Business as Usual: Basics of Patterned-Shirt-and-Tie Combo

September 17, 2012 1 comment

Last week I spent the afternoon at  Brooks Brothers in Chevy Chase with a client — shopping for menswear. We needed dress shirts, ties, blazer, dress shoes…pretty much everything but the suit.  I immediately got to work putting together shirt-and-tie combos. We opted for the non-iron {yes, you heard me…non-iron} slim-fit shirt (BB has the regular fit, which is a fuller cut, slim and then the extra-slim).  He wanted just a couple of ties to start that could work with a number of options beyond your standard white dress shirt.  He wanted some color and pattern, but  to remain conservative.  So, I gave him two simple guidelines when putting together a patterned shirt and tie:

1. One big and one small.  One (either the shirt or tie) should have a larger, bolder pattern and the other should have a smaller one so that you don’t end up giving yourself and your coworkers vertigo. For example, below, the graph pattern on the shirt  is smaller proportionally than the bold stripes on the tie.

You can also pair the same time with a shirt that has fine stripes, following that same big-and-small rule of thumb.

2. Select  like colors. You want the tie to go with the shirt. The tie can have several different colors, but there should be a common color in the two. For example, above there is navy in the tie’s stripes and the graph print on the shirt is navy. Another example is below. The dark purple color is in the tie and shirt print.

The same tie can then be paired with a shirt that has a red print, which brings out the red accents in the tie.

All these shirt-tie combos can be worn with a navy or charcoal grey suit — essentials in every man’s closet. Finish with black belt and black dress shoes (top two) or dark brown belt and shoes (bottom two).

More shirt-tie combo tips (do you know to do a tie with a  bengal stripe shirt?) here.

Although, we focused on shirts and ties, I’d be remiss not to mention that the suit-buying experience at Brooks Brothers Chevy Chase is nothing short of fun. Expert tailor “Ali” comes to fit you, gives you the ol’ up-and-down, tugs on the vent a couple of times, and drops some of his expert-tailor knowledge: “This suit is for you.” or “This suit is not for you.”  Classic.

So if you are in the market for a quality suit that won’t break the bank, head to your local Brooks Brothers during their semi-annual sale when I’ve purchased two suits for $1,000. And, don’t forget to ask about the Fitzgerald — one of the four different styles of suits offered at BB — that has the style and fit pulled from the John F. Kennedy archives. If it’s good enough for a president...

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Tips and Tricks Tuesday (on Thursday): Layering

September 13, 2012 Leave a comment

With yesterday morning’s temperatures jacket-worthy, I knew it was time…time to get our layering on.  In the D.C. area, early fall means that  temperatures may start in the 60s in the morning, but rise into the 80s by afternoon. Because we are in that transitional period between hot and cold, I always like to talk about bringing some of those warm-weather pieces into cooler temps. There are tons of layering “tools” from scarves to jackets to cardigans to buttonups. But how do we put it all together without feeling like we’re stuffed in sausage casing of clothing?

Let’s start.

Layer #1: Base silhouette. The best place to begin  is with your base piece whether that is a dress, a blouse and trousers, or skirt and blouse. Keep that base silhouette simple and  thin because you are putting layers on top of it and if you start with something with bulk, you will end up looking, well, bulky. Since we are talking about bringing warm-weather pieces into cooler weather, I chose one of my favorite spring/summer dresses by Tucker that I’ve had for a few years.  It’s light and airy and has a bold, fun color with a great print.

If I’m being perfectly honest that really isn’t where I started. I have been jonesing to wear my ankle  boots from my Fall list. Plus, it’s always fun to put something  something sweet and feminine with something rugged.

Layer #2: A top.  I needed to give my dress sleeves for cooler weather. This can be a lace t-shirt, a buttonup shirt, a crewneck sweater, a cardigan sweater. Again, avoid anything bulky.  Another option could be a cotton buttonup shirt.  Here I have on a short-sleeve cashmere sweater from J. Crew (similar here) as well as a lace t-shirt from Anthropologie (similar here).

*Note: Select layers with different fabrics and textures so that they are all clearly separate and visible. For example, I would not have chosen a silk top because the dress is silk. Continue choosing different fabrics and textures for each layer.

Accessorize.  The two layers should now be a complete outfit, with accessories to finish. This is because at some point, you may be removing your other layers — remember we are in D.C. early fall. For this particular outfit, I needed  to tie the boots in with the rest of what I had going on so looked for some accessories  with an earthy tone — hence the leopard-print belt and bronze jewelry.

Layer #3: A vest. This could be sweater shell if your second layer was a cotton buttonup shirt, which isn’t as thick as the cashmere sweater tshirt I chose. I love the juxtaposition of the silk dress with the soft cashmere and then a boyish utility vest. Again, this outfit could stand on its own.

*Note: The vest I chose does have bulk. However, the fabric isn’t as heavy as a typical utility vest, which is why I  though it could work. Try a summer weight utility vest.  To err on the side of caution, select a classic vest, with no pockets, etc.,  made out of a cotton blend or denim. Avoid a vest that is a sweater material as your second-layer top is already a sweater.

