Wednesday, April 1, 2015

How I Wear My: Layers

Adrienne of The Rich Life (on a budget).

Layers are not only practical, adding lightweight warmth during the sometimes-chilly early spring weather, they are an easy way to project a bit of your personality and style into any outfit, so they seemed perfect for a “How I Wear My” post in April.

This is one of those posts that features outfits running the gamut from dressy to casual and includes dresses, skirts, pants, and jeans! You will definitely find some layered inspiration and looks to love here. Enjoy!

Adrienne of The Rich Life (on a budget), above, my “How I Wear My” partner writes, “I just got back from a weekend in Mendocino, which is coastal and typically cool and often foggy. On this particular day spent traipsing around the countryside, looking at barns, the fog was thick and the temps were in the 50s and 60s with ocean wind. I was so glad to have brought my Stella Carakasi Far and Away coat. It’s made of boiled wool, without a liner, and is the perfect light coat for this sort of weather. To me, it’s more like a long sweater that zips. I layered it over a black long-sleeved tee. When I feel warm, I can simply unzip it a little and open up the collar, showing more of my layers.”

I not only love this look on Adrienne, I love this as a stand-alone photo of her. It is amazing!

Alice of Happiness at Mid-Life.

Alice of Happiness at Mid-Life writes, “Since I love to play with patterns and colors, a great way for me tone down a lot of print is adding a blazer. Adding a necklace as well adds that extra layer of interest to the outfit.”

One of the things I love about Alice is her fearlessness where pattern and color are concerned so I can’t imagine this post without her since layering is a big part of her style. I am crazy about this outfit, especially the shoes. Sexy perfection!

Suzanne of Suzanne Carillo.

Suzanne of Suzanne Carillo says, “This is my nod to Ralph Lauren...with a thrifted skirt by Ralph Lauren.” The boots were on consignment, the hat is vintage, and her handbag was just picked up at an estate sale.

Suzanne looks so beautiful and ethereal in this photo! I love these layers inspired by Ralph Lauren and I think Ralph would like this look too, don’t you?

Nicole of High Latitude Style.

Nicole of High Latitude Style writes, “This photo shows an example of how I layer for style and not for insulation. There is no reason but style to pin the cashmere sweater to the outfit. I just wanted repeating of the color of the stripe in the skirt. Basically, I used the sweater as a scarf, sort of. LOL.”

Not only do I love this look on Nicole—what great colors!—I know exactly what she is talking about because I use some of my cardigans like a scarf that is tied around my shoulders too. It’s a fun way to add color, as Nicole has done here!

Nora of Jacket Society.

Nora of Jacket Society is wearing a Zara cropped jacket with slim cropped black pants. The pale leopard scarf, which I love, is by Jacket Society (find it here) and you won’t be surprised to find out I am also crazy about the Hermès belt and those lace-up heels!

Deja of Une femme d’un certain âge.

Deja of Une femme d’un certain âge says, “When I wear a short skirt, I like to add longer layers on top. Seems to balance it out somehow.”

I like this business-edgy layered look on Deja, especially with the addition of tall black boots, a pearl necklace and that great Saint Laurent bag. I saw a similar one in the window of Barney’s over the weekend, immediately thought of Deja, and wanted to rush in and buy one for myself! I did not, but oh was I tempted because Deja carries it so well that I want one too.

Cynthia of My Rose Colored Shades.

Cynthia of My Rose Colored Shades says, “How do you stay warm in 40 degree spring weather without a winter coat? Say hello to layering.”

I love this layered look in blue on Cynthia, especially since I wear so much denim myself and blue is one of my favorite colors!

Susan of High Heels in the Wilderness.

Susan of High Heels in the Wilderness says that she “tried out a layered outfit suitable for an Ottawa spring...i.e., pretty darned cold.” She is wearing dressy joggers from Aritzia, a Canadian store, a red Gap T-shirt, Paige jean jacket, a Michael Kors raincoat, and a floral scarf. She says she will have to cover up her ankles to take this look outside because of the temperature and jokes, “Pantyhose, anyone?”

