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January 01, 2010

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Presents of Mind
December 2 | Favorite Things

?This is the time a nagging worry starts to grow exponentially with each day that passes in December.  I’m talking about Christmas shopping.  And every year my list of people to buy for grows longer and my patience for this task diminishes.  Don’t get me wrong, I love giving gifts.  Seriously, I do.  Especially when I know I’ve picked out something that will truly surprise and delight.  The problem is feeling the pressure to surprise and delight every person on my Christmas list.

We’re always reminded that the holidays are not about presents but who are we fooling here?  It may not be about them but gifts certainly are an important factor.  This is the time when we acknowledge loved ones, colleagues, hair dressers, sanitation workers, etc. with some token of our appreciation but it can’t be too much of a token right?

When I was a teenager, I used to cut out magazine ads and tape them on my bookshelf or drop unsubtle hints to let my parents know what I wanted.  Too bad this is unacceptable behavior as adults.  Screw surprise, I want answers and I want them before it’s too late to ship presents at jacked up rates! 

If I’m shopping at a store, I’ll wander aimlessly for what feels like hours unable to make a decision.  Is a scarf too impersonal?  Are pajamas too personal?  Are gift cards a cop out? 

If I’m shopping online, I’ll realize I’ve spent an hour or two browsing site after site, putting things in my shopping cart and ultimately, not buying anything because I’m just not convinced I’ve found the right items.   Or worse, I’ll find presents for me and actually buy them.  Shameful but true.  (I’m going to try very hard not to do that this year.)

I don’t really have a solution… just felt like unloading.  I will probably cave and buy somebody gloves or gift card.  And I’m sure I’ll be scrambling to send a package on time – the first year my husband and I were dating, I spent almost $80 dollars to make sure his present made it on time.

And to give you a reward for even reading this, here are a few cool sites to make your gift buying a little easier.

For clothes you won’t find anywhere else – I could spend hours looking on the enoki world website.  You have to check often because things sell quickly but it’s worth it to find a unique gift for the fashionista in your life.  Yes, you can even buy a Christmas gift for yourself.

For books – I know as a Portlander I am biased but you can’t beat Powell’s Books, the country’s largest independent bookstore.  I recently found a book that was out of print and that made me really happy.

For toys – Oopma Toys has a fantastic selection of creative and high quality toys, many of them European makers. 

For dads and other dudes in your life who pretty much have everything– Canoe is like the MOMA store with even wackier selections, like a humidity proof salt and pepper shaker or a tree growing kit.

For moms and other women in your life who pretty much have everything – I know this isn’t a unique recommendation but with all the sales going on right now, it would be impossible not to find a good gift at the major department stores.  Retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom want you to spend this Christmas so take advantage of those bargains.

Handsome Knit
November 12 | Favorite Things

When I was a teenager, I went through a phase where I’d borrow things from my dad’s wardrobe.  It was like Annie Hall except not nearly as chic… just very shapeless and slouchy.  One of my favorite things to borrow was a burgundy cardigan with dark brown horn-like buttons.  It had two pockets in the front that I liked to jam my hands into while attempting to look cool.  Who knows if I succeeded, but I do know that I love, love, loved that sweater.  Now this one by Stella McCartney is just about as perfect.

McCartney Cardigan
Oversized Stella McCartney cardigan at net-a-porter

Look effortlessly elegant and cozy?  Sign me up.

Hold the Milk
November 7 | Favorite Things

I read somewhere that Kate Moss carried an Hermès Birkin as a diaper bag.  How appropriately fabulous.  No doubt she never worried about leaking bottles or errant diaper wipes ruining the inside.  She probably just grabbed another Birkin from her very deep closet.

For those of us who aren’t in the Birkin club, there are, thankfully, fashionable designs that do not scream diaper bag.  I have the Storksak Emily shoulder bag that’s served me well.  It’s lightweight, roomy and has tons of pocket space to keep all the little things within easy reach.

But I am longing for my favorite bag shape, the satchel.  Then I saw this and thought it would make the perfect covert diaper bag.

Tods Bauleto
Tod’s nylon Pashmy Bauletto handbag

The patent trim is a classic contrast to the techy nylon fabric. The zippered pockets are functional without being too distracting. This is definitely a stylistic winner. I wonder how it would handle spilled milk?

