is thinking up movie combos for those 2 for $9.99 packs?), and a bunch of treats like microwave popcorn and fruit snacks.

See, shopping mode is like a wound that won't stop bleeding, except the blood is money. You get used to throwing down $30 bucks here and $60 bucks there, and before you know it you're buying a $3,000 wedding dress that was on sale, even though you're completely single.

So I am making a concerted effort to stop shopping...and yet. I moved in August, and I've just now started to really decorate my room and put things on walls. I have a few posters that I really, really love, but there are also a few that I've had for so many years that I'm sort of sick of looking at them. Sorry Lloyd Dobbler, sorry Scarlett O'Hara, sorry doorways of Prague. So I was thinking, maybe I should get just one or two new posters, and then I can start a rotation of posters--switching them around every six months or so.

And I know what I want--sort of. I would love to have the second season Mad Men poster: the one with Jon Hamm striding through Grand Central Station. The first season poster (the iconic back of Draper's head, with arm outstretched) is great but doesn't feature Jon Hamm's glorious face, and the third season poster (Draper in his office with the rising waters) is too stressful. But this poster is gorgeous, with Jon Hamm looking like a man above men. Ugh, I love it so much, but I can only find a small version on Ebay--$9.99 for 11x17 inches. Maybe if I got some nice matting and a frame, it wouldn't look dwarfed by my other posters.

Ok, next, I want a poster of Catalina Island. I went to Sea Camp there for nine straight summers when I was a kid, so Catalina Island is one of my favorite places in the world. But the problem is that there are so many fantastic Catalina posters available, that I'm having a hard time choosing. So that's the main issue of this post (and it only took me five paragraphs to get to it).

I'm partial to the posters that look like vintage travel ads, but I'm not totally sold: they're usually drawings, so they don't quite capture all the picturesque details of Avalon.

A: "Catalina by Air," 26x38 inches for $25.

B: Air Catalina, 18x24 inches, $49.99.

C: Giant Palm Tree, 12x18 inches, $19.99. I wish this and the next one weren't 12x18--I think that's too small a poster size.

D: Two Palms, 12x18 inches, $19.99.

E: Ticket to Catalina, 18x12 inches, $19.99. This one is sort of weird--all that text in the middle. And the faux-Hawaiian girl is out of place, since Catalina is off of California and does not have indigenous people. And yet, it's so weird that I think it works!

F: Avalon Graphic, 18x12 inches, $19.99. I think the green in this print would match really well with my blue/green accent wall, but the design might be a bit too minimalist for me.

G: Avalon Harbor photo, 37x26, $18. This one is the biggest and also the cheapest, which makes it very attractive. The only other black and white poster I have is of Say Anything (the movie), so it could be smart to get another and not overwhelm my walls with bright colors. My big hesitation is that this photo was taken in 1885, before the Casino was built--the Casino is the big, round white building with the red roof, and it's by far the most distinctive aspect of Avalon Bay.

Any one have an opinion they want to share? Like I said, I need help deciding. I think my favorite is the Air Catalina one (option B), but it's also significantly more expensive than any of the others. I could get it on Ebay for $36, but still. Please, tell me what you think!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Nine West's Vintage America Collection

As evidenced by my last post, I've been planning to go into fall kicking and screaming, wearing white pants and backless tops and hiding my tights under my bed. Since June was so rainy and cold, I feel like Mother Nature owes me an extra month to wear sundresses and sandals.

But then I saw this month's Lucky, and I started to get a little excited about putting my sweaters and corduroys back into rotation. And then I saw pg. 189, which featured items from Nine West's new Vintage America Collection. Lucky is doing a giveaway of $200 gift cards to Nine West, and I'm in it to win it. So what would I blow $200 bucks on?

