Category Archives: Blazers

Spring blazer alternatives for those who don’t want structure all year round

Anyone who has worked with me, seen me, or browsed my blog knows I have a pre-occupation with blazers. If I had to choose one item of clothing to wear for the rest of my life, it would be a blazer, and maybe a bra. In fact, I love them so much, when I have a fancy schmancy occasion coming up, I rarely shop for a new dress. Instead I splurge on a dynamite blazer. That said, we all know the benefits (structure! camouflage!) the blazer provides. But I often get asked how to do a blazer when the weather warms up, and you don’t feel like wearing a fitted, structured piece. You can definitely go the linen and lightweight fabric route, but another way to think about it is in terms of spring silhouettes. Looser, more fluid pieces can achieve the layering brilliance of a blazer but with a slightly more laid-back / warm-weather ready twist.

Zara oversized women's blazer

 

I freaking love this Zara loose, oversized blazer for spring. It goes against every grain of my being to advocate on behalf of something with such little structure, BUT this gem manages to maintain a polished look. You could even do it over a fitted dress for warm-weather cocktails.

eileen fisher silk jacket

 

This Eileen Fisher silk jacket is also a really cool blazer alternative. It’s made from a cotton and silk blend, and the addition of the pointed hem in front is genius. It uses angles to create the illusion of structure.

Vince lightweight twill blazer

I wanted to include one more typical blazer, and this Vince lightweight twill captures a preppy feel while being totally chill and easy.

Joie silk bomber jacketFrench connection black petal bomber jacket

Last but not least, there’s the bomber. I was on the fence about this of-the-moment piece until, well, last night when I bought one. The silk bombers are actually quite beautiful and airy. A nice, fresh shape if you need a break from lapels. I’m loving the Joie mint one and French Connection’s petal bomber (which is the one I took home).

And for all things layered, follow my boards on Pinterest. It’s one of the few social media platforms I actually look forward to using.

Short shorts do not a power suit make.

photo from Raydene Salinas ; image from HuffPo

Huff Post Style ran an article this week highlighting the release of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, with an interesting fashion twist. They used the opportunity to showcase new, updated versions of the power suit. This was annoying. And not because I don’t love a good power suit (I do), but because they opted for the weirdest, most inappropriate choices. Sure, they instruct you to merely ‘take inspiration’ from their looks, but let’s do one better. Here are some fierce power suits that get their ‘power’ from sleek cuts, flattering silhouettes, and colors that don’t blind people.

Instead of flaunting our sexuality or donning look at me! patterns, let’s exert our awesomeness by way of smart, chic, understated choices that highlight who we are. Not just our legs.

Here are my picks for both inspirational and practical takes on the modern power suit.

zara yellow pant suitzara tartan pant suit

By all means, embrace color and pattern. But stay away from anything that offends your co-workers’ eyes. Zara makes freaking adorable pant suits. I own two. They are fresh without being obnoxious. And the tailoring is great.

theory dusty rose suit

I also love the idea of doing a whole monochromatic look with your suit, like Theory’s dusty rose separates. This would highlight a contrast statement shoe beautifully.

LK Bennett tweed skirt suitann taylor skirt suit

If you want to ditch the pants, by all means, do it! An above-the-knee skirt in classic tweed like in this combo from LK Bennett looks contemporary yet still appropriate for work. Or stick to a knee-length and up the color ante to something fresh yet soothing like this from Ann Taylor.

jcrew grey wool suitann taylor grey suit

Most importantly, a power suit doesn’t have to be any bold color or pattern at all. As long as you have a really well-tailored, slim blazer on top, you’re going to look amazing. For added flair, go for an unexpected silver shoe (like J.Crew did) or scrunch up the sleeves (the messier the better) to give the overall look more attitude.

How to dress like a French woman when you don’t look like a model

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Emmanuelle Alt

Net-a-Porter’s latest e-magazine issue had a fun article about the unmistakable style of a French woman, and how to copy it. Personally, I adore the traditional Parisian style. Hair that’s a sexy mess. Makeup that’s barely there. Conservative clothes that are anything but boring. I would kill to be mistaken for a French woman. So freakin’ chic!

But what Net-a-Porter fails to highlight (they mention it briefly) is that the main reason those French ladies look fabulous is because they’re usually super thin and gorgeous. Hello? Emmanuelle. Inès. Need I say more?

I don’t mean to belittle their sense of style, as they have an incredible one, but it most certainly doesn’t hurt if you have the figure and face of a runway model. Messy hair, rumpled tees, and painted-on jeans are only enhanced by a size 2 frame and enviable cheekbones.