 

Cream of the Crop
November 6 | Favorite Things

Getting cozy never looked so cool.  I’m completely bowled over by this brilliant look from Mike & Chris.

Caption: Cropped leather jacket at Barneys

Flattering fit, funky metallic sheen, removable scarf – this is not your mother’s leather jacket.  Unless your mother actually owns this jacket.  Then my apologies to your rockin’ mom.  

The Tide is High
Favorite Things | October 4

In the past I tried to ignore the fact that waistlines are rising higher and higher and pant legs are getting wider and wider.  I’m not tall and I’m short waisted so it seemed this style was better left to the tall and leggy.  However, on a recent shopping excursion I decided to try the wide legged look and now I’ve discovered high waist wide leg jeans are my friend!

First of all this style keeps me from having to suck it in all the time.  I’ve got a layer of baby fat still hanging around my middle.  Before it was bothersome to have the waist sit just below or right at my bellybutton.  Now it’s like wearing a control garment without… well, wearing a control garment.  So while I work off the last six pounds (all concentrated in my lower gut) I’m loving the higher waist.  With the right tops, you can even out your proportions so being short waisted isn’t an issue.    

As for the wider leg, I wasn’t sure I could pull it off, especially without heels.  I’m 5’4” and don’t think I’m not a tiny bit bitter about that.  If you aren’t a tall girl, go for leg openings that aren’t too wide so your legs won’t look stumpy.  Who needs that?  Oh, and don’t forget to check out how your booty looks in the three way mirror.  You want to look as good from behind as you do from the front.

Here are my top three denim looks:

Dojo Muse Club Jeans
7 for All Mankind Dojo jeans
AG Club jeans
Joe’s Muse jeans


It was a close call but I ended up buying the Dojo jeans in a nice dark wash.  They work with heels and flats, very important double duty.  Next time, I’ll spring for something in a lighter, softer wash.  Now that I’ve discovered the joys of going high and wide, I’m embracing it!

Nature Calls
July 5 | Favorite Things

Hard as it is for me to believe, I’ve become a bird watcher over the past couple of years. In the past, my dealings with birds were pretty much limited to sparrows and pigeons, which were never welcome companions while dining al fresco. I’d hate when they got really close.

Now my experience has expanded dramatically. After traveling to Central America and the Caribbean, and taking many hikes in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve seen too many beautiful birds to discriminate, even against the lowly sparrows and pigeons. Watching Winged Migration helped too. My husband is a champion bird-spotter and learning more about our avian friends makes being outdoors that much more of a pleasure.

If you like birds but are not much of an outdoor person, you can still show your appreciation with a bird motif.

Zimmerman Dress
Bird print dress by Zimmerman at net-a-porter
Chloe Bird Tee
Chloe t-shirt also at net-a-porter
Chicken Tee
Topshop chicken t-shirt
Bird Ring
Silver & enamel ring from shopbop

Slave to a Good Sale?
June 13 | Favorite Things

You’ll need quite a few pennies if you want to get your hands on a luxury handbag. However now is the time to splurge, if you can, because there are sales galore in stores and online. Last week I took a quick trip to check out Nordstrom’s Half Yearly sale. It was a practical trip (needed bras) with the perfect opportunity to buy something on the cheap.

I thought I was being smart by showing up early (10am), but bargain-loving suburban housewives were already out in droves. The sale started at 8am and I thought, “Who goes shopping at that hour?” Well, I certainly found out. Apparently these are women on a mission because the store was packed from cosmetics to infant clothes. When I arrived some shoppers already leaving, arms loaded with bags.

I didn’t bother to go into the shoe department because I was afraid I might not come out alive. It was bumper to bumper in between the shoe racks with traffic moving at a crawl. But I couldn’t resist going on a quick recon mission of the handbag section. If I felt I could throw caution to the wind, I would have picked up a Chloe or Marc Jacobs bag for up to four hundred dollars less than what they normally go for. It’s a good thing being pregnant has made me much more practical – for the most part.

It’s still fun to look and my favorite place to do that is in the comfort of my home, in front of the computer. I can check out some fantastic sale items online without fighting the crowds.

