Monthly Archives: December 2011

How to last-minute shop for New Year’s

This is not your run-of-the-mill, obligatory What to Wear for New Year’s Eve post, I promise. Think of it more like an ‘Oh crap it’s New Year’s Eve and I have to go to this dumb party and I have nothing to wear and have to go shopping’ kind of post.

Say it’s Saturday morning and you have a party/dinner/get-together to go to Saturday night (a.k.a. New Year’s). You are hell-bent on finding something new to wear, but you’ve waited until the day of to go shopping. It’s okay. Here are 5 guidelines to follow for those last-minuters who need a strict game plan.

1. Decide on ONE store and stick to it. Tell yourself you’re going to one single store, and you will not leave until you have something to wear. Now, I would NOT recommend this for regular wardrobe-building, but for last-minute shopping for certain events when you’re doing it on your own and have zero time, it’s a refreshing route to take. But you have to choose your store wisely, in order to set yourself up for success. If you go the department store route, make sure you know which departments you will be visiting within that store. Otherwise, a smaller chain or a boutique may be the way to go. (For going-out stuff that doesn’t look too New Year’s, my pick tends to be Zara. The quality of clothes isn’t the best, but the prices are still reasonable, the selection good, and the stuff not too blingy.)

2. Try as best you can to work with what you have. I know it’s hard, but the last thing you want to do is search for a head-to-toe look. Sure, this is fun to watch on those reality style shows, but in real life, it’s nearly impossible to accomplish with limited time. (That’s why they leave it to us experts, wink, wink.) Take a good look at your closet beforehand and see what you can possibly work with. If you already own a nice pair of black pants, then you can focus on finding a top or top/blazer combo. If you have an amazing pair of heels, then you can seek out a muted dress. If there’s a dress you have that you like, you can focus on buying fun shoes and a statement necklace. By taking a moment to assess your inventory, it will make it less scary going out to the store, as you won’t have to start from zero.

3. Have an idea in your head about what you want to wear, but don’t get tunnel vision. Leave room for interpretation. It’s helpful to have something in mind to guide you, but keep an open eye for other things that could work just as well. For example, if you know you want to wear a muted dress, that’s a good place to start. But don’t narrow your scope to only black. Other colors work well in muted tones, such as deep burgundy, navy, or even a winter white. Same goes for accessories. After going through step 2 (above), if you decide that an amazing statement necklace would work with the top you already own, but can’t find one you like, try earrings instead. It will accomplish the same goal.

4. Don’t get fixated on price. If you find a piece that’s a bit more expensive than what you wanted to spend, repeat to yourself: time is money. If you love it, but decide to go on a hunt for something a little cheaper, you will not only be wasting precious time, but you will now be comparing everything else you pick up to the piece you actually like. I’m not suggesting you go hundreds of dollars out of your price range, but sometimes an extra few bucks is worth it. For your sanity at the very least.

And finally, the most important guideline of all….

5. The perfect outfit does not exist. At least the perfect New Year’s outfit. If you have this understanding going in, then the crazy I-have-to-find-the-best-sparkly-NYE-outfit-ever pressure is miraculously gone. Some of my favorite New Year’s outfits (my own and others) have been understated and non-sequiney.

To sum it up, assess your closet, pick a store, and just find something. Then go drink some bubbly and relax. You look amazing.

Happy holidays, from mannequin and me

Before I sign off for the weekend, I wanted to send a great, big HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all of you! Here’s a pic of the new addition to the TRS family… a totally awesome mannequin, who’s name is yet to be determined. She’s going to be starring in a series of how-to style videos I will be premiering in the new year.

I’ll keep you posted on those! In the meantime, I wish everyone a fabulous holiday weekend. Be back next week.

UPDATE/P.S./AFTERTHOUGHT: It was just requested of me that I take suggestions for my lady’s new name. If you can think of something better than Mannequin, I’m all ears! Share your thought in the comments, or Facebook/tweet me.

No stripper names, please. She’s sophisticated. 

What to pack for a tropical holiday (so jealous)

I’ve received more than a few requests for a post on what to pack for a warm-weather getaway. Ok, this makes me INSANELY jealous, but nonetheless, I will answer this burning question.

