Tag Archives: alternative apparel

what to wear to the hospital

Friends, don’t be jealous, but I’ve spent the last few days at a very exclusive resort. It’s invitation-only, painfully difficult to get into, and while the room service isn’t exactly five-star cuisine, I did have staff at my disposal 24 hours a day, and all the clear liquids I can drink. (Except vodka. They frown on that.)

Because I generally think SMC should be a happy, shiny place (who wants to read a depressing style blog? Not this guy.), I don’t often talk about the less-glittery, really-real reality of life. But Victoria reminded me recently that maybe we should all try to be a little more “real” out here in the interwebs, lest you go around thinking the road I travel every day is paved with rose petals and free nail polish.

So, I’ll tell you. For the last too many few years, I’ve had a rotating circus of nebulous, annoying, uncomfortable, but not-at-all-life-threatening health problems delivered to my door by the powers that be. When you notice I’m not my usual chatty self on Twitter, or I miss a few days of blogging here and there, it’s probably because I’m on a little health holiday. My system has a funny way of being pretty insistent about its vacation time.

Rather than bore you with the gory details (except to say I’m fine, don’t worry, but feel free to send pretty things and happy thoughts), I thought I’d put some of this expertise to good use. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned after all this time, it’s what to wear to the hospital. Read on

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white denim: the how-to

Every so often, I find myself on a fashion mission. This year, it’s been all about white. Finding the most flattering, versatile pieces, and – most importantly – figuring out how to wear it. Especially for those of us who aren’t impossibly tall, thin and tan, white is a tricky thing. It’s sheer, so it makes underpinnings tricky, and it highlights every curve, which isn’t something we always want. But it’s time to embrace the white, friends…we can do it!

I’ve already tracked down the perfect white tee for you, and some fantastic white trousers. But really, the holy grail of summer whites is the perfect white jean. And they are tricky! Skinny styles are all but impossible to pull off, but if you go too loose, you veer into bum sag territory, which isn’t good.

Let me introduce you to Molly. She’s from Mavi Jeans (a new favorite of mine), and friends…she is perfect.

Molly straight-leg jeans, Mavi, $80

Straight-cut leg and a mid-rise, both of which are a must to keep the look tailored. A touch of stretch to make them comfortable, but plenty of structure to keep you sucked in. The denim is sturdy enough to avoid divulging bulges, without veering into thick, mom-grade territory. And they’re impossibly well-priced at $80, so you won’t blow a gasket when you inevitably stain them.

Once I’d tracked down the perfect pair, of course, the next matter was styling. First things first: you want nude, seamless boyshorts underneath. Even so, in general, I’m a fan of treating white denim a bit like leggings: keep the bum covered. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but it’s a great place to start from, especially if you’re white-phobic like me.

From there, you have a dozen places you can go. But a couple of my favorites:

{Classic kurta, Roberta Roller Rabbit, $69 / Cyrus sandal, K.Jacques, $224 / Kyna Wise sandal, Clarks, $90)

It’s the easiest outfit you’ll put together all summer. Of course, if you want to take it up a notch:

{Diane Burnout Tunic, Alternative Apparel, $40 (size up for that slouchy fit!)}

You can stop right there – add the K.Jacques sandals from above, and you’re easy weekend perfection. But I happen to be pretty crazy for dressing up the whites. So, my favorite look?

Top: Sliver blazer, Rag & Bone, $495 / Happy crossbody bag, Dooney & Bourke, $199 / Seville espadrille, J.Crew, $98; Bottom: Trim blazer, Woodford & Co, $326 / Rope necklace, kikinyc, $195 / Sperry Top-Sider, $98

Oh, there are so many great blazers this season! I could have gone on for days picking favorites. But these two will give you such different looks, and they’re pitch-perfect for this time of year. Plus, ditch the blazer after work and you’re still stylish enough for happy hour with friends.

So, talk to me…have you already taken the white denim plunge, or are you still standing by the side of the pool?

