Thursday, July 12, 2018

Summer Lovin: My Five Favorite Bags for Sunny Days

I admit it. I am a handbag fanatic. From vintage to current, wicker to velvet and in between, I love a good handbag. They define your look, whether with a wink or a wallop and they always fit. Handbags are chameleons, with he ability to up your style game with a single swing of a handle or make things low key in a stylish way. What's not to love? Here are some of my favorite bags for summer....and trust me, it was hard to choose!

The Jacksons London Jute Bag

While I was shopping in Paris in June with my uber stylish friend Monica, she introduced me to the coveted Jackson London Jute Bags. Based in Notting Hill in London, The Jacksons carry a curated selection of international labels and boutique brands and also has an online store. Among the goods are the beautiful and playful hand-crafted jute word bags. A design collaboration between Louise Jackson and traditional handicraft workers of Southwest Bangladesh, these bags are 100% locally grown and help support and empower the women that create them. I fell in love with the "Merci" bag in a dark navy, but I am not sure I am going to keep it at owning just one. I must have been stopped a dozen times by Parisian women on the street asking where I bought my bag...the ultimate compliment!

Cult Gaia Ark Bag and Gucci Princetown Mules. Photo by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

The Cult Gaia Ark Bag is an iconic bag and a favorite. I featured this bag in my last post too because it is so unique and so quintessential summer cool. Made from 100% bamboo, it is a real show stopper clutch that goes with everything. Patterned after a traditional Japanese lunch box, the Ark Bag is a statement piece that lends chic simplicity to any look.

Matta Tina Bucket Bag. Image courtesy of Matta.

When my sister Jennifer and I were shopping in New York over Mother's Day weekend and we of course went to ABC Home so that my interior designer sister could be in her happy place. Not that I don't love home decor, but I ended up in the accessories and clothing section where I found this Matta Tina Bucket Bag. Leave it to me to find fashion in a home decor store. Anyhow, we both ended up getting the bag in the most lovely burnished gold leather. I have carried this bucket bag the most of any bag I own over the summer, including overseas. It packed flat as a pancake into my bag for Europe and then popped up into a great tote. I have stuffed so much into this baby, and it even ventured to the beach, although I kept it away from the sunscreen and salt. I can't recommend this bag enough. 

Clare V. Alice in black

I have made no secret of my love for designer consignment, especially when it comes from my good friend Mary Bridget from MB Finds. MB Finds Instagram is a great place to see the latest goods to arrive, so when I saw this Clare V. Alice Bag pop up on my feed, I jumped on it. I have been coveting this bag for a long long time and then there it was, with the tags on, waiting for me. I love that you can fill this bag up and it still keeps its shape. The round shape is reminiscent of a vintage bag, and it is got that "South of France" feel that is timeless. 

Finally, while I was in Provence this summer with my family we stayed for a week in the town of Saint-Rémy. The beautiful shops were filled with local goods and international finds, and of course the best of French Provencal style. I found these local handmade bags and there was only one left in that eye popping mustard color that has dominated the fashion scene for the last few months. Mustard is a color that I have great difficulty wearing, and some of the shades I don't even like. But wearing this color as an accessory works beautifully, and this pop of color clutch looks fresh and beautiful with summer whites, denim, black and color. Working a difficult color in as an accessory is the perfect way to wear something you aren't sure of.  The bag is an original but this one from Etsy and this one from J.Crew give the same vibe!

Cheers to a sunny summer filled with great style. xx

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The White Album: Cream and White Summer Style

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

Fashion rules are made to be broken. I am not a rule type of girl to begin with...the one rule I do follow when it comes to fashion is to be in good taste. You can be edgy, you can be original, you can do you, but always do it well.

