Put a big bow on anything, and I'll buy it

Thursday, February 28, 2008

French Connection is another brand that seems to be working hard at becoming more sophisticated and relevant. They definitely have done a few pieces really well for the past few seasons; so far for spring, I'm intrigued by the sporty-chic Mayhem coat, $268.

Vogue gets it (almost) right

I really enjoyed this Spring fashion preview on YouTube (runway videos are waaaay better than thumbnails). There's plenty of prettiness – plus little nipped blazers! -- to get you thinking about spring.

One nitpicky thing: It bugs me that they reference "Le Smoking" as "still a classic" at Dior (it's a YSL thing). I'd probably let it slide if I hadn't also caught several glaring China-reference errors in their Wendi Murdoch profile in the new March issue. And I probably would have let that slide if they hadn't included "Jovovich-Hawke" as among the top Gossip Girl designers, also in the March issue. I mean, it's Vogue. I sort of expect perfection, at least when it comes to fashion references and designer names. (The China stuff I'll let pass… but, really, tsk tsk.)

In potentially related news: The cashier at CVS refused to sell me the latest Harper's Bazaar the other day {despite the fact that there was a stack of them in their newsstand section}, claiming they had just been recalled. I, of course, stood in the corner and fervently flipped through the issue, kinda hoping to spot some embarrassing error, like unretouched photos of Lindsay Lohan (um, perhaps I watch too much Ugly Betty?). Unfortunately, none were spotted.

Drum roll please… Our 500th post!

It's been almost exactly two years since I started this site and today we hit our 500th post. 500 posts! Wowza.

It still amazes me that so many of you out there come back every day to read my fashion-related ramblings, and tell your friends, and leave such incredibly nice comments, even when I get a little off topic and go totally gung-ho about things like Marshmallow Fluff packaging. I'm sure I would have given this up long ago if it wasn't for all your positive support; really, it's really enough to make a fashion blogger all verklempt. {Give me a second. Talk amongst yourselves!}

I took some time to peruse the archives and pick out some of my favorite posts from the past two years. Let's take a little trip down memory lane, shall we? {Cue highlights reel.}

Oh, there have been some great finds over the years, haven't there? If I had to choose just one, I'd say my Anamika Khanna appliquéd silk trench coat probably tops the list.

We've had quite a few peeks into my closet too, particularly my ever-expanding vintage dress collection: check them out here and here and here and here and here and here. {Note to self: I really need to start getting back into the habit of taking outfit pics.}

I've shared a lot of random things about myself as well: Former Gap salesgirl! The stuff in my bag! Partying with the Backstreet Boys! Hmmm, on second thought, perhaps we should be a little more self-censoring in the future.

My DIY bangle bracelet post was one of my most popular ever --- it got so much love, Neet Magazine had me do it again just for them.

Here are a few of my favorite posts of all time:
+Fred Eerdekens sculpture. Still one of the most amazing things I've ever seen.
+An interview with James, the flawless-skinned creative gal behind Bleubird Vintage.
+The Pink Prank Project! (A.k.a. my dream apartment!)
+Korean Vogue Girl goes crazy for color.
+A look at Eloise, my all-time fashion icon.

So here's to 500 more posts. Somebody pass the champagne!

The Sartorialist: Coming to D.C. (Yay!)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Street fashion powerhouse The Sartorialist just announced his photo exhibit, which debuted at Danziger Projects in New York, will be shown next at Adamson Gallery in D.C. from March 15 to April 26.

I can't wait for a new influx of fashion inspiration, like this shot above. (Ack! That bag!)

On the Lookout: Off the Shoulder Dresses

My adorable former colleague Daphne (hey, Daph!) used to wear the cutest little drapey dress that hung off of one shoulder. It was a really great look – totally fashionable and different without being too revealing {and really, despite the image above, it wasn't the least bit overly 80s} – and I've been keeping an eye out for a similar style ever since. I haven't had any luck yet, but Agathe's Gina Tricot dress (below) has inspired me to renew my search, or at least finally come up with a DIY version.

Because sometimes, simple is best

I know I've been all about the brights lately, but TeenFashionista (and her readers) point out a cute, classic black & white look that you can find at a range of prices this season. Our favorite buy-able option is this $39.50 Alloy dress, though we'll be opting for a DIY version with some pieces already in our closet (er, at least we hope they're somewhere in there).

Of course, I don't do super-simple very well, so I'll probably end up layering on a bunch of bead necklaces and maybe pair it with some bright shoes. Still, a very cute starting point.

