Archive for June, 2010

Thinking of buying a Little Black Dress? Think again:   

Tadashi Shoji Woven Bodice Silk Chiffon Dress, New Navy

Since I took such a strong stance against black, I thought I’d better follow up with some spectacular alternatives.  I think any uber-dark color is superior to black, but right now my favorite is the Little Blue Dress. 

I know they say every woman needs a Little Black Dress.  But seriously, please.  Do we? Do you? how often do you wear a cocktail dress? If it’s less than once a year, maybe you’re better off buying something fresh next time you have a cocktaily-type thing to attend.  It’s depressing (trust me) to try to resurrect a ten-year-old black dress that, let’s be honest, you “settled” for in the first place — because at least it was black, and therefore supposedly being safe, stylish, and versatile. The only problem being that you (and by “you” I mean “me”) don’t like it much. Why wear something you don’t like much because it’s black?

It is an outdated belief that black is “basic” and always appropriate.  In fact, when I think of a party packed with women wearing black cocktail dresses, I don’t think “chic,” I think “1990’s.” And no one right now — No. One. — should be going for a look that says 1990’s.   

Yes, the stores are full of black things.   No, you don’t need to buy them.  If you are shopping these days, here are my ideas.  They’ll even match all the black stuff that’s already in your closet.    

 If it’s time for a new suit — job interview, promotion, funeral — remember, black is LESS versatile and less of a sure investment. It is less flattering.  Black doesn’t easily roll into weddings or graduations.  Gray is softer.  Easier to break it up and wear the jacket with a variety of dresses. And it is just as conservative as black.  Trust me:     

Ted Baker 'Meriado' Wool Blend Herringbone Jacket, Nordstrom

If you are tempted to buy a Basic Black Pump (to go with your black-or-neutral suit or dress), don’t.  I suggest a Basic Nude Pump.  These are neutral, conservative, and if you can match your skin tone, your legs look longer (if this is too weird for you, look for inky dark blues and grays).

BCBGeneration 'Tinas' Platform Pump (Nordstrom Exclusive), $89.95, Nordstrom

  If you are tempted to buy Sexy Black Sandals — for evening, to dress up a skirt or dress for a night out, or with summery linen trousers — please don’t.  Try Sexy Textured/Animal Print sandals:   

Donald J Pliner 'Asby' Sandal in "sand," $185

 If you need a swimsuit, and think a black one will make you look smaller or even hopefully disappear, you are wrong. Consider a pretty print that makes you smile, or a color you genuinely love.  Invisibility isn’t going to happen, so be realistic: aim to feel pretty and confident so you don’t mind when they do.  Print and color can work wonders with this:   

Flower Ruffle Swimsuit, Green Candy Floral, $68.00 at Boden USA

Piped V-Neck Tankini, $69.95, Junonia

  Do not buy black flats. Especially in summer.  If you’re shopping for cute, comfy dress up/down shoes to go from work to weekend, buy them in color:Born Peony in radish, $76.50 at Zappos   

If you’re warm enough to look for pretty flat sandals — for a vacation, lunch, afternoon at the movies or museum? Don’t buy black ones. Especially in gladiators.  If you’re going to do strappy, I vote you make it gold. It’s a great, summery Romanesque look.  It adds interest to shorts or denim and easily dresses up to go with skirts and dresses:    

Kenneth Cole Reaction Glam Master in gold, $39.95

If you think a black coat will go with everything and be flattering, think again.  I love bright, rich colors for dress up and denim or pleather for casual wear:   

Jessica Simpson Satin Trench Topper, $69. Also in buttercup, ivory, orange, cobalt, iris (and black).

Light wash cropped denim jacket, $98, Banana Republic

And lastly . . . if you are shopping for Little Black Ankle Boots this fall? please buy these. I can’t afford them:     

Frye Carson Shortie in Smoke Leather, $318




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Die Caprihose

What would you wear if you were standing right here?

It’s summer! What are you going to wear? Ready to talk Capri Pants?

I figured that Capri Pants are named after the island of Capri (left).  But I didn’t know much more than that, so I did some research. The best article I could find was in German, titled “Die Caprihose.”   It’s too good to paraphrase, so I will quote it directly:

What is a Capri pants?

