Category Archives: designer 101

designer 101: allsaints hops the pond!

oh my…i didn’t even know how much i loved allsaints until i heard they’d just started selling in the US.

generally, i try to avert my eyes when it comes to things across the pond that i simply can’t have (anything in the toast catalog, for example).  but now that allsaints is available not only stateside, but online, i’m free to get as giddy as i want.  and seriously, there’s a lot to be giddy about.

Picture 1Picture 2

from left to right, by row: port crew jumper, $120; cassiopeia dress, $250; college cardigan, $120; lumix hoodie, $125; suesha cardigan, $135; dory dress, $120; willow cardigan, $135; imogen shoe, $225.

and i didn’t even get started on the accessories!

every piece is just so perfectly “basic plus” – the kind of piece that seamlessly jumps right into your wardrobe, and manages to elevate all of your looks.

and, in case you needed more reason, allsaints is offering free shipping right now to celebrate the launch of their US site!  just keep in mind that the clothes are available stateside, but the sizing is still british.  that’s code for having to jump two sizes up from your normal size (ie, if you’re an 8, you’re a 12 in the UK).  torture, i know…but that’s the price of fashion.

so, what do you think of allsaints?

Share 'designer 101: allsaints hops the pond!' on Facebook Share 'designer 101: allsaints hops the pond!' on Google+ Share 'designer 101: allsaints hops the pond!' on Pinterest Share 'designer 101: allsaints hops the pond!' on Twitter Share 'designer 101: allsaints hops the pond!' on Email

the ultimate summer tote from beirn


happy friday, everyone!  in honor of mother’s day, i thought i’d take the opportunity to introduce you to one of my latest obsessions, since it happens to be from a mother-daughter design team!  

exotics are huge right now, so it’s no surprise these bold, bright totes from beirn are all the celeb rage, but i’m after them for a different reason. while most exotics will set you back thousands, rita (mom) and her daughters ali and jenna are designing these beautiful, authentic watersnake skin bags, and selling them for about $300.  leave it to a family as stylish as theirs to create the ultimate irresistible handbag!

and it is pretty irresistible, in fact.  the skins are smooth and extremely durable for snakeskin (which can be notoriously delicate).  unlike python, a watersnake is much smaller, of course, so the skins are sewn together in strips, but it’s all done in a way that enhances the design.  in the end, it works perfectly.

exotic excitement aside, they’re just great, classic tote style in a rainbow of gorgeous, deeply-saturated colors, and light as a feather!  in my book, that adds up to the ultimate summer bag.

grab styles at piperlime or at shop clothesline (more colors, but a bit pricier at $315)- or, if you’re quick, looks like there are a few at bluefly!  my favorite is the jenna bag (above) – i just love that longer, casual style right now, and that cobalt blue is seriously calling my name.

just goes to show that moms and their daughters are the perfect team, don’t you think?  happy mother’s day, everyone!

Share 'the ultimate summer tote from beirn' on Facebook Share 'the ultimate summer tote from beirn' on Google+ Share 'the ultimate summer tote from beirn' on Pinterest Share 'the ultimate summer tote from beirn' on Twitter Share 'the ultimate summer tote from beirn' on Email

designer 101: adriana castro

*editor’s note:  don’t forget to enter our amazing mother’s day giveaway!

i am so thrilled today to introduce one of my favorite handbag designers, adriana castro.  born in colombia, adriana now lives and designs in miami, creating stunning bags in every color imaginable, entirely from sustainably-raised exotic leathers.  the results are striking, updated classics that you’ll never tire of.

for those of you lucky enough to be in the NYC area, adriana is making a personal appearance at henri bendel today from 11am – 6pm, where devoted fans can meet her, see her newest designs, and even custom design a bag with adriana!  i think i would faint with excitement.

for the rest of us, adriana was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions about her designs, her style, and those beautiful exotic leathers!  click over at the right to check out the entire interview (yes, we’re trying something new…).

