Friday, March 24, 2017

7 Favorites Things: Poolside Packing for Grownup Girls

I am really looking forward to our family trip to Hawaii for spring break in April, especially with the constant monsoon that is happening here in soggy Seattle. I feel lucky to get to go, and of course terrified of shopping for a swim suit. The usual.

Getting ready for a trip is both fun and challenging, but being organized is key to arriving to your destination both in style and without forgetting your undergarments. Although my teen daughter packs herself these days, most trips involve me making sure that the house, pets, mail, work, and kids are all pulled together before departure. Oh, and I have to pack myself too. Lists are essential, and so is being organized. How much happier will you be when you are poolside with that first umbrella drink if you know in fact that you made sure everyone has a swimsuit? And no one wants to buy a $10 toothbrush at the gift shop, so it pays to have your act together prior to heading to the beach.

J.Crew One Shoulder Swimsuit

From great swimwear to a festive little straw clutch, here is what I am bringing along to make certain I have a great vacation that is easy-breezy. Make that list and check it twice, people! Aloha.
Maslin & Co. Zebra Towel

1. The Masin & Co. Beach Towel 

I am so obsessed with this uber chic towel, which I know seems silly. However, what is not to love about a animal hide shaped cotton towel in a bright zebra print that comes with its own leather carrying strap? I mean, can it get any cooler than that? It was $225 but is now on sale for $97 bucks at The Outnet. It would make a great gift too!

2. Paravel Luggage

The Paravel Stowaway

Paravel is the affordable luxury bag company that will help you say goodbye to that trashed ugly black suitcase of yours. All under $350, these beautiful pieces are stain proof, waterproof, and lightweight. The cases are trimmed in Italian leather and are built to beautifully withstand the trauma of modern day travel. My favorites are the Stowaway, which collapses flat and can fit inside another piece of luggage, and the packing cubes. My entire family used packing cubes to keep ourselves organized within our suitcases during a three week trip through Europe, and it was a life saver. We continue to use them even on weekend excursions and they are the best! I would never travel without them again. 

Anthropologie Solid & Stripe Lexi One Piece

3. The Swimsuit

I have always had amazing luck with J.Crew swimwear. Since I am in mid 50s, (gah!!) I look for a chic and flattering one piece that makes me feel good. It can be a tall order, but J. Crew seems to know how to fit women's bodies. The J.Crew One Shoulder Suit in their classic red stripe is a great take on the one shoulder trend happening right now with summer tops. I also am a fan of a fabulous seersucker swimsuit because the fabric is just so summer. I am loving the red piping detail on this Tipped Seersucker Suit.  That being said, Anthropologie also carries a chic and flattering collection of one piece suits as well. The Lexi One Piece is minimalistic modern take on a classic style. 

Kayu Pineapple Clutch

4. Sunny Holiday Clutch

I love little straw clutches and one with a pineapple on it is just all that much better. This Kayu Pineapple Clutch is the perfect little bag to stash in your bigger beach bag to hold valuables, and can accompany you to cocktails when the sun begins setting. Fruit seems to be a major theme in summertime prints, so why not debut it during spring break? 

Etsy by LifeHasJustBegun Beach Hat

5. An Awesome Sun Hat

These custom beach hats are the best. You can find them in many styles, sayings and embellishments on Etsy. You can choose a custom saying, have it embroidered or spelled out in sequins, add pompoms or a colored ribbon...the sky is the limit. I chose "Aloha" from LifeHasJustBegun because I like to keep things simple but feel free to let the hat do the talking for you if you are out of the office! 

Goddis Voyager Summer Knit Poncho

6. Cool Cover Up

There are a million great way to cover up at the pool or peach, but I love the idea of a poncho best. Often you want to be covered up enough to walk to your room comfortably or go sit at the poolside restaurant and the poncho allows you to do this in style. I like the shorter sleeves of this beautiful Goddis Voyager Summer Knit Poncho in "serene sea" blues. A poncho is an easy way to show low-key elegance. 

