Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Back in the saddle!

After a dismal holiday shopping season, Lisa and I decided to change things up and made a shopping appointment with Claudine Eaton Lewis at Saks in Boston.  (For local readers, you might know Claudine as she worked at J. McLaughlin for years in Wellesley. We were so happy to reconnect with her at Saks.)  Claudine was the one who hooked me up with the fabulous gown for the black tie event, and I was so impressed with her choice and styling that I wanted to see what else she could do.  Of course, Lisa HAD to join in!  While I can dress others pretty easily, I continue to scratch my head and wonder what I should be wearing.  Kind of like a wedding planner who never gets married.  

Anyway, Lisa and I were a little anxious; after all, we have a lot of clothing already and have some specific needs.  We also like to be a little surprised.  I sent Claudine this email before the appointment:

"Wanted to get a list of things to you for our shopping appointment...  What I really want are 2-3 outfits for walking around London/shopping in Boston/ladies lunch out.  I don't need dresses or skirts, just functional and fashionable everyday outfits - so I can grab and go and look great!  Might want to look at a spring outerwear option too - I have the classic trench, but might want something more updated.  I'm a little obsessed with complete looks rather than a piece here or there that end up sitting in my closet.

Brands I love:  Vince, Theory, Rebecca Taylor, some Marc by Marc Jacobs, Weekend Max Mara, 3.1 Philip Lim, rag & bone…but am open to try - just trying to give you a sense of what's in my closet."

I am so happy to say that Claudine filled some voids in my closet (especially for that transitional hell we call 'spring' in New England) and sprinkled in some surprises.

First item that both Lisa and I had to get:  Givenchy floral ballet flats.  Floral prints and patterns are everywhere this spring.  While we like to be current, I can't really see Lisa or myself sporting a floral dress or pants.  Not in our wheelhouse.  Claudine suggested these as a nod to the trend, while allowing us to stay true to our classic, neutral looks.  It was love at first sight.  And, they are so completely comfortable.

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She told us to pair them with ANYTHING.  Black cropped jeans and a white blouse.  Jeans and a white blouse.  Take your basics and update with a floral shoe.  

I am always in DIRE need of layering for the spring.  Claudine totally nailed it with a Vince silk blouse (layered over a black tank) with a Theory cardigan layered over it (or not!).  I can wear this over black jeans or pants, white jeans or pants, cropped or long, denim jeans, the blouse only tucked into dressier pants with heels - all things I have in my closet already!  Oh, and with my new ballet flats!  Just saying.
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Lisa and I also fell in love with this totally soft and comfortable Helmut Lang asymmetrical stretch knit jacket.  Totally easy to wear, open and zipped, and again, over all the basic bottoms we have.
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I know, you might be thinking "that's a lot of black".  For transition, I've decided that trying to make lighter colors work is a little back-breaking.  I think the floral flats will really 'lighten' up the palette.  In full disclosure, I also picked up an Alexander McQueen scarf (as did Lisa), a crisp white blouse, and an oxford blue blouse (also an item to have for Spring 2014) - all will be work-horse items in my closet!

Lisa hit a home run in Saks!  Seemed that everything she put on was magical.  If you recall, Lisa was really into ivory fisherman knit sweaters this winter. She wanted a linen/cotton/silk version of it for spring and fell in love with this ivory Helmut Lang sweater.
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Lisa also picked up this beaded, silk 3.1 Philip Lim top that looked stunning on her!  She can wear it now with black leather pants and into the spring over white pants with sandals.  This was another Claudine pick that surprised Lisa - she said she would have never picked it up off the rack.
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So many things to look at!  There's even more!  We highly recommend seeing Claudine for your shopping needs.  Not only did she 'get' what we wanted and our personal styles, but she's a lot of fun and completely honest.  As in, 'that's horrible, take it off!' honest.  Gotta love a girl who's got your back! ~ JH

Sunday, February 23, 2014's Spring 2014: Chic sneaks

"In the history of fashion, around 1800 to 1840 or 1845, women had flat shoes.  Even with a ball gown, they had flat shoes." Who said this?  Chanel genius, Karl Lagerfeld, said it in a video interview posted on Chanel's website.  In his Spring 2014 Chanel Haute Couture runway show, the models were all sporting sneakers.

Blinged-out sneakers will not be replacing high heels in my repertoire; however, I do like a good sneaker.  Especially with my latest crush on fashionable activewear, my scale is tipping toward the comfort cool of the sneaker in everyday wear.
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The pairing of skinnies and sneaks in NYC this fall was everywhere.  I adore the look below and the quirky pairing of high-end fur with hi-top shiny patent kicks.  So chic and comfy.  The preppy pink pant gets a little edge with a waxed jacket and old-school Adidas samba shoes.
Images from Lisa Bida.
The season between boots and flip flops, which in New England is going to be a long one this year, look to the sneaker to add some fun and comfort to the mix and to bridge the gap.

