Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pony Up!

I pull this Ralph Lauren polka dot dress out every Spring. So reminiscent of Vivian Ward's (Julia Roberts') polo match ensemble, it's a wardrobe staple. The Allen Edmonds spectator shoes (from the mens department at Nordstrom Rack!) are actually much better for stomping divots than a pair of heels...
"Beware the steaming divot!" I can't think about polo without thinking of the iconic polo match scene from "Pretty Woman." Are you picturing it now? And that song! The Roy Orbison classic is always the soundtrack that plays in my head when I think about the "sport of kings."
Last Summer, I was honored to help organize and host a charity polo match to benefit Waldo's Muttley Crew Animal Rescue and Dress for Success Indianapolis. This year, we are cueing up the music once again with the second annual Hats, Hounds & Hooves. 
Click HERE for more great images of Hickory Hall Polo Club!
I can't think of a better way to kick off a holiday weekend than with Friday night polo at sunset. If you're in the neighborhood, I'd love to see you on July 1st at the Hickory Hall Polo Club in Whitestown! Bring your lawn chairs; pack a picnic and pinot; and prepare to get up close and personal with the polo ponies for a tailgating experience like no other. At just $20 per vehicle, you can treat the whole family or a group of friends to a unique evening in an idyllic setting. 
These photos are from last year's halftime hat contest. This year, we're adding a "most patriotic" category in the spirit of the holiday weekend.
You can dress down in denim or do it up Derby dandy for this family friendly Friday night event. There's no dress code, so no need to worry whether the wrong attire will make you feel as out of place as Vivian Ward on Rodeo Drive. But, if you choose to wear a hat (and I really hope you will), you'll have the opportunity to participate in a halftime hat contest hosted by yours truly. Local celebrity judges will be on hand to award prizes for the "funniest," "fanciest," and "most patriotic" hats. If you have a well-behaved dog, feel free to bring him/her along (in a hat or not), as well. I would love to see you there!

Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Le Diner en Blanc

A Saturday afternoon email with the French salutation "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" (Let the good times roll!) identified the top secret setting for a "Diner en Blanc" in the heart of the Circle City last night. The invitation for the whitewashed outdoor soiree had been extended some weeks prior, as it had the prior year, with instructions to wear white and bring wine and a picnic platter to share. The location, in keeping with Parisian tradition, would not be revealed until the day of the party itself. 
The concept of "Le Diner en Blanc," more commonly referred to in the US as a "White Party," is French, and originated with Fran├žois Pasquier, who invited a few friends to the famous Parisian park, Bois de Boulogne, many years ago. To find each other in the park, the guests all wore white. The dinner was such a success that they decided to recreate it the next year. Each person invited other friends and the event grew organically into the 10,000+ dinner it is today. The location is kept top secret until the last minute, though it is always held at a very public (and often historic) locale, such as the Arc de Triomphe.
I'm so grateful to our hosts for bringing this traditional City of Light celebration to the Circle City each year. It is always an elegant evening of revelry. Also in true European fashion, it is an evening to relax and slowly savor the smorgasboard of sweets and savories, as well as bubbly and good conversation with chums both old and new. 
The bright white palette of the decor and the guests' attire was visually striking against the lush green trees and blooming gardens of Dulcinea, an exquisite home in the heart of Meridian Hills. When the sun went down, torches, candles, and hundreds of sparklers continued to light the night with a warm white glow. And despite the monochromatic color scheme, guests showed plenty of individuality in their attire. I've said it before, but there is just something about white clothing that exudes elegance. 
My own dress for this year's soiree sans color was a light as air embroidered lace number, perfect for the near 90 degree heat. I didn't think I would find another white dress that I liked as much as last year's (a caftan I discovered at a street market in India), but I was wrong. This year's soft white dress from Amazon is definitely one I'll wear again and again. Even better, it cost less than $20 - remember, more money does not necessarily equal more style!
I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention my sandals and share a fashion insider's tip. These white lace heels from Amazon are incredibly comfortable despite their height. Wearing heels to a garden party is risky, particularly if the ground is soft. But, two years ago I discovered "Solemates," an inexpensive way to spare your shoes. Solemates are small plastic covers that slip unobtrusively over your heels and keep them from sinking into the ground like lawn jarts. Were it not for these little gems, my pristine white shoes would have surely been streaked with grass stains and dirt after last night's garden festivities. I have them in multiple sizes for different types of heels. You can find your own pair here.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
You may also enjoy this "White Party" post:
This post is also linked with Hat Attack!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Social Butterfly