Zara Floral Pool Slides

7. The Pool Slide

The Pool Slide is the hottest shoe around for summer, both on the street as well as at the actual pool.  Many of the high end pool slides, like Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Vince are awesome with a summer dress or pants, but perhaps not as great at the pool. I would leave the fancy slides in the hotel room for later and grab a pair of these embellished Floral Slides from Zara for the actual pool. And believe it or not I like this Kendall + Kylie pair as well. 

Rainbow Drink Floats from Urban Outfitters

As a side note, the world of fun and festive pool floats have reached epic proportions. You can float on your own clam shell or pizza slice, and have a seperate flamingo float for your drink! Lots of great options at Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom! 

Plan ahead for your warm weather adventures and you can score some great prices on clothing and other sunny vacation essentials. Aloha to sunny days ahead! xx

Feature image via Paravel Instagram. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Little Suede Style

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse
I consider suede to be an everyday luxury that is also a year round closet staple. A chic counterpart to leather, suede has a chameleon like ability to go from casual to glamorous, depending upon its use. Suede came into mainstream fashion during the 1930s, when the material was first used for women’s pumps and gloves.The luxurious softness and flexibility made it popular with the fashionable crowd and was definitely a defining element of 60s and 70s fashion. Today we wear suede any time of the year (weather permitting) and it continues to represent modern elegance. Here are some of my favorite pieces  that I consider closet essentials.

Suede Booties
While suede can represent a casual look as easily as one of dressier proportions, I think there is nothing like a suede bootie to elevate your style. I bought these pristine Isabel Marant Etoile Dicker Velvet Booties in gray from my friend Mary Bridget of MB Finds and have been high-fiving myself every since for my good fortune. Isabel Marant boots are iconic and with good reason: they are the epitome of the Parisian designer's bohemian chic roots. I paired them with my 3x1 Straight Leg Fringe Jeans that keeps the western vibe at bay and adds a cool chick vibe. A feminine layered ruffle peach colored blouse seems like the perfect pairing with the more rough and tumble denim. My Zara top is sold out, but this Endless Rose blouse is similar, although it is off the shoulder (also a great trend) instead of high neck.

I love a good suede jacket as much as the next girl, but Olivia Palermo had me at "cape". The Olivia Palermo x Chelsea 28 Trench Vest with a removable cape was one of my purchases last fall from her collection with Nordstrom. The soft gray color and unique form means it is a perfect right now with spring fabrics as it was last fall with my velvet jeans, making the case for investing in suede for all year wear. You can find this particular cape on sites like Postmark now, or go The RealReal for a gorgeous St. Laurent chocolate brown suede version.

Free People Bali Well Dressed Jacket

This Free People Bali Well Dressed Jacket with its cropped silhouette and exaggerated and embellished sleeve represents a modern version of a suede jacket. I picture this over a long black maxi sundress for the perfect amount of bohemian flare. If you want to make a statement with a more traditional piece, try a bold color suede jacket, like this Acne Studios Suede Bomber or this more wallet friendly BLANKNYC Morning Suede Moto Jacket that comes in several gorgeous shades.

I don't think that there are enough hours in the day to express my love for the long list of suede handbags there are out there. If I was forced to choose two in particular, they most certainly would be Chloe Faye Leather and Suede Shoulder Bag, and of course the iconic Saint Laurent Monogram pieces, including the brilliant blue shoulder bag pictured above, and the Large Quilted Suede Shoulder Bag. I also love a good suede tote, like this Madewell Suede Transport Tote in the most beautiful pinky clay color. It would make a great work or travel bag.

Rainy weather aside, suede really is a beautiful way to add that certain je ne said quo to one's wardrobe all year round.  ;) With all leather pieces, be it a handbag or boots, make sure to spray them with a good leather protector after you get them home. Invest in a suede brush and keep your pieces protected in their bags and boxes when you are not wearing them so they don't get transfer their color to other things or get damaged. I have used a tiny bit of white vinegar to dab at small stains with success, but mostly I am very diligent about caring for my pieces so they last.

