Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bewitched: A Grown-Up Look for All Hallows' Eve

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

This week Krissi and I walked through the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, which is located just a half a block from my house on Queen Anne Hill. It seemed like the perfect spot for a Halloween themed shoot. Mount Pleasant is one of Seattle’s oldest burying places, and holds the remains and remembrances of 60,000 people over 40 acres. There is a lot of history in this cemetery, including Bertha Pitts Campbell (1889-1990), African American leader and founder of the black sorority Delta Sigma Theta, Asa Mercer (1874-1944), son of pioneer Aaron Mercer and nephew of the pioneer Asa Mercer of Mercer Girl fame, and Willam Bell (1817-1887) and his wife Sarah Bell (1819-1856), pioneers of early Seattle.

I really love cemeteries in part because they hold such fascinating history. Although the well-known people from Seattle are very interesting, I find the ordinary headstones with their ancient names and dates to be the most intriguing. When we walked the cemetery for our photo shoot the grounds showed off beautiful fall colors, views to the city below, and held old twisted trees that gave the place an enchanting personality. I wanted to be respectful of every part of this special place and at the same time show that there is beauty even in the most unlikely places.

Prior to my article for Vanguard Seattle on the effects of fast fashion, I had purchased pieces that I am wearing from Zara. While I can’t say I won’t shop at Zara ever again, I am making more thoughtful choices in the future about where I buy my clothing. That being said, these pieces show some to die for trends that I loved incorporating into my closet.

The Midi Length Lace Skirt and matching ruffle front Lace Top is gorgeously gothic in the spellbinding lace trend. The length of the skirt is perfect for showing off a pair of black booties, or in my case, the Zara Lace Up Heeled Shoes. The lace up shoe trend continues from spring into fall, and I am loving the block heels, which are not only perfectly on point, they are comfortable enough to run in should you be chased by some ghosts or goblins.

I am a big fan of coats and cool outerwear pieces--I like to change it up a lot. After all, why bother with a great look only to cover it up with a boring jacket? Interesting pieces like leather biker jackets and wool capes are the cure for the common coat. My Truth & Pride Perforated Leather Biker Jacket is from the Nordstrom sale a few years ago and it is a standout deep orange color, which was a shock to me when I went to pick it up after buying it online. Then I embraced it, finding it to be fabulous with neutrals, or even a little witchy by wearing it with all black. You can find a similar one here and here. The gray Truth & Pride Luna one is perfect for those of you that want to make a bit less of a loud statement.

My black Theory Danijo Structured Cape is one of my favorite fall coats. I love its zip up front and it's elegant look. It is super chic with a pair of long cashmere gloves. Mine is sold out, but this hooded one here is awesome. In fact, I wish mine had a hood.

Lastly, a great clutch makes your outfit complete; it is the “cherry on top” so to speak. I fell in love with Alexander McQueen’s De Manta Clutch a couple years ago, and last spring I purchased a black and white printed silk one. I find it completely enchanting. If you need your keys in a hurry this bag may be a challenge—the double zipper and magnetic corners make it a little harder to get into it quickly—but the incredible shape makes it worth suffering a little for fashion. This bag is iconic.

Whether you are hitting the costume parties or handing out candy at home, I hope this All Hallows’ Eve is frightful fun, and of course, fashionable.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Grey Matter: Three Coats and A Pair of Boots

With the exception of a little black and white, I really could have an entire closet filled with grey. It is without a doubt my go-to color, so much so that my friend threatened to stage a “grey sweater intervention” a few years ago. But I can’t be stopped—for the shoot this week I chose my my grey FRAME denim le skinny destroyed jeans, (similar here without the distressed element) a Vince cashmere sweater, and a DVF silk grey and white button down. It’s a uniform of sorts for me--I think owning a lot of grey things means I can mix and match all I want. This summer I added another grey piece: the Joie Jamilee C Fauz Fur Collar Wool Cardigan I bought at the Nordstrom sale is super luxurious even with fake fur, and can double as an outer layer. It is on sale again, by the way. Here are three of my favorite grey coats that have different personalities but go with everything and of course my grey suede boots.

