Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Good InVESTments

Jacket (Ralph Lauren); Vest (Bushwacker - see it styled another way here); Scarf (Ralph Lauren); Bag (Street Fair in Florence, Italy - see it styled differently here and here); Woven leather boots (Bass); Watch (Charriol); Brooch (passed down from my grandmother)
As precocious 8th graders too eager to grow up, my best friend Jill and I were obsessed with Vogue magazine and, of all things, the stock market.  After a penny stock exercise in a social studies class in which we both made a mint in make believe money, we read every book on trading we could get our hands on and talked about it ad nauseum with any adult who would listen.  In retrospect, I think we were more interested in how smart and sophisticated we thought we sounded than we were in the intricacies of investing.   

As an actual adult, my experience with investing in the market has not been near as glamourous and easy as it seemed when the risk of losing wasn't a reality, and I wouldn't even attempt to give anyone advice on winning the Wall Street war.  Investing in clothes, however, is a different story.

I'm not talking about setting a budget to buy new clothes every season, or even every year.  I'm talking about true investment pieces - they may cost a little more up front, but high quality classics that stand the test of time in terms of style and longevity are smart purchases.  They won't appreciate in value the way that stocks might, but you'll end up ahead in the long run because they won't need to be replaced every time fashion trends change or because they've worn out after a few washings.

With the exception of my watch (a more recent investment piece), every item that makes up this ensemble is at least fifteen years old, and I treasure each piece as much today as I did when I bought them.   The herringbone jacket and vest had my neighbor remarking a few years ago that I looked like a little boy in a Ralph Lauren ad, but to me it has an Annie Hall vibe that I love (and a beloved vintage brooch passed down from my grandmother is decidedly girly).

The leather bag was my first real investment piece.  I found it twenty years ago at a street fair in Florence, Italy on a solo backpacking trip.  It was a lot a money for an unemployed twenty-one year old headed to law school, but the style was so quintessentially "me" and the quality of the leather was so high that I blew my souvenir budget on it and never looked back.  I couldn't afford to ship it home so I toted it all over Europe as though it was the perfect complement to my backpack, t-shirts and Tevas.  Since then, it has been much used and well loved.  I had it refurbished this winter at my favorite shoe repair shop and it looks better than new, having acquired the rich patina of age that is a hallmark of the finest leathers.  A good investment, indeed.

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

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hat Over Heels!

SAVE THE DATE and join me at the

Indianapolis Museum of Art


Hats Off - Hat Over Heels!
The Fashion Arts Society’s 3rd Annual Hats Off Lecture and Luncheon
Thursday, May 8, 2014
11:00 a.m.

I'm so honored to have been asked to chair this year's Hats Off luncheon, which will focus not only on stylish chapeaus, but also on sensational shoes.  As you all know, I love to plan a party, and a hats and heels theme couldn't be more perfect for yours truly.

We'll begin the festivities at 11, with a presentation by Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto (What?  An entire museum dedicated to shoes!  Hmmm, I've always wanted to visit Toronto...).  Elizabeth's talk is titled, "Heights of Fashion: A Short History of the High Heel."  I love it! 

Following our historical journey through the evolution of cordwainers and cobblers, we'll enjoy Mint Spritzers (FAS' original take on the iconic mint julep) and a delectable meal in the Deer Zink Pavilion.  (I'm looking forward to the menu tasting in a few weeks.)  You'll also have an opportunity to bid on fashionable silent auction items, and win a gem of a prize in our raffle.

As in prior years, an esteemed panel of judges will award prizes for the "best dressed" in several categories that celebrate unique looks from hat to heeled toe.  If you've always had a secret desire to don a high-falutin' hat but didn't think you had any place to wear it, now's your chance!  Want to get extra mileage out of your Kentucky Derby hat?  Parade it here!  Need an opportunity to rock your wildest pair of shoes?  This is it! (I classify these camouflage peep-toes in the "kind of crazy, don't wear very often" category).  Don't want to wear a hat? That's ok, too.   Shoes (whether flat or towering), on the other hand, are a must.

