Friday, November 29, 2013

BLUE Friday!

Faux Leather Vest (Cristina, Steinmart); Turtleneck (Target); Pants (XCVI,; Watch (Steinmart); Horseshoe ring (; Necklace (Ross Simons); Boots (; Bag (Dooney & Bourke)
Jacket (Design Today, Pretty Woman); Skirt (AB Studio, Kohls); Necklace (Kelly Herd); Shoes (Anne Klein,; Watch (AquaMaster)
Today may be Black Friday, but during football season, my Fridays are usually blue in support of our Indianapolis Colts!  Though it's not uncommon to see people at my company sporting Colts jerseys or more casual logo gear, I often have meetings that require a more professional approach.  These looks are subtle enough to wear any day of the week, but it's particularly fun to sport the horseshoe details on Fridays before a game.  Go HORSE!

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tiptoe through the Thanksgiving Tulips

Skirt (Simply Vera, Kohl's); Blouse (Lafayette 148); Bag (Brahmin); Shoes (Circa Joan Y David); Horse Cufflinks (Beluga Home Studio)
I have so much to be thankful for, today and every day - big things, small things, every little thing!  In the fashion realmI'm thankful that couture designers like Vera Wang, Catherine Malandrino, Missoni and 3.1 Phillip Lim are embracing opportunities to collaborate with department stores like Target and Kohls to create capsule collections accessible by ordinary people on a budget!  

This tulip-print, tulip-shaped skirt is from one of Vera Wang's early collections for Kohl's (a steal for $11 on clearance, though I'd have gladly paid full price).  The bell shape and carefully placed pintuck pleats are hallmarks of her thoughtful construction - details that aren't normally found at such an affordable price point. Though I normally associate tulips with Spring, the rich colors in this skirt whispered Fall, and it seemed perfect for a pre-Thanksgiving holiday meal with colleagues.  

What are you thankful for in the fashion world?

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cozy Carnelian

Sweater (Pretty Woman); Turtleneck (Target); Carnelian Necklace (Steinmart); Pants (Coldwater Creek); Booties (Frye); Watch (Fossil); Bag (Brahmin)
Yikes!  I'm not ready for the below-freezing temps we've had for the past several days.  Luckily, I'm staying comfy cozy in a favorite fluffy sweater coat. I fell in love with the deep carnelian color and ruffled collar when I found this sweater on clearance last year at Bedford boutique Pretty Woman (a great place to shop), and it's turned out to be really versatile.  I've worn it several times with jeans or cords on the weekend, and it's equally at home at the office when paired with menswear-inspired trousers in a subtle glen plaid.  

Do you keep your weekend and work looks separate, or look for pieces that work for both?

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pancakes and Boucle

Jacket (Finity); Skirt and Blouse (Kasper Outlet); Scarf (Echo); Boots (Anne Klein); Bag (Brahmin); Cameo (Vintage - passed down from my grandmother)
Jacket (Parisian Signature); Scarf (Echo); Skirt (Focus 2000); Bag (Fossil); Boots (Aigner)
Nubby, slubby, boucle fabrics feel cozy when the temperatures drop, and the colorful textures add visual interest and warmth even on the grayest day.  It seems appropriate that I pulled out the autumn hued boucle skirt and bright salmon satin blouse in the top photo this week before Thanksgiving because it was purchased in a spur of the moment, middle of the night Black Friday shopping expedition in 2009.  And what an expedition that was.... 

Nearly every year for the last decade, we've been spending the weekend following Thanksgiving with some dear friends who live just outside Chicago. Our itinerary for the long weekend has evolved over the years, but this time with friends is a tradition I've come to treasure.  It has always included a bit of shopping: sometimes along Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile (with an obligatory stop at Garrett's Popcorn); sometimes in a more suburban setting; and always with a nice dinner and lots of laughter.  Oh, and pancakes - there are always pancakes (we've had McDonalds pancakes, hotel buffet pancakes, homemade Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes, and Costco pancakes from a can).  Mmmmm, pancakes.

In 2009, we added a late night girls' trip to an outlet mall into the mix.  It was a spur of the moment decision to trek out to Michigan City at midnight, but we weren't tired, the boys were playing video games, and there were deals to be had, so off we went.  Oh boy.  What we envisioned as a three hour tour somehow turned into a Black Friday Shopping Odyssey - we left the house at 11 pm on Thursday, and didn't stop shopping until 6 pm on Friday.  We didn't mean to do it, but one store led to another, and by noon, our husbands thought we'd been marooned on Gilligan's Island.  By 3 pm, we realized we hadn't even stopped to eat.  Luckily, we were in Costco at the time, so we greedily took advantage of every sample station in sight - including the one serving up silver dollar pancakes using prepackaged batter in an aerosol can.  I'm not sure if they were actually good or not, but we were so hungry we went back for more than one sample!  

