January 25, 2012

Staying Warm and Toasty

Via Garance Dore

There's nothing like waking to the first snowfall of the season. There's something about the quiet city under a blanket of snow that's utterly charming and quaint. Peeking out of my window, my first thoughts instantly raced to footwear. At last, an opportunity to put my new L.L. Bean Boots to the test. 

During last year's many blizzards, snow boots were a necessity for trudging through slushy streets. I walk everywhere, regardless of how inclement the weather is. I enjoy getting outside and being active. I like to call myself, embracing the elements.

It took a while for me to come around, but honestly there's nothing elegant or chic about being inappropriately dressed for the weather. I freeze quickly (I'm not built for cold weather), so cashmere socks and boots that are lined are integral for braving the cold. In the midst of last February's big snow storms, the snow boots I'd had for years gave way; leaving me searching for a warm, chic way to brave the slush.

Beautiful shoes might be my weakness and I wish more designers would consider designing functional snow boots. I entertained the idea of Sorels, but I'm used to feeling light on my feet and I felt clumsy and weighed down in them. I ended up going with the shearing L.L. Bean Boots (practical winter footwear indeed) because they're available in narrow sizes. It's not easy to find footwear in narrow sizes.

When my Bean Boots arrived I was impressed by the fact that I felt agile in them, but I was really sold this weekend when my feet stayed dry and warm (a rarity) on a long brisk walk. While I loathe the very thought of snow boots, I love having warm, dry feet. 

I ran into an always immaculate friend who mentioned that even in the snow I looked "stylish." It just goes to show you that when you own your look (in this case Parka + boots) and dress with conviction, you can't go wrong. 

PS- Can you believe the past two days have felt like Spring again?

January 19, 2012

On Writing...

Courtesy of Les Composantes

"When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written, to keep my mind from going on with the story I was working on. If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing that you were writing before you could go on with it the next day…. 

I had learned already, never to empty the well of my writing; but always, to stop when there was still something there, in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it." Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast 

Such elegant words from a book that I enjoy reading again and again. A Moveable Feast never fails to instantly transport me to my favorite streets in Paris. That's the wonderful thing about  books; they can transport you, anywhere. 

I'm certainly not writing a literary masterpiece, but I enjoy sharing my thoughts on style. I find sartorial inspiration in so many things; so it's important to have a place to deconstruct and make sense of it all. I eat, sleep and breathe the subtitles that to me, make fashion so compelling. 

I'm grateful to have readers who constantly challenge me to write concisely about something I'm so passionate about. It never fails; your comments and thoughts inspire me and make this blog a true conversation. 

Here's to many more style conversations!

January 16, 2012

Blush Hues and Winter Sunlight

My Personal Photo

Sandro Silk Blouse (with Cotton Peter Pan Collar), J. Crew Cropped Trousers, Tiffany & Co. Hand Engraved Bracelet and Handcrafted bespoke bangles.

Pale muted tones and winter sunlight. Two of my favorite things lately. It has been such a treat to have an unseasonably warm autumn and a winter that barring a few days hasn't really shown itself. These pictures were taken last weekend on a glorious sixty- five degree day*. All the better for a leisurely stroll. 

As we all know, I have a penchant for silk button down shirts (see here and here) and have been relying on the bespoke silk blouses I had made in Hong Kong. When I saw this little blouse I instantly fell hard for the details. The blush hue (that I'm ever so fond of) pops against my skin tone. The graceful drape of the sleeves.  The pleats and darts. The rounded Peter Pan collar. Most importantly, the silk is that heavy weight that I love. 

I had seen this blouse on Net-A-Porter and Sandro's websites, but there was something about the styling that failed to convince me. Seeing the blouse in person really solidified it as a piece that would meld seamlessly into my wardrobe. There's just something about being able to touch the material that deeply appeals to me.

I tried on several charming blouses at Sandro, but they were all comically too large. It's hard to tell if it's a Sandro thing, since sizing is always an issue for me and the very reason why I've come to rely on bespoke blouses. I like that this blouse is a bit slouchy (with the all important well fitting shoulder), but can be neatly tucked in. 

Wishing you all a Happy Martin Luther King  Day.

* Selfishly, I'm looking forward to another round of warm weather, but the poor trees and flowers- they're already blooming.

January 12, 2012

Finding Neverland...

Via Park Street

When it comes to style, I truly admire those who maintain a sense of consistency. There's something refreshing about having such commitment to your style and point of view. It's what I love most about Audrey Hepburn's gamine chic look or Katherine Hepburn's tailored trousers. It's more about their devotion to their vision than any desire to embody these looks. 

I like to think that my style is consistent. This doesn't mean that I've stopped growing or developing my style, but I feel a sense of commitment to my look. I'm judicious when it comes to curating and editing my wardrobe. It's refreshing to hone my style and think about influences. It's always interesting to examine what we're drawn to. 

Via Vanessa Jackman
For quite sometime, I've been drawn to Peter Pan collars*. They're charming; coy; and a bit whimsical. The rounded collar instantly conjures up memories of the precocious Eloise**. It's interesting to trace something you love now to your childhood self.

