must have monday: poise

Occasionally we all melt under pressure. I might be doing so literally and figuratively right now with the discovery of a busted central air conditioning system (and corresponding water leak in my basement) smack in the middle of our first mini-heat wave. (I say mini heat wave because come August, days in the high 80s-low 90s will be cherished.) But sitting here sweating it out at my computer, the epitome of a hot mess, trying to calm myself as I drink an iced vanilla latte, I got to thinking that beyond purses, scarves, shoes and sexy lingerie, the best accessory a person can carry around with them is their poise.

It isn’t always easy to remain calm, cool and collected, especially if you are a Sagittarius like I am. We react passionately first, ask for forgiveness minutes later. I’ve had an increased number of outbursts lately, much to my disappointment. More than I want an iconic handbag or the perfect summer sandal, I’d like to have a constant source of poise to get me through the tougher times. By poised, I do not mean detached; I wear my heart on my sleeve and hopefully you love me for it. Nor do I mean cold. Stoicism can help when we need to bite our tongues or not overreact to a situation, but it isn’t my natural inclination. Sometimes deep breaths work; sometimes they result in hyperventilating. Sometimes a glass of wine works; sometimes it takes a few glasses.

As with most things in life, finding balance seems to be the key. I am committed to channeling more poise into my manner of conducting myself and am seeking a role model to emulate. And incentive. Every self-improvement project deserves a good reward at the end.

I’m thinking a perfectly poise-worthy vintage (i.e. used) Chanel bag.



champagne or gunmetal?


Same dress, two different colors. I’m partial to the champagne gown pictured on the right. Lee is partial to its gunmetal sister pictured on the left. Let’s settle it here with an electronic arm wrestle. No, seriously, please feel free to weigh in with your favorite.

(For those who are wondering what happened to the pink over budget dress, according to Lee the material was very delicate and she had already noticed some snags in the fabric, not acceptable for an $800 dress. She was worried about the gown standing up to a cross-country airplane ride, not to mention the prospects of getting multiple wears out of it.)

Ultimately, Lee has to make her own decision based on what she feels most comfortable wearing, but I champagne plan champagne to champagne work champagne on champagne subtly champagne swaying champagne her champagne to champagne choose champagne my champagne favorite.



Facebook has forever altered the true meaning of the word “friend.” After all, I’m friends with people I haven’t seen in more than 20 years. I’m friends with people I barely know. Well, not anymore since I combed through my so-called friend list yesterday and weeded out 100 people whom I’m pretty sure I’d pass on the street without recognizing. These are people I haven’t had a real conversation with in years, if ever, and people whose posts I frankly never read.

I admit at times I could be a Facebook friend glutton, which is why I had friends from high school who never spoke ten words to me when we were actually there together, but lately I’ve been feeling a little dirty about the size of my Facebook universe. While the pages of the chelsea chronicles are open for all to read, and I certainly am not shy about bearing my soul here, you choose to read my musings. While I personally might find my own Facebook posts entertaining, it’s presumptuous for me to think that just because we once shared an English teacher, a zip code or drinks at a bar that you want my daily thoughts popping up in your stream. Or that I want to read yours.

Facebook serves a purpose for sure, one that I appreciate. After all, it helped me reconnect with my long lost cousin, Larisa. I have grown closer through the wires with people like Angie in Chicago. It’s also a great tool for cyber-stalking. And it’s nice to have a mechanism for keeping in touch with those friends and family members whom time or distance make routine communication challenging. But do I follow my best friends’ posts religiously on Facebook? Not really. I know what’s happening in their lives without social media.

I also have in my life people dear to me whose profiles you won’t see on my page. Our meaningful connections transcend the interwebs.

Recently, I’ve considered closing my Facebook account altogether. Until yesterday, I had close to 640 friends. I am chagrined that I still have have in the 530s, but I feel better about the depth of the connection I have to the remaining friends on my list.

pretty in pink

After hearing my complaint from afar that she did not try on enough color, Lee sent me these never before seen pictures of her in the following gowns.