I normally shop alone; I'm not a fan of crowds; and I hate to wait in line.  So, you would think that setting foot in a mall on the day after Thanksgiving would be my shopping nightmare.  But, for me, Black Friday is about friendship with a side of shopping.  And pancakes - always pancakes....

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Friday, November 22, 2013

IN Fashion Friday: "Ohm" My Goodness

This monochr"Ohm" look highlights a cinnamon hued coat with tone on tone brocade detailing from Ohm designer Julie Diller's Fall 2013 line; The designer herself (bottom right) helped me choose the coat when she visited Indianapolis for a trunk show last month.
This hat from Meridian Made by MaDonna Marie is stylish but playful, and oh so practical for Indiana winter weather.  I couldn't resist adding a little sparkle with a swarovski crystal barrette.
My typical IN Fashion Friday post features a locally owned, fashion-focused Indiana business.  Today's installment highlights the creativity and talent of both a local textile artist with mad, mad knitting skills, and that of a New York-based clothing designer with Indiana roots!  I had the privilege of meeting these talented women at a Fashion Arts Society event last month, where guests were given a behind the scenes glimpse of the design process, from initial sketches to hand drawn and cut paper patterns to samples and finished goods.

Indianapolis-based MaDonna (Meridian Made by MaDonna Marie) has been knitting an incredibly soft and well-made line of hats, scarves and socks for years.  Her high-style handknit goods would make wonderful stocking stuffers or Chanukah gifts. They are so colorful and fun they are bound to bring a smile to the face of anyone who receives them!  You can find a selection of her wares at 14 Districts in Carmel during their holiday bazaar (another great local Indiana business!)  
Madonna's winter accessories are a perfect complement to clothing designer Julie Diller's signature coats in plush embroidered velvets and garment dyed, satin finished cottons,  like the one I'm wearing in this post.  Julie was raised in the Hoosier state, but has been designing her own clothing line, Ohm, in New York for nearly 20 years.  Ohm is more than coats, and offers a full line of women's fashions focused on interesting textures with a figure flattering drape.  This Fall, Ohm also introduced its first menswear line.  You can find Ohm online here.  Julie also has special trunk shows in Indianapolis each Fall and Spring, and if you happen to be in New York, you can see her designs at Mongo Brooklyn.

Interested in more of what Indianapolis has to offer "IN Fashion?"  You can check out other installments of IN Fashion Friday here, here, here, here, and here.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

What is that, velvet?
Boots (Aigner); Velvet blazer (Talbots); Wool Turtleneck (Eddie Bauer); Skirt (Land's End, thrifted); Tortoise Monogram Pendant (Tagged Designs); Watch (Fossil); Bag (Rosetti; purchased from a street fair in Florence, Italy)
I have worn this Land's End wrap skirt six ways from Sunday but, until this Fall, it never occurred to me to pair it with this paprika velvet blazer that wasn't getting enough love at the back of my closet.  When I reached for it, I couldn't help but think of the iconic line from Saul in Coming to America.  It's no wonder because every time my husband gets within six feet of velvet fabric, he feels compelled to quote said line in his best "Saul, the barber" voice.  Even though I know it's coming, it makes me laugh every time.

Like I said, I can't get enough of this plaid skirt that I thrifted for $6 - talk about return on investment!  This season alone, I've also paired it with the oldest, never before-worn item in my closet (see prior post, here); with an on-trend faux leather moto vest in unexpected olive green; with a cowl neck sweater and favorite belt; and with a puffy, quilted hunting jacket, below.  And I'm not done mixing and matching it with other pieces I already own!  I've concluded that a multi-hued plaid is the perfect pattern to mix and match in a multitude of ways.  I've also concluded that I have a borderline ridiculous amount of orange and green in my closet.  Oh well - wear what makes you happy!
Moto Vest (Steinmart); Watch (Anne Klein); Sweater (Macy's)
Cowl neck sweater (Willi Smith, TJ Maxx); Quilted Bag (Simply Vera, Kohls); Watch (Anne Klein); Qulited Jacket (Vince Camuto, Nordstrom)
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Linked up with:  Three-fer-Thursday

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Business Trip Treasures

"There is a second sort of traveler...those who weave in and out among the lives of people they encounter on the way, picking up, during their odyssey, a stitch here and a pattern there so that they return wearing cloaks 
embroidered with the rainbow of the world." -Mary Russell, The Blessings of a Good, Thick Skirt

Travel is one of my great passions, and the above quote has long struck a chord with me.  But, during a quick business trip to D.C. last week, I put a literal spin on it, and returned home with not one, but TWO new cloaks!  The conference I was attending was in a convention center connected to my hotel, and I was only there for two nights.  With a full slate of meetings and receptions, I had no plans to sight see or shop while I was there, so I left my winter coat in the car at the airport (it's so much easier to maneuver through security without the hassle of a heavy coat).  