Stop, Drop and Drool: Chie Mihara shoes

Okay, so I am now officially obsessed with Japanese-Brazilian-Spanish shoe designer Chie Mihara. (I blame you, Hu's Shoes, for introducing us earlier this week!) All I want for spring is a wooden chunky-heeled sandal – and right now that's really, truly all I want, as absolutely nothing else is really appealing to me at the moment – and she has created some perfect ones. I submit the following as proof.

First, there is the glorious tri-colored sandal above that started it all. (There's also a brown version, $335, which we personally drooled over at Hu's.)

And then there are these great geometric-ish Marmaid ones, $335:

Anthropologie is stocking these crazy-cool Smoke & Fire slingbacks, $348:

And these purple suede Hazel Twig sandals, $328, are also pretty fierce:

Okay, they're not sandals, but these fab blue suede shoes, $305, make us want to channel our inner Elvis:

I'm so digging the understated green hue and the sporty white piping of these ones, $360. And that heel! Swoon.

The rounded buckle on these, $340, is such the perfect little extra touch:

Just so you know, we're completely dying right about now...

'Cause Tonight We're Gonna Dress up Like it's 1999

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's no secret that the brands I relied on heavily during those prep-heavy, khaki-wearing, collegiate years – J.Crew, Gap, Banana Republic – have had their ups and (lots of) downs ever since. But like all things in fashion, they seem to be coming back – and even appealing to those of us who moved on long ago.

And they all seem to have gotten the same memo for spring: lots of bright solids, freshly-scrubbed skin and tons of layering, particularly of "clashing" colors and prints. Luckily, it's pretty appealing mix – I find myself (for the first time in years) being drawn into their stores. I haven't shelled out any of my hard-earned dollars yet, but I'm definitely taking some notes. Let's review our options, shall we?

First, we have the Gap. They haven't seemed to quite sync their store and online offerings – right now, the store experience is way more appealing than the website. (They seem to be working on it though, complete with tips from new creative director Patrick Robinson and a pretty decent Spring lookbook, where I snagged the image above.)

My favorite part of the Gap these past few years has been their boys section – the pieces are cheaper, cuter, and have a great shrunken fit that works well for layering (like this rugby-striped polo shirt and purple gingham button-down). Throw in hot pink jackets and bold patterned scarves from the women's side and you've got yourself a pretty solid preppy-fun look.

Final verdict: We do like that the quality at the Gap is higher than fast-fashion brands like H&M and Forever 21 (of course, the prices are higher too, but we don't mind paying a premium to ensure our new clothes won't disintegrate as soon as they hit the washing machine). They seem to be on the right path; we look forward to some continued improvements.

Okay, moving on: J. Crew! The prices seem to have really skyrocketed (our perhaps our minds don't move quite as fast as inflation?), but the items are getting quite good and the styling – in the stores, catalogue and online – is quite fun. See for yourself.

Also, I really want these Martine satin heels, in regal purple. And maybe also bright green.

Their boys selection is also pretty cute. I like the idea of pairing one of these little sweaters with flouncy circle skirt on chilly spring days.

Also, Nantucket bracelets! I had one of these permanently attached to my wrist circa age 14. I love the idea of piling them on like bangles now. And! Only $5 each.

Final verdict: Kind of prohibitively pricey, but also the best take on modified preppy and definitely a source of lots of good eye candy. Still, once the brights thing gets old, what are they going to do to keep our attention?

And, finally! Banana Republic! Sadly, their website reads more like a big bland mess of office-appropriate neutrals. (Their store, which we visited last week, is a lot more appealing – we're still thinking about a chunky cropped cardigan sweater in bold Kelly green that was hanging out on the sale rack.) Still, there are some good things, like this dress:

{They've also got it layered over a crisp button-down on the website, which is pretty cute.}

We also were intrigued by their socks. Cute socks!{They've got more in store, especially in the men's section.} I could see these peeking out under chunky leather heeled sandals for a creative twist on early spring dressing.

Like J. Crew, Banana Republic seems to be working hard on growing their jewelry selection. Both brands have some colorful, affordable pieces. This three-stone bangle, $34, is my favorite. (The colorful striped enamel bangle is nice too.)

Final verdict: Well, perhaps we're not the ideal Banana customer – for starters, we don't dress to go to an office every day – 'cause we find most of it a bit too staid and conservative for us, particularly the website offerings. Still, baby steps.

Of course, it's not all fun and games and punchy-hued finds out there. We like where things are going, but we're not so into some of the ideas these brands refuse to let go. We offer as an example this image from the Banana website:

Please, ladies, if you must wear khaki pants, please do not match them with a khaki trench coat. Repeat after me: Too much khaki is just not cute.

