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Uber Chic Sighting and New Shoes

December 27th, 2010 4 comments

As you know from my previous post, I’ve been tossing around the idea of clogs. I finally found some by serendipity.

On Christmas Eve I sat by the most amazing chic woman at mass. She was beautiful, poised and chic. And a grandmother. Her hair was cut in a Louise Brooks chic black bob with bangs and she had Cleopatra eyes and a bit of lipstick and barely any wrinkles. She wore a kelly green sweater with a rolled neckline and 3/4 length sleeves that was formfitting and longer. She wore it with a shorter black skirt, black opaque tights and amazingly cool clogs. (See below)

We made small talk waiting for communion and she has daughters my age and one grandchild. She told me she was 60. She was so lovely, holding her husband’s arm and laughing and smiling at all the babies and children around (including my two).

I told her “I want to look like you when I’m 60! Please.” and she said, “So do my daughters!”

Now my husband always, well 99 percent of the time, loves my style and what I wear. The only comments he ever has are on shoes. He has very strong opinions on shoes. And I care what he thinks.
Enough to get rid of shoes he find unflattering. For instance, last week, I had bought some super high (but clunky heeled) Colin Stuart black suede Mary Janes off ebay for a pittance, but he saw them and immediately said he didn’t like them.

So I always try to seek his opinion in this one area of my style. On Christmas Eve, I pointed to the woman’s clogs and whispered “Aren’t they amazing? Do you like those?”
He did. So the hunt began.

Initially, I was worried they would be very expensive — judging by her enormous wedding ring and her fur coat (not the thrift store variety I like to wear!) But I easily found them online and they were very affordable. By the way, I can find ANYTHING online. I should charge to offer this service : ).
So my husband liked them and bought them for me. They should arrive today:

BONUS: Notice they are fur lined (well shearling) so they will keep my feet toasty, as well.

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Where Style Meets Comfort

December 20th, 2010 7 comments

I’ve been holding out on the whole Clog scene for about a year now just like the uber stylish Garance did, but like her, I think I’m going to wave the white flag. It all started with a fellow blogger who lives in the same Godforsaken, winter wonderland part of the country that I am in.
See where I live it is common practice to shed one’s shoes at the entry way when you visit another person’s home. I get it, but I don’t like it one bit. When I get dressed, my outfit includes my shoes and it feels off without them — not to mention much colder with stocking feet.

A lot of people actually tote around these knit slipper shoe thingies that they then put on at someone’s house. It’s not my thing but I didn’t know what suited me until I read what Aesthetic Alterations does to solve her shoeless visitor conundrum.

She takes along a pair of platform, chunky sandals and slips those on when she arrives at her destination. I still want something a bit warmer so I decided to investigate clogs — chiefly this pair from Born.

Of course digging around on zappos, I came across a few other cute styles, including this one:

The Corby is cute, but I surprisingly like the clog better. If I did buy the clog, I would be breaking a well touted style rule — if you’ve worn the trend once — the first time around — skip it the second.
Oh yes, I wore clogs in grade school. Big, clunky wooden ones if I remember right. And I thought I was pretty cool in them, too. They may have even been the first heels I ever wore.
So if I did buy these I’d be breaking the rules. Not the first time.
What do I like about them? The suede. Love suede. The ability to slip them on and off at someone’s house. The heel. It’s not funky or trendy, just a decent high heel that I can be comfortable in. Which leads me to the most important thing I like about them — just knowing they are from Born means I can walk around in them for days and still be comfortable.

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Style Inspiration from Novels

December 7th, 2010 4 comments

Over the years, I have found style and fashion inspiration by characters in novels.
Recently I revisited two of my favorite books: “Henry and June” by Anais Nin and her diary covering the same time period: 1931 to 1934.

Here is how June’s style is described by Anais in three instances:
“Then June came, all in black velvet, black cape and her hat with a feather shading her eyes.”

