Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sonnet 155, or an Ode to Marine Layer Pajama Pants

Skinny jeans look hot but can be so tight.
Begone, muffin top! I want to unwind.
Post work, on weekends, I don’t want to fight.
Off with you! Let’s banish the clothes that bind.

Where to find some magic pants? Comfy too?
Not at the mall stores; let us not tempt fate.
Support local business—that’s what to do.
A-ha! They’re made here in the Golden State.

Marine Layer, I’m a fan of your tees,
But these soft pajama pants take the cake.
Wide leg, drawstring, jersey, navy—yes, please!
A better, softer pant one cannot make.

But, fifty-four bucks for these? Ahem, cough.
Friends, use code NISH for twenty percent off. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Two Sample Sales for West Coast Ladies

I've been missing New York a bit lately--it's easy to gloat during the winter, but now that it's spring (almost summer), Instagram is reminding me about all the good things I left behind. Like sample sale season. Oh, how I miss sample sales. They are few and far between on the West Coast, but when they come along, it's like Christmas. Here's what's on my calendar.

At the Gilt City Warehouse Sale in New York one year, a fellow shopper snatched a pair of knee-high Rag & Bone boots a millisecond ahead of me, resulting in a slo-mo "nooooooo" escaping my lips. I still think about those boots to this day. Will I find a better pair at this season's San Francisco sale? There's only one way to find out. This time around, prices are up to 90% off retail on clothes and accessories from designers like Helmut Lang, Prada, and John Varvatos; there will also be free cocktails, snacks, makeovers, and a DJ, because who wants to shop in silence, hungry and sober? The event runs Friday & Saturday; Friday is sold out, but Saturday is almost wide open; get your tickets here. (And if you aren't a Gilt City member, by all means, join here.)

For my friends down south in Los Angeles (hi, ladies!), there's a sale happening next weekend that I'm so excited about, I'm contemplating a weekend trip. It's Clare Vivier's first-ever sample sale, and I have no other details except that there will be clutches (favored by every fashion blogger known to mankind), messenger bags, duffels (my current bag of choice), and "more." It's June 7-8 from noon-5 at 3249 Casitas Avenue in Los Angeles. Think I can take an Uber?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Splendid Picks for Wine Country

I've gone to wine country the last three weekends in a row--it's one of my favorite things about living in San Francisco, and considering how much I freaking love it here, that's a bold statement. Anyway, dressing for wine country is almost as challenging as dressing for San Francisco weather (an art/science that probably warrants its own post), but after so many trips, I think I finally have it down. Here's my wine country uniform:

Bracelet 1  |  Bracelet 2  |  Bracelet 3  |  Dress  |  Crossbody bag  |  Raffia hat  |  Wedges (similar)

The centerpiece of this look, of course, is the red-hot Splendid maxi dress, which just so happens to be on sale at Vente Privee now through Friday at 9 a.m. EST. (For those of you who aren't familiar with the site, Vente Privee is the o.g. private flash sale site--it started in 2001 in France and now counts 21 million members across eight countries, including the U.S., where it debuted in 2011. I'm a fan because it has a lot of hard-to-find brands, their customer service is impeccable, and American Express cardholders get free shipping!) Splendid's knits are so soft, you'll never want to take them off (this dress is no exception), and while we're at it, here are more of my picks from the sale--prices are 50%-70% off retail!

As for my wine-country outfit pictured above, stay tuned to my Instagram feed to see it in action in Mendocino this weekend. Yep, back to wine country I go!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Spring Shopping Guide: Drawstring Bags

Just like Vanessa Williams, I'm--wait for it--saving the best for last in the ol' Spring Shopping Guide. (And if you guessed that I'm continuing the '90s theme with the #4 song of 1992 according to Billboard, gold star for you.) So I'm rounding things out with another '90s throwback, the drawstring bag. Last seen draped over the shoulders of Supermodels (think Linda, Christy, Naomi) before those black nylon Prada backpacks took over, drawstring bags--often closely related to bucket bags--have that perfect, elusive combination of luxe and effortless. Which is what every bag should have, shouldn't it?

Jerome Dreyfuss's bags are what I like to call quietly luxurious--they're not covered with flashy, easily recognizable logos, but they're incredibly well made, from supersoft, buttery leather and cool finishes. They also have cool names, like the Alain Punk bag, which sounds like some French '80s pop star. Even better than its name, however, is the adjustable strap, which goes from a crook-of-the-arm 4 inches to a shoulder-perfect 16 inches.

Speaking of cool finishes, Stella McCartney gives Jerome Dreyfuss a run for his money. Now, this drawstring bag is about half the size and not actual leather, however it's perfect for the weekend or, if you carry a light load, even for the weekdays--a bonus with drawstring bags is that they tend to hold a lot more than you'd think.

Speaking of which, Phillip Lim's Scout bag has made an appearance here before; last year, I opted not to get one, but that was before I learned to pare down. I like that the metal-edged corners give it a more structured, modern shape--it's the anti-drawsting-bag drawstring bag.

