Monthly Archives: May 2012

Reader Question: I need a laptop-appropriate bag!

Here’s another fab reader question from my Facebook page:

Ok- how to carry a 15″ laptop and look remotely put together? I’ve wasted waaaay too much time searching zappos and shopstyle. Don’t want to carry a backpack unless I’m rocking it Elaine Bennis style. And- last question. Can you carry a laptop bag AND a purse? #jobpromotionproblems

Oh, bags. So fun, yet so annoying. Personally, I am more of a ‘same bag for all occasions’ kind of gal. While I love bags as accessories, I find it easier to use one until I get bored of it, then switch over to another for the next several months.

That said, I often opt for huge bags that can fit it all. While it’s not necessarily wrong to carry a laptop bag and purse, it can become really burdensome. And god forbid you forget one somewhere. It’s more work to keep track of two bags, for sure. My advice is to seek out a large purse that can carry both your laptop and all of your purse-like things (wallet, keys, phone, extra pair of shoes, etc.).  AND DEFINITELY SKIP THE BACKPACK.

I’m really feeling the summery tote as an option for non-beach goings on. Think colors, stripes, and even straw. Sure, it’s a departure from your plain black leather ‘strictly for work’ kind of bag. But that’s a good thing! I find these totes to be both a great size for fitting a laptop, and also a fun way to add personality to your everyday look.

Below are some options:

Stripes go with almost anything. Freaky, but true. As summer approaches, you can go for either canvas or straw. Not just for the weekend anymore, I swear!

You can also try something with a bolder print. I love the outside pockets on this one.

If you’re not quite ready to go into prints, I recommend something with at least some detail. Like a colorful piping, or oversized closure.

Have a burning style question? Hit me up on Facebook or Twitter!

A little J.Crew for your holiday weekend

CNBC aired a documentary last night on Mickey Drexler and J.Crew. Having missed it (I blame the absence of DVR), I’m grateful to have stumbled upon this post from The Cut. Plus some clips. Thanks for that!

As a native Jersey girl, I was proud to here that the Garden State Mall’s store is the first in the country to receive all new shipments. I’ve been to that J.Crew. It’s a good one. Go Jerz!

Below is a peek into the making of a J.Crew catalog. And click on over to view some more from the doc.

Happy Memorial Day weekend everybody! Hope it’s a relaxing one, whether you hit up the Crew or not.

 

Those fabulous Paris fleas..

Hello! After an absolutely fantastic couple weeks away, I am back and in full work mode. I had an insanely wonderful time in France, and wanted to write about some of my experiences. I won’t go nuts with travel posts, but there are a few things I thought would be fun to share. First up.. my experience with the Paris flea markets!

Basically, they are LEGENDARY. And as someone who adores old crap, I was so psyched to visit and sift through a ton of dusty, random stuff.

Alas, I’m horrible at researching anything, and therefore wasn’t sure which flea was best. I did download an app that offered some tidbits, but other than that I was kind of lost.

Then fate intervened. I went on a food tour the 2nd day of the trip, and met a wonderful woman who happens to be the author of a book all about the markets of Paris. Her name is Marjorie R. Williams, and she just came out with the 2nd edition of Markets of Paris, a guide to all the markets in the city. YESSSS.

Of course I picked Marjorie’s brain on which markets I needed to visit. She offered up two suggestions for antiques, jewelry, and random treasures: Clignancourt and Porte de Vanves.

I managed to get to one of the two. And it was lovely.

We went to Clignancourt in the 18th arrondissement. It actually has like 20 names, or so it seemed to me. You’ll also hear it called Saint-Ouen, or le marche aux Puces de Saint-Ouen. (BTW.. puce means ‘flea’ in French. And it’s super fun to say.)

It was different than I thought it would be, but not necessarily in a bad way. I pictured makeshift tables set up alongside the sidewalk, à la your typical rummage sale, but this was definitely not the case. They had permanent stalls set up within private markets. These particular ones are open on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays.

