Monday, January 23, 2017

Be Warm, Look Cool: 7 Favorite Coats to Wear Now

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse

I began writing this blog over a week ago and then it just sat on my computer. Between my husband breaking two ribs in a skiing accident, my daughter's high school finals schedule and both children tag teaming on the flu, not to mention inauguration angst and the rest, has been a week. There really was never time to wax on about puffer coats and the like. And it seemed sort of, well, unimportant in a moment in time where there were much more pressing matters.

But today I am ready to get back to writing. The events of the world and of my household, while pressing, don't diminish the beauty of Krissi's photographs or my own love of writing. It is time to get creative again. So, it is back to some thoughts on taking on winter and looking good while doing it.

We are in the midst of major coat season, and it isn't going away anytime soon. Personally, I love a good coat and may even have a coat "problem", if you consider that I can't get enough of them. Here in the Pacific Northwest, a coat is required nearly all year long, with the exception of mid and late summer. To me, that means more variety in my coat closet and who doesn't love that?

It is mid ski season as well, which means the puffer coat is required, either as a layering piece underneath your down coat or as outerwear. I recently bought the Nike Sportswear Tech Fleece AeroLoft Women's Down Bomber (phew! That is one long name...) and LOVE it. The front of the jacket and the back shoulders are made of down. My favorite feature of this "bomber" is it's side zips and hidden inside kangaroo style pocket. With its high zip collar t is a great piece for heading to the gym or out on a walk and it is fashionable enough to wear with denim and boots. And it is on sale....

The ultimate in warm coats has to be my Canada Goose Chilliwack Bomber. I have worn it on the slopes skiing and around town on days when the cold wind bites. It is the ultimate in warmth.While it isn't officially a "puffer coat" it is a puffy down jacket, so I included it on my list. I wore it with my black Vince leggings and Stuart Weitzman over the knee boots for cruising around on a bitter cold afternoon in the city.

Moncler Frill Cuff Padded Jacket
 I bought this gorgeous Moncler Frill Cuff Padded Jacket this fall at MB Finds Consignment. It has zippers that open up the cuffs to layers of tulle and fabric frills. The details on the jacket include navy grosgrain ribbon detailing, even on the buttons. It is a stand out piece that is just proof once again that consignment shopping should be a part of every fashion girl's program. You can check out the whole line here, but because they are a bit of an investment there are a lot of fakes out there. If you aren't lucky enough to find one in consignment, be certain to make a major purchase like this from a reputable seller, like Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus. 

I bought this long black down Juicy Couture coat a couple of years ago before I went on a November trip to NYC. The good news is it was unseasonably warm in New York that trip, and the bad news was that had to leave the coat in the hotel room the entire time because it was too warm for it. Since then it has been my go-to coat when it is cold and I want to be covered to my knees. Mine nips at the waist which gives it a feminine silhouette, as does this similar Cole Haan coat you can find here.

My latest find is this beautiful Herno cropped puffer cardigan that is a hybrid of two winter essentials: the puffer and the sweater. Meant to be worn like a cardigan or light outerwear, it has cropped sleeves and a high neck. I wore it with a silver metallic tie neck blouse and a gray cashmere sweater that made my look both warm and chic.

Here is another favorite of mine, a puffer that shows off two hot trends: bell sleeves and ruffles. This Elizabeth Roberts Anne Puffer in chic cream is proof the puffer can be chic. Amazing. You can find this coat at Intermix.

No matter what your style, there are puffer coats of every length and shape. Since we are winding down January that means you can find many of these great jackets and coats on sale. Be warm, look cool. xx

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Mixing and Matching

Photography by Kirsten Beeksma Morse
While I often mix high and low fashion, I think part of the fun of getting dressed is also choosing pieces from your wardrobe that are not typically from the same genre. These looks tend to show the most attitude and creativity, even if it is subtle. For our photoshoot on what was a completely freezing day (hence the mittens), I stayed in the same color tone of grays, but the pieces aren't typical in how they are worn. It was the making an inconspicuous yet chic outfit that made me quite happy. Even if I did run for my giant wool overcoat the minute we were done....

