Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Spring Shopping Guide: Wrap Skirts

Fact: I like skirts. I own quite a few of them. I prefer skirts to dresses, because you can make cooler outfits with them, and due to my freakishly short torso, they tend to fit me much better. I will wear pretty much any silhouette, although my favorite is a slight A-line, hitting a few inches above my knees. Skirts have ceded much territory to dresses in recent years--I get it, dresses are just easier--but the spring runways featured all manner of skirts, of which the dominant shape was the wrap. A twist on the A-line, the wrap (or in most cases, the faux wrap) has that nearly universally flattering shape, with the added benefit of one-false-move-and-it-comes-undone sexiness. And who doesn't love that?

People often ask me who's my favorite designer; my answer can change by the season, but Isabel Marant is always up there. When she makes simply nonchalantly sexy-looking stuff like this studded wrap skirt, I mean, how can you not love her? 

Another constant favorite: Rag & Bone. Everything they make is a cooler version of a classic. Case in point, their Edburg wrap skirt looks chic and versatile at first glance; take a closer look and you'll see that it's croc-embossed leather. Rag & Bone is opening their long-awaited San Francisco store soon, 5 blocks from my apartment. In the meantime, I am thinking about changing my middle name to Trouble. 

While we're playing favorites, another is Proenza Schouler, a label I particularly admire for its devotion to prints. Their wrap-effect skirt evokes butterfly wings both in pattern and in the fluttery way in which the panels fall. And if there's anything I love more than a miniskirt, it's an animal-print miniskirt. 

Considering it has wide horizontal stripes, this A.L.C. Campbell striped skirt shouldn't, in theory, be flattering. And yet the asymmetrical, angled way in which they fall across the hips has a devastatingly slimming effect. And in spite of its knee-covering length, I find the front slit rather sultry, in a Mrs. Robinson kind of way.

I have the luxury of living in a city where I can wear most of my clothes year-round, which means that even though it's spring, I'll get plenty of wear out of this Maison Scotch leather faux-wrap skirt, a strong contender to replace my current (much loved, stretched out) black leather mini. 

Of course, sometimes it's good to step out of one's boundaries. At first glance, this silk panel wrap skirt by the lovely and talented Misha Nonoo seems a bit conservative for my taste, but upon closer look, I love the dreamy print and the fact that a sheer fabric peeks out of the rather high front slits. Demure...and daring.

I love the Gatsby-esque Art Deco print on this Fairground architectural wrap mini; common sense tells me that a woman of my age should plan on wearing tights with this skirt, since the longest point is a mere 16 inches long. 

Asos, one of my favorite sources for disposable fashion trends that I tend not to actually dispose due to their awesomeness, has lots of wrap skirts, as one might imagine. My favorite is this sporty textured colorblock style, currently on sale for a mere $30. 

One of my favorite styles here, this Mango wrapped-waist skirt daringly combines two trends--the peplum and the wrap--into one, and yet it works, in a kind of origami-like way. I've been looking for a new white skirt to replace an old favorite (coincidentally, also from Mango); at $39.99, this one seems like a no-brainer. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Shopping Guide: Block Heel Sandals

Between last week's post on overalls and what I'm about to talk about, it's clear I'm not dressing to get laid this spring. So on that note, please join me on my long, slow walk toward 40. The good news is that this season, we'll be wearing comfortable shoes. Stop laughing. Really. I mean it. Now, if you are the type of person who regularly wears true Comfort Shoes (the Danskos and Eccos of this world)--and if you are, really, you read this blog?--these may not seem so comfortable to you, but for the rest of us who've been teetering around on 110 millimeters for the last few years, these will seem like pure ergonomic bliss. The key is a chunky block heel, preferably 2 inches or less; even more important is choosing a pair that doesn't look like it came from the pages of the Walking Company catalog.

Normally when one thinks of Jimmy Choo, one thinks of big-haired, glossy-lipped glamazons stepping precariously out of limousines in shoes clearly not meant for walking. So it must be a pretty important trend if they're forsaking all that for this Merit snakeskin sandal. With a true snakeskin strappy upper resting on a lacquered heel, they're undeniably luxe, but considering the heel is a totally manageable 1-1/4 inches, quite practically so.

Alexander McQueen is another brand I wouldn't peg for selling practical shoes, but thanks to a pretty bare design and strategically placed hardware, this studded-heel sandal comes across as sexy first. There are a lot of ankle-wrap styles out there, but the key to a flattering cut is a strap that's not too thick and not too skinny but rather, like this one, just right.

While no one would likely accuse Marni of being sexy, I find their fringe sandals whimsical and demented and thus, in a roundabout way, kind of hot. With a metallic fringed front, they look like something Carrie Bradshaw would wear to a golf course because she heard it's a good place to pick up men. And you know if I break out a SATC reference for shoes, that's the ultimate compliment.

Out of loyalty to founders Kari Sigerson and Miranda Morrison, I haven't shopped at Sigerson Morrison since they were ousted from their company. (Adding fuel to the fire, I've found the new designs incredibly painful.) But perhaps proving that time heals all wounds, I am reconsidering, thanks to these Abra block-heel sandals from their lower-priced Belle line. I like all of the buckles and the neutral olive-green suede; I really like the chunky heel and padded footbed.

