August 31, 2011

Form & Function

Via the always wonderful T Magazine
"I absolutely love fashion. I love doing new things and finding ways to swerve in a different direction. But one of the reasons why I try to use fabrics and cuts that don't go out of fashion is because I like the idea of women buying the clothes and then... I don't know what the word is... cherish sounds over-emotional for a relationship with a piece of clothing... but for a woman to feel proud, satisfied, comfortable and powerful in them, to wear them and get on with their lives." Phoebe Philo
In many ways this is the epitome of how a wardrobe should work. Who doesn't want to feel proud, satisfied, comfortable or powerful in their clothing? Every wardrobe has items that are relied on. The go-to pair of trousers, the timeless blouse, the flawless dress, that special something; that when you wear it, you are ready to take on... anything. 
For me these items have purpose. These garments toe the line between being highly functional (almost a bit utilitarian in some ways) and being luxurious in fabric and cut. One example that comes to mind is my beautiful Yves Saint Laurent dress, that is exquisitely cut, but has the deepest pockets. It's about finding garments that strike the perfect balance. Function doesn't have to mean that I sacrifice fabric, cut, or my aesthetic.  
This week there is a crispness in the air. It's downright chilly. I find myself reaching for one of my favorite practical garments- the trench coat. I know I mentioned it here, but trenches are one of my favorite transitional pieces. During an unexpected downpour* last week I grabbed a trench and headed off to a lunch meeting. My trench coats are workhorse items. I like that a well tailored trench is timeless. A trench coat that is tailored to perfection allows me to look effortlessly pulled together while embracing the elements. 
Do you have items that strike the perfect balance between form and function?
* I must confess I keep more than a few items at the office (wraps, black pumps, flats, blazer, cardigan and  trench to name a few)  just in case something unexpected is added to my schedule.

August 27, 2011

Modern Elegance

Behnaz Sarafpour Blouse and Skirt, Miu Miu Shoes, Tiffany & Co. Hand Engraved Bracelet 

One of my favorite aspects of New York City is the unparalleled access to designers. I always enjoy visiting designer studios and showrooms. When I received the invite to the Behnaz Sarafpour Press, Friends and Family Event I couldn't pass it up. I'm fond of many large fashion houses, but there is something refreshing about a designer making beautiful clothing independently. I fell in love with Behnaz Sarafpour when she was working for Isaac Mizrahi.

Elegant feminine silhouettes are essential to the Behnaz Sarafpour aesthetic. There's a sophisticated uptown elegance that is very much in line with my style. Not to mention the use of luxurious fabrics. Gorgeous fabrics will always win me over. When I saw this blouse and skirt I was instantly charmed. The blouse is an exquisite silk, but the details make it unique. The collar's rosettes, black silk buttons and open sleeves are the types of details I'm constantly in search of. The skirt's deep front pleat and beautiful structure ensure that it will quickly become a wardrobe staple. 

I usually don't wear one designer from head to toe, but these two items compliment each other so well. Not only was I able to shop the Fall 2011 collection with assistance from the designer's seamstresses, but they even provided alterations. These women have such a love for craftsmanship. Although my favorite  part of the shopping experience was stealing a peak at the wonderful fabrics for Spring/Summer 2012.

August 24, 2011

A Little Reminder

My Personal Photo

Just a little reminder to enjoy the present. Over the weekend I was doing just that when I came across these sunflowers. I have a weakness for gardens and landscapes. I couldn't help but think that summer is not over yet. I'm intent on enjoying the carefree season. Don't get me wrong, September and October are absolutely breathtaking in New York. Early autumn when you can still linger outside is one of my favorite times of year. 

While I love early autumn, I've had fall on my mind since February. It all starts with the collections and quickly intensifies into a life of its' own. For better or worse the seasons are rushed. We barely reached summer and Pre-Fall hit stores. It's all very cyclical, but that's all the more reason why it's import to savour the now. The last few weeks have been busy, but it's always important to take time out to enjoy the little things. 

