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.

all I want for Christmas

All I want for Christmas...Now that Jack has been reassured that Santa exists, he has been busy working on his letter to Santa.

Too busy.

While letters from years past have been Facebook-worthy in their sure little boy-ness (“gas mask [with hood]” last year or “one puppy [small]” the year before) this year my little consumer monsters would have made the Material Girl blush.

23 items on Jack’s list, including such treasures as an iPod touch (no), a video camera (no) and a DSI (no). So then we had to have a little talk about gluttony.

Me: There’s no way I am sending either of these letters to Santa.

Both boys returned with more appropriate lists that were limited to five items of varying sizes and price ranges, though neither list included the item they’re actually getting for Christmas.

All their list-making and prioritizing and editing and rewriting got me to wondering: if I had a Santa, what would be on my list?

Of course, aside from a binding global agreement on climate change from major emitters, some very classic items came to mind. New riding boots (I’ve had my eye on these convertible ones from Lillybee for awhile) and an orange wool coat with leopard print gloves. You have read of my desire for a new handbag (pictured is Emily’s coveted bag but in a gorgeous purple). I’m in the market for some funky jewelry that can be dressed up or down. And of course, while one is dreaming big and making lists, a Cartier tank watch.

I probably have a better shot at getting a Cartier watch someday than I do on an international deal on climate change.

I didn’t self reprimand my gluttony as I do not have expectations that a single one of these items will end up under my tree. After all, there’s really no one to share this list with beyond the blogosphere, and I’m sure Santa doesn’t follow me. As a half-time single woman/half-time single mom, I will look forward on Christmas morning to opening the gifts my boys make for me. This year I am hoping for one of Jack’s self-designed comic books, perhaps a box of Colin’s paper airplanes, and a jointly assembled pack of their “Magic Cards” which include a cross-pollination of the characters of all the mystical books they read, each assigned a point value and strength based on their activities in their respective books.

At least, those are the items I intend to ask for on my real list, the list I plan to give to the boys.

After the holidays, I can always buy myself the boots.

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.

desperately seeking…

https://i1.wp.com/media20.onsugar.com/files/2010/12/49/0/1254/12546250/a757cea79ba11d62_chanel_255.larger/i/Most-Iconic-Handbags.jpgI always know what I want, and usually I get it. Occasionally I’m paralyzed by indecisiveness, but rarely. If you have lunch plans with me, and I ask where you want to dine and you say, “I don’t care” then I’m going to choose my favorite place. Only when I’m very tired or my creatively levels are low (or I’m trying to decide between two pairs of shoes) do I demure.

So it’s with a great sense of shock that I’m having a hard time choosing a new purse. I’m not a switch-your-bag-everyday kind of person. I like to buy one handbag and stick with it. Usually the way this happens is: I buy a new bag in the fall that I use through winter, then a new bag in spring that takes me through summer. Not exactly shopping rocket science, but it works. That’s how I justify splurging on some of my favorite designers and why I embrace today’s anti-matchy-match world where almost any color and texture combo is fair game. (Honestly, I hope color coordinated shoes and purses remain a relic of the past.)

But back to my inability to commit, the most perplexing part of my problem isn’t even that there are two bags I’m deciding between; I can’t find what I want at all. (Well, within reason.)

This summer, I had my eye on a purse called the Pippa (isn’t everything of “it girl” quality called the Pippa these days) by the British company Modalu. But back in August, when the color I wanted wasn’t going to be available until mid-October, I took a pass. (Now that it’s mid-October, of course I’m ruing the decision.) Then I had a crush on the Isabella Fiore Demi-Satchel but when I gave it a test run around the store, it felt a little too boxy (a-la-diaper-bag) to me. (This was one of those instances when Kassie, who was present for said purse try-outs, told me that she didn’t think the item I was considering was the right look for me.)

I’ve scoured my usual haunt, Kate Spade, but the problem there is I keep gravitating toward styles I’ve already owned. I want something different. I want a bag that screams Chelsea. On that note, I did contemplate a purse from the Chelsea line at Coach, but I just can’t help but feel like the Coach brand and my personality are not super compatible. A weekend shopping trip with girlfriends a few weeks ago to assist in the finding of the perfect purse only yielded frustration, not retail glee.