But as fate would have it, I found myself with a few extra hours that first evening and ventured out in search of the sushi restaurant recommended by the hotel concierge, who assured me it would be worth the brisk, five block walk without a coat.   My California Roll was delayed, however, by a detour into Mustardseed, a quirky (and warm!) little boutique I stumbled across on my way.  I was immediately drawn to the well-curated vintage section (the store also sells new items) and, in particular, this mint condition faux fur coat by Borgazia (above).  A quick Google search revealed the coat was vintage 1960s and priced extremely well at only $32.  Needless to say, the rest of my walk to the sushi place and back to my hotel later in the evening was so much more pleasant wrapped in the delicious warmth of my new coat!  

For $20, I also couldn't resist the boiled wool sweater coat (below). The hand embroidered floral motif of thick, ivory yarn adds flair to the cozy vintage piece and demonstrates fine craftsmanship rarely seen in today's mass production world.  Paired with a black wool cloche and black or winter white trousers, it reminds me of something Diane Keaton or Indy style maven Deborah Dorman might wear.  My friend Deborah shares my passions for travel and fashions, and it was my association of this garment with her dramatic style that brought to mind one of my favorite travel quotes by author Mary Russell.  Deborah - you can borrow it if you want!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

I'm linked up with The Citizen Rosebud - view more vintage treasures on her link-up here!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Air Travel Attire - Don't Fly by the Seat of Your Pants

Yoga pants (XCVI,;  Cotton turtleneck (Steinmart); Boots (Apt. 9, Kohls); Hat (Jessica Simpson, Nordstrom Rack); Watch (Fossil, Nordstrom Rack); Scarf (made by my Mom!)
My recent post about going straight from the airport to a business meeting spawned a larger discussion about the idea held by all too many people that "sloppy" equals "comfort" on an airplane. One well-traveled reader admitted to being appalled by what people wear in the name of comfort and suggested a blog post about the benefits of eschewing those sloppy old sweat pants for something a little more presentable.  Indeed, while your beloved but paint splattered college sweatshirt may be just the thing for a lazy Sunday afternoon on the couch, putting just a tad more effort into your travel attire has an intangible upside, and there's no reason to forego comfort in the process!

As Virginia Woolf said in Orlando, “Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world's view of us.”  Certainly, this quote rings true in most aspects of life.  Personally, I am never particularly "comfortable" when I look sloppy, and as one reader put it, "I just feel better when I look respectable."   How you present yourself is also apt to affect the attitude of those in a position to make your trip better (or worse).  TSA, gate agents, flight attendants, and the chatty Cathy seated next to you are more likely to treat you respectfully (and help you out if you need it!) when you don't look like you just escaped from an episode of Extreme Hoarding.  I'm not suggesting it's appropriate to treat people differently based on how they're dressed - I'm just making a practical observation about a common reality.  And frankly, in my own travels, I just want to get from A to B with as little inconvenience and frustration as possible.  If the way I'm dressed furthers that goal, I'm all for it.

Moreover, you never know who you may run into at the airport or on the plane.  While backpacking in Europe several years ago, I spent a few days in Barcelona with a girl who trekked all over Spain with a dress in her backpack specifically for her flight home, "just in case she met her future husband."  I laughed at the time, and this still strikes me as a bit extreme, but I have lost count of the number of times I've run into colleagues and clients during a trip (even on vacation), and on a few occasions I've gained new clients who I'm fairly certain would not have kept my business card if I'd been sitting next to them in a pair of sweats with some juicy word scrawled across the butt.  

That said, if I'm not headed straight from the tarmac to an event with a specific dress code (and even if I am), I still want to be comfortable.  I often travel in XCVI yoga pants like the ones above.  Yep - Yoga pants!  These pants are the most comfortable pants in my closet (I own several pair in different colors).  Paired with a cotton turtleneck and a scarf, the ensemble looks chic, but is cozy and comfortable for a chilly plane ride.  In warmer weather, I pair these pants with a solid color t-shirt, a light jacket, and sandals.  Easy, peasy, and not a bit sloppy.

Here are a few other tips to help you travel in style AND comfort:

-  Choose items that don't wrinkle easily.  I once wore a beautiful linen jacket for a flight to Orlando en route to a cruise vacation.  I looked like a hot mess by the time I got off the plane. Lesson learned.

-  Choose an outfit that needs minimal accessories to look "finished."  You'll avoid the potential of having to remove multiple pieces to go through security.  While not strictly "outfit" related, I once got held up in security because the multiple bobby pins securing my "updo" (a remnant of a formal event the night prior) triggered the metal detector.  It wasn't feasible to take my hair down, so I had to endure a pat down of my head that reminded me of those elementary school head lice checks to which we were all periodically subjected.

-  Choose items that will easily mix and match with things you've packed.  It allows you to pack lighter.

