Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Shoesday Tuesday

I am completely in love with these adorable shoes that arrived in my inbox courtesy of ShopItToMe:

Steve Madden Tuxxedo Flat, currently on sale for $49.90 at Nordstrom

I really don't have anything else to say about them except that I love them and I think they are completely adorable.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I may sound like a broken record, but....

I really mean it when I say I love bow ties! My very good friend Brance is one of the few guys I know who can pull off the bow tie look. So for Christmas this year, I gave him "Bow Ties by Bouche." Basically, a bow tie for each season, handmade by yours truly. Not just ordinary clip-on, solid color bow ties, but really fun prints- I wanted his bow ties to be one of a kind. Last night, Brance was nice enough to model them all for me so I could post them on this blog. First up, "Spring."

This one happens to be my favorite of the four bow ties- the blue is really vibrant (the picture is not doing it justice) and the paisley print is just fun.

Next up, my second favorite, "Summer."

This one is definitely the most colorful of all the bow ties- I like to call it the Amazing Technicolor Bow Tie. Of course pairing it with an apple green shirt only accentuates that! The fabric for this bow tie was actually a horizontal stripe, but I cut the pattern cross-wise so that the stripes would be vertical when the tie was tied.

Third is the "Fall" bow tie, perhaps the most subdued.

And finally, "Winter" which actually looks more like "Christmas" but since Brance is such a huge fan of Christmas, I figured it was an appropriate print.

As you can see, he even paired it with his red "Christmas" sweater. He always says, "That sweater isn't red. It's RED!!!" Now he has a bow tie to coordinate with it.

A lot of guys are intimidated by the idea of having to tie a bow tie, but guess what? It's just like tying your shoe laces. There may be other methods, but the simplest one is to literally treat the bow tie like a shoe lace and tie it the same way. Here is Brance's step-by-step tutorial.

1.) Start with the tie draped around your neck like so:

2.) Cross the right side over the left.

3.) Take the bottom side in your right hand and toss it over the crossed fabric.

4.) Pull the fabric taught.

5.) Fold the right side into a bow shape.

6.) Bring the left side over the top of the folded side.

7.) Pull the left side through the back loop you've created.

8.) Pull the two sides of the bow so that they are symmetrical.

9.) Adjust either side as needed until the tie looks right.

Piece of cake, right? So the next time you rent a tux, make sure to ask for a real bow tie and then impress everyone by tying it yourself.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

ModCloth, I heart you.

Have any of you out there heard of ModCloth? I'm pretty sure I could drain several bank accounts stocking up on all sorts of beautiful pieces from them! Here is a sampling of pieces that have me drooling. No, that's an understatement. These pieces literally made my heart skip a beat.  

Cable Car Tour Dress, $47.99 (Out of stock, though! Bummer!)

Simply Snug Neck Warmer, $44.99 (reminds you a little of my scarflet, doesn't it?)

Rented Tux Heels, $94.99 (Out of stock!)

I could spend an entire month's salary on their dresses. No joke.

I could go on like this for hours, but you get the idea. I like that there is a large range of prices for all items, particularly dresses. Sure, there are a few in the $400 range, but there are also plenty below $100. In fact, the majority of the dresses available were under $100, lots under $75. And if you're really into retro, they also have lots of home decor items as well as books. I'm in love.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Square Peg, Round Hole?

So many women I know struggle to find affordable, quality clothing that fits relatively well right off the rack. Even more difficult are the women who are larger than a size 14, or have extremely long legs, or are curvy yet short, or just text-book "petite." Women come in all different shapes and sizes, yet the stores and clothing manufacturers act as though we all fit into a very small number of categories. It's funny how menswear works just the opposite. In menswear, a man can find his exact waist size and his exact inseam length. Shirts are the same way- neck and sleeve measurements are available in every possible combination- off-the rack clothes that fit perfectly. But it's even worse than that! If a man's got a large belly, his suit is considered an "Executive" fit. A woman with a large belly? She's "Plus size." Horrible, right? But I digress- I'm not here to rant about the glaring discrimination against large women vs. large men. I'm here to provide solutions to finding clothes for those "hard-to-fit" bodies so that you don't feel like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole every time you shop!

I'll focus mostly on "Plus size" since it seems to be a common question for lots of women- where to find stylish, affordable clothing in a range of sizes above 14/16. Also, plus size women tend to get overlooked all too often and I don't agree with that. Women of all sizes should be able to wear stylish clothing that's designed with their body type in mind. One of the best sites I can recommend is OneStopPlus. This site actually sells clothing from all sorts of Plus-size vendors including Roaman's, Woman Within, Avenue, Chadwick's, etc. And it's not all shapeless tunics and palazzo pants! There are cute pieces like this flattering top and fabulous leather jacket:

This is a great jacket for any woman, not just plus size. The way the buttons taper in at the princess seams is flattering no matter what your size. If you need to define a waistline, this will do it! They also have a great selection of shoes and boots. Do you have large calves and find it difficult to wear knee-high boots because of that? I do! This website has a large selection of wide-calf boots that are fabulous. They have heels of all heights and widths, too, not to mention the ultra-trendy flat boot:

Another great plus-size site is Kiyonna a site for size 10 and up. I am in love with this colorblock faux-wrap dress:

 There are a lot of great separates in classic silhouettes and fabrics to choose from, too:

I know your closet may already be full of classics and basics, and in that case, there are some cute print options for you as well, like this leopard print blouse:

Another great plus-size site is Igigi. This store is the best I've seen for cocktail dress and classy formal wear. This gorgeous dress would be perfect for a Christmas party, New Year's Eve, a night on the town, a date, pretty much anything:

And once again, there are lots of great separates to choose from, like this skirt & top:

I also appreciate that Kiyonna and Igigi actually use plus-size models. When purchasing a size 20 or 24, you don't want to look at the garment on a size 8 girl and try to figure out how it would look on you, right?

Now I haven't forgotten about you lovely petite ladies or those of you with legs for days who can't find pants long enough! My heart goes out to you as well. First, for those of you who are petite, I highly recommend Ann Taylor, Ann Taylor Loft and Banana Republic. All three of these great stores offer a petites section with all the same stock as the rest of the store, but the pieces are cut to fit a more diminutive woman. I'm not talking about just short legs, I'm talking about everything a little smaller, so that the crotch on your pants won't be baggy and the shoulders on your blouses will actually rest where they are supposed to. Refreshing, right?

Perhaps you're like me- you have short legs, but are far from a "petite." Old Navy and the Gap offer "short" and "ankle" lengths respectively on jeans and trousers. Personally, I appreciate it. Hemming pants is a pain!

And for those of you women with legs that seem to go on forever or an extra-long torso and arms, I offer you LongTallSally. You may be a size 6 with a 36 inch inseam and if you are, this is the store for you. Most of their pants and jeans come in 34, 35 and 36 inch inseams as well as having lower knee placement. Blouses and shirts have longer sleeves, lower waists and darts appropriately placed for these longer cuts.

I hope this post has been helpful for all of you ladies out there. If you don't fall into one of the categories covered in this post, I'm sure you know someone who does. Pass it along to them. And also, if you have any recommendations for places to shop, leave a comment and tell me about it! Have a great day!

Happy (Little Blue) Boxing day!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope yours was merry and bright. And Happy Boxing day! Remember this post about the little blue box under my tree? Well, I finally got to open that beautiful box yesterday and the gift inside was absolutely precious and I adore it. It was a Tiffany Blue patent leather and silver coin purse. Of all the accessories my mom could have chosen as a gift for me from Tiffany's, this one is the most perfect!

I know what you're thinking: "Renee, how could you want a coin purse when they have jewelry?" First of all, it's a totally fabulous purse that has a retro feel to it, which as you all know is perfect for me. And, I'll be honest, I already have a gorgeous bracelet from Tiffany's that my parents bought for me several years ago on Christmas. It's the Return to Tiffany oval tag bracelet:

I put it on that year and rarely has a day passed that I have not worn it. I even factored it into a watch-purchasing decision recently. So what is it about Tiffany & Co. that gets us so excited? A simple piece of jewelry becomes a status symbol once placed in an iconic little blue box, but it's more than just the status symbol that gets me. I've been a huge fan of the color Tiffany Blue since I was a little girl, long before I knew is was called "Tiffany Blue." When I got older, I made the connection between the beautiful color and the romantic ideals it inspires in us. I've always loved the movie "Breakfast at Tiffany's." I once signed a lease on an apartment without seeing the entire place simply because the bathroom was painted Tiffany Blue. (If you've lived in an apartment complex with nothing but white walls and a clause in the rental agreement about not painting, you might be able to simpathize a bit more with me on that.) And then there's my current apartment. Here's my bedroom:

I love waking up every day feeling like I'm in a Tiffany's box! I painted the walls and made the matching pillows myself, too. They are trimmed in white satin ribbon, just like a Tiffany's box would be. (Except at Christmas time when they wrap a red satin ribbon around those perfect little boxes.) The front pillow is a silver brocade, a perfect complement to the blue and white.

To me, Tiffany's represents more than just the idea of an engagement ring or fancy jewels, it's about special gifts- heirlooms. The pieces from Tiffany's that I have are special because of what they represent and also because of where they come from. To simply have something from Tiffany's is far less exciting than something from Tiffany's that has a special meaning and comes from a special person. That's why I don't think I'd ever purchase something for myself from Tiffany's. I've always said, "At some point in her life, every girl deserves something in a little blue box." I'm fortunate enough to have parents who have made that happen for me.

