Recently, I started to wonder about the enduring inspirational power behind Carrie Bradshaw's fashion. The looks created by Patricia Field for Sarah Jessica Parker's character are literally still being discussed somewhere in fashion almost daily. That's a lot of staying power for a medium that moves at light speed. Carrie is kind of like the modern era's Holly Golightly: you might not want to actually be her, but hot dang, you want to dress like her - at least in some part of her wardrobe. So many of her looks seem fashion forward, even by today's standards - making her about a decade ahead of her time. The tulle skirt is practically synonymous with Carrie, with every know fashion blogger referencing her when they wear one. She made Manolo Blahnik a household name. With all of that, it's interesting that, while her aesthetic can be succinctly described - urban, quirky, chic - its difficult to box it into a single, or even several, genres. Carrie could do Parisian sophistication, uptown New York, downtown New York, artsy, princess-y, minimalist, sometimes downright silly. The variety of her influences may account for the perennial influence of her style. But I think that's only part of it. Even more than breadth of styles and variety, Carrie's sense of playfulness and true-to-self-ness comes through. As a character, she looooved (LOVED!) fashion and she had FUN with it. She was never afraid to experiment and nearly always included something off-beat, like the note you hear in a song that sounds wrong at first but eventually becomes the reason you love it and can't stop singing it. She was never afraid to mix odd elements (I mean, really - who wears a tank top with a tulle skirt anyway? But, then again, it works!), or pair designer pieces with economical ones (a philosophy espoused by Anna Wintour when she first took over Editor-in-Chiefship of Vogue). She tried menswear, but also wore ultra feminine pieces (the Paris Versace dress!). Her wardrobe felt real, like something collected over time by a lover of fashion, with a specific sense of things that appealed to her. Through it all runs a core of something that's easy to forget about fashion: with all the trends, with all the marathons to find the right piece, with all the periodic re-vamping that needs to take place, style is supposed to be personal and fun. It's not supposed to feel like taking a test everyday. It's supposed to be something that makes you smile. And Carrie's style did. Even her most sophisticated looks contained that one funky, over-the-top or off-kilter element, be it her standout shoes, a contrasting-genre belt or an over-the-top flower, that makes think "Huh?" at first and makes you remember it afterward, whether you grow to love it or hate it. That consistent "off" element was the heart and soul of the wrong that makes it right. It was the common thread that tied all of her varied genres together. And it was fun :). That playful, life-is-a-runway creativity more than anything else, is what continues to make her style so inspirational, and such an important reminder not to allow ennui to take over, to keep evolving, keep experimenting, keep being silly or daring or whatever adjective(s) suits you. Don't make a home in the ruts. Do things that feel like you, but aren't expected. Keep playing, keep dabbling and keep fashion fun.
I have always loved jewelry, but I used to be the kind of girl who was all about the real. I had a special disdain for faux rocks that tried to look like massive diamond engagement rings. I didn't feel right wearing anything that wasn't real; it was as if I was cheating somehow. I smile at myself when I think of that because my sentiments and taste have changed drastically! Drama was my gateway - I enjoy making a bold statement with my rings (my go-to jewelry accessory) and with real stones, as the size goes up, so does the price! At first, since I was used to precious pieces, the more massive presence of costume rings looked too large to me. But I loved the way they felt on my hand and the way they let me say something distinctive about my style. The latter feeling triumphed and I stopped worrying about size so much and just went for it :). That decision to take a chance and experiment revealed a new benefit: because designers are less limited by availability and price and not at all limited by the real stones themselves, costume jewelry can take liberties with creativity that real jewels can't touch - at least for those of us with school loans or mortgage payments ;). Luscious, crave-worthy, insanely fierce concoctions are to be had, things that would be impossible -or nearly so- with non-costume materials. Costume jewelry is free to be about the expression, rather than about the stone and to reach a kind of art that isn't tethered to what's possible with real jewels - a boon to both designer and wearer! How many of us could style our own version of Marguerite's Jewel Song from Faust with real stones? Precious few (pun intended :)). It's one reason why Chanel was a proponent and proprietor of faux pieces, including the pearls she made iconic. If you love that kind of classic chic, you can take on that role, even without marrying a Kennedy ;). And again, how do you design a flower out of real stones? It's possible, but complicated. The endless possibilities of glass and other materials significantly broaden the options. Suddenly, wearing an open rosebud on your hand is completely do-able! And in a variety of colors. The fact that costume pieces can be art, rather than a setting is completely seductive to me. What they might lose in dollar value, they make up in aesthetic value: they might be faux stones, but they're real art!