-  If you're headed from a cold climate to one with less extreme weather, consider leaving your winter coat in the car.  It takes up lots of space and is awkward to carry.

-  Wear a light jacket or scarf for a layer of added warmth that can be easily removed and stowed if not needed.  Airplanes are cold!

-  Wear shoes that are easy to take off and on when going through security (for me, this means nothing with laces).  Your shoes should also have good traction in case you have to rush to make a connection (and if you just have to wear heels, make sure you can still walk in them easily while schlepping your luggage and that they won't slow you down if you're in a hurry). 

-  If it's a long flight, make sure your footwear is also roomy enough to accommodate some swelling.  I once sat next to a woman on a trip from New York to Germany whose feet swelled so badly she couldn't get her shoes back on when we landed and had to deplane in her bare feet.  

-  If it's a long flight, take an extra pair of socks or slippers in your carry on so that you can kick your shoes off under your seat.

-  Hats are good for hiding bed head on an international flight, but unless they're made to be "crushable," they're not easy to pack so if you wear one, plan on wearing it for your return trip, as well.  

-  Minimize your use of perfume.  Being clean is essential, but heavy perfumes may irritate those seated near you.  The Golden Rule applies!

Happy Travels!

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Who's Down with O.P.P.?

Boots (Diba); Faux Ostrich Leather Jacket w/ removable faux fur collar (Cristina, Steinmart); Skirt (Apt. 9, Kohls)
Ok, who else remembers Naughty By Nature and their overplayed early 90s top ten hit song, O.P.P.?  If you do, you were probably in high school at the same time I was, and I apologize if the catchy yet inappropriate hook runs through your mind on continuous loop the rest of day!  In this case, however, O.P.P. stands for "Orange Paisley Panache."  Orange is one of my favorite colors, which is pretty obvious from a casual flip through prior posts, and paisley is one of my favorite patterns.  So, when I found these orange paisley velvet boots by Diba several years ago, there was no question I had to have them.

Much like rap music, these boots are somewhat polarizing.  People love them or hate them, and they definitely don't forget them.  When I was in the private practice of law, I once wore them (with an otherwise very subdued all black suit) for an initial meeting with a nonagenarian client at his home.  Thereafter, he always referred to me as "the young lawyer lady with the boots."  This gentle farmer in his 90s suffered from dementia and often struggled to recall even people he'd known for many years.  So, while I'd much prefer to be remembered for my legal acumen and personality, in this case my boots gave him something concrete to associate with the attorney helping him sort through some estate issues.  

More recently, I wore the boots with a vintage 70s maxi dress (see prior post) for a documentary screening and cocktail reception at the art museum.  About a week later, a photograph of my paisley velvet foot appeared in the Indianapolis Star accompanying an article about the event.  I was shocked at the number of emails and hallway conversations in the following weeks that started with "I saw your boots in the paper."  These boots seem to have a life of their own - maybe I should be thinking Nancy Sinatra instead of Naughty by Nature!

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!  

Friday, November 15, 2013

IN Fashion Friday: Estate Education

Vintage 1940s watch (Wyler, G. Thrapp Jewelers); Dress (Samual Dong, Enza's Boutique); Boots (; Bag (Alexander McQueen,
Some of my best memories from elementary school and junior high involve field trips.  Whether to Connor Prairie, the local firehouse, the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, or the zoo, a field trip was an opportunity to step outside the ordinary school day routine, experience the unfamiliar, and learn in a different way.  Last week, I took a "grown up" field trip with the Indianpolis Musuem of Art's Fashion Arts Society (FAS) to G. Thrapp Jewelers, where owner Gary Thrapp gave an anecdote filled tutorial on vintage, antique, and estate jewelry.  It was only fitting to wear my own vintage 1940s diamond and gold watch for the occasion.  The 70 year old Swiss-made Wyler timepiece was actually part of Thrapp's estate collection, and found a new home with me last Spring after I received a generous gift certificate as the "Hatastique" prize at FAS' annual Hats Off Luncheon.  I expected to wear this watch primarily with cocktail/black tie attire, but I've actually donned it often and found that it mixes well with many looks and modern era pieces.
The pink-white angel skin coral in these 1950s earrings is regarded as particularly precious, with a name evocative of its ethereal quality; The 100 plus year old brooch is reversible, and the back features a shamrock inset with tiny seed pearls - I hardly wanted to take it off because it added a just-right splash of color to my black dress and was completely unique and very "me".
Gary's presentation to the FAS group covered every major jewelry period from the 1880s onward, and it was fascinating to hear him explain the inextricable relationship between jewelry design and the political and economic environment of the age (eg, metal shortages during both World Wars led designers to get creative with jewelry findings and streamline designs).  Of course, we also enjoyed the opportunity to try on various treasures in the estate collection case.  Playing dress up with our favorite pieces made this particular outing different from a typical museum lecture where no touching is allowed (and it far exceeded my childhood field trip to the zoo, where seeing exotic animals was overshadowed by having to spend the whole day walking around with bird poop on the back of my bright red shorts!).  My favorite items (shown above) were a pair of 1950s angel skin coral, diamond and enamel earrings with matching bracelet; and the antique, turn of the century fleur de lis brooch that featured not only a still working timepiece, but also skilled enamel work in a style called guilloche.  I'd never heard the term "guilloche" or seen angel skin coral before, but I was absolutely smitten with both!  If their own blogs are any indication, fellow FAS members Crystal of Dressed Her Days Vintage and Madison of Preppy Guide to Life were also taken with the angelic earrings.  
Clockwise, from top left:  Gary Thrapp enthralls the group; crystal and diamond pendants; 1950s diamond and platinum clips can be worn separately or as a single piece; vintage Hamilton watch featuring a band of hand painted English crystals; Members of FAS listen intently to Gary's history lesson.
If you're interested in buying, selling, or just learning more about historical jewelry (maybe you want to know more about that ring handed down from your great grandmother!), make a point of visiting G. Thrapp!

