the Rita by Lillybee

I bought a white purse. Okay, it isn’t exactly nursing shoes white, but more accurately, a soft cream color that my kids just happen to call white. It has lovely dove-colored handles, the length of the drop on which is perfect for me and my on-the-go needs.

In three weeks, I may be wondering why I went with such an unforgiving color. It’s only a matter of time before it catches the nip of my ink pen, rubs up against something sticky, or just starts to accumulate a city hue from being carried to and fro in an urban environment.

But I’m going to diligently protect it from such evils because I love it.

I love that it looks just as good with black as it does with my brightly colored dresses and skirts for spring and summer. I love that it works with jeans. I love that it isn’t matchy matchy with my spring and summer shoes, but it also doesn’t clash with them. And most of all, I love that it’s from the Lillybee inaugural Italian handbag line, designed by local shoe goddess Kassie Rempel. That means my purchase not only supports a dear friend, but a woman-owned, DC-based small business.

On the first day I broke it out, I was mainly confined to my desk, but the three times I stepped away from the office, I received compliments on Rita. She makes a fine addition to the Lillybee family, and with any luck, maybe I can talk Kassie into offering it in eggplant for the fall.

the reveal

I do believe I promised that yesterday was decision Saturday and that I would be forthcoming with my dress selection. Did Team Poppy win out over Team Black Lace with their heaps of praise over the color, their insistence that the Sarita Tulle Lace is more wedding appropriate and their argument that black is too somber for a May wedding? Or did Team Black Lace prevail with their promise that the Zarita Lace is timeless, more elegant and can be a closet staple for years to come? Maybe a dark horse emerged, something that missed my eye when I was shopping the other day.

I know I made a promise, but sometimes promises are cruelly broken.

I did buy a dress yesterday, but I’m not going to reveal which one. I will tell you that I’m going to wear nude pumps. I will tell you that I’m in need of a clutch. I will tell you that I haven’t decided on jewelry yet. But if you want to see pictorial evidence of the happy ending to the guest of a wedding style dilemma, tune in next Saturday, May 5th. My morning starts early at Michael Anthony Salon where Mickey either will or won’t cut my hair short again, then continues on to Annapolis, where I hope to check in early so I can change into the mystery dress before heading to the Naval Academy chapel for Kaitlan and Adam’s special event.

The suspense is maybe not quite as high as it was one-year ago today when the world caught first glimpse of what dress Kate Middleton chose to wear to wed Prince William. But one element will be the same at Saturday’s nuptials.

There will be lots of men in uniform.

more things I won’t wear

Fashion blogger Alison gave me a teensy bit of a hard time for won’t wears that describe what 78% of the universe of fashion bloggers would have on their lists. (I suppose we’d diverge when it comes to boyfriend blazers and strapless dresses.) Thus I decided I should push the envelop a little (something else Alison is trying to get me to do more of) and add some won’t wears that are either on trend or prevalent on our fair streets.

1. Colored Jeans. In the spirit of full disclosure, a year and a half ago, after three months of wearing all black in order to camouflage my back brace, I grew obsessed with owning a pair of J. Brand cherry red skinny jeans. Then I bought a pair. I looked like a hooker in them. If I’d been on twitter at the time, any #twitterfashionshow comments would have concurred with my assessment. I quickly got over the trend, apparently just in time for it to explode to include every color under the rainbow.

2. Boho Anything. There can be an understated elegance to bohemian styling when done right, but it’s totally hit or miss and it’s totally not me. I’m not exactly the carefree type and would feel in costume wearing a peasant blouse, floaty cotton skirt, or anything described as hippie chic, an expression I consider an oxymoron. After all, aren’t these the same people who made UGGs commonplace?

3. Maxi Dresses. I want to have the extra six inches of height that I think necessary to carry off a maxi dress, but since I don’t, I’m saving this style for the Alisons, Nancys and Liesls of the world.

4. Peplum. Who needs wider hips or the illusion of wider hips? Not this woman who has birthed two children. I don’t want peplum on a dress. I don’t want it on a jacket. I want the opposite of peplum please. (I guess that’s called shape wear.)

5. Leggings. Alison might put this item in the category of yesterday’s obvious selections, but I see enough people wearing them that I think they deserve a place on my list. I wish I could wear leggings with riding boots and a tunic and feel effortlessly cool. But the one time I tried a pair of leggings, I felt like I was wearing running tights. I have a comfort issue personally, but leggings in general are very tricky. Not everyone can/should wear them, even those of us who work out regularly. If in doubt, don’t.

