Monday, May 23, 2016

Kens Trends: Ken Downing Hosts The Neiman Marcus Trend Report

From the rosé champagne sparking in flutes upon the guest’s arrival to the pink carpet runway, Neiman Marcus put on a glamorous and festive The Trend Report with their charismatic Senior Vice President and Fashion Director Ken Downing. Downing, in his current role for Neiman Marcus, travels the globe looking for trends to recommend to the luxury retailer and serves as an ambassador of style for the company where he has worked since 1989. Downing graduated from the School of Apparel Design & Development at Seattle Central, continued his education at the Fashion Institute of Technology and has become a true visionary and a major fashion icon along the way. Local boy makes more than good.

Ken Downing 

A mix of chic insight, humor and a warm personal style, Downing, chatted with the crowd easily about the trends to look for, what is happening in fashion, and how to embrace your own personal style.  As each model came out, he had a hands-on approach to their look, adjusted collars, pointing out trends, and sending each model on her way with a “thank you, darling”, that was the epitome of his engaging style. Can you tell I am a fan?

We watched as Chanel, Chloe, Stella McCartney and other luxury brands swished down the runway in enviable layers of gorgeousness, while getting a tutorial on how to up your own personal style.  Here is my take away from Mr. Downing:

Pants over dresses, two skirts worn together to give more volume, and jackets over jackets over layers, this was a big one. Layering didn’t just stick to clothing, either, the accessories were also given the go-big-or-go-home treatment. Layers of necklace and pearls, rings on every finger, doubled up as well, and smaller handbags hooked on the exterior of bigger bags. Downing encouraged us to “go through our own jewelry boxes and put on every ring you own”, which sound like a lot of fun to me.

Runway to Reality
Downing told us that the fabulous thing about taking style from the runway to reality is the emphasis on a personalizing the looks this season and beyond. Instead of trying to emulate others, embrace who you are, he tells us, and put your own spin on what is shown on the runway. Today more than ever the designers are celebrating individuality and the unique instead of a universal look. It is a great time to get creative with fashion and go with your own sense of what is chic and beautiful, on you.

Seasonless Dressing
Instead of buying and wearing different pieces for different seasons, Downing tells us to invest in pieces that you’ll love all year round, and can incorporate into your wardrobe any season. This calls back to the layering idea, when clearly that gorgeous Isabel Marant dress may need a jacket over it when it cools off. The idea of seasonless dressing is genius, and yes, it is about time. This is many of the reasons why I love this man.

Valentino Rockstud Guitar Strap Handbag at Neiman Marcus

Ken’s Trends
A few details to make your look updated: piles and piles of pearls, larger than life sun hats, opulent shoes, including flats that have sequins and sparkle and mega chunky heels and wedges hit the runway. Round sunglasses ruled, doubled up earrings, two to each ear, and sequin and embellished clips and pins adorned hair. Guitar straps on handbags are also BIG. You can buy a guitar strap like this one and this one and use it on a variety of bags, or you can purchase on that already has the strap, like this Valentino Rockstud bag.

Mixing Prints and Giving Good Silhouette 
The crazier the mix, the more it works, says Mr. Downing. Don’t fear the mixing and adding on of print upon print—it creates a chic palette that makes your look next level. The boho chic style of Isabel Marant, with her cropped jackets layered over printed ones and reigning over silky tie ankle pants, really were rock star cool. I also loved the and “Dior New Look” style jackets nipped at the waist and Chanel’s lacy feminine pieces, like the cropped pants under the classic Chanel tweed jackets.

Lovely to Meet You
Following the runway show Ken Downing stayed for photographs with many adoring fans, dispensing style advice and chatting amicably with guests. When it was my turn to get a photo, he took more than my share of his time to chat about being in our 50s and fabulous, and his lovely sense of humor and sweet compliment made my whole day. “Always be yourself”, he said, “You can quote me on that!” There is nothing more beautiful than that.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Little Flare: The Perfect Summer Pants and How to Wear Them

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

I have been waxing on about my love for skirts and dresses lately, but I also love a great pair of summer pants, especially if there is something modern and cool about them.  And of course, they must be flattering. The cropped flare has made a reappearance on the fashion scene this summer and there are plenty of reasons to love this style. If you are hesitant to revisit this look, don’t be. Here ‘s why:

rag & bone High Rise Raw Edge Crop Flare

The cropped flair comes in several different styles that can suit a variety of body types and occasions. Styles include an exaggerated boot cut, to a flare with a trimmer width that give it a more modern and streamlined feel, a slightly wider cropped straight leg and a flare that begins at the knee. These Ellery Sinous Crop Flare Pants are slightly over the top, but I would wear them in a heartbeat. Hems lengths also vary, from just below the knee to hitting the ankle. The frayed edge trend in denim also gives this style a modern edge, like this rag & bone High Rise Raw Edge Crop Flare.