Burberry Grey Suede Moto Boots

Ankle boots are a wardrobe staple and you can choose look you want from a multitude of styles. From dressy high heeled booties to latest chunky block heels and flats, booties come in styles that elevate your look even if they don't elevate your height. I love my Burberry Brit Worcester Flat Boot because even though they are Burberry, there is just a hint of the classic plaid on the back and the moto style and buckles make them unique. This style is from last fall (and I have seen them on eBay if you must have them) but I love the look of this season's Burberry Wool Felt Panel and Leather Boots as well as these gorgeous Kenzo Suede Zipper Booties. Don't be afraid of suede either: spray your suede boots with water repellent and save them for drier days. It is a perfect way to add rich texture and detail to your fall and winter looks.

rag & bone Wool Pea Coat

The military style peacoat coat is a classic that is makes an appearance every fall so it is a good idea to invest in a well made one you will wear year after year. This dark charcoal grey rag & bone Battle Pea Coat is a traditional style so I like mixing it with non-traditional pieces, like the destroyed look of the denim. And navy and grey are beautiful together, so I paired it with the fabulous pebbled leather Carolina Loyola Dark Blue Elephant Clutch from Favery. It is roomy enough for your essentials, and has a cool swingy tassel on the zipper that I love. 


lululemon Overcoat

This oversized coat is from non other than lululemon. Both this version and the Savasana Softshell Jacket I have are made with a water resistant exterior and a soft interior. The Savasana coat is slightly longer than the one pictured and has a giant hood that keeps out the downpour. I have worn this with workout gear and with dresses and heels--it is quite versatile. I love the boxy look which gives it a cool factor. It was discovered in the sale section at lulu by the way, so remember to look off the beaten path when you are hunting for a great looking coat that might be practical as well. 

Mackage Leather Jacket

This is another purchase from MB's Finds Consignment, but you can find Mackage at Shopbop, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom and at the company's website. A leather jacket is a must have wardrobe essential--it is the workhorse of your closet. This particular jacket has a detachable knit vest with a fur collar that makes it not only warmer but more chic with a little downtown cool.  I wear my leather jackets year round with dresses, jeans--well, everything but pajamas. 

Grey is chic, sexy, beautiful and universally flattering. The color makes skin glow and is a chameleon that flatters all other colors. Whether you go for a monochromatic look with all shades of grey or mix it in with other neutrals, pattern or brights, the many shades of gray have no limits in their possibilities. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Old School: Consignment and Vintage Style

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

Dressing in head to toe designer label clothing has never been appealing to me. It just isn’t that interesting of a way to dress; it seems more like a billboard than a statement. However, investing in really well great pieces is always a good idea, because beautifully made things never go out of style. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with fashion, especially when you add vintage or consignment pieces to the mix.

My teenage daughter Gracie loves to go to a consignment store called Buffalo Exchange, where she is quite good at discovering the good stuff.  It is not quite my style of place, but I did manage on our last visit to find two AllSaints sweaters for Gracie and she found me a vintage 1994 letterman’s jacket that was so cool I had to buy it.  I took all of our newfound treasures to the dry cleaners and we congratulated ourselves on a major score.

Varsity and bomber jackets have been quite the thing for the last two years, so having a vintage one was a real find. You can pair a varsity jacket over a sweater or with your favorite pair of jeans but why not wear them with a leather skirt or over your shoulders with a dress? No one is going to care if you didn’t actually letter in swimming in the 90s and you get to have a unique piece that makes a real statement.

Consignment shopping has totally changed my closet as well. It is the little secret-not-so-secret of every stylishly dressed woman I know. Some people I know do not get this, and I am not sure why. I think they look down their nose a little at consignment, as "used clothing". It is too bad, because they are missing out on the greatest thing to ever hit a fabulous closet. Vintage and consignment shopping are great ways to find covetable designer goods, some still with the tags, and the latest looks straight from the likes of the Barneys NY windows. Who doesn't love luxury goods at a fraction of the cost? Check out a couple of my favorites: MB’s Finds, Sell Your Sole, and Show Pony, which carry everything from Chanel to Gucci, to Elizabeth and James and Vince. Over time I have found many lovely consignment pieces that I added to my closet, including Chloe Suzanna boots, a Stella McCartney Falabella bag, an Alexander Wang Rocco Bag, and a Balanciaga fur collar coat. It is stylish recycling--beautiful things finding new life in a new closet.

The boots I turn to again and again are my Stuart Weitzman 50/50 Suede Over The Knee Boots. The first pair I ever bought was a blue and black suede pair, pictured here, and purchased from consignment from MB’s Finds. They are so cool and comfortable that I decided to invest in a gray pair this fall that I bought at Saks Fifth Avenue. They look amazing with dresses and skirts, tights and skinny jeans. I paired them for this photo shoot with my Bailey 44 stretch leather skirt, a Jimmy Fallon Show gray t-shirt I stole from my husband and cut the collar out of, and the letterman’s jacket. The blue Deadly Ponies handbag calls back to the blue suede in the boots, bringing the outfit together without being “matchy”. Gracie is wearing a pair of Frame denim from MB’s Finds, the line I mentioned in last week’s post that is a favorite brand of mine. She is carrying a Marc by Marc Jacobs Luna cross body bag and wearing the shoe of the moment, Adidas sneakers. Her leather jacket is from Zara. Which brings me to my next point….