Marni slouch bag
Marni leather slouch bag on sale at net-a-porter
Tod's shoulder bag
Tod’s shoulder bag on sale at Saks Fifth Avenue
Hogan hobo handbag
Hogan leather hobo on sale at Neiman Marcus

I know retailers are still making a pretty penny even when they slash prices, but it still feels good to save a little bit on something you can use for years. I am justifying blatant consumerism even when I haven’t even bought anything! It’s a good thing most of my shopping consists of baby items these days. And let’s not go into how parents can go over the top on that stuff. That’s a topic for another day.

 

Shady Days
May 9 | Favorite Things

I was shopping for a Mother’s Day gift today and I decided to take a slight detour by once again checking out the Dior sunglasses I’ve been eyeing at Nordstrom. When my mom was in Portland for a visit a few weeks ago, she actually spotted them first and encouraged me to try them on. It was instant infatuation on my part. What I wasn’t so in love with was the $320 price tag.

Love Dior Sunglasses
The Dior sunglasses I covet

I’ve never spent that much on sunglasses. The most I’ve spent is about a hundred bucks for faux tortoise frame DKNY sunglasses (as a college graduation gift to me) which I wore way beyond its shelf life. Right now I’m going back and forth between cheap aviators from Urban Outfitters and oversized Michael Kors plastic frames that I got on sale for around 60 bucks. Should I be ashamed by my lack of flair for eyewear?

When I left Nordstrom, again without the sunglasses, I walked directly in the path of a tight shirt wearing, fake tanning, gym cruising man in Dior sunglasses. Not the same ones, but still. Do I share the same taste as someone who looks like a disco addict from Ibiza?

To me sunglasses are a practical purchase. I want to avoid wrinkles around my eyes from squinting, and I definitely don’t want to get cataracts when I’m older. Perhaps I should think of them as another way to up the style factor. I’m willing to pay for good shoes, handbags and premium denim so why not sunglasses? My cheap aviators are scratched up and the oversized frames never fit quite right. So it’s probably worth it to spend the money on rock star quality sunglasses. But something about shelling out $320 for sunglasses brings out the latent cheapskate in me. Maybe flashy sunglasses aren’t really me. I’ll give it a few more weeks and see if I still adore Dior.

Short, But Not Too Sweet
April 25 | Favorite Things


I’m usually not much into floral patterns. Not to say I never like it (loved the yellow floral dress in Phillip Lim’s spring collection), but in general, floral reminds me of Laura Ashley sheet sets. Who wants to look like she’s wearing bedding?

Now I’m beginning to change my mind about florals.

lotus dress
Nieves Lavi mini dress from blaec.com

The bold graphic print takes away the precious factor and totally works with the sexy short length. The duo behind Nieves Lavi creates perfect dresses that that are a bit boho chic, but still wearable for those of us who aren’t completely into that vibe. Now this is flower power I can definitely get behind.

The Right White

April 6 | Favorite Things

One of my all time favorite movies is Pretty in Pink.  I’ve probably seen it dozens of times.  And even though the ending was a little weak and so was the object of our heroine’s affection, it’s still one of the best teen angst films from the 80’s.  One of my favorite scenes is when Blane- the object of affection- walks into the record store where Andie- the heroine- works, picks up a Steve Lawrence album and asks her if it’s any good.  Her response?  “It’s hot.  White hot.”  Ha ha ha…okay, give me a break.  I was in junior high when I first saw this movie and some of those lines still strike me as funny.

So why am I waxing nostalgic?  I’m talking about white here.  I’ve noticed some fabulous choices in white handbags.        

Valextra
YSL Bag Yves Saint Laurent Bag
Balencia Bag
Bottega Veneta Bag
Luxurious and classic for years of wear
Straw Bag
Crochet Bag
Via Spaga
Fun options that won’t max out your credit card

Sure white can look cheap or dated- not the look most fashionable chicks are going for- but the right white bag can perk up whatever you’re wearing.

Informal Affairs
March 30 | Favorite Things

The weekend is here so I’m going to give you something pretty to look at.

Alberta Ferretti dress
Alberta Ferretti Spring 2007 – you can claim it for your closet here

Every look in Ferretti’s spring collection is undeniably feminine and you can find inspiration for similar looks that would make less of a dent on your wallet.  Because really, what’s the point of paying attention to the collections if you can’t put your own spin on it all?

