Archive | September, 2010

Turning Over a New Leaf

29 Sep

Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important. – Janet Lane

I have always been a big believer in weather playing a commanding role in one’s mood. I never feel as calm and at peace as I do when I am sitting on the beach, smelling the salt air and feeling the sun on my skin. When I am unhappy, I crave an all-encompassing thunderstorm as much as Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. However, I failed to understand the true power of nature until surviving a Chicago winter. For a usually bubbly girl, it was absolute torture.

Thankfully, I no longer have to worry about brutally chilly temperatures and blistering winds. Still, I do have to adjust to the suddenly cooler weather in Nashville. Enjoying an al fresco brunch with a friend this past Sunday, I noticed that fall has quickly arrived, meaning a sundress and sandals (which I happened to be wearing at the time) will no longer do as my daily uniform. In an effort to keep that smile of summertime on my face, it is time to shop (perhaps only in my own closet) for this season’s favorites.

As the leaves begin to fall, I am taking note of my fall fashion must-haves (or hope-to-haves), including Tory Burch’s Elle boot in tumbled brown leather and a structured and lady-like Belle handbag by Rebecca Minkoff. Mind you, I’ve already got a few checkmarks on that list: a military coat from J. Crew, the perfect pair of carmel Via Spiga Astro clogs and Rebecca Taylor’s Bloomie dress, all of which will be regulars until winter arrives.

fashionable fall footwear - Via Spiga Astro clogs

In addition to my wish list, I’m always excited to take a peek at the trends of the entering season. Webster defines a trend as “a general movement or a prevailing tendency or inclination”; thus, when it comes to fashion, we the consumers dictate the trends, keeping that movement…well, moving. Here are a few trends that I look forward to incorporating into my dressing habits:

  • My personal favorite this season, tomboy cool presents the perfect attire for enjoying a day of leisure.  This comfy chic option includes boyfriend jeans, loose cardigans and easy button-ups, accessorized with messenger bags, riding boots and hats (nothing like a fedora or baseball cap to hide a bad hair day).
  • One trend that continues to reign despite the season is anything and everything girly. From feminine ruffles and pretty draping to pale colors and polished details, this option is a smart sartorial choice whether you’re headed to a cocktail party, movie date or the grocery store.
  • Unexpected prints add a bit of spice to the basics in every girl’s wardrobe.  Some on-trend prints for fall are nautical stripes, floral, preppy plaid and leopard.  As long as you stick within the same color palette, mixing and matching has never been so fun.

one of my fall favorites - Bloomie dress by Rebecca Taylor

tomboy cool - always love Reese's style

Dressing in Confidence

28 Sep

The 20s are about finding your style, developing it, and taking all the risks in the world. – Anne Hathaway

I spent two years learning how to best navigate the ways of the working world in the Windy City and then the Big Apple, adapting to completely unfamiliar and unforeseen environments, environments that tested my personal convictions and capabilities with every twist and turn.  Now, I am learning yet again how to find my way in a new city (Nashville) and a new career (TBD). With each passing day, I realize that I am more prepared than I expected and stronger than I believed – except when it comes to my will to shop, of course.

Until that next career is determined and regular paychecks are deposited in my near-empty bank account, the wonderful world of window shopping and online browsing must satisfy my fashion cravings. Each purchase is greatly considered before I hand over my credit card. Can I afford this Rebecca Minkoff Nikki handbag in a delicious double cream? Will I appreciate these teal, fringed Cree sandals by Cynthia Vincent and pair them with the perfect outfits, allowing them to meet their full potential? And is six months of fashion-crushing on a bright pink Julie Haus dress really reason enough to spend nearly $400 on a custom-made and non-returnable summertime garment in the middle of a Chicago winter? (Just to be certain that I am clearly expressing my mindset, the answer to all of these questions is absolutely.)

something to carry through the seasons - Nikki handbag by Rebecca Minkoff

Not only has my spending allowance been greatly altered but so has the atmosphere of my everyday world. From a college campus to a big-time public relations firm to the unglamourous life of a nanny, I suddenly face limitations in my daily dress code, restrictions that I must remind myself of during each shopping experience. I cannot buy a top simply because I like the color, because it will look phenomenal with a particular pair of shoes or because I’m having a bad day (a new purchase is really the best rememdy for the blues). It must be able to be worn tucked neatly into a pencil skirt or loose with a pair of comfortable jeans and covered with a cardigan as needed. More importantly, it must help me transition through the four seasons (there goes my bottom-feeder salary rearing its ugly head again).  While I believe all rules, those pertaining to fashion included, are meant to be broken, there is still a certain standard of dress that needs to be followed based on one’s day-to-day activities.

With this new attitude towards shopping – one that means I must weigh the significance of my next purchase with the need to be able to pay that month’s rent – comes a higher degree of self-awareness. Every new item must be a puzzle-perfect fit with my existing wardrobe, serving as that missing piece that I need to fulfill the creation of my own sense of style. I am slowly becoming more conscious of who I am and how my personal appearance reflects my discovery of who I hope to become.