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Linked up with: Style Elixir

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Just Don't Call Me a Carpetbagger...

Jacket (Ginger 'n Spice); Cropped Palazzo Pants (XCVI,; Bag (Renate Herrmann, Takinu); Boots (; Watch (AquaMaster - my gift to myself when I won my first jury trial years ago!)
This might be one of the most unusual leather jackets I've ever seen, and it's certainly the most unusual one I've ever owned.  Constructed of fine, black mesh featuring individually cut and sewn leaves of rich, red leather, it's not a warm jacket, but that's really beside the point for this particular piece.  Perhaps more surprising is that I stumbled across it at a small boutique on the the far west side of Avon, Indiana - Ginger 'n Spice.  This boutique has been continuously operated by the same local owner for the past 37 years.  I suspect it is owner Cleda Janke's focus on customer service that has kept the doors open all these years.  Case in point:  Cleda had put one of these jackets aside for herself, but when she discovered "her" jacket was the only one in my size, she graciously and unselfishly insisted I take it, instead.  This kind of customer service is precisely why I try to shop local when possible.  Thank you, Cleda - I love, love, love this jacket!

It was only fitting to pair such a unique jacket with a one of a kind wool handbag designed by my dear friend Renate Herrmann.  Renate is a designer and jewelry maker who runs galleries in Stuttgart, Germany and on the French Isle of Bendor on the Cote D'Azur.  Her designs are contemporary with a uniquely European flair.  In addition to handbags fabricated from high end wool carpet fabric, she also designs jewelry for people and pets!  You can check out her designs here!  Renate and her family visited us in Indianapolis in 2009, and again last year, but I haven't had a chance to check out her galleries in person, yet.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a trip this summer that will take us to both Germany and France, where I'm certain Renate will show me the best places to "shop local" in her parts of the world!

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top Tier Travel

Skirt (Travel by Tribal, Pretty Woman); Blouse (Macy's); Bag (Burberry Prorsum); Watch (Michael Kors); Madeira Citrine Necklace and Mandarin Garnet Ring (Aronstam Fine Jewelers); Monogrammed Tortoise Cuff (Tagged Designs); Boots (Aigner, Marshall's).
This week I'm in Washington, D.C. for a conference.  A tight schedule required me to go straight from the tarmac to the convention center with no time to check in and change at my hotel, so my airplane attire had to transition with me.  This three tiered skirt from Tribal is part of the line's no-wrinkle travel collection.  I picked it up on sale from independent boutique Pretty Woman in Bedford last Spring, but this was my first opportunity to wear it.  It's comfortable, flattering, and (true to its hype) absolutely wrinkle-free.  Forget travel, this skirt is going into regular rotation!

What are your favorite clothes to travel in?

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it! 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Not just for Baby Brothers and Batman!

Cape (Kasper, Steinmart); Lace Scarf (Betsey Johnson, Steinmart); Shoes (Poetic License,; Cashmere turtleneck (Carson Pirie Scott); Pants (Bass Outlet); Watch (Michael Kors, Nordstrom); Bag (Dooney & Bourke, Nordstrom)
Like so many children, my younger brother had a blankie when he was a kid.  He didn't carry it, though, he wore it as a cape.  I can still remember him "flying" through the house on any given morning in his underwear and bare feet, his black and gold mantle billowing behind him as he fought villains and rescued damsels.  My mom still has the blankie, and the knot in two corners that converted it into the superhero's cloak is still there.  These days, he's a hero of a different sort as an active member of the United States Army.  He looks handsome in his uniform, and I'm so proud of his service, but the big sister in me will always remember the little boy in the blankie.   