I know just what Susan means, it’s still too cold in NYC to do anything but keep wearing layers, right down to the feet. Once the weather is warm enough though, I do love the look, like Susan’s, of loafers without socks!

Pam of Over 50 Feeling 40.

Pam of Over 50 Feeling 40 says, “I wear layers a lot in Texas in order to maintain a professional style. I often wear sleeveless blouses under jackets during warmer weather...so I can keep the jackets for work or presentations.”

These are great tonal layers on Pam and I think she brings up a good point about how layers allow a woman to keep a professional look, with the simple addition of a jacket, which can then be shed as the temperatures rise.

Helen of Valley of the Shoes.

Helen of Valley of the Shoes says, “I’m crazy about jumpsuits this spring, so it’s the foundation to the following layers during the transitional weather. The jumpsuit is so versatile, it pairs well with shirts underneath or jackets as a topper. It also matches with many types of shoes and ankle boots. It’s really fun to wear.” She paired the jumpsuit here with a graphic houndstooth sweatshirt and a long dog tag necklace.

I really like this look on Helen and now I have to wonder why I don’t own a jumpsuit myself. If you have one, do you layer it like Helen has done here?

Dawn Lucy of Fashion Should Be Fun.

Dawn Lucy of Fashion Should Be Fun jokes, “Got a bit creative here (too much maybe?) Wearing a dress as a vest, along with a tank, a denim jacket, and black skinnies.”

Not too creative for me, in fact, I am a big fan of this layered look on Dawn Lucy and how she mixed floral with denim. And I think those skinny jeans make her legs look a mile long!

Linda of A Labour of Life.

Linda of A Labour of Life writes, “I mean seriously, layers and Canadian Winters and Springs just go hand in hand. Layers and Canada is like ice cream and chocolate sauce or wine with cheese, you just cannot have one without the other.”

I love that Linda used a leopard skirt as a base for layering, she looks terrific in this outfit (don’t you adore those patterned tights, just visible beneath the skirt), and I always appreciate her humor!

Edie.

Our new friend Edie writes, “Usually once a year I leave cold, snowy Canada and go to hot, sunny West Africa for volunteer work. I wear this lovely ‘throw’ as a shawl as it allows me to shed my winter coat at the airport and leave it behind. The throw keeps me warm on planes and in airports and can also be rolled up and used as a pillow. Under my throw/shawl I wear a hoodie, sheer shirt, and tank top. I always wear a black skirt or trousers as it’s a 36 hour trip (barring delays). Shortly before touchdown, I ditch the opaque tights, fold my hoodie and shawl and tuck them into my carry-on and trade my flats for flip-flops. Now I’m ready for that 95+ temperature that will hit me in the face as soon as I leave the airport.”

It sounds like Edie has this down to a science and I like that the layers she chooses are stylish for two completely different time zones and temperature ranges. I also like this shade of blue worn with black!

Ana of Mrs. American Made.

Ana of Mrs. American Made writes, “I like to layer to change up a look, mainly dresses, to add variety to my wardrobe - sometimes I like to pretend that a dress is just the skirt part or just a top. And I remix it into an outfit like this American-made black and white Milly dress together with a top like the ‘Inheritance’ top by Nanette Lepore and a black embellished cardigan by Rozae Nichols over it to create a totally different look.”

This is such a feminine and lovely look on Ana, who also sent a photo of the separate pieces of the ensemble. I like this as a picture, it’s so girly and wonderful, and I like that it shows us how Ana put this outfit together.

The elements of Ana’s outfit. So pretty and elegant! It makes me happy just looking at it!

Trina of Tea Time With Trina.

Trina of Tea Time With Trina writes, “This month’s HIWM is so much fun, especially when you live in an area where layering is essential all year round. In this photo I am layering denim on denim which, to be honest, I do ALL the time. I’m a go-to denim gal.”

I really enjoy seeing the three ways Trina uses different layers and accessories to change the vibe of the same basic foundation. A great trio of looks!

Cheryl of Northwest Mountain Living.

Cheryl of Northwest Mountain Living says of her outfit, “It is very casual because my chickens were being delivered that day and I needed to be functional and comfortable. I am wearing a gray-checked flannel shirt, navy cardigan, and wine vest with boyfriend jeans and gray tennis shoes.”