On one of my favorite blogs, TaySwiftStyle, Sarah - the stylish sweetheart of an owner - has a Questions section which from time to time receives specific fashion queries. A recent one got my fashion brain revving. It involved "maturing" Taylor's girly Fearless/Speak Now era fashion. As a Jackie-come-lately to super feminine style, I've tended to take the approach of adding frothy pieces to femme-ify a fairly minimalist, classic wardrobe. But, what if Swift-esque frills have always been your thing? How do you grow with the look, especially if you're taking those sensibilities to college or the workplace? And even more especially, if you are slim and/or slight of height, how do stay true to you without looking like you're twelve? Naturally, I have ideas and I wanted to expound on them here :). The secret is to incorporate a bit of structure and polish, while still keeping enough frothy detail to leave you feeling gorgeous. There are a number of really stunning, artisanal blouses out right now that are flawless for doing this (and which also happen to be spot on-trend ;)). Think lace, ruffles, florals, embroidery, appliquees. They're your new non-dress go-to. For realz. Don't fear sweet shades like blush and lavender, either! You can balance all the candy out on the bottom. Pair these crave-worthy confections with slim, polished chinos and refined knee length pencil skirts (avoid minis - they'll look either too young or as if you're trying too hard). Midi skirts are completely do-able here, as are maxis - there is something unavoidably chic and mature about a maxi skirt, done in the right materials (eschew jersey knits and crinkle cottons and choose silk, woven cottons, taffeta or georgette). (Alternatively, definitely consider going for a gives-you-heart-eyes ruffled, pleated or be-tulled maxi - just reverse the frilly-to-minimal relationship and go simple on top). Use soft neutrals like blush, pearl gray and beige to ground sentimental pastels or try out enchanting jewel tones like plum and deep pine. If you simply *have* to pair multiple colors, it can be done - just use one lighter and one darker tone. Mint and lilac looks quite young, but lilac and burgundy, blush and navy or sky blue and mustard evoke wisdom and style competence in a confidently romantic way. Lastly: shoes. This is crucial: when you're trying to grow up a girly look, stay away from bowed flats, sequins and similar youthful-in-feel footwear. Instead, think refined but vivacious styles like block-heeled ankle straps, lace-up flats, urban-leaning ankle booties and pointy-toe pumps. Happy styling, Fancies!
The term "blue period" is famous because of Picasso, who spent essentially three years of his painting life working in essentially no colors other than blue and blue-green. He then spent two following years painting predominantly in shades of pink and orange - his "rose period". I recently realized that, vaguely akin to Picasso, I go through stages in my fashion as well. It's like shifting gears. Same me, same car, same gear box, but slightly different directions. A couple of years ago, I was all about glam - pile on the sparkle and was a happy camper. Massive crystals - in bunches - were my go-to's. I was forever in dark neutrals to offset all that sparkle. My next phase was a more refined, ladylike spin, where I was loving boucle jackets and button-downs. I was all about pumps and wore them religiously, even through the chilly winter. This metamorphosis really came home to me this winter because I have been eschewing pumps for boots, especially my leather OTK's, which I often reached for in my glam period. Now, though, instead of pairing them with sparklies, they're finishing outfits that have textural interest and laidback comfort: chunky sweaters and flannel shirts. The raison d'etre for the OTK's is a the same - that shot of fierce! - but they grounded the glam outfits and ramp up my current more casual ones. It's fun to mentally scan my fashion and realize how it shifts, without diverging from authenticity. I wonder where I'll go in future? :) There are some fun color stories on the horizon for spring, which make me foresee a sorbet-shaded shift in the not-too-distant future. How does your personal style shift over time?
