Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hello Summer!

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

Not long ago I attended an event where I was talking to an acquaintance and he commented that I "lead a charmed life".  I understood it to be a compliment, but the comment has stuck with me. I kept thinking about how each of us choose to be perceived through our social media, or lack thereof, our clothing, our writing and many other ways in which we share with the world something about ourselves. I always have said, "Well, I don't Instagram doing laundry", half jokingly, but then it made me think that maybe I should. The reality is I do have a charmed life, and I am grateful. But I also have many challenges too, like we all do.

This past month has been a true test of my strength. The needs of my both of my children have been great recently, and I have been challenged in the knowledge that while both of my kids struggles were different, they also were things that I had little power over. That is hard thing to swallow as a parent. I would do anything for my children. They are my life. My son has been battling a difficult case of mono, which has kept him from his final month of school and isolated both him and me. Not exactly something that you post on Instagram.

If anything this time has taught me that I need to trust my instincts. It has made me value my time with my children. It has forced me to slow down. If I have been disappointed by people that I had expected that I could count on the most, I have also been treated with kindness and thoughtfulness from unexpected places. It has taken this devastating time for me to understand that while some things remain out of my control, it is up to me to see the positive in this. It is time to look forward into the sunny summer months with a renewed sense of what a charmed life is. Family. Love. Strength. Positivity. Friendship. Grace. Gratitude.

And now onto something that always makes me

This photoshoot was one of my favorites for several reasons. I had left my son home to sleep while Krissi and her son Miles and I, the usual gang of three that we are, dashed to the beach for photos. Miles busied himself collecting shells and beach treasures and found a special one for Oliver to help him feel better. There is something about the ocean that makes everything seem peaceful and balanced. And I love Krissi. She is a talented photographer, a long time friend. But her true talent lies in how she sees the world, with love and humor. She is one of a kind.

As is my style, I had a mix of high/low fashion that made this outfit very me. I had spotted this frayed denim online at Zara, but sometimes things don't translate quite as cool in real life. That was not the case with these jeans, which I was able to try on in the store and fell in love with! They have a mid rise waist and the fringed open fronts on the legs are awesome. I am not seeing my denim online currently, but this pair is very similar.

Because the denim is so distressed and casual, I like wearing a dressier top to play off as an opposite. A couple of weeks ago I visited Rizom, where Deborah Roberts, the designer of SILVAE, helped me pick out some things to wear for my anniversary dinner. I had to stop myself from buying out the store, but went back recently for this Nomia NYC Laced One Shoulder blouse, because I could not stop thinking about it.  It is the most beautiful creamy white and its simple chic style suited me perfectly.

My closet would not be the same without designer consignment. It has introduced me to labels and designers that are things I would not normally have either the access or the funds to own. I have learned so much about the beauty of well made clothing. I have worked for Mary Bridget Pehl of MB Finds for a very long time and am always amazed at her talent and eye for great things. An Hermès belt has been on my wish list, so when Mary Bridget got one in, in my size, I scooped it up. It was meant to be! :)

I live on Queen Anne in Seattle and walk along the main street every day with my dog, Henri. My friend and fellow fashion blogger, Kirsty of The Kirsty Files owns a lovely little shop with her husband, Queen Anne Frame and Gift. Kirsty buys the coolest things for the store and one of them was this hat. It sat in the window beckoning me each day and I finally went in and bought it. I don't think I have taken it off since. If you are a hat person like I am, a straw fedora is the perfect summer lid.

I am loving the denim on denim trend that is happening right now, and especially all the great summer shoes in denim. While I didn't have these Steve Madden Victorya Sandals on for very long on the actual beach, I wore them all day afterwards. The on trend round heel, embroidered details and wrap ties are spot on for summer dressing. I scored these babies at DSW and you can too!

Cheers to a healthy and happy summer! xx

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Other Birkin Bag: Jane Birkin and The Wicker Basket

Most of us are familiar with the legendary Hermès Birkin bag, named after the style icon Jane Birkin. But it was Jane Birkin's simple woven straw basket, which she carried everywhere from black tie events to the market, that began the making of a fashion story that continues today.

