Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Going Brocade

Rochas Fall 2010 Runway Look

Baroque inspiration has descended upon us for Fall 2010 (see Anna Paquin's Alexander McQueen Emmy's dress), and it all started in March at a retro-styled fashion show for high-end fashion line Rochas. Designer Marco Zanini time warped back to the 70s with his models' bouffant hair dos and "bell bottom" pants paired with tunics. Luckily, he stayed away from the polyester and decided to create his beautiful brocades in luxe silks.

Thus, a trend was (re)born.

Vintage Malcolm Starr brocade coat and brocade dress from Shrimpton Couture

Baroque influence has gone mainstream ever since. The use of brocades has appeared in clothing from casually cut jackets to cocktail dresses. The enhancement of texture, attention to detail and gilded sheen are intriguing and a welcomed reminder of the cool weather that is to come.

Georgia May Jagger wearing black and gold brocade dress in W magazine photographed by Craig McDean

Me in my brocade Tibi dress with my friend Rebekah on her wedding day- October 2007.

J. Crew was the first place I delightfully spotted this resurgence of glamour this year. As you can see above, I happen to already be a fan of brocade fabrics for the right special occasion. The silk shell below is nothing short of gorgeous and would really shine underneath a black blazer and over skinny jeans, making for a great contrast of an old glamourous fabric in a modern silhouette.

J. Crew Khloe Jacquard Cami

I also love this Isabel Marant baseball jacket. To use such a dressy fabric in such a casual cut is really interesting. You could literally throw it on over a tee shirt dress and appear instantly dressed up. Just keep the accessories minimal. How simple!

Isabel Marant Gunay Brocade Baseball Jacket from Net-A-Porter

If you want to be a bit more formal, Tibi has come out with the edgy girl's version of my brocade Tibi dress pictured above. This beautifully tailored cocktail dress takes all of the old lady out of the brocade fabric. It's fierce, modern and fun and, day I say, McQueen-esque? Imagine it style with black sheer tights and booties. I wouldn't want to mess with that girl!

Tibi Bond St. Sculpted Dress

There is also the more conservative approach- this Nili Lotan stunner. This dress reminds me of Milly's beautiful emerald green and sapphire brocade prints from last fall. You could wear a blazer with this dress for work and still look great for drinks afterward.
Nili Lotan Foiled Again Floral Turtleneck Dress

Milly dress from last fall (center)

If you decide you really want to go for the drama, take a cue from Michael Jackson and slip on this glam rock jacket below. Alice & Olivia designs yet another show-stopping piece with this not only brocade but beaded blazer. Would you really need to wear anything else besides a demure black dress or a white tee and jeans??

Alice & Olivia Luiza Embellished Jacket

Whether you like it or not, this shiny, old-fashioned fabric has taken on a modern day relevance stronger than even last fall's appearance.

Perhaps there's a reason that a classic never dies.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Emmy Addendum

I did not see Jennifer Carpenter on the red carpet last night, but this stunning gunmetal, sequined number cannot be overlooked. GORGEOUS!! She might be my new choice for best dressed, or at least best dress.

Emmy Shimmy: A Shakedown of Last Night's Red Carpet Looks

While Claire Danes won the Emmy for her performance in "Temple Grandin" last night, she also takes one of my awards for superior style on last night's red carpet.

Personally, I love gold on the red carpet and Danes keeps her Armani Prive strapless column dress stunningly simple- polished hair, glowing skin and the absence of distracting baubles. She looks gorgeous and appropriate for a nominee turned winner!

I also loved Julie Benz's look last night. Her white asymmetrical gown paired with a high, stick straight ponytail was youthful and fresh.

Benz offered the perfect amount of sparkle with her gorgeous necklace and the embellishment around the dress's cut-out at the waist. The look was flawless with just the right amount of sex appeal.

Also sparkling in the lights of last night's red carpet was Jennifer Westfeldt. She and boyfriend Jon Hamm both wore Armani and looked very Hollywood glam.

It may not be as obvious here, but on the carpet last night, tiny flecks of green sparkle came from her charcoal degrade dress. Usually, beaded overlays and lace send me into a panic attack but this gown simply works on her.

Kelly Osbourne also looked really lovely in black Tony Ward Couture.

As the newest member of E!'s Fashion Police, Osbourne seems to have stepped it up a notch. While I don't love the skirt of this gown, the draping top is flawless on her frame.

My absolute number one favorite look of the night has to go to Kerri Russell though! In the sea of navy taffeta and blingy extras, Russell effortlessly stunned in a hot pink VINTAGE chiffon gown from her own closet. I just love the fact that a television star wore her own dress to a big event. Rare sighting!