One of the looks that I've been completely obsessed over for Fall/Winter this year is the Dark Romance trend: it's moody glamour, it's brooding florals, it's nostalgic lace. Writing about it for Trend Blast got me fired up to give the look a try. There was just one problem though. One of the look's keys is a frothy, feminine blouse - some variation of a lace and ruffle confection with elegant buttons or snippets of velvet or a high neck. Why would that be a problem? Well, I don't own one :). I've been looking! But the right combination of silhouette, material, artistry and price just hasn't crossed my path yet *insert melodramatic Victorian pout*. Then again, I'm a creative gal and when a fashion idea burns in my brain, I don't give up on it easily. My first step was to see what I do have that fits the "lacy confection" genre. (A positive spin on things always helps! :)). I rejected the idea of a crocheted caramel cardigan or a lace tank. But I have a black crocheted pullover that has the right vibe. Scalloped edges give it a frothy quality and I layered it over an ivory cami to make the pattern stand out. The skinny jeans piece of the trend was 100 percent no problem. Got. It. Covered. :) Bt then I ran into two more hiccoughs. The weather was too cold to wear the open-weave sweater alone. I tried a traditional blazer, thinking it would have a classic, but it didn't create the vibe I was hoping for. Switching to a black band jacket worked nicely though, hearkening both to the military coat-feel and injecting a bit of attitude. Then, there was the whole shoe question. You would think a shoe connoisseur like myself would have hordes of lace-up booties to choose from...aaaaand ....no. It's another of those silhouettes I've loved certain pieces of, but haven't found the right one to collect yet. Super pointy be-crystalled pumps came off a bit too 2010, so I went with simple, classic black leather pumps. Sometimes the value of simplicity is in its ability to swing easily between various genres. Lastly, I needed baubletry: the requisite choker is also not something I am yet possessed of, so the DIY option was the only way to go. I considered using a black velvet ribbon I found, loved and collected for just such an occasion, but due to using the pumps instead of boots, I felt the look was missing a bit of the attitude that helped keep the trend styling modern and complex. I decided to use a subtly fierce hematite chain instead, which I anchored with a necklace shortener (mine is from Gump's) -a handy little device for jewelry aficionados that lets you do all kinds of fun things! (If you need a super-quick, budget-friendly option, try a safety pin). My final test of a look is always 1) does it have that certain je ne se quoi when it all comes together and 2) does it make me feel the way I envisioned it would. This combination ticked yes on both those questions, despite not being an exact representation of the trend. There's a certain satisfaction and gratification to being able to create the concept of a look, even without all the you-need-these-RIGHT-NOW!-pieces. I had so much fun wearing this look and feeling moodily romantic! :)
Fall Fashion week has started me thinking about runways and shows and that feeling I get when I see the new looks coming down. I don't mean the excitement, the creativity and the ecstacy. I mean the disappointment. Yes, underneath all those revved up, heart-racing thrills, I always have a particular little spike of sorrow. It comes because, so often, I look at the runways and see unwearable pieces. They are amazing, jaw-dropping, artistic genius. But many are also fabulously impractical. I see it and think "how do I do that piece in real life?" Take Moschino's Chandelier dress. Aaaaaaaaamazing, right? But...grocery store? ("Veggies baked while you wait!") Pumping gas? (that "No Smoking" sign tho). Dog walking? (Collected: 17 branches, 25 cups of coffee, 3 garbage cans, 1 very unhappy jogger. Oops.). Ok, something it was designed for (?)...ballroom dancing (*raises hand* "And if I can't actually touch my partner?"). The only thing I think might work is if I dangled above a table like an actual chandelier (#HumanFurniture). So I see it. I love it. And sigh. Until today. Today I had the revelation that it's not supposed to be practical and wearable. It's only supposed to communicate an idea, a vision, a direction, a suggestion, a siren call. From the runways, it needs to be translated into everyday life. And that's where we come in, as the wearers, the pragmatists, the curators behind the artists. In taking the idea from the runway, but metamorphosizing it into our own vision of what it means and how to create it in and for everyday life, we add our personal stamp to the trend. We filter it, co-opt it, choose it (or not), edit it via our own conception, understanding and perspective to make it something that pays homage to the idea that came down the runway, but is translated into something usable and applicable to real life. We take the art out of the gallery, out of the frame, deconstruct it and make it work a bit for it's living: beautiful, magnificent, but in a different way, a way unique to the style vision of each of us who chooses to step into the museum and be affected by the collection.