August 22, 2011


My Personal Photo
My Personal Photo

Brooks Brothers Tailored Fit Shirt

Crisp is the first word that comes to mind when I think about a white shirt. There's nothing like a tailored white shirt. That being said, I find dress shirts one of the hardest items to shop for. A white dress shirt is often regarded as the stalwart of a work wardrobe. I'm not devoted to those lists of wardrobe staples that every woman should own, but there's no ignoring the white dress shirt. 

When it comes to fit, I need a dress shirt that is cut extremely slim. I adore a slouchy white shirt, but a tailored silhouette doesn't swallow my frame. This shirt is perfect with its' slightly longer shirttails, traditional front placket, front and back darts, and single-button barrel cuffs. Perhaps what sold me on this shirt is that the sleeves hit my wrist at the perfect place. As any girl with long limbs knows there is nothing worse than having sleeves that are too short.

A white cotton button down was on my shopping list for some time. After finding the perfect white shirt some time ago, my search had to start from scratch when it was discontinued. Having exhausted my options I figured this might be an item that I have custom made. When I was in Hong Kong I was preoccupied with having the perfect silk shirt and trousers made. This shirt is sharp and versatile. Upon realizing what a great shirt this is, I promptly stocked up on a few. When something so simple is this good it's worth owning more than one.

PS- Does anyone else find button downs difficult to shop for?

August 18, 2011

Kicking Off My Heels

The Coveteur

Last week was exhausting. The good kind of exhausting. A long awaited professional goal was finally realized and lots of new opportunities are on the horizon. Hopefully, I'll be able to talk about it all soon. In the midst of such a busy week I couldn't help but look forward to the weekend. Early Saturday morning I packed up a little canvas tote and headed up the Hudson on Metro-North to volunteer with one of my favorite organizations. 

It was all about kicking off my heels and putting on my favorite oxford shirt and ballet flats. A Breton sweater and sunscreen were tucked into my bag. A day at summer camp calls for pared down elegance. Who wants to be restricted by attire when you could be boating or helping a child decorate a T-shirt? There's nothing more inelegant than being inappropriately dressed for the occasion. The children I tutor and mentor during the school year were amazed by my relaxed attire. 

It's always rewarding to visit camp. I feel very fortunate to be able to be involved  with an organization that provides children with such an amazing experience. It's easy to take the little things that define summer for granted, but these kids never cease to amaze me. They are open to exploring and trying new things in the way children naturally are. In times when it feels like the world is falling apart, it's important to remember that you can make a difference in someones' life. To me giving back is truly one of the chicest things you can do.

August 14, 2011

Style Avec Class

Mikimoto Drop Pearl Earrings with Diamonds 

Mikimoto Pearl Stud Earrings with Diamond

Growing up I wore pearl earrings. A simple pair of child-sized pearl studs may have been my very first pair of earrings. At a young age I fell in love with fine jewelry, however somewhere along the way I stopped wearing pearls. Pearls felt too grown up or conservative to my younger self. I rediscovered pearls after attending a university where they were de rigueur.

Plain pearl studs and strands don't do it for me. I like jewelry that's understated, but with details that make it feel special. I love a pair of pearl studs with a gemstone for day or a pair of drop earrings for evening. I'm also partial to the Lanvin silk ribbon, tulle and satin pearl necklaces. I prefer creme-colored or silvery hues to stark white pearls. Recently black South Sea pearls caught my eye.

There's something undeniably pulled together about pearls. When it comes to pearls I'm loyal to Mikimoto. Mikimoto pearls have the most luminous luster and surface perfection. The earrings above are my pearls of choice for evening and daytime respectively. I can see both pairs of earrings becoming heirloom pieces. They are an easy way to look refined. I find myself standing up a bit straighter in my pearls. Style avec class indeed. 

August 9, 2011

The Art of the Handwritten Note

My Personal Photos
I must admit I have a weakness for stationery. There's nothing more gracious than a handwritten note. Don't get me wrong, it's not question of electronic correspondence versus a handwritten note. I have far too many devices that send email, but there are times that call for a well-written note. It speaks volumes. 

I use my Smythson (for very special notes) or Crane & Co. stationery for professional notes. Both companies make beautiful stationery. My go-to is ecru colored cotton paper, hand engraved with a single script initial in gold and matching gold lined envelope. I save my creative stationery for personal correspondences. I adore browsing paper stores for agendas, notebooks, and stationery. Stationery is a great way to display your personality and style. 