I'd definitely start with the Roll Tab Boyfriend Tunic, $59. Plaid continues to be a personal obsession, and I plan to rock it in full force as soon as the temperature goes below 60 degrees. This top looks perfectly cozy, and it has that "I'm too confident in my sexiness to need to show all that skin," while still being form-fitting and cute. The roll-up sleeves and bib front give it a little more character than your typical button-down. I'm digging the tunic length, although if it were dress length I might love it a little more.

Ok, so buying these boots would already put me over the $200 mark, but I don't care: I need them, I want them, oh baby, oh baby. The knee-high Fiddle Boot, $169, does a fantastic job of mixing in Western inspiration with everyday style. Having grown up in Arizona and ridden horses for half my life, I tend to be a little suspicious of anything that tries to imitate Western style. I've worn chaps, and riding boots, and spurs, and I have no desire to bring that look to the East Village. But the cowboy influence is subtle in these boots--just some silver studs up the side and a practical mini-heel. I also like how these appear to have a good amount of structure, so they won't slouch down your calves and make your legs with stumpy.

These boots would get ruined in about five minutes on a real ranch, and that just makes me love them more. The Frollic boots, $99.99, come in three luxe suede colors, and I want the lightest brown, in order to form a perfect set with the medium brown boots I already have and the black boots above, that I own in my imagination. Sure, I'd have to put in a bit of work to keep them clean from sidewalk slush and subway grime, but looking killer in suede boots is the ultimate reward.

But a girl can not live in boots alone. Enter the Coby flats, $69.00. My passion for shiny studs and girly patterns is well documented, but I have to confess that I'm digging this gunmetal green color. It's so unexpectedly pretty, and will match nearly everything while not fading into the background. I'd love to wear these with a cranberry red dress, or maybe a loose cream sweater with super skinny jeans.

Parsing the end of summer sales

There comes a point in late August when you think to yourself, "I cannot wait for sweaters and corduroy and scarves and boots... is it fall yet?" But no, you're still a good month or so (or three months if you're in Arizona) away from chilly weather, and if you try to wear an argyle cardigan now, you'll probably die of heatstroke. But there is a bright side! All those light, airy, skimpy summer clothes are now on sale, and if you go for pieces aren't overly trendy (aka: no rompers), you'll be able to wear these next summer, too.

A loose jersey dress is one of those wardrobe workhorses that you can always count on, and J.Crew makes some of the best out there. Unfortunately, J.Crew tends to price them inappropriately high...until sale time comes around, that is. This jersey tank belted dress, $39.99, could transform into a bikini cover-up, date night frock, or casual Friday office dress, with the right accessories. For the first, big sunglasses, gold necklaces, great tan. For the second, switch out the jersey waist-tie for a leather belt in a contrasting color, and maybe match it to your pumps. For the later, throw a slip underneath and a buttoned-up navy blazer on top, with maybe thick tights and boots when it gets chilly. This dress also comes in heather grey and navy, but mango is the perfect color for an Indian summer.

Speaking of multi-tasking, this is the perfect top for when you're going straight from work to happy hour. From Old Navy, the embroidered border top, $20, will hide demurely under a cardigan or suit jacket from 9-5, with only the bottom edge suggesting that you're more stylish than your fellow office drones. As soon as you're done for the day, whip off the extra layer and get ready to have 15 guys lining up to buy you drinks, because your shoulders are just that hot. Just be careful to wear the appropriate undergarments; this top would be absolutely ruined by an errant bra strap poking out top.

I've been craving this American Eagle bustier dress all summer, and now that it's more than 50% off at $19.95, I think it's time to go for it. How to wear it into fall? Tough to say, since the big sash makes layering a little more difficult. I would try wearing a loose, sheer grey t-shirt underneath, and maybe undoing some of the buttons on the bodice. Anyone have better suggestions?

I can't officially include this AE Belted Party dress, $44.50, since it's not on end-of-summer sale and because it's only available in size 16 and 18. But wow, it looks really adorable on the model, right? It's the perfect mix of sexy and cute--very Lyla Garrity on Friday Night Lights.

