Saturday, January 31, 2009

Clutches from Etsy

One thing I love about Etsy is that you often find a seller who's selling 30 variations of the same thing, so there are loads of options as to color or print. I found two fabulous sellers who are offering clutches that I'm lusting after, but I know I'd never be able to chose between all the options.

Charm Design features several kinds of bags, but my favorite are their "zippered pouches." These 6.25x8.25x10.5 inch baglets could be used to hold makeup, jewelry, or toiletries, but I think they're too cute not to use for going out. Here are the prints I love the most, all $30-32:

The Wildflower in Pink

The Animal Forest

Orchid in Wine Red

Park Fountains in Mustard

Red Ruby Rose is another Etsy seller of clutches to die for. These are a little more formal, with the silver nickel frame and silk lining. Some of the fabrics are vintage silk, while others are cotton with the seller's photographs printed on. They're pricier, too, at around $75.

Blue Slinky

Bird on Wire

Candy Buttons

Aqua Coral

Sparkle Pod

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Big bags and tiny coin purses

I got this bag for Christmas, after lusting over it for months and months. From Urban Outfitters, the Saddlery Buckle Bag, $58, is very nice, well-assembled, and looks great. But it's just not roomy enough for me. My previous bag was big enough to fit my 12-inch laptop, a notebook, a few folders and at least two books, plus a snack. This barely holds my wallet and a piece of paper. So even though I just started using it, I'm already itching for an upgrade.

Now this is the kind of bag a girl could fit her life into. From Lulu's, the Boondocks Handbag, $39, has the style of plaid but is actually diamond stitching on black faux-leather--very chic. It also has little pouches on the outside front and back (good for IDs) and a zipper pocket inside, which is nice since a bag of this size has definite potential to be a black hole. I'm just imagining all the water bottles and spare t-shirts and library books and dead bodies I could haul around in this thing... yeah, I think I need the giant bag.

On the totally opposite side of the spectrum, can I confess that I want a dainty little coin purse? I know that I would never use it, because my wallet has a coin pouch and even though I only use it if there's no one in line behind me and I don't have to feel bad about taking an extra five seconds to give exact change. I would never take the extra fifteen seconds to dig that coin purse out of my bag, along with the wallet, and then juggle the two while trying to pay. But some of the vintage ones on Etsy are so cute...

From seller Noobootoo, this chain-covered coin purse, $11.50, is pure vintage adorable. The orange leather shell, 3x3.5 inches, looks great inside the mixed silver and gold chains. It's sort of silly and impractical (what, are your coins going to make a run for it?) but still, so fun.

I'm also in love with this handpainted floral coin purse, $10, from Class Act Vintage. It's so ladylike that I'd feel like a true society dame, using it to pay for York Peppermint Patties at Duane Reade. The exterior is tan leather, and it's lined in gold satin, so talk about classy. I would maybe use this on a night where I don't want to bring a purse, and can just slip some cash and driver's license into this coin bag, then put it in one coat pocket and then my cell phone in the other. While I rarely travel light, it's not a bad way to go.

Ruffles: Pro and Con

No promises, but I'm hoping to find time to do a real post on the SAG awards before the week is up. Until then, I just wanted to spotlight one gown:
Amy Adams wore Giambattista Valli, and I wasn't a fan. The eggplant color is gorgeous, sure, and it's mostly figure-flattering and not off-the-wall crazy (see Hatcher, Teri). But that ruffle? A mistake. I love a well-placed ruffle, don't get me wrong, but you can't just stick one in the middle of the dress and expect it to work. Especially with the slightly daring boob cups on the bodice... you don't want a ruffle to compete with that. It sort of reminds me of that episode of Friends where Phoebe gets a hummus stain on her dress and decides to cover it up with a giant Christmas bow.

Here's how an assymetrial ruffle should be worn. This Lewis Cho Dark Red Mini Dress, $240, is a lot simpler and more casual, but it also annoys me a lot less. I like how the slanted neckline leads into the beginning of the ruffle, so it looks more organic to the dress, not like someone just stuck it to the bodice. Also, you could wear this dress and still hug people--always a big plus!

This dress is being sold at, which is offering 30% off everything (I think?) with the code HAPPY30. J.Crew is also offering an extra 30% off their Final Sale items, through Friday.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coats of the Rainbow

I had this brainwave today: I should start collecting brightly colored coats. I already have an olive green one that I really like, but I want sunshine yellow, and crimson, and royal blue, and deep purple, and bright white. I figure that a good coat will last for years and years, and it's not like winter in New York goes by quickly... so why not have a wide assortment of fun coats to choose from when braving the cold?