Wearing white seems to be one of those things that come with way too many stipulations. Don't wear white before Memorial Day, or after Labor Day, for instance. And don't mix white and cream together. Although I threw the holiday/white rule out the window a zillion years ago, I think I might of believed that last one for longer than I should. But one day when I was looking for inspiration and lightness in my closet, I noticed I have a lot of variations of the tones of white in my wardrobe. So why not mix them together with some of my summery pieces? Here are my favorite white pieces for summer and beyond.

While my white Joie Saleema Booties (on sale on Shopbop right now!) look bright white next to dark denim, mixing them with a cream pair of MOTHER Denim Tomcat Roller Chew jeans in the color "Unnatural Acts" changed their tone completely. Since MOTHER is one of my very favorite denim lines, I was super excited to add this off white pair to my wardrobe. The color is chic and cool and will look beautiful all summer as well as into fall with cozy sweaters and boots. I love the edgy uneven hem and the wide flare. Oh, and the high rise and button front give them a modern take on that 70s vibe.

I am all over the white denim jacket this summer. It is my obsession, so I keep telling people, if you don't have one, get one. Wear it over a summer dress, or a tropical print shirt, like this one from Sézane, or even better, button it up and wear it as a top instead of a jacket. My L'Agence Celine Distressed Jacket has a bit of worn in appeal and the perfect amount of stretch, which makes me wear it more than I probably should.

Levi's Altered Fit Trucker Jacket. Image courtesy of Levi's

White denim jackets can be found everywhere from high end to fast fashion, so there are great choices to fit every budget. I love this Zara one with it's cropped silhouette, and this Levi's Trucker Jacket from the Levi's® Altered Collection is reimagined as collarless with raw edges. The Target A New Day White Denim Jacket is both on trend and a budget friendly $29.99. For a more 80s feel, try the Madewell Boxy-Crop Jean Jacket in Tile White. It has a retro vibe with its slightly roomier fit, which I love. Under a more avant guard take on things, I am obsessed with the Isabel Marant Rena Jacket, with stunning broderie-anglaise panels and a relaxed, cropped shape.

I can't always rock high shoes so wearing a fabulous pair of mules is great alternative. These Gucci Princetown Floral-Print Flat Mule Loafers were a splurge, but if you play the cost per wear game in your head, well, you can justify it. Or I can, anyhow. ;) And of course one of my favorite summer bags is the Ark Handbag that I bought at the MoMA Design Store in New York City. This store is one of my favorite stops for gifts and cool finds when I visit the Big Apple.You can spend hours in there and there is something for everyone. The cool Ark bamboo bag, a modern take on a traditional Japanese lunch bag, is the quintessential summer clutch. It also comes in a multicolored rainbow acrylic version. Both knock it out of the style park.

Mixing whites and creams is the ultimate in chic. It has a fresh modern vibe that is unexpected. Add in summery fabrics and accessories with an equally light feel, like florals and wicker, gingham, linen, stripes and bamboo....then you have yourself the perfect perspective for a ton of gorgeous summer looks. The white denim jacket elevates casual pieces, while mixing tone and texture lend a luxury to even the most laid back of looks.

I'll be on hiatus for a month while I visit Europe with my family. Have a lovely June and....get yourself a white denim jacket! xx

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Best Dressed: Packing for A Summer Trip

Image courtesy of AWAY Travel

Two years ago my family and I went on a trip to Europe, starting in Rome, then Monterosso on the coast of Italy, Provence, and then Paris. It was a fabulous vacation and also the longest we had ever travelled....3 weeks in total. Getting ready for that lengthy of a trip is challenging enough when it is just me, but getting us all together and out the door proved to another challenge. Not that these are sad problems, after all, we were packing for a European vacation. Perspective.

Prior to our trip we bought roller duffle bags for each of us that were narrow enough to get through the train aisles, since we were doing quite a bit of train travel during the 3 weeks we were away. We were very prepared for the trip; my husband made a binder that held every bit of information we needed and even included toll fare for the roundabouts on the freeway in France! Talk about organized. I have to admit we made a few rookie mistakes too. Disclaimer here: I am not an expert on travel, or packing for sure, but I do have a couple things I that I would love to share. Here is my short list for do's and don'ts when I travel.