If you’re one of the lucky ones to get the heck out of Dodge for the holidays, New Year’s, or any dreary day this winter, you should keep in mind that you don’t need much! It can be deceiving if you’re packing while wearing layers upon layers. You might be inclined to add more clothes, when in fact, only a few key pieces will do the trick.

Here’s my personal list of stuff to pack for a do-nothing-but-relax vacay:

1. Swimsuit (1 to 2). For obvious reasons. But you don’t need to go crazy. Two swimsuits max will suffice. Believe me, no one will notice–or care–if you’re wearing the same suit to the beach every day.

2. Cover-up (2). I like to bring along one short and one long. I live in these from sunrise to happy hour when on vacation.

3. Light wrap or cardigan (for plane and air-conditioning). Always be prepared for unexpected chilliness. But leave the puffy coat at home; a lightweight wrap or cardi will do the trick.

4. Sandals (2). You don’t need more than 2 pairs of shoes! Flip-flops for daytime, and something nicer, like embellished or metallic, for evening. Unless you’re planning on doing recreational hiking, biking, etc. in which case, what’s wrong with you–you should be sitting on your butt at the beach.

5. Shorts (1). Just a pair of easy shorts to add to your cover-up if you’re planning on a daytime excursion or tiki bar-hopping. Nothing fancy.

6. Evening stuff (1 dress, 1 pair of pants, 2 tops). For dinners and evening escapades, you don’t have to dress up, but you want to leave the swimsuit and towel look back at the hotel pool. One casual dress, one pair of pants–linen wide-legs or white jeans are always a chic choice–and a couple tops to pair with them.

7. Day bag, small evening bag. One beach/daytime tote and a small clutch for nighttime. Done.

8. Bracelets.  You don’t need a ton of jewelry, but I always throw in a wood cuff or a few small bangles to add a little extra bling to my vacation looks. You can even wear the cuff with your swimsuit and cover-up.

9. SUNGLASSES!. That’s a duh.

Bon Voyage! And have a big, overly sugary tropical drink for me.

Coats! Help! Part 2

Last week, A lovely TRS reader had some valid coat concerns regarding length and color. I gave some pointers on appropriate lengths in my last post, and here’s my answer to her color conundrum below:

Also, how do you incorporate a funky or colored coat into a wardrobe – I don’t have one because it seems too frightening! 

It’s no joke that colored or patterned coats can be a scary concept. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a few exciting coats in your winter arsenal! They don’t have to be everyday fixtures, but something you can wear a few times a week to cheer up your cold-weather state of mind.
Here are a few pointers on how to incorporate a fun coat into your winter look:
1. Choose a color that’s one off of a bright hue. Instead of fire engine red, try a deep brick. Mustard instead of sunshine yellow. Eggplant instead of Barney purple. You get the point. Bold colors are fun, but if you’re easing into them, their calmer siblings are the way to start.
2. Make sure the cut of the coat is classic, with few bells and whistles. If the color is going to be the statement, then you don’t want a crazy shape or exaggerated accents to take away from that.
3. Keep your appendages muted. Any part of your body/ensemble that can be seen should remain in a more neutral hue. Think black tights, grey trousers, brown boots, cream scarf, etc. You always want to complement a color with subdued tones. If you want to try a patterned scarf, opt for something small, like a mini houndstooth.
4. Make your statement coat your every-OTHER-day outerwear. In other words, it shouldn’t be worn every single day. You’re sure to get sick of it–as will everyone else who sees you.
……….
In the case of patterned coats, the guidelines are basically the same. Instead of a large pattern, start off with something smaller. Complement with solid, muted tones, and bust it out on a semi-irregular basis to keep your winter look fresh and funky.

Have any burning style questions? Shoot me an email, or post your sartorial issue on Facebook or Twitter!

Coats! Help!

Here are two really interesting questions from a reader regarding winter coats:

How should a coat fall over a skirt? I know that sounds ridiculous, but its driving me batty. Also, how do you incorporate a funky or colored coat into a wardrobe – I don’t have one because it seems too frightening! 

First of all, neither concern is ridiculous. They’re both totally valid. So valid in fact, that each deserves its own post! So let’s go one at a time. First up, coat lengths.

Coat lengths are all over the map these days, from cropped to waist to knee-length to maxi. The same goes for skirts and dresses. It’s a lot of sartorial confusion, which could make anybody want to stay indoors in their PJs.

