Category Archives: outerwear

editor’s picks: nordstrom anniversary sale 2017

Well, friends – it’s that time! Early Access (ie, for Nordstrom cardholders) to the 2017 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale starts right now! And though I’m a rare bird around here these days, I couldn’t dream of shopping the #NSale without you. And so! My Photoshop skillz may have faded, but my notoriously picky eye for bargains has not. So, please forgive my snooze-worthy autobot collage and just dive right on into my picks. 

As usual, the jackets are fantastic – I went in looking for statement layers to up my jeans-and-tees game, and made out like a bandit (see below). Once again, bags are lackluster, but your perennial fave Longchamp expandable Le Pliage tote is back. No Burberry trench this year, but there are some much more fashion-forward options from Burberry in its place. A few new excellent bras were added to the #NSale roster, but none of my favorite undies made the cut (sob!). And shoes…there are boots galore, the usual staples from AGL and Aquatalia, and more than a few slip-on sneakers that are well worth snagging at #NSale prices. 

On top of these goodies, of course, I’ll be doing my annual stock-up on Smartwool socks, Hanky Panky thongs, Nordstrom’s awesome fragrance-free lingerie wash (and yeah, probably a new wash bag while I’m at it), and Zella yoga pants, which thankfully seem to be back to normal after last year’s icky fabric debacle.

What am I skipping? Shoes, for the most part – this one was a disappointment, as I really came to play this year. But other than those Blondo booties and a pair of Nike slip-ons, I mostly struck out on shoes this year. And, with the notable exception of that yummy Nordstrom Signature cashmere and the Vince elbow-sleeve tunic, no sweaters were really making my heart sing. I’m skipping denim this year due to a serious overstocking problem…well, except for a pair of those deep olive Rag & Bone Dre jeans, which are too perfect to pass up. 

What about you, friends? What couldn’t you resist? I’m dying to see what you’ve found so far


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off the rack: bb dakota hazel leopard coat

It’s not often these days that I have a bona fide wardrobe regret. You know the ones I mean – those “missed connections”, where you hem and haw, debate and justify, and by the time you make up your mind, the piece is long gone. At which point, you become convinced it was The One – the only thing that would ever, could ever, make your closet complete.

Yes, I don’t have those moments often these days, being a founding member of the “Buy Now, Return Later Foundation for the Chronically Indecisive”. But one I can’t let go is that beautiful linen leopard print coat from Emerson Fry a few seasons back. Remember that?

Read on

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holy grail quest: the perfect summer jacket

I meant to write about nail polish today. But honestly, the little shopaholic hamster running rampant in my brain just can’t focus, because it’s hellbent on tracking down the perfect summer jacket.

You know the one I mean. You can throw it on over a tired tank and jeans, and look instantly pulled-together (yet not dressy), or tote it along to a summer barbecue, secure in the knowledge that when the sun sets, you can toss it on over your skimpy sundress and everyone will be amazed and bewildered by how effortlessly cool you look. The one that goes with everything, looks like you’ve owned forever (way before it was cool), and makes other people stop you in the streets to ask where you found such a treasure. At which point, you’ll give them a sweetly benevolent half-smile and mutter something about an adorable little boutique in Paris.

Am I aiming too high?

To be honest, I haven’t found my holy grail yet. But I can tell you this: I’ll be like a dog who’s lost its bone somewhere in the backyard (digging, digging…ah, simile.) until I find the winner. In the meantime, let’s look at some contenders, shall we? Read on

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fall’s must-haves (and a word on trends)

Happy Tuesday, friends! And more importantly, Happy Fashion Week! If I’m honest, I get a little exhausted by all the coverage out there – and I’m never ready to think about spring when I’m just getting excited to pull my sweaters and boots out of storage.

That said, there are some advantages to checking out the shows from a few of your favorite brands. I use this time to get an idea of what trends from fall have staying power. It makes it so much easier to figure out whether buying those jacquard ankle pants is a good decision. Colors are always completely different in spring, but watch silhouettes – are pants still slim and ankle-grazing? Are jackets still clean, simple and structured? Get an idea of what you’ll be coveting come April, and you’ll have a much better feel for what to splurge on now.

Speaking of, I thought I’d show you a few things on my list for the fall season. I never embrace every trend – it’s exhausting, unflattering, and makes for a disjointed closet. But if there’s a piece or two that fits in seamlessly, and won’t be hopelessly awful in a year or two? Well worth it. And on the flip slide, if something’s on trend that is just perfectly you, stock up. Those smoking slippers are going to be really hard to track down in a year or two.