Do not even get me started on the fact that she had chickens being delivered. I think chickens are such cool birds and I am so excited to find out that Cheryl now has two new chickens, Peony and Lilac, named after her two favorite flowers. I knew a gal who kept a pet chicken named Cluck-Cluck in her NYC apartment, can you believe it?  Back to Cheryl’s outfit, I like that she added a pop of color to her layered look. What a way to welcome Peony and Lilac to their new home!

In front of “Winged Genie Wearing Fancy Bracelets,” circa 883-859 BC.

My everyday uniform always consists of layers, usually a shirt or blouse, with a black J. Crew Jackie cardigan (my favorite), and then I add jewelry, a scarf, and if needed, a coat. In these pictures I am at the Brooklyn Museum, in one of my favorite sections because I am crazy for Ancient Near Eastern art and have been since college. This work is entitled “Winged Genie Wearing Fancy Bracelets,” circa 883-859 B.C., and was in the king’s palace during the reign of Ashur-nasir-pal II, in what is now Iraq. I love the intricate carvings in this alabaster relief.

My friend and photographer Gwynne told me to hold my bag out like the genie was holding his so I went for it. Mine is by MZ Wallace. I bet the genie’s was made of gold!

Holding my bag like the genie holds his!

The lighting is dark but the sweater and coat are both by J. Crew, with an Old Navy tank top underneath, and I layered my green velveteen scarf and Chanel pendant over the top. Actually, the genie and I have a bit in common since my pendant mimics the rosettes on his wrists and on his headband, and he has fringe on the sleeve edge of his robes, and I have fringe on my scarf!

My Chanel pendant and $10 street scarf.

How are you liking your layers these days?

For May we are having a white jeans party! Whether you have been wearing them all winter or will break them out now in time for spring and summer, we want to see all your different ways of styling them. Join us for “How I Wear My: White Jeans.” Send photos to us at howiwearmy@yahoo.com by May 4, 2015, along with a short description of what you are wearing.

Do swing by Adrienne’s to see the other terrific looks featuring layers.

And THANK YOU to all the fine foxes who participated this month!

All photos of me by G. Keresty.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Enchanted with Emerald Green

Tamara de Lempicka’s self-portrait in a Bugatti, 1925. One of my favorite portraits!

I thought maybe it was a St. Patrick’s Day thing, this abiding love for green, but since March 17 is past and I’m still thinking about that color and probably will be for awhile, I decided to do a roundup of things that I think are just gorgeous, all of them featuring that emerald shade. I did a roundup last year too, so this is my 2015 edition, capturing green things that are on my mind right now!

I have loved the 1925 picture Auto-Portrait (Tamara in the Green Bugatti) since I first saw it, when I was in my twenties. Those smoldering eyes! That green Bugatti! The sophistication! The glamour! I read that de Lempicka painted this picture for a German fashion magazine, Die Dame, and that her gloves, hat, and driving outfit were all from Hermès. I am not sure if that last part is 100% true (though I hope it is), but I really enjoy the sense of Tamara’s cool independence and fearlessness in her amazing self-portrait showing her at the wheel of one fabulous green car.

A 1994 Hermès Kelly 32 in Courchevel leather from a Christie’s auction.

This beautiful green 1994 Hermès Kelly 32 in Courchevel leather was part of a large Christie’s online auction last year featuring luxury handbags. I hope it went to a good home because it is stunning. I love that the original owner had her initials embossed in gold on the front of the bag.

A 1954 ball gown of green silk satin from the 2014 Met exhibit Charles James: Beyond Fashion.

I have been lucky enough to see this incredibly glamorous 1954 Charles James ball gown in person twice, once at the Brooklyn Museum in 2010, and again at the Met last year as part of their exhibit Charles James: Beyond Fashion. It never gets old, I tell you, and I really think that on the right body (think Sofia Vergara) it could be worn today.

A Catherine Martin/Miuccia Prada costume from The Great Gatsby, 2013.