In 1981 the fashion "It Girl" was by chance seated on a flight next Hermès chief executive, Jean-Louis Dumas. When Birkin placed her straw basket in the overhead compartment everything fell out. This prompted a discussion with Dumas about the difficulty of finding a stylish bag big enough for all her things. Together they began designing a bag, and a legend was born. Incidentally, Birkin only owns one of her namesake bags, because why would you need more than one? No Kardashian excess here. I love her.

Jane Birkin with her signature Birkin Basket

Jane Birkin's originality and natural je ne sais quoi made her a fashion legend and her style is both enviable and endlessly copied. Through her heyday of the 70s to today, Birkin's style continues to inspire and her "Birkin Basket Bag" has yet again become a statement of style. The Birkin Basket bag has reappeared again this summer, so much that the simple tote has sold out already from several sites and again made the list of it bags.

Even before I became enamored with the Birkin Basket, I have been a big fan of summer's wicker bags. Here are five of my favorites, perfect for sunny days ahead!

1. The Linderoth Design Birkin Basket

Linderoth Design Birkin Baskets

When an email with these little babies landed in my Inbox from the ever tempting ShopBazaar, I was more than smitten. I love the chic little colored leather handle, a modern nod to the original Birkin Basket.

2. Clare V. Alice Woven Bag

Clare V. Alice Navy Woven Bag

I am kind of obsesseed with round bags, and even more so with Clare V. Her bags are so cool and modern, and they always hit the mark. I love the structure of the Clare V. Alice bag, and the navy is pure French chic.

3. WaiWai Betina Bag

The WaiWai Betina Bag

This is an investment summer bag, but with good reason. The pop of color acrylic top and suede interior of the WaiWai Betina Bag lend a luxury spin to summer's lighthearted handbag.

4. Etsy Birkin Baskets

DreamBaskets Birkin Basket

Etsy has a ton of Birkin Basket inspired handbags, in a range from $40 to $200. The ones from Portugal with attached handles are the closest to the original, and you can find them in all sizes, some embellished with pom poms!

5. Zara Raffia Bucket Bag

Zara Raffia Bucket Bag

Zara's wicker bucket style cross body has a cheeky lining make this a fabulous little cheap thrill. The lighter raffia color is spot on for summer's lighter hues.

And speaking of cheap thrills, I scored the most charming little bag ever while standing waiting for my daughter at Buffalo Exchange. I can't believe someone consigned it because it is so darling, and in pristine condition. Plus, it was $12! This little gem has been traveling all over the city this week with me. I love the tiny wicker bow and cloth drawstring lining. It has become my new summer favorite.

Whether you want to follow in the footsteps of the chic Jane Birkin or make your own modern statement, it is time to lighten up your handbag look for summer. Happy hunting! xx

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Show Your Stripes: Olive Green for Summer

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

Stripes are the quintessential look of the breezy days of summer, but they also are a great "neutral" to mix and match with your warm weather pieces. When one hears the word, neutral, it is easy to think of beige, gray or black. A modern approach to neutrals is using prints or stripes as your base, or neutral piece.  Then, pair it with something unexpected, like an olive green. Summery stripes mixed with a edgier hue still look summery, but with that little something extra that is well, cool.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending The Mixed Media Wearable Art Collection at the Vera Project x Union Bay event, hosted by Baby & Company. The event featured pieces from Union Bay, like army and denim jackets, that were recreated, embellished and designed by local artists and designers. The project benefited The Vera Project, a Seattle nonprofit which fosters creative culture for young people through music, arts programs, experimental learning and more. Not only was supporting young artists and musicians a great cause, the pieces in the collection were one of a kind and amazing.

I also found this stunning Malene Birger Pracia Ring in silver while I was shopping at Baby & Company. I don't think I have taken it off since I bought it!  Baby & Company always has the most unique and beautiful accessories. It is a curated collection that is so well thought out. I love it.

I spotted this army swing style jacket designed by Kayla Gates Frazier as soon as I arrived at the soiree and immediately bought it. It's denim ruffle and paint detailing really grabbed me. Apparently it grabbed a lot of people, because the SOLD sign they placed on the mannequin disappointed quite a few shoppers. I high fived myself for my decisiveness, which means I am now the proud owner of this great jacket. I loved the edgy cool vibe and the fact that it is an original piece created by a local designer. I can't wait to see what else Kayla has in store.

