Prest-o Change-o: Professional to Party

I think one of the biggest wardrobe mistakes women make is to have too many party dresses. Once upon a time, I had more party dresses in my closet than tops. Now I have 2. It’s not that I’ve stopped going to parties (although I’ll admit that my clubbing experiences look more like a scene from “Neighbors”’ these days), but that I’ve learned the value of being able to mix, match, and accessorize pieces in my functioning wardrobe.

Maybe it’s my skill in rationalization coming into play (on some days I believe it’s my superpower), but it doesn’t hurt so badly to invest in quality everyday pieces when I know that with a flick of the wrist, I can remix them into formidable party outfits.

Here are my keys for turning office wear into party all-stars:

  1. Invest in staples with special details. Impeccable cut, intriguing fabrics, extraordinary details-these are what make a piece easy to take to the next level.
  2. Have a few anachronistic, luxe, or just plain weird accessories on hand. The last thing I want to see at a party is someone looking perfectly respectable. I want to see your personality ringing through loud and clear.
  3. Make use of your skin. I don’t want to see your skin at the office, but once the party starts, show me your neck or arms or legs (just remember-pick ONE. The idea is to live on the edge, not to fall off it).

How to do it:

professional-look-mustard-and-black

For work, this spade scarf adds drama to a sweater and textured scuba skirt (see #1) combo. Black boots and tights create a long, lean leg in the absence of skin.

party-look-mustard-and-black

In a matter of minutes, I’m ready for the party with a printed shoe (leopard is my favorite), a “maximalist” bow belt (#2), tsujzed-up sleeves, a vintage brooch from my grandmother’s closet, and fishnets (#3).

Now show me yours!

Unpacked:

Black Bubble-Textured Scuba Skirt, Bitte Kai Rand.

Mustard Sweater, The Limited.

Black Tights, Spanx Assets, Target.

Black Booties, Calvin Klein.

Dotted Spade Scarf, Kate Spade.

Party Accessories

Fishnet hosiery, Victoria’s Secret (in stores only).

Leopard Calf-Hair Pumps, RALPH Ralph Lauren, via TJ Maxx.

Poufy Bow Belt, Bitte Kai Rand.

Antique Brooch, inherited from Grandmother.

 

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Don’t Make Me Pull a Katherine Hepburn

 

black pants white tux jacket floral scarf

I want to look like Audrey Hepburn, but I want to behave like Katherine Hepburn. Why?

I don’t understand women who don’t like to wear pants. I’m the kind of woman who completely empathizes with Katherine’s legendary pantless protests.

As the story goes, when Katherine was working at RKO, the rule was that women had to wear dresses. Katherine merrily disregarded that idiocy and sported pants anyway, presumably because she was KATHERINE FREAKING HEPBURN.

The execs were so furious they had all of her pants removed from her trailer while she was filming. Dauntless, Katherine sauntered around set in her skivvies until her beloved slacks were returned.

Can you blame her? Have you seen that woman in a pair of wide-leg trousers?!

black pants white tux jacket floral scarf 2

A good pair of pants not only makes your tush look good, but also generously plays a myriad of roles in your closet. Pair it with a jacket to make an office-worthy suit, and with a silky camisole for dinner after work.

black pants white tux jacket floral scarf 3

By the way, we haven’t stolen Corsten’s pants, but he frequently pulls a Hepburn and walks around without them anyway.

You know they say you have to pick your battles? Well, I have a lot more important stuff to worry about than 50s movie execs, apparently; this is not one of mine.

Unpacked:

Black trousers, The Limited.

White tee, Mossimo via Target.

Ivory and black tuxedo jacket,

Black leather belt, Everlane.

Burgundy suede pumps, Nine West.

Dark floral silk scarf, Yuki Torii.

Never Trade a Classic (LBD)

Much has been said about that wardrobe staple to end all wardrobe staples, the Little Black Dress. I myself have preached many a sermon on their benefits, and always have at least one in my closet.

“But don’t you get bored wearing the same thing all the time?” clamors the congregation.

No, because I worship at the altar of the accessory (not as skillfully as the Great Master Iris Apfel, but with as much fervor and devotion).

We’ve all heard about the supernatural powers accessories have to transform a look, which is why we must resist the temptation to stick with “what works” lest we fail to discover some uncharted arrangements that end up revealing our original, shimmering selves.

The best thing about accessories (or excessories, as I sometimes like to call them), is that they’re available at all price points. I have an awesome cotton leopard print scarf that I purchased at the dollar store, and a huge silk scarf featuring a hand painted map of the Toronto train system that I, ahem…did not purchase at the dollar store. And of course, a range of everything in between. Discount no temple of fashion when searching for these little bits of heaven, whether it be a chichi boutique or wild street market.

If you’re looking for ways to restore your faith in the LBD this summer, consider the following for inspiration:

black dress original

My LBD in its original form, paired with simple jewelry and wedge sandals.

 

black dress with bomber sweater.jpg

I know bombers are A THING right now, but in this Florida heat, a cotton mesh one with a varsity vibe is the only one I can handle.