This lovely stationery was custom designed by Gadabout. I admired Hanna Nation's stationery for some time, before I commissioned her to design my blog header and likeness for my sidebar. Hanna's illustrations have such style and flare. I was sold when I spotted a note card named after one of my favorite quotes from The Great Gatsby. Hanna's personalized stationery would make such a nice gift for a mother or friend who loves paper. I was so impressed by my blog header and sidebar illustration (I assure you it's no easy fete working with a perfectionist) that I had to order official blog stationery and calling cards. It's truly an amazing experience when you see your vision come to fruition. So refreshing. 

Are you passionate about paper?

August 5, 2011

On Shopping: Mantras

Via Bergdorf Princess

If she can’t afford it, she won’t buy it. If it doesn’t fit (or make her feel good, or flaunt what she’s got), she won’t wear it. If she can’t find it, she won’t compromise. If she loves it, she won’t toss it. She reuses it, rethinks it, lets it age.

When a French girl shops, it isn’t a solitary act of buying something new. It’s part of a lifelong process of editing her environment, making small but meaningful additions to her home, her closet, her life.

When you shop like a French girl, you buy only one of anything – and make sure it’s the best quality you can afford.

From Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl

A dear friend came across the above quotes while taking a reprieve from shopping at a bookstore. These quotes reminded her of my shopping mantras. Debra Ollivier's Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl is not a book that appeals to me, but I'm constantly amazed that there are books that describe this approach to shopping. This is the way I have always shopped. 

From a young age, I learned not to sacrifice quality for quantity. A love for beautiful fabrics was passed down from mother to daughter. I value garments that are made of sumptuous fabrics that you want to wrap yourself in. There's something refreshing about stepping into your closet and wanting to wear something you cherish. I've found that when you find the perfect silhouette, colors, and fit all anyone notices is that you look great. Regardless of  whether you are wearing the same cardigan or scarf that has become your signature.

I don't have a closet full of unworn clothes because I only purchase items that will add depth to what I already own. I believe in INVESTING in my wardrobe. I buy well-made items and take excellent care of them. I'm judicious when it comes to wardrobe building. It's about selecting this, but not selecting that. More importantly it's about editing. It sounds pretentious, however it's a matter of not consuming idly. Building a wardrobe is a art.

As for my friend, she was convinced that she needed something to wear for a breakfast we were invited to. Granted this is not just any breakfast, but a breakfast and discussion on the disparities of urban achievement with Mayor Bloomberg. My friend always looks flawless. After reading these quotes she quickly realized that it was silly to buy something in haste when she has a closet full of appropriate outfits. If that isn't refreshing then I don't know what is. 

PS- I disagree about buying only one of anything. When I find wonderful basics (a pair of black pants or a white button down) that fit I'm willing to purchase more than one.

August 1, 2011

Lace Embrace

My Personal Photos

Necklace: Tiffany & Co, Shirt: Banana Republic, Skirt: Proenza Schouler, Shoes: Kate Spade

If there is one trend from the Spring/Summer 2011 collections that I can't get enough of it's lace. Lace is one of my all time favorite looks for warmer weather. The inherent femininity gets me every time. What impressed me most about the use of lace in the Spring/Summer 2011 collections is the multitude of ways in which designers worked with it. 

At Dolce and Gabbana the inspiration was a bride's trousseau. Whereas Balenciaga combined a multitude of materials with plasticized lace. Lace is one of those fabrics that truly shows off a designer's craftsmanship and precision. It requires restraint on the part of the wearer. Too much lace can easily become overkill. It's about finding the perfect balance. 

For the past few years, I have acquired at least one lace item before summer's end. I generally gravitate toward a neutral color palate, but when I saw this skirt I couldn't resist. In typical Proenza Schouler style, this skirt combines a beautiful silhouette with a strong and unexpected color pattern. The word powerful comes to mind. The color combination prevents the skirt from appearing too precious. 

As soon as I saw this skirt I instantly gravitated to it. To put it simply- I was charmed. While this skirt is inexplicably different from the items in my closet, I firmly believe that every well-edited closet needs a few special pieces.