DON'T Overpack
While that might work out during domestic travel, its a bit of a disaster if you are traveling internationally. This time I am going to use restraint when packing and stick to a color scheme that can be mix and matched, like neutrals with a pop of color. I am going to chose lighter weight pieces that can be layered under warmer ones, easy to pack dresses for the warmer spots, and pair down the shoes. Plan, coordinate and when in doubt, leave it home. Unless your headed to a desert island you are probably ok without it. And if you are, you won't need those wedges that take up too much room
anyway, right?

The Carry On Smart Bag. Image courtesy of AWAY

DO The Right Bag
The roller duffle bags we used last trip were great in many way: they held a lot, were flexible, and were narrow enough for rolling through aisles, However, they are also heavy, even without being packed. Not good. This time I am bringing an AWAY bag, which is super lightweight, has 360 degree wheels and have a built in system for compacting your belongings perfectly. I took a recent trip to NYC with my AWAY medium bag, the smart bag Bigger Carry On (that includes a charger) and the Everywhere Bag which attaches neatly with it's pocket sleeve on top of any bag. I highly recommend these bags—they were easy to handle, lift, and zip through streets and airports. They even come with a laundry bag. Don’t leave home without them!

DO Use Packing Cubes
These are the best invention ever for the traveler. I bought a set of packing cubes for each of us and you can easily organize all of your belongings: sweaters, pants, undergarments etc by cube and then just pop them into the suitcase. When you arrive at your destination they can easily be placed in drawers in the hotel room and they keep your things organized and tidy. So good. Get them at AWAY or eBags.

Image courtesy of Madewell

DO Wear A Dress!
This year we are fortunate enough to be spending another extended amount of time in Europe, staring in London, Bath, Provence, Paris and then Iceland. It has been a very challenging year for my family and I am looking forward to this with gratitude. One of the items I am going to make a main part of my wardrobe is a selection of dresses.

Dresses are the best. They are an easy way to look stylish and you can layer them with a blouse of tshirt, dress them up with heels or down with sneakers and sandals. I am planning on packing (not overpacking this time…) a handful of versatile, chic little dresses that will look as good with my favorite sneakers as they do out to dinner. Here are a few of my favorites for a fabulous bit of summer, whether you are headed to the park, a picnic, and epic trip or just want to look damn good.

Image courtesy of AllSaints

The Marlow Kazuno Dress by AllSaints

This dress, you had me at hello! The Marlow Dress is a wrap-dressing the Kazuno print, inspired by vintage Japanese patterns. It's tied on the side at the waist-tie, and has the most flattering silhouette, I loved the feminine ruffles at the sleeves and skirt and it has a subtle slit in the front. Chic and gorgeous.

Image courtesy of Nordstrom

Denim Pintuck Cami Dress by Madewell

Denim dresses are so quintessential summer, and this one by Madewell is especially lovely because the fabric is lightweight. The pin tucks are flattering and the skirt is roomy enough to wear on a bike ride, yet still flatters. It also comes in a black with tiny strawberries all over it. Layer it over a fitted t-shirt or blouse for cooler days. Love.

Images courtesy of Shopbop

Haidee Dress by PAIGE

Stripes and summer just go together. PAIGE not only makes great denim, their Haidee Dress is so fabulous that you will not be able to stop wearing it all summer. Cool details like a tucked crisscross back, sweet/sexy button front and raw edge hem make this dress stand out from the crowd, and so will you when you wear it.

Image courtesy of Nordstrom

Off The Shoulder Ruffle Maxi Dress by Chelsea28

This dress is elegant and easy. Floral print dresses are it for summer and this cool chic maxi by Chelsea28 shows off shoulders in the perfect warm weather silhouette. Even better, it can be washed and tumbled dry and worn again and again on your travels.