Army green, best without the yellowish tint on me, is one of my favorite colors of denim when I want to get away from blue or black. The color is amazing paired with black, dark gray or cream and white, but don't just stop there. Paired with a classic summer blue and white top lightens up the look for a bit of summer in an unexpected way.

I was suffering through a visit to Forever 21 with my teenage daughter a month ago and found this top for myself. Normally the place makes me crazy, but it does do fast fashion super fast, and in the summertime I don't mind the price tag of a trendy piece. This one covers summer stripes, off the shoulder, bell sleeves and tie embellishments all in one $20 top. And I loved it with the olive pants.

And speaking of these pants, they are another great summer find. A Zara everyday denim with a mid rise, they are super flattering. I have worn them with heels and a dressier top for a night out too. They are a great little pair of denim in a lighter summer fabric that is soft but doesn't get baggy. 

These Prada neutral flatform sandals are a chic way to pull this together, but I wouldn't shy away from a great leopard or floral print sandal, or even denim. It is the perfect time to be bold, if the mood strikes you. 

A fresh take on how to show your stripes? Stripes x olive green = the perfect summertime look. xx

Monday, May 22, 2017

Rain or Shine: Monochromatic + Sneakers

Photography by Kirsen Beeksma Morse

The skies have been constantly gray in Seattle, but summer weather is finally making its way here.  Since gray happens to be my favorite color, I was inspired to wear a monochromatic look that is both casual and chic. What makes the difference between stomping around in a casual outfit and looking pulled together in a low-key way? It is all in the details.

It all started with these beautiful earrings I mentioned in the previous blog from The Bluma Project. They arrived in all their tasseled glory and I love them! They are a bold and big, which makes them stand out fabulously. They are now sold out at anthropologie, but you can still find a great selection at Favery. 

I took a trip to Queen Anne Dispatch in my neighborhood before a recent trip to Hawaii to find some great warm weather pants and ended up purchasing a pair of prAna Steph Pants in a cobblestone (light khaki) color. I loved them so much I went back for the gray pair when I got home! They are a stretch linen blend and have a wide leg, giving them a laid back vibe. The vertical striped pattern and mid rise waist make them super flattering. Love.

The pants are a perfect length for my Gucci sneakers. I have the classic women's Gucci GG Logo Brown Leather Sneakers that I bought a few years, and they were a great investment since I have wore them so often.  The fashion house is on fire these days, and this pair of Ace Embroidered Low Top Sneakers are a currently a major obsession with the fashion set.

Back in February I did a segment on denim for the KING 5 morning program, New Day Northwest, which was a lot of fun! Canopy Blue was kind enough to lend me and my models the clothing for the segment, which was awesome. During the styling at Canopy Blue a couple of days before we were shooting, I fell in love with this beautiful Mauritius lambskin leather jacket in the perfect shade of gray. Because it is always leather weather.

Suede is a year round and versatile way to show understated luxury. This Proenza Schouler PS1 gray shoulder bag was in mint condition when I bought it from MB Finds Designer Consignment and it has been without a doubt the perfect spring bag. Of course I treated it with suede protector and I left it home on crazy rainy days, but it has been my go to bag for the past month!

Monochromatic looks are among my favorite ways to dress when I want to look chic, even in summer pants and sneakers. Try an all white ensemble or go for other neutrals to keep things looking streamline and modern.

Have a great week! xx

Monday, May 8, 2017

Modern Mama: Five Jewelry Pieces for Mother's Day

Mother's Day is around the corner and so this week the hunt is underway to be thoughtful, yet original in showing your love for Mom. Flowers are always lovely, as are pampering spa treatments, brunches and of course homemade gifts that celebrate Mom and all she does. But I always like a little something sparkly, a bit of frosting, so to speak. Not exactly pearls either, not that there is anything wrong with that. :) But I love a standout piece of jewelry that defines my look as well as stands out on   its own. Bigger than life earrings, unique materials and interesting combinations really make me happy.