Last but not least, I wanted to go off topic and share my love for Faris Jewelry. I asked for these LADYDAY earrings for Christmas and I cannot get enough of them. I have worn just one with a small stud in the other ear for a different take on them, or both to show off their oversized flower shape. I think they are the perfect spring accessory. Check out all of the amazing pieces from this local designer here. Happy weekend friends!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ebony and Ivory: Wearing Black and White

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse
I don't normally do big cheesy smiles for my blog photos but I was so entertained by the reactions to my outfit at Greenlake for our photoshoot I couldn't contain my amusement. It was a sunny day at the lake, a popular place for walkers, joggers, moms with strollers and those who love to get outside and exercise. Which means I had to park a million miles away, then walk on the busy path to meet Krissi at our designated meeting spot for photos. So there I was, strolling in Chanel flats, piles of pearls swinging away as I tried to hurry out of the way of the Nike clad crowd. I do love standing out in a crowd, but perhaps not this one? It was pretty funny.

Which brings me to the topic of what to wear this time of year...not over winter but not quite spring. The weather can swing wildly between snowstorm and sunny day, and even if that big round ball of warmth comes out, it still is quite chilly around here. Which is why I am more often that not reaching for my black and white pieces.

I mentioned on my recent segment (shameless plug ahead here) on KING 5's New Day Northwest, wearing white in the winter is not only ok, it is super chic. That old rule about "no white after Labor Day"? Forget about it. What you should know about wearing white jeans in the winter is this: it is all about the weight and the fabric. Lightweight cotton or linen whites? Yes, leave those for the warmer months. But a good regular denim in a white, especially when paired with a cool good.

The Current/Elliot The Stiletto white jeans I am wearing were pretty with heels, but I also loved just a pair of classic ballet flats. The fashion gods have proclaimed that ballet flats are "back", but I am fairly sure they never went anywhere. That's the beauty of investing in a beautiful classic piece, be it a coat, a set of pearls, or a perfect pair of Chanel flats. You will have them forever.

As far as accessories go, I got inspired by a Neiman Marcus runway show I attended where I saw long ribbons attached to necklaces that hung down the back. I decided to make my own, so I went to Nancy's Sewing Basket up on Queen Anne and bought several yards of beautiful black and white ribbon. I also bought a velvet flower to make a choker necklace, then attached it to the ribbon. I also added all the pearls I could get my hands on because there is nothing more chic than a pile of pearls. The J.Crew Pearl Twisted Hammock Necklace adds the perfect pile of more, more, more pearls!

My sweater is a beautiful Claudie Pierlot piece that I bought in Paris a couple of years ago. It is a black cotton cardigan with a accordion silk blouse back sewed into it, giving it the illusion of having a blouse underneath it. You could easily achieve this by layering a silk blouse underneath an open back sweater, or layer a crisp white blouse underneath a black cardigan.

I think what I love most about this look is it seems a bit Parisian, wearing classic black and white but in a decidedly unclassic combination. Yes, I am wearing pearls, but with distressed denim. The messy bun and mixed together accessories make for an undone look that isn't the least bit stuffy, just like me. Can't figure out what to wear this time of year? Mix your black and white pieces to create the perfect chic look, straight from your own closet.

Have a great week! xx

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Weekend Winner: JAG x Fitcode Denim Fit Lab is Feb 18th

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

Last week I attended The Denim Fit Lab at My Style Suite at Westfield Southcenter to get a sneak peak at a cool new denim concept debuting over Presidents Day weekend. The Denim Fit Lab is designed to help customers find the perfect denim with the help of fit experts, Fitcode, Fitcode takes the guesswork out of getting a pair (or two) of jeans that are perfect for your specific body type and your personal style. No stress, all fashionable fun!

Here is how it works: You take a short online fit quiz to find your personal Fitcode, no measurements required. So easy. Once you have been assigned a "Fitcode number" you can shop your personalized denim recommendations. The Style Suite is full of racks of great denim that have tags with corresponding numbers and the knowledgable staff can get you the details on fit, stretch and answer any questions.

I was looking for a skinny boyfriend style that was more fitted than the other pairs of boyfriend denim I already had. The JAG Sheridan Skinny in Blue Carbon not only had the perfect amount of distressing, but it fit my body like a glove. A soft comfy glove at that! And an extra bonus...I went down two sizes in this jean! Thanks to Fitcode and the great ladies from Styled Seattle and Fitcode, I found exactly what I was looking for.  It was easy and fun, and I walked out with a great fitting pair of denim. Yay!

