My planned holiday posts fell by the wayside, but I hope that my readers enjoyed a marvelous holiday season and are having a splendid start to the new year!
For my first post of this year, I’d like to share my last purchase of last year, made on December 31.  I know I still owe you a full recap of my 25 Things Project, which will take some time to create, so in the meantime, I thought I’d start with this.
As much as I love jewelry, it took me until the last day of the year to actually buy a piece this year!  Of course, I swooned over so many pieces, but I ultimately focused on filling my 25 (-+?) slots with clothing and shoes.
I definitely chose something different.  For the past couple of months, I’ve been captivated by the ear cuffs popping up on Netaporter, though we first saw the ear cuff at the Punk:  Chaos to Couture Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala.  I hunted down a cheaper alternative at BCBG.  This version will allow me to try out the trend before deciding if it’s worth committing more cash.
Earrings are typically studded (my usual) or dangly.  While I’ve seen small cuffs that hug the ear horizontally, an ear cuff that runs the length of the ear is something new.  While it won’t be a wear to work piece, I think that an ear cuff is just what I need to add a bit of edge to my outfits.  Ear cuff earrings sometimes come in pairs, but to add extra interest and create the impression of wearing a piece of art rather than matching pieces of jewelry, I prefer the single cuff.  I love the sculptural quality of the ear cuffs, that’s probably why I’m drawn to them so much.
Here are my cuff picks :

Pamela Love


Ryan Storer.  Another great Ryan Storer piece here.


Linn Lomo


Sabine G.




Ana Khouri


Kismet by Milka




Sophie Bille Brahe

Cuff10Elise Dray


Capitol Couture by Trish Summerville


Elizabeth Cole

What kind of earrings do you fancy?  Have you tried the ear cuff?  Would you?


The SS Combo

It’s time to step away from outerwear posts and talk about the clothing combination that has been consuming my focus this autumn:  the sweater and skirt combo.

It’s a classic combination.  It’s easy to pull together;  most of us have some sort of simple knit sweater and skirt in our wardrobe.  And for some reason, right now, this combination looks fresh.  Streetstylers have rendered the skirt and sweater combo modern chic by pairing a masculine fisherman sweater with a feminine flouncy (some say fluted) skirt.  The combination of masculine and feminine elements in a single outfit gets me every time.  It can be difficult to succintly define one’s style, but if pressed, I think I might say that my style is a bit of masculine with a bit of feminine.  The current SS combo embodies just that.

My 25 Things Challenge (more on this to come) has caused me to be more thoughtful about my purchases and aim to add specific items to my closet.  Ever since I spotted the SS combo, I knew I’d have to add the two key items to my closet.  As of this past week, I completed the mission.

Now for some SS combo inspiration…


 Via Tumblr


SSBlame it on Fashion via Haute Design


The Northern Light


Daily Cup of Couture



The Sartorialist


Theyskens Theory runway via Bazaar




Celine Fall 2013 via New York Magazine

SS5Jennifer Connolly via Elements of Style



 Via Pinterest.  Gwyneth Paltrow wearing Celine in 2011.  (Side note:  I saw a great Antik Batik sweater at Galeries Lafayette last month that reminded me of this sweater.  I considered buying it and didn’t.  A similar version is available on the Antik Batik website.  Other split-hem fisherman sweaters can be found at Ann Taylor Loft and Anthropologie.)

Now, to recreate the SS Combo:


I purchased this now sold-out Madewell sweater.  If you’re interested in this sweater, you might want to call customer service or check the stock at your local store.  Make sure to keep in mind that it runs large.  I ended up ordering an XS, a size I never wear!


Here are my other favorites:



3.1 Phillip Lim

Some other fisherman sweaters I recommend checking out:  Lord & Taylor, Lands’ End, TopShop, Steven AlanLLBean, and Marc by Marc Jacobs.

An inexpensive Liz Claiborne option

SS23SS23Other inexpensive options can be found at Dorothy Perkins here and here.

For a turtleneck version, I love Brooks Brothers’ take.  Other options are available from Peregrine by J.G. Glover, Altuzarra, J.Crew, and Zara.



I picked up a black flouncy skirt in the Zara section of Galeries Lafayette in Paris.  I don’t see my skirt online here in the US, but there is a patterned version of it for sale here.



BCBG.  BCBG has other options: here and here.  Be forewarned that these skirts are clingy.




Barneys.  Another Barneys option here.



I love J. Crew’s version in navy.


Asos.  Asos has a patterned version as well.  So does Marc by Marc Jacobs.


Herve Leger

Banana Republic has a couple of good options here and here.



