Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Did someone say cheesecake? Golden Girl Style

This one’s for the girls. The Golden Girls, that is. I apologize for not writing too much about women’s fashion lately—I get so excited about menswear it sucks up all my time and energy. So to get back to my roots as a women’s fashion enthusiast and former Barbie and Cabbage Patch Kid stylist, I would like to impart a few of my thoughts about how I think women should be dressing right now. And those thoughts revolve around one main source of inspiration, The Golden Girls.

That’s right, Blanche, Dorothy, Rose and Sofia really knew what they were doing when it came to self-expression through fashion. Blanch the seductress, Dorothy the intellect, Rose the romantic and Sofia... Well I’m not sure if this post will reflect Sofia’s personal style choices; however, I think everyone should own at least one rattan handbag. And while I’m be honest here, I’ll admit that this post will not reflect Rose’s style, either. We all know that Dorothy and Blanche were the fashion icons in that house. But what would they be without the other two? Like, what would Carrie have been without Miranda?

Blanche Deveraux

Blanche knows sexy. If you could see yourself lounging on a lanai wearing the piece in question, then BUY IT. This means watercolour prints, caftans, silks, luxurious cuts, flowing robes and over-all prettiness. Chanel, Erdem, Miu Miu and Ralph Lauren are all over this. Even consumer-level retailers like Club Monaco and Zara are picking up on the trend. Just remember to wear these items on the correct occasions. If Blanche was going sailing she wore a sailing outfit, if she was going out dancing she wore a dancing outfit, if she was sipping iced tea on the lanai she wore a sipping-iced-tea-on-the-lanai outfit. Simple! Nothing annoys me more than to see people wear loungewear out at night just because it’s in style; Same goes for evening pieces during the day.

Chanel Spring 2010 RTW

Erdem Spring 2010 RTW

Miu Miu Spring 2010 RTW

Ralph Lauren Spring 2010 RTW

Etro Paisley-print silk-chiffon kaftan

Dilemma: Big Daddy just called. He's in Miami and will be coming over in five minutes. What do you wear to look more sweet as cherry pie? Easy, slip on this Chloé linen and cotton maxi dress.

Club Monaco Spring 2010

Zara Spring 2010

Club Monaco Spring 2010

Show some cleavage—especially if you have perky breasts like Blanche. Donna Karan lamé cross-front top

Just add wicker. Marc Jacobs Printed crepe silk shorts

Wolford Chiffon-tie 66 denier leggings

An icon. Chanel Classic Flap Bag

Blanche's little black book probably looked more like this. Erdem notebook for Smythson

Classic nude pumps go with everything. Buy them now. Christian Louboutin Simple 70 leather pumps

And a pair in black. Christian Louboutin Simple 70 leather pumps

Dorothy Zbornak

Dorothy knows sophistication. If there is one thing an over-achieving substitute teacher should master, it’s the art of layering. Layers are good. Even if you shouldn’t faithfully recreate and wear one of her outfits piece-by-piece, Dorothy has the right idea. The trick is to play with proportion and colour. Where Dorothy might be billowy from head-to-toe, you shouldn’t be. Try to pair a slouchy t-shirt and cardigan or cape with leggings and flats. She also pulls off the androgynous look very well, too. Can’t you see yourself in a tailored blazer, boyfriend jeans and booties? Chloé, Stella McCartney, Donna Karan, Alexander Wang and Celine (Phoebe Philo!!!!!) do this very well. So does Club Monaco, so there’s no excuse pocketbook-wise. Side note, for now and always, buy yourself an iconic Hobo bag. Spend the money, get the look. Wear it forever. Be Dorothy Zbornak.
Phoebe Philo is a genius. Celine Spring 2010 RTW

Celine Spring 2010 RTW

Hello class, my name is Dorothy. I'll be your substitute teacher today. Chloé Spring 2010 RTW

Club Monaco Spring 2010

Zara Spring 2010

Diane Von Furstenburg Short Didi sequined jacket

See by Chloé Crepe boyfriend-fit blazer

Stella McCartney Studded cotton sweater dress

T by Alexander Wang Classic jersey tank

Alexandar Wang Zip-front stretch leggings

Stella McCartney Tapered linen-blend pants

Levi's 501 boyfriend jean

Virginia Johnson beetle-print merino wool scarf

The natural, budget-friendly choice for a substitute teacher. Bottega Veneta Intrecciato leather shoulder bag

Marc by Marc Jacobs Hillier hobo bag
Delightfully elfin. Somewhat Ballet Russes. All Dorothy. Newbark Love lamé leather shoes