Sneakers are definitely a great way to add some street style to your look, and no one does this better than Rihanna. As the Puma Creative Director for Women, she introduced the FentyxPuma by Rihanna, which is a mash up of her own fearless style and her fresh interpretation of a killer Puma creeper. I bought these velvet platform sneakers for myself and my 16 year old daughter from Intermix for Christmas this year, and we both wear them to suit our own style. Since anything Rihanna touches seems to turn to gold, these killer sneakers are a bit hard to come by, but as of this writing you could find them at ASOS here, and also at Nordstrom, in limited sizes. 

The platform sneaker seemed the perfect opposite of my Max Mara cashmere gray pinstripe top coat, with its classic styling. Putting a simple yet timeless coat with an of-the-moment sneaker makes the look feel fresh. Here are some of the best of Max Mara's coats, which I think of as forever pieces. 

My go-to denim has been FRAME, and this le garçon pair have a slouchy boyfriend style to dress down the conservative topper, yet play off the sneakers. I love a girlfriend jean too, which is part slouchy and part slim fit. Go for a slim boyfriend if you like a less baggy fit, like these AG Ex-Boyfriend Slim Jeans. 

In November I found this awesome Cinc á Sept Seren Hi-Lo Sweater at Saks Fifth Avenue in NYC. I pulled out the ruffle sweater sleeve from underneath the topcoat to make it look like the coat has an exaggerated sleeve. It is sold out at Saks, but the above link will send you to another site where it is currently on sale. 

My sister-in-law, Sarah, gave me this beautiful J.Crew Floral Drop Pendant Necklace for Christmas, which I think is the perfect pop of gold against the dark gray. A note about jewelry. I usually wear either a necklace or earrings, rarely do I wear both, unless one of them is quite small. I don't like matching sets, and I think that letting one gorgeous statement, be it a pile of necklaces, one standout piece or killer earrings speak for themselves. If you have on a cool necklace but then also wear great earrings they compete, and they look oddly matchy. I am not a rule follower per se, but I don't like earring and necklace sets. Seems either dated or a bit much. Trust me, I like a bit much a lot, just not matching bits. So now you know one of my little pet peeves. :) 

We are still wishing for snow and continued football success here in Seattle. In the meantime, I will be mixing and not matching in my very own newly organized closet. Have a lovely week. xx

Note: The location of our shoot was at my brother's home in Seattle, a place he built himself for his family. The fireplace chimney I am standing in front of is gorgeous, as is every inch of his beautiful home. #proudsister

Friday, January 6, 2017

January and The Power of Positivity

Typically I am not a big fan of January, with it’s bleak gardens, juice cleanses and “dry” themes. This year I decided I was going to embrace the first month of the year with a new attitude and zero plans to be a dry anything. Instead to taking away things I love, (champagne, I am talking to you) I have decided to add things in to my daily life, and I can tell you after the first week that it has already had a positive effect on me. Here is how I started my year and some things to look forward to in 2017.

First of all, I too felt burned out from the holidays, not feeling  great, clothes fitting weird, sleep off. My exercise routine had taken a nose dive, and so had my diet. While trying to avoid all the blathering about exercise and diet in my inbox, I happily opened up Heather Christo’s newsletter, where she shared her 3 Day Soup Cleanse. Heather’s recipes have saved the day for us many a meal, as recently diagnosed food allergies for all of us in my family have made cooking challenging. Heather’s focus is allergy free cooking and her recipes are delicious, easy to follow and perfect for modern life. I highly recommend her latest book, Pure Delicious. The best part about these soup recipes is the simplicity. Roasted vegetables and onion, vegetable broth and an occasional splash of coconut milk made these fast and easy to do. As I bragged on FB, I made one soup during the breakfast/lunch before-school circus, and I was even showered. Woohoo!

Heather Christo's 3 Day Soup Cleanse. Image courtesy of Heather Christo

Back to the soup cleanse, which I didn’t really do as a cleanse, but it still worked wonders for me. I ate my normal breakfast of gluten-free oatmeal with fruit and an almond milk latte from my Nespresso machine. After I hit the gym or walked my dog I had a bowl of soup for a snack and a banana, and then I ate a bigger bowl of soup again for lunch. I took it to work with me in a thermos on the days I was out of my home office. Our family dinners included soup and a protein, like salmon or chicken, plus roasted potatoes. And a glass of Secret Squirrel red wine, my new winter favorite. I did this every day. And I lost five pounds, slept like a teenager, and feel great. It feels so good I am going to continue next week as well! I didn’t give anything up, I added vegetables and fiber to my diet. I skipped the bread, even though my kids did have it with some of the meals. Everyone was happy.

