Category Archives: designer 101

designer 101: miss wu by jason wu

I’ve had it just about up to here with all of the designer/discount collaborations of the last few years. Haven’t you? I mean, really…has anyone not done a poly-acrylic knockoff of their greatest hits for Target or H&M by now? But a good diffusion line is an entirely different story, and one I can thoroughly get behind. With a diffusion line, the designer has infinitely greater creative (and production) control, and the prices – while still a far cry from what you’d pay for the main label – are high enough to ensure serious quality.

The point? Oh yes, that. Jason Wu debuted his new line, Miss Wu, exclusively at Nordstrom this week, and while a few of the pieces may lean a little too “Taylor Swift” for my sensible 30-something self, there are a few seriously stylish goodies to be had.

Read on

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currently coveting: MiH jeans

I have what friends might lovingly call a denim problem. Because I work from home, and because I live in a pretty casual part of the world (hello, fleece lovers!), I spend an exorbitant amount of time in jeans. To the point that I’ve had to have the seats in my car replaced because they’re covered in denim dye. Truly, I’ve tried to stop. But what are my alternatives? Cords? No. They make strange sounds when you walk, and leave woefully unflattering color changes when you sit. Khakis? Absolutely not. Have you ever looked at your backside in a pair of khakis?

So, what’s a girl to do?

As it turns out, the solution lies with those impossibly stylish folks at MiH Jeans. They singlehandedly resurrected the trouser/flare jean a few years back (for which I’m still thanking them), and now they’ve just launched their latest and greatest: a collection that translates their signature denim fits into a whole range of perfectly-fitting casual pants to get us through the winter.

The beauty of MiH, as with all denim, is the fit – and friends, the fits at MiH are absolutely dreamy, whatever your figure. They espouse a more structured style, which is very good news for your physique (though it does mean sizing up, so be prepared).

If you’re petite, you’re going to adore their Brighton, a cropped mid-rise style that should land right in that ultra-flattering base-of-the-calf/top-of-the-ankle zone and sit comfortably above your hips. I’m thoroughly in love with this grey flannel version which is, let’s face it, about as versatile as it gets.


Brighton in grey flannel, MiH, $202 / Dream colorblock sweater, J.Crew, $98 / Wayfarer in gold, Bass, $91 /
Wendy Necklace, Grayling, $120 / Mini Gabriella crossbody, Milly, $198 / Gold stud earrings, Marco Bicego, $405

And for my tall girls, have you met the MiH Marrakesh? Long, lean, and a stunner whether you have curves or not, this high-waisted flare does some gorgeous things for a figure, trust me. I’m head over heels for this one in hunter twill, which has such a fresh feel after all of those colored skinny jeans we were inundated with all summer.

Marrakesh in hunter twill, MiH, $205 / Hunter tee, Club Monaco, $90 / Gala jacket, Helmut, $460 /
Geo panel tote, Topshop, $190 / Sylvia Piping boot, Frye, $320 / Crystal bracelet, Zara, $26

(For the record, I can’t think of the last time I styled something in which I wanted every.single.piece. quite so badly. That blazer? Those boots? The leather-trim tee? Come on!)

If you love them as I do, don’t dally…shell out some support for MiH’s daring adventure into the world of casual pants, and let’s see if we can turn them into this season’s staples. Vote with your wallets, people!

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sneak peek: loeffler randall fall ’12

It’s a good day, friends…time to check out what’s new with Loeffler Randall for fall! Longtime readers know what a devoted fan I am of the brand, so I’m always giddy to see what they’ve cooked up for a new season.

Ready for a little coveting?

So, so good, right? I love that they’ve taken their infamous Matilde boot and added a bit of a heel. And all of that cap-toe action? Spectacular. My big decision in life right now is whether I can justify that Nanette bootie (the caramel with the black cap toe) and the Nadine cap-toe flat.

But I haven’t told you the best news yet. Designer Jessie Randall is back to bags! You might remember her handbag styles from several years back (the Hattie?), but she hasn’t designed a line of bags in ages. I’m thrilled to see her back at it, especially at some seriously remarkable price points (starting at $395!). A few of my favorites:

I’m completely torn between the three…how’s a girl to decide? Fortunately, she’s priced them so well, I suspect I could talk myself into at least two. If you’re in love too, these babies go on sale tomorrow, friends. Mark your calendars!

What do you think? Are you getting excited about fall yet?

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designer 101: katie ermilio

I recently came across the delicious designs of Katie Ermilio, and knew immediately she was something special. If nothing else, she has some serious street cred when it comes to style, as she’s the granddaughter of Grace Kelly’s personal clothier. Not a bad pedigree for a designer.

Katie’s designs are fun, bright and incredibly wearable, with a great mix of street-ready contemporary looks and party/formal styles (that would also make the most amazing bridesmaid dresses in history). Want to take a peek at some of her genius?

{CLICK THROUGH to see all of my favorites from her Spring ’12 line…as well as a little sneak peek at Fall 2012 at the end}

Aren’t those amazing? She’s only 26 years old, friends. I can hardly imagine what awaits this talented woman. She has such a rich appreciation for color, and a serious skill for making fabric do exactly what she wants it to do. Best of all, she knows the value of adding a special detail or two to a piece that really makes it stand out from the crowd.

As of now, most of her pieces are made-to-order only, which means a steep pricetag (though not as bad as you might expect). You can, however, find a few of her pieces on Shopbop, and I’m told more are on the way. So, keep your eyes peeled…and your mitts off that black and white coat from her Fall line. Dibs!