Lately, I'm having my own moment with the cape, and last week I donned one on two separate occasions.  The burgundy cape in the top photo, paired with a favorite lace scarf and glen plaid menswear inspired pants, made me feel more Sherlock Holmes than Superman, and felt just right for a cool fall day that wasn't yet cold enough for a winter coat.

The faux fur leopard capelet in the bottom photo was a new, and unexpected, addition to my wardrobe.  I acquired it at Style Swap Indy, a fundraiser benefiting the Indianapolis Star's Season for Sharing campaign and Face Forward Indy.  Guests at this inaugural event enjoyed cocktails, appetizers, a Just Pop In! popcorn bar and music by DJ Gabby Love while swapping high style but no longer loved items in their own closets for "new" treasures from the closets of other guests and brand new items donated by local boutiques like 8Fifteen.  I relinquished a vintage Cole Haan bag, a suede jacket, and a racer-back herringbone dress from my favorite boutique, Enza's, that is just not a good color for me.  In exchange, I came home with a brand new pair of J Brand cargo pants still bearing their $195 price tag (yikes!), a navy polka dot cloche from Nordstrom (and the closet of one of my favorite local fashionistas), and the glamorous leopard capelet with a distinct Old Hollywood vibe.  Indianapolis Star editor Amanda Kingsbury parted with the beloved and oh so soft cape that somehow never found its way from her walk-in closet to the gallery opening she imagined for it (read her article here).  I put it on the second I got it and wore it the remainder of the evening.  It even made a cameo on the local Channel 6 news when I gave an interview about the event.  I'm already thinking about its next adventure!

Would you wear a cape?    Maybe you'll find one at the next Style Swap Indy!
The red satin lining of the cape is my favorite!  Dress (Samuel Dong, Enza's Boutique); Bag (Alexander McQueen,; Hat (TJ Maxx); Earrings (Nadri, Nordstrom).  Photo courtesy of Liz Pinnick.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Friday, November 8, 2013

IN Fashion Friday: Finding Byron Lars

Dress (Byron Lars Beauty Mark); Shoes (Poetic License); Carnelian Necklace (Steinmart)
Multiple fabrics and layers of laser cut details can't be fully appreciated in photos.
Dress (Byron Lars Beauty Mark); Calf Hair Leopard Bag (Michael Kors, TJ Maxx); Shoes (Saks Fifth Avenue, Off Fifth); Earrings (Givenchy, Macy's); Mandarin Citrine Necklace (Aronstam). 
Do you know who Byron Lars is?  Have you even heard the name?  As much as I love fashion, and even though I now know that his moderately priced line is a favorite of First Lady (and much-admired fashionista) Michelle Obama, I had no idea who he was until about a year ago.  Now, I can't get enough Byron Lars, though Byron Lars is hard to come by!

I discovered the Byron Lars Beauty Mark line in my favorite local, family-owned and operated Indianapolis boutique, Enza's, about a year ago.  Enza's itself is a hidden gem - a tastefully curated walk-in closet of a boutique tucked away in the Chamber of Commerce building downtown. Its small size, striking window displays and off-beat location lend it an air of exclusivity that, at first, made me think I couldn't afford anything therein.  That impression was a fallacy.  Let me say that more plainly - I was wrong!  What I found inside this little treasure chest of a store was an incredibly warm and knowledgeable staff, one-on-one attention, impeccable (and included) custom tailoring, and garments all along the price spectrum that share one commonality - they've been carefully selected for their high quality and unique design. 

I also found Byron Lars Beauty Mark at Enza's.  As it turns out, Enza's is the only boutique in Indiana where you can find this line.  Lucky me!  I remember the first time Tony (the buyer for Enza's and son of the feisty and fashionable Enza herself) showed me the lace dress I wore to Stepping Out In Style this year.  "It's a Byron Lars," he said.  "Oh, really," I responded ambiguously, making a mental note to google Byron Lars later because I had no idea who or what Byron Lars was.  

What I did know was that the dress Tony showed me was so beautifully finished that it could practically be worn inside out and still look right.  It was also cut in a way that accentuates the best things about a woman's body and minimizes those things we wish were, well,...minimal.  Tony told me that all Byron Lars' designs have those things in common.  I can now testify to the truth of this statement. 

The dresses I'm wearing in this post are two of my favorites.  The dress in the top photo is from the Fall 2013 collection.  It is a dress for which a photograph is not really good enough.  The mixed patterns, multiple layers of laser-cut fabric, and attention to detail need to be seen (and touched) to be fully appreciated.  The same is true for the black and ivory lace dress (shown in this post), and the cut-out shoulder, draped wool crepe sheath in the bottom photo. The exquisite cut, fabrics, detail, fit and finish of Byron Lars' clothes can only be described as couture.  