Russell's dress is a 1970s Jean Louis Scherrer Haute Couture gown from Los Angeles' store Decades. She purchased it more than 10 years ago and wore it last night, creating an unexpected and fresh look on the red carpet. Russell paired the vintage gown with strappy gold Jimmy Choos, a Judith Leiber box clutch and whimsical Jennifer Behr hair pin. Her make-up was also clean and illuminating, done by the fabulous artists at NARS.

Kerri Russell in Jennifer Behr hair pin and NARS make-up

I also have to mention my two honorable mentions for avant-garde fashion. These ladies rocked it in their unconventional choices and I have to give them credit where credit is due.

Anna Paquin and husband Stephen Moyer in Alexander McQueen

Anna Paquin glammed it up in this high fashion Alexander McQueen stunner from his Spring 2011 collection. I applaud her bold choice and appreciate her homage to the late and great designer. To my knowledge, this gown is one of the first pieces we've been able to see from the McQueen's last collection. Several other actresses wore McQueen heels last night, but both Paquin and her new husband appropriately wore McQueen head to toe last night.

My second avant-garde honorable mention award winner is the risk-taking January Jones. Jones is not shy when it comes to fashion, and I don't always agree with her choices. But this color blue is amazing. Her eyes are just popping! You either love this dress or you hate it. Ihappen to love it. The Today Show described her as a beautiful peacock and I couldn't agree more! Her hair could have used a bit more styling- flatiron or low ponytail maybe?- but otherwise I love this Versace number. Most people would not be able to give it the body it deserved like Jones did.

Finally, two stars' rocked some rocks in the accessories category last night. Julia Louis Dreyfus and Heidi Klum both upped the ante of their black dresses with gorgeous jewelry.

Dreyfus paired gorgeous emerald earrings and a bracelet with a black Narciso Rodriguez gown.

Klum added even more interest to her Marchesa cocktail dress with her statement necklace. The vintage-inspired piece was gorgeous against her strapless neckline and drew attention to her flawless make-up. Personally, I always look to Klum for make-up looks.

Obviously, fashion is subjective and the looks I've highlighted here are just my personal favorites. I have never been a huge fan of big, poofy gowns anywhere but a debutante ball. But I hope you can appreciate them and maybe find a little inspiration for your next "red carpet" event!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Decorating Wish List

I have secretly been plotting a furniture rearrangement of my own bedroom, and not so secretly wishing for new chairs and rugs for my living room and dining room, for weeks. Imagine my surprise when my beau started rearranging furniture in my guest room without even discussing it with me! Thankfully, he did a great job and I really liked the changes, so much so that I SUGGESTED we do the same to my bedroom that day. He agreed and we spruced the place up. YES!

The rooms' new layouts have inspired me to seriously evaluate what my house needs- either replacing old furniture, editing pieces, or maybe slapping on a new coat of paint. Here are some items that I just HAVE to have in my newly rearranged house...

Pair of turquoise chairs from Blue Hand Home's new private label "B Home"

These sleek and modern turquoise chairs with black wooden legs would be fabulous in my living room. I have navy upholstered arm chairs now, hand-me-downs from Mom and Dad, but the color is drab and weighs down the whole room. Something cheerful like this turquoise would really give the room a pop!

Gold Branch End Table at Blue Hand Home

Gilded extras are always attractive to me. This gold end table from Blue Hand Home is a great size, allowing us to move it around wherever we see fit- a bad habit we have. The broken-in leather chair is also a great staple item. Not sure it goes with my living room's theme though...

Louis Lucite Ghost Chair

Also, I'm a big fan of Louis ghost chairs. They are so much fun! I think it would be so interesting to pair it with an antique wooden desk. Of course, a pair can make itself at home anywhere from a dining room to a bedroom!

Leopard Print Rug Inspiration

This glamorous bedroom is yet another inspiration for me. I LOVE the leopard print carpet and NEVER thought I would say that. But it adds such an interesting bit of neutral pattern to the luxurious room. You'd certainly have to stay away from bright colors or bold prints if you wanted to keep the bedroom serene. But powder blue unexpectedly partners well with leopard print. Of course, I'll take the chandelier too.

I plan to make a new upholstered headboard in the next six months or so. This headboard here is the look I'm going for- neutral, square, simple. For my room, I may veer toward the grays a bit more, but a leopard print rug would offer a fun base to a neutral headboard like this one...

Speaking of headboards...
Serena & Lily Fillmore Bed with Nailheads

Serena & Lily fabrics have so much character. I always think of them as designing for children but as I browsed their website this morning, I found some great patterns. This Fillmore Bed covered with Fog Diamond fabric is fun and chic without be overwhelming. While I'm not sure I can spring for this bed, I could definitely spring for the fabric and make my headboard out of it! But the leopard print rug would not do with a pattern like this one. I would have to choose one or the other.

