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

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