Monday, January 30, 2012 are meeting friends, after work, for dinner in the city.

I just had a call from a friend this morning who asked me this very question.  It's the "after work" part that's tricky, at least for me.  The friends who work are in "work uniform", makeup on, hair done, and, since I stay at home, I'm just trying to get dinner on the table for my girls before the sitter arrives.  I'm left with 5 minutes to pull it together and head out the door.

So, I try to keep 2-3 outfits, per season, that I can "go to", pull out, and feel good about myself and what I'm wearing. Oh, and put on in 5 minutes.  These are my winter thoughts.

Outfit #1 - Silk blouse, black pants, heels, clutch

I know, it sounds boring.  But it can be fun!  DVF (Diane Von Furstenberg) has some great wrap blouses, silk blouses, etc.  Years ago, in a small boutique that has since closed, I purchased a silk blouse by By Malene Birger for an unheard-of-at-the-time-in-my-budget $345.  It was a tough purchase at the time but, I have worn that thing to DEATH, and still love it every time I wear it.  And still get compliments.  That's what you want to invest in!

Here are some pieces I love for this look:

This DVF blouse can be used with black pants, winter white pants, jeans even.  Lots of uses for this investment.  Can be a fall-winter-spring item in your closet.
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This silk blouse from Scoop NYC (store now open in Boston on Newbury Street!) has great button detail, and would transition well from black pants to white bottoms in the spring.
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As for black pants, I happen to love 2 pairs I own.  One from Nordstrom, their own Classique Entier brand.  Basic, they have them every season, and their white pair in the summer is a stable in my wardrobe.
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The other pair I own I purchased from a Worth show.  The Worth line of clothing, both Worth and W by Worth, are sold out of representatives homes.  10 years ago, I used to help a friend with her W by Worth (then called Worthwear) business, and, disclaimer, a very good friend sells the line now.  I purchased my black "techo-gab" pants from a show last year, and have worn them to DEATH also.  It helped that I picked them up at one of their annual 'sample sales' as I'm not sure I would have made the investment otherwise.  I'm attending the Spring 2012 show next week and will report my findings.

Anyway, a neat pair of pumps, cute clutch (try oversized!), and you'll look fresh as you fight traffic on the Mass Pike.

Outfit #2 - Not-quite-cocktail-dress

When you want a little different, try a dress.  Nothing fancy or expensive, but a cute dress to throw on with opaque tights (Spanx!), a heeled boot, and you are ready go.  For this, I like a knit dress (I know, back to the knit dress, but tis the season!).  This one from J. Crew (under $200)  is reminiscent of one in my closet, that is now paying me to wear it.
Photo from J. Crew
I like how they've styled it with leopard clutch and neutral pumps, but you can also belt it, put a big necklace on, wear tights & boots.  Throw a scarf on.  So many ways to wear this basic.

Outfit #3 - Urban Upgrade

And then maybe you want to feel a little edgy.  Throw a blazer on over skinny pants with a blouse underneath.  Pumps.  Big Cocktail ring.  Something like this Rachel Zoe jacket:
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(I actually love the blouse too.)  Over a skinnier black pant - like these from W by Worth.
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Maybe, if you aren't sporting a cheetah print blouse, a cheetah heel!  Or some animal print heel.  One of these would be fab.  The first is from Nine West, and is a low $69!
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And what about these?  I own a pair of snakeskin pumps, and they have become a go-to-shoe in my closet.  These are by Kate Spade.
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You can see that owning a few key pieces can take you out in 5 minutes to meet your working-girl friends.  You will get many years of use, I can promise that.  

Now, if we could just figure out how to not MAKE dinner for the kids, when we are GOING OUT to dinner ourselves. ~ JH

Sunday, January 29, 2012 are going to the neighborhood progressive dinner.

I know, total suburbanite post.  Last night was our neighborhood's progressive dinner.  Dozens upon dozens of neighbors, many hosts, all around fun.  Since I have been skiing for the past 4 weekends straight and then a little under the weather this week, I was dying to use this as an opportunity to 'dress up' and put some heels on.

I thought I'd be overdressed in my M Missoni knit dress (similar below)...
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but found I was in good company!  Lots of dresses were worn!  Maybe everyone is seeking an alternative to the traditional black pants-silk blouse-heels dinner look.  Some paired their dresses with opaque tights and heels, others with heeled boots.  Some favorite looks of the evening:

More knit dresses!  I saw several, and really liked them all.  The Tory Burch Kent Dress was spotted at the dessert course - easy to wear, with heels or boots.

