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.

jubilee

In January and July of each year, SimplySoles holds its three-week Jubilee sale. A gambler’s sale, the way it works is the first week, select items are 30% off, the second week they are 40% off and the third week, remaining items are between 50-80% off. It’s a great way to score an investment shoe at Nine West prices, unless of course, you are cursed with the ever-so-common size 8 foot like I am, in which case your dream shoe is almost always sold out by the third week.

Usually my approach to Jubilee is to roll the dice the first week of the sale under the premise that if the item(s) I covet is still available the second week, then it was meant to be. Rarely do I risk the third week, though in January I did wait and scored the Stuart Weitzman Tango for a mere $67.00.

My friend Adrienne is more daring than I am. She waits until the last week and more often than not, ends up with shoes by Bettye Muller, Butter and Dana Davis at highway robbery prices. But this July’s sale, her patience paid off greater than normal dividends. In fact, she said she feels like she’s stealing shoes from Kassie by getting the deals that she got.

The catch is that Adrienne can afford to wait. She has a size 11 foot.

By her own observation, many of the shoes she picked up in this week’s haul were the last remaining shoe of that style. Thus they were marked down the entire 80%. She didn’t have to worry (like I do) about the little “1 remaining!” alert next to the sale price because of her confidence that not a lot of other size 11s are out there competing with her. As such, on Tuesday, the beginning of the third week of Jubilee, she bought six pairs of shoes. The original price of all would have totaled $1062.00. But when you calculate the sale price and subtract the $50 “sole saver reward” she used, her total came to $242. That’s over $800 in savings!

So next time you large-footed friends of mine lament your shoe size, I’m going to remind you of Adrienne and the benefit of sales that us average-footed women never get near. I would posture that savings like this is worth the few hundred water ski jokes you’ve had to endure over time.

 

accessorize this dress: take one

yellow or purple?

Yesterday, two different women asked me to help them figure out what accessories to wear with the dresses which they plan to wear to (different) weddings next week.

Request #1 came from my friend Chani, who shocked me in the process by wearing a gorgeous purple dress when we met up.

Me: I only ever see you in black or gray.

Chani: I know! But I was inspired by you to not buy this dress in black.

It turns out Chani went on a little shopping spree, buying the aforementioned dress and a little number to wear to outdoor nuptials in Charleston on July 8th. The dress is from Kate Spade, and it’s a swirl of purple, brown and yellow paisley. She plans to wear nude pumps, and while she doesn’t know this yet, I have the perfect little handbag for her to borrow.

Chani is moving into bold colors slowly, so I created two fairly conservative options for her. (And by conservative, I mean pulling from shades in the dress and not going totally crazy with something offbeat like turquoise.)

Option #1 – Yellow: I like the idea of making this sunshine shade pop. I’d recommend choosing between bold earrings or a bold necklace, but not both. If Chani opts for the earrings, I think she can go sans necklace. If she goes with the necklace, I’d wear a simple stud earring of some variety (and am happy to look up some options).

Option #2 – Purple: Perhaps considered the safer option for someone just breaking into color, these purple earrings both make a statement in their size but are not too dramatic in their shade. I couldn’t find a necklace for under the price of the dress that I thought would work, but if you have suggestions, Chani has the weekend to shop.

Lately, I’ve been into stacking bracelets or wearing one statement-y cuff. I’ve pictured examples of each, but there are a gazillion on the market to choose from in this category.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second styling request, and of course, check in next Friday when I hope to have a picture to post of Chani in her complete ensemble. I’m confident there won’t be a hint of black or gray to be seen.

must have monday: the Treat

The Treat

I interrupt today’s planned item I can’t live without to bring you another must have that is on special today only with sizes selling out fast.

On the cusp of their annual July Jubilee sale, SimplySoles is offering this one-day special: 30% off five colors of the Treat by Bettye Muller. This shoe will not be included in the upcoming Jubilee, so today is your chance to get this perfect work or event shoe at reduced cost. Are you on your feet all day but need to be clad in a professional shoe? Do you stomp the marble halls of Congress, which we know can do damage not only on feet but on our shoes themselves? Are you wary of four-inch (or higher) heels that leave you limping by the end of an evening event? If you answered yes to any of these questions, do not hesitate to stop reading and start shopping.

Last summer, I bought the Treat in buff (unfortunately this color is only available for my size 11 friends) and then in the fall, her platino sister joined the collection. Today, I ordered the Treat in black and tan (the only of the five colors on sale that is still in my size) and in the fall, I plan to get the navy.

This shoe is not only beautiful, but truly comfortable. (You can hunt me down if you try it and find it not to be so.) This classic silhouette will stand the test of time in this city, regardless of which party controls what branch of government. In other words, while hemlines may rise and fall along with the political times, the Treat is bipartisan.

And since we need more of that spirit in this city, you should buy two pairs.

decisions, decisions

There will be real life photos of these items on an actual body (my body, to be precise) later. I promise. But I have yet to shower after doing morning shots (of resistance) at Biker Barre and am playing host to not only my own kids but to neighborhood friends who are still without power.

(Side note: I’m just going to say I was way overdue to be the one house that had power restored almost immediately after a storm. I’m sure it will never play out this way again, but I hope by offering electricity to those in need, I’m keeping on the good side of karma.)

Anyway, there’s nothing like a house with four boys ages six to ten to make you want to girl-out and create outfits.