Instead of doing that, just follow my two simple rules:

1. If the coat falls above the knee, the skirt should be longer than the coat.

2. If the coat is knee-length or below, skirt length doesn’t matter (can be above or below).

              Um, is she wearing anything under there?                          Yep, but it’s too short for that coat!

The major thing you want to avoid with a coat over skirt/dress is looking like you’re not wearing anything on your bottom half. This happens when the coat length falls in the above-knee range, and your skirt can’t be seen.

But if your coat falls at or below your knee, it will cover enough on its own so you won’t have to worry about looking naked underneath. Therefore, your skirt length can fall above, at, or below without it changing the look of the ensemble.

You’ll hear some differing opinions on the matter. Some people believe the skirt and coat length should match exactly, to which I say, who has the time?? Personally, I love when the bottom of my skirt peeks out from the hem of my coat. I think it looks very elegant, and adds a little pop to my outerwear ensemble.

Stay tuned for a separate post on colored coats and how to make ’em work for you.

all images from jcrew.com

Sullen chic: Dragon Tattoo landed at H&M today

I admit I haven’t read the books. Never read Harry Potter either. But I digress. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is taking over the world lately, with the Hollywood version opening in theaters this month. Today, H&M jumped onboard with the premiere of its Dragon Tattoo collection by the film’s costume designer, Trish Summerville.

I ventured over to the store to check out the goods.

The collection is composed of mostly separates–tops, skinny pants, tees, and cropped jackets–in dark and mopey colors, with aggressive distressing. Like a cheaper, more deconstructed version of AllSaints.

As much as I appreciate the idea of roughing up clothes, I just can’t get my mother’s voice out of my head every time I attempt to wear something distressed. Said voice goes like this: Bryn, you actually PAID to have that hole in your shirt! Ugh. 

So is the stuff any good? Well, that all depends. Summerville definitely offers up pieces that look like what Lisbeth Salander would wear. (At least the Lisbeth from the AWESOME Swedish film trilogy. I did manage to watch those.) The pieces all go very well with each other, offering a bunch of possibilities for layering and mixing/matching. Plus, the quality is decent for H&M, so I’d say yes, it’s a success. The fabrics seemed to be consistently good, although I can’t say how they’d hold up after a run through the washer.

The whole collection is worth checking out, especially if you’re in the market for moody basics for the moody winter. Or if you feel like dressing up like Lisbeth for the Dec. 21st premiere. I’m thinking about it.

Beltgate 2011

This post is a little late coming (my bad!), but enjoy nonetheless. Last week, I attended the mayor’s holiday party in San Francisco. It was so much fun, complete with campy holiday entertainment, extravagant decorations, and very small–yet delicious–food.

[image from Jan Lundberg Photography]

While the event itself was a blast, my outfit preparation was no walk in the park. A little something I now call Beltgate 2011 occurred during the days leading up to the soiree. Here’s what happened:

[image from Jan Lundberg Photography]

I bought this classic black ’40s style dress from a consignment boutique (hard to see in the pic, but just wait). I liked the black satin belt it came with, but thought I could find a snazzier one. Maybe in a different color or something. Easy enough, right?

Well, easy it was not. After several trips to several stores around town, I came to the conclusion that a good belt is hard to find. I’m not talking daytime belts, but ones that have a little glamour to them. After many hours out and about, I did manage to find some solid belt options, and decided to turn my adventures into a post to help my awesome readers in case they’re ever looking for a fabulous fancy nighttime belt.

Here are the stores that offered the best ones:

For thick elastic style belts: Express, BCBG, Bebe. 

Yes, I realize these stores cater to a certain… look, but for evening-appropriate wide belts, I had a lot of luck. Just use a very critical eye when deciding on one. The less bling the better with these. The belt I settled on had no stone embellishment, which helped in making it look more tasteful.

For skinny patent styles: Kate Spade.

I found a darling bow belt there, which came in black, red, and African violet. The bow is supposed to be worn in the front, but it looks quite chic as a back accessory, too.

For silver and gold with a little retro bling: Anthropologie. 

Anthro was my last stop on the belt tour, and I found two amazing, retro-esque stretch metal belts there. They carry these beautiful brooch beltsthat would work brilliantly with a number of dresses.

