Archive | February, 2010

Well Suited

21 Feb

I was asked by my good friend Kristin to do a post on work attire.  Initially, I thought, “every post I do is work attire”.  But the more adult part of me knew that she meant traditional work attire, i.e. suits. I love suits, just not on me. I recently had a conversation with someone about men’s suits. When worn right by a man, a suit is charismatic, powerful; the sexiest most mouth-watering thing he can wear. And, on a woman, if the fit is right and the attitude is there, she says,  “I’m a bad ass, do not mess with me”.  While I personally hate wearing them I do still have an opinion about them.  There’s a right way and a wrong way to wear them and so I offer some quick tips:

Repeat after me: “no double breasted if you’ve got a rack”. If you close up your neckline and put not one, but two layers of fabric with buttons down the front of your body, you get what I call, the uniboob.  There goes your waist, here comes a straight jacket-like effect in navy blue. Double breasted is reserved for super slender women who need the illusion of extra volume. And for the rest who are moderately-to-well-endowed, think open v-neck, single or double button jackets.

Fit, fit, fit.  Suits do not come right off the rack perfectly fit for you. In fact, I can promise it doesn’t fit you. A suit is a complex construction that is built at the outset to be modified and tailored.  If you buy a suit and you think it fits, take it to a tailor anyway and ask her if she agrees. If you don’t get it tailored, you’ll risk looking like a little girl trying to play dress up or worse, a sausage near bursting out of its casing. When buying a suit, go to a department store where they have tailors on hand and the sales folks know their stuff.

Cuffs on pants are reserved, well, for no one really. Stay away from them. They cut your legs off at the ankle and make you look shorter. A cuff is nothing but a horizontal line and any horizontal line interrupts the long, lean vertical flow that offers the illusion of ‘tall’. Think a crease down the front (a faux vertical line), think a pant length that barely skims the floor in your highest heels, think cuffs-be-gone.

Patterned suits are a no-no, at least worn together. A really cool blazer that has a distinct pattern is unique when paired with denim. But putting plaid on plaid from top to bottom is overwhelming and yields more of a circus clown appeal than a smart professional.  If you buy or own a suit that has a prominent pattern, never wear it together.

Stick with basics, ladies.  You can’t go wrong with basic black, navy, dark gray, espresso brown or even a pin stripe. A bright purple or fire engine red suit just screams bad taste and is too much color for the crowd to take in.  Plus, a neutral gives versatility. You get longer wear and more mileage out of that navy blazer when you wear it over a white summer dress, use it to kick up your slouchy weekend jeans, or leverage it to elevate that T-shirt from lazy to Parisian chic.

Think outside a matched suit. Be playful. Mix the jacket with different bottoms or over dresses. Buy a cropped pants suit for different seasons. Wear your tailored pants with a cotton shirt and pretty scarf. Invest in a series of jackets – cropped length, three-quarter length sleeves, lapel detailsdifferent lengthsfabrics and patterns. You needn’t be confined to match Jacket A with Bottom B. As long as you have the components of the suit – the jacket and the tailored pants – you’ll look refined, current, and totally top-notch.

A few ideas…though I could go on for years.

Here is a classic, well-fitted, go-to black suit.  The jacket is tailored and shows off a waist (or creates it where there is none), the pants are flat front (no pleats, no funky pockets), and the cut is a slight boot cut which balances most figures for a most flattering silhouette.  Invest in this and the interchangeability is infinite. So if you’re experimental like I am, try some new things like a sheer, loose fitted blouse (don’t forget a cami underneath). Go for comfort with a basic v-neck and add a statement necklace.  Even better, keep the suit all black and transform yourself with some animal skin pumps or a pair in an unexpected color.

Here, a really nice example of a cropped pants spring/summer suit.  Instead of a basic button-down, offset the traditional lines with something super-feminine like a ruffle-front tank. Even more fun, is a glamorous and unexpected top like this striped sequin bit of genius. Wear nude pumps to keep the look subtle and clean or slip on some snappy, shiny flats for uber-mobility.

Now go. Get suited up.


Necessary Objects in the Snow

13 Feb

The recent inclement weather in NYC has encouraged me to really think about how to schlep elegantly in the snow. This is not an easy task. But I’m inspired to implement my right-brain-left-brain know-how and come up with some cool options to make slopping through the dirty snowstorm aftermath look just a little bit better. Let’s chat for a moment about coats and boots.

The Snow Boots (and no, not Uggs) Let’s get real. They’re never going to be sexy boots. But they can be cool. They can be rad. They can be cute. But above all, let’s make sure they’re functional so you can step carefree into slushy puddles that flood the sidewalks.

Hunter Boots: Originally intended for the rain, it’s simple to modify them for snow by adding fleece liners (that still sport the Hunter logo).

Classic, knee-high, with a durability to last your lifetime and your kids' lifetimes. They're the "OG" of rain/snow boots. I have the eggplant version shown here.

Le Canadienne Tami: A non-rubber option…you always need one of those.

Face it, the Canadians know snow. So they came up with this treated suede all-weather boot that is cozy with shearling lining, and pretty dang stylish with the fold-over shaft. I may need to consider these post-shopping hiatus.