Oh, who are the indie shopkeepers in your neighborhood?

Monday, February 25, 2008

In between several failed attempts to finish unpacking all my belongings and actually fit it all nicely in my apartment, I've spent a lot of time these past few weeks popping between the various D.C.-area shopping spots, with the aim of checking out every notable retailer within a reasonable walking distance from a Metro line.

I've hit Georgetown and Adams Morgan, Friendship Heights and Bethesda, Arlington and U Street and Takoma Park and Foggy Bottom and Penn Quarter and Eastern Market and more. It's partly for work, and partly for fun, and partly because I believe a girl should know where she can buy a vintage ruffled-front tuxedo shirt in the area, just in case she gets invited to a 70s prom-themed party or something. (Fyi, The Remix has a bunch of fab pastel-hued ones for $45, but at last check, Mustard Seed in Bethesda has one – in mustard yellow, no less – for $15 on their men's rack. Also, if you would like to invite me to a 70s prom-themed party, I would very much like to attend, thank you.)

My D.C.-area retail reconnaissance is far from finished, but I'm prepared to pass out some well-deserved superlatives at this point, because there is some really good stuff out there, and I think you should know about it. And then, later this week: Alexandria! And next week: Baltimore! And then: Who knows? We've always had a soft spot for Annapolis. Stay tuned…

Most Likely to Make You Drool, Right Then and There on the Shop Floor: Georgetown's fab Relish boutique (a glimpse above), tucked away in Cady's Alley, stocks those stop-dead-in-your-tracks fashion items that make you happy just to be looking at them. (Which is all I can really afford to do at this point, though I am planning on saving all my pennies for one of their amazing Junya Watanabe trenches, or maybe the glorious lemon-yellow short-sleeved leather Marni coat.) It's worth the browse, if only for stealing some styling tips from the extremely well-dressed mannequins.

Drool-inducing runner-up: Longtime favorite Muleh is now setting out their spring offerings, and can we just say that they have one (okay, at least three) lovely Rozae Nichols pieces with our name all over it? Particularly the yellow and gray printed skirt? Swoon.

Best sale rack: We've got to give this one to Urban Chic in Georgetown. There was a Maria Bonita Extra gray sweater capelet that was just fab, and going for something like 70 percent off. It was alongside some really cute Boulee black trapeze dresses with bell sleeves, also on major sale. Resistance was difficult. We suspect these things might end up at the buzzed-about District Sample Sale next week, and that kinda makes us really want to go.

Sale rack runner-up: Back to Muleh! Seriously, we cannot believe no one has grabbed the last of the 3.1 Phillip Lim silky purple dresses with the wide, ruffled collar that they've heavily discounted. And, we offer as further proof of their sale rack amazingness: fab gingham!

Most Likely to Make Us Embrace a Big Spring Trend: Betsy Fisher has these amazing shrunken leather jackets by June (including this one). They are super-soft, have great tailoring, and might be just the thing we could throw over a little spring dress, like they suggest in all the Big Magazines, and actually like it. Bonus find: They've also got some really cool dresses from Hoss. Bonus bonus find: We kinda sorta love how staffer Ricardo – who we do not actually know, we just identified him from their website -- compliments us every time we enter the store and seems completely sincere about it. Oh, Ricardo, we're such suckers for flattery about our faux fur.

Most unlikely place where we might return immediately: We sort of randomly found ourselves in funky streetwear store Commonwealth, and we sort of randomly fell for this great tuxedo t-shirt by the Kid America Club. We've been wanting a tuxedo tee for forever, and this one is really high-quality and well-designed. (Now, $38 worth of well-designed we're not sure about, but on sale, it would be quite tempting.)

Best. Shoes. Ever! (Or, at least, the best shoes we've seen so far for spring): Chie Mihara tri-color sandals with a chunky wooden heel, courtesy of Hu's Shoes. While we're at it, we'd also like these, thanks!

Best. Secondhand. Shoes. Ever!: I'm a pretty big fan of Dupont consignment shop Secondi, and I think their shoe section in particular almost always has some great finds. If I was a size 39.5 (about a US 9), these black and white Chanel heels (about $115, if I remember correctly) would definitely have been mine. Ditto for these size 8 satiny Mary Jane booties (a very reasonable $35ish).

