Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wang for Less

I'm frothing at the mouth. CDFA winners Vena Cava and Alexander Wang -- two of my favorite young designers -- just dropped (yesterday) their khaki Gap collections.

I'm loving khaki this season and to have it transformed into edgy fashion...again, froth. My personal favorites are the Vena Cava dresses (both) and the Wang pleated shorts. Vena Cava has proven again that they are deserving of all the accolades bestowed upon them. I never thought I'd say "sexy" and "khaki" in the same breath. But the exposed-zipper dress is hot. I also love the boyfriend khakis and would have scooped them up as well, but the detailing around the pocket and knee felt a little...Forever 21.

As for Alexander Wang, I know his khaki pleated shorts are pretty much going to be my uniform for the summer. Pair with a tank, blousy top or t-shirt, these shorts give a ladylike edginess to any outfit.

So, run over your local Gap, or just check out the styles online. And, excuse me while I go grab a tissue for my mouth...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Steals and Deals

My husband has accused me, on a number of occasions, of recoiling in horror at sale items. I can't say that he's completely off-base.In my defense, it's not necessarily the full 200 percent retail markup that I love, it's more that I like the fashion-y aspect of designer clothing and that costs money.

The tides have been turning over the last few years, though, with high-end contemporary designers hopping in bed with big-box retailers like Target, WalMart and more.

Target and Topshop were the pioneers of this trend and now, just about everywhere you turn, there is some partnership brewing between an of-the-moment designer and discount retailer. Tack on a dwindling economy and there's no stopping such collaborations.

Charlotte Ronson (yes, her sister is Samantha of Samantha/Lilo fame) and JC Penny are one of the latest to embark on this designer styles-for-less roller coaster ride. Recession-proof prices start at under $10 for a tunic to $20 for a dress. Can't beat that with a stick.

So, with all these labels swirling around at my local department store/retailer, I had to have at least a look. I went to a local Target and purchased a couple of super-cute Thakoon pieces. The gray and black stripe knit top sewn together in a geometric patterns was extremely cute -- and you can't go horribly wrong with a knit top in terms of quality. However, some of the more fashion-y pieces -- like a blue and green color-blocked mini tank dress made out some cotton/poly blend that felt silky-ish -- didn't fare as well. The fit was decent (not amazing), but then again, it was only $20. The downfall of the garment, though, was that it fell apart after a couple of washes (it was marked "machine washable").

I have to admit, I felt just a tad vindicated in my clothing snobbery. I'd recommend shopping these labels for trendier pieces, but spend a little more when it comes to those special investment pieces (little black dress, trench coats, etc.). Cause guess what? At the end of the day, you get what you pay for.

*Photo of I ♥ Ronson line at JC Penny courtesy of Nylon Magazine.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pancakes Anyone?

I usually like to focus on what I consider to be the Good Witches of fashion, but occasionally, I am left so dumbfounded by a Bad Witch, that I have to, have to share.

A friend recently sent me this TMZ picture of Mischa Barton and I actually stared at it for a good minute. As cringe-worthy as the outfit is, it wasn't the shock-value of the ensemble that gave me pause.

First, let's just note that every last thing she has on should be incinerated. But, the centerpiece of the outfit -- those pants, good heavens, those pants -- not only conjured up visions of genies and flapjacks, but awakened a long-dormant memory I had tucked away many moons ago.

Back when I was 13, I...owned a pair of shorts...they were from The Limited...I'm sorry, this is difficult for me...and...well...they had...down the front..the very same fold-over flaps! Not only did the flaps fold over into two enormous triangles down the front of my shorts, they also were highlighted with contrasting stripes!!! Oh the horror!

They were white denim, with a black belt, and the top folded over into huge black-and-white stripe triangles...with buttons! I loved wearing them with my Limited tank top and my Keds, which I now only see on women over 60. I accessorized with huge gold bamboo hoop earrings (still love those). My crowning glory? Hair curled and teased to within an inch of its life.

Sigh. It feels so much better to confess and to admit that we all have our fashion foibles. I am just forever thankful that my missteps have been memorialized by a Polariod and not TMZ.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Remove My Fingers Please

There are just way too much temptation in the world of online discounted designer duds. The latest and greatest in getting a deal on high-end fashion is Net-a-Porter's The Outnet.