Image courtesy of Shopbop

Two Piece Smoked Set by ENGLISH FACTORY

Two piece dress sets are everywhere this season and I love all of them, but being as I am a bit older I wanted to tread carefully. I adore this checkered set by ENGISH FACTORY because there is just a tiny peek of skin and the skirt is high enough waisted to be make you look your summery best without oversharing. Perfect for those super hot days!

Images courtesy of & Other Stories

Striped A-Line Dress by Designed in Stockholm

Everyone needs a white dress for summer and this one by Designed in Stockhom at & Other Stories is stellar. The classic shirt dress with a twist, this cool piece has short sleeves, a v-neck, fit and flare silhouette and a duo d-ring neck tie. The tiny pin stripe makes it fresh looking and perfect for looking put together day to night.

Whether you are planning a staycation or headed out to see the world, cheers to a sunny and adventurous summer. xx

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Come Together

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

I am always on the lookout for things that are just a little bit different. Of course, I am as enchanted with the trends as anyone that loves style and fashion, but how do you stand out from the crowd? Pick things that you love, try something that intrigues you and also scares you a little bit, be that person that has the sequin jacket on at 11 am. I think it is exhilarating to stand out, but even if you aren't that girl, find what you love and wear it well. Style should constantly be evolving, and so 
should you.  

I love all the cool sneakers out there and have always coveted a pair of Golden Goose. These distressed denim Golden Goose Superstars have awesome leopard laces, making them perfect in keeping with the rock and roll vibe. And they were on sale at Shopbop! Even better. I'll be wearing these bad boys all summer. 

My daughter came home with a Rolling Stones t-shirt from a consignment store and was going to refurbish it when I asked it if I could have it to wear. They are my favorite band, after all, and I consider a Rolling Stones shirt sacred. Since graphic tees are all the rage, why not find one that speaks to you. They look as cool with a skirt as they do with an epic pair of pants. 

It doesn't get any more epic than these amazing wide leg pants Cinq à Sept. The Cinq à Sept Avery pants are all fabulous drama in cool army green. The ruffled tiers of these wide legged pants have the illusion of a full length skirt, but way cooler. Pockets, pull on style....who says chic isn't comfortable! 

Finally, the jacket. Alice + Olivia never ceases to amaze me with their creativity and beauty. When they did the Beatle series this past year I was in love. I mean, who doesn't love the Beatles? And a bomber, sequined no less. This jacket is a classic, just like the band that inspired it. 

This post is short and sweet because I am off very early to NYC to spend Mother's Day weekend with my sister in the Big Apple. Have a lovely week and a Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Sunny Outlook: It Was All Yellow

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

"Yellow" is the name of one of my favorite songs, a tune by Coldplay. The song is strong and cool and full of love and life, just like the color. The color itself always reminds of my sister and her love for daisies, and of her daughter Eden, who loved yellow when she was a little girl.

Yellow can be a tricky color to wear for me in certain tones. The mustard version was EVERYWHERE at a recent blogger conference I attended, in the form of tops, dresses, jumpsuits and more. With my paler completion and blonde hair, mustard is not for me, but it did look fresh and unexpected for spring on everyone who wore it. Check it out if you can rock it.

The yellow I love is this sunnier version that I found with these Anthropologie Relaxed Chino Pants. The pants come in 7 different colors, but the yellow grabbed me right away, plus what is not to love about a pair of casual cool chinos? The $88 price tag was a happy middle ground too. They really are the ultimate pants for taking on the day in a laid back, "yeah, I got this" way.