{Um, we do apologize that we are not exactly an ideal foot model, particularly in shoes that are entirely too small for us, but we did want to give you a proper glimspe.}

Secondhand shoes runner-up: Oh, we so loved these sparkly gold heeled shoes from Meeps (which I believe were a size 8 1/2, fyi. {update} actually, i just stopped in again and checked, and they're a 6 1/2. sorry!).

Most Ubiquitous (Yet Highly Adorable) Piece of the Season: Everyone – and by everyone I mean Pop, Mustard Seed and about a dozen other places along the Eastern seaboard – is stocking the BB Dakota cropped swingy Camille jacket in a rainbow of colors (that's it above in white, though we would have to suggest wearing it with pants). Luckily, it's really cute, so we won't mind seeing it all over the place once the weather gets warmer. At this point, any trend would be better than Uggs. {Please, D.C.: No. More. Uggs!}

Craftiest find: Ipso Crafto on Barracks Row in Southeast had rolls of pom-pom trim in different bright colors for $2/yard. I happily snagged a loooong strand of bright purple trim in hopes of recreating Susie B's fab DIY necklace. Plus! They also had a ton of pretty tulle!

Runner up: Moonshadow Antiques & Vintage in Takoma Park has an assortment of oversized skeleton keys for about $8 apiece. And you know how we love using old keys to make great pendant necklaces.

Only recipient of my money: After all this running around, I've only bought one thing (okay, two things, including the Ipso Crafto trim) – a wide gray vintage belt for $10 from tiny Second Affair Consignments over on 18th Street. I'm sure it will be making an appearance here on the blog very soon. As soon as I can reach my closet again. Sigh… the unpacking continues…

Perhaps I think a *teensy bit* too much about fashion...

I plopped myself down on the Metro yesterday next to a discarded Wall Street Journal, and was idly thumbing through it when this headline caught my eye: "Readers Are Long on Cheers (and Some Jeers) at the Idea of Shorter Tees".

My brain's immediate response: Oh, nooooo! Shorter tees? But I was really loving the extra-long lengths all the brands had embraced lately! Don't tell me we're back to the era of muffin-tops and belly-baring Britney wannabes! This is terrrrrrible!

Once I was all suitably riled up, I realized it was an article about golf courses.

{Image of tops from Three Dots, fine maker of extra-long tees.}


Saturday, February 23, 2008

You would think that clicking on Piperlime and seeing this totally fun rainbow of super-saturated shoes would instantly make anyone happy, but not me. Because – grumble, grumble – the pair I want (yes, you, pretty turquoise button-y one) is almost completely sold out and has been for weeks, thus mocking me every time I click on by. If you're a size 8.5, you're in luck – that's the only one they have in stock. (And there's plenty in black too. Unfortunately, I'm only interested in very, very bright shoes these days, and my attempts to satisfy such desires have not been going well.)

In the meantime, I'm also totally stalking the purple satiny sandals from H&M I spotted on Who What Wear Daily's spring transition tips blogcast {gratuitous shoe closeup at 1:40, and also below}. They remind me a lot of Agathe's perfect eggplant pair that I'm still completely lusting after. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be able to rock the super-high heel, but I'm still watching for them to arrive in stores, with the deep hope that I have somehow developed an incredible new high heel tolerance over the winter. Fingers are crossed. Stay tuned…

A life without boxes (ah, memories…)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I'm alive! I'm even on the road to recovery. But in the midst of suffering from the cold that everyone-and-her-mother (including my mother) had, all my stuff arrived from Singapore. Have you ever tried to move from a very large apartment into a very teensy tiny apartment? While still keeping everything you own? I do not recommend. I'm looking back on pics of my gloriously large Singapore apartment (above) and dreaming about what it was like to have floor space.

So now life is about unpacking boxes, and my wardrobe is about old t-shirts and sweats and scarves wrapped around my head (no point in looking cute when you're digging around in a pile of cardboard). I've made a few forays into the shopping world out there, but haven't seen much I love, except this fab faux-croc clutch purse at Urban Outfitters. It is just so perfectly gorgeous and fifties and pretty. We are thinking if we say we will reward ourselves with it, we might get through these boxes a little bit faster.

In the meantime, this is a pretty fascinating article about Zara's continued pursuit of faster fashion. It's pretty business-y, but there are a few shopper-info gems. For example, did you know that the clothes with the black plastic hangers are the very newest, hot-off-the-sewing-machine pieces on the floor? (They get shifted over to the wooden hangers eventually.) Also, the company make money by charging more for items overseas: Those of us in the U.S. and elsewhere are paying up to 40 percent more than you guys in Spain. Hmmmmm.

