Thursday, July 23, 2009

Badass Gladiator Heels

If you haven't already noticed, my taste in shoes tends towards the extremely girly side: I want bright colors, soft fabrics, delicate heels, and bow, if you don't mind. I see something like these J.Crew Lyla Suede Peep-toes, $119.99, and I just swoon.

But lately, I've noticed a shift in shoe trends. Girls have been stomping around in gladiator sandals for a few years now, and it was over a year ago when Carrie Bradshaw spent 80% of the Sex and the City movie wearing those killer Dior heels. True story: I went to see the movie with my mom, and everytime Carrie wore those shoes, my mom would lean over and say, "Ugh, I hate those!" And then afterwards, when we were discussing the movie, she said, "Yeah, I liked it a lot, but Carrie's shoes were so ugly!"

And I admit, when I first saw these last summer I didn't quite get them. But this summer? I'm dying for a pair of over-the-top, aggressive, mean, extreme gladiator sandals for myself. No more ladylike pumps or slingbacks; I need a pair of badass shoes. But--since I'm pretty sure that this trend won't last more than a few more seasons, I don't want to pay more than $100 for a pair. Here are the options I've found:
Nine West Balboa heel, $88.95. I think these are a good place to start because they're not too extreme. The stacked platform and cone heel make them look tough, but Nine West is great at making shoes you can actually walk in. And the gladiator design is almost like a modified T-strap, with just a few extra straps of leather added.

Boutique Nine Vivacity, $69.99. The oversized silver buckles make these shoes stand apart from the crowd; I'd love to wear them with one of those exposed zipper skirts or dresses that are so popular right now.
Athena Platform Pump, $26.80. Forever 21 never met a trend it didn't like, and the gladiator heel is no exception. The leather wrapping around the ankle reminds me of a motorcycle jacket--that's a lot of toughness for such a small price. And that 4.5 inch heel isn't fucking around either.
Miss Sixty Clara Heel, $99.99. From Urban Outfitters, this shoe is probably the closest to the Dior heels Carrie Bradshaw wore. It looks a lot like a bootie with cut-outs, but I think it shows just enough skin to qualify as a heel, instead. I'm obsessed with that architectural cone heel--it's so cool without trying too hard. And the silver studs on the leather are rockin', as well.
Also from Urban Outfitters, the Sweet Life by Dolce Vita Lace Heel, $69.99. Are you a wallflower? Well then, get the fuck out of the way before I smash your toes. That is a five inch heel of pure fierceness right there, and I don't even have the words to describe how hot the corset-like lace-up front is.

Nine West Valenka Boutique 9 Heels, $59.99. These are a little more my style. The contrasting colors of leather are funky but not too wild, and the criss-crossing straps add just enough interest without looking like bondage shoes. I'm not crazy about how high up the back ankle support section goes, though--it's cut like a bootie but the rest of the shoe is decidedly sandal-like.

Modcloth Liz Sandal, $39.99. Here's the gladiator trend with a bit of a vintage twist. The basket-woven leather straps are fun and bohemian, and the caramel brown color is naturally less intimidating than black leather. But these are still guaranteed to get you attention; even if they're not maneater shoes, they're at least man-nibbler shoes, right?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Family-friendly Swimsuits

So I'm going on vacation next week, to my family reunion in upstate New York. After a few days shuttling around to places like the Edelweiss and Bob-o-Link Hill, a good chunk of my extended family is heading to a local lake and renting two neighboring cottages. The water will be just feet away, and while it isn't an ocean (my body of water of choice), I'm still looking forward to swimming as much as possible.

Naturally, I want a new swimsuit; naturally, I don't really need one. I have a reliable stable of mix-and-match bikinis and a nice Speedo one-piece for swimming workouts, and for the last year they've been gathering dust in my closet. It is very possible, baring any trips to Coney Island or Jones Beach in the next month, that this trip will be the only time I wear a swimsuit until next summer.

But that isn't going to stop me from checking out my options. Here's what I need: a swimsuit that's cute but very PG-rated. Besides my parents, there will be aunts, uncles, cousins, second-cousins--none of whom are within 10 years of my age. There is no one there I need to worry about impressing, and no one there is interested in seeing my cleavage. But that doesn't mean I need to be a total matron.