I still love this green and black striped sequined dress that was one of the costumes for the film The Great Gatsby. This costume was a collaboration between Catherine Martin, the Oscar-winning costume designer of the film, and Miuccia Prada. The dress was one of many featured in the SoHo Prada store in Spring 2013, displaying costumes from the movie and easily one of the most entertaining and fun exhibits I have ever seen. Sequins and beading and paillettes everywhere, as far as the eye could see! I wanted to move into that store and stay bedazzled!

I weep over this emerald and diamond ring from Cartier, circa 2000. Photo courtesy of Beladora.

So glad someone purchased this gorgeous Cartier emerald and diamond ring that was for sale on Beladora last summer. Every time I saw it on the website I just wanted to whip out the credit card, have an accident, and buy it.

Over the top amazing Cartier London emerald and diamond necklace, circa 1932. Photo by Joyce J.

This gigantic 1932 creation by Cartier London was featured in the exhibit Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century that just wrapped at the Denver Art Museum. My new friend Joyce snapped terrific pictures of some of the gems and shared them with me. I am forever grateful to her since I was unable to see this show myself. The necklace was once owned by Countess Granard, née Beatrice Miller Forbes, an American heiress. The emerald is 143.23 carats!

Van Cleef & Arpels Vintage Alhambra necklace in malachite. Le sigh.

If I could own one thing from Van Cleef & Arpels this would be the winner, hands down—a Vintage Alhambra 10-motif necklace in malachite and yellow gold. Princess Grace owned one of these necklaces, only her version was the 20-motif necklace. I got a picture of it at the 2011 show Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels. Glorious!

A 1975 Van Cleef & Arpels Vintage Alhambra 20-motif necklace owned by Princess Grace of Monaco.

I know a lot of you out there love this color too so let me know if there is something I should check out in this shade—a piece of jewelry, a scarf, a painting, a bag, a dress. Any and all emerald green suggestions welcome here!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Yoyo Cao in Layers

Yoyo Cao at Paris Fashion Week, March 2015. Photo by YoungJun Koo.

Who can resist a mid-length, pleated, gold and black tulle skirt layered with a leather biker jacket, turtleneck, and black suede boots, all of it worn in Paris during fashion week? I love the wild glamour of this look on Yoyo Cao. This is another great street style shot by the talented YoungJun Koo. I really love seeing his photos, they are always a visual treat. In this photo, I especially love the cool formality of the classical architecture as a backdrop to Yoyo’s black and gold outfit.

Let Yoyo’s lovely layered look be your friendly reminder that April’s “How I Wear My” is devoted to layers. Adrienne and I are accepting pictures until March 30, 2015. Do join us! Send photos to howiwearmy@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Power of a Compliment

“Complimentary” by Leah Harper under the High Line in NYC, Oct 2014, which dispensed compliments! From DNAinfo.

I recently had to go to a meeting at my son’s school to meet with his teachers about his academic progress, always an anxiety-producing event. I generally know what they are going to say but that doesn’t mean the critiques are fun to listen to. The meeting went as expected and as I was putting on my coat to leave and thanking the teachers for their time and telling them that it was nice to see them, one of the teachers said to me, “It’s nice to see you too. You are always so beautifully put together, in a simple and elegant way.”

I could feel my eyes widen. “Wow! What a compliment! Thank you! You just made my whole week!”

It wasn’t an exaggeration. I had been having a tough week for a number of reasons, but this lady’s unexpected and generous comment to me was a terrific reminder of the power of words, and the power of a compliment in particular.

In case you were wondering, I was wearing these things along with jeans and black boots.

Old Navy zip cardigan, $10 green velveteen street scarf.

The “Hayley” bag by MZ Wallace in Draper Tweed.

I admit I am kind of a fanatic about giving compliments, to the point where I often wonder later (as I’m cringing), if people think I’m fake or too Pollyanna when passing them out. I am not even remotely Pollyanna. I just think that the world is so hard, it can be such a tough, depressing place, that I really love to say to a lady, “That color looks so good on you.” Or, “Oh my God, you look like a Vogue model.” I even said to a woman I don’t know at my daughter’s school, “You have the best style!” I hope she doesn’t think I’m crazy.