“Did any woman ever wear shabby shoes, a shabby black dress, a shabby blue cape and an old violet hat as she wore them?”

“June dark, secret under the brim of her Greta Garbo felt hat, heavy-caped, tragic and pale.”

Of course all these photos are of Uma Thurman playing June, but you get the idea.

I am a huge fan of Anais and Henry Miller. Once, as a reporter, I got a private tour of Miller’s home in Big Sur, overlooking the ocean, but that is a whole another story.

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Pucker Up Baby

December 3rd, 2010 1 comment

I’m truly not a big cosmetics girl, but there is one beauty product I cannot live without: lipstick.
< Whenever I read those questionnaires asking what you would bring to a desert island I always think: duh, lipstick. I think I went about a decade where I didn't wear any eye makeup but wore red lipstick every single day. I think Lipstick can brighten up your face exponentially. I like the matte in the shade Fire Down Below (what’s not to love about these other names, too: Catfight, FunnyFace and HotVoodoo). I’ve heard about Nars for years, mainly in connection with celebrities:

Because of that, I guess I always thought the product line was out of my price range, but its really not. I did a little investigating and looked at lipstick, lip laquer and lipgloss.

As a mom who stays home with the kids, I can sometimes be stuck for months inside the house, only going out for food or other necessities (yes, this climate is horrible), but darn if I don’t wear lipstick each and every day even if the only people who see it are my husband and kids.
A friend of mine who works outside the home commented on the women in our area of town. She said she liked me because I was the only one she knew who always wore lipstick. What a funny thing to notice, but I think it does make a difference.
It was only recently that I heard the term Lip Lacquer, (did I mention I’m not a big beauty product girl?) but I had no idea what it was at first. Since I’m the type of girl who would never, ever in a million years wear her hair in a shellacked hairstyle that was crusty-with-hairspray-to-the-touch hair, it sounded terrible, but when I checked it out it was actually a cute idea, but not enough color for me. I also looked at the Nars Lipgloss but all it did was reinforce that I truly am a lipstick girl. As much as I would like to be the French Girl who looks like she has no makeup on, in reality, I’m more like the French Girl with the red lips and the smudgy black eyes.

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November 18th, 2010 3 comments

As many of you know I have cut back on the blogs I read, but I make sure to check in with this one every day. I think you will love her, as well:

Dead Fleurette

Fleurette’s style has made me a huge Isabel Marant fan. My tan suede boots are a knockoff of her IM ones.

In addition, someone on the French Chic group just shared this awesome blog.

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Right Now I Am LOVING …

November 16th, 2010 5 comments

I love Clemence Poesy

* SUPER SOFT TEES with extra long sleeves that peek out from my cardigan and partially cover my hands

* My old, worn black knit gloves with the holey fingers

* My motorcycle boots which are only getting better each time I wear them and have some genuine lovable scuffs on them now

* My olive green vintage military bag (see previous post)

* * My EXTRA HUGE navy cashmere scarf I bought at Banana Republic last winter after eyeing it for three months and waiting for it to go on sale

* NAVY anything and everything — my favorite color and my new alternative to black. Although I wear navy and black together constantly lately.

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Love Me Some Accessories

November 11th, 2010 6 comments

I’ve never been a handbag gal. I have fewer than a handful, but for some reason the older I get the more I like them. I put aside my designer bags recently and am schlepping an olive green messenger bag from my local Army Navy Surplus store. It can be worn cross body and is decidely nonchalant.
From the stamp on the inside, it is from 1962 and was issued to a soldier in Vietnam. That soldier’s initials — VA are marked with ink on the top handle of the bag. Needless to say I adore it. And can pretty much guarantee nobody else is walking around with one just like it. The woman at the Army Navy Surplus store told me “Don’t let this out of your sight — they don’t make these anymore.”
The funny thing is, I see all sorts of women around me who are wearing expensive bags that look like military bags. I just love the history of owing a vintage bag that belonged to a soldier before I was born.
That doesn’t stop me from looking. Bluefly has been a staple site for me to browse for years.
I really like the designer handbags like the CC Skye bag.
I worry that it won’t fit over my shoulder, though. I love how the grommets add a bit of masculine toughness to the bag. Anyone famliiar with this designer?
I seem to gravitate toward handbags that don’t have any discernible label. How about you?