Which brings me to this season's It Bag and the reason for this entire post: the Mansur Gavriel bucket bag. I have one, and it was not easy to procure--I was on three different waiting lists (one of which was expecting a shipment in July!!) but thankfully not for terribly long. The bag itself is pretty stiff, which is a good thing because it won't get all droopy, and I also expect it to age beautifully. Which, for the price (which is enough to be a splurge but not too much to break the bank), it should.

Along those lines but a bit more reasonably priced is Vince Camuto's Jill bag, a nice luggage color (also available in a hot red, among others) and a more squat shape, which is better for carrying higher up on the body, if that's what you prefer. The leather is also nice and smushy, saving you much breaking-in time.

Everything Elizabeth and James does is on-trend, but in a tasteful, mellow way. This Cynnie mini bucket bag gets the drawstring shape right, but then elevates it with that big, shiny zipper. I also like the two-strap option, as well as the not-huge scale. Restraint--it's a beautiful thing.

I like the two-tone look (as well as the chain strap) of this Topshop bag, which is inexplicably $68 and actually leather.  Side note: the Nordstrom here in SF has a somewhat edited Topshop department, which I enjoy shopping far more than any actual Topshop store. Discuss.

While this section is starting to sound like I Can't Believe It's Leather, this $90 Sole Society Montana bucket bag is also, in fact, leather. It's a bit on the floppy side and has that "I'm going to Coachella" vibe, but, hey, a leather bag for under $100 ain't bad.

If you want to have fun with this trend (and really, why shouldn't you), then Baggu's animal-print bucket bag is the way to go--especially now since it's on sale (I was originally going to feature it in the mid-priced section of this post). Even though it's animal print, it's pretty neutral, and more importantly, it's just a cool bag.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Shopping Guide: Crop Tops

This spring's shopping guide has thus far been quite the trip down memory lane, so why stop now? Today, we're taking a slight detour into my neuroses. Now, when I was in high school, I thought I was absurdly fat. I weighed 127 pounds. I am 5' 7". I would give up carbohydrates, vodka, and maybe even online shopping if I could weigh that little as an adult. So, let's pause and take in some wise words from the patron saint of womanhood:

“Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don't take it off until you're thirty-four.”
--Nora Ephron, I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman
As you can infer, I spent most of my adolescence covering myself up, so I pretty much missed out on crop tops first time around. Nor did I partake of the late '90s resurgence--I was in college at the time and carrying around quite the beer belly. So here I am again, confronted with the crop, and the question is, to bare or not to bare? The next time this trend comes around, I have a feeling I will be past my prime--literally and figuratively--and so it appears this season I will finally confront my fear of exposed midriff. As the kids these days say, YOLO.

It's important for crop tops to be snug, because you want them to stay in place when you raise your arms. And yet, sometimes you want a little volume on top, so this McQ crocodile-print top is perfect: it's snug at the waist, but the tiered front creates a flattering layered effect. In terms of crop tops, this is about as demure as it gets.

Not demure: this Herve Leger crop top, which looks like something a pre-Kanye Kim Kardashian would wear. I appreciate its unabashed trashiness; and yet, paired with a high-waisted, fuller skirt and maybe even tights, it could, like Kim K., clean up quite nicely. 

The key to wearing this year's crops (ok, got that pun out of the way) is to pair them with a high-waisted skirt, so you're exposing just a sliver of stomach. That way, you can make the above Herve Leger top, or this Yigal Azrouel scuba top, look slightly more demure. Think Kelly and Donna, not Britney and Christina. 

Speaking of which, I would not recommend wearing this Torn by Ronny Kobo Emma top as styled; however, I do like its '90s-minimalist striped look--it needs a stretchy pencil skirt and maybe some Doc Martens. 

While we're decade-hopping, Alice + Olivia's tweedy Elenore crop top looks almost '50s, but turn it around and there's a cool bit of colorblocking in back for a modern twist. (And, bonus--it's currently 25% off through 4/28 with code FRNFAM.) 

Also on sale is one of my favorites of the bunch, this Elizabeth and James dalmatian-print top, primarily because it has a rare boxier shape, which would allow me to wear something more slim-fitting on the bottom. And should this trend be fleeting, you could always layer it over a slim-fitting tank or dress down the road.

One of the first places I started seeing crop tops--a few seasons ago--was Zara. It's also one of the first places I'd go for something I'm unsure about; Zara's stuff tends to strike that perfect balance between trendiness and cost-effectiveness. That said, I like this asymmetric crop top because it's totally working that Calvin Klein vibe, but also because of the way the back dips down to elegantly cover up one's back fat.

Even though it's one of the simpler styles here, I am totally into this Rachel Rachel Roy cropped top. It reminds me of something the model being romanced by George Michael in one of his videos would wear. That or backup dancers in a rap video. Either way, can't lose. It would also make a lovely layering piece, which is probably what it will end up doing in my closet. 

There are so many crop tops on Nasty Gal, I could have written a post on their many different varieties. And while I'm not sure I sorted through every last one, I do think this striped top is one of my favorites. The boxy fit is a little more versatile, and the stripes manage to look somewhat classic and cool--qualities that one should always strive for, even whilst exposing one's midriff. 

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.