Fashion

Five Style Risks to Take – AND NOW!

*As written for Black Lupo. Original article can be seen here.*

In this age of mass media and mass criticism, it can sometimes be difficult (especially for women) to break out of a personal style box. Fear of judgment, fear of discomfort, fear of just simply not “pulling it off” – all reasons for exercising cautious, safe dressing. This month, challenge yourself to let go of all of that. Regardless of your shape or size, good wardrobe options are more plentiful than you might think. Take a chance on one of these fashion “do’s” and you’ll come out of the experiment better for it – regardless of what you discover. Mixing prints isn’t for you? No problem. Flats keep you feeling happy, healthy, and fashionable? You go, girl.

1. Do: Mix prints

Florals and geometrics; plaids and dots; stripes and checks. You might never think to wear these unlikely pairs simultaneously. In fact, you probably stray from the combinations altogether. Contrary to mythical dressing rules from generations past, differing prints can be a match made in heaven – as long as you’re willing to take the risk. Try alternating large patterns with small to minimize your chances of appearing wild or chaotic. Done right, you’ll come across as just the opposite – calm, cool, collected.

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2. Do: Size up your coat

It’s a fine line to walk. Clothes that hug your body too tight or hang too loosely can create the perception that your body is larger than it really is. However, this rule doesn’t so much apply to one category: outerwear. Size up your coat for a look that says: “I’ve got a fashion sense, and I’m not afraid to use it.” Stick to cuts and textiles that maintain a dose of structure to maximize your success. Pair with narrow-cut pants or cropped boyfriend jeans to lessen the risk; both options have received the chic seal of approval many times over. Commendations on your smart, standout style will flood in; and you’ll wonder why you haven’t tried this trick before.

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3. Do: Consider blankets as scarves

There’s something happening in the world of bloggers and street style mavens. No longer are the experts concerning themselves with a product’s intended end use. Nope, the focus has more to do with a balanced, eye-catching silhouette, comfort (especially now that temps are dropping), and making a statement. With that in mind, let’s talk about neckwear. Instead of searching high and low for a wide knit scarf that offers considerable length plus volume (all the better to wrap you with, my dear), shift your hunt to a different department: home goods. A wool or cashmere blanket might be just the ticket to the perfect combination of cute and cozy. Be careful, though. There are blankets, and then there are blankets. Grabbing any old throw won’t get the job done. With a discriminating eye, seek out finely knit textiles and neutral color palettes. Following these simple rules will ensure that your cold-weather wear will end up looking bold and nowhere near scruffy and old.

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4. Do: Wear flats

Hobbling around in pain is just not cute. Even if you are a stiletto-wearing pro, why put yourself through it? Sure, the shape and added height elongates the leg and can make you look, frankly, hot. But you can look just as lovely in shoes that keep you grounded – quite literally. If you’re smart, you’ll take a cue from the mistakes of worshipped style maven Sarah Jessica Parker. Running in heels for 10+ years (think: Carrie Bradshaw) ruins your tootsies and it’s not worth it, it’s not. Thankfully, designers are following suit with a slew of beautiful creations made for style and comfort. Consider a leather oxford with special detailing, a velvet smoking slipper, or a d’orsay shoe in a bold color or texture. You might feel like you’re letting go of your style sense; but really, you’re just proving a solid understanding that a modern woman can dress well without torturing her extremities. Compliments and better moods will abound – I guarantee it.

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5. Do: Rock the roomy trouser

It often seems that the only pant style considered by women these days is strictly “skinny.” While there is a time and place for both leggings and skinny jeans, there exists a variety of slacks that do more than hug and cover. As you put together your next ensemble, contemplate a roomier, more uniquely shaped pant. Though you’ll need to pay more mind to proportion (added bulk on top and bottom isn’t so flattering), you’ll come out of the experiment with a far more unique look and a style that imparts a dose of je ne sais quois – something we could all use a little more of. Just ask any of the cool French girls plastered all over your Pinterest and Tumblr feeds. They know.

