Monthly Archives: December 2012

List time! Top six sleeper hits of 2012

Happy almost New Year everybody! I thought I’d throw my own best of 2012 list into the mix. Hopefully this will offer you some mindless reading tomorrow while you’re in your pjs watching Bravo.

Behold my favorite sleeper hits of the year. These are fabulous items I’ve scored for either myself or my clients in 2012. Six unassuming pieces that have made closets happier and more fulfilled. Cheers to that!

theory deronisa top

Theory Deronisa Silk Top.

This sleeveless number from Theory has proven to be a godsend for a variety of body types. Perfect as an office shell under blazers, or with jeans for date night. They were making it in a bunch of colors, but unfortunately, it’s now hard to find online. Good news, though– little birdies over at Theory have told me it’s going to reappear on shelves this coming year.

loeffler randall flats

Loeffler Randall Blaise Moccasins.

A personal fave. These snake-embossed flats from Loeffler Randall have made dressing–and walking–so much easier this past year. They add an element of fun to every outfit, while still remaining neutral and comfy. Win win.

paige skyline straight jeans

Paige Skyline Straight Leg Jeans.

For the look of a skinny without the painted-on, i-can’t-breathe element, Paige’s skyline straights are simply thee best. They’re slim enough to look sleek and polished, but with enough room at the ankle to balance your top half. I adore these jeans.

stafford blazer from jcpenney

JCPenney’s Stafford Slim-Cut Sportcoat.

My, my Penney’s. Who knew you could come out with such sleek menswear? I tip my hat to the 2012 guy styles at JCP. Their sportcoats especially. If you’re looking for slim-cut separates in understated patterns, look to JCPenney for budget-friendly picks. Hopefully they can keep it up in 2013.

gibson blazer from nordstrom

Gibson Petite Knit Blazer.

Gibson’s knit blazers were my number one go-to this year for petite clients in need of a casual-style blazer that didn’t overwhelm them. Brilliant with jeans and a longer top underneath (because it’s a bit more cropped than a suit-style blazer).

jcrew pixie pant

JCrew Pixie Pants.

If you like leggings, you’ll love the Pixie. They offer the silhouette of a legging but with more substance, so you don’t feel naked on your lower half . Style them with longer blazers, men’s style button-downs, and chunky sweaters.

Happy 2013, all! Here’s to a stylish, comfy, sartorially fulfilling new year. :)

Manday, Christmas Style

Happy Xmas eve, everybody! For those of you still stuck in front of a computer (either at work or in order to avoid the fam), here’s the latest Man Monday Manday!

Getting ready for Christmas dinner was always a weird, hilarious process for the men in my house. As opposed to the women, who would make a pre-party out of what we were going to wear, the guys would reluctantly slip into their special-occasion khakis, top them off with the stiff button-down they got as a gift that morning, and promptly wrinkle everything by plopping on the couch for the remainder of the afternoon.

But I digress. If you’re not feeling the obligatory khakis/dress shirt for tomorrow’s festivities, or need some suggestions for how to make your everyday jeans just a little more acceptable for the mom-in-law, here are some options for what to wear for Christmas. Obviously it’s a bit too late to run out and purchase these new items (unless you’re really devoted, in which case, more power to ya), but you can get an idea and piece together some choices from what you have already hanging in your closet.

what to wear to christmas

If you’re a jacket kind of guy–and really, you should be!–then top off dark olive chinos with a muted blazer and checked shirt. This can be achieved with a number of checked shirt/blazer combos that you might have hanging around. And if trousers are too formal for your gathering, then switch them out for jeans. Finish the look with either a dressier black shoe, black desert boot, or even a pair of Converse. Feel free to take it down or up a few notches depending on how dressy the affair will be.

what to wear to christmas

For a comfy yet polished feel, go with a nice sweater/button-down pairing. Try a dark purple V-neck with a lighter purple button-down. This will also work with tones of grey, black, and blue. On the bottom, opt for grey chinos or jeans. And if you want to add some personality, try out a sneaker in a different color. Or stick to a muted boat shoe.

what to wear to christmas

Or just embrace the absolute crazy that is this time of year, and go with a hideous Christmas cardigan over a button-down/tie combo. A pair of oatmeal cords makes it a bit more modern than khakis. But still totally insane. In the best way.

Have fun, merry Christmas!

Where I’ll be absolute-last-minute shopping this weekend

Nothing like the eleventh hour to light a fire under my butt when it comes to Christmas shopping. While I did the majority of my shopping online this year, there are a few unchecked boxes on the list. Since it’s going to be tricky (translation: expensive) to have something shipped now in time for the big day, I’ve decided to list some brick and mortar places I’ll be braving this weekend. This is NOT a list of the cutest, most unique things you won’t find anywhere else. Rather, it’s an oh-crap-I-have-to-buy-something-right-now-no-matter-what kind of list. But these choices will still make you look like you put months’ worth of thought into the process. Cheers to working smarter, not harder! Or something to that effect.

perfume bottle from anthropologiecandle from anthropologie

For your ‘unique’ aunt: Chachka from Anthropologie.