There we go. Again, very personal and based on my age, personality and body type. For the most part, I’m not judging if any of these items fall on your must haves list.

Well, maybe judging just a little.

five things I won’t wear

I get asked all the time what I will and will not wear. I don’t have a ton of rules, but I do have some fashion nos.

1. Yellow: So few people look good in yellow. In fact, I think maybe 10 people, including Halle Berry and Michelle Williams that one year she wore canary yellow to the Oscars (though it was a love-it-or-hate-it dress). That leaves eight non-celebrities who can carry off this tricky tone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pastel or the neon hue that’s so omnipresent right now, I think it casts a sickly glow. It probably doesn’t look good on you either.

2. Boyfriend Anything: No boyfriend blazers for me. They are too boxy and too long for my frame. I also stay away from boyfriend jeans. Even if I had a boyfriend, I wouldn’t wear his jeans, so why would I buy jeans that are meant to mimic his? I’d rather wear yoga pants. And the only thing worse than a boyfriend cardigan is a grandfather cardigan. I like clothes that fit and have feminine detail. Some women (tall, willowy ones) can carry off the boyfriend this or boyfriend that look spectacularly, but it isn’t for me, and I won’t cave to trend.

3. Nude Pantyhose: In the winter, I wear opaque black or gray tights, and occasionally, black silk stockings if they are Wolford. I splurge on one pair a year, and literally that one pair gets me through my winter needs. But otherwise, if I’m wearing an outfit that can’t take a dark tight, I bear leg it. No matter how cold. Let’s be honest: nude pantyhose aren’t really the color of actual skin nor do they provide any warmth value. So why keep up the charade?

4. Messenger Bags: After all, I am not a messenger. The one possible exception is if you consider the Proenza Schouler PS1 to be a messenger bag. But there is neither a reflective patch nor a gore-tex seam in sight on this amazing bag that my fashion fairy can feel free to leave on my doorstep (work though please where someone is here to sign for it).

5. Strapless Dresses: I wore a strapless dress to my cousin’s wedding two summers ago and within 15 minutes, I swore I would never wear that style again. Frankly, most women look uncomfortable in strapless. There’s nothing worse than having to yank your dress up all night except perhaps watching someone else yank her dress up all night. The options with strapless seem to be (1) fall out of your dress; (2) spend all night preventing such a fashion disaster; or (3) bind yourself in so tightly that you can’t breathe.

These don’t wears of mine are very personal and aren’t meant to insult anyone. My advice when it comes to style is that if it feels wrong on you, it probably is. However, if it feels right to wear a boyfriend blazer over a yellow strapless dress with nude pantyhose and carry a messenger bag, I might identify you as needing a fashion intervention.

green is my new orange

http://www.polyvore.com/cgi/img-thing?.out=jpg&size=l&tid=49821861Pantone decided that tangerine tango is the color of 2012. I have one response to that: I found it first.

Who sported a neon orange cross-body bag all last summer? That would be me.

Who owns two orange (okay, I’m going to call tangerine tango by its given name) silk blouses, an orange cashmere sweater, orange (coral) espadrilles, orange suede wedges (a new addition, granted), an orange DVF from a few years ago, two orange scarves, and various orange t-shirts?

You know it.

While there is some personal satisfaction in knowing you are ahead of trend, it’s also annoying when the one color you are most drawn to is apparent everywhere. I will still buy it because it is my color. For example, I just have to have the orange version of my favorite dress, known affectionately as the zipper dress, but if it’s navy sister is any indication, it’s a classic piece that will outlive fashion whimsy. Otherwise, when available, from now on, green in my new orange.

Still fresh in shades for spring (this is not your St. Patrick’s Day kelly or the early 90s forest) and honestly something that will pair well with my existing sweaters and shoes, green is still eye-catching. And it’s so versatile, working with many of its friends on the color spectrum.

But if Pantone’s 2013 color of the year is cilantro or grassy knoll or tulip leaf, I’m going to be green with pissed-off-ness.

And will promptly move on to purple.

the Easter dress gap

https://i2.wp.com/www.remaxprestige.com/wp-content/gallery/prestige-blog-images/eggs.jpg

I believe I was nine years old the last time I had a real Easter dress. I can see the picture taken that morning of me and my brother Nathan. My hair was more than halfway down my back in those days (well, in all days until I graduated from college) and in this particular picture, it’s curled in ringlets that probably lasted all of 15 minutes since my super straight hair does not take curl.

