16 April 2015

Give in Style: Shield & Honor Jewelry Gives Thanks for Those Who've Served

Not too long ago, my mommy sent a text to my sister, my brother, and me:

"Just got a message from [my mommy's cousin] that Uncle Bill passed away on Saturday night. 91 years."

We lost another one.

Uncle Bill was one of the dwindling servicemen and women who defended not just American, but other nations', soil, in World War II. A medal-winning college gymnast, he left school and ended up on Normandy's beaches. As his obituary reads, "after 92 days of near continuous combat," German forces captured him. Like so many others, he spent his 21st birthday not just in the armed forces, but as a prisoner of war.

Eventually, even as his family thought him dead, Uncle Bill and eleven other soldiers escaped the camp near Poland, ended up in Odessa, and made their way home. The rest of his life, he continued to serve those around him: as a teammate (1948 London Olympics), a professor, a coach, an advocate, a father, a husband, and a brother.

We're blessed, in our family, to have another World War II veteran. At 92, Uncle Toby (Uncle Bill's oldest sister's husband), was part of Patton's Army. His stories are still there for us, and my mother and stepdad visit with him weekly. H and some friends have gone to visit him, as have we. There's not much we can do at this point to thank him for his service, but we can be there. We can send pictures, and we can make sure he has what he needs.

And then, the other day, a friend sent me a link. She sent it to me because she knows I love fashion - and unique fashion, especially. She was already addicted to both the style and the story - and the salute - jewelry maker Shield & Honor weaves into every piece.

"No legacy, no matter how small, should go untold."

I bought two. I'll wear them daily, I think, because remembering the promise our nation and its heroes hold is so very important.

06 April 2015

Style Dilemma: Hitting the Spring Sales as a Woman Executive

It's been an interesting wardrobe week. I started in my new role, with a new company, and with new people. While a few of the folks have known me for a long time (connections, people, connections. It's how the world works), most don't know me at all. As I finished up in my last role, I was not only tired, but also in a more internal space. I could push the boundaries of "business casual," even in a conservative industry, because I was a) in the "creative" role, and b) rarely around folks external to the company.

Oh, and have I mentioned that I've gained back 20 of the 50 pounds I lost 3 years ago? So even my go-to dress options (love me a sheath, a shift, and a shirtdress - so very easy), which would be perfect for a female executive in a more outward-facing role, are limited. Some still fit, but their numbers are reduced because they just don't fit properly. Let's not discuss the pants.

So inspired by Alison over at Wardrobe Oxygen culling the Ann Taylor sale for us last Friday, and taking Stacy London's 2012 advice to me (yes! to me personally), I decided to do a little online shopping and fill a few holes with transitional pieces that will hopefully serve me well at varied sizes, match my corporate level, and still let me keep a little edge and personality.

I found another easy shirt dress, a denim pencil skirt with some nautically-inspired details, and two wider-legged trousers. The dress is a no-brainer. The skirt, a little higher waisted, will keep me feeling sleek, even when I don't really feel that way. The wide leg pant with the stripe is just too good to let go - it's a tuxedo for the office, after all, and the paperbag waisted pant, though it has widely mixed reviews online, could be just interesting enough (and yay cinched waist) that I couldn't pass it up.

Both Ann Taylor and the Gap companies have sales going on through today (and you can bet your peep toe booties there will be more tomorrow), so check them out - what are you banking on? 

24 March 2015

The Joy of a Break...and Onward!

Well, happily back from a too-long trip to California, H and are ready to go. We're eternally grateful for grandmothers who stay with the Beans and let us make a trip we needed to make - and in the process get a little time on our own.

But really, it was too long to be away from them.

So as we get started - I'm starting my new DayJob tomorrow - a little update on my list:

1. I read a book. I'm not done yet, but it's a page turning, intelligent, and oddly sweet thriller from Alan Furst: Night Soldiers. So. Good.

2. I got a haircut. We even put layers in. And it lasted through a convertible ride into the desert, a run, and an afternoon by the pool.

3. I got a mani/pedi for the first time in I don’t know how many months. DC folks, Varnish Lane. Almost a full week of a regular polish (albeit my new fave, matte, on my fingers), and the only thing that really got to it was, you know, surfing. In the ocean. With the sand.

4. I went for a run. I can't even remember now whether I managed one before we left, but I did fit in an hour of Combatitude. And then I ran on a cool California desert morning. And there were mountains and flowers and sky.

5. When we arrived in California, I took a 2 hour afternoon nap. So necessary. And then, one afternoon, I nodded off by the pool. I know.

6. I still need to buy some new black pumps...and maybe some red ones. I looked one afternoon, to no avail, while still here. I'm still on the hunt. But instead? I bought some Reef flip flops. Because we were in Pacific Beach before a surf lesson and it seemed the thing to do.

7. Even before I finished at my last gig, H came by and brought me lunch. And then on our break, we had lunch together (and with his mom), dinner, breakfast, and drinks. There were drinks. By the ocean. And now we're home.

09 March 2015

The Joy of a Break

2015’s going to be a big year. I can feel it. Even before changes were afoot in our family and with our friends, things were just brewing. So when it came to be that both H and I are not only changing jobs, but taking interesting, challenging steps (lord, how grown up of us), I wasn’t surprised.

He’s already on his self-imposed break, much deserved and very needed. He has a list of Things, but part of it is to just hang out with our Beans more, work on his Voice audition song, and take a breather. I’m done this phase of my career this Friday. I’ve got a few days “to myself” before we take a little getaway and then return to start the new phase.