Anthro is ideal for elegant thingamajigs, which makes it the perfect stop for your quirky family member. But stick to household wares, candles, or jewelry. Don’t do an article of clothing, as we all know how that can turn out.

calvin klein performance

For your super active friend: Calvin Klein Performance jacket.

CK Performance makes really nice active apparel for about half the cost of Lululemon. I bought one of their funnel neck jackets a few weeks ago for $50 and love it. Oddly, their pieces are hard to find online, but major department stores like Macy’s carry a decent assortment of CK Performance. (SF has a freestanding store, too.) If you’re the exercising type, you can never have too many cute après sport jackets to throw on.

varvatos usa tie from nordstrom

For your sister’s (or brother’s) boyfriend: John Varvatos tie.

For the gentlemen still on your list, I suggest a tie from cool-guy brand John Varvatos, or his lower-priced line, Varvatos Star USA. Ties from the proper Varvatos line can be found in his stand-alone stores on both coasts, but will run you around $150. The USA line makes equally nice ones for about half that, and can be found in places like Nordstrom.

bracelet from madewellhare + hart bracelet from madewell

For your college-aged cousin: Mix and match bracelets from Madewell.

Madewell’s assortment of skinny bracelets are super cut alone, or all piled together. And right now, the store is offering 30% off  everything through Dec. 24!

 

philip crangi frame from targettracy reese dessert plates from target

For the person who may or may not be giving you a gift, therefore requiring you to have one on hand just in case: Target.

While I’m lukewarm on the Neiman Marcus collection (as was the rest of the world), there are still some good buys in-store for that gift you need to have just in case. I would suggest the Philip Crangi frame, Tracy Reese dessert plates, or Altuzarra old-fashioned glasses.

pajancho

And for the annual White Elephant….

The pajancho, people! Enough said.

JCPenney backtracks, offers sales, won’t admit to it, confuses everybody

Remember that whole we’re totally done with sales forevah! jazz from JCPenney? Yeah, well they were just kidding. Sort of. We think. Apparently, Penney’s is now back in the discount saddle, offering clearance markdowns and friends and family coupons. This coming after a less than stellar reception of their no-sale policy last year.

So I have some thoughts.

First, I’m not surprised that the ‘everyday low price’ thingy hasn’t been successful. We live in a society where the psychology of sales runneth deep. We need a sale. We crave a sale. Everybody loves a deal. But as things stand right now, those deals need to be presented to us in this get ’em now, hurry up, limited time only kind of way. People need to feel as if they’re scoring something that not everybody else is. When you offer a low price for the masses, then, um,  where’s the fun in that?

I believe the sale culture is getting out of hand. And I see firsthand the effects of buying stuff because it’s on sale. People’s closets–and lives–are overrun by stuff they bought solely because it was on sale. There’s something wrong with that. Isn’t there?

Time will only tell if Penney’s can find their secret sauce. Looks like they’re going to try and marry low prices to regular sales. Basically, becoming Kohl’s.

What do you think? Are you more likely to shop JCP now that sales have kind of returned? Does price always dictate what you buy?

Here’s the thing with high black boots (part one)

Last night, instead of reaching for my sleeping pill, I used the Zappos app to calm the brain. It worked brilliantly! And while scrolling through an endless number of shoes, I started to develop a strong feeling towards high boots… and felt inspired to write.

Let’s break the topic down into heeled high boots and flat high boots.  The latter will come in another post.

So here’s the thing with high boots (that are heeled). They’ve been on the fashion scene forever, and I know a lot of women who count them as absolute essentials. That said, there’s a fine line between looking chic  and polished, and looking hooker.

While black boots may seem to all look the same, that’s not the case. There are subtle differences to look out for when seeking out the most flattering and elegant of the bunch. I’ve broken down heeled boots into my two favorite sub-categories: the 70s structured style and the sleek ‘n’ sexy (but not slutty).

loeffler randall boots from zappos dolce vita boots from piperlime

The structured 70s style tends to look more retro, with a stiffer shaft and chunkier heel.

Kate Spade wedge bootsvia spiga boots from nordstrom

The sleeker types offer a very slim, fitted shaft that contours to the ankle and calf, and a thin, stiletto style heel, or sometimes a skinny wedge.

In both cases, there are some pitfalls to avoid in order to remain on that chic and polished side of the fence:

1. Make sure the boot fits you at the top! This means the top of the boot should hit below the knee. If a boot hits you at the knee-cap (or above) it is too big. Furthermore, the top should fit snugly or semi-snugly around your leg. For 70s styles, it will not be as snug due to the design, but it should never ever resemble a moat around your leg.