Serena & Lily Amagansett Chair in Covered Bark Jaipur Fabric

The fabric on this chair would also make for a beautiful headboard. Damask is so elegant and classic and the color palette is very calming. I'm definitely going for serenity in my master bedroom! So glad I perused the Serena & Lily website for inspiration today.

Looks like I have some work to do!! If you have any suggestions or comments, please send them my way!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back To School Uniform

Okay, I may not be going back to school today like the rest of North Carolina's public school students, but I have found a uniform that I can see myself wearing over and over again this fall.

After road tripping last week, I realized how liberating it can be to combine fashion with comfort. No, I'm not talking about velour sweat suits. I'm talking about sitting pretty in soft, cozy clothes.

Alice and Olivia Look for Fall 2010

Take this Alice & Olivia (here I go again with these guys!) look for fall. This outfit is exactly what I'm talking about. Two simple pieces- a cashmere tee and dark leggings- plus one item to elevate the look. In this instance, the look is brought out of pajama land by a faux fur vest but a great tweed jacket or long wool cardigan can also make this more appropriate an afternoon out and about. An outfit like this can be so versatile- appropriate for moms on the go with flat boots or ballet flats and then evenings out with your hubby by adding with killer platforms. All in all, it's quite Parisian chic!

For me, an employee in a casual industry, this type of look is perfect for the office. In fact, today I'm wearing skinny black James Jeans, an asymmetrically hemmed Alice & Olivia tee and a gray linen jacket. I also added a long chain, pearl and ribbon Gabriele Frantzen necklace and Hollywould ballet flats, to avoid looking like I came from the gym in my boyfriend's tee shirt!

Alice & Olivia Inside Out Raglan Sleeve Tee

Above is the exact top I'm wearing. It's cozy, soft, comfy and cute! It also strategically covers my derriere and slims my hips, which I appreciate when I'm rocking skinny pants or especially leggings. (See my comments on wearing skinny cargo pants from Monday's post! I feel that is the best way to dress my body type when it comes to this trend.)

J. Crew Wool Flannel Fallyn Jacket

While I bought my jacket from Banana Republic several years ago, this new J. Crew jacket is quite similar. It adds great structure and polish to this relaxed look, elevating the tee to office appropriate. Jackets also tend to widen the shoulders, great for balancing wider hips!

Gabriele Frantzen Necklace

I don't own this exact necklace, but the one above is very similar to the one I'm wearing today. But the great thing about accessories as of late is that you can wear the most casual tee or tank and really dress it up with good jewelry. A necklace like this also adds some color and interest to an outfit of mostly neutral basics.

Factory Jersey & Faux Leather Leggings from Shopbop

I discovered these leggings today and am OBSESSED with them. They are so similar to the Trina Turk Duke leggings but much cheaper. If I owned these, I'd be wearing them today. Some leggings look so cheap and sometimes even a little sheer but Factory's "pleather" takes this pair out of the leggings category and into more of the pants world in my book. Shopbop has styled this pair with a long sweatshirt, another option for daytime...but maybe not for work.

J. Crew Alpaca Sweater

If you're really in the mood to bundle up or sit in an office as freezing cold as mine, this Alpaca Sweater from J. Crew is a great option as opposed to a jacket. I appreciate its length, once again slimming hips and thighs, and really love this color. It is being produced in black as well!

Here are a few more options...

Alice & Olivia Curved Hem Top

Three Dots Oversized Quilted Cardigan

J. Crew Toothpick Riding Pants

So whether you're a mom on the go or just a girl running errands on a Saturday, try out this fun combination. You might find yourself lounging on your sofa at the end of the day, feeling just as comfortable as you would in those bamboo cotton pajamas...but looking ten times better!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fall Shopping in 110-Degree Dallas!

Rachel Bilson in J Brand Houlihan Cargo Pants

You might have noticed that I've been absent the last week or so. It's all thanks to my 10-day (lovely and refreshing) summer vacation to Louisiana and Texas with my beau. We had a great time visiting with family and friends, playing poolside with kids, puppies and kittens and even busting out some moves a la Just Dance on the Wii.

But I couldn't let a trip to Texas go by without hitting the shops in Dallas! And you'll be pleased to know that there was hardly any blue eye shadow, shoulder pads or sequins in sight! (Okay, maybe just a few sequins and shoulder pads...)

While in Dallas, we hit up my fav boutique Calypso and then the ever-expansive North Park Mall. I just had to share with you some of my favorite pieces from the trip...

First up! The Calypso Cosia Shirt in Asperge. This top is the perfect blend of structured and relaxed. The tunic hits in all the right places, the fabric is light and airy, the gold buttons add a bit of glam and its olive color is on trend for fall. PLUS it's on SALE! Even better!