As a discerning shopper, I've yet to find the perfect white cotton button-down with the aforementioned collar. As a lover of true craftsmanship, I can't help but admire the lace and varnished-leather collars at Louis Vuitton, even if I'm in search of something basic. The subtlety of the collar is the perfect detail to anchor a wardrobe of stunning skirts. 

So for now, the charming shirt is on my short list.

* I like a buttoned up shirt that takes inspiration from the rounded collar that comes to mind.

** I loved Eloise as a child- the adventures, The Plaza and the spying on adult happenings.

January 8, 2012

Return To Order

Courtesy of Into the Gloss

"Simplicity, good taste and grooming are the three fundamentals of good dressing…" Christian Dior 

It's impossible to have a conversation about personal style without talking about grooming. Nothing makes me feel instantly pulled together quite like being well-groomed. For me, this means having my hair done often (some things are best left to professionals), the perfect manicure and pedicure, flawless/glowing skin and natural makeup. Let it be known that I firmly believe that beauty comes from within, but sometimes we all need a little help. 

I'm the daughter of a beauty girl, which has informed my style immensely. Skincare takes precedence for my mother. Likewise, my biggest luxuries are moisturizers and spa worthy products that force me to take a few minutes to relax. 

Courtesy of Into the Gloss
We've all fallen under the spell of Into the Gloss for beauty related frivolity. The voyeur in me; loves hearing about the products that accomplished and beautiful women keep on their top shelves. Truth be told, I rely on my mother's opinions before diving into new products or altering my routine. I relish Into the Gloss for organization ideas. 

I like my beauty products, closet, desks and life neatly organized. I crave having all of my products in their rightful places. It's about simplicity and order. I can tell I've stumbled upon a top shelf that I'm going to love, when beauty products are meticulously arranged. It's comforting to know that even with my eyes closed I can find all of the items I need in an instant. Yes, I'm completely Type A

Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. 

January 3, 2012

Joaquín Sorolla and The Glory of Spanish Dress

Joaquín Sorolla Characters from Lagartera or Lagartera Bride, 1912 Courtesy of Museo Sorolla, Madrid

I spent a luxurious Friday afternoon at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute taking in the recently opened "Joaquín Sorolla and The Glory of Spanish Dress" exhibit. I had been awaiting the opening of "Joaquín Sorolla and The Glory of Spanish Dress" all fall, and questioning how the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute could possibly outdo "Balenciaga and Spain." The exhibit was developed by Oscar de la Renta, who is the Institute's chairman of the board. 

De la Renta's inspiration for this exhibit was Vision of Spain, the Sorolla mural commissioned in 1911 for The Hispanic Society of America in New York. The size and scale of the series was unheard of. The mural represents eleven regions of Spain and focuses on agrarian culture, traditions and dress. Sorolla spent eight years researching, sketching, preparing studies and paintings in preparation for the mural. 

Joaquín Sorolla Couple from Salamanca, 1912 Courtesy of Museo Sorolla, Madrid

I love the way Sorolla paints Spain's landscapes. Oil studies and gouaches capture each region's specific and particular quality of light. Sorolla would purchase authentic garments and jewelry in an effort to preserve the distinct culture of each region. The jewelry in this exhibit is stunning. Various Traje de Vistas (bridal and festive ensembles worn by women in the early twentieth century) feature necklaces, pendants, medals, medallions, reliquaries, crosses and beautifully craved coral pieces. I always find jewelry to be so enduring.

Joaquín Sorolla Harvest, Jerez, 1914 Courtesy of Museo Sorolla, Madrid

The exhibit features a fisherman's shirt covered with patches of clothing remnants that Sorolla purchased during a trip through the Basque Country. There are beautiful examples of embroidery from Lagartera, a town famous for its' embroidery, needlework and lace making (sigh). The traditional clothing in "Joaquín Sorolla and The Glory of Spanish Dress" is primarily from the early 20th century. My favorite being elaborate brocades (reminiscent of French Court dress) from Valencia's thriving silk producing and weaving industry. 

Mantón de Manila (shawl), 19th century Collection of Naty Abascal © Craig McDean / Courtesy of Art + Commerce

Traje corto (riding ensemble), c. 1961 Collection of the Duchess of Alba © Craig McDean / Courtesy of Art + Commerce

The exhibit opens with its' only contemporary day look; a tan leather coat from Nicolas Ghesquière's Fall 2006 collection (look 7). Fall 2006 is one of my favorite Nicolas Ghesquière collections. The exhibit seamlessly juxtaposes Sorolla's paintings and traditional clothing with modern evening looks from Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Carolina Herrera, YSL, Oscar de la Renta and Christian Lacroix that were inspired by various aspects of Spanish dress. Christian Lacroix's Eau du Nil wedding dress made me feel quite nostalgic. How can you talk about finding inspiration in Spain without mentioning Lacroix, who considers Spain a muse.

I love the talent that went into producing this exhibit. A few looks were generously contributed from Hamish Bowles' personal couture collection. Andrè Leon Talley curated the exhibit; the sets were designed by Stefan Beckman and Harold Koda wrote the forward for the accompanying book. If you're in New York, I highly recommend stopping in and getting lost.

Happy 2012! Hope the new year is off to a good start for you all.