Pretty in Pink 2016

Last week my husband and I hosted our annual ‘nieces summer visit’. Each July, for one week, we enjoy the company of Hannah and Olivia, now ages fifteen and thirteen. When they visit, we often think “What would they like to do, and how should we plan?” Being they are teenagers now, maybe their interests have changed?

 

Each night we went through the Netflix queue to find age-appropriate movies we could watch together. Al came across the John Hughes section and we decided on Sixteen Candles. Either it would seem horribly dated, or they’d love it as much as we did. Seems we hit the jackpot! Since they enjoyed it, we decided to take them to the historic, Tampa Theater, for a one-day viewing of Pretty in Pink. Not only would it be cool to see but even better seeing in this historic venue. 

 

Watching it again made feel nostalgic for the eighties; the clothes, the hair, the music! Who couldn’t relate to Molly Ringwald’s character Andie? A poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Beautiful in a non-conventional way, with fiery red hair and porcelain skin. Not only are her looks unique, Andie has more talent in her little finger than all of the snobby, privileged girls in her graduating class. Yet she longs to be like them, desperately wanting to fit in.

 

After realizing she isn’t going to win her classmates over, she knows she must be true to herself and loyal to her close friends. Compelled to attend her high school prom, Andie deconstructs a thrift store dress and a vintage prom dress to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece she calls her own. This dress not only highlights her talents but also reflects her strength and beauty.

 

It was at that point of the movie that I had my inspiration for this blog. Friends and clients know I enjoy shopping at the occasional thrift and consignment store. Since there are many versions of the same concept popping up all over the Internet, I thought “Why not make a few masterpieces of my own, while navigating resale on-line boutiques?"

 

Shopping on-line can be just as fun, right? It was as if I were going through the racks in a local store, I scrolled through page after page, searching for just the right pieces to put together. Some were from high end sites like The Real Real and Tradesy while others featured lower-end merchandise, found on ThredUp and Swap. I was happy to find that Poshmark sold an assortment of both. My goal was to find fabulous (pink) pieces and work them back to create a color story that will take your wardrobe effortlessly into Fall 2016. Pinks, plums and reds. I believe Andie would approve!

Below, are some styling ideas that will keep your look cool and contemporary, whether on a budget or not. Don’t be afraid to mix florals with stripes, plaids with pinstripes or a combination of unexpected colors.

If you do it right, you just may hear the voice of Duckie exclaiming to Andie, “This is really a volcanic ensemble you’re wearing, it’s really marvelous!”

Birds of a Feather

I began this blog with so many ideas in mind and since the last two entries were about local flavor, I wanted to step outside my backyard and take a trip west. That’s where my friend Carmen comes in. I longed to feature her work, ‘Carmen Havens Designs’, as her pieces are really one-of-a-kind, delicate and artfully done. Some are silk blouses, some are cotton dresses. All are beautiful.

Carmen and I met when we were both studying at The Fashion Institute of Technology, in Manhattan. We shared the same floor in our dorm and after getting to know her, I thought she'd be a great roommate. And, she was. I loved her passion for the arts and her major, which was Fashion Design, but also her fearlessness for standing up for what was right. Always making sure she was doing her part to correct the world’s injustices, she would remind fellow students that rudeness and cruelty would not be tolerated or ignored in her presence. As our friendship grew, we visited each other’s families; mine on Long Island and hers in North Carolina. As the years rolled by, we kept in touch, sharing stories of our marriages, careers and families. She still has a love for fashion and in creating interesting pieces that speak to her, and me. 

Ever the fighter, today, she is engaged in a more personal battle, one that hits closer to home. She and her husband moved their family to Denver, seeking a better education and acceptance for their children; one of which has Autism and the other transgendered. She is a strong proponent for Austism awareness and the rights of the LGBT community. Seems she is always teaching her children to be their best selves and inspiring them with the same core values that were instilled in her. Acceptance of other’s differences is a major focus, along with loving oneself too. We are all perfectly imperfect.

Carmen recently sent me a few of her new pieces and one of them sparked the writing bug in me! She designed a cold-shoulder sheath dress with an embroidered bird and branch on the side. I’ve been wanting to create something ‘bird-feather-inspired’ for a while. Be it a watercolor painting, an accessory piece or just a collection of objects that have the feeling they can take flight. So, below is our friendship in pictures, the bird-inspired sheath dress and many ways to accessorize it! You can follow Carmen on Instagram @designerhavens, where she gives you a glimpse into her daily life, her current passions and the things that inspire her to create the artwork I call her ‘fashion.’

Web site: carmenhavensdesigns.wordpress.com

Instagram:  @designerhavens

Facebook: @carmenhavensdesigns

Local Flavor (part 2) - Mixing it Up!