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Fashion

Belated Met Ball Bests

Yeah, I’m two days late. I get it. I’m teetering on irrelevancy. Sorry ’bout it – I’ve been preoccupied with the job hunt and all that accompanies it. I did, however, make the effort to set aside a hefty chunk of time on Monday night to view the live stream of the 2013 Met Gala red carpet procession. Let’s discuss.

Number 1:

This was the first time I had the pleasure of watching the live stream of this event. Well, I guess I had the pleasure last year, but I didn’t partake for one reason or another. I was probably busy building a miniature 3D floorpad for a new-and-improved Target men’s shop or something. (See: ‘Grant’ for more on this – one inch, hand-bent hangers included). I enjoyed every minute of the broadcast, both because Hilary Rhoda and Billy Norwich spoke with quite a few of my celebrity girl crushes AND because they did it in such a fantastically awkward way. Think back to the complete disregard of Leslie Mann and the Vivienne Westwood snub – both particularly painful. Really good bad TV.

Number 2:

The number of attendees that immersed themselves in the theme of the occasion was few and far between (though Hilary did make sure we knew what it was: PUNK, in case you missed the 23 reminders). I applaud those that went all out in honor of the evening and absolutely refuse to criticize the looks that were fitting with the rebellious spirit, no matter how ridiculous. (People have been so down on Miley, for one, and I won’t stand for it. I’m not even a Miley fan.)

Taking into account everyone involved, punk and non-punk, let’s round up the best of the best.

WINNER-graphic

Sarah Jessica Parker. Forever the fashion icon in my eyes (and one of the most gorgeous women alive. No, I do NOT think she resembles a horse, thank you), SJP turned it out as per ush. Keep doin’ your thing, girl. (Giles Deacon gown; Philip Treacy headpiece)

SJP

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Rooney Mara. Somehow she manages to look light, feminine, sexy, and edgy all at the same time. How does she do it? (Givenchy)

Rooney-Mara

Nicole Richie. Silver hair? Props to you, lady. Despite all of the white, this ensemble is oozing darkness. I wouldn’t typically be into it, but considering the occasion, she hit the nail on the head. (Topshop)

Nicole-RichieMiley Cyrus. Another chick that went all out with zero limitations. A totally obnoxious look that was, truthfully, just right for the event. (Marc Jacobs)

Miley-Cyrus

Taylor Tomasi Hill. Killer spikes bring her Antoinette-like gown to an almost-punk status.

TT-Hill

ANDLet’s just take a moment to appreciate that this happened:

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And this:

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Fashion

Magic in a Marant Coat

Isabel-Marant-Coby-Coat

An Isabel Marant collarless Coby Coat:  bronze quilted cotton with caramel suede trim. Boxy, relaxed, magical.There’s something about it. I don’t know what it is, but this coat of mine draws attention from the most unlikely of sources. The number of times complete strangers made the effort to compliment my coat within a 75-minute time span at the Mall of America on a Friday afternoon? Thrice. And once from across a wide hallway as we walked in opposite directions. Really? The shopper inconvenienced herself to mention it. I’m not sure I have ever felt so compelled to compliment someone’s garb. (Is that wrong of me? I have certainly admired, but not quite so vocally). There is hardly a time when I wear the coat that I don’t receive a compliment. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. It has surpassed the point of normalcy and has reached an incomprehensible status. What IS it about this item? It boggles my mind.

It’s not that I don’t like the coat. I love it. In fact, it’s one of the best purchases I have ever made. I fell so hard at a Minnesota Consignment-Store-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named (a girl has got to keep some things to herself) that I didn’t think twice about its size (approximately 2-3 sizes larger than Ms. Marant intended for it to be worn, it seems). It is totally wearable and pairs well with almost everything. The dollar-per-wear statistic has reached a minuscule amount. In two words: worth it.

I just can’t seem to understand why the coat draws so much attention. It’s lovely, sure. It’s easy and breezy – check. It’s well-designed and of quality construction. I appreciate all of these things. But I am the owner. And typically, I tend to like things that don’t always please the masses (see: “Some Dolls are Cool” for more on this). I’d love to have some concrete answers to offer up here; but unfortunately, that is not the case. Further analysis on the subject will be undertaken. Obviously, this is a serious matter.