Layer #4: Jacket/Blazer. This is your final layer and finishes your look. I chose a navy boyfriend-inspired blazer from Zara (similar here).

The Final Test: Can You Move? This is  very important because if you are walking around awkwardly feeling sweaty and robot-like, there is a problem. Remove a layer. The outfit still works minus the vest. And if you’re in an office setting? you probably wouldn’t do the vest and you’d sub the boots for a pair of pumps. I was comfortable and liked the mix of fabrics and styles so stuck with the vest. When it got warm later in the day, removed the blazer.

And, with the lace tee…

I also ended up surprising myself with all the options for that little red spring/summer dress just shopping my own closetI can tell you what. If you need to find me this fall, just look for the girl in the little red dress. Happy layering!

What’s Your Damage, Heather?

September 10, 2012 1 comment

Two words: shoulder pads.  Happy Monday!

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D.C. Does Fashion’s Night Out

September 8, 2012 8 comments

So, we don’t live in New York City. Or Los Angeles. Or anywhere else where Fashion’s Night Out is a for real big friggin’ deal. Where retailers offer exclusive specials and items and ant-like swarms of shoppers descend upon the city.  We are D.C. We are sensible. Not that we don’t have artists, fashion and non-political awesomeness in D.C., but again… So, I hit up Georgetown last night with The Chelsea Chronicles not sure what to expect.

According to the papers, the streets in Georgetown were packed. Affirmative. There were red carpets. Correct. There were lots of young people who like to dress up. Yup. There were parties. Holla.

There also were lots of booties, braids and neon. And bubble necklaces.Lots and lots of bubble necklaces.

But despite my skepticism, we ended up  having  fun. A lot. Walking the streets of Georgetown gabbing about hair, fashion and makeup, and watching the revelers revel — all fun stuff right there.

Personal highlights were…

a.) Meeting local blogger and designer, James1542. I appreciate her  unique, playful style and how she  works ethnic prints into her look in a fresh, fun, modern way. Plus, she’s as sweet as can be in person. And she’s making me some pants. That’s right. Some bad ass pants that will render my legs  printed works of art.

b.) Debating  in Urban Chic where we would hang the with-purchase  watercolor of ourselves {yes, a painting of very special  you looking the utmost in fabulousness}. Alas, we didn’t make the necessary $250 purchase and will have to live in a watercolor-less world…

e.) Scoring the cutest  zebra-stripe envelope clutch ever from Simply Soles…and getting to meet  Kassie Rempel who is just as beautiful, gracious and warm as you would imagine.

c.) Surprising myself and opting for a different version of the denim shirt on my fall wishlist. Instead of dark, I did sandblasted  western. Go figure.

d.) Gushing over eyebrow /makeup guru Erwin Gomez’s two teacup poodles.

e.) Getting snuggly with one of my fav ladies in an impromptu pedicab ride (walking in Georgetown kills your feet. And I am getting old); furthermore discussing how we will design the cutest orthopedic shoes ever.

The End.

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Wish I May, Wish I Might

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Yup it’s here. Fall. And with it comes trend list after trend list after trend list. Recently, though, I read a New York Times article about the death of seasonal fashion trends. That people wear what they want to wear and make their own what is current. You can see it in the plethora of style bloggers setting their own standards with what is and is not fashionable. It makes choosing difficult because the options seem endless. At the same time, though, it is exciting to have so many ways to be fashionable in your own, unique, individual way.

So I’ll get off my trend soapbox now and get to the business at hand. Here are my picks for Fall 2012:

1.  Crossbody saddle bag. I love the crossbody look. It feels cool and unfussy and a little tomboyish. Easy to wear casually, but I would 100 percent put it with a work look. A crossbody purse can make a classic work ensembles more youthful (i.e., like a grey suit, a pencil skirt and cardigan, a shift dress and blazer). My pick is Dooney & Bourke’s Crossbody Saddle Bag in black or natural, but the Boden Richmond bag in the whisky and animal print is also in the running.

2. A sweater blazer in a punchy color. We all got the grey go-with-everything wool blazer in our closets, right? Right? So, this season, I want color. I

Smythe Jade Cardigan Jacket

want major color in a style that is more chic and playful. I am obsessed with Smythe’s cardigan jacket in jade. Not yet available for sale, I’m waiting.  Like a hunter. In the bushes. Waiting…

3. Animal print cardigan. A girl can never have too many shoes…or cardigans. This season, I want to do the animal-print thing in a cardigan. This Lucky Brand one is on my list and planning to pair it with everything from a black shift and boots (classic) to nautical stripe tees, skinny jeans and my natural-color faded motorcycle boots. Rrrow.

5. Sweat pants. You heard me. I may love fashion, but i also spend countless hours chasing small creatures that make tons of noise, create explosive messes and like to give me chocolate-y kisses. I’ve been known to wear parts of what I wore to bed as a real outfit. I also sport elastic waistbands. And I wear sensible shoes. The trick is, I usually don’t wear them all together. If one thing I am wearing has an oversize, shlumpy feel to it, I pair it with something more tailored. I carry a great bag. I put on cat-eye sunglasses. There’s got to be something. Back to the sweatpants… They won’t be baggy. And they’ll likely be cropped. I’ll wear them with ankle boots and a cardigan. Or my Chuck Taylors and a crewneck sweater. Check out the Clu collaboration with the Gap. I have already ordered my sweats over here.