I really love this red one-piece from Mossimo, $19.99 at Target. It's adorable and flirty, so I could definitely wear it if I ever went to the beach with my friends. The color is bombshell but the cut is modest, which is a nice compromise between my dualing instincts to show-off or hide.

This J.Crew Watercolor Stripe halter top, $19.99, and bottom, $29.99, shows a little more skin, but I think the sweet pink and white color scheme makes it more tame. It makes me think of the bikini your babysitter would wear when she'd take you to the pool, and you'd just dream about the day when you'll turn 16 and be able to look just like her in a cute swimsuit. Unfortunately, the top is only available in x-small and small, and the bottom is only available in large and x-large. Never have I wished to be pear-shaped so badly.

Back to Target: Converse One Star has a great sporty swimsuit that's on clearance. In Federal Blue, the tankini is $13.98 and the bottoms are $11.88. I'm a big fan of water sports, and this swimsuit will stay in place for many games of Marco Polo or a long kayak ride. The boyshort cut of the bottoms is adorable in a tomboy way, and the white piping gives it my beloved nautical vibe.

Ok, so this photo makes it hard to tell if this bikini is the right choice for a family lake vacation; I'm leaning towards no, but I'm including it anyway because it's a freaking cute suit. From Victoria's Secret, the Beach Sexy Striped adjustable triangle top is $13 and the bottom is $14. Any swimsuit that involves actual knots to stay on is usually not good for being low-key, and the adjustable aspect of the top (you can tie it was a halter, around the neck, or a bandeau, around the back--this is great when you're trying to avoid tan lines) makes me think it's not going to stay in place when I'm having a splash war with a 10 year old. But the stripes, the cut-out rings, the big hip bow: I can't resist that sort of easy, sporty glamor.

Almost as essential as the swimsuit is the cover-up. J.Crew to the rescue! I can throw on this Linen Getaway dress, $29.99, over my damp swimsuit, and sit around roasting marshmallows until bedtime. It's loose, soft, effortless--the only problem is that I'll want to wear it when I'm back in the city, and that'll bring up a whole undergarment dilemma of its own.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sam Edelman Greco Sandals

While I was at the Alexa Chung taping (if you're in New York and interested in doing the same, you can email with your name, age, and contact info. They also want you to attach a photo, which is sort of demeaning. But then you feel flattered that MTV doesn't think you're a total troll. You have to be between ages 15 and 24, though), I spent a lot of time looking around at other people's outfits. They told us to "dress to impress, as if you were going on a first date, but not too casual and not too dressy." Sort of a tough line to walk, right? Some people went overboard in sparkly minidresses, others dressed like they were about to be dropped off for kindergarten.

But there was one girl who got it exactly right. Ok, I don't remember what clothes she was wearing--jeans or something--but I do remember her awesome shoes. When I asked her where they were from, I hoped she would Target or Payless or Old Navy, both because I'm broke and she couldn't be more than 16, and 16-year-olds should not be wearing expensive shoes.

Sam Edelman's Greco sandals aren't super pricey at the sale price of $69.30, but if that child bought them for the original price of $99, then I am calling spoiled.
I thought I was over the gladiator sandal trend, but this girly take pulled me back in. The purple color is divine and will make even the dullest jeans-and-tee combo look like a million bucks. The braiding along the top is super fun and original as well. If a gladiator and a hippie had a stylish child, she would wear these shoes.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Alexa Chung: A Style Appraisal

The other day my friend Madelyn and I went to a taping of It's On with Alexa Chung, that new MTV show that sort of replaced TRL. If you've heard of the show, you're probably going to think I'm here to praise Alexa Chung for being stylish and fabulous. But I'm not, because while she's undeniably adorable and charming and I would love to be BFF with her, I'm just not a fan of her style. Here's what she wore on the taping I went to (it was on Tuesday the 14th, the episode with Kevin Connolly, All-American Rejects (the lead singer of which could also use some style guidance, or a shower and a long trip to rehab), and Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black):Look at those shoes! Ridiculous! And that dress looks pretty cute, but in person it looked rather shapeless and drab. I did love her disco ball necklace, which was Erickson Beamon for Target. So while I appreciate that Alexa Chung has a unique style and is willing to take fashion risks, many of which she pulls off, I would never want to switch closets with her. She wears leather leggings. She probably thinks TopShop is fantastic. Enough said.