I am having a full on Mother denim obsession these days and so when I saw this Scout - S'more Please army green shirt with patches I had to have it. It is a fabulous alternative to wearing a denim shirt and the patch details and slim silhouette will earn you brownies points no matter what troup you run with. I also love love love the skirt, the Misfit Midi Fray Skirt, that goes along with it, although I haven't taken the plunge on that purchase....yet. :)

I like things that are unexpected as well, and adding metallics to this look gives it shine in a new way. The silver plays off the bright pop of color chinos. This little silver cropped moto jacket is a go-to favorite of mine from Divided by H&M. It is no longer available but The Joie Leolani Metallic Leather Jacket is currently 54% off from Neiman Marcus and would be a fabulous upgrade to this look. I wore my Pour La Victoire Kora Nappa Leather Kitten Heels from Saks Off 5th to play off the jacket. I love a cool glove shoe and the kitten heel has made its return...meow!

We have been lucky with mostly sunny skies this past week, but I know we aren't quite there yet with spring. No matter what the hue, getting yourself something sunny and bright for your spring closet will make it shine with optimism. Have a lovely week everyone!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Girl Power: Kacy Yom Handbags

Photos courtesy of Kacy Yom
This post is a bit of a love letter, actually. It is a celebration of all the amazing women business owners, artists and entrepreneurs that I know and admire. The power and creativity of these women are an inspiration to me every day, especially on those days when I am working alone in my home office wondering if anyone is even reading these musings I write. I know the amount of multitasking that is required by those who have commitments of work and family and yet still pursue their dreams and creative endeavors.

Most of all, I admire authenticity and originality. The people that I most love are those who are their true selves, and the only competition they are in is with themselves. When you are comfortable in your own skin you radiate something that makes the world around you move towards your light. And last but not least, laughter. I love a lady that makes me laugh. It truly is the best medicine.

And speaking of amazing women, recently I had the privildge of attending the launch of the first collection by Seattle handbag designer Kacy Yom. The collection, Soh-Lee, 소리, “Voice or Sound” in Korean, features a series of structured, modern bags with great attention to detail. Yom's own vision for a chic luxury handbag was inspired by her mother's love of beautifully made bags. I admire that she researched long and hard to find the best materials and just the right factory to bring her prototype to life, and that she didn't settle for anything less than the best.

From the handcrafted finishes on each bag, including a "Y" sewed onto the front flap, signature hardware and versatility like removable straps, Yom has hit the perfect combination of stylish beauty and functionality that make her luxury bags stand apart.

I loved pairing this bag with two different looks based on a the what jacket I chose, one classic, and one more unexpected. My look includes leather trousers and a gorgeous tweed Lanvin coat, two fabulous pieces from Seattle designer consignment superstar, Mary Bridget Pehl of MB Finds. I have said it before, consignment has completely altered my closet and I love Mary Bridget, an entrepreneur whose knowledge of design houses runs deep. It is always a pleasure to shop with her.

My red Aquazzura Downtown Spice red suede ankle booties were a find from The Nordstrom Rack downtown (available at the above link as well) and couldn't believe my luck. Someone had abandoned these pristine boots in the wrong place and I grabbed them. I adore the lower cut of the boots, which skim your ankle bone, making them perfect for pairing with both cropped trousers or a dress. Since suede is a year round look, I will be able to incorporate these sexy little shoes into my spring and summer looks too.

Instagram is really one of my biggest style inspiration go-tos, and it is a great way to connect with cool blogs and style news. Recently my friend Allison and I ventured to a new Seattle shop we had been following on Insta, Emry Boutique. Allison bought a fabulous black and white summer dress because she told me she was done with sweaters, but since I am never done with sweaters I dove right in to the cozy stuff. I bought the fabulous Lovers and Friends Maxine Sweater that has an epic bell sleeve, in of course my favorite color, gray. Incidentally, Emry has this sweater in a dress version as well.

And while the Lavin jacket had to go over my shoulders because of above-mentioned epic sleeves, my Nike Sportswear Tech Fleece AeroLoft Women's Down Cape was the perfect solution. The sleeves almost look like they are part of the cape, and considering it was less than 30 degrees during our photoshoot, that was perfect. It is a bit like a sleeping bag with arms and a collar, but I love to mix sportswear with high fashion. I get tons of compliments when I wear this poncho and even though I know it isn't sexy, it is a cool way to stay warm. The unexpected pairing of the plum coat with the red boots makes this look chic and fun. Both of these looks show off one of my favorites handbags from Kacy Yom's first collection, the chic Cho-Rong mini cross body bag.