6. Leather-trim top. I love the leather thing that’s happening. Leather dress, skirt, leggings though? “Sausage casing” comes to mind. Plus, my toddler will puke all over them the minute I put them on. And he’ll find a way to do it even if I wear it on a date night where he is nowhere in sight. So, I am thinking leather trim. I am eyeing this  Classiques top at Nordstrom’s and also contemplating going all the way with this vegan leather peplum top by Tinley Road.  Great with pencil skirts, jeans, skinny trousers, etc. On a side note: Adding a leather choker necklace. I love layering necklaces and the leather choker will add a dash or rocker edge to mix. The best part? It’ll cost me 10 bucks.

Equipment Sloan Crewneck Cashmere Sweater

6. A citron crewneck sweater. Ok, so it’s yellow. And yellow makes some people…nervous.  The idea is I didn’t want to buy another grey sweater. I wanted not only a color, but for me, a somewhat unexpected color. So, if yellow isn’t your bag, try melon or a royal blue. The idea is I wanted some brightness to layer with my greys, denims, etc. and even colorblock with other bright hues.  Pictured is Equipment‘s cashmere. J.Crew has a great option as well for half the price.

4. Jacquard trousers. A girl can’t have enough jeans. Well, ok, maybe she can. And when I say “she,” I might mean “me.” I’ve done the boyfriend, the skinny, the wideleg, the floral, the color, the distressed, the coated. So, this season, I’m going to do pants. Fancy pants. I’m talking jacquard. Yes it’s got some shine. Yes, it feels dressier. Yes, it might look like a curtain. But I’m feeling the juxtaposition of a fussy fabric used in a cropped, modern skinny pant. It feels grown up and youthful at the same time. You could also tone down the shine aspect with a pullover sweater, chambray buttondown and ankle boots for day and really work it with heels and sparkly top for evening. Another option I like is this Express tweed pair  on sale {hurry!}.

J. Crew Cafe Capri in Jade Jacquard

7. Ankle boots in a neutral clay. These Matisse ones are at the top of the list. Perfect with skinny jeans, boyfriend jeans, tights and dresses, and cropped trousers. Perfect weekend shoes.

8. Oversize menswear-inspired watch. Kinda over {at least for now} the big, bold statement necklace thing. Not that I don’t still wear and love the ones I have, but think I’ll hold off on adding any more right now and focus on some arm candy. I’ve had my silver oversize watch for a couple of years now and it is the perfect accessory — stack it with a bunch of bracelets for a bolder statement; by itself — classic. This season, I am looking for a rose gold one.

9. Dark denim buttondown shirt.  I have several chambray shirts already. But for fall, I want a darker, heavier denim one {chambray is lighter weight}. This Madewell one fits the bill perfectly. I’ll be wearing it buttoned up, tucked in with a big ol’ sparkly necklace, open like a jacket layered with a graphic tee, my new fleece pants and ankle boots.

10: Animal print smoking slipper-style/tuxedo flats. Yes, another item with a cheetah print. I won’t apologize. First choice is this Donald J. Pliner option {love that red piping} but thinking budget-wise either the Target pair or Nine West one is it. Won’t be worn with the cardigan, but will be worn with just about everything else. 

11. Polka dotted pumps. I am jonesing for these Kate Spade pumps.  They’re pricey and will be reserved for date nights, mainly. Maybe some client stuff, but usually I wear more comfortable shoes because I’m on my feet doing closets. Still…sometimes you just buy stuff not because it makes complete sense, but because it just makes you darned happy. The End.

Licorice Polka Dot Pump at Saks Fifth Avenue

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Can’t Stop Wearing…

my denim sleeveless jacket. i’ve had it forever-and-a-day. wear it nonstop during the spring and now finding it to be the perfect transition piece to fall. all my tanks, tees, summer dresses and even shorts will get a little more wear with this layering piece. once it gets  cooler, i plan to button it up and wear it under my grey tweed blazer with skinnies and boots. perfect weekend wear (or in the case, meet-with-clients wear).

and this ensemble? my favorite because:

a.) half of it is pajamas

b.) the other half has an elastic waistband. that’s right — elastic.

’nuff said.

denim jacket: j.crew; stripe tank: old, similar here; pants: old, similar here; shoes: chie mihara, old, similar here; sunglasses, old, similar here.

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Thailand

August 28, 2012 2 comments

We got back last Friday from our month-long trip to Thailand. Many thoughts enter my head when recounting the islands, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and more. But mainly I am full. Like in I ate…a lot. And not the kind of full where you just put some stuff in your belly so it won’t growl and you can move on with your day. Full as in satisfied. Completely.

Now, gearing up for fall. I’ll be working on my fall post and newsletter this week. Stay tuned for my personal wish list and favorite trends this coming season.

First, though, I thought I’d share some snaps from the trip — and yes, I wore everything that I packed

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