I paired my new jeans with my J. Crew Collection Chelsea Glitter Boots because I love mixing distressed denim with dressier pieces. I rolled the hems to show off the boots, and since the wind was blowing a thousand miles an hour, I layered my pieces. I wore a tie neck silk blouse from the Nordstrom Signature and Caroline Issa Collection underneath my PLAY Comme de Garçon Mens Cardigan Sweater, which incidentally is less expensive than the women's version. My favorite bomber jacket to date has to be the stunning Free People Floral Embroidered Bomber. It has panels of silk and velvet with gorgeous embroidery work, and even the pockets are lined in velvet. It is a heavier bomber and therefore quite cozy. Coolest jacket ever.

Now it is your turn to find the perfect denim!  On Saturday, February 18, Styled Seattle, a local fashion consulting and personal styling business, is partnering with JAG jeans and Fitcode to host a complimentary Denim Fit Lab.  The one-day-only event is open to the public from 12-5 on a first-come, first-serve basis. Guests will receive exclusive discounts from JAG and if they like, have the opportunity to book a session with a personal stylist at Styled Seattle. Also, check online for Fitcode's new collaborations, including AG Jeans and more.

You can also shop online using my custom 30% off promo code FITLABWestFultonStreet, good through March 31, 2017.

JAG Jeans x Fitcode Denim Fit Lab
When: Saturday, February 18, from noon to 5 pm
Where: The Style Suite, Westfield Southcenter, 2800 Southcenter Mall Seattle, WA 98188

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Denim Edit: Five Favorite Looks

Photo by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

On Monday I had the pleasure of appearing for the second time on Seattle's KING 5 television's New Day Northwest. I did a "Stylish at Any Age" segment last spring and other than wearing a dress on camera that made me look like a large pumpkin, I loved doing it. When the producer reached out to me again a couple weeks ago I was ready to go with some ideas on what I wanted to talk about next: denim. Local boutique Canopy Blue generously supplied the clothes for the show, and five gorgeous fashion friends agreed to model. "Stylish at Any Age: The Denim Edit" was so much fun to do. I loved it!

New Day Northwest with Jennifer Lovin, Kirsty Papadopulos, Mary Bridget Pehl, Kirsten Lear & Chardon Dankers
Denim styles have become so much fun this past year and they just keep getting better. Gone are the hard to wear low rise styles and the awkward combos of either too much or not enough stretch to your denim. Sometimes it has felt like finding the perfect pair of jeans could be nearly as terrifying (although not quite) as finding a swimsuit. But now we have the 'step fray". We have the "girlfriend' and "boyfriend" and we have high waisted and cropped flares. There is so much great denim out there, it makes me want to yell, "I'll take one of each!", but then again I often feel like that when it comes to fashion. Let's explore the five styles I focused on the television show. Here's hoping you are inspired to try something new, because there is a lot to love about denim these days.

The Step Fray or Step Hem

The hem design on these is a stair step looking bottom, with the back of the hem longer than the front, like a little step. It can come in a hemmed style, like these Frame High Rise Step Hem Skinny Jeans, or even in a cropped hem, like the MOTHER Inside Crop Step Fray. It is a modern take on denim that gives a major cool factor to any style of denim.  Dressed up with heels or down with a cool pair of sneakers, this edge has an edge.

Winter Whites

Actually, not just winter whites, but white period is fresh looking, especially this time of year. It matters what weight of denim you are wearing, not the color. If you have got a lightweight white jean, save it for the warmer months. but if it is a heavier weight denim, get those babies out! I love the look of my white jeans with a black sweater and black boots for a look that is sleek and modern. On the show today we paired the MOTHER Insider Crop in a cream color with a blue denim jacket and blue suede Joseph Altuzarra Blue Suede Pump and it was so chic. White before Labor Day, white after Labor Day, white denim all year round!