In English they are called Capri Pants, in German they are called fisherman pants. This medium-length pants are actually designated by the way according to the Italian island of Capri and should probably give a relaxed and casual ambiance.  Invented it, otherwise read as often, the German designer Sonja de Lennart, and not the Italian Emilio Pucci. The designer was selling only pants he imitated de Lennart. Probably the misunderstanding arose about the origin of Capri pants, because Pucci Capri 1949 opened his first boutique, and there’s also sold counterfeit pants.

Modehit of the 50s

 The fashion hits of the 50s of course include the petticoat and skirt, silk stockings with seams, cocktail dresses, the controversial bikini and just the Capri pants. You are probably wondering you if you hear that it was almost revolutionary at the time. The tight, short pants fueled endless debates on morality and decency of their carriers and the morale of the youth in general to. Today we, the Capri seems far more provocative, but at that time, only the bravest dare to trend-setters on the street. Many mothers forbade their daughters to appear in the Capri pants on the road. Sunbathe on the beach but it was in the 50’s a fashion must.

Well, there you go.  Any case anyone needs more info, here are my Capri Pant tips. Actually it’s one tip:

  • Try on the capri pants.  Only buy them if they look great on you.

Last year I started cuffing my capris, made them a little shorter and more current. Or not.

Do not buy capri pants because it’s hot and you need something to wear. Do not buy them because they are in style, or because everyone else has them, or because they or on sale.

If you are tall, make sure your capri pants are not too short (well-below the knee) or they will make you look gangly.  If you are short, maybe slim-jean capris will look good on you. Maybe not. If you have wide hips, be sure the leg isn’t too tapered, or it will make you look like an ice cream cone. A little flowly flare-calf action can look good.  If you think you have ugly ankles, take an honest friend shopping with you to see if she nixes the Capri Pants.  If she doesn’t, you have a hang-up about your ankles.  Get over it.

Avoid: Capri-pant suits, Capri pants in prints, tight white capri pants that show your underwear.  Evening capri pants?  I say no.  Unless you LOVE how you look and feel like a million bucks, don’t wear capri pants (especially not black ones — gah!!) when you’re dressed up. You’re a grown woman, go wear a dress.

More reading:

 Are Capri Pants as Ugly as Some Men Say?

 Blog Her: Tim Gunn Says no to Capri Pants

 Capri Pant Checklist — hazards and tricks

 Style List: 4 Rules for Wearing Capri Pants

Boden Straightleg Crop Pant in Crocus, $78. Does this look good on its own, or just because the Boden model is so damn skinny?

This looks great. It would not look better cropped. J. Crew Heritage Fit Chino, $39.99
If you are too hot for pants, wear shorts: Piece-dyed Bermudas in gray pearl, $39.50 at The Gap
What do you think? Woodrush Green, Banana Republic Crinkle Pant, $98

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AK Anne Klein "Mavra" in Pewter. $79 at Zappos, less at Macy's if you get there on the right day with the right coupon.

For a long time, I’ve resisted the ballet flats trend. Maybe I’m worried about my feet looking too small, which would make my ankles look fat?

Or maybe because I took ballet lessons way too seriously as a child.  I therefore resist the appropriation of the style by the non-ballet mainstream.  (Ballet flats? Do YOU DANCE?!) Seriously, you think I’m joking, but that is totally something I would say.


If you are going to get ONE pair of shoes for summer, consider CUTE FLATS:

-Flat heel so you can walk long distances, like on vacation.

-Embellished and cute.  Make anything you wear into more of a look. Don’t worry about matchy-matching the color/detail with your clothes, just mix it up.

-Metallics are neutral and very current.  So are nudes, greens and light blues.  Avoid black.  Seriously.

-Make sure they are comfortable flats. AK Anne Klein iflex have a nice rubber sole and fairly good support.

Born Peony, $72.50 at Zappos (less at Macy's if you find your size and have a coupon).

-Flats go with jeans, shorts, skirts, work dresses, everything (except I avoid them for sand/dirt terrain, I’m afraid they would get scuffed if I wear them that hard).

-Flats are more versatile than sandals — don’t need to worry about your pedicure and you can stand a little rain.

Cute flats!

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What Black is Not

Is this really the best this kind of shoe can look?

Before you can get defensive, I’m not telling you not to wear black.  I’m not saying I don’t like you or your clothes.  I’m just saying: let’s think about this.

Black is not automatically the best shoe color. If you wear black shoes because it’s just your feet, what does this say about how you think about your feet? Why not wear a color you like there?  If you have lots of black shoes, and you limit what else you buy (black-only neutrals or black-affinity colors) to match your old black things, you are in a rut. Non-black neutral shoes are awesome.  Colorful sandals for summer are super-awesome.