My first pick is the Old Navy Belted Twill Trench Coat, $49.50, in Cosmopolitan Berry. Ok, since it's 100% cotton it's not really a winter coat-- most stores have stopped selling the heavy wool coats, because apparently January means spring for the fashion world. But that color is so bold, while the design is totally wearable-- it would be perfect for those early spring days when there's a touch of warmth in the air, but you can't put away your tights just yet.

I've already gushed about Michelle Obama's style, but did I mention how adorable and fashionable Sasha and Malia looked at the inauguration? I especially love the blue of Malia's coat, although Sasha's mix of pink and orange is perfect for her age. I love how their coats, designed by J.Crew's kid's line, were similar cuts with shiny ribbons, but they didn't look too match-y, like identical twins or bridesmaids. Anyway, this Gap Funnel neck moleskin coat, $78, is in a similar shade to Malia's coat, although it looks a lot less warm and cozy.

It doesn't get anymore glamorous than a bright red coat. My friend Lish recently posted about a red Marc by Marc Jacobs trench that's to die for-- and, unfortunately, $578. This Forever 21 peacoat, $24.99, is more in my league.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Frye Boots

If there were a fire in my apartment and I could only save one item from my closet, I would choose my knee-high, flat, tan J.Crew boots. I love those things like the dickens, and wear them constantly (at least 4 times a week, usually more), so I feel a bit guilty for even looking at other boots. But lately I've been hearing more and more about Frye, the venerable bootmakers (they outfitted both Union and Confederate soldiers, then, later, Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders!), and I've been dreaming of a pair of my own. I believe it started with fellow fashion blogger Chloe, who regularly posts photos of her outfit of the day, which often includes her Frye Fiona Tall boots, $276.15. I want these boots desperately-- the style is casual enough for weekend afternoons, trendy enough for Friday nights, and restrained enough for Monday mornings. I also appreciate how the buckles around the calf are functional as well as stylish, so you could loosen them a bit when tucking in your jeans or tightening them with bare legs. I really wish the boots I have now had this feature, since they tend to slouch down around my ankles because they're too lose around the calf.

I'm a fan of buckles on shoes in general, probably because you can't take horesback riding lessons for ten years and not gain a love for shiny silver sliding through supple leather. (Another reason I love Frye: you can see a distinct Western and riding influence but they're not all 'Jessica Simpson in Dukes of Hazzard' over the top.) The buckles on the Paige boot, $376, are more ornamental than practical, which is fitting for the chic slate grey leather.

The Ana Tall boots in cognac, $311, are straight-up gorgeous. Patchwork can be too hippy-dippy with the wrong fabric, but this luxurious leather looks fabulous recut together. It would be a crime to wear these under jeans, you can't argue against that. I have this ungoing debate with a few friends as to wearing it's wrong to tuck your jeans into boots, and I'm constantly shocked that they think you should hide your knee-high boots under denim. Sure, it's a trend, but it's a trend that's flattering and chic (unlike, say, leggings as pants or jumpsuits in general). Tucking your jeans into boots gives you an instantly pulled-together look, while not tucking results in bulky leather getting smothered under your pant legs. If you need more proof, go browse more of Chloe's outfits of the day-- she tucks all the time and always looks fantastic.

Here's another boot that practically demands to be shown off. The Heidi Buckle boot, $299, has heavy hardwear, a bold color, and a substantial heel and platform. In other words, this one isn't for wallflowers. It's lady-of-the-night crossed with cowgirl!

I'm usually not into ankle or mid-calf boots, because they hit my legs at an awkward spot and make me look stumpy. But I would make an exception for these Ava Button boots, $219.99, and maybe try to make them work with an oversized sweaterdress and thick black tights. I love the olive color, of course, and how the ankle cuff sort of reminds me of a cool wallet. The stitching on the fabric edges looks fantastic, too.

Oh, if only they weren't so expensive. Does anyone own a pair of Frye boots? Are they worth it?

EDITED TO ADD: An anonymous commentator pointed out the Vicki Braid Boots, $249.99, which are so gorgeous that I had to include them, too. I love how these basically look like riding tack; the color is even called "saddle." The braid details are really unique and a bit girly, while the brass ring at the ankle is way tough. In the words of the original commentator, "I want these desperately."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Inaugural Fashion

I have to confess: I love Michelle Obama. I love everything she wears. She can go no wrong in my eyes. She could wear Bjork's swan dress and I'd blog about it, all, "OMG SO CHIC I LOVE HERRRRR!" I feel towards her the way a lot of people feel towards Cate Blanchett, where Cate can wear some crazy metallic alien outfit and her fans proclaim her the hottest woman on the planet, while everyone else scratches her head and thinks, "I don't get it, but I guess she's sort of pulling the 'hot mess' look off." Basically, even if I don't love Michelle Obama's outfit, I love Michelle Obama in the outfit.