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worthy splurge: gretchen tote by jessica grant

On the “worthy splurge” scale, handbags rank the highest for me. Especially timeless, standout bags that will be just as valuable to my granddaughters (or, more likely, great-nieces) as they are to me. Clothes won’t always fit, shoes (no matter how babied) will eventually wear out. But bags? Bags are forever, if you take good care of them.

So, for me, the ultimate worthy splurge is an exotic bag. Something in my brain just beelines for a beautiful exotic any time I lay eyes on it – I’m like a moth to a very expensive flame. I remember being full-on obsessed with a bleu roi (ahem, royal blue) ostrich Hermes Kelly I saw for sale once upon a time. Oh, I stalked that bag…it was my desktop photo for months. It was also far, far out of my reach. But I still think about that bag, and that beautiful bright blue ostrich leather. So, you’ll understand why my heart skipped a beat just now:

It’s the Gretchen, from a new line of all-exotic bags by Jessica Grant (and PS, she’s pretty cute in yellow too). Sure, it’s still well out of the range (just shy of $4,000)…but I can tell you it looks downright affordable next to that Kelly (and, for that matter, that Chanel I’ve been shopping for). It’s full of that structured, ladylike goodness I go for, and that color…well, I just know I’d never tire of it.

Would you ever splurge on an exotic? What’s your leather of choice? I go for ostrich or stingray every time, but I know women that are die-hard croc fans, and old-school girls that love a little lizard.

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currently coveting: coye nokes

It’s been a long, long time since I fell this hard for a new shoe designer. But take a look, and tell me honestly that you aren’t head over utterly perfect heels for this girl:

They’re designed by Coye Nokes, an absolutely adorable Southern girl (aren’t they always?) who honed her design chops in London before moving to NYC to launch her collection. How’s that for style cred? Prices run the gamut – that Maya wedge (with which I am terminally besotted) is $275, which feels utterly reasonable. Get into the glitter and the embossed python, though, and you’ll be in the $600 range – definitely on the splurgier side of things. Much as I love the Maya, if I thought for a moment that I could walk in those heels, either of those embossed python beauties would be mine!

It feels a bit like clothing designers are a dime a dozen these days, but shoes…really great shoes are nearly impossible to come by. These are truly some of the most unique, original and flat-out beautiful designs I’ve seen come out of a new studio in years. Just looking at them, I can tell there’s serious quality to be had. Next step: a personal inspection. I’ll keep my fingers crossed (and, of course, keep you posted).

Check out the rest of the goodies at Coye Nokes’ website. Perhaps if we all start saving now, we can make a collective splurge later in the spring!


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on my radar: shepherd england

I spend most of the winter months bundled up like a sherpa on Everest: wearing coats and gloves indoors, huddled under blankets, crouched next to space heaters…it’s sad, really. I’ll do just about anything to get a bit of cozy this time of year. Of all my cold-weather obsessions, scarves are hands-down my first love. They add color to a neutral outfit, they can be worn a thousand different ways, and they do wonders for my core temperature.

Like all my serious obsessions, I’m incredibly picky about my scarf finds. They have to meet some pretty high standards to really qualify as a love. But friends, when I found Shepherd England, it was like kismet! The fashion heavens opened up, and in an instant, I knew I’d found my holy scarf grail.

Amazing, right? They’re a little on the splurge-y side of things, so I did what any good writer has to do – got one for myself, purely for research purposes. Short version? I haven’t taken this beauty off since.

The color is called Titian Blue…doesn’t that just make you love it even more?

Long version: Well, first, it is long – it hangs down to my knees, in fact. Which I absolutely love, as it means maximum tying versatility, extra warmth, and an extremely high cozy factor. Second, it is just so, so well made, which is increasingly hard to find. Every piece is handmade in England from superfine Geelong lambswool (which I had to Google, but I can tell you is softer and more luxe than any wool I’ve ever felt…even softer than most of my cashmere, in fact). Third, the colors and patterns are so unique, modern and fun, I get excited every time I put it on. I have literally not left the house in this scarf without getting compliments. Not once.

These beautiful scarves are a bit of a splurge, especially since the GBP just went up a bit (they’re about $265 right now). But it’s not such a splurge that you couldn’t save up for it. And friends, you should. I wear a scarf every single day, so for me, it’s every bit as worth investing in as a coat or great boots. Plus, you need a really beautiful, makes-you-smile-whenever-you-wear-it, feels-like-a-big-bear-hug scarf in your life. Truly, on those days when the snow and rain are just too much to take, and I can’t bear the thought of one more day wearing snow boots, putting on a scarf I really love improves my mood like nothing else.

Of course, all those compliments don’t hurt either.

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falling for: rag & bone

I have this problem in which as soon as I buy a piece from a new designer, I become obsessed, and can’t get enough of any of their designs….for at least a few weeks.

Such is the case with Rag & Bone. While I was in San Francisco, I nabbed myself one of their delicious nubby tweed cardigans (this one, in fact, though it’s now half off!), which I can hardly wait to wear all winter long. Not two days later, Shopbop released their fall Rag & Bone lookbook, and it was official: I’m hooked.

I’ll take pretty much every jacket in this story, the skinny cobalt pants, and the leather skirt for good measure. It’s the first I’ve seen that manages to look sophisticated without being dowdy. Fortunately, the price points, while a bit splurge-y, aren’t prohibitively so. You could absolutely treat yourself to a piece or two from their fall collection without an ounce of guilt.

Check out the full Fall Rag & Bone collection at Shopbop, and let me know what’s on your fantasy wishlist!

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