Thanks to all of the complimentary people of the world, I know this coat must work for me – whatever the reason. I’m fairly certain that in order to fulfill my destiny, I must wear this piece of outerwear to every job interview and impression-forming meeting from now until the end of time. Below-freezing temps? No question. 90 degree heat? Whatever, coat! I’ll wear you anyway. You ooze me-ness but somehow make me seem way cooler than I actually am. This can work to my advantage. Thanks for the fake-out tool, Lady Isabel.

(Photo cred: Benjamin Leis; from September 2012, Lake Pepin, MN)

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Me-in-Marant-2Me-in-Marant-3

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Fashion, Street Style

Man Stuff

Menswear-inspired-collageI unintentionally favor menswear-inspired looks. Well, maybe it’s intentional, but sometimes it’s subliminal. As I flipped through the pins on my “Street Style” board (Pinterest remains the hero of my universe), I noticed a few reoccurring themes: boyfriend jeans (to be profiled in depth at a later date), oversized outerwear, and slouchy beanies (sort of irrelevant to this conversation, because they are a unisex item as far as I’m concerned). Also? Navy and black. Surprising, because I rarely combine the two in my own wardrobe. I think I’m still a little unnerved about wearing the colors together. They’ve long been frenemies in the traditional fashion sense; a faux pas of sorts. I must remember to break out of that shell. Navy and black are “chi-iii-iiiic” (a’la Chic P’Trique, cue video). I digress…

Sometimes, if I sport the looser looks on too many consecutive days, I feel the need to wear something figure-conscious to show that I actually have a shape. And I don’t mean, like, “Yeah, I’ve got some rockin’ legs on me”; I just mean, literally, I have two legs that are in proportion to the rest of my body as you see it. (The same issue applies to my upper body). I think the worry is unwarranted, but it’s an honest insecurity, nonetheless. Regardless, I tend to feel most like myself in the kind of uniform pictured above. I’m a downtown tomboy/girl at heart.

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Fashion

The Acne Laurie Bag

Acne-Bag

The Acne Laurie bag is a little slice of fringed heaven, and its goofy proportions only add to the allure. Two chunky tassels to top it off? Forget it – I’m sold! Neutral, wearable (a cross-body is so easy), and menswear inspired, the bag would fit seamlessly into my existing wardrobe. I do wish it were a bit larger, because I could barely squeeze my wallet and lip balm inside with success. Ohhh, but I love it nonetheless.

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Fashion

It’s okay to wear a sweatshirt.

There is no doubt in my mind that it is time for spring. In fact, I am dependent on the fact that the nicer weather will roll in soon. I’ve got the winter blues and I’m not alone. Despite my best efforts to fight this humdrum mood (vitamin D supplements, at-home Sunday spa days, hot pink grafted cactus pots, bundles of fresh flowers, outings to Marvel Bar), I still feel less than enthused. Unfortunately, untimely cold weather can induce hibernation and poor self-presentation. Fortunately, I have no problem wearing a sweatshirt – especially when it’s jazzed up with clusters of my favorite crystals (the opal kind). Thanks to my J.Crew sweatshirt, typically coupled with the creamy alpaca scarf my mom lovingly knit for me (wrapped tightly around my neck and covering my chin) and my slouchy cashmere Eileen Fisher hat, I am all set to accomplish warmth and comfort in a more stylish manner. Whatever your tactic, making an effort in any small way to spice up your many layers of clothing can make a difference – for both your public image and your self-esteem.    

winter-blues21. Beanie, Roberto Collina

2. Jeweled sweatshirt, J.Crew

3. Knit scarf

4. Vintage lounge pant, Current/Elliott

5. Grained leather chukka boot, Alexander Wang

6. Trouser slouch socks, J.Crew

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Fashion, Uncategorized

2012 Holiday Gift Guide for Guys and Gals

Well, it’s been a long time coming. I’m struggling with all of my might to stay in the game until next Tuesday (the date of my last final – forever), but I can’t help but cut myself a little slack. I think I deserve it. So, I allowed myself the free time to put together this little holiday gifting-themed post so as to show off some of my favorite ideas and perhaps inspire some last minute shoppers.

Come along, let’s explore.