Last month I focused my blog primarily on swimwear and ways to pull together a casual chic beach look. I wanted to include a great Ikat jacket I discovered, that can be worn as an alternative to the traditional cover-up. Actually, this jacket can be styled so many different ways, I thought I’d make it the focus of this blog. This jacket can be found on Uptown Gal Shop, an on-line boutique. They offer lots of cool pieces, but this jacket just spoke to me, as I fell in love with it’s versatility. Lightweight and soft, it’s the perfect piece to incorporate into your wardrobe. 

I took the jacket with me to a few local places as I knew what I was looking for, and also knew where to find it; Kelly Reed’s Boutique. These lovely ladies, Rasha Kelly and Monique Reed, (hence the name Kelly Reed’s) moved their Parisian inspired boutique from a local mall, into a new space on Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa. They not only brought over their colorful, trendy pieces but also the Parisian feel. Showcasing minimal yet inviting décor, these ladies know how to make you feel ‘right at home’ during your shopping experience. It’s very apparent that they love what they do, and get really excited about all things fashion! Making sure they offer clients unique pieces at a reasonable price point is key!

The assortment of clothing they offer is mostly casual, but if you are looking for a special dress, they may have that too! I really love the fact that they carry a wide range of sizes; from 2 – 3X. I can’t tell you how many times I hear “I can’t find anything cute and comfortable in my size.” The plus size pieces are just as contemporary as the rest of the store’s merchandise, and don’t get me started on their handbags! Ok, to die for! After featuring these bags in my latest fashion show, I'm not sure I'd ever buy anything other than a Pourchet bag again. (pourchet-paris.com). Most are structured and pack a punch of bold color. I am crushing over their yellow Cassetta bag right now. Whether you like patent or quilted, satchel or cross-body, neutral or a pop of color, they do it and they do it right! The quality you get for the price is amazing! I kept thinking that a bag like this (or even one of their wallets), would make the perfect gift for a friend but it would have to be a really good friend, otherwise the bag would never leave my hands!

So, if you are lucky enough to live in close proximity to Kelly Reed’s Boutique, stop in and say hello to the girls, check out their new location and have a glass of champagne while you shop! If you can’t make it in, they have a great web site that is easy to navigate and fun to browse at www.kellyreedsboutique.com. There is truly ‘something for everyone’ at this little gem!

Local Flavor (part 1) - My Spin on Swim

Local Flavor – (part 1) My Spin on Swim

This month, I had many projects to tackle, including my dreaded ‘swimsuit for the season’ task. I have transitioned from a 2-piece swimsuit into a one-piece. Part of me feels relieved that I don’t have to worry about showing so much skin, but the other part of me thinks ‘Damn! I can’t rock a bikini anymore?” Either way, I wanted to find something unique; that spoke to my personality and was comfortable. The older I get, the less patience I have for discomfort, so no matter what pieces I choose to incorporate into my wardrobe, they have to be easy, functional and comfortable.

 

Wanting to find something other than what the department stores offered, I went in search of local designers. After talking to the owners at Canvas Fashion Gallery in St. Petersburg, I was introduced to Megan Cecil who created her own company called MC Swim. Located in St. Pete, she not only designs but constructs her one-of-a-kind pieces, right at her kitchen table. She has a small on-line shop on Etsy.com where you can find her swimwear. What impressed me most was, not only the quality of the fabrics (as they were so soft and not scratchy), but the versatility of each piece she created. All are reversible, so it’s like getting two for the price of one. A print on one side and a solid on the other. In addition, Megan designed a suit with my measurements in mind, so there was no second guessing about the fit. She offered a selection of fabrics to choose from. Not only are her swimsuits soft but they are strong too! I knew the minute I tried my samples on, I could swim, sun or spend the day on the beach. No worries about adjusting or re-adjusting anything. Again, comfortable!

 

After I chose my swimsuits, I thought about the way I wanted to style each one, and keep my ‘local flavor’ idea in mind. So, the rest of the boutiques I include in this blog are local ‘gems’ I have discovered in my travels, each offering their own take on the Florida fashion market. One of my favorites is Canvas Fashion Gallery, who I mentioned before, a very eclectic mix of moderate to high-end merchandise with a contemporary twist. Some of their pieces are featured below. You can shop their website, which is www.shopcanvas.com but I prefer the experience of actually going into the store. Concrete floors, distressed woods and a minimal feel, really enhance the shopping experience. What I love about this concept, is that the environment is designed with ‘clean lines’ in mind. These girls get it! It’s a careful selection of the coolest pieces, hand chosen by proprietors, Michelle Burtch and Shelby Lynn. It’s as if they read the retail handbook on ‘What Not to do’, and followed it to the letter. I know that every time I stop in there, they will have something new and amazing to show me. Loving jumpers the way I do, on my last visit, I bought three! And if you see something you like, you better buy it. The great pieces never stay long!