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I also spotted saw some wrap dresses paired with heels.  It's always great to have a classic, DVF (Diane Von Furstenberg) wrap dress in your closet to wear to dinner, cocktails, any event really.  You can dress it up or keep it low key.

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And for those who kept it simple with black pants, they came up with some fabulous necklaces and statement pieces to keep their looks unique and interesting.  Necklaces like these were seen all through the night.
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A very festive night all around! ~ JH

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Stripes have been a "go to" in my closet since I got my first rugby shirt in college.  Stripes are clean and crisp.  Classic in a Parisian kind of way (Saint James) which may be a reason why I love them so.  They are a perfect neutral that can be refreshed with a scarf or dressed up/down in a snap.  

Honestly, I'm obsessed with stripes and am stockpiling my faves.  One could go so far as to say that I have stripe PROBLEM - witness a shelf in my closet.

Photo by LB.
So in the spirit of January, when the racks are filling with those transitional stripes inspiring us to forget the snow on the ground and look to Spring,  I give you my some of my affordable faves and ways to wear.

Boden stripy tunic.  $58 I got this last year and wore it to death.  It's tapered in the waist so it hangs nicely, not like a sack of potatoes.  Grab one before Real Simple or Lucky does an editorial and they sell out.
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What to pair with it?  TOMS - I was not a believer but am now.  Their canvas shoes are adorable, affordable at under $45 and supremely comfortable.  The leather footbed actually has arch support so you can tool around in these all day and your feet will be happy. They come in all sorts of colors but I like the bright and cheery red.  Look for TOMS new line of ballet flats in February.
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Denim shirt.  Throw a denim shirt over the dress, cinch up the sleeves and you've got great layered look.  A great go-to for denim shirts is J. Crew or Madewell.   This one is the keeper from J. Crew at $78.
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One of our friends and readers had on this one from Old Navy the other day and it looked fantastic.  Women's Chambray shirts, $24.94 at Old Navy.
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When it comes to shades you can't go wrong with Ray-Ban.  With a small face like mine,  the aviators will make me look like a sad puppy. I found these cool wayfarers at Henri Bendel's for $119 and don't venture out in the sun without them.
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For jewelry, I'm loving these hand made Holst + Lee bracelets.  Made with brass fixtures and beads, mother of pearl discs, glass beads, Egyptian cotton, copper and has a magnetic closure.  Layer with your watch or other bracelets for a pop of color. $155 each.
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If you're looking for a classic striped top, look no further than Saint James, the definitive French nautical brand which is getting amazing brand awareness with US customers through partnerships with Madewell and J. Crew which just starting selling Women's in store at the Natick store.  
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Make sure you've got some yellow in your closet this season.  It's such a happy color and pairs beautifully with navy, white and stripes.

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This Madewell Scarf ties it all together for $52.
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With so much color going on above, try for an understated shoe in a light color - a dark color on your feet will drag the whole look down and become heavy .  Metallics are still hot (note: metallics are always in style during an Olympic year) and something like this platinum leather Montauk from Sperry Top-Siders is a classic.  Sperry is one brand that Jen and I couldn't be farther apart on.  I love.  She loathes. ("I really dislike them" - JH) $90 at Nordstrom.
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Happy almost spring! ~ LB

Friday, January 20, 2012

...winter brings on static cling.

I had an event to attend last night, benefiting our town's library.  I chose to wear a Jay Godfrey dress that I've had in my closet, but only wore a few times over the 3 years I've owned it.  Why?  G** da** static cling.

The dress is pure silk, and lovely at that.  Very different.  Black and white with smocked neckline.  My former personal shopper at Nordstrom paired it with a black belt, featuring a poi de soie flower.  Opaque tights.  Prada stacked-heel pumps.  All is good, except the g** da** static cling!

I spent Wednesday doing a little internet research on static cling.  The common comment was 'Static Guard'.  I couldn't possibly carry an aerosol can of 'Static Guard' in my clutch (Jalda, emerald green snake-skin, by the way).  I was looking for other options.

And I think I found one.  After reading a bunch of posts talking about running a metal hanger up and down your garment, one site discussed pinning safety pins in the hem of your dress/pants/skirt/etc.  Apparently, the metal takes away the static cling.