Read on

Share 'designer 101:  adriana castro' on Facebook Share 'designer 101:  adriana castro' on Google+ Share 'designer 101:  adriana castro' on Pinterest Share 'designer 101:  adriana castro' on Twitter Share 'designer 101:  adriana castro' on Email

designer 101: amanda rudey


i just love finding new designers…and i love it even more when their designs are actually attainable by mere mortals.  alas, the planets rarely align that well.  so when i fell in love with amanda rudey’s jewelry designs, i braced myself for a hefty pricetag.  but, wonder of wonders, they’re gorgeous and actually affordable!  after graduating from harvard with a degree in sociology (almost as useless as my BA in english), amanda realized she needed a way to earn a living.  she wandered into a bead store one day, and the results were fortuitous…for her and for us.

i think my favorite design is her iolite “circus hoop” ring (above).  it’s a gorgeous everyday piece that’s sure to win you compliments at every turn – and it retails for $125.  for a dressier look, the iolite-and-chain cornelia earrings (also available with other stones) would be absolutely perfect with your LBD, and just the thing to dress up a more casual sundress for evening – quite a feat, especially for $150!  the necklace is a bit pricier ($318), but it’s exactly the piece i look for to soften a conservative office look – i’d put this with a button-down shirt and blazer, or use it to dress up a v-neck top and jeans.

to check out the entire line, you can go to amanda’s website – and to buy, head to charm and chain.  what do you think…are you as smitten as i am?

ooh, and the lovely owner of charm & chain just alerted me that you can get 15% amanda’s collection (and the entire site) with code aprilflowers.  in case you needed a little more incentive!

Share 'designer 101:  amanda rudey' on Facebook Share 'designer 101:  amanda rudey' on Google+ Share 'designer 101:  amanda rudey' on Pinterest Share 'designer 101:  amanda rudey' on Twitter Share 'designer 101:  amanda rudey' on Email

designer 101: hlaska


for my readers who are less into the girly and frilly and more into high-functioning mod styles, allow me to introduce you to my latest find:  hlaska.  i actually considered saving this one for father’s day, because i so love their men’s offerings.  but the truth is that their women’s bags are pretty fantastic too.

designed in san francisco by a team of industrial designers, of all things, the entire collection at hlaska is strong in structural leanings, and focused on functionality.  take, for example, their women’s metric computer case (left, $100+).  for literally years, i have been looking for a slim laptop sleeve with handles that could be put over the shoulder.  there are loads of options with tote straps, or messenger straps, but nothing to just sit snugly under your arm.  hlaska, geniuses that they are, have come up with exactly that – in three different sizes, so your laptop will be snug as the proverbial bug.  

the piece that originally attracted me to hlaska is that darling little presidio clutch (pictured at top, $205).  the bag takes its styling cues from the golden gate bridge, which makes sense as soon as you see it.  i’ve had the chance to test drive this one, and honestly, it’s love.  i do admit that i wish it were a bit larger, but it’s absolutely perfect for a business lunch – stash a wallet and a few necessities inside, and there’s no need to lug a huge handbag in your wake.  plus, the colors are just beautiful in person, thanks to the vegetable-dyed leathers.

some other favorites:  i just love their vertex overnighter, a limited edition made from a specially-commissioned swedish fabric which just feels so retro and fun, it has me dying to throw this one into the back of a convertible and head off on holiday…with the matching train case, naturally.  oh yes, and the evergreen briefcase (in natural) which, despite being in the men’s section, is maybe the most perfect briefcase for a woman that i’ve ever encountered.  the designers actually embossed wood grain into the leather, creating a pretty amazing effect.  that one’s a bit of a splurge, but truly, these bags are just beautifully made, and every detail is attended to.  i have no doubt you’ll live a long and happy life with any of them.

check out all of the offerings at hlaska’s website – and let me know what you think!

Share 'designer 101:  hlaska' on Facebook Share 'designer 101:  hlaska' on Google+ Share 'designer 101:  hlaska' on Pinterest Share 'designer 101:  hlaska' on Twitter Share 'designer 101:  hlaska' on Email

designer 101: kate mchale (and an exclusive deal!)

i’m fortunate enough to work in an environment that allows me to wear denim almost every day.  and, while i’m profoundly grateful for this, the reality is that i get a little sick of sporting my favorite jeans day in and day out (not to mention how sick my co-workers must be of seeing them!).  but i just couldn’t let go of the comfort factor…or the fact that buying trousers that fit me properly is the stuff of nightmares.

thank goodness i was recently introduced to designer kate mchale.  she’s taken everything i love about denim and translated those traits to a trouser that’s chic, stylish and professional.  as with denim, styles are available in a range of rises and cuts (i’d recommend staying conservative if these are headed for the office).  and instead of different washes, you can choose from a variety of colors and/or patterns.  but they still fit like your favorite jeans – it’s a very contoured, comfortable fit, and the fabric is not unlike a spandex-infused denim.  and, as with denim, i’m going to urge you to steer clear of any colors that are too creative – stick to neutrals, please (or that fantastic retro plaid above!).

my favorites are the patricia, with its mod flared leg and cuff, and the sara, which looks like a very classic straight leg that will be gorgeous with heels (and note that office-friendly rise).  or go with the winfield for a classic boot cut fit.  whichever you choose, you’ll be strolling around your office looking like your usual fashion-plate self, only so much more comfy!

normally, mchale’s designs rival your designer denim at about $200/pair.  but she’s kindly extending a whopping 30% discount to shoppingsmycardio readers through christmas.  at that price, you might even consider picking up a second pair to gift!  use code KMPANTS to score this deal, and you’ll be the envy of all your friends.