It’s been more than 30 years and I haven’t had what I would call an Easter dress since, primarily because it isn’t like I actually go anywhere on Easter that requires dressing up. But for some reason, I always wake up on Easter morning and wonder, with a little more angst than I do on a typical Sunday, “what am I going to wear today?” As I had this conversation with my sleepy self a few minutes ago, it occurred to me that the real problem is that I don’t have what others would call brunch attire.

My brunch outfits, depending on who I’m meeting and where we’re going, usually revolve around my regular weekend staple: jeans. If it’s a casual brunch, I throw on a t-shirt. I might add a blazer, a chunky necklace, a scarf or all three. If I want to dress it up a little, I swap the tee for a blouse.  And I’m comfortable with this look – it reflects who I am. I wear a skirt or a dress every day of the work week, so weekends are for jeans. In fact, the dresses in my closet are primarily for work or evening and would look out of place on a Saturday or Sunday. Or rather, I should say, I would feel out of place in them since they are part of my work uniform.

I can already read the comment, “wear a sundress and a cardigan to brunch” but I’m definitely not the sundress type. Trust me, when you get to be my age, floral dresses move quickly from flirty to frumpy, so it isn’t like I feel I am missing the grown-up version of this long ago dress from my youth. At the same time, when it comes to brunch, the other end of the scale (think grandmotherly tweed suit and pearls) is not right either, though if I had a Chanel suit, I’d wear the blazer (with jeans) at every opportunity.

So again I am stuck at: what to wear today?

We’re going to Nancy’s for brunch this morning where our collective four boys will run around in shorts and t-shirts, collecting dirt, rocks, sticks and sweat. Her daughter Tess will undoubtedly have two or three dresses she rotates in and out of as the day progresses, her face stickier with chocolate bunnies and jelly beans with each wardrobe change.

The jury it out on what I will be wearing, except when it comes to my feet.

I might not have an Easter dress, but I do have Easter shoes.

monday musings

eeny meeny miny mo

I’m the kind of person who is often paralyzed by indecision, which when it comes to purchases, can often result in buying two of what it is I am contemplating.

By way of example, I love the Treat by Bettye Muller and own it in two colors. I could easily own it in 15 (please, make it in berry and teal). It’s the perfect heel height for work; the perfect height for fun. I can wear the Treat all day long (even through the marbled halls of Congress) and well into the evening. While like every Sex and the City watching woman I’m tempted by all the Manolos and Louboutins of the world, I can (even at this price point) buy two (if not three) of the Bettyes for the price of one of the others and know that my toes aren’t going to pinch at the end of the day. Or by the end of breakfast. Not to mention I’d never want to ruin that beautiful red sole of the Louboutin by subjecting it to the sidewalks of DC.

I knew I had to add another Treat to my collection from the moment I first saw it with the orange cap toe, which I have to admit I got a preview of when Austin from Simply Soles sent me a photo of the shoe after she and the other “shoe angels” had gone to New York for a Spring 2012 shoe buying expedition. Then I saw my favorite shoe with the black toe. A classic. Perhaps more versatile.

Both are gorgeous.

I’ve created mental outfits for both. So now I play eeny meeny mino mo. Don’t hate me if I end up buying them both.

pretty in pink (and poppy and raspberry)

pretty in pink (and poppy and raspberry)

I usually hate pink. Well, hate is too strong of a word, so let me amend and extend my remarks to say I don’t love pink on me. Pink looks lovely on my friend Emily, on Nancy’s daughter Tess, and on the azalea bushes in my yard each spring. But it is not a color I find myself drawn to usually.

When Jack was a toddler, he went through a phase where he was obsessed with the color pink. I indulged his whim by buying him a pink oxford shirt, pink pajamas and even pink socks. I balked at the pink L.L. Bean jacket he wanted because (honestly) I caved to the social pressure that says boys can’t wear a pink jacket. I had a hard enough time explaining to adults why I let him wear pink; I did not want my kid to get teased at day care. I thus convinced him that orange (my true favorite color) was really sort of a dark version of pink. Jack wore orange jackets for the next several winters.