MARZdenim courtesy of Hitchcock Madrona

Vintage Upcycled

Upcycled denim is recycling at its fashionable best. Taking old denim and giving it a new and fabulous life is what MARZdenim is all about and it is my favorite company that is doing this right now. I have written about MARZdenim in a previous blog post, and it was a no brainer to include it in my list of favorites. For the segment on New Day Northwest, blogger and fabulous fashion girl Kirsty from The Kirsty Files modeled the Criss Cross Globe Trotter. This killer jean was a pair of plain Levi's in its previous life. The jeans were recycled and resewed into a boyfriend style jean complete with vintage pages, embroidery, paint dipped hems and grosgrain ribbon details. Kirsty wore it with fun floral heels and a white silk blouse, knocking it out of the fashion park.

MOTHER Denim - The Stunner

High Waist Skinny

The high waist and the skinny is a match made in heaven. I am constantly reading about the demise of the skinny jean, but instead of dominating the jean scene, I think it has now just become another choice. Having a high waist gives you more variety with what top you can choose. A cropped sweater or jacket that nips at the waist are just all the more flattering, or you can do the famous "half tuck" with your blouse and show off a cool belt, as was featured on Kristin on the show. Also, the MOTHER Looker Crop in Graffiti Girl was amazing on stylist Jennifer Lovin. You can find all these at Canopy Blue here in Seattle. Yay for the high takes the scary out of the skinny.

Photo by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

Cropped Flares

This is a denim style that I am head over heels in love with. I have cropped flares in a frayed edge style, like my rag & bone pair pictured above, as well as a finished edge in black and a high waisted pair. So, yes, I love them. Rock a pair of chunky heeled boots or a pair of on trend slides; either way the cropped flare shows off your cool shoes perfectly. The fitted leg that flares out just above the ankle is truly flattering on everyone. It is a go-to for me, no matter what the season.

Denim is a year round wardrobe staple and adding a new style to your rotation is an easy way to up your style game. Like I said, there is a lot to LOVE, so get out there and try something new and let me know what becomes your new favorite! Happy Valentine's Day! xx

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Making February Fun

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

We are on to a new month and I do love February. I love that it isn't January any longer, but I also adore Valentine's Day, which gave me an idea. Since I need things to look forward to, I have decided that my new motto is "Make February Fun". That means I am going to plan fun activities and do new things, starting with throwing a Hawaiian dinner party this weekend. Planning the food and decor has distracting me from all the politics and worry that is such a part of our world these days. I need to do something positive and spending time with friends is just that.

The Pineapple Co. Tumblers

I am going to serve a signature cocktail, The Pineapple Swizzle, from my The Pineapple Co. Tumblers, not only because it is a Hawaiian themed dinner soirée, but because the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality. I found a vintage metal Hawaiian tray on Etsy, and have my tropical flowers and subtle print napkins to keep things more elegant than kitschy. Coconut shrimp appshummingbird cake and the great company will certainly start "February Fun" in just the right way.

Photo by Charlie Morse of Solve for (x) School

During February we still need to keep warm and bundled for the most part, but there is the promise of a season change around the corner. I am not willing to give up my layers quite yet, but giving things a new perspective with an on-trend piece or two is an easy closet refresh. Last week I went poking about in one of my favorite neighborhood spots, Queen Anne Dispatch, and found the perfect pieces to do just that.

O2 Collection Lace Cropped Top and Sheer Tank

Layers needn't be bulky, they can be pretty as well. I love a cropped piece as much as the next girl but being in my 50s means I have to wear them my own way. I took the trends; sheer details, cropped silhouettes, and lace, and made them my own. I layered this gray half sheer O2 Collection Tank over a camisole, then added the cropped lace O2 Collection Cropped Lace Top. Both of these pieces are available at Queen Anne Dispatch.

Photo by Charlie Morse
I wore my look with a pair of 3x1 waxed denim trousers but a pencil skirt would also be fab. Leopard shoes give a pop of attitude, and my Miu Miu mini bag works for a night out. This outfit is a neutral, so I paired it with different coats to change the look up.  The green leather J.Crew Collection Bomber Jacket felt edgy while a blue faux fur from Zara made it ready for a night out.