GUYS

I’m so into shopping for men. Just ask my boyfriend. Or my mother. Or anyone I’ve ever been shopping with or discussed the activity amongst. I’m even known to utter phrases like “gosh I wish I were a man” and “if I were a man I would buy this and wear it every day,” much to the dismay of the boy I’m dating. It’s cool, though. I love being a woman. I enjoy womanly things – flowers, perfume, skirts. However, I cannot contain my jealousy upon the gorgeousness of a thick, wool man-sweater or an awesomely raw-leathered chukka. Cotton ties? BE MINE! Even an oxford suits my fancy. So, when it comes to shopping for the man, I over buy. The following is a highly curated selection of all of the mannified items i’m endorsing this season.

Men 1

1. Red Wing for J.Crew Wabasha Boots – $300

A Minnesota collabo with a men’s go-to company. Available at J.Crew stores or online.

2. James Perse short-sleeved crew neck – $45

Awesome 100% cotton shirts. Super comfy, but good lookin’, too. Available here.

3. Fox Brothers wool herringbone tie and J. Crew tartan wool tie in “Holiday White” – $75 and $79.50

Unfortunately, it appears that the Fox Brothers tie has sold out. Try this for a similarly dapper look. Both available at Jcrew.com.

4. Santa Maria Novella cologne – $125

“Remarkably light and fresh scent combines the provocative citrus and bergamot with subtle white flowers and deeply exotic spices.” In other words, a covetable and sexy odor. Available here.

5. No. 154 tri-fold wallet by Billy Kirk – $104

A hand-stitched, hand-burnished, and hand-edged wallet. So not ordinary.  Available here.

6. Tipped linen pocket square – $42

Red-tipped is out of stock, but plum tipped (maybe even better) is still available here.

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7. Kiehl’s ultimate men’s after shave balm and moisturizer – $18

Available here.

8. Kiehl’s ultimate brushless shave cream – $16

Though I’m not of the face-shaving gender and cannot personally attest to the success of these products, I am a Kiehl’s lover and this shaving cream has some of the most fantastic reviews I’ve seen. Available here.

9. Edwin Jagger double edge safety razor – $93

For the old school soul. Available here.

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10. Jack Spade Repp stripe Thermos – $35

For the prepster who needs to keep his bevvies hot – or cold. Available here.

11. The Savoy Cocktail Book – $13.57

750 classic drink recipes with Art Deco illustrations. Perfect for a man with an interest in mixology. Available on Amazon.

12. American Bar book – $84

Finely bound leather book accomplishing the same feat as gift idea #11, but in a more luxurious way. 500 recipes arranged alphabetically and categorically. Available here.

13. Whiskey stones gift set – $58

As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the coolest gifts out there. The set includes 6 whiskey stones (made from soapstone) and two asymmetrical sipping glasses. The stones are great for any drink, but perfect for whiskeys as they keep the drink at premium sipping temperature (something about wood oils and disappearing when it gets too cold) without diluting it.

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14. Zooka wireless portable speaker for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch – $99.99

A no-nonsense techie speaker that can be attached to your iPad for enhanced video and music sound. It can also stand alone wirelessly.

GALS

I like shopping for women, too, you know. Myself included. The options are endless here, really…I could write pages and pages profiling gifty items. I could go especially crazy with the medium of my singular hoarding tendency – paper goods. Stationary, planners, cards, notebooks, books magazines, prints, business cards, Japanese washi tape……..I digress. It’s all worthy. Below, please notice my excessive love for paperie acknowledged with nods to the medium sprinkled strategically throughout this section.

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1. Bringing Nature Home – $29.70

This book is filled with gorgeous images of floral arrangements that are perfectly imperfect and inspired by nature. The intent is to inspire the reader to pull flowers from their seasonal environment and make it work. None of that dome-shaped floral arrangement business. Wild and free is the way to be. Available here.

2. Fortuny Interiors – $47.25

The pages of this book profile homes that feature Fortuny fabrics in their designs. The focus is less on the fabrics themselves, and more how they weave into a home to create character and a story. Beautiful and inspiring photos. Available here.

3. Grace, a Memoir – $19.21

I haven’t read this or even touched it with my own hands, but it’s all the rage in the fashion community right now and I love the styling of the cover. Available here.

