Friday, November 24, 2017

The Day I Cried at Bergdorf's

An unexpected emotional reaction to a sneak peek of preparations for Berdorf's iconic holiday window displays had me scrambling for tissues in a back room.
Last month, in the belly of Big Apple icon Bergdorf Goodman's, I cried. It started with just a few tears; the kind that well up in the corners of your eyes over a particularly poignant holiday commercial. I'd have been fine if no one had noticed, but tiny tears turned to full-fledged sobs when friends remarked on my overtly emotional state of being (a poker face, I do not have).
By chance, my ensemble for the day's excursion coordinated perfectly with the dapper characters that were handcrafted for one of this year's magical holiday window displays.
I wasn't sad. I was just...overwhelmed. I was there with the IMA Fashion Arts Society for a special behind the scenes look at the historic department store that is a legitimate NYC tourist attraction in its own right. It's even the subject of a documentary, "Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's" (which I highly recommend, by the way).
Of course a visit to Bergdorf's called for a bit of shopping. It is, after all, a department store.
Bergdorf's is known the world over for its creative seasonal window displays. So much more than run of the mill merchandising, these dioramas are magic - they tell a visual story that delights man, woman, and child alike. You may think me silly to wax poetic about windows but, if you've ever walked down 5th Avenue at the holidays, maybe you understand.
This year's windows feature a "To NewYork with Love" theme, and each is evocative of the city's appreciation for the arts; this window pays tribute to the New York Historical Society. Learn more about ALL of this year's windows and glimpse them here.
The window installations are art. Each one is months in the making, and takes a crew of full-time professional artists and craftsmen hundreds of hours to create. The Christmas holiday windows are particularly special, and each year's designs are a closely guarded secret until their unveiling in mid-November. And so it was that I found myself tearing up in the basement of Bergdorf's amidst mannequins and a well-dressed minotaur...elements of this year's windows in the making. 
Like kids in a candy store, we sang and danced our way through the in progress art installations.
I was overwhelmed that we were getting such an intimate look at the creative process. I was stunned at the level of detail and craftsmanship that goes into each exhibit. I was shocked that we were getting the inside scoop on the HOLIDAY WINDOWS, of all things, and even more so that we were permitted to take some pictures with a promise that we wouldn't divulge any images before the windows were unveiled (which was just last week).
For Autumn in New York, I chose a Fall color palate. The simple burgundy dress is from Amazon; the scarf was made by my Mom; the watch is Michael Kors; the bag is from Burberry's Limited Edition Beasts Collection; the hat is from an Austin boutique; the embroidered Mia boots are from Nordstrom.
This special Bergdorf's experience wouldn't have been possible but for the Fashion Arts Society, and the women who accompanied me on the trip have woven a rich tapestry of friendship in my life that is far more valuable than our mutual appreciation of textiles and style. I was, to be honest, a bit embarrassed to be inexplicably emotional in the basement of Bergdorf's. But even as I tried to hide my tears and dab my eyes, I was surrounded with hugs and tissues and good-natured laughter that allowed me to simply embrace all that I was feeling, the top note of which 
My tiny tears turned into full-fledged sobs...
It was an experience I'll never forget, and last week my Fashion Arts friend Dawn brought all those same emotions to the surface when she presented me with a handkerchief embroidered with the store's initials and the date of our visit. Her thoughtful gesture once again had tears welling up in my eyes, but I resisted the urge to use her gift to dry them - I'm saving it for my next visit to Bergdorf's!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!

I'm linked up with Hat Attack!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Elegance is an Attitude