When I first moved to NYC a very, very long time ago, I treated myself to a pair of Donald J. Pliner mules at Bloomingdale's, and I literally wore them into the ground--after having them resoled at least four times, they are now resting peacefully in my shoe graveyard. It's not a shoe line I've given much thought to since, but I already have these Macha beaded sandals in my shopping cart and it's like everything has come full circle. The beaded front panel is enough to dress up pretty much anything you're wearing, and yet I'm almost certain they're comfortable enough to wear all day and all night.

Madewell is one of those places where I wonder if I'm too old to shop there, but everything is cute, so YOLO. I am particularly enamored with their Warren sandals, a nice neutral blend of silver and tan with a design that looks breezy but is deceptively supportive.

At 75 centimeters, these Zara block-heel sandals are pushing it in terms of comfort, but I saw them in person last week in the store, and they look so minimal and cool, I think I can overlook it (coupled with the fact that in spite of their affordability, Zara's shoes tend to be constructed pretty well). That and they're $80.

You probably don't want to get these polyurethane block-heel sandals from Wallis near an open flame, but that said, I like the unexpected bit of texture that the patterned heel brings to the mix. And of all styles featured here, these look the most work-appropriate to me, which is fairly important.

God Bless Sam Edelman for bringing back their Trina sandals year after year--I have a tan-and-gold pair that people routinely stop me on the street to ask about. The key to their staying power is a cork insole that feels like walking on clouds, but a polished metal heel gives them a little bit of edge; I'd totally buy this pair for outdoor summer wedding season. Or, you know, just summer. Consider them a very wise investment.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Shopping Guide: Overalls

Once upon a time, I was a teenager and it was the '90s. I was in high school right at the peak of the grunge era, so I have a particular sentimentality for plaid flannels, babydoll dresses, and Doc Martens. And while fashion has been flirting with a '90s revival for some time now, so far I've passed on most of it because, let's face it, a woman of my age should not be wearing a bustier top in public. But, one particular item has been popping up on the street style blogs lately, and  I. Cannot. Resist. That item is overalls. Yes, overalls. I had a fantastic pair from the Gap; they were a very lightweight denim with wide legs, and the sides drooped just so. I used to wear them with everything from thermals to, yes, those cropped baby tees, but my favorite thing to do was wear a (relatively) sexy bodysuit underneath. (Side note: remember bodysuits? Those were fantastic. Can we bring them back, please, fashion industry?) Now that I'm feeling rather nostalgic for my 15-year-old self, I will note that today's overalls have been somewhat updated given the denim trends of the last few years, but I have a feeling they will still be straight-up man repellers. Don't let that stop you.

Remember two years ago when we were all wearing leather leggings? Apparently the fashion world has moved on, because now there are these roomy Chagall leather overalls from Acne, arbiter of all that is hip. The shape actually recalls that of my old Gap faves--wide-legged and androgynous--but the thought of wearing these makes me want to sweat. Well, that and the $2200 price tag.

These Milly overalls are also leather, but at half the price of the Acne pair and, in white with the classic buckle straps, somewhat more traditional looking. I also like the Helmut Newtony way they're styled here with just a bra underneath (although this might also be a good time to break out that bustier top).

I love the straight-up '70s look of these Philosophy overalls, and with the flared shape of the leg, elongating seams, and high waist, they might be the most flattering of the bunch here. Which isn't saying much, but you know.

My 15-year-old self would have loved these Levi's Bib & Brace overalls, and my current-day self does too. They're so androgynous and perfectly aged, and they look like they're straight out of Madonna's "Express Yourself" video, so bonus!

Current Elliott's Ranch Hand overalls are arguably the pair that inspired this entire post; anecdotally speaking, I'd say they're the ones that turn up the most on the aforementioned street style blogs. They're streamlined, with a straight leg that's relaxed but relatively flattering. They're slouchy, but not sloppy.

These Citizens of Humanity overalls are an equally solid choice, with a more traditional front patch pocket at the bib. I like the faded wash and the subtly slimmer leg. With a cute top and the right shoes, they might even qualify as sexy. Might.

These Big Star overalls sound promising, thanks to a lightweight cotton-linen blend (also making them summer-friendly), and the crisscross back makes them kind of hot. Also a good leg shape--a nice balance between slim and relaxed.

Of course Nasty Gal has overalls. (In case you were wondering, it also has crop tops, plaid, and so on.) I like this pair's light wash, and the fact that they're unapologetically man-repelling. Hello, weekends.

And I don't know why these Forever 21 patchwork overalls are so cheap, but they look a lot more expensive (um, hello Levi's) than they are. My thrift-shopping inner teenager approves.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lazy Shopping: Birthday Presents, Part 2

Last week I posted the dream birthday gifts I would have asked for if I had my act together. And now, here are the gifts I actually received.

From left to right:

I always treat myself to something classic that I've been wanting for awhile; last year it was a pair of Christian Louboutin 85s; this year, a pair of Isabel Marant Dicker boots. I am trying to limit myself to wearing them only once a week because I love them so much, I don't want to get tired of them ever.

