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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!

It’s Mommy Time

April 23, 2010 3 comments

I love my mom clients. Whether you’re working, stay-at-home or something in between, the whole motherhood gig is no joke. As a mom of two small ones myself, I just want to give a virtual fist pump to all my fellow mothers out there.

For Mother’s Day this year, I also wanted to give moms the gift that keeps on giving…15 percent off your next two hours with DC Style Factory. You can use this any which way you want: purging with a Closet Audit; figuring out new ways to wear what you have with a Shop Your Closet consultation; having someone else do the grunt work of finding the right jeans for you; and more.

So, from now until Mother’s Day (May 9), send an e-mail to dcstylefactory@gmail.com to pick up your special gift! And, if you’re giving the gift of style to a mom, we’ll hook up that 15 percent as well.

Happy Mother’s Day!

You Can Wear a Trashbag if You Carry This…

Marni Balloon Tote Bag

DC Style Factory Tip #321: Invest in a statement bag. If you’re going to spend oodles of money on something, make it an iconic purse. You can literally wear sweatpants with elastic around the ankles pulled up to your chest. If you leave your house with a Berkin…all is forgiven. Need some ideas? This is a pretty good list to start

Style Obsession: Ali McGraw

March 5, 2010 1 comment

So, there’s mine…how about yours? Who is your personal style icon?

Ultimate Guy’s Bag…That Also Works for Mommy?

March 1, 2010 2 comments

Kurtz backpack. Photo courtesy of Madly Bags.

It’s hard to find a bag that works for me professionally and personally. Some days I’m toting around binders, papers and measuring tape. Some days I’m hauling snacks, toys, and water bottles. I want something utilitarian and sturdy, but stylish and of lux quality. Timeless and classic, but youthful and fun.

Enter Madly Bags. The line of leather carryalls are the brainchild of real-life couple Melanie Dizon —  women’s shoe and bag designer extraordinaire (if you shopped at Circle Boutique, you likely remember her unforgettable line of purses, which I still carry to this day) — and Jake Quellman.

Yes, they’re for boys, but  that’s never stopped me before. Because they’re designed to “get better with age,” I can’t imagine a more perfect bag for both my professional days working with clients and mommy days running after a toddler and preschooler. As for design inspiration, think Coppola’s “Apocolypse Now,” which the duo channels for their second season together.

I am especially coveting the vegetable-tanned leather of the “Kurtz” backpack (above). Filipino tanners (the line is produced in the Phillipines where Dizon’s family hails from) produced the cracked leather straps using a local treating method. I can see the bag both with a tailored, professional look and with skinny jeans, boots,  and a toddler on one hip.

Guys, check out the cross-body bags and the sleek business bag that will house your laptop and day timer in style. Not available locally (but I can see them at For the Greater Good, hint-hint); at least not yet. They will soon be available online.

In the meantime pictures will have to suffice…enjoy.

A Taste of Fashion Week(s)

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time blogging about the various and sundry fashion weeks that have happened and are happening. I mean, Fall 2010? Here in D.C., we’re just praying the snow melts enough to make it to Spring.

Still, it’s nice to get a taste of what went on at Fashion Week New York, and what is going on in London. Some of my personal ready-to-wear favorites…

Alexander Wang

Although always exuding urban cool, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award winner’s clothing is usually pretty accessible to a wide range of ages. This time around, though, the Fall 2010 collection felt…young. Backpacks, knee-highs, midriffs? Am I back in college? Still, can’t deny the infectiousness of the Wang vibe.

Ah, to be a 20-something again…

Karen Walker

Photo courtesy of style.com

Karen Walker’s a little kooky. But, that’s why I heart her. The designer, who hails from Auckland, New Zealand, has always got some helter skelter story behind her collection. Whether it’s the glamour of a 1930s superheroine leading a double life,  the austerity of a Texas polygamist compound, or the high-neck frills of Edwardian children’s clothing, she always manages to make you scratch your head while simultaneously saying, “I need that.”

For her Fall 2010 collection,  it’s “Sound of Music meets Bob Dylan.”  She’s got skinny suits that look like they were made from curtains (don’t be afraid of the head-to-toe floral print; just imagine it broken up), a blue metallic dress with black piping that appears to be blooming (yes, blooming) right from the center; and shrunken menswear-inspired jackets paired with cropped trousers – decidedly tomboyish, but still chic.

The most wearable pieces in her collection are the day dresses, which you can imagine layering, pairing, mixing and matching through various seasons (important when you live in a four-season town like D.C.).

Rodarte

Photo courtest of style.com

Ok, so your average suburban mom is not going to be in the carpool lane sporting the randomness that is the sisters Mulleavy. But, the beauty in the how they put together strips of fabrics, twisted and cascading, with a skirt that looks like a woven placemat is what makes them so bewitching.