It is with this history of my tepid relationship with pink in mind that I share with you some of my latest obsessions for spring. I am shocked at myself that my eye continues to be drawn to a color that can only be described as resembling chewed bubble gum. When I am perusing J. Crew’s new arrivals, I usually fill my virtual fantasy basket with colors of black, purple and gray. But right now, I am slightly fixated on this pink cardigan and the candy-striped sweater in azalea and orange. The bright dahlia dress would also be a huge departure from my safe usual choice of navy, and may make its way into my closet the next time there is a 25% off everything sale.

Coral has also caught my fancy, thus this Simply Soles exclusive color pairing on my favorite Bettye Muller pump has my feet begging for spring (and a sugar daddy). Likewise the Function in Fuchsia by French Sole (a marriage of pink and orange) has me overlooking my usual hesitation about flats. One thing is clear, I am smitten with the cap toe craze because both these shoes will be on my wish list, along with the similarly hued earrings.

You’d have to be a caveman to not know Valentine’s Day is coming up (I have been methodically unsubscribing from every email that reminds me) but sexy underpinnings are not only for special occasions. I love this raspberry Chantelle set available at Coup de Foudre (the one vendor I will forgive for sending aforementioned V-Day reminders) and I understand from store-owner Valerie that my favorite Marie Jo bra will be coming in a shade of pink this spring too.

Rounding out my color fetish, Kate Spade’s Cobble Hill Leslie in cinnibar (the perfect alternative to the dove gray purse I am using now), a baby pink Love Quotes scarf, and Chanel lipgloss in a color named, I kid not, Chelsea.

Rest assured pink skeptics, in whatever manner I end up incorporating these happy shades into my wardrobe, I promise not to blind you by wearing them all at once. But on any given day, you will never know if I’m getting in my pink fix with the outfit under the outfit, so to speak.

a very newsy update

the scraped, primed and painted ceiling and walls of the guest room, the source of all my sweat equity efforts

I can’t fault writer’s block for my recent absence from the blogosphere. I’ve had several ideas that fell the wayside or were condensed into 140-character tweets. But fear not, I’m still here, thinking the same snarky thoughts.

I do feel like I should wrap up some loose ends, given how many questions and comments I get on previous posts. So for those who haven’t been sleeping at night wondering how my turkey came out or if I found a new purse, here are some updates to whet your appetite for more posts to come. Trust me, I have a lot on my mind that I want to share.

In no particular order, fall foliage. It’s gone. I’m no longer lounging under the brilliant canopy of autumn-hued trees. It was a spectacular fall, the best in my memory, and I hope fall 2011 is the new norm for the years to come.

My turkey. If you read my post, then you know I was poised to host Thanksgiving for the first time ever, and I was seeking turkey recipes. Thanks to all who submitted their favorites. I used the version submitted by my friend Stephanie, who has used it ten years running, although every year, her mother-in-law still declares, “why Stephanie, I didn’t know you could cook!” Now, my bird did not come out as juicy as Stephanie promised, but that’s my fault for screwing up the weight-time conversion and leaving it in the oven a little too long. Regardless, Colin ate both drumsticks and there weren’t as many leftovers as one would think given we were five adults, five kids and two turkeys (yes, someone didn’t trust me and brought their own).

A new fall/winter purse: There’s still no new handbag dangling off my arm, though I have test-run many models. The favorite thus far is my friend Emily’s purse, but even though she lives in Chicago and we have owned the same bag before, I am hesitant to click purchase. A big Kate Spade sale after Christmas and continued ennui with my current bag might cure me of that though.

The Sweat Equity Challenge: No, I did not end up tackling a household project every week between September 18th and Thanksgiving, but I did do eight weeks worth of projects in about a 5-day period, which explains why I still have repetitive stress disorder in both arms (I’m an ambidextrous scraper/painter). The lesson learned: next time hire someone to do the work or find a boyfriend who is handy around the house.

My fall wardrobe refresh: In October, I took advantage of a 25% off J. Crew sale to purchase some new staples for my fall wardrobe. What a bust. First of all, I kid you not when I say each of the five items I ordered was shipped separately. Secondly, I ended up returning everything except the pencil skirt in harvest tweed. The camel sweater was not the right shade (nor was the blouse) and the plum capri pants looked like pajamas. The red pants, which I had high high hopes for, weren’t lined and it took 15 seconds of standing in front of my mirror before the itching began.

So that is pretty much my life to date. Stay tuned for my musings on Santa Claus, Christmas lists, and of course, my upcoming birthday.

December 17th for those who don’t have their calendars marked.