 

Wanting to add some jewelry pieces into the mix, I included an on-line boutique called Uptown Gal Shop. This company is based out of Miami, but for now, their pieces are only available on-line. So, what I loved about this interesting collection, is that they offered bold color and lots of texture. Fun, trendy pieces, some of which I incorporated into my swim style pages. My favorite piece, which is an Ikat quilted jacket, didn’t make it into this blog but will be featured in the next one, so stay tuned. It’s a super versatile and lightweight which is perfect for Florida this time of year.

 

My goal was to feature local boutiques exclusively but felt the need to add a few specialty stores as well because many of the local places didn’t have websites that offered on-line shopping. They did have an on-line presence which told me some things about their retail spaces, but didn’t offer a selection of items to click and buy. I was disappointed by that fact and hope going forward, they will update their shops to include these options. A few additional local places that I favor are MISRED Outfitters in downtown St. Pete, Revolve Clothing Exchange (they have three locations) and a cool on-line store and Influence Style, located in Sarasota.

 

Wherever and however you decide to shop, always put your own spin on style, the way I do for my clients and of course, for myself!

Made In the Suede

Spring is a time of new beginnings, whether you are thinking about fashion, or life in general. In true Spring style, some exciting opportunities have recently come my way. In May, I’ll be styling a fashion show at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. This will be the launch party of a new company. Later in the year I will be once again working as one of three stylists for the Get Your Style On Event at International Plaza.

Most times when one thinks of Spring fashion, they think of florals, pastels, etc. Even though that’s very in-keeping with the ‘new beginnings’ idea, it reminds me of the scene from 'The Devil Wears Prada,' in which, Meryl Streep is listening to her team pitch ‘florals for Spring’ and she is obviously, less than wowed. I love the eye roll and puckered lips! So, anyone who knows me and the way I work, knows I can totally relate to that. I’d rather do something unexpected than safe. That’s why I am happy to see how much suede is an influence for this season.

While pulling fashion for the February issue of Bay Magazine, I was loving all of the shoe choices, offered in suede. Rich plums and navy, but also bright, bold colors like fuchsia mixed back to citron. So many choices, so little time! 

 I think the reason I love suede so much more than leather, is its soft, cozy feel. It provides a rich texture without ever looking harsh. I have a mixed media suede jacket that I bought when I was still working at Neiman Marcus. It was a Lafayette 148 ivory moto jacket that I just fell in love with. For months, I was hoping it wouldn’t sell because I wanted it in the worst way but thought $500 was a bit of a splurge and so I patiently waited.  A few weeks passed as I prayed no one would pull it to use in a fashion show or in the window. I think I just got lucky, because as soon as that baby went on sale, it was mine! Years later, I still have that jacket and wear it all of the time. I wore it the day I had my head shots done (see below), and have not only worn it as part of a monochromatic ensemble, but also back to dark denim and a graphic t-shirt. Dress it up. Dress it down. That’s the beauty of an investment piece.

 Below are some of my favorites for the season, with a strong emphasis on shoes. And, if you love the look of suede but would rather not purchase products derived from animals, there are many faux-suede options out there. Either way, there are plenty of pieces that will take you from Spring, flawlessly into Fall.

Parallel Lines

I’m not sure which came first, my love of fashion or music. I think they go hand. It’s funny, I can remember the first record I owned. The debut album by Foreigner. I must have listened to it a thousand times on the tiny turntable I had in my bedroom. What I enjoyed most was sitting down and reading all of the lyrics as the music played. I always thought it gave me some secret insight into the lives of the band members.

Once in junior high, bands like The Cars, Journey and Blondie started filtering into the suburbs. I remember thinking “Is there anyone cooler than Debbie Harry?” A girl singing in an all-guy band? Her look, her sound and of course her fashion sense, was unlike anything I’d seen before. She was strong yet feminine, with hair that looked more like a lion’s mane and a pose that let you know she was a force to be reckoned with. Upon further examination of Blondie’s Parallel Lines album cover, I realized Debbie Harry was wearing a simple, white dress; so delicate and lady-like. It was then that I realized, women can be strong and soft at the same time.

 As the years went on, I incorporated this formula into my styling practices; mixing something feminine, back to something rough. A crochet top with a moto jacket. A ruffled blouse with a distressed jean. A pearl bracelet with a cargo pant. This method can work with a mix of unexpected colors too. Reds and purples, blues and yellows, greens and teals. It’s really all about experimenting to find your comfortable combination of "leather and lace."

 Using this ‘imperfect method’ I designed some pages (see below) that will keep your style edgy yet sophisticated, and maybe even channel your inner rock star!