There are a number of theories floating about, based on New Age philosophies and quantum physics, that describe the Law of Attraction and the various synchronicities the occur in life...if you're looking for them ;). Fashion is not exempt from these magical moments, either! After receiving an invite to a wedding some years ago, I planned an outfit with a blue dress and bright green sandals. I had the dress already, bought on sale in anticipation of such an occasion. But the sandals? They presented a massive headache. I searched high, low and in between, on land, in the Cloud, you name it. There simply were no bright green sandals with the necessary formality to be found ANYwhere. As the date of the wedding drew near, I had pretty much given up on finding them and begun to mentally try out other options. I was disappointed though; no other choice had quite the effect I was envisioning. I was with a group of friends out for a day of R & R when one of them unexpectedly announced that she was stopping at the local outlet mall. As we pulled into the parking lot, I had this sudden feeling that I ought to go into Off 5th. You know how, in the The Half-Blood Prince, when Harry drinks the Felix Felicis and just *knows* it would be a good idea to go to Hagrid's that night? It was basically that moment. I told my friends "I'm going to Off 5th" and for some reason added "My shoes are going to be there". And... they were. After all my searching, there, in the second aisle I went down, was the most perfect pair of green satin sandals. They even had an ankle strap, for easy walking and dancing. And - the coup de grace of the miracle - they were in my size! I learned some important life lessons from shoes that day. (To think, there are people who believe fashion is just superficial! ;)). PS Yes, I still have those magical shoes to remind me to always have a back-up plan, but never give up on what you really want and always stay aware of opportunities that arrive, no matter how out of the blue; they are how the Universe grants wishes.
Every closet, unless supercritically edited, acquires a few of those pieces: the ones that, when you look in your mirror, you can see the headlines "Brie Wears Lumpy Sweater And Questionable Footwear At The Emmy's!". Ugh. And back in the closet it goes. I have a few of those pieces. I have, occasionaly, managed to make them work but it generally takes desperate acts of fashion. Then, there are other items that, no matter when and how you put them on, they look like "Brie In Ralph Lauren's 20-- Spring/Summer Campaign". They just magically alter every look and you have to convince yourself not wear them with everything, every day, 24/7/365. These two types of pieces are like lovers: you have the crazy ones that you're sooo attracted to that cause you nothing but drama...and the sane and solid ones that save your keister form every possible kind of jam. How's a fashionable gal supposed to end up with a mix of daring and tried and true? The way I edit my closet is " the rule of love". If I don't love it, I let it go. And part of love is that it has to make me feel amazing, again and again, the kind of pieces I can take pretty much anywhere and know they won't embarrass me, the kind of pieces that make me feel like ME, that fit just right, that *are* just right in color, texture, fabric, day after day for years. Those pieces, I keep. For life. The pieces that don't do that, that don't give me that feeling? We break up. Mostly it's sooner, sometimes it's later (it can take awhile to figure out that a piece just isn't the one for you ;)), but they go. There's no room in style for pieces that are too complicated to wear, no mattr how long you searched for them or what you paid for them or how amazing you thought they were going to be. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it just doesn't work out. No use crying over it; just move on. Anything lightly worn, no stains, no holes/rips/pulls etc., I donate. Almost any kind of clothing can go to a good home these days...even prom/bridesmaid dresses). Ebay is another opton for items in good shape that you really need some money back on. So don't hold on to what doesn't work. Open your (closet) doors to new things and let love rule your fashion :)
It took me years to fall in love with stilettos, but once I did...BAM! ...it was hot, burning passion :). There was only one tiny thing that kept me from taking my new chosen partners out around the town...I couldn't walk in the gorgeous things...gahh. So, I guess every relationship takes some work and high heels and I have gotten things to come together. How's this love thing done? First the basics, the 101, the things all the 40+ year couples will tell you: head up, eyes ahead, back straight. Good posture does wonders for balance (love really is all about finding the right balance ;)), so be regal...or a runway model, depending on your state of mind for the day. Also, make sure to walk heel-toe. It feels odd when your heels hit the ground so soon because of the shoe, but stick with it and it'll get easier. Start your high heel adventure with wedges. The thinner the heel, the harder it is to balance and vice versa. So those pin-thin Casadei heels? Those are things you work up to...you know -once you're comfortable with each other. From wedges, go to a chunky heel and/or bootie type designs that surround the whole foot and/or ankle straps (go for multi-strap designs or wider straps as opposed to minimal, super-slim designs like the Weitzman Nudist). The extra straps keep the shoe more secure and make walking easier. (Aside: I also find slingbacks to also be in this medium-easy category, but it depends on the shape of your heel and personal preference). Consider buying one pair of heels that's half an inch to an inch higher than the height of the highest pair you want