Cheers to the all the creative women in our community and to friendship, love, and determination. Keep doing what you love. Get to know the inspiring, hardworking and inspirational women in your own community, and support their businesses, art and creative endeavors.

Be stylish, be beautiful, be you, no matter how many candles are on your birthday cake. xx

Photography courtesy of Kacy Yom. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

The MOTHER of Reinvention

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

What does it mean to be original? This can be an ever-changing challenge for those of us that love showing who we are by how we dress. Personally, I am constantly being inspired by the women that I surround myself with, and I also strive to be the best "me" I can be. Sometimes seeing a look on someone else can inspire me to take that and run with it in my own way, and sometimes one just wants to emulate what we admire. The way I look at it is that there is a lot to love out there.

Take this fantastic Zebra Don Drop Shoulder Coat by Annette Görtz, for example. I saw it on a woman I much admire, GRAY Magazine Editor Jennifer McCullum, in a blog post from the iconic Seattle store, Baby & Company. I mean, how lucky are we to have so many amazing local businesses that bring beautiful fashion to our city? Add an amazing woman wearing their clothing and you have fashion magic, baby. Baby & Company is the place to go if it is originality, beauty, and inspired pieces you desire. In the above-mentioned blog post, I loved how Jennifer was styled with a polka dot patterned blouse with the coat's zebra stripes. It showed its endless possibilities. And that I needed to own it.

Now that I do, I wore mine with the sparkly front J.Crew Collection Striped Shirt, because the zebra stripes, like any animal print, are a neutral. What does that mean? It means wear it with whatever you want, and if this means sequins in the daytime to you, even better! This particular shirt is sold out but you could pair a menswear striped blouse or a sequin tee and completely reinvent the look with either one. I like the idea of a pop of bold color underneath the stripes too. Endless possibilities...

Now, onto denim. Finding great fitting denim is a little bit like discovering the holy grail of fashion. A closet staple and often the cornerstone of a wardrobe for many of us, it is almost as personal as shopping for the perfect bra. The world of denim has completely exploded, and that is a great thing. Coming up for spring, denim ruled the runways in tailored jackets, cool skirts and dark denim circa the 90s. Speaking of reinvention, denim style is on the constant move, which means lots of fabulous choices.

For me, I am a tried and true FRAME denim girl, but I have favorites from Rachel Comey, Madewell, 7 for All Mankind and more. I have been on the lookout for a bit of a closet reinvention lately, so when I was in Fremont I stopped by another great local boutique, Pipe and Row. It was one of those days where I must have tried on a zillion pairs of jeans but nothing was quite right. Then, I tried the MOTHER Hustler Ankle Fray Boot in the black wash "Not Guilty". The high waist rocks, the fit hugs perfectly and the frayed slight crop boot cut is modern and cool. Sold.

My go-to black heels are this snake Miu Miu pair I bought from MBs Finds Designer Consignment. They look amazing with everything, including showing off the frayed hems on these Mother of all jeans. Some things don't need to be reinvented, and the classic pointed toe heel is one of them.

Is "necessity the mother of invention"? Or....reinvention?  If it is necessary to you to continue to grow and change and become a better version of the person you were yesterday, than yes. And not just because you have cool new jeans on. ;)

I always feel a bit reflective as I head towards another birthday and think about my previous trip around the sun. I feel grateful, I feel hopeful, and I feel strong. I continue to be inspired by a community of amazing women, and I treasure the true and real friends that I have in my life, the ones that love me for being me.

This quote is such a good one, because even though it can drive home the point of the obviousness of being disappointed by someone, it can also be the opposite. It tells us to trust in those people that bring light to your life. May you have many.

"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."
 ~ Maya Angelou