Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pump Up the Volume of Your Style in a Neutral Pump

Ever since Kate walked down the airport steps at LAX last July in a fetching pair of pointed-toe neutral pumps, the fashion world has started singing the praises of this quiet classic, and, although they may be late to the party, I say come on in, boys and girls, and kick off your shoes; it’s time to pump up the volume and pay tribute to one of the most flattering shoes a woman can wear.

Why? Well……………..

First, the neutral color visually extends the line of your leg, particularly with a pointed toe (and who doesn’t want to lengthen the look of her legs??);

Second, the nude/neutral color adds a naughty element to this nicest of lady-like styles; and

Third, it goes with absolutely everything.

Need I say more?

Here are a few of my quick picks for this season.

The Buffy heel in beige from Coach ($198) illustrates why the neutral pump is always in the running for Best Supporting Actress in any woman’s wardrobe.

Slip your tootsies into this stunning little number with its stacked leather platform and stiletto heel and you are instantly the Star of any show.

And that little stud detail on the heel gives it an unexpectedly sexy edge. This shoe is guaranteed to bring strong men to their knees with every step you take.

This crisscrossed peep toe pump, the Sashay, from Stuart Weitzman ($298) will add an oh-so-lady-like touch to any outfit you wear from skinny jeans to pencil skirt to your sexiest LBD.

And a dab of flame red on the toes will add a dash of movie star vixen to this flirty and feminine shoe.

Thinking of investing some of your capital in gold? At $50, this gold Anne Klein Pinchins pump won’t put even the smallest dent in your net worth, although the snakeskin texture will have everyone convinced it did.

The moderate heel height and cushioned foot-bed will have you running from high-powered meeting to high-powered meeting in total comfort.

And, do you remember that I said bows are really hot for fall?

Nine West’s Flax shoe ($60) comes in a variety of colors, but this deep honey is a real honey of a color in my book,

This sophisticated shoe is an inexpensive example of the classic pointed toe pump that you will wear for years to come, because no matter what you are wearing with it, it always looks so right.

If after all this you find you still need a little color in your fall shoe wardrobe, I totally understand.

May I recommend RSVP’s Rossana ($49) in burgundy (this season’s hot color!) patent?

This should be enough to punch up anything you can throw at it.

Think of it as a fall neutral and you can’t go wrong.

Now, aren’t you ready to pump up the volume of your style this fall with a great neutral pump? I know I am; in fact, I think I feel the urge for a power walk coming on…………I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fall Fashion Flash 2011 – Part 2

In my August post Fall Sneak Peak - And It’s One More Time, Again! I talked about the return of retro (isn’t that redundant?) and bows, ruffles and fringe on blouses and shoes for fall.

In Fall Fashion Flash 2011 - Part 1 I talked about this fall’s hot color, Bordeaux/Burgundy, the return of the skirt, the importance of the LBS (Little Black Skirt) and how to put a great outfit together for fall.

Now that we’ve put that great outfit together, what do we put over it when those fall breezes begin to nip?

This handsome L.L. Bean Cotton linen field coat (left) from their Signature collection has a cozy flannel lining and roomy fit. I just love the chamois detailing at the top and the vintage feel to it. Almost makes me want to grab my skeet rifle and yell “pull !” My guess is, though, that this will become your favorite run-around town, weekend jacket. And at $175, it’s definitely good value for money.

This great Jessica London military trench (right) is ONLY available in sizes 12-28. Eat your hearts out, all you Skinny Minis out there. Oh, wait….I forgot… don’t eat! This classic trench is designed to flatter you lucky ladies with curves, with its adjustable drawstring at the waist. The hood collar is detachable, it’s fully lined, and it’s machine washable……..don’t we love that? And, here’s the best part………’s under $100………..don’t we really love that !!

This swingy AB Studio double-breasted cape (Left) is vintage Boho meets city chic with its stand-up collar, epaulets and front button opening, which makes it easy on and easy off. It comes in black, is machine washable (love it!) and it’s available at Kohls for under $50. Are you in love yet?

O.K., I confess. I really, really have fallen in love with this Trina Turk Pan-am cropped coat (Right). Naturally, it’s the most expensive of the group at $398 and it’s the least practical in terms of how often you can wear it (it will get noticed and it will get remembered). Still, it is just so deliciously 60s retro with its ¾ sleeves, bold plaid (oh look, there’s this fall’s hot color, Burgundy, in there!) and big buttons.