Share 'designer 101: kate mchale (and an exclusive deal!)' on Facebook Share 'designer 101: kate mchale (and an exclusive deal!)' on Google+ Share 'designer 101: kate mchale (and an exclusive deal!)' on Pinterest Share 'designer 101: kate mchale (and an exclusive deal!)' on Twitter Share 'designer 101: kate mchale (and an exclusive deal!)' on Email

designer 101: cardigan

designed by lynne hiriak, CARDIGAN has taken the fashion scene by storm this season.  her signature, not surprisingly, is ultra-cozy knitwear, including super-thick wool sweaters, and gorgeous cardigans.

i’m determined to add at least one piece from her collection to my wardrobe this season, as i have no doubt her prices will double by this time next year.  it’s a tough call…and i could use some input from my dear readers.

there’s this gorgeous 3/4 sleeve open cardigan ($195) that i positively adore for its draping.  it also comes in a stunning royal blue and a classic black, but i think the heather grey really shows off the silhouette, which is special enough to deserve center stage.

i happened upon this striped boatneck sweater ($245) in a local boutique, and it was love at first sight.  once again, it’s the detail of the silhouette that makes this special.  i love the wide boatneck that drapes perfectly over your shoulders, making this actually quite sexy for a baggy wool sweater.  it’s perfect to throw on over jeans for a dose of effortless style on even the most frigid day.  you can also pick this up in white with royal blue stripes, or in a lovely sweater dress/tunic style.

for something a little more uptown, i almost can’t believe i’m so in love with this cardigan with the built-in scarf detail ($250).  button up and tie it in a bow, or leave it open and drape the scarf casually around your neck – either way, you’re roasty toasty warm, and right on trend this fall.

hard call, don’t you agree?  keep your eye out for more greats from this up-and-comer but, in the meantime, which of her current pieces is your fave?

10% off Full Priced Items at with promo code 'summer08'

Share 'designer 101:  cardigan' on Facebook Share 'designer 101:  cardigan' on Google+ Share 'designer 101:  cardigan' on Pinterest Share 'designer 101:  cardigan' on Twitter Share 'designer 101:  cardigan' on Email

designer 101: martin clothes

martin is a label near and dear to the hearts of fashion editors everywhere, who mourned designer anne johnston albert’s departure from the scene a few years back to raise some kids and get some air in frigid massachusetts.  fortunately for all, she’s back – and better than ever. 

albert’s capsule collection is nothing short of a mini-wardrobe:  a grouping of pieces so versatile and stylish that a complete set would relegate those “nothing to wear” days to ancient history.  each piece is designed to be the best of its breed, making its brethren pale in comparison.  they’re classics, it’s true – but each has the perfect dose of style to make it anything but ordinary.

hands down, my favorite piece from the line is the moleskine military jacket ($495). i love the classic silhouette with the slightly off-kilter details that make it really unique, like the off-center placket and the single patch pocket.  dress up jeans, layer it over a dress, or top off a chic cropped trouser – this is a piece that won’t see much time on the inside of your closet.

martin’s long-sleeved tee ($90) is perfection itself: flattering wide neckline, perfect length, tissue-thin fabric (or choose the heavyweight heather grey for a different look). this is layering genius at its finest.

even martin’s denim is perfectly precise – and it’s what she’s best known for.  choose a matchstick skinny ($178) or my favorite, a wide-legged trouser jean ($195), or both.  both are impeccably stylish, and designed to be infinitely versatile – a combination i’ll welcome into my wardrobe with open arms.

and, for a little uptown chic, check out her gorgeous black satin tie dress ($285).  the u-shaped neckline is flattering without being revealing, and the built-in ties allow for several different styling options.  the satin keeps this one dressy enough for cocktails, but throw on a denim jacket, scarf and a chunky necklace, and you have a hot downtown look too.

nab these new classics while they last…you never know when albert will call it quits and head back into hibernation!

Share 'designer 101:  martin clothes' on Facebook Share 'designer 101:  martin clothes' on Google+ Share 'designer 101:  martin clothes' on Pinterest Share 'designer 101:  martin clothes' on Twitter Share 'designer 101:  martin clothes' on Email