Calypso Cosia Shirt in Asperge

Next, I had an eye-opening experience at Nordstrom in North Park Mall. While I had a pile of black pencil skirts and silk-charmeuse blouses in the dressing room, my helpful salesgirl kept bringing me fab extras to JUST try. I have to admit, she offered some great options and they were definitely pieces I would not have picked out for myself. But, lo and behold, I can safely admit that I am officially a fan of the J Brand Houlihan cargo pants.

J Brand Houlihans at Singer 22

Now this new love for skinny cargos may not seem like a big deal to you, but, to me- a somewhat pear shaped, petite young woman- I found it to be a major breakthrough. I haven't bought a pair yet but, for the rest of the day, I found myself wondering how different tops and sweaters would pair with these sassy pants. The key for someone with my shape is to keep the top loose and light or add a longer cardigan to balance out curves on the lower half. But they'd definitely be cute with heels, wedges, flats, booties, boots...you name it!

Even Khloe Kardashian is rockin' the look and you know that family has some curves!!

Khloe Kardashian in Houlihans and don't even get me started on these Alexander Wang wedges...le sigh...

But moving on, I also noticed that orange was everywhere! Be it coral, rust or seriously primary, it is definitely one of the colors of the season. Check out this Haute Hippie showstopper I spied in Nordstrom!

Haute Hippie Chiffon Overlay Metal Strap One-Shoulder Dress

But the department store wasn't the only spot I was drawn to the flame. J. Crew even boasted some rusty pieces, including this fun tweed skirt.

J. Crew Atomic Tweed Mini

Painterly prints also stood out amongst the orange (and did I mention the sea of LEOPARD). This Alice & Olivia cocktail dress at Neiman Marcus was absolutely adorable and, dare I say, Lela Rose-esque? It also boasted a firey glow but was tweaked with metallic flecks. Ladylike yet Spunky!

Alice & Olivia Marie Tulip Dress

I also discovered that I am in desperate need of a new pair of leggings. I fought against the whole leggings trend for a long time but have found that there is a tactful way of wearing them without giving away all your secrets, if you know waht I mean! The same style principles apply to the leggings that apply to the Houlihan cargos- we must wear loose tops, long cardigans and/or jackets to balance out the curves on the bottom half. I have yet to try the pair that I want yet, but I'm thinking a little leather inset couldn't hurt, right??

Trina Turk Duke Leather Legging

All in all, an excellent time was had by all. Clothing for the new season is definitely out there and that's always exciting. Now if we could just bring down the temp a little bit...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

On the Upside-Out

J. Crew Fall 2010 Look from Envy

The first time that I spotted this inside-out outerwear look in the J. Crew fall lookbook, I was instantly taken. It combined two of the greatest fall wardrobe staples- the fabulous fur vest with the structured yet simple jacket.

Anyone I saw last fall may have assumed that my *faux fur vest was actually an extension of my own body seeing as how I wore it almost every single day. (Told you I was a fan of Rachel Zoe!)

At my sister's wedding rehearsal last October, I'm wearing my old faithful fur vest. (For the record, I wore it again at the wedding reception the next night!)

This fall, I'll be even more excited to wear it in this fun, new way instigated by the one and only Jenna Lyons at J. Crew. To get the look, Lyons took these two gorgeous pieces and styled them together.

J. Crew Mongolian Lamb Vest

J. Crew Shimmer Ruby Jacket

The mileage you can get out of these two pieces alone is worth the investment. A tailored jacket is a fantastic basic that can be useful in a casual, work or dressy atmosphere. And the vest is a fun alternative to coat. Factor in that you can wear them as a pair with boyfriend jeans or a drapey gray skirt and you are set for fall!

Another lovely layered look from J. Crew Fall 2010.

Lyons even took the rustic route and chose layering a shearling vest over an alpaca sweater. Either way, the simplicity of layering creates such an interesting look that any body style could pull off.

Check out these other fun vests and jackets that would make perfect pairs...

Rebecca Taylor Fab Faux Fur Vest from Shopbop

Marc Jacobs Military-Style Cotton-Twill Jacket from Net-A-Porter

Of course, if layering the pieces on your own is intimidating, Loeffler Randall (told you I was a fan again) created their own combination jacket where the fur is sewn on for you. No thought to it! Just throw on your jacket and go!
Loeffler Randall Fur Military Jacket for Fall 2010

So if you're looking for an interesting and easy way to up your style ante this fall, give this look a whirl. The vest will work over any tailored jacket and the pair will be easy with a tee, jeans and boots.

Remember, sometimes it's what's on the inside that counts.