We all present ourselves to the world through our outfits, which means that each morning brings a myriad of choices when it comes to answering one simple question: Who do I want to be today? My response tends to change daily, but with these different answers comes a reinvigorated feeling of self-assuredness and optimism. Hidden behind this blog is a girl who is embracing her personal taste, opening her closet with a smile and dressing in confidence from head to heel-clad toe.

The Art of Occasion Shopping

24 Sep

There must be dresses that crawl and dresses that fly. The butterfly does not go to market, and the caterpillar does not go to the ball. – Coco Chanel

While many girls outgrow the need for a new dress on every Easter Sunday, I still believe in the importance of the bewitching feeling that results from such a purchase. What better way to mark a significant day than with an ensemble chosen specifically for that occasion? (It may only be October, but I’ve already purchased the perfect white dress from French Connection for next Easter’s Sunday service.)

Just as I often connect the people in my life with a particular outfit that they once wore, I have a habit of remembering memorable events based on my choice of clothing. Because of this innate tendency of association, there is a dire need to plan ahead and dress accordingly for each and every holiday – whether it be as unexceptional as another Christmas Eve celebration with my family or as meaningful as start of the rest of my life.

A dress may gain its noteworthiness from the wearer as opposed to the circumstances.  Already in hibernation mode by early December of my first (and only) Chicago winter, I was more than ready for the holiday season to roll around, allowing me to spend some much needed family time away from the Windy City. With that said, I began planning my Christmas wardrobe even earlier than usual (purchasing ahead seems to be a habit of mine). In late fall, I stumbled across a ruby red silk, cap-sleeved Marc by Marc Jacobs dress with a pleated skirt – and I knew it was the one. When it was time for the Christmas Eve church service, that dress paired with black tights and black Mary Jane patent leather pumps made the long, cold winter well worth it. After all, I had made it to the merriest time of the year.

matching the berries on the mistletoe

Other dresses carry an heir of importance simply because of the event for which they’re bought. For my college graduation, I needed a dress that would adequately mark my entrance into the next chapter of life’s adventures. I had a desire to make a spirited exit following the fulfillment my studies, and I wanted to feel fresh and charming as I spent my final day as a college kid. With these thoughts in mind, it was time to shop. In no time at all, I found it: a bright yellow tiered-skirted dress with ruffled sleeves by Julie Haus. Ultimately, my dress choice served as a fitting end to a fantastic four years – and an appropriate beginning for what was to come.

Now, as I find myself navigating the twists and turns of the real world (or taking a break from that bumpy road), I realize that dressing for success is more important than ever. My first of day of work, my first client meeting, my first business trip – all of these corporate milestones deserved an outfit with which to mark the memory, and I always did my best to comply.

me & mama on easter sunday - i always loved getting dressed up!

the perfect graduation dress

An Insatiable Appetite

23 Sep

It’s a bit oxymoronic, isn’t it? To make something that will last, but then still create more so there’s always something special to dream about. That really is the nature of fashion. – Marc Jacobs

As a lover of all things fashionable, I have come to realize in my 24 years that there will always be another “I just have to have it!” moment in my shopping adventures. Not until next season if I’m lucky, but eventually nonetheless. No matter how many little black dresses a woman owns, there is always that perfect LBD waiting in the next window display.  Regardless of the fabulousness of a pair of gladiator sandals, you will most definitely stumble across another pair that makes you stand a bit taller, a bit more confident.

During this wavering economy, it is daunting to know that a much lusted-after purchase may become part of yesterday’s wish list before the credit card bill even arrives. However, the fear of this quick turnaround looming over head (or over wallet) should not deter you. Life is about choices, one of those being your self-presentation.  When it comes to appearances, it is imperative to always be a first-rate version of yourself – and if you’re constantly maturing and growing into someone new, shouldn’t your closet follow suit (perhaps quite literally)?

The insatiable appetite that women like myself feel for fashion also speaks to the tendency for fashion to repeat itself through the decades. I grew up envying 1940s American girls, wearing their floral rompers with bowed headbands, strings of pearls and round-toed pumps. And now, thanks to the fashion-forwardness of Miss Blair Waldorf (making me swoon more than ever at the start of season four), such outfits and accessories are trendy once again. Reinvention is a never-ending wheel, one that continues to roll through the ages – and through the instant popularity of cult sensations such as Gossip Girl.

The summer rolls into fall, and I’m reminded of a simple yet unwavering truth: seasons come and go, but fashion is forever, ever evolving with the changing times, always ready for what’s next.  Perhaps it is this timeliness that makes the pursuit of fashion timeless and endlessly relevant. If anything, this enduring quality is something we should all aspire to emulate.  To be someone who your loved ones simply cannot resist, someone who unequivocally remains true to herself, someone who inspires and pushes others to be their very best selves – what more could a girl want?