By adding something positive (healthy food and exercise) together with enjoying something I love (a great glass of wine) I felt like I got started on the right foot. It is motivating to see results of doing something positive too, and it makes me feel like it is realistic for my busy busy life. I didn’t give anything up, except for the dread of a dreary month. Goodbye “dry January”, hello health and happiness.

My closet emerged from the holidays just as jumbled as I was so it was time to take action. I yanked out all the tired t-shirts and sweaters and weird dry cleaner hangers and tumbled shoe boxes and rehung it all by color and style. It didn’t take long and it is way easier to get dressed when I know where everything is.

That means there is room for some new things. I make a rule not to buy any more fall/winter unless A) I have been stalking it and it is now a killer deal or B) It works as a transitional piece. It can be mighty tempting with all the sales right now, so if you need to do something like refresh your black sweaters or white blouses, this is a good time. And things like cashmere can be worn year round so that is always a good investment. That, and if you have been holding off on a good coat. Now, what can we look forward to fashion wise this year? Here is a sneak peek at a few of my favorites….

Joseph Altuzarra Spring 2017

The new femininity is a defining point of the spring season and is bringing some major girly fun to closets. I love the ruffles on skirts, blouses, even pants. Ruffles are like the happy pill of fashion. They make everything lighter, fresher, and full of personality. This cinq a sept Sia Ruffle-Front Silk Blouse kills it.

Dries van Noten army jacket

Bell sleeves have made a reappearance as part of the 90s flashback that has been going on this past year. The bell sleeve has that certain "Je ne said quoi" that really ups a style game. Go big or go home with this look, be it a jacket, sweater, or blouse. I love the cheeky print of the Topshop Moth Print Blouse, and of course, this Burberry coat, be still my heart.

Adler Waldorf Shirt

Stripes and nautical themes always seem to make their way into spring closets. I like adding a striped mens style button down to my winter looks for a fresh look. The button down is going to be anything but basic this spring, from shirt dresses to off the shoulder and oversized looks. I like the idea of looking at a classic piece in a new, modern way. This Acler Waldorf Shirt is crazy good.

This month I am trying to do something fun each week, which gives me something to look forward to!  On my list are seeing Windborne's The Music of David Bowie: A Rock Symphony with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall. It may be the only way I can get my husband to the symphony.

Years ago when I ran cooking schools, my chef friend Linda Burner Augustine did a January dinner party theme cooking class titled, “Beat The Winter Blues Dinner Party”, which was always a sell out class. I am resurrecting this festive theme for a great evening with friends at home. What better way to catch up with people in a low key way than to throw a dinner party?

Favorite look from the 2016 Golden Globes, Jennifer Lopez in Giambattista Valli 

Also on the agenda? Golden Globes on Sunday. My daughter and I always have something sparking to drink and watch the red carpet, where last year Jennifer Lopez's beautiful yellow  Giambattista Valli was among our very favorite dresses. The Globes are the least stuffy of the award shows, and with the fabulous Jimmy Fallon hosting, it should be a fun evening.

Last night after reading the millionth dire post on FB about people having “exit strategies” and how our world is going to explode, I went in and talked to my husband. I wanted to know what he thought. He is almost always the voice of reason (except for maybe when driving….) and we talked calmly and honestly about what to expect with the incoming president. His mother, Grace Cole, was a state legislator for 15 years and an amazing and respected lawmaker. He grew up in a Democratic and very political household. He has a realistic yet positive take on everything and I trust and believe him. We all could benefit from some calm, from some positive thinking, and from some action, and I don’t mean by packing your bags for Canada. Stand up for what you believe in, do the right thing.

This year, make a positive impact on your life by the choices you make for yourself and for others. Good always trumps evil. Next week it is back to fashion and in the meantime, have an amazing weekend. And Go Hawks! xx