I'm gaga over Tory Burch's simple, white soled quilted uppers in basic navy or pale green.  The pairing with a dress feels easy and fresh.
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For classic kicks, think canvas.  I like Superga 2750 and Keds which are the 'it' brands of the moment.  Check out the different stylings with Supergas!
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Images from pinterest.
Jennifer's a big fan of Tretorns.  J.Crew is carrying a huge selection of sneakers at great price points.
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When it comes to wardrobe, go with skinnies that messy tuck into hi-tops to create an elongated leg.  Cropped ankle pants are a good choice (and a great choice for Spring 2014).  If you aren't a skinny jean-kinda-gal, think a skirt or dress.  Take down a fussy dress to daywear.  Skirts are a natural - keep them right below or at the knee.  
W2WW Spring 2014 Kicks

Tory burch shoes / New balance shoes / Superga sneaker / Tory burch shoes / Joie sneaker, $215 / Joie sneaker / Zara flat shoes / Keds shoes, $50

If it's good enough for Karl, it's good enough for me. ~ LB

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shoe selfies

I'd had enough!  Scanning the faceless boxes in my closet and wondering...does that J.Crew box hold? The red pumps or cheetahs?   Hello Manolo boxes...are you holding snakeskin sandals or black Newcio pumps?   One fine day, I unpacked the shelves, opened the boxes and snapped away.  From the right, their best angle.  Now each box has it's own selfie.  They are arranged like an easy-to-scan menu, laid before me like a smorgasbord.  Organized by type of shoe - flat, heel, sandal, stiletto -  easily processed and plucked from the perch.  Ready to go.  
Images from Lisa Bida.
I thought my family would think I was cuckoo.  Instead, I found them all huddled in the closet, looking up, "ooohing" and "aahhing" in admiration of my "great idea."  "Why have you not done this before?!"

That's what I said! ~ LB

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

...attending a corporate black-tie function.

Believe it or not, I started this post a year ago, and figured I should finally get around to wrapping it up!  This weekend, I will join my husband for his company's annual 'black-tie optional' party.  It's usually fun and in a fabulous location (and the band last year ROCKED!).  And I LOVE to dress up.  Even though it's optional, most men wear black-tie to this event, which leads me to the point of this post:  what to wear to an event like this?  You never know when the company has a table at a black tie event and suddenly you're invited.  

Last year, I was fortunate to be able to 'reuse' a gown.  It's a Badgley Mischka gown I purchased on sale at Neimans 2 years ago; it's navy blue crepe with a cowl neckline and heavily beaded waistline.  It fit like a glove when I purchased it, and last year it still fit like a glove.  Phew.  This is the latest version of it, except mine is sleeveless and hangs straight to the ground.
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This year, I wanted a new gown as I really couldn't see myself re-wearing the above dress for 3 years running!  I hunted around, submitted frantic late-night orders on Saks online, but didn't find anything that made me look like I was in my 40s.  60s, great - tons out there!  20s - fabulous options.  But for us in the middle, it was a tough go.  I want to look appropriate, yet elegant, youthful and chic.

I have a couple of guidelines I like to follow:
  • If an event is 'black tie' wear a long dress.  Yes, you can probably get away with a short cocktail dress that's on the formal-side.  But if it's black-tie (not optional), long is a must.
  • When shopping for a dress for an event like this, ask yourself, do I look glamourous, elegant or sexy?  If 'sexy' is the answer, move on from the dress.  Sexy is the last thing you want to be at a corporate event or corporate-sponsored fund-raiser.  Think about what Catherine Middleton would wear.  Elegant is what you should aim for.
  • Skip a strapless gown.  See bullet above.  One shoulder dresses are fine.
  • Favor bold neutral colors (navy, black) and jeweled colors (emerald, plum) over loud ones (red, hot pink).
  • Make sure your dress is comfortable.  You don't want to be pulling at your dress or fidgeting in it, do you?  When you are in the dressing room (not at home), ask the sales person for a pair of heels to try with the dress/gown.  Walk around the dressing room.  Sit down.  Can you sit comfortably?  Does the dress bunch weirdly when you sit down?  Don't rely on Spanx to fix dress bunching.  However, rely on Spanx for everything else.
  • In fact, wear some kind of Spanx.  Simply put, they keep everything smooth and in place. 
  • Tailor your dress!  Wonder why the stars look fabulous on the red carpet?  Their gowns and dresses are fitted to them!  Not just hemmed, but nipped and tucked in at the waist, shoulders adjusted, you name it.  Make the dress your very own.
  • 5" stilettos are fabulous, but 3 1/2" heels are good here.  Think peau de soie as the material for your shoes rather than suede or leather.  If new, wear them around your house for a while before the event to break them in.  
  • Don't forget accessories.  It took me longer to find the right accessories for that Badgley Mischka dress than it took me to find the dress.  And the accessories can come from the most random places.  The earrings I wear with it came from Neiman Marcus, while the cuff bracelet came from J. Crew, on sale.
  • A manicure is mandatory.  A pedicure is too if your shoes have open toes.
  • Never, never, never wear stockings with open toe shoes.  
  • Clutch is necessary for your phone, lipstick, tissues, etc. and does not need to match your shoes.  
  • Outerwear:  If you have a fur, it's time to use it.  If not, make sure your best cashmere or wool long coat has been dry-cleaned recently.
This year, I set out to Saks to return 5 (yes, late-night gown shopping is trouble) gowns, ran into a fabulous lady named Claudine who has helped me before, and voila!  A new, fabulous gown in an hour.  
Images from Jennifer Houston.
I love it!  And I did have it hemmed and taken in at the waist.  Wearing with peau de soie black pumps, a silver cuff, and diamond hoop earrings. 
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And Claudine instructed me to have my hair blown out a la Meg Ryan; since the dress is sleek and straight, my hair should have texture.  And that I should have navy/black nail polish on.  I love all of her suggestions!  

Compared to a lot of other dresses I saw, this was fun rather than stiff.  To get further use of dress, Claudine said I should put tall, black, heeled boots on with it and a black leather jacket for a fun night out.  Don't think I haven't been thinking of a new black leather jacket since then! ~ JH