That said, it is possible to successfully capture Parisian style if you’re not a walking hanger. Some suggestions are touched upon in the article. But I wanted to break it down even more.

Remember these two things: shoulders and ankles. 

shoulders and ankles. shoulders and ankles.

Or more specifically, pronounced shoulders and naked ankles.

These are two areas French women like to highlight. Pronounced shoulders by way of a structured, slightly padded blazer, and naked ankles by way of a cropped trouser and pump or ballet style shoe (where the tops of the feet show). That’s it really. I mean, not totally, but it will get you close. The rest you can fake.

The blazer doesn’t have to be high-end, but it does have to have structure and slim tailoring, preferably in both the body and arms. Zara does a nice job with blazers, and offers more reasonable prices than Balmain.

And the pants don’t have to be sprayed-on skinnies, which don’t work on every body type. Instead, try any slim-leg pant, and finish by either rolling or hemming the leg to hit above the ankle.

After you’ve got those points nailed down, you can add a leopard scarf and sleek shoe and be on your kickass French way.

Au revoir, people.

 

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.

The simply amazing sleeve roll

I was browsing Susan Schwimmer’s “Tips for Instant Style” on the MORE site, and just had to share #7: the sleeve roll!

As all of my clients know, I am a big, big fan of the sleeve roll, or as I like to call it, the zhuzh. (I blatantly stole this word from Carson Kressley, just FYI.)

A simple roll of the sleeve can inject attitude into an otherwise stiff blazer or prim and proper shirt. I zhuzh all of my blazers, and even my trenches for that added bit of comfortable cool.

And there’s no wrong way to do it. I tend to roll twice, and then scrunch up near the elbows. But you can also just do a simple turn of the sleeve hem and call it a day. It doesn’t have to be perfectly even… the more nonchalant the better. Keep in mind, if you don’t want to show the lining of the blazer for one reason or another, you can always do the reverse zhuzh; tuck the sleeve end inward once, and then scrunch up the sleeve above the elbow to keep in place.

Go ahead. Zhuzh it up!

Is it time to buy for fall yet?

The Sartorialist

Labor Day is almost upon us (where did this summer go??), and it seems like the days are cooling down. So is now the time to buy fall clothes? Well, yes and no.

Regardless of the season, I don’t advocate a big spend-all shopping spree for everything you will ever wear this fall and winter. That’s a lot of bags to carry.

Instead, buy some ‘essentials’ now, and save your other purchases for later. Because you really don’t want to be paying full price for that new winter coat when in a few months–when you are really going to need it–it’s bound to go on sale.

What are these essentials you should be spending money on now? Jeans, work trousers, blazer, and shoes.

Jeans. Whether they’re skinny, straight, or wide, you should start looking for a pair now. These are also the easiest to transition with, since you can pair with sandals and a lightweight blouse today, and then bring them into winter with boots and a sweater.

Work trousers. I’ve covered the new colors you should seek out to spruce up your work wardrobe.

Blazer. This is also a year-round essential, but if you don’t already have one, get it now. A blazer will allow you to squeeze a few more weeks out of your summery dresses, shorts, and even white jeans.

Shoes. The feet are the first to feel the chill, so invest in a pair of autumn-ready shoes. The range is wide, but I suggest a neutral pump for work (and out), and either a ballet flat or casual loafer for hanging around.

The urban tuxedo

Yesterday, I did a photo shoot for an article that’s set to appear on Dr. Oz’s YouBeauty.com just after Labor Day. It’s going to be a quick how-to on re-styling your closet. I was interviewed a few weeks ago for another YB article on how to dress for your chest, and I’m so excited–and HONORED–to be featured again!

As I was assembling outfits for the shoot, I got on the topic of the ‘urban tuxedo’, a phrase I use to describe my city uniform of choice: sleek blazer and skinny jeans (or pants). It’s my no-brainer to feeling sophisticated and cool in an instant. A blazer’s sharp structure is the perfect partner to slim-fitting bottoms, and never fails to make me feel put together and edgy without trying too hard.

There can be a lot of variations on it, but the staple silhouettes are consistent. Structure on top, skinny fit on the bottom. Then I tend to switch out tops, jewelry, and shoes for different types of occasions.

And there you have it. The urban tuxedo.

Check out more on my borderline obsession with penchant for blazers, and where you can find the best ones!

