Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Style Inspiration: Alessandra Rich

Alessandra Rich is a designer that has been on my radar (I posted her gorgeous lime lace dress as a Wednesday Pretty here) for a while, but I was reminded of her when Evan Rachel Wood wore an Alessandra Rich dress to her movie premier in Venice.  

I think her shoes, as well as the randomly stuck-out leg, ruin the look a bit but what I love is still there: it's so different.  There's no denying the beauty of Elie Saab and his ilk for red carpet gowns, but the austere and restrained style of Rich's designs are such a breath of fresh air for formal dressing.

Here are a few of her looks:

There's lots of mixing of lace and heavy silks (but the two middle dresses are actually stretch cotton!), cut in rather simple and severe styles. I do wonder whether these are dresses that will look good on anyone over a size 2.  At over $1200 a dress, that is a real-world problem my fantasy closet can ignore.  

While I'll likely never have an Alessandra Rich dress, I'm definitely keeping these images in my 'inspiration' file for pattern making and style ideas.  

Wednesday Pretty, 8/31

Well, it's 'pretty' man-style today:

James Marsden in the September issue of GQ

Well, hello, James Marsden in a three-piece tweed suit.  Funny note: Marsden is one of Jason's favorite actors.  I remember reading in an interview once that he doesn't really like doing the 'romantic lead' thing and it's true - 27 Dresses is the only thing I can think of where he actually 'gets the girl', whether it's a romantic movie or not.  Anyway...I do wish he's play more leading roles because how adorable is he in Enchanted and 27 Dresses?

I won't encourage you to see his new movie, because Straw Dogs freaks me out in its first iteration, much less does it need a remake.  So I'll just sit back and look at the pretty pictures.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Asos Heist Bow Platform

A year ago I would have been so turned off by these, but all my recent walking around has me giving chunky heels another look.  They're available on ASOS in four colours, but I definitely find myself leaning toward the more 'tame' of the options (I know, going against all my usual shoe inclinations, aren't I?).  The flat bow reminds me vaguely of those Louis Vuitton bow shoes from last year, but these are more 'cute' than 'elegant & dramatic'.  

It's somewhat unusual to find navy shoes that aren't BORING, so these are a nice change.
That being said, I think that the gold pair might actually prove more versatile.  Think you could get away with wearing these with tights?  I'm actually picturing them in my head paired with socks and a midi skirt.  Too weird?  

Maybe I've outgrown 'cute' and these are a bit much.  Are they something you could imagine adding to your shoe collection? If so, they're for sale at

Monday, August 29, 2011

BCBG: Colourblocking for fall

The last one is my favorite - something about the flowy, asymmetric top with the simple black shorts. Although I wish the top weren't sheer (I suppose that's easily treated by wearing a cami underneath.  However, it does make me wonder whether the pieces work not paired with other BCBG pieces. 

 In general, I like that the colour blocking serves as an accent to black here, but what I (oddly) find most appealing are the "mullet" style tops.  Weird, right?  The drapiness, the belt, and the cape back are all really trendy, yet somehow minimalist and classic.  Am I totally on crack?  Perhaps.  But I love it.  

I don't really have anything in my closet like this, and I doubt it's a look that'll be picked up by the high street.  I wonder whether I could improvise a pattern to create a similar look?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jeffrey Campbell Cutout Oxford Wedge

Well, it looks like Jeffrey Campbell took the 90s cut-out trend to a whole new level.

Talk about no arch support.

I'm not really sure how I feel about these - they do actually seem pretty cool, and they'd certainly get people talking about your shoes.  

Up for sale at Urban Outfitters for $200.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

New Arrivals at Zara

I always seem to forget that Zara exists, even though it's really popular here, and it certainly is present in the US - plus, the popularity has only increased with the interest in the Middleton sisters' wardrobes (they're huge fans of the shop, if you didn't know).

Zara is a fabulous place to get what I think of as proper wardrobe basics.  I guess I'd call them 'classics', differentiated from the 'basics' I'd get from H&M: things like cami tops in every colour and t-shirts.  Zara is somewhat like a more fashion-forward Banana Republic - well-made but inexpensive (relatively) workwear and knitwear.  The fall arrivals at Zara are really no different.  While the looks fulfill the trends for fall and winter, I could see these items in full rotation for years to come.  

I've picked out my favorites here:

Dress with Contrasting Sleeves - £40
Mod-style shift dresses are 'bang on trend' (heh - that is the worst phrasing ever but I just had to use it), and I'm a sucker for a long-sleeved dress.  I especially like how the sleeves are a different colour but don't stand out, yelling 'look at me!  I'm a contrasting sleeve! (not literally, of course - a yelling sleeve would freak me out).

Two-Tone Skirt - £25
Pencil skirts = always useful.  The side stripes add a little fun and are slimming to boot.

Palazzo Trousers - £40
See?  Wide-leg trousers that don't have a wide leg.  These drapey trousers are elegant, though, aren't they?  Unfortunately, I can't imagine creme trousers faring well in London streets in the winter.  

Large Two-Tone Clutch - £90
What a great splash of colour to add to any of the above items.  Unfortunately, the price is a little 'gulp!'.  

