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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fashion Focus: My Personal, Can't Live Without, Wardrobe Items!

In my experience, when a person has a passion for cosmetics they also have a passion for fashion. I guess it is all on the same lines of appearance, right? Would we spend a ba-jillion dollars on makeup but yet dress in sweatpants and t-shirts every day? Well, it's possible, but probably not very common. My interest in fashion runs as deep as my love for makeup. This blog could easily be a fashion blog but my knowledge for the beauty world exceeds my knowledge for the fashion world. Fashion is a wild animal that is very hard to get a handle on in the broader perspective that goes beyond your own closet. And besides, my tastes run a bit on the "champagne" side and I can't acquire all of the clothing I would want as easily as the makeup cravings. Makeup is just more accessible and the best stores for makeup are only slightly less accessible that the drugstore selection. This does not apply to fashion. But if they start selling cheaper versions of Chanel and Prada at the local drugstores, sign me up.

I am by no means Victoria Beckham, but I do love clothes and shoes and bags and accessories just as much as the next fashion obsessed girl. My style is predominately classic pieces that last throughout trends and fads, mixed in with more trendy shoes and accessories. After all, you don't want to put the majority of your money into expensive and trendy items because by next season, those trendy pieces may be collecting dust or be up for an Ebay auction. I will elaborate more on the ways to approach fashion in the following paragraphs.

But first, allow me to list for you the wardrobe essentials that I just could not live without. These are the pieces that you would see me in on any given day of the week. The items I'm willing to shell out extra money on because I am aware of their longevity in the fashion world. I live by the following style motto: I buy what I like. Sure, I read magazines and I get ideas and inspirations but I don't necessarily use them as rules or guidelines when I'm out at the mall or shopping online. It's that simple. I buy what I like. It could be this season, last season, or no season at all. I don't adhere to rules. I buy what is visually appealing to me. And these are the items that have that power over me:

Seven For All Mankind Jeans:

SFAM Josefina Vintage Cali
Not the most wow-inspiring or bling bling kind of jeans by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, they are aesthetically quite basic. But the feel and the comfort is anything but. I've had mostly success with the ones I've blindly picked through Zappos and what not but I will tell you that one pair wasn't as soft or stretchy or velvety smooth as the others. My personal faves and the best all around winners for comfort and feel:
-10th Anniverary Skinny Jean: not to be confused with the "Jeggings", these are thicker and regular denim material. These particular ones appear to not have much give when you first try them on. Be patient. After a few days of lounging in them, i.e. stretching them out, they will fit perfectly. True to size. 
 -Josefina Boyfriend Jean Vintage Cali wash: my favorite jeans to date. They are so unbelievably soft but not all of the washes are as soft and as comfortable as the Vintage California style. They are supposed to fit loose and relaxed in the hip and thigh area but its not uncommon to order 2 sizes down from what you normally wear. I did and they are perfect!

-Straight Leg in LA Dark: velvety velvety smooth. One thing about SFAM dark rinse is that they tend to bleed onto your other things. Wash them inside out on cold water. Its worth the risk because they use such a rich beautiful dye for their dark rinse jeans. These run an inch or so too long but I roll them up so its all good.

-Featherweight Denim Skinny: super-duper soft but   with zero give, these fit more like leggings. Tight ones. Look best with tunics. These do not bleed color like the LA Dark Straight Leg's. 

Me Too Ballet Flats:
I was on a mission to find the most comfortable ballet flats that exist in all of the land. Mission accomplished. It was between the Me Too and the Broch brands. Broch ran more expensive and I couldn't find a two-toned beige and black flat in that brand. So comfortable, fairly affordable (under $100), cushiony insoles, flexible, adorable styles and beautiful shades to choose from. They run small and I actually ordered a full size bigger because the half size was out of stock.  
Update: Full size bigger was the way to go! So amazingly comfortable. You can wear these flats to walk for miles, easily.

Long-sleeved Collared Button-up Shirts:

 I cannot get enough of these. Particularly, the standard and classic white button up oxford. Must be long-sleeves, I am strictly opposed to short-sleeved button ups. When shopping for these I have a few things in mind that I want to find in the shirt: how well they will wash, if they are dry-clean only, not too short to be tucked in, and button placement. Ah, yes, button placement. It needs to have the perfectly placed second button that, when undone, will show enough but not too much. When the second button is placed too low, you must keep it buttoned for daily wear and then only the first button is undone and this could look awkward. And if you are busty (like me), you can look like you are downright suffocating the girls when you have that second button fastened. My personal faves:

-Seven For All Mankind
-Hugo Boss
-Olive & Oak

Nude Pumps:
Must. Have. Nude. Pumps. They look amazing with practically everything. In particular, casual bottoms like boyfriend jeans, skinny jeans, casual cargo-style skinny pants. I prefer to pair nude pumps over any other shade if I am going with a casual pant. If I need a neutral, I choose nude. Pairing casual bottoms with black seems counter-productive. Black has its place and time and that time is not it. However, nude pumps look amazing with black,or predominately black, dresses and skirts. They say that nude pumps make your legs look longer. I guess because they give the illusion of adding extra inches to your leg given that they are the same shade family. This will not work if you have super tanned, olive, or african-american skin though. Duh. 
My faves:
 Jessica Simpson Jessica Pump: Gotta love JS shoes. The singing thing may not have worked out. Her marriage may not have worked out. But girl has a $350 million dollar business for her accessories alone. She makes shoes that keep in line with trends but that women aren't scared to wear. I'm a woman and I want to wear her shoes. Go Jess.

Chanel: My Chanel beige pumps are my Holy Grail shoes. Nothing is better than Chanel. Nothing. Accept less expensive Chanel.

Christian Louboutin: I don't own any Loubou's..... yet. But I absolutely love the way they do pumps. I'd have to say that this is the first brand I noticed when I noticed nude. Ahh, their patent leather nude pumps are my favorite. I love for that infamous red sole.

I love jackets. Specifically, cropped and/or boyfriend style jackets that you wear to dress up an outfit or present a more polished appearance than a blouse or t-shirt alone. I have been wanting a good nude, beige, or blush jacket but wasn't able to snag one that I really liked or that fit me really well. I'm a hard fit for jackets if I ever want to button them. I am a size 0 with a size nothing close to 0 in the chest. If I bought for my body shape, I'd buy the 0-2 but if I bought for my chest size, I'd by a 6-8. Unless the buttons fall lower on the jacket than right beneath the chest. If this is the case, I'm in business. I prefer a lightweight, no shoulder pads, easy to take care of jacket. Some faves:

J Crew Canvas Schoolboy Blazer
J Crew Herringbone Schoolboy Blazer
J Crew Anything

I love tights and leggings. There was a point in time when I was waiting for these to come back around again. Well, leggings busted back onto the scene quite a few years ago but tights took their sweet time. At least in the way that I like them to be worn. It was Nicole Ritchie that wore some opaque black tights with denim shorts one year (last yr?), and I fell in love with that look. Why don't more people pair shorts and tights together, I asked myself. I adore the footless tight/shorts look or footless tights/dresses/skirts look. I just don't think you can go wrong with tights. And the way that J Crew is incorporating tights with their Crewcuts kid's line is absolutely adorable. They sell super duper cute footless sweater material, loosely knit, tights at the Gap for kids and my older daughter has been wearing them like crazy with little boyfriend shorts and dresses. Ahh, to be 4 again. Anyway, my fave way that I've seen tights worn in magazines is with denim cut-off or rolled shorts, heels, and lots of layers on top. You can really do no wrong. I even saw a cute Asian girl in a Louis Vuitton ad with gold shorts, black fishnets, gold pumps, and a graphic T. It was absolutely tasteful and beyond adorable on her tiny body. In fact, I don't even remember which bag was advertised in that ad. That's how much the outfit overshadowed it. Faves:

Express: tried and true, great quality, opaque tights and lots of styles!
Urban Outfitters: usually for more "out there" styles and shade selection
J Crew: wool, ribbed, opaque

Socks With Heels Look:

Love this look. Once again, JCrew has nailed the proper way to wear this combination. Now, this may be a trend right now but its definitely for the fashion risk taker. I think when we think of socks and sandals, we think of those dreaded times where socks and Birkenstocks or socks with Tevas were a common practice. Erase that nightmarish image and replace it with an ultra-hip JCrew model like the picture below.

Joe's Jeans Best Friend Rolled Shorts:

This is the only Joe's Jeans item I own and I love them. I live in them. They are the perfect length, not too hoochie and not too "mommish". Well made and durable as well. I didn't know how I was going to take to this whole "rolled up denim short" look. Quite frankly, the memories of this past fashion mishap haunt me to this day. But I had to get back on the horse. The horse known as the rolled up denim short. Next stop: Seven For All Mankind in the same style. 