These five pieces are distinctly modern and are one of the beautiful ways to show Mama big love. Take a look.

Image via FARIS 

I requested and was given the FARIS LadyDay Earrings for Christmas and love them. Designed by Faris Du Graf in Seattle, Washington, this jewelry designer continues to knock it out of the park with unique rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings. The bold architectural pieces have a warmth to them that show a distinct accessible beauty. The SWAYDAY Drops takes the LadyDay flower and hang it off a slight metal bar where it can sway like petals in the breeze. I love the movement of this modern feminine pair. There is a sterling silver set with onyx stone or the bronze set show above with aventurine stone. Completely gorgeous.

Gilded Spectrum Choker by Roxanne Assoulin
Image via Roxanne Assoulin 

New York based Roxanne Assoulin has created refreshingly simple jewelry that is both chic and original. A seasoned industry veteran with over 37 years in the business, Assoulin's resume includes Marc Jacobs, Stephen Spouse and Oscar de la Renta as well as Banana Republic and Urban Outfitters. Her pieces use simple colored and metallic enameled tiles, some encrusted with Swarovski crystals, that can be worn stacked up or by themselves. The originality of her collection shine with optimism and a low maintenance high style. The Gilded Spectrum Choker is my pick, but I also love the City Lights Spectrum Choker and her awesome Dot Dot Dot earring sets. Incidentally, her daughter-in-law is Rosie Assoulin, also a New York fashion designer and the 2015 CFDA Swarovski Womenswear Winner. Talented family. 

Rhapsody Crown by Lei Beila 
Image via Lei Beila

Jewelry Designer Aimee Oberstein attended Cornish College of the Arts and after graduating and receiving her BFA from Cornish in 2010, she began her company, Leia Beila, located here in Seattle. Aimee derived the business name “Leia Beila” from her late mother’s name, Linda Beth, who was an art teacher. Honoring her mother with a business based on art and beauty with purpose could not be a more fitting tribute. Leia Beila specializes in handmade fine jewelry, with each of her pieces being unique and original. The Rhapsody Crown choker necklace brings the beauty and meaningful materials of hand cut crystals and a copper bezel and cuff together to make one powerful piece of jewelry. Her website features this piece on someone wearing a plaid shirt, which shows its versatility in design. I love this necklace so much, and I also love it's name. Because what mother doesn't need a crown. 

Carrie Cramer French Bulldog Pendant Necklace 
Image via Favery

If your Mama considers the family pet one of her children, this is the perfect gift for her. Carrie Cramer has made a series of beautiful necklaces of the silhouettes of various dog breeds (or a unicorn or cat if you are so inclined). This French Bulldog pendant comes on an adjustable gold chain and is as delicate and sweet as they come.  The necklaces can be ordered with our without the diamond collars, and when you purchase one at Favery you can add custom engraving up to 10 characters on the back of the pendant for an additional $50.00. Each necklace is custom made in Los Angeles, making them a lovely and thoughtful way to celebrate family in all its forms. 

The Bluma Project Tassel Earrings
Image via Bluma Project

Tassels are a big trend for spring and summer where they adorn clothing, accessories, bags and more. I love this Bluma Project pair because they are gray, which means they will go with a ton of summer neutrals as well as color. (Oh, and they are on sale at anthropologie right now) They are also on the larger side, making them unique looking and easy to see. The Bluma Project offers a collection of pieces that are handmade in Peru, Guatemala, India, the Phillippines and Brooklyn, New York. Founder Beth Schaeffer works with artisans in the regions she visits to collaborate on colorful and modern jewels and accessories. The Bluma Project employs and empowers women artisans globally, making these a gift that gives back. What a perfect way to celebrate motherhood. 

Mother's Day has been a bittersweet holiday for me for a long time. When I struggled with infertility and longed to be a mother myself it was a constant reminder of loss and longing. Yet I had an amazing mother of my own that I was close to and loved with all my heart, so I celebrated the beauty of that relationship. When we adopted two children from South Korea over a three year period, I saw Mother's Day as a celebration of our beautiful family and of the women a world away who had shared their greatest gifts with my husband and I. I always remember them on Mother's Day. When my Mother passed away from ALS, the day took on a sorrow that still stays with me even six years later. Even so, I am grateful and happy for the beautiful family I have been given and for the opportunity to be a mother to Gracie and Oliver. They are my purpose and my life. 
Happy Mothers Day to all of you! 