And don’t worry if there isn’t a garden wedding or afternoon tea on your calendar.  There are no rules that say you can’t look fabulous for less formal pursuits.  I’d wear this to a backyard bar-b-que.  Seriously, I would.


Closely Cropped
March 15 | Favorite Things

Now that spring is rearing its sleepy little head here in Portland, it’s time to put the winter gear to rest and break out lighter weight jackets with some personality. By this I mean the latest crop of short jackets.

Genera
Generra cropped leather jacket
Mackage Trench
Cape trench by Mackage – love this line, love this jacket.
Paige Jacket
Paige Premium Denim Mandeville jacket
Forever 21
Forever 21 striped trapeze jacket

Having trouble deciding whether to go loose and swingy or fitted and sexy? Get one of each and be prepared for anything.

Hello Yellow
February 26 | Favorite Things

Did a little bit of shopping last night as a little treat for being 5 ½ months pregnant and feeling a bit lumpy.  It was mostly window shopping, although I did pick up an empire waist tunic on sale (non-maternity –I’m still hoping to just size up as much as possible).  I so glad swingy looks are in for spring.  I also noticed that yellow really is every where.

I’ve always loved yellow, even if I’ve never been big on wearing it.  It’s a tricky color for most of us I think.  But it’s impossible not to find something that fits your needs or complements your skin tone now that everything from headbands to shoes come in shades ranging from soft lemon to bright canary.  Here’s my hit list:

Rebecca Taylor
Get noticed in Rebecca Taylor’s cropped jacket.
Bag
This Corto Moltedo clutch won’t hold much but who cares?  It would be a going-out staple.
Mini
I’d wear this J. Crew mini with a soft white t-shirt, flip-flops and a cropped sweater.
Yellow Dress
A cheerful Phillip Lim dress from Barney’s.

I’m already prepared for this trend.  I have yellow ballet flats from three years ago that are still in great shape.  I also got a yellow leather Marc by Marc Jacobs bag for Christmas from my husband that I’ve already been wearing all the time.  I don’t want to be a fashion victim but with the weather still dreary, I need something to keep me on the sunny side of life!



Dress Resolution
January 2 | Favorite Things

I have never been big on making resolutions.   It seems like we should be a work in progress all year long, so why make a laundry list every January?  Besides, I get resentful with too many rules. 

However if I got close to making any resolutions this new year, it would be to wear more dresses.  With all of the posts I’ve written about dresses on this site, you’d think I actually wore a dress once in a while, but I am firmly a jeans kind of gal.  It’s practical, functional and comfortable.  Yikes, right?  My preference for denim has me stuck in a style rut.  So this year I will make the effort to set my legs free in jersey, silk, cotton and whatever else strikes my fancy.

I’m off to a good start since I did receive two dresses over the holidays.  Now here are a few pretty dresses to inspire me, and hopefully you, in 2007.

Anna SuiDevelopment DressTracy Reese
Dresses by Anna Sui, Tracy Reese and Development available at Anthropologie

Here Comes the Bridesmaid
November 27 | Favorite Things

I know I’ve been MIA for the past two weeks and I apologize for the lack of posts.  It’s been a busy month and December will be even busier.  I’ve got a destination wedding to attend and family obligations.  So your patience is appreciated, dear readers!

While I’ve been away, I spent a weekend in San Francisco with my best friend (the bride).  We shopped- a lot- and found the most important thing on my list: the perfect bridesmaid’s dress.  We both wanted something that would work well for an evening beach wedding that wasn’t too formal.  And it was important for her that I would be able to wear the dress again.  I’ve been in my share of weddings, but this will definitely be the first time I can say for sure that I’ll wear the dress again.

Ella Moss
I love the deep color and chiffon ribbon detail of this Ella Moss dress.

While I can’t say I’ll fill out the bust as nicely as this model (Sixteen Candles flashback anyone?) it’s a pretty look that’s perfect for a barefoot-in-the-sand ceremony.  I’ve decided to wear my hair up and go for pinky-peach makeup- and definitely waterproof mascara.  Despite my best efforts, I’m going to cry like a little girl.

Hood-ease
November 13 | Favorite Things

Now why haven’t I thought if this myself?  The hoodie-scarf is my new favorite foul weather find (that’s it for the alliteration, I promise).