But before I move on to the point of this blog entry, I need to praise the hapless intern or whoever that is writing the Style File entries on the MTV Buzzworthy blog. For every episode, she posts a picture of Alexa and names the brand of every item, and then posts a few cheaper look-a-likes that you can find online or at your local mall. Genius! For that grey minidress above, the blogger suggested three similar dresses: two of which looked pretty similar to what Alexa wore, and one that didn't really but is WAY cuter. From Rugby, this Cable Crewneck Dress is just $54.99 and is the kind of dress you'll wear every fall for the next ten years. Yes, of course, you can't wear it now unless you happen to live in Australia--but for those of us who can be patient, it's a great buy.

Ok, you guys, I may have to take back what I said about not wanting Alexa Chung's closet. I've been going back through the Buzzworthy Style Files blog, and there is some major cuteness to be found.
I would loooove to get my hands on this Kova&T dress and French Connection cardigan. Worn on June 18th.

On June 30th, Alexa wore this charming and flirty vintage dress, and a necklace that she bought herself on St. Mark's Place! The blogger recommends this silver silk Thread Social dress as a similar match--at $275, it's way out of my price range, but I'm lusting for it nonetheless.

I find that my favorite items worn by Alexa often come from her own closet; for example, this cream and black piped blazer is hers, and it's classy perfection. I like how she makes it more funky with a lived-in t-shirt and skinny jeans, plus some major shoes. Worn on June 29th.

I know that plaid shirts are both out of season (although I can vouch that it's very, very cold in the MTV studios) and possibly out of style, but Alexa looks adorably casual in her own plaid men's style button-down on June 24th. And those gorgeous two-tone Mary Jane heels are from Chanel, of course.

From June 23rd: I'm not crazy about her striped shirt (the colors are a bit ugly, no?), but I heartily approve of her chunky rosette necklace from Tuleste Market. The blog suggests recreating it with the Clustered Gold Rosette necklace, $330; I'm not usually a chunky necklace type of girl, but I'd definitely make an exception for this bad boy.

Ok, this is the last outfit, and then I'm done:
Alexa really knocked it out of the park on June 25th. Vena Cava bustier dress, Rebecca Taylor cardigan, and Kathyrn Amberleigh shoes. The grey shoes work perfectly with the colors of the dress, and there's some cream on the bottom half of the dress that matches the cardigan. It's a classy, grown-up outfit, far superior to the typical L train outfit (for non-New Yorkers: The L train goes into Williamsburg, Brooklyn and is where you see the most offensively hip hipsters). It's almost something I could see Charlotte York wearing, but it has Alexa's own original spin. I also like how she completely forwent the accessories, excepting a ring or two. It's simple, it's elegant, it's lovely... and I now have to take back everything mean I said about her style.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ella's Picks

Is there any greater, simpler pleasure than discovering a gift card buried deep in the recesses of one's wallet? In the middle of a recession? I don't think so; I was delighted to find a long-forgotten Gap card tucked away in the folds of my Lodis, flanked by my Sephora rewards card and a gym membership ID that expired a year ago. I was even happier when a quick online check revealed a substantial amount of cash on it. So I'm hitting the Gap on Fifth later today, but first, I checked out its offerings online. Here's what I like:

I've already established that swiping your boyfriend's shirt = hot. However, for those of us who are single, we've got to provide for ourselves and buy not only our own dinner but also our own men's-style button downs. Anyway, my ex's shirts hit mid-thigh on me, so investing in a ladies' version is a good idea. I dig this one's blue pinstripes and rolled cuffs.

One of my favorite items of clothing is a little black... H&M blazer. It's seasonless and super-versatile, the perfect topper for everything from skinnies-and-a-t-shirt to my most feminine dresses. This navy version, with its appealingly slim cut, skinny lapel and brass buttons, is similarly destined to become a wardrobe MVP.