Ah Zoobilation. The Indianapolis Zoo's annual fundraising extravaganza is always one of my favorite events, and this year's 30th anniversary celebration was no exception. Despite 90 degree temperatures, more than 5000 guests turned up and turned out in all manner of animal inspired attire. Without question, the night's "Keeping It Wild" theme was evidenced in a seemingly endless parade of leopard suits; snakeskin shoes; peakcock feathers; and even a few flamingo hats. You can check out a few of the evening's more colorful ensembles here.
My own Zoobilation dress was months in the making. I'd been thinking about a monarch butterfly themed gown for more than a year, and when I found the perfect fabric on Spoonflower, I looked to local Indianapolis designer Daniela Upshaw to bring my vision to life.
A native of Bulgaria and self-taught in couture techniques, Daniela specializes in made to order, one-of-a-kind designs through her business, DanielaStyle. Indeed, she has never made the same dress twice, and prides herself on creating garments specifically designed to complement the individual women for whom they are made.
This was my first time to work with Daniela, and our close collaboration yielded one of the most beautiful and unique dresses I've ever owned. I appreciated her willingness to listen closely to my vision, and the care she took throughout several fittings to make sure the final product was everything I wanted it to be. Thousands of hand stitches and thoughtful construction details in the lining of the dress also ensured that it wasn't too heavy for a Summer time outdoor event, and that it could withstand hours of traipsing around on concrete and grass without incident despite having a short train.
Of course, when it comes to a theme, you know I'm always all in, so I couldn't resist an intricately beaded Mary Frances handbag in a monarch pattern; and I embellished my black dress sandals with chiffon flowers and a pair of butterflies that started life as earrings (an eBay find). A small crystal butterfly secured the braids in my hair, and I hedged my bet against the rain with a complementary monarch wing umbrella from Amazon that also brought much needed shade before the sun set. 
Though I was happy to kick my shoes off on the way home after a night of drinking, eating, and dancing with a few thousand fellow Hoosiers, I have to admit putting the dress away was a little bitter sweet, and I have no doubt I'll find reason to wear it again. Thank you Daniela, for helping me spread my wings!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
All photos courtesy of Faith Blackwell Photography.
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Saturday, June 18, 2016

7th Inning Shoes

I have loved baseball and softball my whole life. I started playing fast pitch softball when I was 8 years old. I still remember my first pair of cleats. Well, not cleats exactly...they were "turf shoes," covered with hundreds of little black rubber nubs on the bottom. Without question they made me a better, faster ballplayer. I was sure of it, and you would never have been able to convince my stubborn, red-headed 8 year old self differently. Shoes matter.
They also mattered when I was a batgirl for the Indiana Hoosiers' baseball team during my sophomore and junior years of college. Inexplicably, coach Morgan chose to provide us with Converse cheerleading shoes for the role. While cute, the cream and crimson tennies were not well-suited for the purpose, and during my very first outing I slipped on home plate and fell on my tuckas, which wasn't embarrassing at all (she said sarcastically). Without question my lack of grace was caused by the shoes. I was sure of it, and you would never have been able to convince my stubborn, red-headed 19 year old self differently. Shoes matter.
When I discovered these baseball-stitched sandals last Fall, they had my name all over them. Well, from a literal perspective they had my monogram all over them once I customized them Red's Shoe Diaires' style, but you know what I mean. Though ridiculously tall, they are actually one of the most comfortable pair of sandals I've ever owned.
This Summer, they made their first appearance at opening day of the Redondo Beach Sunset League in California. where six time MLB all-star Nomar Garciaparra was on hand to kick off the Pony League season for a few hundred excited 5 to 10 year old kids (two of my cousins amongst them). They've continued their Season at IU baseball games in three different stadiums; more than a few innings of high school ball; and some Indianapolis Indians games at Victory Field. 
I think they deserve a major league debut in their rookie year, too, so I'm scouting for some late Summer Cubbies tix. Without question these shoes and my popcorn purse make me a better baseball fan. I'm sure of it, and you will never have been able to convince my stubborn, red-headed 29 year old self (cough, cough) differently! Shoes matter.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

A Night Circus!