As previously mentioned, I made a good dent in my summer clothes woes at the Periwinkle pop-up boutique this week (you have few hours left if you haven’t dropped in yet). Now the only so-called problem is that I have options.

On the left is a (fitted, I promise) t-shirt dress. Floral. I know right? Not what I usually gravitate toward. But this dress has an ease that I love, and I would try to edge it out with jewelry and shoes so that it isn’t too sweet in execution.

In the middle is a tunic, but not one that is too long (peril to the short woman). The fuchsia sash (which would also work with either dress) adds a nice pop of color. The only drama with this top for today is that I gave away my white shorts last summer and consigned my white jeans earlier this year, so my options for what to wear on the bottom are limited.

The dress on the right is my favorite. I might need to get it in additional colors. The v-neck extends deeper on the other side, which is actually the front, but I plan to wear it backwards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the many pairing possibilities with navy.

I could wear the green chunky necklace or the orange one. (How badly do I need this marigold beauty from my friends at SimplySoles?)

I could use the sash that goes with it or I could swap it out for the fuchsia one.

Or I could even stay neutral with accessories and wear my coral espadrilles.

Maybe some combination?

Just in writing this post, I’m sure the navy dress is the one I will wear to tonight’s dinner party. If you have styling preferences or ideas, please feel free to share.

Otherwise tune in later to see what I decided. And don’t be surprised if I have a glass of bubbly in my hands. Sparkling wine is, after all, the perfect accessory for summer.

bathing beauty

Image from http://www.polyvore.com/bathing_beauty/set?id=51563525

It almost seems cliche to write about h0w much women hate trying on bathing suits. But really, this task cannot be understated.

I already did a bathing beauty post last summer on this topic, but have been asked three times this week to offer some guidance on how to make this essential summer purchase. Plus, I was inspired by DC Celine’s recent bathing suit buying experience. So while I’m the worst person to give bathing suit shopping advice (after all, as you can read in last summer’s post, I will wear the same hated suit for years in a row just to avoid having to buy another hated suit) I will attempt to provide some direction to those destined for a pool or a beach this summer.

First of all, if you need a suit, and you find one you like, buy it right away. I failed to learn this lesson last summer. Two weeks ago, I had three different bathing suit options in my electronic J. Crew shopping cart, but I was hemming and hawing over sizes, colors and whether or not I can get away with a bikini. J. Crew decided for me, since as of this morning, the green polka dot bikini pictured above is no longer in stock in my size. The green and navy stripped one-piece is backordered until August. The J. Crew version of the pictured green Norma Kamali (a dream purchase I would only make if I planned to spend the summer on the French Riviera) is no longer available in a color I want, and alternative colors aren’t available until, you guessed it, August.

The moral of the story is: buy your suit now.

My other advice is to consider what level of activity you plan to do in said bathing suit. Strapless is good for working on the perfect tan but maybe not for playing with active kids in the water.

Obviously, level of coverage is important as well. I happen to belong to a pool frequented by a number of professional contacts, thus you won’t find me in super revealing styles. But if your pool and/or beach is the hot spot for singles, by all means, opt for the string bikini.

If you can’t find what you are looking for, take your search beyond the usual places. I found last summer’s suit at Zappos, and had delivered next day to destination number two of my New England vacation (too late for a day on the beach in Ipswich but just in time for the pool in Maine).

The bottom line is only you are going to know whether a certain suit works for you, and it may take some trial and error to find the right one. If I find the perfect suit this summer, I plan to buy it in multiple colors so that maybe I can make it another five years before having to undertake this arduous process again.

Unless, of course, I get an offer for that Norma Kamali-worthy summer on the Riviera.

Thanks to Alison Gary of Wardrobe Oxygen for teaching me how to make collages for my blog. You will see more images in my posts thanks to her creativity and willingness to share.

fashion happenings: update one

Last night, as promised, I attended the trunk show showcasing The Shirt by Rochelle Behrens. I am happy to report that I walked away with a new silk blouse. Of course, I wanted to wear said new blouse immediately, but given the high temps this week, I will probably have to save this long-sleeved beauty for a more temperate day.

If you know me, you are looking at this pattern and thinking “that is so not Chelsea.” I know, right? I don’t do floral. But I do love bold colors. And while this was not the blouse that initially called to me (that would be the navy pin dot version of the same style) once I had it on, I knew it would come home with me.

If you are still questioning my purchase, here’s how I plan to style it:

For work, with a white pencil skirt and nude pumps. (I don’t own this skirt, but I like the texture, which I think would carry from summer into warm fall days.)

For date night, with white jeans (I’m a huge fan of the Angel by AG) and an animal print flat. (I’m not sure this Loeffler Randall flat would work, but I want you to envision something other than leopard.)

For casual events, with white shorts (if I can find a pair that I don’t detest) and the J. Crew malta sandal.

It’s important even in a conservative town like Washington, DC that we push the fashion envelope when appropriate, and that is what this blouse does. It expresses personality. It will garner attention. It was just a teensy bit outside my comfort zone, which means I will wear it and be unexpected.

Best of all, together this blouse and I likely will not run into a woman in the Senate with an identical top. But even if we do, she and I will know we both bought a blouse from a DC-based designer who used to stomp the halls of Congress herself. She gets us. She gets our needs. And I hope she continues to make her blouses for years to come.