Just go ahead and add this one to your list of sites that
a.) regularly offer discounted designer clothing (a-la Bluefly) or
b.) create frenzied buying with designer "pop-up sales" (check out Gilt Groupe and Haute Look).

The sales on the latter group usually don't last more than 72 hours so ladies, take your mark...Haute Look even has a timer going on its site for each individual sale.

A girl could go nuts...and this girl has.

So, back to The Outnet. The site breathes new life into Net-a-Porter's out-of-season designs and boast markdowns of 30-80 percent. In an effort to keep up with the pop-up-sale Joneses, the site also will feature limited-time offers much like those sample-sale sites. The next one is slated for April 24 and word on the street is it's all about spring dresses that are 80 percent off.

Because it is an offshoot of Net-a-Porter, it's a pretty safe bet that shoppers will have some coveted fashion names to choose from. But,really, how is the selection? How are the prices? And, what range of sizes do they offer?

Went for a little looksie this morning and let me tell you...not disappointed. The selection is broad. There are an array of denim, tops, jacket, coats and more -- all as tightly edited as you would expect from Net-a-Porter. In other words, no junk. It's clothing that I really want; not something that's so-so, but gets ratcheted up in people's minds by the brand name.

The standouts are the dresses from the usual suspects: Alexander McQueen, Vera Wang, Marchesa, Chloe, Phillip Lim, Nina Ricci, and much, much more. The discounts are as-advertised with markdowns reaching 80 percent.

As for the sizing, I was pleasantly surprised. I mean we are talking about off-season fashion here. But, I found that there were quite a few styles that had complete (or pretty darn close to complete) size runs. My guess is that won't last for long.

At any rate, thought I'd whet your appetite with some highlights from the site.

Rick Owen's draped silk dress. Excuse me, let me just take care of that bit of drool...

Oh, Oscar, my Oscar.Delectable.

You can never, ever go wrong with a Burberry trench -- classic, modern, sexy. Mmmm, mmmmm, good!

Jonathan Saunders' color-blocked pleated mini. Yum.

Bottega Veneta's asymmetrial draped dress -- looking off center has never looked so on point. Yummy.

Alexander McQueen turns out a crisp and sophisticated Asian-inspired piece with his silk Mikado dress. Please note the fanned tulle skirt insert. Yummy, yum, yum, yum.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Forget the Oscars

Yup, I said I was going to blog about Oscar dresses, but I figured I could just sum up the highlights in one word: Boring. Not that there weren't highlights such as Natalie Portman so pretty in Rodarte's pink, Anne Hathaway like a shining moonbeam (well, she did look like a shining moonbeam) in Armani Prive, and Tilda Swinton workin', workin', workin' her androgynous avant garde style in Lanvin (my personal favorite).

Plus, do you really want to read another Oscars best-dressed list? Yawn. I'm bored again.

So, what do I want to talk about? Well, with Spring in the air (at least clothing-wise), I have had my eye on three of my favorite newer men's designers -- who we happened to carry in the boutique formerly owned by moi. Band of Outsiders, Nice Collective, and Hutson (formerly known as Obedient Sons) are all launching and/or expanding their women's offerings this Spring.

With the economy going to poo, I know my attitude about shopping this season is pared down. And, I'm not the only one. Fashion Week -- although still splashy to the average Joe who doesn't obsess over clothing season after season -- was a relatively somber event with typically extravagant shows scaled down (Marc Jacobs) and parties canceled. Same thing with my shopping. Typically extravagant outings have been replaced by well-thought-out purchases. Often accused of being mercurial (see, I can find a nice word for "flighty") in my shopping habits, this season I have my eye on those special, classic pieces with a modern appeal that will still be in my closet for seasons to come.

Let's start with Sternberg. A former agent in La-La Land, over the past five years he has cultivated a look that in turn was quickly adopted by the young, too-cool-for-school hipster crowd. His skinny ties, meticulously tailored men's suiting with a shrunken fit, and slim-fitting oxford shirts (think prep-school boy gone bad) garnered accolades left and right, including the much-coveted Vogue/CDFA award.

Quickly rising in the hot-new-designer ranks, it was no surprise that Sternberg would expand and venture into the world of women's ready-to-wear. Boy by Band of Outsiders hit the streets in the Fall of 2008 and initially looked and felt like the men's line, but cut smaller for women.