In case you have some suggestions to pass along, here are my specs: It has to have a zip or clasped top that can be easily accessed when I have a cup of coffee in one hand and a kid’s backpack in the other. I’m not afraid of color (after all, I just ordered two pairs of red-hued pants from J. Crew) though I prefer my purse fall in the “bold but neutral” category. (Too many brights in one ensemble and I fear I resemble a bowl of Skittles.) I learned my lesson with the Kate Spade Essex Scout this summer that I’m really not a small purse woman (though I did grow to love the hands free nature of a crossbody style). My purse must be large enough for my working mommy lifestyle (though I got mocked yesterday by my former boss for the moderately large bag in my current rotation). Seriously, a purse has to be able to hold my eyeglass/sunglass case, iPhone, wallet, small make-up bag, notebook, keys and whatever “treasure” the kids hand me to hold onto for them (sometimes rocks).

So if you see something along those lines, let me know. But if instead you come across my sugar daddy, let him know that the one purse I have seen and love is the Valentino Demetra. Yes, the price is equivalent to my first year’s salary when I first came to Capitol Hill. Yes, it’s the price of a small car.

But maybe it comes with a cute guy who would carry it for me when it’s full of rocks.

fall foliage

Goodies Picked Up in J. Crew 25% Off Sale

Nothing says fall like hues of orange, gold, purple, red and green. Essentially, fall is represented by all my favorite colors. Autumn is truly my season. If I could find a city where it was fall all year round, with the leaves those perfect shades of change and the weather sunny but crisp, I would live there.

Instead, I suffer D.C.’s bleak winters, fleeting springs, and swampy summers just so I can enjoy a grand total of 6 (if we are lucky) beautiful days of fall. It’s the one time of year when you can comfortably walk down the street without feeling soggy and deflated once you reach your destination. It’s a time for layers. I can bring out my multitude of outwear that is not quite winter hearty but is perfect for these autumn days that reach highs in the 60s but lows in the 50s or even the high 40s.

I look forward to this all too brief season literally all year round, but this October, my closet’s offerings looked tired. Happily, J. Crew came to the rescue with a 25% off everything sale that provided me with a much-needed fall refresh. I think I nailed it with my five selections pictured here (though four of items I bought aren’t available until November, but that is literally next week so I don’t expect to wait long). The best part of the deal is that I have three pairs (at least) of fabulous shoes ready and waiting to be coordinated with any combination of my new items, and the accessories featured here are also already in my collection.

The skirt, which arrived yesterday, will pair with blouses and sweaters in hues of lilac, plum, moss, pumpkin, ivory… talk about versatile. Please excuse me if I wear it every week. But I promise I will style it differently each time until I run out of combinations.

And in November, when my Maraschino Cherry Cafe Trousers arrive, and you see a flash of color walking down the street amid the gray pallor that will have already descended upon our nation’s capitol, you can thank me for providing a burst of color to your day.

Or order me a Shirley Temple.

current obsession

today's current obsession

You know how it is when you can’t get some one or some thing out of  your mind? I don’t mean in the unhealthy Fatal Attraction pet-rabbit-boiling-in-a-pot sort of way. (Yes, that’s a shout out to you, Caroline.) (Note to readers: not because Caroline has boiled a lover’s daughter’s pet rabbit but because the reference was recently lost on a a woman of a younger generation whom she was talking to.) An obsession can sometimes be a goal on steroids. Other times, it’s a flash in the pan. But regardless of the duration or the dedication to pursuing said object of affection, obsessions are all mind (and time) consuming.

It’s safe to say that my current obsession is this pair of Rebecca Minkoff pumps. Every day for the last month I have visited them (at least once) on-line. I have created countless outfits in my head, both with items already in my closet and items I don’t yet own. These shoes have gone on dates I don’t have prospects for, and they have taken me to meetings I haven’t yet scheduled. I’d wear them with my favorite Fidelity Denim skinny jeans, a crisp white shirt and my black Smythe blazer. I’d wear them with my vibrant flame J. Crew pencil skirt. I’d sleep in them if I didn’t think I’d kick them off in the middle of the night, leaving them unprotected from kittens who seems to obsess over getting their little paws on my shoes as much as I do.

If you see my strolling down the street wearing these shoes, you will know I gave in. That or I achieved whatever task I told myself I needed to achieve in order to deserve these shoes.

Or maybe, just maybe, I have a date.

 

style me!

Brigid's Fall Event

Finally a challenge that doesn’t involve entertaining a kid in the ER, beating the national average on the Constitution Quiz or explaining what a dry scrubber is.