For one-of-a-kind: Vintage stores.

If you’re truly looking for that special, nobody-else-will-be-wearing-it piece, I suggest shopping vintage stores. The belts are often reasonably priced, with a large variety to choose from. Check out Screaming Mimis in New York and Ver Unica in San Fran.

So, which belt did I end up wearing?? The one it came with. I know. I know.

[image from Orange Photography]

While I did love all of the options I hunted down, the satin one ended up offering the best fit around the waist. And fit is everything.

But I’m glad I went through the ordeal, as now I know exactly where to go for a night-out belt. And you do too.

A note on Michelle..

At Sunday night’s Kennedy Center Honors, Michelle Obama basically stole the entire show in a beyond stunning blue gown from Vera Wang. It was yet another unforgettable style moment from the First Lady.

It’s no secret that I adore MObama’s style. I make a point to highlight my new favorites whenever they come along. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to mention exactly why I like Michelle’s style so much. It’s not that I think everything she wears is perfect; on the contrary, I have commented on some major faux pas. But regardless of the specific outfit, she truly appears to feel good about herself and what she’s wearing.

I came across this blurb on Mrs-O.com, which sums up a lot of the same feeling I have towards Michelle Obama’s style. It’s a quote from Sally Singer, editor at T Magazine:

“It’s the first time I can think of that a celebrity has inspired people to think a different way about dressing, as opposed to dressing like them. … You want to have that idea, that you can be confident enough to bare your arms, or you can be confident enough to put a cardigan belted over a dress and not have to go to a jacket. [Michelle Obama] allows women to think about ideas of styling themselves instead of literally following what she does, and I think that’s so fascinating.”

Bingo. MObama exudes confidence in everything she puts on, and inspires us to think outside the sartorial box. And for that, I thank her.

Holiday gifts for the annoyingly picky fashion person in your life

With the holidays around the corner, I’m reminded of all Christmases past where family and friends have repeatedly told me how impossible I am to buy for. (Sorry, guys.) This got me thinking about what types of gifts would be great for that picky fashioney/artsy fartsy person in your own circle. Everyone has one. I compiled this list from a bunch of my favorite fashion blogs and e-commerce sites who have featured one or more of these items within the past few months. Plus a few things I just found and liked.

Just remember, steer away from buying clothes. I know this sounds counterintuitive for a person who loves clothes, but trust me on this. We’re picky. Opt instead for something like…. below!

This swanky iPhone case was designed by Tibi, a well-known and very talented fashion designer. It has a spooky, sad doll quality to it, which makes it that much cooler. In a sad doll kind of way.

Rebecca Minkoff’s Zipped Up ear phones are a funky take on a staple most of us need. The small ear studs and zip cord make a functional piece a little more fun.

I love these quirky state necklaces from Maya Brenner. They’re dainty enough to wear everyday, but still stand out from your run-of-the-mill chain necklace.

French women look good. Enough said. This Parisian Chic style guide by Ines de la Fressange lets us in on their chic little secrets.

If someone you know is in the I heart Kate camp (most fashion types are), this softcover edition of Kate Moss by Mario Testino is the perfect present.

I would rock this knit leopard beanie with a sleek black wool coat for winter. Such an unexpected take on animal print. And the perfect pop to a city look.

 

Chunky watches are ideal accessories for the girl who wants to just dress and go. Something like this La Mer watch will instantly pull an outfit together without having to think about anything else.

 

And while I never talk about beauty stuff here, I do want to include this near-perfect gift for any female in your life: A gift certificate to a blow dry bar. These places exist solely to dry your hair to perfection. And since it’s not something she’d necessarily spend money on herself, it makes the best gift ever. Check out Drybar for locations in both San Francisco and New York.

Good luck!

Valentino’s sweet new e-museum

Image from FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

My trusty GOOP informed me today of the plan for Valentino’s new virtual archive system–an online museum where you can browse through all of his amazing gowns throughout the years. So cool!

Images from valentino-garavani-archives.org

Thanks to Team V, we can now all indulge in the chicest time suck of them all. Plus, you’ll be able to find out the design details of each piece – you know, just in case you feel like whipping up a knock-off at home.

The museum is not up and running until Monday, but you can catch a sneak peek here.