Stacy London

Photo by wardrobe_oxygen

I first discovered What Not to Wear when I was on maternity leave after giving birth to Colin in 2004. Talk about a time to be thirsty for anything related to style. It didn’t take me long to become devoted to my time with Stacy London and Clinton Kelly. As I struggled to get back into pre-pregnancy clothes, clothes that suddenly didn’t look as chic to me as they had nine months prior, I salivated over the idea of a $5000 budget to start anew. I yearned for someone to come tell me what to wear and, of course, what not to wear.

Since it seemed futile to wait for style fairies Stacy and Clinton to ambush me at work to offer their services and credit card, I started watching the show from a different perspective. I absorbed their advice. I looked for episodes that featured women who were built like me or had a similar lifestyle.

To this day, I still take fashion inspiration from them every time I watch their show.

While I adore Clinton’s cheekiness, I love Stacy’s enthusiasm, snark, and sentimentality. (If she tears up during the final reveal, I’m sure to as well.) And how could I go without mentioning her wardrobe? I also appreciate and admire that in a realm dominated by women much younger than we are, she’s my age.

Last night I attended a book signing event for her recently published book, The Truth About Style. While a rough day had almost led me to cancel, spending an evening with the likes of DC Celine, Wardrobe Oxygen, Closet Coach and Stacy London turned out to be just the therapy I needed. Stacy was generous with her time, sincere with her stories and answered every question from the audience thoughtfully. After her monologue and the Q&A, she spoke personally to each woman getting a book signed. Since I was way at the back of the line, I had time to craft a question for her that wouldn’t be too serious but yet meaningful to me.

Me: You’re 43, I’m about to turn 43, what did you buy yourself for your 43rd birthday. (Because I love birthdays. And I need ideas.)

Stacy: My God! What did I buy myself? I don’t know! (Thanks to Wardrobe Oxygen for snapping this photo of Stacy pondering my question.)

Me: Shoes?

Stacy: No! Now I remember. A Celine trapeze bag. I highly recommend it. You should do it. And by the way, I love that you’re wearing purple. And you have a great necklace. And wait, is that a leopard print coat? I think I have that coat!

Stacy London is as effusive in person as she is on TV. She looks you in the eye when she speaks. She really listens to you and her responses are thought out. She spent several minutes giving wedding dress advice to the women in front of me in line when they told her they’re getting married and one wants to wear a feminine dress and the other a more structured dress.

It’s fair to say I officially have a crush. While I’d need a lot of people to buy my 99 cent short story (coming soon) if I’m ever going to buy a Celine bag, I will live off the fumes of Stacy’s inspiration (and the lust for her fuchsia pleated flowy skirt) for a long time to come.

fashion night out

Yes, I went to Fashion Night Out.

I can hear you saying to yourselves, “of course you did, Chelsea. Isn’t that your scene?” But the truth of the matter is, it’s totally not my scene and here’s why.

First and foremost, I hate crowds. I have a rule about not standing in line to get into bars and a similar rule applies to shopping. Is J. Crew really going to have anything this one night that I couldn’t get on a regular day with much less pushing, oh-my-god-ing, and waiting to check out? I mean, Madewell did offer free hair braiding to customers, but I’m not the boho braid type, so that feature didn’t make the experience more pleasant (though I did buy a great shirt). The champagne and other cocktails most stores offered were nice until someone bumped into me and my ivory Magaschoni sleeveless top with a Hawaiian punch-colored concoction.

Secondly, I hate Georgetown. The cobblestone sidewalks are killer on your feet even when wearing my version of a practical shoe. There is no easy way to get there either. It isn’t exactly metro accessible, which means I had to drive. And park. And drive home. Maybe if all the stores I like were conveniently situated all on the same block, I’d shop there more. But on second thought, no, even that wouldn’t make Georgetown more palatable to me.

So why did I venture out on this night? I was purely motivated by the desire to spend time with the amazing Rosana Vollmerhausen of DC Style Factory. She was a first-timer to FNO as well and had asked last week if I wanted to check it out together. The verdict? We had a great time. It helped that we (1) have great energy together (2) only hit four shops (Madewell, Tari, Urban Chic and Alchemie Forever) and (3) share the same sense of snark.

For example, I wish I had snapped a photo of the skirt that was so short and tight that I swear I saw cheek. (Rosana is convinced it was meant to be a shirt.) If only I had captured the ball gown skirt that looked like it belonged more at an Inaugural event in cooler temps than at a glorified shopping festival on a 91 degree day. My favorite outrageous outfit can best described as modeled after I Dream of Jeannie if she had worn all black. (Yes, there was exposed midriff.) While I don’t have these images saved for posterity, they provided bonding moments for me and Rosana, who instead focused her lens on other highlights of the night, which you can see here.

Other FNO bright spots: meeting the Closet Coach, seeing my sole sisters from SimplySoles, and the free pedi-cab ride we took for three blocks because we are not as young and sprightly as the other revelers.

All and all, I had a good time, which had little to do with fashion, but much to do with the women I shared the evening with.