Slouchy and sexy. Brian Atwood Studded Ankle Boots

Rule of thumb: Blanche is more spring/summer and Dorothy is more fall/winter. That doesn’t mean you can’t layer it up for summer, you just have to choose the appropriate fabrics. Same goes for florals and watercolours in the winter—nothing is more welcome than a pop of colour on a drab November day. So have fun, watch some old episodes of The Golden Girls and start channeling your inner senior. You’ll be surprised at how modern you’ll look.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Smell Amazing! Jo Malone Vitamin E Body Balm

I just had the most delightful experience, and I owe it all to Jo Malone. Have you ever put on a new fragrance or fragranced product, forget you’re wearing it, and then look around to find the person who smells so good? That just happened to me.
As most of you should already know, I’m a huge fan of Jo Malone’s amazing line of fragrances and candles—I wear Lime Basil & Mandarin every time I need a pick-me-up. So when I quite literally got my hands on their new Vitamin E Body Balm I figuratively jumped at the chance to test it out. (I might have literally jumped at the chance; I’m easily excited when it comes to new products.)
The first thing I noticed about the balm was its very silky texture. It feels like it’s lighter-than-air. And, as all high-end products should be, a little goes a long way. The second thing was its divine scent. Im not sure what exact notes are in the Vitamin E Body Balm, but to me it’s a mixture of chocolate and clover honey. Unexpectedly intoxicating. (And it can be worn underneath any fragrance in the Jo Malone line, which is a bonus.)
There is something special about using a well-formulated, luxury body cream. It really does feel different from the everyday lotions I usually slop on. My hands felt instantly transformed  into the soft hands of an aristocrat. My roommate J and I have had long, unnecessarily articulated conversations about how amazing it is. Ok, I usually initiate and lead the conversation while J stares at me and nods.
To anyone who likes to smell good—and especially anyone who lives in dry-air climates like Calgary—do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle of Jo Malone Vitamin E Body Balm. And while you’re at it, check out the rest of their iconic Vitamin E skincare line—it’s really amazing stuff! Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and the addition of shea butter, cocoa butter and wheat protein help form a protective layer to help lock moisture in the skin.
Some people might gripe at the $90-a-bottle price tag, but here’s my justification. This is a product that will bring you a little joy every day. And a little joy every day adds up to lots of joy over the lifetime of one jar of body balm. Besides, having supple skin and being the best smelling person in the room is priceless.

Available in Canada at Holt Renfrew.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring is Busting OUT All Over!!!

Perhaps it’s the recent spike in temperature that makes me want to plan my spring wardrobe, or maybe it’s my insatiable need to shop. Whatever the reason, I can’t stop thinking about what I will be wearing (or coveting) in the months to come. Here are a few of my top picks!
I am going to throw out a few names: Brooks Brothers Black Fleece, Thom Browne, Etro, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, Tom Ford, Paul Smith.

Brooks Brothers Black Fleece Seersucker Classic Jacket

Etro stretch cotton suit

Paul Smith wool-cashmere blazer

Tom Ford Spring/Summer 2010

Now I will go shopping at: Club Monaco, H&M, The Bay and try to recreate, to the best of my ability, these looks for less. Rest assured, now is a good time to be in the market for an entry level suit. Men are now very well educated when it comes to style, and those boxy, unflattering fits of yesteryear just don’t cut it anymore. 
Club Monaco recently hired Timothy Farah as their head menswear designer. Before heading to CM, Farah worked on Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece line alongside Thom Browne. He has brought that same modern sensibility to Club Monaco’s latest offering of suits. They are reminiscent of classic 1960s tailoring, but add a perfect dose of fashion forwardness. For example, you could hem the pant length to the ankle and get away with it.

Club Monaco Spring 2010. Not a suiting, I know, but doesn't this look modern? I wonder how tall this model is

Club Monaco Spring 2010. Again, this looks very current. Worn with confidence, it could compete with the big boys. I love the monochromatic feel
I’d love to own tasteful seersucker and canvas suits this summer. Nothing too light in colour, though; I’m scared I’ll look like I should be carrying a tray of ice cream cones to Big Daddy’s birthday party. Instead, I’ll look for a navy pinstriped seersucker and medium beige canvas.