Indeed, in a 2010 interview, Byron himself described the Beauty Mark line as "a contemporary priced collection with cuts and an aesthetic that are more indicative of the kinds of collections most could only dream of affording."  Though he initially had a namesake line that was much higher priced, Byron "was disappointed to meet so many women who professed their love for my clothes and who I would have loved equally to have been wearing them, who would also confess that they simply couldn’t afford them and therefore had to settle for merely trying them on at a store and dreaming in the mirror."  From the number of A-list celebrities who regularly don Byron Lars Beauty Mark (in addition to the First Lady), it's clear that making couture design accessible to real-world women has not dampened his credibility or popularity one iota with those who actually could afford to pay much more.  Bravo, Byron!  And bravo, Enza's for making Bryon Lars Beauty Mark (and many other great garments) accessible to THIS real-world woman!

If you live in the Indianapolis area, discover your own style at Enza's!
  • 320 N. Meridian, Suite 109
  • Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
  • (317) 972-6770
  • Mon-Fri, 9-5 and by appointment
  • Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Downton Dialogue

Silk Coat Dress (Valentino Roma, Butterfly Consignment); Scarf (purchased at a market in Mumbai, India while traveling); Bag (Burberry Prorsum); Shoes (Bandolino); Sunglasses (Cole Haan); Bracelet (Nadri, Nordstrom); Smoky Quartz and Diamond Ring (David Yurman, G. Thrapp Jewelers); Mandarin Garnet and Diamond Ring (Aronstam Fine Jewelers)
Unlike most American households, we have but a single television in our home.  Don't get me wrong - it is one HUGE television, and we watch every bit as much TV as the next family.  But, because we have only one, when we're both at home, my husband and I generally try to invest in shows that we both enjoy.

As a result, I have never seen a single episode of Downton Abbey.  Despite regular exaltations and lamentations about the exploits of its characters in my Facebook news feed, the series sounded (to me) like little more than a soap opera with a historical setting and a British accent.  Not that I'm knocking soap operas -I still like to catch the occasional Days of Our Lives if I happen to be home alone on a weekday, and I once recorded an episode and saved it for weeks because Kate DiMera was wearing a suit I own.  But,I assumed my husband would never be interested in a British period drama so, while I added it to our Netflix queue, it never bubbled to the top of the "must watch" list.

Then, last month I was invited by a friend to participate in an afternoon tea and fundraiser featuring Jessica Fellowes. Jessica is the niece of Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, and is the author of the best-selling Chronicles of Downton Abbey books (she also has a fun blog).  Jessica is a dynamic speaker with a dry British wit, and we bonded instantly over footwear and handbags when introduced after her speech (She was wearing fantastic black crystal studded booties from Zara).  During our chat, I did not confess my ignorance of the award winning series that has brought acclaim to both her and her uncle, but I did enjoy hearing more about the real-life family members that inspired the Downton cast of characters.  I also heard from several women in attendance that the show was worth watching for the wardrobe alone....

I came away from afternoon tea with three new convictions.  One, I needed to learn more about the Women Like Us Foundation, which the event benefited.  Two, I needed to move Downton Abbey up in the Netflix queue.  And three, hot tea should not feature catnip as an ingredient.  Yep - I drank catnip.

Season One of Downton Abbey is now at the top of the Netflix queue, though I haven't had an opportunity to actually start watching it yet.  As it turns out, a surprising number of male friends whose taste I consider to be similar to my husband's have told us they really enjoy the series.  I hope he likes it, too, so that we can watch together!

Are you a Downton Abbey fan? 
Afternoon Tea was held in the historic Union Station in downtown Indianapolis, and the place settings featured vintage teacups in varied and elegant patterns.  Jessica was gracious enough to pose for a photograph.  I should have taken a picture of her fab boots, too!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Boots & Berets

Skirt (JC Penney); Hat (Nordstrom); Bag (Bodhi); Boots (Donald J. Pliner); Watch (Michael Kors); Madeira Citrine Necklace and Mandarin Garnet Ring (Aronstam Fine Jewelers); Shoe laces (The Tie Bar)
On a recent roadtrip to Lexington, Kentucky for the Fall meet at Keeneland (see my post about it here), I persuaded my travel companions to make a brief detour to Shepherdsville, Kentucky so that I could check out the Zappos outlet store.  I'd never been there before and it wasn't quite the "shoestravaganza" I expected, but I did find one spectacular pair of Donald J. Pliner boots at 70% off the original price.  

Olive green and dark grey is an unusual color combo, and the boots inspired me to remix some existing pieces that I'd not paired together before. I couldn't resist topping off the resulting outfit with an olive green wool hat picked up on clearance at Nordstrom several years ago.  I'm a big hat person, but I typically go for hats with brims so this one was a departure, even for me. 