It was weird, but wonderful, being on the receiving end of the kind of compliment I am so used to giving out. It really did brighten not only my day but my entire week and maybe even beyond. I can’t remember the last time I got a compliment like that from someone, face to face!

I read somewhere that you should try to give three compliments a day (or maybe I made this up, I can’t remember where I would have read it!). I don’t always make it to three but I do strive to give at least one compliment a day, usually to either a complete stranger or someone I don’t know very well. I should probably try harder to give compliments to the people I see on a daily basis!

“Complimentary” included this gem, all taken from a poll conducted on Craigslist! Photo by Leah Harper.

I do find it a bit harder to compliment men. They seem much more ready to reject one, always in a joking way of course, but it still seems as though a compliment makes them feel awkward and shy. I would love to hear your thoughts on whether men have a harder time than women receiving compliments.

I would also like to know if you give out a lot of compliments yourself. If yes, do you make an effort to do it, like me, or does it just come naturally?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Gilded Age in New York

The front of Poly Prep Lower School in my neighborhood, originally the Hulbert Mansion, built in 1889.

There is an interesting article over at the New York Times, “Regilding the Gilded Age in New York,” about the rise in popularity regarding anything to do with the Gilded Age in New York, approximately from the 1870s to the early 1900s. I consider myself a modern gal but I do have a soft spot in my heart for the Gilded Age—the art, the architecture, the literature, the jewels, the amazing gowns by Charles Frederick Worth.

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch dedicated to the Defenders of the Union.

Of all the eras in New York, and I do think about what it must’ve really been like here during the 1920s or at the height of the Great Depression, or during either of the World Wars, I feel I am closest to the Gilded Age in terms of its presence in my day-to-day life. I live in the Park Slope Historic District and the particular house I live in was built in 1910. I’m down the street from Grand Army Plaza, featuring the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch, unveiled by President Grover Cleveland in 1892, as well as Prospect Park, a large portion of which was completed in 1873. Every time I look out the window or walk down the street I can feel a bit of the spirit of the Gilded Age surrounding me.

Along Prospect Park, quite a Gilded Age feel on a foggy night!

I thought it would be fun to note a few things that immediately spring to mind when I think of that era in the city.

Edith Wharton’s best book.

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

One of the best novels I’ve ever read, also one of the saddest. I actually cried at the end of it, and I don’t normally cry at the end of books. In fact, this is the only novel that has ever caused me to do that. The tale of Lily Bart in The House of Mirth reminded me about the plight of women during that time in history who were unmarried, had no money, no family, and no prospects. This is the part of the Gilded Age that I don’t find romantic at all.

A stunning Tiffany pendant brooch of diamonds and a sapphire, circa 1900.

Tiffany & Co.

Can you talk about the Gilded Age in New York without talking about the stunning jewelry of that time by Tiffany & Co.? This gorgeous pendant brooch of diamonds and a sapphire set in platinum, circa 1900, is from the exhibit Gilded New York, still on view at The Museum of the City of New York.

An 1882 gown by Charles Frederick Worth.

Charles Frederick Worth

I wish I could write him a thank you note because the opportunity to get up close and personal with his gowns are the reason I started my blog (maybe my blog is my thank you note). It’s hard for me to pick a favorite Worth dress since I consider every gown an opportunity to learn about old school (and original) couture, but this 1882 gown is one that is close to my heart. I took these pictures at the Met exhibit Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity in February 2013.

A side view.

The back of the gown. I love those panels of off-white silk. Note the pleats below them!


La Loge by Auguste Renoir, 1874

I know this painting shows a scene from the Gilded Age in Paris, but I just love it and had to include it. It was one of my favorites from the same exhibit the Worth gown was in, easily one of the best—and most creative— exhibits I’ve ever seen. That is Renoir’s brother Edmond as the man in the painting. The lady was Nini Lopez, a model.

In front of a Brooklyn brownstone. Photo by G. Keresty.

Brownstone Facades and Stoops


They really do feel like something out of an Edith Wharton novel themselves, with their grandeur and curves and gorgeous detailing. My friend Gwynne took these pictures along 8th Avenue in Brooklyn.