I cherish and dutifully dry-clean my cashmere, but there's something so seductively low-maintenance about a cotton sweater. Just toss it in the washing machine and you're good to go. This one's roomy cut and heathered appearance make it casual; a line of buttons on each cuff and flattering rounded neckline elevate it just a little bit beyond ordinary.

A traditional cardigan is a tad too staid for my taste. With this one's slim, structured cut and single hook closure, it's just as versatile but nowhere near as ordinary. I can imagine it pairing just as well with a graphic tee and ripped jeans as with my beloved white J. Crew dress.

Never underestimate the power of a good tank top: boys like them because they highlight your figure in a low-key way; plus, you get to show off the Michelle Obama-arms you've been killing yourself at the gym for. Additionally, this particular tank comes in seven shades, from hunter green to petal pink, and if you buy two or more, they're $10 each. And are you really going to buy just one?

There's an important principle when it comes to making cheap clothes look chic to stick with darker hues, and these flats are a prime example. The four other colors it comes in all feature contrast stitching, which just make them look, well, cheap. But in black? While not a shoe I'll cherish for years to come, they're perfect for stomping around the city this summer.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I had my first crisis of credit conscience today when I had to fight myself not to open a Bloomingdale's credit card.  Ah, the sweet promise of 15% off... 

So why was I tempted?  

Ah, Swifty, you and your adorable clothing.

I love Taylor Swift, but I REALLY loved her spread in the August 2009 issue of GLAMOUR.  Specifically, this look.  It's the mixture of the boyfriend shorts (which I think are a far better look than actual boyfriend jeans and perfect for summer) and the amazing necklace--also, girl's fierce hair, but that's beside the point.  She and I have the same build, which is what convinced me I could wear them in the first place.

They be these: 

So, because I have a slightly obsessive personality when it comes clothing I love, I began to troll the internet, looking for cheap knock-offs of the boyfriend shorts.  F21, GAP, you name it--nothing.  J Brand has a pair, but it's not distressed and it's only $30 cheaper at $154. 

So I'm THINKING about it, trying to decide if it's worth it to buy into this particular trend or if my money would be better spent elsewhere.  What do you guys think? 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Praising Catherine Deneuve

So, as I mentioned in my previous entry, I know longer felt that "Danielle Blanchett" was no longer an appropriate pen name for me, because while I consider her a stunning beauty, an excellent ambassador for high fashion, and a terrific actress, I would no longer be following her sartorial example.

I needed somebody who embodies grace and quiet luxury; someone who is unapologetically feminine, but with a little bit of edge; sexy with a wink at quirkiness. First, I considered Grace Kelly; but Princess Grace dressed with an almost exaggerated refinement that belied her truly wild romantic life. Then I thought of Sex and the City's Samantha Jones; I admire her sensuality and love that she rocks both neon power-suits and clingy mini dresses, but sometimes she dresses too fearlessly.

Who achieves that magic combination of both elegance and sex appeal? Who walks the fine line between precious and risque? It'd have to be someone French, I realized. And then it came to me: Catherine Deneuve.

Ms. Deneuve's been on my radar since Kate Winslet did that Belle de Jour-inspired Vanity Fair photoshoot last December. It made me realize how timeless that 60s sex-kitten persona is; blonde bedroom hair, come-hither kohled eyes, and body-conscious clothing will never go out of style. Yet for all her allure, Deneuve never looks trampy. Her look appeals to both men and women because she always maintains a level of class and never shows too much skin (in fact, in a men's button-down shirt and beret, she proved that sometimes a bit of mystique can be very sexy).

My favorite thing about Catherine Deneuve's style is that you don't immediately notice the clothes she's wearing. You simply see a beautiful woman, and her style is like a spotlight fixed on her, illuminating her beauty. She wears the clothes; the clothes do not wear her.

Here's how to channel your inner Catherine Deneuve:

For your rocking bod:

For laid-back cool:

J. Crew men's Baird McNutt linen shirt, $79.50 $59.50 (or better yet, borrow one from your man's closet)

For sexy bedhair:

For an intoxicating signature scent:

Chanel No. 5 Fragrance, starts at $95