Rachel McAdams in "The Notebook" (2004) gives us a peek at fashion in the 1940s: feminine headpieces, structured handbags and lady-like silhouettes.

Blair: Moschino dress, Christian Louboutin shoes and Chanel cuff and bag, Serena: Georges Chakra dress, Rag & Bone blazer, Yestdat hat, Mulberry bag, Janis Savit bracelet and Made Her Think bracelet

Fast Cars and High Heels

22 Sep

Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world. – Bette Midler

I blame my unprecedented love for shoes on the movies. Cinderella’s missing glass slipper opened her eyes to a whole new world, one free of evil stepsisters and filled with love from her handsome Prince Charming. Dorothy’s ruby red slippers possessed the ability to take her to the end of the yellow brick road, introducing her to the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion before kindly returning her home again.  As a four-year old completely obsessed with these stories about iconic shoes, I vowed to never give up my search for such an enchanted pair of footwear.

the ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) are now displayed at the National Museum of American History.

As I grow older, my belief in the magical power of shoes continues to be tested. Most recently, Carrie Bradshaw’s satin and bejeweled pair of Manolo Blahniks only confirmed what I already knew to be true.  These shoes – one of many pairs belonging to a woman who fully embraces this accessory’s undeniable charm – led her down an entirely unexpected path back to an already-sold Fifth Avenue apartment and into the arms of Mr. Big. They even served as her “something blue” in a wedding that she once believed would never happen.

A pair of high heels changes the way a girl feels, the way she looks at the world. They boost a woman’s confidence, giving her a certain je ne sais quoi that causes heads to turn and hearts to melt. Just as a man sits behind the wheel of a European sports car and instantly gains a new sense of pride, a woman slips on a pair of pumps and holds the power to do it all.

Without the proper shoes, an outfit fails to reach its fullest potential, and an occasion cannot be properly celebrated.  And, like all good shoppers, I already have my sights set on my next conquest. While the most important man in my life may simply see a stupid-expensive pair of shoes (his words, not mine), I see the perfect pair of pumps that will become the only pair of pink shoes I ever need to own.

As much as my father may claim not to understand the value of the right shoes, I think he gets it more than he admits. He likes his pricey purchases to come in speed yellow with a custom-made engine, lightweight yet durable wheels and built-in navigation system. I like mine to come in rich magenta leather with a classic round toe, three-and-a-quarter-inch heel and that signature red sole. Ultimately, we both just want to get to where we are going with a certain level of class and confidence.

further proof that shoes can, in fact, be magical.

top of my wish list: Christian Louboutin - Simple 85 Pumps

So What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

21 Sep

And the little prince said to the man, “Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves. And it is tiresome for children to be always explaining things to them.” – The Little Prince

It is the age-old question that children answer with pure innocence and excitement, that teenagers consider with uncertainty and dread and that young adults contemplate with fictitious confidence, responding with what’s expected of them as opposed to what they actually want or believe.

So what did I want to be when I grew up? Some days I wanted to be a teacher or a piano player, and other days I wanted to be an artist or a stylist (yes, even as a little girl). Every day I wanted to be a mom, particularly one with three daughters named Amy (no need to worry about the logistics of that one – I had it worked out in my five-year-old mind). I have always loved writing, so as I got older, my ambitions began to focus more and more on this pursuit. Throughout my college years, opportunities opened up in public relations, which led me to my first two years in the real world. I guess I stopped asking what I wanted to be and instead went after what I could be, what my experiences would allow me to be.

When I was young, 23 was my magical age. I thought by then, I would have it all figured out: I would be settled in a big-girl apartment, be happy with my job and know where I was headed. In fact, in my youthful idealism, I even expected to be engaged, if not married by now, to the boy of my dreams. Instead, I am one year older without any real direction.  Sure, life since graduation has taught me what I don’t want for myself, but I’m no closer to figuring out what I do want.

Now, if I were asked that not-so-simple question, I would have a different set of answers than my former self. I want to find a job that makes me feel whole for eight hours every day, and I want friends and family to come home too and fill the rest of my world. I want to find a man who wants to grow up with me, to build a life together. I want to make my own path. I want to be fulfilled. I want to follow my heart, I want adventure and I want passion. I want to never regret taking a risk, I want to never live with regrets and I want to never wonder “what if” or “how come.”

So what does that all mean? It means I’m 24 years old and still unsure of what I what to be when I grow up. In fact, as I’ve gotten older, dreaming big has gotten harder, so perhaps, I’m farther from knowing than ever before. The answer seems forever beyond my grasp: I don’t know, and I don’t know how to know. But that’s okay – if I’ve learned anything from life’s challenges, it’s that the answers always come when the time is right and that the pieces unequivocally fit together, despite my propensity to complicate things further. Someday, I’ll know what I want to be when I grow up – and until then, I’ll share my adventures as I wander down my right road now.