For Fall 2010, apparently a long drive from El Paso to Marfa, Texas, got them thinking they might like to explore their Mexican roots. From there, they became interested in the troubled border town of Ciudad Juárez; the “hazy, dreamlike quality of the landscape there; and the maquiladora workers going to the factory in the middle of the night.” And that, according to the designers, coalesced into this season’s collection built around the idea of sleepwalking.

Seriously.  I’m  so not kidding.

Part of me laughs increduously (the cynical part) and the other part (the romantic one) makes me love them even more. Plus those white dresses at the end really are…dreamy.

Shipley & Halmos

photo courtesy of Shipley & Halmos

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the our-clothes-tell-a-sumptious-story Rodarte collection is Shipley & Halmos. Sam Shipley and Brent Halmos, formerly of Trovata,  simply make clothes that girls want to wear: classics with a twist. For instance, their Fall 2010 collection features a silk ankle-length trench that has a drape-y and more youthful quality than the classic belted version.

And get this, the collection feels — gasp! — unpretentious and completely wearable in a variety of different ways.

My shopping cart is ready and I’ll take one of everything, please.

So, there you have it. Some of my favorite picks for Fall 2010. Some cool, some crazy and some just stuff you want to buy and wear over and over again.

For now, though, I’ll just tuck Fall 2010 safely away as my toes continue screaming to be liberated from wool socks and tights.  Sigh…

Rock Me Amadeus

January 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Ruiz Necklace. Photo courtesy of Paula Mendoza.

Paula Mendoza’s jewelry is not for the faint of heart. In other words, no wallflowers need apply. With rings showcasing oversize raw semi-precious stones, necklaces of bold silk multi-layered rope chains and medallions, gold Cleopatra-worthy chandelier earrings that measure three-and-a-half inches long, we’re not talking sweet and dainty here.

“They are statements that are going to be conversation pieces everywhere they are worn,” Mendoza says. “They are for the woman that feels very comfortable about herself, and of course, loves fashion!”

Fusion earrings. Gold vermeil over sterling silver accented with labradorite stones. Photo courtesy of Paula Mendoza.

Since moving to the D.C. area four years ago, Mendoza has cultivated and refined her jewelry line,  making a name for herself locally and internationally. Today, she is sold at fine retailers across the country and overseas.

She credits her native Colombia as a major inspiration and sources many of her materials from the Latin American country.

“Seeing the power of each emerald’s green, one can’t but think about how to capture it in a jewel,” Mendoza says.

Her latest Cave of Wonders collection, however, was wholly inspired by a trip to Vietnam.

“I had taken a trip to Vietman last winter and I went to this beautiful place in Halong Bay that for me was the most powerful and inspirational place,” Mendoza says.”The Cave of Wonders cavern is amazing.”

Mendoza translated what she saw on that visit  into chandelier earrings of dripping gold stalactites, rings of claw-like gold stalagmites gripping raw precious and semiprecious stones, and web-like bangles of hammered silver suspending onyx stones.

Muso ring. Sterling silver coated wtih 24K gold vermeil ring with raw emerald stone. Photo courtesy of Paula Mendoza.

The baby of her collection? The Ruiz necklace, and it’s no suprise why. Three textured gold medallions cradling raw emeralds and diamonds clasped together in a what is almost an understatement to call a necklace.

Mendoza works with the finest materials, using semi-precious and precious stones. Her attention to detail and craftsmanship sets her apart from the pack, and this latest collection is no exception.

Although much of her inspiration comes from travel abroad, you can often find her in local D.C. haunts, looking for her next “big thing.”

Enredadera bangle. 24K gold over sterling silver with onyx stones. Photo courtesy of Paula Mendoza.

“I do find inspiration locally in coffee shops, museums and vintage stores,” Mendoza says. And, with a new Commander in Chief, she has found the city reinvigorated, and friendlier to its more fashion-driven and creative inhabitants.

“I absolutely find D.C. welcoming (to creativity), and even more so right now. Nothing is cooler than working in the same city as Obama!” she laughs. “A  lot of young people are moving to D.C., giving it energy.”

There’s no stopping Mendoza either. She has already launched, with a friend, a men’s cufflinks line. She also is working on a new collection, which she coyly says is “inspired by London,” and has two other jewelry projects in the works: a more commercial line and a more artistic line.

Andalucia earrings made of sterling silver coated with 24K gold matte finish. Photo courtesy of Paula Mendoza.

“I started doing it on the side, just in my free time, and then it became a full time job,” Mendoza says.” And of course I’m loving every minute of it.”

So are we, Paula, so are we.

Paula Mendoza jewelry is available online and  locally at Muleh on 14th Street in Washington, D.C. and Saks Jandel in Chevy Chase.