Featured image via anthropologie. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Highs and Lows of Fashion

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

I would say we are in a sort of weather neutral zone at the moment when it comes to finding a look to love right now. I am choosing pieces that I would wear on a colder spring day or a warmer fall one. It is just a bit too cold for super springy looks; I had to completely change my clothes when the temps dropped and the rain began shortly before our shoot today. My jumpsuit and and wrap sandals are just going to have to be put aside for another day, because I needed warmer pieces!

So, we can't always be super springy this time of year in the Pacific Northwest, but I know sunnier days are around the corner. In the meantime, I got to wear another of my favorite pairs of denim that I scored recently after the Neiman Marcus Spring CUSP Event. These J Brand 811 Mid-Rise Skinny Patchwork Reunion Denim are THE BEST. The mid-rise means super comfort and the super skinny leg has the perfect amount of stretch. That means no baggy knees, just long skinny legs. I can get behind that. Plus, the patchwork pattern and fringed bottoms are unique and cool. Just like I aspire to be. An even bigger bonus, these jeans are on sale for 25% off at Neiman Marcus now through Saturday, May 6th! Use the code NMFRIEND at checkout, you lucky duck. 

SJYP Blue Front Cutoff Jean

The Korean brand SJYP, which I am currently obsessed with, has a really cool Patched Cutoff Jean have a similar vibe to my J Brand pair but would be suitable for warmer days. I also am not sure I can live without the above pictured SJYP Blue Front Cutoff Jeans, which I am picturing with a cool block heel, bootie or summer wedge. 

Lately I have shown a lot of denim on this blog, partly because it is what I wear a lot, and also because there are so many great styles, washes and details that you really have endless possibilities. Denim can be an investment for sure, but because it is the cornerstone of my daily wardrobe the cost per wear works well. Unless I find a cool pair at a lower price point, like say Zara, it is definitely in the high category of high low dressing for me. 

Like most people who love beauty and style, I have to dress in a high low fashion partly because that is how I can afford to dress and partly because wearing all labels is completely unimaginative. And boring. Even if I had all the money in the world to dress high end, I wouldn't. What is more fun than finding something like this beautiful Isabel Marant silk blouse that I scored at MB Finds Designer Consignment? A gorgeous piece at a fraction of the price? Yes, please. Keep in touch with what is new at MB's by checking their daily Instagram is addicting! Consignment shopping has been a real game changer in my wardrobe. While I prefer designer consignment, the treasure hunt at Buffalo Exchange yielded this fab studded camouflage jacket from Topshop. It adds a bit of edge to my feminine Isabel blouse. Here is a similar jacket, minus the studs, but if you are crafty you could always add studs or patches. 

For this shoot I have a little designer mix going on with my Louis Vuitton Neverfull, which I received as a birthday gift five years ago and is the workhorse of my bag collection. Despite it's name, I have made it very full many times! On my wrist is a favorite piece of mine. My friend Kristin Lear repurposes old Gucci and Louis Vuitton luggage into these amazing cuffs. You can find them at Canopy Blue. 

I also like to invest in my shoes, but when it comes to spring and summer pairs I don't mind a "cheap thrill" from places like DSW. Whenever my sister and I visit our Dad we take a little field trip to the DSW near his house and head to the rear of the store where they have the sale racks. These Steve Madden Harra Booties were originally $120 and were an additional 70% off their sale price. They just need a quick waterproof spray before the Seattle rain gets to them! 