4. Restoring a House in the City – $26.40

I’ve saved the best book for last. Words cannot express my love for this bound bundle of joy. I gave it to my mom 2 Christmases ago and both of us have referenced it countless times for interior inspiration. The pages hold such an awesome and eclectic mix of homes and styles, but the best part is that the homes are all restored from dire states (well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration for some). But really, the book leaves me lusting to gut a historic Boston row house (while salvaging the bones, of course). I guarantee the receiver of this gift will not be disappointed. Available here.

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5. Le Creuset Classic Demi Tea Kettle in Dune – $55

Just a sweet and simple tea kettle for the tea lover in your life. Available here.

6. Harney & Sons tea – $8

You don’t need to stow away your tea bags when they come in containers this beautiful. An array of color combinations to suit even the choosiest of loved ones. Available here.

7. Bodum YoYo personal tea set – $34.95

The perfect size for an individual serving of tea. Great for bringing to work. The double walled glass is a huge plus – keeps your drinks hot much longer and is cool to the touch (no handle necessary)! Available here.

8. Heirloom Recipe Box by Rifle Paper Co. – $136

A really attractive handcrafted box for collecting and organizing recipes. It comes with a set of cards already inside (on nice, thick card stock) and is topped with text and floral flourishes. This is coming from one of my favorite small companies that is taking the marketplace by storm right now. Rifle Paper Co. has the greatest illustrations on their merch and this box is no exception. Rifle’s home site is sold out of the heirloom box in particular, but it’s still available here from Pigment.

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9. Caudalie Beauty Elixer – $18

A super refreshing mist of essential oils. I spray this on my face prior to moisturizing, between foundation and powder to set my makeup, and throughout the day whenever I need a boost. Reward your loved one with this beauty bauble that feels luxurious and indulgent. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Available here.

10. Dyptique Olene perfume – $88 to $120

Dyptique really gets it right. They’re known largely for their pricey and heavenly-scented candles, but for a gift that lasts much longer than 30 burning hours, try the perfume. Olene is my personal sent (and therefore, my favorite – it’s a warm white floral with notes of wisteria, honeysuckle, and jasmine), but there are so many options that there is no way to fail – especially when each scent is more gorgeous and full-bodied than the next. Their signature oval medallion labels are to die for as well. Available here.

11. Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 – $7.50

An all around great, non-sticky balm to soothe lips year round. It’s a rich and supple formula and will stay on the lips for a long time before reapplication is necessary. Perfect stocking stuffer!! Available here.

12. Mason Pearson rake comb – $30

Mason Pearson handcrafts brushes and combs that can make your everyday beauty chores feel extra special. This one is good for detangling (something I have a need for), but they come in an array of options. Also, that classis tortoise coloring is pretty dope. Available here.

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13. Der Reisende scheduler – $22.95

A planner to start her new year off right. I just received mine in the mail today and can attest to it’s gorgeousness. The cover is protected inside a clear plastic casing, turning this delicate paper product into something that will last all year long. Available here in fifteen (YES, FIFTEEN) different colors and patterns. I sprung for olive.

14. Le Pen set of 18 – $17.23

One of the 12 things Martha Stewart can’t live without (as seen in a 2011 issue of Elle Decor). And you trust the Martha, don’t you? A set of 18 of these classic colored pens is available here and would be a perfect match for the Der Reisende scheduler.

15. Talford necklace by Dannijo – $420

If you really want to make them swoon, check out this foxy statement necklace from the girls at Dannijo. All of the jewelry is handmade in New York, so buying this piece means supporting sustainable fashion in the USA! Hoorah! Available here.

16. Rima bracelet by Dannijo – $120

An essential piece in the equation for an arm party. Available here in, like, 31 different crystal and metal combinations – literally.

17. Karen Walker sunglasses – $220 to $310

Really poppy frames that by no means blend in. Similar here, here, and here.

18. Gold foil pocket notebooks by Rifle Paper Co. – $10

Another gem from the folks at Rifle Paper Co. Perfect for ideas on the go. Available here.

I hope this post has provided sufficient inspiration. Now get out there and shop – brick and mortar OR e-commerce style!!

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