And the piece de resistance…



This silhouette will have staying power throughout the spring; spring runway fashions included the SS combo, particularly the flouncy skirt.  So rest assured you can continue flouncing your way into spring!


J. Crew ensemble via Daily Cup of Couture


Balmain via Harper’s Bazaar


Balmain via Daily Cup of Couture

Is the SS combo a part of your wardrobe?  What do you think is the freshest fashion combination of the season?

Sneaker Fever

Con 12Image source

Con 1Image source

Con 10Image source

Con 13Image source

Converse 2Image source

Con 9Image source

Con 11Image source

Con 8Image source

Con 4

Image source

Con 7Image source

Con 6

Image source

I finally purchased a pair of Converse sneakers after hemming and hawing for well over a year.  I typically find ballet flats to be the chicest run around shoe, but there’s something about the appeal of a sneaker.  I’ve loved sneakers for a long time. After moving beyond Keds, I started with a pair of black and white checked Vans in middle school and then eventually graduated to Diesel sneakers in college. After reading Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange, I heavily considered buying a pair of Converse sneakers to wear in Paris, but then decided that I would feel more like myself in my black riding boots. And, the sneakers would look too new to be Paris cool.

As I grow older, I become more practical in my clothing choices, particularly when it comes to shoes. We all need comfy shoes to run around in, especially those of us who regularly pound the pavement of city streets. For a while now, we’ve seen many photos of chic women wearing Converse sneakers. It was only a matter of time before I felt compelled to join them. One particularly influential inspiration was a woman I saw on the street where I live; she was another young mother, dressed in the chicest casual outfit possible: a Tod’s D-bag, Converse sneakers without the laces, jeans, a jacket, and a gray scarf.  These inspiring images that I’ve shared, combined with the idea of having a great shoe to run around in the parks and playgrounds with my son, ultimately made my decision for me.  I believe that the best way to wear a pair of classic sneakers like Converse, is the way that the women pictured above did it:  with a fabulous handbag, typically leather, and chic separates, usually in black.

It was difficult to choose between Converse and Superga sneakers. Supergas have been on my radar long before I started seeing people on the streets wearing them. I ultimately decided that I prefer Converse sneakers in black and Supergas in navy. I still may buy a pair of navy Supergas, depending on what other items inspire me. I have to make sure I stick to my 25 items, after all!

SupergaImage source


I purchased my sneakers at Converse’s Soho store after viewing the Great Gatsby costumes at Prada. The Converse store was a total zoo. I found it a bit humorous that most of the customers were European; it’s nice to know that even Europeans go shopping when they’re on vacation. I understand that a self-service model where the customer places his/her order for sneakers to try on seems efficient, but in terms of quality of service, it’s not the greatest. I tried on every style of low Converse sneakers in black. I had already looked at all of the styles online and I thought that I might go with the sneakers without laces (which looked ridiculous on me) or the Jack Purcells, but I ultimately found that the classic All Stars looked best on me. No matter which pair you choose, there’s no mistaking that sneaks are chic.  And, as I told my husband, “When do I ever buy $50 shoes?”

That’s one of the beautiful things about Converse shoes: pretty much anyone can afford to wear them.  And they work great in a high-low, formal-casual mix of clothing.  A couple of weeks ago I wore them with a plain black long sleeved T, black Genetic Denim skinny jeans, my beloved black Comptoir des Cotonniers jacket I purchased at Galeries Lafayette in Nice, and an equestrian print scarf that was randomly purchased at Urban Outfitters about 4 years ago.

Con 14Image source

The sneakers went from my son’s music class- to brunch- to the park- to coffee- and then home. They were comfortable, and every time I looked down at them, the sight of them gave me pleasure. That’s what all clothing should do.

Do you wear sneakers?  If so, which brand(s)? Do you wear Converse, and if so, what’s your favorite style? What pieces of clothing are giving you pleasure these days?

Build a Wardrobe from Scratch: The Clothing Essentials

Recently, I asked myself the question of which items I would buy if I had to build a wardrobe from scratch.  I came up with under 30 clothing items, 5 pairs of shoes, and 10 staple accessories, with examples in both Luxe and Less budgeting categories.  Over the next few days I’ll be sharing these items with you.

Below are the clothing items that I picked.  You’ll notice that I chose a color scheme of mostly black, with some navy and white/khaki.  Buying a lot of black, of course, is a great way to ensure that your wardrobe contains items that are chic and interchangeable.  In order to extend wearability, I also suggest buying items in seasonless fabrics.

Black Pants


Theory black pant



AT Loft

Ann Taylor Loft

Dark skinny or bootcut jeans, depending on your preference


811 Mid-Rise Skinny Jeans - Ignite



Gap jeans


Little Black Dress


St. John LBD

St. John


Calvin Klein LBD

Calvin Klein

A sleeveless dress in a color (other than black) that can be worn year round.