Confession time: I've always wanted an I Heart NY shirt, but am too embarrassed to buy one for myself. I've put a lot of thought into scenarios where it would be acceptable for me (my 4 year NYC anniversary was last week!) to own one of those shirts, and here's what I've come up with: I won it in some sort of contest on NY trivia ("The answer is...New Amsterdam!"); it was a gift from my friends when I decided to go to NYU in 2005; I saw it in a thrift shop in Prague and bought it because it made me homesick; my boyfriend got one ironically and I stole it because it looked better on me. But since I have never entered a trivia contest, can't travel back in time, am not going abroad anytime soon, and don't have a boyfriend, it appears I'm out of luck. But wait! Forever 21 is selling this I Love My City tee for $8.72! That's so cheap that I can buy it with no crazy justfications or doubts! And since it's probably made out of tissue paper, when it inevitably starts to fall apart it will look that much more "I'm so hip without trying." I'm going to get so many compliments on the L train! I just need to buy it quickly, before a well-justified copyright infringement lawsuit ensues.

On a semi-related note, I once saw a family of five walking around a particularly trendy part of Nolita, and every single one of them was wearing an I Heart NY shirt, albeit in different colors. I got so much secondhand embarrassment that I had to cross the street. I know I sound like a snob, but seriously: take your matching t-shirts and fanny packs to Applebee's, because in NYC you need to try a little harder.

Today, you can wear this Anthropologie Bloemist Cardigan, $39.99, when you go see Inglourious Basterds, because it's a law of nature that the hotter it is outside, the colder it will be in a movie theater. In a month, you can wear it for long strolls in the park, and feel perfectly cozy and stylish. I love how the fabric flowers appliques look a little bit ragged, as if you dug this sweater out from under a pile of your great-aunt's wool skirts and fur muffs (oh, how I wished I'd been alive when women wore fur muffs to keep their hands warm. Basically, I wish I could dress like Samantha the American Girl doll--especially the pinafore she wore in the summer). But the voluminous sleeves and artful draping is very current, and I love the detail of the button on the shoulder, so you can fasten one end up and wear it shawl-style.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vintage-Inspired Plaid Dresses

You know how much I love plaid? And how much I love Mad Men? The twain have met!
Ok, so this is a pretty old photo--from the end of season 2, even. But it's been on my mind thanks to Modcloth's awesome new Look Book, titled "A Mad Affair." It's all Mad Men-inspired outfits, some of which are vintage and some are just vintage-inspired.
The Kenley Dress, $199, is named after the former Project Runway villain who had great vintage style but a bad attitude. But it really reminds me of something our favorite female copywriter, Peggy Olson, would wear (although she would never go that low-cut, being a good Catholic girl).

Here's another fantastic plaid dress by Anna Sui:The bright colors are a little more "bored housewife" than "working woman," so this dress reminds me more of Betty. The Wilcox Dress is $289.95.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Putting Money into the US Economy

I had a post planned about fall fashion, but my computer is being bitchy and refuses to upload the many photos required (to be fair, the three seasons of Nip/Tuck I have on iTunes might have something to do with it). Instead, here's a short post: I've been doing my civic duty lately and putting money into the economy. Here's what I've bought recently:

Yves Saint Laurent Luxurious Mascara in Sublime Grey, $28.50
I was in Saks yesterday picking up my beloved "Touche Eclat" and was sold on this mascara. I also have it in black and purple - I'm a fan of the coverage and the intensity of color - and the grey is perfect for everyday.

Current/Elliott Crop Destroy Jean in Super Loved, $235
First, the denim is amazing; these jeans are softer than the Citizens I've loved for years and washed countless times. Second, the fit is slouchy, relaxed perfection. These will be worn with sandals and strappy heels now; with boots later.

Ray-Ban Aviator Sunglasses, $129.95
I'm tired of the substantial, plastic frames I've been sporting for the past few years, so I thought I'd give Ray-Ban aviators - classic, unisex, lightweight - a try.