Photo by Isabella of Solve for (x) School

My photographer is Kirsten Beeksma Morse (Krissi), and her daughter, Charlie, attends a small private middle school, Solve for X School.  Last week I was asked to participate in a cool learning experience with the kids from the middle school. Krissi spent time talking with the class about her photography and teaching them about the fundamentals of her work. I met the class at University Village afterwards where each child had scouted out photo locations and had written ideas about their vision for photos. They all had such a unique take on things and it was really cool to see these young creative minds at work. I couldn't print them all, but have credited the photos of a few of the students shots. Good stuff.

Photo by Aiden of Solve For (x) School

Do what you love and love what you do. Hope your February is full of fashion, friends, food, and fun. xx

Monday, January 23, 2017

Be Warm, Look Cool: 7 Favorite Coats to Wear Now

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

I began writing this blog over a week ago and then it just sat on my computer. Between my husband breaking two ribs in a skiing accident, my daughter's high school finals schedule and both children tag teaming on the flu, not to mention inauguration angst and the rest, has been a week. There really was never time to wax on about puffer coats and the like. And it seemed sort of, well, unimportant in a moment in time where there were much more pressing matters.

But today I am ready to get back to writing. The events of the world and of my household, while pressing, don't diminish the beauty of Krissi's photographs or my own love of writing. It is time to get creative again. So, it is back to some thoughts on taking on winter and looking good while doing it.

We are in the midst of major coat season, and it isn't going away anytime soon. Personally, I love a good coat and may even have a coat "problem", if you consider that I can't get enough of them. Here in the Pacific Northwest, a coat is required nearly all year long, with the exception of mid and late summer. To me, that means more variety in my coat closet and who doesn't love that?

It is mid ski season as well, which means the puffer coat is required, either as a layering piece underneath your down coat or as outerwear. I recently bought the Nike Sportswear Tech Fleece AeroLoft Women's Down Bomber (phew! That is one long name...) and LOVE it. The front of the jacket and the back shoulders are made of down. My favorite feature of this "bomber" is it's side zips and hidden inside kangaroo style pocket. With its high zip collar t is a great piece for heading to the gym or out on a walk and it is fashionable enough to wear with denim and boots. And it is on sale....

The ultimate in warm coats has to be my Canada Goose Chilliwack Bomber. I have worn it on the slopes skiing and around town on days when the cold wind bites. It is the ultimate in warmth.While it isn't officially a "puffer coat" it is a puffy down jacket, so I included it on my list. I wore it with my black Vince leggings and Stuart Weitzman over the knee boots for cruising around on a bitter cold afternoon in the city.

Moncler Frill Cuff Padded Jacket
 I bought this gorgeous Moncler Frill Cuff Padded Jacket this fall at MB Finds Consignment. It has zippers that open up the cuffs to layers of tulle and fabric frills. The details on the jacket include navy grosgrain ribbon detailing, even on the buttons. It is a stand out piece that is just proof once again that consignment shopping should be a part of every fashion girl's program. You can check out the whole line here, but because they are a bit of an investment there are a lot of fakes out there. If you aren't lucky enough to find one in consignment, be certain to make a major purchase like this from a reputable seller, like Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus. 

I bought this long black down Juicy Couture coat a couple of years ago before I went on a November trip to NYC. The good news is it was unseasonably warm in New York that trip, and the bad news was that had to leave the coat in the hotel room the entire time because it was too warm for it. Since then it has been my go-to coat when it is cold and I want to be covered to my knees. Mine nips at the waist which gives it a feminine silhouette, as does this similar Cole Haan coat you can find here.

My latest find is this beautiful Herno cropped puffer cardigan that is a hybrid of two winter essentials: the puffer and the sweater. Meant to be worn like a cardigan or light outerwear, it has cropped sleeves and a high neck. I wore it with a silver metallic tie neck blouse and a gray cashmere sweater that made my look both warm and chic.

Here is another favorite of mine, a puffer that shows off two hot trends: bell sleeves and ruffles. This Elizabeth Roberts Anne Puffer in chic cream is proof the puffer can be chic. Amazing. You can find this coat at Intermix.

No matter what your style, there are puffer coats of every length and shape. Since we are winding down January that means you can find many of these great jackets and coats on sale. Be warm, look cool. xx