It would definitely be perfect over an LBD or an LBS and/or black tights or your favorite skinny jeans. And wouldn’t this be a perfect time to pull out those vintage black leather opera gloves hiding in the back of your dresser drawer? Perfect. (sigh!) Available through Amazon.

You’ll see lots of slouchy, large-brimmed hats in the stores this fall. The French call them capelines and they are the perfect way to add a bit of je ne sais quoi to any outfit.

I admit to a real weakness for this most feminine of headgear, but it’s true that you do need a certain attitude or hauteur to wear them properly, and you also need lots of head room in your car.

If you spend your life being driven from point A to point B in a Rolls Royce Phantom, which is designed to chauffeur ladies who sip champagne and wear extravagant hats, then by all means these are definitely the chapeaux for you.

If, however, you spend your life in and out of your Mini Cooper, running errands, picking up the kids from school and juggling bags of groceries, the rabbit felt fedora on the left or the cute little cloche (an absolute steal for $17 at Old Navy!) on the right might be more your style.

Lest you think I am being entirely too conservative and practical in my fashion picks this fall, allow me to shake things up a bit with – les socquettes.

Call me crazy, but I think they are oh-so-cute on the right woman (very young to youngish) with the right legs (long and lean). And peaking over the top of a pair of booties, they just look so chic.

You will be relieved to know, however, that this is a fashion statement I am not personally prepared to make.

Well, there you have it, Ladies. I’ll be in touch soon with my impressions and thoughts on Fall Fashion Week in New York. In the meantime, just thought you’d like a quick update on my burgundy pencil skirt………….it still fits!! Benjamin Franklin was right; God does want to see us happy. Cheers!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fall Fashion Flash 2011 – Part 1

It’s fall Fashion mid-week in New York and everything and everyone has shifted into high gear. As for me, I am keeping a respectful distance while maintaining a watchful eye on the proceedings. More on that plus tard when all and sundry have folded their tents and the dust has settled.

In the meantime, while we wait for the weather to switch gears from summer to autumn, here’s a heads up on what you’ll be seeing on the streets of New York and Paris this fall.

This season’s hot color is Bordeaux if you’re French, and Burgundy if you’re American. Oddly enough, while the Bordeaux region of France is indeed famous for its reds, the Burgundy region is famous for its whites.

Hmmm. I’m just sayin’. Anyway……….

Burgundy comes straight from the cool color palette of winter and looks best on you Summer and Winter gals with pink and rosy undertones to your skin.

Does that mean that those of us who look best in the warm shades of spring and autumn should risk the ostracism of our fashion forward friends by avoiding Burgundy altogether (the color not the wine)?

Absolutely not! You may now breathe a sigh of relief.

For you Spring and Autumn gals (I’m a classic Autumn) who look best in warm colors, the trick to wearing cooler colors is placement. In other words, where you wear it is what counts.

The colors in your color palette, your most flattering, should be worn closest to your face: tops, scarves, earrings, necklaces and hats. Colors not in your color palette should be worn away from your face: skirts, trousers, bracelets, shoes and handbags.

Here are some examples of how to do it.

The young lady on the left wears a blouse in a multi-colored print of cool and warm shades with cool Burgundy being a dominant color. The green fedora picks up the warm green in the blouse creating a warm frame around her face.

The young lady next to her has added her touch of cool Burgundy in her tights, and should she opt to pull all her warm and cool colors together with a unifying accessory, she could drape this triple print scarf from Zara around her neck. Get the idea? Go ahead and have fun with this season’s hot color, cool Burgundy; just be careful where you put it.

By the way, have you noticed what all these young ladies are wearing? This season it’s all about separates. Remember the return of the bow blouse in my previous post? Well, what goes better with a great blouse than a great skirt, this fall’s most important must-have item.

And, on the list of essentials in any well-dressed woman’s wardrobe right next to the LBD should be the LBS, the Little Black Skirt.

These adorable Little Black Skirts are all available at Zara for well under $100, which makes them not only adorable but “chiconomic.”

The classic A-line on the left with the zipper detail is flattering on absolutely everyone and will quickly become your favorite go-to piece.

The versatile panel skirt on the right is figure forgiving for those who need a little forgiveness, especially in the tummy area.

And every gal needs a great black leather skirt in her repertoire for those moments when she’s feeling sexy and sassy.

And, this, Ladies, is how you put together a great head to toe look for fall ------

Start with a classic grey wool skirt;

Top it with a burgundy wrap leather jacket;

Add black tights and a trendy pair of black-and-white spectator booties.

Then, top the whole ensemble off with a black vintage cloche hat with a magenta ribbon that gives a great pop of color near your face.