2. Avoid boots that unintentionally bag or slouch near the ankle. This looks messy. Of course, with most leather or leather-like boots, some pouching will occur, but with a good boot, it should be minimal.

3. Not everyone can pair with a shorter skirt. Some can, but this is not the norm. If you can rock it, do it. Just remember to wear opaque tights. As an alternative, try a knee-grazing pencil or swing skirt.

4. If you’re gonna do them with jeans, make sure those jeans (or leggings) are FITTED AT THE KNEE AND CALF. Otherwise, you’ll get all sorts of sloppiness coming out of the top of the boot. And if you’re going the pants/boots route, think about adding some volume to your top half to balance out the severely streamlined feel of the jeans/boots. This means a chunky sweater, or a longer blazer.

Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll tackle the weird world of flat boots. It’s gonna be awesome.

UPDATE:

These chunky retro style beauties from Elizabeth and James are currently on sale at Gilt. Happy early xmas, all. 

300x400

What to last-minute wear to that one last holiday party

Are you holiday partied out yet? Well, there’s one more weekend to go before all you’ll have to worry about is what to wear to Christmas (oh, and New Year’s ugh). Personally, I haven’t had a ton of soirees to go to this season, but I did get double booked last Saturday and had a minor freakout over what to wear. Yes, even stylists have freakouts. May I remind you of beltgate 2011? Must be something about this time of year. I tend to avoid the sparkly dress choice (although there’s nothing wrong with that). For me, it just gets old after a while. Instead, here are two options that can act as refreshing alternatives to the standard sparkle frock. And these you can also rock on Christmas day/eve/new year’s/and so forth and so on.

1. THE BIANCA JAGGER

This is the outfit I chose to wear last weekend. I started with items I already owned: black slim pants, and a black button-down. Then I added a funky vintage necklace, my fancy shoes, and a winter white blazer. Thankfully, I already had most of the pieces in my closet, so the blazer was the only item I had to shop for. The strategy here is to try and work with what you’ve got. And then if you have to shop, you can narrow it down to one item, instead of the entire outfit.

So in this instance, if you don’t have:

black pants…. try a pair of black jeans, or dark blue denim.

a black button-down…. try a simple black cotton tee or tank underneath. Or a white button-down will work just as well.

a chunky funky necklace…. bust out a big pair of earrings, or a colorful silk scarf.

I found my white blazer at Mango, but you can also try places like Zara, Theory, or even H&M.

images from j.crew

2. THE J.CREW

Another option is to go the mix-and-match-J.Crew route. If you don’t know what that is, pick up any of their catalogues and you’ll get it. Casual with fancy, head to toe. So if you already have a classic sweater and modest  pumps, make your lunch hour shopping trip all about finding a fun skirt or pant.

If you don’t have:

a classic sweater…. try a nice (not ratty) jersey top.

pumps…. try a bootie or even a sleek knee-high boot. Not a riding boot though; stick to something with a heel. Or if you do the pants, you can rock an elegant flat.

You can find schmancy skirts and pants at J.Crew, Zara, and Macy’s (look for Rachel Rachel Roy, Bar III, and BCBG brands).

Have fun, and remember not to stress too much about what to wear. Ha, yeah right.

 

Man Monday: cool sportcoats that work with jeans

These days, a ton of guys (and gals) work in business casual environments that allow jeans or similar casual pants. Sweet deal, right? Well yes and no. It can be tricky to navigate the weird world of what to wear to a biz casual office. A general rule is to pair denim or chinos with a blazer/sportcoat. So I wanted to devote this Man Monday to talking about the kinds of sportcoats that work best with jeans and the like. Yes, it is acceptable to do a suit jacket with (dark wash!) denim for a casual office setting. However, if you want to take it a step further up the awesome ladder, then consider investing in a sportcoat that stands apart from your suit jackets. You can look cooler that way.

Below are three characteristics to look for when seeking out a nice non-suit type jacket that’s still work-appropriate.

john varvatos USA sport coat

Subtle details.

John Varvatos is the definition of hip yet laid back when it comes to men’s designers. Anyone who uses Iggy Pop to sell clothes gets the cool award in my book. His pieces are pricey, yes, but kind of awesome. Check out his lower USA line for ever so slightly cheaper choices. The reason his sportcoats work in that ‘not too dressy but still polished’ kind of way is because they’re made in textured, darker fabrics, with understated modern details. The one above has leather piping that’s super subtle, but makes all the difference. Keep in mind they are cut very slim, so you may want to go up a size (or two).

 

jcrew herringbone sportcoat

Old school tweed. 

I love J. Crew for preppier sportcoats. These English fox-hunting-countryside-dwelling types are ideal for biz casual because they look great with more modern pants and button-downs. If it’s a lighter neutral color, like above, you can play around with different colors underneath.

perry ellis corduroy blazer from macy's

Non-suit fabrics. 