The middle gift was from my parents, and while it's hard to see in this slightly blurry iPhone photo, it's a badass Eddie Borgo pyramid stud bracelet. (Okay, my parents actually got me a giftcard to Neiman Marcus, but this is what I bought with it.) It will say "Don't eff with me" while I walk around my, um, not so dangerous neighborhood of Lower Pacific Heights.

You might recognize the gift at right from this post; it's the Clare Vivier duffle petit and, yep, those are my initials on it. MW claims I'm the hardest person to shop for, at which point I usually say, "I write a blog about shopping. Read it." Hence this gift, which I adore and which, like myself, hopefully gets even better with age.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Lazy Shopping: Dream Birthday Gifts

My birthday was last week; everyone kept asking me what I wanted, and for the first time in what seemed like years, I had a hard time coming up with ideas. I am trying to--and, I think, succeeding at--buy fewer, albeit nicer things; for the time being, I'm also living in a smaller apartment, which I'm trying to keep as uncluttered as possible. (Ha, good luck.) So while I ended up with some great gifts--more on those in an upcoming post--here's my belated dream birthday shopping spree.

1. I have recently become addicted to Stella McCartney's not-totally-unaffordable lingerie line, and while this silk chemise is pushing things a bit in terms of price, I'd probably spend a proportionately large amount of time in it: in bed, asleep. 

2. I've been looking for a non-trashy pair of red pumps forever; I've also been wanting to buy a pair of iconic Ferragamo flats but I'm not exactly a flats person. How convenient, then, that this lovely pump manages to elegantly combine the two.

3. Bloggers love Vita Fede's jewelry, so, you know, here we are. I feel like these are a younger, cooler version of David Yurman bangles: sleeker, sexier, a little more dangerous.

4. In case you haven't figured it out by now, I'm obsessed with body lotion, the richer the better. This Acqua di Parma cream is luxe to the point of near-ridiculousness, but isn't the point of a present being something you'd never actually buy for yourself?

5. I recently did a bit of leopard purging from my closet (I own a slightly alarming amount), but there's always room for one tiny clutch, right? 

6. The last thing my kitchen needs is more dishes--and these wouldn't match anything else in my apartment--but I'm obsessed with Scalamandre's classic designs, and I feel like eating my avocado toast on one of these every morning would be even more exciting. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Buy It: Daria Werbowy for Mango

Poor Mango. A Spanish fast-fashion retailer with a huge global presence, it's overshadowed most of the time by its sleeker countryman Zara. I can go into a very business-side analysis of why--it's equal parts merchandising and inventory management--but in layman's terms, Zara is generally just a more exciting place to shop.

That may be changing. In catching up on my fashion blogs today, I spotted one of my favorite models, Daria Werbowy, starring in Mango's spring campaign. I went to the website and while it at first appeared that Werbowy created the capsule collection, it turns out she's just modeling it. Which is fine, because she makes the clothes look so great, I don't care who designed them. Mostly black and white, the pieces are basic, but better; I probably have something similar in my closet already but she makes me want to buy it all anyway. And I likely will--at prices like these, I can afford to.

Silk-blend blouse, $89.99 (Shorts coming soon)

T-shirt, $14.99 (Trousers coming soon)

Leather jacket, $359.99
Audrey jeans, $59.99

Bow blouse, $59.99

Thursday, February 13, 2014

New York Fashion Week: KaufmanFranco

KaufmanFranco at Theatre, Lincoln Center [02.12.14]

Amazing feats of backlessness.

This very structured gown reminds me of a minimalist Thierry Mugler.

Loved the blunt ponytails on the models.

These skintight gowns are meant for tall, slim and hourglass figures. They almost seemed sewn on.

The show began with more stark and neutral
gowns but there was shimmery drama at the end.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New York Fashion Week: Concept Korea

Concept Korea at Salon, Lincoln Center [02.11.14]

I was fortunate to have my seat upgraded to a prime spot in the front row, which meant that my camera had a clear shot of the runway. It also meant photographers tried to take photos of me before the show, so I did my best to keep my head down in "sending important text messages" mode.

This season Concept Korea sponsored four designers. I'm seeing more and more noteworthy fashion originating from Korea, and I hope to see Korean fashion hit more retail racks in New York. My personal favorite from this show was Big Park (Park Youn-Soo) - I could totally see his edgy, marketable looks being sold at Opening Ceremony or the like.

Kaal E. Suktae opened with awesome wide-brimmed hats.

What the end of the runway looks like.

Kaal E. Suktae

Kaal E. Suktae

ChoiBoko: Lots of primary and secondary colors in this collection.


ChoiBoko: Avant garde silhouette

Beyond Closet: A hip menswear line that would do well in Williamsburg.

Beyond Closet

Beyond Closet

Beyond Closet

Beyond Closet

Big Park

Big Park

Boxy clutches are all over the place lately! (Big Park)
Big Park's closing outfit.
All four designers (L to R: Kaal E. Suktae, ChoiBoko, Beyond Closet, Big Park)