Gold Jewelry:

I love gold. Gold gold and more gold. I think gold looks amazing with everything. There was a time that gold took a huge backseat to silver but I am very glad that the precious metal has made its way back into the fashion world and I know this time it is here to stay. Gold just looks more high-fashion and classic than silver, in my humble opinion. There is a certain way to wear silver otherwise it can look a bit cheap. No offense. I'm sure the way you wear your silver is the exact "certain way" that I'm talking about. Back to gold. I prefer the brushed gold look but I'm not opposed to shiny, rose, yellow, or any other way it comes. In fact, I adore rose gold. The rose gold/crystal ball stud earrings from Target are my favorite jewelry item of the year. And I'm craving a rose gold Michael Kors watch. The only color that doesn't look better paired with gold is grey and obviously silver. I don't even know how one can wear black clothing with anything but gold jewelry or turquoise without gold or emerald green without gold. Navy without gold? Nude without gold?! Bronze, beige, taupe, or brown without gold? How does this happen? I would have to go sans jewelry if I didn't have any gold handy and I had any one of these colors on. Now, gold is not perfect. There are hideous ways to wear anything. Think of some of the ways that men wear gold around their neck. Enough said.

Some of my favorite gold or gold accented items:

Michael Kors white ceramic watches with yellow or rose gold
My turquoise leather bracelet with gold studs and gold buckle
Anything with emeralds

Leather/Faux Leather/Vegan Leather/Any kind of LEATHER Jacket:
Girl on left has nailed the way to wear a floral dress
I love pairing feminine pieces with leather. I love mixing genres in this way. Take a floral dress. On its own, it wouldn't be something I would choose. But paired with a black leather cropped jacket, and you have a deal. Especially into super fun shades like blush or ivory in the leather jacket category. I picked up a great vegan leather jacket at TJ Maxx that is just as soft as any real piece of leather (with the exception of Italian) that you have ever felt. It makes any outfit look good. 

My Style Icons:

Sienna Miller
Gwen Stefani
Victoria Beckham
Audrey Hepburn
Kate Moss
Kim Kardashian: with the exception of high-waisted pants. Just can't get into that look.
Nicole Ritchie: minus the overly boho looks, more into her more polished appearance.
Taylor Jacobsen: Rachel Zoe's former assistant, loved the way she did leather!

Favorite Fashion Trends/Advice

Mix those prints, girl, mix those prints!
Mixing Genres:
Like I have mentioned above, I love doing this. I like taking something simple and classic and mixing in something rocker chic and edgy. I mentioned the floral dress. On its own, a total bore. Pair it with the leather cropped motorcycle jacket or fishnets and you have a much more fashionable look. In fact, any type of feminine dress or blouse paired with leather is a good idea.

Mixing Prints: 
I love this too. I love when the rules are just thrown out the window and the focus is more on colors that work well together rather than the arrangement and design in which the colors take place. Remember Kenley from Project Runway? The kind of spoiled bratty Betty Paige looking girl? Bitchy or not, the girl knew how to mix prints and she made fabulous dresses. Now, this print mixing isn't an easy task. A little bit of legwork (second opinions, magazines, internet) may be necessary to get it right.

Sexy shoes with unsexy pants: 
I love boyfriend jeans but the truth is, they aren't that sexy. They aren't tight, that's why. But they look so adorable with the right shoes. Paired with flats they are just OK. But paired with pumps or strappy heels, you have a winner. I heard a great fashion story from a lovely JCrew sales girl. She said they had these hideous cargo pants one season. Not the skinny ones but the regular old drawstring having loungey shapeless cargo pants. They sat and sat and sat with no takers. So she bought them when they went on clearance, rolled them up at the bottoms and even at the waist a couple times because they were just so big, and she paired them with some nude pumps and wore them to work. Everyone raved over the pants and wanted to have them. Sometimes, all you need is a little imagination.

Balance! Balance! Balance!
Its all about balance. If you do fitted on top, don't do fitted on the bottom. And vice versa. If you wear something loose and blousey on top, pair it with leggings or skinny jeans and not something baggy or shapeless. If you are wearing leggings, don't pair them with a tighter fitting top. If you are wearing a super short pair of shorts or skirt, wear something loose on top. The same line of thinking applies to other styles as well. If you are wearing something more masculine like a blazer and a collared shirt, wear some sexy shoes. The key here is to mix it up and try to not stick with one theme. My fashion outlook is about borrowing and mixing and putting together something from a multitude of sources.
Pair loose fitting tops with short bottoms
Invest In Timeless Pieces:

Invest the majority of your clothing money in items that you can mix with a variety of other things. Furthermore, pieces that will stand the test of time and transition well from season to season. My recommendations:

A good pair of dark rinsed skinny jeans
Neutral blazers, cropped and/or boyfriend, casual and/or career
Neutral pumps, preferably nude and black
Comfortable ballet flats
LBD or Little Black Dress
Leather/Faux Leather jacket

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