 

black dress with kimono belt

Love wide kimono belts but don’t have one handy? Tie a scarf around your waist. If you want bang for your buck, dark florals are a trend that will take you from summer to fall.

black dress with neckerchief

This is the summer of the neckerchief.

Which faithful article in your closet could use the transformative touch of an accessory?

Unpacked:

#1. LBD, Arloh, Hattie’s Branches.

Black & tan wedges, Michael Kors.

Tiger’s Eye earrings, Sorrelli.

Tiger’s Eye & Swarovski crystal pendant, Oreb Lram, PMoA Gift Shop.

 

#2. Sweater, J.O.A., 5th and Hall.

Shoes, Cole Haan.

Earrings, Betsey Johnson.

Mother of Pearl ring, little shop in Belgium.

 

#3. Silk scarf, Yuki Torii, purchased on consignment.

Blue Agate earrings, purchased from a friend’s closet sale.

Pale pink pumps, Circa.

 

#4. Silk square paisley scarf, similar here, Ralph Lauren.

Black pearl brooch, purchased from a friend’s closet sale.

Black pearl earrings, I don’t remember.

Sandals, Michael Kors (or try this pair).

 

Stuff for Your Soul

Some time ago, a friend who is uncannily accurate at trendcasting (anyone see a sudden influx of Korean beauty products recently? Yeah, she predicted that) told me about a new online boutique specializing in enchanting wonders called Lesouque. Being the new(er) mom I was, I was able to shoot a few quick peeks at the site on my phone, but then got sidetracked.

While I loved what I saw, I barely had time to bathe, much less shop. But recent events brought Lesouque back to mind, and a revisit to the site seemed to only serve to prove my friend right–many of their offerings had sold out, and their collection has been expanded.

The thing I love about Lesouque is that the site is full of beautifully handcrafted treasures from all over the world. There came a point in time in my life that I suffered from “stuff overload.” I had a bit of a violent reaction to collecting stuff for its own sake and moved into a tiny 500-square-foot apartment with a bed, a couch, and a borrowed table. And even though it has meant going without a full set of matching plates for 3 years, I vowed to only add possessions as they spoke to my soul. And if the objets d’art of Lesouque don’t speak to your soul, you might want to have your soul’s hearing checked.

I originally had 10 “favorites” I wanted to share with you, but since you’ll probably just head over to the site to check it out for yourself after seeing the first couple of lovelies, I submit to you my official “Pining For” list of five:


Riveting Clutch by Ece Pinar Demirel, Instanbul, Turkey

This jade color is everything.


 

Drops of Color Scarf by Aish by Napur Goenka, Kolkata, India

Made from 100% Cotton Handloom Muslin, this scarf is light enough to wear in the Florida autumn and will pair wonderfully with all the bright lips going on right now.

Geometric Gemstone Bangle in Gold by Jessica Tata, Austin, Texas

For the girl who loves a stacked statement and the girl who favors a more delicate suggestion.

Trifecta Pot (Small) by Lisa Jones, Portland, Oregon

I love beautiful things that can serve multiple functions. Should this bowl be the new home for my keys, bracelets, or a delicate fern?

Navy Rectangular Serving Platter by Sebnem Berker, Istanbul, Turkey

I once had a burlap-impressed bowl I absolutely adored. I loved the feel of the texture on my hands, so I used it all the time. Alas, it disappeared during a move; this platter would be the perfect tactile replacement.

How to Wear Dark Colors in Summer

Blue Trench as a Dress

When Spring and Summer rolls around, the stores are usually inundated with paler shades of well, just about everything–all designed to help you beat the heat (at least psychologically). But how do you stay cool and polished if your clothing personality isn’t all sweetness and light?

 

Here are 3 tips for successfully pulling off deeper colors in the summer months:

  • Choose lightweight fabrics. This is especially important in the south, where soaring temperatures mean that even tropical wool leaves you feeling sticky and looking heavy by 10 a.m. Opt for lighter fabrics, such as linen, cotton, and silk (I especially prefer linen-cotton blends, as they don’t wrinkle as easily as 100% linen).
  • Wear darker colors in the evening. Party clothes tend to be comprised of a bit less fabric, and the combination of evening lighting and sexy silhouettes communicate intentionality rather than “winter wardrobe leftover.” Or if you’re feeling contrary (which I always encourage), wear a single deep color head-to-toe and throw in some shimmer for good effect (refer to my trench-as-a-dress pictured in this post). The key is to make it look purposeful.
  • Invest in summery scarves. I like deep colors against my skin, but when I have difficulty finding them in the aforementioned silk, linen, or cotton, I enlist the help of a diaphanous scarf to place some color near my face. Admittedly, there are days in Florida when the wispiest thread of silk around your neck will make you sweat like a skinny-jean-clad hipster at a music festival, so this tactic is best reserved for your early morning coffee run or an evening cookout.

A final tip: I love a dramatic eye as much as the next Marilyn Monroe worshipper, but I find it rather heavy-looking in the summer and prefer to balance my deep colors with a bold but summery lip. Hot pink, coral, and orange-red all stand up to deep clothing colors but maintain a tropical vibe.