I also switched out the laces on the boots from standard issue dark brown to deep orange.  I love the extra pop of color that echoes the subtle orange stripe in the glen plaid skirt and coordinates with the quilted leather safety pin clutch from Bodhi (one of my favorite bags ever - how can you not love a bag with a giant safety pin as a handle!)  The waxed cotton laces from The Tie Bar came in a set with other colors (red, light blue, teal, and purple), which has also given me additional plans for these boots.  Now, if only the olive bow on the hat was orange, too....

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"Fall"ing for an Old Sweater

Sweater (Susan Bristol; Parisian); Denim Shirt (Kohl's); Plaid Wool Wrap Skirt (LL Bean); Boots (Aigner); Belt (Nordstrom); Bag (Rosetti; purchased from a street fair in Florence, Italy); Necklace (Aronstam Fine Jewelers)
While overhauling my closet last summer, I decided to challenge myself to make no new purchases as long as there were items hanging in my closet that had never been worn (with the caveat that I could purchase items specifically to coordinate with something I already owned if the only thing keeping me from wearing a piece was lack of anything to go with it).   I haven't been perfect about the "no new purchases" aspect of the challenge, but I continue to make progress in maximizing my wardrobe while minimizing my shopping budget, and getting rid of items that are merely taking up precious closet real estate. 

This chunky knit cardigan sweater by Susan Bristol was by far the oldest item in my closet that had never been worn.  I bought it at Parisian while moonlighting as a sales clerk during law school.  I worked there from 1996-1998, so it's pretty old.  The tag (with the receipt stapled to it) was still hanging from the sleeve.  The original price was $125, but I got it for about $26 on sale and using my employee discount (the best reason to work retail).  Still,  a bargain is not really a bargain if it hangs in your closet unworn.  I can't really explain why I never wore it - the color palette exists in abundance in my wardrobe, so it's not as though I didn't have anything to wear with it.  Maybe it was actually the presence of too many autumnal options that made me pass it over for other choices season after season?!  I also think the tree design is a bit "themey" - not ugly Christmas sweater "themey," but enough that it gave me pause.  

In any event, sticking to my "wear it or share it" mentality, I experimented with other items I already owned (including a $6 thrifted wool skirt from LL Bean), and came up with the outfit in the top photo.  The olive suede and cognac leather riding boots are my all-time favorite riding boots (come on, you're not surprised that I have multiple pair of riding boots), so any outfit that lets me sport them is an outfit I like!  In fact, this outfit was so comfy and perfect for a crisp Fall day, I'm actually disappointed I never put it together before.

I also managed to make the sweater more than a "one outfit wonder" by layering it on over the Vince Camuto distressed (faux) leather fit and flare dress in the picture below - a newer acquisition.

What's the oldest item in your closet that's never been worn?  How do you feel about "theme" sweaters?
Dress (Vince Camuto); Denim shirt (Kohl's); Fair Trade Hand Painted Leather Ring from Guatemala (a steal for only $4.00 from Global Gifts); Booties (Frye; Zappos); Bag (Fossil); Statement Necklace (The Limited); Belt (Tommy Hilfiger Outlet).
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Linked up with:  Friday's Fab Favorites by Style Elixir

Friday, November 1, 2013

IN Fashion Friday: Birthday Bounty from Bedford

Jacket, Belt, and Necklace (Pretty Woman); Bronze Satin Skirt (Victor Costa, Steinmart); Bronze Leather Boots (Aigner, TJ Maxx)
This isn't the first time I've touted Pretty Woman in Bedford as an unexpected and delightful shopping destination (see prior post).  My mother-in-law, who lives in southern Indiana, introduced me to this locally owned and operated boutique last year, and now it's practically a "must visit" anytime we're down there for a weekend.  The clothes are high quality and well-priced, and the owner is personable and takes pride in getting to know her customers and their tastes.  If you're a regular, she'll pamper you with a cold beverage while pointing out new items that might coordinate well with your past purchases, though she's never pushy and gives frank feedback when she doesn't think a particular garment is the right style or fit.  Her personal approach and candor is much appreciated if somewhat uncommon (My college roommate and I used to go into stores and deliberately put on ill-fitting clothes to see whether the sales clerks would lie about how we looked in them - the amount of false flattery was atrocious, though not surprising).

The cropped, three-quarter sleeve jacket, crystal belt, and oiled bronze and crystal necklace I'm wearing in this post are all from Pretty Woman. The jacket was a birthday gift from my in-laws last year.  The photos don't do justice to its metallic, coppery bronze pattern (metallics are hard to photograph), but it's the perfect complement to a pleated satin and organza Victor Costa skirt and bronze leather boots. It was the perfect Fall outfit for a recent fundraising dinner.

We're heading to southern Indiana to visit friends and family this weekend (and it just happens to be my birthday again), so I'm looking forward to seeing what's new in store at Pretty Woman!  If you're in the Bedford area and looking for something smashing to wear, check it out next time you're out and about.

Pretty Woman
3124 5th Street
Bedford, IN
(812) 279-5710

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!