The Breeders' Cup was just over a week ago, but I'm still savoring a great weekend at Del Mar. Southern California really does have the perfect weather, and the setting was truly beautiful. It was easy to see how the track touts the slogan "where the turf meets the surf."
Custom chapeau (Abigail Aldridge Millinery); Crystal peacock purse (Fawziya)
It was also an honor to be selected as a finalist in the Longines' "Most Elegant Woman" contest on both Friday and Saturday. The iconic Swiss watchmaker sponsors racing and equine events all over the world, and usually invites celebrity representatives to help select "best dressed" winners at such events. 
"Most Elegant Woman" celebrity judge Carson Kressley was both gracious and funny.
This year's Longines' celebrity judges included reality star and style guru Carson Kressley and "10" superstar Bo Derek. It was great fun to meet both of them, and chatting about fashion with Carson was a hoot. The man has a great sense of humor! 
The shoes are from Amazon; I added the peacock feather clips to coordinate with the rest of my ensemble.
My ensemble for Friday started with the dress. Sometimes it begins with the hat; and sometimes with the shoes, but this time it was a Banned Apparel peacock and fan print dress I found last year on clearance at Unique Vintage. 
My stylish friends Eva (left) and Sharon (middle) were also finalists in the Longines' Most Elegant Woman contest.
I didn't buy it with the intention of wearing it to the races. Yet, when I saw a photograph of a "fan hat" created by New York milliner Abigail Aldridge, inspiration struck. I scoured the web for the perfect folding cloth fan to complement the fan pattern in the dress, ultimately finding that "just right" piece on Etsy. 
I wouldn't typically go with purple nails and toes, but it the official color of the Breeders Cup, after all; I always like to make sure my hats look good from the back, too, since people are staring at the back of your head in the stands all day.
Once I had the fan, I worked with Abigail to bring my millinery vision to life. It was so much fun to collaborate with her. She was also a dream to work with, even though she was in NYC and I was in Indiana. We exchanged many late night emails and lots of photographs along the way, but it really paid off because I could not be happier with how her creation completed my Breeders' Cup Day 1 look.
You'd think Eva and I coordinated our looks with each other in advance, but it was total coincidence that we matched both each other and the Del Mar art installations.
Beyond the ideal weather; stellar racing; and fun fashion, however, the best part of the Breeders' Cup, for me, was making new friends. I met the beautiful Chicago native Eva Irena, pictured above, at the Arlington Million in August. We connected immediately over a shared love of chapeaus, but last weekend gave us a great opportunity to make some great memories (and plan some future adventures). 
KDef brought his own style game with a purple seersucker suit.
We also met up with a fantastic couple from Ireland in town for the races. They are planning another trip across the pond in May for the Kentucky Derby, so hopefully we'll reconnect at Churchill Downs. Once again, it was a mutual appreciation of racing fashion that paved the way for an introduction...I can't say it enough: great hats bring people together!
We toasted early and often with Irish couple Sharon and Tom in the G.H.Mumm champagne garden.
Of course, a well-coordinated ensemble may lead to an initial conversation, but the substance and style beneath are what make the (wo)man. The Longines' slogan "Elegance is an Attitude" fits our new friends perfectly!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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I'm linked up with Hat Attack!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A "Million" Hats

Cheers from the champagne tent at Arlington!
Hi friends! I've had a bit of a blogging hiatus lately as I've been wearing a few too many hats - in the metaphorical sense, that is. One can never wear too many hats in the literal sense!
When a teapot is really a purse! This Kate Spade wicker bag really is "my cup of tea."
You can also never wear the same hat too many times if you find creative new ways to style it. This royal blue, hand formed silk abaca chapeau from Spirit of Harlequin in the UK has been an unexpected "go to" topper for me this year.
I first saw this faille dress at Nordstrom but it was more money than I wanted to spend...a few months later I found the same dress, new with tags, on eBay for a third of the original retail price. 
I got it specifically to wear to this year's Indianapolis 500 Snakepit Ball (see the look here). But in August, I discovered to my surprise and delight that with the addition of a vintage brooch and black embroidered lace at the base, it was also just right for the Arlington Million in Chicago.
These stylish ladies and I bonded over our shared love of chapeaus and novelty purses!
It actually turned out to be such a great complement to my azure Arlington sundress that I won the weekend's "Fashion at the Races" best-dressed woman contest! I was honored to receive the award (and who am I to look a gift horse, or a Nordstrom gift card, in the mouth). But more importantly, my oh so blue ensemble also led to a new friendship with a fellow hat lover and racing enthusiast.
If these shoes look familiar, it's probably because I have them in multiple colors. The heart-shaped heels are fun, but also wear like a wedge, which is great when you're on your feet at the racetrack all day long. I added the clips to further coordinate with the rest of my ensemble.
We bonded over champagne, chapeaus, and novelty purses on the backside of the track, and now we're both headed to California this weekend for the Breeders' Cup at Del Mar!
KDef gets styled for the races, too... check out the thoroughbred cufflinks; jockey's hat tie; and those shoes... I really love those shoes!
I'm looking forward to sunshine and catching up with my stylish new friend on the West Coast. I've said it before, hats don't just pull an outfit together; they bring PEOPLE together!
Fashion is what you buy; Style is what you do with it!
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