We went on a Monday, which had its pros and cons. On the plus side, there were definitely no crowds to fight. But on the other hand, a lot of the booths were closed. And we got the distinct impression that the booth owners opened when they felt like it. It was well past 11:30 and a lot of the booths were just getting set up. C’est la vie or whatever. There was still plenty to see. I actually preferred the quieter feel of a weekday. But I tend to be socially anxious, so there’s that.

 

Basically, tons of knick-knacks and antiques jammed into tiny booths. I LOVED it. And a lot of the booths resembled actual living rooms. (Borderline hoarders’ rooms, but charming nonetheless.)

Each puce within the Clignancourt market was categorized in a different way. One was dedicated to furniture, another to books, etc. However, there was a hodge-podge of everything inside most of the booths, so it’s worth it to check out as much as you can.

We spent the majority of the time in the Vernaison puce, which is one of the closer ones to the metro stop.

There, they had a ton of random jewelry, postcards, albums, and these really fun vintage keychains.

Next time I go, I am definitely checking out the other market Marjorie suggested. And if you’re planning a big fat French trip, check out Marjorie’s book… it’s chock full of incredible tips on all markets: food, antiques, books, you name it. While you’re at it, check out her story on how she got involved in creating the book. It’s seriously inspiring!

I took TONS of pics of all things flea.. too much to put into one post. So please visit my Facebook page to view my lovely album des puces. :)

Regarding sale racks…

While I’m away, I’ll be re-posting some favorites from the TRS archives. Be back soon! 

With the Black Friday/Cyber Monday fiasco upon us, I wanted to take a moment to discuss the whole idea of buying clothes on sale. So many of my clients–and friends, and family–tend to buy pieces purely because the price is so enticing. Then they get the item home, and it ends up sitting in their closets collecting dust for months, years, even decades. They rarely reach for this piece because every time they see it, they realize its most redeeming quality is its price tag, not its appearance.

Well, here’s the thing about that.

When you wear that not-so-great sweater, nobody knows you got it for 75% off. (Unless you tell them. But then you become THAT person who always brags about the price of what they’re wearing whenever they receive a compliment. You don’t want to be that person.) You are not walking around with a sign on your back stating how little you paid for that sweater. You’re just wearing a mediocre piece of clothing.

The sale rack is extremely intriguing. You might feel as if it possesses super powers that reel you in the moment you enter a store. I’ve been there, believe me.

So how can you break the cycle?

First of all, get in the habit of thoroughly examining an item before even looking at its price tag. Try it on and see how you look and feel in it. Then only after properly assessing pluses and minuses, should you check out the price. This will help you pay attention to what you’re buying instead of what you’re paying.

Also, start asking yourself: Would I pay full price for this? Do I love it that much? Is it THAT amazing? If you truly believe you would shell out hard-earned money to have this piece hanging in your closet, then by all means pull the trigger.

Now, I’m not saying don’t ever buy sale items again. Just make sure you love what you’re buying. The great price will then become an extra perk.

Keep these points in mind next time you’re scouring the clearance section. It may take some time. But I promise, if you re-train your shopping mind, it will pay off big time in the end.

Is cleavage ever okay?

While I’m away, I’ll be re-posting some favorites from the TRS archives. Be back soon! 

I got a request over the weekend to write a post about cleavage. When it’s appropriate, when it’s not, and how much is too much. So here it goes!

Let me start by stating that I don’t think all cleavage is wrong. However, like a lot of things in life, it has to be done tastefully and in moderation. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking… well, you know.

Here are some guidelines I put together if you ever find yourself wanting to unleash the ladies, so to speak.

When in doubt, cover up.

Cleavage has a time and a place. And that time and place should not include the office, school, or pretty much any other daytime activity (i.e. grocery shopping, walking the dog, or going to the bank). Stick to nights on the town, cocktail parties, or formal events (notice how cleavage runs rampant on the red carpet). If you are questioning whether to show some skin for a certain occasion, always err on the side of caution and go with no. You won’t ever be wrong.

If you’re going to do it, do it right.