J.Crew Italian chino Ludlow suiting. Like Club Monaco, J.Crew is giving the American classic brands a run for their money with nice tailoring like this. This suit can easily be worn together or as separates

Light grey hoodie

A classic BUNNYHUG from University of Saskatchewan. I love it!
I don’t think there is a more versatile piece of clothing in a man’s outerwear repertoire than a light grey hoodie. It looks equally as good over a shirt and tie as it does with jeans and a t-shirt, and it is easily layered under a jean jacket, puffy vest or trench coat. On a side note, I would love to go for a jog wearing a pair of matching sweat pants on a crisp spring day (like Oprah when she means business). If I exercised.
I’ll check out Ralph Lauren, American Apparel or UofT (even though I went to Ryerson); however, I’m not opposed to Old Navy, the Gap or H&M—as long as it looks right, right?
Gap t-shirt hoodie. This piece looks like it could be the perfect summer hoodie. I have yet to see it in person, but the lightweight look could give it a very high-end feel

Jean jacket

Levi's Trucker jean jacket. Note: I tried this on yesterday, and while the jacket is nearly perfection, I seem to be in between sizes. I don't know if I could buy it snug or a little roomy. Suggestions?
I’ve been thinking of getting a jean jacket for a few years now, and I think this just might be the year to make it happen. I’ve flip flopped about what brand to get and it’s held me back a bit. The decision is easy, though. You can’t go wrong with a classic Trucker Jean Jacket by Levi. The original. Now I can’t decide what colour to get.
Classic trench coat by Burberry

Burberry Cropped Trench Coat
I have several great trench coats—I like to think I’m known for them (even though I know I’m not), but I’ve never owned this iconic Burberry plaid-lined classic. Of course, I would belt it to give me a shapely figure and wear it with the collar turned up. I will also wear it to spy on people sitting in the park while pretending to read a newspaper.

Shirts and such
Chambray shirt 

Club Monaco chambray shirt
I am in love with chambray (don’t say chambray too many times or else it starts to lose all meaning). Since it is very trendy right now, every major retailer is doing a version. I quite like what Club Monaco has in store, and their price is right, but I’d like to stick to American classic brands like Brooks Brothers or Ralph Lauren when investing in an American classic look. I could see myself wearing a nice chambray shirt tucked into white denim accented with chocolate brown leather accessories. Top all that off with a pair of Club Master Ray-Bans and I’ve got myself a look that I probably wouldn’t look good in. But I can hope it pans out.
Brooks Brothers Black Fleece button-down oxford shirt. I know it's not chambray

Crisp white shirts like Colin Firth wears in A Single Man
Brooks Brothers Black Fleece spread collar shirt

I can’t begin to express how much A Single Man changed my way of looking at fashion. I now want to solely exist in 1962 so I can dress like Tom Ford’s slightly skewed vision of men in the 60s. Let’s face it, there is no way someone could be as perversely perfect as Colin Firth’s character; however, I can sure try. And when I say try, I mean likely fail miserably... but in Toronto failing miserably at a lofty look often puts you head and shoulders above everyone else. So I’m not really worried.

Jon Kortajarena and Corlin Firth in A Single Man. Sigh
I loved the crisp white shirts worn in A Single Man. I loved how carefully they were treated—they were almost another whole character in the movie. Tom Ford was robbed at the Oscar’s. Why wasn’t this movie nominated for Best Costumes?
Note: An Education also made me weak in the knees for 60s-inspired fashion.

The cast of An Education
Navy blue cardigan
Polo by Ralph Lauren cashmere v-neck cardigan

I really miss my perfect navy blue cardigan. It went with everything and I fully intend on replacing it this spring. H&M has a nice cotton-linen blend version for $24.95 that I think I’ll snap up. For one, I love cotton and linen blends—perfect for summer— and I also love the price. I hope it fits well. (My main gripe with H&M.)

Pants and such
White jeans

Levi's 501 jeans in Gesso
I have no idea what brand or cut of white jeans I will buy, but I’ve been flirting with the idea of white pants of some sort for quite some time now. I will have to bring an honest friend along when shopping for this item because I have to find the perfect pair, or else it just won’t work. Maybe 501s? I don’t know.
All I do know is that white jeans will play perfectly into most of the schemes I have concocted for this spring and summer. Chambray shirt and white jeans. Check. Cable knit sweater and white jeans. Check. Navy blazer, colorful shirt and white jeans. Check. Endless options.
Red chinos
Polo by Ralph Lauren Slim-Fit Eaton Wash Jean

Look at this picture. Don’t you want to be THAT PERSON? I know I do. I remember when red jeans were all the rage in 1990 or so. I didn’t follow the trend then (I did have a pair of forrest green Girbaud jeans, though), but I’m ready for it now... I think. There is something so bold and brash about brightly coloured pants. I think the key—as always—is to find the perfect fit. I am on the hunt!
Tastefully distressed light denim
Levi's 1947 501 Exile jeans