By now, I'm sure you've all seen the Toledo yellow coat and dress she wore to the inauguration, and the white Jason Wu gown she wore to the inaugural balls. But just to refresh your memories:

What's to say that hasn't already been said? She turned two lesser-known designers into household names, she made unexpected choices, she opted for her own original look instead of something bland and dull, and she put to shame all the First Ladies that've come before her. Barack is a lucky man, indeed.

One of the reasons I love Michelle is that she makes it OK to love fashion. She is certainly not a frivolous woman, but she has an obvious knowledge of design, trends, and the fashion industry, and you can tell she enjoys playing with clothes and using her outfits to express herself. But she's no Sarah Palin, spending exorbitant amounts of money on attractive but dull clothes-- she knows how to bargain shop, and looks just as good in J.Crew as she does in Narcisco Rodriguez. And she doesn't tsk-tsk those who are as fascinated by her clothes as she is. Notice how she wore her inauguration coat open to reveal the dress underneath, even though it was something like 25 degrees in D.C. She knows that we've been waiting for months to see what she'll wear (and that Isabel Toledo deserves to have her dress shown off as well as the coat), and she's willing to suffer a little bit to give the public what they want. I don't remember where I read this, and it could be untrue, but I've heard that Jackie Kennedy tried to discourage Oleg Cassini from reproducing her looks on a mass-market scale, because she disliked the idea that any American housewife could imitate her couture looks. That's not our Michelle-- Mrs. O is a woman of the people.

So, in honor of our new First Lady and her love for J.Crew (her inauguration gloves and, I believe, shoes were from the Crew, as were Sasha and Malia's adorable outfits), here are a few pieces I could see her wearing around the White House in the near future.

I'm expecting to see a lot of women wearing lemongrass in the future, and this Double-cloth Madeline Coat, $129.99, is a great way to combine a classic coat with a distinct color. If you're looking to invest in a special occasion jacket (because Michelle Obama is certainly not afraid of a little bling), try this metallic jacquard jacket, $89.99.

Boucle fabric is quintessentially Ladies Who Lunch, and no lady lunches better than the First Lady. So I can see our Mrs. President putting her own spin on it with the Astrid Boucle Jacket, $49.99. The bright berry color would look fantastic with her skin tone, and I can see her removing the flower pin and using a vintage pin of her own.

It's perfectly fitting that this silk clutch, $88, is called the "gala clutch," because it would be the perfect accessory for a presidential ball. It comes in a few other colors, including a lovely winter white, but I'm a fan of this optimistic yellow. The big swooping bow is a nice combination of classy and playful-- perfect for complimenting a fancy gown but not competing with it.

Michelle rocked some lovely green heels on inauguration day. These Gayle patent-leather heels, $119.99, are definite showstoppers. The patent leather, suede, and gold buckle are office friendly, but with a lot of personality.

Michelle knows the power of a great printed dress. I think she'd look fantastic in this Grenada palm pleated halter dress, $198, probably dressed down with a matching cardigan. The halterneck would show off her buff shoulders (did I already mention how much I love how she has such a strong, athletic body and she knows how to work it?), and the fuschia against mocha is totally original. I only wish that I had the sort of skintone that would let me look good in this dress, too.

This final dress is a little more restrained, but the shimmery fabric and lovely fabric makes it far from boring. The Watercolor silk taffeta Mcloed dress, $199.99, has cute cap sleeves and a faux-wrap bodice, highlighting her fabulous waist. I could see her wearing this to a afternoon charity tea or something.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Library Love

I know that this isn't a house design blog, but sometimes a girl doesn't quite feel like online shopping. I hope you'll excuse the digression. While I've been home for winter break (I go back to New York tomorrow, so expect many posts on how ridiculously cold it is and how I need to buy an arctic parka), I've been thinking a lot about bookshelves. I have a little three shelf deal in my apartment at school, which I quickly filled up. I started stacking books on my desk, dresser, windowsills, air-conditioner, the floor... wherever I can. But at home, I have this nice custom-designed unit my parents got for me when I was in middle school, as a sort of "We're sorry we forgot to tell you we were moving until we already bought another house, so here's this huge bookshelf/cabinet/desk thing." But it's all white, and pretty boring, and I want to do better when, many years of now, I create the home library of my dreams.

Here's my fantasy library, courtesy of Beauty and the Beast. Look at those staircases! The giant fireplace! I also love the part in the beginning of the movie when Belle goes to the town bookseller and sings while swinging around on his rolling ladder. I definitely want a rolling bookshelf ladder to swing on while singing about my poor provincial town.

One thing I really want to do, with either the bookshelf I own now or a bigger one I will probably get from Ikea, is paint the back wall a bright, contrasting color. I love the bright, sunny yellow of these shelves; it's a great way to perk up a room if you're a little gunshy about painting a whole wall. I'm suspicious, though, about how few books these people have. I don't have a problem with a well-placed bust, vase, or photo, but someone who doesn't have enough books to fill nice shelves, doesn't deserve nice shelves.