Male Vigore Coat - £100
I really don't need another fall/winter coat (as much as I would like to phase out my old black one), but I just can't stop going back to this one.  Elegant and practical at the same time.  Hopefully not too boxy in person.  

Plus: hey!  It's much cheaper than the Burberry Prorsum one. 

Do you shop at Zara.  Find anything interesting in the new arrivals?  

J. Crew Greer Lace-Ups

I swear these were just in the 'New Arrivals' section, but now they're on sale.  Already? 

I love the apricot colour.  Also comes in black and tan, but colourful just seems like the way to go.  Besides which, it's not such an out-there colour that it wouldn't still go with a wide assortment of things.  The website calls them 'sandals', but I'd argue that they could definitely be taken into fall with trousers or tights (or both!).  Peep-toes are always a little bit of a problem when you live somewhere where it rains...a lot, but I'm so taken by how different and yet how versatile they are.

You can buy them here for $150

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Obsession: Wallpaper

Does that sound like the most boring blog topic or what?  

I think that most of us have been scarred by bad wallpaper at some point in our lives; and anyone who attempts to remove old wallpaper has probably stated repeatedly how much they never want to see wallpaper ever again.  

But seriously, wallpaper is awesome. 

It really appeals to the part of me that wishes I lived inside an Anthropologie store, the part that loves Whistler's peacock room and William Morris, the part whose design aesthetic is gradually evolving into a weird mix of mid-century modern and Georgian, clean lines and tapestry fabrics.  Yeah, I'm weird.

Anyway, while wandering aimlessly around Waterstones trying to decide on a book, I stumbled across this fabulous book:

Wallpaper: The Ultimate Guide

Charlotte Abrahams describes the revival of wallpaper in modern design, details the major names in wallpaper, and lists endless amounts of resources if you're interested in (admittedly not inexpensive) wallpaper for yourself.

Here are a few of my favorites from the book:

Horses Stampede by Florence Broadhurst

Muscat Yellow by MissPrint

Best in Show by Osborne & Little

And for the ultimate in luxury, check out the bespoke, hand-painted silk, embroidered chinoiserie from Fromental:

Unfortunately, living in a rented flat means no wallpaper for now.  Which is nice, because that means I don't have to worry about how expensive it is!  I can just look and dream.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Zara Snakeskin Moccasin with Tassels

High Heel Moccasin with Tassel - £70

I spotted these in store just when the new collection was coming out at Zara.  I kinda figured that was it for me buying them, since the turnover at Zara is so ridiculously fast.  I did forget that you can shop online in the UK - so exciting!  

I adore the colour of these, and even the trendy tassel loafer look seems to work (although I'm not completely sure about the tongue bit).  They vaguely remind me of the Nicholas Kirkwood loafer heels that I posted here and Shoperwoman brought up today.  

A bit expensive for what I expect to spend at Zara, so I think that means they're out as an option for me.  I can still appreciate them, right?  

White Loafers at Topshop

Yes, I know I complained about Topshop in this post.  The issue of price vs. quality still applies, but I can't resist browsing through their shoe section.  

Keira Bow Leather Loafers - £52

Vatican Off-white Contrast Loafers - £32

Klara Off-white Tassel Moccasin - £52

The first pair of loafers caught my eye, so I searched around a little bit through their 'loafer' collection to check out the variety.  I'm torn as to whether they're the perfect Katherine Hepburn-esque masculine/feminine shoe, or if they're 10-year-old Catholic schoolgirl shoes.  The Vatican black&creme pair have the most sophistication - with the gold bit and tassel detail - but it's the Keira and Klara pairs that really appeal to me, with the Keiras edging ahead because the creme colour seems far more versatile.  

Argh!  I don't know.  

Has the masculine fashion trend completely melted my brain and affected my judgement?  

Stationery + Shoes = LOVE

One of my ongoing loves is stationery.  Knowing how much I appreciate getting real mail, I make an effort to send cards for random holidays or just because.  Besides which, it's much more fun to buy cards and paper so that other people than me can enjoy it.  I've found that, realistically, it's most useful to have some nice, plain cards (like these from Crane) that can be used for any occasion. 

I stumbled upon these fabulous 'Shoegazing' cards at Modcloth's apartment section.  

It contains 20 different pictures of shoes - including shiny flats, pointy-toed heels, and even some roller skates - in various settings. Pretty perfect for the shoe-spotting blogger, eh?  

The pictures, done by Janine Vangool are really beautifully composed.  Part of me is inclined to keep the cards, frame them, and use them as a fun decorating feature.  Hmmm...

Shoegazing notecards for sale at

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Seychelles Hayworth Sandals

How cute are these?  I love the ease of the elastic straps - but in black, they don't look cheap - and the touch of the little knotted bows gives them a little zing.  

It's getting past summer, but if it's still sandal weather where you are, they're on sale for $35 at Nordstrom.  

Wardrobe Wishes

While it doesn't always work as planned, I've been working on a list of must-haves that my wardrobe is sadly lacking, in an attempt to limit my impulse purchases of fun, but not practical, additions.  Some of the items are slightly 'trendy' but they have to have the staying power of classics. 