We have laundry to fold. We have food to cook and stock in the freezer. We have boxes to sort, piles to donate. We have doctors appointments to schedule and make. Then there’s the list of things I need to do for me.

1. I need to read a book
2. I need to get a haircut
3. I need to get a mani/pedi for the first time in I don’t know how many months
4. I need to go for a run
5. I need to take a nap
6. I need to buy some new black pumps...and maybe some red ones
7. I need to have lunch with my man

I know I won’t be able to get all of the Things in. I also know that these things are really “needs.” They’re things I know will grant me a little space and a little freedom to just be.

And I can’t wait.

22 February 2015

Out of the Mouths of Babes OR How a 7-Year-Old Saw through Big Fashion

“Where does ‘DC Celine’ come from, Mama?”

She knows I have a website. She knows I sometimes write things about her, and that I sometimes ask her if I can share what she’s written or said on the site. She knows I write about fashion, that I read about fashion, and that I love fashion. The first time I took her to New York City, the Museum at FIT Daphne Guinness exhibit drew us there. Then in 2013, the Met’s Costume Institute produced the groundbreaking Impossible Conversations, in which Muiccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli discussed their inspirations and motivations - face to face. Decades apart.

While the question didn’t surprise me, it did take me by surprise - a kind of gentle joy of a surprise. I want my girl to be her own person, but I love that we share an interest, and that she’s curious enough, and has noticed enough, to ask about my writing.

So I explained DC Celine’s origin: that Celine, with Michael Kors at its venerated helm, was the first line I recognized without cue. There were no logos, no telltale camellias, no signature zigzag prints. I saw Rene Russo in one of my favorite movie roles, ballsy in her artistic investigation, and sheathed in contrast by supple voluptuousness. If you look carefully, you’ll see Kors’ aesthetic, almost a given, in classic trenches and turtlenecks. But for the French house, that all-American and commercial spirit he trots down his eponymous runways was gilded in the design equivalent of an Instagram filter: softened around the edges and richer than in real life.

Long story short, even after (love of my life) Pierce Brosnan had left the screen, I was still sitting in the worn theater seat, waiting for the credits to confirm my suspicion. I’m pretty sure I squealed when I saw I was right: Rene had stolen Pierce’s heart (and mind) in Celine.

You’ve got me. I didn’t quite give the Bean all that detail, but I did explain to her that the first time I recognized a fashion designer’s work, it was Celine. She seemed to understand, but I stretched for a way to illustrate it for her.

She knows Elsa Schiaparelli’s designs. She’s seen them in person, and she’s read about them (she appropriated the biography we bought at the exhibit, and won’t give it back to me to read). Inspired by Schiaparelli’s friend Dali and his surrealist compadres, her work is distinctive, to say the least. While popular, it wasn’t commercial. It didn’t survive, and went dark until just a few seasons ago, when the house relaunched as Schiaparelli.

Schiaparelli’s contemporary, though, is legendary. Even those outside the fashion world label Chanel jackets, fabric, and logos as “iconic.” For heaven’s sake, aliens probably recognize the double “C” - and maybe even its current guardian, Karl Lagerfeld. His persona is as carefully cultivated and shielded as Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s own mysterious self.

I decided to try an experiment. I Googled “coco chanel designs,” clicked “images,” and showed the Bean the page of pictures. “Are any of these Elsa Schiaparelli’s designs?” I asked? She considered the mostly black and white images (by entering “coco chanel,” vice just “chanel,” it pulled - purposefully - designs from the house’s early years that would be from the same era as to Schiaparelli’s), a page full of drop waist dresses and the early versions of probably the most copied jacket in the world. After a while, she pointed out one of the few pictures of an evening gown, and one of the few with any womanly shape. “This one,” she said.
Google Images results for "coco chanel designs"

I told her who had designed the pieces on the page, simply saying that she was a designer at the same time as Schiaparelli. She’d never heard of Chanel. Then I pulled up another tab full of Schiaparelli’s designs. “What differences do you see?” I asked.
Google Images results for "elsa schiaparelli designs"

Again, she considered before she spoke (on an aside, can we just keep that quality? If she manages to maintain that ability to think before she speaks, she’ll be the most advanced adult around.).

“I would wear Schiaparelli now, but I wouldn’t wear Chanel now.”

In her 7 year old eyes, she saw the straight lines and ladylike deportment that make Chanel both so coveted and considered so “classic” as “old fashioned” and not of today. The almost outlandish artistic quality that might well have done Schiaparelli in, on the other hand, speak to the Bean. For a girl who claims black is her favorite color (not kidding, I told you she’s interested in fashion), the Schiaparelli’s nearly garish color pairings are modern; the black and white Chanel boucle is something a grandmother would wear.

The other day, I read a criticism that Karl Lagerfeld, for all the respect he has in the industry, hasn’t designed a single original thing in 8 years. As I read that, I thought of my 7 year old daughter. A child’s eye caught what legions of fashion admirers and even critics won’t dare to say: that, despite its place in cultural history, usefulness in the classic closet, and commercial viability (we have to assume that there will always be women buying boucle), we can’t just assume a Fashion House’s relevancy. Perhaps men in ponytails, no matter how chic their shades, should have stayed in the 90s.

On a completely unrelated note, this, my friends, is my 1000th post. When I started in December 2005, I had absolutely no idea I'd still be writing on this site 10 years later. I'll probably wax poetic about it at some point later this year, but suffice it to say, I'm grateful for the technology, the community, and the people who grant me the space to keep writing. When I hit 7 years, I wrote a little bit about it, but in the meantime, just THANK YOU.