A detail of the face in the pillar.

Enjoying my own Gilded Age moment in Brooklyn. This house was built in 1899.

The female face below is a bas-relief on the front of the house I live in. There are different faces on some of the houses along my street. They are a wonderful detail that you have to be on the lookout for because they are not readily apparent with just a casual glance.

A bas-relief face.

Are you a fan of the Gilded Age? Is there a particular aspect of it that you love? Tell me everything!

I am joining Alice and all the other babes over at Happiness at Mid-Life. Stop by and meet some new people!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Is It Really All About the Hair?

I’d know that bob anywhere. Anna at Milan Fashion Week, March 2015. Photo by YoungJun Koo.

I am reading a book right now called Women, Work & The Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility by Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat. I came across an interesting passage that caught my attention:


“Remember the main character in the feel-good movie Working Girl (1988)? Secretary and executive-in-the-making Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) opines, ‘If you want to get ahead in business…you’ve got to have serious hair.’ Well, she’s right. In French Women Don’t Get Fat, I wrote, ‘French women know one can go far with a great haircut, a bottle of Champagne, and a divine perfume.’ I believe it.

“Bad hair is a branding catastrophe for women. If I could give women one ‘beauty and branding tip,’ it would be to get a great haircut and invest in regular blow-dries. I am a bit embarrassed by the time and money I have had to spend on my hair over my professional life, but, though it bothers me, it was simply essential. I had to be and wanted to be presentable at all times.

“The harsh reality is that women in the workplace are judged on their looks a lot more than men. Say it’s not fair, but it is a silent reality. Face it. Women do not have to be gorgeous to succeed; indeed, there’s the argument that being too good-looking can work against a woman in many professions. A woman, however, needs to be well groomed and presentable, let’s call it soignée. Period.”

Rachel Zoe’s signature hairstyle. Photo from Streetstrut.com

I didn’t want to think Mireille was right but you know what? She’s probably right. I don’t think I’m particularly hair-obsessed but I certainly want mine to look neat and flattering, though on any given day, depending on the weather mostly, that is a supreme challenge, requiring mousse, a blow-dryer, a flat iron or curling brush, patience, and hairspray. And even then, it doesn’t always work! I like a bob of course, it suits both my face and personality as well as my job of mom/blogger/freelance writer.

Love this look on myself but the hair is not easy to achieve! Photo by G. Keresty.

Mireille’s writing on the subject made me think that ladies (and gentlemen) need to not only have serious hair, they also need appropriate hair. A Manhattan lawyer I once worked for one day commented to me on another lawyer’s hair, “I wish she’d cut that hair. It’s not professional looking.”

The comment came from a partner in his late sixties whose name was on the front door. The lawyer he was referring to was young, female, new to both the profession and the practice, and in her twenties. I could see his point—she had long flowing hair that reached halfway down her back. She never wore it up. It often could have used a comb. It was gorgeous hair, hair you might see on a supermodel, but if it’s your law firm, do you want long, flowing, romantic hair on a woman representing both your firm and your client during legal proceedings in a New York City courtroom or during a deposition? Maybe not! (Of course, since it was his law firm I assume he had a hand in hiring her so I have to wonder, did he think she’d cut her hair when he brought her on board? But that is a subject for a different post.)

I’m including some pictures of people I think have good (and serious, and appropriate) hair for their job title. Anna’s severe bob (that I love)? Ideal for the top editrix at the most famous magazine in the world. Rachel Zoe’s wavy golden tresses? Perfect for a stylist. Diane von Furstenburg’s big bouncy curls? Sublime for an iconic fashion designer and champion of women.

The divine DVF at FIT in 2012 for the exhibit IMPACT: 50 Years of the CFDA.

I find Christine Lagarde’s slightly boyish cut both modern and chic and a great choice for the first woman Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF. Photo by Getty Images.

As for Linda Fargo’s silver perfection, I can’t imagine any other hair on the senior vice president of the fashion office at Bergdorf Goodman, can you?

Such great hair on Linda Fargo of Bergdorf Goodman. Photo by Mr. Newton.

I would love to read your take on this subject, whether you are a lady or a gentleman!