For special early-bird pricing, reserve your ticket before April 25, or get a group of friends together and fill a whole table!   You can purchase tickets here, and all but $20 of each ticket is tax-deductable.  Proceeds will benefit the FAS' Acquisition Fund and help bring more stunning pieces to the IMA.

Let me know if you're going - I hope to catch up with many familiar faces and meet some new ones!

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

Monday, March 17, 2014

Wearin' o' the Green

Dress (INC, Macy's); Purse (Kohl's); Pearl cluster necklace (Etsy); Watch (Embassy; Steinmart); Boots (
Do you have your green on today?  My closet contains just about every shade of green there is, but on St. Paddy's Day it seems appropriate to go for a true emerald.  This ikat patterned sundress has a bit of a Celtic vibe, and the addition of tights and boots makes it weather appropriate since there's still ice on the lake despite the fact that Spring is nearly here.  I snapped it up last year when emerald green was the Pantone Color of the Year (if you read my last post, you already know how I feel about Pantone's pick for this year). 

Anyway, in anticipation of celebrating like a true Irish lass, I pulled out my Waterford Irish coffee mugs over the weekend - a treasure purchased at the Waterford factory during a self-guided Bed & Breakfast tour of Ireland with Kevin and the in-laws in 2007.  From Dublin to the Dingle Peninsula, we saw it all, but one small, startling incident sticks in my mind.  I was coming out of the ladies' room in one of countless pubs we visited during the trip when I came upon a large framed poster for Bushmills Irish Whiskey that featured a sketch of a jovial man that looked so much like my Dad, who passed away in 2004, that I started to shake.  If you knew my Dad, who everyone called "Spanky," you'd also know how appropriate it was that his doppleganger appeared in an ad for whiskey.  I raised my glass to him that night in memory.  Spanky never traveled farther than Canada, but he'd have fit in perfectly with the friendly townspeople we met "down the pub" in the more rural areas of the Emerald Isle. 

A few years later, I had the same incredulous reaction when I popped open an Indianapolis Monthly and saw an ad for a local chain of pubs featuring the same jovial man.  If I didn't know better, I would swear it was Spanky himself. The picture below features the ad next to a picture of me with my Dad in 1995.  What do you think?!

Happy St. Paddy's Day, Spanky, and Happy St. Paddy's Day to all of you, too!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I'm No Radiant Orchid

Last year, I was ecstatic when Pantone revealed its 2013 Color of the Year as "Emerald," a deep, true green.  It's a flattering tone for a fair-skinned, green eyed redhead, but until Pantone heralded it as the "it" color, emerald hued garments were hard to come by in all but vintage shops. Pantone's blessing (or accurate forecasting?) of the revitalization of the earthy, organic color meant that, suddenly, it was everywhere, and I gleefully added a few stellar new green garments to my wardrobe.

The 2014 Color of Year, "Radiant Orchid," on the other hand, does absolutely nothing for me.  Pantone describes the color as "bloom[ing] with confidence and magical warmth that intrigues the eye and sparks the imagination.  It is an expressive, creative and embracing purple - one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.  A captivating harmony of fuschia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid emanates great joy, love and health."  Wow, I want to be beguiled by a color that exudes joy, love and health!  I'd better run out and buy new clothes...not.

My personal description of Radiant Orchid goes something like this:  it is a pastel on steroids; it is not quite purple and not quite pink; it reminds me of a not so beloved childhood Easter dress, and; it washes my already pale complexion into oblivion and makes me look anything but the picture of health.  Admittedly, it is quite beautiful in living color on the delicate blooms of an exotic orchid.  I just don't want to wear it.