The blazer. And why we all need one (yep, even in summer)

Now that it’s toasty out on a regular basis, I’m sure the last thing you want to do is go out and purchase something with long sleeves. But hear me out! A well-fitting blazer is a perfect item to have in your closet for every season, including summer. It adds instant sharpness/polish/cool. A blazer can easily transform non-officey clothes into work-ready ensembles.  Just check out what it can do to a casual summer frock. Magical I tell you, simply magical.

So how do you find the perfect one? Is there even such a thing?

If you’re a blazer newbie, meaning you haven’t yet incorporated this piece into your wardrobe, you should start out with a classic fit. Then as you get more comfortable, you can venture into cropped and collarless territories.

Look for: single-breasted, 1 or 2 button style, slim cut that flares slightly at the hem (sometimes refered to as a ‘contour’ fit), and subtle shoulder pads. And roll the cuffs to make the whole look cooler.

I snapped this pic inside Ann Taylor after trying on this white blazer. I really loved it.

Below are some other gems:

How to wear it: summer neutrals

I’ve been late in the game for gathering summer basics, so I reserved this past weekend for a shopping excursion with Karen. She’s always thrilled to come along whenever I hit up Lord & Taylor and Loehmann’s. The trip was a great success, and I ended up buying a boatload of neutral-hued pieces. While they may seem boring and bland, neutrals are an AMAZING way to get you through the summer. The different shades are ideal for mixing and matching together: white, light khaki, dark khaki, olive, beige, blush, and white. They all look good with each other.

The key is to add strategic bits of color to make each ensemble really pop.

Below are pics of some purchases and how I plan to jazz them up:

L&T had a bunch of lightweight dresses. This Jones New York shirt dress is a great office option, while the white and green frocks (both from BCBGeneration) are fun for the weekend or casual evening events.

All three offer an ideal neutral backdrop for a bib necklace in wow yellow. This brightens up your face without being overbearing. And if you’re feeling bold, you can also opt for a funky turquoise bracelet.

This Kate Hill belted jacket was a cool find, with its preppyish checkered print. And when I spotted this white Cynthia Steffe blazer in Loehmann’s, I couldn’t believe my luck. I have the exact same blazer already in a deep green, and have worn it to pieces. The slouchy, laid-back silhouette caught Karen’s eye as well, and we both ended up getting one–she opted for the khaki color.

All of these are perfect partners for a pair of colorful pants (red is the hue du jour). And if you want to take it to the next level, team with a soft pink top. Colorblocking at its finest.

I snapped this pic of me in the L&T dressing room where I fell in love with a light khaki button-down from Kate Hill. Karen was underwhelmed by the shirt when I picked it off the rack, but I knew it had potential. And I was right! She loved it so much on me, that she bought one for herself in white. She wanted to copy this Jones look we had seen earlier–neutralblocking as I like to call it. I’m excited to try the same effect with khaki on top and white on the bottom.

 

And what will make this look seem fresh and exciting is a pop of color using earrings, bold sandals, or both.

Once you get used to supporting neutral tones with a dash of color, you can start experimenting with combining two pops at once. Don’t worry. You won’t go overboard as long as you have the neutral foundation to keep things grounded.

What the heck to wear to a baby shower

My pregnant and glowing cousin had a baby shower last weekend, which became the PERFECT opportunity to spot some stylish over 40 women, and to answer the ever-popular question: What in the world do you wear to a shower?

Knowing how to dress for a shower is tough, and this one was no exception, as it fell at the end of March when the weather is completely unpredictable. But these ladies managed to pull it off!

The shower’s hostess, my always-impeccably-dressed aunt Heather, looked fabulous as usual in a black and white printed wrap dress.

She accessorized with a very cool mixed metal layered necklace, which added subtle edge. And bow-front grey heels complemented the look without weighing it down. A refreshing alternative to black pumps.

I had the pleasure of sitting with Marianne and Gina, both school principals with amazing, unique styles of their own.

Marianne, who’s absolute favorite store is Anthropologie, with J. Crew as a close runner-up, kept it classic with a fitted black blazer and tailored trousers.

The blazer, from Anthropologie, had this darling scarf ruffle thing going on that actually looped into the lapel. Very Paris chic.

There was also a fun button accent at the hem.

Gina’s outfit had more all-over detail and a soft, neutral palette. She loves the beach, which inspires some of her style choices including this beautiful bracelet with starfish, seashells and multicolored pearls.

Of course Karen was also in attendance and looking lovely. But there was a lot of prep work that went into her outfit, so it deserves its own post. Stay tuned.