Amy Byer

Amy Byer

Black Pantsuit*


Kiton suit



BR Suit

Banana Republic


Black Skirt Suit*


Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss


T Tahari Skirt SuitT Tahari


White Shirt


RL White ShirtRalph Lauren


Brooks Brothers White Shirt

Brooks Brothers

I also find Banana Republic’s button down shirts to be extremely durable.


2+ Black Tees


James Perse

James Perse

This is the best tee if I have ever owned.  Several years later, and it still looks like new.


Target scoop


Target is one of my favorite sources for inexpensive tees.


Black Wool Coat


THe Row coat

The Row





Trench Coat


Burberry trenchBurberry


London Fog

London Fog

Ankle Length Pants


Theory pant



JCrew Minnie


These pants (in black and navy) are a staple in my wardrobe.

Summer Skirt





Mural skirt


5 Sleeveless Tops


Stella McCartney, Halston Heritage, Diane von Furstenberg, Marni, Lanvin.


Banana Republic, Mango, Aqua, Olive & Oak, Calvin Klein.

Crewneck Cardigan in Black






BR Anna cardigan

Banana Republic

Cozy Sweater


Barneys sweater



LL Bean

 L.L. Bean

Casual Black Blazer


Helmut Lang Cusp BlazerHelmut Lang




Navy Blazer


BB Blazer

Brooks Brothers


JCrew SchoolboyJCrew

This is one of my favorite pieces of clothing.

Khaki/White Pants


Vince Chino



JCrew Waverly chino


*With the exception of the 2 suits, I believe that this list of clothing will allow any one to be appropriately dressed for almost any occasion.  For those whose activities don’t regularly require a suit, I suggest swapping out the 2 suits for 2 outfits comprised of a top and pants.

This little exercise makes me wonder if I should have focused my 25 Things List on acquiring upgraded versions of each of the essentials on my list.  And, it has made me aware of my need for a navy sheath dress!

FYI, the total cost of all of the “Luxe” items is $18,219 and the total cost for the “Less” items is $1,884.95.  Keep in mind that I didn’t take into account additional discounts for which some of the “Less” items were eligible.  That means that the “Less” wardrobe is approximately one tenth of the cost of the Luxe wardrobe.  Adding up these costs definitely puts things in perspective.  Given an unlimited budget, I don’t believe that I would choose to buy the Luxe version each time, would you?  Of course, the old adage “You get what you pay for…” always applies; clothing made of higher quality fabric will last longer.  I believe that in some instances, buying the Luxe version is not just more stylish, but also more cost effective.  For example, a Burberry trench can be worn for years beyond its cheaper counterpart.

What do you think of my list?  Is there anything that you feel should be added or removed?  Which items do you believe are indispensable to building a wardrobe?  From which designers would you purchase Luxe items and which brands are your go-tos for looking stylish when spending Less?

Prabal Gurung, Target Designer Collaborations, and Potential 25 Things Purchases

Last night after perusing Pinterest and noticing Prabal Gurung runway looks, I decided to check and see when the Prabal Gurung Target collaboration would make its debut.   Fortuitously, I learned that the launch was this morning.  So I signed up for Target’s text notification for the sale.  Fortunately, I made it to around 8:30 a.m. this morning, as the Target notification for the launch didn’t appear in my message inbox until 12:14 p.m.!  I was a bit surprised to see that the 2 items I had chosen the night before weren’t sold out yet since they were both online exclusives. 