How you wear what you have is as much a part of how you elevate your style as how much you invest in your wardrobe. Essentials for investments? Great coats, a handbag you will never tire of, shoes and boots that you can wear year round. One stand out piece, in this case, my denim, make the rest of the look just all that much better. That, and of course, loving what you wear. Life's too short to spend the day in pants you hate. ;) Have a lovely week! xx

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Yin Yang of Fashion

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

I love a good contrast. The lace and leather of this feminine lace dress and black leather jacket is the perfect example of the Yin Yang concept on which I base most of my looks. The two principles bring darkness, femininity, positivity, and masculinity together, and this combination influences each part in the perfect balance. I have always felt the we speak to the world in the ways that we get dressed each day. Whether we make an effort or hide in our clothes, how we feel is often portrayed in a subtle (or not so subtle) way through our attire. Show your many sides by mixing them together and you will always have authenticity.

I consider myself to be a fan of femininity in dressing, but with a twist. I love the details of a new season, in particular the ruffles, feathers and lace that signify a feeling of lightheartedness. Alone these details are lovely, but I think they are even better paired with the unexpected toughness of a stronger aesthetic like denim or leather. It seems to be a more interesting way to wear a dress, more original, more me. You can always shed the tougher layer, and show your softer side, right?

On the lighter side, I absolutely love this Parker Black lace dress, which I scored on sale at Neiman Marcus. I really love the Parker label because the clothes seem unique and edgy, but with a girly twist. The dress isn't available on their website, but here is the same dress in a summery peach color, and a similar ones here.  Self Portrait also makes absolutely gorgeous dresses and tops. Last year they did a yellow Azaelea Guipure-Lace Illusion Cocktail Dress that was amazing. This year's version is a brilliant cobalt blue. Guess has done a version of the yellow Self Portrait one, the Marina Lace Dress, which I spotted recently at the recent Style Goes Pop Spring Trend Show at The Bellevue Collection. You can check out all the latest from The Bellevue Collection's spring cookbook and more right here!

This dress seemed to need an equally strong shoe to stand up to the boldness of the black and white details. These Miu Miu patent cage kitten heel pumps are from MBs Finds Designer Consignment, a place that I mention often because designer consignment has changed my closet. Follow them on Instagram to get a daily update of the latest finds. I also have these Valentino Rockstuds, which would be gorgeous. They are an investment shoe, although the comfort and non stop wear I have gotten out of these make it worth it to me. You can find a more wallet friendly pair in these little Sole Society Tamra Pointy Toe Pumps. The leather moto jacket works well when it is cropped, becoming an edgy jacket that makes the dress into a skirt. 

For this shoot I was lucky enough to showcase the beautiful jewelry collaboration between Seattle paper cut artist Lauren Iida and jewelry designer Aimee Oberstein of Leia Beila Jewelry. This dynamic duo teamed up to create one of a kind jewelry created with designs that are hand cut in paper by Lauren, and then electroformed by Aimee. The process of electroforming creates a thick coating of copper that encases each paper design, transforming the artwork into jewelry. The results are absolutely stunning. You can purchase these original designs pieces here. 

I met Lauren when I saw a piece she had done of a three dimensional dress made from Cambodian newspaper that I purchased, and a friendship was born. Cambodia has Lauren's heart and is a major influence of her artwork. In Cambodia she leads art tours, writes and illustrates bilingual books for children and works in her cut paper studio, the ‘mobile atelier. ​Other major influences to her work include her family's Japanese American heritage and incarceration during WWII and her Pacific Northwest home, making the Seattle Japanese Garden a fitting place for our photoshoot. 

Aimee Oberstein is also a Seattle based artist, and she and Lauren are both graduates of Cornish College of The Arts. After graduation Aimee started her company, Leia Beila which specializes in handmade jewelry she designs herself that use semiprecious stones and metals. Her pieces shine with positive energy and light and her philosophy that "Art is more than something to hang on the wall… Leia Beila believes it’s something you wear" translates in her beautiful work.

If there is anything that I love more than writing about fashion it is connecting with all the creative people in this community. I love to share my perspective on what it is like to be stylish and be yourself, no matter what age you are. And I feel grateful to learn something new every time I write a blog post or do a photoshoot with Krissi. If anything I want to be a champion for the many talented artists, writers, creators and lovers of beauty in my community and beyond. When we support each other we all gain something. 

Our Seattle weather has been a bit Yin Yang too these days, but that is the beauty of living in the Northwest. Have a lovely week. xx