What an idea!  If metal takes out the static, maybe this is an all-night-long solution!  Off to CVS to purchase a safety pin sampler.  Pinned smaller pins in the hem of my dress.  (Disclaimer: did liberally spray dress with Static Guard, followed by liberal application of 'Nuit de Cellophane' perfume by Serge Lutens to cover the smell.)

At the event, after my coat was on and off, a trip to powder my nose, and numerous ups-and-downs at our table, my dress still had NO static cling.  Amazing.  I'd love to hear comments if this works or doesn't work for you.  Please post if you've tried this. ~ JH

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

One of my obsessions...and why.

I have a couple of obsessions in life.  Paris. Dark chocolate-covered caramels with sea salt from Whole Foods.  Shoes.  Most anything that comes in an orange box.  Yes, much to my husband's dismay, Hermes.

I fell in love with Hermes and their products well before I actually owned anything from the company.  Several years ago, I amassed several books on fashion, fashion houses, and trends for summer reading.  One book stood out:  "Deluxe - How Luxury Lost its Luster" by Dana Thomas.
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Ms. Thomas wrote for the Style section of The Washington Post from 1995 to 2008, so she knows her stuff. The book is a brief history of luxury brands and products, and how these formerly 'family-owned' companies that produce hand-made, high quality goods have transformed into greedy corporations, who care only about dollars made, quality be sacrificed.  It's a fascinating read, with tales of production lines in China, faux versus real scents in perfume, and the market for counterfeit goods.

In this book, Ms. Thomas writes about Hermes, and how they have stood the test of time, how hours and hours go into each product, and how their handbags "are considered by many to be the last true luxury goods in the luxury fashion industry" (page 171 in the softcover).  Hermes is still family-owned today, although they are continuously fighting a battle with luxury goods conglomerate LVMH to retain control of the company.  Her description of their production methods (one person, makes one handbag, from beginning to end) were detailed and intriguing. I wanted something, anything, made by these craftsmen and women, who devoted their careers to quality.  Nothing less would do.

My foray into the world of Hermes started with their enamel bracelets.  With 'H' starting my last name, it only seemed appropriate that I have one.
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It just took one visit to land me, hook, line and sinker. As a former equestrian, the saddles in the store (their original product) made me swoon.  The silk in their men's ties is exquisite.  As a tactile person, I wanted to touch everything, try everything on.  The scarves, the handbags, the watches.  Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

So when I received an email one morning from Chic Shopping Paris (all of my obsessions wrapped up into one!) linking to a video about the craftspeople at Hermes, my kids were late to school as I sat, spellbound, watching.

We all can appreciate quality craftsmanship, and this 45-minute documentary - "Les Mains d'Hermes" (the hands of Hermes) or "Hearts and Crafts" (the English version) - is an eye-opening perspective into what's becoming a lost art.  Click here to start the journey! ~ JH

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Between ballet flats & riding boots.

For years, I have searched for 'sensible' winter shoes.  Not practical, but sensible.  I am a ballet-flat-to-boot kind of girl.  There is really no in-between in my closet.  A 'sensible' winter shoe for me meant that I:
  • would like to be able to wear socks,
  • don't really want to have to tuck in my jeans/pants to wear,
  • can maybe slosh around in a little inclement weather, AND
  • would still like to look fashionable.
That's a tall order, right?  Until now.

I was in Nordstrom in December (of course) and peeked over, for the thousandth time, at the Aquatalia boots (a brand of waterproof, sometimes very stylish, winter boots).  Nothing.  Too old-ladyish.  Didn't need riding boots (violates the no tuck-in rule).  

I turned to walk away, and saw, out of the corner of my eye, these:
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A La Canadienne bootie.  Waterproof.  Oiled Italian suede.  3 1/2" heel height.  They were SOOOOO comfortable.  They look great under jeans (AG Ballad Jeans have the narrow leg with slight boot cut bottom) and make an all around attractive winter shoe option.  So happy to bridge the gap between ballet flats and riding boots! ~ JH

Friday, January 13, 2012 want to look on-trend and the same time.

Customize!  When I started monogramming bath towels (we highly recommend the Matouk Factory Store for bed and bath) with custom embroidered initials (in a rainbow of colors by Carol Leach's "Initials on Wednesday" in Natick), little did I realize I was participating in a movement called "Mass Customizationessentially customizing a mass-produced product, in color, design or otherwise, to be unique to moi.  