Recently I wrote an article for Vanguard Seattle, an online arts and culture magazine that I am the style and fashion writer for, about the effects of fast fashion. I had been invited to view Andrew Morgan’s film, “The True Cost” which shows the tragic human factor in the world of cheap clothing and it’s impact on the environment, talented businesses and designers, and most of all, its immense impact on the garment workers. It was a very moving experience for me and has made me think very deeply about the idea of fast fashion and about choices that impact the world we live in. While I can't say for certain that I will never shop at Zara again, I know that there has to be a better way to high/low dressing than buying something that causes harm to the very person that made it.

Last week my daughter Gracie and I did the photo story together for this post and it was very fun to have her with Photographer Krissi and I on the shoot. Although nothing reminds you that your are clearly NOT in high school than looking into the young, wrinkle free face of a 15 year old. Luckily, it was the face of my beautiful daughter, so I felt only love.

The blog posts I write and the photo stories that my friend Krissi creates tell a new story each week that I hope will inspire you. It has been harder than I expected to put myself out there in pictures. In the photos I can see the flaws, the curves, the way I really look, not just the way I wish I did. I want to accept myself with all my imperfections, and no matter my age, or size, to know that being beautiful and stylish has nothing to do with numbers. And that is the point of this blog: to celebrate style and the beauty and art of fashion, no matter how many candles are on one's birthday cake.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Right On Track: Mixing Animal Prints and Pattern

Photos by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

Somewhere in the fashion world a year or so ago, instead of announcing that “animal prints were in for fall”, which is a statement we hear every year, the fashion gods decided that “leopard is the new neutral”. If you keep up with this sort of thing, as I do, you know that animal prints are NEVER out of fashion and leopard is a wardrobe staple. Nevertheless, mixing animal prints with other patterns, like stripes, is a big look right now, and I am a huge fan. The art of mixing it up makes your look very chic while appearing nonchalant about the whole business, the hallmark of the naturally stylish set. And the French. 

The Striped Shirt

I am having a bit of a moment with striped shirts. I love how they look when mixed with patterns like floral, underneath my “uniform”--that would be a grey sweater—my favorite thing to wear with everything, or layered with a black blazer. Imagine my joy when I discovered this endless rose Lace Blacket Button Down Shirt that rocks two trends: the long button down shirt and lace, both big looks for fall. The oxford shirting behind the ornate floral overlay makes this very unique approach to your everyday shirt.  I recently added this Madewell Striped Mix Button Down to my closet too because not only do I love the mixed stripe design, I also love the hidden pockets. Sweet. 

My Favorite Denim

I have been hooked on Frame Denim since I bought a pair of Le Frame Skinny Distressed Denim in Gray from Intermix Bellevue last year. They have a great fit, the perfect amount of stretch, and are cool and sexy. I pretty much lived in that pair all of last year, and then I bought the Noir pair, and then the Frame Le Garçon Boyfriend over the summer. I am wearing the Le Garçon Tailored Boyfriend pair in the photo story for this blog post. Note: I have bought the distressed denim style in Frame but there is a lot to choose from, including tops, coats, sweaters and more. Check out what they have here. Next on the list: the wide legged Le High Flare Jeans.


I have always loved animal prints so to see them so prominent in everything from jackets and handbags to shoes and accessories makes me happy. You can use animal prints to make a major statement, or just add an accessory to the mix for a more subtle effect. If the pattern is bold, like my coat, then mix it with either one other bold print from the same color palette, or with pattern that is softer, like my stripe and lace button down. This coat is vintage, but you can find plenty of options out there. I think this Alice + Olivia Montana Faux Fur Coat is fabulous. The great thing about leopard? It is very ladylike and racy at the same time. Leopard mishap: the time I bought leopard pants. Enough said. 

Pointy Toe Flats

I think a pointed toe on a flat just adds an edge to your look, wherein a round toe is more demure. These Christian Louboutin blue pony hair flats are super pointy, making them edgy enough to wear with the stand out coat. This pair of Anjelina Studded Red Sole Flat would also be gorgeous and they would go with everything from denim to trousers to skirts and dresses. Always, always, get good shoes. You will wear them season after season and a new sole and a professional polish from your neighborhood shoe repair will make them like new again. #lifeistooshortforcheapshoes

Mixing patterns is a fun way to give your wardrobe a modern update. Whether you are pairing stripes and prints or florals and animal print, it only takes a little imagination to give your attire a little attitude. Go for leopard, cheetah, or zebra, add another pattern, and let animals prints give you permission to walk on the wild side. Have a great week!