The forecast called for rain that, thankfully, stayed away during the red carpet festivities. But had the skies opened up, I was totally prepared with a parasol that echoed the official Snakepit Ball logo (because of course I was...)
“They are enthusiasts, devotees. Addicts. Something about the circus stirs their souls, and they ache for it when it is absent. They seek each other out, these people of such specific like mind. They tell of how they found the circus, how those first few steps were like magic. Like stepping into a fairy tale under a curtain of stars… When they depart, they shake hands and embrace like old friends, even if they have only just met, and as they go their separate ways they feel less alone than they had before.” 
                                                              ― Erin MorgensternThe Night Circus
Black and silver Sharpies turned ordinary pumps into race revelry ready party shoes (bet you can't say that 5 times fast...)
As Erin Morgenstern said of the "Circque de Reves" in her best-selling tome (and a favorite of mine, no less), so it goes with the Indy 500. From annual tailgating in the Coke Lot to revelry (and perhaps a bit of debauchery) in the Snakepit, to drivers and pit crew members who can't help but snap photos and video even as they are the ones applauded through parade laps around the iconic yard of bricks, those who have discovered the magic in the World's largest one day sporting event feel the pull of the "greatest spectacle in racing" year after year. And, indeed, those who are strangers at the beginning of May (or even the beginning of the final Sunday in May) leave the Brickyard as friends, however fleeting.
A "backstage" circus tent scene set up on one end of the ballroom was a fun photo op.
It was with eager anticipation, then, that I opened the small black box that contained the invitation to this year's 500 Festival Snakepit Ball.  Amidst a cloud of sparkling red confetti nestled a small red glittering racecar announcing through a scroll of trailing black and white exhaust that this year's event would be over the (big) top: a Night Circus themed spectacle to celebrate this year's centennial running of the iconic race.
I found these black satin and pewter metallic pumps, unworn, at local consignment store Simply Chic for $15. I added the bows (which are $1 children's hair clips from Wal-Mart, embellished with rhinestone clip earrings from local boutique The Secret Ingredient). I couldn't find the perfect shoes, so I made them! Between the sparkly additions and the checkered flag soles, they were completely transformed for the evening.
The Snakepit Ball is an annual pre-race tradition and one of the few black tie galas in the Circle City so storied it actually has live televised red carpet coverage. This year's event, held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom and hosted by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and girlfriend Nicole Pechanec, did not disappoint. The interactive theme offered a circus for the senses at every turn. From cotton candy cocktails and miniature root beer floats to mimes and a mardi gras style marching band, this was one party that that left me feeling like, well..., like a kid at the circus. There was a strong man and a sword swallower; there were aerialists and jugglers; there were owls and boa constrictors; there was a life-size rotating crystal racecar suspended under the black and white canopy of the big top. There was live music by Walk Off the Earth. There was an airbrush tattoo station with a running line all night, despite the fact that everyone in attendance was over 21. Truly, the night circus theme brought out the inner child in all of us.
Mother of pearl checkered flag cufflinks; a limited edition 100th running watch from Tag Heuer; spectators; and a special scarf accessorized KDef's classic Ralph Lauren tux.
In keeping with Indy 500 tradition, it's common to see lots of black and white and checkered flag patterned attire at this particular soiree, but in honor of the 100th running, it was more prevalent than ever (and even encouraged), which added to the magical feel of the evening with its black, white, and red color scheme.
Dress (Nikki Blaine Couture, custom design)
When you're going to a really big event where everyone will be wearing black and white, however, there's a decent chance that any dress you find in the city limits will also be worn by someone else (especially in Indy...especially in May). It's certainly not the end of the world. Indeed, it could be seen only as evidence of your impeccable good taste. On the other hand, no one wants to see someone else wearing the same dress at the same party. 
KDef's custom Nikki Blain Couture scarf featuring a fabric I designed turned out even better than I hoped. I plan to wear it myself in the future...
I avoided that potential altogether through a collaboration with local fashion designer Nikki Blaine. She created this black and silver dress in a classic Red's Shoe Diaries' silhouette specifically to complement my custom cocktail hat. The hat, too, was designed for this particular event, and features subtle images of the cars driven by race winner Jim Clark, Parnelli Jones, and AJ Foyt in the 1965 Indianapolis 500, along with a small checkered flag motif.
The custom cocktail hat was created by milliner Margie Ilane and features a more subtle version of the IndyCar motif on the scarf. Margie lives in Estonia and wasn't familiar with the Indy 500, but she was fantastic to work with and more than willing to incorporate my design idea into the over the (big) top hat.
I used the same classic image of Clark, Jones, and Foyt rounding Turn 1 at the Brickyard in 1965 to design fabric that Nikki used to create a scarf for KDef. I've designed fabrics before, but this was my first for a formal garment (though the scarf is versatile enough to wear elsewhere). I couldn't be happier with how it turned out, and it was the perfect, unique complement to his mother of pearl checkered flag cufflinks and limited edition Indy 500 Tag Heuer watch commemorating the 100th running.
Never one for moderation (though I sometimes strive for it), I couldn't stop there. So I spent far too long with tiny crystals, tweezers and craft glue blinging out a custom "milk carton" purse... because what could be more appropriate to celebrate the Indy 500 than milk?! (Even the centerpieces lining long bar tables at the ball were lined with lighted milk bottles). In a spurt of last minute inspiration, I also took to the soles of my shoes with a black and silver sharpie so that I could wave a bit of the victory flag with every step. It was an ensemble perfectly appropriate for running away with the circus, even if only for an evening.
Applying hundreds of crystal to my "milk carton" purse with tweezers took far longer than I anticipated, but was totally worth the effort; so fun; and so me; The small red glitter racecar hanging off the side was part of the formal Snakepit Ball invitation.
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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I'm also linked up with Hat Attack this month!