Black is not always easy.  Without color you have less visual interest.  Your outfit is reduced to shape and form.  This can be marvelous — if you are wearing a well fitting, nicely styled piece like a perfect Little Black Dress.  But schlumpy, ill-fitting or out-of-date clothes just look worse in black.  A halfway-there dress is not forgiven its faults because it’s black.

Black is not compensation for bad accessories.  A black outfit diverts attention to whatever accessories you wear. So you can let your pretty, funky jewelry really sing. But: any “clunker” accessories (including a worn-out purse or shoes) clunk loudly against the “silence” of a black outfit. Wearing one black piece demands more of all the other pieces you wear.


Michael Kors. Silver shoes are versatile, energizing neutrals. Black with a cork heel doesn't make sense to me.

Black is not everyone’s best color. Black is a cold, severe color.  Most people look better wearing warm tones.  If you’re concerned that your face shows wrinkles in the wrong light, black tops make it worse — they cast shadows right where you don’t need them. (If you aren’t concerned? Just you wait.) Black sucks the shine out of hair and skin.  And if you have dandruff issues? I don’t need to tell you. You already know.

Black isn’t timeless.  Yes, a classic black dress will be stylish for more seasons than one in 2009’s mimosa yellow.  But in 2010, with so many other great dark neutrals to choose from, all-black looks about 10 years out of style.  Frugal is good (keep wearing what works!) but stuck in a rut (keep buying what you’ve always bought) is not.  Also: black cotton does not wash-and-wear forever without getting faded and pilled. And black leather shoes need to be shiny, rich and deep to look their best.  Black is not forgiving.

Black is not invisible.  Black reflects less light than pale colors. It does not absorb all light from surrounding galaxies: a black coat is not a black hole.  Baggy black clothes do not obscure the outline of your figure.  They just make you an big old blob, but darker.  Black is a color, it is not anti-matter. We can still see you. 

Black does not match everything. I think black looks good when mixed with other dark neutrals (gray, brown, navy, olive).  Black can be hard to wear with bright colors without looking cartoonish.  White/light colors with black create a lot of contrast — “pale top / black skirt” (or vice-versa) draws attention to the “fault line” where the colors meet — usually across your middle. 

Black isn’t Youthful. When Coco Chanel made short, sexy dresses out of black fabric, it was revolutionary — because black was, until then, a mourning color.  The original Little Black Dresses were edgy for their time —  like punk-edgy.  Coco Chanel is an amazing fashion icon — but if she were alive today she’d be 127 years old.  You will not look youthful if you dress like Coco Chanel.

Black is not the Sexiest. I really don’t think. When I was young, black seemed dangerous.  Adult, in a forbidden way — young girls didn’t wear it; Mommies and Grandmas didn’t wear it.  Sexy black strappy undergarments were for sexy-time only.  Sexy like Debra Winger in Black Widow (I know nothing about that movie, I’m sure I’m just misremembering pictures out of my family’s HBO guide). Black may be a symbolic color of S&M-whatever bad-girl bondage stuff, but why? Isn’t black leather just dyed, fake leather? What story are we telling about ourselves when we reach for that as our idea of “sexy?”

Black leather is sexy like Fonzie is sexy. Is that really what we aspire to?

Is one of these color combinations less-awful than the other? If so, why?

All Blacks

If any of the New Zealand "All Blacks" Rugby team are reading this? You look great, guys. I'm not talking about you.

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Two Dresses

This is totally going to be me

For evening adults-only wedding at San Diego's famous Prado, July: Jewelled Party Dress, jersey viscose, $96.60

I have been pretty good about not spending money on clothes . . . two cute cardigans from Macy’s (“fever” brand, they run around $68 but go on sale in the $20’s if you keep your eye out).  Silver flats that I love.  And now, for upcoming Summer wedding/rehearsal etc., stuff, I finally pulled the trigger on Boden dresses! Today was “30% off free shipping day.” You probably already missed 30% day. But if anyone is interested in Boden they are pretty generous with coupon codes, so let me know. 

Also, Ann Taylor Loft is practically breaking into my house to leave me coupons.  Any other great deals out there?

Okay it will look better on a person

Drapey jersey dress, blueberry batik, finally in stock and today just $89

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