Fortunately, over the course of four decades, I've learned that my personal style and color preferences are far more important than what's "in fashion."  Thus, the mass market sensory overload of Radiant Orchid in my Pinterest feed and in every department store, boutique, and catalog has no peer-pressure like effect on me.  

I do like to experiment with new colors, and my style continues to evolve along with this blog.  Sometimes, I'm still startled when a color I didn't really think I could wear turns out to be a new favorite.  Case in point - periwinkle.  I stumbled across this embroidered periwinkle top on a clearance rack and scooped it up more for the style than the color.  When I photographed it for the blog, though, I realized it was actually the deep purple blue color, more than the style, that made it a good choice for me.  Who knew!

...and then there is my favorite color range.  I don't know what Pantone calls it.  When I drove a car featuring metallic paint in my beloved deep orange-red, Chrysler called it "paprika."  I've also seen it labeled as cinnamon, burnt orange, sienna, and a plethora of clever names borne by similarly hued nail polishes.  The OPI color I'm wearing below is called "Deutsch You Want Me Baby?" (I've always thought it would be fun to be the person who names nail polish colors - where do they get this stuff)  Although autumnal in nature, I've never viewed the color as only for Fall, and it has actually become such a part of my personal style that several of my friends refer to it simply as "Jody Orange."  Pantone will never pick that moniker to represent a color of the year, but it will always represent my personal style.  And that, my friends, is what matters.  

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
Cowl neck sweater in "Jody Orange" (Willi Smith, TJ Maxx); Gouchos (XCVI, - see them styled with grey here); Suede Boots (9 West, Steinmart); Bag (Michael Kors, TJ Maxx)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

You Can Leave Your Hat On

This outfit is probably my "most worn" this Fall and Winter for weekend outings and casual Fridays at the office.  Hat (AH Collection at Clay Terrace); Boots (Zulilly); Watch (Fossil); Wool turtleneck (Kasper); Sweater (Ginger & Spice); Grey jeans (J Brand, 815 via Style Swap Indy - read about this cool event here)
 The title of this post has nothing to do with the Joe Cocker song made famous during a particularly steamy scene in the movie 9 and 1/2 Weeks, though I'm sure it's going to be on repeat in my head all day now.  

I love hats, and I wear them on a near daily basis when I venture out in the Winter (my Mom will probably laugh about this because as a child, I threw temper tantrums when she made me wear a hat).  When the not so humble chapeau is an integral part of my outfit, though, I sometimes struggle with whether to leave it on while I'm indoors.  In large part, the decision depends on 1) the type of hat, and 2) where I'm at.  If it's a baseball cap worn with jeans or cargo pants on the weekend, I will always leave it on (unless, of course, I remove it briefly for the National Anthem at a sporting event).  If I'm shopping or out to dinner, I'll almost always leave it on, regardless of the style of the hat.  Even the knit hat I'm wearing in these pics, which I originally thought would be an "outdoor only" hat, is one that I generally leave on wherever I am.  It gives an unexpectedly chic edge to an otherwise fairly casual jeans and sweater look.  It also leaves a pattern on my forehead, which is extra incentive to leave it on....

But the office, however, is where I sometimes question whether I should take my hat off.  Hats are not commonplace where I work (are they commonplace anywhere anymore?)  So, wearing one in a client meeting will usually engender comment, and I don't want focus on my headwear to be a distraction from the matter at hand. But, lately, if the hat is "understated," I just may leave it on.  My burnt orange cloche, worn two ways here and here, for example, is one that I feel comfortable leaving on all day, even at the office.  This bright red, brimmed hat, on the other hand, is one that I take off when my coat comes off.  Likewise, this bejeweled ivory faux fur head wrap is a little over the top for work, but I might well keep it on for an evening out.

Do you leave your hat on?  Why or why not?
My Grandma Norma was a fan of the hat.  I'm a fan of her.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

I'm linked up with Style Crone's Hat Attack - you can see lots more fab hats on her blog!