ELLERY Sinuous Crop Flare Pants

What’s the key to a look that is right for you? Trying them on. Give a few different styles a try to get the look that is right for your body type, depending on your leg and torso length. Personally, I like cropped flares that hit a just above the ankle because they will be a little more versatile, especially if they are a denim or another fabric that can translate into the fall season. You'll be surprised how fabulous this style of pant is for showing off a great pair of shoes. I wore my favorite PLAY Comme des Garcon Converse kicks that are a collaboration with New York-based graphic artist Filip Pagowski and legendary Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo. Want to dress it up a bit?  How about a pair of red kitten heels, like my Jimmy Choo slingbacks pictured, or a chunky wedge?  I am kind of partial to this Lanvin pair, but these Via Spiga Nemy Platform Sandal in a sassy yellow would also pull your summer look together perfectly.

I bought the classic J.Crew Teddy Pant in summery seersucker, which have a slim body and a slight kick out hem at the knee that feels fresh to me. I am a curvy girl with hips and they fit me perfectly and are very slimming. I also love the details on these pants, like the zipper hidden front pockets and the fun stripes.

SEA NY Stripe Jersey and Lace Top

I paired the vertical stripe seersucker pant with a horizontal stripe top in a darker shade of blue because I thought the bold stripe on the top was very complimentary to the seersucker striped bottom. I saw this SEA NY shirt on the runway of the Nordstrom Beauty Trend Show last month and promptly went upstairs and bought it.  The “split personality” of this top: with a nautical style blue and white strip in the front and on trend rows of fringe in the back, making it a really unique piece.Look for this cropped flare style this fall with short boots, and chunky heels, but for now slip on some sneakers or sandals perfect for a little summer flare.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Chasing Summer Skirts: My Three Favorites

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

After months and months of wearing denim and boots I am super excited about all the great dresses and skirts out there for spring. Lately, with all the great weather, my favorite jeans have taken a back seat to some rock star skirts. While dresses are lovely and easy this time of year, a skirt is also a very versatile way to mix it up with your summer wardrobe. Skirts require such little effort in the making of a major chic look. Here are a few of my favorite ways to wear a few of my favorite spring skirts!

Chasing Spring Skirts

Above are some of the pieces that I wore for this post. The skirt is a J.Crew Paneled Geometric Jacquard Pencil Skirt that has been to a ton of events since its purchase. This piece is definitely going to be a summer go-to, worn with the top featured, or dressed down with a white tee or tank. I am a huge fan of Intermix, and a trip across the lake to see the great staff over at Intermix Bellevue is always a lot of fun. I can never seem to leave empty handed. Intermix always seems to be one quick step ahead on the trends, so when I specifically went before an event to buy this Exclusive for Intermix Aaron Strapless Embroidered Top in Black, I was overwhelmed with all the great choices.

Details on the Intermix Aaron Strapless Blouse
The blouse is a flattering off the shoulder top with a combination of fitted sleeve and flared arms are really cool. I especially love the black on black embroidery detail all over body of this blouse. The wedges I am wearing are no longer available, but these Kate Spade Dellie Polka-Dot Wedges would be really fun for summertime. My black Hermes Clic Clac H Bracelet is hidden in the sleeve, and the feather earrings I am wearing were a purchase from a Meadow on Queen Anne Hill a couple years ago, despite their appearance of being from the 80s. Here is really cool pair from Etsy that I just ordered in black.

Chasing Spring Skirts

This is another great J.Crew skirt, which I completely love because it is such a perfect summer piece. I have always been a fan of the company, but every season one piece in particular from J.Crew really grabs me, and this summer it is the Colorful Jacquered Striped Skirt. I paired it with a RAILS Carter Button Down Shirt in a chambray light denim that is a subtle compliment to the bold stripes. You could pick up any of the colors from the skirt in your top or wear it with a gingham blouse, half tucked in in the front. I like these alice + olivia Janaya Wedge Sandals because yellow shoes are just so summer, and perfect with the striped skirt. Toss on some polarized Ray-Ban shades to keep yourself looking cool. All this outfit needs is a margarita and a patio.

Chasing Spring Skirts

The Intermix Erik Poplin Stripe Skirt is so spectacular in that it is its own party. The minute I tried it on I was in love; it is both unique and incredible chic, not to mention super comfortable. I love how it moves with its sassy ruffles, and found it to be really feminine and fun, especially if you like standing out in a crowd. Which I do. If you want to really make the shirting stripes pop, add this red Zara Printed Crepe Top and tuck it in. Denim accessories and shoes are big for summer, and I love this Jimmy Choo Denim Cut-Out Sandal. These would be so worth the two Advil I would have to take to leave the house in them. A neutral bootie with a chunky heel would also be fabulous. :) The Saint Laurent Croc-Embossed Leather Clutch is on my wish list, so of course I had to include it in this styling.

I am on the hunt for the perfect denim skirt, preferably with a raw edge hem. I also recently purchased the Beckley Grid Skirt, a super cool leather midi skirt by local designer Silvae, which will be fantastic now and into fall. I could go on and on because there so many great skirts to choose from right now. Whether you like a pencil, a midi, an A-line, or all of the above--get out there and chase some summer skirts to add to your warm weather wardrobe. Happy shopping!