Et voilà! -- Casual chic at its most charming. These pieces are available at H&M.

What makes this outfit work so beautifully is the harmonious use of cool colors and the mix of materials and textures which creates visual interest and movement.

All this has inspired me to take out my burgundy wool pencil skirt from several seasons ago and see if it still fits. But first, I’ll pour myself a glass of Bordeaux. I will either be drinking in celebration or as consolation.

Either way, I agree with Benjamin Franklin who said, “Wine is constant proof that God loves us and wants to see us happy.” And if God wants to see me really happy, my burgundy pencil skirt will still fit.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Isabelle’s Curls and How I Learned to Love Them

I stood up in my crib at 6 months, walked at 11 months and by 12 months was running around the house giving my Mother a massive case of the New Mom Jitters. I did everything early, except grow hair.

Then, suddenly, at about 18 months of age the fuzz on my head was replaced by strawberry blonde, Shirley Temple ringlets to the delight of my Mother and Grandmother, both of whom had poker straight hair.

Finally, after having skipped two generations, there was a little girl in the family who had Isabelle’s curls.

My Great-Grandmother Isabelle was 12 years old when this portrait was painted in 1865, the year General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox, thus ending the American Civil War. The portrait hangs in my bedroom next to my dresser and the coral and gold necklace around her neck sits in a velvet pouch in my jewelry case.

She is holding a bouquet of pink roses and wearing a white satin dress with blue ribbons on the sleeves. A matching blue ribbon holds back a beautiful head of chestnut curls – Isabelle’s curls.

Her favorite brother, Willie, left home at 17 to fight in the Union Army and was never seen or heard from again.

Her Mother, Rosetta, spent a good deal of the war nursing wounded Union soldiers. Unbeknownst to Rosetta, one of those dying young men was infected with Small Pox, a deadly, disfiguring disease which spread like wildfire through Confederate and Union troops alike.

It swept through Isabelle’s entire family. Miraculously, she survived with only a tiny scar on her forehead to remind her of the horror through which she had passed. The high fevers had made her beautiful hair fall out, but a year later when this portrait was painted, her curls had already grown back well past her shoulders.

I never thought much about Isabelle’s legacy to me until the 1960s. Almost overnight curly hair became horribly unfashionable. Whether long and parted in the middle or short and cut in angles, hair had to be straight, straight, straight, and my hair was not, not, not! So, I declared war on my curls and my weapons of choice were juice cans and the steam iron.

Like so many of my curly-haired sisters, we grew it long and set it in huge rollers or juice cans. And if that didn’t work, there was always the steam iron. You’d lay your hair out flat, put a dishcloth over it and then iron the cloth. It was essential to have a trusted girlfriend help you with this, preferably one whose boyfriend you hadn’t flirted with the night before or you might end up as a burnt offering.

By the ‘70s it had become clear that I was on the losing side of my private civil war and so, as General Robert E. Lee had manfully surrendered his sword to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox in 1865, I surrendered my juice cans and steam iron as spoils of war.

But, by the 1980s big hair and curls were back – bigger and better than ever! True to the battle cry of the South, the curl had risen again!!

This was my decade and I luxuriated in it. All I had to do was stick a diffuser on the end of my blow dryer, point and fire and there was no end to how big my hair could get.

I defied rain and laughed in the face of humidity. Ha! Ha! Bring it on, you fools!! You only make my hair bigger!!

I love you, Great-Grandmother Isabelle!

Unfortunately, the party didn’t last, which is one of the defining qualities of a party. It starts, you drink too much champagne, it ends, you find your shoes and go home.

And so, I went home.

There was a little something for everyone in the 1990s, but without a doubt, it was the decade of all things Rachel, as in Jennifer Aniston and the iconic Rachel layered cut. By the end of the decade, advances in styling products, blow dryers and flat irons had enabled my hairdresser to give me a reasonable facsimile of the Rachel bob. I was delighted, although………the rain I had defied and the humidity I had laughed at in the 1980s would and did have their revenge whenever they felt like it.

A year ago my hairdresser introduced me to a line of hair care products which have made me fall in love with my curls all over again. Deva-Curl products are specially made for curly hair. Curly hair is more fragile, should be washed less frequently and needs extra moisture. In effect, it needs special handling and special products.

The Deva-Curl products are sulfate and phosphate free and safe for color-treated hair. They leave my hair with healthy, shiny, no-frizz curls. If you have curly hair and want to stay natural, Deva-Curl products are absolutely the way to go.

Believe me. I wouldn’t trust Isabelle’s curls to anything less.