Investing in the perfect pair of tastefully distressed light denim jeans will make my pants trifecta complete. Like the white denim and the red chinos, these jeans will go with every outfit I could see myself wearing this summer. They will look especially good as I ride my cruiser bike up and down the street. I usually stick to rigid dark denim, but I’m ready to shake things up. The problem is, it’s HARD to find the perfect wash. I think these Levi’s 1947 501 Exile jean from J. Crew are complete and utter perfection; however, I’m happy to report I found a pair of considerably cheaper (and somewhat comparable) Levi’s 514s at The Bay. I am going to go try them on today, in fact. Wish me luck.

Levi's 514 jeans. I originally like the wash and detailing, but they didn't really fit. They weren't "the ones"

Loafers in every colour

Tod's Gommino loafers with ties. Aren't they the cutest things you ever saw?
As per usual, I am obsessed with the latest colourful offering from Tod’s. I’ll wear them with everything. Do you see a theme developing?
Note: no socks in the summer, please. Thanks.
Canvas shoes in navy and white (and maybe red)
Ked's Champions in navy. Over priced, but a classic nonetheless

I have a distinct memory of my grandma wearing canvas shoes while gardening or running to get the mail. She would buy them from the local corner store in our little Saskatchewan town. These are the classics, in my opinion. And I will be on the look out for the closest thing. Of all places, Urban Outfitters came close last year when they offered cheap pairs of canvas oxford lace-ups held together by plastic thread (the hallmark of cheap footwear). My grandma’s version came in a box, though.
Update: I might have to go with Keds Champions, even though they really lost the spirit and fun of buying cheap shoes by charging over fifty dollars for a pair!
A fancy-yet-sensible pair of brown wingtip shoes

Loake wingtip shoes. Low and behold, I went back to the Bay to find these again, but the display had vanished
I have a few really nice pairs of wingtip shoes, but I don’t own a pair of fancy-yet-sensible ones—the handmade, last-a-lifetime variety. Personally, I’d skip the “Made in Italy” stamp and look for a Canadian, American or British variety. I was recently in The Bay, perusing their (somewhat dismal-but-promising) shoe collection when, like a beacon of light, a display of British-made Loake shoes caught my eye. They’re far and away the most expensive line in the Bay’s shoe section and they have the look of extreme high quality. I’ll start saving now.
Honorable mention:

Chocolate brown boat shoes
Cole Haan leather driver shoes. Well, they kind of pass for boat shoes to me

This is the category I invest most of my money in—you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Ties, ties and more ties
Rugby by Ralph Lauren Newburry Unlined Madras Tie

Land's End tie with ant design

Land's End seersucker tie (on sale for $10!)

My favorite way to stock up on ties is to go to Holt Renfrew Last Call and peruse the Polo Ralph Lauren offerings. I’ve found most of my best ties this way. This year I’m on the hunt for lightweight cotton ties and whimsical all-American types to add to my growing collection. I recently discovered the wealth of affordable-yet-high quality ties at Land’s End. I’m not a snob—I just want to look good! Here are a few examples of what I love:
A tie dye tote (like the one I saw the most elegant man in the world carrying in Milan)
Marni shopping bag. This is in no way the tote I described, but I went to the Marni website and kind of fell in love with it.

I have no idea who made this bag, or where I’d find it (although a voice in my head keeps whispering, “It’s a Marni”). I saw a man in Milan carrying a somewhat effeminate colourfully printed tote on his shoulder and I can’t stop thinking about it since. It was one of those perfectly lived in looks. That’s what I loved about the men of Italy. They were well dressed and so up-to-date, yet it looked like their clothes were well-worn. Nothing looked particularly crisp or brand new. Rather, it looked like they quickly threw together the most elegant looks just before they left the house. I, on the other hand, looked like I’d planned my outfits for days (which I did). Decidedly much less cool.
A canary yellow scarf

I should have picked this item up when I saw it on sale at Club Monaco.
Honourable mentions:
The perfect gym bagthe inspiration I need to go to the gym. Could this be the year I re-buy the Gucci duffle?
Gucci large collapsible carry-on duffel

Tortoiseshell Wayfarers

Simple collection of cotton pocket squares

If I have to wear socks, they will be brightly coloured
Selection of socks by Calvin Klein at the Bay

Tom Ford spectacles

Have I inspired you to shop for your new looks this spring? What are YOU interested in buying to wear in the warmer months?