You can also experiment with different fabrics in a more standard suit jacket cut. Both corduroy and velvet are fun textures to wear with separate bottoms. Just make sure the corduroy is a fine wale (meaning not chunky 70s style) and the velvet is not royal purple. Unless you’re into making that kind of statement. This one above from Perry Ellis looks sleek with grey denim too.

H&M to be a goodwill of sorts come 2013

 

The latest news from H&M is verrrry interesting. Come February 2013, select stores will start accepting donations of used clothing in exchange for store discounts. They call it their Global Recycling Program,  and according to the press release, stores will accept “any pieces of clothing, from any brand, and in any condition … In return, the customer will receive a voucher for each bag of clothing donated.”  The point, I believe, is to ultimately recycle the unwanted garments to create fabric for new clothes.

Okay, so I like this and I don’t.

It’s a step in the right direction. I hope.  And it’s nice that they’ll accept pretty much anything. However, the ‘prize’ for taking your stuff in is basically an incentive to buy more crap. Not that I’m anti-H&M, but I am not the biggest fan of fast fashion in general. I understand the benefits of making fashion accessible to everyone, and I do enjoy perusing the racks of their stores for inexpensive versions of trends I’d otherwise not spend big money on. But with that access comes excess. And the whole fast fashion/designer collaboration beast has gotten way out of hand. A friend and fellow stylist, Bridgette Raes, has some great thoughts on the matter here.

What do ya think? Will this will help stores be less wasteful? Will you bring in your old clothes instead of hauling to Goodwill?

Discuss!

Some thoughts on non-boring winter scarves

Scarves! I heart them. It’s one of the things I miss most about crazy cold New York winters… getting to wear those amazingly cozy chunky scarves. But I digress. Often times, people will go to one of two extremes when it comes to choosing their outdoor scarf. They either keep it completely neutral (think solid grey or black), or make it the superior statement of the outerwear look (bright red, pink, or a crazy print). But why not jazz up winter looks another way?  A while back I talked about the concept of new neutrals. Well think of these as the new neutral scarves. Colors and patterns that are interesting, yet not spotlight-stealers. Kind of like really awesome supporting actors.

beacon scarf from gap

Think neutral colors within the pattern. I bought this scarf from Gap while I was freezing and desperate in Chicago, and it’s now my favorite item of the season. Since the colors within the pattern are black and white, it can be paired with almost anything. I even love mixing it with different patterned coats. Keep in mind it’s super chunky, so best used as a cold, cold weather scarf. Or even a blanket.

cora scarf from plumo

Animal prints are by nature a neutral, and this scarf from Plumo offers a great take on the concept. The burgundy color is unexpected, but muted enough to complement a ton of other hues. This would look gorgeous over a light grey coat, or even a navy one. And since it’s a silk blend, it’s light enough to keep on indoors.

qi rae cashmere scarf from shopbop

This cashmere scarf from Qi takes the concept of colorblocking and makes it fantastically neutral. Not only do I love this scarf, but I love how it’s styled in the pic. The two muted colors within the scarf go with other patterns and colors beautifully. It gives the whole look some much-appreciated depth.

Introducing Man Monday

While I rarely (ok, never) write about men’s fashion on the blog, I still definitely love helping out my guy clients and doling out solid advice. I guess I just never thought to make it a regular feature on TRS. Well, times are a changin! Introducing Man Monday. Basically, every Monday, I will address a guy topic… that’s related to style, of course. For any other advice, I am definitely not the person to ask.

So for our first MM post, let’s talk hats! In particular, winter hats. I was recently asked about the types of acceptable hats men can wear during the work week.

While I love a knit hat (aka beanie), it’s not always appropriate for weekday walking to and from work. Your winter hat has to jive with the rest of your winter gear, namely your coat. If you’re rocking a dressy coat, then a knit beanie can often look sloppy and out of place. Other options are fedora or newsboy, however, both of these take some attitude to pull off. And if you’re not that guy already, then sporting a fedora could feel–and look–awkward. Or grandpa. Or both.

180s ear warmers from EMS

My advice for the work week chill? Definitely go for a scarf and gloves first, then top it off with ear warmers. Yes, ear warmers. Not a hat at all, I understand. But a great option for keeping warm. Practical yet inconspicuous, which is exactly what you want. Allow the dress coat and scarf do the sharp talking for you, and let the ear warmers just do their job.

j.crew cashmere beanie

If you’re in desperate need of something to cover your actual head, then by all means try one of the above options — beanie, fedora, or newsboy. You can even try a trapper if you’ve got enough hipster courage in you. But remember to stick to neutral colors and luxe fabrics. Like this soft cashmere beanie in a classy charcoal. Save the orange for the weekend.