This fuchsia Badgley Mischka dress is everything I love. It’s playful. It’s young without being prom-y or slutty. It’s mature without being matronly. With alteration of the straps, it would be sexy without being too revealing.

Sadly, it’s double her budget.

Lee dutifully tried on some of the dresses that had been pinned by her team of consultants, with the following results (in her own words):

1. Amsale Back Cutout Gown – the cap sleeves didn’t quite work and it was too plain – very bridesmaidy.

2. BCBG Sophia gown – the material was too plain and bunched up in the back.

3. Tadashi Shoij Asymetrical Pleated – it was very nice, but lots and lots of material. And honestly, it wasn’t sexy enough.

4. Tadashi Shoji Draped Taffeta – it had no hanger appeal (just looked old ladyish) so I didn’t even try it on.

Two other options that are back in her budget stratosphere and still in the running include:

And this:

After talking to Lee, it sounds like the middle dress pictured here is in serious contention. She reports it has a nice swing when she walks and it will travel well. But it’s black. Sigh. I’m totally smitten with the pink dress, as is she, perfectly illustrating why people should never try on something outside of their price range. I still plan to lobby for her to find a way to make it work. (After all, lobbying is what I do.)

And I believe people should have those things they most want and love.

initial fashion show

Last night, as you may have seen, Lee was able to grab a friend and head to Friendship Heights for a little dress trying on action. As I had other Friday evening plans that I did not want to dispose of, I had to skip the fashionable fun, though I was kept up to date by Lee’s stand-in consultant.

As I sent around previously, here is option number one:

This dress is a great color and cut on Lee, but I have had a few people text me to say they think it could be aging. Now I wasn’t there to see it in person, so I cannot say for sure whether or not this dress has that unintended and dreaded effect. But I do want to issue a general warning to women against making yourself look more matronly with the wrong dress.I know how hard it is to find the right balance between too young and too old, but the perfect dress is out there. I just may take kissing a lot of frogs to find it.

I am told by Lee’s trusty photographer that option number two, the above-pictured champagne-hued dress is gorgeous in person. Kassie Rempel DC shoe goddess and founder of the soon-to-be-launced Kassie’s Closet, weighed in that she liked this dress, and her opinion means the world. I like the color and the one-shouldered cut, but if Lee chooses this option, I want to see her put her hair up. Since she is traveling and won’t have access to her regular hair stylist, my next project might be to find a good “how to up do” tutorial for her.

And last but not least, there was a third option that I did not get a chance to post last night. The color may be a little heavy for summer but I like the cut and can envision the flow as she dances the night away.

There were others tried on that even I haven’t seen. There was color. But these were the favorites. If you have a favorite, please feel free to chime in. If you have an alternative, we will look at that too.

A military ball awaits.

a quadratic equation

I have a confession to make.

As announced to everyone within earshot of me as I made my way to the Cheverly Prom a few weeks ago, I bought Prada shoes.

(No, not to wear to the Cheverly Prom.)

This should not come as much of a surprise to those who know me, or maybe it will come as a shock. It might be the most indulgent purchase I have ever made, which is why I feel a slight chagrin in this admission. But I fell in love with these shoes when shopping for a dress to wear to Kaitlan’s wedding, and as those on the receiving end of my affection know, my love is not fleeting.

I have a mathematical formula in my head that justifies such a purchase. It goes something like this:

Credit for returned Kate Spade shoes + consignment check from Secondi + price differential between black DVF dress and dress I actually wore = Prada shoes

Shoes are the constant.

I knew I wanted these shoes the moment I slipped my feet into them at Neiman Marcus when trying on dresses. (Note: it’s a clever sales trick to bring into the dressing room a nice pair of shoes to ease your trying on experience.) I made a valiant effort to distract myself with non-Prada alternatives. The Kate Spade pumps referenced in the above equation were too pointy. The Stuart Weitzman Platswoons in adobe had a significant gap at the heel. Time was ticking. I had a dress. I needed a shoe.