to walk in. If 4" is your highest heel, look for a 4.5" one. Practice walking in it in safe environments (self-bubble wrapping is always an option, but I've found draping a yoga mat over myself like a poncho to be perfectly effective. J/k. ....I do go for the bubble wrap. OK, really kidding). Seriously, wear your biggest heels around the house, put the radio up and dance in them, clean and organize your room in them, do dishes with them, wear them out and about in carpet-only areas where you can forego wooden floors (they're like walking on ice), pavement (AND cobblestones omg...I nearly destroyed myself once trying to walk to a dinner date on cobblestones. It was super not pretty. For cobblestones: FLATS. Trust me). Also, forego stairs when you're first building your relationship with high heels. They can be done - just go slowly! (This is true for wooden floors/ice rinks as well). And wait until you feel comfortable on flat ground before you give them a try. Once you get used to a higher heel than you plan to wear, you'll find the actual height you want to do life with to be way more manageable. After 4.5", 3.75" or 4" feels like a breeze! Find a height you feel happy in. It's different for everyone (I can do 4.5" heels, I can commit to 4" heels and 3.5" heels are basically like happily-married-to-my-feet flats). PS platforms throw a fun little plot twist (and a nice opportunity to work on your math skills) into the whole height calculation situation, so experiment a bit and find out what you like. 4" with a half inch platform isn't quite as easy as 3.5" single sole heels, but it's def easier than 4" single soles. Lastly, don't be afraid to try new things and share new experiences with your high heels (like marksmanship games or balance boards ;)); it's what keeps the passion in a relationship. I wish you and your heels many long (-legged) years of happiness together! XO
I have a lot of fashion philosophies and one of them involves colors...or rather, one particular color ;). I believe everyone should, at some time in their life, choose a signature shade. It's one of those little details that makes fashion fun. You can tell everyone your choice. You can tell no one. You can keep it as a secret you only share with a cherished few. You can change it over time, you can keep it the same forever. A signature shade can be your favorite color, or a color that just looks amazing on you. Or, it can be both those things. The only real, true, critical aspect of this game is that it be a color you absolutely love and adore, would walk through fire for, would rescue from drowning.
I know, I know: there's the little matter of being able to find said color and of it being in style or not...because colors go through fashion cycles just as silhouettes and materials do. There are a couple of ways around that. One is to choose a color that's so iconic that it's always in style. Red is the classic example, but most iterations of pink and blue are never far off fashion's radar, even though certain shades may be super hot at the moment. Cobalt blue is a great example. It's cray trendy atm, but you can find bits of it around pretty much always and forever. A second option is to choose a shade that's so out of fashion's focus that it's always around a little bit, but never really *the* color that's on everyone's lips. Lilac is an example of this, as is aqua. A third alternative is to pick a general signature color, as opposed to being super-specific, and swing with the times. For example, your signature color might be "orange" or "green", but you lean toward peach or lime shades when those tones are fashion's darlings and pumpkin or emerald when those hues take center stage. The fun part about doing that is it brings more variety and lets you change things up if you're prone to boredom, while still maintaining an anchoring color theme.
Ok, so now that you've got one, what do you do with it? :) There are so many ways to make use of a signature shade! I'll reach for mine if I know I have a tough day coming up, because just seeing the color makes me a little happier. Ditto if I have an important event, because it makes me feel confident. If I'm deciding whether to splurge on something, color becomes a deciding factor - I'll buy something special, unique, out of my comfort zone, or something that's a bit more expensive than I usually will go for, if it's in my signature shade. If I don't wear a certain type of piece all that often, but I want to have one in my wardrobe besides a neutral, I'll look for it in my signature color. It's also the first color I choose for investment pieces when building a collection; my first colored belt, my first colored purse, my first expensive pumps, my first silk scarf were all my signature shade. Your signature color can also help you pare down your wardrobe if you're looking to edit your fashion choices. You select neutrals and then reduce your colored items to primarily your signature shade. It allows you to brings pops of brightness to an outfit but dramatically reduces how much color-coordinating you need to do, allowing you to clear and refresh your style palette and simplify your life.
It's such a jazz to connect with a shade that's just madly, wildly, completely, thoroughly YOU - to be able to have it around you and within your style on a consistent basis. It's like...instant joy :)...or color therapy to go! A little more brightness in life is always a good thing and choosing a signature shade is a tiny, accessible-to-everyone way to bring some in :). Have fun doing your Signature-Color-Choosing (if you choose to choose ;))! ...Maybe we should do like... home parties... for this :)
Brie (Hi!) More re: me under About. I'm the moving spirit behind this little life-meets-fashion fairy tale world, the home of my non-wrestling-related style musings and loves.