What a delightfully efficient use of space! Sure, stacking books vertically can be impractical if you decide you want the book on the bottom, but it's also a very eye-catching way of displaying your books.

Speaking of eye-catching... There's no question that if you have loads of books with brightly colored spines, organizing them by hue will look fantastic. I can just imagine every visitor to this home exclaiming with joy when they first see this rainbow wall of books. On the other hand, there's something about using books as home decorations that gives me pause. It's similar to people who get their interior decorator to buy a set of leather bound classics to display, but have no intention of ever reading a word. Did you know at the Strand bookstore you can order books by the foot? Yes, for just $250 a foot, you can get a selection of clothbound books from the Victorian era! It's so tacky; you're not going to convince anyone that you're well read by paying someone to pick out some pretty books for you. My other problem with this photo is: who has that many pink books? You could read nothing but chick lit for a year and still not have that many pink books.

I know, I was just railing against books as decoration. But putting your nicest hardcovers and art books on cute trays, as a sort of coffee table centerpiece? So cute and classy. My coffee table is always covered with receipts and takeout menus, and sometimes people's feet, but if I ever invest in a grown-up coffee table, I'd try to recreate this photo. Also, how awesome is that green chair in the background and the blue walls?

This is a serious, Old Money sort of library. But you can't go wrong with a fireplace (ok, I guess you could if you put your books too close and an errant spark lights them all on fire) and some plush chairs-- I like how none of them match, it gives the room a slightly more casual vibe. Lots of sidetables (you need places to set down your tea!) and reading lamps, plus the lush green scenary out the windows, makes this a home library I'd love to curl up in.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Shopbop Sale

Through today, you can get an extra 20% off already discounted items at Shopbop with the coupon code 20MORE. I love Shopbop, and I love coupon codes, so even though I'm on a shopping hiatus (I'm trying not to go broke so early in the year!), I'll participate vicariously by highlighting some of the sale items I wish I was buying.

I meant to include this Foley + Corinna Triangle Top Starburst Dress, $236.50, in my Dior Cherie post on pink dresses, but it somehow slipped through the cracks. This silk chiffon dress, in the lightest shade of blush, features tiny rhinestones on the empire waistband and around the skirt. I love how sweet and girly that combination is-- it's almost guileless, for a girl who is surprised to hear, at the end of the night, that every man in the room was enchanted with her.

This Abaete Abigail dress, $232.50, sends a totally different message. It's more, "I'm hot, but if I wanted to I could crush you." The strapless sheath dress is perfect for girls who don't need a lot of bows and whistles to feel fancy, but the metallic embellishments at the waist add just enough interest to set this dress apart. It's a little bit Art Deco, a little punk rock.

This dress would probably look ridiculous on me, but for some reason, I'm digging it. The Zimmermann Bo Feather Tiered Handkerchief Dress, $386.40, has a lot of names for such a small dress. The colorful feather pattern appeals to my latent hippie tendencies, and the tiered fabric (you can't really make it out in this photo) has a pleasingly early 60's vibe. Maybe I'm also digging it because I'm in denial about the fact that in a few days I'll have to leave Arizona's 72 degrees and sunny for New York's 21 degrees and miserable, and wearing this dress would make it feel like Indian summer all year long.

On the other hand, if I stayed here, I'd have no reason to wear these extremely fierce Diane von Furstenberg Pharaoh High Heel Boots, $192. I'm sure I say this every time I feature suede footwear, but I love it because it's so damn impractical. You think these boots could hold up to that scourge of February, the "wintery mix?" Obviously not. You wear these boots, and you better hope there's a personal car waiting right outside your door, and then a chivalrous gentlemen to lay his coat over a puddle the second you step outside. Such are the risks, and rewards, of red suede in winter.

Also from Diane von Furstenberg is this Smarty Jones Jacket, $212.50. It has a military feel while still being very feminine; the brass buttons are both blingy and classy, and the dark navy twill will match everything. I love how waist-conscious it is, too, since I tend to look like a walking refrigerator in coats that are too boxy.

I don't own anything with fringe, because it always had unpleasant Stevie Nicks connotations. But this Thayer Crete Fringe Miniskirt, $177.10, is so fantastic that I'm beginning to change my mind. This is a skirt to see and be seen in, to go fabulous places with interesting people and fast dancing in. I can't imagine wearing this skirt and having a boring night. I mean, just imagine the twirling you could do!

Brightly colored leather goods are one of the things that truly delight me. This Kooba Riley Bag, $416.50, is no exception, with its fun teal color and silver metal accents. I also like all the bands of leather on the side, even if they may be totally ornamental and purposeless.