So now I’m the happy owner of a gorgeous pair of buff patent leather Prada pumps with the perfect heel height and a tasteful platform. They are not my every day shoes. I dread the day a heel gets caught in between the uneven cobblestones of an under-maintenanced DC sidewalk. They will never see the rain or be the guest at a reception held on a carpet of grass. They aren’t quite special occasion shoes, but most certainly are great date night shoes or “I’m having a big day” shoes.

Regardless of whether I wear my Prada splurge walking down the halls of Congress or behind closed doors, these shoes make me feel powerful. And that feeling is worth every penny.

Update: the military ball

Belle of the Ball? Style Dilemma? Who has time to shop for a ball, even a Special Forces Ball? Oh right. I need to make time. I promised my assistance to Lee. But this week has been nothing short of pressure-filled, and suddenly it’s Thursday without a dress contender in sight. Don’t you hate it when your day job and adult responsibilities keep you from your hobbies?

Lee says her top three dress options thus far are: a Tadashi Shoji One Shoulder Belted Gown that is sadly no longer available; this Jim Hjelm beauty; and the Amsale Back Cutout Gown in a merlot color that would be gorgeous with her hair color.  It’s a good start, but my anxiety level might be a little high given that she hasn’t tried on a single gown. Let’s keep in mind my own guest of a wedding style dilemma dress was discovered after many many misses. (To be precise: two online ordered and returned dresses; one unsuccessful visit each to Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales; and two visits and one purchased and returned dress from Neiman Marcus, all before I found the winner at Betsy Fisher.)

Lee is going to have better luck. Lee is going to have better luck. Lee is going to have better luck.

My favorites, sight unseen?

I adore this Dalia MacPhee gown and while I pinned it in silver, the designer informed me that it comes in other fabulous colors too. Last night, a mutual friend pinned this Notte by Marchesa slik-chiffon gown which has an appropriate level of sex appeal. (I hear there is e-flirting going on.) And the dress I’m yearning for is this 1951 Schiaparelli. I know, this exercise is about Lee’s impending ball, not my fantasy one.

But we all dream about being the belle of our own ball.

men’s wear wednesday: the ties that bind

It has been some time since I’ve had the occasion to buy a man a tie. However, I do like to walk around the tie section of a high-end department store. I love how ties are organized according to their place on the color wheel. I love feeling the different textures and fabrics. I love imagining the possible suit-plus-shirt combinations a tie has to offer.

(Maybe all this tie buying love stems from the fact that I love helping a man take off his tie.)

A recent trip to Nordstrom in search of a birthday gift led me to my own little tie epiphany. Ties only come in three pattern options: solid, stripes or paisley.  And within those pattern options, ties are either bold, safe (some might say boring) or ugly.

A tie is the man’s way to distinguish his outfit. It’s his shoes, jewelry, scarf and purse all in one. (Melt my heart if he has a corresponding sock.) The right tie gives a man his opportunity to present himself as more sophisticate, less prep school boy. It’s the one element that can pull together the professional man’s outfit. It’s a chance to be unique. Much like I don’t like to walk into an elevator and run into a woman with the exact same outfit on, I assume a man doesn’t like looking around a conference table and realizing he has on a variation of the same tie every other man in the room is wearing.

I personally like a man who can pull off a bold tie, but I recognize it isn’t in everyone’s comfort zone. If you are in the market for a tie and need some direction, my simple rules are: no skinny ties unless you are a dedicated hipster; no ties that require sunglasses to comfortably look at; and, I’m just going to say it, don’t bother with Vineyard Vines ties. They all look alike.

Oh and one more rule. Please, if you get a grease spot on your tie that won’t come out, you must retire it, no matter how much you paid for it or how much you love it.