The guy in the little suit and bow-tie has really stepped up his game this Spring, though. There is nothing in his collection that I don't want in my closet -- including the overalls. Kirsten Dunst is the face (and body) for this collection and it's a fitting choice. The standouts include the suspender skirt -- a clever take on the bandage-dress trend; the chambray short/suit combo, both playful and sophisticated; and the reconstructed shirt dress, which comes in three looks -- one-shoulder, mini with a short dolman sleeve, and the traditional shirt dress made nontraditional with asymmetrical buttons (my personal favorite shown below).

Me likey.

Next up bloggers and bloggees? Nice Collective...

Monday, February 23, 2009

No Excuses...

I know...I have been neglecting you. Bad Blogger, bad.

What can I say? I have all the excuses lined up: busy with writing gigs that pay (yippee!); not getting enough sleep due to one-year-old's teething woes(boo!); traveled for a month to Thailand (yay!); had to deal with jetlag with two kids twice in one month (boo!).

But, the Oscars were last night. A post is imminent.

In the meantime, check out what belts are hot for Spring and how to wear them on my article.

And a parting thought...TopShop is finally, finally, finally arriving stateside on April 2 -- that's 40 more days in case you're wondering. (Cue backflips, chest bumps, and Toyota "What a Feeling" jumps.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Do I Need a Jockstrap?

I hate ruffles.

Ok, maybe a bit harsh. Maybe I should say, ruffles aren't really my style. Ruffles equal sweet and cute. They make me giggle and think of the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Can't you just see a cross-dressing Pillsbury Dough Boy all decked out in...ruffles?!

Maybe I'm going overboard. But, it's hard to look like a sexy bad ass (always my goal) when you have layers of foofy, poofy fabric around your neck and arms.

And, for those of us that aren't blessed with a legs from here to eternity like what's-her-face who is constantly showing up at awards shows in couture monstrosities (Charlize Theron?)...those ruffles can and will eat you alive.

Now that I have made my case against the killer ruffle, you can imagine how over-the-moon I've been with the revival of menswear for women that started last spring, inched into fall, and rages on into spring 2009.

I'm a bit conflicted even calling it a "trend" since we all know that man-style dressing is nothing new. Think 1930s Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich in their tailored suits and ties; Diane Keaton's ties, vests, and boyfriend pants in Annie Hall; and gangster-inspired fashion from Bonnie and Clyde.

Then there are designers, like Ann Demeulemeester, who have always done the menswear-for-women thing, despite the girly-girlishness of fashion over the past few years.

Still, it's hard to deny the influx of menswear on women's runways. Designers known for the femininity of their lines, like Carolina Herrera, featured decidedly masculine pieces in their fall collections. Additionally, men's designers like Obedient Sons (now Obedient Sons and Daughters) and Band of Outsiders (now with the women's Boy line) have women's lines that take a page from their predecessors -- albeit with a feminine touch.

Although there really isn't much I don't like in this movement, there are some things I heart. The boyfriend jacket, which we will see even more this spring, has a vibe that speaks to my inner prep school rebel (um, don't we all have an inner prep school rebel?). We've seen menswear for women more tailored in the past, but the slouchy jacket, along with this season's slouchy cardigans, has that "I don't give a f&%#" attitude (even though we know you really do).

My closet is also filled with vests. Weird, you say? Maybe. But, slap that puppy over a white t-shirt, pair with skinny jeans and boots, flats, stilletos -- wahlah! Instant chic. Now, not all vests are created equal. I am averse to the sweetheart neckline. I want a v-neck and I want it in pinstripe, houndstooth, or heather. I like them short, long (lately longer), open or buttoned (lately opened). You can have fun with accessories too...a sparkly or chunky necklace or a spare neck and over-the-top ghetto-fabulous hoop earrings or, my personal favorite, a chain necklace and silver cuff bracelet. The beauty in this getup is its simplicity.

The slouchy boyfriend pant/jean, I have mixed feeling about...I think it gives me flashbacks (no pun intended) to my college days dancing around in oversize jeans to thumping house music in overcrowded abandoned warehouses. Still, there is something very comforting and appealing about them. Talk to me in a month...

So,"We get it," you say. "We know you have a more masculine aesthetic. But why drinking so much hatorade when it comes to the pretty little ruffle? What did our dainty little friend ever do to you?" Maybe I don't have to hate the ruffle that much. Maybe, just maybe, I'll make friends with that sheer silk blouse with deconstructed waves cascading down the front...but you bet your ass there will be a vest over it.