My dear friend Brigid, who has been there with me at so many seminal points in my life ranging from my first purchase at the Bobbi Brown counter to 9-11, is in charge of an important upcoming event at work. As is often the challenge in work-related events, she needs to strike a balanced evening look that is professional, yet elegant, and a daytime (outdoor) look that is casual but demands her to look office-appropriate nonetheless.

For the evening portion of her event, Brigid has to dress for Mass, a reception, and a benefactor dinner at the university where she is director of communications. Given that she will be attending Mass, she needs to be conservative. But I want her to stand out appropriately and highlight her beauty. So I found this gorgeous DVF in a bottle green color that will make Brigid’s beautiful green eyes pop (and distinguish her from all those wearing black, but without the ostentatious message that red can sometimes send). The Maidey is long-sleeved, has a high-neck, isn’t too form fitting, but highly flattering. I’d pair it with simple pearl earrings and nude pumps.

For the day look, considering that Brigid doesn’t have much time, I stuck to options from J. Crew, a store she shops. I know I am spending a lot of Brigid’s money here, but I also have confidence that she can replicate any of these items at a lower price point. I’m just here to provide some direction.

For Brigid I love this viridian green wool skirt (okay, I have it, and the color is so much richer in person than it appears on-line) and an ivory blouse. I gave her two sweater options (after all, Brigid lives in Wisconsin and daytime temps might demand an extra layer). If she’s feeling bold, I’d pair the plum cardigan with the green skirt. If she needs to err on the side of conservative, the camel cardigan provides a neutral alternative. I couldn’t help picking out a leopard print flat (not just because it’s named after Brigid’s daughter) just for a little edge and some extra personality. The orange necklace options were another wildcard for if she chooses the camel sweater but wants an additional punch of color.

So there you go, Brigid. I wish I could come shopping for the day. Next time, give me a little more notice and I will see what I can arrange.

desperately seeking…

https://thechelseachronicles.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/audrey-hepburn-ballet-leopard.jpg?w=216Today I wore the J. Crew Minnie Pant. I like the Minnie and was told by Rosanna at DC Style Factory that I look good in Minnie when she audited my closet last spring and advised that I should buy a pair in every color. (By the way, I highly recommend a closet audit.) But really, while the Minnie is good for what it is, it is not my perfect pant. And I want the perfect pant.

In June when I was vacationing in New England (I love the way that sounds) and spent a day at Crane Beach with my friend Nicole, I noticed that she was wearing the Minnie. My mention of the Minnie led to a discussion about our own personal experiences in pursuit of the perfect pant.

We dubbed the perfect pant the Audrey pant, envisioning something that Audrey Hepburn would wear. But when I googled “Audrey Hepburn pants” I didn’t actually encounter any photos of her wearing what I think Nicole and I both seek.

What is the perfect pant? Well first of all, it’s black. And it has a flat front. And it has a straight leg. But it isn’t capri, which for us shorter women does not hit at the right point of the leg since all pants seem to be designed for the woman who is 5’11”. It isn’t that I am afraid of the tailor. I like the tailor. I use the tailor. I need to visit the tailor and soon. But the tailor, while good, is not capable of hemming my pants to that perfect fashion forward length that Nicole and I both desire. I don’t want the hem to drag. I don’t want the hem to be too high-watery. No floating hems (ugh!) or worse, a mullet scraping the ground behind your shoe when you walk. (Actually, maybe the floating hem is worse.) Essentially, we want an inseam that is longer than 27 inches and shorter than 31. No flare. No skinny. No bootcut. Just straight and classic. Oh, and please. I have birthed two babies so I prefer that the waistline fall somewhere between a high-waist reminiscent of the 80s and hang-off-your-hips-navel-revealing.

Nicole’s method for finding this perfect pant is to write to J. Crew and hope Jenna Lyons listens. My method is to appeal to my female readers to see if anyone is enlightened (and lucky) enough to own this pant. I’d be willing to buy the perfect pant in multiples just to ensure I always have it. If you direct me to the perfect pant, there is most certainly a reward. Or at least, a shout-out.

bathing beauty

https://i1.wp.com/photos2.fotosearch.com/bthumb/CLT/CLT003/s4744.jpgIs there anything clothing related that gives a woman who has birthed two children more anxiety than having to get into a bathing suit? Even when I was at my marathon running height of fitness, I detested the trying on and purchasing of bathing suits enough that I wore one that was two sizes too big for three seasons longer than I should have just because the alternative, standing in front of a three-way mirror with that horrible department store lighting, seemed much worse. And I loved the color of the suit.