Some of the problems lie in several factors: (a) to buy a classic, keep-forever piece, you really don't want to scrimp too much, but my cheap side dominates my spending habits, keeping me from making investment purchases, (b) to buy an investment piece, it should tick all the boxes, but some of these pieces are difficult to find...or at least, difficult to find exactly what I've got in my mind's eye.  

Here's my list:

1) fitted jean jacket

It needs to have a very small amount of shrunken character.  I finally donated my old Guess jean jacket I've had since high school - it was fine, but didn't have the more sophisticated fit I was looking for.  This classic from Levi is really what I'm going for.

Levi's Classic Denim Jacket - $155

2) blanket coat

My ideal is this Oasis coat from last season (and long-since sold out)

These examples from Vince are nice, but a little too cardigan-like. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for that something perfect.

Vince Stripe Blanket Coat - $395
Vince Colorblock Blanket Coat - $395

3) high-waist, wide-leg trousers in black or navy

Finding wide-leg trousers that are actually wide-leg and not just basically-straight-leg has proved difficult.  Also, even though a higher waist is coming into fashion, the combination of the two isn't as prevalent as I would hope.  I've found a few expensive options.

Alexander Wang Wide Leg Pant - $450

Lafayette 148 Ludlow Wide Leg Trousers - $348

I may take a stab at these first (though my trouser-making skills are not tip-top), especially if I can pick up the pattern during a Jo-Ann's Vogue pattern sale.  

Vogue 8717

4) midi-skirt

Looking at the high-fashion mags, the midi skirt (just-past-knee length) might already be on its way out again, but I don't care.  I still love my minis, but the flowy dirndl skirt look really appeals to me.  And in a basic or neutral, it would be a really versatile piece.

Asos Drapey Pocket Midi Skirt - $64

Asos Midi Skirt with Pleats - $64

5) black Hunter boots

I've actually got a pair of green Hunter farm boots from my veterinary/farm days, which are very useful to digging the car out of snow or walking through cow/sheep enclosures.  Unfortunately, they're really heavy, which means wearing them for general walking in snow/rain, they're not terribly useful.  Since we're going to be in the land of year-round rain for a few years at least, I think this is the perfect time to invest in another pair of Hunters - this time in basic black.  My sister-in-law got a pair of the standard rain boots for Christmas a few years ago, and I've been jealous ever since.  I did, however, want to pick a boot with enough style that I could easily wear them with skirts without looking like a small child, so I decided upon the lace-up Watling.  

Hunter Watling - $175

6) high-waist skinny jeans

I mentioned these in my J. Crew post yesterday.  I basically only wear skinny jeans (I do have a trouser pair, but they hardly ever get any use), and last year decided to bite the bullet and buy a more expensive pair than my usual Gap ones.  Unfortunately, the Joe's Jeans that I bought have lost a bit of their deep wash colour and have stretched out in the knees.  What they do have going for them is a higher rise, so that I don't feel like my butt is going to fall out of my jeans when I lean over (and actually problem with my older skinny denim).  Since I've worn several of J.Crew's slim-fit trousers and cords, I'm holding hope that these jeans might work well for me.  

Do you have closet basics?  Or basic wishes?  What's the one thing you're missing from your wardrobe?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shoe Challenge #16 & #17

Jas so was opposed to my owning boat shoes that I knew I'd never be able to splurge on Sperry Topsiders.  So when I found these pair at Target for $10, I had to jump on them.  

They're a blue that's a bit difficult to match with things, but they do work really well with all the blue in my wardrobe.  Perfect with this gap breton-stripe tee and my skinny jeans.

And unfortunately, they got all washed out in my pictures.  

They're not as versatile as my ballet flats, but I just love their laid-back style during the summer.

Being summer - it's time to wear my sandals while I can!

These Nine West sandals are some of my favorite shoes, but they're so barely-there that I don't get as much use of them as I'd like.  They fit perfectly, so I don't worry about stepping out of them (my usual worry with d'orsay shoes), and I love the big buckle on the heel.

Their olive & brown colour scheme works basically as a neutral, but I combined them with this animal-print J.Crew jacket which I threw arbitrarily over my pink Tucker for Target dress.

Check out how pale my feet are!  

Things I'm Digging at J.Crew

J.Crew's new policy of shipping to the UK precipitated a perusal of the new arrivals.  It's J. Crew, so colourful basics are really my inclination.  

A trendy color-block top:

Perfect-Fit Colourblock Tee - $39.50

Crew-neck sweaters are wardrobe staples for fall (especially in our chilly flat):
Tippi Sweater in Bright Dahlia - $69.50

Or, some classic beige:

Teddie Dress - $198
Betsy Sweater in Saddle - $79.50

Two-Tone Circle Skirt - $250 (oof)

I've been on the lookout for a pair of just-high-waisted-enough skinny jeans, these look like a pretty good option:

High-Waisted Skinny Jeans - $125

Finally, these AMAZING shoes.  Do I need grey pumps?  Um, no.  But grey flannel pumps with a leopard-print heel?  Drool.  

Mona Flannel Pumps - $248