Timberland: Known for durability, they’ve made a foray into fashion boots. These all-weather numbers do a little bit of function + fashion (albeit, a bit space age).

Canvas and leather combo look modern and sleek. These are a bit more of a statement boot, but if you can rock it, own it.

The Coat. I promise, you don’t have to look like you’re wearing a sleeping bag in order to be warm.  There are puffy coat options that can be flattering and fashionable at the same time. Just make sure you look for seams that are on the diagonal (versus traditionally squared quilting) to give the illusion of tailoring, and ensure there is a way to nip in the waist. Go for mid-thigh or knee-length (at the longest). Ankle length is hard to walk in (trust me, I know).

Kenneth Cole: A fitted, down number that has a cool-looking collar and faux denim fabric.

The cinched waist give shape, the sleeves are fitted and snug to the body for warmth. And, the collar is over-sized which is not typical for a puff coat, but looks damn cool.

Brooklyn Industries: Cool store.  Totally up on styles.  Totally functional stuff that still looks really, really, really good. Really.

Brooklyn Industries is one of my favorite stores. They have the industrial-rad aesthetic look locked, especially for women. This coat is impenetrable to the elements (I have one), moderately priced, and the perfect length.

Mackage: The mack-daddy of coats. Gorgeous and forward-thinking designs for both wool and puff.  More expensive, for sure. But absolutely worth it.

How hot is this coat? Fur collar, bell sleeves, off-set zipper. Shut the Front Door...this is my favorite.

Now get some mittens and your favorite hat and be warm and dry. Step into half-melted snow with confidence.  Frolick to your heart’s content.

Restrain Yourself (or, Myself)

6 Feb

Right now, I’m practicing award-worthy restraint in a few key areas of my life.  The only one that’s relevant here, though, is my restraint to shop.  I have pledged (as of 3 weeks ago) that I will not shop until the end of February. Specifically, I will purchase no apparel, shoes or accessories unless 100% necessary. That pretty much wiped out my main hobby. I’ve had to learn to fill those extra minutes of down time or ‘destination-less’ meandering through the city with other activities, thoughts, and phone calls.  So far, I’ve been successful and am a better woman for it.

I’ve been forced to dig deep into the closets (all five) and restyle, rematch, and reinvent the clothes and shoes I have.  I’ve seen with just-post-lasik clarity that I have enough permutations from my robust wardrobe to keep me going 6+ months without ever repeating an outfit.

With this notion to propel me further into my “no-shopping-as-entertainment” journey (for the months of Jan and Feb 2010), I decided to showcase the core of what’s keeping me alive: versatility.

Take one piece—in this case, a denim pencil skirt—and reimagine it over, and over, and over, and over….you get me.

The Skirt

A dark wash ensures it’s appropriate for work, or no work. The high waist and flat front (sans pockets) make it accepting to tucking in or billowing out. In short, it’s a stellar piece to play the mix-and-match game.

Option I—the Unexpected & Fun

Skirt + lace + motorcycle boots + knee socks

Tuck it in, show off the high waist, draw attention up to the intricate neckline. Lace is prettiest way to be a girl.

Classic Frye boots. You’ll only buy one pair in your life and the more beat up they get the better they look. Putting it with lace makes others wonder, “Hmmm, what’s she all about?”

I know, I know, funky as all get-up, right? But c’mon. You’ve got basic black, basic denim and neutral boots. Now go big with your socks.

Option II—Tuesday at work special

Skirt + silky, boxy blouse + textured tights + classic platform pumps

The boxy shape is countered by the slim, sexy fit of the skirt. Everyone will know what a rockin’ bod you have no matter what. And the open neckline shows off a beautiful collarbone and hints at your graceful shoulders.

These tights are opaque enough to be completely appropriate for work while the lace gives a nod to the girly, flirty side of you (don’t lie, you have one). And the brown is a nice neutral to pair with the dark denim.

You can’t go wrong with a sturdy-heeled, round-toed, platform pump. Basic black, classic style, smokin’ look.

All together, you’ve got a tightly streamlined, upscale, chic, and modern aesthetic.

Option III—Saturday With Your BFFs

Skirt + wedge sandals + striped t-shirt + tailored vest

I don’t think any woman can argue that these are cool as H-E-double-hockey-sticks. But the better news? A wedge is a super comfy way to wear heels and the thick straps keep your foot safe and secure.

Fun, bright, and loose-fitted for maximum comfort. The multi-directional stripes give it a more interesting look than your typical one-way pattern. And the varying widths of the stripes in the right places (take a peek at where they’re widest…you get what I’m sayin’?) are flattering and you don’t even know it.

Put a tailored item with a fluid piece and you’re having fun now! I love mixing silhouettes like this – soft and easy with trim, slim, and structured. Wear it open so you don’t block your stripes.

I’m sure I could play this game for days, weeks, months, until Martin Luther King Day 2012.  But I’ll stop here and hope that this is enough of a teaser to get you to look deep in the closet. Push apart those tightly-fitted hangers, dig underneath your typical go-to t-shirt or leggings. Seek the bottom of the drawer and bring out your almost-forgotten garments for a mixer better than any speed dating social. Exercise restraint and ye shall find outfits a-plenty.