But this year, I had to face the inevitable. Last year’s hasty on-line bathing suit purchase did not pan out. I had bought a strapless one because I knew I was going to be wearing a strapless dress to a July wedding, and I can’t stand the look of tan lines. Aside from the realization mid-wedding that I never want to wear a strapless dress again, I came to the conclusion that strapless bathing suits just don’t work for moms who still sometimes get in the pool to play with little swimmers who tend to grab fabric instead of flesh when in water over their heads.

Let’s just say, I don’t need a repeat of the time I was at a “mommy and me” baby swim class with Colin at the YMCA when he grabbed a hold of me and pulled down the bodice of my bathing suit, exposing me for more than a brief second to a very shocked dad who didn’t make eye contact with me for the rest of that class or any others. Needless to say, we didn’t take lessons there again.

This year summer came faster than expected, and I’m not just referring to the insanely crazy temperatures and humidity. How can it be that tomorrow is June 1st? The last day of school is in striking distance. Summer camp time is near. Whereas usually the water in the Cheverly Pool is too cold opening weekend or the weather too rainy, this year, we made it for Memorial Day (as did every other pool member) which meant I had to put on a bathing suit just a little sooner than expected. (I honestly thought given our schedule it might be three more weeks before we got there.)

Since I donated the aforementioned strapless suit in a fit of closet and drawer purging, that left one option: the one-piece, racer-back Speedo I bought for myself back when I thought I would trade my running shoes in for laps in a pool. The tags were still on it. And if there is any style suit that was meant for function not form, it is a Speedo. I definitely did not take off my sarong.

But I can’t hide forever, so before they are completely sold out (my first choice style and color is already back ordered until mid-July) I got on the J. Crew website and ordered a couple different options to try on in the privacy of my own room, without the discomfort of unflattering lights and three-way mirrors to taunt me. Which means I will only have my doctor and his ban on activities I consider “real cardio” to blame for what I see reflected back at me. Well, that and my love of food. And wine.

I think regardless of how the suits fit, the sarong is going to figure prominently into my summer plans.

Style This! Business Formal

Style This! Business Formal

Style This! Business Formal by chelseahenderson featuring a cashmere shawl

Last night, I was texting with my BFF Nancy when she posed a fashion question I couldn’t answer. Nancy is the owner and CEO of Belmont, Inc. in Alexandria, and she is often invited to business networking events. Usually these events are either formal, themed, or occur after work and thus business attire is de rigueur. But she was invited to an event this weekend, for Saturday evening, and the invitation reads “business formal.” So Nancy’s question: WTF is business formal?

In my mind, I was envisioning something less than a cocktail dress but more than a business suit. After offering to put together an appropriate business formal outfit for Nancy, I did a Google search to see if my instincts were correct. I found numerous descriptions for business formal for women as being a suit with a jacket of the same color, close-toed shoes, and panty hose. Panty hose? Really? And tell me, etiquette goddesses of the interwebs, how is this look different from straightforward business attire?

I went to bed discouraged with this news because I was hoping to suggest that Nancy invest in a silky (slinky) DVF. (She could really rock the Della in cadet blue.) But then I woke up and had an epiphany. There is no reason why Nancy has to look like she’s going to a board meeting. She can wear a dress, though of the wool sheath professional variety, have fun with some accessories and look totally business appropriate.

Nancy is tall, thus she can wear just about anything, and since she is blonde, I love the idea of her in the peacock blue town hall dress from J. Crew. Since the color is so vibrant (like Nancy’s personality) I recommend she accessorize with neutrals. Her legs will look even longer than they already are (damn her) in a beige pump (close-toed, but still sexy) and the gold bag will offer a little evening shimmer (I mean, come on, it’s a Saturday). I added a white silk and cashmere wrap because it’s either cold outside or cold inside. As for jewelry, since Nancy doesn’t do earrings, I suggest she opt between the necklace or the bracelet. (I had to work a pop of orange in there somewhere, and it’s engraved “stand tall” which is so appropriate for Nancy.) She could potentially wear both if they work together. Fashion is about trial and error, I just prefer for that trial and error to be worked out in the confines of your own dressing room and not in public.