Like my love of bags, my love of shoes is only recently emerging. I think I wore my Doc Marten lace up boots for 10 years straight. I am shying away from heels unless they are sandals or designed for going out. I used to swear by hihg-heeled ankle boots in the winter, but really like more masculine shoes to balance out my outfit. I adore my new Frye boots. They add a certain tough edge to anything I wear.
I like the Calvin Klein black Ryann flat booties, a good example of some Designer Shoes that would probably last awhile. They remind me of something Clemence Poesy would wear.

I love the designer dresses, such as this Qui black cashmere scoopneck dress. I recently bought this (above) Eli Tahari dress and envision wearing it for years to come. I’ve bought lesser known brands but really believe if you are buying an investment piece a designer dress is the way to go. It is in the quality. It is in the way it drapes and falls on my body. I really love it. It is the quintessential LBD that I have owned in one form or the other for the past few years. I’ve had problems with them being too tight or too short and this one seems to conquer all those issues.

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November 3rd, 2010 5 comments

I used this second picture on FB during doppleganger week a while back …. when my hair and hers was longer. I really don’t think we look much alike. We both have slightly masculine features, although her lips are very voluptuous and mine are very Claire Bow.

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Six Items or Less Project in NYT

September 30th, 2010 3 comments

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The Row

September 3rd, 2010 6 comments

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What is it about those Italian women? You know the ones I’m talking about: beautiful, sexy, dressed to the nines just to take the kids to the park. They have a certain something that is indefinable. It is in the way they dress, the way they prepare their meals, the way they spend their leisure time.

It is because they know the importance of la bella figura. Roughly translated from Italian, it means putting you best foot forward in everything you do. It means cutting a beautiful figura. The opposite of la bella figura is la brutta figura, which is what someone might say about the falling down drunken guy at the party or the super tackily dressed woman at church. It means ugly figure.

La bella figura is much more than your appearance. It goes much deeper than that. It is about how you act. It is about how you treat others. It is about how you care for yourself, your home and your family. Living a life in line with la bella figura doesn’t take money. In fact, it is more about how to have class without a lot of money.

Someone who exudes la bella figura will have clean, pressed clothes and be well groomed. They will not be rude or sloppy. Their fingernails will be impeccably groomed. Their hair shiny and clean and their shoes will be polished. They will not have stray threads hanging from their suit hems. They will not be driving a car in need of the car wash.

La bella figura means driving that 15 year old car and meticulously cleaning it and caring for it. It means keeping your belongings in good repair. It means taking time to clean your house and not cluttering it up with meaningless objects.

When you focus all your spare energy, time and money on the things that bring you the most amount of pleasure, then you are truly living a life in line with la bella figura. The best part about it is that you don’t have to be Italian to do so. You just have to think like an Italian.

Italian children are raised to present la bella figura in whatever they do. From the time they are small and are groomed perfectly to attend church or school, they know that appearances count. They count because it is the first thing people judge about you. That first impression does matter. Appearances are also important because when you take the time to look nice, you are showing that you care about yourself. When you care enough to look good, it shows you have good healthy self esteem. Nothing is more attractive than self confidence.

In addition, dressing nice also shows respect for others. If you invite people over for dinner and greet them in flip flops, baggy sweats and a stained shirt, it is really disrespectful to them. The same if you dress sloppy to go to church or even to the market. By dressing nicely and being well groomed, you show respect for everyone in your world.

Having la bella figura means presenting yourself in the best light possible in all your interactions.