Every woman’s bust shape is different, which means cleavage can be all over the map. However, there is a right way to do it that can apply to most women. Start with a supportive bra that pushes the chest up. Then, keep the girls up and out in order to avoid the butt effect. Cleavage is sexier when the boobs aren’t smooshed and floppy.

There are other (more tasteful) ways to show off what you’ve got. 

Instead of outright cleavage, it’s often sexier to highlight the shape of your bust with a fitted top or dress. This draws attention while keeping things classy. Or, experiment with showing off other parts of your upper body: neck, clavicle, shoulders, or back. All of these can come across as sultry (but not raunchy), when highlighted by the right clothes.

Remember, leaving something to the imagination is often sexier than displaying your business for everyone to see.

What do you think about cleavage? Is it always, sometimes, or never okay? Let loose in the comments section, or through Facebook or Twitter!

And for suggestions on how to dress for your chest, check out my tips on Dr. Oz’s YouBeauty.

Jewelry that works for the office (because not all does)

While I’m away, I’ll be re-posting some favorites from the TRS archives. Be back soon! 

Jewelry can add sheer amazingness to an otherwise ho-hum ensemble. Statement necklaces, bold cuffs, and fabulous earrings all do wonders to personalize and jazz up wardrobe basics. But when it comes to the office, not all jewelry will do. That doesn’t mean you have to leave the fun stuff at home, just know how to pick and choose correctly.

Most importantly, if it makes noise, it’s not office-friendly. This is especially true for stacked bracelets. Don’t get me wrong, I love the stacked effect, but if it jingles and jangles, then you’ll become that annoying distraction to anyone who sits near you. Opt instead for a chunky watch, or a single bold cuff. This allows for a silent, yet equally strong, statement.

Long earrings are acceptable, but don’t make them too fancy. After watching Serena Williams play tennis in blinged out chandelier diamonds, I must stress more than ever that there’s a time and place for everything. And for eight-foot-long diamond earrings, that place is not the tennis court. Oh, Serena. Reserve sparkly things for evening and more formal occasions. For the office, try out geometric shapes, or earrings that have a retro feel.

Necklaces are your safest bet. Because they tend to blend into an ensemble (since they’re placed on the clothes, as opposed to a ring or bracelet which sits away from the outfit), you can get away with working bigger statement necklaces into your office look. Above are some beautiful pieces from a new jewelry site, Love Her Madly. (Full disclosure: the creator of LHM is a dear friend of mine, but I would feature her jewelry ANYWAY, as she is one of the chicest ladies I know!)

Packing for Paris

I’m off today to Barcelona and Paris! So freakin’ excited. Before I go, I wanted to share what I packed for the trip. I tried to go pretty minimal, as I plan on buying a crapload at the amazing vintage shops, flea markets, and that too-cool Kooples store.

The weather’s going to be a tad warmer in Barcelona, but still not super hot. Some essentials I’m bringing are:

-leather jacket (this can be worn as outerwear, or even over a dress for dinner)

-small bag (great for walking around the cities)

-scarves (for layering, and pops of color!)

-walking shoes (because I plan to walk a TON)

-casual pants (I’m bringing some different types, but one of my faves is this olive green pair – such a unique neutral)

-stripes (because stripes are French, right?)

-chambray shirt (to throw on over jeans, or tie around long dresses)

I’ll also be packing a trench, blazer, dresses, cardigan, night shoes, a few blouses, necklace or two, and my big watch.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook for updates from the trip! And check out my tips on packing for a tropical getaway if you plan on heading out of town too.

The denim tuxedo

I’d like to take a moment to discuss the denim tuxedo. Once upon a time, this was a crazy bad decision. Nothing good came out of the choice to pair denim with denim. However, times are a-changin! I recently came across some darling takes on denim on denim.

Photo by Easy Fashion Farid

This is something I put on Pinterest a few days ago (follow me!). This girl looks adorable. The different tones and fabric weights make the denim combo acceptable. Plus, she breaks it up with some smart accessorizing.

