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

Friday, April 7, 2017

Trend Reinvention: Past Trends in A Modern Wardrobe

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

There is an old fashion rule that states that once you have worn a fashion trend when it reemerges you shouldn't give it a second go round. Let's just get one thing straight, I don't believe in fashion rules. If most of us, even the younger of us, followed this "rule" than we would have nothing to wear, at least nothing interesting to wear. The best part about fashion trends coming round again is that they are almost always reimagined, and usually better. I am loving the revisiting of the 70s and 80s, even 90s this year. If there is one thing I have learned, getting dressed is way more fun if you wear what you love, and trying new things is all part of that process. Even if they are new takes on past trends.

Tweaking styles to work one's body type is important, and often it can take wearing a look in your own way to make it the most flattering. Real or imagined, I have never felt that I looked that great in a shift dress. I am a curvy girl and felt worried that a dress without a waist would make me look giant. I love the look of this iconic style fro the 60s and 70s, but haven't always thought it was best on me. But when this gorgeous SEA New York dress showed up at MBs Finds Designer Consignment, I was smitten. Plus, it had me at "pockets", which are essential in a great dress. Having a pattern in a shift dress takes away from the focus of its looser shape and gives the piece more life, so once I put on the dress, I felt awesome. Even though I consider myself fashion fearless, I too need to keep an open mind about what I think I can and can't wear. The most important thing is, do I feel great in it? If the answer is yes, wear it.

For this shoot I wanted to portray a retro vibe with a modern edge. The high collar of the dress definitely has that late 60s vibe, but the collar is pointed instead of Peter Pan round, and the edges of it are rough, not sewn in a perfect edge. A classic style reimagined in the details.

And speaking of the details, how about a modern take on a classic shoe to up the style game of this dress style? These Gucci Marmont fringed metallic cracked-leather loafer were a birthday present to myself, and can we just have a moment to feel the love for Gucci re-inagined? Gucci has long been iconic, but since under the direction of Creative Director Alessandro Michele the brand has evolved into a new phase of creativity. I had been looking at these loafers for so long. I put them in my shopping cart, took them out. Then one day I clicked "Buy" and it was a done deal. They look as amazing with this dress as with a pair of denim, elevating my outfit literally from the ground up. Talk about retro cool.

And what to do about this soggy, crazy weather? The seasons are changing so slowly this year. April in this part of the world is not winter, not quite spring, which means all my black clothing seems out of place and it is too cold to wear much spring. The answer for me is layering. Springy florals or pattern but with a jacket or long sleeves. Yesterday I pulled the brightest cashmere sweater I own in a brilliant coral and layered it over a striped man's shirt, which gave me the look of spring without freezing to death. Layers, people. Patterned, colorful layers. Or a great fringe coat over your springy dress. April showers do bring May flowers, remember?

The best part about seeing things reinvented from decades past? It is a second chance to try it out, to get it right, to make it yours. I love pulling things out of my old fashion playbook, like big belts, chunky heels, or even the Peter Pan collar and making them part of my part of what I like wear right now. The creative reinvention of fashion trends, of looking at things with a fresh eye, is at the heart of what fashion is all about.

I like to think of fashion trends as being like those sushi dishes that go around on the conveyor belt at the can pick your favorites, or let things pass, then when they come around again, you have a second chance to either go for it, or decide it is not for you! ;) Have a great weekend! xx

Monday, March 27, 2017

Time to Shine

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

Today is my birthday. I am 55. I remember when my Dad turned 55, he called it being "the double nickel" which I remember finding very amusing...until I was ME that was the double nickel. Actually, I love my birthday and I always have. It may not be cool to love one's birthday but I stopped worrying about whether I was cool or not a long time ago, and besides, birthdays are a gift. They are a privilege, not a right and I am acutely aware of that with each passing year. I feel happy and loved and isn't that what birthdays are all about?

I don't have any wise words about aging, I am figuring it out as I go along. But I wouldn't trade my current self for all the perfect smooth skin in the world. One of the true joys of aging for me is with the passing of time the feelings of love, of gratitude and of happiness grow stronger. Love is a powerful thing. The pure joy of being loved and of loving all the people in my life. I am a lucky girl.

Well, you also know by now that I also love fashion. My Mom told me I was particular about my clothing and shoes since an early age so I guess the writing was on the wall a long time ago. I did, however come into my career as a style writer later in my life, and for that I am grateful. Having experiences, with fashion and with life, makes me a better writer. So let's talk about some spring fashion, shall we? After all, there is a lot to love!

I was inspired to style for this shoot after seeing the Spring Trend Show at Neiman Marcus a couple of weeks ago. Fellow style blogger Kirsty of The Kirsty Files styled a pair of 7 For All Mankind Destroyed Sequin Skinny Ankle Jeans that I fell in love with. Toss that old notion that shiny, sequins, and metallics are for evening. They are for ALL the time. A pair of denim with gorgeous sequin details is a subtle bit of luxury that looks good no matter what you are up to.

The pair that I am wearing are from Zara, and I loved the block of sequins in the front and the slouchy boyfriend style. My favorite way to wear a boyfriend jean, which has a looser fit, is with heels. What better way to show off a boyfriend than in a girly way? I paired them with my Betsey Johnson Camo Heels because mixing patterns is a modern way to show some style. Here is a similar pair. 

The show at NM also showed silky camisoles layered over fitted turtlenecks and t-shirts, a look I love! I have this great silk backed t-shirt from J.Crew that I wore backwards to show off the pretty draping of the fabric, then layered my Winter Kate cami over the top of it. Of course, you do need to wear the half tuck to show off the great pattern on my belt. Funny side note: during the shoot a passerby stopped to let me know that my top was "half tucked in the front, in case I needed to fix it".  I had to tell him I did that on purpose. Hilarious!

I am in love with this metallic jacket by Divided that I got at H&M. It is going to be as great with sundresses this summer as it is with denim. It's time to shine in the daytime.

While we shooting for this post we noticed a policewoman in her car watching us. Krissi took her son Miles over to say hello and thank her for her service to our community, which I loved that she did. The policewoman offered to let Miles to sit in her car but he was too shy, so Krissi had me hop in. What better way to kick off 55 then by hanging out in a cop car in a tiara. The best! ;)

Have a wonderful week ~ The Birthday Girl xx

“To shine your brightest light is to be who you truly are.”
― Roy T. Bennett