Hoodie Scarf
Carolina K knit hoodie-scarf from Ravinstyle

So practical and stylish.  I’ve got a couple of knitting projects going at once, but I’m tempted to start another one to recreate this look.  I love this cotton version of the hoodie-scarf even more.

Kasil Scoodie
Kasil cotton Scoodie available in several colors at Vibe the Boutique

Kasil makes fantastic jeans so I’m glad the brand is branching out.  At 40 bucks each, you stock up without feeling too guilty.  This is an easy layering option without added bulk.  I could definitely use the hoodie-scarf to keep my hair from frizzing out in damp weather.  Well, maybe it would work better at hiding my frizzed out hair.  In any case, this brilliant accessory is topping my Christmas wish list.


Frilly Pretty Things
November 8 | Favorite Things

Now that the holidays are fast approaching it’s a good time to look for a good party outfit to get through a busy social calendar.  Okay, my schedule isn’t that busy but a fashionable girl is always prepared! 

The one item I want right now is a goes-with-everything top that looks great under a jacket or on its own, and works with black pants, a pencil skirt or jeans.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Silk Top by DVF
DVF silk top
Lepore Lace
Laundry Lace Top
Laundry lace top
Corey Lynn Carter Lace Wrap

Don’t know why I’m in a frilly phase but I think these feminine tops will stay classic and current.  The challenge is to choose wisely, since my budget requires it.  This fashionable girl must also be practical.     
Inhabitat Hoodie

Stylish Travels
January 30, 2009 | Favorite Things

A recent trip made me realize black is the worst color to travel in.  It attracts all kinds of crap and by the time you get to your destination, you need a rub down with duct tape to look presentable. So whatʼs a girl to do when she wants to be comfortable while staying away from Juicy Couture track suits?  (Iʼm still amazed when I see this, by the way.) 

Iʼve decided to put together my perfect travel outfit.  Iʼll start with a comfy, but elegant hoodie like the one from Inhabits new spring collection.  I know elegant doesnʼt seem like the right word to describe a knit hoodie, but the fitted shape and extra-long sleeves makes it right.  While Iʼm at it, Iʼll pair it with an Inhabit tank underneath. 


See Stretch PantsInstead of jeans, which can get uncomfortable during long sitting stints, stretch cotton pants are better bet.  I like these See by Chloe ones for their rich color. 

When it comes to shoes, I learned my lesson a while ago when I wore ballet flats and then hated having to take off my shoes to get through security.  Bare feet on airport carpet.  Yuck.  I also rubbed the skin on my feet raw when I had to walk a very long concourse to get to my gate.  Double yuck.  So close toed shoes with socks at airports, always.  (I keep leather flip flops in a carry-on if Iʼm going somewhere warm.) So I think classic oxfords like the ones by Repetto work with this outfit.  So do my reliable low top Chucks.  Iʼm hoping to get the whole flying routine down to a science.  Getting the outfit right is a good start.

Wishin’ and Hopin’
July 18 | Favorite Things

And thinkin’ and prayin’ that I can afford this hot new handbag from Marc Jacobs.

Head Mask

Gold and tortoise details on the Marc Jacobs Karen python bag give the chain look new life for fall.

Okay, so I won’t be dropping nearly three thousand big ones for my latest bag obsession, but a girl can dream right?  Marc, are you out there?  I love you!  

Bargain blowout
July 7 | Favorite Things

Like most gals, I love a good sale.  But I don’t like when bargain hunting is a huge effort.  A good sale is when you pick up a pair of shoes they’re 50% off.  A bad sale is picking through a rack of leftovers that look trampled ten times over in the dressing room.

No matter what your patience level for finding the deepest discounts, now is the time to find all kinds of worthwhile sales.  My favorite place to look is online, where retailers like eLUXURY and Net-a-Porter have slashed prices on everything from Marc Jacobs bags to Chloe dresses.  Even fashionistas on a budget (that would be me!) can find some interesting things for about a hundred bucks and even better items for just under $200. 

My favorite sale item right now is this Miu Miu crochet handbag.  Okay, so at $416 it doesn’t actually qualify as a bargain, but it’s marked down to half its original price so I’d say it qualifies as a pretty good sale item. You can get your hands on this fun little number at saksfifthavenue.com

Purse

Picture this with a white summer dress, flat sandals and a good pedicure.

             
 

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