I picked two pairs of shoes, the Wedge Sandal with Ankle Strap and the Ankle Strap Pump,which aren’t figured into my current 25 Things list. 
Women's Prabal Gurung for Target® Wedge Sandal with Ankle Strap - Black/Grey Women's Prabal Gurung for Target® Ankle Strap Pump - Black
We’ll see if I keep them.  Thankfully, Target has a 90 day return policy on these items, so if they don’t work out, then I don’t lose money.  I feel a bit odd about making these spur-of-the-moment purchases.  On the positive side, they are reminiscent of much higher priced pairs of shoes that I’ve been eyeing for spring, including the Manolo Blahnik, Alexander Wang and Givenchy sandals pictured above.
On the other hand, these “fast fashion” pieces seem to go against the new clothing acquisition policy that I’m somewhat struggling to implement.  Though these items are “designer” names, at Target prices, I doubt they will be of the quality that I’m trying to sustain in my wardrobe.  But, if I keep a pair or two of these shoes and get a season or more of fairly frequent use out of them, then they will certainly be worth their price.  Still, I suspect I’ll still feel a bit guilty for choosing to put money towards one season items rather than an investment piece, especially since we’re talking about shoes here rather than a t-shirt.  I certainly don’t have anything against Target shopping; I have purchased many items at Target over the years, some part of designer collaborations, some not.  I’ve been happy overall with my Target clothing purchases.  I think that Target is a particularly great place to stock up on plain black Ts, maternity wear, bikinis, and accessories.
My experience with the Target designer collaborations has been a mixed bag. While it’s exciting to see what a high-end designer will do within the constraints of the Target price points, ultimately, few of the items are of high enough quality to purchase.  I’m realizing that, even if Target does a collaboration with a designer I don’t follow, like Prabal Gurung, I still feel the need to check out the merchandise just so I don’t “miss out.”  This speaks volumes of my overall challenge in building a wardrobe.  I aspire to be a woman with a select number of pieces that are all stunning and frequently worn, but I continue to find too many things that I like.  I’m sure that this is an experience that many of my readers share.
The first day feedback on the Prabal Gurung collection at Target is that the response was not as overwhelming as expected.  As with many of the other designer collaborations, there are complaints that many of the items are ill-fitting and cheaply made.  Forbes Magazine recently questioned the relevance of designer collaborations.  And, I was dismayed to learn today that Target had in fact designed most of the pieces from the Missoni collection with the advice of the Missoni family.
I loved Issac Mizrahi’s line for Target, which was the first designer collection to grace Target stores.  Missoni has been the most successful Target designer collaboration.  On the day of the Missoni launch, I was up at 5:30 a.m. to put items in my cart.  Every time I tried to purchase the items, they would disappear.  I later learned about Target’s infamous site crash after the site experienced traffic greater than that of any Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  Thankfully, I enlisted my mother to wait outside a remote Target before it opened.  She was able to procure several great items for me, some of which I actually returned because I decided I didn’t need so many Missoni for Target items.  I ended up keeping a winter scarf, a silk scarf, a cardigan, and a black and white button down blouse, all in the classic Missoni zig zag pattern.  I’ve been pleased with the quality of these items.  In addition to my purchases from the Issac Mizrahi and Missoni Target diffusion lines, I have also purchased items from the Alice Temperly (of the Go International series), Jason Wu and The Webster (part of The Shops at Target) lines.  I would like to see Target bring in another designer with a recognizable print; perhaps Burberry.  I believe that’s where buyers can find real value:  literally taking a design from a recognizable brand and selling the item at a more approachable price point.  
What are your thoughts on Target’s designer collaborations and designer diffusion/collaboration lines in general?  Have you purchased any of these items?  Why/why not? 
In which direction do you see the designer diffusion lines going?
Do you also struggle with trying to limit the number of clothing in your wardrobe because you find too many things you like? 

25 Things Challenge

Blair Waldorf with Bags

Yesterday, I shared that one of my 2013 Style Resolutions is to complete a 25 Things Challenge.  Now for the details…  This year I’m challenging myself to only buying 25 items of clothing, shoes, and accessories for the entire year.  25 items may sound like a lot, but I recently read that the average American buys 64 pieces of clothing per year!  And, after tracking how many items I have acquired in the past couple of years, several of which have been completely or almost completely unworn, sticking to only 25 items will be an improvement for me and allow me to be more focused in my purchasing.  I should note that the 25 items do not include replacement purchases for items that receive heavier use and wear out (running shoes, black t-shirts, etc.) and they will not include gifts that don’t fall into my purchase idea lists.

With my closet in mind, I came up with a list of items that I think I should acquire this year.  A few items may change but I expect that thinking ahead about which items are “missing” in my closet will keep me from making unnecessary impulse purchases and instead purchase with longevity in mind.  I plan to keep you updated on my purchases (and thus hold myself accountable).  I’ve organized my purchases into Spring and Fall purchases.  I’m allowing myself one “fab” item per shopping season, something as of yet undefined that is too exciting to pass up.  You can check out my list below.

Please join me in my 25 Items Challenge and keep me updated on your progress!  Or, if you’re more ambitious than I am, challenge yourself to buying even fewer than 25 items this year!  Who knows, maybe even I will end up buying fewer than 25 items!



Brown riding boots

Black booties

Ballet flats

Work heels/another pair of flats


A piece of jewelry

2 pairs of Spring pants- likely JCrew

Spring dress

White shirt

Spring button down

Another top

1 piece of exercise clothing/pajamas

1 fab item



Velvet loafers

Brown leather loafers



Brown corduroy pants

Coated jeans/leather pants


Winter pants

Fall dress

Fall button down

1 fab item