If there’s a piece that’s just too fun to say no to, sometimes I’ll throw that in for good measure…though that’ll be the piece I buy at Zara, not at Barneys. Splurge on the styles that feel like an organic addition to your closet, add in a piece or two that feels fun, and skip anything that doesn’t make you look and feel amazing.

Eveline top, Allsaints, $130 / French hen sweater, J.Crew, $95 / Floral brocade skirt, J.Crew Collection, $119

Oxblood: Or “burgundy” to the rest of us. I picked up a silk Vince tunic in oxblood at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and I can already tell it’ll be a workhorse this season. Great with neutrals, but also try it with cobalt, red, mustard yellow or even pink.
Character count: Fall has a sense of humor this season, so treat yourself to a few things to make you happy – like the ’80s-era character sweaters that every brand’s releasing. Yes, I know I’m going to see J.Crew’s French hen sweater on 85 different people before the season’s out. But I bought it anyway. It made me smile, and I know it will keep on doing that right through the winter.
Go baroque: Jacquard, embroidery, brocade…make like you’re fresh from King Henry’s court and you’ll be right on trend for fall. I have a great brocade pencil skirt from Rachel Mara I’ll be taking out of hiding, and I can’t wait to bust out some of my vintage cameos and my grandmother’s old brooches to pile onto my classic flannel blazers.

Jacquard trousers, Zara, $60 / Pixel pants, Helmut Lang, $370 (or Banana Republic for a steal) / Pea Coat, Gerald & Stewart, $300 / Tabitha smoking flat, Kelsi Dagger, $92 / Kitty flats, Charlotte Olympia, $660

Ankle pants: I kind of love them. They eliminate the issue of whether to hem for flats or heels, and they’re surprisingly flattering on a lot of figures. If you buy: remember they should graze the ankle. These are not capris. I repeat, these are not capris. Also, as with any slim pant, beware of saggy butt syndrome. A good tailor can install darts to eliminate the problem. I tried on this version from Zara over the weekend, and they’d be amazing with an ankle-strap heel.
The winter coat question: Those oversized, cocoon-like shapes that are the silhouette of the season are tough to pull off and have zero longevity. Instead, if you want an investment piece this season, go classic and buy the best navy pea coat you can afford. You’ll never, ever regret it.
Smoking slippers: If you haven’t already, buy a pair. They’re fun, practical, and a great way to update your fall look.

Now, more importantly…styles to skip: I’d steer clear of those wild geometric patterns and the psychedelic suits. But I might take advantage of the return of the Power Suit to find a classic one to hold onto. Also, camouflage. Unless you’re under 25 and are completely confident you can wear it with the appropriate amount of irony, please don’t. And while I adore leather on all those It Girls, I think it’s dicey territory for mere mortals like me. If you’re an edgy girl with an anything-goes sense of style (and I know a few!), I’d love to see what you do with it. As for me, I’m sticking with my classic moto jacket and calling it good. Last, but certainly not least, I’m skipping the peplum. One of our fantastic columnists is going to try to talk me (and you) out of it next week, but for now…it’s fashion ground I’m just not willing to break. (Also, I saw Betty White wearing one on a Golden Girls re-run recently, which didn’t help.)

What are you excited about for fall? Any trends you have questions about? As always, I’m here to help!

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off the rack: burberry trench

I know, I know, after my big Chanel splurge this spring, I had no business. No business at all. But…do you want to hear the story? I thought so!

I first saw this Burberry Prorsum trench in that fantastic Resort 2012 runway show I attended at Nordstrom, at which my pal Kim and I fawned over it to no end – classic lines, amazing fabric, and that gorgeous papaya-colored leather trim! It’s a classic, but on a whole new level.

But it was nearly $4,000. Never, ever, ever happening.

Fast-forward to last weekend, when I spotted that very same trench, looking all forlorn on a rack in the back of the designer department. That rack? It was the sale rack. Which had just been marked down to 60% off.

Turns out my new coat was the last one in the company. I couldn’t very well just leave it there all alone, could I? I had a big pile of Nordstrom “notes” (store credit rewards from my last unreasonable splurge) and a little gift card I’d been saving, so the upshot was that I got this gorgeous thing for less than I’d have paid for a classic trench from Burberry Brit.

Sure, my wallet didn’t find the timing exactly perfect, but sometimes the fashion gods speak, and you have no choice but to listen. The money will sort itself out (it always does), but this trench? It’ll be in my closet forever.

The moral? You just never know what will go on sale, friends. I’d have never predicted this in a million years, but here we are: fashion kismet. And just in time, too…I’d splurged on (and returned) two big boxes to Zara and Net-a-Porter only days before.  It was definitely a good reminder in the value of saving for splurges, even when you don’t yet know what they are.