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styled alternatives: my off days

dear readers, i’m officially sick of winter. i’m sick of the constant drizzle, i’m sick of the wind, and – this is how you know it’s bad – i’m sick of my fall clothes.

it’s true.  the moment i feel that first crisp chill of fall, i race for my cashmere and my boots, and i layer my little heart out.  i’m a model of multi-toned, multi-textured goodness.  it’s a bit of work to put those multi-element ensembles together, sure, but i’m so excited to have my fall clothes back, i can’t resist the challenge…in fact, i relish it.

fast forward to the first day of march, and it’s enough.  i’m exhausted!  i’m still freezing, but all of my styling mojo is completely out the window.  and so, until spring rolls around, i’m afraid you’re going to see a lot more of me in ensembles that could only charitably be called socially acceptable outside your favorite gym.  fortunately, i’ve tracked down a few lounge basics stylish enough to brave the elements without thoroughly embarrassing myself.

naturally, we turn first to alternative apparel.  they are my definitive go-to for slouchy, comfy, casual pieces that i don’t have to feel guilty about wearing out of the house.  i spotted their slouchy eco-heather pullover the other day, and it’s an absolutely perfect, thin-but-warm fabric, body-skimming-but-cozy cut.  and it’s not cropped, for which i’m grateful.  bonus: it would be lovely layered over a striped button-down, if i ever get the energy again.  for a considerably larger sum, i could also nab this gorgeous vince cowl sweater (odd name, as i don’t see a cowl anywhere).  it’s considerably more polished, yet would also work wonderfully well with my sweats.

as for the trickier bottom half, these days it’s a good day if i reach for my most cozy, soft, broken-in jeans – my joe’s socialites, to be precise.  the rest of the time, i’m yearning for a leggings-worthy body, but as that’s not coming any time soon, i’ll grudgingly substitute one of the following:  my gap denim leggings (no, i will not use the “j” word), but only to be used in combination with a hip-skimming sweater and tall boots (the combination is key); or my alternative apparel lounge pants.

(a few notes about the lounge pants.  first, i realize it’s really not okay to wear these out.  particularly if worn with the matching alternative apparel sweatshirt.  that would be weird, even for me.  however, try the lounge pants with a slightly fitted, tunic length cashmere sweater, and i think you’ll find yourself sorely tempted to at least give “lounge chic” a try this weekend.)

as for styles, i personally prefer the chrissy (center) if i’m cold, and the eco-heather long pant (right) if i’m not.  both are insanely, unbelievably comfortable, and guaranteed to almost make you forget to care how you look leaving the house in sweats.  that reminds me…i need a new pair of those eco-heathers.

as for shoes, it’s all i can do not to leave the house in my ugg slippers (no, seriously…the other day, i got halfway to peet’s before i realized i was still wearing my slippers.  in my defense, i did immediately turn around to go home and change.  but still.)  so, i’m leaving a pair of these patagonia maha slip-ons by the front door, as a reminder to consider trading up to a considerably more respectable option.  these weigh literally nothing, and are as comfy as tennis shoes without the bulk, the laces or the soccer mom stigma.

rest assured, you’ll be hearing this same speech in august, when i’m so tired of my summer clothes, i’ll be regressing to nothing but tanks and short skirts.  but for now, do you have any words of encouragement to get me out of my style slump?  or are you suffering too?

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styled alternatives: winter layering

i’m taking a little break from gift guides today to focus on something that’s perhaps a little too near and dear to my heart: layering. i swear, i was cold-blooded in a former life…when the temperature plummets, i’m inexplicably unable to maintain core body temperature for most of the winter. the more clothes i can wear this time of year, the happier i am. but of course, like so many things in fashion, layering is an art…one that’s learned with lots of trial and error.

so, this season, in an effort to help you keep your layered looks hip and well-thought-out, i thought i’d give you a few of my favorite tips and tricks for great layering.