I was behind this girl while exiting a plane. The pic is not the best, but she was rocking some rich blue jeans, a black tank, long drapey cardigan, and a cropped light wash denim jacket on top. The different lengths of tops doesn’t work for everybody, but this woman could pull it off because of her height. And also because I think she was a model. And generally cool-looking.

Untitled #3

So if you’re brave enough to go denim on denim, make sure to choose two different tones, and preferably two different weights. Often, the more contrast the better. I love a lightweight denim or chambray button-down paired with darker wash jeans. And punched up with a little color here and there. If you want to dress it up a bit, grab a white blazer to throw on over the whole thing.

So here’s the thing with Anthro

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You walk into Anthropologie and you’re immediately sucked into this whimsical fairyland, where everything looks and smells delightful. You get so caught up in the magic of it all, that you end up buying several pieces you’re sure will instantly transform your closet into a fun, witty, fantastical place. Then you get home and sober up. And you realize your Anthro pieces are just plain bizarre. And hard to make work with the rest of your wardrobe.

Props to the store for being so successful at making you want everything they sell. Fantastic marketing. But on a personal front, that’s just not cool.

I call this the Anthropologie Dilemma. You want to love this store, but many pieces just don’t work in the real world. Unless your real world is an exotic tent in the middle of sky blue water, like above. (p.s. this is actually for sale on their site, not kidding.)

Don’t get me wrong, I adore Anthropologie. But you have to know how to shop it correctly. Otherwise you end up wasting money on clothing that isn’t truly right for you.

Here are a few pointers on how to shop Anthro the right way:

Pay close attention to silhouettes. Details can be fun, as long as the core of the piece is flattering. Keep to shapes and silhouettes you know work for your body type. Once that’s determined, you can pick things in fun colors, patterns or fabrics.

Watch for detail overload. While details are awesome, there can be too much of a good thing (like this). Instead, focus on pieces that have one or max two special things about them. Anything more will cause you to look busy.

If all else fails, focus on accessories. Anthropologie does these amazingly well. And… jewelry, bags, belts, and scarves are generally items that can have some whimsy to them. By nature, accessories work to add personality to an outfit, and Anthro’s selection is usually pretty great. So go crazy, and have fun with those baubles and totes.

all images from anthropologie.com

Question: What’s an alternative to skinny jeans?

Here’s a totally awesome inquiry from a reader. Honestly, I love this question.

Say I want to break out of the mom jeans. What’s the alternative to skinny jeans for us athletic women with thighs and calves that prove it?

A lot of fun tops benefit from a skinny-leg silhouette, especially tunic styles or those that are more voluminous. (Remember that rule: volume in one place, and slimmer in the other). That said, it can be tricky to achieve the skinny style if you’re not a skinny jeans kind of gal. And not everybody is. Speaking from a style perspective, skinny jeans can be really versatile. However, they just don’t look good on everybody. Plain and simple.

But you can achieve the slim look without having to go skinny.  It’s all in the style of jean you pick. First, let’s examine the DON’T.

You need to avoid this:

See how the style is so skinny that it hugs the leg all the way down from the thigh to the ankle? It’s not a flattering look. Also, the bunching at the ankles looks messy. The key is to find a style that has a narrow leg, but doesn’t taper or become too suction-ey at the calf and ankle. By having room at the ankle, this balances out athletic thighs, as it creates the illusion of an evenly slim leg, as opposed to one that goes in a V shape from the thigh down. Make sense?

The good slim shape has many names in the stores: straight leg, slim leg, cigarette, matchstick, stilt. They all basically mean the same thing. Narrow but not skinny or tight. And avoid that bunching at the ankle, as that will also disturb the even, narrow line.

For spring and summer, a cropped or ankle cut can also be flattering, as long as they aren’t tight around the ankles.

When searching, always look at the ankle of the jean to see if it goes in too much. You want a narrow, straight line from the top to the bottom. You don’t want it to taper in (that’s too jegging-like) or out (too bootcut or flared).

Some good brands to try:  AGJ.CrewCalvin Klein, and Not Your Daughter’s Jeans.

Have a burning style question?  Like TRS on Facebook and post it there!