There’s nothing I love more than a good story about fashion kismet. Do you have one? What’s your best find – the one that was just meant to be?

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friday finds: updated classics

Happy Friday, friends! I’m so glad you enjoyed my Bobbi Brown outing as much as I did…what a treat to see all of your responses! I’m getting the feeling you’d like a little more beauty news here, so I promise to do my best to deliver.

In the meantime, though, it’s Friday…and I am pretty in love with my list of finds this week. They’re all simple classics, just slightly updated…in other words, precisely my cup of tea. I could buy each and every one, and they’d feel perfectly at home in my closet.

Speaking of beauty buys, this pale gold Giorgio Armani eye pencil (brand spanking new for spring) has risen to the top of my favorite products of late. The subtle shimmer is perfect for day, and the color is light enough that absolutely no precision is required. In fact, I’ve been just drawing a thick-ish line and foregoing shadow altogether. It also does amazing things for green/hazel eyes.

I know, I know…more striped tees. I’m nearing total saturation too. But I’m kind of feeling the jolt of pink in this J.Crew colorblock stripe tee, and I’m envisioning it being every bit as useful as the traditional version, but certainly more interesting. The neon yellow version could be fun too, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Linen tees are an old favorite of mine. If you can find one that’s sufficiently nubby, they’re more breathable (and no more wrinkle-prone) than your favorite cotton version, but somehow totally office-appropriate. Madewell just launched a few new solids and this Cloudbreak print, with which I’m smitten.

I made a fatal wardrobe error last year, and purchased a “steal” when I should have gone for the “splurge”. My French Connection trench just isn’t pulling its weight, no matter how hard I try. Burberry was the obvious upgrade…until I spotted this Kate Spade Topliner Trench, from their Florence Broadhurst collection. Check out that lining! Who needs plaid? Most coveted item of spring, my friends.

Sometimes, I think people are shocked when they meet me on the street and hear I’m a fashion writer. My style is far less ambitious in real life than you might hope. These Anniel ballerina flats, for example, are as simple and unassuming as they come, but I have not a doubt I’d wear them to death.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends! I’ll be playing around with some Bobbi Brown goodies, indulging in the Sunday New York Times subscription my hubs surprised me with recently, and house-hunting (my least favorite kind of cardio). I hope you have something fun in store.

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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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cheap thrills: fall coat bargains

My weakness for a good coat is a poorly-kept secret in these parts – you’ve all seen me covet one pricey version after another over the years. While I often advocate investment-quality outerwear, I’m a big believer in finding room in your closet for a few great bargain finds too.

In general, my advice is to scrimp on trendier styles, and save your splurge for something classic – a camel overcoat or a black trench, for example. But none of us can survive an entire season without a little variety – after all, for at least 5 months of the year, all anyone sees of me is a coat, a pair of jeans, and my shoes. So that coat has to count! And that means having options. I wish I could splurge on each and every one, but until that lottery win happens, here are a few of my favorite bargain finds for the season.

1. Talbots has some gorgeous fall coats this season, and they’re all on sale right now (up to 50% off full price styles through the end of today, in fact!). I fell hard for this blue tweed overcoat when I first spotted it – the cut and that rich fabric make this look infinitely more luxe than it’s $220 pricetag.

2. Le Train Bleu is one of my favorite under-the-radar spots for trendy pieces at bargain prices. Owner Bria has a knack for tracking down pieces that look and feel one-of-a-kind, at prices that never fail to shock me. This bold plaid double-breasted style is one of my favorites of the season, and it’s only $113!

3. I almost can’t believe this chic leopard print coat is only $55, but it’s true. The darker animal print is infinitely more wearable than some of its flashier counterparts, and the cut makes this perfect for day or evening (I’m a big believer in pairing dressy coats with casual ensembles).

4. Red is such a great color for cold weather – all that black and grey can be depressing, but it’s impossible not to be happy when you’re wearing red. The tailoring of this classic military-style wool topper is what makes it stand out from the crowd. No one would ever believe you spent under $100 for this beauty.

5. In general, I’m skeptical of J.Crew’s “online factory outlet”. The prices never seem that outstanding, and I hate stores that have pieces that are especially made for their outlet. But my personal griping aside, this hip little peacoat offers an awful lot of style for $146 (with code MUSTHAVE) – I love the faux fur collar, and the army green hue is a perfect weekend neutral. {Update: Looks like MUSTHAVE isn’t valid today, but in my experience, if you call and ask, J.Crew will extend it for you as a courtesy.}

Any bargain fall coats on your radar? Share them in the comments – I love a good cheap thrill!

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