Picture 22

first, start with great pieces. they don’t have to be expensive, but they do need personality! look at that grey cardigan above, for example. it’s fleece, from alternative apparel, and it’s a steal at $68. it’s incredibly comfy, and utterly perfect for layering – i styled it in the two different ways above in about 5 minutes, and had at least 4 more ideas i couldn’t squeeze into the page. it’s warm and classic, but the raw edges and draped collar give it so much style, i literally can not stop wearing it this fall. something like this great draped cashmere vest from vogel10 would also give you amazing layering opportunities, and is a great choice if you’re feeling a little more adventurous.

second, know your weights. not your body weight, your clothing weight. you only want one chunky piece on your top half, or you’ll risk a visual illusion you’re not going for. so grab that great textured cardigan, but pile a sleek, tissue-weight tee and tank underneath. or, find a bold tweed menswear vest (goodwill is an awesome place for it!), but keep the top layer lean and close-fitting.

speaking of which, don’t be afraid to size up on your outer layers. when you’re trying on in the store, remember that you’ll be piling on layers underneath, and you don’t want to feel like a kid stuffed into a snowsuit. go up a size in that chunky cashmere cardigan – you’ll be so glad you did. i’ve been known to buy the same cardi in two different sizes, just for this purpose.

third, get creative! that tired old tee-and-cardigan route is just too easy for a forward-thinking fashion icon like you. next time you’re layering, come up with a way to add a third, or even a fourth piece. maybe you’ll take your favorite summer-weight v-neck cardigan, layer it over a contrasting-patterned tee (i love lace tees for this trick!), button it up, and put a chunkier cardigan, tweed blazer or even a military jacket on top. the effect is that the cardigan looks like a great, tailored vest. layer a favorite cowl or v-neck sweater with a fun tee or tank in a stripe or a bold hue underneath, then top with that same chunky cardigan. and don’t be afraid to mix colors, patterns and texture to add interest. if you stick to the same color family, most anything can be blended with success. or try your favorite jersey dress as your first layer, and treat it like separates – add a vest and blazer on top, tights underneath, and something tells me you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

next, remember that layering doesn’t stop at the waist. instead of your usual jeans, try layering thick, cabled tights under your favorite skirt or wool shorts (though i think the shorts look is best if you’re still comfortably in your mid-20s). add a tall boot or even a little bootie – the trick is to keep bottom layers all in the same color, to keep your legs looking long and lean.

finally, be bold. go out of your comfort zone just a little bit, as an experiment, and play around until you find something great. i absolutely guarantee that if you spend an hour mixing and matching in your closet this weekend, you’ll find new things to try. it’s all about trial and error, and you’ll definitely ‘miss’ on a few. but you’re sure to find a new look (or three) you didn’t even know you had!

what about the rest of you? any great layering tips to share?

{FTC disclaimer: some product samples were provided to help me compile this guide, but as usual, there’s no pay-for-play here.}

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better basics from alternative apparel

i’ve become a big fan of alternative apparel lately, and not just because certain other “a********** apparel” shop terrifies me (i’m sorry, but i can’t shop somewhere that sells gold lamé leggings and advertises with borderline kiddie porn.  just can’t.).

but beyond that, i have found almost without exception that alternative’s tees are eminently superior to most i’ve tried.  they use high quality, perfectly drapey fabric and actually pay attention to fit, so the tees are cut to look both slouchy and figure-skimming.  it’s quite impressive, really.

so far, i’m pretty solidly hooked on their v-neck burnout tee, especially in the “echo park” finishes, which are this very cool grey with colored undertones.  it’s exactly what you should be pairing with your boyfriend jeans and over-the-top heels, or stick with a more casual look and pair it with shorts or a relaxed summer skirt.  perfect! (ahem…i do, however, caution against the tank version of this one. that drapey fabric doesn’t play so well on a chest pocket, which ends up slouching in a most unflattering way.)

if you like a little more coverage (the burnout effect leaves you with a thin, semi-sheer tee), their  dean slub crew is another great option, if a bit more on the classic side.  the slub texture keeps it fresh, and it manages to be a heavier weight but still very stylish.  as soon as the weather cools off, i know i’ll be living in this one…and the six other colors i’ll be stocking up on.

even though these are unisex, i ordered my true size – i wanted the look to be slouchy, especially since the fabric’s thin (in the case of the burnout, at least).  plus, i wanted a little margin of error for the shrink factor.  it all worked out beautifully.

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