The concept isn't a new one but the method in which it's been recently deployed by fashion world -  from Louis Vuitton’s Mon Monogram to Nike's -  is changing the face of consumer interaction.  Business of Fashion states, on the one hand, purchasing luxury fashion is about being “in fashion” and participating in a group movement.  But on the other hand, it’s about expressing uniqueness.  It’s a concept that Anna Wintour captured particularly well in the August 2008 issue of Vogue, noting in her editor’s letter that what’s admired in fashion is people simultaneously “looking on-trend and beyond trend and totally themselves.”   

One of my faves right now is New Balance's custom 574 booth.  Right in our own backyard at the Natick Mall and one of only two venues for this new custom venture, you can walk right up and with the help of a New Balance associate, create your own 574 from a myriad of colors and materials.  The design gets sent off the factory, most likely in Maine, and made to your specs.  Who could resist channeling her/his inner designer with these one of a kind kicks M&M candy colors, luscious leathers and funky laces?   

Photos from LB.

When it comes to handbags, Jen and I both lean heavily toward the simple Goyard tote.  I knew I wanted a classic shape with easy access and traditional color but when it came to how to customize it, I had no idea.  Classic? Crazy?  Business of Fashion notes...."Back when craft production was the dominant economic activity, luxury goods makers offered their clients more than a list of possible options from which they were to configure their own products. Alongside an array of options, they offered expert advice that was tailored to the individual, with whom they often had a personal relationship. Indeed, when a client went to a master craftsman, product design was a collaborative process that usually got better over time."

Fast forward to 2011 and enter George DiVenuti, the Goyard Specialist at Barney's in Boston.  He patiently walked me through the dozens of possible combos and helped me decide on this one.  And when it arrived a few weeks later...voila!  Perfection...and a very happy customer.

Photo from LB

How will you channel your inner designer in 2012? ~ LB

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 want cool new eyeglasses.

My obsession with style extends to eyeglasses. Just ask my husband about our honeymoon in Italy and the 52 eyeglass shops I dragged him into to find a perfect pair and watch his eyes roll.

So imagine my glee when I discovered Warby Parker.  Very cool, geek-chic frames for prescription glasses priced mostly at $95.  That's right, $95!  How about channeling my inner schoolmarm in Preston in Sandalwood ?
or ratcheting up the cool factor in Owen in Striped Chestnut ?
or matching Filmore in Hazelwood to my hair?
There's always 1950s geek-chic Winston in Lunar Fade?
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Oh, there are so many good ones to choose from!  Warby Parker knows this, so they let you try before you buy.   If you're not sure, upload a photo and "try-on" frames right on your screen.  Or select 5 pairs to play with in the comfort of your home and own mirror.

Learn more about Warby Parker and how New Yorkers are lining up to try and buy in this New York Times article. ~ LB

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

...the weather outside is frightful.

Well, it's finally frightful with temperatures down below freezing.  And I'm beyond excited about my new winter coat - a Post Card coat.  I purchased it on a shopping trip in May with Lisa.  We were in NYC and we stopped in a Searle store.  Searle stores carry a diverse selection of women's attire and outerwear.

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I'm not a fur girl (but admire the coats of those who are), so I've always been on the lookout for a sleek, warm, fitted coat.  After lusting after another pre-school mom's coat last year, I asked her about it.   She told me that you can only get them in NYC at Searle, and that it's the 'NYC Mom coat to have'.

So of course we had to run into Searle, off season, and check it out.  Sure enough, they had a ton of styles, colors, weights.  It was the WARMEST coat I'd ever put on.  White goose down fill.  Water repellant shell.  Hidden rain hood in collar.  Zip up interior with snap placket over to keep out the wind.

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They are not cheap, so it was with a HUGE leap-of-faith (and some encouragement from Lisa) that I pre-ordered the black down-filled city coat for myself.

Final sale, no returns.  Glup.

It arrived in August.  Fortunately, I have no regrets.

The good news is, I've now seen them at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue in Boston, so no need for a trip to NYC.  But, stop by Searle if you are in NYC and check out the selection.  They are amazing pieces of outerwear, and I hope mine will serve me for years to come.  ~ JH