For those of you who have never been to Tiffany's on 5th Avenue in New York, please go there and look at the Tiffany Diamond- words can't describe it. (But I'll try!) At 128.54 carats, it's one of the largest yellow diamonds ever discovered. Originally over 287 carats, it was cut down to 128.54 carats with 90 facets. Tiffany's philosphy has always been to cut for maximum brilliance as opposed to cutting for maximum size. The gem cutter who cut the Tiffany diamond studied it for a YEAR before making his first cut into it. The most famous settings for the Tiffany diamond were both designed by Jean Schlumberger, who was hired by Tiffany's in the 1950's at a time when jewel-setting was truly becoming recognized as an art form. The first of Schlumberger's famous settings is this extravagant diamond necklace worn by Audrey Hepburn in publicity photographs done for the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

The second, perhaps most famous setting is the "Bird on a Rock" brooch which is currently on display at Tiffany & Co. in New York City. If you have not seen this stone in person, find a way to get there and see it. The diamond is literally blinding when the light catches it. The 90 facets sparkle from all angles and although it's less than half its original weight, it's still striking in its size.

Do any of you have stories of little blue boxes? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Secret Santa

I know I said I wouldn't be posting until after Christmas, but I guess I lied. You see, we just finished exchanging our final Secret Santa gifts at work and I feel compelled to write about what a fabulous time I had with Secret Santa this year. First of all, you should understand that at the theatre where I work (and many theatres all around the country, actually), the cast and crew are from all over, and since we literally only have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off to celebrate the holiday, we sort of have no choice but to make each other our "family." People rush home to see their actual families, but as far as doing holiday-related things together, we're pretty limited. That's one thing I love about playing Secret Santa- it brings two people together who might otherwise not have been close. Whether it's a member of the orchestra getting to know someone on the deck crew, or a lighting designer developing a closer relationship with a dancer, you can't help but be better off in the end. What I LOVE most about Secret Santa at AMT is that people often hide their presents backstage for others to find and when they do, the recipient will shout, "Thank you, Secret Santa!" to which EVERYONE backstage will reply in unison, "YOU'RE WELCOME!" Hilarious, right? I love it.

I'm not sure how you've done it in the past, but we get really into S.S. at AMT and even create a full "Secret Santa Questionaire" for each participant to complete. When we draw names, we actually draw out a completed form, so that people who don't know each other well will still be able to purchase or make gifts that are personalized. This year, when I drew the form out and looked at it, I saw that the person I'd selected had made a special request. Rather than complete his form with all his favorite hobbies, foods, etc. he'd asked me to do nice things and deliver presents to the people who had decided not to play the game this year. Whether they'd opted out for financial reasons, or they just didn't want to play, my person wanted his Secret Santa to make them feel special and included in the game anyway. I was so touched and the more I thought about how best to execute his request, the more I realized I needed to include him. So, I did. I made him deliver all the presents, while I still tried to remain "Secret." Sometimes it was simple. For example, "Deliver this coffee to the conductor." Other times it was more complicated, like the time I made him go caroling around the building before he could deliver the treat. And my personal favorite, I made him a "mistletoe hat" and instructed him to collect as many kisses as possible. When he had enough kisses, he could deliver the treat (which happened to be Hershey's kisses). He even let me take a picture of him:

What a good sport! In the end, it was the most fun I had playing Secret Santa and I owe it to my generous friend! You're probably wondering what Secret Santa has to do with fashion or style and while the previous portion of this post isn't exactly geared in that direction, you'll understand when you see what my Secret Santa got for me:

It's a vintage cocktail ring from the 1960's. Did they nail it or what? First of all, it's totally fabulous, but the fact that it's vintage makes it even better.

And now I'm actually going to sign off for the next 2 days and celebrate Christmas!

Last day of work before Christmas!

I felt the need to break out the fabulous red dress for the last day of work before Christmas. I don't forsee any occasions in the near future when I'll be able to wear it, so of course I had to wear it! Instead of satin pumps and pearls, I wore it with black tights and boots. Here's the original outfit:

Dress: Me, $22 for the fabric & notions
Boots: Tommy Hilfiger, I can't remember how much
Tights: Target, $6
Earrings: H&M, I can't remember how much, but pretty cheap, I'm sure
Beret: Liz Claiborne boucht at
TJ Maxx years ago, $19.99

The boots in the picture are actually not the ones I ended up wearing. Instead I wore the lace-up oxford booties from yesterday's post. They're a little more comfortable. Also, since my dress is so French-inspired, I topped the outfit with a beret. I went back and forth between the black beret or the white beret. In the end I opted for the white and then covered up with my white coat and a red pashmina scarf and red gloves. A little matchy-matchy, but it's Christmas, so I'll let myself get away with it!

And here's the outfit with the lace up oxford shoes and a cardigan to cover up a little for 2 reasons: 1, it's work, not a party and 2, it's cold!

Unfortunately, the cardigan covers nearly all the pleating detail on the neckline and the waist, but I feel it's a necessary piece on a cold day like today. Plus, the neckline is a little scandalous for work, even for me.

I will be taking the next two days off from blogging since it's Christmas! I wish you all a very Merry Christmas- be safe and have fun! I'll be back this weekend!
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