Gack. Blergh. Zzzzzzz.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

So sorry to disappear like that these past few days. I've come down with an absolutely awful cold/flu thingy and have not moved from bed since Monday night. It will probably be a few more days before I can even begin to put together a concise thought so it might be kinda quiet around here for a little longer. In the meantime, I hope you all are doing lovely, sunny, beautiful, non-coughing things.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I must return to the bed.

Black and white and chic all over

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mackenzie has put us in serious stripey mode today with this starkly graphic yet oh-so-feminine Tracy Reese dress. Love the hint of sheerness in the bodice and the classic, full-skirted shape.

Desperately Coveted, part 779 of 4,322

While killing time with a browse through Fifth Avenue shopping landmark Henri Bendel last week, I chanced upon this gorgeous Bulga two-pocket hobo bag. It's seriously beautiful – supple and subtle, with nice detailing and not a logo in sight. It's also an unfortunate $605 – though $495 from BagShop if you're feeling the taupe.

Pretty in pink

I've got some thoughts on the New York shows -- not many, because you know how I hate clicking through eons of runway thumbnails and would rather just leave that to more diligent bloggers -- and I'll try to pull them together some time this week. In many ways, I'm really much more interested in what people are wearing to the shows, as documented by The Sartorialist and others.

This photo he snapped (of Veronica Webb Katie Holmes? or a Katie lookalike? anyone?) at Isaac Mizrahi has me all excited for spring. The full skirt! The bobbed hair! Pink! *Love.*

My New York Diary: The Conclusion

After all the Gucci hoopla, I decided to stick around for a few more days in New York to spend some time with friends and do "normal New York things" (which for me includes cute little dive bars and discount vintage stores, and not, say, stays in suites at The London NYC and parties with Puff Daddy and Anna Wintour). I moved over to Brooklyn to stay with Carl and Cat (she of Pita and Binge fame) – note to self: carrying five majorly large bags up to a six-floor walk-up is not awesome; perhaps I should really learn how to pare down? -- and spent most of my time wandering around the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill, both shopping and spending time with friends.

Of course, before I left Manhattan, I did spend a gloriously sunny morning walking around midtown, where I treated myself to friend seafood at the iconic Oyster Bar in Grand Central (I highly recommending sitting at the counter; it's just so fun).

fried seafoods galore:

I passed through Bryant Park again, which was really beautiful and bright. (In fact, I completely skipped the tent activity this time – I was just too distracted by all the cool trees.)

My car took the Brooklyn Bridge on our way to C&C's and the sky was just amazing.

Lady Liberty herself:

I later met up with all my favorite girl friends (and their respective menfolk) for a night at Great Lakes. It was, in many ways, just as fun as the Gucci event: stories were shared, Britney and Project Runway were animatedly discussed, lots and lots of laughing.

Friday was crisp and cool and I took a long walk around my favorite Brooklyn stores. Manhattan shopping is pretty great, but I have a soft spot for Brooklyn's mix of eclectic boutiques and small vintage stores.

I met Theo and his mom Holly for lunch and, in return, she introduced me to the darling Park Slope boutique La Vedette (43 5th Avenue, near Flatbush, 718-6386090). It was seriously fab – very affordable, great selection, a regular rotation of new stuff every week. (It's the Soon Lee of Brooklyn!) I bought a gorgeous, poet-sleeved jersey dress that reminded me of the Eventide ones I'd loved long ago.

Dueling cameras with Theo…

…whose adorable one – from Park Slope kids' boutique Romp -- is clearly tastier than mine. I know, I tried.

Then I skipped into the city to meet Kevin (of Vintage Roadtrip! fame) for dinner at Elmo (great comfort food, including Duncan Hines chocolate cake) and drinks at West Village institution Marie's Crisis Café, an amazing piano bar that just might be my favorite bar ever. (Everyone gathers around a piano and belts out pop hits and showtunes all night! What's not to love?) My tired little eyes could barely stay open, so I scarfed down a Gray's Papaya hotdog (the best snack that $1.25 can buy) and scooted home pretty early, by New York standards.

After a great Saturday brunch with college bestie Anne at Cornelia Street Café, I lugged my (estimated by Cat) 80 pounds of luggage to the train and headed back to DC. I slept for approximately 16 hours straight immediately upon return. But what a week! It pretty much rocked.

We now return to our normal banter about pretty things, starting with this vintage hot pink luggage tote we picked up at new Park Slope vintage store Monkey Whistles & Motor Bikes (176 5th Avenue) for $35. Hey, if we can't afford the hot pink Loewe, this is kind of like the next best thing, right?